Clan Jade Falcon (originally)
Etienne, later known as Scientist-General Etienne (Balzac), was a Clan Jade Falcon trueborn who washed out of the early stages of warrior training. Assigned to the scientist caste, Etienne would go on to eventually become their top geneticist, while also becoming a major exponent and leader of The Society.
Young Etienne flushed out of cadet training during the tense years of the Political Century. The scientist caste was a natural choice for reassignment, due to his high intelligence scores. Entering the field of genetic sciences, Etienne soon encountered the inflexible walls placed on his discipline by the Jade Falcon Clan Council. Despite these limitations, Scientist Etienne became the highest ranked geneticist in Clan Jade Falcon by the age of twenty. He steadily rose to leadership within the scientist caste, facilitated by a combination of brilliant research and an astute grasp on caste politics. His Labname was said to be chosen from the name of a twenty-second century Terran neurosurgeon named Rinaldi Balzac, a purveyor of the science behind the Neurohelmet - and who was also said to have possessed his own unique social theories.
Sometime during the 3020s, Etienne became bored with the confinement of scientific research into a few relatively small areas of focus. He began to use research programs that had been shelved by order of the warrior caste to hide his own small-scale experiments. At this time he also became aware of the existence of a cabal of like-minded scientists, one that had existed for quite a long time under the noses of the warrior caste. The idea of power over the Clan warrior caste, as well as the possibilities for advanced and unfettered research, were enticing to the young scientist. With his addition, the Society leaped far ahead, attaining goals and initiating many new research programs at an accelerated pace. Etienne was the driving force to much of this, suggesting successful alternatives and charting new courses for the organization to navigate. He was quickly ranked in the innermost circles of the Society. After attaining the post of Scientist-General in Clan Jade Falcon, he authorized direct one-off trades for Bloodname lines from different Clans, while also allowing "clone sibkos" to be produced. Some of these genetic experiments would eventually produce warriors for the Clan Jade Falcon touman, such as Ravill Pryde, but others were kept secret, and possibly used for further experiments, or for brute force when necessary, if not terminated once their usefulness to the scientists was depleted.
The years after Operation REVIVAL were good ones for Etienne's research, as well as that of the Society as a whole. Great strides had been made in genetic research, yielding new mutagenic viral therapy techniques to induce changes in the very genes of those exposed to it. Advances in weapons had also been made; some of these were even released to the warrior caste (such as IATM launchers), but others were kept hidden by the secretive agents of the Society. His agents also found ways to sabotage the Jade Falcons' ProtoMech research program, manipulating the warriors into deciding that the research was pointless and wasteful, discarding it with disgust after only a few years. Unbeknownst to the warriors, the program would continue with ample support for many years, shrouded in the Society's secrecy.
Unraveling the Mystery
By this point, Etienne (Balzac) controlled a powerful secret empire, right under the collective noses of the warrior caste. The invasion of the Inner Sphere only increased the latitude that the scientists were granted by the warriors, so busy were they with Operation REVIVAL, emboldening Etienne and his colleagues. Star Colonel Kael Pershaw of the Jade Falcon Watch had noticed reports of several suspicious anomalies and occurrences taking place behind the lines. Assuming that it was a plot from outside the Clan, he sent Star Commander Joanna to investigate. What at first appeared to be confirmation of Pershaw's assumption turned out to be only the tip of the iceberg; a conspiracy between the scientist castes of several Clans was just seeming to be uncovered.
In 3059, Chief Scientist Peri (Watson) of Falcon Eyrie research station on Huntress had been investigating experiments under Etienne's name, experiments that were kept secret from her and others. Once word reached Peri that Clan Smoke Jaguar scientists possessed a copy of the genetic legacy of Aidan Pryde, her questions turned into agitation for answers. Khan Marthe Pryde later ordered the facility closed, though this was of small inconvenience to Etienne. One of his main concerns eventually became the silencing of the snooping scientist Peri, whose increasing insistence on answers to her questions regarding the nature of his work would lead to more trouble in 3062, after her investigations turned up a secret sibko facility on the Jade Falcon capital of Ironhold. Hidden in the Kerensky Forest was a sibko produced with Aidan Pryde's legacy as both genemother and genefather. Etienne then ordered two of his thugs, likely of Bandit Caste origin, to kill Peri. Seemingly successful, it was to Etienne's chagrin that the scientist would appear alive before him some time later. Peri maintained some level of contrition, which Etienne did not fully believe, though he accepted her into the fold regardless, hoping to have gained an asset. He ordered his agents to watch her movements, assigning her to the same facility that she had discovered earlier. Surveillance was not enough, as Peri was able to gather enough information to incriminate the Scientist-General, before escaping the facility with her life.
Exile and Revolution
Khan Marthe Pryde stripped Etienne of his post in 3062, exiling him from the Inner Sphere worlds. She was hoping to fatally disrupt his illegal research programs, and possibly those of his network of scientists. She did not execute him for his treasonous activities - he was still regarded as much too valuable to the Jade Falcons' future for that.
Etienne soon found his way to a planet tucked deep enough in the Periphery to escape notice while he resumed much of his work. A former Rim Worlds Republic world called Etienne's Sanctuary became his new base of operations. In 3072, while the Spheroid Clans and Successor Lords had more than enough to deal with in the Word of Blake's Jihad, Etienne subtly began his own assault on the Jade Falcons. First released were biological weapons engineered to strike at several different trueborn bloodlines while leaving others untouched, greatly weakening the Jade Falcon touman. He also had several electronic viruses unleashed, some that produced feedback loops within an HPG's control unit, paralyzing the infected system, and others that attacked navigational computer banks on board JumpShips and WarShips, rendering some inoperable, causing others to misjump, or experience catastrophic KF drive failure. Surviving vessels would often take months or years to fully repair. Some help would arrive from the Homeworlds, in the form of several contingents of Bandit Caste troops. Combined with the secret forces that Etienne had built up over the years - much of it from capital and equipment siphoned off from the failed ProtoMech project - the Society leader was able to make his move. Hoping to strike before the Jade Falcon leadership heard about the caste rebellion simultaneously taking place in the Homeworlds, key worlds were seized under cover of the cascading failures to interstellar transport and communications that was blacking out systems as far away as the Clan Wolf and Clan Hell's Horses Occupation Zones.
On the 10th of June, 3072, Etienne sent a communication to Khan Pryde. In it, he demanded that the warrior caste step down from power in favor of the scientists. He backed up his demands with a threat to destroy the Falcons' genetic repository on Wotan, as well as level crucial industrial facilities on New Petra. Khan Marthe's response was reported to be ten minutes of nonstop laughter, though his threats were aimed at the very heart of the Clan's warrior caste. Indeed, some of his threats were unfolding before her eyes.
|If you do not, New Petra will collapse, untold Falcon warriors will die unborn, and the air that surrounds you will burn with death.
-(Excerpt) Etienne (Balzac), ultimatum to Khan Marthe Pryde
The reaction of the Jade Falcon Khans was much stronger than Etienne had anticipated. On the 3rd of July, 3072, Khan Marthe officially decided that the Jade Falcon scientist caste had to be Annihilated, issuing orders to all Jade Falcon commands within that week. The Annihilation was also to be kept secret from the populace whenever possible. Many of the Annihilations in urban areas appeared to be assassinations or terrible accidents, but in fact were carried out by members of the Jade Falcon Watch under orders from Loremaster Pershaw, and later his successor, Star Colonel Brian Pryde. After the blackout, teams of special Watch operatives moved from world to world, dispatching all Clan scientists. Sometimes, many higher-ranking scientists who were native to the Inner Sphere were targeted, especially if they had ever taken part in research with their Clan counterparts. The Watch operatives left no available target alive, and were usually finished with a world within a week of arriving on the planet. Their operations netted 65% of their determined targets in the first sweep, though the list of targets increased as additional targets could be identified. Those scientists who momentarily escaped their doom would fight on for years to come, causing much destruction to the Jade Falcons along the way.
Etienne's Final Stand
The Society cells were mostly autonomous, carrying out their long-planned attacks in complete independence if need be, but with overall coordination from Etienne, holed up on his aptly named fortress world away from most of the chaos unleashed on the Jade Falcons. On some worlds, where insurgency against Clan rule was more common, the Society picked up many followers from the general populace. This complicated the fighting for the Jade Falcons, who abhorred waste and mass destruction of civilians and infrastructure, but still doggedly destroyed all followers of the movement that could be identified. Etienne unleashed another SLOT virus in 3073, paralyzing communications from Evciler to Erewhon, along the periphery border. At about this time, the Hell's Horses also began the Annihilation of their own scientists who were found to be colluding with Etienne, though the Horses chose to utilize less-bloody targeted Annihilations to achieve their goals.
In November of 3073, Kael Pershaw led the Falcons' Alpha Galaxy - the heart of his task force - along with the WarShips CJF Falcon's Nest, CJF Hawk Eye, and CJF Turkina's Pride, eventually fighting their way to where the trail ended: Etienne's Sanctuary. Personally leading a Star of ground troops and Elementals, a wounded Pershaw and company would find their way to the heart of Etienne's redoubt after the Falcons' 101st Battle Cluster breached the walls. There, Pershaw personally shot Etienne through the face upon recognizing him, just prior to succumbing to his own wounds sustained during the fighting. After all Society personnel were cut down, the survivors withdrew. An orbital bombardment commenced in righteous fury, leaving little except ashes and rubble.
With many more battles still to go across Jade Falcon-held space, the death of Etienne was a morale boost, as well as a stroke for Clan law and justice. The fighting raged into 3074, finally dying down in subsequent years, though pockets of Society holdouts continued to cause problems for a long time afterward. Tensions already present on some worlds were exacerbated by word of the Annihilations that took place, which added to the disruption experienced throughout the Occupation Zone. In the end, though their scientist caste was greatly hobbled for generations to come, Clan Jade Falcon was finally free of the Society, but at a woeful cost.
Titles and Positions
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 182–183: "Etienne (Balzac)"
- Falcon Rising, ch. 4
- I Am Jade Falcon, chs. 13–28
- Falcon Rising, chs. 15–23
- Jihad Conspiracies: Interstellar Players 2, p. 34: "The Society"
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 152–153: "The Society"
- I Am Jade Falcon, chs. 13–28
- Freebirth, chs. 15–18
- Freebirth, chs. 20–37
- Falcon Rising, chs. 1–14
- Falcon Rising, chs. 15–23
- Falcon Rising, chs. 24–38, Epilogue
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 103: "At the Crossroads"
- Falcon Rising, Epilogue
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 97: "The Rot Within"
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 98: "Sinister Depths"
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 99: "Scraping the Falcon" and Ultimatum
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 107–108: "Loss of Signal" and "Rules of Engagement"
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 113–114: "Silence of the Falcon" and "Viral Neurosis"
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 118: "Spreading the Contagion"
- The Wars of Reaving, p. 138: "Falcon Vengeance"
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 134–135: "The Spheroid Conspiracies"
- The Wars of Reaving, pp. 176–177: "Founder's Future, Clan Jade Falcon"
- Falcon Rising, Epilogue