Black Thorns

Insignia of the Black Thorns
Black Thorns
Formed 3054
Disbanded 3069
Affiliation Mercenary
Parent Command Independent

The Black Thorns were a company-sized BattleMech mercenary unit who specialized in anti-Clan tactics and spent most of their history along the Clan border.

Featured prominently in two novels and mentioned in several sourcebooks, the unit became somewhat famous for having been killed off not by design but through an oversight on behalf of the writers; their demise in what amounts to a writing "accident" has been confirmed by then-Line Developer Herbert A. Beas. (See Demise below.)

Unit History[edit]

The genesis of the Black Thorns lies with its commander, Jeremiah Rose. Adept Jeremiah Rose of the Com Guards was originally from Northwind. After his mother's death in the War of 3039, he joined ComStar and grew to love where he had been posted: Luthien. When The Com Guards refused to help during the Battle of Luthien, Rose attempted to resign but his request was refused. Like the rest of the Com Guards, Rose was sent to Tukayyid and took part in the Battle of Tukayyid. The victory cost him his command and his BattleMech, a Shootist. He resigned his commission successfully and traveled home to Northwind. His father Cornelieus' refusal to support him ended his bid to raise a Northwind Highlander unit to combat the Clans. It was during his visit to Northwind that Jeremiah sought out his sister, Rianna Rose, who eagerly accepted her brother's offer of a place in his as-yet unformed mercenary unit. In order to form his new unit, Jeremiah traveled to the game world of Solaris VII. Meanwhile his sister and half-cousin left for Outreach. It was on Solaris VII that he met other MechWarriors who joined with him to form the mercenary unit that Rianna Rose named.[1]

On Outreach Rianna Rose recruited two other MechWarriors. A training match in 3054 between the nascent mercenary unit and elements of Wolf's Dragoons went wrong when a series of physical attacks left the Dragoons captain injured. The Thorns hastily left the Dragoons homeworld under contract to the Federated Commonwealth to garrison Borghese, a world on their border with Clan Jade Falcon.[2]


Surprisingly, opposition to the Black Thorns came not from Clan Jade Falcon, but from the planetary government. They wanted to switch sides in order to avoid what they believed was the eventual damage to their home. In order to facilitate this they sent the Borghese Militia after the Thorns and sent a message to the Falcons asking them to come to their aid. This was answered by elements of the Ninth Talon Cluster. After one of the militia MechWarriors switched sides, the Thorns returned to the capital to confront the Clanners. After a running battle, the Falcons decided to leave as they had not expected opposition.[3]

The Black Thorns were happy to leave Borghese behind. After being relieved by the Gray Death Legion, they departed for their new post in the Draconis Combine: Wolcott.[4]


Once they were ensconced on the planet that the Combine held within the Clan Smoke Jaguar-Clan Nova Cat Occupation Zone, the Black Thorns accepted a supplemental contract to raid the Nova Cat world of Courchevel. Their objective was a factory that was nearing completion.[5]

The mission was scrapped almost from the get-go. Clan OmniFighters forced the DropShip they came on to crash-land after the MechWarriors evacuated with their 'Mechs. Rose was able to make contact with the local resistance, who told him that their transportation was firmly in the hands of a front-line unit that had rotated to the interior world for rest and refit. Rose led his unit to rescue the craft along with its crew. Though it cost the unit dearly, Rose was finally able to evacuate his unit after he killed the Clan commander in single combat.[6]

After returning to Wolcott, Jeremiah married his longtime lover, Captain Rachel McCloud of the Union-class Bristol which was loosely associated with the unit. They had two children.[7]


After Clan Ghost Bear invaded the Draconis Combine in 3062, the Black Thorns were activated. They were sent to Jezersko to wage a guerrilla campaign against the Twenty-Ninth Provisional Garrison Cluster. Though they were mostly successful, a Ghost Bear trap critically wounded Rianna Rose and forced the Thorns to leave the system. News of Rianna's injuries caused her father to suffer a stroke. This unfortunate circumstance prompted reconciliation between Cornelieus and Jeremiah. The elder Rose began to support his son amongst the Northwind Clan Elders. Jeremiah also made an ally of Loren Jaffray of the Northwind Hussars.[8]


Before anybody had a chance to decide on whether or not to allow the Black Thorns to merge with the Northwind Highlanders, the Jihad intervened. A series of untimely deaths forced the recall of the Highlanders to Northwind, after which the Word of Blake instituted a naval blockade and cut off all contact with the planet and the famed mercenary unit.[9][10]

At the start of the Jihad the Black Thorns had been just been hired for garrison duty on Galedon V by the Draconis Combine.[9]


In November 3068 Galedon V was attacked by Draconis March AFFS forces. These retreated by mid-May 3069 following the arrival of additional Draconis Combine forces; however, during the fighting a bioengineered plague that would become known as the "Curse of Galedon" escaped from a damaged facility and spread, quickly killing tens of thousands. Consequentially, Clan Snow Raven conducted an orbital bombardment of the planet's cities in June. In September, the planet was quarantined by the Combine. When they felt the dangerous plague could not be treated, they subjected Galedon V to a two-week thermonuclear bombardment, effectively sterilizing the world.

The Black Thorns were last reported on Galedon V. They reportedly went MIA during the AFFS attack and were charged with a contract breach in absentia by the Draconis Combine, resulting in them being declared Wanted/Rogue as of 3071 while their whereabouts were unknown.[9]

For all that is known, the unit never left Galedon V. It was never heard from again. It is generally assumed that they perished at some point during the fighting, the plague, the orbital bombardment or the thermonuclear sterilization of the entire planet.


Rank Name Command
Commanding Officers of the Black Thorns
Captain Jeremiah Rose 3054 - 3069


In 3067 the Black Thorns were operating a single Union-class DropShip, the Bristol. The Black Thorns had modified the Bristol, altering the fighter bays so that they could accommodate the additional pilots in the unit by holding additional 'Mechs and cargo within the bays.[8]

Composition History[edit]




Black Thorns (1 company/Regular/Reliable) [14]

  • CO (CO: Captain Jeremiah Rose)[14]


  • The sourcebook authors did not initially mean to kill off the unit. This allegedly only came to light during fact-checking for a BattleCorps submission that would have featured the Black Thorns, where it was found that the unit had in fact been on Galedon V when the world was utterly destroyed. Upon realizing that the Black Thorns could not have survived this, then-Line Developer Herbert A. Beas decided to accept the fact; he himself said it made him smile.[15] He has since confirmed that the Black Thorns never left Galedon[16] and finally confirmed it in an official Line Developer answer/ruling through the BattleTech forum.[17]


  1. The Black Thorns, pp. 6 & 10-11 & 18-23
  2. The Black Thorns, pp. 6 & 24-27
  3. The Black Thorns, pp. 6-7 & 28-32
  4. The Black Thorns, p. 34, "Situation: Wolcott, February 3057"
  5. The Black Thorns, pp. 7-8
  6. The Black Thorns, pp. 8 & 41-52
  7. The Black Thorns, p. 10
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mercenaries Supplemental, p. 20, "The Black Thorns: Rebuilding The Burnt Bridges"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Mercenaries Supplemental Update, p. 19, "All-Points Bulletin"
  10. Jihad Hot Spots: 3070, pp. 11-12 & Blake Ascending, pp. 171-172, "Timeline of the Jihad"
  11. Main Event", pp. 196-172 - Jeremiah Rose's Charger is described in detail.
  12. Main Event", p. 195 - Black Thorn's original composition as of late 3054 when arriving on Borghese.
  13. The Black Thorns, p. 8, "Unit Composition"
  14. 14.0 14.1 Field Manual: Mercenaries, p. 106
  15. According to this forum posting by himself, his reaction was "Really? Ah, that's just too bad..." (with a smile on his face).
  16. In this forum posting ("Oh, they never left Galedon....")
  17. In this thread in the official "Ask the Writers" section on the BattleTech forum; also archived on this article's talk page.