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The attacks were orchestrated by Kali Liao, the sister of the reigning Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation, Sun Tzu Liao, as a means to bring a swift conclusion to the war. The plot was revealed by Kali to Sun-Tzu on the second of May, the day the attacks began. Realizing the implications of releasing a nerve agent during a war, Sun-Tzu Liao hurriedly informed Candace Liao, head of the St. Ives Compact, of what information the Maskirovka had extracted from Kali. The Thuggee had stolen fifteen canisters of nerve agent, enough to kill over five million people. 
The warning came too late to stop the first wave of attacks. Making use of the same nerve agent that had been used to kill an entire battalion of the Nightriders regiment of McCarron's Armored Cavalry on Wei, members of the Thuggee cult targeted political and military targets within the St. Ives Compact. The attack on St. Ives was to be launched by a JumpShip, the You dú Xin-Zàng, carrying a single DropShip and a lone old Lucifer fighter loaded with rockets of the gas, but the JumpShip during the final jump, using a pirate point, suffered a missjump and was almost destroyed. The crew was killed or left half dead. The ship was boarded by a Compact rescue team lead by Davion general Simone Devon, but when they found the Lucifer pilot still in his cockpit, he launched the rockets, killing the general and probably most of the other people aboard. Later, the Thugee launched another six suicide attacks on the royal Palace in St. Ives, using suicide vehicles, but all were destroyed before reaching the target.
A aborted attack has to be launched by Warrior House Ijori Thuggee infiltrated: a group of the House officers, all Thuggee, received a shipment of Wei nerve gas canisters, intending to attack the planet St.Ives. Fortunately, a infantry platoon leader discovered the plans and alerted the House leaders. Inside Ijori stronghold a battle took place. A young MechWarrior smashed a canister, killing himself and another fifty Ijori warriors, making fail the plot.
The attack on St. Loris was done by a DropShip launching rockets of gas. His target was Cassandra Allard-Liao, who was leading a group of Khorsakov's Cossacks, but she was warned and saved by Tamas Rubinsky of the Rubinsky's Light Horse mercenary regiment. On Indicass, the target was a pavillion where Tormano Liao was to made a speech. A hovercar attacked the meeting, being destroyed by the Helios BattleMech piloted by Treyhang Liao, son of Tormano, but it was too late. The gas killed most of the people present, including Tormano and planetary governor Siddara. Treyhang, however, survived in his Mech.  An attempt was even made on Isis Marik, who was departing the Confederation after being dismissed by Sun-Tzu, but a Capellan escort destroyer neutralized the Thuggee JumpShip as soon as it entered the Necromo system.
The "Black May" attacks continued periodically from May 2nd to the beginning of June. In all, around 100,000 lives were lost to the "Black May" attacks; a diminutive figure when compared to the 1,000,000 initially estimated. Sun-Tzu's quick thinking saved thousands of lives, but the political fallout from the sinister attacks only fueled resistance in the Compact and mired Confederation progress in the Capellan-St. Ives War.
Notable casualties in the attacks
- Colonel Samuel Raymond, commanding officer of Marcella's Armored Infantry, was killed in a nerve attack on planet Brighton.
- Tamas Rubinsky, who survived the extensive lung and neural injuries but was left unable to pilot a BattleMech. 
As a direct result of the attacks, Kali Liao was imprisoned and sent to Atreus to stand before a war crimes tribunal composed of Captain-General Thomas Marik, Magestrix Emma Centrella, and a representative from the St. Ives Compact. Though she was dismissed on grounds of her insanity, Sun-Tzu would have her exiled to Highspire and supposedly disbanded her cult of Thuggee followers. The casualties turned the war much more violent, with both sides escalating his brutality. Ironically, the attacks barely aided the capellan to win the war, just the opposite. Only after three years the St. Ives negotiated the end of the war. 
- The Killing Fields p. 88
- The Killing Fields p. 117
- Field Manual Capellan Confederation p. 66
- The Killing Fields p. 92-94
- The Killing Fields p. 107
- Field Manual Capellan Confederation p. 109
- The Killing Fields p. 104
- Field Manual: Update, p. 10