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Operation KLONDIKE

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This article is about the early Clan war to retake the Pentagon Worlds. For the sourcebook on the conflict, see Historical: Operation Klondike.


Operation KLONDIKE (begun 02 July 2821 – concluded 26 May 2822)[1] was the name given to the Clan campaign to retake the Pentagon Worlds from the various rebel groups that had sprung up in resistance to Aleksandr Kerensky's, and later Nicholas Kerensky's rule over the remnants of the SLDF.

Our victories here have proved the rightness of the Way of the Clans; let it always be so among those of the True Faith. Let these few words always announce our coming and portend our victory.
  — Nicholas Kerensky, 26 May 2822

Background[edit]

A few years after Aleksandr Kerensky had reached the Pentagon Worlds, many of his "dispossessed" former warriors who had been forced to work as farmers and laborers out of necessity revolted against his rule. All five of the worlds exploded into open rebellion against Kerensky, and forced him to flee with the remaining troops loyal to him.

Kerensky's forces eventually found what would later be termed the Kerensky Cluster by the Clans. However, shortly after the arrival at and subsequent colonization of the worlds, Aleksandr Kerensky died, leaving command of the SLDF in the hands of his son, Nicholas Kerensky. The younger Kerensky immediately began drawing up plans for the recapture of the Pentagon Worlds.

To form an elite force to retake the worlds, Kerensky took his newly formed Clans, originally composed of 40 MechWarriors each, and divided each Pentagon World up into occupation zones for 4 Clans to occupy on the planet. His forces trained for months for the invasion, and eventually struck the unprepared rebels.

The battles were fierce, and several of the Clans suffered great losses, but the troops loyal to Kerensky prevailed and retook the Pentagon Worlds.

Preparations[edit]

While some of the Khans wanted an immediate return to the Pentagon worlds, the Clans needed time to build up logistics capacity and also to determine what the current situation was in those worlds.[2]

A great deal of initial intelligence on conditions in the Pentagon Worlds was provided by both refugees, and traders plying the space between colonies. While useful, much of the information was of varying quality, and it was soon determined that more detailed and accurate information would be required before Operation KLONDIKE could be launched.[3]

Absalom Truscott, Khan of Clan Star Adder, was given charge of planning for Operation KLONDIKE. He recruited a planning group from several Clans, choosing only former senior SLDF officers. His deputies were Stephen McKenna, Khan of Clan Snow Raven, and Rafe Kardaan, saKhan of Clan Cloud Cobra.[2][3] Seeing the need for greater intelligence regarding the Pentagon Worlds, they put together Operation SABLE SUN.[4]

Operation SABLE SUN[edit]

Operation SABLE SUN was launched in May 2817. Five fleets (each containing several JumpShips with a WarShip escort) were sent out, one to each Pentagon World, to perform several phases of reconnaissance, including placement of listening posts, plotting the location of all colonies and active spacecraft, and securing any derelict spacecraft. This operation lasted roughly four years, only officially ending when each of the invading Operation KLONDIKE fleets reached their target systems.[4]

Battles in Space[edit]

The spacefaring members of the Pentagon Worlds kept themselves largely apart from the factions doing battle on the ground. They would trade peacetime services for food, and carried on limited interstellar trade with the other systems. Still, they had possession of JumpShips and DropShips, and even some WarShips. The Clans needed those assets neutralized or under their control before the ground invasions began.[5]

Arcadia System[edit]

Arcadia had four space objectives for the Clan forces: the enclaves at the zenith and nadir jump points, the naval cache orbiting Arcadia IV, and the WarShips in orbit over Arcadia I. Absalom Truscott oversaw the Arcadia space operations personally.[6]

The jump points were taken easily. A Clan WarShip leading groups of JumpShips and Assault DropShips jumped to each point. Most surrendered quickly after warning shots or having their engines disabled, though some jumped away to Babylon and Eden, where they found jump points already under Clan Control.[6]

The battle for the Arcadia IV cache was over in a quarter of an hour. Four Clan WarShips with sixteen DropShips fired on any vessel with active sensors or maneuvering. Only one defending vessel opened fire, and it hit with only one naval autocannon shell. Actually securing all the vessels for the Clans took two days, but the battle was over.

After these other objectives were secured, half of the WarShips assigned to take the cache and both WarShips from the jump points appeared at pirate points over Arcadia. The Texas-class battleship Perth surrendered after receiving warning shots. The Riga II-class destroyer Admiral Schone feigned surrender, but then destroyed the DropShip sent to board her. She broke orbit and engaged the Clan WarShips, which sent her burning hulk into the atmosphere to break up over Arcadia's southern seas.[7]

Babylon System[edit]

SaKhan Rafe Kardaan oversaw space operations in the Babylon system. He led a task force from the Star Adders, Clan Ice Hellion, and Clan Sea Fox, and a few infantry Stars from Clan Coyote. The targets were the largest of the SLDF naval caches, the sixth planet Sinclair and its resource extraction facilities, and a busy interplanetary traffic. Agents were already in place in the naval cache around the fifth planet. The jump points were easily subdued, with only three JumpShips escaping Clan-held space.[7]

Babylon VI[edit]

Star Captain Brucalter Sheridan, commanding the Aegis-class heavy cruiser Inquisitor, led the attack on Babylon VI. His ships jumped to a Pirate Point near the planet, and after releasing their DropShips, the JumpShips used their lithium-fusion batteries to jump away. The DropShips pursued as many of the fleeing miner's craft as they could, and the Inquisitor fired what were intended as warning shots near the colony. Two of the shots landed close enough to partially collapse underground structures, however, which inspired a frenzied counterattack by over a dozen DropShips against the lone WarShip.[7]

Sheridan first attempted to disable the oncoming ships. Overwhelmed, he then began ordering full use of force. After an enemy DropShip damaged the Inquisitor's maneuvering thrusters, an ore carrier rammed the WarShip. The Inquisitor ultimately destroyed all the enemy vessels before Sheridan called for the naval reserve and ordered his crew to abandon ship. His inexperienced and poorly trained command suffered over two hundred casualties, and the WarShip would not be fully repaired for decades.[8]

Babylon Naval Cache[edit]

Over a hundred vessels, from DropShips to WarShips, were part of the naval cache, with many linked to each other or the central space station. Cloud Cobra agents, inserted during SABLE SUN, worked to disable weapons turrets and sensors, activate jamming signals, and isolate vessels from one another while the four Clans sent in troops. At first, it went well.[8]

Most of the Clan marines were security forces with little zero-g experience. Despite this, Cloud Cobra, Ice Hellion and Sea Fox forces worked according to the plan, but the Coyote troops sought glory, issuing challenges to enemies they encountered. Eight ships were able to hold the Coyote advance and turrets started coming online. SaKhan Kardaan ordered fire on the turrets from the McKenna-class battleship Second Coming and then led veteran zero-g troops aboard the contested vessels. He ordered the Coyotes to withdraw, though some ignored him. After one enemy ship died under a barrage of Naval PPC fire, also claiming the lives of disobedient Coyotes, the rest of the cache surrendered.[8]

Aftermath[edit]

Kardaan joined the rest of his Clan at the inhabited world of Babylon II, leaving the mop-up to un-Bloodnamed subordinates. Most of the Babylon fleet were eventually captured, but two JumpShips and four DropShips were never accounted for.[9]

Circe System[edit]

Khan of Clan Snow Raven Stephen McKenna had command of naval operations in Circe. The objectives were the naval cache (reduced to one-third its original size), the zenith jump point enclave, and Outpost One, a large enclave established at a nonstandard point in the system. Each enclave was guarded by active WarShips.[9]

Zenith Enclave[edit]

McKenna jumped in to the Zenith point with the McKenna-class battleship James McKenna, the Cameron-class battlecruiser Admiral Gerda Cameron, and a squadron of combat DropShips. Arriving in close range of the stations, the Clans engaged the Congress-class frigate there, which fought to buy time for the enclave to scatter. The frigate destroyed seven Clan DropShips and landed some hits on the attacking WarShips before it was destroyed. Meanwhile, a Quixote-class frigate undocked from the station and jumped away, which would be a problem for the Clans later. Most of the escaping ships were captured, however.[9]

Outpost One[edit]

Outpost One was a space habitat built around a recharge station using DropShips and the grav decks of several JumpShips, with a McKenna-class battleship and a Sovetskii Soyuz-class heavy cruiser on guard. The Clans attacked with the Thunderbolt Black Lion-class battlecruiser and the Avatar-class heavy cruiser Korat. Crews on both sides had little space combat experience, leading to a lengthier battle than expected. This gave time for JumpShips, DropShips, and most significantly an unexpected Potemkin-class troop cruiser to escape with the majority of the inhabitants of Outpost One.[9]

Circe Naval Cache[edit]

McKenna sent four WarShips to the Circe cache: a Cameron, a Sovetskii Soyuz, an Essex-class destroyer, and a Whirlwind-class destroyer. They found only two Vincent-class corvettes, both undercrewed, which the Clan ships made short work of.[10]

Dagda System[edit]

Dagda would have been a major naval objective, except the naval shipyard established under Aleksandr Kerensky had been utterly destroyed, along with the naval cache. This left only the jump points to secure. The four Clans assigned to Dagda bid to see who would secure the jump points, with the Fire Mandrills and Goliath Scorpions effectively removing themselves from competition with poor bids. Clan Burrock won the right to take the zenith jump point, while Clan Widowmaker had the task of securing the nadir point.[11]

The Burrock Khans gave Qudi Hutchinson the temporary rank of Star Colonel and the Avatar-class heavy cruiser Constantineau. The Constantineau and the Burrock JumpShips jumped in, launching DropShips and using ECM against the enemy JumpShips. Three enclave JumpShips attempted to escape and had their engines destroyed. Of greater concern were three DropShips heading toward Dagda III carrying fuel and supplies to the McMillan Collective. The Constantineau jumped to a pirate point near the planet and intercepted the three vessels, seizing them without difficulty.[11]

Clan Widowmaker's battle at the nadir point was far more costly. Star Captain Cyril Herling ordered his Lola III-class destroyer Black Venom to close with the enclave vessels to discourage escape. One JumpShip tried to jump but was prevented by its failsafes. Two others, blocked from the destroyer's guns, overrode their safeties and attempted a simul-jump. The resulting energy wave damaged or destroyed dozens of vessels. Less than two hours later, other Clan forces arrived and began rescuing survivors. Rescues took a week, while cleanup took months.[11]

Eden System[edit]

The naval cache at one of Eden II's moons had remained undiscovered since the Second Exodus. It was turned into a staging ground and listening post during Operation SABLE SUN. Eden's many and unstable pirate points made this easier, but also cost the Clans a WarShip, a JumpShip, and the drives of two other ships, leading to a ban on using those points until Operation Klondike.[12]

The sole spacefarer enclave in-system, at the nadir Jump Point, was taken with warning shots and boarding parties. Three ships jumped out but were caught in other Pentagon systems. One jumped away carrying a Clan boarding party with it, and was found derelict years later with no survivors, the boarders having disabled the drive.[12]

Battle of the Pentagon Run[edit]

The "Battle" of the Pentagon Run was a series of small clashes across multiple systems. The spacefarers that escaped Circe fled to a hidden base they had begun ten years prior: Fasa. Boasting thirty thousand inhabitants and many transients, Fasa was the destination of the spacefarer WarShips that fled the Clan assault on the Circe enclaves. When the Potemkin arrived, evacuation began as they searched for a new home further away.[13]

SaKhan Kardaan was detached from his Clan's operation on Babylon to take command of a force of vessels from every Clan to hunt down those who had fled. For months, the Clan vessels tracked small groups of fleeing spacefarers through different systems. The remains of a refugee Riga-class destroyer gave the Clans valuable intelligence about the planned route of the spacefarers, leading to four clear victories for Kardaan: three systems attacked by the Clans, and a counterattack by the spacefarers. After the failed counterattack and two more Clan victories, the spacefarers concentrated their forces. Kardaan's ships brought them to battle in system EC821-387D. The spacefarer JumpShips were captured, along with two of their WarShips in exchange for one WarShip of the Clans. The Potemkin and Quixote escaped: the Potemkin was eventually captured it with twenty thousand people aboard, while the Quixote was never found.[13]

The Invasion[edit]

Arcadia[edit]

The Clans assigned to Arcadia were Clan Ghost Bear, Clan Blood Spirit, Clan Steel Viper, and Clan Star Adder. In addition to being the architect of Operation KLONDIKE as a whole, Absalom Truscott held overall command of the assault on Arcadia at the start. Operations were meticulously planned to last six months, three days. The initial assault was to be on the two major nations in West Arcadia by all four Clans, and then the other minor nations and other continents.[14]

West Arcadia[edit]

The plan did not make it to the landing zone: the Ghost Bears chose to ignore the plan and drop near the city of Cyaegha, capital of the Nation of Hastur. The Star Adders, having already faced heavy aerospace attack from Hastur and the Ilkasur Shogunate, found themselves alone at the planned landing point facing a regiment of Shogunate forces. The resulting battle was a Star Adder victory, but at heavy cost--including the life of Absalom Truscott. The Blood Spirits and Steel Vipers landed a hundred kilometers distant and moved to intercept the withdrawing Shogunate survivors that were being pursued by a Trinary of Star Adder forces.[15]

Truscott's death freed the other Clans to discard his battle plans, though the Blood Spirits were able to convince the Steel Vipers to follow them at least in broad outline. The Ghost Bears continued their advance on the capital of Hastur, while the Star Adders struck elsewhere in that nation.[16] At one point a friendly-fire incident between them, caused by the Ghost Bears changing their IFF and communications codes without telling the others, nearly escalated, but the Khan of the Blood Spirits was able to mediate a compromised settlement.[17] The Ghost Bears and the Star Adders continued their work, eventually pacifying the Nation of Hastur and beginning the process of rebuilding and administering.[18]

The Blood Spirits and Steel Vipers worked together to take the Ilkasur Shogunate. Both moved swiftly against outlying settlements, and soon the Shogunate warriors ventured out to meet the new foes. An early form of zellbrigen was typically observed, with full honors of war granted to defeated foes by both sides. Captured towns were placed under the administration of former Shogunate warriors, and the two Clans had little difficulty with them.[19]

The Vipers raced ahead of the Blood Spirits, who mopped up behind them and occasionally assisted when the Vipers encountered difficulties, including preventing flanking attacks against the Vipers. Both sides used their Aerospace assets for reconnaissance and ground-attack missions.[19]

After three weeks, the Steel Vipers, with Blood Spirits supporting, reached the Shogunate capital of Kito. The Shogun negotiated a battle, effectively a Trial of Possession, in the nearby forest. Both sides used comparable forces, and saKhan Breen bid two Blood Spirit Stars in place of his aerospace fighters, keeping it a ground battle. After six hours, the Shogunate formally surrendered.[20]

Minor powers remained in West Arcadia: the Ravisham Collective and the Confederation of Arcadia. The Collective had caused problems for all four Clans previously, losing troops to the Ghost Bears and the Blood Spirits. The Star Adders finished their work with the Nation of Hastur before the Ghost Bears, and so they took on the Collective. After orbital drops gave the Adders control of two cities, including Toomin, the capital, Premier Nathan Ravisham mounted a guerilla campaign from the mountains. The Star Adders continued to use orbital drops to capture key settlements, which caused others to surrender without a fight. Eventually, Ravisham was captured and beheaded.[21]

The Blood Spirits and the Steel Vipers again worked together to take the Confederation of Arcadia. Each Clan bid against the other for the right to take a particular settlement, with the losing bidder standing in reserve. The Vipers won two-thirds of the bids, but Blood Spirit reserves were conceded often enough to make gains roughly equal at the end. The final battle between Gratz and Tellmen involved both Clans after reserves were called in.[22]

East Arcadia[edit]

The Blood Spirits and Steel Vipers, having accomplished their objectives first, won responsibility for the continent of East Arcadia. Their opponents were the Democratic Republic of Rand, Helgren County, and the Kingdom of Surev.

Rand was the first target, with their capital Tian-To (formerly the Arcadian capital Rivera) taken quickly. When the Clans ventured out of Rivera, Rand launched a surprise counterattack on Rivera from without and within. Blood Spirit Star Captain Devon Boques led the defense until Steel Viper saKhan Steven Breen brought reinforcements. Honored by both Clans, Boques became Blood Spirit saKhan at the conclusion of the Arcadia campaign.[23]

Rivera was secured, but the rest of Rand took time: seasonal storms slowed operations to a crawl for a month and a half, and it was not until the storms passed into summer that Rand was finally, fully conquered.[23]

Helgren County and the Kingdom of Surev both sent peace delegations to the Clans, but the Clans would not settle for anything less than surrender. The two Clans split up, with the Steel Vipers facing Helgren and the Blood Spirits taking Surev.[24]

The Blood Spirits' work was done in part by the subjects of Angelo Tamik, King of Surev: he was assassinated in a palace coup, and his assassin was slain in a countercoup. The warlords fought for dominance while the Blood Spirits conquered them all. Along the way, the Blood Spirits also grabbed some of Helgren's territory, and in the end, their leader.[24]

Sheriff Tiberius Reed, of Helgren County, led a well-trained force, and he was able to trap a full Binary of Steel Vipers. Angry at what they perceived as hostage-taking, the Steel Vipers rebuffed every attempt at parley, hitting Reed's troops and holdings hard. The Sheriff sought out and challenged a Blood Spirit patrol. The challenge was accepted by MechWarrior Zoltan Osborne, and within ninety seconds Reed's Archer was destroyed, and he and his troops were in custody of the Blood Spirits.[24]

Steel Viper Khan Ellie Kinnison protested to the ilKhan, but the outcome was upheld. Reed helped to administer his former County, and eventually became Star Colonel Tiberius of the Blood Spirits. The two Clans, formerly partners, now had a rift between them.[24]

Rechlan[edit]

Clans Ghost Bear and Star Adder dropped on the continent of Rechlan and took the twin city-states of Garrak and Korban. Afterward, they split up: the Star Adders went north and west against the Dragon's Republic, while the Ghost Bears sought the Principalities of Breck and Xanadi to the east.[24]

The Dragon's Republic had as their capital a Brian Cache.[24] Governor-General Sabatine Olmstaad initially locked down the Cache and declared an emergency when it became obvious the planet was being invaded, but time passed and nothing happened, and so this was relaxed. Thus the fall of Korban and the arrival of the Star Adders came as a surprise. Olmstaad's garrisons and patrols were no match for Khan Devon LeFabre's Adders, and so Olmstaad recalled her forces to the Cache, planning to use it as a secure base for counterattacks. The Adders had the full plans of the Cache, however, and systematically demolished each entrance in turn, likewise destroying Republic morale. The siege lasted six weeks before the Republic troops broke: Olmstaad and her aides committed suicide, and most of her people fled the Cache. The Adders finished demolishing the Cache on 7 January 2822, thus ending their Arcadian campaign.[25]

The Ghost Bears at first found easy battles but difficult administration in the Principalities: conquered settlements did not stay conquered, with the appointed administrator ignored or banished as soon as the Clan Warriors departed. The Bears changed tactics to one of destroying military capabilities, seeking out and destroying any BattleMechs, armed vehicles, or bodies of troops and eliminating them. The terrain and weather worked to slow them, but eventually they declared victory. Resistance continued for years, however, and ended only with forced resettlement.[25]

Babylon[edit]

The Clans assigned to Babylon were Clan Sea Fox, Clan Ice Hellion, Clan Coyote, and Clan Cloud Cobra.

Camlaan[edit]

The invasion of Babylon began with all four Clans advancing together on the city of Camlaan on the Solath continent. The Camlaan militia put up a hard fight, but it took the appearance of reinforcements threatening the Ice Hellion and Cloud Cobra DropShips to slow the Clan advance. The two Clans redeployed together to meet the Camlaan counterattack, leaving the Sea Foxes and the Coyotes to deal with the city's defenses. The commander of the Sea Fox aerospace fighters saw more reinforcements moving in from the other side, and began bombing and strafing, calling out weak points in the line for the ground forces to hit. Coyote Khan Dana Kufahl took offense at being given orders as well as what she perceived as unClanlike tactics, and so the Coyotes took defensive positions on a nearby hill, firing only if fired upon. This left the Sea Foxes to take the city largely alone.[26]

The Foxes took heavy losses before securing victory, and they blamed all the other Clans, but most especially the Coyotes, for abandoning them. The Coyotes in turn were no longer trusted by any of their colleagues, while the Ice Hellions and Cloud Cobras found respect and partnership.[27]

The Sea Fox Campaign[edit]

The Sea Foxes sought vengeance on the rebels as they continued on, offering settlements only a single chance to surrender and enacting brutal reprisals against any resistance, even if only suspected. Sweeping south and west through the Snaefell Mountains and onto the coastal plains in just two weeks, they moved on to the continent of Valence, where they took a base of operations and then began an aerial campaign against the Sumral Carta. During this campaign, the ground forces laid siege to the capital city Sumra. Once Sumra fell, the rest of the Carta followed within a week.[27]

The Sea Foxes finally took on the continent of Callandra, where they faced the settlements in the Mountains, the well-armed and elusive Nomads of the wastelands, and the difficult environment of Callandra itself. Siege tactics worked well against the mountain settlements at first, but the nomads quickly organized and, bringing BattleMechs out of hidden caches, began a hit-and-run campaign against the Sea Foxes. The Sea Foxes meanwhile found that the desert environment caused breakdowns and slippage in their normal maintenance cycles, with sand and debris caught in everything. This went on for months, until Clan Sea Fox Scientists noticed that the nomads were following the migration of the herds. The Sea Foxes were finally able to take the fight to the nomads, relieving the pressure on the forces that had been interfering with the mountain campaign. A nomad cache was captured, yielding intelligence on the other caches, and after that the end was inevitable.[28]

The Ice Hellion/Cloud Cobra Partnership[edit]

The Ice Hellions and Cloud Cobras forged a partnership in the battle for Camlaan, and they chose to extend it through the rest of their time on Babylon. They established a base in the port city of Hope, and then worked together to map and conquer the rest of the eastern part of the continent.

New Drineshane fell easily, but it was a trap: the bulk of the defenders waited in the sewers and reservoir for the Ice Hellions and Cobra aerospace units to depart on a search for the remaining rebels, only to erupt from the sewers and attack the remaining Clansmen with a regiment of BattleMechs and hundreds of infantry. The cost to the Cobra forces was high, but the Ice Hellions and the rest of the Cloud Cobras returned quickly. Driving the rebels from New Drineshane, the Hellions and the Cobras pursued them relentlessly, finally bringing them to bay and destroying them at New Athens.[29]

Next were the Shoshi'i Islands, which yielded up valuable intel about the continent of Corsen beyond, with which the islands regularly traded. Shortly after the invasion of Corsen began, a series of volcanic eruptions and a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami that caused destruction across the Shoshi'i Sea and the coastlines. The Cloud Cobras sent their ground forces back to assist with disaster relief, bolstered by Ice Hellion logistics. Meanwhile, the Ice Hellions continued their invasion of Corsen with Cloud Cobra fighter support.[30]

The city of Gralen surrendered after six days of aerial assaults, and then the allied Clans faced Oppenreich. Dismounted Cloud Cobra pilots called in airstrikes from their comrades in the air. The weather slowed them, as did snow avalanches triggered by the battles, and twice set by Oppenreich. Tiang Harms, a former SLDF Sergeant and leader of the defense, died in one of the avalanches triggered by his forces. In March 2822, Oppenreich fell, and Corsen as a whole shortly after it.[31]

The Coyote Campaign[edit]

The Coyotes advanced slowly from Camlaan through the northern mountains, claiming the many communities therein.[27] This took time, and thus the only target left for them was Abyssinia. There were few valuable objectives there, but enough that the Coyotes split into three groups, first sweeping up dozens of tiny settlements, then coordinating against the cities of Luyden and Ponomia. Star Captain Gerek Tchernokov was able to take the city of Versailles alone and without a vehicle, negotiating through his brother, who was a scientist and part of the city government, for the city's peaceful surrender.[32]

Circe[edit]

The Clans assigned to Circe were Clan Nova Cat, Clan Mongoose, Clan Wolverine, and Clan Snow Raven. With the equatorial regions virtually uninhabited, the Clans split into two pairs: the Wolverines and the Snow Ravens took the North, while the Mongooses and Nova Cats took the South.[33]

Northern Campaign[edit]

On 2 July 2821, the Wolverines and Mongooses seized "Point Alpha", an isolated oasis on the northern edge of the equatorial desert. They then began operations against the Sand Confederacy, who used hit-and-run tactics against the two Clans. Conquering the city of Dun, which controlled the water supply for the region, gave the Snow Ravens victory: rather than withholding it as the Confederacy had done, the Ravens shared the water freely, asking only that Clan Law be respected. This city would become Dehra Dun, the Snow Raven capital on Circe.[34]

The Snow Ravens then moved against the Empire of Hidalgo, a brutal theocracy noted for atrocities. The Empire was made up of fortified settlements, and the Hidalgo troops soon realized that the Snow Ravens were unwilling to destroy civilian infrastructure such as waterworks or to inflict heavy civilian casualties. The Empire used this against the Clan, forcing a protracted campaign. Then on 19 August, a Snow Raven force attacking Salamanca was approached by a group calling itself the Kerensky Dominion. The Dominion pledged themselves to the Clans, though each side view the alliance in different context. Together they finished Hidalgo and quickly dispatched the Tabor Voivoidate as well.[35] Elements of the Dominion were also attached to Clan Wolverine's operations.[36]

Meanwhile, the Wolverines were facing the Rasmussen Elite. The Elite ruled through fear and violence, and practiced ritual trials by combat among themselves that mirrored those of the Clans: ilKhan Kerensky wrote of them as "our shadow brothers".[37]

The final battle against the Elite came on 5 July 2821 at Chamberlin's Crossing. Khan of Clan Wolverine Sarah McEvedy and saKhan Dwight Robertson had the Wolverine's Bite, her command Star of BattleMechs, with mobile artillery support. The Elite fielded two lances of FrankenMechs ranging from medium to assault class, a company of armored vehicles, and two companies of irregular infantry. Khan McEvedy goaded Gustav Kran to leave his defensive positions and attack her using verbal taunts and artillery fire. Charging en masse, the Elite were finished in eleven minutes. IlKhan Kerensky rebuked her for her tactics on an open channel, with Khan Mitchell Loris of Clan Mongoose weighing in as well.[38][39]

The alliance with the Kerensky Dominion was short-lived: after a meeting between Colonel Michael Guillory of the Dominion and Snow Raven Khan Stephen McKenna left Guillory dead and accused of having tried to assassinate McKenna, the Dominion forces around Dehra Dun rose up against the Ravens. The Battle of Bitter Tears lasted for three days, but Clan control of communications meant that Dominion forces elsewhere were disarmed by the Wolverines and Snow Ravens.[40]

The two Clans worked together once again to conquer the Isle of the Eagles. Snow Raven air power and Wolverine speed and maneuverability prevailed over the Eagle fortifications and hit-and-fade tactics, with the Eagles forced to battle on 19 November, trapped between the two Clans outside the city of Hamilton. Official Clan Histories list saKhan of Clan Snow Raven Joyce Merrell as dying during this battle,[36] but this was a fabrication of Nicholas Kerensky's, that Merrell died before the events of the Wolverine Annihilation.[41]

Southern Campaign[edit]

Clans Mongoose and Nova Cat established equatorial base Point Beta on 2 July 2821. A week later, they began joint operations against the Junfa (warlords) of the Emerald Kingdom. The Kingdom's forces were ill-prepared to meet the Clan onslaught, and the entire domain fell in only a few weeks of fighting, with very few Clan warriors lost.[36]

The two Clans agreed to treat the next part of the campaign as a good-natured competition, with the winner adjudged by the ilKhan. The winner would be favored for the final part of the Southern Campaign. Clan Mongoose faced the Mongrel Mob while Clan Nova Cat took on the Gant Republic.[42]

Khan of Clan Nova Cat Phillip Drummond used his knowledge of the terrain to conduct hit-and-fade attacks on Gant positions, crossing what the Republic considered impassable terrain. The Nova Cats began operations on 3 August, and by September Republic morale was at a low point. On 11 September, Gant ordered a group of deserters shot in the central square of Concord, the capital. This sparked a popular uprising and the lynching of Silas Gant. When the Nova Cats arrived two days later, their main task was to restore order to the city.[43]

In the Mongrel Mob, the Mongooses faced a well-armed and aggressive foe that nonetheless had little training or discipline. Outnumbered by as much as five to one, the Mongooses still found the Mob attacks to be mere inconveniences. The main settlements fell to the Mongooses within a week, but it was not until mid-October that the last of the resistance was dealt with.[44]

On 10 October: "Hellstorm Marian" hit Point Beta. While there was little loss of life, nearly eighty percent of the supplies stored there were lost, and a DropShip that had remained at base had two light tanks embedded in the hull. With this complication, and both Clans dealing with police actions, the ilKhan decreed the contest between them a draw. The final campaign would be a joint one.[44]

Had it not been for the problems with the Kerensky Dominion in the north, the Brotherhood of Fianna might have had a different reception. They approached the Clans with an offer of a peaceful transition of power so long as they were allowed to remain together, and armed, to continue to keep the peace. The ensuing battles were reluctant ones on both sides, and full honors of war were extended, including truces to deal with mechanical failures, shared meals between victors and vanquished, and in the end, a celebratory atmosphere on 9 December 2821 when the Fianna finally capitulated. Fianna warriors became prized second-line troops in the Clans they were assigned to.[45]

Eden[edit]

The Clans assigned to conquer Eden were Clan Hell's Horses, Clan Jade Falcon, Clan Wolf, and Clan Smoke Jaguar. Each was chosen through a series of single-Star martial trials. Two surprises came out of the trials: the Jade Falcon win over Clan Burrock was closer than any expected, and the Hell's Horses beat the Ghost Bears, who were favored to win. The ultimate objective was the old Star League in Exile capital Novy Moscva, with each Clan completing other objectives before they jointly moved on the Levic Ascendancy which controlled that city.[46]

Jade Falcons[edit]

On the Yakut continent, the Jade Falcons swept around Petrograd Bay, easily taking over the McDonald Collective and the People's Congress. Khan Hazen had her warriors secure the food supplies, tempting the Sarbat Khanate, a more capable and well-fortified foe, to come to her. The Khanate sent a company to repel invaders they thought were from the Levic Ascendancy. They faced instead two Stars of the Falcons, who destroyed two full lances of Khanate machines in exchange for three of their own 'Mechs. The remaining lance was permitted to escape, in hopes their story would damage Khanate morale.[47]

The Khanate continued to probe, dealt heavy losses and thrown back by a numerically smaller force each time. Two Stars of Hell's Horses were sent by the ilKhan to reinforce the Falcons, and neither Clan was pleased with the arrangement. On 19 July, the Falcons and Horses spotted an incoming Khanate attack and began racing each other to intercept first. The Falcons opened fire on the Khanate, the Horses thought they were the ones attacked, and the two Clans engaged in a brief melee. Seeing this as weakness, the Khanate pressed the attack on the Falcons. Once the Falcons were engaged, the Horses withdrew.[48]

The Khanate took from this encounter that an attack in force would break the Clans. They sent a full regiment against what they believed to be only two companies. The Jade Falcons gave ground slowly, drawing the Khanate into their trap, and then the Falcon reserves emerged from the waters of the bay, flanking the Khanate force and destroying. On 5 August the Khanate capital of Rubat was taken, ending that part of the campaign.[49]

Hell's Horses[edit]

Khan John Fletcher of the Hell's Horses asked the ilKhan for an assignment for his Clan aside from acting as auxiliaries to the others. He was given the task of clearing the Purgatory Peninsula. Intelligence reports said that the Lyran, Hegemony and Free Worlds League factions were prone to infighting and could be defeated in detail. The infighting was real, but the threat of the Clans caused the city-states to cooperate against a common foe.[49]

Khan Fletcher had to adapt tactics when faced with punishing ambushes against his vanguard. Recognizing that his foes prioritized attacking BattleMechs while ignoring conventional forces, he used his 'Mechs as decoys, drawing the enemy 'Mechs into traps for his armor and infantry to exploit. Two weeks of this saw the mobile forces of the city-states rendered effectively destroyed. Attention was turned to the cities next. Allah fell to a combined armor and infantry assault in only three hours. Dante took even less. Vesta fought for twelve hours, with fighting being room to room at the last.[50]

To the shock of the conquered, Khan Fletcher announced martial trials to replenish his Clan's Touman, which let him return to full strength ahead of other Clans fighting on Eden.[50]

Smoke Jaguars[edit]

Khan of Clan Smoke Jaguar Franklin Osis was raised on Eden among the violence of the factional strife before the Second Exodus. His Clan was assigned to take the continents of Amur and Novy Sakhalin as well as Western Irkutsk.[50]

On 2 July 2821 the Jaguars landed on Amur and tangled with the local militia. Supported by Hell's Horses auxiliaries who took charge of prisoners and security and policing in captured territories, the Jaguars advanced steadily across the continent. Irkutsk, however, would not prove so simple. The Hell's Horses departed to the Purgatory Peninsula, and the Jaguars had to see to holding what they had conquered.[50]

In the city of Kalingrad, a group of workers were beaten for defying a Clan guard. News of the incident spread among the population, with stories of torture and rape added to the tale, and a general uprising began. Withdrawing his troops to the edge of town, Khan Osis designated the entire population as enemy combatants and called in aerospace and artillery strikes, destroying every building in Kalingrad. When the ilKhan said nothing, this became the new method for dealing with enemy settlements. At first some resisted the "Destroyers of Kalingrad", but the Jaguars made good on their threats.[50]

The Jaguars completed their objectives a week ahead of schedule, having taken relatively few losses while destroying civilian infrastructure wholesale. The ilKhan confined his anger to his diary, though he used the Jaguars more carefully thereafter.[51]

Clan Wolf[edit]

Clan Wolf was assigned to take the Abaddon Heights, center of the Curse of Eden, a brain fever that had claimed many lives. Khan Jerome Winson chose to open with the offer of a Clan-developed antigen rather than violence, which gained them control over a number of small settlements. Others were less willing to surrender, using everything from civilian suicide bombers to laser drills alongside modified industrial walkers and a few 'Mechs. Attacks were made not only on the Wolves, but on other factions, and the Clan found itself often in the role of peacekeeper and security force. Slow and sure won the campaign for Clan Wolf.[51]

Levic Ascendancy[edit]

The final campaign of Eden was against the Levic Ascendancy, which boasted a large force of air assets, two battalions of BattleMechs, and two conventional combined arms regiments. The Ascendancy was ready for the Clans when they reached the continent of Noruff, beginning a steady series of attacks from the air. Dogfights were common during the first few weeks until the Clans were able to push the Ascendancy air elements back on the defensive.[51]

By 19 September, Novy Moscva was within 50 kilometers of the Clan lines. The Ascendancy pulled back into the city, preparing to mount a defense of attrition. Fast-moving Jaguar and Wolf elements tried to prevent the withdrawing forces from reaching the city, but were recalled when this proved unsuccessful.[52]

Unable to mount a siege, and unwilling to destroy the city outright, ilKhan Kerensky had to risk sending troops into urban combat. Each Clan force was to quickly seize a key objective as a bastion from which to make raids into the rest of the city. The Jade Falcons were assigned the northeast foundry complex, the Smoke Jaguars Kerensky Square in the southeast, and the Wolves had the job of feinting at the government center before turning west to take the Eden Military Academy. Hell's Horses were attached to each of the other Clans to provide support.[53]

The battle began several hours early when AMF recon forces stumbled onto the Wolf staging area, with a Star of fast Wolf 'Mechs engaging in a running firefight with the withdrawing forces before themselves encountering an Ascendancy staging area. Andery Kerensky led a relief force to rescue the trapped pursuit Star. The Falcons found themselves slowed in their advance on the foundry, having to clear buildings with infantry as they went. The Jaguars met opposition at the Cameron Bridge, and Hell's Horses combat engineers were able to defuse charges on the bridge before the Ascendancy could drop it.[53]

On 21 November, Nicholas Kerensky moved his command post to his father's old command bunker within the city. The Clans mounted aggressive patrols, varying routines to avoid ambush. When a group of militia took shelter in an apartment complex, the Smoke Jaguars bombarded it, killing many civilians as well as the militia.[54]

The Wolves had the task of hunting for the Ascendancy headquarters, but it was the Jade Falcons who found it when the AMF made a broadcast only 150 meters from a Falcon patrol on 11 November. The Wolf saKhan quickly took command of a multi-Clan force and assaulted the site, while Andery Kerensky led another detachment to prevent the Ascendancy from reinforcing their headquarters. By dawn the next day, Major-General Mathieu Tillam, the head of the Ascendancy, was in Clan custody.[54]

Pockets of resistance held out for weeks. On 1 December, a fleeing lance of rebel 'Mechs caught Andery Kerensky alone in his 'Mech and, after disabling it, destroyed his cockpit. Frenzied Wolf warriors hunted his killers down and slew them.[54]

On 3 December, the Palace of Justice fell, and the ilKhan declared the Eden Campaign over. Two of the Clans, the Wolves and the Jade Falcons, moved on to finish the job at Dagda.[54]

Dagda[edit]

The Clans assigned to Dagda were Clan Fire Mandrill, Clan Widowmaker, Clan Goliath Scorpion, and Clan Burrock. Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Wolf were later called in as reinforcements for the final campaign.

The Dagda campaign was difficult from the outset: scheduled to begin on 2 July to coincide with the other invasions, the Dagda invasion was pushed back to 22 July when a JumpShip blew a helium seal at Strana Mechty.[55]

The first target on-planet was Firebase Delta, an active Space Defense System facility under control of the McMillan Collective. The Goliath Scorpions made a night assault on the facility on 29 July, though they lost almost a full Binary, a quarter of their strength, in the doing.[56]

On 30 July the Fire Mandrills began landing on Salò. A navigation error scattered two Binaries along the western coastal lowlands and their supplies were likewise scattered on the slopes of the Mount Lucca stratovolcano. The Mandrills were already divided into factions. Squabbling and dangerously low bids hampered their progress. Khan Raymond Sainze and saKhan Laura Payne worked against each other, vying to underbid each other for the right to take objectives. Only the poor quality of their opponents allowed them to succeed, though the cost on their personnel and equipment was high.[56]

The Widowmakers and Burrocks teamed up to take Folke, a port city on the continent of Dratha. After ten days of street fighting that at times went house-to-house, they moved on to the rest of the continent. The major objectives were the Oriente Dominion and Ryan's Roughnecks. The Dominion sent an air strike against the Widowmakers while Folke was still contested, so Widowmaker and later Burrock aerospace units kept up daily raids against Ciudad Oriente, maintaining air superiority. The agrarian collectives in the area put up little resistance, seeing it more as liberation.[57] The Widowmakers took the Oriente headquarters six days ahead of schedule, while the Burrocks managed to seize the Roughnecks command post only a day early.[58]

Most of the Dominion and Roughneck associates surrendered after that, but some continued to resist. Then on 22 October an assassin shot saKhan of Clan Widowmaker Mariel Sanders while she was inspecting an occupied village. She was injured, and the assassin was quickly slain. SaKhan Sanders died of her injuries a few days later. Suspending offensive operations, Clan Widowmaker gathered to elect a new saKhan, and Cal Jorgensson was chosen. After the death of their saKhan, the Widowmakers were more brutal toward the Dagdans, which gave even the ilKhan cause for concern.[59]

Clan Goliath Scorpion continued working across the continent of Riva. When riots broke out in the occupied territories, stories of Clan atrocities as well as weapons supplied to the rioters were traced to a group called The Chosen, a doomsday cult led by a former SLDF officer. The Scorpions cleared the area around their upland citadel and laid siege to it.[57] On 1 October, the assault finally came, only to find that half the occupants had committed suicide and most of the other half were suffering from malnutrition. The leader was tried, convicted, and personally executed by Khan Cyrus Elam, who shoved her out an airlock.[60]

The continent of Garda was taken by the Fire Mandrills without undue difficulty despite that Clan's internal strife. Tenno was given to the Goliath Scorpions to invade, and that proved more challenging. The Drakkars had a well-defended mining installation in a mountain called Black Mesa. After punishing losses during the approach to the underground complex, Khan Elam received permission from the ilKhan for a demonstration orbital bombardment against a nearby mountaintop. Calling it down during a parley with the Drakkar leader, Elam was able to secure their surrender.[60]

Dagda's oceans were rich with resources, and giant mobile seabases referred to as "atolls" had been created from which to harvest these. Most were abandoned by the time of KLONDIKE, but three remained. Two were taken by the Fire Mandrills, while the bid for the Kepler Atoll was won by Clan Goliath Scorpion. Scorpion warriors David Madsen and Naomi Djerassi accepted the surrender of the atoll's leaders, only to be attacked as they prepared to leave. Madsen was slain after killing five of his attackers, and Djerassi slew four before being captured. Marco Wye had her tortured, and then threw her into a pool filled with captive seawolves, a dolphin analogue native to Dagda.[59] Instead of killing her, the seawolves saved her life. Once she had recovered enough, she began a solo guerilla campaign against the occupants of the atoll. In fifteen days she accounted for fifty of Wye's troops. She then forced Wye into the same seawolf pool she had been thrown into, where he was torn to shreds. Freeing the seawolves, Djerassi ordered the population to abandon the atoll and sabotaged the main power plant, destroying the installation. She and a few civilian survivors were later rescued as they were adrift in lifeboats.[61]

The Black Brian[edit]

The Brotherhood of Donegal controlled a Brian Cache known as the "Black Brian", in the Thorin Mountains of the continent of San Biagio. The original plan called for all four Clans to take the Black Brian together, but after the losses and difficulties of the campaign up to that point, the ilKhan instead chose to bring in Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon for the final campaign of Operation KLONDIKE.[61]

Clan Wolf secured the Thorin Pass and the territory beyond while the Widowmakers and Burrocks were assigned to secondary objectives, including control of the air.[61] The Falcons neutralized the exterior defenses of the cache, with Nicholas Kerensky himself joining in the forces covering the withdrawal after a successful operation. Even without their gun emplacements, the Brotherhood were still a threat, able to sally forth from the cache's many entrances and conduct hit-and-run raids. The final phase of the campaign began, dubbed Operation FERRET.[62]

On 2 April 2822, the Wolves simultaneously assaulted three gates, each with a Binary of 'Mechs. One was breached, and the Brotherhood was forced to fall back, leading to the fall of the other two by midnight. The Jade Falcons entered the complex and, beset by a series of ambushes, slowly wore down the defenders. Khan Winson offered the Wolves as a relief force and was rebuffed by Khan Hazen. Fifty-four days later, Khan Hazen emerged with the final prisoner to find the rest of the Council of Khans assembled.

The ilKhan officially declared Operation KLONDIKE over.[62]

Aftermath[edit]

The events directly preceding the aftermath of the invasion helped to shape the fledgling Clans into what they are today. Seeing the prowess that Clan Wolf displayed during the battles, Kerensky decided to join that Clan, a move which earned the Wolves the ire of Clan Jade Falcon. As well, the losses suffered by some Clans, Clan Ice Hellion and Clan Cloud Cobra in particular, shaped their later geopolitical situation in the Kerensky Cluster, as those Clans became greatly weakened and never achieved the same status as more successful clans such as Clan Jade Falcon or Clan Star Adder.[63]

May 26 became the Clan holiday Liberation Day.[64]

The population of the Pentagon Worlds were assimilated into the new culture of the Clans, tested and assigned to their new castes. Some of the former combatants became Clan Warriors, even rising to high office within their new Clans. Some continued to resist for a time, and those who had committed atrocities faced military courts. Most were executed.[65]

While the civilians settled into their new order, the Clan military began to fracture. The Jade Falcon Khans faced down a call for secession from within, and Clan Wolverine did secede, leading to their Annihilation. Clan Widowmaker found its end in a Trial of Absorption, during which Nicholas Kerensky was slain. Once the Widowmakers were no more, the Clans settled down into what became known as the Golden Century.[66]

References[edit]

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  4. 4.0 4.1 Historical: Operation Klondike, p. 40: "Alone in the Dark"
  5. Historical: Operation Klondike, pp. 40–41
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