Trial of Annihilation


A Trial of Annihilation is one of the Six Trials of Combat, and the most extreme punishment the Clans can declare. Developed by Nicholas Kerensky to remove anything which is no longer useful to the Clan,[1] it goes beyond the question of right and wrong while dealing with matters that are an existential threat to Clan society itself. A Trial of Annihilation virtually guarantees that the warrior will die and that his genes will be eliminated from the Clans' gene pool. This trial can only be invoked by a unanimous vote of the appropriate council, and only for the most heinous crimes against Clan society. The Trial can be called against any caste member. When a member of a lower caste loses a Trial, the punishment is sterilization.[2] If a warrior successfully defeats all the forces sent against them they are liberated from the Annihilation. One example of this is Star Captain Karianna Schmitt, who was accused of slaughtering civilians for her own personal glory. By contrast, a Star of Clan Mongoose warriors were destroyed in a Trial of Annihilation after being accused of poisoning drinking water used by their Clan Snow Raven opponents. In addition to the Mongoose warriors involved in the poisoning, three hundred cadets and twelve other warriors who shared their Bloodline were also killed.[3]

Trials of Annihilation have been declared against warriors, Stars, and even Clusters, but only twice has an entire Clan suffered this ultimate punishment.

  • Early in its history, Clan Wolverine was Annihilated. The supposed reason was for seceding from the Clans while espousing democracy, other heterodox and un-Clanlike values, and using nuclear weapons against their foes. This Clan is known only as the 'Not-Named Clan' since saying its name out loud is punishable by a Trial of Grievance. Rumors abound of other, ulterior motives for eliminating the Wolverines, but since most records were destroyed or highly edited as part of the Annihilation, it's unlikely that the truth will ever be known. In addition to the Clan itself, all its Bloodname Houses and Heritages were destroyed, including sibkos of other Clans with Wolverine DNA. Nonmilitary Wolverine assets were distributed to other Clans, including its civilians, who were forcibly sterilized. Large numbers of Wolverine civilians and second-line troops — and Khan Sarah McEvedy — were never accounted for. Officially, this was considered bad bookkeeping, but it's widely believed that survivors managed to effect a third Exodus.
  • Clan Steel Viper was Annihilated at the end of the Wars of Reaving. Steel Viper Khan and ilKhan Brett Andrews had started the Wars as a purge of those Clans and warriors who had been "tainted" by their occupation of the Inner Sphere. This kicked off a bloody war of mutual annihilation that devastated Clan Space and cut it off from the Inner Sphere Clans altogether. With the war largely over, the Star Adders suddenly turned on their erstwhile allies and Khan Stanislov N'Buta proposed Reavings against the Steel Vipers themselves, pointing out that they too had fought in the Inner Sphere and were therefore Tainted. The motion passed and Andrews demanded a Trial of Refusal; N'Buta offered to fight unaugmented, whereupon the ilKhan shot him with a concealed laser pistol. This breach of Grand Council protocol resulted in a vote for the Steel Vipers' Annihilation from their other erstwhile allies, the Cloud Cobras. Andrews, stripped of his position as ilKhan and denied a Trial of Refusal, was beaten to death by Star Adder saKhan Hannibal Banacek. The Vipers were successfully Annihilated by a joint task force composed of all other surviving Home Clans. The Viper capital of New Kent City was destroyed utterly, including warriors, civilians, and buildings. The fate of other Viper assets is unknown, but the Steel Viper genetic legacies were retained and are active among several Home Clans, and a few WarShips from the Viper fleet survived (with new names) in other Clans' possessions.

After the Wars Of Reaving/Society conflict, many of the Home Clans conducted Annihilations against their scientist castes to ensure they eliminated all Society members in deep cover within their pool of scientists.

Many other Clans have been destroyed over the years. Whether these are considered "true" Annihilations varies.

  • Clan Smoke Jaguar was eliminated by the Star League Defense Force in 3060. Their destruction was swiftly followed by the Great Refusal on Strana Mechty, which both validated the Annihilation in the eyes of the Clans, and ended the Clan Wars with the Inner Sphere binding the Clans against invasion by honor. While popularly called an Annihilation, even by the Clans, Smoke Jaguar assets, surviving warriors, and genetic legacies were not destroyed.[citation needed]
  • Several other Clans were destroyed in bloody Trials of Absorption.
    • While in some cases with little or nothing of the original Clan survived the Absorption, it is not technically considered an Annihilation. Clan Widowmaker was Absorbed by the Wolves after the dishonorable killing of the Founder, ilKhan Nicholas Kerensky. Most of Clan Widowmaker was destroyed; however, a few genetic legacies remained in the possession of Clan Wolf.
    • Clan Mongoose was also nearly destroyed as part of its Absorption by the Smoke Jaguars, but some abtkha warriors survived and a few genetic legacies were traded to the Cloud Cobras.
    • Clan Burrock was Absorbed by the Star Adders after widespread Dark Caste collusion was discovered; revulsion by the Burrocks at the scandal combined with mutual anger at unwanted Blood Spirit interference in the Absorption caused many Burrocks to put up token resistance before being taken as abtkha. However, a later attempt to revolt and re-form Clan Burrock during the Wars of Reaving led to widespread purges and killings of former Burrock warriors who did not show fealty to the Star Adders. Individual warriors were Annihilated as part of this process.
    • During the Wars of Reaving, two Clans were sufficiently devastated as to no longer be viable. The Ice Hellion and Fire Mandrill assets and survivors were Absorbed by other Clans; this was later ratified after the fact by the Grand Council.
    • After the Wars of Reaving, the Blood Spirits were subjected to a campaign of harassment and repeated Trials of Possession from other Clans. When armed civilians resisted integration into their new Clans, this was considered grounds for the Absorption of their former Clan, conducted by the Star Adders. The Absorption was conducted as an Annihilation, with virtually no survivors, deactivation of Blood Spirit Bloodnames, and the destruction by orbital bombardment of their main genetic repository.


  1. Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 13
  2. Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 14
  3. Era Digest: Golden Century, p. 14