Following the defeat of the majority of the Xani Restorers space navy by Fleet Command, a major campaign into the heart of their space was initiated. The arrival at the major Xani colony world of Xurt resulted in the full capabilities of the Xani's planetary defense grids to be made known. They consisted of interlocking planet wide deflector shields, powerful ground based PDA's capable of destroying a battleship in orbit, and interlocking AAA systems capable of incinerating anything that got past the shields and PDA's. Actual defenses on the ground remained obscured, and at the advice of Land Command and with the backing of the National Council desiring to retaliate for the awakened empires own use of mega weapons, it was decided to destroy Xurt outright with the Sword of Terra. The act was accomplished on April 15, 2636.
By 2639, Terran Fleet Command and the Star Concord Joint Strike Command had at last seized control of the high orbitals of the Xani capital system, and the two primary inhabited worlds. Core, and its moon boundary. If the defenses of Xurt had seemed daunting, the capital system was itself even more so. Land Command again requested the use of the Sword of Terra to destroy both planets, fearing the hideous cost of attempting to capture them. This time however the National Council refused. The ancient technologies that could be found on the planets were simply too tempting a prize to be ignored. Land Command was ordered to take them intact. Such was the importance the National Council placed on this mission, that more then a billion troops were allocated to the task under the personal command of the Marshall of Land Force Command himself who was dispatched from Earth to take overall command.
FIRST PHASE- THE ORBITAL ASSAULT
On September 5th, 2639, Fleet Command moved into low orbit and commenced a planetary bombardment of Core. The planet was said to "glow like a sun" at the fury of missile, kinetic and energy attacks unleashed upon it. While the bombardment blazed harmlessly across the Xani's planetary shield, the defenders were able to modulate their shield frequencies to return fire with powerful kinetic PDA rail guns through a system of flickering. The Xani planet shield was in fact two overlaid shields, and when the PDA's fired, the first lower shield was lowered allowing the projectiles to pass through it, whereupon it was snapped back into existence and the second outer shield would drop allowing the planetary defenders to engage the Terran warships in orbit who continues to pound futilely on the shields. Casualties began to mount, as smaller corvettes and destroyers desperately interposed themselves between the capital ships and the planet.
Observing the method by which the Xani used the interlocking fields did however reveal a glaring weakness. The large space between the two interlocking shields, while too small for a warship to operate in, had plenty of room for a human sized object. Mainly, Land Command Orbital Drop Infantry. The order was given for the ODI to prepare for an unsupported drop. Troop carriers in high orbit unleashed over a million of these highly trained and elite special forces who began the long and dizzying unsupported fall to the planet. Equipped with the most state of the art powered armor, these troops were able to position themselves at the top of the first shield and immediately drop below it when it dropped to allow the Xani projectiles to pass through. The process was again repeated for the second shield, and the ODI were now in free fall to the planets surface.
Thousands were killed, either by stray fire from the PDA's and Fleet Commands warships, or by impacting with the shields themselves. Hundreds of thousands made it through however, and moved to land near the shield generators. It took precious minutes for the Xani to realize what was going on but when they did hideous amounts of AAA was unleashed in an effort to take out the troops, but the defense grid had not been calibrated to deal with an object the size of a man falling from orbit. Once on the ground the ODI moved on the shield generators, taking dozens of them down and causing gaps to form in the planets covering. The Xani moved swiftly to attempt to retake the facilities, the troopers soon found themselves being overwhelmed by monstrous biological constructs of titanic size, battle androids and even brain burned slaves the Xani had collected over the years. Their findings of the surface based defenses would prove invaluable to the Robert Duggin, the Marshall of Land Command who was directing the operations.
SECOND PHASE- INVASION
While the ODI had been successful in creating breaches in the planetary defense, the ground based defenders of the planet moved swiftly to overrun and exterminate them. Within 24 hours the ODI had sustained 90% casualties, and the secured imagery broadcasted up to the orbiting fleet depicted scenes of horror that to this point had only been seen in the darkest days of the NEX rebellion. Undeterred, the largest Army Groups ever assembled began to initiate a forced invasion of the planet. Supported by Fleet Command bombardments the landing craft hurtled to the surface and into the face of the withering defensive fire. The breaches in the shields, while allowing the invasion to commence were also obvious as the entry points for Terran soldiers, and the Xani defenders moved to concentrate the forces to cover them. More then 5 million troops were incinerated in the first 30 minutes, but enough began to get through, especially after Land Command abandoned trying to get its landing craft to the surface and instead began dropping troops and equipment in the lower atmosphere before rocketing back to orbit. Inch by Inch, the desperate Terran invaders began to establish their beachheads on the planets surface.
Furiously counterattacking against them, the Xani unleashed the full extent of their eldritch abominations. Towering cybernetic battlesuits advanced, escorting swarms of crazed "xenomorph" bio weapons. Battalions of androids shaped like monstrous nightmares and armed with a wide variety of energy, chemical and biological weapons sowed havoc in the ranks of the invading army. Yet even in the face of this, Terran resolve refused to break, and as the beachhead slowly expanded Land Command was able to bring down more of its heavy equipment from orbit. Swarms of the Xenomorphs suddenly found themselves being incinerated by concentrated artillery fire, the mighty Xani battle-suits were brought down under the concentrated railgun fire of the Terran tanks, and the Android legions were cut down by millions of combat rifles.
By the second week, more then 100 million soldiers had been killed and another 30 million had been evacuated to orbit for injuries. The gross disparity in death to injury ratios underscoring the horrific nature of the fighting, which at times had devolved into furious hand to hand combat with the soldiers using their short swords in desperate grappling contests as the Xani's defenders threw themselves on their ranks. The land around the shield breaches itself heaving with the impacts of heavy ordinance and the air rapidly becoming too toxic to breathe. Regions of a pristine gaia planet reduced to a shattered hellscape.
By mid October, Land command had been able to get around half of its forces onto the ground. With more forces at hand, the battle began to take on a more conventional campaign of maneuver as the Generals began directing the breakout from the beachhead landing sites. The overall objective of their efforts being the capture of the remaining shield generators and taking down the planetary defense grid. While fighting on the surface and away from the shield breaches, the Army could not rely on orbital fire support from fleet command and had to fall back onto its own efforts. The Xani, realizing quickly what the objective of the Terran invaders was moved to frustrate their efforts, even going so far as to construct trenches to fortify the PDA emplacements and shield generators. Such efforts proved increasingly futile as the invasion gathered momentum, but added to the chaos and difficulty of the fighting as assaulting troops were forced into more close quarters fighting. The need to go into darkened bunker complexes to flush out the defending forces also adding the stress imposed on the troops. However, much like their defeated navy, the Xani "Army", which consisted entirely of non-xani androids, constructs, and bioweapons, was used haphazardly and inefficiently. The Xani commanders frequently made glaring tactical and strategic errors that were viciously exploited by the Terran Army. Yet even with these advantages the conflict remained a bloody and grinding affair.
FINAL PHASE- NEUTRON SWEEP AND SURRENDER
As more and more of the PDA's and shield generators were taken down by the advancing Terran Soldiers, more and more of the Xani planetary surface became exposed to the fire of Fleet Command from orbit. Retreating towards their capital cities, the Xani Army made the desperate decision to enlist actual Xani into its ranks to augment their own rapidly depleting slave and android forces. In desperation, the Xani even began to employ the use of Nuclear Weapons in an effort to blunt the Terran advance, though the hardened battle suits and equipment of Land Command offered strong protections unless the troops were in close proximity to the blasts. The Xani Leadership itself, hiding safely behind the lines even began drawing up plans to attempt an escape to the moon of Boundary, which at this point had remained ignored by the Terran forces who had focused on the larger and more important Core.
As the Casualty rates had continued to spiral out of control, Fleet Command began looking into options for bringing the battle to a more rapid close while still achieving the national councils primary mission goal of securing the two Xani worlds largely intact. Scientists on the Sword of Terra proposed an alteration to the ships weapon system. Instead of a concentrated energy blast that could split the planet apart, they could instead attempt a wide angle and dispersed beam that would cause compex biological material to break down but leave inorganic (like the Xani's technology) intact. The project was approved and by the end of December, the Sword of Terra was deemed ready to try out the modified weapon.
On Januarary 10th, 2640, the Sword of Terra unleashed its attack on Boundary, "bathing" the planet in the neon blue glow of high energy particles and neutron radiation. Within 24 hours, all organic matter on the planet had disintegrated. The attack could be seen by the desperate Xani defenders on the surface of Core, and when news of what had happened to Boundary reached them morale collapsed within the ranks. Within days the vast majority of the Xani soldiers, who had been haphazardly pressed into service unwillingly, began to surrender in droves to the Terran Army. The Xani generals staff would attempt to hold things together with their remaining androids and Xenomorphs, but as the sound of Terran guns grew ever closer to Cores capital city, a mutiny by lower ranking Xani soldiers resulted in the Senior Xani leadership being killed by what amounted to a coup by junior officers who began to broadcast a general planet wide surrender. Exhausted by months of fighting that by now had claimed nearly 300 million Terran lives and injured yet another 300 million more, the Terran Army was more then happy to accept the surrender of their enemy.
Victorious Land Force Command troops entered the capital city of Xana unopposed as fearful xani civilians looked on in a mixture of confusion, horror and a strange sense of relief that the battle was over. The Marshall of Land Force Command, Robert Duggin, who had personally directed the largest land campaign in galactic history strode triumphantly into the throne room of the Xani Emperor, who had himself been killed in the junior officers' coup. Standing upon the imperial "nest" which was the position of ultimate authority in their culture, he accepted the unconditional surrender of the Xani Restorers. Terran troops then began to fan out across the planet, securing key sites and objects of technological importance for later study.
The Battle of Core was the largest planetary assault in galactic history and utilized nine entire Army Groups of the Terran Army. The Terran Victory on the planets surface broke the power of the Xani permanently, though some of their scattered forces refused to acknowledge defeat and would require several more years to be hunted down. The Presence of allied Star Concord warships in orbits also made it impossible to hide the scale of the battle and its hideous cost from the greater galaxy, and as such the Ministry of Public Enlightenment opted instead to show the citizens of the GTU and the greater galaxy footage of the battle largely unedited. The scenes of unrelenting carnage as millions of soldiers willingly dropped into a maelstrom of almost certain death greatly raised the profile and positive opinion of Terran Martial Prowess in the minds of most alien species. Many were forced to realize the limitations of their military and governing institutions, as well as what the true cost of the Second Galactic War.
Within the GTU itself, support for the armed forces was greatly enhanced, along with a feeling of greater racial cohesion between the humans and the various alien species that had been incorporated into the Union. Due to the necessity of needing differently sized equipment and food rations, individual Army Divisions had been divided among species lines, with entire divisions consisting entirely of one species. The carnage of the surface of core however shredded these formations, and members of individual divisions often found themselves in ad hoc formations united by the necessity of simple survival. Imagery broadcasted from the front line would show humans, rixians, wessari and others fighting alongside each other against overwhelming odds.
Politically, as the enormity of the casualties became known, many within the Assembly and general population began to question the National Councils wisdom in forcing a landing rather then utilizing the Sword of Terra. Marshall Duggin was subject to intense criticism upon his return to Earth, with many accusing him of being a butcher who used what amounted to human wave tactics to accomplish the objective. Later hearings in the Assembly would later choose to exonerate him, determining that the enormous depth of the Xani's planetary defense grid made success impossible without the attending enormous sacrifice. It was noted however, that the development of the neutron sweep several months into the battle made the invasion largely unnecessary. Such protests did became muted as the enormous trove of technology and resource production on the planet became apparent, as well as its idyllic biosphere. Such things could very well have been lost had the Sword been deployed.
For the Xani, defeat on core marked the end of their civilization, and all members of their species were expelled. Galactic hostility to the Xani remained high, and these refugees would find themselves facing an itinerant life in makeshift convoys passing from system to system. Even the normally xenophilic Star Concord turned these refugees away, due to the enormous damage the Xani had inflicted on their planets and people. The Xani would spend centuries living on bulk freighters and abandoned orbital habitats before ultimately finding places to stay within the expanding protectorates of the GTU.