The last decade has seen changes to the Inner Sphere on a scale not observed since the 2770s. No major interstellar state came to an end between the final collapse of the Rim Worlds Republic in 2775 and the partition of the Capellan Confederation in 3025. The widespread use of weapons of mass destruction had been unknown since the end of the Second Succession War.
It gives new meaning to the ancient curse: May you live in interesting times.
Hindsight, ever more reliable than foresight, suggests that factions within ComStar may have been the source of the well-equipped pirate forces that erupted across the Periphery in early 3020. The readiness of governments to usurp control of the HPG network in 3027 certainly gives credence to Primus Emilio Rachan's organisation being considered with great hostility before their departure from the Inner Sphere that year.
The first signs of this potentially cataclysmic shift were the many tragic deaths among the leaders of the major Periphery states. While the death of King Hendrik Grimm III may have been coincidence, it is beyond any reasonable doubt that the near eradication of House Avellar, House Calderon, House Centrella and House O'Reilly in this period – not to mention the actual end of House Logan - was the result of a determined campaign of assassinations. No less than nine heads of state (including two Protectors of the Taurian Concordat and two Presidents of the Outworlds Alliance) would die by the end of the year and the realms of the Periphery were left with inexperienced leaders.
The situation was ripe for exploitation and Chancellor Maximilian Liao was in need of a short, victorious war. It was fortunate for the Magistracy of Canopus that Savitri Centrella was a relatively close relation to the late Kyalla Centrella and somewhat prepared for the burden. However, it was their good fortune that initial reports of the nuclear device detonated above Samantha in the Taurian Concordat was initially traced to the Confederation.
The sudden assault ordered upon the Confederation by Protector Jack Calderon took the pressure off the Canopians and also demonstrated to the Capellans other neighbours that they were over-extended. By the end of the year, several worlds had fallen and the CCAF had lost two of their famed Warrior Houses and the Death Commando battalion covering the fallback of their other forces from the Magistracy. Only the death of Janos Marik and Romano Liao to the same nuclear attack brought a measure of time for the Capellan state.
The next shockwave followed at the peace conference on Terra where a concerted effect against pirate strongholds was agreed on by the Inner Sphere and even by the reluctantly attending periphery rulers. Unknown to most of the attendees, Archon Katrina Steiner took the opportunity to open negotiations with First Prince Hanse Davion that would ultimately become the Federated Commonwealth, an alliance that broadened almost immediately to include the Taurian Concordat. While the full details of that astounding agreement remain unclear even now, the establishment of the Taurian March of the Federated Suns, quickly explained at least part of the Protector's reasoning.
For the next three years the Inner Sphere was simmering with tensions as the various pirate realms were either destroyed or frantically reforming to avoid invasion. Against this backdrop was the slow disintegration of faith by the Capellan people in House Liao, the efforts to arrange an anti-Federated Commonwealth pact and the ComStar civil war between the Blakist and Toyama factions. There was little doubt that another crisis could not be far away.
In 3024, faced with increasing pressure over his reforms in the Free Worlds League, Captain-General Duggan Marik ordered an invasion of the Marian Hegemony under the leadership of his brother Thomas. What the Marik brothers apparently failed to recognise was that the Marians had been benefiting from excellent relations with the Lyrans and the Canopians. While the Lyrans were happy to finance the loan of twenty mercenary regiments in order to deniably weaken the Free Worlds League, Savitri Centrella had been scheming with Duchess Catherine Humphreys to liberate Andurien from Duggan Marik.
The death of Thomas Marik in single combat against Caesar Marcus O'Reilly marked the end of the invasion of the Marian Hegemony, but was simultaneous with more than a score of provinces rising against Duggan Marik. By his sudden and surprising death late in 3024, Marian and Canopian forces were striking deeply into the Free Worlds League and the new Captain-General was forced to make considerable concessions.
The next logical step would seem to have been the formalisation of the alliance, bringing the Marians and the Canopians into the Federated Commonwealth, a move that would have left the Free Worlds League and Capellan Confederation surrounded. However although grateful neither nation seemed inclined to fall in line and events swiftly overtook them.
The Capellan Crisis unquestionably came within a hair of destabilising the entire Inner Sphere. The sudden defection of the Tikonov Commonality and several other worlds to anyone they could find who was not Elizabeth Jordan Liao prompted brutal use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons against the traitors, against the Federated Commonwealth and Andurien as they moved to accept the defectors... and then on their Draconian and Free Worlds League allies when they failed to provide aid. Added to this was a wave of assassins that killed off targets as diverse as Coordinator Takashi Kurita and Ivan Steiner, fiancé to Rachel Calderon-Davion (what was expected to turn out as the other Steiner-Davion marital match).
Ultimately, of course, the weakened Capellan Confederation was not able to hold off their enraged enemies and by late 3025 the armed forces of virtually every nation known to have men and women under arms had ships and soldiers in the Sian system, united beyond the wildest dreams of Ian Cameron. After repeated demands for surrender were ignored and the spearhead forces landing were targeted for nuclear bombardment, Commanding General Jaime Wolf (a mercenary, entrusted with the lead on the basis of presumed neutrality) ordered the bombardment of several submarine faults from orbit as well as the destruction of critical industries with nuclear weapons.
Life, it is believed, still exists on Sian. Like a number of other worlds exposed – or believed to be exposed – to biological agents, the planet remains under permanent quarantine.
Interesting Times: A History of the 3020s
By Professor Jaime Marnoch,
University of Samantha, 3031
A Stitch In Time
Disclaimer: Battletech was created by FASA and the license is now held by Catalyst. This work of fanfiction is not to be reproduced for profit.
Firstly, gratitude is due to FASA for developing the Battletech universe and then to Catalyst for providing the Reunification War sourcebook.
Then to the Shattered Dawn group for their fanwork, TRO 2800 and the ship designs within. Some of them appear here.
Finally, to the players and GM's for Katar's Periphery Lords RPG on spacebattles, particularly those who reviewed as I wrote. You all know who you are. Thank you.