|Born||19 April 2783|
|Died||23 June 2828|
|Title(s)||Duchess of Sian|
Duchess of Liao
|Parents||Baltazar Liao (father)|
Early Life and Regency
Daughter of one of Barbara Liao's two sons, Ilsa would be orphaned at a young age after the death of her father during the disastrous strike against Calloway VI. After her grandmother died from a rare blood disorder in 2795, Ilsa was the next surviving Liao in the line of succession, but too young to ascend to the Celestial Throne the Capellan Prefectorate chose Sandol Quinn, Prefect of the Tikonov Commonality, to act as regent until the 12-year-old Ilsa reached maturity.
Both intensely loyal to Ilsa's eventually ascension and highly ambitious, Quinn worked tirelessly to expand the borders of the Confederation through conquest. Spending most of his time near the battlefront, coincidentally located primarily in Quinn's own Commonality, Ilsa had considerable control of local Sian politics from a young age. While trained as a MechWarrior from birth, Ilsa disliked firsthand exposure to the massive casualties of the First Succession War battlefield and accepted only one invitation from Quinn to join him on the battlefront, her military service prior to the Chancellorship being a brief two-month Lance command stint in the Red Lancers on Sian.
Chancellor of the Confederation
Content with his achievements, in 2801 Quinn handed over the Chancellorship to Ilsa along with a larger albeit poorer Capellan Confederation. Increasingly mindful of the large toll and sheer exhaustion of the CCAF as the First Succession War neared twenty years of constant fighting, among Ilsa's first concerns was giving her military time to rest.
Desperate to buy her realm some breathing room, Ilsa extended a public peace proposal to First Prince Paul Davion, making the startling offer to renounce her claim to First Lordship of the Star League and back him for the position in return for the Federated Suns ceding all claim to the Chesterton worlds to the Confederation. Hoping at least for some minor slowdown as her admittedly hollow proposal was considered, the First Prince instead immediately and angrily responded by sending the Third and Fifth Crucis Lancers, among the most rabidly anti-Capellan units in the AFFS, to strike the Confederation, retaking those Chesterton worlds the Capellans had won in the past decade.
Her peace proposal brutally rebuffed, Ilsa watched with increasing envy at the untouched Jerome Blake-led ComStar compared to her shattered realm, and in the spring of 2811 Ilsa ordered the Maskirovka to attempt to bribe away technicians from that organization. When this was unsuccessful, Ilsa upped the ante and authorized the Maskirovka to try and seize control of the HPG stations in the Capellan realm. The first these attempts was a "terrorist" raid against the HPG on Nanking that was narrowly repulsed when the ComStar staff ambushed and defeated the attackers.
This botched attack would prompt Prime Administrator Blake to create ComStar's intelligence agency ROM, the newly formed organization discovering the Maskirovka's preparations to assassinate the chief administrator of the Bryant HPG in 2812 with Blake authorizing ROM to strike first. With all the Capellan assassins murdered by ROM agents only two days before the attempt against Precentor Bryant was scheduled, to ensure the Chancellor understood his contempt for her audacity, Blake sent a personal message to Ilsa subtly reinforcing that ComStar had the means to protect itself if threatened. Ilsa would shortly thereafter order the Maskirovka to pull back its efforts against the organization.
Ilsa would also suffer another, much worse, reversal due to the failings of the Maskirovka in the same year when she turned to a military option to regain the Chesterton worlds, sending a top secret strike force consisting of four of the CCAF's best regiments to regain the lost Commonality capital. Unfortunately an MIIO mole in the Maskirovka leaked word of the plan to the AFFS and instead of surprising the Davion troop, the Capellan units were ambushed shortly after landing. While emboldened by fighting on Chesterton's near sacred soil, the outnumbered Capellan troops suffered extremely heavy losses before they reluctantly withdrew, a mere two battalions reaching their DropShips to flee.
With the debacle on Chesterton the last major conflict for the Confederation, the First Succession War finally drew to an inconclusive close in 2821 due to exhaustion of all parties. Her youthful hopes for peace burned away by the decades of battle, Ilsa increasingly focused on rebuilding the military to the exclusive of all else. Shifting vital economic resources into scientific and military development, one of the most notable achievements of her efforts was the development of the Vindicator, the future workhorse of the CCAF.
When House Davion opened negotiations for the return of Federated Suns POWs during the lull, Ilsa would also use them to help defray the cost of rebuilding and demanded a considerable ransom for their return. Initially refusing, after Ilsa placed all the POWs on trial and publicly executed twenty senior officers including a Marshal and two Generals on Christmas Day 2822, Paul Davion caved and shipped thousands of tons of valuable matériel and Capellan POWs to the Confederation in return for his troops.
Death and Legacy
Recognizing as the Second Succession War began in earnest in 2828 that the depleted CCAF could not hope defend against simultaneous attacks from both Free Worlds League and Federated Suns, in a desperate gamble Ilsa stripped the League border of its best troops to strike a knockout blow against the important Federated Suns staging world of Orbisonia in hopes of delaying the Davion advance. Personally Leading the Red Lancers supported by elements of the Prefectorate Guard, unfortunately despite her best efforts Ilsa's military had not yet fully recovered from the meat grinder of the First Succession War and were little more than paper tigers.
While the Capellan troops had a considerable weight advantage, their ranks consisting primarily of Warhammer and Marauder heavy 'Mechs, the defending units of the Avalon Hussars were much more experienced and managed to outmaneuver and outsmart the Capellans thanks to the heavy use of light reconnaissance and scout assets. By the fourth day of the campaign the Capellan forces were in full retreat, with Ilsa leading the rearguard forces. Unbeknownst to the Capellan forces, the Federated Suns troops had identified that Ilsa was leading the rearguard and launched an aimed strike at her forces. Ilsa Liao was killed in action against the Davion Assault Guards, becoming the first Capellan Chancellor to die on the battlefield.
Despite her youthful attempts at peace early in her reign, by the end of the First Succession War, many Capellan civilians and military officers viewed Ilsa as a classical warrior queen, the decades of endless battle awakening her Inner MechWarrior and inspiring considerable loyalty among an already fanatical military even though she rarely took to the field. One of the few times she did was her ill-fated assault against Orbisonia, her death shattering the already shaky resolve of the Capellan military, allowing the AFFS to make considerable gains.
- First Succession War, p. 130
- Handbook: House Liao, p. 28: "Sandol Quinn - Ilsa the Peacemaker - Debacle at Chesterton"
- House Liao (The Capellan Confederation), p. 47: "History - The Succession Wars - Sandol Quinn Recoups - A Proffered Hand - Second Succession War"
- ComStar, pp. 16–17: "History of ComStar - The Foundation Years - Creation of ROM"
- Handbook: House Liao, p. 29: "The Red Heart Guard"
- Technical Readout: 3075, p. 220: "Darter Scout Car"
- Field Manual: Federated Suns, p. 76: "AFFC Rosters - Davion Brigade - Davion Assault Guards RCT: The Crushers"