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The scarce information available about The Five suggests that ComStar, during the reigns of Jerome Blake and Conrad Toyama, used its control of communications and mapping to deliberately hide the existence of worlds that had been depopulated and devastated during the maelstrom of the early Succession Wars, maintaining them in secret as havens, manufacturing centers and fallback sites for the Order. The process of hiding these worlds was achieved through retro-active alteration of star maps throughout the Inner Sphere and shell games involving name changes, combined with the utter chaos of the Succession Wars and ComStar's near-monopoly on such information.
One of the Five Hidden Worlds supposedly lay in the territory of each of the five Successor States. One report indicated that one world, most likely the one in the Draconis Combine, was dead even before the Jihad began. By the end of the Jihad, two of these locations had been found and a third was later discovered by the Republic of the Sphere. Two others remain undiscovered.
There are additional hidden worlds maintained by ComStar or the Word of Blake (see below), but they do not share the near-mystical relevance of The Five nor their notoriety.
The Hidden Five
The known Five Hidden Worlds are
- The Ruins of Gabriel (Lyran Commonwealth space) turned out to be a shipyard complex hidden in the Lyran system of Odessa. Gabriel was found and attacked (initially unsuccessfully) by a coalition battle fleet. It was then scuttled.
- Jardine (Free Worlds League space), previously also known as Herakleion in a shell game to cover up its identity, was a center for cybernetics and the apparent homeworld of Precentor Apollyon and the Manei Domini cyborgs. Thomas Marik had been brought here in 3035 to be treated for the injuries sustained in the bombing that killed his father. His double (Thomas Halas) was trained on Jardine. Brooklyn Stevens found Jardine during the Jihad while tracing another ill-fated expedition that had found the world shortly before, but her team was hunted down and terminated. Later, an expedition sent by Thomas Halas found that the planet had succumbed to a natural disaster known as a traps volcano, and had become totally uninhabitable.
- Mayadi (Draconis Combine space) was later discovered to be the long-dead world of Tangerz, depopulated by a bioweapon breakout in the 2900s that was speculated to have been caused by bioweapons research conducted there.
- Taussen (thought to lie in Federated Suns space) was a BattleMech manufacturing center and staging point.
- Obeedah (thought to lie in Capellan Confederation space) was a "nice planet" with tropical islands, heavily populated and apparently a fleet base of some sort. A big space station was mentioned.
Information indicating the existence of the The Blood, a rumored cabal of Clan Wolverine descendants hidden within the ComStar organisation, refers to The Five falling under the control of The Blood during the reign of Raymond Karpov.
The Five were reportedly defended by descendants of the Clinton's Cutthroats mercenary unit, hired in secret by Karpov after the accidental discovery of one of the worlds on 15 October 2869 (which was covered up by killing the unlucky JumpShip crew) and permanently settled on The Five.
Originally set up as fallback worlds for the order around the time of ComStar's inception in case the Great Houses wouldn't respect the Order's neutrality, The Five became centers of weapons research and construction. When the Clan Invasion struck, they were turned into secret fortress worlds from which to wage war on the Clans, but they had no standing army that could have been deployed as early as the Battle of Tukayyid in 3052. They only began to build a vast army following the Master's decision that the Clans had to be destroyed, and this would become the army that ended up fighting the Word of Blake's Jihad against the entire Inner Sphere instead of the Clans in the end.
Primus Waterly had intended to use the military resources of The Five to reinforce her public forces in the wake of her Operation Scorpion; however, seeing little chance of success the Master refused to aid her and intervened when Operation Scorpion faltered. After Waterly's death and the organisation's schism, the knowledge and control of the hidden worlds was purged from ComStar records and subsequently resided solely with the Master and the Word of Blake, the remaining secular ComStar order almost entirely unaware of their existence.
Jump data for supply runs and contact with the hidden worlds was a closely guarded secret, hidden in plain sight and embedded deep into the firmware of the HPG network. During the pre-Schism era, those few trusted with knowledge of the Five were issued a special noteputer to connect to a HPG and access the required security protocols. After providing three separate passwords, the HPG transmitted a self-purging course to the appropriate Hidden World to the attendant JumpShip.
Once the Five fell under the sole control of the Master and the Manei Domini, the Word of Blake made extensive improvements to these security protocols, integrating it into the cybernetic implants of those Domini with appropriate clearance. Expanding off the Manei Domini's ability to directly interface with BattleMechs, three separate high-ranked Manei would simultaneously remote-access a HPG and "think their way through the security protocol", their implants reading the information and transmitting the decryption key to the HPG, to create a self-purging course to the intended Hidden World.
Besides The Five, numerous other hidden worlds exist; some were lost colonies (re-)discovered by the ComStar Explorer Corps (such as Alfirk or Haddings), others were colonies that had been set up by the order (such as Roxborough) and yet others had previously been secret facilities of the collapsed Star League that fell under Jerome Blake's, and thus later ComStar's, control (such as Luyten 68-28 and Ross 248).
- While the existence of the Five is Canon, significant portions of the background about them originates from unreliable in-character testimony and from so-called Canon Rumor sources which complicates and clouds their true history, at least until later sources are released to corroborate or dispute them.
- On 29 November 2013, in a BattleTech forum post, Herbert A. Beas II revealed The Five as Odessa (Ruins of Gabriel), Herakleion (Jardine), Sharpe (Obeedah), Versailles (Taussen), and Tangerz (Mayadi). However, he also pointed out his role as BattleTech Line Developer was no longer effective, and that this therefore was not an official (canonical) ruling or verdict; new leadership might change the list in future published material.
- Interstellar Players 3: Interstellar Expeditions, p. 19
- Jihad Conspiracies, p. 18
- The Blake Documents, pp. 127-128 "The Not-Named"
- The Blake Documents, p. 114 "Karpov's Legacy"
- Jihad: Final Reckoning, pp. 129-134 "Legacies of the Word - The Hidden Five
- According to responses from Herbert A. Beas II in a thread on the BattleTech forum explaining the background and course of the Jihad; mind that while he had been the BattleTech Line Developer throughout the Jihad era, he was not the Line Developer anymore when he published this background information, nor was it posted in an official section of the forum, so it does not technically constitute canon.