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BattleTech – The Return (Black Widow Company)

BattleTech – The Return (Black Widow Company)

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Project Blog by grimwolfuk Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

This project is my return to BattleTech after about 30 years which I will be charting along with information on one of the most famous units in the universe that is the Black Widow Company. The infamous Black Widow Company was a semi-independent unit within the larger mercenary unit Wolf's Dragoons, formed and led throughout its existence by Natasha Kerensky, the "Black Widow". Although composed mostly of misfits and troublemakers, the Black Widow Company was a dangerous elite fighting unit with a reputation for brilliant tactics and a boldness bordering on folly. Renowned for their skill as MechWarrior’s, Natasha Kerensky and her unit were also known and feared for cruelty, deceitfulness and generally, dishonourable behaviour, attributes that set them apart from the rest of the highly esteemed Wolf's Dragoons. It is believed that the unit may have been named by Natasha Kerensky in reference to the extinct Clan Widowmaker. This will be a return to the war after a break of some 26 years with one of the more famous mech units during the succession wars.

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Battletech Lore - Natasha Kerensky the Black Widow

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How to Paint - Black Widow Company (Tutorial from Camo Specs Online

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Alpha Strike Mech Sheets (TIMELINE 3029)

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Command Lance

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Total War/Classic Mech Sheets (TIMELINE 3029)

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Captain Natasha Kerensky (Piloting: WHM-6R Warhammer)

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Natasha Kerensky (trueborn 2973 – died 7 December 3057, aged 84 years), also known as The Black Widow, The Queen of Spades, and many other appellations, was a MechWarrior from Clan Wolf. She can trace some of her ancestry back to a former member of Clan Widowmaker (a survivor of that Clan’s absorption). Immensely successful and famous, she was widely regarded as the best and deadliest MechWarrior of the 31st century, with the possible exception of Kai Allard-Liao.

She earned her reputation as leader of the Black Widow Company but returned to her Clan when the Clan Invasion began, where she quickly rose to the rank of Khan.

Sibko
The location of Natasha’s sibko is unknown but Cyrilla Ward was also a member.

Clan warrior
The information available about Natasha Kerensky reaches back to 3000 when she was a Star Captain commanding a Trinary in the elite 328th Assault Cluster of Clan Wolf. In this time the unit achieved notable victories over Clan Diamond Shark on Paxon and over Clan Jade Falcon on Eden. Both Jaime Wolf and Joshua Wolf served under her command, the latter upon her request to replace casualties her command had suffered against the Diamond Sharks. A bond of friendship developed between her and the freeborn brothers.

Kerensky’s career stalled after her promotion to Star Colonel in 3003. Several high-profile assignments eluded her due to her impatience with politics, and her success on the battlefield curiously led to her unit being eliminated in biddings early on to stiffen the bidding process.

Wolf’s Dragoons
In 3004 she joined Wolf’s Dragoons during their long-term intelligence mission into the Inner Sphere, leaping at the opportunity to see combat duty even though it involved a de-facto demotion to Point Commander, serving under the command of the brothers Wolf. Natasha Kerensky quickly rose through the ranks of Wolf’s Dragoons. During the unit’s employment with the Federated Suns, she apparently came to the attention of a young Hanse Davion. At some point (circumstantial evidence suggests during the employment with the Capellan Confederation between 3010 and 3014) she and Joshua Wolf became lovers.

After 3014 the Dragoons were in the employ of Duke Anton Marik in the Marik Civil War. One of the first targets of Duke Marik was Nova Roma, where Lieutenant Kerensky and her heavy lance operated in June 3014 in conjunction with the Bounty Hunter and his team. After the Bounty Hunter had inspected a steep ravine and declared it safe to pass, Kerensky’s lance entered and fell to a loyalist ambush. Only herself and Colin Maclaren survived and the Bounty Hunter salvaged their ‘Mechs, including Kerensky’s Marauder, which became the Bounty Hunter’s iconic ‘Mech in his remarkably successful career.

Shortly afterwards, Natasha Kerensky accepted command over a special Dragoon company composed of criminals, misfits and troublemakers. Promoted to Captain, she forged them into an effective fighting unit that saw action on Emris IV, Matheran, Calloway VI, Semenyih, Tiber, McKenna, and New Delos.

The Black Widow
In 3015, Wolf’s Dragoons fell out with their current employer, Duke Anton Marik, who subsequently took Joshua Wolf and 27 other Dragoon personnel hostage and later killed them.

As the Dragoons attacked Duke Marik on New Delos in a retaliatory strike it fell to Natasha Kerensky’s band of malcontents to break through the defensive line of burning forests. In a frenzied all-out attack they razed the stronghold and killed Anton Marik in their fire-blackened ‘Mechs. After the final battle on New Delos, Captain Natasha Kerensky emerged as the self-styled “Black Widow” and had command over her own, semi-independent sub-unit of Wolf’s Dragoons, the notorious Black Widow Company.

From then on, the Black Widows were the Dragoon’s most active raiding force, often operating independently from their parent unit. They were also typically spearheading assaults in the thick of any major Dragoon operation. As commander of this unit, the “Black Widow” became a living legend akin to the Bounty Hunter. During this time she usually piloted a jet black Warhammer that became as infamous as its pilot, the mere sight of which persuaded many foes to flee rather than face her.

She fought with the rest of the Dragoon’s in Misery, Glenmora, and Crossing.

On 16 December 3031 it was announced that Natasha Kerensky had been promoted to Colonel, and her unit was expanded to Battalion size. The Black Widows were the first Dragoon unit to return to combat duty after the devastating losses Wolf’s Dragoons had incurred on Misery and in the subsequent Fourth Succession War.

Tsinghai
In 3031, Tsinghai planetary rulers hired the new Black Widow Battalion to defend their world after discovering from the compromised SAFE spy network on planet that it was a target of the Duchy of Orloff. In 3032 during the midst of the Andurien Secession, hawkish members of the Parliament who had felt Captain-General Janos Marik had not done enough during the Fourth War pressured his regent Thomas Marik to take some proactive action against the Steiner-Davion alliance. Unwilling to commit the untested 4th Free Worlds Guards in subduing the Anduriens, Thomas attempted to both appease the hawks in parliament and give the unbloodied unit a chance to prove itself, allowing the Fourth’s commanding officer Colonel Veena Ligacescu to launch an attack against the Sarna March world of Tsinghai in February. With intelligence indicating only minimal resistance, success seemed a foregone conclusion.

Much to the new Fourth’s shock, the planet was defended by the also newly reformed Black Widow Battalion. Natasha Kerensky led the sub-unit of the Wolf’s Dragoons and effortlessly proved their elite status by shattering the Fourth so badly that the survivors chose to defect to Federated Commonwealth rather than return home to the League. As they feared, Captain-General Janos Marik was enraged by this betrayal, and the disgraced Fourth Free Worlds Guards were permanently disbanded and struck from the rolls of the FWLM.

Kujari
A minor border world in 3033, Kujari was considered a possible target for invasion by Chancellor Romano Liao following conflicts on a number of nearby worlds including Wallacia, which suggested that the local region of space was unstable. Romano elected to deploy an all-mercenary force to avoid damaging any of her regular CCAF units, choosing to send four battalion-sized mercenary units to probe the world: McCrimmon’s Light Cavalry, Rivaldi’s Hussars, St. Cyr’s Armored Grenadiers and Steele’s Eagles, with overall command of the operation going to Colonel Donovan Steele of Steele’s Eagles.

Unfortunately for the Grenadiers, Romano’s invasion force would face the Black Widow Battalion led by her, as Kujari had been used for some time as a base of operations for the Black Widows. Steele elected to attack using a bold, aggressive plan similar to those used by Wolf’s Dragoons, a plan that was largely predicted by Kerensky from the outset. Despite a contested landing, the four mercenary commands managed to link up, but couldn’t bring their numbers to bear against the Black Widows, and the campaign finished in defeat when Kerensky deceived many of the mercenaries into believing that her forces had left the planet, only to then launch a decapitation raid against the Eagles. Kerensky prevailed over Colonel Steele in a duel besting his Marauder and called on him to surrender. Steele not only surrendered, he also led his unit to defect to the Federated Commonwealth rather than face a vengeful Romano Liao.

Training Cadre
In 3035 they were recalled to the Dragoon homeworld of Outreach to serve as a training cadre for a new generation of Dragoon MechWarriors for the next seven years.

Return to the Clans
When the Clan invasion into the Inner Sphere took place in 3049, she left the Dragoons to take her place amongst her fellow Bloodnamed Clan Warriors – notable as being the only member of the Clan in either the Dragoons or its offshoot Snord’s Irregulars to answer the Grand Council’s official recall order. Among Wolf’s Dragoons, her unit, the Black Widow Battalion, was replaced by the Wolf Spider Battalion.

Upon Ulric Kerensky’s elevation to ilKhan of the Clans, she was named Khan of Clan Wolf in his stead.

History has often taught us that the path to victories in the future is not to rush into battle like the Smoke Jaguars or the Jade Falcons. Where they rush into battle, charge where angels fear to tread, we know that victory is a matter of stalking one’s prey. The hunt, the pursuit, the methodical wearing down of one’s foe, that is often the key to victory. Let the Falcons say what they will about Ulric Kerensky. We shall show them how true Warriors achieve victory!
Khan Natasha Kerensky addresses her 352nd Assault Cluster before the Battle of Colmar

Death and legacy
Khan Natasha Kerensky, leading the prestigious 13th Wolf Guards, died in December 3057 in single ‘Mech combat against Star Commander Joanna of Clan Jade Falcon in the Great Gash on the planet Twycross while fighting a rearguard action to cover the retreat of her unit. The Jade Falcons left Kerensky’s fallen BattleMech (a Dire Wolf called Widowmaker) in its place as a monument to an exceptional person who was widely respected, even by her former enemies.

Decades after her death, Natasha would become a gene-mother to Anastasia Kerensky. Anastasia would echo the same path as her ancestor by carrying the Kerensky Bloodname, becoming a mercenary leader of the Wolf Hunters and later the saKhan of Clan Wolf.

Captain Natasha KerenskyCaptain Natasha Kerensky

WHM-6R Warhammer (70 tons)
Chassis: StarCorps 100
Power Plant: VOX 280
Cruise Speed: 43.5 kph
Flank Speed: 64.8 kph
Jump Jets: None
Jump Capacity: None

Armament:
Two (2) Donal PPCs (RA, LA)
Two (2) Martell Medium Lasers (RT, LT)
Two (2) Magna Small Lasers (RT, LT)
One (1) Holly Short Range Missile 6-Rack (RT)
Ammo (SRM) : 15 (RT)
Two (2) SperryBrowning Machine Guns (RT, LT)
Ammo (MG) : 200 (CT)

Manufacturer : Vandenburg Mechanized Industries, Taurian Concordat, Vandenburg.
Communications System : O/P 3000 COMSET
Targeting & Tracking System : O/P 1500 ARB

Overview: When requesting its design, the procurement officer asked for “a mobile Mech with enough firepower to destroy or severely damage any Mech of the same weight class or lower”. StarCorps Industries responded with the appropriately named Warhammer, and the Mech has been smashing its opponents for more than five hundred years. The Mech served ably in the Star League, forming the backbone of several heavy and battle regiments, and was a popular Mech with the Star League Gunslingers Program.

Capabilities: The Warhammer almost defines the Heavy weight class of BattleMechs. Respectable armor protects a framework supporting a pair of deadly Donal PPCs, allowing the Warhammer to threaten even the heaviest armored target. A six-tube Holly SRM tube supports these cannons, and is itself backed by a pair of medium and small lasers and SperryBrowning MGs.

With a top speed of 64.8 kph, the Warhammer can keep pace with almost any battle, and its eighteen heat sinks allow it the freedom to move and fire without undue concern over heat buildup. Dated but still competitive electronics suites make the Warhammer a simple but effective machine, equally capable of serving in the line of combat or in the command slot.

Deployment: First deployed in 2515, the Warhammer has served admirably in every major action in the Inner Sphere and beyond, from the liberation of Terra from Stephan Amaris, to the bloody fields of Marduk. Every Successor State military makes use of the design, and it is held in high regard by most mercenaries and Periphery nations.

The Warhammer is produced in several factories, most notably in the Free World’s League and the LYran Commonwealth. Surprisingly, two small facilities exist in the Taurian Concordat, slowly bringing new Mechs to that faraway Periphery nation. No manufacturer has ever scaled-back production of the Mech, as demand can only increase with every new battle report.

Variants: With its long history and varies service record, variants of the Warhammer abound. The WHM-6D favored in House Davion space removes the Holly launcher and the SperryBrowning MGs in favor of heat sinks and armor, while the _WHM-6K version ( House Kurita ) retains the missiles. _House Liao’s _ WHM-6L adds flamers to its so-called “Hot Hammers” in place of the MGs. The only certainty when facing a Warhammer is that, whatever the configuration, the Mech will deal out punishment.

The 7M variant was introduced in 3047 by Ronin Inc. as the official upgraded variant of the Warhammer for the Free Worlds League. Built on a Kell Reinforced 270 Standard chassis and equipped with a Magna 280 fusion engine, the 7M had a top speed of 64.5 km/h and carried eighteen (18) Double Heat Sink (DHS) to handle the waste heat generated by its two (2) Fusigon Longtooth ER PPCs. Backing up these new weapons were two Martell medium lasers in the side torsos and a Shannon SH-60 SRM-6 launcher over the right shoulder. A LFN Lindblad machine gun was carried in the right torso, while the left mounted an LFN Lindblad Shotgun Anti-Missile System. One ton of machine gun rounds were carried in the center torso, while one ton each of missile reloads and AMS rounds were carried in the right. The electronics were also updated, with a Barret Party Line-200 comms system and Wasat Watchdog W100 targeting system.

WHM-6R WarhammerWHM-6R Warhammer

What is: An Introduction to the Inner Sphere

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What is: History of the Succession Wars (From Sarna.net)

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The Succession Wars were one of the most devastating conflicts ever, engulfing the Inner Sphere in nearly constant fighting for three hundred years following the fall of the Star League. With the destruction of House Cameron, the five remaining Great Houses almost immediately started fighting each other over the position of First Lord. The devastation was unimaginable: untold numbers of casualties, hundreds of worlds rendered lifeless, and technological progress pushed back centuries as much of the knowledge humanity had gained in the preceding years became lostech.

Prelude

In the wake of the Star League Civil War, the High Council reconvened in the ruins of Unity City on 10 October 2780. The bickering began almost immediately as, with the death of the Cameron line, the most pressing matter became determining who would assume the position of First Lord. One of the few things the Council Lords could agree on was the appointment of Jerome Blake as Minister of Communications to restore the League’s communications network. The other was that Aleksandr Kerensky, hero of the Civil War, would not become the next First Lord. On 18 October they formally stripped General Kerensky of his title as Protector of the Star League.

For the next ten months the Council Lords attempted to convince their peers to elect them as the new First Lord; entire planets were up for sale as they haggled with each other to gain support for their claim. Realization eventually settled in that there could be no agreement on the matter, and finally a short statement was given to the media: “After long months of intense negotiations, we have reached an impasse on the question of who should become the next leader of the Star League. It is our opinion that the inability to find a new First Lord makes any further decision-making impossible. Therefore, we officially dissolve the High Council on this day, August 12, in the year 2781”.

Although there was popular support for his seizing power, General Kerensky was determined to save the Star League, and for two years he shuttled between the leaders of the Great Houses in an attempt to get them to reconcile. The House Lords were unmoved though and began to massively build up their militaries, recruiting even among Rim Worlds Republic prisoners. When the recruiters began soliciting Star League Defense Force units, General Kerensky decided there was only one way to save the spirit of the Star League. His plan, Operation Exodus, saw himself and the vast bulk of the SLDF disappear from the Inner Sphere on 5 November 2784, never to be seen again. In the power vacuum which followed, the Great Houses began to seize worlds of the Terran Hegemony for themselves.

First Succession War

When Coordinator Minoru Kurita unilaterally declared himself the new First Lord in 2786, the other House Lords quickly followed suit, touching off the First Succession War. The Successor States invaded each other with their massive armies while Jerome Blake seized Terra himself to serve as the headquarters for the newly-christened ComStar. The war would last for 35 years and become the single bloodiest conflict in human history: ignoring the Ares Conventions, all sides made use of weapons of mass destruction, wiping out entire cities and rendering whole planets uninhabitable.

When the war finally ground to a halt in 2821, it was more out of sheer exhaustion than anything else. None of the Successor States were any closer to their original goal, but the scale of the atrocities which had been committed meant none were willing to make a lasting peace either. The next few years were dedicated to rebuilding, but with their crippled infrastructures and the deaths of so many scientists and technicians the task was immense. Nine out of every ten WarShips and nearly half of all JumpShips had been destroyed during the war, but with the heavy targeting of the shipbuilding industry the ability to replace these losses was virtually non-existent.

Second Succession War

The Second Succession War began in 2830 when Jinjiro Kurita launched all-out offensives against the neighboring realms, provoked in part by ComStar secretly feeding information to the Lyran Commonwealth. No less bloody than the first, the Second Succession War also ended inconclusively, grinding to a halt in 2864. The technological decline brought about by the first war continued unabated: many worlds regressed to the level of 20th century Terra, if not further. Even for the few worlds which were able to stave off such a drastic regression, none could boast technology more advanced than what was available at the start of the Age of War. This decline was helped in no small part by ComStar itself, whose Operation Holy Shroud actively sought to destroy any knowledge which it didn’t monopolize.

Their ability to reproduce advanced computers, large fusion engines and other technological devices severely hampered, the Successor States took to cannibalizing existing equipment just to keep their current inventory of war machines operational. The last WarShips were lost in battle during the war, rendering the class extinct in the Inner Sphere. With a similar fate awaiting the few remaining JumpShips (and with them all hope of interstellar travel), an unwritten agreement was formed whereby these ships were now off-limits in battle. Thanks to the Communications Protocol of 2787, ComStar was able to preserve the Hyperpulse Generator network, though under Blake’s successor Conrad Toyama their operation began to take on a quasi-mystical nature.

Third Succession War

The Third Succession War began similarly to the second, with ComStar secretly supplying information to the Lyrans, thereby provoking Miyogi Kurita into attacking them. Lasting from 2866 to 3025, the war was characterized by its low-tensity nature and the rise of neo-feudalistic traditions in all of the Successor States.

An informal set of rules took hold as the Successor States realized the few remaining vital resources had to be protected. With JumpShips too precious to destroy, ground combat began to play a more prominent role, with aerospace forces taking on an increasingly supporting nature. Vital objectives like factories and cities were still fought over, but very rarely within them so as to avoid collateral damage. Battles, particularly between mercenary units, were conducted in stages to allow Techs to scavenge the battlefields while MechWarriors were more willing to surrender to a superior force so they could pay their ransom and escape off-world. Meanwhile, the destruction from the two previous wars had made it more difficult for the Great House families to exert centralized control over their realms, forcing them to rely more and more on the nobility class to govern their state.

Towards the end of the war, and despite ComStar’s best efforts, the Successor States had made small gains in recovering some of what had been lost over the last few centuries. However, the greatest development came in 3028 with the discovery of the Helm Memory Core. The unveiling of an intact Star League database brought with it the promise that humanity would be able to claw its way out of the darkness of the Succession Wars.

Fourth Succession War

Lasting from 3028 to 3030 the Fourth Succession War was a short and brutal war between two emerging power blocs. Declared during the marriage of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner, the Fourth Succession War was a conflict started by the newly formed Federated Commonwealth against the ComStar-sponsored Concord of Kapteyn.

One of the few conflicts that had a clear winner, the Fourth Succession War saw the the emergence of the new Federated Commonwealth as the most powerful nation since the original Star League. The Capellan Confederation’s territory and power was cut in half, with many of its former worlds under the control of the new FedCom alliance or forming part of the Tikonov Free Republic and St. Ives Compact. The Draconis Combine also lost a large number of worlds to Steiner forces, though it managed to capture a few Davion planets in recompense.

Aftermath

The Federated Commonwealth dominated the Inner Sphere like no power before the start of the Succession Wars, but its creation did not lead to the end of the fighting. Seeking to create a buffer between it and the new super-state, the Combine allowed for the formation of the Free Rasalhague Republic, an action which sparked the so-called Ronin War. The Duchy of Andurien, hoping to take advantage of a mortal enemy in its weakened state, formally seceded from the Free Worlds League and launched an invasion of the Confederation; the Andurien Crisis finally ended with Andurien being forcibly returned to the League.

Hoping to knock out the Combine as they had the Confederation, the Federated Commonwealth launched the War of 3039 but were forced to back off when the Kuritans (with ComStar assistance) proved more formidable than expected. Still, the expectation was that a new Succession War would begin as soon as the Federated Commonwealth sought to unite the Inner Sphere under one rule once more…until 3049 when the Clans, the descendents of the SLDF exiles, launched their own invasion, touching off a new era in history.

References from Books (FASA)

Shattered Sphere, p.7
Technical Readout: 3039, p. 222
The Star League, p. 95
The Star League, p. 96-97
Succession Wars, p. 4
MechWarrior, Second Edition, p. 111-113
BattleSpace, p. 13-14
ComStar (sourcebook), p. 23
ComStar (sourcebook), p. 29-30
ComStar (sourcebook), p.32

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