When people think of the Periphery, the thought that immediately comes to mind is that of bandits, modern-day pirates preying on the vital trade that is the life-blood of the Inner Sphere. Though most information on these space faring brigands is based largely on hearsay and rumor, the various Bandit Kingdoms have a well-deserved reputation for slaughter and rapine. Born of the conflicts of the Amaris Civil War and the Succession Wars, the Bandit Kingdoms consist of desperate men and women who, in their own rapacious manner, attempt to survive as best they can.
Following is a summary of verifiable information concerning these desperate peoples. With the exception of the Circinus Federation and the Oberon Confederation, little formal contact between ComStar and the Bandit Kingdoms has been possible for several centuries. What follows, therefore, is the result of numerous independent investigations, many of which have ended in tragedy. Information on specific worlds, individual leaders, and selected military units is provided, though the dangerous nature of these investigations has left some areas of inquiry incomplete.
After the end of the Reunification War, refugees from the Rim Worlds Republic refused to lay down their arms against the Star League and decided to settle the Star's End system. Since then, the Pirates of Star's End have maintained a steady stream of scavenger raids against both the Lyran Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine. Eventually, piracy became a way of life that has been passed down through the generations. The inhabitants of Star's End are a prime example of a predatory culture restrained only by the availability of space-going vessels.
The Pirates of Star's End have not been above lending a hand to either the Lyran Commonwealth or the Draconis Combine in their frequent clashes in the Succession Wars. In each instance, however, pirate involvement was nominal and purchased at a high price in hard cash and equipment. This notwithstanding, the pirate bands lodging in the asteroid fields of the Star's End system have been known to break their contracts without warning when an employer presents the least sign of weakness.
These pirates have confined their activities to neighboring Jump Points with an eye toward capturing valuable machinery and spare parts for their vessels. The Star's End system contains several starship construction facilities fully capable of repairing and building new vessels at a modest annual rate. The present leader of the pirate coalition is Morgan Fletcher, a swarthy, swaggering woman whose actions are motivated as much by her hatred of men (especially those of the Inner Sphere) as from a genuine love of wealth.
After being accused of contract violation against the Free Worlds League in 2770, the Black Warriors mercenary unit abandoned Marik space, narrowly escaping capture by the Free Worlds navy. Vowing eternal vengeance on House Marik for their outlawed status, the Black Warriors settled on the planet Circinus and joined the pirates already operating there. Colonel Zachariah Cirion, leader of the Black Warriors, began to support his people through a series of sneak attacks against outlying Marik agricultural worlds. Both the Star League and the Marik House forces had their hands full with the Amaris Crisis, and so the Circinus pirates flourished in the absence of reprisals. In 2785, a small convoy of settlers fleeing the destruction in the Lyran Commonwealth landed on the planet to make a new start. Warrior and farmer combined their forces to establish a viable economy and culture.
The Lyran farmers apparently were never fully aware of the nature of their new allies. The pirates were involved in what remained "covert operations," but the farmers asked no questions as long as their allies provided the tools and consumer goods the farmers needed. The pirates, for their part, welcomed the farmers for two reasons. First, they provided stability and the possibility of internal law and order (without the brutal punishments and intimidation that mark pirate societies elsewhere), that would keep the band of cutthroats from turning on one another. Second, they helped the pirates present the illusion of a respectable, agrarian society to the neighboring worlds who were their victims.
Despite the fact that the Free Worlds military occupied Circinus during a lull in the Second Succession War, it is still the most successful of the Bandit Kingdoms, having long since adopted a presidential system of government. Piracy is a major governmental function, with covert "agencies" responsible both for the raids themselves and for covering them up. Lyran pundits often note that the Circinian president's chief duty is to look the other way so that he will not have to acknowledge the crimes his government is constantly committing.
In recent decades, the inhabitants of Circinus have been cautiously settling neighboring star systems, claiming eight planets between 2990 and 3020. From this new empire, President C. J. "Bob" Mclntyre has entered into a series of joint reconciliation talks with leaders of both Inner Sphere governments. Through skillful diplomacy and judicious return of prisoners, and without once admitting to any wrongdoing on the part of his people, Mclntyre has managed to avert a wholesale counterattack against his Federation while playing on the mutual suspicions of his Marik and Steiner counterparts.
Mclntyre's position has lately improved with the arrival of numerous mercenary recruits who see him as a Napoleon of the Periphery. Moreover, by convincing both House Marik and House Steiner that his support could be invaluable, he has managed to acquire shipments f badly needed BattleMech spare parts and a small contingent of AeroSpace Fighters.
Nevertheless, several of Mclntyre's lieutenants, yearning for more wealth and power, have challenged his position. Because of the continued infighting between Mclntyre and his subordinates, it is uncertain whether the Federation will commit itself to either House. The chief of the officially nonexistent pirates is Adam Cirion, a descendant of Zachariah Cirion, founder of the Federation.
The Marian Hegemony is a recent addition to the Periphery. Centered on the trade world of Alphard, the Hegemony consists s of the remains of the Alphard Trading Corporation (ATC). In 2920, Johann Sebastian O'Reilly arrived on the desolate and uninhabited planet Alphard. Though the world seemed like a wasteland, he chanced upon a hidden storehouse of germanium worth at least 50,000,000,000 C-Bills. With this newfound wealth, O'Reilly hired 'Mech units and established a colony on Alphard. Johann formed his new Marian Hegemony along the disciplined lines of the ancient Terran Roman Empire during its republican days. The arrival of war refugees helped to expand the Hegemony, whose people began to settle other star systems in the vicinity.
Under the leadership of Johann's grandson, Marius O'Reilly, the Marian Hegemony views expansion as the key to survival. In the last decade, the Marian navy and ground forces (estimated at roughly three small battalions of assorted BattleMechs) have clashed repeatedly with their neighbors over possession of border worlds. The Hegemony welcomes the presence of ComStar, but only at the price of an annual tribute to the Imperial Treasury.
The newest of the pirate clans to populate the Periphery, Morgraine's Valkyrate is a collection of five ice worlds beyond the border of the Lyran Commonwealth. Originally a lieutenant of Hendrik Grimm, Morgraine broke with her master after her lover, Redjack Ryan, was expelled from the Oberon Confederation. Denouncing the "male-dominated" rule of the Grimm pirate dynasty, Morgraine and her female followers established their own pirate outposts, from which they have begun to raid Lyran space. Within this female pirate haven, males are accorded rights and privileges according to their abilities, but all command decisions are reserved to Morgraine and her valkyries.
Much of the Valkyrate's social order mirrors that of ancient Terran Norse mythology. Given time, this veneer of Nordic tradition will continue to evolve. Morgraine currently holds forth in her court on Gotterdammerung, ruling with an iron hand over an estimated five to six thousand inhabitants scattered over her various holds. Due to Morgraine's xenophobia, attempts to place ROM agents in this region have all failed.
Of the many pirate holdings in the Periphery, the Oberon Confederation comes the closest to being a miniature Successor State. The first Colonel Hendrik Grimm was an officer in the Lyran Commonwealth military, whose regiment was battered by Marik troops on Graham IV. Believing that the Lyran high command had left them to die, the surviving members of the 65th Lyran Regulars made for the Periphery, eventually settling on the warm temperate world of Oberon Vl. Soon after, many Inner Sphere soldiers who were weary with the endless warfare traveled to Oberon in search of an alternative.
During its early years, the people of the Oberon state conducted pirate raids against both the Lyran Commonwealth and the Draconis Combine, usually in search of spare 'Mech parts and electronics. For the most part, however, the descendants of Hendrik Grimm I have been concerned primarily with the welfare of their subjects rather than with plunder for its own sake. Expanding outward from Oberon, the citizens of the Confederation have managed to colonize their neighboring star systems. Of all the Bandit Kingdoms in the Periphery, the Oberon Confederation alone is self- sufficient. On a social level, a limited form of democracy has brought about educational systems for the young, training facilities for MechWarriors and technicians, and even a modest pension plan for officers and enlisted personnel who have served the Confederation.
The recent development of Oberon into an increasingly stable, diversified state is due mainly to the vision of Hendrik Grimm III. Where Grimm's grandfather founded the state as a mockery of a government, and his father simply continued the family business f brutality, King Hendrik III takes the duties of his office seriously.
Another sign of Oberon's growing political maturity is Grimm's attitude to the nearby Elysian Fields. Though Oberon seems to be approaching the stage that Circinus reached two centuries ago--that of Ca viable nation-state supported in part by piracy--Grimm appears to be seeking the respectability that standard interstellar trade will bring. Thus, Grimm's pirates are not allowed to raid the Elysian worlds. Indeed, Hendrik has entered into trade and territorial agreements with them, the most important of which offers Grimm's navy docking rights in return for military protection against the many other Bandit Kingdoms in the area. As the Elysian Fields continue to develop, and thus become more tempting targets, ties between the two realms can be expected to grow closer. The potential for provincial unification-- similar to that which led to the foundation of the Free Worlds League and Capellan Confederation seven centuries ago--may become irresistible to the leaders of both realms.
Recognizing the utility of social stability on their borders, representatives from both House Steiner and House Kurita have approached Hendrik III with offers of formal alliance. To date, Grimm has been reluctant to commit his peoples one way or the other, remaining cautiously neutral.
Pirates of Butte Hold:
Founded in 3018, Butte Hold is one of the more recent additions to the many Bandit Kingdoms. The inhabitants are a motley collection of cutthroats nominally under the command of Redjack Ryan, an arrogant, strutting MechWarrior with delusions of grandeur. The Pirates of Butte Hold epitomize the worst characteristics of Periphery bandits.
Redjack Ryan was once a battalion commander under Hendrik Grimm. In 3017, while "on loan" to the Lyran Commonwealth, Ryan's unit was ordered to occupy a Marik border world. During the course of his occupation of Lysidas, Ryan's troops sacked the cities, enslaved the populace, and destroyed many industries, including a fusion power plant. The destruction of the fusion plant poisoned half the planet's atmosphere, bringing an immediate halt to Ryan's carousing.
Following this blunder, troops from both the Oberon Confederation and the Free Worlds League pursued Ryan and his mob out of the Inner Sphere. Ryan took his men to Butte Hold, where he set up shop. Since then, the bandit has launched a series of indiscriminate raids against the Lyran Commonwealth, the Draconis Combine, and even an occasional snipe at a Confederation world. To date, none of these governments have retaliated because of the many prisoners Ryan holds hostage. Few like to contemplate what an angry Ryan might do to them.
Another version of the story of how Ryan broke away from Oberon states that Ryan apparently has no other interests in life than rapine, and so he could not face the prospect of handling actual responsibilities, as Grimm wanted him to do. Whether Ryan's own most vicious lieutenant, Agnar Satanson, will turn on Redjack the way he turned on Grimm remains to be seen.
Attracted by the lure of booty, Ryan has won numerous recruits since his break with Grimm, enough to maintain two battalions of BattleMechs. Ryan's hold on his subordinates is tenuous at best, however. He spends as much time guarding against a knife in the back as he does planning his next raid. Left to their own devices, the pirates of Butte Hold may well destroy themselves. In addition, one raid too many against an irritated Lyran or Draconis government may bring a full-scale assault against the pirate holdfast.
Santander's World (Santander V):
What little is known about the pirates of Santander's World is not very pleasant. Founded in 3019 by ex-Davion officer Helmar Valasek, Santander's World boas s one of the most vicious pirate bands operating in the Periphery. Whereas most of the Periphery's pirate groups engage in raiding, Santander's World has become a Murder Incorporated. Much of Valasek's treasury consists s of payments made for covert assassination attempts. Operating singly or in small groups, Santander assassins are known to have penetrated Davion and Kurita space to slaughter government officials and financiers. Where practical, Santander raiders engage in kidnapping, often stopping merchant vessels along established trade routes to remove wealthy passengers for later ransom. In addition, Valasek contracts for terror is activities and may well have affiliations with various dissident groups within the Inner Sphere.
All members of Valasek's band take a blood oath to their murderous leader, vowing to die most horribly should they "squeal" on their fellows. More than once have these pirates killed their own members suspected of renouncing their pledge.
The Santander pirates are an irritant that the Successor States will probably destroy at the first opportunity. It is believed, however, that Valasek maintains an intricate web of spies and informants that might tip off Valasek to any impending strike. Therefore, any such attack would have to be made with the utmost secrecy.
The Tortuga Dominions are a result of the Reunification War against the Taurian Concordat. During the latter stages of that conflict, the Federated Suns 237th Light Cavalry Regiment was all but destroyed in a wasteful penetration raid against the Taurian outpost of Sterope. Unable to hold their positions and unwilling to be thrown into the vicious fray somewhere else, the 237th opted to jump outward into the unknown. A generation after settling a small, pleasant world beyond the fringes of the Federated Suns, the newly formed Pirates of Tortuga began operations against their callous former comrades in the Federated Suns.
With equipment and machinery won at gun point from half a dozen Davion worlds, the Tortugans began to expand their foothold in their new world. Within a century, they were stable and self-sufficient enough to begin colonization efforts of their own. By the early 2700s, the Tortugans had settled five neighboring star systems. Abundant radioactives and raw materials on these newly claimed worlds helped the rise of what has since become known as the Tortuga Dominions.
Of all the Bandit Kingdoms in the Periphery, the Tortuga Dominions maintain the largest spacefaring navy. Estimates place the size of the Tortuga jolly rogers at about 15, though a lack of spare parts and machinery has forced the Tortugans to cannibalize several of these.
In the last two centuries, the Tortuga raiders have struck deep into the Federated Suns and the Taurian Concordat. Already known for utter depravity and ruthlessness, it appears that the Tortugans are becoming more desperate as their planets are now finally beginning to run out of resources.
[Prepared by Major C.G. Toho, Periphery expert for Wolfnet, Military Intelligence Division, Seventh Kommando]
The Bandit Kingdoms took as much advantage as possible of the Fourth Succession War by raiding carefully chosen worlds in the Inner Sphere. After the war, all of the Inner Sphere leaders tried to exact revenge by sending military expeditions into the Periphery. Try as they might, however, they could not capture or kill all the pirates.
Morgan Fletcher of the Star's End Pirates, has recently shown up far from her stronghold, as have smaller pirate groups. ComStar has been effective at countering this surge within the Inner Sphere, but this has mostly just shifted the problem to Periphery realms.
The major event affecting the balance of terror among Periphery pirates was the union of Maria Morgraine and Redjack Ryan. The merger of Morgraine's Valkyrate with the Pirates of Butte Hold has created the Greater Valkyrate, a potent entity with a fearsome military unit, Ryan's Rebels. This has had the beneficial effect of curbing the Oberon Confederation and the bother of creating a growing nest of vipers on the border of the Federated Commonwealth. Ryan and Morgraine's oldest child, Major Susie "One Eye" Morgraine-Ryan, have proven to be capable and vicious military leaders, boding ill for civilized worlds in the area for the foreseeable future.
The Oberon Confederation, the most respectable of the Bandit Kingdoms, built up its military starting about 3035, perhaps as a reaction to the Ryan- Morgraine union. Instead of attacking Butte Hold, however, Oberon has directed its aggression elsewhere, toward the Federated Commonwealth, Rasalhague, and even against the Draconis Combine.
The Oberon Confederation was itself the target of raids by pirates front beyond known space. This activity apparently increased, though little is certain because ComStar lost contact with Oberon VI and consequently the Elysian Fields, Oberon's protectorate, in 3045. It is unknown whether there has been an internal coup, a new ruler from outside, or just that ComStar has had an equipment failure. The Inner Sphere has also had no official contact with Santander's World for a few years, but that is not unusual for such an evil place.
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