In YE 34, the Nepleslian Star Military organized its forces for a two-pronged assault on the NMX positions in the Core Worlds and Nepleslia's old southern territories. It was a strategic move conceived by Nepleslia's Grand Admirals. It ended in YE 35 after hard fighting and significant casualties as a Nepleslian victory, gaining the Imperium new territory and neutralizing the NMX threat to the south.
It was never in doubt that Nepleslia needed to strike at the NMX. The only question was in the specifics. How and where? With which units?
The beginnings of the final plan were proposed by Grand Admiral Flint Vanderhuge. Once it was brought to his peers, the Rok'Veru Offensive was conceived. In conversation with Grand Admiral Vladimirus Corcyra, Charlie Coast, and Dominic Valken, it was clear that 1st Assault Fleet was not enough for the job.
The main effort would be from 1st Fleet. Their objective was simple - retake Rok'Veru. Being at the border of Nepleslian space, it was heavily fortified. More importantly, it was a Nepleslian core world and the only one to fall to the NMX. It was a strategic move as well as a symbolic one.
It was agreed for Grand Admirals Coast and Valken to commit both of their fleets in an assault on the former southern territories. The smaller The Wolf Pack and Armored Assault Strike Pursuit Fleets under Admirals Coast and Valken would strike south and cut off the NMX Fleet's reinforcements. This would allow 1st Fleet to tear down the NMX bases on Rok'Veru without fear of NMX reinforcements. Admiral Coast, in particular, was excited for this task. His fleet was entirely suited for purely aggressive, offensive operations.
Finally, 2nd AF would defend Nepleslia's borders and act as a reserve for either prong.
The plan received the approval of Sky Marshall Pyros Thrull Westwood.
3rd and 4th Fleets were moved from their bases in the Colonial Expanse to their jumping off points at Delsauria. 1st Assault Fleet, based at Nepleslia, began stockpiling and gathering transport ships for its large Marine contingent and their logistics.
See 1st Assault Fleet for details
The largest fleet deployed on this operation and tasked with retaking the namesake of the operation. 1st Fleet was the driving force of the operation and it was led by the Offensive's creator. Its simple role was tougher than it sounds. The planet of Rok'Veru was immediately fortified by the NMX against the inevitable Nepleslian return.
Accompanying the Fleet was its organic Marine contingent, the 1st Marine Shaik. These elite soldiers were badly mauled by NMX forces on Rok'Veru, especially during the opening phases. Despite losses, however, the Shaik persevered to liberate the planet from the NMX.
See 3rd AF for details.
Numbering 245 warships at the time, the 3rd AF provided the necessary numbers for the southward prong. The presence of its Shaikas added tactical options unavailable to 4th Fleet alone. It was led by Grand Admiral Charlie Coast, who played a prominent role in the execution of the southward prong after the initial assault on SC-4.
Accompanying 3rd Assault Fleet was its organic 3rd Marine Shaik. They provided the ground forces for the southern branch of the Nepleslian operation.
See 4th AASP for details.
The Nepleslian 4th Armored Assault, Strike Pursuit (AASP) Fleet was the smallest fleet. It spearheaded the southern offensive as the vanguard force to allow 3rd Assault Fleet to arrive and deploy its Marines without resistance. Consisting of less than a hundred warships at the time, half of which were escort vessels, the 4th Fleet overcame a heavier (in tonnage) NMX force with difficulty.
Its losses at SC-4, however, prevented the majority of its units from participating in the follow-up actions which were relatively minor though more rewarding.
The NMX forces that participated are divided into two categories, those which were at Rok'Veru and those which faced the combined forces of 3rd and 4th Fleet.
NMX forces stationed on Rok'Veru were numerous and well dug-in. They were the front line for possible Nepleslian or Yamataian assaults and prepared accordingly. A large naval force protected the system while veteran divisions garrisoned its cities and terrorized the surviving population. These NMX troops were well-aware that a determined Nepleslian naval strike would scatter their fleets and that the best time to inflict casualties was when the Nepleslians had committed to the landings. As a result, their defensive strategy was centered on inflicting as much damage as possible after the Nepleslians had begun landing.
Led by Izmarhkresh and Helszepont, NMX forces stationed at SC-4, the closest secure NMX system were meant as a central reserve, ready to reinforce either Rok'Veru or Xyainbor. These were mostly newer construction ships with less experienced crews and ground troops. The SC-4 fleet was also heavily composed of lighter units for rapid movements, making it suited to counter-offensive missions but poorly equipped to defend the SC-4 system. NMX leadership felt it highly unlikely that the Nepleslians would invest the majority of their armed forces against heavily fortified targets like Rok'Veru and SC-4 when previous Nepleslian attacks had targeted relatively poorly defended systems such System 87I.
Many of the ground troops stationed on SC-4 were garrisoned in highly defensible fortresses with a complex system of subterranean passages and installations. As a former mining world, prisoners deemed worthy of slave labor were sent to dig for metals and ores until they died. They were overseen by human defectors and inexperienced but sadistic NMX troops.
The 1st Assault Fleet and its Marine Shaik assaulted the system with terrific results. Overwhelming Nepleslian starfighter and warship quality and quantity drove the NMX naval forces out of orbit. The surviving NMX vessels hung near the edge of the system, observing the Nepleslians while repairing their ships. Casualties were disproportionately on the NMX side with few Nepleslian ships being destroyed.
The Fleet moved into orbit and braced for heavy surface to orbit fire but found no resistance. After preliminary scans and reconnaissance showed no visible NMX positions in the shattered cities, Admiral Vanderhuge moved forward the landings. Shuttles and drop pods were launched carrying Marines and their equipment and these two were met with no opposing fire. However, things changed after the first wave of Nepleslian Marines landed.
Hidden NMX anti-orbital batteries opened up from within ruined buildings, knocking out many ships in low orbit including Admiral Vanderhuge's flagship. This caused the Admiral to abandon ship and head for the surface as the rest of 1st Fleet pulled back, out of range and tried to assess the damage. Things were made worse as Nepleslian Marines were ambushed as they landed by NMX ground forces emerging from ruined buildings or underground tunnels. Many units were wiped out before they could respond effectively. Other Marines were separated from their units as they were scattered by the chaotic landing and the destruction of warships in orbit. Added to that, NMX jamming signals blocked all communications between the trapped Marines and the orbiting fleet. Now unable to launch orbital strikes without endangering troops on the ground and unwilling to send in the second wave without proof that the first wave had survived, the 1st Assault Fleet waited.
Once on the ground, however, Vanderhuge rallied pockets of Marines and civilian resistance to strike at the anti-orbital platforms. A particularly challenging strike was made against a serpentine NMX vehicle that moved from skyscraper to skyscraper, firing from a new position each time, and accompanied by a formidable troop of Power Armored Infantry. Following the destruction of NMX surface batteries and jamming, communications were re-established with the Fleet and reinforcements were landed.
Of great importance to the liberation forces was the presence of a small but armed civilian resistance. These citizens had survived the initial assaults and NMX death squads to form their own bands of marauders. They were often led by surviving military personnel from the original NMX invasion.
With the end of the threat of anti-orbital batteries, Vanderhuge ordered fast Nepleslian warship units to engage and harass the surviving NMX naval units with hit-and-run tactics. Once sufficiently worn down, they were destroyed by carefully maneuvered capital ships.
Bitter street fighting characterized the campaign on Rok'Veru as Nepleslian Marines and resistance fighters had to wrest control of the planet city block by city block from the invaders. Despite the titanic struggle, the Nepleslians never stopped fighting until the planet had been liberated. At the end the campaign, lasting several months of non-stop fighting, much of 1st Marine Shaik's fighting power was exhausted and its troops badly mauled. The Shaik was withdrawn for repairs, refit, and replacements. 1st Assault Fleet maintained its position at Rok'Veru, only sending ships to transfer Marines from 2nd Marine Shaik to continue mop up operations.
Nepleslian casualties from the fighting are estimated at approximately 26,000 Marines killed, wounded or missing in action, another 5,000 civilian fighters, and about 6,000 Naval personnel lost with their ships. Estimates of NMX casualties range from a quarter to half million.
From a wholly numerical perspective, SC-4 and the worlds beyond it were side-shows compared to the events at Rok'Veru. All of the actions lasted less than 24 hours and involved forces far smaller than those engaged at Rok'Veru. From a strategic perspective, however, they were just as important as the issue of Rok'Veru itself.
By striking at SC-4 from Delsauria with the 3rd and 4th Fleets, NMX reinforcements were never able to reach Rok'Veru which they knew they had been attacked. In fact, 4th Fleet's timely arrival prevented the NMX fleet from gathering into a cohesive force, whereupon the fleet destroyed part of the NMX force with overwhelming fighter attacks and Marine boarding parties.
The delayed arrival of 3rd Fleet allowed the Nepleslians to finish the job in space with ease. The NMX commanders escaped to the surviving part of their fleets and fled the system, abandoning the troops on the planet. They moved to rally the other NMX forces in Southern Nepleslia at the fortress world of Ukk.
The 3rd Marine Shaik, the Thunderchiefs, were assigned the role of cracking the main NMX fortresses. They knowingly entered into a prepared defense with the goal of tearing it all down. Since the NMX had not been expecting large scale planetary assaults, their defenses were nowhere near as elaborate as those employed on Rok'Veru. This enabled the Marines to land without the same difficulties encountered by 1st Marines. This also allowed for heavy and intense preliminary bombardments from orbit by Nepleslian warships. Grand Admirals Coast and Valken happily blasted every inch of the surface that they did not want intact, making the surface defenses less than tenable for their occupants.
In contrast, 4th Fleet Marines numbered only a single flotilment as the 4th_marine_shaik was still undergoing training and the units being formed. These veteran hand-picked Marines were used as commando forces to strike at any NMX forces outside the main ring of fortresses, including a supply depot and a prisoner mining facility.
Marine casualties for both Fleets were heavy due to stubborn resistance put up by the inexperienced but fanatically suicidal NMX troops. In addition, new NMX Power Armors were encountered by the Marines in large numbers, in addition to a heavy NMX mecha presence on the surface. Many of these troops were revealed only after the Marines had landed, flanking the Marines from underground passages carved by years of slave labor mining.
Nonetheless, following eighteen hours of combat, the Nepleslian Marines had overwhelmed the outnumbered NMX garrison forces. Several regiments of the 3rd Marines and the entirety of 4th Marines were unable to continue fighting. These units were withdrawn alongside the badly damaged warships of 4th Fleet to Nepleslia Prime. This was feasible due to Grand Admiral Valken's flagship, the NSS Dauntless, being damaged by anti-orbital fire and the Grand Admiral being severely wounded.
The combat-worthy elements of 4th Fleet would fall under Grand Admiral Coast's 3rd Fleet as a temporary subordinate as he continued the drive southward to reclaim the rest of Southern Nepleslia. This task was much easier than anticipated as most NMX forces in the chain of systems had retreated to Ukk so as to present a concentrated force. The limited resistance that was met was swiftly crushed by Nepleslian forces and the systems duly occupied. Other than SC-4 where thousands of slaves had been used for labor, no other non-NMX personnel were encountered.
The action at SC-4 and the drive south were significant for three reasons. It proved that Nepleslia's policy of highly autonomous fleets working unison was capable of planning and executing joint operations. Up until the Offensive, each fleet had operated independently, sharing information and coordinating only to make sure that they did not have overlapping operations. The coordination of three Fleets, and their respective Marine units, was a significant achievement for the fiercely independent naval units and marked the beginning of greater fleet cooperation. These successful operations also underscored the need for large, well-trained, and modern Nepleslian forces to act as a deterrent against Yamataian expansion towards the Lorath Matriarchy or the The Free State, traditional Nepleslian allies.
SC-4 also proved that humans had willingly defected to the NMX, which had been rumored but never confirmed by the IPG. Prisoners taken and accounts from slaves freed by the Marines prove that these defectors were often driven by greed or promises of power, which they got mostly from their positions as mining overseers or low level commanders of NMX Nekovalkyrja, who happily obeyed their every command.
Finally, it regained multiple star systems for the Imperium, adding a defensive buffer zone against Yamataian forces from the galactic south. The NMX holdout fortress of Ukk provided an excuse to garrison the region with a heavy military presence. No plans, however, were drawn up to invade Ukk as the end of the Offensive also signaled the end of the war. If the NMX there were content to sit and wait, Nepleslia would oblige. Some IPG analysts theorized that they may even devolve into a fractious civil war, precluding the need for Nepleslian military intervention until the end. This, however, proved to be a fantasy as the NMX forces rallied around the Mishhu commander, Izmarhkresh, newly dubbed the Warlord.
A squad of 4th Fleet Marines, acting on information received by the IPG, boarded and assaulted a hidden NMX cloning facility. It was embedded in an asteroid, located in the Freespacer system of Null and Void. After this secret action was revealed to the Spacers, they were duly embarrassed and sought greater cooperation with Nepleslia to prevent such an event from happening again.
The hidden facility was captured mostly intact and with an NMX Nightmare commander named Zsara'shidya who willingly surrendered.