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post Dec 21 2005, 01:13 PM
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Clan Society

Nicholas' new order carried his father's words to an extreme. He gave his father's Hidden Hope Doctrine to the survivors once again, admonishing them to grow, mature, and eliminate the greed that had caused them so much misery. He promised that one day their great-grandchildren, united and strong, would return to the Inner Sphere and restore the Star League. He said:


"But the first step on that road is to devote our efforts toward personal and Clan growth. We must destroy our greed and false patriotism when building the Clans, We will purge our old ideals and ethics; those belong to the corrupt stars of the Inner Sphere, and will not serve as we begin anew. Now, while our minds are open and yearning for new insight, we must remold them and fill them with the truth of our destiny. For we are destined to be not only different from those we left behind, but better. My father knew this, and saved us from the holocaust of the Inner Sphere. I accept it as truth, and have returned to lead you, the survivors of this most bitter trial. I am certain that, in our heart of hearts, we all realize our vital importance to the future of all humanity."


True to his word, Nicholas began to purge all vestiges of the Inner Sphere and the old ways. One of his first actions was to scatter the survivors of the Exodus Civil War, relocating them among the Pentagon and cluster worlds to make certain that old affiliations to Inner Sphere societies would not be revived. He formally outlawed any loyalties outside the Clans. He erased all mention of prior residence or lineage from every personal record, replacing them with Clan affiliation and current residence. Every survivor, civilian and military alike, was assigned to one of the 20 Clans. Public mention of the Inner Sphere, except to criticize it, was made a punishable offense.


What is amazing is not the lengths to which Nicholas went in shaping his new society; other despots have gone just as far. What made his efforts unique was the absolute lack of resistance, a sure sign that the Exodus Civil War was fully as traumatic as The Remembrance reports. The survivors were willing to do anything to avoid a repetition of the war's devastation. Even taking that into account, it is difficult to understand these peoples' blind acceptance of Nicholas' new order. They were brothers and sisters to our own ancestors 250 years ago, yet have been tempered by a stronger flame. Now they are so utterly alien that it is hard to accept that they are human. They are still our brothers and sisters, but hardened to a point that we fear even in our nightmares.


Nicholas strengthened the warriors of the Clans with edicts based on the writings of his father, which he gave his own unique interpretation. Nicholas imposed many rules derived from such works as "A Primer of Tactics and Strategy" and "Applied Concepts of Attack and Defense," both written by his father. The general's "Twelve Principles of Command" seems to be the basis of the Clans' internal bidding process for tests of combat, and General Order 137 is the basis for Clan justice. These edicts are written and presented in a way that more resembles divine revelation than orders from a commanding officer. Nicholas seems to have adopted this tone deliberately; he was trying to instill in his people a sense of religious devotion toward the Clans.


Nicholas believed that unless the Clans were fully functional and firmly established before he died, they would revert back to the old, corrupt ways upon his death. He realized that 800 Clan warriors was not enough to fulfill his goals, nor would normal birth rates expand their number quickly enough. Nicholas needed a way to accelerate the growth of his new society.


For civilians, Nicholas instituted an ambitious breeding program that gave each Clan the right to arrange mandatory marriages within trades, such as merchant with merchant or laborer with laborer. He also mandated the number of children each match could produce. The children of these marriages were eligible for only a narrow range of professions, based upon their parents' trade, but only if they tested successfully; those who failed were sent to a lower trade, or "caste." Occasionally, a child tested so well that he was placed in a higher caste. These exceptional offspring are infrequent, but are considered vital to the quality of the gene pool. Within a few years, Nicholas swept aside the concepts of marriage for love and free choice of jobs, replacing them with arranged marriages and a rigid caste system.


If the civilians chafed under the new rules and regulations governing their lives, they could still be thankful they were not members of the warrior caste. Nicholas envisioned his warriors as the true standard--bearers of their Star League heritage--but knew that all his efforts would come to nothing if their number could not be quickly increased. Before returning to the Pentagon worlds, he spent long hours consulting with his scientists. On the eve of their departure, he announced that as warrior offspring were to carry on the legacy of the Star League, they must be brought forth into the universe as quickly as possible. The warriors were required to donate genetic materials to what can only be described as baby factories. A systematic eugenics program placed sperm and ova in artificial wombs, called "canisters" or "iron wombs" by Clan warriors, and produced a new generation selected and bred to be superior to the previous one.


Using this process, the scientists produced 20 children per birthing from the genetic material of one pair. Following Nicholas' directives, the pair's Clan then raised this "sibko" (sibling company), using continual testing and education to weed out those not fit for the warrior caste. New generations were produced in this fashion every ten years, creating thousands of new Clan warriors and adding to the ranks of the citizenry. Though Nicholas was careful to state that the motive of this forced breeding program was to enable the Clan return to the Inner Sphere, he must also have been trying to produce sufficient warriors to control any future unrest.


Another reliable source indicates that most of what I have reported concerning the warrior caste system is of questionable accuracy. My source indicated that it was formed from only 600, not 800, warriors, and that a typical sibko consists of 100 sibkin, not 20. Sibkin are also not necessarily genetically related. My source recently died under questionable circumstances, so I may never discover the truth about the warrior caste.


Sibko children face continual testing of their abilities. On the average, fewer than one-tenth of any given sibko actually become warriors. Those who cannot pass the testing are assigned to or of the lower castes, as their talents dictate. An unspoken but obvious goal of the eugenics program is the removal of "tainted" genes. Nicholas determined that anyone who remained on the Pentagon worlds during the Exodus Civil War was suspect, and so that person's genes would not be passed on. By limiting the number of "freebirths" (uncontrolled births) among the descendants these families, and by favoring the descendants of loyal warriors who entered the lower castes, the program eventually included only the genetic legacy of those followers Nicholas deemed unquestionably loyal: 800 warriors and 600 civilian families.


Five castes make up the structure of Clan society: warrior, scientist, merchant, technician, and laborer. A sixth caste, called the dark, or bandit, caste, exists unofficially for those who cannot or will not fit into mainstream society. Each caste has myriad sub-castes based on specialties within a professional field.



Warrior Caste
Warriors are obviously the most powerful caste. The vast majority of warriors proudly trace their lineage directly to the 800 Bloodnamed. Each looks like the product of the genetic breeding program. Clan MechWarriors are robust, with lightning-quick reflexes and quicker intelligence. Fighter pilots are thin, their heads disproportionately large and with far-seeing eyes. Elementals, the Clan infantry, are huge, unusually strong soldiers possessed of grace and speed far exceeding what is expected of people of such intimidating size.


The warrior caste's eugenics program is a completely alien means of reproduction. It seems cold and analytical, making no allowance for the passion and love we consider necessary to a full life. Warriors, however, gain great comfort and strength from their sense of belonging to the sibko, and from their unbroken lineage to Kerensky's 800. Each warrior's lineage is recorded in his codex, a copy of which is electronically stored in a band worn on his right forearm. A warrior's career, from his first sibko test to his dying oath, is recorded by the codex and analyzed by his Clan. If a warrior's deeds are judged worthy, his genetic material helps create the next generation. Failure means the termination of his or her line. It is little wonder that the drive to excel overshadows all other considerations.


Seldom do freebirths, those not born from the eugenics program, win a chance to join the warrior caste. Those who do are usually consigned to garrison and paramilitary police units, with little hope of advancing to a level where their genes would be incorporated into the warrior pool. This disregard for freebirth warriors may be changing. The growing responsibility given freebirth warriors in recent decades is best exemplified by Jaime and Joshua Wolf's command of the Wolf Dragoons.



Scientist Caste
The scientist caste has two responsibilities: continued technological development and genetic control of the population. The warriors' eugenics program naturally occupies a place of prime importance in their work. Assignment to the scientist caste is considered a high honor for civilians because it literally holds the future of the Clans in its hands. This caste is also responsible for educating and testing all freebirths.



Merchant Caste
The merchant caste is powerful because it controls all commerce within the Clans. The merchants' economic power is held in check by the warrior caste's monopoly over JumpShip travel. Though merchants own their own vessels, explicit laws require that all vessels carry warriors for protection. Long journeys are allowed only with a naval escort. This arrangement effectively prevents merchants from gaining too much power. The merchants still feel free, however, to indirectly criticize the warrior caste for the way the merchant caste's affairs are handled. Indeed, many suggest that the impetus for the invasion of the Inner Sphere originated in the merchant caste, which was eager to pursue new monetary endeavors. The merchants are the most rebellious of the lower castes, though some have suffered severe punishment for their protests. The Clan Widowmaker merchants, for example, precipitated an internal dispute with the warrior caste that ultimately led to the whole Clan's annihilation. This is described more fully in the next chapter.



Technican Caste
The technician caste is less defined than the others. In general, a member of the technician caste is responsible for the upkeep, repair, and operation of complicated equipment, including everything from a cyclotron to an agribot to a BattleMech. In fact, a technician's status in Clan society is directly related to the caste he is supporting. Thus, technicians assigned as support for a BattleMech Star are much higher in status than technicians assigned to maintain agribots, even though the two groups possess the same skills.



Laborer Caste
The laborer caste is both the largest and lowest-level caste in the official Clan hierarchy. This caste farms the fields, operates the factories, and provides all basic services. In short, it is composed of the common citizens. During my stay with the Clans, I never encountered a member of this caste, except for the "bondsmen" (captured warriors of other Clans serving as laborers while working to regain their warrior status) aboard their ships.



Bandit Caste
This caste is not recognized by Clan society, yet it exists. Sometimes referred to as the "dark caste," it supports the failures of Clan society, the unwanted, and the rejects. How or where they live is unknown, but Clan literature is filled with stories of malcontents who fled to the bandit caste and came to unsavory ends. Warriors who fail to test up or who grow too old to be of service sometimes slip away to this caste, as do scientists whose discoveries are deemed counterproductive to the Clans. The dark caste has no voice in Clan affairs because their group is not sanctioned. Bandit caste atrocities are the stuff of legends, but it is difficult to believe that the caste is strong enough to be more than a minor nuisance to the Clans. Cynics suggest that the bandit caste exists solely to sharpen developing warriors' fighting edge.
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