"With pride and hope our warriors ventured forth,
seeking to reforge that which had broken,
to restore that which had been lost,
to reclaim Paradise itself.
How could we have known the
strange will of the Fates, cruel and calculating?
How could we have known of
the Titans who had come forth,
terrible in their power, irresistable in their strength?
Woe unto the Children of Kerensky!
Woe unto the heirs of the Star League!
Paradise has unleashed Her Wrath upon us!
Her angels are the unstoppable tide,
the unquenchable fire, the unconquerable blow!
Courage and honor once brought glory and victory;
now they are outmatched; unequal to the foe,
they are only companions in Death.
Warriors who once fought for their Clans,
who bled and died for the greater whole
now fight only for Death.
Such is the judgement of the Fates.
Our ways are to be ended, our Clans destroyed;
the legacies of the Founders turned to ash;
the hearts of our warriors stilled.
So be it! So the Fates have decreed!
We spit upon it! We are the Clans;
born to be warriors, the defenders of Humanity!
We shall not now bend our knee!
In Death we salute our forebearers,
the warriors who died for the glory of their Clans;
the honor of their Houses!
Let the destroyers come! Let them
come with their wrath, with all that they have!
We shall meet them on the battlefield,
though victory is impossible, though Death is guaranteed,
we will meet them and fight them to the end!
Such is the way of the warrior!
Such is the way of the Clans!
And so The Remembrance has ended, it's task completed.
The history of our Clan, of all the Clans,
lies here in these pages.
All that we were, all that we had,
is here to be discovered.
And all that we ask is that our story be told,
that it be told truthfully, good and ill,
our vices not hidden for our virtues.
We take faith that those who live on shall judge us fairly,
and that though the Clans die,
we will not be forgotten.
Thus shall we stand until we all shall fall.
-"The Lament" - the final passages of The Remembrance, Final Edition
DNS Enterprise, Huntress System, Alliance Occupation Zone
Universe Designate MWB-32
9 September 2151 AST
26 January 3051 IST
Everything was in readiness. In orbit over the planet Huntress, the fleet had assembled. Transports gathered, carrying over a quarter of a million troops from the Alliance of Democratic Nations, the Federated Commonwealth, the Free Rasalhague Republic, the Saint Ives Compact, and the reborn Tanite System Republic, as well as the supplies to maintain them in battle for the first three days. Sixty warships of the Alliance fleet to escort them in and deal with what was left of the Clan fleets, led by the Enterprise herself, the first great carrier of the Alliance Stellar Navy.
On Enterprise's bridge, positioned forward of her hanger and launch decks, a small group of officers and enlisted men maintained bridge watch as the hours ticked down to 10 September and the launching of Operation: Jupiter - the invasion of the Clan capitol world Strana Mechty, where the last forces of the combined Clans had gathered. Standing with the bridge crew were a small collection of individuals come to oversee the operation launch. In their lead were the two liaisons from the main Inner Sphere allies of the Alliance to the man who held the post of SCAF-Hillsdale (Supreme Commander Alliance Forces-Hillsdale) and thus commanded all Alliance military forces in Universe MWB-32.
Both were recognizable. With wolf-gray and beard, Grand Duke Morgan Kell was imposing and firm, the legendary MechWarrior not showing any discomfort from being so far from his field of experience. Beside him in an anti-grav chair, with attendant ever at the ready, was the legendary Iron Jarl of Gunzberg, Tor Miraborg. Miraborg had his people's newly-won hatred of mercenaries, having tormented Morgan's son Phelan nearly two years prior for his short-lived romance with Miraborg's daughter Tyra, and his undisguised contempt for Morgan was answered by Kell's complete apathy for the Iron Jarl.
Standing near Morgan, Kommandant Victor Steiner-Davion was absorbed with the sight of the great fleet before them and the great ship around them. Head of a veritable armada by Inner Sphere standards, the Enterprise was a behemoth, a marvel of lostech if not honest-to-God magic. He swore he could feel the Enterprise's powerful Dyson-Jeffries M/AM reactor thrum through the decks. Outside her windows was that armada, with enough firepower to dominate the Inner Sphere. The people here were Human and yet not, representatives in many cases of societies long deceased in the history of the Inner Sphere. It was like stepping simultaneously into a historical drama and a science fantasy work.
To Victor's left stood one of his subordinates, the redoubtable Kai Allard-Liao, a Leftenant in the AFFC and heir to the Saint Ives Compact. Kai was not seemingly as taken with the view as Victor was, remaining reserved and aloof as always.
A shrill whistle filled the bridge. "Admiral on the bridge!" came the cry of a chief on watch, and every man and woman stood and saluted the figure who stepped off the lift onto the bridge - even Victor and Kai. He was a man of good height, about six foot one, with a strong but not imposing build. Green eyes looked around the bridge, his head of black hair - combed back and well-kept at military length and regulation - moving slightly as he finished walking onto the upper platform of the bridge, where Morgan and the others had assembled. He was in duty uniform, a black jacket and suit with red trim to denote command branch, and four admiral's stars on his collar and jacket cuffs.
The clock was at 23:58 GST. "Two minutes until zero hour, Admiral," an officer - the ship's Bridge Watch Officer - remarked.
Admiral Robert Allen Dale replied with a nod. He moved to a position on the other side of Morgan Kell and Tor Miraborg, not bothering to a central position. Victor admired the cool, collected air of command that the admiral gave off, so much like his father. He had only heard, through talk, that Dale was a man also capable of happily chatting up the lowest crewman, though reputation alone spoke of the man's capabilities as a speaker and leader.
It was clear that Dale's subordinates regarded him with awe and reverence. He was the hero of Gamma Icara and Alpha Centauri, the man who turned back the Agresskan when no one else could. When everyone had been too busy talking about the quibbling domestic matters of the Alliance's first years, Dale had stepped forth and given the warning that the newly-formed government of the Allied Nations was neglecting naval defense. Victor's father had all but insisted that he read the man's book on the subject.
And he was here now. The man who had turned back the Clan tide at Rasalhague. Who had returned there, victorious from hunting down the Clan fleets, with a broom tied to the Enterprise's primary comm mast. The man who had argued eloquently to the Tanites for patience regarding the Alliance troops on their world, who had negotiated the early surrender of the Snow Raven Clan, and who had nearly succeeded in preventing the resolution from the Alliance Council that was making this battle, and so many before it, necessary.
"It's almost time," Miraborg said in a low voice. A smirk crossed his face. "This will be the greatest conquest since Aleksandr Kerensky took Terra."
There was a glare in Dale's eyes as he turned and looked down to the crippled, bitter old Rasalhaguan. Miraborg returned the look only partially, confused perhaps. Morgan, Victor, Kai, and Miraborg's attendant looked on to see what would be said next. The clock was reading 23:59 now. At any moment, the time would come.
Finally there came a reply. "Conquest, Jarl Miraborg? This is not going to be a conquest." His expression hardened, and he looked back to the windows and the fleet beyond.
"Then what will it be, Admiral?" Miraborg said challengingly, as if emphasizing the supposed inferiority of Dale's rank to his own.
The time hit 00:00.
Speaking louder now, so that everyone on the bridge could hear, Dale spoke once more. "This will not be a conquest, or a battle. This, gentlemen and ladies, is going to be an execution. Helm, set course for Strana Mechty and relay to the other ships in the fleet. Go order is given."
And that was that. The final battle against the Clans was set to begin.
The Hall of Khans, Katyusha City, Strana Mechty
"My Khan. My Khan!"
The gentle, kind tone roused the old woman from her sleep. The cot in her office felt surprisingly soft below her aged, aching body. Her eyes slowly opened to behold the sight before her.
Her aide was a young woman, just turned 21. Her hair was light blonde, cut short in warrior fashion, with shining blue eyes. She was well-figured and perhaps lovely to some ideals of such with her firm body and subtle curves. She was dressed in a jump suit, her rank of Star Commander visible upon it, and the red dagger-star of a MechWarrior with it.
"My Khan, the deadline is past. We have reports that the enemy invasion fleet is on the way."
"I expected as much, Natalie." Slowly, surely, Cyrilla Ward rose from the cot she'd placed in the ilKhan's office. Her desk was still covered with papers, the day-to-day affairs of state for the Clans necessary even now, even in these times, as their doom approached. Natalie was her new aide, a loyal young woman of her House of Ward, the granddaughter of one of Cyrilla's biological sisters. "Thank you for waking me, Natalie."
"Thanks are not necessary, my Khan."
"Perhaps not, but they are given anyway. And, please, today you may call me Ril. As Tasha used to say, 'Slavish adherence to ritual is a sign someone doesn't have anything better to think about', and today, Natalie, we have far more important concerns."
"Tasha actually used such horrid language?"
An amused cackle came from the older Ward. "Oh yes."
Natalie nodded, watching Cyrilla pull her own jumpsuit on over the undergarments she had slept in. "I am ready, my Kha.... Ril. I am ready to join your Star when the battle comes."
Cyrilla looked up at the younger women. "I have another task for you, Natalie."
"What is it? Defense of the Svoboda? A Star to command in the defense of our genetic repository?"
Those things were replied with a shake of the head. "As soon as we are ready, you will join those being placed in the Svoboda."
Natalie's reaction was harsh. Tears formed in her eyes as she emphatically screeched, "No! No, please, don't do that to me! I'm... I'm willing to die with you, Ril! I'm ready to die as a warrior of the Wolf....!"
"Natalie!" A surprisingly harsh bark from Cyrilla ended Natalie's protest. "Natalie, my dear, you are still young. You can have a future. You must have a future. You and the others being sent to the Svoboda will guarantee the continuance of our bloodlines. It is our responsibility to the previous generations of our warriors to ensure their legacies live on, even if the Clans do not."
"This, Natalie, is a great responsibility, and I know you're up to it. You must live, for all of us."
The young woman stared at Cyrilla for several minutes. Her eyes were filled with tears, her sense of duty clashing with her desire to prove herself worthy as a warrior. "But.... I don't want you to die alone. I want to be with you."
"And you will be, dear Natalie." Cyrilla smiled at her, and to someone from outside the Clans, she would seem to look like a caring old grandmother, not the grand war leader of the Clans. "Natalie, I will die today, and when I do, I will die easier knowing you are safe. You are the future of the Wards, Natalie. You are my future."
Natalie nodded. Standing, with tears in her eyes, she saluted her ilKhan and the leader of her Bloodhouse. "I will do as you have ordered, my Khan."
"I know you will, Star Commander. You are dismissed." Fearing she would break down into tears in front of Cyrilla, Natalie immediately left.
Cyrilla watched her go, letting her go because she did not want Natalie to feel shamed at losing her composure here. "I know you will, my dear," the old woman breathed softly. "I know you will."
And so she returned to her work, preparing private messages. One to her old friend Natasha, the other to the man who would later this day be destroying everything she had ever lived for.