This ongoing series attempts to cover the impact that the Clans, both as a society and as individual entities, have had on the Inner Sphere, since their arrival in 3050 to the present year of 3145.
Nearly a century has passed since the descendants of the Star League Defense Force returned to the Inner Sphere as the Clans. The landscape of the Inner Sphere, both political and physical, has been irreparably changed by their arrival, and Clans’ mark upon the history of humankind will forever be remembered.
The purpose of this series is to explore the origins of each Clan and its history and effect on the course of history, from the great Exodus of General Aleksandr Kerensky all the way to the present day. The Clans fascinate and terrify all in one look, and the majority of the Inner Sphere still does not fully understand the nature of their culture, traditions, and unique experiences that have forged each of today’s remaining Clans into what they are.
To fully understand the Clans, we must understand their origins. Future articles will discuss each Clan individually, but there exists a large portion of shared history that all of the Clans have in common. The first two articles of this series will cover the shared history of the Clans up until the year 3050. In this first article, I will cover the events of the fall of the Star League, the great Exodus, the Second Exodus, and the time period of the Clan’s infancy, leading up to the Golden Century. The next article will cover the Golden Century of the Clans and the pre-invasion time periods, including a look at their Trials, caste system, and life within the Clans as they solidified after the time of the Founders.
The Clans are not going anywhere. They are here to stay. Only by knowing as much as we can about them can we hope to have the ability to either co-exist or to fight them, whichever course may ultimately be needed.
THE FALL OF THE STAR LEAGUE
The events prior to the Fall of the Star League are well known. Stephan Amaris arranged a coup in which he killed First Lord Richard Cameron and assumed control of the Terran Hegemony and the Star League. General Aleksandr Kerensky led the combined might of the Star League Defense Force in a years’ long, bloody, winner-take-all campaign that eventually saw an end to Amaris and all who supported him. But the war left scars, and these scars showed no signs of healing even after several years of rebuilding and recovery.
The Star League Council, made up of the five House Lords of what would become known as the Successor States, did not support General Kerensky’s assertion that the Star League needed to remain in order to maintain peace in the Inner Sphere. Each Lord wanted the title of First Lord, and instead of naming General Kerensky as the new First Lord, as many in the Terran Hegemony and Star League Defense Force thought should be done, they instead decided that the time of the Star League was over and permanently dissolved the Council, leaving each of the Five Houses and the Terran Hegemony to its own devices.
Following soon after dissolution of the Star League Council, conflicts began to brew and boil over as the Great Houses fought over who would wield the power in the Inner Sphere. The House Lords soon issued orders demanding that SLDF units stationed within their borders be subject to their personal command and join their house armies.
Refusing to let the SLDF be used in the selfish and petty squabbles of the Houses, General Kerensky issued the order to begin preparations to leave the Inner Sphere. Over 90% of the Star League Defense Force followed this order and began making preparations to leave with over one million military personnel and over two million civilians, mostly family of the SLDF members.
On November 5, 2784, General Kerensky issued the final orders for the SLDF fleet, rendezvoused at New Samarkand, to begin the Exodus and leave the Inner Sphere behind.
The following months were tumultuous for the SLDF, and the seeds of unrest and mutiny began appearing only months into their voyage past the Deep Periphery, beyond any place human eyes had ever seen. Kerensky guided his people with a stern demeanor, and the hardships eventually paid off when the fleet found what would come to be known as the Pentagon, five worlds upon which the Star League could find refuge away from its place of birth until such time that they could return to the Inner Sphere to help usher in the return of the Star League.
It was during this time the first remarks by both Aleksandr and Nicholas Kerensky would be spoken that would eventually turn into the Hidden Hope Doctrine, which was the driving force for the Clans’ eventual return to the Inner Sphere.
The first several years on the Pentagon Worlds were the harshest yet seen by the SLDF fleet, and this hardship soon turned into further unrest and, eventually, open rebellion against General Kerensky and the SLDF. In the opening weeks of the conflict, many of the Star League’s most beloved commanders were killed by insurrectionists, leading to the death of Aleksandr Kerensky, who left a now embattled SLDF in the hands of those who would come after him.
Nicholas Kerensky, oldest son of Aleksandr, would be the leader who stepped up to fill the void his father’s death left. Nicholas was disgusted and disappointed in the members of the SLDF who abandoned the ideals of the Star League, and he was unable to help the hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire of the coalition powers that were rising up on the Pentagon Worlds. On February 12, 2802, Nicholas rallied his father’s supporters and lead them on a Second Exodus.
The Second Exodus found a home in what is now called the Kerensky Cluster, a larger grouping of planets more habitable than the Pentagon Worlds. Several colonies had already been established across the Kerensky Cluster in the time before Aleksandr’s death, and Nicholas, along with his brother Andery, set about the task of creating a new order out of chaos that had led to the SLDF’s Second Exodus.
Nicholas held a series of trials in which his 800 best warriors were chosen. He split up these 800 warriors into twenty groups of forty warriors each. These twenty groups became the twenty original Clans, each with its own support structure of laborers, merchants, scientists, and technicians whose sole purpose it was to support the growth, operations, and actions of the warriors, who were at the top of this new society.
Over the majority of the next two decades, Nicholas, along with Andery Kerensky and Jennifer Winson (Nicholas’ wife) became known as the Founders. The Founders molded the new Clans into a fighting force that had but one purpose, to re-conquer the Pentagon Worlds and take back that which was stolen from the Star League by those who, in the eyes of the Clans, fell to the same debasement and greed of the Inner Sphere.
By mid 2821, the Clans were ready to take back the Pentagon Worlds.
The Clans hit the Pentagon Worlds on July 2, 2821. First taking control of the space and surrounding systems in a series of small but brutal naval engagements, the Clans then landed their forces on the five world of the Pentagon, four Clans per planet. Though outnumbered by a grave margin, the Clans showed a fanatical and unbending loyalty to Nicholas’ vision of retaking his father’s legacy from the betrayers.
One by one, each of the Pentagon Worlds fell to the fury of the four Clans that landed on them.
Clans Star Adder, Ghost Bear, Steel Viper, and Blood Spirit were assigned to take Arcadia.
Clans Cloud Cobra, Coyote, Ice Hellion, and Sea Fox (Diamond Shark) were assigned to take Babylon.
Clans Mongoose, Nova Cat, Snow Raven, and Wolverine were assigned to take Circe.
Clans Burrock, Fire Mandrill, Goliath Scoprion, and Widowmaker were assigned to take Dagda.
Clans Hell’s Horses, Smoke Jaguar, Jade Falcon, and Wolf were assigned to take Eden.
Each planet’s campaign had its own difficulties. Some of the Clans refused to follow the overall battle plans formulated by the Khans who were in charge of operations for their particular planets, and some of the first seeds of the rivalries between Clans like Jade Falcon, Wolf, and other were planted during Operation Klondike.
Despite the operational difficulties encountered by each Clan, victory was inevitable. By the time the last shot was fired, each Clan had suffered greatly and badly needed to replenish and grow its ranks in order to consolidate and maintain the holdings that it had attained.
By the time Operation Klondike drew to a close, Nicholas Kerensky’s plan to create a new society was showing promising signs that it would have staying power. The rudimentary forms of Clan society concepts such as the caste system and zellbrigen were already in place, and as the Clans consolidated their individual territories, Nicholas was confident that they could begin turning their attention towards his father’s Hidden Hope Doctrine, which promised a return to the Inner Sphere and the restoration of the Star League.
But this return would have to wait.
CULLING, ANIHILATION, AND ABSORPTION
After the excitement of Operation Klondike calmed down, and the Clans began to adjust to the new society that they and their Founders had forged, three distinct events occurred that set Clan society firmly in its tracks and helped pave the way for the Golden Century.
Though the majority of the Clans acclimated to Nicholas’ new society well, there began to stir amongst the warriors, and other castes, of Clan Jade Falcon a distaste for the way that Nicholas was going about some things. Some historians believe that this was the result of his electing to join Clan Wolf instead of Clan Jade Falcon, and that the resulting centuries’ long enmity between the two Clans stems from that one decision. Nevertheless, Clan Jade Falcon had a growing problem of dissention towards Nicholas, and the Jade Falcon Khans knew that Nicholas would not permit such sentiment within the Clans.
Fearing that Nicholas would take action against the entire Clan, the Jade Falcon Khans and those still loyal to Nicholas’ fairly new society, enacted a culling of their own ranks, executing dissenters and imprisoning anybody who objected to their actions. When the rest of the Clans heard about this, many of the Khans wanted to formally censure the Jade Falcons for their actions against their own people, but Nicholas would not hear of it. Instead, he commended the Jade Falcon Khans and the whole Clan for taking the steps necessary to make sure they stayed true to their purpose and to their new lives as a Clan.
Only one other Clan strongly and openly opposed the totalitarian rule of ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky, Clan Wolverine which was led by Khan Sarah McEvedy. Clan records have been expunged of many of the events surrounding the Annihilation of Clan Wolverine, called the “Not-Named-Clan” among the Clans. What is known is that Khan McEvedy had some kind of disagreement and subsequent falling out with the ilKhan and the Grand Council which led to Clan Wolverine declaring their independence from the Clans. The following systematic annihilation of Clan Wolverine is unclear in its events, and it is suspected that many members of the Clan, perhaps even Khan McEvedy among them, made it out of Clan space and might have returned to the Inner Sphere (possible as the mysterious Minnesota Tribe).
The events of the first Clan annihilation left a permanent scar on the Clans as a whole, and some Clans, like Clan Ghost Bear, who during the Jihad fought the Word of Blake so aggressively due to the possibility that they might be connected to Clan Wolverine, still pursue and hunt down rumors and connections to the Not-Named-Clan.
The annihilation of Clan Wolverine accomplished one great task, however. It ended once and for all any thought of military rebellion from Nicholas Kerensky’s rule of Clan law and authority.
Not long after the annihilation of Clan Wolverine, another Clan met its end, albeit in a new and different way. The merchant caste of Clan Widowmaker began to grow restless after seeing the freedoms that Clan Wolf merchants were allowed under their Clan’s leadership and staged an insurrection with the goal of having their leadership censured by the Grand Council. Their ploy was doomed to failure. Catching wind of the plan, the Widowmaker Khan turned his military against his own people and had the merchant caste ringleaders captured and executed.
The Grand Council was outraged by this travesty, and Khan Cal Jorgensson (brother of Hans Ole Jorgensson, the first saKhan of Clan Ghost Bear) further accused Clan Wolf of having a hand in stirring his merchant caste to action. These accusations propelled Khan Jerome Winson to defend Clan Wolf, and Winson put forth that the Widowmakers had, by their actions, lost the right to exist and that their assets should be equally divided amongst the other Clans, dissolving Clan Widowmaker.
The vote was unanimous, with the Widowmakers abstaining, that this should be so, and Khan Jorgensson immediately called for a Trial of Refusal. On October 7, 2834, ten Stars of Widowmakers faced the field across from eleven stars from Clan Wolf. During the Trial, Khans Jorgensson and Winson battled out a personal Trial of Grievance. In an effort to save their Khan’s life, several Widowmaker warriors violated zellbrigen and turned the Trial in a roving melee.
In order to restore order, ilKhan Kerensky directly intervened. By the end of the Trial, the Wolves were victorious, but Nicholas Kerensky lay dead on the battlefield. The Founder of the Clans was no more.
In the aftermath, the surviving Widowmaker warriors and the rest of their castes were all absorbed into Clan Wolf, and the Clans rebounded once again, forced to move ahead for the first time without their ilKhan and his guiding light into the new age that awaited just around the corner.
CONTINUED IN PART TWO
BattleTech Historical: Operation Klondike on BattleCorps
BattleTech Historical: Operation Klondike on DriveThruRPG
I think this summary doesn’t properly describe the role of Nicholas Kerensky. Within the ongoing BattleTech timeline the truth has been covered up largely successfully, but we as the fans and readers know what really happened from the BattleCorps novels “Fall from Glory” and “Betrayal of Ideals”:
While his father was away being a General, Nicholas Kerensky grew up on Amaris-occupied Terra with his little brother to become a dangerous sociopath. He didn’t just step up out of nowhere to replace his father after his death; Nicholas had been a very proactive schemer as early as the Exodus. During the Exodus, he deliberately engineered the Prinz Eugen mutiny to force his father into action against the separatists, later built a personality cult around himself using the late General’s popularity, and created the Clans after his own warped image of an ideal society.
It should also be noted that Kerensky’s wife, Nicholas’ mother, suffered from an unspecified mental condition (presumably clinical depression) and is hardly mentioned at all except for dying. Oh, and then there’s Nicholas’ childhood friend, consort and later wife “Jennifer Winson”. She’s even more nuts than he is (i.e. a total fruitcake), has training, determination and attitude to put Capellan Death Commandos to shame, and is religiously devoted to Nicholas. Oh, and by the way, her true name definitely wasn’t Jennifer Winson and a credible if unproven thesis suggests she may have been an incest child of Richard Cameron and his sister.
There’s a whole lot of… issues… right there at the roots of the Clan society. It’s a miracle the construct lasted as long as it did before finally imploding in the Wars of Reaving. In part that’s because Nicholas ruthlessly killed all who stood in his way and blatantly forged early Clan history to fit his vision. The “Father of the Clans” was a psychopath and sociopath of the first order.
Thank you for your comments. Since you brought all that up, I wanted to weigh in on my decision to not include the novels as source material for this article.
The novels that you reference, are a contested and, in my opinion, a fairly heated issue within BattleTech canon. Randall once declared the novels, originally only available in German, canon, but Herb Beas overturned that ruling while he was the Line Developer.
With Herb gone now and, it seems, Randall back in his place, we have yet to hear if the decision will be overturned again.
As it currently sits, the stories are apocryphal at best, and even if they are finally ruled to be canon, the material in them really did not fit with the scope and tone of this article. As I said in my first paragraph, this series is focused on the impact that the Clans have had on the Inner Sphere, and I did not think it was a good use of space and time to talk about Nicholas Kerensky’s cult of personality and machinations that indicate a possible unstable mental state. Unfortunately, this also meant that I had to leave out almost all mention of the role of my personal favorite Founder, Andery Kerensky, but that was unavoidable.
In the end, this article, and the series that will follow, are all meant to be a jumping off point for people to discover more about the Clans. I always have additional reading listed at the end of the article, and these articles should not be relied upon for the complete or whole picture. By my own admission, I am limiting the scope of the information to an in-universe perspective, which alleviates most of the “problems” that you brought up.
Once again, thank you for your input, and I hope that I have successfully explained why I left out what I did.
Hi Dave. I just wanted to add a neat little audio clip George “Duncan Fisher” Ledoux put together on the dissolution of the SLDF…
Hey Ron, thanks for highlighting that. If you click on the portrait of General Kerensky up in the article, it takes you to the same place. :)
George did that for an Inner Sphere Chronicles that we were working on.
Fair enough – put that way, you’re right in that those issues are besides the point of the article.
On a technical note though, I was’t referring to any apocryphal material. The two BattleCorps publications I mentioned are solid canon, like all BattleCorps publications.
Yes, you are correct. Anything that BattleCorps publishes is considered canon. I want to make sure to agree with you on that point, just for clarity to everyone else. We do agree on that point.
While Betrayal of Ideals and the first Founding of the Clans novel are indeed canon, and not apocryphal, meaning I technically misspoke in my earlier reply, I am still of the opinion that a broader issue of an inconsistent canonical lexicon exists within the franchise. What I find unfortunate about the whole canon issue is that there is a lot that Herb threw out during his tenure as Line Developer, which actually included the second Founding of the Clans novel (since it was never published in English) and the unwritten third novel. I think this is one of the things that brings confusion into some discussions about BattleTech lore and history.
I’m actually glad that you brought up the Nicholas issues, though, because I did think about whether or not to include some or all of that material about the mental state of Nicholas. I ultimately figured it would just turn the discussion into a “Nicholas was crazy, so the Clans are the stupid bad guy brutes for following his lead” kind of piece.
The fact is that the Clans, despite their terrible origins, have evolved past the ravings of Nicholas Kerensky. But more on that later. :)
It is important to note that betrayal of ideals was written by Blaine Lee Pardoe, who was the primary author of the Clan Wolf sourcebook that up to then provided the only tangible information about the wolverine annihilation.
To say betrayal was inconsistnat with battletech lore is fundamentally saying that the author did not know his own work.
The wolverines annihilation is portrayed largly in the past tense through the eyes of the victor, Betrayal acts as “the real story” through the eyes of who was there, and on all sides. Betrayal also runs it’s roots to deep to be dismissed as contentious, given that the consiquences of that story reach all the way to the Wars of Reaving.
I have continued to research this more as my series has continued, and while I regret that I originally misplaced The Founding of the Clans and Betrayal of Ideals as non-canon sources, I have done my best to incorporate them in my research and further writing. I meant no disrespect to Blaine Lee Pardoe (He has written some of my favorite BattleTech novels.) in my initial, flawed, assessment of the situation.
However, I do not feel that Part One is compromised in any way by this. The unfortunate part of the perspective granted to us as the fans of BattleTech is that we sometimes lose perspective on what a character in the story actually knows and could reasonably find out.
For this reason, I will continue to simply say that I have learned through this process. No one person can know everything about BattleTech, I believe, and now, thanks to this discourse, my own knowledge has grown.