- "The time for diplomacy has passed, the Helghast do not see reason, they started this war when they invaded Vekta, and it's up to us to conclude it."
- —ISA spokesman, to UCBN News[src]
Operation Archangel was ISA Alpha Centauri's counter-invasion of Helghan in retaliation for the Helghan Empire's invasion of Vekta during the Second Extrasolar War. The objective was to quickly end the war by capturing Autarch Scolar Visari and replacing the Helghast regime with an easily controlled government. However, the ISA were underestimated by the fanatical tenacity of the Helghast and ultimately failed to accomplish their goals, costing nearly the entire loss of their invasion force in the nuclear destruction of Pyrrhus, and causing the death of Visari.
Prelude[edit | edit source]
Following the end of the conflict on Vekta in 2358, the United Colonial Army fleet that was sent to aid Vekta had deemed the situation stabilized and withdrawn from Alpha Centauri before giving the ISA with specific orders to restore the Helghan blockade, but not to take any other offensive action against the Helghan Empire, while awaiting the arrival and cooperation of a Judge Advocate General's inquisition team to investigate the matter. However, the Vektan Council were not receptive to the UCA orders under the belief that the United Colonial Nations would likely blame past decisions regarding treatment of the Helghast upon them for causing the war, and refusing to allow the Helghast go unpunished for the atrocities they committed on their world. Instead, the Council defied the UCA orders and pursued for ending the war against Helghan.
The Vektan Council made their main priorities to swiftly ending the war: remove the Helghast as a military threat, arresting Autarch Scolar Visari and wrestling away control of Helghan, and establishing an easily controlled regime to govern the planet, thus stopping the hatred and militarism that was the hallmark of Visari's reign and for the cause of the war. The Council chose the war hero and newly promoted Colonel Jan Templar in planning the invasion of Helghan and also tasked in the recovery of the Red Dust nuclear weapons that were stolen by the Helghast during their retreat from Vekta.
The operation consisted of three waves of assault with a total of 12 ISA battle groups. The first wave was to secure a local firebase and capture the Helghast capital of Pyrrhus. The second wave, led by Templar's Battle Group Mandrake, is tasked to capture Scolar Visari and eliminate the ground opposition as well as the remaining ships and orbital defenses. The third and final wave was in charge of deploying supporting troops to assist the ISA ground forces, aid the other battle groups and escort Battle Group Mandrake in their return to Vekta with Visari as a prisoner of war to be judge for his war crimes. By 2359 the ISA put the plan into effect, acting against the mandate of the UCN.
However, the invasion would soon failed as the ISA forces sorely underestimated the sheer scale of the Helghan defenses and resolve, as well as failing to take into account the charismatic leadership of Scolar Visari and the fanatical Colonel Mael Radec.
Invasion[edit | edit source]
Upon their arrival to Helghan, the ISA invasion force engaged against the Helghast's orbital fleet and quickly establishing a total orbital blockade. However, the invasion force were unprepared to suffered heavy losses from anti-orbital Arc Cannons and causing a temporarily setback to the invasion. ISA-sponsored mercenaries were sent planetside to disable the cannons, allowing the ISA to deploy their troops to Pyrrhus while ISA ships bombard the city as cover for the ground assault. Despite facing stiff resistance from the Helghast, which saw both sides taking large amounts of casualties, the ISA were able to capture Visari Square and the Helghan Military Academy. Just as the ISA prepare to attack the Imperial Palace, Colonel Mael Radec activated a network of Arc Towers hidden beneath Pyrrhus, killing hundreds of ISA soldiers and stopping their advance on the Palace.
ISA weapons researcher Evelyn Batton identified the Arc weapons' power source in which Colonel Templar tasked Alpha Squad in finding the main Petrusite source of the city's defenses. Alpha Squad soon discovered the location of the Petrusite distribution grid in the Maelstra Barrens, and Templar made preparations to disable the Petrusite grid and depowering Pyrrhus's defenses. Before Templar could disable the grid, Battle Group Mandrake came under a surprise counter-attack by the last remnants of the Helghast orbital fleet, led by Colonel Radec, boarding or destroying several ships in the process. Templar's flagship New Sun was heavily damaged and boarded by the Helghast led by Radec, who then killed Templar and extracted the nuclear launch codes from the ship's computers to rearm the stolen ISA nuclear weapons. A dying Templar maneuvered the New Sun to crash directly into the Petrusite grid, shutting down the Helghast's Arc network.
While Templar's actions allowed the ISA an opening to Visari Palace, Visari detonated a Red Dust nuclear warhead over Pyrrhus, killing most of the ISA forces and city's population. Prior to the detonation, Radec had ordered the Helghast Army's senior officers and their forces to move out of the blast zone within ten kilometers from the Corinth River while sacrificing their forces that remained in the city in order from alerting the ISA to the nuclear weapon's deployment. The remaining ISA forces fell under the command of Captain Jason Narville, who managed to avoid the nuclear explosion entirely, due to being situated outside the capital city in the Helghan desert wastes while conducting rescue operations. This small contingent then gathered any surviving troops and launched a desperate, all-out attack on Visari's Palace to capture the dictator.
After a brutal battle between Visari's Palace Guards and the remaining ISA forces, the Helghast were driven back to the massive entrance of the Palace where they fought, and died, to the last man. Colonel Radec was mortally wounded and committed suicide for failing to protect Visari. After securing the Palace, Alpha Squad members Sergeant Tomas Sevchenko and Rico Velasquez were sent to confront Visari and finally place him under arrest. But the ISA's chances of ending the war was quickly undone when Sergeant Velasquez impulsively killed Visari out of anger. Captain Narville arrived to the scene of Visari's death too late and desperately had ISA medics to resuscitate the Autarch but to no avail. Soon after Visari's death, the Helghast First Army under Admiral Orlock launched a surprise attack on the ISA, forcing the ISA to make a desperate retreat from Helghan.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
The ISA completely failed in their goals to capture Visari and nullifying any chance of ending the war. The ISA invasion force were nearly decimated by the detonation of the nuclear weapon in Pyrrhus and the subsequent Helghast counterattack that destroyed the remainder of the ISA fleet during a chaotic retreat from Helghan and subsequently stranding ISA personnel that were unable to be evacuated. In the next six months, the Vektan Colonial Government would agreed to a ceasefire with the Helghast.
With Scolar Visari dead, the Helghast became now more hellbent than ever on destroying the ISA and UCN for the death of their leader and the devastation of their capital. However, the loss of Visari led to a tenuous political power struggle between the factions of Admiral Orlock and Chairman Jorhan Stahl of Stahl Arms.