BattleTech: The Animated Series
|Author||Jordan Weisman and Sam Lewis (series concept/basic outline)|
|Primary writing|| Robert N. Skir|
|Era||Clan Invasion era|
|Timeline||ca. 3050 - 3051|
BattleTech: The Animated Series, also known as the 1st Somerset Strikers for the unit featured therein, was a Saturday morning cartoon created for syndication by Saban Entertainment. It ran for one season of 13 episodes plus a clip show composed mostly of flashback narration (episode 5A: "No Guts, No Galaxy"). Broadcast from September 10th to December 10th 1994 on Fox TV, it was noteworthy for its blending of computer-generated imaging and traditional cel-animation to create a smooth transition between sections.
The animated series as such is not considered Canon for the BattleTech universe. Instead, the show canonically exists in-universe as a work of fiction: It has been referred to in-universe as a popular but poorly reviewed holovid series by Tharkad Broadcast Company, said to be loosely based on the exploits the "real" 1st Somerset Strikers; it was even known among Clan sibkos on the Clan Homeworlds by the 3070s through Solaris broadcasts. The overall storyline and characters have thus been canonized at least in broad strokes.
In an attempt to reconcile as much content as possible from the show with the established canon of the BattleTech universe, FASA produced a fully canonical sourcebook that established the events and characters as real within the BattleTech universe. It introduced new technology and rules to account for items and events featured the show, and adresses aspects of the show which appear to contradict established canon (including answering the question why Rhonda Snord was later attributed with having found Camelot Command first). Other conflicting information such as wrong uniforms, overly spacious vehicles and space ships, and the odd selection of BattleMechs shown can be explained as inaccuracies of the show and artistic license.
 Plot synopsis
|“||This is the Inner Sphere—thousands of planet colonized by humankind. Once it was united under the Star League, but for the last three hundred years it has been consumed by savage wars... until a new enemy appeared—mysterious invaders known as the Clans. Powerful and ruthless, they struck like lightning, attacking every sector at once. But they made one big mistake: they attacked my home planet! Now, in the spirit of the Star League, ancient enemies have reunited... and we're gonna take back our galaxy!||”|
- - Opening narrative (by Adam Steiner)
The series depicts the exploits of the 1st Somerset Strikers, an irregular ad-hoc unit formed from Federated Commonwealth and Draconis Combine elements by Major Adam Steiner in the wake of the Clan Invasion when his home planet Somerset is captured and his brother Andrew Steiner taken prisoner. Setting out as a reconnaissance force, the Strikers chance upon Camelot Command and eventually succeed in retaking Somerset from Clan Jade Falcon, but fail to rescue Andrew Steiner or any other citizen of Somerset from being carried off by their captors.
 Episode 1 - The Gathering Storm
Clan Jade Falcon forces led by Star Colonel Nicolai Malthus (and including Star Captain Kristen Redmond) conquer the planet Somerset. Commander Andrew Steiner, instructor at the Somerset Military Academy, is taken prisoner as the defenders are overrun.
News of the attack reach his brother, Major Adam Steiner, on Tharkad. He petitions directly to Archon Melissa Steiner, his distant cousin, for permission to stage a recapture and intelligence gathering operation to Somerset. This is initially denied because of a lack of available JumpShips. However, an unforeseen opportunity arises when Captain "Hawk" Hawkins impounds an Invader-class JumpShip from the Draconis Combine owned by Isesaki Shipping, the Katana, for smuggling at Tharkad's nadir Jump Point on 6 March 3050. Since an emergency has been declared, Major Steiner, being a field grade officer, can commandeer this ship and its Union-class DropShip Kwaidan for his reconnaissance mission with fellow teammates Rachel Specter and Ciro Ramirez. Washout Cadet Katiara Kylie pilots their shuttle to the jump point. Captain Hawkins is also drafted into Major Steiner's unit.
The crew aboard the Draconis Combine vessels, led by Franklin Sakamoto and Captain Jeroen Frestadt, is decidedly unhappy and repeatedly tries to recapture their ships. At one point Franklin Sakamoto manages to inform Kurita mercenaries about their next jump target, only to have the ships attacked by aerospace fighters. Katiara Kylie, piloting an experimental Banshee fighter, is instrumental in defeating the attackers and thus earns herself a place in the 1st Somerset Strikers, as Steiner comes to name his impromptu unit.
Later, an official message from the the Draconis Combine acknowleges the danger that the Clans pose to both realms, and the Draconis Combine crews of the Katana and the Kwaidan are formally ordered to join Adam Steiner's unit and follow his orders.
 Episode 2 - Well bargained and done
The Strikers head to Dustball to recruit additional MechWarriors and witness a Centurion piloted by Valten Ryder performing admirable feats. At the same time, inbound Jade Falcon forces are negotiating the world's takeover with local crimelord Boss Tybus and arrange a mock Trial of Possession. Ryder, who has fallen out of favor with Tybus, is sent to this encounter to be sacrificed and is mauled by two Jade Falcon 'Mechs when the Strikers unexpectedly join the fray to save him. They are summarily arrested by Tybus' security for interfering with his scheme but manage a breakout and call in FedCom reinforcements meant to arrest Tybus. A running battle ensues when the Jade Falcons attack the perimeter over Tybus' perceived double-cross; the arrival of the FedCom batallion ends the battle and the Strikers, with their new recruit Valten Ryder, lift off.
 Episode 3 - Warriors of light and steel
Composed of very individualistic pilots, the Strikers try to form a cohesive unit in simulated battles on Romulus with mixed results. In the middle of the training exercises the world comes under Jade Falcon attack and the Strikers are routed; the Kwaidan is captured by Clan troops. Pursuing Clan forces later attack the Strikers at the farm to which they had retreated and Ciro is taken captive by the Jade Falcons.
 Episode 4 - Retribution
The defeated Strikers, believing Ciro was killed in their fight against the Clans; and remnants of the Romulus Militia have taken refuge in abandoned mine tunnels. They raid an ammunition depot for replenishment. Meanwhile, Franklin Sakamoto together with the Kwaidan's captain and a tech fix the training simulator and rig it to project holographic BattleMechs. This creates a diversion that allows them to recapture the Kwaidan and rescue the Strikers from pursuing Clan 'Mechs as they return from the raid on the ammunition dump. With the planetary militia re-stocked and the Clan occupation forces in disarray they make back to their JumpShip. Hours later, however, they receive a transmission from Nicolai Malthus' WarShip, which has ended the insurrection on Romulus by means of an orbital bombardment of Remus City. This prompts Adam Steiner to claim responsibility for the uprising and he challenges Nicolai Malthus personally.
 Episode 5 - Trade secrets
The Strikers' next move is an objective raid against the Clans on Twycross. On foot, Adam, Rachel and Val manage to penetrate an underground Clan base and escape wearing Elemental (battle armor) suits. Nicolai Malthus continues his attempts to turn the captive Ciro Ramirez, pointing out that the Strikers did not even attempt to rescue him during the raid. Ciro also discovers that the Clans are the decendants of Kerensky's army.
 Episode 5A - No guts, no galaxy
- (This "Episode" consists mostly of flashback narrative and is therefore not generally considered a proper episode on its own.)
Escaping to the relative safety of the Butler system with their prize, the Strikers file a report to the Archon including files obtained at Twycross on advanced Clan technolgy. Their Jade Falcon antagonist also reports to his superior. Nicolai Malthus, however, is reprimanded sharply for the loss of the Battlesuits; his handling of the threat posed by the 1st Somerset Strikers so far has been poor.
 Episode 6 - Protect and survive
While the Katana is recharging its jump drive in the Butler system they receive a message from the FedCom JumpShip Strongbow who report one of their DropShips, the Hejira, heading the Strikers' way. It turns out to be carrying none other than Victor Steiner-Davion who was evacuated from Trell I against his will. He wants to commandeer the Kwaidan to return him to his unit so that he can rejoin the fight on Trellwan, because the Strongbow suffered an engine failure and will need several weeks to fix their Kearny-Fuchida Drive. However, the Katana receives orders to deliver the Prince to the secure world of Sudeten instead.
While they continue to charge their jump drive, an assassin attempts to kill Prince Victor and Franklin Sakamoto is the prime suspect. The real assassin later acquires one of the Clan battlesuits, but can be stopped by Franklin. Captain Gray Stevens, pilot of the Hejira, is revealed as the would-be assassin, working for some unnamed faction that would "prefer a more worthy successor to the throne". In the ensuing fight he is sucked into space in his suit from explosive decompression.
 Episode 7 - In the belly of the beast
The Strikers call in at a FedCom depot on Waldorff V to resupply. A message from the Archon reaches Adam Steiner informing him that his intelligence gathering mission is suspended, and that he is to field-test the Clan equipment appropriated at Twycross - a veiled permission to liberate Somerset. They are also equipped with one model each of the new Infiltrator and Sloth suits.
However, the Jade Falcons have intercepted the message and look forward to a chance to vanquish the Strikers. They immediately prepare for an attack on Waldorf V.
The 1st Somerset Strikers still do not get along very well with each other, and Fanklin Sakamoto piloting the Sloth falls victim to pranks from his teammates and equipment malfunctions. When he accidentially comes under live missile fire from Val, he disappears into the nearby jungle with his Battlesuit, refusing to answer radio calls.
Only a few hours later, Kristen Redmond (piloting a Mad Dog) along with a mere two Elementals descend on the Strikers' position. She disables the Strikers' BattleMechs, but is defeated when Franklin breaks the swamp surface in his Battlesuit and attaches a mine to her 'Mech. Subsequently, Kristen is captured by the Strikers.
 Epidsode 8 - Bound by honor
While Ciro is gradually turned to the Clan ways of thinking, Nicolai Malthus launches a second attack on Waldorff, dropping a star of OmniMechs directly on top of the Quartermaster Corps and destroying a supply DropShip. Using the Kwaidan for a suborbital hop, the Strikers deploy behind the Clans and fight a delaying action to allow the crew of the downed DropShip to escape, then withdraw.
The Strikers learn from Kristen, their captive, that Ciro is still alive and propose a prisoner exchange. At virtually the same time, however, Ciro choses to embrace the Clan ways and willingly has synthetic neurocircuitry implanted. Yet Nicolai Malthus agrees to a Trial of Possession, setting Ciro against Kristen. The fight is to be single combat carried out in BattleMechs at an abandoned refinery site on a small moon orbiting Waldorff VII. Kristen demands to be allowed to contribute to fight, this time by upgrading Adam's 'Mech, but is turned down again. Subsequently, she makes an upgrade without permission, then flees in an escape pod. Adam deduces the trial is a sham to kill him. Nicolai in turn is deeply insulted by this accusation and vengefully sends Ciro to do the fighting. Ciro unsuccessfully tries to convince Adam of the superiority of Clan culture, then their duel is cut short by violent explosions of the volatile material that the factory had been mining. While the moon is literally blowing apart, both parties board their DropShips and escape.
Adam found during the battle that Kristen had upgraded his neurohelmet with Enhanced Imaging, while Ciro in turn is now finally prepared to reveal the ultimate destination of the Strikers to his new superiors: Somerset.
 Episode 9 - Road to Camelot
While scouting for Clan ships in the Dark Nebula, Franklin and Kylie encounter Mark 39 Attack Drones when they investigate a mysterious transmission. Against Adam's explicit orders, they take Val and "Patch" the Tech with them in the two Banshee fighters and return to the nebula. On a hunch, Patch transmits an old code from the Succession Wars that successfully identifies the Banshees as friendlies, and beyond the drone screen they find a man-made planetoid: Camelot Command, an abandoned Star League facility. They dock and make their way to the command center. While the astounded Franklin reads through the logbooks, DropShips from Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon land at the base as well, both intending to secure it for their respective Clan. Before long, a three-sided fight for control of Camelot Command rages and the Strikers fake the self-destruction of the base by means of its holoprojector equipment.
Meanwhile, the Kwaidan tracks their rogue crewmembers and arrives. With dozens of the individually weak Mark 39 drones are already strafing the Clan ships, Adam's threat to throw hundreds more of the drones at them convinces the Clans to withdraw.
 Episode 10 - The enemy of my enemy
Nicolai Malthus is so keen on capturing the Strikers that he turns renegade on Galaxy Commander Vandervahn Chistu and seizes a FedCom JumpShip, the Excelsior, which jumps away mere seconds before being hit by fire from the furious Galaxy Commander's WarShip. Vandervahn Chistu next orders two former subordinates of Nicolai Malthus, Kristen Redmond and Pythor, to pursue and apprehend him.
Aboard the Excelsior, Captain Grimmer is forced at gunpoint to transmit a false message from an alledged resistance group led by Andrew Steiner calling the Strikers to the world of Apollo. Aware that this may be a trap, Adam Steiner is nevertheless unable to resist and takes the 1st Somerset Strikers to Apollo where they drop straight into a Jade Falcon ambush. In the middle of the fight, Kristen Redmond appears with another Jade Falcon unit including Pythor and delivers an ultimatum to Nicolai Malthus from Vandervahn Chistu: Surrender or be destroyed. The Clan units decimate each other to three 'Mechs each before they notice that the Strikers have left and decide to jointly pursue them first.
The Strikers have withdrawn to the ruins of Apollo's astronomical survey station in hopes of finding the resistance, but discover none and realize the trap for what it was. As they prepare to leave, Pythor in his Hunchback suddenly attacks them but his 'Mech is destroyed and he is taken captive. Pythor's IFF transponder is removed from his 'Mech and mounted on Adam Steiner's Axman. This allows Adam to close with the other Clan pursuers unhindered and launch a volley of missiles at Nicolai Malthus' BattleMech who thinks Pythor opened fire on him. The two Clan factions are ready to turn against each other again, then realize what is going on and together pursue the retreating Adam. Elementals attack the Strikers and when the situation looks grim, Adam calls for a Trial against Nicolai Malthus, Kristen Redmond and Ciro. Over the course of the brief battle that follows, Adam runs to a dam and draws heavy fire. Stray shots hit the dam and cause it to crumble, and Adam kicks his jump jets just before a wall of water converges on his opponents with Adam's jump-capable 'Mech hovering above the flood. This victory allows the Strikers to withdraw yet again.
 Episode 11 - Shadow heir
As the Strikers prepare for their final jump to Somerset, Captain Frestadt of the Kwaidan abducts Franklin Sakamoto and disables the ships with expert sabotage, then leaves with the sole operational Banshee. Unable to contact the Katana, the Kwaidan and her crew are left floating in enemy space while Frestadt arrives at the Katana and the JumpShip jumps away. Only moments later, the ISF JumpShip Ishiyama appears to arrest Captain Frestadt as a member of the Black Dragon Society. They offer the Kwaidan a ride to pursue the Katana to the suspected location of the rebel base in the Bensinger system, after a risky quick-charging of the Ishiyama's K-F drive.
Down on Bensinger IV, Franklin Sakamoto learns that he is the illegitimate son of Draconis Combine Coordinator Theodore Kurita and that the Black Dragon Society want to overthrow the Coordinator and put Franklin in the position. He refuses, but to no avail. The unexpected arrival of the ISF together with the Strikers once again leads to a three-sided battle, as the Strikers learn the ISF is prepared to kill Franklin just to be sure.
In the end, Franklin publicly renounces any claim he may have to the Kurita throne. News of the safe retrieval of Prince Hohiro Kurita II from Turtle Bay mean the ISF can officially relieve Franklin of all responsibility to lead his country. Yet the revelation that he is of House Kurita noble blood has a profound impact on the behaviour of Franklin's crew, much to his chagrin.
 Episode 12 - Homecoming
To enter the Somerset system, Adam, Rachel, Val and Kylie hide in an apparently derelicted Banshee and allow themselves to be picked up by a Jade Falcon merchant ship, the Prosperity. They overpower the crew and force them to return the ship to Somerset. Once there, Rachel and Val make their way to the orbital scanning system and disable it to allow the Kwaidan to safely drop on the planet, while Adam and Kylie are delivered to the Clans disguised as prisoners. Val and Rachel, wearing Clan uniforms, then infiltrate the Academy compound but eventually they are arrested and brought before Kristen Redmond. Adam Steiner frees his brother and a crazy fight involving an uprising of the Cadets held captive at the academy reaches its climax when Star Colonel Nicolai Malthus announces his arrival, with three stars of OmniMechs making a combat drop right onto the academy.
 Episode 13 - Trial of Possession
The Clan counterattack on the recaptured Somerset Military Academy is a vicious slugfest. During the battle, Ciro frees Kristen Redmond and Pythor. It all boils down to a duel between Adam Steiner and Nicolai Malthus. They agree to fight a Trial of Possession in BattleMechs, and Adam choses the rugged northern continent as the site of the trial. If Adam wins, Somerset is his and no Clansman will ever again set foot on it; otherwise, the planet and the Strikers belong to Nicolai Malthus.
In the brutal fight both 'Mechs are disabled and they end up fighting each other on foot, with the climax fought on Malthus's broken 'Mech. Eventually, blinded by his rage, Malthus strikes a live power cable and falls. He concedes defeat and orders the Jade Falcon units to withdraw from Somerset. For a while, Adam believes he has won, but later he finds out that the Clans have deported the entire population of Somerset, including his brother Andrew, and he has only gained an empty planet.
 Major Characters
- Adam Steiner – A native of the planet Somerset, Adam is a skilled tactician and BattleMech pilot and also flies aerospace fighters. In the show, he pilots AXM-2N Axman and AWS-9M Awesome 'Mechs.
- Rachel Specter – Adam's executive officer and close friend. An expert in electronics and communication, she coordinates the Striker's actions in battle (an early incarnation of the MechCommander position).
- Ciro Ramirez – Born to a minor but prestigious family of MechWarriors, Ciro is a skilled pilot but very set in his ways. He is captured by Clan forces early in the series, and eventually comes to accept their way of life, joining Jade Falcon Clan for good and fighting against his former teammates. In the show he initially pilots a WLF-2 Wolfhound and later a Timber Wolf.
- Katiara Kylie – Also a native of Somerset, Katiara originally washed out of Adam's training program on Tharkad, but manages to make her way into the team, much to Ciro's displeasure. She is a skilled Aerospace Fighter pilot. In the show she pilots a Banshee aerospace fighter and gets to use an Infiltrator BattleArmor.
- Zachary Miles Hawkins – "Hawk" is a veteran MechWarrior who works with Federated Commonwealth intelligence. After capturing a Draconis Combine JumpShip (the Katana) for smuggling, he finds himself reassigned to the Strikers under Adam Steiner's command. Initially distrustful not only of the Combine crewmen but also of his new commanding officer, he eventually comes to respect Adam's piloting and leadership abilities. In the show he pilots a MAL-1R Mauler 'Mech (arguably in truth a Daboku).
- Valten Ryder – A scoundrel of a MechWarrior. Hired by the Strikers on the planet of Dustball, where he worked for a local crime boss to retrieve his father's BattleMech. Very much out for himself, but surprisingly loyal to his friends. In the show, he pilots CN9-D Centurion and BSW-X1 Bushwacker 'Mechs.
- Franklin Sakamoto – Originally a smuggler for a Draconis Combine crime syndicate, Franklin overcomes his distrust of Adam Steiner to become one of the most valuable members of the Strikers, saving Prince Victor Steiner-Davion from an assassination attempt and becoming the first Inner Sphere BattleArmor trooper to destroy a Clan BattleMech. During his time with the Strikers it turns out that Franklin is the illegitimate son of Theodore Kurita, the ruler of the Combine. Because of this he gets caught up in an attempted coup against Kurita by the Black Dragon Society against his will. The plot fails, and Franklin renounces his claim to the Draconis throne to rejoin the Strikers. Franklin pilots Sloth BattleArmor, as well as AWS-9M Awesome and HTM-27T Hatamoto-Chi 'Mechs.
- Ernest McGuire - "Patch", as he is called, has an innate affinity with machinery and serves as the unit's Tech, repairing and jury-rigging 'Mechs and spacecraft with equal ease.
- Jeroen Frestadt - The Captain of the DropShip Kwaidan sees himself as a loyal citizen of the Draconis Combine and intensely dislikes having to serve under the command of a Federated Commonwealth officer with no respect for his delicate ship. He is the father of Marissa Frestadt, and a sleeper agent for the Black Dragon Society.
- Dr. Deidre Nakamura - An expert medic and loyal Draconis Combine citizen, member of Franklin Sakamoto's crew.
- Nicolai Malthus - A Star Colonel in the Jade Falcon touman, he was originally assigned to assist in the capture of the Inner Sphere, but quickly grew a deep loathing of Adam Steiner and his Strikers for what he percieves as barbaric ways and dishonor, owing to the Major's unconventional tactics (at least to Clan minds) of hit-and-run. He also becomes the bondholder of Ciro Ramirez after his capture by the Jade Falcons. He is portrayed as the stereotypical Clansman, placing great emphasis on honor and what he believes to be "correct" warfare, and does not place nearly as much on loyalty.
- Kristen Redmond - A Star Captain in the Jade Falcon touman, she is a bitter rival of Star Colonel Nicolai Malthus, partially owing to her age (far into Solahma years), and partially due to his dereliction of duty to Galaxy Commander Chistu in order to pursue the Strikers. For a short period of time she is a bondswoman of Adam Steiner, but escapes from his DropShip due to his repeated unwillingness to give her duties in the way that she believes he should as her bondholder.
- Vandervahn Chistu - The Galaxy Commander in charge of the unit of Nicolai Malthus and Kristen Redmond, he is committed to the invasion doctrine and frequently chastised Nicolai Malthus over it, at one point instructing the newly-returned Kristen Redmond to hunt him down and kill him. He is not regularly seen throughout the series.
- Pytor - An experienced but frustrated Clan warrior who frequently offers advice to Nicolai Malthus, only to be brushed aside because of his Solahma age.
- Natalya - The Star Commander of the Star of Elementals attached to Kristen Redmond's unit, she is frequently seen in combat against the Strikers.
- The animated series at the Internet Movie Database
- Episodes on Youtube:
- ↑ Technical Readout: 3050 Upgrade, p. 70
- ↑ Masters and Minions: The StarCorps Dossiers, p. 87
- ↑ Era Report: 3052, p. 12-13
- ↑ Wars of Reaving, p. 7
- ↑ Identified by this name in the 1st Somerset Strikers (sourcebook), p. 87