Writer’s Note: Portfolio: 6th Platoon was published originally as a Subscriber Exclusive on October 17, 2018.
When it comes to the UEE Marine Corps, history and myth mix freely. While much is known about the most elite branch of the UEE military, other aspects remain a fixture of public speculation and imagination, such as their famously secretive recruitment process. As Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Estes wrote in his history of the branch, Always Forward, “No one applies to be a Marine”. Instead, recruits are culled from Army and Navy ranks based on an elusive criteria of attributes and skills. Remarkably, the full operational directives of the Marines remain a mystery to most. While most of the public knows that Marines are deployed aboard Navy vessels to provide protection and others train extensively in planetary invasion operations, mission specifics aren’t common knowledge. Only the duties of the 1st Marine Battalion, which is charged with protecting the Imperator, has pierced the public consciousness. Truth be told, Marine commanders probably prefer it that way.
Then came the ‘Historical Truth Act’ of 2941. Originally intended to shed light on how the Messer regime abused government power, it also revealed previously unknown information about the Marines and their operations. Within this vast trove of information, a previously unheralded platoon quickly caught the attention of historians. As a part of the ‘Special Operation Force, 2nd Battalion, Bravo Company’, the ‘6th Platoon’ repeatedly distinguished itself. Whether as part of major operations during the Second Tevarin War or completing highly-classified missions, the 6th Platoon ‘Phantoms’ proved themselves to be an elite unit consistently called upon when the Empire needed them most.
Into the Fire
The UEE military separated the Marines from under the Army’s supervision into their own branch following a 2558 study that showed their specialized skills were severely underutilized during the First Tevarin War. Decades later, this theory was put into practice with the outbreak of the Second Tevarin War. Warlord Corath’Thal employed asymmetrical warfare against the larger and better equipped UEE military to gain an advantage. Their forces remained mobile and often attacked unsuspecting civilian settlements and ships far from the frontlines, spreading fear and forcing the UEE to deploy their military over larger areas to be able to react with any kind of effectiveness. This was both a smart strategy and a necessity. The Tevarins had lost their homeworld of Kaleeth, now known as Elysium, in the First Tevarin War, and lacked a planetside location from which to coordinate their operations. Yet, they might have gained one early in the war were it not for the 6th Platoon.
In 2604, the UEE military struggled to counteract the Tevarin’s guerrilla tactics. Amidst the disarray, militia members spotted a Tevarin force approaching Hyperion and sent scans to the Navy. Without any kind of military presence in the Fora system, High Command feared the worst, only to grow curious when no attack happened. Suspecting that this was potentially a diversionary tactic, High Command deployed the 6th Platoon to covertly investigate. They discovered that a Tevarin force had discreetly set up a staging post on the planet far away from Shoel to avoid detection. The 6th monitored transmissions and realized that this command center was being used to plan and coordinate operations across the Empire. Fearful that sending a message to command might alert the Tevarin to their presence, the 6th ordered comm-silence and waited for the next large HyperClay storm to sweep through the area. As these were fairly common in the area, they didn’t have long to wait. Using the storm to cover their approach, the 6th quickly took control of the base and eliminated all Tevarin enemies without a single loss of Marine life. Thanks to their lethal efficiency, they were able to seize massive amounts of Tevarin intelligence including hideout locations, weapon caches, and personnel manifests. High Command was able to use this intel to thwart numerous upcoming attacks on the UEE.
From this operation, the platoon took the nickname that’s still with them to this day: the Phantoms. They also became High Command’s most trusted unit for delicate operations. When the Vanduul threat first presented itself, the 6th was again called into action. The Phantoms rotated through various systems that were suffering raids and repeatedly distinguished itself. For centuries, the 6th’s seizure of the Tevarin base remained their most famous engagement, even though the Historical Truth Act would later reveal many other operations that were just as, if not more, incredible.
While the Phantoms’ bravery when facing down bloodthirsty enemies is unquestioned, the platoon has also proven capable of pulling off the most sensitive clandestine operations. The full extent of their covert operations remains classified today, but one never before acknowledged mission was recently revealed.
On May 3rd, 2812, a brilliant but disturbed scientist named Dr. Fayel declared the planet Leir II would sever all connection with the wider universe. Originally hired by the terraforming firm Hatfield & Harding to make the planet habitable, he became obsessed with keeping the planet ‘pure’ and convinced the workers to join his cause and reject anything or anyone not of the world they now called Mya.
Hatfield & Harding were furious and insisted that the UEE government intervene. The UEE refused, noting that Leir was still an unclaimed system and not under their legal jurisdiction. Still conscious of the recently deposed Messer regime’s legacy, the new government was reluctant to push their agenda on those not under its authority. Yet, the UEE had a problem that might force its hand: a government survey team had been dispatched to Leir II to appraise the terraforming operation as part of Hatfield & Harding’s push to make the system an official part of the UEE, and they were now trapped planetside unable to communicate with the outside universe.
While publicly insisting that they wouldn’t get involved, the UEE government secretly enlisted the Phantoms to locate and extract the survey team. The 6th Platoon knew that a situation with so many variables required a versatile ship, so they launched using the Valkyrie, a state of the art Anvil ship that had only recently been introduced to the UEE fleet. It was a wise decision that paid off once they discovered that the situation on Leir II was far worse than expected.
A bloody conflict had erupted between Hatfield & Harding security forces and Fayel’s loyalists, who had begun to call themselves ‘Outsiders’. Upon approaching the planet surface, the 6th Platoon’s Valkyries came under fire from both sides of the conflict. They quickly diverted their flight path, unwilling to engage with either side. Instead, the Phantoms discreetly dropped Tumbril C-series vehicles to sweep through the survey sites and help ascertain the team’s position.
Unbeknownst to the Marines, the survey team had been hiding inside an illegal mine opened by Dr. Fayel. After days of trying, the survey team figured out how to hack the comm system to send an emergency message. The 6th Platoon picked up the signal and raced to their position, but they weren’t the only ones – the Outsiders and the Hatfield & Harding security forces had also heard it. All three forces converged at the outpost, with the 6th Platoon managing to safely extract the entire team while under heavy fire from all sides.
Since the mission records were declassified, historians have studied every last detail of the Leir II engagement. From the impressively low casualty rate to the improvised tactical response, the incredible rescue has captured the imagination of thousands. Many wonder how many more daring covert ops the Phantoms have completed but the government continues to keep classified. Already, numerous additional petitions have been sent requesting the release of further records to allow a full telling of their history.
The 6th Platoon is currently deployed to the Vanduul front, though the government won’t disclose what their specific operational theater is. Considering the 6th’s past activity and illustrious history, it’s fair to say their mission is an important one. The Phantoms may not be as famous as Squadron 42 or even the 1st Marine Battalion, but history has shown that they have been instrumental in protecting the Empire. Simply, the 6th Platoon embodies the Marines’ ethos to serve the greater good and provide protection without requiring recognition.