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The Viper's Fangs

Battle of Hladno Springs
- From Battle Report by Khan Curtis Black, Clan Steel Viper

Realizing that our situation had grown precarious in the lowland region of Hladno Springs, I ordered one final offensive at 0900 hours on 8 May 3052. The battle went against us, but it also allowed us to remain in the field as a combat force for the rest of the campaign. The goal was to send combined 'mech and Elemental Stars into the swampy region along the southern flank of the Hladno Springs. According to intelligence reports, the only enemy in the area were Com Guard infantry companies that had not been deployed in battles as of that time. I had hoped that an assault in the swamps would dislodge these primary untried troops, allowing us to sweep the south flank and drive straight into the core of the 104th Division (aka The Rhinos).

I grossly misjudged our opposition and did not deploy nearly enough forces to hit the 104th's infantry hard enough. My lead unit of the 333rd Combat Assault Cluster, The Viper's Fangs, became bogged down in a slow and deadly battle in the swamps. The Com Guard forces had planted various anti-personnel and anti-'Mech mines. Given the nature of the terrain and the use of these dishonorable devices, our troops were slowed considerably.
   The 104th Division's infantry staged several ambushes in both the swamps and the surrounding hillsides. As the 333rd Cluster pushed harder under the 104th's flank, our 'Mechs became the target of swarming tactics by the infantry. When we deployed our Elementals, they had to confront both heavy mine concentrations and several devastating artillery barrages. It took more than eight hours of battle to work our way out of the springs, and my forces were a full ten kilometers from where I had hoped to position them. Given the damage we had already endured, and the fact that the 104th Division still fielded a considerable BattleMech force, as yet undamaged, I ordered the withdrawal of our forces from Hladno Springs.

I assume full responsibility for our failure to dislodge our opponents.

Tukayyid, 8 May 3052
The Com Guard tactics on Tukayyid were designed primarily to weaken the Clan forces and to exploit weaknesses in their fighting styles and tactics. The deployment of the Com Guards Fourth Army under the leadership of Precentor Aryon Tolliver was a case in point. Clan Steel Viper was the last of the Clans to land on Tukayyid, and had chosen an LZ in the Hladno Springs region. AN area of several large swamps at the delta of the Nestlie River, because of a high volcanic plate, Hladno Springs was heavy with geyser and hot springs activity.

While Precentor Tolliver moved the other divisions to encircle the Vipers, he ordered the 311th Division to begin to prod at the still-deploying Clan forces. For two days the 311th ran a series of short running fights with the Vipers, buying the Fourth Army time to move in and surround them. The 87th Division (White Thoughts) was the first committed into full battle with the Steel Vipers. For two days this division continually threw itself into the heart of the Vipers' hit concentration. When the 87th was withdrawn, the 130th Division replaced it, then had to be pulled back to skirmish action because of heavy losses. They had succeeded in killing Khan Sheila Olezko, however, demoralizing the Vipers.

The Steel Vipers tried on three occasions to break through the Com Guard troops surrounding them. The first two attempts were powerful attacks, but lacked the necessary reserves to succeed. By day seven of the battle, it was clear that the com Guards had stockpiled much more ammunition and repair parts than the Vipers had brought. With supplies running low, Khan Black ordered one final attempt to break-out.
   If the attempt had succeeded, he would have struck at the heart of the 104th Division and probably forced the Fourth Army into retreat. Instead, the 104th's infantry was ready and waiting in the Hladno swamps. In a stunning series of combined infantry and artillery attacks, the 104th pinned the Clan forces. The Com Guard had buried mines throughout the swamps, which created constant problems for the enemy 'Mechs and Elementals.

The 333rd Cluster of the Vipers led the attack, but suffered heavy losses. By the end of the day on 8 May, the Steel Viper forces were squeezed out of the Springs and back toward their landing zones.

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