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> PRIMER: Clan Ghost Bear, From ClassicBattleTech.com
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post Dec 21 2005, 01:16 PM
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Clan Ghost Bear
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The white seems to stretch away forever. Only the distant mountains rising majestically into the blue skies interrupt the scenery. Though they seem close enough to reach in the journey of an hour or two, one could trek for many days without reaching their mist-shrouded foothills. These plains and mountains give a home to our namesake. The mighty ghost bear presides over Strana Mechty's southernmost continent. To even catch a glimpse of the bear, you must travel the open expanse of snow for many days, always moving toward the mountains. It is when you feel ready to turn back to the comfort of your base camp, exhausted and defeated, that you will realize that you are not alone. A palpable presence makes the bile rise in your throat, so thick you nearly choke on it. Yet your eyes, your window to the real world, see nothing. Suddenly, you focus on movement. White-cloaked lynx bounds across the tundra, its paws digging gaping wounds in the snow as it accelerates. As the cat passes through your field of vision, the ground directly in front of you erupts in a living cloud of snow that leaps after the running lynx. You stare, and you realize that the cloud of snow swirls around your namesake, the legendary Ghost Bear. Though you do not understand how this huge beast remained invisible, you cannot deny that only moments ago you saw no living thing. As the bear gives chase, snow sloughs off its back, revealing massively muscled flanks covered in pure white fur. The hapless lynx turns and twists in a vain attempt to throw its pursuer off the chase, but the hunter will not be denied. You stare, transfixed by the spectacle. The bear lunges through the heavy layers of snow as easily as a fish swimming through water. Its howl assaults your ears, terrifying and hauntingly sweet all at once. The bear's deadly claws glint in the morning light as its paw, large as your head, smashes into the frantic cat at blinding speed. Crimson stains the pristine white carpet, and the lynx goes down surrounded by a cloud of steam. The giant beast moves in for the feast, and still you stand and stare. The ghost bear remains unaware of your presence, and you watch it gulp down huge mouthfuls of raw meat The battle took only a few, scant seconds, yet every detail bums with a distinct light in your mind. You pray that you are as efficient when it falls to you to be the hunter…

- From the ritual words spoken by the Clan Ghost Bear Loremaster on the eve of the Clawing ritual

[hr]

Children of the Bear, hearken to my words:
Be always vigilant.
Learn for yourselves that which your forebears imparted So easily and freely;
Demand of yourselves
The foresight of Jorgensson
And the courage of Tseng;
Through them, we are strong.
To them a debt is owed,
Repaid through loyalty undying and Character unflinching.


- From the Oath of Acceptance, Clan Ghost Bear

[hr]

The Ghost Bear of Strana Mechty is a truly awesome beast. Though similar in appearance to the polar bear of Terra's arctic region, the ghost bear is larger and stronger, some specimens having been recorded as standing more than five meters tall when reared up on their hind legs. Unlike the polar bear's fur, which shows a yellowish cast, the ghost bear's coat is pure white. Even the ghost bear's eyes and nose are a pale gray that appears nearly white, and its coloration makes the bear practically invisible against snow, even when running at full speed. Its size limits the ghost bear's ability to pursue its prey for any length time, and so rather than running down its quarry, the bear lies in wait on the fringes of its prey's territory, using its keen sense smell to locate likely hunting spots. The ghost bear then buries itself in the snow to enhance its camouflage, remaining completely motionless, often for days at a time. The bear apparently enters a state of semi-hibernation while awaiting a potential me conserving energy but remaining acutely aware of its surroundings all the while. The ghost bear takes its name from both its coloration and from its apparent ability to materialize from nothing.

Nicholas Kerensky chose this seemingly brutish animal a the namesake for one of his Clans for more than its physic prowess. He also admired the loyalty it showed to its family ghost bears mate for life and maintain a tenuous connection t their offspring, a trait almost unknown in the animal kingdom Nicholas also believed that the ghost bear represented a strong respect for tradition. He characterized ghost bears as clinging stubbornly to their instincts, only reluctantly changing the habits and behaviors to adapt to environmental and situation changes. The ghost bear survives its apparent lack of adaptability with an extremely hardy constitution and high birth rate.

Like its namesake, Clan Ghost Bear has also survived, often in spite of itself, by virtue of its methodical persistence and the success of the Clan breeding program. The traditions of strength and stability on which Clan Ghost Bear prides itself can be traced back to its founders, the only married couple to help establish a Clan. The founders of Clan Ghost Bear receive equal reverence from its warriors, so much so that most believe that neither Sandra Tseng or Hans Jorgensson could have forged the Clan alone.

TIME OF DECISION

The General's intent was clearly stated, To depart and never return.
He forced none but swayed many;
This compassionate, brilliant man
Had led thousands to victory,
And he would again lead the long march.

-The Remembrance (Clan Ghost Bear), Passage 8, Verse 6, Lines 12-17

General Aleksandr Kerensky defeated Stefan Amaris's troops on Terra in 2779, thereby ending nearly a decade of tyranny by the Usurper of the Star League. Another four years passed before he finally accepted the ideological death of the Star League in the Inner Sphere and decided to do something about it. No longer willing to live in a "civilization that spurns the ideals it once professed to hold so dear," General Kerensky proposed to the loyal soldiers of the Star League Defense Force that the only way to preserve the Star League and honor those who had died in its service was for the people in whose hearts and souls the spirit of that noble body resided to leave the Inner Sphere and reject the cruel age upon which it seemed intent to embark.

The general's "orders" for Operation Exodus stated that any who wished to join this brave venture would be accepted at any time until 5 November 2784, one day prior to the scheduled jump. Under any other circumstances, the architects of Clan Ghost Bear would have remained on New Samarkand and died as loyal citizens of the Inner Sphere.

Sandra Tseng and Hans Ole Jorgensson were kindred spirits united by circumstance. Born in the year that Richard Cameron came of age and took the reins of the Star League from his regent, General Aleksandr Kerensky, both grew up dreaming of becoming warriors in the SLDF. They trained hard to complete their MechWarrior training, she in Liao space and he in Kurita. Newly graduated and untried in combat, Tseng and Jorgensson joined the steady trickle of troops who, against the orders of their governments, continued to travel to General Kerensky's current theater of operations. They were blooded in the battle to retake Terra, Jorgensson in Europe and Tseng in North America, and met at a celebration held to honor the dead and welcome the liberators. They fell madly in love.

Married a short time later, Tseng and Jorgensson continued to serve in the SLDF, but were forced to question the strength of their loyalty to their leader when Kerensky announced the Exodus to his troops. Though the couple agreed that the deteriorating situation in the Inner Sphere appeared unlikely to improve and that the only sure way to preserve the Star League was to remove its heart and transplant it to an uncorrupted realm, they doubted Kerensky's ability to oversee a peaceful effort such as the Exodus. In addition, both had families in the Inner Sphere that they felt reluctant to leave behind, no matter how noble the cause. They decided to stay behind and defend whatever remained of the League.

Stationed on New Samarkand at the time of the Exodus, Sandra and Hans did their part in preparations for the departure. As the ships hung at the jump points waiting for the go order, a steady stream of SLDF soldiers visited the planet on their final shore leave, and many single and married soldiers tried to convince the couple to join the Exodus. Though these conversations must have eroded their confidence in their decision to stay, neither would admit to having second thoughts.

On the day before the fleet made its historic jump, General Kerensky spoke to his assembled forces, both the soldiers on the ground and in space, those joining the Exodus and those remaining behind. Hans and Sandra listened to the general's impassioned words with rapt attention. Though the words were familiar, only when they came directly from the general's mouth did they convey the hopes and dreams of a true visionary. Ghost Bear legend claims that the moment the general finished his speech, the couple looked into each other's eyes and each saw the other's desire to join the Exodus. They never said the words but immediately made arrangements to join the great adventure, boarding the warship Prinz Eugen that same evening. Loremasters from other Clans who wish to cast aspersions on the couple will claim that the couple initially declined to join the Exodus simply to avoid making a difficult decision. Ghost Bear Loremasters willingly accept that theory, but say that it simply proves that their Clan's founders understood the true gravity of the commitment General Kerensky was asking them to make.

EXODUS UNREST

The uncertainty and inconvenience of the months-long journey coreward eventually became too much for some people to bear. Few ships in the Exodus fleet were designed to carry passengers, and most were overcrowded. The Prinz Eugen crammed hundreds of people into makeshift barracks in the vessel's cavernous cargo holds, and the freedom for which so many lives had been sacrificed seemed a pipe dream on the warship’s crowded decks. Though the decision to return to the Inner Sphere and make the best of that bad situation arose from more than a desperate desire for privacy, that alone might have been reason enough.

While it was the ship's officers who led the rebellion, they had the silent support of a majority of their passengers. These people willingly abandoned the familiar for the promised land only to find themselves trapped in space and denied the right to change their minds. General Kerensky's unwavering refusal to respond to numerous petitions asking him to reconsider his scheme, and his inability or unwillingness to even hint at a destination or even a timetable seemed to leave the travelers on the Eugen little choice.

The passengers aboard the Eugen who argued against the mutiny, Tseng and Jorgensson among them, represented a vocal minority. Their pleas for the mutineers to trust Kerensky long enough for the general to answer their demands fell on deaf ears, and the general was forced to take swift action in order to save his dream. The general's decision to purge the officers of the Eugen shocked the entire fleet, and though General Order 137 laid to rest some of the resentment that began to build as a result of Kerensky's brutal actions, it seems clear that the Eugen incident represented the beginning of the end for unity among the Exodus fleet.
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post Dec 21 2005, 01:17 PM
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SECOND EXODUS

Tseng and Jorgensson settled on Babylon when the Exodus fleet arrived at the Pentagon worlds. By the time General Kerensky implemented his plan to decommission 75 percent of the military, Sandra was three months' pregnant. Blessed with quick intelligence, broad-based aptitudes and an eagerness to help wherever they were needed, Sandra and Hans adapted easily to life in the private sector when they tested out of the SLDF ranks. Both soldiers accepted Kerensky's plan as a solid first step on the road to lasting peace.

Though still only cautiously optimistic about their brilliant military leader's ultimate plan for maintaining a productive and tranquil society, the couple worked hard and managed to live in contentment for more than ten years, as they raised their son and contributed their skills to various industries on Babylon. Records also show that both former soldiers trained regularly in simulators to maintain their fighting skills.

Soon after dissatisfied ex-soldiers on Eden began violently agitating for a return to military service, Kerensky's society also began to show cracks along cultural lines. People of similar backgrounds had settled near each other, and the old political divisions offered a convenient way to decide between friend and enemy. Few people believed that the violence would spread to the remaining Pentagon worlds. Like many others, Tseng and Jorgensson went about their daily routines, trusting the general to lead them through this new test. Their confidence in Kerensky's peacetime leadership abilities was utterly destroyed when their son was killed by a stray bullet during a Lyran-Combine riot in a Babylon marketplace. With the meaning savagely torn from their lives, Tseng and Jorgensson fell with grief. Grief inevitably gave way to anger, and sooner than expected the pair petitioned Nicholas Kerensky to return to active service in his 146th Royal BattleMech Division. A cursory review of their records and a demonstration of their current level of skill on the 'Mech simulators were all Nicholas needed to draft them as MechWarriors.

When General Kerensky died while preparing a campaign plan to reunite the factions on Eden, the general populace responded by intensifying the violence, and the now-leaderless military fell into complete disarray. With strong support in the fledgling colonies of the Cluster, but none in the cities of the Pentagon worlds, Nicholas accepted the challenge of finding a way to preserve his father's dream and began to formulate his plan for a second Exodus. He enlisted the services of Tseng and Jorgensson, whom he considered reassuringly level-headed, to help him reach those who might join him in this second attempt to preserve some vestige of the Star League. For six months the couple traveled the Pentagon worlds in an effort to find followers to support their new leader. They soon discovered that the local military leaders enjoyed much stronger support than Nicholas, who was regarded as a poor successor to his poorly regarded father. (Though both Aleksandr and Nicholas Kerensky eventually gained nearly godlike status among the Clans, his disillusioned followers rejected Aleksandr in the years following his death for his failure to deliver his people to the promised land.) Despite this widespread lack of interest in Nicholas's plan, Tseng and Jorgensson found a majority of the Pentagon worlds' scientists and laborers eager to accompany Nicholas into the scarcely populated Kerensky Cluster.

A NEW BEGINNING

In order to conceive the plan of designing a completely new society, Nicholas must have recognized his father's mistake of failing to offer his followers a focus for their lives. Those who joined him in the second Exodus understood that from the moment they stepped foot on Strana Mechty as a people apart from the original Exodus fleet, their lives would be completely different. Nicholas intended to change everything about social relationships that caused division and chaos, and he needed the wholehearted support of every man, woman and child. Sandra Tseng and Hans Jorgensson were two of his most ardent advocates, turning their persuasive skills and practical arguments to convincing people of the wisdom of Nicholas's way. His trusted and valuable aides therefore took it particularly hard when they learned their assigned roles in their leader's new society: they were to help shape two different Clans. Nicholas soundly reasoned that it was better to evenly distribute one's prime assets in order to gain maximum benefit, and though Nicholas did not overestimate the couple's devotion to the Clans, he seriously underestimated their. devotion to one another. Long before he chose to formally declare mating nothing more than a means to achieve a more perfect society, Nicholas asked Tseng and Jorgensson to abandon the ideal of marriage for love and subsume it to the greater good of the future.

In an eerie parallel to their deliberations concerning the original Exodus, Tseng and Jorgensson carefully weighed the circumstances, costs and consequences, and regretfully chose to reject the new life they so fervently believed in order to remain together. Their decision made, the couple quietly packed survival kits and disappeared into Strana Mechty's southernmost continent. Though none would have questioned Nicholas's decision to wash his hands of the pair and abandon them to their fate, apparently Nicholas's wife Jennifer Winson rightly pointed out that, regardless of the circumstances, Nicholas would have never considered, separating himself from his own wife. Wisely agreeing with his wife's logic, Nicholas quickly agreed to reassign the couple to the same Clan-as soon as he could find them.

Sandra Tseng and Hans Jorgensson fared badly against the brutal elements of the planet's Antarctic circle. Their survival kits proved inadequate for long-term operations in the bitter weather, and mishaps claimed their remaining supplies before three weeks had passed. Frostbitten and afraid, the couple crawled into a cave along the slopes of the forbidding Minsk range and comforted each other with the fact that, as they had wanted, they would die together.

What happened next more properly belongs to legend than history. According to the couple's story, the cave they chose also served as shelter for a ghost bear. When that intimidating creature returned to its den and saw the intruders, it rose to its full height, gave a heart-stopping roar, then sat on its haunches and stared at Sandra Tseng and Hans Jorgensson as if waiting for a reply. Without hesitation, they struggled to their feet and together let out a bloodcurdling war cry. As they clung to each other for support, the bear padded toward them on all fours, snuffling the air as he circled the humans. Overcome by fear and exhaustion, Tseng and Jorgensson collapsed, unconscious. When they next awoke, the first thought that struck them was that they felt warm for the first time since leaving the Clan settlement. The bear was sleeping curled around its human guests.

As soon as the couple stirred, the bear woke up, stretched and left the cave, returning moments later carrying a rabbit in its mouth. The huge beast laid the freshly killed rabbit on the floor of the cave, placed one immense paw on its prey's head, and bit its meal neatly in half. The bear gulped down the rabbit's hindquarters, then moved back to the mouth of the cave, sat on its haunches and stared at the humans. Sandra and Hans shared that meal and the next three the bear provided, slowly regaining their strength. Though they believed at first that they were hallucinating, it seemed that whenever they stumbled from the cave to drink or eliminate they saw their bear, each time a different size and marked differently by scars and other marks. On the third morning with the bear, the animal sat at the mouth of the cave staring out. When Tseng and Jorgensson looked to see what was holding its interest, they found five ghost bears of varying ages and sizes-some were wrestling, some were standing nose to nose and one was just arriving carrying a steaming rabbit in its mouth, which it laid at the mouth of the cave.

With this incident, Tseng and Jorgensson became the first witnesses to the ghost bear's lifelong attachment to its mate and offspring. Though others had made detailed accounts of the bear's hunting style and other habits, no one had discovered this unusual trait. Just as inspiration had struck the pair when they listened to General Kerensky's message for the Exodus, they now felt inspired to return to Nicholas with this remarkable evidence of the importance of family and to fight for the right to serve the Clans as a team.

On their long trek back to civilization, Tseng and Jorgensson encountered another facet of ghost bear behavior that they later incorporated into their Clan's rituals. Their journey took them across the border between two ghost bears' territories, and as they watched an adolescent bear move across the landscape one afternoon, a second bear of similar age rose up from where it was hidden in the snow and attacked the first. The couple found the brutal beauty of this deadly territorial dispute fascinating, and they shared a vow to honor the ghost bear by testing themselves against one as soon as they recovered from their ordeal. They met the search party Nicholas had sent out when they were nearly halfway home, and the renegade couple immediately announced their intention to return and challenge Nicholas's decision. When the leader of the search party replied with Nicholas's apology and an invitation to return and help him avoid similar mistakes in the future, the couple collapsed again, this time from joy and relief.
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post Dec 21 2005, 01:17 PM
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INCEPTION OF THE BEAR

The kinship of spirits is vital;
Without this connection there
Can be no true understanding.


- From the Oath of Acceptance, Clan Ghost Bear

Nicholas visited Tseng and Jorgensson as soon as doctors declared the pair fit to resume their normal activities. The story of how they survived their exile had spread quickly upon their return, and Nicholas solemnly announced that he intended to assign Tseng and Jorgensson to Clan Ghost Bear. He went on to suggest that they consider working toward a leadership position that h& intended to create for each Clan. First, though, they needed to test for a position in the Clan's newly reorganized military. In one of the briefest, most one-sided combat trials on record, Hans and Sandra laid waste to their opponents in an amazing display of teamwork and skill. In a matter of minutes, all six opposing 'Mechs were destroyed or disabled. When the smoke cleared, Tseng and Jorgensson were well on their way to becoming the leaders of Clan Ghost Bear.

Their adventure with the ghost bears gave the couple a certain cache among the other warriors of their Clan, who looked to them for guidance on how best to exemplify the finest traits of the Clan's namesake. With Nicholas's permission to mold the Clan in any way they saw fit as long as they honored the Clan way, Tseng and Jorgensson began by forging strong bonds of friendship and loyalty between the Ghost Bear warriors. Those early years also laid the groundwork for many of the Clan's unique practices and rituals. In an effort to make every warrior equally strong and effective in order to create an efficient, deadly fighting force, Tseng and Jorgensson encouraged the Ghost Bear warriors to practice individual and group confidence-building exercises that they developed from SLDF training exercises. In order to foster a strong sense of belonging, and with it, unparalleled loyalty, Clan Ghost Bear allowed every warrior, Bloodnamed or not, to vote on any issue that concerned the Clan as a whole. While Clan Diamond Shark also practiced an expanded voting policy, Ghost Bear warriors retained the right to vote for their lower castes. On the first anniversary of their initial encounter with the ghost bear, Tseng and Jorgensson led a hunting party into Strana Mechty's Antarctic wilderness in the earliest version of what would become the Clawing Ritual.

By the time Nicholas Kerensky declared himself ilKhan and established two Khans as the leaders of each Clan, the Ghost Bear warriors were so accustomed to following Sandra Tseng's and Hans Jorgensson's lead that they unanimously elected the pair as their Khans. The Clan had smoothly incorporated its unique style into Nicholas's tenets for his society, and the forty plus Ghost Bear warriors enjoyed a closer relationship than any other Clan could comprehend. Rumors that every member of the Clan enjoyed intimate relations with every other became rampant. When ilKhan Kerensky traveled to the Ghost Bear enclave to confront the Khans with these tales, he discovered a Clan wholly at one with itself. He found a situation reminiscent of the closely knit extended families common in pre-industrial societies, and every member of the Clan offered Nicholas the respect due the patriarch of such a family. Khan Jorgensson explained to Nicholas his theory that mutual respect produced superior loyalty, and the ilKhan accepted it as obviously valid.

RETURN TO THE PENTAGON

The Ghost Bears shared the task of retaking the Pentagon world Arcadia with Clans Blood Spirit, Star Adder and Steel Viper. When it took the Bears a week longer than any other Clan to capture their objectives, the other Khans publicly doubted the Clan's methods and philosophy. Nicholas dismissed these concerns by pointing out that the Ghost Bear Khans themselves were well known for solving problems by making a thorough and considered examination of every situation. To their credit, they achieved the lowest fatality rate of the Clans who attacked Arcadia and swelled their ranks with bondsmen.

During the fighting on Arcadia, the Bear Khans proved their personal valor and loyalty to their warriors. Khan Tseng made a heroic effort to command her troops from the front lines of the battle, often placing her 'Mech in the way of shots meant for her soldiers. Both skill and luck protected her from serious or permanent damage in these selfless acts of bravery, and Ghost Bear Loremasters continue to recount her actions as the ideal toward which all Clan warriors and Khans should aspire. Khan Jorgensson's greatest contribution to the Ghost Bear fighting forces was his creation of a completely open command structure that offered each warrior almost complete autonomy. In any other military unit such a tactic would lead to disaster, but the Ghost Bear warriors were so intimately familiar with one another as soldiers and as friends that this structure encouraged them to reach unexpected heights of brilliance.

When the campaign to subdue the Pentagon worlds ended, Nicholas put the finishing touches on Clan society. He also announced that the five Pentagon worlds were to be divided into Clan-ruled spheres of control, known as enclaves. The Bears redeveloped large parts of Arcadia as their enclave, setting the captured population to work rebuilding Arcadia's once glittering cities.

GOLDEN CENTURY

Khan Sandra Tseng died in 2848 defending her genetic legacy against Khan Franklin Osis of Clan Smoke Jaguar. Though the Bears carried the day, they all felt the loss of their beloved Khan as a serious blow, particularly Hans Jorgensson. Toramano Tseng assumed the Khanship in Sandra's place, and Khan Hans Jorgensson retired from his position soon after. Jorgensson died peacefully in his sleep some ten years later.

Beginning long before Sandra Tseng's death, the warriors of Clan Ghost Bear developed a unique ceremony to honor their dead. The original forty warriors combined elements of all their religions into a short ritual that satisfied each member's needs for honoring those who passed on before them. Over the years, the "funeral" ceremony transformed to accommodate changes in Clan ways and society, but the simple service held to honor Sandra Tseng became Clan Ghost Bear's standard ritual to mark the passing of a Khan. The Clan also allowed the funeral of multiple warriors killed in action to evolve into something slightly more elaborate and always longer than the service held to mark a single warrior's death, because such a ritual must comfort a larger number of mourners. Corina Tseng filled Khan Jorgensson's position, and Frederick Jorgensson assumed the position of Loremaster, thus insuring the continued prominence of the Tseng and Jorgensson bloodlines.

Contrary to expectations, the death of Nicholas Kerensky during the 2834 Trial of Absorption won by Clan Wolf against Widowmaker did not destroy Kerensky's new society. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Comstar document number BLP-612-DTC incorrectly identified this date as 2825.] In fact, his death prompted a century of unparalleled technological and economic growth. Clan Ghost Bear entered the Golden Century with its usual deliberate stride, devoting substantial attention and energy to furthering its traditions and maintaining a true sense of family. So successful were they at achieving these goals that members of the Clan eventually became uncomfortable dealing with people outside the "family." Their inability to trust others' instincts and advice made them slow to accept ideas and technology developed outside their Clan, but the Ghost Bears' solidarity allowed them to strengthen their political position and create new ways and new technology on their own. The liberal voting policy instituted by Hans Jorgensson also allowed Ghost Bear leaders to take a wait-and-see position on political and military issues. Though the Clan's detractors label this habit as a reluctance to try anything new, those more familiar with the inner workings of the Clan understand that the Ghost Bear way lies on the path of intellectual deliberation and prudent action. While this attitude sometimes holds the Clan back when compared to other Clans, few other Clans match Ghost Bear's thoroughness in exploring the implications and repercussions of all their endeavors.

Clan Ghost Bear's approach to accepting innovation had both a negative and positive economic impact. When Clan Coyote introduced the OmniMech in 2854, the Ghost Bear leadership proved reluctant to simply adopt this major new piece of hardware without thoroughly analyzing its performance and its potential impact on established military doctrine. Many technicians who examined the OmniMech design applauded its basic concept but pointed out several minor design flaws such as poor cockpit design, serious stresses placed on certain myomer bundles, and weak connections in the ammunition-feed link between the modular pods. The Ghost Bear technicians suspected that these problems might indicate larger faults in the prototypes that could prove dangerous. While Clan Ghost Bear debated the merits and flaws of the OmniMech, other Clans chose to bring them into active duty. The Bears would be the last Clan to adopt the OmniMech, and that delay cost them several key cities and legacies, lost to OmniMech-equipped Clans.

Their traditions did not prevent Clan Ghost Bear from achieving several important discoveries. Ghost Bear was the first Clan to profit by mining rare raw materials from the asteroid belts common to many Kerensky Cluster systems. While other Clans worked for their profits by mining on the planets proper, Clan Ghost Bear developed unmatched techniques to efficiently strip-mine asteroids. They also devoted their scientific capabilities to new methods of purifying water, and are credited with producing the first strain of Shipley wheat, a strain so resistant and hardy that it can grow in any soil and climate, including the mineral-poor ground of Strana Mechty's icy southern continent.

Kilbourne Jorgensson rose to the position of Khan during the Golden Century, an event remarkable only because Kilbourne was one of the first Elementals chosen for the post. A man of remarkable grace and tender sensibilities, he improved the general perception of Elementals, who until that time were considered by many to be second-rate compared to MechWarriors. Warriors of all Clans speak of Kilbourne with great respect to this day.


OPERATION REVIVAL

Now is the time
To prove
What we know to be true:
That we shall conquer all.

-The Remembrance (Clan Ghost Bear), Passage 155, Verse 2, Lines 45-48

When Clan Smoke Jaguar captured the Comstar Explorer Corps ship Outbound Light, Khan Leo Showers used the information gained by interrogating the ship's crew to create a stir in the Grand Council and manipulate the gathered Khans to vote for the invasion of the Inner Sphere. Only Clan Wolf voted against an immediate return, and Khan Ulric Kerensky called a Trial of Refusal when the vote went against him. Though bidding lowered the odds against Clan Wolf to four to one, they knew they faced a losing battle, especially because both Ghost Bear Khans led their elite force in the trial.

In a series of brilliant hit-and-run engagements, Khan Ulric Kerensky managed to kill both the Ghost Bear Khans, taking Nornian Tseng and Ursula Jorgensson away from their Clan. Later, in a speech to the Grand Council, Khan Kerensky commented that new situations require new thinking. Though it seems unlikely that he was addressing his remarks specifically to Clan Ghost Bear, those warriors understood a veiled message in his words and responded. When they met to elect new Khans, the Bear Clan Council voted unanimously to try a change. They acknowledged the valuable leadership provided by the Jorgenssons and Tsengs over the years, but they felt the need to try someone new. With that historic decision, Clan Ghost Bear chose to elect Khans of Bloodnames other than those of its founders, even though several Jorgenssons were eligible. Karl Bourjon, undisputedly the finest warrior in the Clan, and Theresa DelVillar, an Elemental, became the Ghost Bear Khan and saKhan, respectively. Though unaware of his part in Clan Ghost Bear's choices, Clan Wolf Khan Ulric Kerensky was pleased by the Bears' new leadership, as both new Khans held far more moderate views than their predecessors. In fact, saKhan DelVillar was widely labeled as a moderate Warden.

. As soon as the Clan forces defending the Grand Council's decision against Clan Wolf defeated Ulric Kerensky's troops, the Grand Council determined that four Clans represented a sufficient invasion force. A vote gave Clan Wolf one slot in the invading force by virtue of its position as descendants of Kerensky. The bidding for the right to serve as one of the three remaining invading Clans began in late 3048. The bidding process lasted for two full days and was conducted in three rounds. Those Clans who remained in the final round would participate in combat trials that would determine the final three invading Clans. Each Clan made a preliminary bid, then retired to study the other Clans' opening bids. On the second day, the Clans launched into a fierce bidding war, with each Clan mercilessly cutting away their excess troops in order to move on to the final round. Clan Ghost Bear made an initial bid of twelve full OmniMech Galaxies with appropriate Elemental and aerospace support.

Clan Smoke Jaguar emerged first from the bidding process by slashing their initial eleven-Galaxy bid to three. The Ghost Bears followed suit and exited the bidding with three mixed Galaxies. The six Clans that made it to the final round, Clans Smoke Jaguar, Jade Falcon, Ghost Bear, Nova Cat, Steel Viper and Diamond Shark met in combat to determine who would invade as the primary force and who would serve as the reserve. The Third Bear Guards earned their Clan the Draconis Combine-Free Rasalhague Republic corridor. Clans Jade Falcon and Smoke Jaguar also won positions as primary invaders, and Clan Steel Viper emerged as the reserve Clan that the Wardens insisted be included in the invasion force. Clans Nova Cat and Diamond Shark called for and won Trials of Refusal that placed them next in line to join the invasion.

Though the invading Clans crafted the basic attack plan in a Grand Kurultai, assigning each primary Clan to an invasion corridor, each Clan designed the specifics of its own invasion strategy. The Ghost Bear Khans disagreed about how best to prepare for the enemy. Khan Bourjon felt that their forces would meet minimal opposition and argued that excessive supplies would simply weigh down the fleet and place a needless burden on the Clan members remaining on the home worlds. While she agreed that the Bears would surely beat all comers, saKhan DelVillar harbored reservations about the low amount of supplies that Khan Bourjon proposed as adequate. Her counterproposals fell on deaf ears. Clan Ghost Bear took the fewest supplies and materiel of any Clan, and this lack would cost them dearly later on.

While the Khans debated strategy with their Star Colonels, the three invading Bear Galaxies gathered on Strana Mechty to spend two nights feasting and hunting and fostering general camaraderie through organized games. As firm believers in the usefulness of organized play to develop teamwork and provide a healthy form of relaxation, Sandra Tseng and Hans Jorgensson had created a decathlon-style event that they organized once a year, though they encouraged the Ghost Bear warriors to use the games as exercise and celebration any time. Subsequent Khans supported these games, and they eventually became a Ghost Bear tradition. The Clan also sent out six Clawing parties that each pledged to return within a week. Four parties returned alive, and two of those found and killed ghost bears. Many Bear warriors interpreted this unprecedented rate of success as a sign of assured victory in the coming invasion.

THE INVASION BEGINS

At the request of the other Khans, the ilKhan declared the Periphery open territory. While this afforded the Ghost Bears the opportunity to bid for the Elysian Fields, though those planets technically lay in the Wolf corridor, the open-space policy also allowed Clan Smoke Jaguar to attack Helmar Valasek and his pirates on Santander's World, which lay within the Ghost Bear corridor.

The Elysian Fields, a protectorate of the Oberon Confederation, had historically been home to a community of pacifistic agriculturists. Interested primarily in the challenge of military conquest and technological gains, the Clan initially decided to pass by the Elysian Fields. Clan Ghost Bear only became interested in the cluster of planets when Star Commander Swahla discovered an old piece of lore in Star League records. Swahla found a veiled reference to Project Achilles, a top-secret research facility said to be located somewhere within the Elysian Fields. During the height of the League's scientific innovation, First Lord Nicholas Cameron developed a number of research facilities that he left scattered throughout human space. The diverse placement of these facilities allowed the Star League to tap the brightest minds of the time without forcing them to relocate to the Terran Hegemony. Because many of those bright minds joined General Kerensky's Exodus, they sealed their bases away from the prying eyes of the Inner Sphere, often leaving generous amounts of equipment in storage. General Kerensky justified preserving rather than destroying this technology by claiming that these hidden caches would benefit the Star League Defense Force when it returned to the Inner Sphere. Wolf's Dragoons and Snord's Irregulars spent many years reclaiming these facilities within the Inner Sphere, but neither group had searched the Periphery.

Star Commander Swahla immediately informed his superiors of his find, and Star Captain Edwin Gilmour bid unopposed for the right to take the Elysian Fields. Because other commanders dismissed his bid as a spurious attempt to gain glory by defeating a world unlikely to resist invasion, Gilmour was able to attack with his initial bid of the Silver Kodiaks Trinary. As expected, the Kodiaks met no resistance. The worlds Mangringaine and Nyserta offered no standing defense of any sort, and the local populace fell into an immediate state of panic at the sight of BattleMechs. On both worlds, the governments surrendered long before the Kodiaks even approached the capital cities.

The lush tropical world of Elissa, on which the Bears expected to find the old laboratory, enchanted the Ghost Bear warriors who landed there. One commented that if such beauty could be found in a fringe world, then imagine the paradise Terra must offer. The Silver Kodiaks dispersed immediately upon landing and proceeded toward the capital city. They expected much the same response as they had received on Mangringaine and Nyserta, and so felt a shock when their Jumpship commander informed them that a hyperpulse signal was being transmitted from the planet's surface. Though they moved immediately to locate the source, a Class B hyperpulse facility, a Comstar official managed to send a brief distress message before the Kodiaks disabled the transmission dish. The message to Comstar indicated that the attacking 'Mechs bore a wolf's head insignia, an understandable mistake in view of the Silver Kodiaks' symbol of a bear's head in profile. When Comstar learned more about the invading Clans, they assumed that Elissa fell to Clan Wolf.

The Silver Kodiaks spent nearly a week searching the planet and finally discovered-an extensive series of tunnels that extended deep inside a mountain range. Star Captain Gilmour personally led the expedition to investigate the tunnels and caverns which ultimately uncovered nothing but a series of abandoned mines. Enraged by having wasted so much time on a false lead, Gilmour immediately challenged Star Commander Swahla to a Trial of Grievance. Only Gilmour left the Circle of Equals alive. The Bears promptly evacuated the Elysian Fields, refusing to garrison a planet that only served as a source of shame for the entire Clan. After Tukayyid, Galaxy Commander Conal Ward of Clan Wolf won Elissa in a Trial of Possession.

The Ghost Bears swept their remaining Periphery targets with little effort. The primitive settlements on the three other worlds they took laid no claims to belonging to a larger empire and offered minimal opposition. Khan DelVillar began to believe that even Khan Bourjon overestimated the needed amount of supplies and materiel. In the Grand Kurultai held to review the initial invasion effort, the Ghost Bear Khans reported on overwhelming lack of worthy opposition. By the time they returned to their Clan to prepare for the first wave, Khans DelVillar and Bourjon had already wiped Khan Kerensky's words of warning from their minds. They accepted the Periphery level of technology and training at face value and expected no better effort from the remainder of the Inner Sphere.
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post Dec 21 2005, 01:18 PM
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WAVE ONE:

LOOKING FOR A FIGHT

In accordance with their traditions, the Ghost Bear warriors voted at the start of the first wave to determine who would have the privilege of conquering the first world. This became a lengthy process that slowed the Bears' scheduled timetable considerably. Each warrior wanted the honor of conquering the first planet for his own command and none were willing to step aside. After a week of indecisive votes, Khan DelVillar declared that all three Galaxies would participate in the invasion, each assigned a continent of the planet Thule in the Free Rasalhague Republic.

The First Hussars of the Rasalhague KungsArme stood ready to defend their world against the Clan. They refused to respond when the Bears announced their presence with a batchall. Though she had no idea what a Galaxy represented, Overste Joannie Swigard massed her troops in the Fresdon desert, a treacherous terrain for which her troops had been selectively trained, and prepared to do battle. As the Ghost Bear ships dropped to the planet, Khan Bourjon announced that the attacking force would consist of a combined force made up of representatives of each Galaxy. The commanding officers of each Galaxy bid fiercely for the right to join the combined troops.

A force of three Trinaries, one of them a Supernova, dropped onto the desert plain anticipating a swift victory, but the Clan force failed to account for the incredible heat of Thule's noonday sun. The battle commenced as the Clan warriors fired the first salvo with their vast array of weaponry. They discovered, to their dismay, that the heat overload caused by this environment negated the advantage of their superior technology. Many Clan 'Mechs shut down from excess heat after their first volley, leaving those 'Mechs vulnerable to the Hussars' second greatest asset, their artillery. Shells rained down on the mostly immobile Clan forces, and before they managed to restart their machines, the Bears lost a Trinary of equipment. The First Hussars began a running battle, using their light 'Mechs to draw the Ghost Bear fire, move out of harm's way, then return to attack their overheated opponents.

Star Colonel Francois Cote broke his bid first, ordering the remainder of his Cluster to approach the Hussars from the east. The Hussars had anticipated this strategy, and sent aerospace fighters to strafe the Third Bear Striker Cluster on its approach. In response, Star Colonel Stephan Huntsig broke his bid and called in his aerospace elements. As the fighters danced overhead, the Fiftieth Striker Cluster (the Black Bears) advanced. The two Clan forces surrounded the First Hussars but did not engage the enemy. Suspicious of the sudden calm, the Hussars sent out recon units to determine the reason for the lull. When these units failed to return, the Overste realized that the Bears had not given up, they were waiting for nightfall. Rather than waiting for the Clans to gain the advantage, Overste Swigard decided to push at the Ghost Bear lines while the sun was still high in the sky.

Using a barrage of artillery to cover its movement, the First struck at the north flank of the Clan lines. When the Bears attempted to stem the tide by setting their lighter elements against the Hussars, Overste Swigard simply maneuvered her troops away from the heavier Ghost Bear elements providing backup and completed the breakout in short order. The Bears followed. Though the Ghost Bear pilots had by this time achieved air superiority and provided cover for the swifter Bear 'Mechs to overtake the Hussars, the continuing artillery barrage punched huge holes in the Ghost Bears' rear lines. Star Colonel Paul Vishio broke his bid next by calling in aerospace forces to silence the Hussar’s long-range guns.

Deprived of their artillery, the Hussars could do little but run. They made for the large river that bisected the Fresdon plain to meet their naval assets. An entire company sacrificed itself in the final push that allowed the Hussars to board the massive cargo ships and head upriver. The ships soon carried the Hussars out of range of the Clan Ghost Bear's 'Mechs, forcing the invading commanders to solve a dilemma. Should they wipe out the opposing force by using their aerospace assets to sink the ships, or use their air assets to track the Hussars and resume the battle when the ships landed? A vote among the warriors present concluded that sinking the ships went against Clan honor, and units were dispatched to follow the ships until they landed.

With the majority of the Hussars out of the picture, the planet seemed to accept Ghost Bear rule. The Ghost Bear Khans declared the world conquered and set their sights on the next target world, leaving the 312th Assault Trinary behind to garrison Thule and destroy the First Hussars when they chose to land.

The Ghost Bears would leave similarly light and ultimately insufficient garrisons on every world they conquered. The few warriors who pointed out the discrepancy between the sizes of the Bear and Wolf garrisons were accused of placing too much stock in Khan Kerensky's advice. Most warriors agreed with their Khans, who still considered the pathetic resistance offered in the initial stages of the invasion the greatest challenge the Ghost Bear warriors should expect to face.

The Ghost Bears finished the first wave smoothly and ahead of schedule. Though some Bear Crusaders agitated for additional combat assignments, their Khans reminded these ambitious warriors that the plan of attack had been carefully planned and agreed to by vote, and so it would be followed to the letter. To celebrate the successful completion of the first wave, the Khans declared that the warriors would join in a round of games, and that these games would be held at the end of every wave, with the winner receiving his choice of assignments in the next wave.

WAVE TWO:

DISASTER STRIKES

In May of 3050, Clan Ghost Bear suffered its greatest hardships of the invasion, ironically from nature rather than man. The principal target in the second wave was the world of Jarett, where Clan Ghost Bear would face its first Draconis Combine troops. Smoke Jaguar reports described Combine military tactics as a curious mixture of honor and brutality, but whatever the truth, the Bears felt certain that these troops would offer a better fight than the Rasalhagians and Periphery scum they had fought so far. Khan Theresa DelVillar won the honor of subduing Jarett, and she led elements of Alpha Galaxy (the Golden Bears) against the Ninth Alshain Regulars.

The Combine force's commander, Tai-sa Sonia Zev, did not understand what response the Ghost Bear Khan expected to receive for her batchall. She did know that she had an inexperienced unit under her command, and she had no intention of revealing her troops' lack of combat testing to the Clan. Unfortunately for Zev, Khan DelVillar had already learned from Comstar officials that the green Ninth regiment was spread out in three battalions over the northern part of the planet. Khan DelVillar dropped her units in a standard combat formation and immediately faced the determined warriors of the Ninth. The battle began with Khan DelVillar challenging a Commando. The Khan's Elemental Point quickly shredded the Commando, but the 'Mech's pilot refused to give up, continuing to fight even against the Clan's massive battle-armored troopers. The Khan captured this feisty young warrior and made him her bondsman, and in a neat parallel to their actions long ago on Arcadia, the Ghost Bear warriors followed her lead by attempting to capture their opponents rather than kill them. This made the survival rate of the Ninth impressively high.

The Clans and the Draconis Combine fought the major battle for Jarett in the lush foliage of the Solun Jungle. The Ninth's lead battalion made excellent use of the cover afforded by the trees, a lesson that Kanrei Kurita would borrow for himself later in the invasion. For nearly a week the Ninth survived by fighting on the run, but the Ghost Bears followed this fox hunt to its inevitable conclusion, learning a great deal about Inner Sphere guerrilla tactics along the way. The Ninth eventually succumbed to Clan Ghost Bear nearly ten days after the Golden Bears landed.

The conquest of the second wave was proceeding as planned when Khan Bourjon received the startling news that Rasalhague once again controlled Thule. The First Hussars had finally reappeared and destroyed the Ghost Bear garrison unit. In fact, the Khans discovered that similar uprisings were occurring on many Bear-controlled worlds. Though Comstar officials seemed to be doing their best to pacify the public, it was becoming apparent that the Bears would have to take some kind of action. Again leaving only token garrisons on their newly acquired worlds, the Ghost Bears returned to reassert their authority on worlds seething with revolt.

The Golden Bears returned to Thule and caught the remainder of the First Hussars in the planet's frigid south lands. The Bears easily swept through the Hussars' prepared positions, the Elementals taking control of the narrow trenches that the First had intended to use as fortifications. Khan DelVillar supposedly said, "How polite of you to spare us the effort of digging your graves." The battle ended almost before it began, and certain proof indicates that Joannie Swigard has already risen to warrior status from bondsman.

Khan Bourjon and the Blitzkrieg faced full-scale operations on every world he was assigned to pacify. Often, after disposing of the Clan garrison, the citizenry sowed vibrabombs all around the major cities and filled the alleyways with armed defenders determined to die rather than surrender. A week of constant fighting prompted Delta Galaxy Commander Roberto Snuka to threaten to level every city in order to achieve his victory. Fortunately for the populace, the much-loved planetary Comstar Demi-Precentor stepped in and broadcast a plea for peace via the local multimedia, promising that the Clan's administration of the planet would function as a beneficial cooperative with Comstar. The announcement ended most of the violence, and Clan control was restored, with the help of a hefty garrison force.

The Bears' Beta Galaxy was sent to re-pacify Damien, home of the Black Omen mercenary company. The Omen hid from the invaders when the Ghost Bears initially attacked the world, biding their time in order to strike at the garrison as soon as the bulk of the enemy lifted off-planet. This dishonorable action certainly contributed to Clan Ghost Bear's fierce dislike of mercenaries. The Khans scheduled Beta's jump for Damien on 17 May, and the Galaxy Commander was to send a message via HPG to notify his commanders as soon as his force arrived in-system at Damien. The message never came.

Though HPG breakdowns were rare, all Clans accepted the fact of their existence. While it was unusual for the HPG to fail to transmit, the Khans were busy elsewhere and so waited a week to focus their attention on the missing Galaxy.

When the Black Bears deployed to track down missing Galaxy, they arrived at Damien and learned that Beta Galaxy's warship had collided with small asteroid upon entering the system. The angle of impact had limited most of the damage to a single Dropship, but this minimal damage came at the price of the death of an entire Cluster. The warship itself was also damaged in such a way that it could not be repaired without Clan facilities, and so Beta abandoned the ship and headed for the planet's surface. Because Damien lacks a Comstar facility, Beta Galaxy had no means of communication. By the time the Black Bears arrived, Beta Galaxy had destroyed the Black Omen and held firm control of the planet.

The loss of an entire elite Cluster of MechWarriors deeply saddened the Ghost Bears, and the Khans agreed to honor the Ghost Bear dead by taking time out of the push for Terra to hold their traditional ceremony. While the other Clans began to strike in the third wave of the invasion, all Bear warriors not assigned to essential garrisons rendezvoused on Damien. The ceremony to Commemorate the dead lasted for two full days.

The Ghost Bears mustered from Damien to launch their third wave, but in the process realized they needed to deal with an unexpected problem. The number of garrison units required combined with the loss of an entire Cluster left Clan Ghost Bear critically short of combat forces. A close vote in early June resulted in the warriors agreeing to continue forward despite this apparent crisis, and the Khans planned to counter the potential shortage by holding fewer troops in reserve.
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post Dec 21 2005, 01:18 PM
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WAVE THREE:

WINDS OF CHANGE

IlKhan Showers contacted Khan DelVillar in late May to suggest that Clan Ghost Bear might wish to bid for the honor of conquering the world of Rasalhague. He pointed out that because the planet lay close to the border of their corridor of invasion, the Ghost Bears could legitimately slow the Wolf juggernaut by forcing Clan Wolf to bid to take that world. Khan DelVillar, well aware that her Clan was performing far below expectations, agreed that conquering Rasalhague might improve the Clan's fortune and would certainly boost morale. She and Khan Bourjon put together a plan of attack and then informed Khan Ulric Kerensky that Clan Ghost Bear wished to bid for the right to take the capital world of the Free Rasalhague Republic. When Khan Kerensky attempted to lodge a protest with the IlKhan, Showers quickly replied that any Clan could bid for any world, per Clan tradition. Khan Ulric responded by declaring that he would meet the Ghost Bear Khans on 27 June for the bidding. While, at the time, the Khans' choice to both participate in the attack on Last Frontier as the opening shot of the third wave seemed inexplicable, it quickly became clear that they were simply positioning themselves for the attack on Rasalhague.

On 23 June Clan Ghost Bear descended to face off against the First Freemen, the defenders of Last Frontier. The outcome of the short, brutal fight seemed a foregone conclusion. The green Rasalhague regiment fought bravely but offered no real opposition to the elite Clan force, though they did manage to land one serious blow to the Clan. When the Ourse Keshik, led by Khan DelVillar, raided a Freemen ammunition dump on 24 June, Overste Knute Kurita's defending company opened fire on the charging Clan 'Mechs and, surely by chance rather than design, scored a direct missile hit on Khan DelVillar. Her Point scrambled to remove her from the battlefield, but the damage was done. Khan DelVillar slipped into a coma from which she would never emerge.

Khan Bourjon secured Last Frontier, then immediately convened a meeting of all available Bloodnamed warriors to vote for a new Khan. MechWarrior Aletha Kabrinski, the Clan's current Oathmaster, earned the title of Khan by defeating stiff competition. Her first official statement as saKhan was to suggest to the assembled warriors that Khan Bourjon, while a competent warrior, was not leadership material. Her statement echoed the sentiments of many Bear warriors, who felt that the Clan's poor performance to date could accurately be blamed on the Khan's lack of competence. She called for one of the warriors present to challenge Khan Bourjon for his position, and nominated Star Colonel Bjorn Jorgensson for the honor.

Caught completely off guard by this show of no confidence, Khan Bourjon called for a vote to determine the extent of his warriors' discontent. The warriors voted unanimously to choose a new Khan, then voted to elect Star Colonel Bjorn Jorgensson, an aerospace pilot of great martial and tactical skill, as Clan Ghost Bear's new Khan. When Khan Bourjon called for a Trial of Refusal, Khan Jorgensson, well liked by his command and having served with distinction in the invasion, chose to accept the challenge personally. Because he was a poor hand-to-hand fighter, Khan Bourjon chose to fight augmented, even though to do so gave Khan Jorgensson the advantage of his aerospace fighter. Khan Jorgensson chose to fight in the tropical jungles of Last Frontier's equator, an unusual choice that nonetheless served him well in the end.

A gentle rain began to fall as the combatants mounted up and started their machines. Khan Bourjon held the upper hand in the initial stages of the duel, skillfully using the jungle to take cover from Jorgensson's strafing runs, then emerging to fire at the retreating fighter before it could turn and make its next pass. While the observers wondered why Jorgensson failed to attack more aggressively, the fighter pilot continued to bide his time, waiting for his opponent to churn up the ground into a slippery, muddy soup. Bourjon's 'Mech slowed to a crawl and showed up brilliantly on Jorgensson's infrared scanners. When he considered Bourjon sufficiently mired, Jorgensson began his assault in earnest. Bourjon proved unable to defend himself against the repeated, merciless attacks from his opponent, and accepted Jorgensson's offer of hegira in the end.

A Jorgensson once again held the Khanship, and his first few days in office would prove him to be a capable and decisive leader. As his first priority, Khan Jorgensson contacted IlKhan Leo Showers to inform him of the events that had transpired and to assure him that taking Rasalhague remained a top concern for Clan Ghost Bear. He then contacted Khan Ulric Kerensky and informed the Wolf Khan that the change in leadership would force Clan Ghost Bear to delay the bidding for Rasalhague. Khan Jorgensson simply accepted Clan Wolf's veiled accusation of deliberately delaying the meeting and decided to find a way to use the perceived advantage if he could.

As his third official act, Khan Jorgensson reluctantly contracted with Clan Steel Viper to garrison the Ghost Bear-occupied worlds. Though he realized that he must have as many warriors available as possible to support a successful bid for Rasalhague, asking for help from a Clan the Ghost Bears despised was a bitter pill to swallow. (Unlike the enmity between many Clans, the long-standing discord between Clans Ghost Bear and Steel Viper was based, not in a single event or series of insults, but in a deep and irreconcilable difference in the philosophies of the Clans' founders.)

The bid for Rasalhague took place aboard the Dire Wolf on 4 July 3050 in a grueling 90-minute test of nerves, regarded by many as a textbook example of Clan bidding. Even after Khan Jorgensson realized that he would lose the bid, he continued the contest in order to push the Wolf bid as low as possible. Though disappointed by losing the chance to take Rasalhague, Khan Jorgensson walked away from the bidding confident that Clan Wolf could not take the world without breaking its bid. He returned to his warriors, who were anxiously awaiting orders to attack the Republic's capital world, and sent them instead toward the remaining targets of the third wave.

That the Steel Viper forces were garrisoning those worlds already under Ghost Bear control freed the entire Ghost Bear invasion force to focus on the task of securing all the remaining worlds in their invasion corridor. The new Khans consistently led its troops to quick, efficient victories, though on many worlds the fighting caused a great deal of collateral damage. Rather than confining the populace to prison camps, the Clan put them to work rebuilding their cities and towns, reminiscent of its policy toward the population on the reclaimed Pentagon worlds. This apparent effort to acknowledge the value of their conquered foes' way of life radically changed the Inner Sphere people's view of the invaders, at least on Ghost Bear-occupied planets. The number of uprisings dropped from a constant state of rebellion to an occasional isolated revolt.

The time lost in changing their Khans and arranging the bidding for Rasalhague allowed the Ghost Bears only enough time to conquer two additional planets in the third wave, Radije and Policenigo. On Policenigo, the victorious 304th Assault Cluster (the Howling Bears) actually freed the population from the grip of a tyrannical government. The Comstar briefing on the planet's defenses also mentioned, almost as an afterthought, that the planet's governor had long been engaged in the illegal spice trade and had avoided the watchful eye of the ISF only by ruthlessly controlling every aspect of its citizens' lives. The Howling Bears received no response to their batchall, and landed on the planet smack in the middle of a popular uprising. The government's battalion of new 'Mechs and a full regiment of augmented infantry found themselves under attack from two sides; the locals gained enough courage from the appearance of the Ghost Bears to launch guerrilla actions against their government's troops and supply caches, and the Ghost Bears quickly sized up the situation and concentrated their assault directly on the battalion. The defending troops soon retreated to a specially dug network of tunnels that extended into the mountains, and though the grateful populace made valiant efforts to aid the 304th in rooting them out, the Clan failed to account for nearly 30 percent of the renegade troops. The citizens gladly accepted the Clan way and the Ghost Bears' administration, and the Bears in turn protected their new caste members by posting a substantial garrison of front-line troops to Policenigo.

WAVE FOUR: RENEWAL

Khan Jorgensson was determined that his troops would be well supplied before continuing on with the fourth wave, even though this required a delay of almost three weeks. He also followed the lead of the other Clans and called up provisional garrison clusters (PGCS) to replace front-line garrison forces. He further replaced Beta Galaxy's destroyed Cluster with an undamaged one brought forward from the home worlds, thus returning the Clan to the strength of its original invasion bid. He and saKhan Kabrinski worked closely together to ensure that the fourth wave would bring nothing but success. They knew that their warriors were anxious to race with Clan Wolf. They also believed that the Inner Sphere would offer far stiffer opposition in this wave than ever before, especially when they learned through Comstar that House Kurita intended to defend its worlds with battle-hardened front-line troops. While the Bear warriors welcomed the challenge, they knew that the days of easily won worlds had ended.

Their month-long delay to refit and re-supply cost the Ghost Bears prestige in the eyes of the other Clans, who considered the two months remaining to be an inadequate amount of time to properly invade the eight worlds the Bears planned to take. Khan Kabrinski answered this challenge by firmly reminding her Galaxy Commanders and Star Colonels that they would lose far less honor by breaking their bids and winning than by being beaten. She also informed them that most Inner Sphere commanders at least knew of Clan bidding practices and would use that knowledge to their advantage as often as the Clans allowed.

The Bears met less resistance than expected in the beginning of the fourth wave, taking five worlds in a month and a few days. They began to think they had overestimated the Inner Sphere's ability to respond to their threat, and the Khans began to hope that they could accelerate their pace and meet their timetable.

The Third Bear Guards (the ilKhan's Shield) fell into heavy fighting on the sixth world on their schedule, the Rasalhague world of Casere. The fanatical Second Hussars used their light elements to harass the Cluster and draw the Bears into an old industrial sector where the Hussars' heavy elements lashed out from reinforced positions. The close-quarters fighting neutralized the Third's advantage in weapons range, but their firepower compensated for that loss. Despite their habit of taking as many bondsmen as possible from their enemies' ranks, the fierce fighting forced the Ghost Bear Cluster to destroy the Hussars to a man.

The world of Soverzene, taken near the end of the fourth wave, demonstrated to Clan Ghost Bear what Inner Sphere forces could do when truly motivated. The Second Alshain Regulars, the planet's usual defending force, received reinforcement from the Twenty-seventh Dieron Regulars. The commanders of both units were determined to make the Clans pay dearly for this world, which supplied many of the district's raw materials. Tai-sa Jasick Yoshiro and Tai-so Ano Tars planned a mobile defense in order to take advantage of the supplies they had stashed in various caches on the world's main continent. When the Bears arrived in-system and discovered that they faced two full regiments, Khan Jorgensson skipped the bidding process and committed the whole of Beta Galaxy to taking the world. Galaxy Commander Laurie Tseng received approval for her plan to take a conservative approach in the invasion, landing her forces in two locations and sending each to take one of the two principal cities on the world.

The Dieron Regulars were assigned to protect Averti and so moved to head off the Twelfth Bear Chevaliers and the Fourteenth Battle Cluster, as the Clan forces lunged toward their objectives. Using air strikes, the Twenty-seventh herded the two Clusters toward the Killimangero fjords near Averti. Aware that they were being manipulated, the Bears approached the natural formations cautiously and found the Twenty-seventh waiting on the edge of the narrow waterways. The Twelfth sent a Trinary forward to engage the two companies of Combine 'Mechs, but as the Bears approached, the Twenty-seventh began to retreat directly over the side of the cliffs. The Trinary charged forward and looked down to see the jump-capable Twenty-seventh 'Mechs already making their way up the opposite cliff face. Moments later, a powerful explosion rocked the area, sending most of the Trinary tumbling down into the fjord on a rock slide. Unfortunately for the Twenty-seventh, few Omnis were actually destroyed by the trap. To make matters worse for the Regulars, the Fourteenth Battle Cluster flanked them to the east and caught the two now-undermanned companies as they reached the top of the opposing cliff. The Bears' attack sent most of the Inner Sphere machines tumbling back down into the water, but the remainder of the Twenty-seventh attacked at that point, emerging from the cover of the trees within the crescent-shaped fjord. The Twelfth and Fourteenth immediately descended into the waterway and pursued the Twenty-seventh through roughhewn escape tunnels. When the Twenty-seventh emerged from the tunnels on the far side of the fjord, it immediately detonated the explosives planted earlier. They returned to Averti believing themselves victorious, only to lose the city to the Bears later that night in a nearly bloodless surprise attack. The Ghost Bear commanders had sent Elementals into the tunnels during the fighting in the fjord, and those troopers had disarmed the majority of the Combine's planted explosives.

The Second Alshain Regulars fared even worse against the 304th and 332nd Assault Clusters. The Bears hounded the mobile Second and forced them to retreat to their ammunition supply base, by so doing allowing the Bears to get a fix on the base's location and destroy it with aerospace assets. Now running out of ammo, the Second retreated north with the 304th in hot pursuit. Clan aerospace elements forced the Second into a forest where the 332nd awaited their opponents' arrival. Trapped between two full-strength Assault Clusters, the Second Alshain Regulars took heavy losses. Those soldiers who managed to escape destruction staged a rescue mission at Averti, freeing the Combine's captured soldiers and equipment from the Twenty-seventh. The Bears spent nearly two weeks hunting down the renegades, but gave up the search when their Bloodnamed warriors were recalled to Strana Mechty to elect a new ilKhan. Elements of the Twenty-seventh and Second managed to escape the planet, but both had suffered devastating losses.

Clan Ghost Bear considered the fourth wave a qualified success. Under the leadership of the new Khans, the Clan took eight worlds and garrisoned them with only minor resistance. When Khans Kabrinski and Jorgensson answered their ilKhan's call to travel to Radstadt for a Grand Kurultai, they waited to leave until they felt sure that everything was under control. Delayed by their duties, they were the last to learn the shocking news that ilKhan Leo Showers was dead.

Proud upholders of Great Kerensky's words, heed me, for must relate a tragedy. Our leader is dead. Leo Showers, Khan of Khans, leader of Clan Smoke Jaguar, commander of those who would raise the Star League up from the ashes, no longer graces this world. Yet mourn not the loss of his physical presence, for his blood legacy will course through the veins of countless fierce warriors of future generations, all who will await the command to avenge his untimely death.

-From the recall order issued by Khan Bjorn Jorgensson, Clan Ghost Bear

Though ilKhan Showers lost his chance to somehow wrest the impetus of the invasion from Clan Wolf in the Grand Kurultai, that gathering still offered ample opportunity for dissension among the Khans. Most Khans declared their intentions of immediately bringing additional forces forward to punish the Inner Sphere for the death of their ilKhan. Others pointed out the futility of abandoning the carefully laid invasion plans to retaliate for a quirk of fate. Khan Perigard Zalman of Clan Steel Viper allowed cooler heads to prevail by using the Khans' discord in an argument for returning to Strana Mechty and electing a new ilKhan. Though this sparked an even more heated debate about the wisdom of leaving their hard-won gains behind, and though Khan Jorgensson felt inclined to disagree with anything Zalman said, the Khans eventually agreed that electing a new ilKhan was the only way to keep the invasion force cooperating.

During the journey back to Strana Mechty, Khans Jorgensson and Kabrinski conspired with the Khans of Clans Jade Falcon and Smoke Jaguar to formulate a plan that would place the blame for ilKhan Leo Showers' death squarely on the shoulders of Khan Ulric Kerensky. Though they had no hard evidence to prove the truth of their accusations, they doubted Ulric's ability to disprove their claim. The Ghost Bear Khans, always ready to strike at Clan Wolf in even the most minor ways, also suggested a back-up plan. If Khan Ulric managed to prove his innocence of the charges laid against him, they would hamstring him by electing Kerensky as ilKhan, effectively binding him to the will of the Grand Council, whose agenda was now firmly controlled by the Crusaders. They also expected Clan Wolf Loremaster Conal Ward to assume his Clan's Khanship and felt that Ward would make an excellent addition to their cause.

When the Grand Council gathered to elect a new Khan, its first order of business was to hear testimony to support the Crusaders' accusations against Ulric Kerensky. Based mostly on the arguments offered by an outraged Phelan Wolf, Ulric was cleared of all responsibility in ilKhan Showers' death. The vote to install Ulric as ilKhan went smoothly, but no one predicted ilKhan Kerensky's next move. That he named Natasha Kerensky to replace him as Wolf Clan Khan surprised all the assembled Khans and the Black Widow herself. Handed a Pyrrhic victory, the Crusader Khans could only hope that Natasha would fail her Trial of Position and so become ineligible to be Khan. As history shows, her explosive performance in that trial left the Khans dumbfounded. Only Ulric's decision not to pair the Ghost Bears with another Clan for the next wave of the invasion tempered the animosity most Bear warriors felt toward Kerensky as their leader.

The months-long journey back to the Inner Sphere allowed ample time for the Khans of the seven invading Clans to draft and redraft their attack and defense plans. Determined to avoid the mistakes of their predecessors, the Khans of Clan Ghost Bear brought a quantity of supplies with them from the home worlds rivaled only by that carried by Clan Wolf, and they established unbroken supply lines by pressing the merchant caste into service. This move guaranteed Clan Ghost Bear a slow but steady stream of supplies flowing from Clan space to the occupation zone. Khans Kabrinski and Jorgensson modeled their strategy for the fifth wave on the Clan Smoke Jaguar battle plan, assigning each Galaxy a sweep pattern. The first Galaxy to conquer all the planets in its mini-zone received the honor of taking the final world in the wave. In view of Inner Sphere duplicity in response to most batchalls, the Khans also recommended that their Galaxy commanders prohibit bidding, but most took a wait-and-see position on that suggestion.
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post Dec 21 2005, 01:19 PM
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WAVE FIVE:

THE ROARING BEAR

Assigned to Thessalonika as part of a training exercise, the Twelfth Sun Zhang Academy Cadre (Humility) found itself trapped on that planet by the sudden reappearance of the Clans. Unable to send the un-blooded troops off-planet, Tai-sa Tasha Greer of the Eighth Alshain Regulars ordered the Twelfth to withdraw far enough to move out of harm's way as soon as Delta Galaxy appeared in-system. Tai-sa Anthony Fanhorn politely but firmly refused Greer's order. His cadets would remain at their posts and perform their duties in the tradition of the Dragon. Because the Twelfth refused to pull out, Tai-sa Greer decided to work the unit into her battle plan.

Khan Jorgensson personally led Delta Galaxy in the attack that signaled the Bears' return to the Inner Sphere. Though the planet Kempten lay closest to the Bears' point of re-entry, the Ghost Bear Khans chose to prove themselves against Thessalonika's defenders, the Eighth Alshain Regulars. Khan Jorgensson issued a standard batchall but received no answer to his challenge. Using information provided by Comstar, the Khan unleashed the Sixty-eighth Striker Cluster to deal with the Eighth and assumed that the force sent to meet him represented the bulk of his battle-hardened opponents. Though Khan Jorgensson expected the Inner Sphere troops to cower in the forests and fire from cover, he was pleasantly surprised to find the enemy standing to face them in something resembling Clan fashion. The Sixty-eighth eagerly pressed the attack and swiftly closed the gap between themselves and their foes while the Kuritas stood their ground. As soon as the Clan warriors began firing their longest range weapons, the Kurita force began to gradually pull back as they returned fire. The battle was progressing unexpectedly well for the Sixty-eighth. The Kurita troops had failed to fight as well as expected, and they were giving ground almost too readily. Just as the Clan leaders alerted their units to expect a trap, Star Colonel Chou Vong detected more Kurita units approaching from the rear. Greer had positioned part of her unit on the Sixty-eighth's flank, and finally sent them into the fray.

The Bears immediately noticed a difference between the two forces. These new troops were shooting better and reacting faster to pressure. Star Colonel Vong informed her superiors that she now faced two different units, and Khan Jorgensson responded by unleashing the Seventy-Third Battle Cluster. When the warriors of the Sixty-eighth protested against another unit sharing its glory, the Eighth took advantage of the distraction and delivered a crippling blow. Their scouting elements had located the Sixty-eighth's Dropships. While the First Battalion pinned down the Cluster, the rest of the regiment traveled to the Bears' landing zone and launched an all-out attack that crippled the Bears' transports. The one Dropship that managed to lift off was so heavily damaged that it crashed before it could reach the Sixty-eighth.

The Seventy-third, led by Khan Jorgensson, crushed the Twelfth, leaving only the Eighth as an effective fighting force. The remaining Kurita troops joined armor and infantry units supplied by the planet's militia to harass the Clan units in a continuous delaying action. Khan Jorgensson suspected this change in tactics meant that the defending troops had somehow called for reinforcements and feared that if the Bears failed to secure the planet immediately, the battle for this one planet would prevent the Galaxy from pushing ahead with its assigned sweep. In the face of this threat, he called down the rest of Delta Galaxy. Combined, the five Clusters easily overwhelmed the conventional regiments set against them, but the Eighth remained elusive, raiding in force when the Bears least expected it and consistently hitting the Clan's weakest flank. Despite Khan Jorgensson's best personal efforts, the Combine aerospace fighters denied Delta Galaxy air superiority. A week of frustration passed before the Bears discovered how the defenders had been managing to balk them at every turn.

Almost by chance, one of Delta Galaxy's warships picked up a message originating on a small moon orbiting Thessalonika. When he learned that the message accurately described his troop positions, Khan Jorgensson dispatched a Dropship of Elementals to investigate the source of the signal. A quick scan of the moon revealed the presence of a small research station whose staff was using powerful telescopes to watch the planet, then transmitting the Clan movements to the Combine commanders. The Elementals seized the station and deactivated its transmitters. Deprived of its spies, the Eighth quickly fell to Delta Galaxy.

The other planets taken in the initial thrust of the fifth wave were Kempten, Kaesong and Sheliak. All three worlds offered minimal resistance, and the Golden Bears won the right to take the sweep's final objective, the Combine district capital of Alshain.

ALSHAIN

While the fifth-wave sweep went smoothly for Alpha Galaxy under the command of Khan Kabrinski, neither she nor her warriors expected well-defended Alshain to fall easily. Kabrinski declared that the whole of Alpha Galaxy would attack this world.

Theodore Kurita assigned the elite Second Sword of Light to help the Sixth Alshain Regulars defend their home world. Tai-sa Kelly Dok To answered Khan Kabrinski's challenge directly, truthfully stating who defended the world, but she refused to commit to a single battlefield. Khan Kabrinski decided to split the Golden Bears and try to pin down as many Kurita troops as quickly as possible. The First Bear Guards tackled the Sixth Alshain, while the Third Bear Guards and the Fiftieth Striker Cluster went to deal with the Second Sword of Light.

The First Bear Guards (the Rage) found the Sixth Alshain Regulars in the Polotmy Mountains. The Regulars used the majestic peaks to their best defensive advantage and created dug-in positions. Several strafing passes by the First's aerospace elements failed to even faze the Sixth, and the Bear 'Mechs faced fire from all directions. The Alshain Regulars took advantage of the mountains' natural sniper cover to prevent the Rage from gaining any ground in a long day of fighting. Khan Kabrinski finally ordered the Black Bears to abandon their battle with the Second Sword of Light and assist the First Bear Guards in routing the Regulars.

The Bears reluctantly quit their inconclusive struggle with the Second Sword of Light. By following the strategy developed by Kanrei Kurita-keep mobile, duck and hide when confronted, and combine fire-the elite Kurita force inflicted massive damage on its opponents. Though individual Combine warriors sometimes answered the Bears' challenges to single combat, Tai-sa Dok To forbade this practice when it became clear that the Clan warriors always won. The Second steadily lost ground, but they were relinquishing it rather than being forced back. The broken canyons in which they fought, filled with rocky ground and natural crevices, provided ideal cover, and the hotly contested air war prevented either side from calling for aerospace support.

The Kuritans had initially lured the Bears to the floor of the canyon by baiting the trap with light jump-capable units. When the Bears reacted as Tai-sa Dok To had hoped, pouncing on the light 'Mechs and watching in surprise as the Kurita units sailed over the canyon walls, she unleashed her battalions to rain down fire onto the Bear forces. The Kurita advantage was short-lived, as most of the Black Bears' 'Mechs were also jump capable. The battle became a shooting match until the Third Bear Guards discovered a steep path carved into the rock leading out of the canyon. Having learned from experience, Star Colonel Hunter Tseng ordered his Elementals to sweep the path. The tons of explosives they found would have obliterated the Guards. As quickly as the Elementals defused the bombs, the ilKhan's Shield moved up the path, attempting to flank the Second. When they reached the top they discovered that the Black Bears were working with the same plan. The two Bear units fired on each other for several confused seconds before they realized that the Second had escaped.

The Kurita forces chose that moment to launch a devastating counterattack. An entire heavy battalion charged the Bears' weak left flank during the confusion, focusing their attack on an isolated Trinary and crushing the unit. By the time the remaining Bear units turned their firepower against the Second, the Sword of Light had begun a full retreat to the city of Silverdale. Convinced that the tide of battle had turned, the Khan ordered the Black Bears to Polotmy to assist the Rage. The ilKhan's Shield continued to pursue the Second and ran straight into a trap. The Second brought all four battalions to bear at once against the Third Bear Guards, forcing the now-desperate Star Colonel Tseng to order his Cluster to punch through the Second's lines at any cost. Only by taking heavy losses and expending an enormous amount of ammunition did the Third free itself and organize a retreat. The Second did not pursue its advantage, instead continuing on to Silverdale and boarding their Dropships.

As instructed, the Black Bears dropped behind the Sixth's solid defenses, in a matter of hours sweeping the Combine unit into the waiting guns of the Rage. When the Sixth charged forward in a desperate attempt to escape, punching a hole clear through the Rage lines, the Bears immediately closed the gap behind them, but this apparent advantage quickly dissolved. The MechWarriors of the Second Sword of Light chose this moment to make a daring combat drop directly on top of the First Bear Guards. The ensuing chaos allowed the Sixth to retreat to its nearby Dropships while the Second made a fighting withdrawal. The assembled Ghost Bear forces then attacked en masse, throwing units at the Kuritans from every side, but nothing broke the defenders' lines.

What remained of the ilKhan's Shield dropped into the battle site an hour after the Second, but it was too late. The planetary militia, held in reserve since the fighting started, suddenly lashed out at the Bears, providing sufficient distraction to allow the remnants of the Sixth Alshain Regulars and the Second Sword of Light to evacuate Alshain and leave it to the Ghost Bears.

NEW RULES

The loss of Alshain struck a stunning blow at the Combine, the first of many to be delivered by Clan Ghost Bear. Having completed their first sweep on schedule, the Bear warriors voted to skip the usual rest and refit period and immediately launch the next sweep, but the Ghost Bears quickly discovered that their extraordinarily long supply lines were too slow to be effective. Though they completed the sweep with little trouble, they consumed most of their ammunition stores to take five worlds. The Clan waited nearly a month between the second and third sweeps to let logistics catch up with their front lines.

The supply crunch and the Inner Sphere's ever-changing tactics prompted Khan Jorgensson to issue several sweeping general orders in early January 3052. He ordered the immediate reconfiguration of hundreds of OmniMechs to replace most missile and autocannon systems with lasers and PPCs. The Khan also placed a temporary moratorium on the traditional rules of Clan engagement. The Inner Sphere had repeatedly demonstrated its lack of honor and therefore lost the right to be treated honorably. Jorgensson forbade the use of batchall and zellbrigen for the remainder of the invasion.

He further ordered the merchant caste members manning the supply lines to find adequate supplies for the warriors, no matter what the cost. The merchants answered this challenge by trading in exotic items found on captured worlds. The scheme provided an unexpected side effect-it offered the merchants the chance to see the Inner Sphere at the same time as they gathered supplies, which in turn showed the citizens of occupied worlds a different side of the Clan. Khan Kabrinski hoped that contact with non warrior Clan members might reduce the incidence of rebellion on PGC-controlled worlds, and her contribution to Khan Jorgensson's plan succeeded.

During the fifth wave, the Ghost Bears outperformed every Clan but Clan Wolf. They took eighteen worlds in all, and the proud Ghost Bear warriors felt that they were finally receiving their due. The Ghost Bear Khans reacted very differently to the news that ilKhan Kerensky had agreed to fight Comstar in a proxy baffle for Terra on the planet Tukayyid. Khan Jorgensson objected to the whole idea because the bargain included the fifteen-year truce. SaKhan Kabrinski enthusiastically embraced the ilKhan's deal with complete confidence that the Clans would emerge victorious.

TUKAYYID: WORLD OF FATE

Khan Jorgensson made the official bid of three Galaxies for the Ghost Bears' right to invade Tukayyid, and won the right to descend in the fifth hour of combat. The Ghost Bear targets would be the twin cities of Spanac and Luk. Khans Jorgensson and Kabrinski laid out a simple and direct battle plan designed to crush the Com Guards quickly, confident that the strength of their forces would carry them to victory.

The Ghost Bears drove straight for their target cities, opposed by the Com Guards' First Army and the reserve Fourth Army. As the senior commander, Precentor Katherine Luarca deployed her First Army to engage the Bears upon their landing, leaving only her veteran 103rd Division (Truth in Communication) to defend Spanac. Fearing that the green troops of the Fourth Army would break facing Clan OmniMechs in the field, she assigned the Fourth to garrison Luk.

The Ghost Bears split their forces, landing Alpha Galaxy in the hills above Spanac and Beta and Delta near Luk. Both forces landed unopposed, but suffered hit-and-run attacks as they advanced. The First Army's 308th Division (Clarity of Thought) did little to slow the veteran forces of Alpha Galaxy, and Beta Galaxy decimated the 121st Division (Gray Backs). The Ninety-First and Twelfth Divisions of the First Army fared better, trapping Delta Galaxy's Twentieth Polar Bear Attack Cluster in the outskirts of the Holth forest and inflicting heavy losses on the Clan troops. This skirmish turned the tide in the Bears' push for Luk and forced Beta and Delta Galaxies to withdraw. The Ninety-First Division then fell back to assist in the defense of Spanac, but just managed to enter the city before Alpha Galaxy took up positions in the suburbs. The Bears settled in to hold Spanac under siege until reinforcements from the failed attack at Luk arrived. Unfortunately for the Clans, the Com Guards' Twelfth waylaid those reinforcements in a brilliant ambush, setting fire to the Holth forest and attacking Beta Galaxy's Seventh Bear Guards as they fled from the burning woods. When the exhausted Seventh finally broke free of the inferno, they ran down wide paths cut through the woods to the hills beyond. By entering these corridors, the Bears fell to devastating short-range fire from the dug-in forces of the Twelfth. To a man, the overheated Ghost Bear 'Mechs died in the forest.

Meanwhile, the Com Guards had trouble on other fronts. The troops of the Ninety-First Division failed to achieve a proper defensive position in Spanac, and the arrival of Beta and Delta Galaxy troops at the siege enabled the Ghost Bears to overrun the Ninety-First and capture most of its supply caches intact. Predicting the imminent fall of the city, the Precentor Martial ordered Precentor Luarca to pull her 103rd Division out of Spanac.

The Ghost Bears took the city, but soon faced a counterattack from two divisions of the Fourth Army. Garrisoned at Luk, the Fourth Army divisions had seen little combat in the battle on Tukayyid and so arrived at Spanac fresh and ready for action. With the Fourth Army raining artillery fire on the city and the remnants of the Ninety-First and Twelfth Divisions raiding in the suburbs, the Bear Khans chose to leave Beta and Delta Galaxies to hold Spanac while Alpha Galaxy mustered for an assault on Luk.

At Luk, Alpha Galaxy tore into the remaining divisions of the Fourth Army with all the ferocity of Clan Ghost Bear's namesake. Despite the Com Guards' superior numbers, the Fourth came close to breaking until Precentor Luarca redeemed herself by leading her 103rd Division and the remaining elements of the 308th in an attack against Alpha Galaxy's main supply depot. The assault forced the Bears to pull back to defend their supplies; though the Fiftieth Striker Cluster managed to enter Luk's suburbs, the Clan troops lacked the force needed to take the city. Alpha Galaxy fought off a raid by reinforcements from the First Com Guard Army, but they suffered such high losses in doing so that the Bear Khans reluctantly ordered a withdrawal back to Spanac.

At this point, the ilKhan declared an end to the Ghost Bear campaign. Knowing that they lacked the strength to take Luk from the fresh Com Guards troops stationed there, the Bear Khans raised no objection. The battle of Tukayyid had already ended in defeat for several of the other Clans, and so if the Bears continued to fight, the Com Guards could easily shift enough forces from other combat theaters to drive the Clan from Spanac. Rather than lose all that they had gained, the Ghost Bears withdrew while they could still claim victory.

The Precentor Martial also welcomed the end of the Bear campaign. Though the Com Guards had lost to these particular Clan opponents, their forces' departure from Tukayyid left the First and Fourth armies free to turn against the hard-fighting Jade Falcons. Because the Ghost Bears captured Spanac, breached defenses at Luk, and inflicted somewhat greater losses than they sustained, ilKhan Kerensky and Precentor Martial Focht agreed that the Ghost Bears had won a marginal victory over the Com Guards.

Aftermath

Clan Ghost Bear wasted no time in recriminations for being forced to accept the Truce of Tukayyid by other Clans' failures to achieve their objectives on that planet. The Khans immediately began rotating their battered troops back to the Clan home worlds and bringing fresh warriors forward to the occupation zone. Clan Ghost Bear has quietly and efficiently rebuilt its occupying forces into the strongest Clan contingent in the Inner Sphere, and stands well-placed to leap out in front of a renewed Clan offensive.

HIBERNATION SEASON

Faced with a fifteen-year truce after the Clans' defeat on Tukayyid, our Khans chose to solidify our position in the inner Sphere. Khan Jorgensson finally reversed the situation on occupied worlds, placing most local governments back in their own people's charge, with minimal interference from the Clan. In an effort to boost commerce, the Khans launched a number of ambitious industrial expansion projects, keeping employment rates up and enhancing the Bear Touman in the process. Limited trade with the Inner Sphere was also permitted to the merchant caste under strict warrior supervision.

By 3054, however, the Ghost Bear efforts to expand industry and trade in the occupation zone had begun to slow down, stymied by the months-long delay between the Inner Sphere and the Clan home-worlds. In addition, Ghost Bear warriors and lower castes left behind in the home-worlds languished on marginal Kerensky Cluster worlds while their counterparts in the Inner Sphere enjoyed far better conditions on more than thirty worlds captured in rightful Trials of Possession. Resentment inevitably began to fester, threatening to split the Ghost Bear family unless something was done.

In an effort to strengthen his Clan and unite his people, Khan Jorgensson proposed a bold plan: that the entire Clan move permanently into the Inner Sphere. Put to a vote of the entire warrior caste, as are all important matters that concern the Clan, the Ghost Bears chose to move. Though this relocation from Clan space did not violate any Clan laws or traditions, we nonetheless conducted the move in secrecy to prevent predation against Ghost Bear holdings or vessels during the operation.

PRESENT AND FUTURE

The Great Refusal that was fought and won by the resurrected Star League Defense Force on Strana Mechty, repudiating the entire invasion, is a matter of controversy among our fellow Clans - especially our part in it (or lack thereof). Khan Jorgensson led the way for the Warden Khans to extricate themselves from the Trial, an act some see as a sign of weakness. The fact remains, however, that the invasion -despite our Clan's participation in it- was a Crusader endeavor, and so the honor of defending its continuance rightly fell to the Crusaders. Furthermore, our right to relocate was vindicated when the Grand Council voted down the motion to Abjure us - a charge hastily brought before the Council in the wake of the Great Refusal.

Our return to the Inner Sphere began in early 3055, and is nearly complete. Clan Ghost Bear keeps token but important holdings in Clan space, however, among them the enclave on Arcadia awarded to our Clan by Nicholas Kerensky. In addition, an elite Ghost Bear Cluster mans the traditional outpost on Strana Mechty at all times. Apart from these bases, nothing remains of our Clan's presence in the Pentagon or the Kerensky Cluster. The Inner Sphere is once again our home, and from here we will build a new future.

Make no mistake: our talk of brotherhood and friendship has not diminished our warrior spirit. But the days of Operation Revival are behind us. We have entered a new era, and for once the Ghost Bears are leading the way. Wardens we may be, but we are still Clan, and we will brook no challenge to our holdings or our honor.
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