Siege of Sierra Prime

One standard month after the coronation of Decimus II, the Venya Imperium publicly accused him of murdering his father, declared him a usurper, and demanded that he surrender to his older brother, the true king of Decima. When Decimus II, unsurprisingly, refused, Lord Vitz declared war on the Kingdom of Decima on behalf of the Venya Imperium.

This declaration might seem trivial, but it was necessary. The Imperium had to convince the people of the Kingdom of Decima that they were the good guys. The liberators. They weren't invading the Kingdom of Decima. They were saving it.

At the same time, Decimus I established a new government on a minor moon in the Sierra System and called upon all loyal Decima forces to join him in the fight against the usurper. With the backing of the Imperium, he promised pardons and promotions to any and all military and civil leaders who pledged themselves and their assets to him.

Following the declaration of war, a portion of Battlefleet Silver Lance, consisting of 14 Lesser Fleets, launched a full-scale invasion into the Sierra System and started attacking planets that remained loyal to Decimus II. Multiple armadas of the Royal Decima Navy, many of whom were funded by the Imperium and trained by officers from the Imperial Navy, moved to repel the invasion at the command of their new king. Perhaps they were simply serving the kingdom they swore their allegiance to. Perhaps they were bribed by their new king with wealth and titles. None of that mattered anymore as the guns started blazing.

Over the span of the next month, countless ships burned as the two fleets clashed in a hundred different battlefields across the system. Ultimately, the Royal Decima Navy was pushed back. They were simply no match for the experience and numbers of the Imperial Navy.

During this time, many ships were destroyed while others defected to the side of the Imperium and Decima I. Any captains, commodores, and admirals that defected were immediately heavily rewarded for their decisions. Their long-term fate might still be up in the air, but as of now, the Imperials had to use them to show Imperial mercy and generosity.

As the armadas retreated, world after world came under assault by divisions of the Imperial Army. Some defenders surrendered. Others resisted until the end. A small number of loyalists to the pro-Republic regime blended into the local populations with the goal of fighting guerilla warfare against the Imperial forces. The last group was extremely limited in numbers. After all, most Decima citizens and soldiers had no issue with the same Imperium they had been allies with for the last 70 years.

Each world retaken by the Imperium was handed to the Imperium-backed government led by Decimus I. Of course, the Imperial forces still occupied and garrisoned the place, but the Imperial leaders made sure that their troops wouldn't alienate the locals. Any soldiers who harmed the lives or properties of Decima citizens were severely and publicly punished. Lord Vitz wasn't going to let the lust and greed of some of his troops ruin his goal of one day truly conquering the Sierra System for the Venya Imperium.

Within six months of the initial declaration of war, the Imperial forces had reached the world of Sierra Prime, the capital world of the Kingdom of Decima. The young pro-Republic king had pulled all his remaining loyal forces back to the planet for a desperate final stand. At the same time, the Imperial commander of this war theater, Vice Admiral Thea, had also gathered her fleets and armies to this world. Her forces were bolstered by elements of the Decima Royal Navy and the Decima Royal Legion that had defected to the side of the Decimus I.

The siege of Sierra Prime would be a difficult, costly campaign. Vice Admiral Thea was aware of this, but she also knew victory of this campaign would mark the end of this war. Even if Decimus II managed to escape, he would have lost whatever remaining military assets he had up until now. The threat he posed would be no more, and once again the 12 worlds of the Kingdom of Decima would serve the Imperial cause.

As the Imperial fleet advanced toward the surface of the planet, Imperial assets on the planet were already on the move. Multiple loyalists to the pro-Republic regime were assassinated by snipers, poison, bombs, and in the case of a senior commander of the Decima Royal Guard, an ambush that involved three dozen gunmen and heavy weapons right outside the Decima Guard Command building. Almost all assassins on that mission were slain, but so was the senior commander. Overall, a worthy trade for the Imperials.

These were the works of alpha execution teams from the Imperial Intelligence Agency. The IIA had established a presence in the Kingdom of Decima over the past decades. It might have failed to stop Decimus II's coup, but that didn't mean it was weak or powerless in this system.

At the same time, multiple Decima artillery positions, airfields, and command centers came under heavy assault. This time, the culprit was units of the Imperial Special Forces that have infiltrated the planet over the last few months. These units were a lot more straightforward than the IIA execution teams as they did their best to destroy any military targets that could pose a threat to the main offensive. Given how common these tactics were, their presence was anticipated by the defenders and their achievements were limited before they were forced to retreat and regroup, but some damage was always better than none. Even the smallest advantage could snowball into a victory for the Imperials.

Even within the ranks of the Decima defenders, from the common troopers to the commanders and officials at the highest level, many found themselves with rather treacherous thoughts. It was obvious they were losing, and did they really want to be on the losing side? Perhaps it wasn't too late to switch their allegiances and join the victorious side after all.

In the planet's orbit, as the main Imperial fleet engaged the planet's orbital defenses and the remaining ships of the Royal Decima Navy, a smaller fleet of transports and combat dropships, coupled with a sizable escort, prepared to land on the planet.

And thus began the Siege of Sierra Prime.

The hulls of the Sabertooth class combat dropship rattled around her, and Athena did her best to remain calm. After all, she reminded herself, if a missile managed to get past the dropship's shield and rip the ship into pieces, there would be nothing she could do. She might as well stay relaxed. This way, even if she was to die, her last moments would be as peaceful as they could be.

She scanned the dozen or so other men in the dropship. All of them, like her, were armed and armored. Thanks to their open face shields, she could tell most of them were as anxious as she was.

Over the last six months she spent as the captain of the 437th Company, she had grown to know these men quite well. Four of them were her personal bodyguards. The others were men of the 1st platoon.

"So, captain!" A young woman with short hair sitting to Athena's right turned to Athena. She was Alex, one of Athena's four bodyguards, a veteran of seven years, and a talented sniper. Athena had come to learn that the woman was quite chatty, especially after she learned Athena didn't mind that. "Have you ever wondered why this asshole decided to kill his father and frame his brother? I mean…he has to know this is stupid, right?"

"Who knows what is going on in the head of filthy traitors?" Sato, another one of Athena's bodyguards who was sitting in front of Alex, replied with a scoff. "I heard this idiot chose to attend a school in the Republic! Who knows what poison they fed him there? It is no wonder he is doing something so honorless and foolish."

"It doesn't take a genius to know his kingdom alone is no match for the Imperium!" Alex countered. "I mean…why would he do something like this? All he managed to accomplish was getting many of his people, and our people, killed in this stupid, meaningless war!"

Alex was angry, and rightfully so. After all, she might end up as one of the casualties of this war. In fact, judging by how things were, this might be quite likely.

Athena tapped her chin thoughtfully with her armor finger. This was a question she had wondered about a number of times, and she believed she had an answer.

"Most likely this Decimus II was given a promise by the Republic." She said quietly. "Maybe the Republic promised him military aid. After the coup went down and no help came, it was already too late for him to turn back. He had no choice but to fight and hope the Imperium would make a mistake."

"Ha! Of course the Republic would break their promise!" Sato scoffed. "That's what you get for trusting a nation as corrupt as the Republic!"

Athena glanced at him but didn't say anything. On her other side, Adrianna let out a scoff as well, but the scoff was directed at Sato.

"Do you really think this is good for the Imperium?"


"The Republic broke their promise because they already got what they wanted." Adrianna gave voice to something Athena already realized a while ago. "The Kingdom of Decima used to be a loyal ally of the Venya Imperium. Now we're at each other's throats. How many ships have burned in this war? How many men have died? This is a war between brothers, and the entire time the Republic never even had to get their hands bloody."

"Well…" Sato gulped. He had never thought of this before. As the dropship shook again, the man did his best to come up with a rebuttal, and he found one. "At least after what happened here, no one would trust the Republic again. They have lost whatever credibility they had left."

"Have they? It's just an educated guess that a promise was made by the Republic. The only one who can prove it is Decimus II, and I doubt he would want to burn the bridge with the Republic." Adrianna shrugged. "It doesn't matter to us anyway. Our job is to survive the next 24 hours, not think about the long-term impact of this war. I am sure there are people much smarter than us on that."

Athena bit her lips. She knew Adrianna was right. After all, they were attacking the capital world of the Kingdom of Decima and perhaps the most heavily defended place in the systems. Even worse, they, along with the rest of the 329th Infantry Division, were a part of the first wave.

If she had an option to not be here, she would've taken that option without a second thought. The vanguards were always the ones with the heaviest casualties. Unfortunately for her, while her colonel had the luxury of staying aboard a Raven class command ship, she had to head toward the planet's surface alongside her company. Any attempt to say no would be desertion and would end with a bullet in her head.

Of course, if she was willing to use her Starcraft units, a bullet likely wouldn't be her cause of death. It would likely be explosives or missiles. There was no way she and a handful of Zerg and Terran units could take over the transport ship she was in and somehow escape from the middle of an Imperial fleet.

So in the end, she decided to take her chances. This battle would come with its fair share of risks, and with risks came opportunities. She didn't have any chance to escape while she was in a fort or aboard a transport ship. This might be her best chance of escaping her life as an Imperial captain.

There was another explosion, and it was close.

"Didn't get past the shields," Alex whispered, having been in enough similar situations to make an educated guess on what that was. Even so, there was little relief in her voice.

Athena frowned as well. That explosion wasn't the only one. She could hear many more of them, some closer and louder than others. She couldn't see what was going on outside, but obviously, the defenders were putting up a good fight.

As far as Athena knew, the first wave of landing forces had a simple goal in mind: to establish several landing zones on the planet's surface. These landing zones would allow heavier Imperial transports to land safely and deploy more reinforcements, including armored, aerial, and artillery units. After that, using these locations and air support from the Imperial Navy, the Imperial forces would gradually advance on Decima positions and neutralize the defenders.

Obviously, the vanguard had a lot of responsibilities. They would come under the heaviest fire from the defenders, and if things went wrong, retreat might be all but impossible. Even if they could get to the planet's surface as planned, they had to hope the Imperial bombers and missiles had softened the enemy position there enough. Otherwise, light infantry units from dropships would be massacred by Decima armored units.

There was another wave of explosions, and Athena bit her lips once again. She was afraid. There was no shame in admitting it. Still, she did her best to maintain her composure.

She looked around the troops in the dropship once again. Sato had his eyes closed, and Athena spotted an earpiece in his left ear. Knowing the man, he was likely listening to the music of Q, an all-female music band on 9A2-C-8 that he was a huge fan of.

Sitting beside him was Lucius, the last of her four bodyguards. The man had been in the Army for 12 years, and somehow he was still a simple trooper. By the looks of it, he was perfectly content with that. Out of all her bodyguards Athena disliked Lucius the most. He might not praise the Imperium as much as Sato, but there was no doubt in his loyalty to the Imperium and his hatred toward its enemies. Athena had read his files, and she knew what Lucius did to captured enemies of the Imperium even when he was explicitly ordered to keep his hands off these prisoners.

On her two sides were Alex and Adrianna. Both women, like her, were doing their best to remain calm. Alex seemed to be whispering something to herself. Adrianna, on the other hand, was looking up at the ceiling of the dropship.

"I really do need a drink." She suddenly declared.

Athena let out a small smile just before another explosion hit the dropship. This time, the shields didn't hold.