History of the BattleTech Universe




Introduction to BattleTech

By the 31st century, humanity has spread to thousands of worlds, while a handful of powerful empires wage continual war for the right to rule the stars. Foremost among the weapons used in that struggle are BattleMechs. Loaded with autocannons, missile launchers, lasers, and charged-particle beam weapons, these fusion-powered war machines of articulated armor stand upward of ten meters high. Piloting them are MechWarriors, the best, most intensively trained men and women available. Like the armored knights of an earlier age, MechWarriors are popular heroes, and their exploits are the stuff of legends.

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Breakthrough (2001-2100)

At the beginning of the 21st century, life on Terra had not changed much from what it had been at the close of the 20th century. Despite attempts at reconciliation in the 1990s, the planet's two giant superpowers still opposed one another, but now their tangled web of weaponry stretched outward into space. Over the next 100 years, however, the situation changed dramatically. By the end of the 21st century, the people of Terra stood poised in apparent unity on the brink of their first expansion into the stars.

Politically, humanity's new age began in 2011 when the bloody Second Soviet Civil War tore that nation permanantly asunder. As the Soviet strife threatened to bring the rest of the planet to the brink of nuclear war, a joint force of North American and Western European troops intervened to end hostilities in 2014. This outcome greatly strengthened political ties between nations of the Western Alliance, resulting in a formal unification of Western military forces. By 2024, the Western Alliance included Japan, the newly liberated Eastern European nations, and the now-separate seven Russian states. Replacing the defunct United Nations as a world forum was the Alliance Parliament. As a vigorous sponsor of scientific research and space- exploration activities, the Alliance handsomely rewarded similar efforts by its member states.

As the economic benefits of Alliance membership became obvious, nation after nation petitioned the Alliance for membership status. By 2086, the Western Alliance had become the Terran Alliance, embracing more than 120 member- states. A complex formula based on date of entry, wealth, population, and military power determined each member's voting strength in Parliament.

The 21st century was an age of unsurpassed scientific innovation, most notably the development of fusion power as a major source of power. Alliance scientists built the first full-scale fusion reactor in 2020, and sent the first fusion-powered spacecraft from Terra to Mars in 2027. The voyage took only 14 days, a fraction of the five months the trip had previously required. Because of the fusion-power plant's efficiency, space vessels could now maintain higher-acceleration burns for much longer periods.

The development of efficient fusion drives made possible the first widespread exploration of Terra's star system. By 2050, the Alliance had scientific outposts throughout the Sol system, had dispatched unmanned interstellar probes to Tau Ceti, Epsilon Eridani, and Epsilon Indi. By this time, private multinational corporations also began to participate in spacefaring activity, establishing mining colonies in the asteroid belt, and ven transporting entire asteroids from the belt to the Terra-Moon system. These corporations also engaged in technological research that resulted in breakthroughs such as the development of dense-but-lightweight materials for spacecraft and space-station construction and a variety of small, portable fusion reactors for equipment use.

Not all the breakthrough research of the 21st century took immediate effect, however. Working together at Stanford University, America's Thomas Kearny and Japan's Takayoshi Fuchida published a series of papers from 2018-2021 that attacked the theoretical undepinnings of modern physics. The scientific community ridiculed their work, and both men died in obscurity before the century was half over. As had been the case with so many innovators, only future generations would respect and honor the value of these two men's daring research. It would be another 80 years before their theories would come to fruition.

Meanwhile, medical prosthetics research had led to the development of polyacetene fibers called "myomers." Under the influence of electricity, bundles of these fibers would contract strongly, like muscles. Unfortunately, the minimum bundle length required for the process was far longer than any human limb. This line of research would lie fallow for the next three centuries.

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Exodus (2102-2313)

In 2102, scientists announced the greatest scientific breakthrough of the last two centuries, the theoretical prototype for a faster-than-light starship. Ironically, their work was based on the once-scorned theories of Kearny and Fuchida. The Terran Parliament authorized the Deimos Project, a crash program to develop an FTL drive. Although the Deimos project culminated in the maiden voyage of the first FTL ship to Tau Ceti in 2108, the billions spent on it created resentment and even rioting in some of the poorer Alliance member-states. This rift in the apparent unity of Terra was never completely repaired and the struggle between the "haves" and "have- nots" would continue to plague the Alliance.

Shortly afterward, Alliance shipyards began producing FTL-drive ships. By 2116, the first permanant space colony was established on Tau Ceti IV (New Earth). As engineering improvements reduced the cost of building FTL ships, corporations and even dissident private groups began to acquire their own vessels to exploit the seemingly limitless potential of the stars. The Terran Parliament soon acted to place colonization under its sole authority, passing laws requiring that all ships have a Terran naval escort, and placing all colonies under Terran jurisdiction in the form of an Alliance-appointed governor. In 2172, the first Alliance Grand Survey reported the existence of more than 100 settled human colonies spread across a sphere 80 light years in diameter. The fourth survey, conducted in 2235, recorded the settlement of more than 600 worlds.

As more and more planets were settled, the colonists began to encounter the problem of impure water supplies suitable neither for human consumption nor for irrigation. As the costs of water purification equipment were prohibitive for most colony worlds, the lack of potable water tended to discourage new exploration. In 2177, however, entrepreneur Rudolph Ryan patented a process for transforming interplanetary tankers into FTL-driven "iceships" able to quickly transport huge icebergs across interstellar space. Within a few short years, the Ryan Cartel became the single most profitable enterprise within the Alliance, and its iceships stimulated the colonization of many worlds previously believed only marginally habitable.

With each expansion of human-occupied space, the time needed to transmit messages to and from Terra also increased, making it difficult for Parliament to administer colony worlds directly. This forced the Alliance to delegate more authority to its appointed governors, who, in turn, had to grant extensive home-rule authority to colonists. When a coalition of colonies along the outer reaches of known space declared its independence in 2355, there began a bitter, 18-month battle with Terra, which became known as the Outer Reaches Rebellion. Much to its surprise, the Terran government lacked both the military resources and the political support needed to crush the rebellion.

The loss of these rebel worlds set off a political crisis within the Alliance that ultimately resulted in a vote of no-confidence against the ruling Expansionist Party. Upon taking power, the new Liberal government withdrew Terran troops and administrators from all frontier worlds, granting the colonies independence, whether they wanted it or not. This isolationist policy soon proved just as unpopular as expansionism because of the resulting political turmoil and economic upheaval. By 2242, the boundary of Alliance holdings was no more than 30 light years from Sol, a single jump by an FTL- ship. For the next 70 years, neither major political party was able to establish parliamentary control on Terra, and their respective regimes alternated, falling as quickly as they rose.

To escape the constant political unrest and economic hard times, many of Terra's best and brightest becan to migrate to the now-independent colonies during the latter half of the 23rd century. Later historians dubbed this period "the Exodus." Terrans colonized more than 1500 new planets during the Exodus, extending the borders of human-occupied space to more than 150 light years from Sol. With more and more of Terra's resources devoted to colonization, scientific research lagged. On the struggling colony worlds, too, the colonists were too pressed with the problems of survival to think much about developing new technology. Meanwhile, some of the ex-colonies were attempting to consolidate their independence by banding together for mutual support. In 2271, the Treaty of Marik was signed by three minor heads of state. Thus was born the Free Worlds League, the first of the great federations that would one day vie for power and dominion over all the rest.

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Consolidation (2314-2398)

The Terran Alliance ultimately collapsed beneath the weight of its own discontent in September 2314. When a short, vicious war vroke out between rival Expansionist and Liberal factions, Fleet Admiral James McKenna intervened with Alliance military forces to halt the conflict.

McKenna was a proud, charismatic career officer with a spotless military record and a long family heritage of service to the Terran Alliance (and the Western Alliance before it). He was the archetypal hero, appearing at a critical juncture and turning the tide of history in a new direction. McKenna was determined to restore his native Terra to its former proud position as leader and progenitor of "Homo stellaris." After dissolving the Alliance, he declared himself ruler of a new state, the Terran Hegemony. Under his leadership, the Hegemony embarked on an active and campaign to restore Terra's political control over its former colonies. By the time of McKenna's death in 2339, the Hegemony had used military, political, and economic means to reassert its authority over more than 100 worlds.

In 2340, Michael Cameron, McKenna's nephew, was elected to succeed his uncle as Director-General. During Cameron's term of office, the Hegemony engaged in an ambitious government-sponsored research effort. The first significant product of these efforts was the development of a prototype WorkMech, a fusion-powered mining vehicle that reproduced body movements through artificial muscle structure based on the myomer technology developed back in the 21st century.

The reemergence of Terra as both a political and scientific force created a new era of detente and relatively peaceful development for the whole human sphere. Starting with the Crucis Pact of 2317, a number of mutual-defense leagues and trade agreements similar to the Treaty of Marik were signed among worlds. Although most of these agreements granted member-worlds total sovereignty over internal matters, they also allowed more developed colonies to control poorer, younger neighbors. By the time the Hegemony and other states of the Inner Sphere undertook the Grand Survey of 2389, ten separate states with strong central governments had emerged, each controlling worlds within communications range of their capitals. Six strong states had emerged in the "Inner Sphere," and other, smaller governments had sprung up at the fringes of colonized space, now known as "the Periphery." There were, however, frequent disputes over border worlds, especially those with ample water or mineral resources. This tended to make the boundaries of the various states a matter of tension or even war. As confrontations over these planets grew more frequent, an arms race followed, further exacerbating tensions throughout human space.

Though the other federations and states tried to follow the lead of the Hegemony in supporting new research facilities, most lagged behind. In one respect, however, the other governments mirrored the Hegemony absolutely: the creation of a hereditary leadership, embodied in a single ruling family. Commenting on this, social historians have argued that the dynastic form of rule probably offered a comforting reassurance after the chaos of the Exodus years.

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Age of War (2398-2550)

In 2398, a territorial dispute between the Capellan Confederation and the Free Worlds League erupted into a shooting war, as both ground and naval forces clashed in the Andurien system. This conflict was only the first of a dozen bloody but limited wars fought between 2398 and 2412 over ownership of key frontier wars, the first such wars in more than a century. A new era of bloody conflict had begun.

In 2412, after a fierce battle in the Tintavel system resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, reppresentatives of the ten states of the Inner Sphere and the Periphery met in the city of New Olympia on the planet Ares to discuss a remarkable set of chivalric interstellar laws governing the conduct of war. Instead of attempting to prevent war, the Ares Conventions sought to legitimize its conduct, banning it in heavily populated areas and prohibiting military disruption of civlian economies. All six states of the Inner Sphere signed the agreement, but only two of the Periphery States did so.

As a result of the Ares Conventions, war became almost a continuous fact of life in the 25th century. It was transformed, however. From being an awesomely destructive event, war was now a curious, stylized feint and counterfeint in which outmaneuvered forces often surrendered rather than fight unfavorable odds. Compliance with the Conventions was almost universal, drastically reducing the human and economic costs of war. Unfortunately, it also promoted war as a means of resolving even the most minor dispute.

Throughout the next century and a half, the various interstellar states fought hundreds of little wars among themselves, all of them inconclusive. None of the governments was able to form either permanant, lasting alliances with one anotheror to establish long-term supremacy over its neighbors. Nevertheless, the hereditary governments of these states survived the years of violence surprisingly intact.

The one exception came in 2459, when the childless, unmarried Lady Durant, leader of the Rim Worlds Republic, named Terens Amaris as her heir-apparent. In 2463, Lady Amaris succeeded Durant, and members of her line would rule in unbroken succession for almost three hundred years.

The Terran Hegemony had its fair share of battles during the Age of War. In 2431, Director-General Richard Cameron ordered his army to seize the Kentares system from the Federated Suns, and in 2475, it crushed a Free Worlds League invasion force at Oriente. In gerneral, however, the leaders of the Hegemony hoped to avoid conflict, attempting to consolidate their power economically and technologically. Whatever the Hegemony's intentions, the state also became militarily superior with the invention of the BattleMech in 2439. Derived from the mining 'Mechs of the previous century and using the same myomer technoloy to power their movement, Terra's BattleMechs soon demonstrated greater mobility and adaptability to environments than conventional armored vehicles. They were also more heavily armed, with a full inventory of conventional and energy weaponry. The other states of the Inner Sphere also coveted 'Mech technology, but it only began to spread after a Lyran Commonwealth commando raid on the Hegemony 'Mech-production facility on Hesperus II in 2455. The Hegemony maintained superiority in the field, evolving new and better designs with more mobility and weaponry at lower cost and higher efficiency. Perhaps because of its military might, the Hegemony began to assume the role of mediator as the 25th century drew to a close.

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Imperium and Reunification (2551-2600)

A century and a half after the Age of War began, the Hegemony's role as mediator eventually brought an end to the wars through arbitration of a dispute between Houses Liao and Marik over the planet Andurien. In an irony of history, these same two combatants had fought over this world 150 years earlier, initiating the Age of War. Not only did Ian Cameron, 13th Director- General of the Hegemony. persuade the Capellan Confederation and Free Worlds League to sign peace agreements, but he earned the friendship of their leaders, Terrence Liao and Albert Marik. In 2556, the three states signed the Clasped Hands Agreement, a secret subtreaty to the Andurien peace accords. The secret pact established special trade relations and promises of non-agression. This led almost immediately to the Treaty of Geneva, which established these three as the founders of the Star League.

Between 2556 and 2569, Cameron used his mediator's skill to hammer out similar agreements with the Federated Suns, Lyran Commonwealth, and the Draconis Combine, the other three states within the borders of the Inner Sphere. In 2571, Cameron and the rulers of the other five states had established a new, unified hegemony called the Star League. In exchange for their recognition of Ian Cameron as First Lord of the Star League and arbiter of League foreign policy, the League Articles granted each of the other five leaders a seat on the High Council, autonomy over all domestic policy matters, and official sanction of the existing line of succession. Most important, all now had free access to the Terran military research apparatus.

The Periphery governments, on the other hand, wished to maintain their independence and resisted all diplomatic efforts to persuade them to join the League. These were the Outworlds Alliance, the Taurian Concordat, the Magistracy of Canopus, and the Rim Worlds Republic. Their traditions of autonomy were now centuries old, and they would fight to remain beyond the jurisdiction of the powerful Star League. The Periphery leaders began strengthening their militaries, knowing that confrontation was inevitable. In 2575, the Star League issued the Pollux Proclamation, ordering the Periphery states to join the League either voluntarily or or by dint of force. Two months later, the Periphery states rejected the demand outright. In the next several years, the two sides fought a number of skirmishes and battles, but all-out war against the Periphery was not declared until 2578.

The Reunification War was a series of desperate campaigns that lasted 20 long years and claimed more soldier and civilian lives than the entire Age of War. It finally ended in 2596, following the final bloody campaign that led to the surrender of the Taurian Concordat. In 2597, the four conquered Periphery states became Territorial States of the Star League. The League immediately launched a vast public-relations campaign aimed at building popular support for membership among the people of the conquered territories. The effort was ultimately successful, with the League able to withdraw most of its garrison troops within ten years.

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The Good Years (2601-2750)

During the 150 years following the Reunification War, the far-flung territories of the Star League experienced a new wave of scientific innovation and colonial expansion. To reduce the administrative problems caused by lengthy interstellar-communicatin lags, the Star League developed a vast and intricate network of communications relay stations employing FTL transmitters. Known as hyperpulse generators (HPGs), these transmitters were developed from technology based on Kearny-Fuchida hyperdrive principles. Research begun in 2615 came to fruition 15 years later when the first HPG message was successfully transmitted from Terra to the Lyran Commonwealth. The HPG was essentially a large "gun" that fired a high-frequency compressed pulse through K-F space at a target world. The pulse traveled the immense distance instantaneously, just like a faster-than-light spacecraft. Though the energy cost fo a single transmission was of the same magnitude as for a jump by an FTL ship, an HPG pulse could travel up to 50 light years, while a ship could jump a maximum of 30 light years. When completed, the system effectively cut the average communication time between Terra and the Periphery from more than a year to about six months. Communications time could be cut to days, but only at great cost.

At the same time, League engineers developed a new, low-cost water- purification system. It was significantly cheaper to operate this system than to import water, making it economically feasible to settle Inner Sphere worlds previously ignored during the Exodus. The system also provided many settled worlds with an unexpected economic boom. The Ryan Cartel, the great iceship manufacturer and operator, was nearly driven bankrupt as fewer and worlds relied on its service. By 2700, more than a thousand new worlds had been settled, and the Star League had expanded to control a sphere roughly 540 light years in diameter.

In a final important development, engineers working to improe BattleMech mobility were able to develop an improved, more efficient myomer. This improvement finally made it possible to construct artifical "bionic" limbs of human size, as well as full-scale, super-string human exoskeletons for use in industry.

Spurred by the adoption of a universal currency and the removal of the artifical trade barriers imposed by the Age of War, trade and commerce also boomed. As prosperity grew, Star League worlds became increasingly independent. With development and transportation costs low, many planets developed highly specialized economies that made them dependent on other worlds for basic commodities such as food, water-purification equipment, and replacement parts.

Only on major political crisis occured during this golden age, and it was resolved fairly easily. In 2650, reports reached Terra that Tadeo Amaris, leader of the Rim Worlds Territorial-State, was expanding his personal army at an alarming rate. Michael Cameron, having recently succeeded to the title of First Lord of the Star League, convened a special meeting of the Star League High Council, whom he persuaded to issue an edict restricting te size of personal military forces that any League member could raise. To back up this administrative action, Cameron gave Amaris a warning by sending several Star League Defense Force BattleMech regiments to conduct extended maneuvers just beyond the boundary of the Rim Worlds. Shortly after, League intelligence confirmed that Amaris had apparently disbanded his extra regiments. In truth, Amaris and other state leaders continued in secret to strengthen their militia and reserves. Though the Star League represented apparent unity among the stars, member-states continued to fight "Hidden Wars" during this "golden age" of peace and prosperity.

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Crisis and Civil War (2751-2784)

In February 2751, Simon Cameron, the fifth First Lord of the Star League, was accidentally killed during a mining-colony inspection on New Silesia, leaving his eight-year-old son Richard as sole heir. After deliberating for more than a month, the Star League High Council named young Richard as First Lord, but appointed Aleksandr Kerensky, commander of the Star League Defense Forces, as Regent and Protector. It soon became apparent, however, that the Council Lords perceived themselves as the Star League's true authority.

During the ten years of the Regency, the Council passed two edicts that would have far-reaching consequences for the League's future. The first was a reversal of Michael Cameron's Edict of 2650. This new edict allowed each League member-state to double the strength of its private forces, thus initiating a period of general military buildup. The second granted each of the six member-States ruled by the Council Lords a greater share of League revenues, while boosting the tax assessments on the four Territorial States. Not surprisingly, this second action provoked immediate unrest and rebellion in the Periphery, forcing Kerensky to strongly reinforce the Regular Army BattleMechs garrisoned there.

On February 9, 2762, First Lord Cameron reached his majority at age 18 and took his place on the Star League throne. A few days later, he issued Executive Order 156, ordering the complete disbandment of all private House armies. Enraged, the Council Lords wasted no time striking down the Order 156 as unconstitutional, eventually forcing young Cameron to rescind it. Only Stefan Amaris, ruler of the Rim Worlds State, supported Richard's initiative.

Relations between the High Council and the First Lord further deteriorated when Richard dissolved the High Council in 2762, vowing to rule by decree. The next year Richard's Taxation Edict of 2763 further burdened the Periphery's finances, escalating civil unrest. When the people of the Periphery rejected the Edict, Richard ordered General Kerensky to the frontier to cow the Territories into submission. In 2764, Stefan Amaris signed a secret agreement with Richard, pledging to defend Terra in the event of trouble. When even more troops, including Cameron household units, were sent to the frontier following the secession of New Vandenberg and 17 other Periphery worlds in April 2765, the secret agreement seemed almost prophetic.

By 2766, three-quarters of the Regular Army was engaged along the Periphery. On Terra, troops borrowed from Stefan's household guard replaced the Regular units sent to New Vandenberg, eventually outnumbering Regular forces remaining on Terra. In late December of that year, Amaris seized his chance, assassinating Lord Richard Cameron as well as every other man, woman, and child with a drop of Cameron blood, simultaneously moving his troops against Terra and the other worlds of the Terran Hegemony. On the first day, 95 of the 103 planets fell to the surprise attack. In January 2767, Amaris declared himself First Lord of the Star League. News of this coup did not reach Kerensky until May of 2767 when Stefan's forces completed their takeover of the Terran Member-State, and Amaris reopened communications contact. Kerensky immediately imposed a cease-fire with all Periphery realms except the Rim Worlds Republic, while declaring war against the usurper. Both Amaris and Kerensky called on the Council Lords to aid their cause, but none would commit to either side.

In August 2767, Kerensky took the Rim Worlds Republic, then advanced on the Terran Hegemony worlds Amaris had captured. The ensuing struggle lasted twelve grueling years, but Kerensky's forces inexorably advanced from world to world, finally liberating Terra itself on September 3, 2779. On the last day of that month, Kerensky captured Amaris, who ordered all his troops to surrender. In retaliation for Stefan Amaris' murder of the Camerons, Kerensky executed the usurper and his entire family in November 2779. The civil war was over, but the Star League Army had taken horrifying losses, dropping from 486 divisions to 113. 0ne hundred million had died, four times that number were wounded, and ten times more left homeless. Equally disastrous was the severe damage to the interstellar communications network, the life blood of the Star League.

Kerensky proclaimed himself Protector of the Realm once more, and invited the High Council to reconvene on Terra. Fearing Kerensky's popularity, the High Council immediately removed the general from his post as Protector, ordering him to disperse his Regular Army troops to create garrisons for the Terran Member-State worlds. The Council also appointed Jerome Blake as Minister of Communications, charging him with the restoration of the League's communications network, an effort that would succeed beyond the Lords' wildest intentions. Kerensky, meanwhile, returned to New Earth, temporary headquarters of the Star League army. Though his troops were ready to help him overthrow the High Council, Kerensky refused to betray the Star League, the only government that ever united humanity under one banner.

The High Council, however, could make no boasts about unity. Each Council Lord asserted his own claim to the Star League throne, until all were exhausted by the futility of the struggle. On August 12, 2781, they officially dissolved the High Council, each Lord returning home determined to build his own army in order to seize power for himself. As the former Council Lords of the Star League built up their militaries, many remnants of Stefan Amaris' former regiments found new employment as mercenaries. Soon the Lords were attempting to buy the services of Regular Army regiments as well.

When Kerensky attempted to prevent the leaders of the Great Houses from their recruitment efforts among the SLDF, they called for his resignation. Instead, he summoned more than 100 division commanders and an equal number of lesser officers to a secret meeting on New Earth, on February 14, 2784. After this meeting, quartermasters spent the next six months quietly acquiring more than 200 transports as well as supplies and parts. The precoccupied Council Lords took no heed until mid-summer when they began to notice troop movements in the Periphery. On July 8, Kerensky flashed a one- word order to the ships assembled at the New Earth jump point and to those assembled above 50 other stars throughout the Inner Sphere. The one word was, "Exodus." More than a thousand ships made jumps that day. On November 5, this massive fleet had made its way to the New Samarkand system in the Draconis Combine. Eighty percent of the Star League army had chosen to join their fates to that of Kerensky. It took a whole day for the enormous armada to make its combined jumps out of the system. From that day on, Kerensky and his fleet disappeared into the dark embrace of the Periphery, apparently abandoning the Inner Sphere forever.

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The Succession Wars (2785-3030)

Kerensky's dramatic exodus removed the last real obstacle to civil war. In December 2786, Minoru Kurita declared himself First Lord of the Star League, and the other four Council Lords quickly followed suit. Within months, war had engulfed the entire Inner Sphere.

The First Succession War lasted from 2787 to 2821, a conflagration of unparalleled brutality. The warring Lords of the five Great Houses cast aside the Ares Conventions, smashing cities, destroying vital industrial facilities, and butchering hundreds of millions of civilians. Few worlds escaped unscathed, and all were affected by the complete disruption of trade, commerce, and communications. By 2815, the warring states had lost most of their FTL shipbuilding capacity. The intense concentration of economic resources into military production had also forced a major drop in consumer goods production, creating a severe decline in trade. This loss of trade proved particularly disastrous for those worlds relying on high-tech water purification equipment. Without proper maintenance or spare parts, many of these facilities began to fail, forcing abandonment of the worlds or a return to iceship technologies. By the war's end in 2821, water-rich planets had become as strategically valuable as they had been 400 years before.

The peace of 2821 was uneasy, resulting more from exhaustion than any true reconciliation. Though no House Lord could claim to have made much progress toward his goal of dominion, too many atrocities had occurred to allow any sort of lasting settlement. From 2821 through 2827, the five surviving ruling Houses rebuilt as much of their military might as possible, concentrating their surviving scientists and engineers on those few worlds whose industrial capacity remained intact. Between 2828 and 2830, tensions along the borders of each rival state erupted, leading once more to all-out war.

The Second Succession War lasted from approximately 2830 to 2864, and was just as deadly, destructive, and indecisive as its predecessor. Hundreds of millions more died in countless battles across the Inner Sphere, though only a few dozen worlds ultimately changed hands. As the war destroyed more industrial facilities and killed off more scientists and engineers, some types of specialized knowledge and technology began to disappear entirely. By the end of the Second Succession War, what had become known as the Successor States' overall level of technological knowledge sunk to a level barely above that of Terra in the early 21st century. It was no longer easy to build advanced computers, large fusion power plants, or starships. Instead, the leaders of the Succesor Houses began to cannibalize existing equipment for the spare parts necessary to keep their current war machines in working order.

After a second brief respite, the Third Succession War erupted in 2866. It began when advance forces of the Draconis Combine invaded the coreward portion of the Lyran Commonwealth; war soon spread across the Inner Sphere. In the years that followed, combat became such a fact of everyday life that the period become known simply as "the Succession Wars." Nonetheless, campaigns during this period never matched the violence of previous two wars.

At first, the decrease in destruction and bloodshed appeared to be more a function of each army's reduced resources than philosophical change in tactics. As time passed, however, and the exigencies of a scavenger economy took hold, each of the Houses realized it could ill afford further losses of vital resources. Gradually, an informal set of rules of war evolved, similar to the Ares Conventions. 'Mech units and armies still fought over possession of operational factories, but neither side attempted to harm the facility itself. (The losers simply consoled themselves with the idea that they would win the planet in the next war). Major 'Mech battles, especially between mercenary units, were often fought in stages, with both sides allowing enemy Techs to enter the battlefield during periods of truce to attend to damaged 'Mechs. Other 'Mech units, again especially mercenaries, revived the old tradition of surrendering to a superior force and paying a ransom to obtain their off-world release. Most important, everyone recognized the sanctity of any side's JumpShips, and strictly obeyed the prohibition against attacking such craft. After all, without JumpShips, the war for supremacy could not be waged at all.

A second outgrowth of the destructiveness of the Succession Wars was the rise of feudalism throughout the Inner Sphere. The central governments of the ruling Houses no longer possessed either the administrative machinery or absolute military resources to maintain centralized control over their territories. Instead, each House Lord ruled a hierarchy of planetary nobles. These nobles were often drawn from the leadership of his most elite 'Mech units, having won full authority over worlds in exchange for the pledged service of their BattleMechs.

Indeed, the years of conflict wreaked havoc beyond the borders of the Successor States, creating the phenomenon known as the Bandit Kings of the Periphery. As the wars raged back and forth along the frontier, dozens of 'Mech units - most often composed either the fragments of defeated units or mutinous mercenaries - fled into the vastness of the Periphery. Several of the units emerged again, often after a number of years, as "kings" of one or more small worlds seized by force of arms. By the end of the 30th century, more than 60 known small kingdoms and principalities ringed the Inner Sphere, creating the ever-present threat of raids and piracy to the frontier worlds of each Successor State.

This era of tentative stability lasted for roughly a century. Interestingly, it was a call for lasting peace that marked the end of a relative balance of power among the Great Houses and began the ferocity of the Fourth Succession War.

Recognizing humanity's slow but steady slide away from the glories of the Star League era and toward barbarism, Archon Katrina Steiner of the Lyran Commonwealth issued a Peace Proposal to the other House leaders in 3020. Only Hanse Davion, Prince of the Federated Suns, welcomed the initiative. Announcing that he would "take history by the throat," Davion began negotiations with the Archon. The result of these talks was the Federated- Commonwealth Alliance Document, which Prince Hanse Davion and Archon Katrina Steiner signed on Terra in 3022. In addition to trade and military agreements, the F-C Document contained a secret provision betrothing the Archon's daughter in marriage to Hanse Davion. Though the marriage would not occur until the twelve-year-old Melissa came of age, this was the first step on the road to eventual unification of the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns.

The other three Successor Lords were aghast at this sudden shift of power, which would lead to the eventual creation of a single state nearly as large as their three Houses combined. In October 3022, the Draconis Combine, the Free Worlds League, and the Capellan Confederation hastily signed the Concord of Kapteyn. The scope of the Concord was not as far-reaching as the F-C Document, however. It called mainly for an end to active hostilities between the three states, who now pledged mutual defense instead. This new relationship would also permit the three parties to coordinate their overt and covert efforts at derailing the Davion-Steiner alliance.

Perhaps most active in the covert attempts was the Capellan Confederation under the leadership of Chancellor Maximilian Liao. Liao agents had already subverted Hanse Davion's brother-in-law Michael Hasek-Davion, who was now providing them with valuable military intelligence. When the Chancellor next initiated a scheme to kidnap and kill Hanse Davion in order to replace him with a clone his scientists had created, he went too far. Davion eventually escaped capture and imprisonment and returned to his place on the throne. But he vowed revenge.

On 20 August 3028, Prince Hanse Davion and Archon-Designate Melissa Steiner were married at the ComStar headquarters on Terra. In attendance were all the important Steiner, Davion, Kurita, Marik, and Liao personages, as well as the great military commanders and other important persons of the Inner Sphere. Hanse and Melissa exchanged vows, and the Federated Commonwealth became a reality. At the wedding reception, the bride toasted the groom and bestowed him with gifts. When it was the groom's turn, he rose with a smile. In honor of their marriage, he said that he had for Melissa a vast prize. "Here, my love," the Prince of the Federated Suns said triumphantly, "I give you the Capellan Confederation."

And so began Operation Rat, a surprise attack on nine Capellan worlds that was occurring that very day. But this was only the beginning of a much larger offensive against the Capellans and against the Draconis Combine - the start of the Fourth Succession War.

The main weight of the attack fell on the Capellan Confederation. Having discovered Michael Hasek-Davion's treachery, Hanse Davion had been using him as a conduit to feed faulty intelligence to Maximillian Liao. Justin Allard, a Davion agent, in a position of power and authority in House Liao's military intelligence. The Capellan Confederation did not have a chance, and lost half its worlds.

The Draconis Combine fared a bit better, losing 53 star systems to the invading Lyran Commonwealth forces, but gaining 15 from attacks against the Federated Suns. Indeed, Theodore Kurita, heir to the Combine throne, was preparing to launch his own strong counteroffensive just as the war suddenly ground to a halt. Having achieved most of their objectives in the Capellan Theaterof Operations, Hanse Davion and Katrina Steiner declared victory and a cease-fire in 3030. Each had his or her reason for wanting an end to the hostilities. The economy of the Federated Suns was reeling under an interdiction on interstellar communications that ComStar had imposed. As for Katrina, her realm was threatened by the growing power of separatists who opposed the Federated Commonwealth alliance.

Though the two-year-long Fourth Succession War was relatively short, it was a bloody conflict. Despite the constant border fighting that characterized the Third Succession War, the great states of the Inner Sphere had by then recovered somewhat from the ravages of the first two Succession Wars, and the political and social landscape had not much changed. In contrast, it would be 20 years before all the social, political, and military effects of the Fourth Succession War could sort themselves out.

In 3029, ComStar came under the leadership of Primus Myndo Waterly. The communications inderdiction, which had been imposed on the Federated Suns after an alleged Davion attack on the ComStar station at Sarna, was lifted after Hanse Davion granted ComStar the right to garrison all its Federated Suns stations with ts own troops. Similar arrangements with the other governments of the Inner Sphere soon followed. By the year 3050, ComStar had more than 50 BattleMech regiments under its control.

The boundaries of the Inner Sphere began to shift as a result of the war. In the Free Worlds League, the Duchy of Andurien seceded and allied itself with the Magistracy of Canopus. Ten years would pass and both Captain- General Janos Marik and his son Duggan Marik would die before Thomas Marik, the new leader of the Free Worlds League, would recover the Duchy.

Maximilian Liao went mad during the closing days of the war, eventually committing suicide in 3036. With over half of Liao's planets under the control of the newly formed Federated Commonwealth, the mantle of the Capellan Chancellorship fell on the shoulders of Maximilian's youngest daughter, Romano Liao. Despite losing more worlds when the St. Ives Compact seceded from the Confederation, Romano used sheer ruthlessness and brutality to fight off an invasion by the Duchy of Andurien and to rebuild the Liao military. Though the Capellan military did not approach its pre-Fourth War numbers, it became feared for the utter fanaticism of its troops.

Secession fever also reached into the Federated Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine. As Deputy for Military Affairs, Theodore Kurita skillfully maneuvered to turn the Combine's rebellious Rasalhague District into a bargaining chip with ComStar. In exchange for Rasalhague's independence and the right to garrison its hyperpulse stations with its own troops, ComStar agreed to supply the Kuritans with enough BattleMechs to rebuild their army. The Lyran Commonwealth, which had used Rasalhague rebels extensively during the four Succession Wars, had by now occupied more than half the district. Faced with the Combine's support for Rasalhague independence, the Lyrans were forced to give up these worlds. With the stroke of a pen, Theodore Kurita created a neutral buffer state that reduced his borders with the armed might of the Federated Suns by more than 30 percent. Not all Kurita troops supported the move, however. A rebellion known as the Ronin Wars erupted inside the Free Rasalhague Republic, but it was quickly put down by loyal elements of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery and the Republic's newly formed KungsArme.

Theodore Kurita's wisdom in granting Rasalhague its freedom became clear in 3039. In that year, the Federated Commonwealth launched another major war, this one aimed at eliminating the Combine once and for all. Having rebuilt his army with ComStar-supplied BattleMechs, Kurita was able to concentrate his troops against the invaders, stopping the F-C forces' attack dead in their tracks.

By 3040, the Inner Sphere had settled down to its normal state of continual, low-intensity skirmishing, with no side making any major gains or taking any major losses. Nevertheless, the sheer size of the Federated Commonwealth made it seem only a matter of time before it would dominate the Inner Sphere, uniting the many worlds once more under one rule.

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Return of Kerensky

If Davion and Steiner thought their day had come, they were not destined to have all the time they needed. In 3050, an entirely new force entered the scene, and from a most unexpected direction.

When General Aleksandr Kerensky fled the Inner Sphere with most of the Star League Regular Army in 2784, he led his followers to a group of five previously unsettled worlds far from the Inner Sphere. The inhospitality of those worlds did much to forge Kerensky's followers into the almost preternaturally determined people now known as the Clans. So did the privations they suffered because the ratio of their laborers, scientists, and administrators was disproportionately low compared to the number of soldiers among them. To trim the number of warriors, Kerensky established a series of tests so grueling that only the most fit could succeed. Those who failed were retired out to civilian life. This was only fitting, for the general taught that it was his people's duty to remain strong, so that one day, after the Inner Sphere had exhausted itself with war, his followers might return as the saviors of humanity to reestablish the Star League on Terra.

But not everyone was ready for the privations that Kerensky demanded of his people if they were to survive. Initially, only a few officers rebelled, and Kerensky quelled their rebellion forcefully, not hesitating to execute the instigators. Just before Kerensky's death, however, tensions finally erupted into a civil war as destructive as any war among the Successor States. In the face of this conflict, Kerensky's son Nicholas gathered together those still loyal to his father's dream, including as many scientists and technicians as possible. In yet another Exodus, yet another Kerensky retreated to another cluster of worlds to let the rebels fight things out.

While the Succession Wars of the Inner Sphere resulted in the loss of much precious technology, this civil war was even more disastrous for the exiles, for whom technology meant the difference between life and death in the hostile environments of their new home. Nicholas used the war as an object lesson for his followers. He and his followers had only to remain true to their duty, for one day the Successor States would also collapse from within. During the 20 years it took for the rebels to exhaust themselves, Nicholas built the caste system, transforming his followers into a full-fledged warrior culture. By the time they returned to reclaim the five planets of their now-exhausted rebel brethren, the followers of Nicholas had become fanatically devoted to both their leader and his vision of one day returning to save the Inner Sphere.

In 3005, the Clans took the first steps toward realizing the dream of restoring the golden age of the Star League. Realizing they needed intelligence about events during their long absence from the Inner Sphere, they sent Wolf's Dragoons to the Successor States, where the unit was to operate covertly as an information-gathering unit while working overtly as mercenaries. Based on Dragoon reports, the Clans took the Successor States to be little more than children squabbling among the ruins of their ancestors, using out-dated technology to do so. In 3050, the Clans decided it was time to launch a full-fledged invasion.

The invasion forces from Clan Wolf, Ghost Bear, Smoke Jaguar, Jade Falcon, Nova Cat, and Steel Viper tore a wedge through Rasalhague, the Lyran Commonwealth, and the Draconis Combine, a wedge aimed directly at Terra. While the forces of the Inner Sphere were able to claim a small victory on Twycross and also defeated the Clan invasion of Luthien, the Combine capital world, nothing seemed able to stop the Clans' advance toward humanity's birthworld and the home of ComStar, the planet Terra.

Though the Clans were in the midst of an invasion, their own ranks were divided over the question. The two sides were represented by what are called the Wardens and the Crusaders. The Crusaders pushed to take the Inner Sphere by force, while the Wardens interpreted Aleksandr Kerensky's vision as one of protecting Star League knowledge until the Successor States had matured enough to accept it once again. The Crusaders won the vote to launch the invasion, but the Wardens were not without resources. Through the medium of Wolf's Dragoons, they began preparing the states of the Inner Sphere to resist the coming invasion. Ironically, they also worked hard to lead the invasion, so that they might ameliorate the damage done to captured worlds.

Humanity had another self-proclaimed savior beside the Clans, this one within the Inner Sphere. Persuaded of its destiny to rule a united humanity, ComStar cooperated with the invading Clans, administering the conquered worlds and providing intelligence. The Primus of ComStar hoped in this way to play the Clans against the Successor States, letting them exhaust one another in war, leaving the way open for ComStar to step in and take power. It was only after learning of the Clans' intention to conquer Terra that ComStar reacted aggressively.

Anastasius Focht, Precentor Martial of ComStar's military, challenged ilKhan Ulric Kerensky to a Trial of Possession. The planet Tukayyid would be the site of the battle, but it would be a proxy for the battle's real prize: possession of Terra. On 1 May 3052, 50 ComStar BattleMech regiments and a host of lesser units met 25 Galaxies of the dreaded Clan invaders on Tukayyid. For some 20 days, these forces threw themselves at one another in a conflagration unsurpassed in the annals of war. In the end, ComStar emerged victorious over the Clans. Terra was safe for the time being, for Focht had won a promise from the ilKhan that the Clans would halt their invasion for the next 15 years.

Upon his return to Terra, the Precentor Martial found that Primus Waterly had betrayed him. Not trusting in the military capabilities of her Precentor Martial, she had violated the agreement with the Clans by trying to seize the worlds that her people administered for them. She had also attempted to interdict interstellar communications throughout the Inner Sphere, hoping to cause a complete collapse of all authority but her own. Unfortunately for the Primus, some of the leaders of the Inner Sphere had obtained intelligence on the planned interdiction and they had seized ComStar hyperpulse stations on their worlds before the plan could go into effect. The rebellions on most Clan-occupied worlds were stillborn, and the few that succeeded were quickly brought back under Clan control after the battle of Tukayyid.

When confronted with Waterly's treachery, Focht did what his honor demanded. He executed Primus Myndo Waterlv and seized control of ComStar. He then made Sharilar Mori, Precentor Dieron the new Primus while he worked to restore ComStar to its role of guardian, repository, and disseminator of human knowledge. Though control of the HPG stations will again return to ComStar, it will be under the supervision of the Successor Houses. Some members of ComStar oppose this secularization, but Focht currently holds the upper hand.

In the Federated Commonwealth, joy over the Clan defeat was tempered with grief. On 17 June 3052, Hanse Davion, Duke of New Avalon, Prince of the Federated Suns, died quietly of heart failure. His son Victor Steiner- Davion succeeds him.

The Capellan Confederation also lost its leader, Romano Liao, but her death came at the hands of anassassin. Unlike their Davion counterparts, the vassals of House Liao breathed a sigh of relief as Sun-Tzu Liao took over the Chancellorship and repealed some of his mother's more repressive laws.

This, then, is the situation at present. The Clans have captured a large wedge of worlds from the Draconis Combine, the Free Rasalhague Republic, and the Steiner side of the Federated Commonwealth. Under the terms of the Trial of Possession for Terra, the Clans have vowed not to advance any further into the Inner Sphere for 15 years. That vow does not, however, prevent them from raiding into the Combine or the old Lyran Commonwealth. With the death of Hanse Davion, Victor Davion became ruler of the Federated Suns, and will soon be invested as Archon Prince of the united Federated Commonwealth. The Combine has been bloodied but not bowed. Under the leadership of Coordinator Takashi Kurita and his Warlord Theodore Kurita, the Combine is girding itself for more wars with the Clans. Meanwhile, ComStar faces what can only be described as a schism, with many of its Adepts and Acolytes streaming into the Free Worlds League of Thomas Marik, himself once a member of ComStar. Thomas, fearing that the Federated Commonwealth will now turn its might against his state, has agreed to a marriage between his daughter and designated heir Isis to Sun-Tzu Liao. He hopes thus to meld the fanaticism of the Confederation with the growing industrial might of the League. Because Thomas does not entirely trust his future son-in-law, he welcomes the presence of the disenchanted members of ComStar, whose fanatic loyalty to him could counterbalance the greed and ambition of Sun-Tzu.

After 300 years, the Inner Sphere is still at war.

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