Ryan was born in the Lyran Commonwealth ca. 2988 as the illegitimate child of a noble descendant of famous Terran Hegemony entrepreneur Rudolph Ryan, although his exact birthplace is unknown. He attended a Commonwealth military academy, but was thrown out for doctoring evaluation reports. Subsequently, he made his way to the Oberon Confederation and purchased himself a position as battalion commander.
The 3017 incident
As a lieutenant in the forces of Hendrik Grimm III of Oberon, Ryan and his battalion of the Oberon Guards were "on loan" as mercenaries to the Lyran Commonwealth in 3017, and were ordered to occupy and garrison the Lysidas continent on the contested agricultural border world of Fianna, which was held by the Free Worlds League at the time. They faced a civil uprising that spun out of control after inexperienced MechWarriors fired on protesters. This was followed by acts of sabotage which in turn led to retribution attacks, escalating the conflict. Ryan and his battalion wrought utter destruction on the planet, sacking entire cities, enslaving the population and destroying many industries including a large fusion power plant. In the end, Ryan's forces occupied a Star League era storehouse with chemical weapons and threatened to use them against the population if they were not provided with a JumpShip to leave the planet. Although the government gave in and Ryan got his ship, the last elements of his unit to leave the planet were overrun by an angry mob and the chemical weapons stockpile was released; the damaged power plant may have exacerbated the problem. In any case, half the planet was poisoned and millions were killed while the bulk of Ryan's forces escaped.
Both the Oberon Confederation and the Free Worlds League prepared a military response, but Ryan and his men fled the Inner Sphere and set up shop on the world of Butte Hold, adjacent to the Oberon Confederation, in 3018. They became pirates of the worst sort.
Another version of the story claims that Ryan had no interests in life besides murder and rapine, and fled when Hendrik Grimm III wanted to place actual command responsibility on him. Sleeping with King Hendrik's daughter Ella may also have played a part in Ryan being purged from the Oberon Confederation.
Pirates of Butte Hold
Henceforth known as the Pirates of Butte Hold, Ryan and his troops (calling themselves Ryan's Rebels) indiscriminately raided nearby realms for water, supplies and spare parts. The Lyran Commonwealth and Draconis Combine suffered the most attacks, but the Oberon Confederation was raided as well.
Ryan's depredations and the prospect of booty attracted numerous recruits, and he soon commanded some two battalions of 'Mechs. However, his hold over them was tenuous at best. From approximately 3018 to 3021, Wilson's Hussars, having been betrayed by their previous employer, found refuge on Butte Hold. Their relationship soured after Hussar Lt. Sheila Bannock was killed in a barfight on Butte Hold in 3021; subsequently, the Hussars ended their employment with Ryan and went to work for neighbouring pirate king Helmar Valasek on Santander V.
The Greater Valkyrate
Shortly after Ryan had parted ways with Hendrik Grimm III his lover, Maria Morgraine, also a lieutenant in the Oberon forces, broke away from the Oberon Confederation as well. She gave birth to Ryan's child in 3018, implying that she was already pregnant when he fled the Oberon Confederation in 3017. Morgraine established her own pirate kingdom, Morgraine's Valkyrate, near the Oberon Confederation, too, but was initially unaware of Ryan's fate or the existence of Butte Hold until 3026. In 3027, Ryan's lieutenant Agnar "Satan's Son" Haggerty, who was secretly spying on Ryan for Hendrik Grimm III and coveted Ryan's position of pirate king, raided the Valkyrate world of Last Chance in an attempt to incite a war between the pirate bands. Haggerty's force damaged factories and stole an entire year's harvest which led to food shortages and starvation in the Valkyrate.
Redjack Ryan and Maria Morgraine were reunited in 3028, following an attempt by Hendrik Grimm III to play them against each other and have their units wipe each other out in an engineered raid on a Lyran depot on Toland. The plan backfired and the pair joined forces, marrying to merge their previously independent pirate kingdoms into the Greater Valkyrate. They had one legitimate child, Susie Morgraine-Ryan, who was born in 3018 and became commander of the Ryan's Rebels' Third Battalion by 3050.
Redjack Ryan was noted to have many illegitimate children, including his son Kenny Ryan.
In 3049 the Kell Hounds were on a pirate-hunting mission against Kenny Ryan's pirates in the Oberon Confederation system of The Rock where they witnessed the arrival of the Clans and their capture of Kenny Ryan. The Clans quickly overran the local pirate realms including the Greater Valkyrate. Maria Morgraine was killed fighting the Clans, buying her daughter time to withdraw with the greater part of her battalion. Susie "One-Eye" Morgraine-Ryan escaped to Star's End.
The fate of Redjack Ryan is unknown. He is generally considered to have perished around the year 3050, as his daughter Susie Morgraine-Ryan was said to have been orphaned during the Clan Invasion.
His personality was described as particularly unsavory, arrogant, self-centered, avaricious, sadistic and savagely cruel. He delighted in rapine and wanton murder and could hold a grudge forever. Testimony taken by ComStar in 3020 indicates sexual abuse of prisoners and that he enjoyed the torture of captives.
Generally, Ryan and his pirates were a hated pest, but no government dared to move against him because of the many hostages he held.
Although "Redjack" Ryan is unlikely to be his actual given name, no other name is known.
- Fianna massacre in 3017
- Raided Icar in 3017 (exact date unspecified; may have been before or after forming his own pirate band in the wake of the Fianna massacre)
- Seized the passenger vessel Demeter Empress in or before 3020
- Sent Wilson's Hussars to raid Kimball VI in 3021
- Food and spoiling raid by Ryan's forces under Angnar Haggerty against Last Chance in 3027
- A reported raid by Redjack Ryan to Deia in 2990 is either in error, or refers to another person given that Redjack Ryan was born in ca. 2988.
- At one point, possibly in direct response to the Fianna massacre and implicitly prior to 3025 when his many hostages deterred governments from moving against him, House Steiner carried out Operation Crusader, a punitive raid against Butte Hold. A Steiner MechWarrior known as the Green Knight attacked Ryan's field HQ and killed Redjack Ryan's cousin Angus Ryan who was piloting a CRD-3D Crusader.
- Redjack Ryan was one of the three pirate kings from the Periphery that were introduced in the 2nd edition board game rulebook (the others being Hendrik Grimm III and Helmar Valasek). As such, he was part of the BattleTech universe right from the beginning.
- Ryan himself mentioned operating a Warhammer while he was still in service to Hendrik Grimm III (noting that King Hendrik would forbid him to mount jump jets on his Warhammer). In 3028 he initially piloted a Quickdraw in the fighting on Toland. After it had sustained critical damage, he switched to Agnar Haggerty's Orion.
- Critter-TEK refers to him as "'Redjac!-Redjac!-Redjac!-Redjac! (shut up!)', who used to be a Minor League player before he walked out of Spring Training during a contract dispute, never to be seen in uniform again."
To: The Right Honourable Kalvin Mitchel Michalmas III, Admiral Extraordinaire in command of Her Majesty the Archon's Periphery Forces.
I have received your communication of last month in which you state your intention to hunt down, pen up, eradicate, and ultimately destroy myself and my band of fellow privateers. As an aside, sir, I respectfully point out that I prefer to be called a "Corsair". Yes, I rather fancy that. The term "pirate" is such a widely misused and hackneyed term these days.
At any rate, as to your letter, I welcome the opportunity to meet you in deep space, but please do not be too slow in coming to me. You see, sir, I have a special reception already planned for you and yours. If you are not soon in coming, I shall have no alternative but to come looking for you. I have long fancied a visit to Tharkad before I die. Indeed, more than once have I considered the acquisition of a large palace on one of the Archon's smaller estates for use as a memorial brothel in my honour. I much enjoy the thought of leaving behind something of lasting value.
So please come. Bring your fleet and your BattleMechs and your troopers. We are waiting for you. Ah, but do plan to stay a long time...a very long time.
- -A letter from Redjack Ryan to a member of the LCAF High Command, published in the Tharkad Universal Tribune, December 11, 3022.
- MechWarrior (RPG), p. 136
- The Periphery (1st Ed.), p. 150
- The Periphery (1st Ed.), p. 150, states that Ryan's unit was "on loan" to the Lyran Commonwealth and deployed to "Lysidas" while all other sources name Fianna as the planet in question; this source also erroneously gives the year as 3018 at one point, and correctly as 3017 otherwise. In the short story Trial of Faith a Locust pilot from Ryan's unit and the person who set off the chemical weapons narrates the events and clarifies that Lysidas is the main continent on Fianna. He also says that Ryan's rank and file did not even know which side (Steiner or Marik) they were fighting on.
- The Periphery (2nd Ed.), p. 79
- Unholy Union, p. 8
- Mercenary's Handbook, p. 94
- The Periphery (1st Edition), p. 151 ("Incident Near Butte Hold")
- The Periphery (2nd Ed.), p. 82
- Era Report: 3052, p. 20
- Ghost of Winter, p. 53
- Technical Readout: 3025, p. 180 & Technical Readout: 3039, p. 84 (Von Luckner entry)
- Technical Readout: 3026, p. 20 (Warrior H-7 entry)
- Technical Readout: 3025, p. 84 (Catapult entry)
- TCI Model Set #5, scenario "Operation Crusader"
- The Periphery (1st Ed.), p. 149
- BattleTech (boardgame) rulebook
- Era Report: 3052
- Ghost of Winter (novel)
- MechWarrior (RPG)
- Mercenary's Handbook
- TCI Model Set #5 — Archer & Crusader
- Technical Readout: 3025
- Technical Readout: 3026, Revised Edition
- Technical Readout: 3039
- The Periphery, 1st Edition
- The Periphery, 2nd Edition
- Unholy Union (BattleCorps Story)