Excerpt from The Blackout: Comstar's Greatest Failiure by Arivali Virani

Published by: Charybdis Publishing of New Olympia

Shortly after the Fourth Secession war, a galaxy wide blackout of ComStar HPG stations severed diplomatic links across the Inner Sphere; it's causes unknown to this day. The effects would be swiftly felt across the entirety of human space. The blackout swiftly spread to engulf every faction large and small in the Inner Sphere that relied on the HPG net. As the flow of information sputtered out, rumours and misinformation fomented mistrust and sowed the seeds of conflict. War would soon follow.

A minor periphery war would be the conflagration, that touched off the conflict. The coup d'etat and subsequent manoeuvrers occurring in the spin-ward periphery realm known as the Aurigan Reach would have far reaching consequences. The little realm of 23 planets hadn't merited much attention before, a hereditary ruling house and limited military assets; marking it as just another under-developed periphery kingdom with minimal geopolitical importance.

At first this fighting was limited to local Aurigan space, but it soon spilled out into the wider Inner Sphere following the destruction of the Newgrange, by an unknown mercenary unit. The Newgrange was alleged to have been smuggling weapons on behalf of the Taurian Concordant. Despite their denial of these claims, the Concordant soon authorised a sustainable deployment of naval dropships and irregular military assets to ''maintain their interests in the Reach''. Other factions such as the Magistracy of Canopus began increasing their previously covert support, some even offering ''tactical support'' to their allies. This soon escalated into the deployment of regular and irregular units; and before long no faction was left uninvolved.

The ensuring war drew the attention of the great houses who sought to either maintain their interests or capitalise on the perceived weaknesses of their embattled rivals.

The confusion provided the cover that the Clan forward units needed to invade. There had been a Clan military presence in the Periphery since the rumoured Zodiacal Light disappearance of 3031. The Zodiacal Light was an explorer corps vessel, that disappeared in the early 3031; its heading and destination unknown. Whether or not the events are linked – the limited Clan archives I was able to acquire, did not clarify – matters is unknown. Up until the Blackout, Clan intelligence had been content to lurk in the periphery; occasionally arranging for a solahma trinary to raid a frontier world or to pick off the occasional pirate or merchant ship who crossed their paths. Upon receiving word of the confusion, the officer in charge notified the Great Council. It should be noted, that the immediate Clan attacks were as a result of power plays between the Wolves and the Jaguars. These attacks were technically unsanctioned and the Great Councils' retroactive approval of military action was a political move meant to unify the squabbling factions. Nonetheless the initial Solahma units were able to secure a number of worlds, before they lost momentum. By this point, the first wave of reinforcements were manoeuvring into position to strike.

With their attentions focused toward the spin-ward periphery and their communications restricted to either vulnerable jump ships or sketchy radio signals that crawled across space. It would be months before anyone realised what had happened and been able to verify the reports. The Clans swarmed in from the interstellar darkness, butchering their way across the vulnerable periphery nations and pirate outposts. The full tally of captured planets would not be ascertained for almost 2 years, but it soon became known that the rim-ward periphery had been all but wiped out. These mysterious invaders would in time become known as the Clans. From their staging areas in the Hanseatic League and Draconis Combine; these invaders cut a bloody path through anything in their way.

HPG service briefly resumed; when on the 24th of April 3040, a fragmentary transmission was received from a previously unknown HPG station. This transmission bore the encryption ciphers of both Comstar and the long lost SLDF. Enclosed in this transmission, was the news that an unknown attacker had seized control of a fortress. This attacker was allegedly responsible for the blackout and had been using the HPG stations to distort subspace for purposes unknown. The transmission was devoid of information identifying the senders or the nature of this Fortress. Enclosed below is a copy of the transmission:

''The fortress is falling. Our positions are compromised and we are being torn apart here. In Blake's name, we need reinforcements; please send relief. The asset has broken free and is responsible for the network disruption. Please we need help, the hostiles are on the verge of over running our last fallback positions.''

Shortly after this transmission had been received, communications shut off again. Comstar would noticeably not confirm nor deny knowledge of this fortress. However, numerous comguard units would be observed to ''vanish'' in transit or be redeployed elsewhere at short notice. Many observers have long suspected that the comguard units were routed to this unknown fortress. A number of Comstar aligned, mercenary units would also disappear. These units would later be observed significantly reduced in size, but in possession of numerous star league era mechs and once an alleged superheavy mech whose existence is still unconfirmed. Many observers- this author included- believe that the force reductions and priceless salvage point to a major deployment on or at this fortress. Needless to say Comstar's press office refused to comment, when approached for comment; shortly before this book was published.