Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Star League Part 26


The civil war claimed more than 100 million people. Four times that number were wounded, and ten times that number were left homeless. The immensity of the devastation caused by Amaris stunned everyone, and a silence seemed to fall across the entire Inner Sphere.

Ruling over this sad domain was General Aleksandr Kerensky. He announced that he was reassuming his title as Protector of the Realm. He invited the Council Lords to come to Terra for meetings “to help guide us away from the memories of these devastating times.”

Relief supplies and aid began pouring into the Terran Hegemony from all five Houses. Trading companies donated space on their ships to carry the supplies and donations to the Hegemony, but it was the common people who made the most heartfelt contributions. A massive outpouring of concern came forth from the citizenry of the five realms. They gave what they could afford, often taking food from their own mouths to feed the starving in the Hegemony. Even people in the Periphery, themselves not yet recovered from the ravages of war, felt compassion for the billions in the Hegemony and gave what they could.

Many people were stricken with remorse upon hearing about what life had been like under Stefan Amaris. Some had relatives in the Hegemony. Others felt guilty that their governments had allowed such a thing to happen. Many assuaged their guilt by traveling to the ravaged worlds to offer their time and skills to the reconstruction effort.

People looked forward to seeing Aleksandr Kerensky become the next First Lord. His fame, considerable even before the war, had grown to superhuman dimensions immediately after the liberation of Terra. Everyone took comfort in the thought that he would soon rule the Star League.

The Council Lords reconvened in the ruins of Unity City on October 10, 2780. The arguing started soon thereafter. The Council Lords, who shared none of their citizens’ guilt for having stayed aloof from the civil war, fought among themselves for power. The past four years may have caused incredible grief to some but they had also created a wealth of opportunities for the House leaders. Among the few things that they agreed on was the appointment of Jerome Blake as Minister of Communications. They gave him the monumental task of rebuilding the League’s communications network.

They were also agreed that General Kerensky would not be the one to lead them. To quiet the public cry for him to become the First Lord, the High Council unanimously stripped General Kerensky of his title of Protector on October 18 of that year. They then ordered him to demilitarize Terra and to disperse SLDF units to their peacetime locations.

In response, many people took to the streets to demonstrate in support of the General, even in the Draconis Combine and the Free Worlds League.

Before leaving, General Kerensky asked to meet the Council Lords one last time in the Throne Room, which had been mostly restored to its former glory. They agreed, though not without some misgivings.

After the five Lords gathered, the General entered carrying the ornate laser pistol of Stefan Amaris. The Council Lords’ uneasiness turned to near panic when the doors to the room closed and General Kerensky sat on the First Lord’s throne. Though the Lords must have feared for their lives at that moment, Kerensky merely began an impassioned plea to the Council Lords to be lenient with captured Republican soldiers. With a sigh of relief, the Council Lords listened and agreed to the General’s proposals for the treatment of the Amaris soldiers.

General Kerensky left Terra for New Earth, the temporary headquarters of the SLDF. There, he issued orders to his troops to treat the Republicans well and congratulated them on surviving the long campaign. “In the coming months some of you may envy the dead,” he concluded. “The universe has become a very different place and you may feel that you cannot cope with it. Have courage. You and I have faced the worst; what comes next cannot be as bad.”

A week after Kerensky’s return to New Earth, General DeChavilier approached him with word that all of the Star League troops were ready to help overthrow the Council Lords. General DeChavilier wrote in his journal that the General smiled but politely refused the offer, saying that he was too tired for treason. He went on to say that as long as there was a Star League, he would remain loyal. Historians have pointed out that Aleksandr Kerensky was a military man, not a politician. Others have maintained that Kerensky realized that his age and lack of heirs meant an overthrow would only have delayed the inevitable.

As the weeks wore on and the High Council continued to meet, the continued existence of the Star League looked more and more doubtful. The Council Lords could not agree on who would become the new First Lord. Their meetings turned into aggressive auctions, with each House leader attempting to trade huge sums of money, resources, and even whole planets in desperate schemes to become the ruler of the League. The only hopeful sign was the fact that the Council Lords were still on Terra and still talking long after the meetings had been scheduled to end.

On August 12, after ten months of deliberations, the five exhausted and angry leaders agreed to disagree forever. With a short written statement that they brusquely handed to some reporters, the five left for the spaceport and their individual realms.

The message read: “After long months of intense negotiations, we have reached an impasse on the question of who should become the next leader of the Star League. It is our opinion that the inability to find a new First Lord makes any further decision-making impossible. Therefore, we officially dissolve the High Council on this day, August 12, in the year of 2781.”


When news of the dissolution of the Star League reached New Earth, many soldiers believed that now General Kerensky would have an excuse to seize control. Instead, Kerensky immediately sent messaged to the five Houses imploring them to reconsider their decision. For the next two years, he traveled to and fro across the Inner Sphere trying to get the leaders of the five Houses back into the Council Chambers, where he hoped them would reconcile and resurrect the Star League. His efforts had tremendous public support but did nothing to sway the House families, who seemed to prefer the new political alignment.

Freed of limits on the size of their militaries under the Star League Accords, the five families began massive buildups. They turned to the skilled soldiers of the Rim Worlds Republic, who were waiting for release from prisons in the Hegemony. Recruiters from the five Houses met every group of soldiers released. They offered money, rank, positions, and even titles to get them to sign contracts. MechWarriors and AeroSpace Pilots often received huge plots of land for their services.

In August 2783, General Kerensky heard that recruiters had been talking to SLDF units. When the General tried to keep the recruiters away from his troops, the House lords asked for his resignation as commander of the SLDF. A month later, most of the Ninety-first Heavy Assault Regiment (The Armadillos) deserted the SLDF to join the Federated Suns. General Kerensky realized that the spirit that had made the Regular Army and the Star League so noble was fast eroding.

No one knows exactly when General Kerensky decided that the Exodus was the only answer. Most records left with the General, leaving historians with only sketchy notes and hints into the General’s thinking. Some have suggested that Kerensky was planning the Exodus even before the New Vandenberg rebellion and the subsequent second war in the Periphery. Other historians have theorized that it was not General Kerensky’s idea at all, but General DeChavilier who originated the plan.

Most of the evidence points to August or September as the time when General Kerensky settled on an Exodus of the SLDF. Records show that in September, activity at the General’s headquarters jumped dramatically and that the HPG station on New Earth was in almost constant use.

On February 14, 2784, more than 100 division commanders and an equal number of lesser officers crowded into an empty wooden warehouse on Terra. General Kerensky and his High Command then explained Operation Exodus to the astonished officers. The Star League still lived within the heart and soul of each trooper and sailor, the General said, but this new cruel age would eat away at that spirit in no time. If so many lost lives were to have any meaning, the essence of Star League had to be saved. Thus, the Exodus. When Kerensky finished speaking, everyone present stood and applauded.

News of Operation Exodus traveled quickly through the SLDF. Soon every soldier was talking about it, yet the plan never leaked to the five Houses. Though secrecy was complete, many Believers in the Saints Cameron guessed what was about to happen from reading Jonathan Cameron’s letters. There are also indications that Minoru Kurita suspected Kerensky’s scheme.

Each soldier was eventually asked individually if he or she wanted to follow General Kerensky, and more than 80 percent said that they did. Most of the remaining 20 percent felt that leaving would be improper. A few whole units decided not to go, and like the Eridani Light Horse, played an important part in the future of the Inner Sphere. Most of the individuals who refused later died wearing the uniform of one of the five Houses.

Ship traffic among SLDF bases rose dramatically after the February 14 meeting. Star League shipyards grew hectic as workers hastily repaired damaged ships for the coming journey. Because 200 more transports were needed to carry the soldier’s families and supplies, the SLDF went on a buying spree, snapping up all available ships from commercial JumpShip manufacturers.

Quartermasters began buying massive amounts of food and supplies. They bought on the open market from private companies in the other realms. Sometimes they even bought directly from the House governments. Star League military bases were stripped of all their supplies and parts, and families bundled up their lives into boxes and crates.

Despite the scale of the preparations, the preoccupied leaders of the five Houses, except for Coordinator Kurita, failed to realize what was going on until units in the Periphery and in outer reaches of the Inner Sphere began moving in August.

It was not until July, when the jump points around Hegemony worlds were thick with warships and transports, that the five leaders begin asking for explanations. General Kerensky gave them none. He banned the SLDF from communicating with outsiders unless absolutely necessary.


The Terran Hegemony gained influence over the other realms partly by providing high-tech services that others could not do themselves. One of these services was terraforming, and Storm Inhibitors were among the most advanced features of the process. Consisting mostly of huge orbiting reflectors that focused heat on clouds, the installations could not actually prevent storms but greatly reduced their severity.

Storm Inhibitors could change weather in other ways, too. By using heat, they could create high-pressure areas and guide rain clouds to parched areas. Storm Inhibitors could also warm a planet, or part of it, either to make it more comfortable for colonists or to melt icecaps of glaciers to provide water. The fall of the Star League took with it all production of Storm Inhibitors. The few that remain do not work properly because of the lack of maintenance and spare parts.

-From Ghost in the Machine: Technologies Lost, by Gwen Hill, Stormseed Press, Donegal, 2980


To those that we leave behind, let me say that we see no way to continue living in a civilization that spurns the ideals it once professed to hold so dear. Though we depart, our hope is that one day we might return.

-Last known transmission from the warship McKenna’s Pride, assumed to have been written by General Kerensky

On July 8, General Aleksandr Kerensky flashed a one-word order to the ships assembled about him at the New Earth jump point and to the ships assembled above 50 other stars throughout the Inner Sphere. The order was “Exodus.” More than a thousand ships made jumps that day.

General Kerensky’s convoy headed into the Draconis Combine, making as many jumps as possible in the shortest time and making no outside contact. Across the Inner Sphere, other convoys were moving through the other realms toward the Combine. When asked the purpose of their journey, they replied: “Out on extended maneuvers.”

They rested only in star systems with a sizable SLDF base. Food and other supplies had been stockpiled in these systems and were loaded onto the transports when the fleet reached the system. When the last group of ships was about to leave, the people on the base packed up and joined them. Some convoys stopped to pick up civilians, too, as on the planet Helen.

To the five Houses, the Exodus appeared to be a military mission. Warships guarded each fleet of transports, and the SLDF’s reluctance to explain their extended maneuvers seemed to indicate that the General was planning revenge on one or more of the House Lords. Because Minoru Kurita had treated Stefan Amaris so well and Aleksandr Kerensky so badly, the Draconis Combine seemed a likely target. The routes of the convoys seemed to confirm that suspicion. The SLDF was still vastly stronger than any of the House militaries. It would not take much effort to depose any of the ruling House Lords and declare that realm the true Star League. Each of the five House leaders remembered every real or imagined slight to General Kerensky and was haunted by the fear of becoming the target of the General’s wrath.

House Kurita had the most reason to worry. The Kuritas had always been at odds with the Camerons and the Star League. Almost everyone except Coordinator Minoru Kurita in the Combine felt certain that Kerensky was about to attack. Kurita believed he understood the honor-bound thinking of the General, and if he were correct, the worst response would be panic. The Coordinator told his realm to remain calm and wait. Coordinator Kurita’s conviction that General Kerensky was planning to leave the Inner Sphere grew when the convoy’s routes turned away from Luthien.

The first transports and warships arrived above the Combine world of New Samarkand on October 2, 2784. Daily, more and more ships appeared at the star’s two jump points. By October 12, the entire fleet of 1,349 transports, carrying more than 100 divisions and their families and escorted by 402 warships, was in the New Samarkand star system.

The SLDF had two major military bases on the planet, each with large wilderness areas of deep forests and mountains. General Kerensky ordered that everyone be allowed to spend some time on the two bases before they left the Inner Sphere. For the next three weeks, a constant stream of planetary transports shuttled between the planet and the jump points. At night, the forests and mountains of New Samarkand were speckled with the campfires of men, women, and children all enjoying some rest before journeying on. Above them, their ships shone like stars in the night sky.

During this shuttling, General Kerensky completed his last duty in his old role of Protector; he gave the remains of Stefan Amaris and his family to the medical school at the University of New Samarkand.

On November 5, as the last DropShip was docking with its JumpShip, the first groups of ships left New Samarkand for the Periphery. It took a whole day for all of the ships to leave the system. The last ship to leave New Samarkand was McKenna’s Pride.

The fleet quickly moved through the Periphery. The last known star system where the fleet was seen was above the sparsely populated world of Gutara V, which, coincidentally, had been the site of one of Stefan Amaris’s secret MechWarrior academies. After the 1,000 ships of the Regular Army left Gutara V, they were never seen again.


Though the Star League Defense Forces remained loyal to General Aleksandr Kerensky through frightening times and 115 divisions joined him on his voyage into the unknown, there were some who stayed behind.

In the long years between the executioner of Stefan Amaris and the Exodus, recruiters from the five Inner Sphere realms attempted to lure Star League troops into the House militaries. Without their previous sense of purpose, a few soldiers and units of the SLDF were swayed, but the vast majority remained loyal to General Kerensky.

The idea of the Exodus, however, cost General Kerensky the loyalty of many more of his troopers. Units that declined to join the journey had enough love for the General to help keep his plans secret even though they would not join him.

When it became clear that most of the SLDF was not coming back, the five House governments looked eagerly at the few units that were left behind. A swarm of recruiters descended on these troops, most of whom were in the Terran Military Region.

With offers of high pay, promotions, and land, the realms of the Inner Sphere each recruited a number of units. The Free Worlds League wooed fewer units than the other realms but did eventually get one of the plums, the remainder of the Third Regimental Combat Team. These units, the Seventy-first Light Horse Regiment, the 151st Light Horse Regiment, and the Twenty-first Striker Regiment, survived to modern times as the elite mercenary Eridani Light Horse.

Other units, including the Twelfth Heavy Assault Regiment, the Twenty-fifth Striker Regiment, the Fifteenth Dracon Regiment, and the Fourth Tau Ceti Rangers, also kept their organization and identity to modern times. Most other units eventually broke up or were destroyed in the Succession Wars.

In all, the Draconis Combine recruited nine independent regiments of Star League forces, the Lyran Commonwealth recruited an infantry division and nine regiments, the Federated Suns got ten regiments, the Capellan Confederation got the biggest prize, the 360th BattleMech Division (The Bannockburn Division), and seven regiments, the Free Worlds League recruited the Eridani Light Horse plus two other regiments, and one regiment joined the Periphery.

In many cases, these units formed the backbone of key fronts in the Succession Wars, and often their weapons, training, and organization became models for House units.

-From The Rise and Fall of the Star League, by D.H. Rand, Tharkad Press, 2989


It is a favorite cliché among scholars to say that General Kerensky and his men disappeared into history. Almost immediately after the Exodus was confirmed, people began turning the story into romantic myth. Biographies, novelizations, and holo-shows purporting to tell the true story of General Kerensky, the coup, and the Exodus came out by the thousands, barely slowing when the Succession Wars started. One of the most telling pictures ever taken in the First Succession War was of a Davion infantryman in a foxhole, his rifle in his lap, reading a book whose cover asked the question on the minds of billions: “Where Did the General Go?”

There have been five attempts to trace the path taken by General Kerensky. During the height of the First Succession War, when it seemed that the Draconis Combine might conquer a huge chunk of the Federated Suns, the First Prince sent a fleet to look for the SLDF. The hope was that five JumpShips could find the SLDF and persuade them to come back on the side of the Federated Suns. The five ships returned two years later. They had gone more than 100 light years beyond Gutara V, following a trail of debris left by the General’s ships. The trail eventually became confused and then stopped altogether, forcing the expedition to return.

The next four missions, two by the Federated Suns and two by the Draconis Combine, extended the scope of the search but yielded only a few tantalizing clues. Only recently, the Guided Light Expeditions have provided a clearer picture of where the General and his followers might have gone. The explorers discovered that the General probably did not continue in a straight line, as everyone had assumed. About 130 light years from the Periphery, the survey teams found proof that the fleet had changed course. This raises two new possibilities. One is that General Kerensky had a definite destination for his fleet, contrary to romanticists who believe he just leaped off into the unknown. The other possibility is that his descendants could be living just outside known space, waiting and watching.

If this proves to be true, it will help explain certain mysterious incidents that have occurred in the Inner Sphere since Kerensky’s Exodus. One of the most well-known of these puzzling stories is the one involving the Minnesota Tribe.

In 2825, as the Second Succession War was just getting under way, a regiment of unidentified ‘Mechs appeared in the Draconis Combine. From a convoy of transports and DropShips, the regiment struck at the garrison on Svelvik, seizing supplies and then leaving. People were quick to notice that the ‘Mechs were in excellent condition and painted according to Regular Army standards. The regiment fought using Regular Army tactics, and wounded or stranded MechWarriors killed themselves rather than be captured. There was a small symbol on each ‘Mech that was later identified as a map of Minnesota, a geopolitical domain of North America.

The leaders of the Draconis Combine did not need further proof to be convinced that the Minnesota Tribe, as the regiment came to be known, was the vanguard of an SLDF attack. The Minnesota Tribe attacked three more worlds. During its last attack, its MechWarriors freed thousands of political prisoners on the Combine world of Richmond. The Minnesota Tribe then left the Draconis Combine and was never seen again.

Another curious incident was the departure of the Clinton Cutthroats during the Third Succession War. A reputable mercenary unit, the Cutthroats had been working for the Federated Suns when a courier vessel landed in the midst of a battle. A man and woman got out of the ship and asked to see the commander of the mercenary regiment. For three days, they engaged in private talks with the unit’s commander. Then DropShips, unmarked but obviously in excellent condition, landed and whisked the Cutthroats offplanet and out of the Inner Sphere.

These incidents are just two of many stories and observations that have accumulated over the years. Other stories revolve around the powerful Wolf’s Dragoons, who many believe are part of the SLDF. Another favorite tale told in smokey taverns on cold winter nights is one about the Vandenberg White Wings, squadrons of white AeroSpace Fighters that appeared on the Periphery edge of the Capellan Confederation escorting 20 Star League transports. The Disappearing Battleship of Merope is yet another story about a Black Lion battleship that was seen and filmed orbiting Merope, but then vanished when ships from the Inner Sphere came to investigate.

It is uncertain whether these stories are the wishful thinking of men and women eager for the return of the good days of the Star League or whether they are factual sightings. What is certain is the possibility that descendants of General Kerensky and his forces still live. Just outside our sphere of light, men and women may well be watching and waiting for the day of return.

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