When keeping all twenty Clans in the long term story line, I was confronted with a question: Where am I going to put them and what territory will I use? This is no small point, as it meant that the knockon effect would run throughout the territories of all the Clans.The canon Clans of 3060 were the first to recieve a detailed listing of territorial holdings, with enough information exisiting to be able to extrapolate, to a fair degree of accuracy, what each Clan would have held in 3050. This territory would be what I would generally use for the Clans of the KU in 3032. So when it came time to assigning the terriories of the Wolverine, Widowmaker and Mongoose Clans, I did not have alot to go on.
For the Pentagon it was fairly easy, Clans Wolverine and Mongoose on Circe and the Widowmakers on Dagada. Hold on, the Wolves and Jaguars just lost territory. Do I want to keep the 3050 balance of power? The answer was yes, so I had to give them territory somewhere else to compensate, or reduce everyone proportionately.
When looking at all the figures, new territory was going to be the easiest and so the Exeter Clsuter was born. Bacically, these new worlds allowed for the three Clans to gain thier historical territories in the Pentagon and Kerensky Cluster, whilst also giving them additonal worlds in the Exeter Clsuter, so I could place them where I wanted each in the Clan pecking order. Of the three, the progressive Wolvreines had the easiest Supplication Trial and the longest to recover, so they got the most land, the Widowmakers had nearly as long to recover, but were more isolationist, so less went to them. The poor old Mongoose Clan, were still suffering the effects of the losses they encurred in 2868 and the predation they suffered afterwards.
But once the historic territores of the three Clans were established, 14 new worlds had been created, following population levels similar to thse of the Kerensky Cluster. However, with all the other changes that were being made to the story line, the end of the conquest and settlement of the Exeter Clsuter became an excellent catalyst for demarkating the end of the Golden Century and beginning the Political Century. It also became the point where the last of the Golden Century ilKhans, Coyote Corian Tchernovkov is elected. For the 60 years following Tchernovkov’s death, a series of seven realitively weak and inefective ilKhans releft the turmoil of the burgoning Great Debate of the Political Century, but that is for Part V.
For now, enjoy Part IV, Exeter’s Curse.
NOTE: I completly missed the Mongoose Supplication in Part III, which has now been updated.
Following the election of Caroline Callaghan to the ilKhanship, the balance of power within the Grand Council continued to shift, but unfortunately for those Clans opposed to the Vipers, there was little they could do to stop the rise of the ilKhan’s Clan. Clans Jade Falcon and Snow Raven bore the brunt of the Steel Viper’s efforts to build a power base in the Kerensky Cluster, with Viper forces gaining a beachhead on the Falcon world of Ironhold and also taking the world of Hellgate from the Snow Ravens following their first victory there in 2897.
Unfortunately for the Vipers, their success attracted enemies, as is always the case in Clan politics, with some of their enemies being quite powerful. The Jade Falcons, Snow Ravens and later the Cloud Cobras, would begin to work in concert with each other, as much as such divergent Clans can, in an effort to stymie the advances of Khan Mercer’s troops. Although a slow process, the shaky alliance of these three Clans slowly tipped the balance, with the Steel Vipers driven off Ironhold in 2901 and suffering a series of heavy setbacks over the following years.
However, these losses could not detract from Viper power in the Grand Council, as the support of several Clans, who might otherwise have been marginalised, was bolstering the Viper voting block. Clans Blood Spirit, Fire Mandrill, Hell’s Horses, Ice Hellion, Mongoose and Widowmaker all backed the Steel Vipers, for various reasons, forming a powerful clique in the Grand Council. These Clans were normally ignored by the larger Clans in matters of Grand Council policy, yet with the Viper’s open ear through Mercer herself, they were provide with the time they believed the deserved on the Council floor.
Mercer was also a cunning political manipulator, as evidenced by her rise to power in the Viper Clan, but also through her quiet, yet effective manipulation of the ilKhan. Caroline Callaghan was a devoted follower of Mercer’s vision for the future, making manipulation of the ilKhan a simple action for the Steel Viper Khan. Though the other Clans suspected the manipulation of the ilKhan to Viper ends, no evidence was forthcoming and with so many Khans backing Callaghan, the other Clans had to bide their time.
Whilst the machinations within the Grand Council and across the battlefields of Clan space were playing out, the Wolverines were in the process of making a discovery that would inadvertently bring the Vipers and their Khans down. In 2899, then Wolverine Khan Daniel Bostick saw the need to look beyond the Kerensky Cluster, to ensure the continued growth of his Clan. By the late 29th Century the Kerensky Cluster had been fully explored, with the Wolverine Khan feeling that his Clan would have more success looking for new territory, rather than fighting for settled systems. Additionally, the Wolverines had suffered several heavy defeats in recent years from Clans that had opposed them during the Supplication crisis and still bore a grudge against them.
The Wolverines would not be able to carry out their plan over the decade timeframe which Khan Bostick had outlined, without the assistance of another Clan. With the Nova Cats and Diamond Sharks fully committed to their own program and the Snow Ravens lacking the resources to fund such a venture, the Wolverines sounded out the Mongeese who, like the Wolverines, were looking for new lands to colonise, especially as they had lost so much land during their Supplication thirty years earlier. The Mongoose Clan lacked all the resources to fund a full scale program, but was far richer materially than the Snow Ravens, whereas the Wolverines had access to more capital. However, the Mongoose’s superior fleet would be vital in escorting the missions and protecting the new worlds, as it was based around cruisers and destroyers, where as the Wolverine fleet was built around a core of battleships and battlecrusiers, with a smattering of light escorts. Between them, the two Clans could outfit and protect the required expedition, with both profiting from it.
In 2902, the Wolverine/Mongoose surveys discovered what they were looking for, 137 Light Years anti-spinward of the Kerensky Cluster world of Paxon. A small cluster of stars, likely thrown out from the Kerensky Cluster itself early in the clusters formation, were located in close proximity to each other and boasted several habitable worlds.
However, for the forced from the two Clans, the greatest surprise was yet to come. Some of these worlds were home to the remnants of the Spacers who fled from the Pentagon at the end of Operation Klondike, a fact given away by the presence of the rebels derelict flagship, an old Quixote class frigate, above the world that was then known as Exeter.
The scout units of the expedition collected as much data on the system and its defences as possible, along with several other settled systems nearby, before returning to Circe to report on what they had found. Both Clans decided that the best course of action was to mount an expedition, secure the worlds and then announce their discovery to the Grand Council. By this method, both Clans hoped to gain territory quickly, whilst preventing the other Clans from mounting a unified response before the Wolverines and Mongeese were properly entrenched.
Fifteen WarShips escorted over four Galaxies of troops from the Clan worlds into what became known as the Exeter Cluster, descending on the world of Exeter and swiftly eliminating any opposition. Although their technology and industry had been slowly declining, and their orbital defences were falling apart, the people of Exeter had not forgotten the Clans or Operation Klondike. After seven weeks of heavy fighting, the two Clans began to spread out to the other worlds of the Cluster, but with another fourteen habitable worlds, all of which were settled to some extent, the two Clans could only accomplish so much. Clan Mongoose focused it’s attention on Libertia (later to be their capital), Elsom and Quixote, whilst the Wolverines tightened their hold on Exeter and focused on Rolleston and Garrison.
However, the time of unfettered access to these worlds for their two discoverers was to be brief. Clan Snow Raven, neighbour to both Clans on Circe, knew something was in the wind and called out both Clans in the Grand Council early in 2903. As the six worlds assaulted so far had largely been pacified, the two Clans were willing to open the cluster to access by the other Clans, as both knew they lacked the resources to complete the task on their own and would face the other Clans regardless of their actions.
Within three months, fifteen other Clans descended on the new worlds, ensuring there was little hope for escape for those fleeing the initial Clan onslaught. The battles within the Exeter Cluster ignited a Clan wide territory grab which rapidly spiralled out of control, as Clans not in the Exeter worlds, or only sending small forces, struck out to consolidate territory in the Pentagon and Kerensky Cluster.
By late 2903 the situation was rapidly getting out of hand, with the ilKhan doing little to prevent the looming war, instead favouring the efforts of her own Steel Vipers in their attempts to take territory off the Falcons and Ravens in the Kerensky Cluster. Moderate voices in the Grand Council, led by the Snow Ravens, Star Adders and Wolves, called for a Trial of Grievance against the ilKhan for her partisan actions. In the words of the Snow Raven Khan; “…the ilKhan has acted as a Steel Viper and not as a neutral arbiter in this time of crisis. She and here Loremaster have brought shame on their offices and should be removed before they bring their positions low and with them the entire body of the Clans.”
On the 15th of January, 2904, the ilKhan and Loremaster were stripped of their offices and replacements selected. Dorian N’Buta, widely recognised as the leader of the moderates in the Grand Council, was elected to the post of ilKhan, with Hilde Riedel of the Ice Hellions being elected Loremaster. N’Buta swiftly moved to formalise the Trials for the Exeter worlds, setting up a system not dissimilar to that used for the Trials for OmniMech technology. This system was mandated by the Grand Council to remain in force for ten years, to be extended if needed following that time.
ilKhan N’Buta managed, what seemed at the time, to be an impossible task, but was able to prevent an all out territory war from engulfing the Clans. However, as the Exeter worlds calmed, scores were settled in the homeworlds. The Ravens, long allies of the Wolverines and Mongeese were angered that they had been overlooked for assistance in colonising the Exeter worlds, something which would have been of great benefit to their Clan.
The Ravens struck out in anger and in an epic naval battle over Circe in 2905, hammered a combined Mongoose/Wolverine fleet returning from the Exeter worlds. Twelve Raven ships faced five Wolverine and nine Mongoose WarShips, destroying three and capturing five for the loss of two of their own.
In the aftermath of the battle, the Ravens returned three of the captured ships, as a gesture of reconciliation, having gained their measure of honour and more than made their point. The Wolverines accepted the offer and would later assist the Snow Ravens in settling Columbia in the Exeter Cluster in an effort to redress the wrongs perceived by the Snow Ravens. However, the battle was the beginning of the end for Snow Raven and Mongoose relations, with naval clashes over Circe becoming a regular occurrence, honing the skills of both fleets to a razors edge. This constant fighting, with the skills and experience it provided the Mongoose fleet, would save the Mongoose Clan in its later battles with the Star Adders and Smoke Jaguars.
The other major score that was settled was the humbling of the Steel Vipers. Desperate to maintain her Clans’ advantage, Sanra Mercer struck out at both the Coyotes and Jade Falcons, but was brutally rebuffed by the Coyotes, before the Jade Falcons landed on New Kent in 2906 and killed Mercer herself. Other reverses across Clans space and the fracturing of the former support from the minor Clans saw the Vipers set back more than ten years, and withdraw into themselves by the end of the first decade of the 30th Century.
Whilst all this was occurring, ilKhan N’Buta continued to work on restoring the balance amongst the Clans, spending more time in the Exeter Cluster than he did on Strana Mechty. The Trials for the new colonies eventually petered out to what was considered normal for inter-Clan conflicts by 2912, but the ilKhan kept the Trial laws in place until he stepped down from office.