|APAGear II Archives||Volume 2, Number 9||October, 2000|
[Note: Jason revised this article in Volume 3, Number 1. -Ed.]
(Author's Note: The following is a timeline of my Hong Kong Crusaders campaign for Heavy Gear, which I have worked on for many years and which forms the basis for all of my submissions so far to APAGear. Feel free to visit Banzaidyne II if you'd like more information about the Hong Kong Crusaders.)
During a trip to visit a childhood friend, Jack Sanlander is trapped in the city-state of Red Sands as elements of Earth's Colonial Expeditionary Force begin their invasion of Terra Nova. Jack is persuaded by his friend, Bryan McKenna, to travel to the community of Coronado and bring Bryan's girlfriend, Danielle Gibson, to the relative safety of Red Sands.
Upon their arrival in Coronado, Jack and Bryan are stunned when Danielle refuses to leave Coronado. Several families approach Jack and Bryan for help in getting to Red Sands. So many people ask for their help that Jack and Bryan decide to make several trips to lead and escort people to Red Sands. These trips quickly snowball into an impromptu refugee evacuation and assistance effort, with which Danielle eventually gets involved.
The UMF Border Patrol unit at Red Sands, led by Patrol Lieutenant Graham Wang, resists helping the trio at first, but soon agree to sponsor their activities as it becomes clear how many people are affected. Jack, Bryan and Danielle are sworn in as UMF Border Patrol agents and are officially assigned to the Red Sands station.
To reflect the focus of their operations, the Border Patrol agents adopt the unofficial nickname of Coronado Crusaders.
Jack and the other Border Patrol agents come to an unofficial "arrangement" with two large rover gangs operating around Red Sands. In exchange for information on Terran operations, the Crusaders agree to lend whatever aid and technical support they can. The gangs agree to this proposal mainly out of latent patriotism, but they also wish to combine forces against the rover gang led by Tolan Morilane. Jack approaches Morilane with the same offer, but not only does Morilane reject the proposal outright, he and his gang begin to harass the Crusaders between Coronado and Red Sands. This conflict between the two groups, and the two men, flares up time and again throughout the War of the Alliance.
As the war grows, the United Mercantile Federation is forced to nationalize many secondary government agencies, including the Border Patrol. Most Border Patrol units are simply brought into the UMF Army as military police units, but the Crusaders are expanded and trained as a combined military police and emergency services unit. Some Crusaders bristle at the thought of joining the regular army, but as Jack points out, "If we're doing the same job, does it really matter who signs the checks?"
The Crusaders are officially absorbed into the United Mercantile Federation Army as the 23rd Emergency Services Unit, and officially adopt the name Coronado Crusaders.
At the time of its activation, the 23rd consists of three military police companies: the 1st, under Lieutenant Jack Sanlander; the 2nd, under Lieutenant Bryan McKenna; and the 3rd under Lieutenant Danielle Gibson. The Crusaders' medical operations are led by Captain Ramon Gonzalez, and the unit is commanded by Captain Graham Wang.
Bryan McKenna and Danielle Gibson are wed in a quiet ceremony in Coronado, attended only by Jack and Danielle's sister, Michelle. Their marriage is kept quiet to avoid UMFA regulations which prohibit married couples from serving in the same unit during wartime.
Bryan McKenna and all other members of the 23rd's 2nd Platoon are killed while defending the small hamlet of Hong Kong, in the first documented encounter between Terranovan forces and Earth's GREL supersoldiers. In memory of their fallen comrades, the 2nd Platoon is not reconstituted when replacements arrive, but is instead maintained as an honor unit. The replacements soon compose the 23rd's 4th Company.
In a similar gesture, the members of the 23rd change their official nickname on 11 Winter. From that day forward, the unit is known as the Hong Kong Crusaders.
In addition to their relief duties, the Crusaders provide road security and casualty evacuation in support of Operation BISHOP, the 1914 offensive against the CEF troops in the Barrington Basin. The Crusaders develop a high-intensity operational routine which they maintain even after the offensive's conclusion. The workload demanded of all UMFA support units and the launching of other offensives demand an almost frantic pace from the Crusaders throughout the War.
While returning to Red Sands from a conference, the helicopter gunship in which Jack is riding stumbles upon an Earth patrol and is fired upon. The pilot is killed and the copilot, Northern Guard Lieutenant Nora Richardson, is badly injured, but she manages to escape the patrol and safely land the helicopter near Federal Route 276.
As Sanlander tries to contact the base in Red Sands and request help, he picks up a distress call from the Crusaders' 3rd Platoon, who are engaged in a heavy firefight. Jack and Nora determine that the helicopter is still flyable, and that they are the closest unit to offer assistance to the 3rd Platoon. They therefore decide to fly to the 3rd's position and help out however they can.
With Nora's assistance, Jack manages to get the helicopter airborne and out to where the 3rd Platoon is fighting against a rover gang with heavy weapons. Jack then decides to employ the gunship's weapons, and he and Nora make an effective attack against the rovers. After the surviving rovers have dispersed, Jack lands the helicopter, picks up as many wounded Crusaders as he can, and flies back to Red Sands.
For their heroism, both Jack and Nora are awarded the Order of the Griffon with Laurels.
Graham Wang is promoted to Major and assigned to direct aid programs throughout the Red Sands operational area. Jack is thus promoted to Captain, and assigned command of the Hong Kong Crusaders.
With the redeployment of many CEF troops to Baja and the opening of the "third front" by the Peace River Army, Earth activity in the Crusaders' operational area virtually disappears. The lack of a unifying threat from outsiders allows old habits and squabbles to resurface, and rover gang activity explodes near Coronado. Attacks by Tolan Morilane's gang become particularly vicious, and the Crusaders become busier than ever.
With other units taking over activities in the Red Sands area, the Crusaders move to new facilities in Coronado itself. Many Crusaders also buy homes or otherwise take up permanent residence in the area, and make Coronado their home to stay.
With the support of a Northern Guard unit, the Crusaders launch a series of raids and attacks against Tolan Morilane's rover gang. Although Morilane himself escapes and remains at large for several weeks, the rest of his gang is killed or arrested, and hundreds of thousands of marks' worth of equipment and goods are confiscated.
Jack Sanlander and Tolan Morilane have a final confrontation on Federal Route 276. Sanlander defeats Morilane in single combat, and Morilane is arrested for numerous rover-related crimes.
With the end of the War, the Crusaders took on a reversal of roles, bringing people back to their homes instead of away from them. Within weeks, however, the situation around Red Sands and Coronado returned to a somewhat normal level, and the Crusaders' mission quickly becomes irrelevant.
The 23rd Emergency Services Unit is officially disbanded, and its personnel are mustered out of the UMF Army.
The Hong Kong Crusaders become the core personnel of the newly formed Coronado Defense Forces, as the 23rd Infantry Regiment. The Crusaders' organization is initially modeled on that of a typical Northern Guard infantry regiment, but the Crusaders quickly integrate artillery and air support assets into their unit structure.
Equipment problems plague the Crusaders, as the secondhand vehicles and equipment from the Northern Guard are increasingly prone to breakdowns. The vehicles of the Crusaders are also often confused with those of local Northern Guard units, leading to several unfortunate misunderstandings. A solution developed in Coronado is needed, and an ingenious one is proposed by Stephen Brooks, the commander of the Crusaders' 1st Company.
Brooks proposes the redevelopment and reproduction of twentieth-century Earth combat vehicles, both to develop Coronado's fledgling vehicle manufacturing industry and to provide the Coronado Defense Forces with completely distinctive equipment. Critics openly laugh at the proposal at first, but upon closer examination it is determined that the vehicles in question would perform their required tasks quite well, and are well within Coronado's manufacturing capabilities. The Coronado county government grants permission to develop one vehicle series to test the concept, and a new company called Banzaidyne is awarded the contract to redevelop the LAV-25 Piranha.
A second infantry regiment is authorized by the Coronado government, both to combat a surge of rover attacks in the Coronado area and to support the Crusaders as they reequip. The new 37th Infantry Regiment is led by Geoffrey Peale, an emigre from Peace River, and become known as the Gunslingers.
Banzaidyne begins production of the LAV-25 Piranha. The new vehicles are praised by Crusaders and Gunslingers alike for their dependability, their performance and their adaptability to numerous tasks. The program proves so successful that the Coronado government contracts both Banzaidyne and Coronado Aerospace to redevelop other vehicle series, and Banzaidyne has produced the Piranha ever since.
|APAGear II Archives||Volume 2, Number 9||October, 2000|
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