When putting an alternate universe together, sometimes you are lucky enough to have the whole story appear in your mind all at once, allowing you to get it onto paper, even as a general outline and to build from there. Other times, it is not so simple.When writing this alternate history of the Clans for the KU, I knew where I was starting, the points where I would touch on canon events and where and how it would join the Inner Sphere KU story. However, that left allot of filler, especially when there are 20 factions and several major divergences from the canon timeline.
One tool a budding story teller can use for filler, but also for additional inspiration, is random events – rolling dice to determine certain elements of the timeline. For example, for the ilKhans and Loremasters of the Clans, I would roll 1d20 to determine the Clan, 1d40 for the Bloodname and 1d20 or 40 for the length of rule for the ilkhan and Loremaster respectively. For first names, Facebook’s random name generator gives plenty of variation. Now I had a list of ilKhans and Loremasters, all I had to then was flesh out the story around them.
By doing this, I had to find reasons for the changes in ilKhanship and the position of Loremaster, plausible ones that could be accepted. One of the first was the election of a Steel Viper to Loremaster, followed 10 years later by election of another to the ilKhanship. 10 years after that, both fall. So therefore, I had to come up with a story to make that believable. Enter Sanra Merecer.
In my last two posts I talked about knowing the canon story in detail and touching on canon events. The rise of Sanra Mercer came 3 years before the Steel Viper Clan Loremaster and suited the reasoning perfectly. So in this little KU, Mercer leads the Vipers to dominate the Grand Council, however, her ambition and methods will also be their downfall. I hope you enjoy the first part of their little tale.
Growth and Expansion
Following the death of Nicolas Kerensky and the Supplication of the Widowmakers, the Clans entered a period of relative stability, at least compared to the previous ten years. Trials still occurred, battles were still fought and feuds were fostered, but the general trend was towards less brutal and costly combat.
The years from 2835 until 2850 were one of recovery and revival, as each Clan poured its efforts into the final rebuilding of their Pentagon holdings and then the ongoing development of those worlds. At the same time, led by Clans Nova Cat and Sea Fox, the Clans continued to spread throughout the Kerensky Cluster and chart many other nearby systems. The release of the Widowmakers from Supplication in 2345 did little to heal their anger at the Wolves and Wolverines, and this hatred has lasted down to the present day. The Clans of the time where not aware of their part in history, but they had entered The Golden Century, which would last until 2930.
All through this time the Clans looked to the last of what would become known as the Great Three, Andery Kerensky, for guidance and council. Many look to Andery’s teachings and methods and state that the Clans would have been a darker and more warlike entity had his quiet and subtle touch been lost to the Clans. Many of his brother’s harsher methods fell, if not into disuse, then limited function, as long as Andery stood to the side and watched all.
In 2850, according to his diaries, ilKhan Jerome Winson approached Andery, informing him of an illness that would soon claim him and of his concerns for the future. Andery calmed the ilKhan, assuring him he would remain in his position as long as needed. Andery also told the aging ilKhan that it was his intention to make the posts of ilKhan and Loremaster permanent, something that was not yet written into Clan law. Both men foresaw the need for these dual stabilizing influences on the Clans, ones which over time, would allow the Clans to develop to their full potential.
The following year, ilKhan Jerome Winson took his own life, following a debilitating stroke, leaving the door open to the first ilKhan from the new generation of vat grown warriors. Zenoth Danforth, the then Khan of the Burrock clan and one of the reasons for their ongoing success and growth, though only 32 years of age, was elected to the post after being nominated by Andery himself. Andery saw promise in the young man and was also keen to begin to spread the office of ilKhan from the exclusive hold of the Wolf Clan. Much as he was a Wolf, Andery recognized the need for a broader base for the office of Clan ilKhan, a base which he also realized his own office would one day require.
Following the election of Zenoth Danforth in 2851, the Clans returned to their own business, with Grand Council meetings becoming less regular than they had been during the two previous ilKhans. This was the sign Andery had been looking for, as it demonstrated to him that the various Clans were now better able to look after their own, as had always been intended.
The limiting of the Council gatherings was a blessing in disguise for Andery, as it let him spend more time with his wife Dana Kufahl, Khan of the Coyotes, prior to her death in 2855. Andery was a changed man following her death, having lost his close friend, Sarah McEvedy, former Khan of the Wolverines the year before. Andery had little time for reflection however, as Dana’s Clan had unveiled what would become the symbol of Clan military might late in 2854: the OmniMech.
Few truly realised the potential of these new machines as they underwent combat testing within the confines of the Coyote and Sea Fox Clans. More cunning than the Coyotes, the Sea Foxes managed to keep quiet about their access to the new technology, gained following their assistance to the Coyotes in bringing it to fruition. However, the Coyotes ensured that they had a design in each weight class, designed, tested and fielded before testing them on another Clan.
In 2858, the Coyotes unleashed the OmniMech upon their enemies and quickly surged to prominence, winning several decisive battles against their foes. Those who had slighted them in the past, most notably the Smoke Jaguars, Jade Falcons and Ice Hellions, felt the bite of the Coyote. An emergency session of the Grand Council was called for by the Jade Falcons, who argued that such technology should be shared with all the Clans. However, eloquent arguments from the Wolves and Coyotes, as well as the Sea Foxes, swayed the Council, especially so when Andery Kerensky and ilKhan Danforth sided with the Coyotes. Clans would trial for the rites to the technology, with the Loremaster and ilKhan overseeing the various actions which would ensue.
The Coyotes, and other Clans that would later field the OmniMech, were allowed to accept one challenge per year from each Clan that wished to gain the new Technology. However, it would not be until 2863 that the new Machines would begin to be disseminated throughout the Clans.
Andery’s even handedness and cooperation with the ilKhan continued to be a guiding light for the various Clans involved in the Trials, with his personal touch calming the ire of many Clans who would have otherwise been deeply aggrieved at the results of the OmniMech Trials. However, Andery would not see the true dissemination of the OmniMech, as he passed away quietly on February 9th, 2867, at the age of 103. His passing marked the end of the period of the founders and the last great link with the Clan’s Star League era roots
As ordered by Andery, a new Loremaster was elected to the post, with Eloy Varga, Loremaster of the Steel Vipers and a man with a deep and passionate understanding of Clan history and lore, being elevated. His rank of Star Colonel, one that seemed to be the pinnacle of a career now on the decline, would come to mark the unofficial requirement for future Loremasters, that they have attained, but never passed the rank of Star Colonel. Loremaster Eloy Varga was also a devotee of the new vision that the Steel Vipers had been given by their new Khan, Sanra Mercer. He, and later Caroline Callahan, would oversee the high point of the Steel Viper’s Golden Century power.
Shortly after the debut of the OmniMech to the other Clans, the Mongeese deployed it en masse. Neither the Coyote, Sea Fox or Mongoose Clans were ever straight forward about how the Mongeese deployed so many OmniMechs so quickly, but the effect was devastating upon the Star Adders. Long a bitter foe of the Adders, the Mongoose Clan saw its opportunity to crush its hated rival. It was not long before the Coyote Clan added its forces to the assaults on the Adders, further demonstrating the power of the new ‘Mechs.
Five years later, both the Adders and the Mongoose Clan’s other great foe, the Smoke Jaguars, struck in concert. The effects were devastating and the Mongoose Clan was in desperate straights. The appeal of Khan Walter Martindale to the Grand Council, citing the writings of the Kerenskys’, did little to help matters. By mid-year, the Grand Council called on the Mongoose Clan to face Supplication, as their method of using politicking before honorable combat was against the Way of the Clans.
The Mongoose Clan opposed the Supplication, but was shattered by the Smoke Jaguars and Star Adders, both who had won the right to conduct the Trial. However, their heavy handed actions earned the two Clans their own rebuke from the ilKhan and the new Loremaster, Eloy Varga. By the end of 2868, the Mongoose Clan was defeated over Atreus and 19% of their assets stripped, in addition to the 25% lost in the previous six months fighting. These losses would serve to cripple the Mongoose Clan for a century. ilKhan Danforth and later ilKhan Ward, would oversee the Mongoose Supplication as they attempted to curb the Clan’s more devious leanings. It is open to debate as to whether the two ilKhan’s were in any way successful, as the Mongoose Clan is still known for its ability to get what it wants without fighting.
The election of a new and vigorous Loremaster was fortuitous for the Clans, as the Wolves unveiled their Battle Armour technology the following year, with the Hell’s Horses following suit with the Elemental phenotype in 2870. However, as the Trials for these assets heated up, several Clans began to agitate for the removal of ilKhan Danforth, especially considering his lack of success in remodeling the Mongoose Clan during its Supplication period.
Despite his even handedness during the Trials for the OmniMech, Danforth had made many enemies, with Clan Burrock also suffering for his actions. The Burrocks were unable to muster the numbers to prevent a vote against him in the Grand Council, but Danforth beat his opponents to the punch by resigning from office, ostensibly to allow “new blood” into the role.
Despite Andery Kerensky’s wishes, the office of ilKhan of the Clans would return to the Wolf Clan, under Victoria Ward. Ward was able to see the political maneuvering of those Clans disgruntled by Danforth’s actions and called them out for their actions in the Grand Council. With the Wolves pre-eminent amongst the Clans and none willing to stand against her, Ward was elected unopposed to the office of ilKhan.
Victoria Ward’s time as ilKhan would see her hold sway over the Battle Armour/Elemental Trials, as well as acting, along with Loremaster Varga, as a stabilising influence on the Clans and a positive influence on the Mongoose Clan. The events leading up to and following the Annihilation of the Fire Mandrill Kindraa Smythe-Jewel in 2872, a direct result of the OmniMech and Battle Armour Trials, were the first in a series of escalating feuds and conflicts that kept ilKhan and the Grand Council busy. The years from 2872 until 2887, would be marked by increasingly bitter conflicts, which only began to wind down from a small measure of exhaustion late in the decade. The feuds they fueled, or engendered, would not die however, providing the catalyst for later conflicts.
Victoria Ward voluntarily ended her term as ilKhan in 2891, having overseen not only a period of intense conflict, but also one of extraordinary growth in social, economic and technological fields, growth which allowed the Clans to equal and surpass the Star League in many fields. This was the time when many of the modern aspects of the Clans, the final version of the Trial system and modern Clan mores and customs became the norm.
Upon the stepping down of Victoria Ward, Khan Mercer, the dynamic Khan of the Steel Vipers, who had catapulted the Vipers to a place in Clan society second only to the Wolves and Coyotes, made her master move. Through threat of force and no small amount of back room dealing and eloquent speech, Mercer managed to procure sufficient votes to ensure her saKhan, Caroline Callahan, was elected to the position of Loremaster, enraging the Jade Falcons, whose own Timothy Pryde has seemed the logical choice for the office. Mercer became the power behind the throne, something that was at first suspected, but never proved. However, her machinations would eventually be her downfall, as her actions had deeply offended the Jade Falcons and the Falcons intended to fully repay her slights.
All at once, the Steel Vipers were being talked of as the next leaders of Clan society, with the two highest Clan offices and a touman that was on the ascendant. However, the election of Callahan signaled a new course for the Clans, one that would be catalyzed by the worlds of the Exeter Cluster and see the Vipers fall from their pedestal as quickly as they had climbed it.