- Community Outreach - Tex Talks BattleTech
- Clan Invasion Approaches $2 Million Stretch Goal, Teases UrbanMech Plushie
- What’s up with Catalyst? at GenCon 2019
- MechWarrior 5 Confirmed As Epic Games Store Exclusive
- Clan Invasion Boxed Set Funded In 7 Freakin’ Minutes, Catalyst Frantically Throwing Up Stretch Goals
- Read more →
|Also known as||"The Jaguar"|
|Affiliation|| Clan Smoke Jaguar|
Russou Howell (born 3019 - died 3079) was the commander of the forces defending the Clan Smoke Jaguar capital of Huntress when Task Force Serpent attacked. Howell would survive the destruction of his Clan, ultimately allying himself with the Bandit Caste and The Society, operating under the name of The Jaguar during the Wars of Reaving.
Clan Invasion Era
Early in his career, Russou Howell served alongside his sibmate, Trent, in Beta Striker Trinary of Jaguar's Beta Galaxy. Russou was slightly introverted, preferring to let his fighting abilities speak for him, while also leading him to regard Trent as his only true friend and ally in all of the Smoke Jaguars. An effective if a not particularly flashy warrior as a young man, like many Clan warriors Russou's career was revitalized by the Clan Invasion. Unfortunately in the wake of the Battle of Tukayyid and the 15 year truce the Clan loss triggered, being denied easy combat and the prospect that he would be reduced to little more than solahma status by the time the invasion resumed prompted Howell essentially to give up, turning to drinking to ease the pain of his existence. 
Finally securing the Howell Bloodname and the rank of Star Captain in the wake of Tukayyid, Howell experienced a personal resurgence upon the discovery of the purported treachery of his sibmate Trent. On the world of Maldonado in 3058, Russou Howell was surprised by Star Colonel Paul Moon's sudden proclamation of Trent to be a traitor to his Clan and his caste, further issuing general orders for all Smoke Jaguars to attack and kill him immediately. In the thick of the fighting, Russou and Trent had one last brief meeting, exchanging final words with one another before Paul Moon personally ordered Russou to kill Trent for his treachery. His supposed defeat of the traitor showed a streak of character his superiors apparently appreciated, Howell finding himself remarkably successful in Trials of Position first for the rank of Star Colonel (Ordered by Paul Moon and immediately approved) and was informed within days of these swirling events about his appointment to Galaxy Commander and command of the defense of the Smoke Jaguar homeworld of Huntress.  
While attempting to whip the two Galaxies of solahma troops on-world into shape, Howell's reliance on alcohol only increased, driven by guilt over killing Trent, while pondering his meteoric rise through the ranks. He began to see Paul Moon as central to his rise, though he inwardly disliked the idea of it, feeling as though he too had been swept aside by Smoke Jaguar politics. The events surrounding the ousting and punishment of his predecessor, Benjamin Howell, who was caught smuggling equipment to supply his neglected command, gave Russou little reason warm to his new posting. His behavior became erratic, and his temper could erupt into violent activity directed at some of his subordinates, if he regarded them as being insolent toward him. He liked to escape into the city of Lootera, drinking amid the lower castes, who often did not know him by sight. In April of 3059, Russou's existence was given new life when a Jade Falcon Union class Dropship crashed after being ordered to not enter the airspace over Huntress by Jaguar Command. The non-compliant Falcons were shot down by Jaguar Aerospace Fighters, and crashed in the jungles outside of Lootera. Howell claimed the Trinary, a unit called the Khan's Irregulars led by freeborn Star Commander Horse Jade Falcon, ordering them to be captured and made prisoners of Clan Smoke Jaguar, seizing their 'Mechs and denying them any warrior status in what was to become their new Clan. Howell then proceeded to assign them to the most demeaning work he could find in Lootera, and made Horse his personal servant. In addition to this harsh treatment, he often spoke to Horse at length, sometimes extolling the virtues of the Jaguar, other times denigrating them and the warriors under his command to the captured Falcon warrior. Horse made note of the seeming split personality of his captor, realizing that it was likely due to recent traumatic experience.
Prisoner Horse would have ample opportunity to see the depths to which Russou Howell had fallen. Not satisfied with making the freebirth warrior (whom he regarded as worthless, citing the Smoke Jaguars' disuse of any freeborn warriors in their Touman) do the most demeaning labors he could think of, Howell invented a ceremony of sorts, with the objective of putting Horse through a series of public contests and torments. Certain of Russou's own troops vociferously denied any such thing as a "Ceremony of Kinship", as he called the ordeals and controlled contests, but they ultimately offered little resistance to the spectacle. Most simply watched in great interest, often chanting, hurling insults, or worse at the freeborn warrior. The first was a contest. Horse was to pilot an ancient Mackie against a powered-down Stormcrow piloted by Jaguar Star Colonel Logan Wirth, a contest that Horse would go on to win through sheer determination. Upon winning, an angered Howell had Horse beaten and tied between several tree branches by his own limbs in archaic fashion, leaving him to suffer pain and the harsh Huntress elements for continuing to defy him. And in one strange moment after surviving the Ceremony, a drunken Russou Howell ordered Horse to tell him battlefield stories of Aidan Pryde. Horse played along with the bizarre command, but spun tales from nothing, not wishing to sully or insult the memories of a friend and hero. 
|“|| Be spontaneous. Take me away from here. Take me back to the acrid scent of 'Mech coolant, the stinging fog of war, let us recall the days when our throats were raw with the shouts of battle.
--Russou Howell to Horse Jade Falcon
As it became more apparent to Howell and many others else around him that he was losing his grip on his command, he chose to use Horse in a different manner. In a warrior Council held in Lootera, Galaxy Commander Howell put Horse literally on the center stage, to provoke his warriors into challenging his presence. He used the occasion to give Horse the temporary rank of MechWarrior, and allowed a challenge from the chagrined Logan Wirth, who sought to destroy the freeborn warrior. This was not to be. Horse would win an unaugmented fight on the parade grounds of Lootera, managing to carry the unconscious warrior up to near the top of the great pyramidal structure that was the Jaguar genetic repository, only to hurl him from the side, killing Wirth (and injuring others) by the time his lifeless body rolled to a stop at the base of the massive edifice. Howell had planned well: If Wirth had won, then it was a reinforcing win for their beliefs regarding freeborns as warriors. He did not win, Horse had won. Howell used this as "proof" of their slovenly and rusted fighting abilities, underscoring his point by walking Horse down the pyramid at Mt. Szabo and honoring his victory. Howell would nullify it later by pointing out that Horse had left the Circle of Equals by his own will before the duel had officially ended. Horse's suffering would not last much longer. After several more nights, punctuated by random visits from Star Commander Sentania Buhallin from the nearby Falcon Eyrie base, the two infiltrated the Smoke Jaguar's genetic repository at Mt. Szabo, unknown to Howell, and killed the Chief Geneticist, called the Keeper of the Jaguar Kin during an altercation after having discovered that the Jaguar scientists somehow had a copy of the genetic legacy of Aidan Pryde. Evidence found at the scene (and planted by Buhallin to cover their trail) suggested only that it was done by Jade Falcons, leaving Howell furious about the crime, which was committed under his watch.
Soon after, an opportunity presented itself during a Jaguar inspection of the mining town of Bagera. Buhallin challenged Howell to a Trial of Possession for Horse's legacy. For a freeborn, this simply meant his codex, but in this case it was also for the living warrior. She would go on to win the contest, skillfully outmaneuvering Howell's Warhammer - as well as Horse - whom Howell had bid into the sudden Trial. Upon returning to Lootera after the loss of Horse, Howell seemed to wake from some of his delusions, instituting tough new standards for warrior training across all of his forces and arranging a small assault on Falcon Eyrie, as much for the death of the Keeper as in retaliation for Horse's returning to his former Clan. As for himself, he noticed that strangely he felt better than he had since that fateful day on Maldonado.
Task Force Serpent
Despite his efforts, the troops under his command would prove no match for the elite Inner Sphere forces of Task Force Serpent. Convinced his Clan would never let the defilement of its capital to go unchallenged, Howell led his surviving forces in an unClanlike guerrilla campaign until the arrival of Hang Mehta and the remaining Inner Sphere based Smoke Jaguar forces, only to fall to Task Force Serpent's own reinforcements led by Victor Steiner-Davion. While his Clan died, Russou Howell disappeared in 3060 into the jungles of Huntress, seemingly never to be seen again. 
His real identity then a mystery, Howell first reappeared under the name of "The Jaguar" in 3063 when he led a Dark Caste raid against a Clan Diamond Shark enclave on Vinton. Killing at least a Binary of Shark warriors, leaving just one alive to convey the threat of his group and its vicious tactic of executing downed pilots, the Jaguar's band made off with two pristine Warhawks and several tons of parts and supplies. 
In the years since rumors and reports spread of the Jaguar's exploits, most false with few reliable reports save for a short-lived Clan Watch operation which succeeded in infiltrating his band. While his true identity was still unknown, Howell remained a capable tactician but had become a vicious and vindictive, spending nearly half his waking hours drunk, ranting about traitorous companions and the death of the Clans.
A ruthless commander when he was part of Clan Smoke Jaguar, Howell devolved into a sadistic brute (fueled by his degenerative alcoholism) who lead through violence and force. The Jaguar’s bandit group was centered on a core of ex-Jaguar warriors and technicians and grew to nearly two Clusters in size before their demise. Their main asset was the Streaking Mist, a Black Lion-class WarShip that, despite its disrepair, provided transportation and quarters for most of the bandit group. The Jaguar’s band also had the use of two Tramp JumpShips, stolen from a forgotten Clan Widowmaker merchant caste cache. Planetary transit was carried out between five DropShips and several small craft. Two Visigoth fighters provided the group’s only armed escorts; both were lost during the Cloud Cobra’s assault on Tanis in 3073. Most of the Jaguar’s ground force centered on the Jaguar’s command Star of OmniMechs and two additional Stars of BattleMechs. The rest of the force consisted of Star League-era vehicles gathered from raids on Brian Caches over the years and three Elemental Points. The group’s equipment was in a constant state of disrepair, cobbled together with scrounged and damaged parts. In 3072, the Society gave the Jaguar two Septs worth of new Osteon and Septicemia OmniMechs in exchange for a large slave labor pool that the Jaguar delivered to Stacha. 
By 3079 the Jaguar and his bandit group had been cornered by Clan Star Adder on Ghent, spending several weeks pining him down before finally killing him in an underground firefight, Star Colonel Frey Star Adder dragging his body back to the surface as proof. Out of curiosity, Khan Hannibal Banacek had the Jaguar's DNA tested discovering him to be the still missing Howell.
- Era Report: 3062, p. 96 - "Russou Howell Profile"
- Twilight of the Clans, p. 16 "Personalities - Galaxy Commander Russou Howell"
- Freebirth, chapter 6
- Freebirth, chapter 3 through 11
- Freebirth, chapter 12 through 16
- Freebirth, chapters 15 through 18
- Freebirth, chapter 20
- Freebirth, chapters 22 through 30
- Freebirth, chapters 31 through 37, epilogue
- The Wars of Reaving", p. 192 "Other Personalities of Note - "The Jaguar" (Russou Howell)"
- The Wars of Reaving Supplemental, p. 3-4