A trueborn Diamond Shark warrior, Labov fought in the trials during the runup to Operation Revival. Retiring due to his Warden beliefs, he rose to prominence following his clan's disastrous performance at the Battle of Tukayyid. As merchant factor, he rebuilt his clan's shattered touman almost single-handedly. After returning to active duty in the warrior caste, he rose to saKhan and oversaw vast changes in the Diamond Sharks. A controversial figure due to his time as a merchant, especially among those already critical of the Sharks, he was summarily executed by ilKhan Brett Andrews in his first act following his declaration of the Wars of Reaving.
Angus, a MechWarrior, earned his bloodname late in life; however, he was awarded a place in the clan eugenics program just two years later. He served with distinction in the trials for places in Operation Revival, as well as the Trial of Refusal that granted the Sharks reserve clan status.
Ironically, as a Warden, Labov opposed the invasion. The crusader Khan Ian Hawker tried to imitate the macho attitudes of the Jade Falcons and Smoke Jaguars, and distanced himself from the politics of his warden-minded clan and their normally wily ways. Labov, a more traditional Diamond Shark, focused on overall long-term gains for the clan rather than militant posturing. Rather than fight, he retired to the Merchant Caste. He therefore missed the Diamond Sharks' unglamorous years as a reserve clan, its expulsion from the occupation zones, and return to finally fight Inner Sphere opponents at Tukayyid. Tukayyid was a disaster and a humiliation for the Sharks. Soon after, the lone Diamond Shark possession, Nyserta, was retaken by the Ghost Bears.
Rebuilding the Touman
The Diamond Sharks were in serious trouble. Their front-line Galaxies had spent the entire invasion as spectators, only to be gutted when they at last had a chance to fight. However, they still had to defend considerable supply lines through the periphery, as well as their widespread holdings in clan space. Stretched thin and appearing weak, the Sharks were in danger of becoming a target for adventurism from their fellow clans.
By this point, Labov was the Merchant Factor to his clan. Working with saKhan Barbara Sennet, he moved aggressively to rebuild the Diamond Shark touman. For front-line personnel, he provided high-quality second-line and garrison troops, many of whom had been sidelined due to their ideology rather than any lack of combat skill. The Diamond Sharks also drew from their large pool of active reserve retirees, the first time in the clan's history it had done so. Labov instituted the policy of Minus One Testing; a warrior on active reserve status could return with only a one-rank demotion. Warriors on the inactive list would require new trials of position to return to duty, with the same minus one adjustment.
Replacing war machines was also a priority. In clan space, the Diamond Shark merchants were given carte blanche to identify required resources for the rebuilding. Where possible, they traded, and where cost-effective, they directed the warriors caste to issue Trials of Possession. Diamond Sharks poured into the Occupation Zones, selling anything and everything to the beleaguered and undersupplied invading clans and driving very hard bargains. Merchants requested protection for their convoys and trade missions, and Labov arranged for the warriors to provide it. To conserve material, a directive was issued temporarily limiting trials to simulator duels.
Such was the single-mindedness of the Sharks in rebuilding and so great was Labov's influence in his clan, that other clans believed that the merchant caste had actually taken over administration of the clan as a whole. Even though these policies restored the touman to full strength in record time, crusaders and other tradition-minded warriors found the situation unbearable. Eventually, a Star Colonel challenged Labov to a Trial of Grievance. Labov received a Glass Spider from saKhan Sennet and two minutes later, his opponent lay beaten. By an obscure position of Diamond Shark law, this entitled him to automatically return to the warrior caste at his defeated opponent's rank.
Khan Hawker was a bit of a blowhard, ill-equipped to understand the intricacies of logistics and production, and therefore very much out of place in his clan. As a result, he was largely sidelined, as command of the internal administration of his clan was taken out from under him. He limited himself to committing repeated gaffes in Grand Council politics, until he finally committed suicide after the Great Refusal.
Having been utterly vindicated at every step, Barbara Sennet and Angus Labov became Khan and saKhan. While this meant a new direction in the Grand Council for the once-again warden Sharks, in practice the two now legitimately enacted the policies that they'd been imposing all along.
Rather than take control of Beta Galaxy as was tradition, the saKhan chose to retain Gamma Galaxy. Labov faced dirision for being a "merchant turned warrior" even from crusaders in his own Galaxy. He faced repeated Trials of Possession, Refusal, and Grievance from his subordinates. Although he won them all, his time as a merchant lead potential challengers to continually underestimate his martial prowess. Because so many warriors were being relegated to garrison clusters for their presumption, the trials began to take a toll on Gamma's combat readiness and he eventually called a halt to them.
Following the Great Refusal, Victor Steiner-Davion had invited the clans to initiate trade ties with the Inner Sphere. The Diamond Sharks took this seriously, and Labov's tenure as saKhan was marked by the initiation of ties with their fellow Clans in the occupation zones, more covert arrangements with the abjured Nova Cats and Wolves-in-Exile, and even the Inner Sphere nations.
The Sharks also made several very lucrative deals with clans relocating to the Inner Sphere. The retreating Nova Cats had been given six months to leave clan space, but were attacked by their neighbors almost immediately anyway. The Sharks assisted them in the panicky and unplanned exodus of their civilian population and resources. In exchange, they netted much of their abandoned territory and personnel. Similar deals with the Hell's Horses and Ghost Bears were similarly profitable. Combined with Trials for former Smoke Jaguar enclaves, this left the Sharks with vast expanses of territory, including their first exclusively held world: Vinton.
Finally, as conflict intensified in the resource-poor homeworlds, Sennet and Labov prepared a contingency plan to move the clan in its entirety to the Inner Sphere. Rather than conquering and holding an Occupation Zone, or trying to merge with a local government, the Sharks established a series of widely dispersed trade worlds. Trade deals and Trials of Possession were issued for transport DropShips and JumpShips. They also secured their supply lines in the periphery, even conquering the Chainelane Isles as a production center and way station.
Scandal and Censure
As the wars over former Ghost Bear, Nova Cat, and Smoke Jaguar assets heated up, the Diamond Sharks worked to stay in the background, underplaying their victories in an attempt to stay off the radar. However, this was not destined to last.
Trade with the Inner Sphere was always controversial in the Grand Council. The Jade Falcons had attempted to have the Sharks censured for selling military equipment to the Great Houses, to no avail. The Sharks pointed out that the equipment used only technology widely available in the Inner Sphere already, and that in any event Clan superiority was not endangered because it was the warrior, not the weapon, that was critical to victory. This argument fell apart when the Snow Ravens and Jade Falcons presented conclusive evidence that the Diamond Sharks were selling Undine battle armor suits, a clan technology, to the AFFS. This time, the Sharks were censured, but more importantly, the Steel Vipers and Star Adders staged a series off punitive campaigns against the Sharks. The mostly second line and garrison formations defending put up a ferocious fight, but were gradually ground down, even as WarShip battles decimated the Diamond Shark fleet. This lead them to accelerate their evacuation from clan space.
Labov inadvertently contributed to the losses through negotiations with a longtime ally, the Cloud Cobras. The Sharks offered territory and resources if the Cobras would support and keep secret their emigration. This was an unforced error; the Cobras had made a similar deal with another ally, the Nova Cats, but then betrayed them to increase their gains and take the proffered territory anyway. With the Sharks leaving, the Cobras had nothing to gain by honoring their friendship, a fact Labov should have realized. Moreover, the deal had not been fully concluded, and so the Cobras weren't officially obliged to keep the secret. In any event, they warned their allies, and the Snake Alliance used the information to intercept convoys of civilians, resources, and equipment.
The culmination of the tensions was the election of ilKhan Brett Andrews. Moments after the controversial Steel Viper took power, he declared that Trials of Reaving would be issued against the blood heritages of every warrior who resided in the Inner Sphere and their descendents. Turning to Angus Labov, he declared his first trial against the Diamond Shark saKhan. Labov accepted and asked that the trial occur immediately; Andrews responded by throwing a knife into Labov's neck, killing him.
The dubious nature of the "trial" was not enough for the remaining clans to challenge its outcome. Andrews and his "Snake Alliance" was at the height of its power; it had already driven out the Jade Falcons, Wolves, and Snow Ravens, and caused considerable damage to the Diamond Sharks. None of the other Clans wanted to be next. The Diamond Sharks were unpopular and had recently been censured in any event, and Labov's warrior credentials in particular were considered questionable. The nature of Labov's death spared Andrews a risky and time-consuming trial against the brilliant MechWarrior, and yet seemed bold rather than cowardly.
Labov was succeeded as Diamond Shark saKhan by Alan Hawker.
It is easy in retrospect not to realize just how precarious the Diamond Sharks' situation was following Tukayyid. With most of their front-line military destroyed, a public humiliation painting the target reticule on them, and wide-ranging territory to defend, a feeding frenzy could easily have ensued. The Sharks under Khan Hawker made mistake after costly mistake, and the Diamond Sharks should have spent decades recovering. Instead, they recovered very quickly and lost little if any territory. Most of the credit for this goes to Labov, as both Merchant Factor and later saKhan.
Labov's most visible accomplishments were the great gains his clan made in clan space in the years after the Great Refusal. While these were no doubt useful in solidifying his political position, they were ultimately meaningless in light of what came later.
His least visible accomplishments (at the time) were the mercantile contacts he made throughout the Periphery and Inner Sphere. The quiet, careful work he put into planning and preparing for the relocation spared the Diamond Sharks immense suffering in the Wars of Reaving. After the Ghost Bears, who benefited from a large occupation zone and better operational security, the Diamond Sharks made the smoothest transition of any of the Invading Clans. The move saved the clan from annihilation and set the stage for a long period of prosperity afterward.