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> Invasion
post Dec 21 2005, 01:11 PM
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Rebirth and Expansion

The death of ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky, followed by the election of Jerome Winson of Clan Wolf as ilKhan, marked the first time that the Clans were not led by a Kerensky. Instead of marking the beginning of an age of indecision and uncertainty, the next century came to be known as "The Golden Century." All facets of Clan society experienced a period of intense development and growth during this time. The worlds of the Pentagon were reconstructed, erasing the final scars of the Civil War. Nicholas Kerensky, like his father before him, was elevated to the level of a demi-god, and both his writings and recorded speeches became objects of reverence.

Exploration continued in the Kerensky Cluster, but exploitation of its worlds lagged for two reasons. One was the sheer lack of people trained to take advantage of any discoveries, and the other was the Grand Council's desire to keep Clan society on a short rein. This did not prevent the Clans from bidding for newly discovered worlds. Although most Clans established only small outposts on new worlds, Clan Wolf seems to have taken fuller advantage of what they owned. They established major industrial complexes on the cluster worlds of Paxon and Tiber, despite rumblings within the Grand Council against such extensive colonization.

The scientist and technician castes reached new heights of excellence during the Golden Century. They perfected artificial womb technology, rebuilt the Clans' industrial base, and made advances in virtually every field of endeavor. Not surprisingly, it was in military technology that they made the greatest, and ultimately the most devastating, advances.

In 2854, scientists from Clan Coyote carried the concept of the Mercury BattleMech to its logical extreme by developing a 'Mech with a completely modular weapons system. The result was an "OmniMech," a machine whose weaponry could be completely reconfigured or replaced by a few technicians to suit the situation in just a few hours. This was the first significant improvement of the BattleMech since its development by the Star League, and it gave the Clans tremendous flexibility, which they have used against us to great advantage. Because of the OmniMechs, Clan Coyote enjoyed a considerable advantage until the other Clans could create their own versions. This took several years.

At about the same time the OmniMechs were being developed, Clan Wolf scientists were working on an armored infantry suit. It protected a soldier, allowed him to keep up with 'Mechs, and enabled him to carry weaponry that could threaten 'Mechs. The Wolf Clan used the first of these powered armor suits in 2868, when two Stars of Clan Wolf infantry defeated a light Star of Clan Nova Cat OmniMechs during a Trial of Possession.

Both the battle armor and those wearing it were called "Elementals" because they could fight in any element: air, water, fire, earth, or even space. It is interesting to note that some passages of The Remembrance mention specific elements when referring to the battle armor, which suggests that early versions of the units functioned in specific environments. The scientist caste began breeding larger and physically stronger warriors who could better cope with the strain of wearing the armor. Other technological and biological advances resulted in the Clans boasting troops of genetically superior Elementals before 25 years had passed.

During the Golden Century, the Clans matured into a society totally unlike anything with which we are familiar. Discussions with various Loremasters indicate that it was during this era that the Clans began to foster a hatred for the peoples of the Inner Sphere. Though The Remembrance couches the Clan's sentiments in quasi-religious tones, their view of us is made clear. We are considered unenlightened savages living in luxury, while a far more civilized people is forced to live on hostile worlds far from Terra. In particular, they developed a strong contempt for the five major Houses, whom they consider responsible for the Star League's fall. Clan warriors see the worlds of the Inner Sphere, especially those of the former Terran Hegemony, as virtual paradises, but their view is distorted by both bitterness and idealization.

Crusaders' Call
By 2980 many in the Clans were ready to return to the Inner Sphere. Citing The Remembrance, warriors noted that three generations had passed many times over, and that it was time to reestablish the Star League and end their self-imposed exile. This zealous faction called itself the "Crusaders." Other warriors embraced the Crusaders' views, not because they believed in the faction's interpretation of The Remembrance, but because they saw the Inner Sphere as an opportunity to prove themselves. Even the lower castes, particularly the merchants, who were always eager for new markets, began to agree that the Hidden Hope would be resolved by the Clans' return to the Inner Sphere.

The Grand Council had strong reservations about returning, mainly because of an almost total lack of information about events in the Inner Sphere since the Exodus. They expressed the fear that the Inner Sphere had not gone up in flames as predicted, but was united, as strong as or stronger than the Clans.

The council decided to form Intelser, an intelligence service whose operatives would move cautiously toward the Inner Sphere to gather information. Operatives traveling as independent traders made contact with and infiltrated the Periphery states, relaying what they learned to the Clans. By 2984, a somewhat confused picture of the Inner Sphere had begun to emerge.

The Clans learned that there had, indeed, been a holocaust, called the Succession Wars, as predicted by Aleksandr Kerensky. However, they mistakenly believed that the technological level of the Periphery domains was typical of the entire Inner Sphere. The Grand Council decided that the Inner Sphere was not a military threat. Those who wanted to return claimed that the conditions laid out by General Order 137 proved that the time was ripe: "When the time is right, when the strength of our will and our honor is humanity's only hope to struggle up from the ashes, only then can our strong descendants make the long journey to the home that is rightfully ours." The Crusaders felt these conditions had been fulfilled. The Grand Council agreed to discuss the Crusaders' call to arms, and thus began what would become known as the Great Debate.

The Clans eventually formed two camps, the Crusaders and the Wardens. The Crusaders were those who favored an immediate return to the Inner Sphere to reestablish the Star League according to the writings of the Kerenskys. The Wardens, on the other hand, believed that the Kerenskys had never meant their words to be read so literally. They asserted that the words were meant not as a command to future generations, but to stir courage. They believed the Clans' destiny was to develop their own culture, separate from the tainted ways of the Inner Sphere, but willing and able to come to the Inner Sphere's aid if menaced by any outside threat.

Though challenged to do so, the Wardens never clearly articulated what they meant by "outside threat." Some suggested intelligent life forms from beyond human-conquered space. Others made reference to the possibility of a despotic domain in the Inner Sphere whose principles ran so contrary to human decency that the Wardens would feel compelled to intervene.

At most, said the Wardens, the Clans should establish only the coolest of relations with the domains of the Inner Sphere, returning only if invited or if the Successor States collapsed through their own folly. Both sides supported their arguments with the writings of the Kerenskys, but neither side could claim a majority and force the issue. Individual Clans were divided over the issue, most being split almost evenly between the two suggested courses of action. This is the most divisive issue that the Clans have ever faced.

The debate lasted months, then years, during which the Crusaders slowly mustered a majority. Though Clan Wolf remained primarily Warden, even their influence could not stem the tide of support for the Crusaders.

Dragoon Compromise
In 3000, Khan Nadia Winson of Clan Ghost Bear, sensing that the Crusaders had finally gained the upper hand, attempted to force the issue with a vote. She was stymied when Khan Kerlin Ward of Clan Wolf suggested a clever compromise. Khan Kerlin Ward contended that not enough information was yet available to make such an important decision. He proposed sending a sizable Clan force, under the guise of a mercenary unit, into the Inner Sphere to judge its military, economic, and political might, providing the Grand Council with a detailed report of the strengths and weaknesses of their future opponents.

The Grand Council agreed the plan had merit, and Clan Wolf was awarded the honor of mustering the force. Rather than risk their best fighters, they planned to use freebirths and other low-regarded warriors. If these warriors performed well, they would be rewarded by having their genes added to the gene pool.

The unit was dubbed "Wolf's Dragoons." Commanding the multi-regiment unit were Jaime and Joshua Wolf, controversial choices because both were freebirth. Many of the Clans balked at this choice, but the Grand Council finally decided that Clan Wolf had the right to outfit and staff the Dragoons as they saw fit. The roster of the Dragoons included several Bloodnamed warriors who volunteered for the mission, among them a young and feisty Natasha Kerensky.

The Dragoons left for the Inner Sphere in 3004, outfitted with pre-Exodus BattleMechs from some of the oldest Brian Caches. Other vehicles and equipment were retro-fitted with pre-Exodus parts to prevent advanced technology from accidentally falling into the hands of the Inner Sphere. Young freebirth "dependents" rounded out the appearance of a nomadic mercenary company.

The Dragoons made contact with the Inner Sphere a year later, after making a long, circuitous journey to prevent the curious from discovering their point of origin. They went on to make their historic circuit of service through the Inner Sphere, gathering detailed information on each of the governments and militaries they served. In 3009, the unit returned to the Clans for refitting. They also filed their first-hand reports on the Inner Sphere.

The Dragoons' reports contrasted significantly with the previous Clan perception of the Inner Sphere. The Dragoons reported that the Inner Sphere was not on the verge of collapse, but on the road to recovery. This revelation further divided the Grand Council. The Dragoons were ordered to return to the Inner Sphere and continue their mission, while the Clans considered the implications of their new information.

The Dragoons returned, but near the end of the Third Succession War, their intelligence reports to the Grand Council began to slow, for no known reason. It is possible the Dragoons found the freedom of the Inner Sphere, where there were no real castes and where growing old as an active warrior was accepted, to their liking. On the other hand, the death of Joshua Wolf may have played a key role in turning Jaime and the rest of the Dragoons away from the Clans' grand scheme. The Grand Council was unprepared for the Dragoons' sudden reticence, and could not agree on how to react or how to supplement their intelligence-gathering efforts.

The Wardens and Crusaders squared off for a new, more hotly contested debate in late 3029 when rumors from the Periphery suggested a possible union between the Federated Suns and the Lyran Commonwealth. The Crusaders claimed that if the rumors were true, such a union would represent a major obstacle to any attempt by the Clans to restore the Star League.

Khan Ulric Kerensky, successor to Khan Kerlin Ward in Clan Wolf, stalled a decisive vote in the Grand Council long enough for news of the Fourth Succession War to reach the Clans. This new war took much of the steam out of the Crusaders' argument that the Inner Sphere was on the verge of reunification. Khan Ulric took advantage of the situation by sponsoring a proposal to postpone the Great Debate until the end of the Fourth Succession War. The proposal was narrowly accepted, but Khan Ulric Kerensky had antagonized the leaders of Clan Jade Falcon, the most radical of the Crusader Clans.

I was stunned to discover that the incident that eventually tipped the scales in favor of invasion was triggered by our own Blessed Order. One day a ROM exploration vessel, "Outbound Light," appeared at a jump point near Huntress, a world dominated by Clan Smoke Jaguar. Sensing an opportunity but fearing that the Inner Sphere might be on the verge of discovering the location of the Clan worlds, Khan Leo Showers ordered that the vessel be taken intact, with the crew unharmed. Instead of instantly informing the Grand Council of the capture, as might be expected, Khan Leo first interrogated the crew of the explorer ship for several days.

When Khan Leo finally notified the other Clans of his discovery, he did so with superior knowledge of the Inner Sphere situation and of how ComStar, a force previously unknown to the Clans, fit into the picture. By manipulating what he had learned, Khan Leo Showers forced the Clans to reopen the Great Debate and consider several new issues. Most convincing was his argument that our Blessed Order might soon uncover the location of the Clans, thus exposing them to the entire Inner Sphere. The thought of Inner Sphere forces invading the worlds of the Clan, instead of the converse, was unthinkable to most Grand Council members. Khan Leo Showers laid out the facts of what was happening in the Inner Sphere. The Federated Commonwealth was now a battle-proven, undeniable fact. Also, there had been a sudden recovery of lostech, and the Inner Sphere was far from falling into shambles. The Khan extrapolated that the Federated Commonwealth might well subdue the rest of the Inner Sphere and declare itself the Star League reborn. This was a travesty every Clansman would be willing to give his life to prevent. It was an extremely persuasive argument.

The result was a Grand Council vote in favor of invasion. Only Clan Wolf voted against. Khan Ulric Kerensky demanded a Trial of Refusal for Clan Wolf. The odds began at sixteen to one, but the bidding reduced the odds to four to one. The warriors of Clan Wolf fought bravely, particularly those of the Third Battle Cluster, who bore the brunt of the action. They nearly seized victory from Khan Leo Showers and his forces, but sheer numbers prevailed, leaving the Wolf force devastated. Khan Leo Showers took advantage of pro-Crusader sentiment, and was elected ilKhan of the Grand Council. Preparations to invade the Inner Sphere began immediately. Their plan was named Operation Revival.

IlKhan Leo Showers, satisfied that he would soon see his life's ambition fulfilled, issued a formal recall order to Wolf's Dragoons, calling upon "our valiant warriors in the barbarian hinterlands to return home," despite his long-standing disdain for the unit. The recall was actually an effort to prove once and for all that Wolf's Dragoons had turned their back on the Clans and could no longer be trusted. He hoped to imply by this that Clan Wolf was also suspect. Natasha Kerensky, the only living Bloodnamed warrior of the Dragoons, was the only Dragoon to return to the Clans when called, which seemed to prove the ilKhan's contention.

The invasion was halted when ComStar negotiated the use of Tukayyid as a proxy battlefield for Terra. If the Clans won, Terra would be theirs, while if they lost, the Clans would cease hostilities for a period of fifteen years, ending in 3067.
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