The Terran Hegemony

House Kerensky

Man has reached for the stars and populated thousands of worlds. These sprawling occupied zones became known as the Inner Sphere and were once bound together in a glorious, prosperous Star League. But before that monumental first step, the first 500 years of space colonization had been man's greatest journey and greatest legacy. As with all growth, there were days of turbulent events and, at times, the future of mankind looked bleak. Perhaps even bleaker than it does in this day of Succession Wars. Yet despite adversity, technology would take humankind to the stars and change more than our modes of exploration.

Enter humanity's first failed interstellar experiment, the Terran Alliance.

Then read of the Terran Hegemony, originally founded by Admiral James McKenna, the Canadian-born leader of the Terran Alliance Global Militia, out of the ruins of the corrupt Terran Alliance. Although the Terran Hegemony spent most of its history under the rule of the Cameron dynasty. Throughout its existence, the Hegemony relied heavily on their technological advantages over their less advanced neighbors to maintain their borders, despite their relative small size and lack of strategic resources. It was the vaunted scientific minds of the Terran Hegemony who pioneered the mighty BattleMech. It was also in the mid-2500's, that the Terran Hegemony, under the leadership of the visionary Ian Cameron, became the nucleus for the star-spanning government known as the Star League. This new League stood proud with the Hegemony at its center and its ruling House Cameron as the hereditary First Lords.

The proud history of the first Terran Hegemony fell into blood and ruin after the monster Stefan Amaris, the Usurper of the cursed Rim Worlds Republic, toppled it. In the following war staged by Alexandr Kerensky to reclaim the Hegemony worlds, the nation was scoured by war, leaving it a shadow of its former self. With the death of Kerensky on Terra all seemed lost, but Kerensky blood breeds true and from the ashes his son, Nicholas, stepped foreword to take command. Aided by the remnants of the once mighty Star League Defense Force Nicholas proclaimed himself and his line the rulers of a new nation, a new Hegemony that would rise from the ashes and to stretch forth its hand and take its place among the stars.

In the Beginning:

The end of what historians refer to as the Cold War on Terra in 2011 paved the way for the first true unification of mankind as a species. From the bloody civil wars that had toppled the old orders the Western Alliance emerged and began its first tentative steps as a truly global government. By 2060, more than 120 nations, representing some 80 percent of the planet's population, had joined the Western Alliance. In recognition of its global status, the Alliance changed its name to the Terran Alliance. At about the same time, it cast off most of its previously benevolent attitude.

At this point in history the Alliance was changing. The formulas for admitting and governing nations had evolved into a mass of incredibly complex equations. Those formulas left poorer member-states feeling slighted, overburdened, and victimized because they were paying too much for too little in return. Strikes and violence became common as the people of the poorer nations struggled with the rich nations for social and economic equality. Despite this chronic situation, Terra's first true Golden Age of technological advancement was unfolding. In light of this, most Terran Media was more concerned with stories of amazing new scientific discoveries than with news of ruinous wars and deadly protests.

The first commercially viable fusion reactors had been developed in 2023, but by 2065 the mass production of fusion reactors one-tenth the size of previous reactors made possible many important technical advancements. Operating costs had also been drastically cut, making atomic power very inexpensive. Scientists later discovered techniques for cleaning Terra's fouled environment and with these techniques the possibility of transforming Mars and Venus seemed within reach. For the first time in human history it was feasible for mankind to leave the cradle behind and truly touch the stars. The massive colonization program in the Sol System helped to ease tensions to a degree within the Terran Alliance by granting breathing room to groups on Terra as well as providing a new direction for human energy.

All of these scientific discoveries paled in comparison to the rediscovery of Kearny-Fuchida Pan-Dimensional Gravitational Mathematics in 2102. This breakthrough in Einsteinian physics seemed to suggest that if a hyperspatial field could be created around an object possessing mass, that object could travel instantaneously to a pre-selected point light years away. Through an intensive research effort known as the Deimos Project, Alliance scientists developed the first faster-than-light space ship powered by the newly dubbed Kearny-Fuchida Stardrive after the two 21st-century mathematicians. On 5 December 2108, the TAS Pathfinder successfully made the round-trip voyage between Terra and the Tau Ceti system. After this triumph, Alliance shipyards retooled for mass-production of colony and exploration ships. Although there was considerable wrangling and even violence among member-nations over how to pay for these new JumpShips and who should be able to use them.

Nevertheless, the Kearny-Fuchida drive freed the long-buried urge to explore among the people of Terra. Now it was possible to leave not just the homeworld, but also the entire Sol system for unseen worlds and uncharted lands. Thousands, then millions, leapt at the chance. The first interstellar colony was established in 2116 on Tau Ceti IV, also known as New Earth. In 2172, the first reports of the Grand Survey, a massive Alliance funded expedition of exploration and planetary survey as well as a census report of human controlled space, reported that there were more than 100 human-colonized worlds spread across a sphere 80 light years in diameter. Just 63 years later, the second Grand Survey recorded more than 600 such colonies.

Beginning of the End:

If the urge to explore new lands and see new sights called men and women to wander far from Terra, the growing political chaos within the Terran Alliance was the force pushing at their backs. The Terran Alliance was unprepared for the discovery or ramifications of the Kearny-Fuchida drive and was equally unprepared to govern people light years away from the mother planet. In part, the unification of Terra had been made possible by advances in communication that made instantaneous contact with any part of the globe easy and reliable. Interstellar communications could only move as fast as the JumpShips which carried that information, and with their 30 light year limit and long recharge times this speed could be quite slow. At first, there were no large problems. The early colonists were usually small groups so totally dependent on Terra for technical support that they willingly complied with any Alliance government demands.

But, as the colonies began to swell in size, it was inevitable that many became self-sufficient. This led to tensions between these colonies and the Alliance government over issues of authority. The power and independence of the colonies versus allegiance to the power of the motherworld. The Alliance was victorious in the first skirmishes, mainly because Terra still controlled the largest known water supply in the galaxy. That situation changed in 2177 with the formation of the Ryan Cartel. This company and its fleet of iceberg-toting JumpShips provided reliable source of water to frontier worlds. Now able to support many more people, and independent of water shipments from Sol, many quickly became independent of Terra politically as well.

In the Alliance capital of Geneva, the struggle eventually polarized an already weak governing body into two main political parties, the Expansionists and the Liberals, each claiming moral superiority for their position and each looking for an opportunity to prove their superiority. Opportunity knocked in 2236 when a coalition of colonies at the far edge of human space declared their independence from the Alliance. The Expansionists wanted to severely punish the coalition, but unfortunately the Alliance Global Militia was less an army than a heavily armed police force. Only the Colonial Marines, a small branch of the Militia, were equipped with the resources for a journey to the rebellious worlds. Undaunted, the Expansionists dispatched the Marines from Terra to punish the colonial rebels and to reestablish the Alliance's dominance. In a very real sense, the Expansionist government was staking all its credibility and future political ambitions on the venture.

Denebola, a distant colony that had been the first to declare its independence, was the first target on a long list of worlds that the Marines were to force back into the fold. The attempt failed. Eighteen months later the Colonial Marines returned to Terra in disgrace. Where they had expected to find only a few disgruntled rebels; large, highly motivated armies had met them instead. Though not well equipped, the rebel forces outnumbered the Marines who often arrived at the rebel worlds without proper maps or other reconnaissance. Losses were high on both sides, but the Marines lacked the means to transport reinforcements or adequate supplies from Terra. The Liberals immediately exploited this catastrophic Expansionist failure by condemning their opponents' foreign policy and challenging their right to rule. The Liberals quickly gained the support of other dissident groups and formed a coalition to take power. Support for this new coalition was polarized when a secret Expansionist memo that revealed the government's intention to restrict emigration was made public.

Unsurprisingly, the Liberals swept the elections of 2237. Though the Expansionist Prime Minister was not obligated to step down, the opposition was so overwhelming that she had little choice but to resign. For the first time in decades, the Liberals were in power. They wasted little time in changing the direction of Alliance governmental policies. First, they granted independence to all worlds beyond a small sphere of space radiating out from Terra. The problem was that the party leaders did not stop to inquire whether many of these colonies actually wanted independence. Some Liberals felt a sense of righteousness almost akin to the abolition of slavery in earlier centuries, while others believed that the colonies should be responsible for their own well being. By 2242, the borders of the Alliance had shrunk to a sphere with a radius of only 30 light-years, i.e. a distance within one jump of Terra.

Unfortunately, this shift in policy did little to cement the power or stability of the Alliance. It was not long before the Liberals' isolationism put them once more out of public favor. Despite efforts by major Alliance conglomerates to assist the abandoned colonies, the people of the frontier suffered so severely that their compatriots on Terra grew sympathetic to their plight. Demonstrations against the Alliance government became common, as citizens of the homeworld grew increasingly angry at the government's obsession with transforming Terra, Mars, and Venus into virtual space-Edens while distant colonies starved. When reports that one colony had starved to death because of a lack of food supplies surfaced, serious rioting erupted. Seeing the growing discontent, the Expansionists fanned the flames and soon regained enough public support to rise to power in the general elections of 2242.

This pattern of revolving governments continued for the next six decades, with the public growing ever more apathetic with each election. Election tampering was so rampant that even those who voted believed that their votes counted for little. Indeed, the people's votes were bought and sold in the back rooms of the Alliance Parliament. The situation was so unstable that a huge flood of emigration from Terra and other crowded Alliance planets began during the latter half of the 23rd century. Known as the Exodus, millions of disgruntled citizens seized the opportunity to leave all the chaos and misery of Terra behind. Sadly, little more than a different misery awaited them in the colonies. Efforts to transport these colonists while trying to supply the colonies with adequate food and water created massive economic strain. Scientific research suffered from harsh conditions, sagging economics and political infighting. Even universities and other research institutions were split into the Liberal and Expansionist camps.

It was not long before the toll of political warfare between the Liberals and Expansionists became apparent in Alliance society as a whole. The economy slowed. Social welfare programs broke down. Even obtaining a driver's license became a nightmare of twisted laws and regulations. The Terran Alliance seemed on the verge of a true civil war, or of a revolution.

Death of a Nation:

The Alliance Global Militia, after its humiliation by the rebelling colonies, decided to stay out of the political turmoil. Rather, it wanted enough financing and time to gradually upgrade its force while remaining aloof from the political maelstrom. Rather than risk the AGM's anger, the Liberals and Expansionists cooperated. Thus the AGM grow steadily stronger over the next decades, transforming itself into a true military. During these years of Liberal-Expansionist political instability the AGM built the first true interstellar navy and developed strategies and tactics for interstellar and interplanetary war that would become the basis of modern warfare. The renewed organization and quiet confidence of the AGM appealed to the public, who saw Militia service as a refuge from the chaos of the time.

The first major changes occurred when James McKenna attained the rank of Admiral and took command of the Alliance navy in 2295. With few superiors, he was able to undertake the construction of a true space navy of warships and carriers. Until then, the Alliance Navy had been occupied mostly with transporting troops to and from worlds; few in the Alliance foresaw either a need to build warships or a future that would encompass more than one interstellar power. Admiral McKenna was one of those few. The first true combat warship, the TAS Dreadnought, was launched in 2300. Over the next 14 years Fleet Admiral McKenna launched six similar vessels, as well as 20 lesser warships, from the shipyards orbiting Terra, Mars, and Venus. Though many assumed that these ships were costly playthings for the charismatic Admiral, fate would call them into action sooner than even McKenna himself expected.

In 2310 a new political party was established in the Alliance called the People's Independence Party. It claimed to be the voice of the forgotten and disillusioned as well as voice of sanity and change. With unprecedented swiftness the party attracted an enormous following among the previously apathetic population. By staging elaborate rallies, the PIP drummed up both considerable attention and monetary support, which suited its founder admirably. The party's strong showing in the elections of 2310 made the PIP a major force and possibly the deciding factor in the upcoming Alliance-wide Parliamentary elections of 2314. It was not long before both parties were offering its leader, Grant Zoli, both power and money for support. Hoping to drive the offers even higher, Zoli and his cronies remained noncommittal. On September 5, 2314, just a month before the elections, police found Grant Zoli dead in his New Zealand mansion.

News of his death created an immediate uproar. The Liberal and the Expansionist parties blamed one another for the crime, while the slain leader's more zealous supporters initiated an assassination war against both parties. The Parliament invoked martial law on Terra and sent the AGM to put down the rebellion in New Zealand, where most of the trouble was taking place. Meanwhile, the Liberals produced evidence that Grant Zoli had been murdered by order of the Expansionist Party. The charge later proved false, but the accusations increased hatreds to a fever pitch that made the next events inevitable. On September 30, guards of the leading Liberal boss left their post and drove across Zurich to the headquarters of the Expansionist Party. There, they stormed the building and killed everyone they found. The Expansionists retaliated, and soon battles between thugs of both parties were occurring all over the globe. Then both parties unleashed their secretly trained detachments of utterly loyal soldiers. What had been a war of knives and pistols escalated to a full-blown military confrontation between armies. A few units of the Alliance Global Militia were persuaded to join one side or the other, but most remained politically neutral.

Upon learning that Terra was in flames Admiral McKenna issued orders for the Navy's major warships and Marine troop carriers to rendezvous with his fleet currently orbiting Mars. No one knows whether McKenna acted spontaneously or whether he had planned his actions in advance. Some have claimed that the curious coincidences that surround the coupe, such as all major warships and troopships being on duty, the revoking of shore leaves a month before the war, and the storage of extra ammo are proof of a grand plan devised by the Admiral. Though McKenna had never made a secret of his dissatisfaction with the government, certain facts, such as the collision between the warships Wildcat and Yalu because of poor navigation seem to refute the claim of premeditation. The universe will probably never know.

On June 2 a spectacular series of explosions pulverized and vaporized Strand Rock, a tiny island in the North Sea near Scotland. At the same time, another island, this one near Australia, was also being destroyed. These events, the first time ever naval forces had bombarded a planet from orbit, sent a shock around the globe and put a temporary stop to the fighting. Then came the message from Admiral James McKenna ordering all forces engaged in action to leave the field immediately or risk the wrath of the Alliance Global Militia, particularly the orbital guns of the navy. Most obeyed instantly, but the leaders of the two parties refused to surrender. True to his word, Fleet Admiral James McKenna unleashed the firepower of his ships on exposed targets. Against those who hid from bombardment in cities, McKenna dispatched the Colonial Marines to root them out, alive if possible, dead if not.

Although its corpse was still twitching, the Alliance was now dead.

The Hegemony Born:

As the dust cleared and the sudden and utter fall of the Alliance became apparent, Admiral McKenna, still aboard his warship, issued what came to be known as the Hegemony Charter. The document outlined what McKenna called a "fair but responsive government free of all the vices and faults of the previous administration." The new Terran Hegemony, as it would be called, would dissolve the Alliance bureaucracy and empower a new class of officials called Planetary Governors. These governors would be appointed to rule in the Hegemony's name. Ultimate authority would lie with what McKenna euphemistically called "a single head of state chosen, but not ruled, by the people." It was clear that he viewed this head of state as just a few notches below the status of king.

There is considerable debate about whether or not Admiral McKenna wrote the Hegemony Charter. Most believe that he lacked the educational background. Other historians believe that beneath the Admiral's brusque attitude and military orientation there lurked a true intellect. McKenna was, they pointed out, a voracious reader and passionate fan of educational programming. Many books about the Star League claim that McKenna declared himself leader of the new Terran Hegemony, but that is not true. He was elected as the Hegemony's first Director-General and Lord Protector in February 2316. From all evidence, the election was fair, despite a ballot indicating that McKenna would rule "until his death or voluntary retirement." That the people of the former Alliance would willingly elect one man to rule over them without any legal recourse for removing him is remarkable. Perhaps the body politic was tired of the old ways. Perhaps it was enough for them to know that the future would be different.

For many that had elected and supported Director-General McKenna, the new government would prove to be a disappointment. On the surface, there was little to distinguish the new bureaucracy from the old. National and continental leaders continued to run their governments as they wished. Indeed, it seemed as if politics as usual had been preserved. On the global level, though, McKenna commissioned the creation of a Planetary Congress to replace the various parliaments and assemblies favored by the old Alliance. Enough latitude so that each world could alter the Planetary Congress as it saw fit was left, but what the people did not realize at the time was that the fine print of the Hegemony Charter contained a small provision that would authorize creation of a virtual nobility.

Director-General McKenna had blamed most of the Alliance's corruption on the ease with which politicians and governance could be overthrown. Because of this, most politicians were in constant fear for their political lives, with governments always in danger of collapsing before being able to accomplish their aims. To prevent this from reoccurring, the Charter specified that a Planetary Congressman would be elected for a two-year probationary period, after which the people could grant him a full eight-year term in office. Planetary Governors served for 18 years. Congressman could be impeached, but only if convicted by a court of law or a referendum showing that a majority of the people wished to depose him.

The upper levels of the Hegemony government were even more ridged. At the pinnacle was the Director-General, a virtual king with broad powers over the Hegemony's government and armed forced. Immediately below him was the High Council composed of nine of the most qualified Planetary Governors, each chosen by the Director-General to serve as watchdogs over the bureaucracy. High Councilors served at the discretion of the Director-General or until voluntary retirement. Immediately below the High Councilors was the President of the Hegemony Congress. Elected by the people of Terra, the President ran the Terran Congress. He or she also served as the Director-General Pro-Tem when the Director was away from the capital or otherwise unable to fulfill his duties. Various safeguards, such as requiring that all High Councilors and commanding officers of the Hegemony Armed Forces agree on major bills and budgets, were to prevent the Director-General Pro-Tem from taking advantage of his position.

Finally, the bureaucracy was decentralized, moved from New York City on Terra to new quarters on Luna built next to the huge dish antennae of the Crasos Communications System. Taxes were at first reduced, but each planet's service obligations, such as providing material, manpower, and lands for the military were increased. Certain political activities also became illegal in the new realm. Political parties in particular were banned, though the Director-General allowed groups of like-minded politicians to form what he called "Thought Groups." Electronic voting was likewise banned and replaced with the old paper-ballot method. Though infinitely slower, it helped prevent, or at least stymie, the rampant vote fraud that had plagued the last few elections of the old Alliance.

Foreign policy proved to be an even greater problem, just as it had been for the Alliance. While the development of Hyper-Pulse Generators, based on the K-F Hyperdrive, had been developed to allow for quick communication between distant planets, the situation in the former colonies had changed drastically. Collectively, these worlds had little interest in returning to Terran control after so many years of independence. After ushering in the Hegemony Congress on Terra in early 2316, Director-General McKenna nevertheless set about attempting to bring all the former Alliance worlds into the Hegemony. Though many planets joined gladly, a dozen more had to be convinced, usually through political arm-twisting. It took military persuasion before either Caph or Altair would join the Hegemony.

Using carrot-and-stick tactics, McKenna sought to enlarge his domain through intensive political propaganda backed up by an economic blitz of cheap consumer goods that he hoped would create a dependence on Terra. Though his efforts did have some early success, most worlds had grown used to Terra's indifference and were content to keep it that way. They realized, however, that to refuse the Director-General of the Hegemony was courting danger. Some attempted to band together, others joined one of the other established realms, and most started to arm themselves. They had heard James McKenna's call for a united Humanity and his promise to punish "those fragmentalists who believe that Humanity is like a sack of seeds to be scattered across the stars to live and grown independently of one another." McKenna made no bones about the fact that he did not intend to take no for an answer.

The Hegemony gave these colonies very little time to prepare. In March 2316, Director-General McKenna left Terra with a large fleet of warships bound for the wealthy independent worlds of Quentin, Errai, and Helen. These worlds had just signed a defense pact among themselves. Though the planetary leaders realized they had little chance of preventing the conquest of their worlds, they hoped to teach the Director-General a lesson. To meet the HAF Navy, the three planets converted small fleets of cargoships and interplanetary messenger ships into warships by adding lasers and missile tubes. They also beefed up their ground defenses by better equipping several divisions of trained militia and backing them up with a large force of volunteers.

During his "Campaign of Persuasion," Director-General McKenna acquired over 40 worlds. The first campaign, which began with the capture of Quentin, Errai, and Helen, ended with the seizure of Towne in 2317. The second major campaign, launched in 2320, took Terra Firma and Capella, and eventually led to the capture of distant Nanking. Despite the success of the offensives though, certain problems and shortcomings were becoming apparent in the military of the Hegemony, most of them related to the poor performance of Hegemony equipment. The HAF did not have a true aerospace fighter, for example. Those fighters that were effective in space were terrible in an atmosphere, and the Hegemony's best atmospheric fighters were pitiful in the vacuum of space. This often made it almost impossible to provide complete protection for DropShip landings, which enemy fighter pilots used to deadly advantage. Compounded with other major equipment problems, HAF actions often were hampered by delays and postponements

The poor performance of HAF technology forced Director-General McKenna to reconsider his priorities. He saw that his dream of uniting all mankind under one flag would require a force vastly larger and more powerful than the HAF. Yet James McKenna still devoutly believed that Terra should become the center of all Humanity. Meanwhile, worlds outside the Hegemony had found it necessary or profitable to band together in order to defense themselves from the Hegemony. The Marik Commonwealth, the Federation of Oriente, the Dominion of Regulus, the Federation of Skye, the Protectorate of Donegal, the Tamar Pact, the Crucis Pact, the Ozawa Mercantile Association, and the Capellan Hegemony were just a few of the alliances created at this time. Many had banded together for economic reasons, others hoped to protect one another from bands of marauding brigands. A few of the associations consisted of worlds conquered by a particular family bent on acquiring wealth and power. The seeds of the Successor States to come.

By the 2330s, these associations had become large and vigorous independent domains, each with its own private military. Having already encountered a few of these militaries, McKenna knew he could not conquer them all. Privately, he doubted he could conquer even one without straining the Hegemony's resources. As such, diplomacy suddenly became McKenna's most potent weapons. He began to tone down the rhetoric of his speeches. No longer did he speak of one realm uniting all Humanity, but instead described the Hegemony as the repository of all mankind's knowledge and compassion. Within the Hegemony government, McKenna also began to completely revamp the government's Foreign Affairs Department. In this era, many important diplomatic delegations traveled from the Hegemony to the worlds beyond its borders to exchange ambassadors and establish full diplomatic relations.

But the military solution had not yet run its course. There were still several independent words, part of no larger political entity, that were still considered fair game. In 2335 the third and last major offensive to seize certain worlds considered vital to the Hegemony's continued growth was launched. Most of these planets lay toward the Federation of Skye in what would one day become the Lyran Commonwealth. Two worlds, Syrma and Galatea, became the focus of McKenna's plans. Though both planets were technically within the boundaries claimed by the Federation of Skye, they were populated by an anti-technology religious sect that had no wish to join any interplanetary realm. The Federation had tolerated the inhabitants' wishes, but these resource and water-rich planets were too much of a temptation.

The Terran Hegemony was initially successful in this campaign. Drawing on lessons from its two earlier offensives, the better-trained and equipped HAF easily took Denebola, Milton, Alioth, Mizar, and Lyons. Morale was high in the various strike forces. Although technically in command, the Director-General then turned over most of his authority to his son, Admiral Konrad McKenna, citing ill health for the decision. Although he possessed much of his father's charisma and intelligence, Konrad was an ineffective commander. Since 2333, Konrad McKenna had commanded the HAF's Navy, over 300 warships strong, with skill and panache, but he had yet to command in a heavy combat zone. As such, the Galatea and Syrma campaigns were both unmitigated disasters. Although Galatea was captured, losses were high and the campaign lasted much longer than anticipated. When a disastrous ambush occurred at Syrma's Nadir Jump Point, largely due to a severe break with accepted military procedures, Konrad attempted to shift blame to his subordinates and was subsequently removed by his father, who ordered the fleet back to Terra.

This incident, as well as Director-General McKenna's refusal to prosecute his son for negligence, polarized various factions within the Hegemony, several of which called for the Director-General's removal, although such a thing was not legally possible. However, McKenna managed to diffuse these tensions. Once again reinforcing his reputation for integrity, as well as his skills at reading the mood of the people, in December 2338 he made a realm-wide broadcast to his people in which he explained his torn loyalties between his duties and his son. As such, he would resign as Director-General immediately. This candor cooled the fires that were building and again won the Admiral the support of his people. For him it would matter little, ten days later he moved forever beyond politics, dying of cancer at the age of 64.

The Cameron Dynasty:

The Hegemony, specifically the High Council, now faced the daunting task of finding someone to replace the irreplaceable James McKenna. There was still enough public and political discord in the Hegemony over the Syrma Ambush to give the High Councilors a sense of urgency. Yet, they agreed that the next candidate for Director-General would need at least some of James McKenna's qualities, if not his name. James McKenna's only offspring, Konrad, was out of the question. Disgraced and drummed out of the HAF, he had retreated to his London home where he was quietly going mad among a jungle of houseplants. Other close relatives, such as McKenna's sister Katherine McKenna or cousin Uston McKenna, were too young, too uninterested, or too eager for the job.

Expanding their search to include more distant relations of the late Director-General, the Councilors eventually settled on two quite different candidates. Graham Nellas, a nephew of James McKenna, represented the Pacific Northwest States of North America in the Terran Congress. Forty-five years old, he had served in the HAF as a Marine officer, winning a medal of valor for his actions in the conquest of Addicks. The handsome Graham was politically conservative and an excellent orator.

The second was Michael Cameron, a third cousin to McKenna, though some Councilors believed he was less qualified. Only thirty, Michael was currently an officer in the Army Reserves. A scholarly man, all his life he had shown a marked distaste for politics or religion of any sort, believing instead in what he called "heart's honor." One of the reasons the High Councilors were considering Michael Cameron was his learning and interest in serious research. He could discuss almost any topic with knowledge equaled to or even greater than that of some experts. This led to his later becoming known as the first true Renaissance Man in centuries, which Michael considered the highest of praise. The other quality that attracted the High Councilors to Michael Cameron was the passion he brought to everything he did. Someone once said that when he was deeply involved in a project, Michael "got a strange air of doom about him, almost as though you could hear the thunder of his mind and see the flashes of lightening behind his eyes." Other stories described Michael spending whole days and nights working on research projects or trying to solve various problems relating to his reserve unit. Some admired this quality of dogged determination; others called it obsessive behavior, perhaps even a sign of mental imbalance.

As the day for a decision drew nearer, the Councilors remained split over whom to recommend as the next Director-General. As time wore on, the debate became more heated and tense. On the day before the announcement had to be made, the Councilors were still deadlocked. As such they did what politicians usually do, they passed the buck by submitting the names of Graham Nellas and Michael Cameron to the people for consideration. Privately, many Councilors expected the public to choose the more personable Graham Nellas while others hoped that they would appreciate Michael Cameron's genius, despite his unassuming demeanor.

According to political election rules laid down by Director-General James McKenna, the two candidates' campaigns were to be strictly controlled. The number and type of public appearances that could be made were severely limited, and advertisements in the public media were banned. The late Director had wanted to make sure that the days of the people electing a photogenic person with a winning smile and vacuum between the ears were gone forever. So, in place of a media blitz, the public witnessed frequent debates between Michael Cameron and Graham Nellas, before the holocameras as well as in the various print media. In the public debates, Graham Nellas came across as suave and self-assured, but perhaps too glib in expressing himself. Nellas also had actual experience in the Terran Congress, a fact he mentioned as often as possible. The public nevertheless voted for the serious and brilliant Michael Cameron by a large margin, reassured by his air of quiet competence.

Incredible as was this upset a total of three official recounts requested by the High Councilors turned up no evidence of vote tampering or changes in the results. As such, on January 17, 2340, Michael Cameron was sworn in as the second Director-General and Lord Protector of the Terran Hegemony. As he himself was reputed to have said upon taking the oath of office, "I've served in the military most of my life. I'm used to being forced to volunteer." This charm would serve him well.

Michael Cameron spent his first years as Director-General becoming acquainted with the Hegemony government. He also had to become accustomed to being in the spotlight, with which he was uncomfortable. Nevertheless, he poured fearsome concentration into his new job. One of Cameron's first actions was to create the Hegemony Research Alliance Department, centralizing all non-military research projects into one department. Once this efficient management system was in place, the number of research projects funded by the Hegemony government quickly doubled. As the new Director earmarked more and more money for scientific research, other members of the government began to grumble. Still, few could object to research that led to the invention of a portable fusion generator small enough to be carried in a suitcase or to the discovery of cures for alien diseases.

Aside from creating the HRAD (though privately he considered it his greatest accomplishment), Michael Cameron initiated several more subtle government changes. Because of his genius and love of knowledge, many government officials, particularly those who reported directly to him, were stimulated to redouble their efforts. With this new emphasis on intelligence filtering throughout the bureaucracy, the government became unbelievably efficient. In the economic arena the Director-General was adamant about upholding morality. He insisted on strengthening government agencies that policed business and economic activity. He also encouraged the development of nontraditional economic systems on some worlds. Though this upset more than a few in the business sector, alternative economic systems such as socialism proved more appropriate than cutthroat capitalism on certain poorer planets.

The biggest changes were yet to come.

In his speech before the assembled houses of the Terran Congress on New Year's Day, 2351, the Lord Protector of the Terran Hegemony dropped a cultural bombshell by announcing the resurrection of the nobility. The system would include six orders of titles patterned after the old English ranking. They were, in descending order of importance, Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, Baron, and Knight. Each title would allow the holder certain privileges and respect as well as a parcel of land and money as a token of the Hegemony's gratitude. The Director-General announced that the first Peer List would appear in six months. Many were stunned.

Why Michael Cameron chose to revive this particular class system is too large a question to resolve here, but a few comments are in order. First, it is important to note that Michael Cameron did not intend these titles to be passed on through inheritance. Right of the title died with the owner. At that time, the family of the deceased nobleman reverted to its former status, keeping only their land and money. Though Michael Cameron's notes later revealed that he had been tempted to allow the transfer of titles to the nearest kin, he decided that it would only "create a new class of snobs, instead of encouraging the worthy to aim high." Moreover, the Director-General considered titles to be a reward for service to humanity as a whole, not a sign of innate superiority or support of his regime.

Second, one must remember that though titles were not used before the reign of Michael Cameron, a kind of noble class did exist in the Terran Hegemony. Most were rich industrialists or politicians, some were people with brilliant minds, and others were popular entertainers. In essence, Michael Cameron established a formal code of nobility that recognized the special accomplishments of these groups. Some people were instantly opposed to the new nobility, claiming that Michael wanted to entrench his own family into the Director-Generalship. Others felt that the nobility system would reintroduce all the medieval evils, no matter what high ideals were behind them. Still others believed that the system would lead to distortions in social development. Most just decided to wait and see who would become the first noble.

When Michael Cameron announced his Peer List, the upper-echelons were disappointed, but the common citizens were pleased. The Director-General read the names of the 31 men and women he considered worthy of titles. Eighteen had no involvement with either the government or the military, and not one was related to the Director-General. Some of the first nobles are worth mentioning. Yumiko Sakuma was a famed novelist from an obscure village on Thorin and was Michael Cameron's favorite author. She had spent much of her life writing about frontier life and collecting stories about the various Exoduses. Beside the title of "Countess of the Arts," the Director-General offered her a major island on Thorin and a luxurious mansion. Sakuma refused graciously but regretfully. Another of the first nobles was Professor Gregory Atlas, the team leader of a top-secret HRAD research project at the University of Zimbabwe. Though the nature of Atlas's work was not revealed when he received his title, it was later learned that he was responsible for refining and redesigning the technology of myomer bundles. He would eventually design one of the first WorkMechs, which would became the basis for BattleMechs

Lord Michael Cameron served as Director-General for 27 years before retiring in 2367. By the end of his reign, the Hegemony had enjoyed 15 years of unparalleled economic prosperity and political stability as well as regained its importance as the center of humanity. The new nobility was a success and it seemed that at last the Terran Hegemony had stabilized. Few will argue that Michael Cameron was a far-seeing and competent leader; as such it is not surprising that he would seek to strengthen the position of his heirs. Because of his vast popularity, there was little opposition either publicly or politically to Cameron's Edict of 2351. In one stroke, he created the foundations of a ruling dynasty by declaring that all Camerons would retain the Cameron name, even after marriage. This meant that even if a female successor came to power, she would do so as a Cameron and her offspring would legally bear the name of the maternal line instead of the father's surname.

When Michael Cameron decided to retire in his later years, Lady Margaret Cameron, Michael's daughter, was the obvious choice to carry on his policies. Forty-two years old and a ten-year veteran of the HAF Navy, Margaret was almost as brilliant as her father was. She was equally industrious and as intense, but far more outgoing. Although Michael Cameron had been admired and respected, his seriousness always made him seem somewhat aloof. Lady Margaret, on the other hand, had grown up in the spotlight and enjoyed it.

In 2347, Lady Margaret married Alexander Ellis, a wealthy industrialist. They had three children: Raymond, Brian, and Judith. Though she retired from the Navy to raise her children, she remained active in the Hegemony government. It took only one hour for the High Councilors to agree to submit her name to the public. A month later, Lady Margaret Cameron was sworn in as the Hegemony's third Director-General. Within the first year of her rule, Margaret presented a controversial bill to the government. The Military Recruitment and Preparedness Bill called for every adult to be drafted into the HAF as a member of his or her homeworld's militia. Every citizen would serve at least one month a year in military maneuvers until the age of 55. On worlds bordering other realms, each citizen would be issued a rifle to keep at home, much like the minuet men of old. This system would not only triple the size of the HAF, but also free up professional soldiers for extra-potent front line units. A practice maintained to this day.

The HAF, meanwhile, continued to push the limits of military technology. A new series of warships, the Aegis Class cruisers, were built during Director Margaret's reign. These ships were small, yet packed more firepower than previous cruisers and battlecruisers. The HAF also began to experiment with what it called "Drop Pallets," bowl-shaped heat shields in which the tank sat while a computer within the pallet performed delicate maneuvering procedures with a series of jets. Though the first few attempts, using deadweights, were rousing failures, the HAF continued. Eventually direct orbital insertion of ground forces would be possible.

Lady Margaret Cameron also continued her father's interest in the sciences. The first commercial WorkMechs were produced during her administration, as well as the development of cheaper refinery technology for efficiently extracting metals from rock. This continued technological boom stimulated the economy and raised the standard of living in the Hegemony. In fact, this technological acceleration forced the government to consider limiting the spread of new inventions to other realms. In her heart, the Director believed that sharing the Hegemony's superior technology would honor her father's and James McKenna's desire to see the Hegemony shine as a beacon of Human civilization. As the years passed, however, increasing tensions between the other interstellar governments forced Director Margaret to agree. In 2380 legal restrictions on the export of sensitive technology were put in place. This became known as the Mother Doctrine, with military technology high on the restricted list.

But regardless of the advancements of her reign, the Directorship of Lady Margaret proved one thing conclusively: the Cameron Dynasty was here to stay.

Age of War and Dreams of Peace:

In February 2380, Margaret Cameron was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Although the disease went into remission two years later, she remained too feeble to properly rule the Hegemony government. Therefore, in March 2382, she announced her retirement, suggesting her son Raymond Cameron as a replacement. Though only 34 years old, Lord Raymond Cameron was not in particularly good health, either. A decade earlier, as a young pilot, he had been in a fighter accident that almost killed him. The accident left his face horribly scarred and inflicted other injuries that continued to affect his health. Raymond was also sterile, but the High Council nevertheless nominated him and the public elected him as the fourth Director-General.

Raymond Cameron's wife was Katherine McQuiston, whose family had formed the Federation of Skye and were among the founders of the Lyran Commonwealth. To that point, relations between the Hegemony and the heavily industrial Federation of Skye had been cool because of the Mother Doctrine restricting the Hegemony from sharing technology. Businessmen on both sides of the issue hoped that Lord Raymond's accession would herald more profitable relations between the two realms. It was not to be. Director-General Raymond was even more protective and attentive of Hegemony trade secrets than of his mother. Feeling neglected, Katherine began a romantic liaison with Raymond's brother, Lord Brian. Meanwhile, Raymond was further tightening restrictions on the list of secret technology.

In 2385, the planet Bryant voted that Director Raymond should rescind or modify the laws requiring the induction of ever able-bodied man and woman into the HAF. In reply, Raymond cut off all government funds to Bryant and threatened military action if the people did not withdraw their demand. The Bryants had no choice but to reverse their previous request. Heavy-handed actions such as this earned Director Raymond the animosity of the entire Hegemony. For the next two years, both the Congress and the public became increasingly hostile. No longer able to pass the laws he wanted, Raymond Cameron began issuing "Emergency" and "Temporary" Directives.

In late 2387, Katherine McQuiston became pregnant, creating a monumental scandal and sending Director Raymond into a rage. Brian Cameron was arrested and the entire realm braced itself for a political crisis as Raymond publicly charged his brother with treason, an offense punishable by death. In an emergency meeting two days before the Trial, the High Council attempted to change the Director's mind. They were unsuccessful. Shortly afterward, Raymond Cameron was found dead in the cloakroom of the Halls of Justice.

The coroner's reports showed conclusively that Raymond Cameron had died of a coronary; brought on by medication he was taking. Yet rumors of assassination spread throughout the Hegemony, creating a split among the people. Many wanted all charges dropped against Lord Brian so that he could accede to the Director-Generalship. Other argued that even if Brian were innocent of murder, he was at the very least an adulterer and therefore unfit for the office of Director-General. When Katherine McQuiston gave birth to Brian's son, whom she named Richard, the scandal and debate rose to an even higher pitch.

It was up to the High Council to restore sanity. As there were no other Cameron relatives of sufficient skill to nominate, the Council decided to swear in Mitchell DuKirl, President of the Terran Congress and nephew to the late Sonya DuKirl, as Director-General Pro Tem. With someone at the helm of state, the High Councilors were free to prosecute the trial of Brian Cameron. This controversial action was the only mean for the Councilors to end the situation without giving the impression of a cover-up. For two months, they attempted to piece together a case against Lord Brian from the rambling diaries of the late Director. They presented their evidence to the Supreme Court, which as expected, threw out the case. The High Councilors then proceeded to publish everything they had found. The scheme was successful. When confronted with the insanely jealous words of Raymond Cameron, even the most suspicious person had to admit that Brian Cameron's greatest crime was indiscretion. In September 2388, the High Councilors nominated Brian as Director-General of the Terran Hegemony. Though he won by only a slim majority.

During his 15 years in officer, Director-General Brian Cameron made two important contributions to the Hegemony, the first immediately after his accession. During his mother's reign, he had served as Ambassador to the Draconis Combine. Even though the Kurita realm was in a relatively peaceful period under the lukewarm rule of Nihongi Kurita, Brian could not abide their martial philosophy. He knew that once the gentle Nihongi was gone, the belligerent Kurita blood would reassert itself. In preparation for renewed future tensions between the Hegemony and the Combine, Director Brian announced a major boost in military revenues in 2391. Much of this new money would go toward the creation of huge military complexes on worlds bordering the Draconis Combine. These complexes, which later became known as Castles Brian, were built not to prevent an enemy from landing on a world, but from actually controlling it. Many of the Castles Brian were constructed in mountains, underground, and even beneath seas. Most had tunnels radiating from a central complex so that attacks could be launched from various locations. The expense was enormous, but no one seriously questioned Director Brian's decision. Events in the Inner Sphere made it all too obvious that the backbreaking effort was prudent.

Lord Brian's second major contribution was the introduction of the Succession Bill of 2392. This bill set forth regulations by which the High Council could choose "the correct candidate for the Directorship," should a Director die without naming a successor. Though couched in legal finery, the bill in effect introduced hereditary succession. The bill's wording technically allowed for election of a candidate from outside the Cameron family, but the rest of the provisions made such an event almost impossible. In 2399, Brian Cameron married Katherine McQuiston and legally claimed Richard Cameron, then eleven years old, as his son.

In 2403, Lord Brian Cameron went to Elbar, a world that the Hegemony had recently acquired through a joint-ownership arrangement with the Federated Suns. The planet was once an arid and inhospitable wasteland that the Federated Suns could do little to transform. When the Hegemony provided assistance in the form of a water purification plant the Elbarians were able to build a small city surrounded by farms and ranches. Lord Brian had spent some of the best years of his life on a relative's farm on Elbar. Sadly, during his visit in 2403 he met his death. Just before he arrived at a small cattle ranch, some bored young men had begun teasing the ranch's prize bull. By the time the Director-General's entourage of cars and hovercraft arrived, the bull was enraged. As Cameron and his staff passed, the animal smashed through the wooden bars of its corral as though they were twigs. Before the Director-General's guards could react, the bull charged directly for Lord Brian, slamming into him with incredible force, and goring him severely. One of the guards shot the bull, but it was too late.

While everyone crowded around, Lord Brian, who was conscious, called the ranch owner to him. Fearful of being blamed for the Director-General's injuries, the man timorously approached. When Lord Brian asked if the bull had been important, the rancher admitted that it was his only bull and that his fortunes depended on the animal. Lord Brian, obviously in pain, told his staff to pay the rancher for the bull. When they asked why, the Director said that an animal cannot be blamed for its nature, nor should a rancher be punished for a bull with remarkable aim. Brian Cameron died before he could be moved to a place of care. The ranch owner took Lord Brian's remark to heart. He had the bull's head mounted and the horns, still smeared with the blood of Lord Brian, coated with plastic resin. By way of apology, he sent the mounted head to the Camerons on Terra. The family accepted the gesture and had the bull's head placed high on a wall in the main ballroom of Cameron Castle, just outside Glasgow, Scotland.

Lady Judith Cameron, younger sister to Brian, wasted little time in informing the High Council that she was the only rightful candidate for the Director-Generalship. Dismayed by such eagerness so soon after her brother's death, the High Councilors resisted passing her name on to the public. Lady Judith was the youngest of Margaret Cameron's three children. Because Margaret had assumed that one of her sons would continue the Cameron dynasty, Judith had not been trained and molded to be a future ruler of the Hegemony. During a brief career in the HAF, she had shown a remarkable lack of Cameron brilliance and an almost violent disregard for authority. Based on her record, the High Council decided to search for another candidate. When no other likely prospects emerged, they reluctantly nominated Lady Judith as the next Director-General two months after her brother's death. The public showed faith in Judith Cameron by confirming her appointment as the sixth Director-General.

Judith surprised many in government by continuing her brother's policy of military build-up. She even requested that the Castles Brian, the series of fortresses built on Hegemony worlds facing the Draconis Combine, be built on worlds bordering the Free Worlds League and the Capellan Confederation as well. The Age of War had just begun when Lady Judith assumed control over the Terran Hegemony, beginning with the clash of House Marik and Liao over the control of the Andurien star-system in 2398. This era was one of almost unrelenting violence, with every major realm fighting for control of key border worlds. For the Terran Hegemony, located in the middle of all the fighting, it was a period of considerable tension. The HAF might be able to defend itself against one enemy, but it would not stand a chance against two or more realms.

It was for this reason that Judith Cameron was so keen on expanding the construction of the Castles Brian program to all of the Hegemony's borders. She felt that the other states, along with the ever-threatening Draconis Combine, were likely to turn their avaricious sights on the Hegemony. But Director Judith did not fear House Marsden (which would become House Steiner upon the death of Alstair Marsden and the accession of his wife in 2408). The ties between the Hegemony and the Lyran Commonwealth had always been close, and her brother's marriage to one of the Commonwealth's famous McQuistons had made the bond even stronger. Relations were so good that the Hegemony and the Commonwealth, through the system of the joint-ownership of worlds, were carrying out extensive economic and industrial development of many marginal worlds in one another's realms.

Relations between the Terran Hegemony and the Federated Suns were also reasonably good, with similar joint-ownership agreements for several worlds, most recently Cartago. The Federated Suns had by now come under the tyranny of Etien, Edward, and Edmund Davion, whose ineptitude and callousness were threatening to tear apart the Federated Suns. Judith, who wanted to maintain peaceful relations with House Davion, consoled herself with the thought that if the Federated Suns should suddenly turn on the Hegemony, it would be a short-term war. The people of House Davion were already showing signs of rebellion against the tyrants.

Nevertheless, the HAF saw considerable military action during the Age of War. The Draconis Combine, the Free Worlds League, and the Capellan Confederation continually tested the Hegemony's strength with "accidental" raids and "unintentional" strikes, but it was not until 2407 that the HAF saw major action. In that year, the Draconis Combine launched a full-scale offensive against the Commonwealth. Though Combine forces appeared to be heading for the Commonwealth capital of Arcturus, the offensive suddenly veered away and began to force its way through the Federation of Skye. When the Combine's intentions became clear, Alstair Marsden, Archon of the Commonwealth, asked Lady Judith for help, but she refused to commit her troops to a Commonwealth offensive against the Combine. Instead, she agreed to send HAF forces to worlds jointly owned by the Commonwealth and the Hegemony to assume complete defensive duties on those worlds. Her decision, which meant the shipping of a dozen divisions to such worlds as Blue Diamond, Lyons, and Nusakan, freed Commonwealth units to participate in offensive actions against the Draconis Combine.

The Hegemony Armed Forces faced the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery in only one major battle during this time. In 2408, the Third Assault Armored Division faced an equivalent number of Kurita regiments on the planet Lyons. In this battle, the Hegemony used its superior warships in coordinated space-ground defense to achieve a major victory. But the battle was very costly in terms of casualties. On the opposite side of the Hegemony, the HAF turned back the forces of the Capellan Confederation, who attempted to take Terra Firma in 2409. In the battle, Hegemony ground forces, led by the famed Black Charger Tank Division, stood their ground against a superior number of Capellans and despite the presence of enemy naval support. The Black Chargers held the planet for two months before being forced to withdraw. It was not long before a major Hegemony relief force, complete with warships, arrived to retake the planet, however. The Chancellor of the Capellan Confederation, Aleisha Liao, eventually offered to make reparations for the invasion, but the bitterness and violence of this costly battle had created a deep rift between the two governments.

Terra Firma was quickly forgotten, however, after the virtual genocide of Tintavel. News of the incomprehensible butchery that occurred on the Tintavel, as reported by the Hegemony relief forces sent to that world, spread like a shock wave throughout the Inner Sphere. Even those responsible for the atrocities would later express regret for their actions. Despite this, everyone knew that the atrocities on Tintavel had begun as just another battle. Battles such as those being fought on countless worlds at that very moment. The revulsion that Chancellor Aleisha Liao, leader of the Capellan Confederation, felt for this episode transformed her from being just another trigger-happy leader into a person deeply committed to preventing future atrocities. Aleisha also had her realm's best interests at heart. At the time, the Capellan Confederation had only a tenuous industrial base, which was another good reason for finding a way to protect her realm's resources from the destruction of war.

After months of reflection and counsel with the best minds of her realm, Chancellor Aleisha drew up an 80-page document describing conditions for "civilized warfare." The plan encouraged battles based more on maneuvering and less on the use of destructive force - battles in a planet's more desolate sections and away from population centers. These provisions would also make warfare less expensive, which would be a relief to all the parties, for every state's supply situation was beginning to degenerate. Satisfied with these measures, Chancellor Aleisha dispatched copies of her work to the leaders of all the warring realms, but expected only a lukewarm response. Instead, most rulers immediately communicated their wholehearted agreement. So encouraged was Aleisha Liao that she immediately suggested a summit meeting on the Capellan world of Ares to further discuss and officially sign the Ares Convention.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Many books place the signing of the Ares Convention on the planet New Olympia. This is incorrect. The Ares Convention was signed in the Grand Hall in the city of New Olympia on Ares. The planet New Olympia is in the Free Worlds League and not the Capellan Confederation.]

Many leaders balked at this latter proposal. Though all wished to discuss Aleisha's ideas, few were bold enough to venture so far into a rival state without adequate protection. Threatened with the collapse of her initiative, Chancellor Aleisha turned to Director-General Judith Cameron for help. She asked the leader of the Hegemony to provide naval escort and troops to safeguard the lives of the visiting dignitaries. The Chancellor believed that guards from the Hegemony, the cradle of mankind, would be the perfect symbol of the work the summit was called to do. The people of the Hegemony were split in their views. Many still deeply resented the Capellans' attempt to take Terra Firma and wanted little to do with Chancellor Aleisha, but Director Judith agreed to the request. Thus ten flotillas of Hegemony warships, hastily cleaned and painted white for the occasion, were dispatched across the Inner Sphere to transport the leaders of the great states to Ares.

Once the Ares meeting was underway, the leaders of the six Inner Sphere realms dominated the negotiations, leaving many Periphery leaders in the dust, which dashed any hope for unanimous agreement. Because the six Inner Sphere states were doing most of the fighting and most of the suffering in the wars, they thought they should do most of the talking. Unfortunately, they could not agree. Chancellor Aleisha had the support of Director-General Judith Cameron and Archon Katherine Steiner of the Lyran Commonwealth. On the other side were Combine Coordinator Robert Kurita and Captain-General Peter Marik of the Free Worlds League, who both believed that the Ares rules "would transform war into a kind of pavane better suited to ballerinas than to soldiers." Simon Davion, representing the Federated Suns for his cousin Edmund, was undecided.

Everyone was surprised when the Periphery outworlds also came out against the Ares Conventions, calling them a shabby Inner Sphere trick to force their proud people to lay down their arms. Despite the fact that the Conventions did not technically need majority approval, Chancellor Aleisha realized that if one major leader refused to sign, the others would to do the same. Both Simon Davion and Director Judith had remained relatively quiet during the debate, voicing only occasional comments. Now the Chancellor of the Confederation focused her attention on them. It is a testament to her skill that she managed to win Simon Davion's support after he had privately decided to vote against the Conventions. With the announcement of the Federated Suns' support the Free Worlds League and the Draconis Combine also agreed to sign the new rules of war. They realized that if they did not, the other three Inner Sphere realms could unite against them. Only two of the Periphery realms would sign the accords [Notably absent was the Taurian Concordat]. On June 13, 2412, the leaders of eight signing states appeared on the balcony of the Grand Hall before a throng of cheering citizens. None was more pleased than Aleisha Liao.

Nevertheless, though hailed as an act of peace, the Ares Conventions made war legal. It also made war cheaper in monetary and human terms; as such war became an acceptable means of settling even minor disputes between nations. It was not long before every state had embarked on even more campaigns, adhering to the letter of the Conventions but trampling on the spirit utterly.

Richard Cameron, the illicit child of Lord Brian and Lady Katherine McQuiston, came to rule the Hegemony when Judith Cameron stepped down in 2419. At the time of his aunt's retirement, Richard was a naval officer in command of the Lola Class destroyer Beatrice. His nomination by the High Council and election by the Hegemony public took place without difficulty.

Lord Richard is best remembered for his seizure of the Kentares system from the Federated Suns in 2431. Two decades earlier, relations between the two realms began to deteriorate when the Hegemony claimed that the Federated Suns had violated their joint-ownership agreement for the planet Cartago. In response, citizens of the planet, most loyal to the Federated Suns, alleged that the oxygen-generating factories were stripping oxygen from the air instead of adding to it in retaliation for recent economic sanctions taken by the planet's government. Lives were lost in the clashes between the two groups, and the Hegemony used this incident to take the planet permanently under its control. The Federated Suns attempted to retake Cartago a month later, but the HAF was too strong. After that, House Davion made several more military and political attempts to win back Cartago, and the tensions increased with each action.

Director-General Richard Cameron considered Kentares to be an ideal spot for a spearpoint thrust into the Federated Suns, and so decided to take that world. Though this was against the counsel of his advisers, he ordered the HAF to take Kentares in early 2431. The fighting lasted six months, a long series of feints and maneuvering typical of warfare under the Ares Conventions. Though the HAF had less combat experience than the Federated Suns forces, its troops proved to be skilled at this near bloodless sport and finally pushed the Davion forces off Kentares. After the boost this victory gave to the Director-General's popularity, he profited from the situation by revising the nomination laws in 2432. The law now stated that the Director-General had the right to choose his or her successors without consulting anyone. This further weakened the semi-democracy envisioned by James McKenna and moved the Hegemony toward constitutional monarchy. Though other states had long since adopted the idea of a ruling nobility, there was still opposition within the Hegemony.

Jacob Cameron became the eighth Director-General after his father died of a massive heart attack while visiting a HRAD facility deep in the Canadian Rocky Mountains on Terra. Like Richard before him, Jacob was a Navy Captain, in command of a Vincent Class corvette Crowned Lion. Jacob's doting father had spoiled him as a child, while his mother, the class-conscious Duchess of Northwind, taught the boy that he was socially and morally superior to others. Jacob grew up to be a pompous, arrogant man who alienated all but the most devoted sycophants. In the end it was only the sheerest fortunes of luck that saved the Hegemony from its own rulers.

It was pure ego on Jacob's part when he ordered the HAF to embark on a campaign against both the Federated Suns and the Capellan Confederation that culminated in the Battle of Tybalt in 2435. In that battle, Major Theodore Cameron distinguished himself by assuming command of the 132nd Heavy Armor Regiment after its commanding officer was mortally wounded. Though he led the unit to victory, the HAF offensive was a minor success at best, paid for with many Hegemony lives. This campaign did not endear Lord Jacob to his public, whom he daily harangued for their supposed laziness. Several anti-establishment movements sprang up during this time to fight Jacob and his growing army of posturing minions. Some of these underground movements were no more than groups of disgruntled youths out for a night of rioting: others were bands of nobles and politicians determined to remove Jacob from power. It seemed as if another revolution was simmering.

In February 2448, an unknown assassin slipped poison into Lord Jacob's champagne. Though he became deathly ill, Jacob did not die. Upon recovering, the Director ordered a blackout on news of the assassination attempt. Meanwhile, agents from the Hegemony Central Intelligence Department undertook the largest manhunt in the realm's history. In charge of the investigation was the young and ambitious High Councilor, Lady Terens Amaris. Given the reputation of that infamous family in modern times, some historians have suggested that Lady Amaris was responsible for the assassination attempt, but there is little evidence of this.

After the attempt on his life, Lord Jacob tended to be less strident and aggressive. He even relented in his attitude toward the lower classes with humanitarian acts such as the establishment of the Cameron Mercy Hospitals and Cameron Shelters for the Poor. Though his personality was not the most winning, Director Jacob would still be fondly remembered by the HAF for presiding over the birth of the BattleMech. Though research had been going on for decades, it was Lord Jacob who realized that the 'Mech could become the dominant weapon of war. After the first successful combat test of a prototype in February 2439, he made sure that production of BattleMechs became the government's number-one priority. For several years running, he devoted a significant portion of the budget to construction of BattleMech factories on Hegemony worlds.

In 2443, a lance of BattleMechs from the 801st Heavy Armored Regiment met a company of Kurita tanks on Styx. Lord Kurita, seeking to exploit any weakness in the Hegemony's defenses, sent a heavily armed force to "test the Hegemony's resolve." The four 'Mechs easily trampled the entire company of Kurita tanks, leaving only one to scurry back to its DropShip. It was not long before Lord Kurita received news of this fearsome new weapon in the Hegemony's arsenal. In 2461, Combine commandos stole BattleMech plans from the Lyrans (who had themselves stolen plans from the Hegemony in 2455). In reaction, Lord Jacob accelerated plans to maintain and widen his military's technological edge. To accomplish this, the Hegemony sacrificed other programs, including those for naval warships. Those ships, which had once been the pride of the military, went a whole year without regular maintenance.

When Director-General Jacob died of a stroke in 2461, he left behind a regime that was the strongest military power in the Inner Sphere. This was due to the newest weapon in the Hegemony's arsenal, the fearsome BattleMech. Yet Jacob had almost brought the economy to a grinding halt to build his 'Mech force because so many industrial resources had to be siphoned away from the civilian economy. As a result, the public now faced shortages of basic goods, a situation that had not occurred since the time of the old Alliance. At the time of Jacob's death, additional woes such as inflation and extended workdays had stirred up the people's anger toward the government. Jacob's son Theodore was his father's chosen successor and in no way prepared to deal with the crisis his father had left.

Because of his experience in the HAF, the uneasy public elected him as their ninth Director-General, hoping the new leader would prove more responsive to their needs. However, more than 25 percent of the Hegemony's voting population showed their distrust of the Camerons by voting against Theodore. Perhaps predictably, Theodore Cameron proved to be a half-hearted ruler. On certain issues, such as the passage of a restructured tax bill and the continuation of the HAF's buildup, he was very decisive. On other pressing issues, he waffled and wavered.

Lord Theodore also had a taste for extravagance and high living. He revived ancient customs such as lavish balls, horse races, grand banquets, and richly ornamented finery. Though it has never been proved, many of Theodore's wild parties were said to rival famous debauches of myth and legend. What most outraged the public was Theodore's blatant use of Hegemony funds to build or restore palaces. He spent billions of dollars renovating Louis XIV's palace at Versailles for his own use. He also built Castle-by-the-Columbia, the Chicago Palaces, and 20 more on Terra and nearby Hegemony worlds. By July 2470, the public was fed up enough to stage the first general strike in the history of the Hegemony. Within hours, strikes and demonstrations erupted in major North American cities. By the next day, the entire continent had shut down. By the end of the third day, Terra was at a total standstill. Realizing that this could turn into a full-fledged assault on the government, the High Councilors apparently took Theodore aside and persuaded him to apologize to the people of Terra. Within six days, things had returned to mostly normal. Though Theodore never reformed completely, he became more prudent after the incident.

It was also during Lord Theodore's reign that relations between the Terran Hegemony and the Free Worlds League began to sour. The Marik family, particularly Carlos Marik, believed that the Hegemony's military build-up was only a prelude to an invasion of their state. Thus did the Free Worlds League embark on an expansion of their own military, focusing on a large and modern fleet of warships. Lord Theodore knew that under the right command, the Free Worlds' new warships could pose a serious threat to the Hegemony worlds near their shared border. Taking personnel command of the Hegemony battlecruiser Kiev, Lord Theodore led a massive naval assault against the Free Worlds League fleet anchored at the Oriente star system. In the largest fleet action yet taken, more than 20 major Free Worlds warships were destroyed, while the Hegemony lost only two. This created a political crisis within the Free Worlds League, resulting in a bloodless coup by Brion Marik against his older brother. In 2478, Theodore Cameron offered to negotiate a peace treaty with the new Captain-General, which was signed in that year.

Theodore's fast lifestyle finally caught up with him in 2479, when he died of pneumonia after a three-day party during the wet season of the Thorin Monsoons. Succeeding him as tenth Director-General, though by an even smaller margin of popular support, was his daughter, Elizabeth Cameron. Though Elizabeth Cameron was another lover of extravagance, she was not as wild or as decisive as her father. She showed little interest in the fate of either the military or the economy, and it was only the intervention of her High Councilors that prevented a total collapse of the Terran Hegemony. During Elizabeth's time, the HAF fought few battles. Instead, it continued to improve on its weapons, including BattleMech frames, computer systems, and AeroSpace fighters. By the time Elizabeth died of New Earth Pox in 2501, the Hegemony was politically unstable, dissolution of the government being openly discussed.

Lady Deborah Cameron, daughter of Elizabeth Cameron and Alexander Rimes, almost missed becoming the eleventh Director-General of the Hegemony. Because the public had been so unhappy with the reigns of Elizabeth and Theodore Cameron, a shocking 46 percent voted against Deborah on election day. Though illegal, political parties had sprung up on many worlds, all of them with a definite anti-Cameron, anti-Hegemony slant. The leaders of these parties managed to occupy many public posts, which led to a number of confrontations with the more traditional bureaucrats. Many nobles felt especially threatened by this anti-Hegemony sentiment, but Lady Deborah simply allowed the political storm to swirl around her. She took no action against even the most blatantly anti-Cameron agitators.

Lady Deborah finally assumed the Director-Generalship after much of the initial furor died away. She further calmed the realm by immediately proving that she would not be another wasteful, ineffective leader like her mother. The public greeted a series of measures aimed at repairing the damage caused by the wasteful spending of her predecessors with cautious approval. The new Director-General was a scholar whose intelligence and seriousness soon led to comparisons with Michael Cameron. After many years of study at prestigious universities such as Oxford, the University of Washington, and Olympic College, she had become Professor of Interstellar Politics and Diplomatic History at the Military Academy of Mars in 2499.

With all her knowledge of history, Deborah understood that the Age of War was seriously weakening the other states of the Inner Sphere. As Director-General, she decided that the Hegemony would be wisest to use its superior military for defensive purposes only. She intended to increase the Hegemony's stability and stature through the peaceful means of trade and interstellar politics. The Terran Hegemony had gradually been taking on the role of mediator even before Deborah's time. Seven times before her accession, other realms had looked to Terra to settle their disputes. Though the parties did not always follow the Hegemony's recommendations, no one had yet accused the Terrans of favoring one side or the other. Lady Deborah hoped to expand this mediator role. In 2502, she delivered a series of speeches and papers outlining what she called her "Strategy of Aggressive Peacemaking." This strategy called for a policy of superior intelligence and diplomacy that would contribute to the well being of other realms. Instead of waiting for other states to come to the Hegemony with their disputes, Lady Deborah would begin to offer mediating services to the other Houses, asking for only a nominal fee and unrestricted travel between realms.

This emphasis on diplomacy and intelligence meant a complete overhaul and substantial expansion of the Hegemony's Central Intelligence Bureau (HCIB) and Department of Foreign Relations (DFR). Until then, the HCIB had concentrated on protecting and preventing technology from leaking to other realms. Now, under the Strategy of Aggressive Peacemaking, the agency would be responsible for learning all it could about every foreign realm. Though idealistic, Lady Deborah was realist enough to understand the value of secret information when attempting to settle a dispute, and she expected the HCIB to dig deep for dirty laundry.

There was plenty of work for the DFR and the HCIB under the new diplomatic doctrine. Though the Ares Conventions saved lives and property, these rules of war also made it easier for combatants to fight to an inconclusive draw. Disagreements over who had won or lost a planet were often more violent than the actual combat. As a result, dozens of worlds were in a kind of limbo because two states claimed its ownership. Neither side would allow any activity, not even farming, to take place until the question was settled, which could leave the local population seriously endangered. Due to Lady Deborah's diplomatic strategy, contested worlds began to welcome the sight of a Hegemony vessel approaching.

Lady Deborah's policy of Aggressive Peacemaking was not without some notable failures, but its many successes outweighed them. As news spread of the Commonwealth-Combine Cease-fire on Alrakis and the Phact Peace of 2538, it encouraged other realms to seek out Hegemony mediation. By 2540, Lady Deborah and her people considered the Strategy of Aggressive Peacemaking a resounding success. For the Terran Hegemony, the benefits were twofold. First, every dispute settled between nearby realms made it less likely that the Hegemony would become involved in war. Second, Director Deborah, by proving the reliability and worth of her diplomats, soon had strong ties with other realms. This, as the Director had hoped, gave Terra some influence over its neighbors, who had been aggressive toward the Hegemony in the past.

The general public was equally pleased. Still, the specter of a major war never went away and the people of the border worlds felt the strain most strongly. Unsurprisingly, it was the military that objected to Director Deborah's strategy. A small minority within the HAF feared that her policies would starve and whittle away the military. Though most officers and troops were loyal, many career officers questioned what would become of their already meager role in Hegemony politics. Though they kept their resentment at being downgraded in importance during Deborah's reign under wraps, the seeds of discontent had been planted.

When Lady Deborah Cameron retired in 2542 after 41 years in office, she chose her son Joseph as successor. Though not the brightest of Lady Deborah's three children, Lord Joseph was the eldest and most experienced in the ways of the government. He had spent his military career as a combat officer in the Marine Corps, which had cost him his right eye in a training accident. When forced to transfer to a desk job in the Department of Foreign Relations, he distinguished himself as a skilled negotiator, a skill vital to the policy of Aggressive Peacemaking. Upon taking office as Director-General, the 35-year-old Joseph Cameron promised to continue his mother's policies of funding diplomatic efforts at the expense of the military. Indeed, he publicly lionized diplomats as being worthier than soldiers, which proved to be a less than prudent. With this declaration of support for the hated Aggressive Peacemaking, the resentment simmering in the HAF began to boil. Secret warrior societies, or cabals, formed among the various branches of service. These groups vowed to force the new Director to reassert the military's supremacy.

Some have claimed that the HCIB failed to alert the Director to this growing movement because the Intelligence Bureau was in collusion with the cabals. This seems unlikely, because the HCIB did not share any of the military's grievances. The agency was, in fact, suffering from overwork rather than lack of work. Another possible explanation for the HCIB's lapse was that in 2549 they were deeply involved in efforts to re-infiltrate the Capellan Confederation's Maskirovka, which had purged all HCIB agents 20 years earlier. Whatever the reason, the HCIB failed to recognize Marine Captain Henry Green's growing influence as an opponent of Lord Joseph and his policies. After a few months in a cabal, Green became disenchanted with the group's cautiousness. He broke with them, vowing to take direct action. Though Captain Green was little more than a bureaucratic clerk in uniform, he still remembered how to use his laser rifle. On the night of September 19, he climbed a tree outside the Director-General's palace on Terra and patiently waited his chance.

For 27 hours, he remained there, watching as the sun rose and then set. Just as Green must have been wondering if fate had cheated him of his chance, a string of limousines drove through the palace gates. When they stopped in front of the palace's ornate doors, Lord Joseph stepped out. Captain Green's first shot missed, but his second caught the Director-General before he could duck back into his limo. It is ironic that he had just removed a specially treated overcoat that would have stopped any weapons fire. The twelfth Director-General of the Terran Hegemony died six days later, on September 26, 2549.

News of the assassination of Joseph Cameron generated various reactions. The general public expressed almost universal sadness, while the leaders of other states sent condolences to the Hegemony but asked that Lord Joseph's death not interfere with Terran diplomatic efforts. Shocked and shamed, the HCIB felt responsible for Lord Joseph's death and began a vigorous campaign to find and punish disloyal military personnel. More than any group, the military was rocked by the assassination. None of the cabals had expected that one of their numbers would resort to such a measure. With public support for the HAF at an all-time low, cabal members tried to conceal their activities even more. This did not prevent the HCIB from discovering two of the largest cabals a week after the assassination.

While all this was happening, Ian Cameron, Joseph's younger brother, came forward on September 28, 2549 to declare himself the thirteenth Director-General without waiting for the courtesy of a public confirmation vote. Some worried that the Hegemony had finally gone monarchist, but much like Nicholas Kerensky's declaration some centuries later, most understood that the seriousness of recent events and the potential crisis probably justified the actions. A strong hand was needed and so one was provided. The disgruntled soldiers within the HAF used this political irregularity as a pretext for a desperate plan to seize control of the government. On the night of September 29, elements of the Fifty-First Dragoon Regiment - "The Green Devils" - seized control of the Hegemony Congress, the Palace of the Director-General, and key government buildings in and around the capital city of Geneva on Terra.

Though the members of these units, all loyal to various cabals, were only a small fraction of the HAF, they were now in control of the government's nerve center. Fortunately the new Director was at his private residence in Mexico City at the time of the uprising. When the news reached him, Ian Cameron ordered a regiment of his Household Guard to seal off the capital city with as little violence as possible. Lord Ian then ordered that all military personnel take an oath of loyalty to the Cameron family and the Hegemony. He then cut off all power, water, and food from the rebellious soldiers, while making sure that the rebel demands were made public. He assumed that it was better not to generate curiosity and possibly even support for them.

After ten days, the resolve of the rebels broke and they began to fight among themselves. When loyal forces moved in to protect some of the many citizens held hostage, a full-scale battle erupted. For most of that day, downtown Geneva became a 'Mech battlefield. Forces loyal to the Hegemony tried to restrain their fire so that stray shots would not damage the city, possibly harming innocent civilians. The rebels, under no such restrictions, began to take advantage of their opponents' hesitation. By nightfall, however, the loyalists' superior numbers finally overcame the rebels, and the battle ended. Surrounded and without hope, a battalion of rebels surrendered.

Despite these tragedies, however, the Hegemony had weathered perhaps its greatest challenge yet.

The Star League:

The September Revolt and its aftermath held Lord Ian's attention for some months after the last rebels had surrendered. The last stronghold of the soldier cabals, the Dresser Military Base on Lipton, had been subdued a month after the recapture of Geneva. Even so, the rebels were a considerable problem for the Director-General and the government. Treated too harshly, they would have an air of martyrdom; treated too gently, they would be free to rebel again. Of the three thousand captured in the revolt, a thousand (mostly officers and ringleaders) were condemned to death and executed by firing squad. The rest received life sentences, but most of those were paroled within ten years. This seemed to meet with the public's approval, much to Lord Ian's relief.

To stave off any future discontent and assure the HAF that they were a strong and vital part of the Hegemony, Lord Ian reversed the trend of cutting the military budget by granting the military a huge increase to reestablish the HAF's technological edge over its neighbors. He also quietly retired generals and admirals he suspected of being sympathetic to the cabals, replacing them with his own people. To prevent the government from being caught off guard again, Lord Ian expanded the HCIB, adding a special Department of Military Investigations (DMI) to ensure the full loyalty of the military. It was a big order, but Cameron realized that control of the armed forces was vital to ensuring that the realm was ruled as he, not the military, pleased.

Perhaps an even greater threat to his rule was the economic situation of the Terran Hegemony when Ian Cameron came to power in 2549. Landlocked as it was, the Hegemony could not stretch out to explore new worlds to find new resources. The Joint-Ownership plan of the previous decades had borne much fruit, but even they were at their limits. Cameron was determined to find a solution to the Hegemony's rapidly shrinking resource base, for he was determined that Terra and her worlds would never become dependent on imports from the other Houses of the Inner Sphere. He believed that Terra was the heart of human space and that it should always stand taller than the rest in terms of technical mastery and leadership.

It was then hard-headed practicality as well as idealism that prodded Lord Ian to begin to act on a dream he had cherished for almost as long as he could remember: the complete and total reunification of all humanity. It was a nearly impossible dream, one as old as the Hegemony itself dating back to the campaigns of James McKenna, but his determination never failed, even when all seemed lost. After his stint as an HAF officer, Ian Cameron had traveled extensively throughout the various interstellar realms as an ambassador-at-large, first for his mother and then for his brother. He had visited all but one of the Inner Sphere states and met with all but two leaders during the time. Though impressed with the diversity of people, ways, and languages, Ian came away believing more strongly than ever that all should be united - and that Terra, the cradle of all mankind, qualified as leader.

But first, Cameron had to lay the foundation for such a monumental undertaking. In addition to revitalizing the HAF, he further expanded the Department of Foreign Relations. He also began to fund several research projects to improve interstellar communications, a step whose ramifications would later become especially important. Lord Cameron was developed a long-term plan that he hoped would result in the creation of a "Star League," though he estimated it would take 50 years to bring his dream to fruition. The first tentative step, to tie together the five Houses of the Inner Sphere by economic means, would be accomplished after a decade of careful and meticulous preparations by the diplomats of the Hegemony. But, as it sometimes does in cases like this, fate stepped in and Lord Ian was given a chance to accelerate his timetable by many years.

In 2398, the Age of War began when the forces of the Free Worlds League and the Capellan Confederation clashed over control of the much-disputed Andurien systems. After the Free Worlds League won control of these planets, the Capellans did not resign themselves to that fact and burned for a chance to regain those resource-rich worlds. Like dominoes, the Andurien conflict seemed to trigger battles and confrontations between every power in the Inner Sphere in a chain reaction that lasted for more than 150 years. The Capellans never lost their desire to retake Andurien, though a century would pass before they made another attempt.

In 2528, Chancellor Kalvin Liao launched the Second Andurien War by sending ground and naval units against the Andurien systems. Captain-General Albert Marik responded immediately, and once more war consumed the whole region. The devastating conflict lasted three years. Marik forces ultimately defeated the Liao invaders, even though seriously outnumbered, but the cost was extremely high. The war finally came to an end when Director-General Deborah Cameron persuaded the two leaders to attend a summit conference on New Delos in 2531. These peace negotiations confirmed Marik control of Andurien, settled dozens of other Marik-Liao border disputes, and required that the Capellans pay heavy war damages. Although the Free Worlds League emerged victorious, Albert Marik was so deeply shaken by the death and destruction of the Second Andurien War that he became dedicated to the ideal of peace. In this, he was far ahead of Ian Cameron, who was only a boy of 17 in 2531. When fate finally did bring both men together, they would combine their dreams of peace and unity to create the greatest experiment that Mankind has ever known: the Star League.

Twenty years later, in 2551, Andurien once again became the focus of hostilities when Terrence Liao decided to attack the Andurien systems to prove that he was a strong male leader after two decades of female Chancellors. When the Third Andurien War broke out Albert Marik was 73 years old. Despite his dedication to peace, he dutifully accepted reinstatement as Captain-General and went forward to meet the enemy. Once more, the Free Worlds forces battered the Liao troops, but it would be five long years before Terrence would withdraw he and his army exhausted by the struggle.

At the same time, Ian Cameron began the long trail of initiatives, talks, secret meetings, and negotiations that he hoped would lead ultimately to the realization of his Star League. In that year, he attempted to persuade Terrence Liao of the folly of the war against the Free Worlds, but the Capellan Chancellor had his heart set on making a name for himself. Though Terrence rejected Cameron's peace initiatives, Albert Marik was interested in what Ian Cameron had to say. Cameron also contacted Craig Steiner, then-Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth, in 2551. The two men met in a series of ultra-secret talks, but Cameron could not persuade the Archon to commit the strong industrial base of the Commonwealth to the plan for an interstellar government. Cameron was not discouraged, however. By 2556, he again proposed that the Liao Chancellor and the Marik Captain-General meet him on Terra to negotiate an end to the Andurien War. By now, the Capellans' poor showing in the war made Terrence Liao more than ready to accept the invitation.

The many weeks of treaty negotiations offered Ian Cameron a rare opportunity to earn the respect and trust of the Liao Chancellor and to further cement his relationship with Albert Marik. Albert was, of course, already privy to the Terran leader's dream of a government spanning the whole of human space. Terrence, however, was dubious until Cameron patiently explained that he wished to end the debilitating Age of War by uniting the ten realms of the Inner Sphere and the Periphery under one government, with each one retaining its own identity, style, and internal authority. Though Cameron was persuasive, Chancellor Liao was not sure he could trust this Star League to keep out of the internal affairs of each member-state. What finally won Liao's cooperation was Cameron's promise to extend to the Capellans "favored-nation" trade agreements to include some of Terra's advanced technology. It was Albert Marik who executed the coup de grace when he agreed to cede the long-disputed Andurien systems to the Capellan Confederation. With this concession, Terrence Liao agreed to sign the Clasped Hands Agreement, a secret sub-treaty to the Andurien Peace Treaty that officially ended the Third Andurien War in March 2556.

This secret trade and non-aggression pact laid the groundwork for the Treaty of Geneva, which established the foundations of the Star League, with the Terran Hegemony, the Capellan Confederation, and the Free Worlds League as founding members. Signed secretly on June 3, 2556, the Treaty of Geneva spelled out the shape and nature of the new interstellar government in basic terms. Each state would maintain control over its internal affairs and government, while the leaders would meet in a High Council to determine the outcome of important interstellar questions. The agreement recognized Terrence Liao and Albert Marik (and their successors) as the rightful hereditary rulers of their realms.

These documents indicated that once the Star League was fully in operation, it would unite the economies of all its members into a single structure, with a single currency and there would be a number of regional economic exchanges for trading in the shares of all major corporations. Like Lady Deborah, Ian Cameron believed that few ties were stronger than economic one. Though every House leader who eventually joined the League would be concerned that foreign stockholders would swallow up their local industries, the lure of buying into the immensely wealthy Hegemony firms would almost always prove to be irresistible. The Star League would also raise a joint defense force, financed and partially outfitted by member-states but based on the advanced Hegemony Armed Forces military technology. Many a House MechWarrior would have given their souls for access to such technology. Now here Ian Cameron was willing to give if away to any realm that joined him. And in return he seemed to ask ridiculously little. The other states must agree to recognize Lord Ian and his heirs as the only legitimate First Lords of the Star League. They would also be asked to contribute soldiers, equipment, and basing rights for the Star League Defense Forces, as well as pay a membership tax in cash or raw materials. This fateful document concluded with a statement that the three signatory parties would "continue to serve Humanity and Peace...with the eventual unification of all Humanity as our dearest wish."

While Ian Cameron was slowly but surely laying the groundwork for the Star League, he did not neglect Terra's role as mediator. All the while he was wooing the other major powers of the Inner Sphere, he also continued Terra's important role as adjudicator of disputes. In a number of these settlements, he was able to negotiate agreements that allowed the disputing governments to become co-rulers of a world, with the Terran Hegemony as administrator of the government. In exchange, the Hegemony received a percentage of the planet's gross income and was able to extend its sphere of influence. By 2555, the Hegemony was part owner of almost 30 such worlds, arranged in five ragged lines radiating out along the borders of the Inner Sphere. These planets were almost all resource-rich and while the Hegemony's cut in the planet's resources seldom amounted to more than 10 percent of the planet's total GNP, it was still a major boon to the Hegemony. Cameron had gone a long way toward solving Terra's economic problems. The creation of the Star League would complete the task.

The Hegemony's role as peacemaker was a great success publicly, and Director Ian Cameron was hailed as the greatest leader since James McKenna. Meanwhile, for the next 13 years, he continued his relentless, but secret, campaign to persuade the rest of the Inner Sphere to join with him in the Star League. It has been said that he was a man with a golden tongue, a skilled and charismatic negotiator. What few people know or wish to recognize was that Cameron had a very special assistant in his quest. That man was Albert Marik, who was able to offer clandestine and often devious assistance along the path that would eventually lead mankind to the Star League.

Modern historians now place the end of the Age of War with the signing of the Andurien Peace Treaty of 2556. Terrence Liao's invasion of the Andurien system must have been a kind of last gasp, for the people of the Inner Sphere had long since grown weary of the continual stress of war. By 2556, interstellar manufacture and trade in consumer goods had already begun to pick up because of the loosening of wartime priorities and trade restrictions. Raw materials were flowing into the Hegemony at an unprecedented rate, creating a major expansion of heavy and technical industries. The Hegemony was also doing a brisk business selling their finished products to the other states. With the general thaw, Cameron negotiated numerous trade and non-aggression pacts that led to lowering nearly all trade barriers in the Inner Sphere and to a near-total cease-fire. No matter how much other House leaders might hold out against the idea of a Star League, Cameron and his secret ally Albert Marik knew that it was just a matter of time.

Though Ian Cameron wished to keep the Treaty of Geneva a secret so that it would not complicate negotiations with other Houses, the enormity of such a task was too much for even Lord Ian's most trusted staff. Only a month after the signing, the entire Hegemony was abuzz with rumors of Lord Ian's Star League and what it would mean for humanity. The vast majority of people were in favor. Anything that might prevent violence like that of the past century was worth trying. Though the Hegemony had not suffered as heavily as the other states, her people certainly understood the tragic cost of war. Yet, even as the rumors flew, some people questioned how the Star League could be effective unless all the interstellar governments joined. Was Lord Ian, in his effort to avoid war, leading the Hegemony directly into one?

It was not too long before rumors of the Treaty of Geneva had spread beyond the Hegemony's borders into the other states of the Inner Sphere. In the Capellan Confederation and the Free Worlds League things were in motion. Corporations had begun to draw up plans for buying into Terran companies, ordinary citizens began to anticipate buying Hegemony products, and even the troops, who would no longer be at war, were excited at the prospect of handling Hegemony weapons, which were legendary among the Inner Sphere. But when the other Houses of the Inner Sphere heard of the Treaty of Geneva shivers of political panic shot through them. Three united realms, led by the technically superior Terran Hegemony, would be an almost unstoppable force. Cameron knew he could use these fears to his advantage, and so he and Albert Marik began to put on more pressure, most of it through clandestine activities. These included bribery and infiltration to influence the Steiner government, and interference in the affairs of the Federated Suns to precipitate that realm's economic crisis of 2566.

Of the three remaining Inner Sphere realms, the Lyran Commonwealth was by far the most important to the nascent Star League. The Commonwealth was so crucial to Lord Ian's plans that he had been attempting since 2551 to win that state's participation in the League. Leader of the Commonwealth at that time was Archon Craig Steiner, a wise and shrewd man then riding on the crest of his popularity. Through careful manipulation of Lyran laws, he had managed to stimulate a boom in the Commonwealth's economy. This had attracted many eager Hegemony investors across the border to pour billions into Commonwealth corporations. Still, the Lyran Commonwealth and the Terran Hegemony had a history of good relations, and even enjoyed a tie of marriage though Brian Cameron and Katherine McQuiston. Craig Steiner held out against Ian Cameron's persuasive arguments for joining the Star League though, because he feared the Star League would absorb the Lyran economy. This changed in 2555 when Tracial Steiner came to power and the new Archon decided to join the Star League.

Lord Ian could now turn his full attention to the last two holdouts of the Inner Sphere, the Federated Suns and the Draconis Combine. The leaders of these realms each had different reason to resist becoming a member of the Star League. Hehiro Kurita saw the benefits of membership, but he would need a powerful rationale to convince the Combine nobility to foreswear the goal of Kurita supremacy in favor of the Star League. As for Alexander Davion, his state had only recently emerged from a civil war that had almost torn the Federated Suns apart. Alexander had every intention of one day joining the League, but not until the Federated Suns was well on the way to recovery. He wanted the Federated Suns to join the Star League from a position of strength rather than one of weakness.

As such, by 2567, Alexander Davion was ready to accept Ian Cameron's latest offer, which guaranteed that the Star League would carry out preemptive strikes against Combine targets in the event of a Davion-Kurita war. He knew that his realm's economy needed a boost, for it was still suffering from the effects of war and many years of secret tampering by Albert Marik's agents. The New Avalon Accords, signed October 27, 2567, formally declared the Federated Suns membership in the Star League. This deeply worried the Draconis Combine, but two years later Ian Cameron made the same promise of military assistance to Hehiro Kurita, which gave the Draconis Coordinator an argument in favor of joining the Star League. The Treaty of Vega, setting forth the terms of the Draconis Combine's membership in the Star League, was signed August 15, 2569. At long last, the Star League was born.

Over the next two years, the six leaders of the Inner Sphere met in a series of conferences in Geneva to hammer out exactly how the Star League would operate. By summer 2571, they had drafted a 2,000-page document known as the Star League Accords. In an unprecedented moment of history, the six rulers of the Inner Sphere appeared on the floor of the Hegemony Congress on July 9. 2571. Each solemnly read the Preamble of the Star League Accords to the large audience gathered to witness the historic event and then signed his or her name to the document, before, handing the quill pen to the next. Coordinator Hehiro Kurita of the Draconis Combine signed first, then Prince Alexander Davion of the Federated Suns, then Archon Viola Steiner-Dinesen followed by Chancellor Ursula Liao of the Capellan Confederation and Captain-General Albert Marik of the Free Worlds League.

Last to sign was Ian Cameron. Deeply moved by the realization of his dream, he shook hands with each leader, thanking them for leading their realms away from war and toward peace. After reciting the Star League Preamble from memory in a loud, clear voice, he, too, signed the document with a flourish. According to legend, a tear fell from Cameron's eye at that moment, accounting for a small stain just below his large, bold signature.

And so with this last thread tied mankind had been unified for the first time since the early days of the Terran Alliance. The Golden Age was upon us.

Sewing the Wind:

Of course, despite the fairy tale quality that stories of the Star League entail, the new order was far from perfect and far from paradise. The Star League was a human creation; a human realm run by flawed human beings and was far from perfect. Still, while it was far from a Kingdom of Heaven it was nevertheless a paradise compared to the horrors that would follow it. Still, it is important to note that even after the signing of the Star League Accords, a difficult birth for the new nation was soon to follow. Most significantly, as the Star League began to take shape the Cameron dynasty was increasingly drawn into their duties as First Lord, allowing their powers as the Hegemony Director-General to lapse, falling into the hand of the High Council and the President of the Hegemony Congress. While this had no significant effects for generations to come, the Hegemony had been weakened by this shift.

As sad as it is obvious in hindsight, the seeds of the Star League's destruction were sewn almost as soon as it was created. Ian Cameron's dream of humanity united under one government always envisioned the Taurian Concordat, the Magistracy of Canopus, the Rim Worlds Republic, and the Outworlds Alliance, the four major Confederations of the Periphery, as part of the Star League. Yet the fiercely independent governments and people of the Periphery did not share that dream. Those distant worlds had originally been settled by people disenchanted either with life on Terra or in what became the five other states of the Inner Sphere. Why would they seek to realign themselves with Terra or her offspring now?

Truth be told most people of the Inner Sphere looked down with ill-concealed contempt on their Periphery counterparts, perceiving them as scoundrels, ne'er-do-wells, radicals, or savages. Even more so, the Cameron family had its own private hatred of the Periphery because of an incident that occurred in 2499. In that year, one Lieutenant John Cameron was a second officer aboard the Orion, an unarmed survey vessel exploring a star system beyond the Lyran Commonwealth. In the Orion's last message, the ship reported being attacked by an unidentified vessel. When a Hegemony search party eventually located the survey vessel, it was an empty hulk with not a trace of crew. Though no conclusive proof ever turned up, some evidence indicated that a Rim Worlds Republic warship had attacked the Orion. The Camerons vowed that one day they would make those Periphery bandits pay dearly.

All of this tension culminated in the Reunification War, which would rage for twenty years and claim more lives than all the battles of the Age of War combined. The Ares Conventions were readily discarded and atrocities were all too common. It is a sad fact that the Star League, dedicated to peace and prosperity, would make such a brutal war its first undertaking, but it was not simply soured idealism or personal grudges that motivated the conflict. Because of traditional antipathy as well as distrust of a government centralized on Terra, all Periphery states almost universally rejected the Star League Accords. Ian Cameron's attempts to woo them with diplomacy, trade, and propaganda all failed and this, coupled with a series of diplomatic incidents and military disasters culminated in the declaration of war in 2575.

For their own reasons, the High Council Lords supported the declaration of war. Some believed that a foreign war would serve to distract their people from domestic crisis; others hoped that military buildup would stimulate their economies, which had begun to suffer from League trade embargoes with the Periphery. Most, however, needed something to keep their soldiers occupied now that peace had broken out and all were convinced that a joint military action with the newly created Star League Defense Force would cement the fragile League alliance. As such, Ian Cameron issued the Pollux Proclamation in 2575, demanding that the Periphery States join the Star League, or else. Unsurprisingly, the Periphery States refused and within six months the SLDF was marshaled.

No one in the League expected the war last more than five years at most, but what emerged was an extremely brutal, 20 year campaign that brought untold sorrow and suffering. Millions died, millions more were crippled and countless worlds were damaged almost beyond repair. In a shadow of what was to come space station, docks, and industrial complexes were targeted without discrimination, food supplies were destroyed, water sources poisoned and civilians killed in mass numbers. But for all the dogged determination of the Periphery States, they were ultimate no match for the numerically and technologically superior SLDF.

With the surrender of the Rim Worlds and then the Taurian Concordat in 2596, the Reunification War finally came to an end. In 2597, the four conquered Periphery governments became Territorial States of the Star League, with large occupation forces present to enforce the will of the League-appointed Military Governors. Most of these garrison forces would be withdrawn in 2607, when home rule was reestablished and Star League Associate-Member status accorded to the four Territorial States.

To soften the trauma of these changes, the Star League launched a massive reconstruction effort and propaganda campaign to "foster good will between the distant frontiers and the cradle of Humanity." The people of the Periphery reacted with cynicism at first, finding it hard to believe such propaganda after all that had occurred. As the years passed and the Star League government's reconstruction efforts began to show results, many citizens of the Periphery began to feel at least a grudging respect for their former enemies. More than that, despite the costs and horrors of the Reunification War the Star League did mange to significantly increase the standard if living in most of the Periphery.

For the next 150 years, the Star League would guarantee its people an unparalleled era of peace, prosperity, high technology, and improved quality of life. Ian Cameron did not live to see the true greatness of the Star League, which flowered only after the Reunification War. As with all things though, it would not last.

The Wolf and the Snake:

The beginning of the end of the Star League began in 2696. While on a diplomatic mission to the Draconis Combine, Mary Davion, daughter of Prince Roger Davion, met and fell in love with Soto Kurita, son of Urizen Kurita and brother of the current Coordinator, Takiro Kurita. In spite of her family's protests, Mary and Soto married. Their union produced two sons and a daughter. According to the ancient traditions of primogeniture, the entire Federated Suns would pass from the Davion family into the hands of the dreaded Kurita upon Prince Roger Davion's death. Because Mary was raising the children as Kuritas and not Davions, Prince Roger was desperate to prevent them from claiming the Davion throne.

The problem was thought to be resolved in 2700 when the Act of Succession was passed, which called for Mary Davion to relinquish her children's rights to succession and recognized Joseph Davion as heir to the throne. Mary signed her consent in 2702. The crisis seemed resolved. The issue re-emerged when Mary Davion died in 2715, just as Prince Joseph was about to name his 19-year-old son heir to the throne. Almost immediately after her death, embassies from House Kurita arrived demanding that Mary's eldest son, Vincent Kurita, be named heir. The Davion family dismissed the claim as ludicrous. They did not expect the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine to take the matter to the High Council.

During the spring and winter sessions of 2716, Coordinator Takiro Kurita pleaded his case and produced convincing evidence that Mary Davion had expected her son to become Prince of the Federated Suns. The seeming authenticity of the Coordinator's documents, apparently signed by Mary Davion, cast doubt on the Davion Act of Succession and placed the question of who would rule the Federated Suns squarely in the lap of First Lord Jonathan Cameron. The First Lord knew that if he decided the issue, there was a strong possibility that the losing party would withdraw his government from the Star League. Jonathan Cameron therefore ordered an investigative commission to study the question. He declared that if Prince Joseph died before the question was decided, the Star League would rule in favor of the Federated Suns. Though this was not entirely satisfactory to the Davion Prince, it guaranteed that his realm would not fall suddenly into the Kurita family's hands.

Long had a series of "Hidden Wars" plagued the Star League. Most of these were at the initiation of House Kurita and often involved duels of honor between Kurita House troops and SLDF MechWarriors. More often than not, the SLDF lost, which was what motivated the formation of the Gunslinger Program to bring the SLDF's dueling skills up to par. The second such "Hidden War" broke out in response to this very succession crisis. When the commission still had not decided anything after eight years, Takiro Kurita decided the issue for himself. The Kurita Coordinator assembled a large invasion force on the Federated Suns border and then began his offensive. In early 2725, the Eleventh Benjamin Regulars, a Kurita 'Mech regiment trained in city fighting, landed on the Davion world of Marduk.

The Federated Suns sought quick revenge and Prince Joseph ordered a strike deep within the Draconis Combine. Though the war between the two most powerful Houses threatened to destroy the Star League, First Lord Jonathan hesitated. Long loosing his grip on sanity and increasingly plagued by visions of a destroyed Terra, the First Lord refused to commit Star League troops for fear of leaving the Hegemony undefended. With Davion troops on the offensive, Coordinator Kurita used his assembled forces not to defend, but to launch a drive of his own. Draconis regiments began a push directly toward New Avalon. Though the Federated Suns blunted that drive and occasionally handed the Kuritans a setback, the Combine troops gradually gained ground during the next four years of the War of Davion Succession.

At the Court of the Star League, impatience with First Lord Jonathan's detachment was growing. SLDF Commanding General Ikolor Fredasa was one of those most concerned and he led delegations to the abbey of Jonathan's sister, Mother Jocasta Cameron in an attempt to persuade her to take over for her brother. When Mother Jocasta refused General Fredasa's offer of support for her to depose First Lord Jonathan, he began spreading rumors that she was planning a coup. Knowing his sister would never do such a thing; Jonathan was enraged and ordered the plotters arrested. General Fredasa, BSLA Commander Gregory Wallace, and Revenue Director Bruce Hinchcliffe IV were tried for treason and hanged.

But the episode did convince First Lord Jonathan that he needed help, and he turned to his sister. Through her "suggestions," she became de facto First Lord, or at the very least his closest adviser. Jonathan quickly named Mother Jocasta's close friend, General Rebecca Fetladral, as Commander-in-Chief. Once in position, General Fetladral immediately began to plan Operation Smother to stop the War of Davion Succession and reunite the Star League. Unfortunately, at precisely the same time a civil war erupted in the Free Worlds League over Marik succession, but the Star League remained strictly neutral, even when urged to intervene by the Capellan Confederation and the Lyran Commonwealth. General Fetladral and Mother Jocasta realized that the Steiners and Liaos were hoping for the departure of SLDF units so they could grab Hegemony worlds. Upon Mother Jocasta's advice, First Lord Jonathan declared the Free Worlds League fighting an internal affair and ordered General Fetladral to concentrate on ending the War of Davion Succession.

Not knowing that help would soon arrive and watching his troops being pushed back, Prince Joseph Davion made a decision that turned out to be fatal. To rally his troops, he took command of the counterattack on Royal. When his 'Mech was disabled in the fight, the Kurita 'Mechs swarmed over him. The death of their Lord shocked the Davion troops, who fell back and soon retreated off Royal. Before the Kurita forces could exploit their good fortune, Operation Smother began. Five flotillas carrying five Star League divisions were already heading for the contested worlds of Breed, Kiathandu IV, Lima, Royal, and Wapakoneta. General Fetladral chose some of her best units: the Twenty-sixth Royal BattleMech Division (The Graham Division), the 159th Royal Mechanized Infantry Division (The Athena Division), the Thirty-ninth Royal BattleMech Division (The Denebola Division), the 160th BattleMech Division (The Sirius Division), and the First Jump Infantry Division (The Hellraisers from Heaven).

The simultaneous appearance of five Star League fleets and the dispatching of hundreds of Star League DropShips toward the five embattled planets surprised both the Davions and the Kuritas. Operation Smother succeeded in ending the fighting. It also humbled House Kurita and Davion before the power of the SLDF. First Lord Jonathan Cameron, depending heavily on Mother Jocasta for advice, severely chastised both realms. He was harder on the Draconis Combine, restoring the border to its 2724 position and forever denying the Kurita claim to the Davion throne. The campaign also, incidentally, showed the courage and skill of a young Hegemony office, the then Captain Alexandr Kerensky. The Kuritans were bound to accept the First Lord's decisions but they did not forget that the Camerons had again discriminated against and humiliated the Draconis Combine.

Jonathan and Jocasta continued on as co-rulers for another twenty years, the First Lord willingly giving more and more authority to his sister as his mind deteriorated and he applied himself to more humanitarian pursuits, which had always brought him pleasure. Indeed, in the lasts years of his reign he was much beloved for his relief and educational initiatives. When he died in 2738, his son Simon came to power. The 39-year-old Simon had been the Director-General of the Terran Hegemony for four years and because of this experience in dealing with Hegemony bureaucracy, he was amply qualified to become the First Lord.

Simon was neither glib nor suave. He was a no-nonsense ruler who spoke his mind bluntly and made even blunter demands. Beneath the brutally practical side of Simon was a deep idealism, however. He read voraciously, as did most Camerons, and the authors he most admired were members of the recent Modern Chivalrists Movement. Writers such as Uston DeKirk, Toshiro Ohiriko, Mina Samuals, and Bonnie Cracken, believers in a strict code of personal behavior, deeply influenced the new First Lord's early development, so much so that he appointed Mina Samuals as one of his advisers. The First Lord encountered difficulty adapting his strict morals to the administration of the Star League however. When he was Director-General, he had ruled a homogenous realm whose people agreed with his beliefs. To rule ten different states, each with its own culture and values was a very different and far more complicated situation.

Though he believed in a strong military, First Lord Simon Cameron spurned the Space Defense Systems that were so important to his father. He allowed the completion of the partially built SDS networks, but canceled plans for the rest. Anticipating trouble in the Periphery, First Lord Simon instead ordered the construction of massive fortifications on key worlds in the four Periphery states, virtual copes of the ancient Castles Brian still in use on Hegemony worlds. Ultimately his suspicious about trouble in the Periphery would prove to be true, but in a way he could never have imagined. Distracted by tensions with the High Council and discontent within the League, Simon took his agenda to the people with a League-wide tour. Despite some initial successes, at Star's End Simon was killed in a mine collapse while touring the facilities on that world. Rumors of assassination continue to run rampant, but in the end no one is certain if the death of the First Lord in Kurita territory was accident or plot.

The history that follows is well known, and needs not be repeated in detail here. The High Council agreed to appoint 8 years old Richard Cameron as First Lord with now General Alexandr Kerensky as Regent, but it was also clear that the Council Lords had every intention of using this opportunity to grab as much power as possible. Growing up young Richard was drawn increasingly into the orbit of Stephen Amaris, leader of the Rim World Republic, who was positioning himself even then for a coupe. When Richard finally did take power at the age of 19 Amaris was one of his closest friends and advisers. Under the "advisement" of Amaris, Lord Richard began to issue a series of proclamations that alienated the other High Lords and the Periphery Realms, including demands that all member nations cut their armed forces, particularly their 'Mech garrisons, in half. When these measures finally drove the Periphery into a state of open rebellion, First Lord Richard dispatched the SLDF under Kerensky to bring them back into the fold. To free up more troops for the offensive, even Cameron House units were sent while Rim World troops took their place in the Hegemony.

It was the opportunity Amaris had been waiting for, and in 2766 he initiated his coupe d'etat, killed the First Lord and all of his family and proclaimed himself First Lord of the Star League. The other House Lords remained neutral in the conflict, but even so the war between Amaris and Kerensky was the most brutal affair the Inner Sphere had ever seen, paling in comparison to the Reunification War or even the Succession Wars to follow. The war lasted twelve years and saw brutality on a scale never before imagined. The Rim Worlds Republic was brought to its knees by scorched planet tactics and the full use of orbital bombardment and nuclear weapons. The fortifications of the Terran Hegemony, so carefully constructed by generations of Camerons to defend the realm now sheltered the line's murderer. By 2779, when SLDF units at last stood at the gates of the Court of the Star League, almost 80% of their divisions had been destroyed or disabled on the drive to Terra. And lastly, and most deeply wounding to the soldiers of the SLDF, the final attack cost Alexandr Kerensky his life.

Even so, the SLDF under Aaron DeChevalier was successful in killing the Usurper and toppling his armies. The war was over, the Terran Hegemony was in ruins, and though no one would say it aloud the Star League was dead. The universe held its breath and waited.

From the Ashes:

When the High Council met in a devastated Unity City for the last time in 2780, officiated by Aaron DeChevalier as acting Regent to the as of yet unnamed First Lord, no one was certain what would happen. For weeks the Council deadlocked, unable to select a new First Lord. In a real sense it had been the technological and military supremacy of the Terran Hegemony and the charisma of the Cameron Dynasty that had maintained the Star League and both of those were now gone. Each of the Successor Lords, as they came to be known, wished to make their own dynasty the new rulers of the League and each of the others was determined to stop them. All became increasingly convinced that they were simply wasting time, but at the moment no one was willing to simply state the obvious and go to war.

Out of the chaos the Council did, however, manage to make three important decisions. First, they agreed that the HPG communication network needed to be repaired. For this task they selected Jerome Blake, an HPG technician that had fought alongside the SLDF against Amaris. Appointing him the Minister of Communication, he was charged with the broad task of reorganizing the network. Second, they agreed that in light of his long years of service and defeat of the Usurper Amaris at the cost of his own life, General Kerensky was to be honored as a Hero of the Inner Sphere and his family rewarded in his name. Finally, they ordered General DeChevalier to demobilize the remaining SLDF divisions. Even if no one was willing to say it, all of the Successor Lords were convinced that military aggression would be required to seize the title of First Lord and the SLDF was a barrier to such actions. Recognizing this fact easily enough, DeChevalier refused and the Successor Lords left the Court, never to return.

Six more years passed as an uneasy peace settled across the Inner Sphere, each Successor State preparing its military for the coming confrontation. The Hegemony did its best to rebuild, but its industry was shattered, its military demoralized and its government in tatters. Indeed, DeChevalier was essentially ruling as a warlord over the nation, but he was far from a tyrant and few protested his actions. War was on the horizon. The only major change during this time was the formation of ComStar in 2785, when Jerome Blake, as the first Primus, declared his organization to be independent and neutral as well as in control of all HPG stations in the Inner Sphere and Periphery. Moreover, he was able to convince the Successor Lords to agree to this by promising that communication on all worlds would be open for use by anyone, even spies, without questions being asked. Realizing how vital open communications would be the Successor Lords agreed. DeChevalier did one better, he moved the Hegemony's fragile military government, along with several factory complexes, to the world of Outreach, ceding control of the old capital, of the cradle itself, to ComStar.

Although publicly claiming that he had done this to ensure Terra's neutrality and preserve the memories of those who had fallen there, in one swift move DeChevalier had removed Terra as a prize in the coming war, easing tensions on the Hegemony, and gaining ComStar's unofficial support for the realm. Although not much at the time, the Hegemony needed all the help it could get. There was some grumbling over this from the other House Lords, but ultimately they agreed to respect Terra's newfound neutrality. Besides, other than its value as a symbol Terra had little strategic importance and its once prosperous industries had been virtually destroyed in the Amaris War. Despite this, as the eye of the storm ground on, the SLDF began to waiver. Although respected, DeChevalier was not Alexandr Kerensky; he possessed neither the drive nor the charisma to keep the SLDF together in the face of these troubled times. By 2786 nearly 15% of the remaining divisions had defected, either returning to the nations they were recruited from or joining the remnants of Amaris' troops as mercenaries.

Once the SLDF had weakened significantly to ensure that it could no longer play a role as peacekeeper in the Inner Sphere, the First Succession War broke out in 2786. The still rebuilding divisions were thrown into chaos as all of the other five Successor States attempted to conquer the Hegemony. Most suspected the tired realm would fall quickly, and initial battles seemed to bear this out. Davion forces seized the Kentares system as well as other key worlds that had once been jointly owned by the two powers. Liao seized the Tikinov Reaches, while Steiner troops captured Hesperus II and its vital BattleMech factories as well as several other worlds in what came to be called the Lyon's Thumb. The Draconis Combine also seized some worlds near Dieron, but very soon Minoru Kurita shifted his focus to the Federated Suns, attacking through the recently conquered Kentares system. Many suspect that this easing of pressures on the frontiers ensured the Hegemony's survival.

However, just when all seemed lost a single man stepped forward to seize the reigns of the Hegemony and rally the SLDF Divisions. Nicholas Kerensky, Alexandr's oldest son stepped out of his father's shadow to cast his own upon history. With intelligence, drive, and sheer charisma that even eclipsed that of his father on occasion, Nicholas rallied the people of the Hegemony and the SLDF, leading them personally in their drive to stop the invasion and even to reverse it in places. While the Hegemony borders did shrink in the First Succession War, they never shrunk again after it. After the assassination of Minoru Kurita on Kentares, Nicholas managed to take advantage of the confusion to reverse some of the Hegemony's losses, pushing the Combine offensive near Dieron back and seizing Combine worlds along the border. Distracted as he was by revenge, Jinjiro Kurita did not initially oppose these moves.

By the time the hell of the First Succession War ended some forty years later, Nicholas Kerensky was the undisputed master of the new Terran Hegemony and his line would continue to rule it to this day. More than that, as proof of his drive and brilliance, he was able to rebuild the Hegemony's government, reorganize its military, and stabilize its economy. While he would meet his death in the Second Succession War attempting to recapture Hesperus II from the Lyrans, his legacy survived when Anya Kerensky succeeded him without protest from the population. A sixth Successor State with a new Successor Lord had emerged from the ashes of the old Star League, and beneath the sign of the wolf they would shake the Inner Sphere.

The Wolf's Lair

In Service of the Hegemony

In the days of 2780, marked by many as the rebirth of the Terran Hegemony, the picture seemed grim at best. The Amaris War was barely over and it seemed as if a newer and even more terrible war was brewing on the horizon. The Hegemony was battered and bloody, its economy in tatters, its infrastructure destroyed and the remnants of the SLDF were still binding their wounds. Civilization itself seemed on the very verge of collapse, with a breakdown of even basic services and governance. The Planetary Governors were gone, the Hegemony Congress destroyed and the local assemblies had been killed or driven into hiding long ago. It was only by dint of the size and loyalty of the SLDF that the situation had not completely collapsed. The six long years leading up to the First Succession War were not much better. DeChevalier focused primarily on rebuilding the shattered military and restoring basic services, as well as consolidating the Hegemony's industrial might on worlds like Outreach and New Earth, moves which proved prudent but which not stem the tide of anxiety.

During the Hell of the First Succession War as Nicholas Kerensky began to take a larger and larger role, he had little time to worry about political matters. Indeed, by dint of his control of the military and force of personality he was recognized as the leader of the Terran Hegemony. Even so, the Hegemony was still in ruins and as the war ground on Nicholas realized that some sort of return to normalcy was necessary for the population. Yet it was not until the end of the First War in 2826 that Nicholas, now the de facto leader of the Hegemony and its virtual king, could turn his energies toward the rebuilding and restructuring of the government. Most suspected that with peace, tenuous though it was, a return to the old Hegemony was imminent. A new family had clearly risen to leadership, but few had any inkling of the changes that were to come. To the surprise of more than a few, Nicholas Kerensky partially dismantled and completely revamped the old systems of governance. Nicholas did not fully reject the semi-democracy of James McKenna, but the new government he outlined would be decided more autocratic and militaristic in nature. In so doing, it has been said, he completed the work of the Cameron Dynasty, declaring the Hegemony to be a monarchy with the newly elevated Kerensky family in control of the throne.

Early in 2827 Nicholas addressed his nation from the burgeoning new capital of Outreach in a realm-wide HPG broadcast. Although most of his speech regarded mundane matters of mourning and rebuilding, Nicholas also addressed the future and the full rebuilding of the government. As his people watched with bated breath, Nicholas announced the new shape of the nation. McKenna's Hegemony Charter was re-issued and again proclaimed the basis of the Terran Hegemony's government, but a series of decrees known as the Kerensky Corollaries modified this document significantly. The Head of State, still known as the Director-General would henceforth encompass two additional positions: Lord Protector of the Realm and First Lord of the Hegemony Congress. In addition, the broad powers already attached to these positions in the past were formalized, transforming the Director-General into a monarch in name as well as in fact, and given exclusively to the Kerensky family on a hereditary basis. The High Council still had to approve of the selection of a new Director-General, but no more would the people vote on the issue.

Perhaps even more shocking, Kerensky also announced that the system of nobility introduced by Michael Cameron would be formalized. While noble titles would continue to be offered as rewards for service to the state, nobles would now be fully integrated into the bureaucracy and such titles could become hereditary. Planetary assemblies would still be elected, but they would no longer play a direct role in the governance of the Hegemony. Most suspect that Nicholas was simply trying to formalize a situation that already existed, that of local SLDF garrison commanders having virtually full military and political control of their planets. While such systems had already existed for centuries in most of the rest of the Inner Sphere and beyond, the people of the Hegemony found it shocking to say the least. Centuries of tradition has been seemingly turned on its head, and in the wake of the First Succession War the possibility of revolt, or even civil war, must have seemed very real.

Despite resistance and criticism, Nicholas was also probably the most widely known and popular figure in the Hegemony at the time. Where another would-be king would probably have been rejected, Kerensky succeeded. This new "constitution" was ratified by what was left of the government and Nicholas Kerensky was formally sworn in as the Director-General of the Terran Hegemony. Among his first acts, Nicholas formally reapportioned the Hegemony into six new districts and announced that new elections for the Hegemony Congress would be held in eight months, along with a series of new guidelines for those elections. At the same time each world in the Hegemony would elect its own Planetary Assembly and after the elections new Planetary Governors would be appointed and the new Peer List would be announced. To the surprise of many, the young Kerensky government survived this first trial and, on the sheer weight of Nicholas' charisma (and perhaps the memory of his father) the people accepted this new state and its new, more openly monarchic leaders.

The new government, already loosely based on Outreach honoring General DeChevalier's decision, began to create a new capital city known as Harlech. Also known as Wolf City after the emblem of the Kerensky family, beneath both the Cameron Star and the Emblem of Sol it has grown to be one of the great wonders of the galaxy. In addition to governmental centers and buildings, the planet also soon became host to the family lands of House Kerensky, monuments to the Amaris War and the lost Star League, as well as major military academies to replace those lost on Terra and Mars. In time, Outreach also became the most heavily industrialized planet in the Hegemony as more and more industrial centers were shipped, piece by piece, from the fragile borders to safer worlds in the core of the Hegemony. While much smaller in terms of landmass than old Terra, Outreach has become the new jewel of the Hegemony in the centuries since and continues to shine. It is a mélange of peoples, goods and cultures from across the Hegemony, as well as one of the most prosperous worlds in the realm. At the heart of it all is the Wolf's Lair, as the Hegemony's governmental complex is known, itself a smaller (and much less ornate) reproduction of the Court of the Star League, a shining beacon of the Hegemony's recovery and power.

It is a place of hope for the people of the Hegemony, and a lightning rod for hopeless romantics and desperate dreamers who one day envision Outreach as the core of a new Star League under the command of the Kerenskys.

Governmental Structure and Organization:

The current government of the Hegemony is very much a top-down, hierarchical affair that makes heavy use of the semi-feudal systems that most other Successor States developed long ago. Indeed, the Hegemony was the last of the Successor States to officially make use of nobility as the ruling class of the realm. While there has certainly been some resistance to this over the years, by and large most Hegemony citizens have grown used to the status quo. The system works for the most part, and the average Hegemony citizen enjoys far more freedom and stability than those of most other Successor States do. And besides that, powerful enemies, enemies that the realm's military have struggled mightily with and suffered equally mightily to contain, surround the Hegemony. Should not these soldiers and their families enjoy some benefits for their suffering and sacrifice? Or that is the theory anyway.

On paper, the Hegemony government has five levels. At the peak is the Director-General. Below him or her are the High Council and the Hegemony Congress. Beneath them are the various noble ranks that rule over individual planets and groups of planets. The lowest link in the chain is formed by the Planetary Assemblies and the Planetary Governors who oversee them. In reality however the system is far more complicated than that. Some positions are elected or appointed for various reasons and possess seemingly overlapping authority. Moreover, membership in any ranks of government often overlaps with the various noble titles while the military is heavily entwined at all levels. Even so, the system has managed to function remarkably well over the centuries with the indomitable Kerensky family at the head. Whether this success is a result of good leadership or good planning is a subject of some debate.

Director-General

At the pinnacle of government power stands the Director-General, a virtual king with broad powers over the Hegemony's government and armed forces. By the decree of the Kerensky Corollaries, the post of Director-General is considered a hereditary title passed on through the bloodline of House Kerensky, and to date no one has ever successfully challenged this right. In theory, the Director-General serves as something of the first minister of the state who works in conjunction with the Hegemony Congress, but in reality the relationship between the two is quite clear. As both the Lord Protector of the Realm and the First Lord of the Hegemony Congress the Director-General has numerous routes that he or she can use to bypass this system. From simple measures like veto power of congressional decisions, to Executive Orders to the fact that both the High Council and the heads of most departments serve at the discretion of the Director-General means that there is little that can truly stop a determined Kerensky.

High Council

At its core, the High Council is a body of nine individuals (usually selected from among former Hegemony Congressmen or Planetary Governors) who serve as a cabinet to oversee the functions of the Hegemony Congress itself as well as to serve as the ultimate heads of the various government departments and as watchdogs over the bureaucracy. In addition, they form the advisory body to the Director-General though any serious discussions will usually also include other important individuals like the Commanding General and Fleet Admiral of the THDF and the Director of the Hegemony Intelligence Corps. Finally, the High Council is responsible for approving the selection of an heir for the post of Director-General, though many question exactly how much say they really have over the process. Selected solely by the Director-General, appointment to the High Council is for life or until voluntary retirement, thought the Director has full power to dismiss High Councilors if they so choose.

Hegemony Congress

A very different beast compared to what it once was, the current Hegemony Congress is an interesting entity with far more influence in politics than many would initially believe. At its base, the Hegemony Congress is a unicameral legislature with members selected from across the Hegemony. As a whole, the Terran Hegemony is divided into six districts known as corridors. Although originally conceived as military defense districts, the corridors have since become the core components of the state. Each corridor is assigned a number of congressmen based upon the number of worlds in that corridor as well as the population of those worlds. The individual Planetary Assemblies then select the candidates who will become members of the Hegemony Congress on Outreach. Much like under the days of James McKenna, political parties are officially illegal in the Terran Hegemony, although factions do unofficially form regardless and in general House Kerensky has looked the other way. In any case, the congress as a whole functions much like any other legislature. They debate policy, set budgets and approve bills which the Director-General may sign into law. As a further safeguard the High Council, which handles the day to day business of overseeing the congress though the Director is technically in charge, must, in a separate vote, approve of any bill the Hegemony Congress passes. As its final duty, the Hegemony Congress must select one of its members to serve as the President of the Hegemony Congress. The president effectively runs the congress, but also serves as the Director-General Pro-Tem if and when the Director-General is away from Outreach.

Nobles

Over the years, many Kerensky detractors have pointed to the fact that Nicholas Kerensky dismantled the last vestiges of democracy within the Hegemony and created a noble class to rule in its place. The truth of the matter is that a noble class already existed in all but name; Nicholas just chose to recognize this reality and utilize it for his own purposes. Using the system devised by Michael Cameron as its basis, Nicholas heavily restructured the old nobility in order to co-opt the support of these individuals in establishing a stable government and military defense. However, the current system of nobility in the Hegemony also has several unique twists. Unlike the nobles of other Successor States, who are given hereditary lands and titles to do with as they will; the nobles of the Terran Hegemony are considered administrators only. Every world in the Hegemony is considered the property of House Kerensky. As such, rather than being given land, nobles are given a series of responsibilities to oversee the political and military affairs of a world, a sector or a corridor. In exchange for performing their duties, these nobles in turn are allowed a percentage of their region's tax revenues as a salary. While prudent nobles will invest this money in lands or businesses to maintain their economic and social status, their positions are not truly hereditary, although unofficially most posts tend to remain within a family.

In addition, Hegemony nobles are not absolute rulers. They are considered the executives and executors of their territories, but must work alongside the elected Planetary Assemblies in order to actually oversee their domains. In theory, this is to ensure that the Director-General has a direct chain of command that stretches down all the way to the planetary level, while at the same time ensuring that the population has some say in its own local rule as well as having the ability to appoint representatives to the Hegemony Congress itself. The only real exception to this rule are the Knights, who do not actually have any political responsibilities. These noble positions, which anyone can aspire to and which are not hereditary, do come with grants of land as rewards for gallant service, military or otherwise. However, because they play only a limited role in the political life of the Hegemony they are not considered part of the system. In any case, excluding knights, from lowest to highest there are four ranks of noble titles.

Baron/Baroness- The lowest of the true noble ranks, barons vary widely in power and, indeed, the title is sometime used purely honorifically to refer to junior members of a high-ranking family. True barons, however, generally administer fairly small regions, usually a single city or fortress complex, though some barons control large stretches of border territory or entire continents of a world. The most purely military of the nobles, most barons are assigned to oversee the defense of volatile regions.

Count/Countess- Officially serving as planetary rulers, counts are responsible for overseeing the political, military and legal functions of all Hegemony worlds and answer directly to the marquis is charge of their sector. Counts who serve on border worlds are often referred to as margraves (Count of the Border March). Technically, they are of the same ranks as any other count, but are often given considerably more leeway and influence in recognition of their dangerous postings.

Marquis/Marchioness- For administrative purposes Hegemony worlds are placed together into groups of three to eight planets known as sectors. One of the counts of this sector is generally appointed as the marquis of the sector; though in some cases the Director-General has appointed a separate noble to oversee the local counts.

Duke/Duchess- The highest ranking of all the nobles titles, there are six dukes of the realm who each serve as the leaders of the one of the great corridors. These are the Duke of Addicks, the Duke of Denebola, the Duke of Dieron, the Duke of Nanking, the Duke of Tyrfing and the Duke of Terra (though House Kerensky has always held this title). Answering directly to the Director-General and working closely with the Hegemony Congress, these nobles coordinate and oversee all political functions of the Six Corridors as the highest link in the chain of administration as well as command all military forces within the region.

Planetary Assembly

Perhaps the last bastion of democracy remaining in the Terran Hegemony, each member world is required to elect a local assembly of some to type assist in administration. A great deal of latitude exists in how these assemblies can be formed and what role they can play in the state. While most are modeled along the Hegemony Congress, other legislative forms have been elected as well such as bicameral and even tricameral congresses. Whatever their form, members of these assemblies are required, by law, to serve as two-year probational term. After two years, the people may then decide if an assemblyman deserves a full eight-year term. In any case, these planetary assemblies function as local legislatures and debate matters of law and policy which can be presented to the planetary noble who serves as the executive officer of administration. However, perhaps the most important duties of the Planetary Assemblies are the selection of congressmen to serve in the Hegemony Congress.

Planetary Governor

Like the President of the Hegemony Congress, the Planetary Governors (though this name is somewhat misleading) serve as the heads of local Planetary Assemblies. Although not executive officers in any real sense, they are appointed by the Director-General to help oversee local administration. Planetary Governors serve ten years terms and cannot be appointed to serve on the same world for more than two terms. In addition to presiding over the Planetary Assemblies, the most important duties of a Planetary Governor involve report directly to the Director-General on issues that concern his or her planet, or to report grievances. This is meant to be a further measure to prevent corruption and abuse of power by nobles, though like many such things the actual effectiveness of this system is debated by many.

Commanding General of the THDF

Below the Director-General, who stands as the Commander-in-Chief of the THDF, the Commanding General is one of the two most highly ranked officers in the armed forces of the realm. In total command of the ground forces of the Terran Hegemony Defense Force, the Commanding General is tasked with leading and overseeing the THDF as well as heading all of the relevant departments such as transportation and logistics. The Commanding General also serves as one of the two chief military advisers of the Director-General and the head of the THDF's General Staff. The current Commanding General, Katya Kerensky, is still relatively new to her position, having been elevated after the Fourth Succession War, but has nevertheless proven to be a dependable and reliable commander.

Fleet Admiral of the Hegemony Navy

The second of the two chief military commanders of the Hegemony, the Fleet Admiral fills much the same role as the Commanding General. The Fleet Admiral is the head of the THDF's navy, responsible for both the offensive and transportation fleets, although technically the Trans Fleet (as it is known) is also partially under the control of the Commanding General. In addition to serving as an adviser to the Director-General and leading the Naval Board, the Fleet Admiral is also responsible for overseeing new DropShip and JumpShip construction. The current Fleet Admiral, Lynn McKenna (a distant descendant of the famous Admiral) was considered an unusual choice for her relative youth and frail health. Nevertheless, the current Director-General has every confidence in her.

Military Departments:

Much like the SLDF before it, the Terran Hegemony Defense Force is a massive organization that consists of fifteen different military departments that, together, compose the various bureaucracies and command chains that are responsible for keeping the THDF operating efficiently.

Operational Commands

High Command- In overall command of the THDF and overseen by the Commanding General and Fleet Admiral, the High Command is responsible for presiding over the THDF as well as developing the grand strategies employed by Hegemony forces while in the field. The High Command generally oversees the military forces of the Hegemony from a command citadel in the Wolf's Lair, although if need be it can easily be relocated to any one of the Brian Castles on Hegemony worlds.

Army Command- Seeing to the general, day to day operations of the ground forces of the Terran Hegemony Defense Force, the Army Command is further divided into eight sub-commands: BattleMech, Armored, Trooper, Fighter, Artillery, Engineering, Resupply, and Planning and Strategy.

Naval Command- A much reduced command from what it once was, Naval Command oversees the operations of all space and ocean based forces in the THDF. Like the Army Command, the Naval Command is divided into six sub-commands: DropShip and JumpShip, Naval, Aerospace, Marine Corps, and Planning and Strategy.

Militia Command- Considered by some to be a branch of the Army Command, the Militia Command oversees the operations and supply of the Kerensky Militia and Planetary Militias of the realm.

Special Forces Command- The smallest and most secretive of the commands, the Special Forces Command is officially in command of all special units of the THDF, but also undertakes numerous "black operations" in conjunction with the Hegemony Intelligence Corps. Units under the control of Special Forces Command include, but are not limited to, the Deep Strike LAM Companies, the Special Armed Services, and the Blackhearts (the Hegemony's elite counter-terrorism units).

Support Commands

Intelligence Command- A sub-branch of the HIC, the Intelligence Command is tasked with gathering and analyzing military intelligence. From human agents to remote asteroid listening posts, dozens of different sources of information are under the control of the Intelligence Command, which maintains a fleet of disguised JumpShips to move this information secretly and securely.

Mercenary Relations Command- Due to the tenuous military situation of the Inner Sphere, all Houses employ mercenaries and the Hegemony has its fair share on the payroll at all times. This command handles all facets of the THDF's relations with mercenary units from contract negotiation to payment, supply, and transportation. The department also supplies liaison officers to all mercenary units to handle these administrative functions.

Reserve Command- Small, but vital, the Reserve Command oversees all THDF reserve personnel and units. In addition, it maintains the various material stockpiles and boneyards in the Hegemony for use by the THDF.

Judge Advocate General Command- This department handles all legal issues for the THDF from civil matters such as mercenaries suing over grievances to enforcing the THDF code of conduct. The Judge Advocate General Command is also responsible for worlds under martial law or rebellion, and appoints military governors to newly captured worlds to pacify the population until a proper civil administration system can be established.

Administrative Command- Almost purely bureaucratic in function, the Administrative Command is responsible for liaising between all of the other military departments and organizing the records and databases of the other commands. In addition, the Administrative Command also oversees all THDF archives and naval astrogation charts as well as manages the military academies and training cadres of the realm. As part of this final function, the Administrating Command also controls the elite Gunslinger and Valkyrie Programs.

Medical Command- Simply put, medical command is charged with overseeing the medical care and treatment of all THDF soldiers and mercenaries. To this end, the command maintains a fleet of medical vehicles, field hospitals, hospital ships and stations as well as advanced medical facilities on the core worlds. One of the fields in which the Hegemony maintains the largest concentration of lostech, the Medical Command employs some of the most advanced medical technology in the Inner Sphere.

Logistical Commands

Replacement-Deployment Command- This command is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all units operate at full strength. To this end they oversee the transportation of recruits to their newest assignment, as well as transporting the retired, wounded or dead back home.

Quartermaster Command- Although far from flashy, the Quartermaster is probably the most vital department within the THDF. This command is solely responsible for keeping all THDF units supplied, both in combat and without. As such, the command coordinates with domestic and foreign industries to procure equipment and maintains and operates a vast chain of supply depots throughout the Hegemony to keep the THDF in fighting trim. As part of this duty, the Quartermaster Command is charged with policing Hegemony military contractors to ensure full compliance with the law. If a firm is found to have broken the law, the Quartermaster is empowered to seize control of the company.

Transport Command- Connected to the Quartermaster Command, the Reserve Command and the Replacement-Deployment Command the Transport Command is given the responsibility of organizing, regulating and tracking the transportation of men and material across the stars. Transport Command relies heavily on intricate timetables, constantly updated and coordinated through computer systems, to maintain quick and efficient delivery as best it can.

Communication Command- Originally charged with overseeing the HPG network, since the ceding of that responsibility to ComStar the Communication Command deals with far more mundane elements. To that end it manages the Signal Corps, maintains the networks on which the Administrative Command and Transport Command depends and organizes the THDF code books.

Terran Hegemony Defense Force

Defenders of the Realm

The Terran Hegemony Defense Force has a long and proud history, dating back over a thousand years. The modern THDF very much considers itself the latest successor of both the Global Militia of the Terran Alliance of so many years ago as well as the successor of the old Hegemony Armed Forces and the vaunted Star League Defense Force from which most of their equipment and traditions once came. The soldiers of the THDF are extremely proud of this history and strive to prove themselves worthy of the heavy honor that they have inherited. But much has changed since the fall of the Star League. With the depredations of war and of lostech the shining new, cutting edge BattleMechs and weapons that made the SLDF a thing to be respected and feared are long gone. And yet, the THDF born from those ashes has proven that technology alone is not what made their predecessors so formidable. With cunning, tenacity, and raw courage the THDF has proven itself one of the most powerful and professional militaries within the Inner Sphere.

Despite it all, in everything but name the Terran Hegemony Defense Force is the shattered remnants of Star League Defense Force, much weakened by time and loss of technology. At the height of its power the SLDF boasted nearly 500 Divisions organized into twenty different Army Groups. Consisting of nearly 15,000 regiments and an equal number of WarShips, the SLDF represented an almost unbelievable concentration of force. Yet, nearly 80% of this vaunted force met its death in the Amaris Civil War. Combined with the losses early in the First Succession War the THDF seems little more than a shell of its former self with only 64 Divisions remaining. Yet even that is deceptive. In SLDF terms, a Division was composed of at least three Brigades backed up by Independent Regiments and Aerospace fighter support. The modern Royal BattleMech Division, by contrast, would at best be considered Combined-Arms Brigades. Yet despite these losses, in comparison to the other Successor States the THDF is among the best-equipped and best trained militaries in the Inner Sphere.

The modern THDF is divided into three commands: the Regular Army, the Kerensky Militia, and the Hegemony Navies. The Regular Army forms the front line units of the THDF and are the descendants of the SLDF's Royal BattleMech Divisions (indeed they maintain the same names and insignias of those divisions). These 64 Divisions are organized into five Border Corps (I, II, III, V, VI), with ten Divisions to a Corps, each of which is stationed in a border Corridors to serve as "floating regiments" along the Draconis Combine model. Shifting about from world to world on an irregular schedule, these regiments act as a fluid defense and offence, their mobility preventing enemy forces from pinning them down. The remaining fourteen Divisions are deployed into the Terran (VII) Corps and are not floating. Rather, units are rotated in and out of VII Corps for rest and refit as well as to form a large and highly central strategic reserve to shore up any border that is threatened.

The Kerensky Militia is the second line of the Hegemony's defense and they should not be considered inferior to the Royal BattleMech Divisions in terms of training or equipment. Although primarily a defensive force, the Kerensky Militis can also play an offensive role during a major war. Currently the THDF fields 52 Militia Divisions scattered about the Hegemony. The vast majority are concentrated along the borders, under the command of the Border Corps and operate under a semi-floating basis, thought they rarely leave the Corridor in which they are deployed. The absolute last line of defense is composed of the Planetary Militias. Levied and maintained for the permanent defense of individual worlds (and often supplied with second-hand equipment by the Hegemony and under THDF command) these militias are almost exclusively formed of conventional troops. Following the edict of Margaret Cameron some 700 years ago all Hegemony citizens are required to spend one month a year in militia training and all citizens on border worlds are issued military rifles to be used in defense of the realm. In general, Planetary Militia consists of a permanent regiment of infantry and tanks, backed up by a company of BattleMechs, though in times of crisis several additional infantry regiments can usually be mobilized. Some rich or important worlds can field up to a 'Mech battalion, but this is rare.

The last command of the THDF is the Hegemony Navy. Like the other Successor States the Hegemony lost all of its WarShips and the capacity to produce more during the Succession Wars. While most Great Houses maintain groups of DropShips and Aerospace fighters for offensive purposes, many lack anything resembling a true navy outside of their transportation fleets, but the Hegemony Navy has not lost all of its teeth. Consisting of six fleets, known as the Corridor Fleets, and scattered about the Hegemony in task forces, these fleets are considered to be weapons of attack rather than defense, though they can be deployed for both. Much like the Royal BattleMech Divisions, these fleets are considered "floating" as they have no permanent bases outside of the Terran Corridor but instead make use of the few remaining space stations, fleet yards, outposts and recharge stations left in the Hegemony, stations that the Kerensky government has always been fanatical in maintaining.

Royal BattleMech Divisions

The core of the THDF front line forces, the Royal BattleMech Divisions serve both defensive and offensive (primarily offensive) roles within the Hegemony. Although tasked with defending the worlds on which they are stationed, or any world to which they are dispatched, the primary purpose of the Royal BattleMech Divisions is to attack the enemy quickly and viciously. Even in the face of enemy attacks, defense is often left to militia forces to free up front line Divisions to strike behind enemy lines. Each of the Royal BattleMech Divisions is essentially a single Brigade of a type known as a Regimental Combat Team. As such, each Division contains one regiment of BattleMechs, three regiments of armor, five regiments of infantry and at least a wing of Aerospace fighters. In addition, both DropShips and JumpShips of the navy's Trans Fleet are permanently assigned to each Division in order to ensure that they have adequate transportation no matter where they are assigned (mobility is the core of the Kerensky strategy, after all). The regiments of most Divisions can be classified as one of four types, each designed for a particular type of mission.

Dragoon- Units of this type consist primarily of heavy and assault class machines designed to serve as both a main strike force as well as to stand toe-to-toe with well-equipped or numerically superior foes.

Hussar- The standard and most common battle formations, these units are mostly medium weight vehicles with some heavies to serve as the core of any attack or defense force while retaining a balanced set of capabilities.

Light Horse- These regiments are primarily classified as light to medium and often serve as reconnaissance units, dropped onto enemy worlds to gain vital information on enemy forces and dispositions.

Striker- Similar in some ways to Light Horse regiments, these units are also primarily light regiments, but are used as breakthrough forces rather than scouts. Many are equipped with LAM lances to extend their capabilities.

Hegemony Navy

If one needed proof that Nicholas Kerensky was a foreword-thinking leader; one needs look no further than the Hegemony Navy. The Royal BattleMech Divisions were reconfigured to their current configuration during the First Succession War, but it was in the Second War that the Corridor Navies were formed in response to the mass destruction of JumpShips and WarShips as well as the loss of naval yards. Nicholas began the work with the creation of the Trans Fleet. This fleet, composed primarily of Invader and Star Lord class JumpShips, were equipped to transport military carriers like Leopard, Union, Overlord, Fortress, Triumph, Seeker, Excalibur, and Condor class DropShips. Split up into numerous taskforces, these ships are permanently attached to specific Divisions as dedicated transportation fleets. Of course, additional combat DropShips were also included to defend these fleets from attack and assist in planetary assaults. By removing them from front line combat, Kerensky hoped to preserve his JumpShip fleet and keep his army mobile. History has shown this to have been an extremely prudent move on the part of House Kerensky.

But it was after Nicholas's death in the Second War that his grand dreams for the Navy were completed by his successor Anya. Recognizing what the loss of WarShips could mean to the THDF, Nicholas had tried to make up for these losses by building up his fleet's numbers of attack DropShips and fighters. This eventually led to the replacement of damaged WarShips entirely with DropShips and Aerospace fighters by Anya. What emerged were the Task Forces of the Corridor Fleets, an offensive DropShip navy which, essentially, provided House Kerensky with the only real, functional attack navy in the Inner Sphere. Although by the time this project was complete, WarShips had largely vanished and warfare itself had changed, limiting the importance of navies. Still, these new fleets are extremely potent weapons whose worth was proven again when they stymied Steiner advances during the Fourth Succession War and served a key role in seizing several resource-rich Marik worlds.

The Hegemony Navy is divided into Six Fleets, each of which is permanently assigned to a single Corridor. These fleets, in turn, are composed of various Task Forces that range throughout the Corridors and make use of what remains of the orbital infrastructure of the Hegemony. In such a way, they can be quickly deployed to defend systems or aid in offensive operations. The core of each of these Task Forces is one of the Hegemony's remaining Monolith class JumpShips flanked by six Tramp class ships and a Scout class giving the fleet a combined DropShip capacity of 28 ships. These ships, in turn, carry the offensive punch of the fleet. In addition to the limited weapons of the Tramps, these ships carry a total of two Vengeance class DropShips, four Achilles class ships, five Intruder class ships, five Leopard CVs and five Avengers. In addition to the base firepower and Aerospace fighter capacity of these ships, additional Lyonesse and Aquarius class "small craft" are carried in the fleet's bays. Rumors also persist that House Kerensky secretly created a new class of DropShip by modifying some of their Overlords to carry naval grade lasers and PPCs from scrapped WarShips. Most dismiss tales of these ships, called Swordbreakers by those who speculate about such things, as they have never been seen in any of the Succession Wars, and if they existed the THDF would surely have deployed them.

In addition to these attack ships each fleet is equipped with the supplies and facilities to stay in combat away from existing space stations and supply depots. Two of the Tramps with each Task Force are equipped to serve as mobile repair and refueling stations. One ship carries three Mammoth class DropShips hauling ammunition and spare parts, food stores, and hydrogen reserves. Most reloading cannot be conducted easily during combat conditions, but all crews are still trained to do so if necessary. The second Tramp carries Model 97 "Octopus" tugs to recover vessels, run SAR operations as well as conduct repairs on damaged ships. Each Scout, as the name implies, serves as an advanced recon vessel, utilizing the THDF's superior astrogation data as well as the small drive signature of the vessel to slip into enemy systems undetected. In addition to onboard sensors and communications gear, these ships carry small Vampire class DropShips equipped for stealth recon and raiding.

Training Cadres

Within the Hegemony there are two types of training cadres. The first are training units attached to specific military academies. These units are often quite large, the Kerensky College of Military Science, for example, controls five BattleMech regiments for training purposes. Training in Hegemony academies is very hands on and after their initial training new cadets will be assigned to a lower tier cadre where they form the rank and file warriors (with senior cadets as noncoms) with veteran officers and trainers in command. The higher tier academy cadres are almost completely staffed by cadets and cadet-officers with a veteran staff in overall command. Service in these units is to provide direct experience in combat situations as well as hands on officer training to higher level cadets. In general, these cadres are extremely well equipped and considered to be a step below the Regular Army, if not actually part of it.

The other type of training cadre is known as a Training Battalion and is not considered part of any military academy. Many individuals do not have the opportunity to attend an academy, but still have great potential. In order to find, recruit and train these individuals effectively the Administrative Command formed the Training Battalions scattered across the various worlds of the Hegemony. New recruits are assigned to these units under the command of veterans to be trained in military operations, strategy and tactics as well as some basic officer training for those qualified. These units are also responsible for training with the local Planetary Militia units on the worlds on which they are based. Unlike academy cadres these units are generally not considered part of the Regular Army; though they will usually participate in the defense of a world should it come to that.

Kerensky Militia

For those who do not rate Front Line duty, or for those retiring from the field but do not yet wish to abandon life in the military, duty in the Kerensky Militia calls. The Hegemony possesses 52 Militia Divisions organized along similar lines as the Royal BattleMech Divisions, though unit composition varies. Ideally, each Militia Division is composed of a single BattleMech regiment at its core with two tank regiments and three infantry regiments as backup as well as an Aerospace wing. In reality, the composition often varies widely, though usually the Militia Divisions retain some elements of this basic structure. Unlike units of the Regular Army, Militia Divisions are not considered floating, at least not fully; they are usually assigned to a specific world for its defense, though they can and are re-deployed as needed. The primary Militia Divisions are also quite well equipped. Although the Royal BattleMech Divisions always get first crack at new equipment and new technology, the Quartermaster does not ignore the Kerensky Militia, even if much of their equipment is composed of second hand castoffs from the Regular Army. Despite this, the fact that the Militia Divisions are almost always formed of veteran THDF soldiers means that they often make up in skill and tenacity what they lack in technology.

The Planetary Militia units are also considered part of the Kerensky Militia and the THDF, although they are raised exclusively for the defense of single worlds and are often maintained partially by the planet which raises them. Still, the Quartermaster Command does see to the re-supply of ammunition and spare parts to these units and the Administrative Command oversees training. Unofficially, the Regular Army and the Militia Divisions pass on equipment that is too old or too broken for their own use to Planetary Militia units. By and large these units are conventional forces formed of infantry and tank battalions with limited BattleMech and Aerospace support. Usually no more than a company, perhaps a battalion on a particularly vital world, though in any case the Quartermaster does take care that the conventional forces are equipped with the necessary heavy weapons like heavy support lasers, M-PPCs and Inferno missiles. All citizens are considered part of the Planetary Militia and are required to train with them one month each year. As such, in times of major raids or planetary invasions numerous militia regiments can usually be called up at a moment's notice, much like the minutemen of old Terra.

The Martial Olympiad

First instituted in 2640 by General Joseph Cameron to keep the Star League Defense Forces in fighting shape during peacetime the Martial Olympiad quickly grew into far more than a massive military exercise. Conducted on more than 50 "skirmishing worlds" across the Inner Sphere with the finals on Outreach these competitions included more than 100 "events" that tested various aspects of military preparedness and battle. For the soldiers, the games were rigorous and frightening, which was the whole point of the exercise. Soldiers who later saw real combat often credited their lives to the realistic nature of the games. For civilians it became almost a sport. Taped contests between military units became like sporting events to the people of the Star League, with decorated officers performing color commentary and fans of a particular division or regiment flocking to see them depart for the next round of contests. But these games came to an end in 2736 by the need to focus on real war.

However, House Kerensky resurrected these games after the Second Succession War came to an end. The radical shift in how wars were fought with the resumption of the Ares Conventions changed the equation and then Director-General Mitchell Kerensky recognized that his troops might grow soft and be unprepared for another total war should it come. As such, he designated numerous different proving grounds upon 15 worlds scattered throughout the Hegemony, including the entire continent of Romulus on Outreach. In truth most of these were already training or testing grounds for the military anyway, but Lord Mitchell vastly expanded the existing facilities in preparation for his announcement of the resumption of the Martial Olympiad in 2865.

It is a much smaller event than it once was, of course, consisting of only about a quarter of the THDF at any one time, and lasting only three months to ensure that the defense of the realm does not suffer. The gambit succeeded however, and the Martial Olympiad again became one of the most popular events in the Hegemony and in the Inner Sphere beyond, particularly upon the Game World of Solaris VII. Much like the competitions of old, the Division Regiments and Fleet Task Forces involved are pitted against each other in a variety of different simulated contests and battles using simulation training gear. The winners of these regional contests then travel to Outreach to complete with each other for the grand prize. The best space and ground units are given the McKenna Wheel and Kerensky Pennant respectively while the best individual performers of the games are awarded the Shandra Norruf Ribbon, a decoration dating back to the original Olympiad. Since 2865 the Olympiad has been held without fail, delayed (but not stopped) only by the Fourth Succession War and has proven both an effective method of keeping the THDF sharp and buoying the spirits of Hegemony citizens.

Unlike the old Martial Olympiad, the new Olympiad is held every two years in order to keep units fresh, but there is no set date, the tournament is held during a random month in order to ensure that other Successor States cannot anticipate the event and strike while the border garrisons are weakened. So far, none have successful launched an attack during an Olympiad, but House Kerensky is justifiably paranoid.

Uniforms:

The uniforms of the THDF have changed remarkably little since the days of the Star League. Perhaps as a way to maintain the traditions and through them a connection to the past, or perhaps to bolster the moral of the THDF, as many Star League customs as possible have been maintained by House Kerensky. There have been some changes, of course, particularly in combat uniforms as the advanced technology once employed in them is long gone, but by and large the uniform of the modern THDF is a near exact copy of the uniforms worn by the SLDF long ago.

Dress Uniform

The THDF dress uniform is virtually identical to that of the Star League. The primary color is olive drab with some khaki highlights and black piping and consists of pants and knee-high black boots, a white blouse or shirt and an olive drab Nehru jacket, shoulders reinforced with black padding. A world sash (with a different pattern depending on which world in the Hegemony one was born) is worn around the waist, though a school rag may replace this if the wearer so chooses. Unit patches and insignia are worn on the left shoulder while the Hegemony's symbols are worn on the right shoulder. Rank insignia are displayed on the epaulets while awards and decorations are displayed on the left breast. Officers are allowed to carry a cavalry saber (presented upon successful completion of officer training) with the uniform while enlisted men and noncoms are issued daggers instead. By tradition other weapons cannot be carried while in dress uniform, unless in a combat zone.

Field Uniform

The basic field uniform of the THDF is the standard issue jumpsuit common across the Inner Sphere with reinforcements at the shoulders, knees and elbows. The jumpsuit is also lined with a layer of ballistic cloth as well as additional ballistic and ablative padding around the torso. While this is insufficient for any but small arms fire it is nevertheless a welcome degree of protection for most soldiers. Unit and Hegemony patches are worn on the left and right shoulders and rank insignias are mounted on the collar. The basic color of the standard field uniform is black, but numerous other camouflage patterns are available for use when deemed necessary.

Combat Uniform

Of all the THDF uniforms, it is the combat uniforms that have changed the most since the days of the Star League as the advanced combat gear used by the SLDF has since vanished from the Inner Sphere and no power has the current technological capability to produce more. MechWarriors have the most abbreviated uniform, consisting of little more than shorts and a cooling vest. Plasteel boots and nomex gloves are also commonly worn to protect the hands and feet from the scorching temperatures of 'Mech cockpits. By tradition, but not policy, MechWarriors carry a sidearm with them into battle. Standard issue service pistols are the most common, but all manner of weapons have been used as MechWarriors have the privilege to arm themselves however they choose. Aerospace pilots wear a much more complex combat uniform consisting of a vacuum sealed g-suit with an integral cooling vest and flight helmet. This is, by far, the most advanced gear utilized by the Hegemony and incorporates several, otherwise lost, Star League technologies making THDF flight suits much lighter, thinner and more flexible than those utilized by other Successor States. Tank crew and infantry both wear standard jumpsuits, generally camouflaged, with body armor worn over the top. The armor used by tank crews is fairly heavy as it contains integral cooling systems. Most also carry filter masks capable of interfacing with a tank's life support and filtration gear. Infantry units generally carry lighter body armor with whatever specialist gear is required (from jump packs to vacuum suits) in addition to combat packs, standard issue long arms, and service pistols. Depending on the unit and the mission, various support gear and heavy weapons may also be deployed.

Ranks

Enlisted Ranks (Army/Navy/Aerospace)

Recruit / Recruit / Recruit

Private / Private / Private

Private, First Class / Private, First Class / Private, First Class

Corporal / Petty Officer / Corporal

Sergeant / Chief Petty Officer / Sergeant

Master Sergeant / Master Chief Petty Officer / Master Sergeant

Warrant Officer / Warrant Officer / Warrant Officer

Officer Ranks (Army/Navy/Aerospace)

Second Lieutenant / Ensign / Pilot Officer

First Lieutenant / Lieutenant, Junior Grade / Flight Officer

Captain / Lieutenant, Senior Grade / Flight Lieutenant

Major / Lieutenant Commander / Squadron Leader

Lieutenant-Colonel / Commander / Wing Commander

Colonel / Captain / Group Captain

Brigadier General / Commodore / Sky Commodore

Lieutenant General / Rear Admiral / Sky Rear Marshal

Major General / Vice Admiral / Sky Vice Marshal

General / Admiral / Sky Marshal

Hegemony Awards and Decorations

Hegemony Medal of Valor

One of the oldest awards still given by the Hegemony government, and dating to the days of James McKenna, the Hegemony Medal of Valor is awarded for extreme courage in combat, gallantry and professionalism in the face of the enemy and extraordinary individual achievements. The Medal of Valor consists of a Cameron Star made of precious metals superimposed over the Kerensky Wolf and hung from a blue, green and white ribbon. Presented personally by the Director-General, this award comes with a substantial cash bonus and an automatic advancement in rank for those below the rank of colonel (or its equivalent). In general, the recipient is also inducted into the Order of the Dove or the Order of the Sword.

Geerson Flying Cross

Named for the first aerospace ace of the SLDF, Lieutenant Naomi Geerson, the Geerson Flying Cross is a special award given to aerospace and LAM pilots who have demonstrated extraordinary skill, courage, cunning and valor. The Flying Cross consists of an ornate silver cross with a Cameron Star in the center and golden wings flaring from either side.

Order of Kerensky

Always awarded posthumously, the Order of Kerensky is reserved for those soldiers and civilians who have sacrificed themselves heroically defending their unit, their world, or the Hegemony. Those so awarded are always buried with full honors and their families awarded with grants of land, money or both. A massive monument of black marble capped with a bronze statue of a wolf guarded a Cameron star located in Harlech has the name of each Order member chased with gold engraved upon it along with their unit name, the date of their deaths and the world on which they fell. Thousands of names have been inducted over the centuries, and at the apex reads the inscription, "May those who fell rest easy, knowing that by their sacrifice the Light of Civilization will never dim."

Order of the Star

Knighthood is one of the highest honors that any citizen of the Hegemony can aspire to. Nobles and non-nobles alike can, and have been appointed to the various Knightly Orders or the realm. The highest honor a knight can achieve, however, is to be inducted into the Order of the Star. Consisting of 100 of the best and brightest knights of the realm who have displayed, "unswerving loyalty in the face of great hardship," the Knights of the Star denote this singular honor by wearing a small star made of blue steel edged in gold. In addition to monetary and territorial compensation, Knights of the Star are allowed to give their opinions directly to the Director-General, who serves as the head of the order.

Order of the Sword

Second only in honor to the Order of the Star, membership in the Order of the Sword is granted to those soldiers who have loyally served and honored the tenants of the Terran Hegemony Defense Force beyond what their oaths would require. Knights of the Sword mark this honor with a gold trimmed black disk upon which is emblazed a flaming sword and the words "Order of the Sword" embossed in platinum.

Order of the Dove

Unique among the knightly orders, the Order of the Dove is composed solely of civilians. To those citizens of the Hegemony who serve outside the military who have "advanced the causes of peace and unity throughout the realm and the galaxy in these troubled times," title as a Knight of the Dove awaits. Inductees of the order mark their rank with a gold disk rimed with bronze emblazed with the seal of a silver dove holding an olive branch in its beak.

Order of the Palm

Although often derided at a nest of bureaucrats and bean counters rather than prober knights, the Order of the Palm nevertheless stands as the fourth and final Knightly Order of the Hegemony. Granted to both soldiers and civilians, the title of Knight of the Palm is granted to those who have increased the efficiency of, or exposed corruption within, the bureaucracy of the Hegemony. Knights of the Palm display their rank with a silver disk on which is emblazoned a bronze palm leaf.

Shandra Norruf Ribbon

Named for the first Commanding General of the SLDF, the Shandra Norruf Ribbon is awarded to the soldiers who have achieved the highest performances in the Martial Olympiad. Presented personally by the Commanding General of the THDF, the ribbon consists of a gold and green streamer depicting a charging lion (the Norruf family crest) and the year in which it was won stitched in gold. Recipients of the ribbon are allowed to paint the Norruf lion on their vehicles or equipment.

The Kerensky Pennant

Like the Shandra Norruf Ribbon, the Kerensky Pennant is directly connected to the Martial Olympiad and is given to the Division with the best overall performance in the games. The pennant is a long banner of royal blue edged with bronze with a silver Cameron Star emblazoned on one side and a golden Kerensky Wolf on the other. A designated standard bearer carries the pennant into battle with the unit and each member of unit, regardless of rank or position, wears a smaller pennant on their collars. The unit which holds the Pennant is always invited to attend the next Olympiad in order to defend it. The current holder of the Kerensky Pennant is the 53rd Royal BattleMech Division (The Cyclones of Castle Rock).

The McKenna Wheel

Dating back to the days of the Star League, the McKenna Wheel is a small silver wheel shaped like the steering wheel of an ocean-going wooden sailing ship from old Terra. Like the Kerensky Pennant, the wheel is granted to the fleet with the best overall performance in the Martial Olympiad. The main wheel is displayed on the bridge of that fleet's flagship; while all personnel of that fleet wear a small badge on their collars consisting of a silver disk with the wheel engraved upon it and a Cameron Star. The unit that holds the Wheel is always invited to the next Olympiad to defend it. The current holder of the McKenna Wheel is the Task Force XI of the Sixth Fleet.

The Sword of Kerensky

Those who have perform far above and beyond the call of duty; showing great courage and heroism under fire or having sacrificed mightily for the realm are granted the Sword of Kerensky. It is a hand-forged blade of the finest steel lavishly embossed, pommel chased with gold and silver with the hilt wrapped in Imperial purple. Usually always granted in conjunction with other awards and titles, officers are presented with a full cavalry saber they may wear with their dress uniform while enlisted personnel (who may not wear swords with their dress uniforms) are given a ceremonial dagger of the same design.

THDF Campaign Ribbons

The most mundane of all the Hegemony's military decoration, units and troops are given campaign ribbons when they see battle, each two centimeter ribbon is color coded, denoting the enemy and battles in which the recipient fought. Red for the Draconis Combine, yellow for the Federated Suns, green for the Capellan Confederation, purple for the Free World League, blue for the Lyran Commonwealth and black for mercenaries, pirates and other combatants). Each ribbon also comes with so-called "kill stars," small stars that denote an individual pilot or crew's vehicle kills. Bronze stars represent one kill, silver stars five kills and gold stars ten kills.

Corridor Decorations

Black Starburst Ribbon

All of the various Corridors have special awards and decorations for valor in combat against the realm which they border. For units in the Addicks Corridor who battle House Davion, that award is known as the Black Starburst Ribbon, a small red ribbon with a black sunburst embroidered upon it.

The Blood Eagle

Awarded to units in the Tyrfing Corridor for action against the Free Worlds League, the Blood Eagle (something of a morbid joke) consists of a small, stylized eagle profile make of black anodized metal with a silver eye that weeps three drops of "blood" made of synthetic ruby.

The Broken Sword

The regional award of the Nanking Corridor, granted for service in combat against the Capellan Confederation, the Broken Sword is just that, a small steel pin in the shape of a sword (usually a dao or other Chinese blade) broken in half and mounted on a jade triangle lined with gold.

The Dragonslayer Medallion

Copied from the Lyran and Davion awards of similar types (though they would never admit it) units in the Dieron Corridor who battle the Draconis Combine may be granted the Dragonslayer Medallion. The award consists of a gold medallion hung from a green and red ribbon trimmed with black. The medal itself is set with carnelian and onyx, depicting a dragon impaled with a sword. Most recipients also paint the image of a severed dragon's head on their vehicles.

The Shattered Fist

Presented by the commander of the Denebola Corridor for combat against the Lyran Commonwealth, the Shattered Fist is a small pendant shaped like a steel gauntlet or a 'Mech fist that has been shattered and broken. Traditional, the Shattered Fist is crafted from the armor of one of the recipient's kills.

Military Academies:

Kerensky College of Military Science

Without a doubt the Kerensky College of Military Science is the premier institution of both military and higher education within the Terran Hegemony. First created on Outreach as a training cadre by Nicholas Kerensky the college has grown and grown and grown under the leadership and support of various members of the Kerensky dynasty over the centuries. The main campus of the college is located in Harlech near the Wolf's Lair and is dedicated to Alexandr Kerensky (indeed his Orion, cockpit still scorched from the PPC shot which killed him, stands at the entrance of the campus), but extensive regional sub-campuses are scattered across Remus and the school also has access to numerous proving grounds and simulators. As a civilian as well as military school the KCMS stresses both halves of its cadet's education and excellence is expected. Due to the high stress levels, however the dropout rate is high which has prompted the creation of strict anti-hazing policies and tight enforcement of those policies. In addition to being the realm's premiere military academy, the KCMS is also the Hegemony's central research lab. In addition to its vast science and engineering curriculum a huge number of civilian students and technical cadets are involved in research projects with veteran scientists to research new technologies and work to recover lostech. Much like the NAIS, the KCMS also has access to several Star League databases and memory cores, secrets which it guards jealously.

DeChevalier School of Warfare

Side by side with the Kerensky College of Military Science is the DeChevalier School of Warfare. Unlike the KCMS, the DSW is not a civilian school or a research university within a military academy, it is purely military institution focused entirely upon training recruits and officers. As such, its higher education programs are much less intensive and often cover little more than the basics, or those subjects which have military applications. Also, unlike the KCMS, the DeChevalier School of Warfare is not as focused on BattleMech training as its counterpart. Certainly 'Mech training is at the core of the school's curriculum, but equally large armor and infantry curriculum also exist. The training cadres of the DSW are slightly smaller than the regiments commanded by the Kerensky College of Military Science, but are still considered crack, Regular Army troops by most. Due to an internal agreement between the two schools, both the KCMS and the DSW have access to the same simulator networks and proving grounds. This had led to a friendly, and at times not so friendly, rivalry between the two schools and the training cadres of both continuously spar with one and other.

McKenna Naval College

Also moved to Outreach after the fall of the Star League, the McKenna Naval College is the oldest military academy in the Terran Hegemony, having been established on Venus in the early days of the Hegemony. The MNC is also one of the few academies left in the Inner Sphere that focuses on training naval crews. For the most part such studies were abandoned with the near complete destruction of WarShips that occurred during the First and Second Succession Wars. Given House Kerensky's unique approach to naval warfare, however, the maintenance of such academies was required. As such, the McKenna Naval College primarily trains JumpShip and DropShip crews for both transportation and direct military operations and is one of the only institutions in the Inner Sphere that still teaches fleet strategy and tactics, even going so far as to provide theoretical WarShip instruction using several Star League-era simulators. The college also possesses a smaller AeroSpace training regime, but this is secondary to the schools' main purpose.

Fetladral Battle Academy

Located on New Earth, the Fetladral Battle Academy is an oddity among the military academies of the Successor States, being the few known military academy (outside of flight schools, of course) that does not offer BattleMech training of any kind. Rather it is an academy that focuses exclusively on training conventional forces, primarily tank and infantry regiments. Much like the famous General Rebecca Fetladral (former commander of the SLDF) for which the academy is named, who was herself an infantry officer rather than a MechWarrior, the academy focuses entirely on training such soldiers in independent operations and BattleMech support roles. Although seemingly odd, the combined arms approach that the Hegemony uses as the basis of its force composition makes the academy invaluable. While both the Kerensky College of Military Science and the DeChevalier School of Warfare offer training of such units, most of their resources are still focused on BattleMechs, making the FBA a key part of the realm's defense training infrastructure.

McCorkell Flight School

Located on Epsilon Eridani, the McCorkell Flight School is the premiere AeroSpace institution within the Hegemony and perhaps even within the entire Inner Sphere itself. Like the McKenna Naval College, the MFS is an old institution that was moved to its current location from Mars just after the fall of the Star League and the ceding of Terra to ComStar. Much like the FBA or MNC, the Flight School offers an exclusive curriculum limited almost entirely to aerospace training of various types; the sole exception being the Valkyrie Program that trains the Hegemony's LAM pilots. The college's primary campus is planetside but it maintains vast proving grounds both on Epsilon Eridani itself and in the system at large where cadets in the training cadres are exposed to virtually every type of atmospheric and vacuum condition known to fighter pilots. The curriculum is incredibly challenging, and due to the inherent dangers the death rate among cadets is alarmingly high. Nevertheless, the MFS produces some of the best pilots in the Inner Sphere, a fact critical to the continued success of both the Regular Army and the Royal Navy.

Gunslinger Program

The infamous Gunslinger Program is an old Star League training course that began its history as the Advanced Combat and Maneuvering Skills Project in 2685 in response to what became known as the Hidden War. Resulting from a series of increasingly heated political clashes between the Star League and the Draconic Combine, the Hidden War involves duels between Hegemony MechWarriors and ronin from the Combine. The poor performance of SLDF troops in these duels prompted the High Command to begin research into improved training methods. What emerged was an intensive regimen that embraced everything from martial arts philosophy to advanced neural-thought technology. Whatever one might think of the methods, the results spoke for themselves and within five years these Gunslingers, as the graduates came to be known, were among the finest duelists in the Inner Sphere. The program continues to this day under Hegemony auspices, and continues to focus on the training of elite pilots. An invitation to join this program is considered one of the highest honors an individual pilot can be given, and is a sign that the THDF believes the candidate has what it takes to be among the best warriors in the Hegemony.

Valkyrie Program

Most of the rest of the Inner Sphere has abandoned the advanced machines known as Land-Air 'Mechs. Designed to be able to transform between a BattleMech and Aerospace fighter form, these complex machines were deployed as advanced scout units by the SLDF. Most Great Houses were forced to discontinue use of these machines both because of maintenance problems and the difficulties in training pilots to effectively utilize both forms. The Hegemony is one of the few exceptions to this rule and continues to both manufacture and employ LAMs in numbers within the Royal BattleMech Divisions and beyond. However, in order to solve the training problems the Administrative Command, through the McCorkell Flight School, established a special training course known as the Valkyrie Program. Complex testing procedures to identify pilots with the proper combination of sharp reflexes and spatial awareness is only the first step of the program. Throughout the intensive three years course, would-be LAM pilots are taught every detail of their odd machines and how to squeeze the absolute best out of them. Although the failure rate is high, those pilots who do pass through the Valkyrie Program are always among the best, and often considered future candidates for the Gunslinger Program.

Castles Brian

From the early days of the Terran Hegemony all the way up to the fall of the Star League, fortifying the Hegemony was a major concern of the Cameron Dynasty. The Star League built literally thousands of bases and fortifications throughout the Inner Sphere, but most of these have since been lost, forgotten, or destroyed by the Succession Wars. The grandest and most impenetrable of these fortifications were the indomitable Castles Brian constructed within the Hegemony itself. Often built into mountains, under oceans, or hidden underground beneath dozens of meters of reinforced ferrocrete these castles contained command and control centers, repair bays, medical facilities, supply depots, small manufacturing plants and hundreds and hundreds of miles of 'Mech-sized ambush tunnels to allow for rapid and hidden movement of forces. The Hegemony constructed 120 of the castles within its own territory and 106 of them are still in service to this day, though most have been stripped of nearly all of their lostech. Curiously, no Castles Brian are in the hands of other Successor States due to the fact that under direct orders of Nicholas Kerensky himself, THDF commanders unilaterally destroyed Brian Castles with nuclear weapons before being forced off of a world (14 castles were destroyed in this manner). This policy has, of course, stopped, but since then no enemy has been able to successful seize control of a Brian Castle.

The Castles Brian were originally conceived as a way to deter aggression by making a world impossible to hold. Hegemony forces could hole up in a Brian Castle, protected from everything but direct nuclear bombardment (and in some cases even that), utilizing the resources within to resist and tie down an invader for months, maybe even years, until reinforcements could arrive. In the modern age Castles Brian serve the same function for the THDF, but they also serve as emergency repair stations, supply caches and command and control centers for Hegemony forces on a planet. In the centuries since, House Kerensky has actually expanded the Castles Brian by building networks of lesser fortifications, castles and tunnels around them as outer lines of defense. While these new structures are nowhere near as advanced as their Star League counterparts, combined with the original Castles Brian the Hegemony's border worlds are extremely well defended against outside aggression.

Not surprisingly there are a number of rumors surrounding the existence of Castles Brian. Many believe that House Kerensky is still actively constructing them on Hegemony worlds, although such a feat should be impossible with modern engineering. The only other Castles Brian known to exist besides those in the Hegemony are the similar structures that were built in the Periphery after the Reunification War, but most of these have long since collapsed or been picked clean by lostech prospectors and pirates, little more now than grand testimonies to mankind's once glorious past. Other rumors suggest that at the end of the First Succession War, Nicholas Kerensky began gathering up vast quantities of lostech including advanced BattleMechs, WarShips, and even factories and construction slips and hid these irreplaceable assets secretly in uninhabited systems of the Hegemony. Popularly referred to as Brian Caches, many a prospector have spent their lives searching for these mythical treasure troves of lostech, but none have ever been found if they exist at all.

Military Industries

While it may not possess the largest economy (that honor goes to the Lyran Commonwealth) or the heaviest industrialization (the Draconis Combine wins that slot) the Terran Hegemony is still a very rich and highly industrialized power within the Inner Sphere. This is largely thanks to the efforts of Aaron DeChevalier and Nicholas Kerensky who frantically moved as many industrial assets as they could from Terra and the vulnerable borders to key interior worlds before the First Succession War. Much was still lost to the conflict, especially to deep raids and naval attacks, but much was also saved and, indeed, House Kerensky is one of the few powers in the Inner Sphere still able to manufacture a few items of lostech. Mere trinkets compared to the Star League, but still a decided technological edge that has allowed the Hegemony to survive being in the center of a five-front war for the last 250 years.

Most of the Hegemony's war industry has been centralized on two key planets in the Terran Corridor after the loss of Hesperus II and Defiance Industries. The first is Outreach, which possesses numerous war industries hidden in the mountains and in underground facilities on Romulus. This is the home of Blackwell Industries, a former manufacturer of vehicles that was purchased by the Hegemony in 2785 and expanded using equipment removed from various factories and 'Mech facilities on Terra. Blackwell is now the largest corporation in the Hegemony operating mines, foundries, and factories across the Hegemony, but its main lines are still located on Outreach for the near exclusive use of House Kerensky. The Outreach system also hosts the Harvard Company, Earthwerks Incorporated, Jolassa Armored Vehicles and the Mauser Arms Company nearly all of which operate under lucrative THDF contracts. On the various moon orbiting the system's icy blue gas giant Tiberius, the Boeing Interstellar and Blue Nose Clippership facilities have been placed, which construct the Hegemony's DropShips and JumpShips respectively. Boeing also maintains extensive AeroSpace manufacturing facilities around Tiberius and on Outreach as well.

Most of the Hegemony's remaining industries are located on New Earth, which is probably the second most important world in the entire Hegemony. Several powerful industrial conglomerates including weapons manufactures like Bergen and General Mechanics, the realm's primary producer of fusion engines, are located on New Earth as are the 'Mech and fighter factories of Newheart Industries (making the Hegemony the only Successor State able to produce the venerable Spider). New Earth is also home to Numall Armored Weapons and Ulston Armor, both major tank manufacturers. Other than these two worlds, the Hegemony also has a number of smaller facilities, including Kong Interstellar of Connaught, Harvard Company of Epsilon Eridani and Dekirk AeroSpace of Graham IV scattered throughout its borders.

BattleMech

Bergan Industries - New Earth

Blackwell Industries- Outreach

Earthwerks Incorporated- Outreach

General Mechanics – New Earth

Kong Interstellar Corporation - Connaught

Newhart Industries - New Earth

Aerospace

Boeing Interstellar - Outreach

Harvard Company, Inc. - Outreach

Newhart Industries - New Earth

Ships

Blue Nose Clipperships (JumpShip) - Outreach

Boeing Interstellar (DropShip) - Outreach

Dekirk Aerospace (DropShip) – Graham IV

Conventional

Jolassa Armored Vehicles – Outreach

Mauser Arms- Outreach

Numall Armored Weapons - New Earth

Ulston Armor - New Earth

THDF Deployment

The Wolf's Claws

I Corps: Dieron (Kurita) Corridor Deployment

11th Royal BattleMech Division (The Orion Division)

259th Royal BattleMech Division (The Fomalhaut Division)

322nd Royal BattleMech Division (The Antarctic Division)

62nd Royal BattleMech Division (The Rephaim Division)

142nd Royal BattleMech Division (The Ingress Division)

409th Royal BattleMech Division (The League Division)

438th Royal BattleMech Division (The Commonwealth Division)

160th Royal BattleMech Division (The Sirius Division)

6th Royal BattleMech Division (The Junkers Division)

305th Royal BattleMech Division (The Nirasaki Division)

Dieron Militia Deployment

3rd Dieron Defenders (Vengeance of Dieron)

5th Dieron Defenders (Barbed Wire Warriors)

6th Dieron Defenders (Unbreakable Fury)

8th Dieron Defenders (Vanguard of the Wolf)

9th Dieron Defenders (The Knights of Hades)

10th Dieron Defenders (The Swords of Telos)

12th Dieron Defenders (Wrath of the Common Man)

13th Dieron Defenders (The Lone Star Warriors)

15th Dieron Defenders (Razor's Edge)

19th Dieron Defenders (Fires of Prometheus)

21st Dieron Defenders (The Dragon's Crucible)

26th Dieron Defenders (Fists of Steel)

Hegemony Navy 6th Fleet

Task Force VIII

Task Force XI

Task Force XIV

II Corps: Addicks (Davion) Corridor Deployment

349th Royal BattleMech Division (The King Henry Division)

81st Royal BattleMech Division (The Devils of Devil's Rock)

341st Royal BattleMech Division (The Black Prince Division)

13th Royal BattleMech Division (The Superstition Division)

34th Royal BattleMech Division (The Epsilon Indi Division)

168th Royal BattleMech Division (The Czar Peter Division)

196th Royal BattleMech Division (The Gettysburg Division)

299th Royal BattleMech Division (The Protector Division)

132nd Royal BattleMech Division (The Los Angeles Division)

64th Royal BattleMech Division (The Black Rain Division)

Addicks Militia Deployment

2nd Addicks Borderers (The Pride of New Rhodes)

3rd Addicks Borderers (Ghosts of Kentares)

7th Addicks Borderers (Claws of Tigress)

9th Addicks Borderers (The Yangtze Sandbaggers)

12th Addicks Borderers (The Supernova Brigade)

16th Addicks Borderers (Echoes of Woodstock)

17th Addicks Borderers (Tip of the Spear)

19th Addicks Borderers (The Basalt Warriors)

25th Addicks Borderers (The Green Mountain Boys)

28th Addicks Borderers (The Rio Grande)

Hegemony Navy 23rd Fleet

Task Force V

Task Force XII

III Corps: Nanking (Liao) Corridor Deployment

111th Royal BattleMech Division (The Terran Division)

46th Royal BattleMech Division (The Alexandr Kerensky Division)

29th Royal BattleMech Division (The Polypheme Division)

8th Royal BattleMech Division (The Black Sea Division)

282nd Royal BattleMech Division (The Denebola Division)

331st Royal BattleMech Division (The North American Division)

17th Royal BattleMech Division (The Golden Talon Division)

51st Royal BattleMech Division (The Green Devil Division)

335th Royal BattleMech Division (The Joan d'Arc Division)

131st Royal BattleMech Division (The Hercules Division)

Nanking Militia Deployment

5th Nanking Lancers (The Sword of Nanking)

6th Nanking Lancers (The Wassat Aggressors)

8th Nanking Lancers (The Zurich Cuirassiers)

10th Nanking Lancers (The Swordbreakers)

12th Nanking Lancers (Path of the Hurricane)

14th Nanking Lancers (The Scions of Zion)

18th Nanking Lancers (The New Canton Warriors)

Hegemony Navy 11th Fleet

Task Force II

V Corps: Tyrfing (Marik) Corridor Deployment

360th Royal BattleMech Division (The Bannockburn Division)

405th Royal BattleMech Division (The Golden Pharaoh Division)

59th Royal BattleMech Division (The New Kyoto Division)

125th Royal BattleMech Division (The Talitha Division)

254th Royal BattleMech Division (The Terra Firma Division)

372nd Royal BattleMech Division (The Asia Division)

21st Royal BattleMech Division (The Antaeus Division)

413th Royal BattleMech Division (The Grand Association Division)

280th Royal BattleMech Division (The Hall Division)

55th Royal BattleMech Division (The Sigma Draconis Division)

Tyrfing Militia Deployment

1st Tyrfing Rangers (The Tyrfing Avengers)

2nd Tyrfing Rangers (The Gamma Warriors)

7th Tyrfing Rangers (The Connaught Highlanders)

13th Tryfing Rangers (Castor's Arrows)

16th Tyrfing Rangers (The Savannah Masters)

19th Tyrfing Rangers (The Eagle Carvers)

21st Tyrfing Rangers (The Irian Irregulars)

Hegemony Navy 4th Fleet

Task Force VIII

VI Corps: Denebola (Steiner) Corridor Deployment

441st Royal BattleMech Division (The Federation Division)

75th Royal BattleMech Division (The Atlas Division)

159th Royal BattleMech Division (The Athena Division)

179th Royal BattleMech Division (The New Home Division)

53rd Royal BattleMech Division (The Cyclones of Castle Rock)

173rd Royal BattleMech Division (The New Earth Division)

197th Royal BattleMech Division (The Swamp Fox Division)

191st Royal BattleMech Division (The Silesian Division)

190th Royal BattleMech Division (The Procyon Division)

249th Royal BattleMech Division (The Agincourt Division)

Denebola Militia Deployment

4th Denebola Fusiliers (The Shield of Denebola)

5th Denebola Fusiliers (The Winds of Summer)

7th Denebola Fusiliers (The Snow Leopards)

8th Denebola Fusiliers (Griffin Bait)

9th Denebola Fusiliers (The Sons of Atria)

11th Denebola Fusiliers (The Eleventh Hour)

15th Denebola Fusiliers (The Lions of Lyon)

16th Denebola Fusiliers (Paradise Found)

17th Denebola Fusiliers (The Suicide Kings)

20th Denebola Fusiliers (Wings of Steel)

23rd Denebola Fusiliers (Rocky Road)

Hegemony Navy 8th Fleet

Task Force XVIII

Task Force XXI

Task Force XXIV

VII Corps: Terran Corridor Deployment

271st Royal BattleMech Division (The Outreach Division)

292nd Royal BattleMech Division (The Dieron Division)

311th Royal BattleMech Division (The Red Plains Division)

217th Royal BattleMech Division (The Altair Division)

315th Royal BattleMech Division (The Yorii Division)

406th Royal BattleMech Division (The Grand Rift Division)

416th Royal BattleMech Division (The Association Division)

179th Royal BattleMech Division (The Olympus Mons Division)

99th Royal BattleMech Division (The Amaterasu Division)

444th Royal BattleMech Division (The Wild Hunt)

287th Royal BattleMech Division (The Silver Serpent Division)

298th Royal BattleMech Division (The Battle of Thorin Division)

244th Royal BattleMech Division (The Niflheim Division)

7th Royal BattleMech Division (The White Tiger Division)

Terran Militia Deployment

1st Terran Regulars (The Pride of Cameron)

2nd Terran Regulars (The Eternal Flame)

5th Terran Regulars (Wrath of the Fallen)

6th Terran Regulars (The White Dingos)

9th Terran Regulars (The Shield of Epsilon)

Hegemony Navy 19th Fleet

Task Force III

Task Force IX