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Iron Praetorian
Unit Profile (as of 3065)
CO Colonel Nathan Declan
JumpShips Yes
DropShips Yes
Aerospace Yes
Armor Yes
Infantry Yes

Template:InfoBoxMercUnit/unitdispositionhdr Template:InfoBoxMercUnit/unitdisposition

The Iron Praetorian is a mercenary company formed by Nathan Declan. It began shortly after the turmoil on Kentares IV resulted in the deposing of Duke Ian Dresari during the FedCom Civil War. The unit, comprised of mech, armor, and infanry units loyal to the royal family, defected to mercenary work after the dissolution of the royal line. Through subsequent actions it reached regimental strength and went on to work as a Pony Express unit during the Age of Darkness. After an unknown attacker disabled the HPG network, the major houses employed mercenary units as bodyguards and escorts for standard interstellar craft carrying messages, materials, and personnel to the rim.

The Iron Praetorian pioneered escort strategies for ComStar VIPs and scientists from the Republic of the Sphere during the Age of Darkness. They are also known associates and frequent allies of Weston's War Dogs.

HistoryEdit

Kentares IVEdit

Kentares IV has known its share of atrocities, but never with more frequency than during the reign of Duke William Dresari. Having claimed power during the FedCom Civil war, the Duke assumed power after the assassination of Duke Eric Dresari and the entire Dresari family. Even after the assassination of Duchess Joanna Dresari and her brother, Duke Ian Dresari, Kentares IV remained a volatile political hotbed.

In 3067, after Ian Dresari's death at the hands of the Black Knight Legion, Archon Victor Steiner-Davion appointed Arkady Volosinov from the people's council to the title of duke. In one of his first acts as Duke, Volosinov approved the inception of the Iron Praetorian, a unit of Kentares regulars solely devoted to the protection of the royal family and the people's council.

By 3131, the unit had reached full regimental strength and were considered experts in asset protection. Having drawn the elite mechwarriors, armor drivers, and infantry of the Davion military, the unit was on par with any of the expert mercenary companies and regulars within the major houses.

In 3132, the unit suffered its first major loss in more than half a century. Duke Andrei Volosinov and the majority of the people's council were wiped out by a surprise attack from an unknown military force, though it is widely believed that the attackers were members of the Slingers mercenary unit, contracted by political dissidents. The Iron Praetorian, mostly intact but demoralized, moved off-planet to recover the only surviving member of the people's council, Jenna Haley, and the Duke's only heir, Dmitiri Volosinov.

On the RunEdit

With Kentares IV in turmoil, the people's council shattered, and the only heir to the Ducal throne off-planet, the Iron Praetorian faced a difficult decision: return home as enemies of the new government or go on the run as guns-for-hire.

The decision ultimately fell to the unit commander, Nathan Declan. After the safe recovery of Dmitri Volosinov from the Davion military academy on New Avalon, the unit formally separated from Kentares IV by declaring themselves freelance agents. Dmitri, formally trained as a mechwarrior, took on the alias of "Bobby McLaren" and joined the command lance as a lieutenant within the unit.

When the HPG grid lost most of its integrity in 3132, Colonel Declan took the unit into an emerging field for mercenary units: the pony express. Since only 20% of the HPG grids were still working, there was a high demand for units that could protect standard forces running between planet systems. As a team with expertise in protecting valuable assets, the unit quickly found work protecting ComStar prefects working to fix the HPG grid and scientists from the major houses trying to study the problem.

Border SkirmishesEdit

While the Praetorian mainly dealt with escort duty, the major houses sub-contracted garrison duty on the periphery. Over time, the Praetorian became embroiled in conflicts on the Inner Sphere border with Clan raiders looking to earn bloodnames. As such, the unit often cooperated with Weston's War Dogs, a Mercenary unit that specialized in fixed position defense and was largely contracted out to defending the HPGs on border planets.

During the fight, the Iron Praetorian became embroiled in a fight for independence on the Capellan border. While the details have not been disclosed to the public, it is commonly accepted that they assisted in the guerilla-style warfare that resulted on Palladine when the population decided to defect. During this time, they assisted the rebel leaders. In particular, Declan's command lance became close friends with the rebel's mixed recon lance commander, Darryl Sarat, a highly effective combatant in guerilla tactics despite being a teenager.

Conflict with the Gray Death LegionEdit

Though Declan led the unit with poise and passion, in 3134 they accepted a job escorting VIPs from a Capellan delegate transport, only to be attacked by members of the Gray Death Legion. In one of the rare instances where mercenary units find themselves at odds with one another, both units took pause before a full confrontation escalated.

According to eyewitnesses, commander Hadrian Carlyle offered Nathan Declan and the Iron Praetorian a full surrender agreement, even though declan refused. After an arduous fight, resulting in the loss of both Praetorian's heavy lance and the majority of the heavy lance, the final battle was hand-to-hand between Declan and Carlyle, which Declan lost.

Due to the reputation, expertise, and valor of the unit, Carlyle and the Gray Death Legion allowed the command lance to retain control of their 'Mechs despite having full contractual salvage rights, though the Legion did take the remnants of salvage from the heavy lance and battle armor casualties.

Afterwards, the unit suffered from a brief loss in morale. Eventually, Declan refit the unit during a "rebuilding" phase, creating more medium lances by selling off the assault chassis from the remaining command lance. Having learned from their mistakes agains the Legion, the unit became somewhat stonger from the adjustment of tactics to favor combinations of heavy and medium lances while protecting assets.

The Carlyle ContractEdit

Following their defeat at the hands of the Legion in 3134, the Praetorian begain a rebuilding phase. Declan, on the brink of a psychological breakdown, found encouragement from the words of his tactical officer, Valentina Rodieck, and his Duke-in-hiding, Robert McLaren (Dmitri Volosinov). On their advice, he chose to reorgnize the unit's tactics and supplies to favor alternative strategies, including the incorporation of medium and light lances to complement their surplus of infantry and battle armor aginst their shortage of heavy and assault 'Mechs. One such adjustment included the recruiting of a former ally, Daryll Sarat, as the commander of their fast attack medium lance.

It was shortly after this in 3135, that Hadrian Carlyle hired the Iron Praetorian to protect his son, Constantin, from the threat of assassination. While the Legion had no shortage of manpower and expertise in both special operations and large-scale infantry missions, Carlyle hired the smaller Iron Praetorian for their sheer experience in assassination deflection and their aggressive protection tactics. During this period, the Iron Praetorian was an official subcontractor of the Gray Death Legion, which included adding Legion personnel and technical support to the unit. Lt. Colonel Martin Keller and his lance split off roughly a third of the unit to join his own regiment of Legionnaires, causing a period of friction between the two camps until the Battle of Trumpet Hill. Unaware that Robert Mclaren was the deposed Duke Dmitri Volosinov, the two were somewhat antagonistic until McLaren fully committed to following Keller's lead and tactics in battle. Recognizing Keller's talent for mixed asset combat in blending infantry, battle armor, armored cavalry, aircraft, and 'Mech support, McLaren became a devoted student in order to prepare himself for one day taking back his home planet.

At the same time, Declan and the majority of the Praetorian committed to a bodyguard contract for Constantin Carlyle, who had rejected the idea of taking a place within the Gray Death Legion in favor of becoming a diplomat within the Republic of the Sphere. As the chosen envoy of Exarch Jonah Levin, Constantin Carlyle became a target for a particularly dangerous dissident group only known as, "the Axe," due to his advocacy of recommitting financial resources toward technological reclamation instead of maintaining automated food processing units. While his argument had merit, due to the factories' slowly deteriorating condition and high risk of becoming Lostech again, the idea of committing resources to scientists on New Avalon was not popular.

The Praetorian's mission was to extricate any threat by "the Axe" and to remove any threat to Constatin Carlyle proactively, a mission which Constantin himself often resisted as it occasionally hurt his public image. After fending off two brazen ambushes, Declan committed a team of his best recon troops to take on a scouting mission with the sole purpose of recovering information to repair (permanently) the damaged harvesters.

In 3136, the recon team recovered plans for the harvesters from a Clan contact who gave them archived information dating back to the SLDF. In addition, they learned that the Clans themselves were attempting to increase their technological advantage from their Inner Sphere counterparts by developing newer, deadlier weapons to launch a renewed invasion. Meanwhile, Declan's team found and arrested the leadership of "The Axe" movement, and with the recovery of the Harvester technology, Constantin retired from political life.

Strategies and TacticsEdit

During the early missions of the Iron Praetorian, particularly their Pony Express operations of escorting men and materials to downed HPG worlds, the regiment favored heavy 'Mechs running a screen for lighter Assault 'Mechs. Declan piloted a Templar Battlemech during this period. Their tactics revolved around fending off an ambush with superior firepower and resolve, which typically worked as the Praetorian had a reputation for punching through whatever was thrown in their direction.

One strategy in particular became notorious after a clash in the Marian Hegemony. Rather than surrender to a clearly superior force, Declan committed his entire force to a single objective: a quick strike against the Commanding Officer of the attacking force. The strategy, later called the "Devil-may-care" maneuver, largely worked because it rebalanced the element of surprise from the attacking force to the defending one. Declan later commented that the psychological impact of a "leader-dies-first" rarely works; the Clans, for example, are known to fly into beserker rages when their Kahns have been killed in battle. The key to the "Devil-may-care" strategy is to make it appear as though the defending force is both willing to fight to the "last man" and ready to work its way down the chain of command.

Prior to the fight with the Gray Death Legion, Declan anticipated being surrounded by superior numbers and committed his forces to a "shell game" to protect the asset, running three separate convoys (one real and two decoys) in order to draw off the advantage of the Legion's superior numbers and firepower. Cornered and unable to run, Declan's lance took the brunt of the attack, ending the engagement in single combat with Hadrian Carlyle after the two had ejected from their badly damaged 'Mechs. It was only Declan's adjustment on the field to maneuver his jump capable units onto high ground behind the assault mechs that kept the mission from being a total loss. The jumping 'Mechs used the assault mechs as a shield, and later jumped over them to launch a counteroffensive. This tactic was later nicknamed the "Leapfrog" strategem. Even so, Declan and his team were defeated by the firepower and experience of the Legion. Carlyle later revealed that his forces had attacked all three convoys with similar results.

Shortly after their defeat at the hands of the Gray Death Legion, Declan and his command lance sold their Assault 'Mechs to refurnish the supplies of the waning unit. Declan, for a time, switched to piloting an Archer, filling out his command lance with a retrofitted Warhammer and two Kuritan Dragon 'mechs. Lt. Daryll Sarat piloted an Uziel with enough efficiency that his fast attack medium lances adopted them almost exclusively. During this period, Declan adjusted his strategies to account for the lack of firepower. On the field, they adopted a three column strategy, using heavy, fire-support 'Mechs to escort the principal convoy in a central line, with one medium lance on each flank to screen ambushes. An assault from any direction could be intercepted by the medium 'Mechs while the heavy lance negotiated the retreat of the principal as they fired on the attacker. If the ambush was close to the main convoy line, the medium lances could close the gap between columns, effectively trapping the attackers in a multiple front counteroffense.

An additional, and arguably most important, shift in tactics occured in terms of intelligence. Knowing that they could never plan for every contingency in an escort role, they determined to proactively hunt down threats in advance with better intelligence. One strategy, later nicknamed the "Matryoshka Doll," involved planning for ambushes by selectively using routes with prime choke points and leaking the routes to the opposition. In these cases, the Praetorian set up their own ambushes and waited for the attacking force to arrive at the choke point, effectively creating preemptive strikes for the now exposed opposition.

Under the command of Lt. Colonel Martin Keller, most of the unit adopted the strategies and tactics of the Gray Death Legion, utilizing mixed infantry and anti-'Mech maneuvers. Keller was known to favor a mixed modified Battlemaster as his command 'Mech, though he used a Chimera during training exercises. At the time, his second-in-command, Lt. Robert McLaren (the ranking officer among the Iron Praetorian contingent), piloted a Victor, though after running the recon team to recover the lost Harvester technology, piloted a captured Hellstar afterwards.

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