Review the TOE of Cranston Snord's Irregulars for 3026-3037
Review the TOE of Rhonda Snord's Irregulars for 3037-3051
From Mercenaries of the Succession Wars, by Thelos Auburn, Historian of House Steiner
Cranston Snord's Irregulars. Those three words conjure up different images to different people. Some think of them as a mercenary unit bent on gathering together the valuable remains of the once powerful Star League. To others, they were nothing but a roving band of looters. In truth, the Irregulars were neither and both of these. Their heroics are shrouded in myth or exaggerated, but some of the unit's true history is a matter of public record.
Cranston Snord was a Mechwarrior who piloted an old, battered Archer that he had inherited from his father. After several successful fights, Snord offered his services to Jaime Wolf, who warmly accepted him as a member of the elite mercenary unit, Wolf's Dragoons. During Cranston's two years with the Dragoons he was continually in and out of trouble with his commander. More than once Wolf had to reprimand Snord for but Cranston always managed out by saying that he was not really a looter, but a collector. As Snord was also a skilled Mechwarrior, which bought him, time with Jaime Wolf.
Then he committed an act for which all his skill and bravery could not compensate. During the battle for Royal, Cranston deserted his station. When they found him later, he was searching, through the rubble of a building for a chest of artwork rumored to be buried there. Wolf's patience had finally run out, for his command could not tolerate a man who would desert the field of battle to pursue his own gain. Snord was dismissed from Wolf's Dragoons, and deposited with his' Mech on the planet Crossing.
Though Snord was once again a free man, freedom does not pay the bills. When he tried to join other units, they turned him down because of what had happened with Wolf's Dragoons. Within a few months, Snord's funds had all but run out, and he was on the verge of selling his 'Mech just to survive. It was then he met Melvin McFinney, the commanding officer of McFinney's Manglers, a small mercenary outfit. The fateful meeting occurred during a game of cards in a bar on Crossing in 3002. In a desperate attempt to improve his situation, Snord had gotten into a high-stakes game of poker, putting up his 'Mech as collateral.
The actual outcome of the game has been told and retold so many times that few know what really happened. According to second-hand accounts, Cranston and McFinney were the last two players left. Cranston was betting his 'Mech, which was the only thing he had left in the world. He told McFinney that to make the game fair, McFinney should bet everything he had in the world. McFinney bet his unit, including his Dropships and his 'Mech. It looked like a sucker bet, because McFinney had been winning all night. In the final draw, however Cranston won.
Cranston Snord had become the proud owner of his own mercenary outfit. Snord was also now the proud owner of the debts that McFinney had run up in a past, and the list of debtors was a long one. The unit consisted of five 'Mechs and a Dropship with five fighters. Only one of the fighters was capable of fighting, though, and only two of the Mechs had either, engines or weaponry that amounted to anything. The Dropships itself, a Union Class vessel, was no great prize either. Its hull was scarred from numerous battles and its engines needed extensive work. When he woke the next morning, Cranston found himself faced with three bill collectors, all demanding money owed by McFinney's Manglers. Using the last his funds, Cranston paid them off. Now he was broke.
He could not afford a Tech, so Cranston settle on, several men from the ranks of the Dispossessed, who were willing to work in exchange for the opportunity to pilot a 'Mech again. How Cranston collected new parts is best left out of this history until all legal claims have been resolved. Using these new parts, plus parts from two of McFinney's 'Mechs, Cranston was able to refit his own 'Mech and repair three of the others, one of which he sold to pay off more debts. He handled the fighters in the same way, scrapping three of the fighters and using their parts to make two others combat ready. Within two months, Cranston had a small force of three 'Mechs, two fighters, and a Dropships.
Though Snord had paid off most of McFinney's debts, there were still several large ones outstanding. To pay them, Cranston needed to find work for the unit, or it would go bankrupt.
House Marik was currently Snord's biggest creditor. In 3003, he proposed a means to even the debt. At that time, Marik forces were engaged on all borders, but were most hotly pressed by House Steiner. Just to hold the border areas, Marik was taking on every mercenary unit the House could hire. Snord made a deal with Marik, agreeing to serve the House for one year as payment in kind for all the money he owed Marik. Almost immediately, Janos Marik assigned Cranston's unit to Rochelle, where House Steiner had made its deepest penetration. The world was little more than a muddy battlefield, littered with the remains of 'Mechs that had not survived the war. Units assigned there reported 70 percent losses.
The battle for Rochelle lasted nine months. Though Steiner forces were eventually driven from the world, losses on both sides were staggering. Entire mercenary units were wiped out. Others were completely disorganized. Most Mechs were mauled beyond repair. The one exception was Cranston Snord's Unit
During the battle for Rochelle, it was customary skill and daring that had brought his unit through almost completely intact. What's more, he had managed to recruit to his unit a number of Mechwarriors (and their 'Mechs) whose own units had been destroyed.
Though a victory for House Marik, the battle for Rochelle had decimated its forces. In an effort to rebuild them, Marik attempted to confiscate all surviving 'Mechs, even those owned privately. Specially targeted were the Mechs of Cranston's unit.
Not long after the fighting ended, Janos Marik demanded that Snord pay off his debt. Snord insisted that the debt was paid in full after Rochelle, according to their deal. Janos could not seem to recall any such deal, however, and ordered him to turn over his 'Mechs. Snord, of course, refused. Still stationed on Rochelle, his unit stood and fought rather than see their 'Mechs confiscated. The results were costly, but Cranston did manage to get most of his forces off the wasted world. Once free, he pledged that his unit would never again work for House Marik. He further threatened to fight them on sight. House Marik, in response, ordered that Cranston Snord be taken into custody and his unit repossessed for funds due.
Hearing of the unit's bravery during the Rochelle battles and of its final daring escape, Katrina Steiner offered Cranston Snord a contract. He agreed to meet with a Steiner representative on the planet Clinton to discuss terms.
IN SERVICE TO STEINER
Snord used the time on Clinton to rebuild his damaged unit. He had taken on some new men, and several of their 'Mechs needed major repairs. Meanwhile, negotiations with House Steiner dragged on. Beaten, battered, and broke, Cranston and his men had little with which to bargain. Katrina Steiner, however, took a personal interest in the unit that had fought so well on Rochelle. The result was a contract that differed from any other mercenary agreement in the history of the Succession Wars.
The pay was low but, in return, Cranston Snord had the right to select the location of his unit's assignment. He figured that low pay for his unit could be made up by the collectibles to be found, and he knew more about the location of these collectibles than did anyone since the Star League era. Cranston also insisted that his unit be provided with a permanent facility on the planet Clinton and that House Steiner provide the repair parts for his 'Mechs.
The final point of the agreement had to do with the unit's name. Having a soft spot in his heart for misfits who had been dismissed from other units, Snord composed his outfit mostly of loners, outcasts, and rebels. The name they chose for themselves was Cranston Snord's Irregulars.
After several months, the unit was refitted and ready for action at about the time the Steiner world of New Kyoto came under attack by House Marik. New replacement units were being sent to the defense, and Cranston's unit was offered the assignment. Before accepting, he researched the world with the help of Jake Walmar, one of his men whose hobby was collecting old books. Their research showed that several major works of art had been taken from Kyoto's museums at the fall of the Star League and buried in underground vaults. Cranston's attack lance leader, Bright Thomlinson, who also happened to be an expert on Kyoto art, estimated the collection's value to be in the millions. Thus, Snord accepted the assignment, planning to uncover the hidden art treasures and to take his revenge on House Marik at the same time.
Cranston Snord's Irregulars dropped on the New Kyoto city of Kirwanal, a site chosen because Cranston believed the treasures were stored here. Though he did not discover any works of art there, Snord did find treasure of another sort a Marik supply dump. Taking the dump defenders by surprise, Cranston's Irregulars wiped out the Marik force.
Having learned that the art objects were not in Kirwanal, Snord drove his unit on to the city of Shaval, having picked up information that the works might be hidden there. Once there, Cranston stumbled onto Marik's New Kyoto command post, wiped it out, and moved into Shaval himself. Several times the remains of the Marik forces tried to drive out the Irregulars, who beat them back easily, eventually forcing Marik to retreat.
Katrina Steiner had calculated that the defense of New Kyoto would last eight months. Cranston Snord's Irregulars routed the Marik forces in just over two months, mostly due to the dumb luck of the unit and its commander. Katrina Steiner sent her personal congratulations to the unit, awarding its officers the Steiner Medal of Honor with Oak Leaf Clusters. In the meantime, Cranston unearthed one of the hidden vaults containing the lost art objects of New Kyoto, and spirited it to the planet Clinton.
The Irregulars were next transferred to the planet Wing in Marik-controlled space, a move agreeable to Cranston because it provided him an opportunity to acquire the famous rare book collections of Devron. Jake Walmar was also enthusiastic about the venture, despite the fact that many of House Mariks top line units were dug in on the small planet.
The fighting on Wing was fierce, the heaviest that Snord had seen since the battle for Rochelle. He never forgot his primary purpose in coming to Wing, however. When two of his pilots reported intercepting a message about a library that had been discovered by the Marik forces, Cranston and Jake felt certain it was the Collection of Devron. With the intention of capturing the rare books, they hatched a plan for a daring raid behind enemy lines.
According to Cranston's intelligence reports, the find was going to be transported overland to a Dropships landing zone. Disobeying his own battle orders, Cranston ordered his lances to circumvent the Marik lines and head for the rear area of the Marik defenses to rescue the collection.
The Irregulars circled around the fighting front, heading deep behind Marik lines to find the caravan carrying the books. This put the unit far from supplies or support of any kind. When the Irregulars did not report in, Steiner command assumed that they had been lost. In the meantime, Snord's Irregulars ambushed the caravan just outside the city of Merth, capturing most of the crates of rare books intact.
This action alerted the Marik forces to the penetration made by the Irregulars. Believing that the force was actually making a drive for the Marik command center, Marik diverted fully half their front-line troops to hunt down the unit. With the Marik front lines so weakened, the regular Steiner forces were able to punch through the lines. To their astonishment, they discovered Snord's Irregulars trapped in a small river valley and fighting for their lives. The unit would no doubt have been destroyed if the regular Steiner lances had not suddenly thundered in to the rescue. Once again, Cranston's luck saved him and his men, and Katrina Steiner again decorated them for heroism. Meanwhile, the book collection had been routed to Clinton.
As several of the Irregulars Mechs were badly damaged and several pilots wounded, Cranston received permission to return to Clinton for refitting of equipment and a little rest and relaxation for his men. Even though House Steiner paid for the parts, the cost of refitting the 'Mechs was high, due to the damage taken at the Battle of Wing. Cranston had to sell part of his unit's collection of art to pay for the repairs. In the meantime, however, the men built a museum to house their works on Clinton. Though not as elaborate as museums of the old Star League era, it drew enough tourists to help pay some of the expenses the unit had incurred in battle.
Between the years 3006 and 3017, Cranston Snord's Irregulars were engaged in no less than six attacks against House Marik. Of those engagements, only one was considered a battle loss. It occurred during the Battles of Amity when the unit, deployed to fight a holding action, allowed several other units to escape. Though historians call it a loss, the Irregulars considered it a victory for them, as the commander and his men managed to find the lost Jewel of Sumatra before retreating.
Katrina Steiner enjoyed the exploits of the unit and was a frequent visitor at the museum. Her advisors, however, disliked the Irregulars, because Cranston did not follow standard battle tactics or procedures and flagrantly disobeyed orders. In the end, Katrina cared more for the results gained from how well and hard Snord's Irregulars fought for her.
During this time, the unit's museum grew considerably. While Cranston had originally seen the profits from collecting' as a means of direct income, he began to notice that it was having additional benefits. The men and women of his unit had begun to take a personal pride and interest in the collection. They enjoyed showing it off and began to study about the items in their collection so that they could discuss them knowledgeably with visitors. Though maintaining the collection cost the unit part of their pay, the treasures helped bond the members to one another and added greatly to their morale.
Though now a financial success, Cranston's Irregulars were not so much a military unit as a band of artifact hunters who would retreat from a battle if they smelled treasure. In the years between 3006 and 3017, the unit fought mainly in minor battles, but these actions were improving the unit's financial position and also proving its fighting ability. In 3014, however, Cranston's Irregulars faced their most daring challenge.
In that year, Jaime Wolf and the famous Wolf's Dragoons entered the employ of House Marik. Throughout the year, the Dragoons were engaged in deep-penetration raids into Steiner controlled space. Wolf performed hit and-run raids on a dozen worlds, dropping only long enough to attack and destroy and to steal supplies. In an effort to capture Jaime Wolf and his forces, Katrina Steiner deposited several of her mercenary units on border worlds, hoping that they would engage and wear down the enemy, forcing him to retreat. One of these mercenary units was Cranston Snord's Irregulars.
The planet Loric was remote and, according to Cranston's research team, had once been a depository for imported goods during the height of Star League. When Cranston accepted the assignment, therefore, he was planning to uncover enough collectibles on the world to pay the mounting bills on Clinton. Their military mission was a simple one-defending a small munitions dump on Loric from the raiding Dragoons.
Because Jaime Wolf was pressed for supplies, he let his usual tight intelligence slide regarding Loric. When his spies reported that only a small group of 'Mechs stood guard over a munitions supply post, Wolf did not bother to ask the defending unit's name. In the ensuing battle, several of Wolf's best lances fell to a trap laid by Cranston Snord. In the end, Wolf departed without the munitions, and the Irregulars remained intact, with several captured 'Mechs for their efforts. According to rumor, Cranston even returned the captured Mechwarriors as a gesture of good faith to his former commander. The Dragoons continued on with their famous raid, but the battle had weakened them. Worse, it hurt their commander's pride. Although it is not a subject that Cranston discusses often, the battle was a turning point for the Irregulars. No longer were they viewed as just a band of talented scavengers. They were now known as a military unit capable of taking on and beating a tough and seasoned unit. From that time on, Snord's Irregulars became a force to be reckoned with.
Janos Marik was not a man who took losing lightly. Following Wolf's defeat at the hands of the Irregulars, Janos decided to pay back Cranston for all the problems the unit had caused him. In 3017, while Snord was fighting Wolf's forces at Loric, Marik sent a unit of elite fighters to destroy the museum on Clinton. The Marik raiders met little resistance.
When the Irregulars returned to Clinton, they found their base still smoking from the attack and their precious collection stolen, destroyed, or badly damaged. With the unit's finances nearly depleted, Cranston now faced the most difficult challenge of his career. The morale of his outfit sank to rock bottom, and there was talk of disbanding the unit. He had nowhere to turn but to Katrina Steiner, who agreed to meet with him within a week of his return to Clinton. As a result of their talk, Katrina gave Snord an advance on pay as well as permission to launch an all-out assault against Marik.
When Cranston returned to his unit, he informed his people that he had a plan to end Marik's harassment of the Irregulars once and for all. The first step was to regain the objects that had been stolen from the museum. Then they would pay back House Marik and the Free Worlds League. For the next three months, the Irregulars collected data, analyzed troop movements and displacements, and finalized a daring move against the reign of Janos Marik.
The code name of the operation was the Junk Yard Dog Affair, named after one of the old songs in the music collection of Cranston's daughter Rhonda. The raid would be one of the most daring ever undertaken by a combat unit in the Succession Wars, placing Cranston's Irregulars well behind enemy lines.
The first phase of the operation was to regain the stolen museum pieces. According to Cranston's intelligence sources, the pieces had been transported to the planet Nathan, located in space controlled by the Free Worlds League. To infiltrate the planet, Cranston disguised his Dropships as a Free Worlds' vessel returning from a tour of duty on the front. The C-bills to pay for the stolen security codes came directly from Katrina Steiner and the coffers of the Lyran Commonwealth.
Nathan was a rural world used by some regular units as a resting stop. It was also far enough in the rear area of battle that free traders came here to market their goods. Cranston's agents informed him that the museum pieces were expected to bring high prices.
When Cranston's Dropships received permission to orbit Nathan, he dropped several of his 'Mechs on a deserted part of the planet, away from the screens of the Marik forces. He then asked for permission to deploy some of his men and equipment on the planet for R and R. Believing that they were dealing with a Regular Army unit, the government leaders on Nathan agreed.
The battles on Nathan were rough for the Irregulars, with so many of Marik's Regular Army units mobilized against them. The fighting took place in several of the small cities where parts of the collection of the Irregulars were being sold or stored. Cranston allowed the Irregulars only two weeks to recapture their merchandise. After that, he knew Marik would have had a chance to move in reinforcements.
After two weeks of combat and urban warfare, the 'Mechs and Mechwarriors of Cranston Snord's Irregulars left Nathan, having recaptured much of what they came for. Confident that the Irregulars would head for the Steiner border to linkup with units there, Janos Marik deployed his forces to stop them. That was exactly what Cranston was hoping. Instead of heading to safety, he drove deeper into the Free Worlds League, to the planet Holt. Once there, he staged the second phase of his plan, an attack on the residential palace of House Marik on Holt. Guarding the estate was Jason Marik, third cousin to Janos, along with a very small 'Mech guard unit. The day of the attack just happened to coincide with a celebration for Jason's birthday.
When Snord dropped his 'Mechs on the palace grounds, he caught Janos Marik and his guard totally by surprise. The defenders tried to organize, but the battle was over in two hours, leaving the palace on fire and Jason Marik a prisoner.
Katrina Steiner used the confusion created by Snord's raid on Holt to launch a sudden attack on the planet Oliver, as her intelligence sources had informed her that many of the world's units had been mobilized and sent away to search for Snord's Irregulars. Though Katrina never expected Cranston to return from his raid, she hoped to make good use of his efforts against her old enemy. Much to her surprise, Cranston and most of his unit reappeared on Clinton four months after their raid against Marik.
Though the attack on Holt had been successful, it took the Irregulars six months to repair their 'Mechs, Dropships and fighters. Selling off parts of the recaptured museum helped pay the bills, but once again Snord found himself with debts he could not pay.
THE BATTLES OF ALEXANDRIA
Snord's Irregulars won an impressive reputation for their part in the Junk Yard Dog affair, a reputation Katrina Steiner sought to spread beyond the borders of the Commonwealth into the sphere of House Kurita and the Draconis Combine. Intending to keep Snord and his men far from the Marik border for awhile, she sent the Irregulars to Alexandria, a world rumored to contain a wealth of Star League supplies and armaments.
Alexandria attracted Cranston Snord for reasons other than supplies and armaments, for it had once been a show place for museums and art galleries. With the outbreak of war, most of the collections had been divided up and sent for safekeeping to several of the of planet's smaller cities. With visions of quick profit dancing in his head,
Cranston readily committed the Irregulars to the assignment. House Kurita was not intimidated by the Irregulars' reputation, and Crams on discovered that not all his fights ended in success. When several of his pilots took off in the middle of battle to search, for booty, they ended up walking into a trap. To rescue his men, Snord had to fight his way through stiff resistance put up by the Kurita forces. His amazing luck still held. At the peak of the battle several Kurita Archers had pinned down Snord and his command lance, but when the Archers attempted to fire their missiles, they all turned out to be duds.
Too late, the Kurita force learned that their missile systems had come from a shipment of defectives that had been supplied somehow to Alexandria. Cranston managed to escape. Though the Irregulars had made the Kurita forces sit up and take notice, the battles on Alexandria were the most disastrous the unit had ever faced. The work had also turned out to be the most unprofitable. After seven months on the planet, the Irregulars returned to Clinton, where it took them another six months to repair the extensive damage to their forces and equipment.
In 3022, the Irregulars were ordered to report to the world of Tamar to bolster the weakened Steiner forces fighting there. Cranston accepted the mission not because there was a possibility of collecting, but because his people were tired and restless. They needed some sort of action to keep their skills honed. Cranston hoped Tamar would provide such an opportunity. The Irregulars' attack on Tamar started as an almost textbook example of disaster and ended in overwhelming victory. To begin with, the Irregulars were accidentally dropped several kilometers from their designated area, landing in the middle of Vrance, a small city controlled by Kurita forces under the leadership of the now famous General Askam. Askam figured that the Irregulars would immediately attempt to retreat to friendly lines, but Cranston astounded Askam by, attacking and taking the city, While in Vrance the Irregulars were able to win over support of some of the locals, who were more than happy to contribute to Cranston's museum collection.
When General Askam discovered that the Irregulars were firmly entrenched in the city, he sent several crack attack lances to rout them from Vrance. As the Kurita forces moved cautiously into the city they saw no signs of life. Apparently the Irregular's had fled, in terror. The commander was just preparing to report this to Askam, when fake buildings suddenly gave way to armed and battle-ready 'Mechs. The streets caved in to reveal conceal traps. Smaller buildings-exploded, taking out Kurita 'Mechs with them. The three Kurita lances tried to form line of defense, but the Irregulars were everywhere. Open streets became blind alloys, and escape routes clogged in flames and smoke. When the fighting ended, only two Kurita Mech managed to escape from the city of Vrance. Only then did Cranston order his men to make their way back to the Steiner lines.
General Askam was so impressed with the Irregulars' fighting skills and tactics that he offered them a secret contract for twice the pay to fight with the Kurita forces of the Combine. Cranston was interested, but Askam flatly refused his request for a provision that the unit choose where it might be assigned, "for collecting purposes". Instead, Askam offered even more money. In the meantime, Katrina Steiner contacted Snord with the news that she was increasing the unit's pay. It is interesting to speculate how the terms of the secret contract negotiations with Askam reached Katrina Steiner. Cranston Snord always maintained that it was once again, luck.
In 3023, Cranston's unit was reassigned to the Steiner/Marik border on the planet Hyde, a remote little world that was almost entirely ocean. House Steiner had a huge water purification plant located there. With pure water in such short supply on the war-torn planets, Steiner spies had received information that the plant was to be the target of a Marik raid. Katrina assigned the Irregulars to the protect it.
During the Irregulars' first months on Hyde, Snord reorganized the defense of the small island where the purification plant was located. When nothing more happened, the unit was left bored and at "loose ends. Though Snord had begun to wonder if the report of the attack had been a hoax, Katrina Steiner's well-paid spies were accurate. Units of the 23rd Herron Regiment eventually landed on Hyde with full support, making a move for the small island and its water purification plant.
Once again, Cranston's luck saved him. To ease the boredom of his men, Cranston had his men search for a treasure said to be hidden in the sands of Hyde. The Irregulars used their 'Mechs for digging, covering the huge craters they gouged out with tarps to keep the machines cool. When the 23rd Herron Regiment landed, they saw what looked like nothing more than a tent city, and moved against the island. Suddenly, Snord and his Irregulars crawled but of their holes, catching the 23rd completely off guard. The battle lasted half a day before the 23rd Regiment surrendered. For their actions, the Irregulars received a Unit Citation of Merit from Katrina Steiner. However, they never did recover the treasure reportedly hidden in the sands.
After the battle on Hyde, the unit retired to Clinton for several months of needed rest and relaxation. Snord, meanwhile, undertook to have his museum reconstructed. When complete, this reconstruction served a twofold purpose. It raised his unit's morale and brought in needed cash. Despite the raise in pay, the Irregulars were still in debt for the units repair parts, ammunition, and supplies.
A COLD RECEPTION
The last major assignment of the Irregulars was on the planet Phecda in the Lyran Commonwealth. The water resources on this world were vast, and the Commonwealth had tried repeatedly to set up a processing plant, only to have it attacked and destroyed by Marik forces. Because House Marik had developed a healthy respect for the fighting ability of the Irregulars, Katrina hoped Snord would accept the assignment to serve as a border defense detail there. Phecda is a cold world, swept by terrible windstorms and blizzards. The environment was tough on humans, but the perfect place to operate a 'Mech.
Cranston's research showed that an old Colossus Class Dropship had been attacked on Phecda during the fall of the Star League. The ship had crashed fairly intact, but no attempt had been made to recover the contents of the vessel because of the planet's harsh, cold climate and frequent blizzards. Hoping to uncover the ship and salvage some of its contents, Snord decided to accept the job.
Arriving on Phecda, Snord saw that the water purification plant was a large, easy target, highly visible from space. He realized immediately that after several months of construction the Marik forces would simply raid it again and destroy the work, costing House Steiner a great deal of time and money. He devised a plan of defense and discussed it with Katrina Steiner's liaison, who dubiously reported it to Katrina this time. By this time, Katrina Steiner had come trust the hunches of Cranston Snord and so she had the necessary supplies shipped.
Three months passed. Word went out from Marik spies on the desolate world of Phecda that the water purification facility was nearly complete. The spies also reported to Marik that the Irregulars were acting according to form. Instead of digging in to defend the plan they were out searching the snowdrifts for yet another treasure.
Snord knew about the spies, of course. They could not have suited his needs better if they had been on his own payroll. When the plant was near completion, Marik Dropships appeared, depositing three lances on Phecda to deal with the Irregulars and to take out the water processing plant.
As their spies had reported, the Marik forces found the plant guarded only by the Recon Lance of the Irregulars, with the others apparently out looking for treasure. The Recon unit fought well, but was forced to pull back before Marik's onslaught. Soon, the Marik forces had the purification plant in their sights and the Recon Lance on the run.
As the Marik 'Mechs thundered into the plant compound, the world blew up around them, or so it must have seemed. The new buildings were false and filled with nothing but crude explosives. Once the attacking lances were in the middle of the compound. Snord detonated all the false buildings. Then his attack and command lances, as well as the Recon Lance, moved in from the surrounding hills to mop up the Marik survivors
In reality, the real purification facility was constructed several kilometers away, where it had appeared that Cranstons Irregulars were searching for treasure. The site was protected by only one Mech. Cranston played a hunch that if the false facility were built in the same vicinity as the real one, Mariks spies would not suspect that there was more then one. Once again, the gods of luck had smiled on the Irregulars
The battle lasted two days as the Irregulars tracked down the enemy "Mechs that had managed to survive the initial explosion. Snord estimated in his official report only three to five Mechs from the original three lances managed to make it back to the Marik Dropship. He found it difficult to celebrate the victory, however. His daughter Rhonda had been critically wounded when an attacking Mech smashed her cockpit, crushing her arm and legs. She was rushed back to Clinton for surgery.
On a lighter note, John "The Snooper" Malvinson, came across a metal sounding deep in a drift several kilometers from the battle site. An investigation of the area showed it to be the site where the Colossus Dropships had crashed. Cranston ordered the ship dug out while he accompanied his daughter back to Clinton. The Irregulars worked eight weeks and, on Cranston's return, greeted him with the good news that they had recovered the ship. Cranston had his own good news. Rhonda was well again, and would be able to rejoin the unit soon.
The salvaging of the Colossus was one of the largest operations that the Irregulars had ever undertaken. The vessel had crashed almost completely intact, and the harsh cold of Phecda had preserved the bodies of her crew. Inside the hold, Cranston and his men discovered a virtual warehouse of Battlemech parts and even several 'Mechs.
When Katrina Steiner heard of the find from her internal intelligence agency, she contacted Snord and, in his words, "kindly requested a fair portion" of the found goods. Cranston readily gave up part of his fantastic find to the Lyran Commonwealth, because Katrina had been good to him and because he wanted to avoid a confrontation. Besides, the Irregulars had fared well. The haul from the operation was enough several 'Mechs and to make some important repairs to the unit's Dropship. The new' Mechs were brought unit to increase its size.
Since Snord's Irregulars returned to Clinton for refitting and repair work in 3025, they have not taken part in any new military actions. It is rumored that several of the opposing Houses have bid on an opportunity to employ the Irregulars, but Snord has always refused. Some sources say that he intends to remain with House Steiner so that he can continue to harass his old enemies in House Marik. Others say that Katrina Steiner may have a financial hold over him.
Cranston Snord has gained a reputation as a skilled fighter full of dangerous tricks. Some call him a looter, some call a lunatic. A few call him a genius. Such remarks do not faze Snord. His mind is on more important matters, such as the hidden hoard of antique coins on Bella, or the ancient comic book collections reported to be stored on Kobe, or the collection of small gold buttons in the city of Heeber on Nathan.
Some men are born to greatness. Others have it thrust upon them. . Me? I punted.
-Cranston Snord, 3050INCEPTION
Khan Kerlin Ward of Clan Wolf knew that the Clans would one-day move to fulfill what the Crusaders felt was their destiny, to invade the Inner Sphere and re-establish the Star League. Khan Ward felt that the timing was not right, and that the mission of the Crusading Clans was not proper.
When the Great Debate came to a head within the Grand Council of the Clans, Khan Ward offered a compromise. He proposed that five regiments of warriors be sent into the Inner Sphere to gather intelligence and to test the mettle of its forces. Equipped with retrofitted technology and posing as mercenaries, they would be able to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the Inner Sphere governments. For Khan Ward, it was a gamble, designed to buy the Inner Sphere time. For the Inner Sphere, it was the birth of a legend, the coming of Wolf's Dragoons.
For the most part, the Dragoons were freebirth warriors, considered inferior by the Clans to the genetically bred truebirths. Clan Wolf had a large number of freebirth warriors, more than enough to form the five regiments of Wolf's Dragoons. It was a good way to discard troublemakers and those freebirths who would not conform to the rigid dictates of Clan society.
One of these was Cranston, a warrior who took the surname Snord as part of his cover for the mission. A strong freebirth warrior of exceptional fighting ability, Cranston clearly was uncomfortable within Clan society. Born the only child of a Merchant Caste family, he worked hard to earn a position in the Warrior Caste's lower levels. He was vastly skilled in combat, yet he often balked at Clan rules and traditions.
Snord was fascinated with the Star League, and his constant study of the government, military, and artifacts from that era bothered many of his fellow warriors. To the relief of many, Cranston was given orders to accompany Jaime and Joshua Wolf on their mission. Jaime Wolf both admired and disliked the misfit. He felt that the warrior had great prowess in combat, but was sure that Cranston's nonconforming attitude was destined to cause trouble.
Striking a last blow for eccentricity, Cranston insisted that his young daughter Rhonda be attached to the mission. Such father/ child relationships among the Warrior Caste were rare, and many considered these relationships to be abominations. However, despite her father's unorthodox approach to training and warfare, Rhonda grew up to be a skilled Mechwarrior in her own right.
After considerable deliberation, Jaime met with Cranston and devised a plan to make use of his unique talents and abilities. While Wolf's Dragoons would begin their Inner Sphere service with House Davion, Cranston and a smaller team were to approach House Steiner and gain service there, forming their own mercenary unit. This unit would be composed mostly of Inner Sphere natives, and would act as additional eyes and ears for the Dragoons. In particular, they were to search for buried treasure. The Star League Defense Forces had left behind hundreds of hidden military bases. The Exodus fleet had maintained records of where many complexes and caches were hidden, but many other records had been lost during the more violent years of the Clans' formation. Most of these bases, known and unknown, had been discovered by the warring houses, but the Wolf brothers were sure that others still existed undiscovered.
When Wolf's Dragoons appeared in the Inner Sphere on 11 April 3005, Cranston Snord was with them, commanding a battalion of Battlemech in the Epsilon Regiment. Following Colonel Wolf's orders, Cranston devised an excuse for Wolf to dismiss him from the Dragoons. In Jaime Wolf's own words, 'T m giving you enough rope to hang yourself, so do it right."
An opportunity presented itself in the raid on Halloran in early 3006. Cranston Snord ordered his battalion to attack a Liao outpost for the sole purpose of recovering a rare meerschaum pipe collection. His action infuriated the other warriors of the Dragoons, and provided sufficient grounds for his ouster.
Jaime Wolf publicly berated the Mechwarrior and angrily discharged him from the Dragoons. With one stroke, Cranston had proven himself a skilled warrior, given birth to tales of his eccentricity, and added to the reputation of Wolf's Dragoons as an elite mercenary unit. Adopting the guise of a fanatical collector, Snord began the meandering journey that would lead to a bar on Crossing and the legendary poker game of 3007, where he won his first independent unit.
This time, Cranston continued to pursue the mission Colonel Wolf had given him. His year's research indicated that several undiscovered Star League caches were located near the Lyran Commonwealth/Free Worlds League border. His transfer of the Irregulars to this border gave him ready access to the scouting and research information he was likely to need.
Other Dragoons who had been similarly cashiered or had quit, including Shalimar Windall and Terry and John Malvinson, signed on with the new unit. The Malvinson brothers brought Rhonda. They had been charged with looking after her while Cranston established himself. They also brought Samual Sneede, a Technician Caste orphan who preferred Warrior Caste training over a return to the Clans.
New backgrounds and identification disks for these Clanborn Irregulars were forged by Wolfnet. Terry Malvinson carried an additional commission, which he passed on to Sneede 20 years later. Under specific orders from Joshua Wolf, he was sworn to kill Snord should the slightly off-base officer ever threaten to expose the true nature or origin of Wolf's Dragoons. Using specially coded messages passed through couriers to avoid the prying eyes of Comstar, Snord's Irregulars were able to feed a vast amount of information to Jaime and Joshua Wolf during the first years of the Dragoons. In return, dummy accounts and corporations funded by the Dragoons accomplished much of the initial financing of the Irregulars.
From his review of the scant records available to him, Cranston suspected that the long-lost Castle Brian was buried on the world of Clinton. During initial contract negotiations with the Lyran Commonwealth, he proposed that the Irregulars establish a permanent base on this world. Arriving there to consider its suitability, he purposely dragged out negotiations while the other Clan-born Irregulars searched for the lost SLDF facility. Once they located it, Cranston stipulated that the tract of land on which it lay hidden be deeded to the Irregulars. The LCAF was happy to deed the seemingly worthless land, never knowing what they had given
When the Dragoons departed to provide their report to the Clans in 3009, Cranston left his unit, allegedly checking into a hospital for surgery. Travelling with the rest of the Dragoon command staff, he too filed a report, listing five empty Star League facilities he had discovered. In 3011, the Irregulars, rejoined by their commanding officer, accepted a raiding mission with the newly formed Kell Hounds. Its success added to the hatred House Marik and the Free Worlds League was developing for the Irregulars.
In 3014 Wolf's Dragoons, in the service of House Marik, struck the world of Loric, and defended by Snord's Irregulars. For the most part, little actual fighting took place. The engagements that occurred were always stalemated, with one side or the other pulling back rather than driving for the kill. Cranston and his unit managed to capture three Dragoon Mechwarriors, which he returned personally to Jaime Wolf.
During the peak of the Third Succession War, on the bitterly cold world of Pheccla, the Irregulars made a significant discovery. Cranston had a lead on a lost Colossus Class Dropship buried on the world, and managed, after nearly losing Rhonda to a Marik attack, to find and recover the Dropship's cargo.
The cargo consisted of a large stockpile of Star League Battlemech, many equipped with lostech devices, making them priceless. Also uncovered were substantial stores of ammunition and vital repair parts. Cranston made sure that all the Lyran Commonwealth recovered were common Battlemech stripped of any superior weaponry or sophisticated systems.
Under Shorty Sneede's direction, the advanced weapons and Battlemechs were smuggled back to Clinton over the course of the next year. Once assembled, they were studied, repaired, and tested in the hidden Irregulars base. By command of Jaime Wolf, none of these were put into service with their lostech devices, though both Cranston and Rhonda felt that decision was wrong. Cranston reached one compromise with Colonel Wolf, however: he was allowed to add a second company to the Irregulars, using Battlemechs without lostech. While Cranston and Rhonda wanted more, they tempered their desires in view of Jaime Wolf's express orders. By the end of 3025, the Irregulars were able to muster almost a full battalion of Battlemechs and support forces.
FOURTH SUCCESSION WAR
The initial plans for Operation Gutterddmmerung left Snord's Irregulars on garrison duty, providing a military presence on worlds in the rear of the operation. Rhonda was not pleased with the duty, but it did give newer Irregulars a chance to train in a wide range of environmental conditions. Cranston's research on Clinton paid off in early winter, 3028, when he discovered references to an SLDF base on the Combine world of Volders. Furthermore, he thought that the vaults of the long-destroyed city of Hopkins on Volders might hide a stash of computer data chips, smuggled off Terra shortly before the fall of the Star League. References in old SLDF manifests indicated that the chips contained information believed lost, on surveys in the far reaches of the Periphery. Although these references were vague, Cranston was so sure of their potential worth that he convinced the LCAF to add elements of the Irregulars to the Second Narhal's Raiders' attack on Volders.
This action was critical to the long-term success of Snord's Irregulars. During the initial drop, the Second Narhal's Raiders heavy armor forces made significant advances near the ruins of Hopkins. However, two companies of light garrison 'Mechs quickly tied down the Raiders' armor, circling them in the city's rubble. Rhonda Snord led the Irregulars' command company into the outskirts of the ruins, using the mounds of debris to hide them from enemy sensors. In a series of quick and deadly ambushes, the lighter forces were routed by the Irregulars and the Narhal armor.
Now in control of what had once been Hopkins, the Irregulars began searching for the data chips, but to no avail. Four days later, only a handful of artifacts had been recovered. Meanwhile, Narhal's Raiders continued to encounter strong resistance to the north. Rhonda was reluctant to give up their search, but the Irregulars were needed. She began a long-range probe expected to eventually parallel the Raiders' position. While still 40 kilometers behind the Raiders, the Irregulars' support company sighted a small command bunker defended by a handful of light 'Mechs and troops. Carefully avoiding detection, Rhonda ordered both companies of the Irregulars to attack.
The Irregulars had stumbled onto the nerve center for the planetary defense. From hidden tunnels around the base, several lances of heavy Battlemechs emerged, surrounding the Irregulars. Snord's support infantry, trained in anti-'Mech fighting, leaped into the fray. Within minutes, Rhonda had the Regimental CO in leg irons, as well as most of his surviving staff. The loss of command shattered the First Volders Regiment's resistance against the Second Narhal's Raiders. Four days later, the remaining defenders surrendered and the world officially fell to Commonwealth control. From interviews with the captured officers, Rhonda learned that the command base had been established on old SLDF ruins accidentally uncovered by the garrison forces three months earlier. She ordered a full search of the area to be carried out in secret by her most trusted personnel. They uncovered several half-buried tunnels leading into the nearby hillsides. Despite the risk of cave-ins, Rhonda and her forces pressed on, and eventually uncovered a Star League cache less than a kilometer from where they had fought the local forces. Inside were more than three dozen Star League vehicles and Battlemechs, as well as carefully stored supplies and ammunition. She had the equipment quietly removed and loaded aboard her unit's Dropships. Six weeks later the first shipment of these priceless weapons of death were securely stored in the hidden facility under the Irregular's museum.
Using the Fourth Succession War as a cover, Cranston negotiated for the Irregulars to conduct several small raids on the Free Worlds League planets of Connaught and Bordon. These incursions were designed to draw Marik defenders away from attacks by the Tikonov Republic against Procyon and Wasat. During the second such raid on Connaught, Snord's Irregulars secured several large bags of antique coins over 2,000 years old. The cost was severe, however. Shalimar Windall, one of the unit's most experienced Mechwarriors, fell to make good the Irregulars' escape.
As the Fourth Succession War wound down, Snord's Irregulars were rotated back to Clinton for repair and regrouping. During that time, Cranston and Rhonda left the unit for over three months, meeting secretly with Jaime Wolf and other members of Wolfnet to exchange information on the war effort and battlefield performances. Cranston was deeply moved by the loss of many of his former comrades within the ranks of Wolf's Dragoons and took part in the Clan ceremony of "Shied," the recognition of warriors who have died in combat.
During the last days of their meeting, Jaime confided in the Snords that the Clans were planning to return in the near future. With this return, Jaime foresaw an Inner Sphere consumed by war. He showed them his projections of losses for the Inner Sphere worlds, and provided convincing arguments for the Dragoons to dissociate themselves from their Clan brothers and sisters. Colonel Wolf gave Cranston and Rhonda a special mission, one suited to their unique abilities. Other members of Wolfnet had uncovered information indicating the presence of a hidden 'Mech construction facility concealed on the world of Outreach. The Irregulars were to request permission from the Archon to garrison the world and search for artifacts, meanwhile tracking down this suspected hidden factory.
While both the Snords agreed to the mission, Rhonda repeated her request for the use of the Star League 'Mechs that had been uncovered on Pheccla and Volders. Rhonda felt strongly that if such 'Mechs had been available to the Irregulars during the war, several skilled Mechwarriors would not have died. Jaime once again countered that the Irregulars having such 'Mechs might upset the current balance of Successor State technology. In the end Rhonda agreed, somewhat bitterly, to refrain from using the equipment until Jaime Wolf granted his permission.
In early 3030 Snord's Irregulars requested permission to garrison and investigate a reported cache of artifacts on Outreach. Snord initiated the request, but the Federated Commonwealth High Command had their own reasons for supporting such an investigation. The High Command told Snord privately that Wolf's Dragoons had asked for the world as their base. T Federated Commonwealth wanted Snord to make sure t nothing of unexpected value was available on Outreach before they turned it over to the Dragoons. For more than six months, The Irregulars surveyed Outreach, secretly passing their findings through Wolfnet to the Dragoons. Cranston finally reported to the High Command that the world was clear.
Word occasionally passed along the Mechwarrior grapevine suggesting a possible association between Snord's Irregulars and Wolf's Dragoons. This gossip eventually caught the attention of Colonel Wayne Waco of Waco's Rangers. This suggested association re-opened an old wound with Waco, who had sworn revenge against the Dragoons for the loss of his son. Waco met Cranston in a small bar on Tharkad in March 3032, and demand to know the relationship between the two mercenary units Cranston, always flip, remarked that it was none of Waco business, but it he was really concerned, Jaime Wolf and he we close friends.
The next day the Rangers broke their contract with House Steiner and joined House Marik, the Irregulars' old enemies in the Free Worlds League. Janos Marik, bitter over years of humiliation at the hands of Snord's Irregulars, used the Rangers as the to of his revenge. In May of 3032, Cranston received a package from Colonel Waco informing Snord that the Rangers Command Battalion had dug in on the world of Nockatunga and were holding a priceless collection of 23rd-century Dernmings crystal. Colon Waco challenged the Irregulars to a direct fight for the rare artifacts. It they refused the challenge, he would destroy the crystal. In his words, "Any friend of the Dragoons is an enemy mine."
Cranston led his battalion to the system, but only after careful planning. His sources told him that the entire Waco Ranger Regiment had dug in on Nockatunga in ambush. While Cranston enjoyed a duel as much as the next Clansman, he did not relish the thought of leading his troops to certain doom.
His plan was to smuggle the Irregulars down to Nockatunp in commercial Dropships hijacked from the Free Worlds League, Once on-planet, the Irregulars' infantry would quietly secure in priceless crystal collection. On the infantry's signal, the empty Irregulars' Dropships would descend on the other side of the world, springing the Rangers' trap while the Irregulars made good their getaway.
The plan worked perfectly until a Rangers light scout unit detected the Irregulars near the outskirts of the city of Thule. The Irregulars soon found themselves facing the command forces of the Waco Rangers. Using the area's steep hills as cover, Cranston surrounded the remains of Noble's Assault Company along with Colonel Waco. Refusing to surrender, Waco led the company in an attempt to fight his way free, only to be pummeled by Cranston and his forces in a short, bloody firefight. Cranston had the opportunity to kill Colonel Waco, but decided that a more fitting punishment would be allowing the bitter old man to live without having gained his revenge.
Cranston called in the Dropships and left Nockatunga, He spent most of the next year refitting his forces. By early summer 3033, Snord's Irregulars were at full battalion-strength, carrying mix of Battlemech, armor, and infantry.
Tune in tight, you dunderheads. Until further notice, I am the acting commanding officer of this unit. I expect that well get in, as much trouble while my father is gone as we would if he were here. Rock and roll is here to stay!
-Rhonda Snord, 17 February 3037
In seeming contrast to his youthful energy, Cranston Snord suffered a severe heart attack in spring 3034. Later that same year, Jake Walmar, still suffering from wounds he received during the Fourth Succession War, retired from active duty to become librarian of the Irregulars' museum on Clinton. Winston Nearon also stepped down from the ranks, devoting much of his time to helping Cranston recover and to refinishing and repairing his vast collection of weaponry. The heart attack forced Snord to use a cane. His days in the cockpit of a Battlemech were slipping away. Several other original Irregulars, including Clame McDonald and John Malvinson, mustered out the following year. They were replaced by Mechwarriors Rhonda recruited through her contacts in the LCAF. In keeping with the tradition her father established, Rhonda enlisted only the boldest and most interesting warriors for the ranks of the Irregulars.
Cranston and Jake both vanished briefly in early 3037, keeping their destination secret even from Rhonda. Though few ever learned of it, Cranston and Walmar had secretly crossed into the Free worlds League on a special mission: to lay a wreath on the grave of their departed opponent, Janos Marik. Cranston later admitted that he and Jake drank a toast in Janos' tomb, brandy Cranston had stolen from the Marik world of Nestor. It was an odd gesture, clearly risky and gaining them nothing. But Cranston insisted that he owed Janos Marik at the very least a dozen flowers for the enjoyable aggravation he had provided over the years.
Following the Fourth Succession War, Cranston gradually became more involved with his reading and intelligence gathering than with the day-to-day operation of the Irregulars. Rhonda Snord began running the combat command, while Cranston dedicated himself to administrative details.
Only on rare occasions did he pilot a Battlemech, preferring to spend most of his time enjoying the museum and library that his unit had created. He replaced Rhonda as unit recruiter, spending several weeks each year on Solaris scouting the best that he could afford for his unit. He also recruited from the Irregulars' families on Clinton, providing a 'Mech to any second-generation Irregular who could prove his or her worth in one.
Rhonda had her first opportunity to run all aspects of Snord's Irregulars during her father's absence in 3037. When Comstar armed itself, she realized that she might be able to turn that activity to her advantage. She proposed, in a communiqué to Jaime Wolf, a way to introduce to the Inner Sphere the Star League Battlemechs and vehicles that the Irregulars had recovered on Phecda and Volders. Jaime approved her plan, impressed with its creativity and pleased with the opportunity to infuriate Constars ever-probing ROM agents.
Her plan was to deceive the Inner Sphere into believing the Irregulars had stolen a cache of Comstar Battlemechs. She ordered the vehicles and 'Mechs painted Comstar white, complete with insignia markings for the Comstar units positioned at the other end of the Inner Sphere, near the Taurian Concordat. Camouflage colors covered the Comstar markings, but not so thickly that the Comstar insignia did not show through. By using her own contacts and those of Wolfnet, she spread the word that the Irregulars had secretly defeated a Comstar unit and captured its Battlemechs and other equipment.
WAR OF 3039 AND LATER
By the outbreak of the War of 3039, Snord's Irregulars had grown to a full battalion, outfitted with Star League equipment. Rumors raced through the Inner Sphere of how Snord's Irregulars had stolen the Battlemechs from Comstar. One account even suggested that Rhonda had personally led a group to Terra and had taken the 'Mechs from Sandhurst Academy. Cranston was overjoyed at his daughter's success, and the fine unit they had created together.
The War of 3039 allowed the newly outfitted Irregulars to test their equipment and abilities. During the Invasion of Vega, the Irregulars were given several opportunities to exercise their skills in combat. Their unorthodox tactics and superior weapons stunned the traditionally trained Kurita officers they opposed. One Combine officer, Tai-sa Fengo Olesko, considered it an honor to fight against the unit, but disliked Rhonda's tactic of broadcasting constant, loud "music" over the communication channels.
Several casualties in the ranks during that year included the loss of Solomon Storm during the Combine counteroffensive to regain Vega. The end of the conflict found the battalion ready to return to garrison duty on Clinton
A funeral for Katrina Steiner was held on 8 January 3040. Cranston was present at the ceremony along with Morgan Kell and several other mercenary leaders in the employment of the Federated Commonwealth. Kell had made special arrangements for the leaders of Katrina Steiner's favorite mercenary units to pay their last respects to their former employer. Melissa Steiner Davion also attended the private ceremony vowing to fulfill her mother's wish that the units remain in the service of the still-young Federated Commonwealth. Over the next decade the Irregulars made a yearly journey for training on Outreach, the new home of Wolf's Dragoons. This added fuel to the long-standing rumors of Cranston's association with the unit, but Jaime Wolf publicly treated Snord as if his unit were amateurs compared to the Dragoons.
In 3050 Wolfnet came alive with reports of a mysterious invading force attacking from the Periphery. Fielding superior Battlemechs and technology, it appeared that the Clans had finally arrived. Rhonda and her father studied the reports, and intensified the Irregulars' training. Kerensky's heirs were fulfilling his promise.
INVASION OF THE CLANS
-From a Wolfnet transcript of a conversation between Jaime Wolf, Rhonda Snord, and Cranston Snord, following confirmation of the return of the Clans.
JAIME WOLF: "Cranston, Rhonda, weve known each other for years. In the
past you and your Irregulars have supported and followed me. I have to know now, where do
you stand? Do you side with the remaining Dragoons, or with our kin in Clan Wolf?"
RHONDA SNORD: "Colonel Wolf, Sir, with all due respect, the Irregulars will stand behind the Federated Commonwealth and the rest of the Inner Sphere. Among other things, the problem with the Clans is that they just don't have a sense of humor. Frankly, we think it's time we gave them something to wonder about ... and something to fear. I can't wait to hear them squeal when I play "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" over the comm "
CRANSTON SNORD: "Besides, they kicked us out over 40 years ago. They treated us freebirths like their trash. It's time that we taught them not to kick a good dog. You can count on my support of the Federated Commonwealth. If they want to forge a new Star League, they'll have to kill us first. Their ways would wipe out the entire Inner Sphere. This time the freebirths will teach them a lesson in what being a warrior really means."
Within two weeks of the Clans' first verified contact with the Inner Sphere, Jaime Wolf met with Cranston and Rhonda to discuss whether the Dragoons and the Irregulars would help protect the Inner Sphere or fulfill their mission. He personally conveyed to them the recall order issued by the Grand Council of the Clans. Both Cranston and Rhonda refused to acknowledge the order, claiming more loyalty to the Inner Sphere than to their heritage in the Clan. The location of lost Star League facilities and other information Snord had uncovered in the past 40 years was communicated across Wolfnet, and many of the old bunkers and complexes were refitted and revitalized by Dragoon operatives for use in the upcoming war.
As the weeks passed, it became painfully clear that the Clans would continue their push deep into the Federated Commonwealth, Rasalhague, and the Draconis Combine, riding on a wave of death and destruction. As the Jade Falcons pressed forward into the Commonwealth, the front line approached the Dark Nebula.
A Star League naval base had for centuries been rumored to be hidden in the Dark Nebula. Cranston and Jake Walmar had found several references to such a base, but had never uncovered coordinates for the rumored facility. As Cranston continued to study the maps, he realized that if the facility existed, it would offer an excellent base for a counterattack against the flank of the Clan's offensive. Cranston and Jake traveled to the libraries on Derf and Wotan, known for their archives of Star League atlases and star charts. Although they did not locate the coordinates for the base, they did learn that the SLDF had set up a special astronomical survey station on the northern continent of the planet Apollo.
Further research showed no record of this facility having been sacked or looted during the Succession Wars. Cranston and Jake both realized that if the station on Apollo could be found, and if its records were intact, those records were their best chance of determining the coordinates of the Dark Nebula base. By mid-3051 Rhonda Snord had presented her mission plans to the Federated Commonwealth High Command, as well as submitting a copy of the plans through Wolfnet to Colonel Wolf. Rhonda proposed a two-part plan. The first element consisted of a raid on Apollo to locate and secure the astronomical survey station. If this was accomplished and the coordinates of the Dark Nebula base discovered, the Irregulars would jump into the Dark Nebula to where the naval base was located, determine its condition and level of functional equipment, and send their Jumpship back to the Federated Commonwealth with the coordinates. Snord's Irregulars were to hold the station until reinforcements arrived.
Given the numerous small raids being conducted against Clan-held worlds, it was believed that the Irregulars' mission stood a good chance of success. Their real intent would be covered by the fact that their actions would be considered predictable. They were given the go-ahead.
However, Apollo was held by Clan Jade Falcon and would not be lightly defended. It served as a way station between the Periphery and the front lines of the Clan offensive. By summer 3051 troop movements between the Clan units were common, and Apollo was indeed a nexus in the Jade Falcon defense. However, Commonwealth intelligence gathering on Clan-held worlds were weak, and there was no way for Snord's Irregulars to know what kind of reception they faced.
On 2 July 3051, the Dropships Eagle's Bane, Junk Yard and Scavenger were loaded with the Irregulars and attached to the Jumpship Harrier. Cranston bid his daughter and the rest of his unit farewell and the small ship jumped, arriving within three weeks at a pirate point on the far side of Apollo's largest moon. All three Dropships immediately began their descent on Apollo, executing long-range scans of the northern continent's forests where the survey station reportedly was located. The landings went undisturbed except for casual reconnaissance flights by Jade Falcon Aerospace fighters.
Rhonda was uneasy about the lack of resistance encountered, but did not hesitate. She dispersed her forces on a search of the forest with strict orders not to engage or communicate with the enemy unless she gave specific orders to do so. After three days of searching in the dense forest, the ruins of the astronomical outpost were found, covered with a thick mesh of heavy vines and undergrowth. The Irregulars' infantry carefully made their way into what remained of the structure, and began to remove the chips and sealed charts hidden there.
Suddenly the Recon Lance of the Second Company encountered the first Clan unit to arrive in the isolated region just 250 meters from the ruined outpost. As per their orders, the Irregulars pulled back until Rhonda arrived. She requested from the Jade Falcons their unit and strength. The Falcon leader was caught off-balance by her knowledge of their ways, but quickly followed their code by announcing that they were of the Dark Wing Cluster, Trinary Alpha, Medium Star. This star of OmniMechs was the scouting force for the Dark Wing Cluster, sent to locate and engage the Irregulars. Thinking quickly, Rhonda demanded the Falcons grant her the rite of a Trial of Possession.
Still shocked by her knowledge, but looking forward to an honorable contest, the Falcon star agreed to the trial. Rhonda led just four other Battlemechs against the clansmen. Her Command Company and most of the other Irregulars did not understand, but reluctantly followed her orders. She briefly explained that they were going to duel for the rights to the station's salvage.
The battle was brisk and fierce, pitting the Star League 'Mechs of the Irregulars against the advanced technology of the Jade Falcons. Rhonda turned the dry forest into a weapon against her kinsmen, setting fire to the heavy brush. The Clan OmniMechs usually were not concerned with heat problems, but suddenly found their heat registers climbing precipitously. Despite sustaining some damage, the Irregulars quickly crippled all the Jade Falcon OmniMechs. The Jade Falcons offered their surrender, and Rhonda accepted. When they asked for the name of the Clan that had defeated them, she created a heritage that would continue for many years. She announced they were bondsmen to Clan Snord
The Irregulars beat a hasty retreat to their Dropships, only to be ambushed in a forest clearing by more Jade Falcons. Fighting erupted before a challenge could be issued, and it was a hotly contested battle. Losses this time were much higher for the Irregulars, its armored vehicles bearing the brunt of the damage. Cut off from her Dropships, Rhonda ordered them diverted to a secondary landing zone, only to be cut off again by light OmniMechs and the armored Elementals of the Jade Falcons, who now began to swarm into the forest in search of combat glory. Short but fierce firefights proved to be the norm for most of the battles.
Rhonda ordered her troops to clear off an impromptu landing zone in a lightly forested area. Under a hail of fire from the Jade Falcon OmniMechs, Snord's Irregulars escaped from Apollo with most of the documents and maps from the old astronomical outpost. During the return flight, Jake Walmar, who had accompanied the mission aboard the Scavenger, scanned the material they had seized. He was able to determine that some sort of an outpost did exist in the Dark Nebula. More importantly, he found a set of coordinates. But Jake feared that some of the data as well as many of the maps that had been left behind in the fighting on Apollo would give the Falcons some indication of where they might be heading. As two stars of Clan Jade Falcon AeroSpace fighters converged on the Jumpship, it leaped into the Dark Nebula, the Irregulars hoping they had successfully evaded the Clan forces.
As Rhonda Snord leaned over the reconnaissance tech's shoulder, the Harrier arrived in a small system. A Red Dwarf star, eerily shrouded in a haze of flowing stellar dust, provided dim light. The tech located a small, rotating planetoid with only a scant atmosphere clinging to its surface. Magnifying a visual scan, Rhonda saw it was black and pitted with the scars of time. Stark white lines of concrete etched its surface. Aged turrets poked up from the surface. On its eastern horizon she saw a massive port, large enough to dry-dock one of the Clan's old Black Lion Class Battleships. As the Harrier approached, she recognized a 100meter-long Cameron Star painted on the concrete equator.
Jake Walmar descended the bridge ladder like a 20-year-old. His face was gleaming and a grin ran from ear to ear. "You won't believe this. We're being hailed by an old automatic marker buoy. It's transmitting SLDF codes. It's called Camelot Command. Rhonda, that base down there is welcoming us! After three centuries, it's giving us landing coordinates!"
Rhonda considered the dormant naval base for a long moment, then replied, "Paydirt." With a cool gaze and a dangerous grin, she pulled out an antique laser audio disk and triggered a comm switch. "Irregulars ... mount up!"
The old base known as Camelot Command was deserted just before the Exodus. Stripped and abandoned, almost all records of the facility were destroyed because it was in such a volatile location along the old Commonwealth/Combine border. During the Star League's reign, the naval base had probably been used for capital ship repairs, refitting, and supply during offenses against the Rim Worlds Republic. Now it was a ghost hulk hanging in the dim light of its failing star.
Three days after their arrival, Rhonda had determined that the Irregulars could survive indefinitely on the lost outpost. The Harrier departed for the Federated Commonwealth to report their discovery. As expected, Camelot Command was in rough shape. Fortunately, its atmosphere recirculation system was still operational. A large manufacturing area had apparently had been used for Battlemech repair, but most of it had been poorly mothballed and much of the equipment was in shambles. Some of the outer levels were flooded, while others were holed and in near vacuum. The warehouse facilities were impressive, with large airlocks to the battered landing strip on the surface of the planetoid. The Irregulars discovered ammunition and spare parts, but most had deteriorated to uselessness. Deep in Camelot's core near the command post, an exploration team discovered the skeletons of those who had remained behind. For them the Exodus had spelled a lonely death.
Shorty Sneede determined that it would take the Federated Commonwealth over a year to prepare the base for logistical operations. In two years Camelot could once again repair damaged ships and 'Mechs. Although these estimates were discouragingly long, they were short compared to how long it would take the Federated Commonwealth to build such a facility from scratch. Its capabilities made it vital to the survival of the Inner Sphere.
Rhonda had Shorty and the other technicians concentrate on making the outer laser turrets operational. Rhonda confided in Jake that she feared pursuit by the Jade Falcons. Isolated in this remote system, the Irregulars would be in a difficult situation if the Falcons appeared. Rhonda even transferred her armored ground forces into the sealed warehouses for possible defense. Her infantry, with the exception of a handful skilled in zero-G combat, were pulled into Camelot's interior, along with most of the supplies and other equipment the Irregulars had managed to salvage.
During these preparations, Rhonda gathered the Irregulars in the old Combat Information Center of Camelot. There she informed them of her true origins and from where the Clans had come. She made only fleeting reference to her father's association with Wolf's Dragoons. She turned her disclosure into a morale-boosting session, gathering her troops behind her unique cause against the Clans.
Five days after the Harrier left, Rhonda's worst fear was realized. An Aegis Class Cruiser appeared, at the jump point, emblazoned with the green bird of the Jade Falcons. Rhonda knew that the Irregulars were in for a tight and dangerous battle, with little hope of timely relief. Two large Dropships approached the planetoid. The ships radioed a challenge for combat, a call from the Jade Falcons to the defender of Camelot. It was a challenge that Rhonda Snord could not ignore, no matter how much she wished she could. Rhonda knew that if Camelot fell to the Jade Falcons, it could turn all of Chahar Province into a battle zone.
The internal bidding by the Falcons command took several long minutes, which Rhonda and her forces used to prepare themselves. She could not commit all her units at once. Her overall strategy was to slowly and methodically wear down the Falcon attackers, luring them into situations where her own Star League Battlemechs and equipment could best be brought to bear. She used her light and medium Battlemechs and the few functioning turrets to blunt the initial attack. In the low surface gravity, movement speeds were dramatically increased, evening the odds, since neither force had much experience in combat under such conditions.
As the battle erupted, decompression hits toppled the fast moving 'Mechs on both sides. In the thin surface atmosphere, a single shot could spell the end for any Battlemech. Elementals found themselves seriously hurt when their armor was pierced by shots that normally caused little damage. After the opening wave of attack, the Irregulars were forced to withdraw into the warehouses, and the Jade Falcons had lost a large number of their heavy OmniMechs.
In the pressurized environment of the enormous warehouse and factory facilities, a more traditional battle broke out when the Falcons forced their way inside the base. The Irregulars made good use of their deployment and defenses. However, the Jade Falcon Elementals, no longer threatened with explosive decompression, proved more agile and deadly in the tight quarters, inflicting serious damage.
As the Elementals moved toward the command post at the core of the complex, they were ambushed by the Irregulars' infantry. In bloody close combat in the halls of Camelot, they fought to a draw. Eventually each side fell back, and only scattered gunfire marked their passage through the old complex's corridors.
The surviving Irregulars retreated into the large fusion reactor chamber of the outpost for a final stand. As the remaining Falcon OmniMechs charged into the room, Rhonda led a counterattack with what was left of her forces. The ferocity of her charge to point-blank range momentarily stunned the Jade Falcon warriors. When the Clan forces attempted to hold their ground, they were overwhelmed by the Irregulars' anti-'Mech infantry.
Bloody and beaten, Star Colonel Damon conceded victory to the Irregulars. Having lost his Trial of Possession, along with the raised bid that included his own forces in the stakes, he surrendered his remaining Dropships, troops, and all other equipment to Rhonda's newly declared Clan Snord. The Falcon Cruiser departed without a fight, having lost the trial fairly. With their knowledge of Clan ways and traditions, and their sudden accumulation of resources, it was clear that Snord's Irregulars were a power to be reckoned with in the Inner Sphere.
Cranston arrived at Camelot Command a week later, along with engineers and technicians dispatched by the Archon. The secret of the Dark Nebula had finally been revealed and the Clans had been dealt a harsh loss. It made the older Snord proud of the legacy he had founded ... and left him wondering what adventures might lie ahead for Clan Snord.
Following the truce of Tukayyid, Colonel Rhonda Snord requested permission from the
Federated Commonwealth on several occasions to launch raids into the Clan Jade Falcon
occupation zone, but the Commonwealth has so far refused. Instead, the Federated
Commonwealth asked the Irregulars to split their forces, leaving half on Camelot and
stationing one battalion on Edasich to defend that world's fusion reactor manufacturing
facility. Semi-retired Cranston Snord also led a lance of Irregulars back to Clinton, the
unit's former base. Rhonda Snord finds the unit's current status as garrison forces
frustrating, but has so far managed to wait patiently for a more exciting assignment.
Camelot Command remains a fortified Inner Sphere outpost in the middle of Clan
territory, much like Wolcott in the Clan Smoke Jaguar occupation zone. Though its small
size limits anti-Clan activity staged from it to minor raiding, the station resupplies
countless guerrilla activities in the Jade Falcon occupation zone. Recent, widespread
rumors claim that Snord's Irregulars are attempting to recruit warriors among Clan solahma
refugees and elements of the Bandit Caste. Colonel Snord denies the rumors but admits to
making contacts in the Clan occupation zone on worlds controlled by both Clans Jade Falcon
and Steel Viper. Wolfnet believes that this contact amounts to simple intelligence
gathering for another raid Colonel Snord intends to propose.
The current political tensions threatening Federated Commonwealth unity propose to
sorely test the Irregular's strong, long-established ties to the Lyran Commonwealth.
Though both Snords feel fiercely loyal to their long-time employers, Snord's Irregulars
possess a keen understanding of the Clan threat, matched only by Wolf's Dragoons. Having
renounced their Clan ties, they may decide that their ultimate duty to protect the entire
Inner Sphere from that threat outweighs any debt they owe to any given political faction.
Reorganized after the Jade Falcon raid on Camelot Command in 3051, Snord's Irregulars
currently maintain a rotating troop assignment. In order to more easily integrate her Jade
Falcon bondsmen, Rhonda Snord changed her unit's structure from Inner Sphere companies to
Clan Clusters and Trinaries. The First Cluster and Binary Bravo of the Second Cluster,
roughly equivalent to a battalion and a company, are stationed on Camelot Command in the
Dark Nebula. The remaining three Trinaries of the Second Cluster, comprising the original
three companies of Irregulars and their support platoons commanded by Colonel Rhonda
Snord, protect Federated Commonwealth assets on Edasich. Rhonda rotates her forces to
coincide with the irregularly scheduled Federated Commonwealth supply runs into the Dark
Nebula, making it impossible for the Clans to discover what forces defend Camelot at any
Trinary Alpha (Star Commander Harris)
Sweep Star (5 BattleMechs)
Strike Star (5 BattleMechs)
Attack Star (5 BattleMechs)
Trinary Bravo (Star Commander Marcos Shake)
Attack Star (5 BattleMechs)
Breaker Star (5 BattleMechs)
Anchor Star (5 BattleMechs)
Binary Alpha (Elemental Star Commander Holly)
Shield Star (5 Elemental Points)
Sky Star (5 Fighters)
Binary Alpha (Star Commander Darrell Lanst)
Fire Support Star (5 BattleMechs)
Streak Star (5 BattleMechs)
Binary Bravo (Star Commander Arian Malvinson)
Ranger Star (5 BattleMechs)
Stealth Star (5 BattleMechs)
Trinary Alpha (Star Commander Norris)
Crusher Supernova (5 BattleMechs, 5 Elemental Points)
Ground Assault Star (2 BattleMechs, 3 Infantry Points)
Barrage Star (5 BattleMechs)
2 Union Class DropShips: Scavenger I and II
1 Overlord Class DropShip: Graceland
5 Clan Broadsword Class DropShips (Captured):
Emerald Warrior, Hound Dog, Iron Honor, Snord's Anvil, Dispatcher
Not much has changed for the Irregulars. With the Refusal War having sapped the
strength of Clan Jade Falcon, that Clan's concerns are in rebuilding, not pursuing what it
considers to be a band of pirates. Once that Clan has recovered, however, Rhonda Snord's
Irregulars is bound to be at the top of Clan Jade Falcon and Marthe Pryde's hit list.
In the meantime, Rhonda Snord will be training her unit and continuing to make contacts
in the Clan occupation zone on worlds controlled by both Clans Jade Falcon and Steel
Viper. The Irregulars are eager to gain a chance to finally strike back at Clan Jade
Falcon and commence raids on their possessions in the Inner Sphere. Again, we believe that
this contact amounts to simple intelligence gathering for another raid Rhonda Snord
intends to propose to her employer. With the current weakened state of the Jade Falcons,
Snord is more likelier than ever to strike at the Clan.
[Back to the Mercenary Units of the Inner Sphere]
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