For years the outer colony of Alora seemed to teeter on the brink of civil war, but we were too preoccupied with the affairs of our own conflict to see the eventual rise of the Insurrectionists. By the time the rebels launched their guerrilla campaign across the colony, our war with the Maians had been raging across the stars for nearly three and a half centuries. Our forces were wearing thin, but the military refused to let Alora fall to "such savages", lest we wish to spend eternity in Sha'Turahn with the wicked and damned for our failure. With that said, it didn't take long for the 83rd to be deployed to support the 91st Mobile Infantry Division in fortifying the capital and protecting the Empire's mining and farming operations there...I can still remember the day our fleet departed for the system, almost as if it were yesterday. We were briefed on our generalized mission objectives while en route, and it should have been a routine support operation...but things almost went terribly wrong just about as quickly as our arrival was.
As soon as we entered Realspace, we came under heavy fire from anti-orbital weapon emplacements on the surface. Of the twenty Assault Ships that entered the system, two had been destroyed by the initial attack, while another four were disabled and left to drift in orbit by the second barrage. Luckily for us, their shuttle and interceptor complements had successfully managed to depart from their hangar bays and survived long enough to escort us as we entered the atmosphere. Shortly thereafter, we were ferried down to the capital in shuttles, where we were to be given further orders from the Governor and what remained of the Loyalist Military. The first thing I noticed when walking out of the shuttle was the eerie silence of the city streets, almost as if it had been deserted before our arrival - though it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that it was placed under lockdown and its citizens ordered to remain indoors until further notice. I didn't dwell on the thought for long as we all soon gathered in the building's rotunda, where a holoprojection of the capital and surrounding lands were used to point out locations of interest, such as potential entryways for the rebels to approach the city from and where we would defend it. To serve as a last line of defense before the capital itself could be reached, our surviving forces were split up and divided among a series of military bases surrounding the city, where we would conduct routine surveillance and patrol operations in an effort to learn where the rebels may have been hiding.
I was deployed as part of a platoon of fifty to a military outpost, designated "Valor", north of the city within the Andes Mountains; had the circumstances of our presence on the planet been different, I would have actually enjoyed my stay there. Upon my arrival at Valor Outpost, I was placed in command of a squad of recruits by my superiors—a first in my time in the Army—and tasked with carrying out reconnaissance missions within the surrounding area. Things would go accordingly for the next few weeks, with the trips to and from the base becoming a new addition to my daily routine, though something about the lack of rebel activity seemed off and irked me in a way I had never experienced before. Given how quickly the Insurrectionists had spread across the colony, it just didn't make any sense as to why their advancement halted beyond the borders of the capital. We tried to pass the time and forget about our worries by telling stories about our lives while out on patrol, getting to know one another now that we were serving together, but things always seemed unnecessarily tense; almost as if we were being watched from afar...One day, my squad went beyond the mountain passage to collect information on the lands beyond our intended range of deployment; the far reaches of Kaepir's Hollow eventually led us into view of the Burning Wilds, a forest of silver-leafed trees known for appearing as a sea of flames due to their unique capability of reflecting sunlight, but we dared not venture further in fear of failing to report back to base on time and potentially being branded deserters. We quickly turned around to make our way back through Kaepir's Hollow, however we didn't even make it halfway when the first wave of enemies attacked.
We were passing through just as we had done minutes earlier, when a sniper picked off our youngest recruit, Olrus Kalrun; a male from the Aloran Loyalist Forces who desperately wanted the war to end so he could return to his family on the other side of the planet. All it took was a single round to put him out of commission. A SINGLE round to catch us off guard...As soon as his body hit the ground, it was as if Sha'Turahn had come to welcome us into its hateful embrace at that very moment. Before we could fully register what had happened, the mountains and our immediate surroundings erupted into a wall of gunfire and explosions as Insurrectionist forces had us surrounded on all sides, with the sole exception being the entrance leading into and out of the passage. I attempted to fire off super-charged shots of Solusian gas from my Mauler into the treeline while making my way towards cover, but each volley missed their targets and tore into the hardened steel-like trunks of the Iola trees - leaving nothing but gaping holes in their wake. One by one, the members of my squad were slowly getting picked off by the rebels, and a wave of guilt rushed over me as I ordered for a retreat...no time to take care of our dead. No time to mourn. All that had mattered was our survival.
Despite my best efforts to lead the team out of Kaepir's Hollow without issue, the world seemed to blur in and out of existence temporarily as my adrenaline levels soared to levels I had never seen before. As the rush of excitement and fear washed over me, I soon found myself in the crossfire of the battlefield as I had turned back to aid a wounded soldier onto her feet. As she stood up, I had barely managed to register the appearance of a laser sight that was trained on her heart and knew that I had very little time to react. I quickly used my Bio-Mechanical Suit's powerful legs to grab and throw her out of the way, and almost as instantly as I threw her, an anti-tank round tore through my armor, bypassing my already weakened shields entirely and causing everything to go cold and dark...Having your Bio-Mechanical Suit disabled while still being alive is the closest you can ever get to feeling what it is like being deceased. The complexities of the symbiosis formed from the connection of the neurological components of the Warrior and their machine make such a feat plausible, and as fascinating as it is, I would never wish the experience on anyone.
By the time I regained consciousness, my surroundings were completely different from where I had remembered being; I was suspended in a vat of medicinal liquid found exclusively on Alora - something I had never really learned the name of, but something that I was lucky enough to be treated with under the circumstances. Fortunately for me, my troops had managed to escape Kaepir's Hollow and dragged little old me back to Valor Outpost, where I was given immediate medical care. What took me a while to cope with was the fact that the anti-tank round had torn right through my left leg, ripping it clean off my body and left me bleeding out within my Bio-Mechanical Suit. Had the recruits left me behind, I would have certainly died from the blood loss if the Insurrectionists didn't get to me first...With that said, however, things didn't stay all nice and somewhat peachy. Hours passed before the outpost was attacked by the rebels, who had tracked us back to our base, and my platoon struggled to fend them off as a distress beacon was activated in the hopes that the capital would respond in time. Being stuck and helpless in a medical tank made the fighting seem to drag on for forever, so I cannot accurately estimate the time that had passed until reinforcements finally arrived. When they did arrive, though, the battle came to a swift and decisive end. From what I can recall, as best as I could make out from within the tank at least, they wanted to investigate the Insurrectionist buildup in and beyond Kaepir's Hollow; as for me, they deemed me unfit for combat and had me immediately transferred back to the capital to be treated within a proper medical facility.
Days would pass and I eventually received the news from my superiors that I was being honorably discharged due to the increasing threat of an invasion on the capital and my inability to serve for the foreseeable future. While I was not really surprised by the decision, it wasn't an easy one to agree with given my close relations with the recruits and fellow Warriors. Unfortunately for me, my thoughts on the matter didn't matter much and I wasn't given time to say farewell, as I was quickly shuttled off-world alongside other injured troops and civilians; by then, the Loyalists and the remnants of the 83rd and 91st planned a massive defensive campaign to protect the capital and didn't want any unnecessary casualties to be caused by the fighting. As our ship departed from the planet's surface, I had managed to catch a glimpse of a detachment from the famed Sentinel Fleet entering Realspace in order to aid in the defense of the capital and any future attempts to take back rebel-controlled lands. In all honesty, as much as I had grown apart from the Imperial agenda by that point in time, there was something about seeing a near-mythical force such as the Sentinel Fleet that instilled in me a sense of pride and honor...the only time something like that had happened while under service of the Empire.
Following the so called "War for Alora", I had returned to the Imperial capital and received a series of awards from the government for my service, though the only thing I received that I truly cared for was the medical benefits given to the honorably discharged and retired veterans. With said benefits, I was able to not only be treated by the Empire's best doctors, but I also acquired a synthetic leg shortly thereafter to have my life return to a sense of normalcy. While I never did end up meeting my former subordinates and fellow Warriors in the years since I left the Army, I was inspired by their bravery and willingness to risk their lives for my own. From that point on, I had a more positive outlook on life and followed my passion of helping others and bringing about change within the Empire; these aspirations for change led me down the path of my political career and eventually to where I am now...and for that, I'm forever thankful.