The Brief History of the Battletech Universe
To the Stars....
The groundwork to the history of humans in space was laid not in the late 20th century when humans began to explore space, but in the early 21st, when we began to acquire the technology necessary to usefully exploit it. Fusion power began to work successfully in 2020 after decades of research, leading to a relatively compact power source capable of providing a virtually limitless supply of energy. However, despite the fact that it was completely overlooked at the time, the work of two little-known physicists would prove to be far more important. Thomas Kearny and Takayoshi Fuchida began publishing the theories that would lead to practical interstellar travel as early as 2018, though it wouldn't be until 2102 that these theories were shown to be workable. However, shortly after that happened, humanity began to explode through the stars. By 2110, a scientific post had been established on New Earth, and in 2116 the first colonists landed there.
Within a mere hundred and fifty years, humanity had flung itself outward to occupy the area later known as the Inner Sphere - thousands of planets in a rough circle about a thousand light-years in radius, centred on Terra. Further outward growth would continue for hundreds of years more, of course, but by this point the essential period of growth was over. During this period, there was a great deal of political strife. Earth had been unified under the Terran Allaince in 2086, but the Alliance found it becoming increasingly difficult to maintain control over the far-flung colonies, and after a long string of rebellions, some successful and some not, the Alliance ended its attempts to rule all of humanity, and allowed the outer colonies independence. Rapidly, innumerable small kingdoms formed, and almost as rapidly they merged or were conquered until only a handful remained. The Terran Alliance fell in 2314, though it was immediately replaced by the Terran Hegemony and little changed.
Eventually, by the year 2366, only six major governments remained, all of which were ruled by essentially feudal systems of government, with thrones inherited and passed down generation to generation. The Terran Hegemony, ruled by House Cameron, was at the centre of it all, ruling a rough sphere centred around Terra, and clockwise around that, there was House Kurita's Draconis Combine, House Davion's Federated Suns, House Liao's Capellan Confederation, House Marik's Free Worlds League, and House Steiner's Lyran Commonwealth. These nations may have remained fairly stable, but they were incessantly at each other's throats, seeking every advantage they could find on the fields of battle. In 2439, the Terran Hegemony found what they had all been looking for for centuries - a true edge on the field of war. Their scientists had invented the BattleMech. Massive, imposing, and armed and armoured to the teeth, the first BattleMechs were like nothing the Inner Sphere had seen before, and the results showed that, as dozens of planets fell to the Hegemony's 'Mechs before anyone else gained the ability to oppose them in kind. That day came within a few years of the first deployment of a Cameron 'Mech, when Lyran commandoes stormed a Terran 'Mech factory and stole the design secrets. The concept spread from there via trade and conquest, until all Houses owned the technology and further stalemate ensued. The so-called Age of War wound down, however, as the visionary Ian Cameron began to send out proposals for peace and alliance to the other Great Houses.
The Star League
Over the course of fifteen years, from 2556 to 2571, Cameron managed to sign deals with the other five Houses to establish an organization known as the Star League. Headed by House Cameron, though with the other five Houses given a place on the ruling Council, the organization promised an end to inter-House war (as well as some massive incentives to sign on to the deal, ranging from military support to technological aid). However, Cameron was as much power-hungry as visionary, and he was therefore not content to be the universally accepted leader of the bulk of humanity. When the Star League had finally been assembled in 2571, among his first actions was attempting to get the lesser nations of the Periphery into the Star League. When requests and negotiation failed, he moved to trade sanctions, and when those failed, the Reunification War began. Thought by the Star League powers to be a war that would cost little, it actually took over twenty years to pacify the last of the Periphery holdouts, as well as unthinkably large losses to the Star League Defence Forces and the various House armies and navies. However, the Star League was by far the more powerful of the sides, and their victory was probably inevitable, despite the heavy losses they suffered to win. When the Tauran Concordat's last bastion of defence (a heavily mined nebula that wreaked havoc on SLDF navies for years) finally fell in 2596, the Reunification War was over and Ian Cameron had achieved his dream of reuniting the whole of humanity under one banner, as it had been united during the early days of the Terran Alliance.
During the nearly two hundred years that the Star League endured and relative peace reigned, technology bloomed. 'Mech and WarShip technology continued to advance at a rapid pace, and the first HyperPulse Generator(HPG) went online in 2630, providing humans a way to communicate between planets without the need for moving JumpShips to transmit messages. The golden era of the Star League would, however, come to an end in a way few expected.
In 2767, following a series of rebellions in the Periphery that drew the bulk of the SLDF forces away from the central areas of the Star League, Stefan Amaris, supposed friend of First Lord Richard Cameron, assassinated the entire Cameron family and proclaimed himself new First Lord. The SLDF, under the command of Aleksandr Kerensky, regrouped quickly, drove inwards, and liberated the entire Inner Sphere from Amaris' clutches in a long and bloody 13-year war, culminating in the conquest of Terra. However, the SLDF, having been massively depleted in this war, no longer had the strength to hold the fractious Houses together, and eventually abandoned the Inner Sphere entirely in the great Exodus of the entire SLDF to the deep Periphery, not to be heard from again for three hundred years.
The Succession Wars
The five remaining great houses almost immediately embarked upon the greatest war in human history. Snatching up the rulerless planets formerly of the Terran Hegemony, and fighting each other for supremacy, the Inner Sphere devolved into the First Succession War. The fires of this war wreaked havoc on human civilization, and lowered the technology level of the Inner Sphere drastically, as well as resulting in billions of dead. Eventually, the First Succession War ended in an exhausted stalemate after 35 years of war, only to resume in the Second Succession War less than a decade later. The Second War lasted another 34 years, further destroying the now-irreplaceable base of Star League technology, and resumed in the Third War a mere two years later. The Third War lasted for over 150 more years, on and off, and by the end of the Third War in 3025, any remaining vestiges of the Star League in the Inner Sphere were merely dust on the winds of history.
While Kerensky's warriors may not have been heard from in the Inner Sphere, they certainly continued to exist. Though the year-long Exodus and a number of internal rebellions took their toll, remnants of the SLDF survived, and began to thrive seven hundred light-years from the Inner Sphere. After Kerensky died in 2801, leadership fell to his son Nicholas, who began to reforge the SLDF into the Clans. Nicholas split his last loyal cadre of warriors into twenty Clans, each named after an animal thought to embody an important trait to a warrior. Leading the Clans to victory over another rebellion, Kerensky established the rule of the Clans. After Annihilating one of the Clans for daring to rebel against him and claim freedom from Clan structure, the new order established itself effectively. Warriors were valued over civilians, genetically-engineered warriors were valued over their naturally born counterparts (truebirths and freebirths, respectively), and honor and military prowess were valued above all else. The system may not have been ideal, but it allowed survival in the face of hostile environments, and gave rise to an astonishing amount of military potential.
For two hundred years, the Clans were content to develop and fight on their own, independent from any other humans. During this time they developed everything from powered battle armour to genetics programs and artificial wombs for their trueborn warriors, to incredibly advanced military technology, far beyond that possessed by humans even in the heydey of the Star League. However, one issue began to bubble to the surface by the end of the 30th century, and that issue changed the history of the Clans and the Inner Sphere forever thereafter. It all started with a message Aleksandr Kerensky had sent out to the Exodus fleet after the first rebellion, telling the SLDF remnants that it was their duty to endure and to one day return to the Inner Sphere. The Clans split two ways on the issue - there were the Crusaders, who believed it was their duty to reconquer the Inner Sphere and re-establish the Star League that had fallen centuries ago, and there were the Wardens, who believed that it had been more of an inspirational ideal than a literal order, and that if they were to return one day it would be to protect humans from an outside threat, not to conquer them all. At the beginning of the debate, the Wardens were dominant, but by about 3000, the Crusader faction began to dominate. Desperate to stave off invading, the Warden-minded Clan Wolf pushed for a compromise - they would send an old group of Star League 'Mechs to scout the Inner Sphere by disguising themselves as a mercenary group. The so-called Dragoon Compromise(the group's name was the Wolf's Dragoons) worked well for a time, though eventually reports from the Dragoons started to dry up mysteriously. Though no one knew it at the time, the leader of Clan Wolf had ordered the Dragoons to prepare the Inner Sphere for the coming invasion, and prepare they did.
ComStar is the successor to the Star League's Ministry of Communications, and runs all of the Inner Sphere's HPGs, maintaining essential communications between every pair of star systems. Formed by Jerome Blake, the last Minister of Communications, after the fall of the Star League, ComStar has slowly morphed into an organization as much religious as practical, believing in everything from the need to pray to the machines they run to an eventual apocalypse that would engulf the Inner Sphere even more thoroughly than the fall of the Star League and the ensuing Succession Wars. Early in the First War, ComStar occupied Terra and has preserved it as both neutral ground and headquarters since. As well as their obvious communications duties, ComStar is also the Inner Sphere's most important bank and money-mover, runs the Explorer Corps to catalogue the deep periphery, runs the Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission, and keeps a massive force of over seventy regiments of Star League-era 'Mechs, the Com Guards, hidden in case of a future crisis.
The Fourth Succession War
Near the end of the Third War, the Lyran Archon, Katrina Steiner, sent out a proposal for peace and alliance to the other Houses, who until then had been fighting on all fronts for essentially the entirety of their post-Star League history. Three Houses reacted suspiciously, but the First Prince of the Federated Suns, Hanse Davion, agreed to an alliance. Within a few years, the terms had been set - Hanse would marry Katrina's daughter Melissa, and their two nations would merge into the Federated Commonwealth when one of Hanse's and Melissa's children took the throne - until then, they would merely be allies. In 3028, all five Successor Lords met on Terra for the first time since the fall of the Star League, at the marriage of Hanse and Melissa. However, they were in for a surprise - after the ceremony was performed, while bride and groom were exchanging gifts, Hanse gave his immortal line "Dear, I give you the Capellan Confederation!", stupefying the head of the Confederation, Maximilian Liao, who was one of the Successor Lords present. Thus began the Fourth Succession War. FedSuns units began to systematically dismantle the Capellan Confederation, as Lyran forces and a few elite mercenary regements held off the other two prongs of the Marik-Kurita-Liao alliance that had been formed in the wake of the Steiner-Davion marriage. However, ComStar, alarmed at the course of events, faked a FedSuns attack on one of its HPG's, and placed the FedSuns under Interdiction, cutting off all communications services. At this point, the attack began to falter, as long-range communications and attack coordination became nearly impossible, though the Capellans could not force the FedSuns back either. After a few more months of war, the two sides agreed to an uneasy truce, and the Interdiction was lifted. Another attack would be made by the(by then unofficially merged) Federated Commonwealth in 3039, but the other three Houses were prepared this time, and the war stalemated almost instantly and ended quickly.
Between these two wars, a momentous discovery was made. The mercenary Gray Death Legion discovered a functional Star League-era memory core on a minor planet in 3028, sparking a technological renaissance. Suddenly, Star League weaponry and systems became widely available again, and 'Mech technology advanced rapidly back to the point it had been at three hundred years earlier. And it was just in time.
The Clan Invasion
In August of 3049, the Inner Sphere began to hear of mysterious invaders using advanced technology, beyond that of the Star Leauge, in the reaches coreward of the Free Ralsalhague Republic. Small perhipery realms disappeared from contact, mercenary units were annihilated (including a detachment from the elite Kell Hounds). In March of 3050, the invaders struck at the Inner Sphere proper. The invaders, known as the Clans, cut a swathe through the Lyran Commonwealth and Draconis Combine and absolutely devestated the Free Ralsalhague Republic. Using their technological superiority and impressive combat prowess, over a hundred planets fell in the first year. Four Clans rolled into the Inner Sphere that year Clans Wolf, Jade Falcon, Smoke Jaguar, and Ghost Bear. While some counterattacks succeeded, they failed to stop the rolling advance.
It took the suicide attack of Kapten Tyra Miraborg, officer in the Free Ralsalhague Republic, to do what entire regiments had failed: Stop the Clan Advance. Her suicide attack with her Shilone AeroSpace Fighter hit the bridge of the Clan flagship, killing ilKhan Leo Showers instantly. Under Clan law, a new ilKhan could only be selected on the Clan capital of Strana Mechty, which was almost a year's travel time from the location of the Clan forces in the Inner Sphere. So, for more than a year, the Clans halted their invasion as they returned to their home planets to regroup and select a new leader, and returned to continue with the invasion. This allowed the nations of the Inner Sphere some much-needed time to recuperate and plan for the expected resumption of the invasion, and it was time that they used to great effect. Aside from merely ending their various internal conflicts and uniting against the threat, they also gained valuable insights into the nature of the Clans, as the leader of the Wolf's Dragoons broke his silence and explained the missing history of the Clans to the leaders of the Inner Sphere.