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Call to the Crusades

"Suggesting that the Clans will not one day return to Terra is akin to a man suggesting that the sun will not shine tomorrow or that Clan Jade Falcon has forgotten the words of the Great Kerenskys."
-Khan Vandervahn Chistu in a speech before the Grand Council

The decades of expansion and growth changed the Clans' attitude toward the Inner Sphere. Those who had followed General Kerensky from the Inner Sphere firmly believed that they did so voluntarily. They may have dreamed of returning, but the harsh reality of the Pentagon worlds made it clear that that day would never come. Generations later, the common citizen lived in a society very different from those of the Inner Sphere, a social system that bound him, his children, and his children's children to a certain role in life. Perhaps it was in response to an unspoken feeling of discontent, especially among the lower castes, that Clan Loremasters created elaborate tales promising that future generations, made pure by Clan society, would form an army of Prometheans to bring back the light of true civilization to the essentially good, but backward, people of the Inner Sphere.

That view eroded during the latter years of the Golden Century. Pity for their unenlightened Inner Sphere brethren gave way to contempt and anger. Generations of Clansmen now believed that the leaders of the five Great Houses had forced General Kerensky to flee the Inner Sphere. Aleksandr Kerensky's decision to leave was no longer a completely selfless act; they believed he and his followers were suffering involuntary exile.

This attitude spread throughout the Clans. Even the lower castes began to consider the people of the Inner Sphere as cruel barbarians who deserved to be conquered by an obviously superior society.
Interestingly enough, as the Clans lost respect for their counterparts in the Inner Sphere, they began to believe that the worlds they had left behind were virtual paradises, especially Terra and the worlds that made up the old Terran Hegemony. Their lore made every planet into an Eden, an extraordinary combination of nature, climate, and resources. The Clans began to question the justice of a universe in which barbarians occupied those blessed worlds while they, the truly civilized, lived in exile on barely habitable planets. One Jade Falcon warrior summed up the Clans' general feeling: "God showed us the door out of Eden, and held it open to let the devil and his followers in."

All these gradual changes led the Clans to believe that the time to retake what was rightfully theirs had come. Advocates for immediate action called themselves "Crusaders," and their ranks grew quickly as they rallied to support council and caste board members who believed as they did. They protested the Grand Council's refusal to open the question to debate.

The Grand Council remained officially neutral on the question, preferring to believe it was only a phase of public opinion. The Khans of Clan Wolf and Clan Coyote traditionally dominated the Grand Council, and the other Khans held too little power to force the issue against their united front. Together, those four Khans represented the core of the Crusader's opposition, calling themselves "Wardens" after a passage in Nicholas Kerensky's diary saying it was the Clans' role "to ward the Inner Sphere from all outside forces until that time when the Star League is reborn."

The Wardens held sway in the Grand Council for many years, but as moderate Clans fell under the sway of growing public hysteria about returning to the Inner Sphere, that balance changed. The number of Trials of Grievance fought over the question increased steadily, the number of resulting deaths alarming the Khans of all Clans. By 2980, when Clan Jade Falcon successfully introduced the issue to the Grand Council for discussion, the question had become too pressing and too divisive to be ignored.


WINDS OF CHANGE

"Because we adhere strictly to the words of Kerensky, all caste members, from the least-skilled laborer to the best warrior, hold only one opinion on the Crusader question."
-Khan Yvonne Hazen in a speech to the Grand Council

Clan Jade Falcon never doubted that the Crusader view was right. Their strict, conservative adherence to Kerensky's word led them to conclude that now was the time to return to the Inner Sphere, and the Jade Falcon Khans demanded that the Grand Council open the issue for discussion.
They argued eloquently that the Kerenskys intended the Clans to grow and prosper until they reached a size and strength sufficient to successfully reestablish the Star League among the uncivilized masses of the Inner Sphere; a point the Crusaders felt the Clans had reached long ago. They supported their argument by reading long passages from the Kerenskys' words with an almost evangelical fervor.

Clan Jade Falcon and Clan Smoke Jaguar quickly took the lead in the Crusader movement. Spokespersons toured the Pentagon worlds, speaking to enthusiastic audiences. They spread their gospel of Clan destiny to larger and larger crowds, and their fiery orations brought rallies to the brink of rioting. Though the Clans of these speakers disavowed any intention to promote violence, Clans Wolf and Coyote seemed particularly hard-hit by these huge, unruly gatherings.

In addition to the popular quasi-religious reasons for invading the Inner Sphere, Clan Jade Falcon had strong economic reasons. Their banking prowess continued to grow, and the Falcon Khans knew it was in their Clan's best interest to open new markets. The number of worlds in the Kerensky Cluster was sizable, but ultimately limited. Clan Jade Falcon saw the worlds of the Inner Sphere, most of which had never been exploited to their full potential, as a financial motherlode.


THE COMPROMISE

"I do not trust the Wolves, for they have proven themselves creatures of opportunity, of individualism, of lax morals, and of unforgivable disregard for our origin. Yet I respect them, for they are warriors, bred true in accordance with our tradition. But to send the Wolves' freeborn bastards to the Inner Sphere is folly heaped on folly! Fellow Khans, I swear upon my oath to Turkina herself that once these lowborns are free of Clan obedience, they will never willingly return!"
-Khan Yvonne Hazen in a speech to the Grand Council during the Wolf's Dragoons debates

In an attempt to slow the Crusader juggernaut, the Warden faction agreed to a series of expeditions to the Inner Sphere, each more ambitious than the last, that would gather information about the current state of the Inner Sphere militaries and governments. Of these missions, the last was by far the most controversial.

In the year 3000, Khan Kerlin Ward of Clan Wolf presented a stunning plan to the Grand Council. He proposed that a force of Clan warriors disguised as mercenaries infiltrate the Inner Sphere to gain first-hand information about each Successor State's military. In the debate that followed, the Crusaders made it plain that they were already prepared to invade the Inner Sphere based on the information available. Khan Yvonne Hazen, the senior Khan of Jade Falcon, grumbled that at the rate the Clans were moving, the Star League would be reborn just in time for the collapse of the universe.

But the plan proved too logical for even the Crusaders to defeat, and the Grand Council voted to implement it. Khan Nadia Winson, chairperson of the Grand Council and a moderate Warden, awarded Clan Wolf the right to draw up plans for the force, and three weeks later Clan Wolf returned to the Grand Council with Wolf's Dragoons, a force of freeborn warriors from the Clan's police Clusters to be commanded by two freeborn brothers.
The idea of freeborn warriors carrying out such an important mission infuriated Khan Hazen, who accused Clan Wolf's Khan Ward of deliberately designing a force likely to fail and/or send back an inaccurate picture of the Inner Sphere's strength. Khan Ward argued that even freeborn warriors must be superior to Inner Sphere soldiers, and pointed out that it made more sense to risk freeborns on this mission than trueborns, who would be needed for the actual invasion. Unconvinced, Khan Hazen and the Khans of Clan Smoke Jaguar also questioned the freeborns' loyalty, making dire predictions of their eventual defection to the Successor States, when they would inform the five Houses of the Clans' existence. This prediction, of course, would eventually prove true.

The determined support of Khan Winson, the Warden faction, and key neutral Clans pushed the Dragoons proposal through the Grand Council over the strenuous objections of Clans Jade Falcon and Smoke Jaguar.


RISTAR ELIAS CRICHELL

"In Clan politics, success has more to do with speed, persistence, and aggressiveness than with less important qualities such as intelligence, morality, and soul."
-Khan Elias Crichell, in conversation

Khan Yvonne Hazen considered the Wolf's Dragoons compromise a galling and bitter snub to common sense that demanded a response. She immediately decided to challenge Khan Ward to a Trial of Refusal.

Before she could deliver the challenge, however, Galaxy Commander Elias Crichell, her newest and most trusted advisor, diverted her anger. The aging, ill Khan (she suffered arthritis from her many battle wounds) trusted the young ristar officer above all others. She saw and appreciated his many qualities, including "a voice like the cry of a proud falcon, eyes that can see the patterns beneath the brush, and a mind possessing a hurricane of possibilities."

Elias was born and raised on Gatekeeper in the Red Fist Communal Birth Facility, a second-rate sibko installation using parent gene combinations considered unlikely to produce warriors of any importance. Indeed, the scientist caste viewed the Crichell line as a particularly "muddy gene pool," and the Clan's condescending attitude toward any blood heritage but that of the five founders affected the young warrior's personality.
Of his sibko, only Elias survived military training on Ironhold to become a MechWarrior; the rest died or suffered crippling injuries. Rumors, admittedly from Wolf officers, suggest that Elias' victory over two sibkin in his Trial of Position was such that the judges spent several hours debating his worth as a warrior.

Assigned to Peregrine Galaxy, Elias quickly demonstrated his capability in several duels and skirmishes with other Clans. He exhibited particular skill at criticizing and antagonizing Clan Wolf, which he considered, "a collection of fat, pompous merchants who call themselves warriors." He won honor for his victory over a Bloodnamed Wolf warrior in a trial that settled a border dispute between the two Clans.

As admirable as were his battlefield skills, they paled in comparison to his political and oratory skills. From the very beginning of his career in the Falcon touman, Elias showed his political ambitions by currying favor with the Clan's elite. He became Clan Jade Falcon's most fervent Crusader.
When the Crusader cause became more popular in other Clans, Star Captain Elias gained notice as one of the movement's most sought-after speakers. He toured the Clan worlds and spoke at every enclave, even those of the staunchest Warden Clans. His orations appealed to the crowds' sense of history and destiny, and laid the blame for all of their problems at the feet of his Clan's opponents with a style that put the most proficient muckraking, two-faced Inner Sphere politician to shame.

Khan Hazen approved of Elias' barnstorming. Her advanced age and disabilities forced her to reflect on her successor as senior Khan, and though she approved of Khan Sejanus Buhallin, her equal in everything but seniority, she considered him too politically naive to take the lead in the Crusader movement.

Elias was eminently capable of pursuing Hazen's dreams for the Crusaders' triumph, but several serious obstacles stood in the way of his succession to Khan; his age, rank, lack of a Bloodname, and his lack of any ties with the Bloodlines of the Jade Falcon founders. Khan Hazen could not change his age, but she awarded him the rank of Star Colonel in 3020. She then resigned her command of the Turkina Keshik, placing the new Star Colonel in command of that elite unit, a posting traditionally assigned to the Clan's eventual leader. A year later, the new Star Colonel won his Crichell Bloodname.

The appointment of so young a man to so prestigious a post created immediate tensions between Elias Crichell and Khan Sejanus Buhallin, who was equally ambitious. Soon the Clan split into two factions, each bent on discrediting the leader of the other. Khan Hazen recognized the tension between the two camps, but asserted that competition in all things was healthy.

Wolf's Dragoons finally tipped the scale in favor of the more conservative Falcons. Before the split, most Falcons agreed with Khan Hazen and Star Colonel Elias' opinion that the Dragoons' freeborn warriors would eventually betray the Clans. Only Sejanus Buhallin and a handful of his supporters dared suggest that the information the Dragoons relayed to the Grand Council be considered seriously.

As the Third Succession War ground to a halt in the Inner Sphere, so too did the reports from the Dragoons. While many Clans reserved judgment on the scouting party, Elias Crichell and his faction within the Falcons launched a series of scathing attacks discrediting the Dragoons. They accused the freeborns of going native, blamed Clan Wolf for their part in organizing the traitor unit, and condemned Khan Sejanus Buhallin for trusting the Dragoons.

The attack weakened Khan Buhallin's position. Sensing an opportunity to advance his own cause, Elias issued a stream of accusations through the spokespersons of his faction, accusing Sejanus of closet Warden sentiments and liberal attitudes toward freeborns. Sejanus was forced to challenge Elias to duels, challenges that Elias alternately ignored or referred to Khan Hazen for advisement. Khan Hazen eventually interceded to end the feud, but in so doing cast blame for the entire situation on Sejanus, stripping him of any remaining credibility and choosing Elias Crichell as her successor to lead Clan Jade Falcon.
Several months later Sejanus Buhallin died in a 'Mech explosion. The official investigation blamed a freak ammunition-feeder jam, but many believed that Sejanus allowed the accident to end his shame. Others believed Elias Crichell's supporters staged the "accident" to rid their leader of his rival.


THE GO VOTE

"This day, fellow Khans, will be remembered years from now as the dawning of mankind's rebirth. No longer must these barbarian hordes suffer through the dark, violent night of their own folly. We are returning; we are the sun of righteousness that will illuminate those who dream of peace, and burn to ashes the demons and devils responsible for the darkness."
-Khan Elias Crichell in a speech before the Grand Council, November 3048

Despite the shame of the Dragoons' apparent defection, Clan Wolf and the other Warden Clans held enough influence to stall debate on returning to the Inner Sphere until the opening actions of the Fourth Succession War, which allowed the Wardens to again postpone the invasion decision until the war ended and the Clans could analyze the consequences.

The Grand Council records seem to imply that the Wardens used the Fourth Succession War, and the War of 3039 that followed, as arguments against invasion. They reasoned that the two wars proved that the Inner Sphere was not ready for a restored Star League. Invasion now, with the Inner Sphere still so decisively split among the Successor States, would force the Clans to occupy the entire Inner Sphere, something they had neither the numbers nor the inclination to undertake. Clans Jade Falcon and Smoke Jaguar countered by declaring their preparedness to conquer the entire Inner Sphere and force their will upon the vanquished. The majority of the council still felt deep reservations, however, and agreed to postpone the invasion issue.
When Clan Smoke Jaguar captured our ROM exploration vessel, Outbound Light, the invasion debate took a dramatic and final turn. Smoke Jaguar and Jade Falcon interrogators extracted a new and potentially threatening picture of the Inner Sphere from the minds of the ship's crew. The news of greatest importance was the alliance between the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns. This nearly complete merger placed more than half the Inner Sphere under one apparently stable government. Though threats existed against the Steiner and Davion families, the rulers of the newly united realm, these efforts remained relatively disorganized, their leaders inclined to bicker among themselves. Clan experts deduced, and rightly so, that the only way the new Federated Commonwealth could fail to become the Inner Sphere's preeminent power was if its leaders committed some grievous error, a possibility experience told them was very unlikely. In addition, the Inner Sphere had recently acquired the memory cores of several Star League-era computers, giving the entire region access to technology only slightly less advanced than that of the Clans.

These revelations shocked the Grand Council. The Inner Sphere's apparent position on the verge of disintegration was a lie. Far from being weak and simply waiting for the Clans to step in and assume control, the Inner Sphere seemed on the verge of uniting and resurrecting the Star League without the Clans' assistance. Incontrovertible evidence that the Inner Sphere could find its way to the Clan homeworlds, together with the possibility of facing a united Inner Sphere equipped with Star League technology forced many Khans to reconsider their views.

The arguments of Clan Wolf and Clan Coyote were dismissed in light of this new information. Born upon a tidal wave of apprehension, the Crusaders once again petitioned the Grand Council to debate the invasion of the Inner Sphere, and this time they won. The Khans of Clan Smoke Jaguar and Khan Hazen and Khan Crichell (recently installed as junior Khan) of Clan Jade Falcon played on the fears growing in the minds of the many neutral Khans. Their dire predictions, coupled with promises of great glory, proved no match for the Wardens, who tried but failed to allay the Grand Council's concerns.

The Crusaders won by a landslide. Every Clan except Clan Wolf voted to invade the Inner Sphere and pave the way for the Star League's rebirth. Clan Wolf, though divided internally between the Warden and Crusader factions, stood united to demand that the Grand Council grant them a Trial of Refusal. The fierce bidding among the Clans for the honor of representing the Grand Council against Clan Wolf substantially reduced the odds, and the final trial pitted the Third Wolf Battle Cluster against Clusters from four Clans. The Jade Falcons fielded the Gyrfalcon Guards. The trial took place on Mars Field on Strana Mechty and was a much closer contest than the odds suggested. However, the sheer number and ferocity of the Grand Council forces, articularly that of the Falcon's assault Cluster, carried the day, and they decimated the Wolf Cluster, much to the pleasure of Khan Elias Crichell and his aides.

Clans Smoke Jaguar and Jade Falcon, riding high on their victory and new-found influence, persuaded the Grand Council to elect Khan Leo Showers of Clan Smoke Jaguar as ilKhan. This decision met with some resistance among Jade Falcon warriors who believed Khan Hazen deserved the honor. Khan Hazen herself put an end to their objections by announcing her "retirement" from the post of senior Khan.
The new ilKhan, eager to demonstrate his disdain for Clan Wolf, issued a recall order to Wolf's Dragoons, confident that few, if any, of the freeborn forces would heed the recall and return to the Clan worlds.


KHAN ELIAS CRICHELL

"Success will depend on our devotion to the words of the Great Kerenskys, and on how we manage the bid against the other Clans for what little glory will be won in the Inner Sphere."
-Khan Elias Crichell in an address to Peregrine Galaxy

Khan Elias Crichell's official installation as leader of Clan Jade Falcon took place in a three-day ceremony that began with a night-long vigil at the altar of the Hazen Cathedral, and ended when Khan Hazen laid the Jade Falcon cloak upon his shoulders, as oaths of fealty from the caste leaders and every warrior rang in his ears.

Khan Hazen's retirement did not last long. Just two weeks after Khan Crichell assumed control of Clan Jade Falcon, his aging mentor died in the cockpit of her 'Mech, apparently of a self-induced drug overdose.
Freed from any rivals to his command, Khan Crichell began to assert his authority. His first move was to promote Galaxy Commander Timur Malthus to the position of junior Khan and give him command of the prestigious Jade Falcon Galaxy. He then proceeded to shuffle the commands of most Falcon Galaxies and their Trinaries, promoting those he knew were loyal to him and demoting those whose loyalty he doubted. While these staffing moves secured his position, they would later prove costly to Clan Jade Falcon's military effectiveness.

Khan Crichell next began to strengthen the relationship between Clan Jade Falcon and the Clan of the new ilKhan, Smoke Jaguar. They exchanged lavish gifts of lands, materiel, and genetic materials. Khan Crichell's machinations were so obvious that observers wondered sarcastically if the two leaders planned to merge their Clans and perhaps name it "Smoked Falcon."
On internal issues, the Jade Falcon's new leader proved even more conservative than his predecessor. For example, he revoked most of the powers granted to the Inter-Caste Councils responsible for arbitrating disputes between the castes. When a subcaste of steelworkers objected to the loss of autonomy and staged a strike, he sent in police Trinaries to hunt down and shoot the leaders. One explanation for Elias Crichell's ruthless conservatism claimed that he was at heart ashamed of his mediocre Bloodheritage and overcompensated for fear he would be accused of not deserving his high rank.

Perhaps to justify his ruthless action in the strike, Khan Crichell reinstated the Grace of Preeminence Clause for his Clan. Written by Nicholas Kerensky in collaboration with Founder Lisa Buhallin, the rule gave all warriors legal power to act without the need to consult authorities, and to inflict punishment for offenses (real or imagined) including death sentences, with almost no restraints. Most other Clans recognized the Grace Clause as a tool used only to ensure that the last vestiges of the rebellion that caused the Exodus Civil War were eliminated from Clan society. That goal achieved, the clause was largely abandoned until Elias Crichell resurrected it to enforce Clan Jade Falcon's control of the lower castes.


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