Clan Steel Viper
|Clan Steel Viper|
|Time period:||2807 – 3075|
|Capital world:||New Kent|
|Military:||Clan Steel Viper Touman|
|Secret Service:||Clan Steel Viper Watch|
Clan Steel Viper was one of the original twenty Clans founded by Nicholas Kerensky, named after the Steel Vipers found on Babylon. Their beginnings were marked by treachery due to the actions of their founder, now simply known as the Traitor Khan, and they were long regarded by other Clans as self-serving. However, the Steel Vipers would eventually find their calling in espousing the recreation of the Star League, not through conquest but cooperation with the Inner Sphere. Despite this decidedly Warden philosophy many warriors within the Clan hold to the Crusader viewpoint, and the Steel Vipers took part in the Clan Invasion. While capturing many Inner Sphere worlds the Steel Vipers were eventually driven back to Clan space by their rival, Clan Jade Falcon. Under Brett Andrews, the Clan played a major part in initiating and conducting the Wars of Reaving, but in the end were themselves annihilated by the other Clans when the language of the Reavings were turned against them.
- 1 History
- 2 Culture
- 3 Military
- 4 Bloodnames
- 5 Inter-Clan Relations
- 6 Rulers
- 7 Era Specific Data
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
When Nicholas Kerensky founded Clan Steel Viper, he originally endorsed Antonius Zalman to serve as its first Khan. Antonius Zalman had served under Nicholas' father fighting the Usurper in the Star League Civil War and demonstrated unshakable loyalty to the Kerensky family. At 80 years of age and in failing health however, Antonius knew he was unfit for the honor and so refused. Instead he asked that Nicholas endorse a protégée of his: Lieutenant Ellie Kinnison, a former member of the 131st BattleMech Division. In turn Ellie Kinnison agreed to accept this responsibility only on the condition that Antonius accept the position of saKhan. Antonius agreed to this arrangement and both were voted in by their Clan.
Under her mentor's continued guidance Khan Kinnison helped shaped the Steel Vipers into an effective fighting force molded under the new Clan military system. She instilled in them those qualities which had served Antonius so well in his fight against the Usurper: flexibility, adaptability, and independence. Khan Kinnison's role in shaping the Clan would be expunged in later Clan histories which instead emphasized saKhan Zalman, eventually referring to him as their true spiritual founder. Regardless, saKhan Zalman died after just two years of service when a training accident took his life. His loss would force the Steel Vipers to vote in Star Colonel Steven Breen as his replacement prior to their return to the Pentagon Worlds.
Assigned to Arcadia during Operation KLONDIKE, the Steel Vipers worked alongside Clan Star Adder, Clan Blood Spirit, and Clan Ghost Bear under the initial direction of Star Adder Khan Absalom Truscott. Disaster struck on first landing, however, when the Ghost Bears abandoned the planned landing site and grounded closer to the capital of the Nation of Hastur. This left the Star Adders facing forces from Hastur and the Ilkasur Shogunate, with the latter comprising over a regiment of force. The Star Adders successfully drove off the attackers, but at heavy cost: Khan Truscott was slain. The Blood Spirits and Steel Vipers landed and moved to intercept the withdrawing Shogunate forces, pinning them against a Trinary of pursuing Star Adders and breaking them quickly.
With Truscott's death, the Steel Vipers were prepared to discard his plans entirely, but the Blood Spirits convinced them to cooperate and adhere at least to the outline of what had been planned. While the other two Clans dealt with the Nation of Hastur, the Vipers and the Spirits worked to conquer the Shogunate. In the Shogunate, the Clans found warriors of like mind. Combats were often fought as single duels, fallen or disabled warriors given full honors, and surrendered warriors were paroled and made part of the new administration.
The campaign against the Shogunate took place at speed, with the Steel Vipers especially often bypassing enemy strongpoints to focus on other targets. The Blood Spirits came behind, spoiling counterattacks against the Viper rear, taking bypassed positions, and moving in as reserves on occasion when the Vipers found they could not prevail alone.
The battle at the Shogunate capital of Kito was a negotiated one: Shogun Wiki'i Leonov bargained with saKhan Steven Breen for a battle to be held outside the city, without aerospace forces, and with proportional sides. Two Stars of the Blood Spirits were bid by Breen to offset the loss of aerospace assets. For six hours the battle was fought. When the saKhan and the Shogun had their BattleMechs disabled early in the battle, they joined one another to observe the remainder. Finally the Shogunate surrendered.
The partner Clans then set out for the Confederation of Arcadia. The Clans bid for the right to assault each city-state: two-thirds of the bids were won by the Steel Vipers, but several times they had to call in Blood Spirit reserves, making the gains roughly equal in the end. The decisive battle came between the cities of Gratz and Tellmen, where all sides committed their reserves extensively before the Confederation broke. Mop-up took six weeks, but the Clans' victory was never in doubt.
As the other Clans were still engaged with their objectives, the Blood Spirits and Steel Vipers took on the continent of East Arcadia. Their first objective was the former Arcadian capital Rivera, which the Democratic Republic of Rand had renamed Tian-to. The city fell quickly to the combined forces of the two Clans, but after they set out from the city, the garrison left behind came under counterattack from Rand, along with resistance from inside the city. It was during these battles that Star Captain Devon Boques proved himself able to work with other Clan warriors as well his own; this resulted in Boques becoming the Spirits' first saKhan following KLONDIKE.
Seeking to pacify the rest of the Rand Republic, the Clans faced a new enemy: the weather. Seasonal storms limited their conquests to only seven targets in forty-six days. Once the storms calmed, however, the rest of the Republic fell quickly.
The two Clans then split up. The Steel Vipers faced Helgren County while the Blood Spirits moved on the Kingdom of Surev. Both nations had taken advantage of Rand's preoccupation with the Clans to make temporary gains in their own territory. With Rand gone, the County and the Kingdom sent peace delegations to negotiate with the Clans, but the Clans were not interested in compromise, only surrender.
In Helgren County, the Vipers faced well-trained troops. Sheriff Tiberius Reed was a former SLDF captain who kept most of his regiment on Arcadia during the Second Exodus. In Talbot Moraine, Reed trapped a Binary of Steel Viper troops. Seeing this as taking hostages, the Vipers ignored every attempt at parley, seeking the destruction of the Helgren military. In response, Sheriff Tiberius Reed deliberately sought out and challenged a Blood Spirit patrol. The battle lasted a minute and a half, leaving Tiberius a bondsman of the Clan who would later be adopted and rise to the rank of Star Colonel. The Steel Vipers objected, though the ilKhan ruled it a valid act, and this led to a deep rift between the Clans that had cooperated so closely up to that point.
A Khan's Treachery
After the success of the Pentagon campaign, Clan Steel Viper was placed in charge of occupying Arcadia and assimilating its populations into the Clan way of life. Under the leadership of Khan Kinnison the Steel Vipers proved highly efficient at this task, earning the attention of the ilKhan when he made a tour of the planet. During this tour Khan Kinnison presented him with a gift of a huge steel viper taken from the planet's jungles, possibly an early sign of her growing affection for Nicholas and an attempt to win his.
In the following years all of the Clans grew in size with the births of both freeborns and trueborns except, most notably, the Steel Vipers: where a typical Clan sibko would graduate four or five warriors, the Steel Vipers were instead graduating one or two. Concerned by this, the ilKhan dispatched Clan Sea Fox scientists to examine this issue. Khan Kinnison gave the observers full access to the Steel Viper breeding program and after much examination the Sea Foxes concluded there was nothing inherently wrong with the program; the Steel Vipers simply followed a more demanding program which graduated fewer warriors but of higher quality. They returned to the ilKhan with their findings, along with an invitation for him and his wife Jennifer Winson to vacation on Arcadia and inspect the program themselves, to which he agreed.
Khan Kinnison took a personal interest in arranging all security matters for the ilKhan's visit, unwilling to let an unusual yet inevitable spike in rebel activity taking place within Steel Viper territory to derail the visit. While saKhan Breen was in charge of security, every decision of his was double-checked on a daily basis by Kinnison. When the ilKhan and his entourage had arrived in-system and were half a day away from the planet, she began to check in with him every hour to ensure all preparations were complete.
With less than an hour until the ilKhan's arrival, saKhan Breen decided to make a final personal tour of the drop site where, stepping inside a storage warehouse, he was attacked by three masked warriors. He subdued all three at the cost of a broken arm, but nevertheless sounded the alarm and began searching the warehouse for more assailants. He took by surprise two more warriors setting up a high-powered Sniper Rifle and killed them with his Laser Pistol. Breen searched the two bodies but found no evidence as to their plan...until the voice of Khan Ellie Kinnison came through the assassins' two-way communicator.
Steven Breen rushed to the landing site where the ilKhan's DropShip had touched down, arriving as the ramp unfolded and Nicholas and Jennifer descended to meet the waiting Kinnison. Having seized one of the assassins' pistols he fired at the Steel Viper Khan, hitting her in the shoulder and dropping her to her knees. As Breen was set upon by three other Steel Viper Warriors and both Nicholas and Jennifer were surrounded by their bodyguards, only the Steel Viper saKhan and the ilKhan's wife saw what happened next: Khan Kinnison drawing a pistol and aiming it squarely at Jennifer Winson. Managing to break free of his attackers, saKhan Breen drew his laser pistol and fired again at his Khan. This time his shot punched through Kinnison's head and killed her instantly.
Steven Breen surrendered himself to joint Wolf/Steel Viper custody while the ilKhan and his advisers investigated the cause of the assassination attempt. Nearly twenty-four hours after the attempt on his life, ilKhan Kerensky and Steven Breen appeared before the Bloodnamed of Clan Steel Viper, where Nicholas revealed the findings of his investigations. By interrogating the subdued conspirators and searching through Khan Kinnison's personal effects, especially her diary, Nicholas revealed that Ellie Kinnison had developed an unhealthy obsession with him and hoped that by killing his wife she would somehow take her place at his side. To the relief of the assembled warriors he chose not to punish the Steel Vipers for the pathetic plot of a deranged woman, but instead condemned her to obscurity in what would become known as the Ritual of Abjuration. With the endorsement of their ilKhan the Steel Viper Bloodnamed elected Steven Breen to take over as senior Khan and elected Star Colonel Shandra Zalman as the new saKhan. In the months that followed, Khan Breen would lead his Clan to victory in a number of Trials of Possession launched by other Clans seeking to take advantage of the situation.
The Golden Century
Clan Without a Cause
While the Golden Century was a boon to most of the Clans, it would prove to be a rough time for the Steel Vipers. Compelled to excel in military matters, the Clan's martial prowess grew in the years after the Traitor Khan's death, though this came at a cost to the civilian castes whose opportunities for growth were curtailed. This lead to restlessness among the lower castes which led to rebellions becoming an everyday part of life for the Clan, which in turn increased the warrior's commitment to military excellence. The Clan became aimless, its warriors losing focus on anything but training for war purely for the sake of it. This loss of purpose also affected the civilian castes: scientists were unsure of where to focus their research and merchants had trouble establishing stable trading partnerships. After Steven Breen the Clan suffered from a string of Khans who not only failed to harness their Clan's efforts towards a higher purpose but pursued their own personal agendas with no regard for precedent. Khan Jacob Masters for example failed to appreciate the value of OmniMechs following their introduction and did not pursue this technology, instead directing his scientists to create "the ultimate 'Mech weapon" (which eventually lead to the development of the Ultra Autocannon/20). These Khans were also content to allow the Steel Vipers to fall behind on exploring and exploiting new worlds. This flip-flopping proved to be a source of frustration when other Clans attempted to work together with what derisively became known as the "rubber viper."
This changed in 2860 when Khan Masters nominated a brilliant young MechWarrior, Sanra Mercer, to the position of saKhan. Khan Masters believed Mercer, who had espoused no political views at all during her career, would be a loyal aide in fulfilling his personal plots. The magnitude of Masters' error became known in a matter of months as Sanra Mercer began circulating among Steel Viper warriors what she called Nicholas Kerensky's "true vision" for the Clans, claiming to have recordings of secret meetings which took place between Kerensky and Steven Breen. In these recordings Mercer claimed that the ilKhan intended for the Clans to eventually return to the Inner Sphere and reconquer all of the worlds which once belonged to the Terran Hegemony. In this respect Clan Steel Viper would serve as the ilClan, the leader of the Clans, since the others were too caught up in their petty interests to implement the Founder's vision. Once the Hegemony was liberated the Steel Vipers would turn towards the rest of the Sphere, bur rather than subjugate them through naked oppression Clan Steel Viper would instead help guide the Great Houses in the formation of a new Star League...after their armies had been defeated in honorable combat, of course. Once the leadership of the Great Houses had been brought into line their people would be taught the error of their ways and the wisdom of the Founder by the Steel Viper civilian castes, who themselves would receive rich rewards after years of austerity.
Sanra Mercer never produced evidence as to the existence of these recordings, much less their content, but it mattered not. Even those warriors not swayed by her charisma and who questioned the source of this information were willing to overlook such things if it gave their aimless Clan a higher, glorious purpose. Support for Mercer grew among the low-ranking warriors until she became a threat to Khan Masters and the current power structure. Hoping to regain control of the situation Khan Masters convened the Clan Council and charged Mercer with treason. While the eloquence of Sanra Mercer won her many more converts among the Bloodnamed, she was still found guilty. Mercer challenged the verdict to a Trial of Refusal and faced off against Khan Masters and his aerospace-heavy force at two-to-one odds. The battle was going in Masters' favor when a lucky Gauss rifle shot from Mercer's Highlander hit the Khan's aerospace fighter cockpit, killing him instantly and demoralizing his force enough to allow victory for the saKhan. Shortly thereafter, Sanra Mercer was elected senior Khan on 12 August.
A Self-Imposed Quarantine
Khan Mercer immediately went about tearing down the old power structure and unifying her Clan towards the goal of Kerensky's "true vision." This included removing those who disagreed with this new direction, either through reappointment or Trials, and consolidating her power base with those loyal to her ideals, such as pushing through the election of Habash Grimani as the new saKhan. Her position secured, she began to formalize a policy of protecting the Steel Vipers from what she privately called the "corrupting influence" of the other Clans. Her first edict was to completely ban the lower castes of Clan Steel Viper from interacting with those of any other Clans, all except for the merchants, who would remain under close supervision of the warriors.
The warriors of the Steel Viper Clan welcomed these policy changes, seeing them as a natural progression from the defensive mindset they'd adopted following the Traitor Khan's actions. Many other Clans saw it differently however, with some accusing the Steel Vipers of following in the footsteps of the Not-Named Clan. Khan Mercer defended her actions in both words and deeds as being orthodox, saying the Steel Vipers still believed in the teachings of the Founder and even that the other Clans had a role to play in the "true vision" she espoused, though her Clan would be at the forefront. In the end the Grand Council dismissed her policies and statements as indicative of youthful arrogance and encouraged other Clans to do the same.
As she promised Khan Mercer's isolationist policy was not meant to completely cut them off from the rest of the Clans: Steel Viper warriors were encouraged to test themselves by launching attacks against the other Clans. The Steel Vipers made up lost ground by finally acquiring OmniMech designs through these efforts, as well as the technology behind battle armor and new genetic material. Bowing to the wishes of her merchant caste, Khan Mercer even authorized the founding of several new colonies, despite fears such distant settlements might stray from the "true vision."
This policy helped Clan Steel Viper earn the enmity of Clan Snow Raven during the conflict over ownership of Hellgate between 2897 and 2899. An inhospitable world, Hellgate was rich in germanium and ideally situated as a trading hub. The Snow Ravens put much effort into colonizing Hellgate, including the construction of agro-domes to feed the planet's population. Rather than attempt to conquer the whole planet Clan Steel Viper instead fought a series of Trials for control of the agro-domes and in the end won. Denied the ability to produce food locally and unable to import sufficient supplies, Clan Snow Raven was forced to cede control of the planet to the Steel Vipers.
It was also during this time the Steel Vipers became enemies of Clan Jade Falcon, although not on purpose. In the Grand Council the Steel Vipers frequently voted against policies put forth by the Jade Falcons; this opposition was not for personal reasons but as a matter of principle. Clan Jade Falcon saw it differently however and in 2906 decided to retaliate by launching an assault on the Steel Vipers' capital on New Kent. After 24 hours of hard fighting the Steel Vipers emerged victorious, but not without a heavy cost: Khan Mercer died in the final battle when a volley of missiles destroyed her Highlander's cockpit. Sanra Mercer's legacy would not end with her life however, and for the next few decades succeeding Khans would uphold the "true vision" and continue her isolationist policies.
At the dawn of the 31st Century and the start of the Political Century, Clan society had begun to divide itself between two competing philosophies, the Crusaders who believed in conquering the Inner Sphere and the Wardens who opposed them. Given their well-known views on the subject, many observers believed Clan Steel Viper would declare for the Crusaders and add their military strength to the cause. Indeed many Steel Vipers privately relished the opportunity to lead the Clans in returning to the Inner Sphere, but they also had their misgivings. Returning to an Inner Sphere which had been burned to ash in the Crusaders' reckless attack would not provide a conducive environment to recreating the Star League through cooperation. In the end Khan Royce Chapman chose to keep his Clan neutral.
In 3000 Khan Nadia Winson of Clan Ghost Bear made the first proposal in the Grand Council for the Clans to conquer the Inner Sphere. Seeking to prevent the invasion for as long as possible, Khan Kerlin Ward of Clan Wolf proposed the Dragoon Compromise and began lobbying the other Khans for support. When he approached the Steel Viper Khans, Kerlin appealed to their philosophical leanings to gain their support: only with the data provided by Wolf's Dragoons would the Steel Vipers have the information needed to gain the cooperation of the Inner Sphere in recreating the Star League. Overcoming his bias against freeborns, Khan Chapman supported the Dragoon Compromise. For the next few years the information the Dragoons returned with did prove helpful: it confirmed the Great Houses had indeed survived the Succession Wars, which gave the Steel Vipers hope there would be leaders among them wise enough to convert to the "true vision."
The Steel Vipers continued to block further invasion proposals until 3048, when Khan Leo Showers of Clan Smoke Jaguar revealed information from the seized Outbound Light explorer to give the impression the Inner Sphere had discovered the Clans. The Steel Viper Khans, Natalie Breen and Perigard Zalman, were compelled by this information to vote in favor of invasion, and the motion passed in the Grand Council. Now that the invasion was a reality, the Steel Vipers sought to win a place in the vanguard of the invasion, not just to fulfill the "true vision" but to hopefully mitigate the other Crusaders' bloodthirsty tendencies. The Clan did well in the Trials to determine who would invade the Inner Sphere but in the end achieved mixed results: they would not serve as one of the four primary invading Clans, but had won themselves a place in the invasion as the fifth "reserve" Clan.
As the reserve Clan in the invasion, the Steel Vipers could only watch as the other four Invader Clans overpowered the Inner Sphere and conquered world after world. Such disappointment only increased thanks to the "dishonorable" tasks they were forced to undertake, including garrisoning worlds conquered by the Ghost Bears during the third wave of the invasion. Some solace came when Khans Breen and Zalman noticed the invasion's progress was noticeably slower than planned, and anticipated their Clan would soon be called forth to shore up the advance. Instead the invasion came to an abrupt halt when Leo Showers, ilKhan and leader of the invasion force, was killed in orbit above Radstadt. The invasion was put on hold as the Invader Clans returned to Clan space to elect a new ilKhan, Ulric Kerensky.
It was Ulric Kerensky who activated Clan Steel Viper and added them to the invasion force, although they would be force to share the same invasion corridor as the Jade Falcons. In this way Kerensky hoped to sabotage the Jade Falcons' advance towards Terra by pairing them with a hated rival. For their part the Steel Vipers were simply happy to finally take part in the invasion. The Jade Falcons were forced to hand over one of their planets to the Steel Vipers and chose Waldorff, a world far removed from the front lines. In thanks for this gracious gesture the Steel Vipers retook Twycross, site of the Jade Falcons' most humiliating defeat at the hands of the Federated Commonwealth, and during the Fifth Wave of the invasion targeted Jade Falcon and Spheroid worlds alike. When Ulric Kerensky approached the Clans with ComStar's plan for a proxy battle, the Steel Viper Khans agreed.
Assigned the targets of Kozice Ranch Station and Kelly Springs during the Battle of Tukayyid, the Steel Viper Khans bid three Galaxies, the front-line Alpha and Gamma with the second-line Zeta Galaxy held in reserve. Setting down en masse on the open expanse of the Kozice Plains, Alpha and Gamma Galaxies both advanced via the Devil's Bath, a horrific combination of geysers, boiling mud and narrow paths walled by massive granite columns, stretching for dozens of kilometers between the Vipers' drop zone and their target cities.
With the tight paths negating the Clan weapons' superior range and missteps losing entire Stars to the bottomless pools of boiling mud, Khan Natalie Breen realized too late her troops had stumbled into a massive trap. Attempting to pull back and go around the Devil's Bath, a desperate Precentor Beeshor Yekel of the Com Guard 6th Division issued an insulting public challenge to goad them into continuing their attack via the Bath. Enraged by the insult, the Vipers redoubled their advance, pushing the 6th and 78th Division through Devil's Bath. While ultimately obliterating both divisions, both Alpha and Gamma Galaxies had used up their ammunition in the process, with elite 1st Division blocking Zeta's attempts to resupply them.
With Zeta reinforcing the virtually unarmed Alpha and Gamma as they reached the far-side of the Bath, the Steel Viper advance met the fresh and untouched 321st and 401st Divisions who stalled the Vipers until the 1st and 386th Divisions could enter the fray and finally drive them back. Recognizing her blind rage had doomed her forces and with the defeat of several other Clans freeing up other Divisions from other fronts that could be redeployed against them, Khan Breen ordered her warriors to board their DropShips in defeat, ultimately stepping down and allowing Perigard Zalman to become Khan.
Aftermath of the Invasion
Although Clan Steel Viper had failed at the Battle of Tukayyid, their losses had been much lighter than those suffered by the other participating Clans. As such Khan Zalman and saKhan Christopher Ahmed were able to quickly rebuild their forces and direct their warrior's anger at a new target: Clan Jade Falcon. Between the time of the loss at Tukayyid and the middle of 3055, Clan Steel Viper succeeded in conquering nine worlds held by the Jade Falcons. This expansion of their territory gave Clan Steel Viper access to vast amounts of resources, which they used to strengthen themselves both militarily and economically.
Unfortunately this also overstretched the Clan, especially when the peoples of these worlds unexpectedly began resisting the Steel Vipers' rule, and civilian disturbances increasingly tied down Steel Viper military assets. When the Refusal War between Clans Jade Falcon and Wolf broke out, the Steel Vipers were in no position to take advantage of the situation. In fact the war only increased the number of uprisings and further destabilized Steel Viper worlds, especially when the Wolves' "liberation" policy of freeing and arming civilians on conquered Jade Falcon worlds became known. Christopher Ahmed responded to this situation first by leaking intelligence on Wolf movements to the Jade Falcons, then by granting Natasha Kerensky's request for the Wolves and Jade Falcons to stage a battle on Twycross.
Ahmed justified his actions as a way of allowing the two Clans to continue pummeling each other until only the Steel Vipers would be left as the strongest to face the Federated Commonwealth, and as a way of earning the Steel Vipers the gratitude of the eventual victor for their assistance. The end result of the Refusal War bore none of the fruits saKhan Ahmed promised and the Steel Viper Clan Council effectively charged him with treason. Rather than taking the matter before the Grand Council as was his right, saKhan Ahmed agreed to be judged by the Clan Council, which found him guilty. He then demanded a Trial of Refusal, which was fought between himself and Khan Zalman's Champion, Brett Andrews. Andrews killed Ahmed on 14 March 3058 and assumed his position as saKhan.
The Trial of Christopher Ahmed caused great anger among many of his supporters though, and for the next few months the Steel Vipers were paralyzed by political infighting, further preventing them from preying upon the weakened Wolf and Jade Falcon Clans. Eventually the deadlock gave way towards the summer of 3058, but by that point the Steel Viper Khans was called back to the Homeworlds to elect a new ilKhan. To add insult to injure whole Clusters were lost in the Harvest Trials to Clan Wolf, bolstering their numbers at the Steel Vipers' expense. They bore witness to the destruction of the Smoke Jaguars by the Second Star League and sat out the Great Refusal, joining the Warden Clans in opposition to the Crusaders. In the Wars of Possession which took place afterwards, the Steel Vipers hardly participated. They attempted to seize former Smoke Jaguar holdings on Homer but were repulsed by Clan Cloud Cobra. Additionally, the Snow Ravens regained a portion of Hellgate and used it to stage strikes against the Steel Vipers in an effort to retake their former possession.
The reason for the Steel Vipers' token efforts in the Wars of Possession became very apparent on 1 April 3061 when the Clan launched a massive invasion of the Jade Falcon Occupation Zone. Khan Zalman had been seeking a casus belli to attack the Jade Falcons, and found it when Khan Marthe Pryde allowed Diana Pryde to compete for her Bloodname. Between the start of hostilities and 15 May the Steel Vipers succeeded in capturing thirteen Jade Falcon worlds. Building on this success the Clan launched a second wave of attacks, and between 16 May and 1 June captured another seven.
Unfortunately the Steel Vipers had not counted on the sudden arrival of Marthe Pryde with fresh reinforcements on 4 June. The Jade Falcons outflanked the Steep Vipers, striking against the lightly held coreward planets while (with approval from Vlad Ward) other units traveled through the Wolf Occupation Zone to strike at the spinward worlds. Within weeks the Jade Falcons had retaken many of their holdings and moved on to seize Steel Viper worlds.
The critical moment came on Waldorff, where both sides deployed several Galaxies of troops. The rules of zellbrigen were completely forgotten as the two Clans went at each other, none more so than Perigard Zalman who personally sought out Diana Pryde. The Steel Viper Khan finally caught the young Jade Falcon MechWarrior on Daemon Beach, but despite superior numbers he was defeated. Realizing his forces could not prevail, Perigard Zalman grudgingly accepted Marthe Pryde's offer of hegira and agreed to withdraw not only from the Jade Falcon worlds they'd seized but from the entire Occupation Zone.
Wars of Possession
Now removed from the Invader Clans' ranks entirely, the Steel Vipers set about making themselves the dominant Home Clan instead following their arrival back at the Homeworlds in January 3062. During the Wars of Possession that raged across the Homeworlds, the Vipers focused their efforts upon their old rival Clan Snow Raven. An opportunistic attack on Homer by the Ravens ended in victory for the Vipers as their returning troops surprised the attackers, after which the Vipers spent the next three years probing at the Snow Ravens and gathering information about their strength.
In 3065 the Steel Vipers put this information to use in a major assault on Lum, fighting their way through the Ravens' orbital defenses and seizing a landing zone. From this the Vipers pushed outwards, until after a month of fighting they held a sizable enclave on Lum before being forced to retreat by a combination of low supplies, the Ravens' blockade and the threat of a Jade Falcon attack upon their new holding. In a costly naval operation, during which Khan Zalman was killed, the Vipers successfully withdrew from Lum.
The battle on Lum also cost the Steel Vipers much war matériel for no territorial gains, although the Snow Ravens were badly bloodied as well. Other Viper forces during the Wars of Possession clashed with the Fire Mandrills and Goliath Scorpions on Marshall.
The Wars of Reaving
On 1 December 3071, Clan Steel Viper Khan Brett Andrews was elected ilKhan. Intent on removing the "taint" of the Inner Sphere from the Clans, he would use the Trial of Reaving as a tool repeatedly in pursuit of this goal, and against ever larger targets, thus initiating the Wars of Reaving.
On 29 July 3075, during a session of the Grand Council, Clan Star Adder Khan Stanislov N'Buta turned Brett Andrews' own words against Clan Steel Viper, using them as reason to call for a Trial of Reaving against Clan Steel Viper. Andrews, outraged, demanded a Trial of Refusal and killed Khan N'Buta with a laser pistol, in violation of the Council's own rules regarding weapons in the Council chambers and Clan honor when the Trial was to be unaugmented. Driven to rage, the rest of the Grand Council voted in favor of a Trial of Annihilation against Clan Steel Viper. When Andrews demanded another Trial of Refusal, Clan Star Adder saKhan Hannibal Banacek immediately seized Brett Andrews and bludgeoned him to death with the Star Adder ceremonial mask.
Over the next five months, the Clans gathered their forces and waged war under their newly elected ilKhan Banacek, taking no prisoners from Clan Steel Viper. The Steel Viper defense congregated on Circe and their capital of New Kent. After Circe fell, the Clans moved their fleet, with the McKenna's Pride leading, on to New Kent. Though the Steel Vipers lost the naval battle, the ground invasion was narrowly repelled at New Kent City. Rather than suffer further losses from a stunted ground invasion, Banacek ordered their withdrawal and called on the McKenna's Pride to carry out the annihilation of the remaining Steel Viper enclaves on the surface through orbital bombardment. As New Kent City burned, Clan ground forces remained on the outskirts to catch fleeing survivors, but none, neither warrior nor civilian, attempted to flee. McKenna's Pride continued bombardment until nothing of the city remained, taking the last resistance of Clan Steel Viper with it. Their few remaining enclaves, small and undefended, were taken quickly, and on 10 February 3076, the Trial of Annihilation was declared complete.
Although the Clan was ostensibly annihilated, their Bloodnames were claimed by other Clans and remain listed as active as of 3085, although noted as having five or fewer active Bloodrights.
Early in their history the Steel Vipers adopted a form of self-enforced isolation, though nowhere near as extreme as practiced by the Blood Spirits, which led to their unique philosophical position among the Clans. Depending on one's viewpoint they could be regarded as Crusading Wardens or Warden Crusaders. The Clan's central tenet, instilled in them by Sanra Mercer, was the restoration of the true Star League through cooperation with the Inner Sphere rather than total subjugation. Of course this "cooperation" would take place under the benevolent guidance of the Steel Vipers, following the complete destruction of the Inner Sphere's military forces so that the misguided Spheroids may be led onto the path of truth by the rightful ilClan. However, efforts at enforcing this policy within their Occupation Zone were less than satisfactory. While they blamed their failures on previous Jade Falcon mismanagement and extremists who did not wish to be liberated, the Vipers failed to realize it was largely their discrimination of freeborns that would forever doom their efforts.
Mirroring the views of more fanatical Clans such the Smoke Jaguars, the Steel Vipers' low opinions regarding freeborns relegated them to the lower rungs of society and as such they were treated poorly. This policy extended into martial matters, and save for a brief period under Khan Perigard Zalman, freeborns were generally barred completely from serving in the Steel Viper Touman.
Because Steel Viper military training was so strenuous and the number of dropout cadets was so high, the Clan had a much higher percentage of trueborns among their civilian castes than in other Clans. However, because their training was so intense, there was less stigma to this failure than normal; many trueborns rose to become the leaders of their civilian castes, and so served as an important bridge between the warriors and the other castes.
The command structure of Clan Steel Viper's Touman emphasized a clear delegation of authority and well-defined areas of operations. The Khans laid out the grand strategy of a campaign, which was enacted by Galaxy Commanders who formed the strategic command of each operation and delegated tactical responsibilities to their Star Colonels. The effect was that individual commanders were given considerable leeway in how they completed their objectives. However, cooperation between Steel Viper Galaxies was poor, as each commander recognized only the authority of the Khans and the Clan Council, and even within a Galaxy the Cluster commanders would only accept orders from their immediate superior. For large-scale operations then one of the Khans must be present in order to coordinate multiple Galaxies, with a similar problem for multi-Cluster operations. This heavy reliance on senior officers rendered the Steel Vipers especially vulnerable to headhunter operations; as happened on Tukayyid, should senior command be incapacitated, cooperation breaks down and individual units can be isolated and destroyed in force.
On the tactical scale Steel Viper units relied on maneuverability and firepower, with many battle plans centered on these concepts such as the Viper's Maw or The Coil. The Steel Vipers' attitudes towards zellbrigen however was one of pragmatism and adaptability, a fact which ensured success over the centuries. Against a respected Clan foe the rules of honorable combat were staunchly followed. For those considered dishonorable such as Inner Sphere forces or a mortal enemy like the Jade Falcons, whatever was deemed necessary to ensure victory was permitted.
Clan Steel Viper warriors underwent the toughest training of any other Clan save the Blood Spirits, which took place at the Sandsea Training Camp on New Kent or the Fer-de-lance facility on Arcadia. Where most sibkos would graduate four or five warriors, Steel Viper sibkos would graduate one or two at most. The Trial of Position to become a warrior also differed in that it forced cadets to face another member of their sibko to ensure only the very best graduated. The issue of graduating fewer warriors per sibko was somewhat alleviated by the practice of training twice as many cadets as other Clans, resulting in only a slightly smaller Touman. Because of the ban on freebirths serving in the Touman, the Steel Vipers also allowed a cadet to fight a second Trial of Position and so earn a place in the conventional infantry ranks; these "seconds" however were treated no better than the freebirths they replaced.
The Steel Vipers, again despite their talk of cooperation, were almost completely at a loss for allies among their fellow Clans. Their isolationist and self-serving politics alienated both Warden and Crusader Clans and their arrogant attitude towards others did not serve them well.
|Clan Snow Raven||Enemy||The Clan made enemies of the Snow Ravens for their attacks on Homer.|
|Clan Jade Falcon||Enemy||Clan Steel Viper would (by accident) become a well-known enemy of the Jade Falcons for always opposing their policies. After the death of Viper Khan Sanra Mercer, the Steel Vipers experienced a shift in policy, and began doing everything possible to make the Jade Falcons' lives miserable. However their rivalry would backfire on them when the Falcons pushed the Vipers out of the Inner Sphere forever. While the Steel Vipers would exact revenge by abjuring their rivals out of Clan Space, the Jade Falcons would get the last laugh when the Vipers were Annihilated a decade later.|
|Clan Star Adder||Enemy||Following their ejection from the Inner Sphere and return to the Clan Homeworlds, the Vipers would ally with Clan Star Adder to form the Snake Alliance. However, this alliance's relation would not last as the Star Adders would turn on the Steel Vipers due to their "tainted status", eventually leading to the Vipers' downfall.|
|Clan Fire Mandrill||Enemy||Prior to Operation Revival, the Steel Vipers made enemies of Clan Fire Mandrill, with whom they shared the world of Marshall, on account of their arrogance, igniting a low-level feud which lasted for many years.|
|Clan Cloud Cobra||Enemy||After Clan Cloud Cobra held the Babylon Diet in 3067 with support from Clan Coyote, Clan Steel Viper would attack the religious Clan for inviting Inner Sphere powers to the Clan Homeworlds. After the Vipers' defeat the Cobras would respond swiftly by taking Homer from them. After this, the Steel Vipers would relent and form the Snake Alliance, ending in their downfall after the Wars of Reaving.|
Era Specific Data
Steel Viper Demographics
Population (Clan Space): 57,275,000 (3060)
Population growth rate: 1.8 percent (72/54)
Self-Sufficiency Index: 91 percent
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 113
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 150–151: "Focused Aggression"
- Invading Clans, pp. 79–80
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 29
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 134
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 121
- Historical: Operation Klondike, pp. 50–51
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 51
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 54
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 55
- Historical: Operation Klondike, pp. 55–58: "Minors Powers, Major Roadblock"
- Historical: Operation Klondike, pp. 58–59: "East Arcadia"
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 59
- Invading Clans, p. 81
- Invading Clans, p. 82
- Invading Clans, p. 84
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 135
- Invading Clans, p. 83
- Era Digest: Golden Century, pp. 6–7
- Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 131
- Invading Clans, p. 85
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 136
- Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 10
- Invading Clans, p. 86
- Tukayyid, pp. 79–88: "Campaign: Clan Steel Viper"
- Invading Clans, pp. 86: "Tukayyid"
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, pp. 136, 143, 145-146
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 137
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, pp. 94–95
- The Clans: Warriors of Kerensky, pp. 28–29
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 21: "Rising Viper"
- Field Manual: Updates, p. 67: "Nu Galaxy (Buto Galaxy)"
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 75: "Viper Ascendant"
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 149: "The Taint is Among Us"
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 149–150: "Viper's End"
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 150–151: "Focused Aggression"
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 194: "Bloodnames of the Homeworld Clans"
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 138
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 139
- Field Manual: Warden Clans, p. 140