Told ya it was long...long.
STEPS TOWARD PEACE
By the turn of the thirty-first century, common wisdom among Successor State militaries held that conquest of the Inner Sphere through conventional warfare was impossible. Those who wished to found a second Star League had to find another way. In 3020, Archon Katrina Steiner of the Lyran Commonwealth sent a peace proposal to her fellow Successor Lords, but only Prince Hanse Davion of the Federated Suns showed any interest. In 3022, the Archon and the Prince concluded a secret alliance that would bind their realms together through Hanse Davion's marriage to Katrina's daughter and heir, Melissa Steiner. This union joined two families and two nations into a single strong realm, combining the prosperous Lyran Commonwealth with the militarily powerful Federated Suns. The union of these states put the Draconis Combine in an uncomfortable position between two of its greatest enemies, and led the smaller Capellan Confederation and Free Worlds League to fear conquest by the emerging Federated Commonwealth.
After months of secret negotiations between the Capellan Confederation, Draconis Combine and Free Worlds League, all three of those nations signed the Concord of Kapetyn in 3024. Intended as a counter to the Lyran Commonwealth–Federated Suns alignment, this triple alliance provided for mutual support and defense. It also guaranteed that any renewed war would engulf the entire Inner Sphere.
FOURTH SUCCESSION WAR
On 20 August 3028, Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner held their wedding on Terra in the presence of their fellow Successor Lords. At the reception following the wedding, Hanse Davion offered a gift to his bride. As he fed Melissa a piece of wedding cake, Prince Hanse announced, “Wife, in honor of our marriage, in addition to this morsel I give you a vast prize. My love, I give you the Capellan Confederation!” With those words, Hanse Davion launched the Fourth Succession War.
In a series of military exercises held between 3026 and 3028, Hanse Davion had discovered that he could move vast numbers of troops swiftly to distant battlefields. He had also reorganized his army, regrouping battalions and regiments into Regimental Combat Teams consisting of one or more regiments of BattleMechs plus armor, infantry and artillery support. This organization gave Davion troops overwhelming advantages in numbers. The RCTs poured into the Capellan Confederation in seven successive waves, cutting it in half.
Such large-scale mobilization by the Federated Suns did not come without cost. The vast demand for JumpShips and DropShips to ferry troops across space reduced commerce between worlds to essential items only, inflicting economic hardship on many planets. In addition, the Holy Order of ComStar, whose members had preserved the technology of interstellar communications ever since the fall of the Star League, opposed Hanse Davion's war and placed the Federated Suns under Interdiction. ComStar's hyperpulse generators would relay no messages to, from or between any Federated Suns worlds. Hampered by the Interdiction and pleased with his conquests, Hanse Davion sued for peace in 3029. The battered Capellan Confederation agreed willingly to the Federated Suns' terms, desperate to free its scant military resources for use against other enemies. The Free Worlds League had exploited the Confederation's weakened state, taking more than a few worlds for itself; the Confederation's leadership could no longer afford war with House Davion if it hoped to preserve the nation.
SKIRMISHES AND PLOTS
Between 3029 and 3039, the Successor States jockeyed for power through covert dealings and small skirmishes in lieu of outright war. The Federated Commonwealth completed the integration of its militaries, governments, economies and conquered worlds, forming the largest and most powerful realm in the Inner Sphere. Meanwhile, the Draconis Combine took one lesson from the Fourth Succession War to heart, and overhauled its military in response to Hanse Davion's “lightning war.”
In his role as the Combine's Gunji-no-Kanrei, or Deputy of Military Affairs, Theodore Kurita took several steps to ensure his nation's safety. He revamped the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery, upgrading their training and loosening the command structure to reward personal initiative. In his most controversial act, Theodore signed a compact with ComStar, granting independence to several Combine worlds in exchange for ComStar's Star League-era BattleMechs. As a result, on 13 March 3034, the Free Rasalhague Republic announced its independence from the Draconis Combine.
The declaration of independence touched off a minor rebellion within the Combine, as reactionary commanders refused to pull their military units from the new republic. Theodore declared the reactionaries ronin, lordless, and sent his own units to drive them from Free Rasalhague. Theodore's troops and various mercenary groups joined the Republic's Kungsärmé in battle against the ronin, but poor contracts negotiated in haste with the mercenaries paid most too much money for too little fighting. Free Rasalhague won the freedom it had claimed, but its citizens learned to loathe the mercenary MechWarrior.
In April of 3039, Hanse Davion set in motion the second great wave of his war to unite the Inner Sphere. Selecting the Draconis Combine as his target, he launched a two-front attack on the Dieron district. The first assault wave succeeded brilliantly; Davion's military advisors believed they had taken the Combine by surprise. Before Federated Commonwealth forces could launch their second wave, however, the Combine counterattacked and threw the Commonwealth on the defensive. Aided by the Star League 'Mechs he had received from ComStar, Theodore Kurita gambled with the fate of his nation and won. By attacking in the teeth of the Davion onslaught, Theodore made Hanse Davion believe the DCMS stronger than it actually was. Hanse Davion saw no reason to grind his troops down against soldiers armed with superior Star League-era technology, and by October of 3039, Davion chose to cut his losses and make peace.
The War of 3039 accomplished little for those who fought it, save to remind the Successor States of the severe cost of war. A few worlds changed hands, but the balance of power remained the same. Aside from an assault in 3041, in which the Tenth Lyran Guards took the world of Skondia from the Combine, the states of the Inner Sphere seemed content to rebuild their realms in peace. Military readiness and overcharged rhetoric still ruled the day, but the Successor States had—at least temporarily—grown tired of war. The Inner Sphere rebuilt during ten years of peace, which ended abruptly on 13 August 3049.
ENEMIES FROM BEYOND
In that year, while hunting pirates in the Periphery near the Free Rasalhague Republic, a detachment of the famed Kell Hounds mercenary unit met and succumbed to a mysterious fighting force on a planet known as The Rock. Casualties included Phelan Kell, only son of the Hounds' founder Morgan Kell and cousin to Victor Steiner-Davion, Hanse and Melissa's eldest son. Phelan was listed as missing and presumed dead, but the Inner Sphere did not learn his true fate until several months later. The Kell Hounds' defeat marked the first of many battles lost to the Clans, mighty warriors descended from the long-vanished Star League Army. The Clans invaded the Inner Sphere in order to conquer it and restore their version of the Star League.
In March of 3050, the Clans struck in force, hammering the Draconis Combine, the Free Rasalhague Republic and the Lyran side of the Federated Commonwealth. Wave after wave of Clan attacks followed, executed with blinding speed and ruthless efficiency. Using their technologically superior OmniMechs and tenacious armored infantry known as Elementals, Clan warriors cut down their Inner Sphere opponents like wheat before a scythe. Four Clans rolled across the Inner Sphere in the first wave: Clans Smoke Jaguar, Ghost Bear, Jade Falcon and Wolf. All took their share of planets, but Clan Wolf conquered more worlds than all its compatriots. Inner Sphere forces launched a few successful counterattacks, but those strikes came too little and too late. The Clan juggernaut thundered on, halted only when catastrophe struck.
On 31 October 3050, a Rasalhagian pilot named Tyra Miraborg crashed her Shilone fighter into the Clan flagship Dire Wolf, killing the Clans' war leader. The death of the ilKhan accomplished what six months of desperate fighting had not; the Clans ended their assaults, garrisoned the worlds they had conquered and pulled much of their military strength out of the Inner Sphere. For several months, later dubbed the Year of Peace, the leaders of each Clan debated the question of who should be the new ilKhan. In mid-3051, they chose Khan Ulric Kerensky of Clan Wolf to lead a renewed assault against the Inner Sphere.
In this year of peace, Colonel Jaime Wolf of Wolf's Dragoons summoned the leaders of the Successor States to the world of Outreach. There, Wolf revealed that he and his fellow Dragoons were actually Clan warriors—and that they were prepared to aid the Inner Sphere against their own people. The Inner Sphere leaders spent the better part of that year formulating a combined response to the overwhelming Clan threat. Setting aside centuries' worth of mistrust between their two nations, Hanse Davion and Theodore Kurita sealed a non-aggression pact. Davion also extorted material aid from the Free Worlds League by promising its leader, Thomas Marik, that he would devote all the resources of the New Avalon Institute of Science toward curing Thomas's son, Joshua, of leukemia.
In November of 3051, the Clans renewed their invasion of the Inner Sphere. In January 3052, Clans Smoke Jaguar and Nova Cat attacked the Combine capital of Luthien. In an act of unexpected political courage that sealed the loose alliance between the Federated Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine, Hanse Davion sent the Kell Hounds and Wolf's Dragoons to help defend his age-old enemy's homeworld. The trust engendered between the two nations by Davion's action enabled both to devote all their efforts to fighting the Clans.
Despite the close cooperation between the Federated Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine, the Inner Sphere's unity remained largely an illusion. ComStar had negotiated with the Clans soon after the initial invasion, and upon their return to the Inner Sphere the Order offered to administrate the Clans' conquered worlds. ComStar's leader, Primus Myndo Waterly, intended to use the Clan conquest to bring about the collapse of civilization; ComStar would then step in as humanity's savior, gaining power over all of human-occupied space.
When Waterly discovered that the Clans intended to conquer Terra, ComStar's homeworld and the cradle of humanity, she abruptly changed her tactics. At the urging of her Precentor Martial, Anastasius Focht, Waterly struck a deal with the invaders and sent the Com Guards to fight the Clans on the backwater world of Tukayyid. If the Clans won, ComStar would give them Terra. If they lost, the Clans would halt their advance toward Terra for fifteen years. Unknown to the Precentor Martial, Waterly also set secret plans in motion to strike at the Clans and the Inner Sphere simultaneously.
The Com Guards defeated the Clans on Tukayyid in May of 3052, in a horrific blood bath that cost ComStar's forces dearly. While the Com Guards fought and died on Tukayyid to save the Inner Sphere, Primus Waterly gave the word to her agents. They launched Operation Scorpion, making a series of covert attacks on worlds in the Clan occupation zones and striking at communications sites across the Inner Sphere. By this bold gambit, Waterly hoped to cripple both the Inner Sphere and the Clans in the same blow, enabling her ComStar loyalists to seize power. The strikes failed; upon Focht's return to Terra, he deposed Primus Waterly and began a massive reform of ComStar.