BattleTech: Excerpts from the House Kurita sourcebook

THE RIGHT MOMENT

Scene I

SETTING: The flag bridge of the IJS Yamato, near Samar Island, The Philippines. Gathered there are Admiral Takeo Kurita, Flag Captain Sobu Kuna, and several officers.

TIME: Dawn, 25 October 1944

KURITA: Gentlemen, it has been a long and most unsatisfying war, but I see an opportunity to seize a valuable victory.

KUNA: Then we shall continue to press the attack. I shall ring up the engine room and order more speed, if possible. [Just then the WIRELESS OPERATOR bursts into the room and remains at salute.]

KURITA [annoyed]: Yes, what is it?

OPERATOR: Excuse me, your Admiralty, but I have just received word from Northern and Central Forces. I thought you would wish to know immediately.

KURITA: Has it been decoded?

OPERATOR [handing papers to Kurita]: Yes, your Admiralty. They are ready for your examination. [Pause.] Will there be any response?

KURITA [hunching down]: No.

[OPERATOR salutes and exits.]

KURITA [muttering]: I thought the worst had come with the sinking of Musashi. I see I was mistaken. [Straightening up, he speaks aloud in a normal tone.] Gentlemen, the Northern Force under Admiral Ozawa has been destroyed; all carriers lost. Ozawa’s defeat has left a stain on my own honor, and one I hope to live down. [He brightens visibly then.] There is some good news, however. Nishimura’s fleet has doubled back and now threatens the entire American invasion force in the Gulf of Leyte.

KUNA: Then we still advance?

KURITA: We advance! 


Scene II

SETTING: Takeo Kurita is alone now on the flag bridge.

TIME: Late morning.

KURITA [speaking thoughtfully to himself]: We have finished losing the war that we began to lose nearly two years ago. After being shelled for several hours, the Americans have lost a small carrier, a few escorts. What of it? They have dozens more to replace them. We have lost three cruisers that we could ill afford to sacrifice. We could press on, but to what avail?

No, they are no fools, these Americans-Halsey and Sprague and Kinkaid. They would never, never leave such valuable ships as a target… unless they hoped to use them as bait to trap what is left of my command. Though my head tells me to fight to the death on the high seas, my heart tells me to withdraw in hopes of meeting them another day. I would rather lose face now while there is still a chance to retreat than suffer the ignominious defeat that came to Jisaburo Ozawa.

KUNA [enters]: Admiral.

KURITA [subdued]: Sobu.

KUNA: You wish to change our course? Don’t you intend to pursue?

KURITA [croaks]: No, I have something else in mind. Set course for three-five-five. Flank speed.

KUNA [shocked]: Three-five-that will take us right back through the Strait, Admiral!

KURITA: I know. We are going home, if we can survive that long.

KUNA: May I ask the reason?

KURITA: I owe the men one last look at Fujiyama, one last cherry blossom, one last walk along the seashore. I have had enough of death and destruction, especially if it is to be our own.

KUNA: But Admiral! A force of small carriers lies before us, nearly untouched and practically without escort. Surely we could obliterate them before moving off?

KURITA [sadly]: The Americans have fooled you, have they? Well, they nearly fooled me as well. No, we must withdraw immediately. Perhaps, when the moment is right, we shall strike again, but we must wait for that moment. In the meantime, change course for Yokohama.

KUNA: It shall be done. [He turns to leave.]

KURITA: And Sobu?

KUNA [turns back]: Yes, Admiral?

KURITA: You might wish to light a prayer candle. It cannot hurt.

[CURTAIN]

-From Hell in High Water: a Dramatic Re-Creation in Five Acts, by Marsalis Coye, produced by the Stellar Lights Theatrical Troupe, 3012

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FTL SHIP EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS

It’s green… and it’s beautiful! Look at that beautiful little world orbiting its own beautiful sun!

Thirty seconds ago, no, wait a minute-the ship’s chronometer doesn’t show any time lapse.

Zero time? Is that-I mean, that’s what some of the scientists told us to expect. Still, they’re not here and we are. Wherever we are.

Well, it felt like 30 seconds ago, to my biological clock if to no other. Engineer Land set the hyperspace field generator for one second, and aligned the field for right ascension, declination, and distance. Then he snapped the relay.

Very little happened, except that the ship seemed to shudder minutely. We were forewarned about that, too. But no one told me to expect this brief, strange sensation of wrenching nausea. It’s almost as if the outside of my body had weight but my insides were completely weightless and trying to drift loose. Or like my body was trying to turn itself inside out, or something. The feeling doesn’t last long, fortunately, and there are no lingering after-effects. The accompanying jolt of adrenaline sure comes as a surprise.

I am very glad we brought along the spectrum analyzer and computerized spectrograms of all stars within 50 light years of Sol. Otherwise, we might have had a real chore in figuring out where we are go-I mean, where we are.

Hmm. The first rule of order is to grab some protective goggles and take a quick look at the ex-cams. Only one blindingly bright spot in the sky, with a negative visual magnitude I’d estimate in the minus 20s. Wherever we are, it is definitely not a binary or multiple-star system. Working in silence, I quickly aim the ‘lyzer at the sun, wait 15 seconds, watch the four-laser color printout, and voila! We are in the presence of a G8V spectral class star.

We have, indeed, traveled to another star, and are the first men and women to ever see its light at close range.

A G8 main-sequence is a fairly rare class of star. There are less than a dozen within half-a-hundred light years of our home sun. This is making it unexpectedly convenient for me. I run a quick comparative analysis on the ‘comp, and it confirms that we are in the Tau Ceti system-just as we had hoped, planned, dreamed! I re-aim the scope up a little and to the right (where is up and right from here, anyway?) and run another analysis. Merry old Sol, right where it’s supposed to be. Incredible as it seems, we really have traveled 3.46 parsecs in no time at all!

Observing the orbiting planet, I note that it appears to be just a touch smaller than Earth. It is also a little closer to Tau Ceti than Earth is to Sol, say around 0.8 AU, which would be just about perfect. It’s a little higher on the ecliptic plane than I had expected. (Another detail that depends entirely upon one’s frame of reference.) Looks like it might be the fourth in position. The planets are really bunched up around this star.

It’s a little soon to tell, but my first guess is that it may be square in the middle of Tau Ceti’s life zone. It does have continental land masses, and could those be-bodies of liquid water? Yes, the albedo is right, absorption lines, hmm… everything seems to check out. If it is habitable, we’ve got to call this planet “New Earth.” Maybe it means our race is going to get a second chance. Oh, brave new world that looks so much like home!

-From Transcription of Official Spaceship Log, TAS Pathfinder, 5 December 2108, Captain Norm McKenna, Commander/Astrogator. Courtesy of ComStar Archives

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COLONIZATION LAW PASSES

In a surprise move, the Terran Parliament narrowly passed a bill to severely restrict interstellar colonization and non-governmental uses of the new Kearny-Fuchida interstellar drive. Sources in Geneva report that voting was extremely close, but have not released the exact vote count. Copies of this new law are not yet public, either, but it is believed to contain the following provisions:

1. All extra-solar colonization falls under the sole authority of the Terran Alliance’s Foreign Ministry. Colonization within the solar system is not affected.

2. All colony ships, regardless of origin or manufacturer, must register with the Terran Alliance, and be equipped with an identification transponder. This ID beacon continuously broadcasts a unique message to identify each ship.

3. No person whose name appears on a composite list of known subversives may book passage aboard a colony ship unless he has obtained a special governmental waiver.

4. An armed ship of the Terran Alliance will escort every colony ship departing from Terra.

5. All colonies settled by citizens of the Terran Alliance automatically become part of the Terran Alliance and its jurisdiction. An Alliance-appointed governor will rule each colony, with authority to use force if necessary.

6. These provisions take effect immediately.

A spokeman for the Alliance candidly admitted that “this should bring an end to all them [sic] troublemakers runnin’ off in all directions.” The same spokesman refused to be named for the record.

-From Washington Post-Times, 25 May 2128

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RYAN ANNOUNCES INNOVATIVE WATER TRANSPORT

I called this little get-together because I have some pretty important things to say. I do have a prepared statement to read first. I hope to answer all questions at the end of the session; please hold them until then. If I tell you anything you already know, bear with me. I’d rather make my point and insult your intelligence than wind up talking to myself. [Laughter.]

The last few years have been important ones for all of us, though they might not have seemed that way. In only a few short decades, man has been able to colonize several dozen planets. Maybe it’s getting to be old hat now. Ho hum. Another world populated. That’s nice. What’s new in the sports playoffs? [Laughter.]

Perhaps we are spoiled. We need to be reminded that for millennia upon millennia, mankind only had one world: Earth. I don’t think any of us were even around when the Pathfinder traveled to Tau Ceti and orbited New Earth for the very first time. No one among you gathered here today can remember when Humankind was not venturing among the stars. Oh sure, there were problems occasionally, but we could and would persevere.

Provided we had something to drink. [Lifts up glass of water and drinks from it.] Water. Nothing but a little hydrogen and oxygen mixed up in a liquid arrangement of molecules. Plus, of course, any extra additives we Humans seem to put into everything. [Laughter.] Just water.

Humans, consisting of about two-thirds water by weight, can go weeks without food, but only a few days without water. We need a minimum of two quarts per day to enjoy good health, and it doesn’t matter whether the water comes in the food we eat or in liquid form. I might add, death by dehydration is an extremely unpleasant way to go, or so I’ve been told.

Even so, only a small fraction of total water usage goes for personal consumption. Much more is used for agriculture and hydroculture. Finally, industry uses tremendous quantities in the manufacturing process, particularly heavy industry. It can take as much as 240 tons of water to make just one ton of medium-grade steel.

Yet water-pure, clean, potable water suitable for running a factory, irrigating a crop, or cooling the throat of a young and thirsty child-is hard to find out there. [Points up.] Though not unique in its habitability, our Terra is more blessed than we ever realized, with its oceans of drinkable, easily-distilled water.

During the late 20 and early 21 centuries, scientists discovered the first practical process for the bulk purification of seawater. The equipment was quite expensive and used enormous amounts of electricity. It was also large, fairly complex technically, and its filtration system required constant attention. All in all, it was barely cost-effective.

Still, the need was vital in certain parts of the world, and the process did provide a necessity of life: clean water. Later improvements allowed the removal of more than just chloride compounds. We could now remove certain metals, foreign particles, and other undesirable elements, leaving drinking water.

Of course, with the advent of interplanetary space travel during the middle of the last century, our water problems in this solar system were over forever. Fusion-powered mining vessels and tugs entered our solar system’s asteroid belt and removed as many megatons of almost pure water-ice as we needed. Even though industrial pollution and other ravages had contaminated many of our oceans and rivers over the decades, the ice asteroids were still around, as yet untouched.

Not every solar system has an asteroid belt, however, and not every asteroid belt contains asteroids composed of water-ice. No matter how far we travel, humans still cannot drink ammonia or methane. Nor can humans or plants drink poisonous water. Even machinery can suffer corrosion, or worse, from contaminated water. So what choices do we have when we arrive at a world that is habitable, but possesses little free potable water and no icy asteroids to tap into? It is simply not practical to ship water-purification equipment throughout the galaxy. It is far too expensive, massive, and delicate.

We are left with one possibility. Again, we go back to the “space icebergs” in the asteroid belt. Instead of moving them around within a particular solar system, we move them from one system to another, just as our FTL ships move through space. I came here to announce that I have just obtained a patent on a design to convert interplanetary tankers into KF-powered iceships. I can hear you asking how much a single tanker can hold and whether the idea is practical. Probably not, or we would have already begun doing it. Nor is that exactly what I have in mind. Here is how my plan will work.

The tankers will operate in squadrons of 16 ships. A mining ship will cut a block of water-ice about two kilometers square, and a tug will tow it to the jump point. Once there, the enormous ice cube will be encircled by the tanker squadron. Each ship, operating in exact formation, will then generate its hyperspatial field. The cube, in the approximate center of this roughly globe-shaped formation, will become suspended with the squadron in the hyperspatial field they create. Navigational controls and KF drives of the entire convoy will be computer-controlled from the tanker flagship. In less than an instant, the water-ice and escorts will move from wherever they are to a distant star whose planet is water-poor. Tugs already in-system can then move the ice to any desired location for any desired purpose.

Using this technology, tankers can transport enormous quantities of water-ice anywhere that mankind chooses to go. Dozens of otherwise uninhabitable star systems will now have the water supplies needed to make them livable. Best of all, no one can complain that we are robbing our own solar system’s asteroid belt. My ships will only use ice asteroids from the belts of star systems that could never be made habitable.

There are a few minor technological problems to worth out, mostly in control circuitry for sustaining interlapping hyperspatial fields and for jump-directional navigation. I’m confident my engineers can overcome these minor obstacles in short order. Using this patented process, I expect to start making deliveries within six months to any party or parties who request my services. I’ll even supply the Alliance with water, if they ask politely. [Laughter.] For a reasonable fee, I might add. [More laughter.]

Now, are there any questions? [Applause.]

-Rudolph Ryan, at the media conference announcing his development of iceships, Los Angeles, Terra, 10 January 2177. Courtesy of Terran Broadcasting System

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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

The time has come for a change, and the winds of fate now blow cold across the plains of this, our home. The warmth of our sun has been lost by the oppressions of a world that no longer understands our needs, no longer guards us from danger, no longer supports our wants. Our people have maintained their heart in the face of adversity, but we fear our soul has been lost. Yet, we do not wish a violent confrontation with our one-time benefactors. Such a course might lead to even worse conditions. Rather, we respectfully request a peaceful resolution to our problem, if such be possible.

[section omitted]

As of this date, the planet Freedom does hereby renounce, revoke, withdraw, and deny the authority, accountability, and responsibility of the Terran Alliance, based on Terra, for our world. We hope that our actions will be acknowledged by the Terran Parliament, and accepted in the humane spirit in which they are intended. However, should the need arise, we are prepared to defend our skies, our soil, our lives, our land, with whatever resources at hand.

-From an editorial published by the Jefferson City [Freedom] Press, 27 May 2235

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WORD OF REBELLION REACHES TERRA

Once the Freedom declaration was received on Terra, things began to move quickly. Major Renault Ygon, a top-echelon military courier, verified the message’s contents, and then delivered a hardcopy by gyrocopter from the Matterhorn transceiver station to the Geneva complex. After we became friends, Ygon confessed that he had never been so nervous in his whole life. After showing identification, he interrupted an ongoing Parliament floor discussion on allocating additional funds for aquaculture farming.

At first, I was unimpressed by Major Ygon’s purpose or credentials and I nearly threw him out of the council hall, until he began shouting, “The rebellion has begun! The planet Freedom has seceded!” Ygon had a powerful baritone voice, lending good effect to his unexpected proclamation.

An unearthly silence came over the council chamber as Ygon explained the nature of his message. The faces of the ministers showed outrage mixed with a sense of controlled panic. Within hours, briefings were called, military officers were informed, and plans were discussed.

Most senior military officers saw the secession as a golden opportunity to show the flag, flex some muscle, and test the Alliance’s yet-unproved ability to conduct interstellar warfare. Some of the more rabid even sought to make an example of Freedom. After three hours of debate, two officers had had enough. I watched as they excused themselves for a few moments to place some calls. Less than half an hour later, they returned to quietly observe the debate, which continued throughout the day and well into the evening.

Those two officers were none other than General Armando Luchesi and Admiral Leondard Julliard, senior commanding officers of Terra’s 2 Interstellar Strategic Combined Assault Force [INTERSTRATCAF]. As it happened, three squadrons of KF-equipped strike cruisers, assault carriers, and attack transports were already on maneuvers near Saturn. After Luchesi and Julliard gave the orders, instructions were transmitted from Terra and the force quickly dispatched to the nearest jump point. Pleased with themselves, the two men returned to the debate, knowing that the matter was already well in hand. In less than three days, warships had arrived in-system and were moving toward the worlds of Freedom, Ryde, and Sevren.

Their plan had several general steps. First, to block both jump points of each seceding system, cutting off all interstellar travel, trade, and supplies. Second, to land detachments of Terran marines at each colony of each seceding world to establish a state of total martial law. Third, to severely limit the availability and use of arms by unauthorized personnel (i.e., civilian colonists). Fourth, to replace-by force, if necessary-any civilian leadership with military officers serving on active duty. It was an ambitious plan, if I may say so. As we were all soon to discover, even the best-laid plans can fail.

-From Parliamentary Procedures: An Autobiography, by Kendal Mannhauser, Terran Parliament Master-At-Arms, Cole-Wittkowski Publishing Co., 2257

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MIGRATION

As a result of the Outer Reaches Rebellion, the sociopolitical structure on Terra unraveled. With the Expansionist and Liberal Parties struggling viciously for political control, individual freedoms suffered enormously. “The Terran Alliance has lost control of the stars,” one contemporary political analyst stated, “but its leaders are not about to lose control of Terra.”

When the Expansionists held sway, they passed new laws intended to oppress man’s creative spirit. Strict limitation were placed on all artists (now also construed to mean attorneys, physicians, and certain categories of laborer), and their works were regulated by at least three separate Alliance agencies. Restrictions included the actual number of hours the artist could work, the amount he could charge, and the quality of work he must perform. Enforcement of these laws fell to a new branch of security police called “artistic administrators,” created especially for the occasion. These police would take the artists into custody at special rehabilitation facilities, though the nature of the rehabilitation was not divulged. The AA, as they were known, wore elaborate black uniforms that closely resembled another well-known black uniform from three centuries before.

When the Liberals were in control, they too passed laws. First of all, the government took over all credit establishments and sharply devaluated Terran currency. This gave the government complete control over the price of all Terran goods merely by changing the going rates. It then became a criminal offense to speak of offworld colonies or of anything associated with the Outer Reaches Rebellion. Though these laws were difficult to enforce, there were severe penalties for violations. The most convenient technique consisted of devaluing a person’s electronic credit balance. After a few millionaires spoke unwisely one day and woke up impoverished the next, many others decided to hold their tongues.

Space travel from Terra was almost impossible during the first few years of this “Exodus” period, especially under the Liberal-controlled Parliament. A change in policy took place by 2247, however, when politicians decided to make Terra into a political paradise. This was mostly easily accomplished by giving any dissidents the freedom to migrate if they so chose. By this time, there were enough hyperdrive-powered ships available to remove the troublemakers from the homeworld.

Before long, the government went from “permitting” these people to leave to actively helping them. The rehabilitation camps were now filled beyond capacity, and the devaluation of currency had begun to have wide-scale negative effects on the entire Terran economy. As a direct result, increasing numbers of starships were constructed, and it became politically “correct” to work in any industry that was directly or indirectly related to the colonization effort.

This, too, came at high price, though many did not realize it then. All research and development efforts ceased as both Liberals and Expansionists cut government funding for new technology from their budgets. Instead of investing in design improvements in starship technology, for example, the government earmarked all funds for mass-producing ships of proven design and equipment. Though the strategy was eminently practical at the moment, the policy slowed technological growth to a crawl.

Another factor contributing to stagnation on Terra was that those most oppressed under the current regime were among Terra’s brightest, richest (at least, formerly), and most talented. Those of second- or third-rate intelligence resented their loss of freedom to a lesser degree but were also less-equipped to make up the technological losses. Before the 23 century ended, the elite few thousand who were most at home in a fully stocked laboratory or library instead found themselves fighting for survival on new, hazardous, but politically unrestrictive colony worlds.

-From “The Role of the Terran Political System During the Exodus,” an essay by S. Galpin, in Notes From the Past. Levis Simmons, ed., Star League Historical Press, 2608

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AUDIENCE FROM SVERDLOVSK

SHIRO KURITA [mock-genial]: I am pleased to be among you again, citizens of Sverdlovsk.

1 VOICE: Why don’t you go back where you came from?

KURITA [disdainfully]: Identify yourself, peasant.

2 VOICE: We meant you no harm… why did you attack our world?

KURITA: I offered your leaders a chance to join with me. They refused-

3 VOICE [interrupting]: They didn’t refuse. You gave them no choice.

KURITA [screaming]: Any government that does not side with me is against me! Any man who does not help me, hurts me! Anything that does not provide aid is in my way and must be destroyed! How many of you imbeciles must I kill before you begin to understand this?

-Excerpt of live dialog between Sverdlovsk citizens and Director Shiro Kurita, transmitted via satellite from Chyornyy, Sverdlovsk, 23 December 2303

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SHIRO THE CONQUERER

Dear Kyoodai [brother]:

Things proceed well on this grand tour. So far, I have visited many worlds. Most of their leaders have wisely chosen to cooperate with us. The others will agree eventually too, or else they will die.

I know your constant travels between New Samarkand and Galedon have been hard on you. I have your letter saying that the duties are going well, that the army is still growing, that the Alliance munitions facilities have increased their production. This is good, for we may need them at any time to convince reticent parties of our earnest goal.

Also, you must continue to convert light industrial factories to build weapons of war. The colonists may suffer, but the cause is far greater than their petty pain. Be of strong heart. Our accomplishments shall prove the worth of all our efforts.

Though I am satisfied with my results, we still cannot know the final outcome. War may begin in this instant, the one after, or an eternity from now. Maintain a strong sense of discipline, and we shall always be greater than our enemies. I see you have found that the whip and the electronic bullhorn, when combined, make effective weapons of motivation.

-From a letter written by Shiro Kurita to his brother Urizen, quoted in Son of the Dragon, Abner Jenkins, ed., University of Pesht Press, 2917

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THE WAY OF THE DRAGON

Dear Musuko [son]:

You are 14 years old now, and a man. Though I am still well and fit to lead, you will serve the Kurita line in the event of my demise. You are also old enough to learn some things that I could not tell Tenno-the-boy.

Our forces have paid the price in blood, valor, and high honor to help me create a domain… a kingdom… a dynasty. I charge you, my son, with its protection after my death, on whatever day that may come. I am the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine. My brother Urizen is the Warlord. But you are its future, and your children and their children. Remember this.

I have chosen the dragon as our standard and our symbol, reflecting many facets of our existence. We must never forget the ancient Terran heritage of our line, with its samurai greatness. I remind you, too, that in many mythologies, the dragon is feared and respected for its strength, cunning, and willingness to destroy for the sake of its own power. Always keep the virtues of the dragon in mind, and use them to defeat your opponents.

You may recall that I have spoken much about the treacherous Ozawas and their wealthy merchant fleets. You may now know that the Ozawas no longer concern me. Having met our forces, they were forced to concede defeat after many losses. We, not they, are now the power with whom all in our quadrant must reckon. The Ozawa Mercantile Association must now abide by our rules. Give them no thought or care. A debt nearly four centuries old has been paid in full. From now on, we have the advantage and shall press it whenever we choose. If one wishes to show who is master and who is victim, it is better to inflict a lingering pain upon an enemy than a quick death.

Always preserve the dragon, and its magic will keep you strong.

-From a letter written by Shiro Kurita to his son Tenno, as quoted in Son of the Dragon, Abner Jenkins, ed., University of Pesht Press, 2917

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THE PRINCIPALITY OF RASALHAGUE

We Rasalhagians were a noble collection of proud peoples. We asked little, except to be left to our own destiny and devices. Though life was hard on the new and often forbidding worlds during the Exodus, we managed. It was no harder for us on those strange new planets than for our own ancestors of a millennia before. The freedom to live or die-by our own choice, and not the choice of our government-that is all we sought.

During the Exodus, many of us left our homeworld, never to return. With heavy hearts and a deep sense of regret, thousands of colonists ventured from the Federal Democratic Republics of Sweden, Finland, and Norway. It seemed that our ancestors saw the shape of things to come and decided to abandon Terra even before the main wave of emigration had begun.

Our reasons for leaving were as much geopolitical as they were economic. It was not so much that we wanted to go, but that conditions forced our departure. Our nations had suffered extensively as a result of the Second Russian Civil war in the early 21 century. The hordes of displaced civilians fleeing across the border from their destroyed Soviet homes created severe economic dislocation and near-anarchy in our homelands. As late as the mid-23 century, nearly 150 years later, these once-prosperous nations were still paying the exorbitant social and financial costs of rebuilding the splintered Soviet states. The assessments, assigned by the Terran Parliament and cruelly enforced by Alliance authorities, ensured the economic and psychological bankruptcy of our once proud lands.

When our chance came, we chose to flee. At that time, the unexplored planet of Rasalhague was about as far away from Terra as anyone could imagine. Thus, it was the perfect refuge for a people who had developed a deep and lasting resentment for oppressive, impersonal bureaucracies supported by a strong military. The Terran homeworld seemed bent on depriving our people of their dignity and their means of survival. Thus, we found our sanctuary in Rasalhague and other nearby worlds. Here we looked forward to autonomy and as much physical distance as possible from the authority of Terra.

The worlds settled in this region during this time were organized into a loose structure of clan-oriented families. Family heads took responsibility for their own, and annually elected a single head for each planet, known as a varldherre, or world-lord. In turn, each world-lord paid lip service to the Prince of Rasalhague, elected once every ten years (hence the name “Principality”). We were loyal to our Prince, but not fanatical.

The prince, often referred to affectionately as the “High Chieftain,” was nominally responsible for the safety and wellbeing of every Rasalhagian. In practical terms, though, this protection amounted to little more than verbal agreement to a mutual defense pact. For all intents, every family was on its own and would live or die by its wits and the resources at hand.

Aside from petty family in-fighting and inevitable minor disagreements in planetary politics, we minded our own business. Surviving, we found, was a difficult chore. It became a standard political joke for commentators to add that ‘The Principality of Rasalhague was generally conspicuous by its absence.” As a rule, our citizens showed little interest in interstellar politics, other newly formed governments, or the activities of Terra.

In fact, we might have kept entirely to ourselves until population pressure built up to the point that we needed to expand our vision and our territories (not necessarily in that order). Judging from current trends and if left to our own ways, this might have taken several centuries. Unfortunately, our independence would be forever crushed in 2330 by the heavy boots of the armies of the Draconis Combine.

-From Under the Dragon’s Claw, a History of Rasalhague, by Rebekka Rogers, Tamar Interstellar Press, 2561

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NEW BERGEN BATTLE REPORT

Dear Kyoodai:

With an inflamed heart, I write to you.

I have suffered heavily from an attack made by the rebellious subversives who reside in the Principality of Rasalhague, and I seek blood vengeance for an eternity.

My sons Victor and Isaac are both dead, killed by cowardly villains who would strike blows with stones at children.

A vicious attack has just occurred on New Bergen. Catching our forces unaware, the enemy massacred the entire garrison and also made off with the contents of the supply depot. It was the main storage facility for our entire Rasalhague offensive, billions of yen in equipment stolen. Everything-EVERYTHING—is gone, even a flight of our newest JumpShips!

Rage overfills my heart, and I now see the faces of my dead sons in nightmares. Shiro, I have had the same dream four nights running: Isaac stands in a circular pit of flames, and Victor, standing above, stretches out his hand, trying to reach him. I can see everything, but am too far away to help or cry out a warning. I think this vision comes to me from that stanza of Kokinshu that touched us both so much.

These losses in munitions and equipment will delay the war against Rasalhague for months, or even years. I assure you that I have created some of the most exquisite tortures possible, should I ever capture those responsible. Weep for Victor and Isaac, as I do.

-From a letter written by Urizen Kurita to his brother Shiro, as quoted in Son of the Dragon, Abner Jenkins, ed., University of Pesht Press, 2917 


This night of no moon

There is no way to meet him.

I rise in longings—

My breast pounds, a leaping flame,

My heart is consumed by fire.

-Kokinshu by Ono no Komachi, ninth century

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TYRANT OF RASALHAGUE

Tragedy struck during the last week with the return of Jason Kurita. Why couldn’t he have stayed on New Samarkand, or gone elsewhere?

He has replaced his father Vladimir as Military Governor, and the new reign of terror has already begun. One day a week, at dawn, randomly selected civilians are taken (or carried or dragged) to a field adjacent to the Governor’s Palace in New Rasalhague. As soon as I heard about it, I hid myself there to secretly witness what was going on.

Jason was having the poor people executed, though they were not charged with any crimes. Some were still wearing their nightwear, trying to get their eyes to focus, as they were placed back to back in a rude huddle. Then the slug-throwers opened up. That patch of ground is already being called the “killing field.” Last week, a dozen. This week, two dozen. How many next week?

Our esteemed Governor was in attendance, clothed entirely in black. Sources indicate that he plans to attend as often as possible. His expression showed grim determination rather than enjoyment, which is curious. One wonders why he is ordering these murders, but no one will question him directly.

Every day, Jason makes his two-hour planetwide radio address, making insults and veiled threats, then wailing and weeping at the loss of his family. Rumor has it that if the Military Governor learns of any citizen who does not listen to the address, he will add him to the executions.

With Jason Kurita as Military Governor of Rasalhague, we may soon think of Vladimir’s reign as the “good old days.”

-Anonymous editorial from the Rasalhague Freedom Caller. [a subversive alternate media publication] December 2375

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THE DYNASTIC GOVERNMENT: A DISCUSSION

TORINA: During the 24th century, the dynastic form of government reappeared in force. This “dynacracy” reached its previous peak in ancient Egypt and China, among other Terran nation-states. Now, can anyone tell me what was the major advantage of the dynastic government?

SULLIVAN: To create a rigid ruling caste by virtue of birth?

TORINA: Not exactly. Aoki?

AOKI: The dynasty provided each citizen with an instant means of identifying the powers-that-be. Name recognition, ease in determining persons of authority.

TORINA: Correct, but what single major factor led to its reappearance?

MARDIPEN: The anarchy on Terra and the Exodus?

TORINA: Right. Can anyone tell me how we can be sure the dynasty is still working?

AOKI: Because that governmental form inherently leads to good government.

TORINA: What is good government? Never mind. The dynasty was chosen because some system was needed and it was the most viable, given the circumstances of the time. It still works, and that is proof in itself. There have not been any attempts to alter the governmental form for centuries.

JIGLICH: How does that explain the Succession Wars?

TORINA: Those wars are essentially family feuds, involving five competitive dynastic lines. Each Successor State advocates the supremacy of its own House over all others. There are no democracies, republics, or theoretical sovereignties even in the running, at least not within the Inner Sphere.

MONTROSE: What effect is there when the leader of a House is killed?

TORINA: You have had your biology and classical mythology classes. Like the mythical hydra or common flatworm, when a House loses its head, it grows a new one.

D’ANCONIA: How does one destroy a dynasty, then?

TORINA: When you have mastered that secret, you will have learned how to unravel the greatest fallacy inherent in the Successor States.

-From a ComStar lecture in pre-League political history by Precentor Adam Torina

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He who complies with the ways of the world may be impoverished thereby; he who does not appears deranged. Wherever one may live, whatever work one may do, is it possible even for a moment to find a haven for the body or peace for the mind?

-Kamo no Chomei, 1153-1216

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THE CHANGING NATURE OF WAR

LENNOX: Since approximately the mid-19 century, the relative offensive firepower of trained, individual soldiers increased exponentially, while their defensive ability increased only linearly, at best. It thus became harder and harder to survive the intensity of conventional combat, a problem that grew even worse by the 25 century. Every state that fielded an army realized that it had the potential to wipe out entire populations, even without using chemical, biological, or radioactive weapons.

Full-state warfare could-and would-destroy civilian populations, industrial targets, delicately balanced economies, and entire cultures. Mankind was thus faced with two choices. What were they? Anyone?

KY-TANG: One: Cease to fight wars entirely-with all the sociological implications that would have. Or two: Somehow to make wars less dangerous.

LENNOX: And which did man choose?

PALMERSTON: He chose to make wars less dangerous.

LENNOX: Right. In their typical wisdom, the powers-that-be opted for the second alternative.

Granted, the Ares Conventions drastically changed the rules of war. After they were enacted by all ten major political signatories, battles were less a life-and-death struggle of resources and men, and more a game of maneuver, minimal casualties, and surrender or withdrawal. In some cases, both parties agreed upon secluded battlefields-at safe distances from factories and population centers-before the fighting actually began.

A few commanders even went so far as to draw up lists of ‘victory conditions,’ detailed guidelines for determining the winner of a particular engagement. Many conditions dealt with one side reaching a particular objective, either side suffering a certain percentage of casualties, or other battle-related details. After one or more victory conditions were met, the battle was declared over, and both sides could regroup, advance, withdraw, or surrender, based on their relative successes. When used, these parameters often led to temporary gains or losses in territory, transferal of booty, or other substantial assets in exchange for a hard-fought but relatively bloodless victory. Sometimes, an entire planet might even change hands. Days later, the next battle might completely reverse the previous battle’s outcome.

LI-PO: But what if the commanders refused to abide by the victory conditions?

LENNOX: My best guess is that the commanders would not cheat, because they loved the game of war too much. Admittedly, it makes little sense, but then, war seldom does. One warning: you should never examine the military mind or its motives too closely. There is an inherent degree of insanity present.

Anyway, literally hundreds of these small-scale skirmishes, which some officers refer to as scenarios, were fought between the major states during the century-and-a-half Age of War. These mock wars did preserve the continuity of each major state, permitted populations to grow, and allowed various societies, cultures, and civilizations to thrive.

The Conventions also affected the fundamental concepts of war. The degree of strategic skill needed to win battles attained new heights. Commanders had not only to fight, but to be victorious in compliance with very structured parameters. War was no longer a vocation for the unskilled or undisciplined. Indeed, after the introduction and widespread acceptance of the BattleMech, war was also no longer for the technologically untrained. War had become complicated, more so than in any period of Terra’s past. Now, can anyone tell me what all these battles of the Age of the War accomplished?

NORDWALD: They encouraged esprit de corps among members of the various armies?

LENNOX: That’s absolutely true, but totally irrelevant. War, even in its most insane capacity, has more merit than to give a small percentage of the population a feeling of false superiority over the remainder of the population.

In practical terms, however, all these battles accomplished almost nothing. No Major Political alliances were permanently formed or broken, few appreciable gains in territory were sustained, and no massive military superiorities were achieved. In retrospect, the battles only vented man’s own violent instincts through a partially controlled and ostensibly safer alternative to total war and utter destruction. That is the only good that may be said for them.

However, one must not presume that even these limited battles were without some cost. Valuable and highly skilled men-both military and civilian—died, expensive machinery was destroyed, and even the most insular of battles had a negative impact on the surrounding countryside. The Ares Conventions simply minimized the overall effects of war and kept casualty totals in the thousands, instead of the millions or tens of millions who might have otherwise died.

Even so, the Age of War had a direct impact on the Draconis Combine’s ruling families. Who can name an important personage who was a casualty of the Age of War?

MYCHALS: How about Saigo Kurita?

LENNOX: Correct. Robert and Parker Kurita’s brother Saigo was killed in battle in 2419. Also, three decades later, Lord of Rasalhague Daniel Sorenson’s only son Erik was killed in combat in 2449. Though Saigo’s death had little impact on New Samarkand politics, the loss of Erik forced Daniel to retain the Lordship longer than he had originally intended.

Every major state leader signed the Ares Conventions, although not every leader agreed that they were needed. In particular, Robert Kurita of the Draconis Combine found the provisions to be demeaning, too restrictive, and simply not bloody enough. The Ares Conventions did take some of the horror out of war and made it an acceptable substitute for interstellar diplomacy and peaceful relations. Perhaps it was for their own good reasons, but Robert Kurita and his Combine armies did abide scrupulously by the provisions. Kurita still possessed the right to execute traitorous citizens of his own domain, however. Therefore, he immediately made violation of the Conventions a treasonable offense, for which the punishment would be severe. Whether it was bloodlust or honor that motivated this law, Kurita invoked it often and well.

Does anyone know Robert Kurita’s ulterior motive for signing the Ares Conventions?

POLTER: So he would not lose face with his own people?

LENNOX: Reread your House Kurita history. Kurita would lose more face at home by signing than by not signing. No, he had a more urgent reason. If he refused to sign, the united forces of the signatories would go to war against the Draconis Combine. As bloodthirsty as he may have been, he knew his own forces could not defeat the entire Inner Sphere at one time.

By the mid-25 century, the BattleMech became a frontline weapon system, gradually replacing more conventional equipment. This change revolutionized the technological aspects of warfare as much as the Ares Conventions affected the strategic and tactical aspects. It also made it easier to abide by the Ares Conventions. Fewer combatants were needed, which invited fewer potential violations. Military training evolved into a proud tradition, with intensive preparation required to become a skilled warrior. Though regular foot infantry and armor would continue to have their secondary roles, the concept of ‘quality of manpower’ forever replaced the advantages of sheer numbers.

LI-PO: That explains why it is such an honor to be a MechWarrior.

LENNOX: That may be so, but as far as I’m concerned, becoming a soldier-especially by volunteering-is an incredibly stupid way to live… or die.

-From a lecture in pre-League military history, Precentor Shandar Lennox instructing

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DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO RASALHAGUE

McALLISTER: I wish to thank you, Lord Sorenson, for your most gracious audience and excellent hospitality.

BLAINE SORENSON: Quite all right, Captain. I would not have it said that we were rude, even to those with whom we have political differences. Now that our meal is finished, why don’t you tell us something of your background and how you came to be chosen for this assignment? I’m sure you must have had many exciting adventures.

McALLISTER: I think you flatter me, sir. However, as you request. I was born on the planet Echo in July 2474

ILLIYANA SORENSON [interrupting]: So young, yet so important! Please tell me, what is your birthday, Captain?

McALLISTER [smiles]: Please call me Martin. My birthday is the 4; just a few days ago.

ILLIYANA: How wonderful. Father, may we have a party for Martin?

BLAINE: We shall see, daughter. [To McAllister] What was Echo like?

McALLISTER: It always seemed a backwater world to me, and so I was glad to leave. Anyway, I joined in the army when I was 15.

BLAINE: Kurita takes them that young?

McALLISTER [chuckles]: No, sir. I confess I lied about my age. I served for two years before I acquired a BattleMech. What with the war and all, I was a lance commander before long. My superiors seemed to think I was a natural-born leader. Because my service record was good, they made me a captain.

BLAINE: And how did you come to Lord Von Rohrs’ attention?

McALLISTER: Earlier this year, I met with a senior representative of Lord Von Rohrs on New Samarkand. I had proven my loyalty to the Draconis Combine, and we talked on numerous occasions. Finally, I was given the chance of becoming the Draconis Combine’s emissary to the Principality of Rasalhague. They reassigned me, and here I am.

BLAINE: What is Lord Von Rohrs like?

McALLISTER: I’ve never actually met him, sir. I’ve only dealt through his representatives.

BLAINE: Well, as I said earlier, we would flatly refuse to accept a lasting peace by uniting with the Draconis Combine under the Von Rohr’s dragon banner. Other possibilities for peaceful solutions may yet exist. Visit our land and learn something of its charms. Meanwhile, this is my family. My wife Diana, Illiyana, my elder daughter; Katherine, my younger daughter. This is Jarod, my son.

ILLIYANA [bows while remaining seated, and smiles]: Martin.

McALLISTER [stares at her, then blushes]: Illiyana.

-From conversations at a Principality of Rasalhague State dinner, 9 July 2494. Guest of Honor: Captain Martin McAllister, diplomatic envoy from the Draconis Combine, Rasalhague Government Archives

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A FEMALE HEIR

My father, Martin McAllister, became the Tenth Coordinator in 2510, after he executed the entire Von Rohrs line. He may have been a vain man, but he had earned the right. Though he died young (only 41), he had enjoyed life to the fullest, and won the love and respect of his people. In April 2515, he was murdered in his sleep by a female assassin.

Father’s sudden and untimely death created problems among Draconis Combine nobles because my father had left no male heir. My maternal grandfather, Blaine Sorenson, was popular among his own people of Rasalhague, but the other Military District Governors certainly did not trust him, nor did the rest of the Combine. Thus, he was ruled out.

Someone had to take over. I think a handful of nobles though they could install me and then push through their own plans with little opposition. The end result was that they named me “brevet” Coordinator. I was quite young at the time, only 19, but not as naïve as they expected. Moreover, the other nobles did not trust me much. The Draconis Combine had been ruled as a patriarchy for two centuries, and so having a female leader was almost beyond the comprehension of most nobles. Women may have had their place in the Combine, but it was not in any position of high influence. The nobility were not too fond of having “a daughter of Rasalhague” on the throne either. In fact, efforts to remove me from office came on the heels of my ascension.

If Father had sired a son, I never would have become Coordinator, and if Warren Kurita had not emerged, I probably could not have stayed at court. Warren was the great-grandson of exiled Grant Kurita, and he happened to show up on New Samarkand “in the nick of time,” to use an old cliché. There have been stories that I sent notices throughout the Draconis Combine in search of a suitable Kurita-line spouse. A fascinating tale, I’m sure. We married within days, and, five weeks later, Warren succeeded me as the Twelfth Coordinator in May 2515. The nobles seemed satisfied, and political unity was restored to House Kurita.

No longer tied down to the stressful duties of Coordinator, I settled into a very domestic existence. Warren and I had a very good personal relationship, and our son Hehiro was born in February 2516. Early the next year, though, Warren came down with a peculiar ailment and died after only a few days. Court physicians attributed the death to “mysterious causes,” and some actually suspected me causing Warren’s death. I simply ignored the rumors.

Because my infant son was a legitimate heir to the Kurita line, no one opposed my ruling as regent, although I was not terribly enthused. After all, I was only 20 and wanted to enjoy life outside court. Knowing my duty, however, I accepted my destiny. Just as my father would have done.

-From Lords I Have Known, by Siriwan McAllister-Kurita, Carp of Truth Press, 2628

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THE TREATY OF VEGA

It is resolved whereby the parties who sign and come into accordance with the provisions and conditions of this treaty shall be jointly agreed to abide by the provisions and conditions contained therein.

Condition 1) At which time all parties and States to be concerned have become signatory members, and within a reasonable administrative period not to exceed five years immediately thereafter, the existence of a new hegemony will be created and recognized. This new hegemony, to be known as the Star League, will:

A) consist of founding parties and States, or any subsequent parties and States who accept a bona fide offer to become signatories,

B) recognize, individually and equally, all parties and States as member-Federates within the Star League.

Condition 2) The signatory members of this Star League shall, as their first concern, while chartering this League, provide for the rulership and control of said League in a manner agreeable to all. This rule may include, but is not bound by this treaty to require:

A) a single administrator of the Star League, and

B) a body of ruling persons representing each founding Member-Federate

Condition 3) The individual ruler of the State now known as the Draconis Combine, and the rulers of other Member-Federate States, shall maintain control over the internal affairs of their separate states, beyond the control of the Star League, within whatever limits are arrived at in the charter of the Star League, including

A) complete autonomy over all matters of policy that in no way exceed the borders of the state over which he and/or his government rules, the definition of such matters as exceed these borders to be arrived at by agreement of all Member-Federates, and B) preservation of the internal political structure within the borders of that state.

Condition 4) The Member-Federates shall arrive at a mutual agreement of protection and alliance in the case of attack from outside, non-member states, and a formula for negotiation and/or retaliation in the event of attack by one Member-Federate against another for whatever reason.

Condition 5) The individual signers of this agreement shall not, publicly or privately, discuss, disclose, or otherwise reveal or open the contents herein, until such time as the Terran Hegemony representative, Ian Cameron or his heir or assign, shall deem it meet to open the chartering negotiations of the Star League among all signers of such treaties of intent.

Condition 6) If, within two years from this date, no convention or concordance shall be announced whereby a charter for the aforementioned Star League shall commence, or, if no agreement shall be forthcoming from such convention by five years from its commencement date, this treaty of intent shall become null and void.

Signed this August 15, 2569, Standard Terran Calendar

Ian Cameron, Thirteenth Director-General, Terran Hegemony

Hehiro Kurita, Fourteenth Coordinator, the Draconis Combine

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A similar document was also signed by the Lyran Commonwealth (House Steiner), the Federated Suns (House Davion), the Capellan Confederation (House Liao), and the Free Worlds League (House Marik).

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HEHIRO KURITA, PEACEMAKER

Hehiro Kurita was born in 2516 on New Samarkand. The next year, his father died “mysteriously,” leaving only the infant boy as heir to the Combine throne. His mother Siriwan was to rule as regent, which she did for almost 40 years. She did not relinquish the throne until 2556, a few months before Hehiro’s 40 birthday. Even after her son assumed rule, Siriwan continued to be a major, positive influence on his reign and style of leadership. This is not to say that he was totally dominated, however. Indeed, most historians consider Hehiro to have been one of the most influential and capable leaders in the Combine since Shiro Kurita’s reign two and a half centuries earlier. Siriwan may have been a “kingmaker,” but only her son Hehiro could be the king.

Like his noteworthy ancestor Shiro, Hehiro also believed in militant self-reliance and the inherent ideological superiority of his subjects, when compared with any other state in the Human Sphere. However, Hehiro’s judgments were significantly influenced by his mother, herself a strong proponent of peaceful expansion and administration. Being raised by his mother rather than by his father undoubtedly made Hehiro a bit more charming than many Kuritans, but he also possessed her cunning mind and skill at matters of state.

Many questions have been raised as to why Hehiro permitted his mother to act as regent until he was 40 years old. In all honesty, he never wanted the position of Coordinator. He married at the age of 19, and his wife died in childbirth. He spent the next decade raising his son Martin, before remarrying. Some informed sources indicate that Siriwan offered to step down on several occasions, but Hehiro only accepted after Martin turned 20. Sadly, Martin died just two years later in a battle along the Periphery.

A skilled and convincing orator, a just arbiter, and an iron-willed leader, Hehiro constantly strived for his ideals of perfection, and sought means to attain them. He may be most famous for signing the Treaty of Vega in 2569, which made the Draconis Combine a member of Ian Cameron’s brainchild, the Star League. For this, some members of the military and the nobility angrily accused him of trusting his enemies more than his friends. In response, Hehiro only smiled.

In 2577, he backed the Star League on another major issue: the Unification War against the Periphery worlds. Having rejected the Star League’s offer of membership, these outer worlds formed their own alliance to protect their autonomy. A bloody, 20-year-long war between the Star League and the worlds of the Periphery then followed. These two decades would prove to be more costly in human lives than even the 150-year long era known as the Age of War. Despite some political pressure and significant casualties, the general populace threw its support behind Hehiro.

On issues closer to home, he did condemn many of the court nobles for using bribery, favoritism, blood vendettas, and other similar means to promote their own personal interests. While his action drew considerable hostility from those same nobles, it endeared Hehiro to his subjects to a degree rarely seen in the Draconis Combine before or since. This probably explains the popular support he was able to muster for participation in the Reunification Wars. Though he had inherited his position, Hehiro liked to believe that he would have been the people’s choice had they been given one. However romantic this notion, Hehiro was certainly no fool. That he tripled the size of the Household Guard is an illuminating footnote to the story of his reign. It shows that Siriwan managed to teach him the difference between gullibility and trust. This well-protected man would ultimately die by accident in 2591, when he tripped and fell down a long palace staircase, breaking his neck instantly. Witnesses confirm that no one else was near enough to have pushed him, completely ruling out the possibility of foul play. Hehiro’s son Leonard was next in line.

-From “Hehiro the Peacemaker,” a bulletin compiled by ComStar researcher Joanna Green

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ARS GRATIA ARTIS

Attention: Artists!

Do you work in light, sound, taste, hearing, scent, or balance?

Are you skilled in the ancient arts of painting, dance, architecture, film, theatre, music, or sculpture?

Or have you tried the newest forms of cubing, holoart, light-painting, air-music, sine-sculpting, impressing, null-g ballet, or others even more exotic and original?

If so, you may be eligible for a subsistence grant from the Ministry of Artistic Development, an original program sponsored by Lord Sanethia Kurita of the Draconis Combine.

Contact the nearest Ministry office for more details.

-Public service announcement from New Samarkand News Radio, November 2612

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THE KURITA STYLE OF BUSINESS

The Draconis Combine was never one to shrink from a task. Their efforts to enter into the League-wide economic market showed determination, if not finesse. The case of Waddesdon Traders is a good example of the Kurita style of business.

In 2617, a Sammuel Kestrich and Timth Miyasato bought two near-derelict freighters and boldly proclaimed themselves the Waddesdon Traders. Their first two years were spent carrying chemical fertilizers from their homeworld of Tannil, a Davion world just across the border.

Though business was good, the two wanted to get into bigger-ticket items, but all their attempts were being thwarted by the Kosoan Trading Company, a Davion merchant association with five brand new freighters.

By 2621, the Waddesdon Traders were in deep trouble. Though they had managed to up their fleet to four freighters, the Kosoan Trading Company now had a virtual lock on almost all inter-house trade in that area of the border. Something had to be done, no matter what the cost, no matter what laws might be broken.

In March 2622, an unidentified freighter entered the Shinono system and quietly approached the SS Franklin, a Kosoan freighter. Few noticed the men hidden in the rigging of the unidentified freighter, much less that one of them used a rocket pack to scoot across to the SS Franklin, where he planted an object at the drive-sail junction. The mysterious freighter then moved off, and left the system a day later. An hour after its departure, an explosion rocked the SS Franklin, destroying both the drive core and the sail mechanism. Then came the reports that the SS Franklin was only one of four Kosoan ships to suffer a crippling explosion that very day. The cloud of suspicion quickly settled over the Waddesdon Traders.

The Federated Suns protested these incidents strenuously and demanded that the Waddesdon partners be turned over to them for trial. It was no use, however, for Waddesdon Trader’s audacity had impressed Lord Kurita and his Minister of Economic Exchange and Expansion. The scandal eventually fizzled out, resulting in Waddesdon Traders becoming the largest trading company in its region within two years. Their flagship was a huge, brand-new freighter secretly donated to them by Coordinator Sanethia “in recognition of their business skills.”

-From Trade Relations During the Star League Era, by Precentor Sevir Devasu, Economics Division, ComStar

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RETURN TO ISOLATIONISM

Of the six realms that made up the Star League, the Draconis Combine had been the least enthusiastic about joining. This was because of the belief ingrained into every citizen of the Combine that it was the destiny of House Kurita to eventually rule all humanity. Many, from the highest general to the lowliest Unproductive, had believed that to join the Star League was to admit failure, and implied that the Kuritas no longer honored their sacred destiny.

To win back public support, particularly among the military and the ISF, the Kurita leaders went about it in a typically egocentric way. Schoolbooks underplayed cooperation between the Combine military and the Star League Regulars during the Reunification War, for example. Historians and propagandists also began to claim that the Draconis Combine had not joined the Star League because it offered any special benefits, but out of a sense of pity. Meanwhile, the news media and propagandists were ordered to avoid reporting on events occurring outside the Draconis Combine. This created an image of the Star League as somewhat apart from the realm, and so the Kurita Lord could portray the League’s policies and laws as outside interference whenever it suited his purposes.

-From Political Relations Between the Member States and the Star League, by Professor Jev Avigdor, University of Washington Press, 3021

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URIZEN’S LEGACY

When Urizen Kurita stepped down as Coordinator of the Draconis Combine in 2691, he left a realm radically altered. Because of his many official and unofficial policies, his domain had taken on a nearly uniform culture and a quite disturbing fanaticism. Gone were the trends toward a mellowing and melding of cultures to create something unique among the races and ages of man. Urizen’s mandate to the Internal Security Force had effectively put a stop to that. In its place, he reinstated the culture of a Japan that had existed over a thousand years before, which the Japanese themselves had overthrown when it proved too restrictive. As might be expected, imposing a culture so alien to many citizens of the Combine had several serious consequences.

The first was to stifle a trend that might have encouraged more avenues for the expression of political criticism. The ISF purges quickly put an end to that.

Another effect was to further stratify the society, which was already divided between the nobles and the common people. The new division was between those who could adapt to the new culture, and those who could not, or would not, change to fit the times. Those who refused to adapt often lost all privileges, including the right to work. When such people were high enough in the social hierarchy, they might remain outwardly unscathed, but the ISF would haunt them to their graves.

The last and perhaps most damaging effect of this imposition of the medieval Japanese culture upon the many billions in the Combine was to give the ISF more power then ever. Indeed, they now had carte blanche to practice their dark ways.

During Urizen’s reign, two other positive trends occurred. The first was the expansion of trade between the Combine and its neighbors. Though Kuritan traders had much to learn, they made up for it in hustle and hardball tactics. (In one example, a merchant from the Lyran Commonwealth, the acknowledged expert among traders, bilked a Combine firm out of over 3 billion League bills. In response, the swindled company sent hirelings to lay waste to a warehouse filled with valuable materials owned by the Commonwealth company.)

The other trend was toward technological self-sufficiency. Up until Urizen’s reign, the Combine had relied on other states to provide them with parts for their equipment. When Urizen saw how aggressive the interstellar market was, he was understandably shocked. He immediately ordered a program to encourage the construction of more factories and to assist the expansion of Kuritan industries to supply the parts and supplies needed by the realm.

Imperial City on Luthien may be the most vivid example of the many forces acting on the Draconis Combine during this period. Completed in the final year of Urizen’s reign, the city included stunning imitations of Oriental architecture jammed up against buildings that could only be called “Kurita Kitch.” Most of these buildings, built in the ancient ways from ancient materials such as teak, often house the most sophisticated technological tools and equipment. The greatest irony, however, may be that so many thousands died to build this city that no one but the Kurita family and its elite of courtiers, nobility, and high military men are allowed to enter.

-From The Great Draconis Lizard, by Samuel Puente, Lyran Commonwealth Historical Press, 2871

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ALEKSANDR KERENSKY

My private audience with General Aleksandr Kerensky did not turn out exactly as I had hoped. He refused to stop his military maneuvers near Luthien. This displeases me much, and so I have ordered as many ISF agents as can be spared to infiltrate the Regular Army. We must have an earlier warning the next time General Kerensky decides to try to bully the Draconis Combine. Not only will he fail to get his way, but his military exercises might have to be postponed in favor of defending his very life.

Why so many people are so pleased to hear that he has been appointed Regent and Protector is a mystery. He is a soldier. An excellent one, true, but a soldier nevertheless. It is doubtful that he will stray too far from what Simon Cameron would have wished. If he were truly as good as everyone claims, he would take his power as Regent and rule as First Lord until the boy Richard comes of age.

Even now, it seems that the young Cameron lacks the inner authority to rule effectively-not ten years from now, not twenty, not thirty years from now. We will have no choice but to gut the Star League once and for all.

-From the personal diary of Takiro Kurita, entry dated June 2751

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BETWEEN TWO ENEMIES 

Though bushido has been adopted to suit many different situations, the concept of courtesy toward one’s enemy has always remained vital to a warrior’s sense of honor.

Throughout history, there have been instances of a strong warrior facing an opponent who is ill-prepared to fight, let alone to die. In many such situations, the warrior would simply bypass his opponent, believing it a courtesy to ignore the other’s weakness and to give him a chance to prepare for the next meeting.

On the other hand, the bypassed warrior would feel great shame because of his lack of composure and the fact that he was denied the chance to fight. He would do his best to improve himself for the next meeting. In this way, bushido encouraged weaker warriors to improve themselves so that victory in combat could occur between equally matched opponents and not because of an honorless conquest of the weak.

This courtesy also extends to large strategic actions, such as those of House Kurita during the early days of the First Succession War. The Combine military had exposed the Lyran Commonwealth for what it was: a realm made vulnerable by the incompetence of its military. Instead of pouncing, Lord Kurita decided to take on a much worthier opponent, the Federated Suns.

-From Considerations Upon the Way of the Way of the Warrior, by Professor Timothy Hudello, NAIS 3021

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HEAVEN’S GATE

Second in importance and political power to Coordinator Minoru Kurita during this period was his son Jinjiro. Born to a concubine on Luthien, Jinjiro had spent much of his early life at the center of hot political wrangling.

Though his mother’s given name has been lost, it was customary for a concubine to have an adornment-name, and hers was Heaven’s Gate. A native of the Rasalhague District, she was apparently a beautiful woman whose non-Oriental features made her popular in the ukiyos, or pleasure districts, until Minoru bought her contract. After Jinjiro was born, Heaven’s Gate used every persuasive art she knew to get Minoru to officially adopt the child, making him the legal heir. So great was her desire to see her son become the next Coordinator that perhaps there is truth to the rumors that she spiked the food and drink of Minoru’s wife and other mistresses with an abortion powder. Minoru did eventually recognize Jinjiro as his son and heir. Jinjiro was already ten years old by that time and Minoru’s wife, Yvonne Toshi, was six months pregnant.

Soon, many in the Court were whispering that the Coordinator had been bewitched by his concubine. Whether or not that was true, Yvonne Toshi did not like recent developments concerning the son of Heaven’s Gate, and so she had her pushed off the parapets of Imperial City one dark night. When Jinjiro discovered the twisted form of his mother the next morning, she was still alive. It was almost as though she had hung on, hoping that somehow he would find her, for she died there in Jinjiro’s arms. Legend says that the weeping of Heaven’s Gate can still be heard at certain times among the chambers of the palace concubines.

Perhaps it was the trauma of having to watch his mother die so suddenly and so horribly that began to gnaw away at Jinjiro’s sanity. The pain and shock may have been just enough to push a sensitive boy along the road to madness and atrocity.

Though he grew up to be an unstable, violent man, Jinjiro Kurita was also a skilled military strategist. He carried out some brilliant actions against the Steiner military in the late 2780s, which affirmed his own private belief that House Steiner was too weak to be a worthy target at the present time.

-From “Analysis of Childhood Factors on the Personality of Jinjiro Kurita,” Internal Bulletin by David Morgenthau, Director of the ComStar Psychopolitical Archives, Terra

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BLOOD FEVER

Military indoctrination courses are required of all raw recruits entering the military. These courses, usually consisting of speeches, films, and discussions, attempt to drill into each potential soldier why and for whom he is laying his life on the line. Though every Successor State uses this time-honored military technique, that of the Draconis Combine is by far the most exhaustive.

Though every Combine citizen knows the current line of propaganda chapter and verse, the recruit is treated as though totally ignorant of his realm’s history and destiny. In addition to rigorous physical training, he must endure a political and mental training that is every bit as demanding and has its own share of accidents and casualties.

Those who crack under the mental strain are automatically mustered out of the military. Indeed, the ISF will now keep them under almost continuous surveillance because their failure in indoctrination marks them as permanent security risks. Many who are booted out of the military in this way commit suicide soon after.

The remaining recruits become so steeped in political dogma and the belief in the infallibility of their superiors that they are generally incapable of independent actions on the battlefield. The old saying that a Kurita soldier is about as independent as a pebble in a rockslide is exactly the state of mind the Kurita officers want in their men. It is true that a soldier who obeys orders to the letter may never take the initiative, but neither will he rebel.

This extreme tendency to bottle up emotions and urges at times causes virtual explosions of mental frenzy. Known as the “Berzerker Syndrome” or “Blood Fever,” the condition also breaks out among the militaries of other Successor Houses, but Kurita soldiers seem especially prone to it.

The Kentares Massacre is the most obvious example of this bloodlust. When ordered to murder the entire population of Kentares IV, most Kurita soldiers resisted the idea at first. Indeed, it took the execution of several Kurita troopers to guarantee that the order was carried out at all.

Once the killing started, however, the participating soldiers began to do the work with more and more speed. It no longer mattered to them what they were doing; all that mattered was to see the job done. Many soldiers, particularly those in the lower ranks, went on a virtual frenzy of killing. They nearly gave up resting, eating, and sleeping. All that slowed these men was the lack of ammunition and the time it took to hunt down their “Targets.”

One soldier who succumbed to this form of group madness said it best. “The people of Kentares no longer seemed human to me. They became mere objects, and I felt kilometers distant as I watched them fall beneath my laser rifle. It was more like trying to mow down an endless sea of flesh-colored grass that moved, parted, and made funny noises when I pulled the trigger.”

Of course, many of these soldiers eventually shook themselves free of this mania. Some managed to cope with what they had done because of their strong political beliefs and loyalty. Others were not so lucky, and many committed suicide during and immediately after the Kentares Massacre.

-From Mob Psychology In Military Matters, by Major-General Trevish Bradley (Ret.), ComStar Publications, 3002

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DEVOTION THROUGH HARDSHIP

The war was by now beginning to put a strain on the civilian sectors of the Draconis Combine. After the military seized most of the commercial JumpShips, the Kuritan economy ground almost to a halt. Factories devoted to the production of purely civilian goods either converted to manufacturing for the military or else they closed.

The lower classes of the society were hardest hit, as in every war. On most worlds, the common people were the first to feel the shortages of essentials such as food, clothing, and housing. For these people, the rationing of food and water began six years into the war and remained partially in force until after the Second Succession War. Because the textile industry had to channel almost all available materials into the manufacture of uniforms, clothing for the average citizen had to be made into the cheapest cloth. The situation was similar for housing, too, with the added fact that the war destroyed existing housing at the same time it siphoned away building materials for new housing.

Into this misery came the propaganda that to sacrifice one’s comfort, security, and health for the greater good was a worthy, honorable deed. There were numerous government-sponsored contests to promote the art of selfless giving and to hold up for praise those who best exemplified it. Though some might have questioned the war measures that led to so much scarcity, the ISF was efficient enough to nip in the bud any potential protest long before it could spread. Anyone who complained publicly was executed publicly in a particularly gruesome manner.

Blood sports first made their appearance in the Draconis Combine during this time. Though the early forms were gladiator-like contests between criminals—a diversion not unknown to humanity—the propagandists put their stamp of approval on it. These brutal spectator sports helped to channel off the resentment that might otherwise have built up to dangerously explosive levels.

-From The Draconis Combine And Moral Entanglement, by Professor Uverman Brav, Tharkad University Press, 2910

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SNAKES AND SNEAKS

In 2825, the Paul Bunyan Regiment, a mercenary unit of MechWarriors from the Regular Army as well as from several Periphery realms, rebelled against the Draconis Combine. Stationed on the Kurita world of Zlatous, the unit had every reason to feel ill-treated by its employers. Though the Paul Bunyan Regiment had served as the rallying point for the retreating Kurita units of the Galedon District in the latter part of the war, the Office of Professional Soldiery Liaison (the department within the DCMS that handled relations with mercenary units) was not even bothering to pay the unit’s salaries now that peace had come.

In 2822, the DCMS announced a new, totally optional system of procurement for mercenary units. On the surface, the system seemed quite fair. Instead of having to request supplies, the new system allowed an increase of the mercenary unit’s pay so that they could buy supplies directly from the Procurement Division of the military. The Paul Bunyan Regiment, along with most of the other merc regiments in the Draconis Combine, agreed to the new system.

It did not take long for the regiment to realize that they had been conned. Their pay increase did not nearly cover the expense of buying supplies. As a result, the mercenary unit went deeper and deeper into debt to the Procurement Division. In an effort to work their way out of the situation, the regiment was forced to take on more and more missions. That, in turn, created a need for more supplies, which caused more debt, which created the need to carry out more missions, and so on.

In June 2825, the Paul Bunyan Regiment had had enough. Its units struck at warehouses on Zlatous, seizing what equipment it could for their weapons. Food warehouses were also a prime target, because most of the unit’s members had been forced to cut back on their ration chits.

Though the ISF had taken note of the regiment’s growing discontent, their violent actions did surprise the Kurita government. In reaction, Jinjiro ordered the destruction of as many of the mercenary unit’s DropShips as possible, along with the capture and seizure of their JumpShip. He then ordered in the nearby 5 and 9 Galedon Regulars to punish the rebellious unit.

Deprived of a way off Zlatous, the Paul Bunyan Regiment dug in and prepared to face the coming Kurita force. It took the Kuritans two months to destroy the regiment, in the process laying waste to much of the planet. Some of the mercenary regiment did escape by seizing a Kurita DropShip and disappearing into the Periphery.

As a result of this incident, the Draconis Combine altered the way it handled mercenary units. It made the Company Store syndrome more subtle, so that it took a merc unit longer to sink into debt with the Combine. It also meant that it took longer before the unit realized what was happening. The DCMS perfected this system to the point where several mercenary units were eventually forced to sell themselves into the DCMS in order to pay off their debts.

Though the other Successor Houses do not necessarily treat mercenary units very well, none make such a concerted effort to subjugate their mercs. The Combine either ignores the needs of a unit to avoid having to squander its own precious supplies or money, or else it attempts to entangle the unit in a web of debt.

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DIVINE WIND

Mission Elapsed Time—00:18:23.34

Glory to the Arm of the Dragon. Drop proceeding as planned. Heat shell cracked and pieces dispersed as expected, hopefully jamming the sensors of the Steiner military presence on Maestu. The auto-Drop systems on the ‘Mechs of my lance members seem to be working well. Only Unproductive Metsuko’s Stinger is deviating off reentry path, but not seriously. Time to touchdown is two minutes, forty seconds. Expected to be within three kilometers of the Steiner water purification plant.

Mission Elapsed Time—00:25:02.23

Light flak bearing zero-niner-niner. Likely to be a couple of autocannons and a laser battery. They are not in path, and so have ordered lance to avoid and disregard. Unproductive Mitchell is having trouble remembering how to work the elbow joint of his Phoenix Hawk or else the actuator has failed. Tough to tell, because all the Unproductives ‘Mechs are such piles of guano…

Mission Elapsed Time—00:29:19.99

Just picked up blips of what can only be Steiner garrison ‘Mechs. Computer estimates one assault, two medium, and one light in size. Trouble is they’re right in our path. No going around. For the greater glory of the Dragon…

Mission Elapsed Time—00:31:23.32

Harrison? Pattern fire on my count. Group, on my count, execute the Dive-Drive Maneuver. Mitchell, Metsuko, and Harrison-you’ll be the dives. Coverfire for one, and only one minute only. Rachter, you and I will be the drives. Remember, don’t concentrate all your fire on just one opponent. Hit them all if you can to stun them into letting you drive past.

Hit your ChemCourage, group. What? Yeah, it’s a hell of a way to win salvation. But just think, if you survive, you’ll be heroes and citizens. Might even get to shake the Coordinator’s hand. Ready? OK men, there they are. Dive, NOW! For the greater glory of the Dragon!

Mission Elapsed Time—00:33:36.01

-Transcript from Mission Log of Lieutenant Hevly Gomes, Lance Leader of Chain Gang 23 in the strike against the Lyran Commonwealth world of Maestu

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THE NIGHT OF THE SWORD

I, General Frederick J. Kozoma, member of the DCMS High Strategic Council and the Procurement Evaluation Board, do hereby assert that what follows is a factual and account of what transpired on June 23, 2838.

My reasons for acting as I did are numerous and perfectly reasonable. After Jinjiro’s illness forced that great leader to retire, Zabu assumed the throne.

Though I am sure he was an honorable man, Zabu lacked what has always made the Kurita family great-the desire to reduce his enemy to groveling at his feet. I doubt that Zabu even believed in the Kurita destiny. He certainly didn’t show any such Kurita breeding when he issued the 2839 Budget.

My fellow generals and I couldn’t believe it when we received copies of the budget. It called for a 4 percent cut in our military budget! I haven’t the serenity of my more Japanese colleagues, and so I was unable to control my anger and displeasure.

Apparently I was not the only one who felt betrayed by Coordinator Zabu’s actions. Three nights later, a group of my colleagues knocked at my door one evening. They had come to say that Zabu Kurita represented a clear and definite threat to the destiny of the Draconis Combine and that something had to be done about him before his pacifist policies spread further.

They appointed me to be the sword of their desire. The next night-last night-I concealed a special sword in my cloak. The sword was made of a special plastic that enabled me to walk through the metal and explosives detectors without incident.

I informed Zabu’s secretary that I was there to deliver an urgent message of military importance. The fact that the secretary dared ask me if it could wait till morning confirmed the rightness of the deed I had come to do. Why, in Jinjiro’s day, any man bearing important military news would have been ushered in immediately.

As it was, I had to wait some ten minutes in the corridor outside his door. When I finally entered, it was a shock to see one of his concubines lying among the rumpled sheets of his bed. Gods, Jinjiro would never have allowed a mere woman to stay a second longer than was necessary to service his needs-not that any of the concubines would have wanted to. This seemed one more proof of Zabu’s weakness. He must have been one of those “perfume men.” You know the type, the ones who actually lend a serious ear to what a woman might have to say.

All this so enraged me that I immediately drew my weapon. Seeing the sword did not affect Zabu as I had expected, however. He showed no fear, but only looked me in the eye and asked if I were acting alone or if I represented the other generals as well. When I told him that I was acting in accord with the views of most of the military High Command, he gave a slight nod.

He looked at my sword again, then got up and walked toward one of the room’s walls. Half expecting him to call for guards, I was preparing to launch myself at him when he reached up and pushed a concealed button. A portion of the wall slid back, revealing an array of the most exquisite swords I had ever seen.

He reached up for one, smiling slightly. By now, I was certain that he was going to fight me personally. Feeling a bit outclassed by the sword he chose, an incredible blade that must have been an ancient Japanese antique, I prepared myself to die. Just then, Zabu turned and offered me the sword with a smile.

Shocked, I took the blade without saying a word. He then asked to be allowed to send his woman away. I agreed and watched with more puzzlement as he roused her, kissed her most lovingly, and sent her from the room.

I could not help but ask how he was able to accept his death so gracefully. It was far from what I had expected. Zabu replied that he was above all a Kurita and so viewed death in its proper light. He said, too, that it would have been ridiculous to try to avoid his death when his own military was dead set against him. No matter what he might do—purges, executions, and the like-he would always have to consider the DCMS as the enemy. Better to let the inevitable happen now, he said.

I gave him all the ritual courtesies. First, he wrote his death haiku, which was a fine one. I then allowed him to shower and to change into his best uniform. Finally, he took a silk mat and laid it in the center of his room. Kneeling on it, he took a short sword-another antique with beautiful designs along the blade-and wrapped it in a sheet of clear, white rice paper. He then took the sword and laid the point of it on the skin of his belly. I raised my sword.

I still do not understand his ability to meet death so honorably. Could he have been a better man than we imagined?

-Confession by General Frederick Kozoma, taped by ISF agents

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KEYS TO THE MYSTERY

Snow Fire was a Steiner assassin, of that there could be no doubt. She had been planted in the Rasalhague district by the Lyran Intelligence Corps years earlier to gather information and to be ready should the ultimate assignment come. Her many skills had served her well.

Apparently, she had also had her own personal reasons for wanting to assassinate Lord Kurita. Her lover had been a member of the 4 Royal Guards, a unit that had been destroyed by the Kuritans. The regimental patch she had laid on the Coordinator’s dead body was that of the 4 Royal Guards.

What has sparked considerable debate is how Snow Fire managed to get so close to Yoguchi without being discovered by the all-seeing ISF. The most plausible explanation is that someone high in the Combine government knew that Snow Fire was an assassin and simply turned a blind eye to the fact.

The Director of the ISF at that time was Malcolm Katsuyori, who had taken deep offense at the Coordinator’s decision to place the ISF under control of the military. Though he could not order his own minions to kill the Coordinator, it is possible that he might have allowed Snow Fire to become the Coordinator’s mistress, knowing full well that she was a spy and an assassin.

Roweena Kurita is another possible link to the mystery. As Coordinator of the PRE and confidante of Malcolm Katsuyori, she could also have been aware of Snow Fire’s secret profession. Her motives for allowing the concubine to fulfill her mission would have been more complex, but not at all political. Roweena did not seek power; indeed, she refused to take over as ruler of the Combine when Yoguchi died.

From evidence gleaned from private letters and diaries, we know that Roweena was deeply in love with some unnamed person. From other evidence gathered, it is quite possible that the object of her affections was Snow Fire. (Such an affection would not have been out of place in Kurita society, where sexuality has its place in life, as long as it does not interfere with the Code of Honor.) Roweena’s unnamed lover apparently spurned her advances. If that person was Snow Fire, the hurt and angry Roweena could easily have kept her own counsel about the concubine, knowing that the girl would soon be dead by her own hand.

-“Some Evidence Gathered on the Death of Yoguchi Kurita,” ComStar Internal Bulletin, 2851

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SWORD OF LIGHT

In Buddhist legend, the Myoos are wrathful deities who drag unwilling souls to their salvation. Each Myoo carries a flaming sword that represents the radiance of Buddha’s teachings. This odd sense of salvation through the actions of a wrathful deity appealed to the earliest members of the Kurita ruling family. It rationalized warring upon one’s neighbors to save them from themselves. As the elite of the DCMS, the Sword of Light were always compared to the flaming sword of the Myoos.

To be accepted into a Sword of Light regiment, a candidate must have spent at least five years in a lesser ‘Mech regiment and have scored in the upper 5 percent of a rigorous battery of political, religious, and military tests. Those who manage to make their way into a Sword of Light regiment are the crème de la crème. If he lives to retire-no easy feat-a Sword of Light warrior can look forward to a life of comfort and glory. There have been twelve different Sword of Light regiments throughout the history of the DCMS. There are currently five.

-From “Unique Regiments in the Armies of the Successor States,” General Malvos Steinburg (LCAF ret.)

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THE UNOFFICIAL RULES OF WAR

Since the beginning of the third war, a set of rules governing combat has been slowly evolving. As the high commanders realized that their supply of parts and resources was dwindling fast, they began to adapt to the scarcity. Even before engaging in battle, one side might realize that his force had no chance to win and so would withdraw to cut his losses. Such a phenomenon would have been unthinkable during the first two wars, both of which were famous for battles in which the winner was the last one left standing.

Early in the Third Succession War, commanders began to plan battles in clear and open areas away from cities because they wanted their troops to have the best terrain in which to use their precious supplies. This tendency to fight away from cities was soon reinforced by the scavenger mentality that seized all the realms. With parts and equipment often irreplaceable, scavenging through the rubble for supplies and spare parts in the aftermath of battle became almost as important as the fighting.

This trend did not sit well with many of the more conservative DCMS generals. Raised in the old ways, they expected war to be terrifying, gruesome, and dramatic.

When Taragi learned that some of his generals questioned the new way, he issued a booklet entitled The Katana Principle. Consisting of a series of the Coordinator’s observations, this small report outlined the religious and moral beliefs that supported the newer, more humane way of fighting. He wrote that the new style of fighting might not be as exciting as some of the older ways, but it was the only way to preserve the equipment and people vital to the Draconis Combine’s eventual dominion over all humanity. The brief essay ended with the remainder to the generals that bushido demanded obedience to one’s lord above all. The question never came up again.

-From “Taragi And The Katana Principle,” Simone De Guthul, Precentor of Luthien

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THE FLY PAPER STRATEGY

The Arm of the Dragon’s failure to capture Tamar proved more than just another humiliation for the Kurita generals. In one of the few truly clever strategic moves in the history of the Lyran Commonwealth, the LCAF High Command purposely left Tamar under-defended after forcing the last Kurita attacker offplanet.

Believing that the Commonwealth generals had just made a grievous mistake, the DCMS immediately attacked Tamar once again. As in the first invasion attempt, Lyran reinforcements arrived in time to drive away the Kurita attackers. Then, while the Kurita forces were retreating, the Lyrans pulled off most of their defenders in an open invitation to the Combine to attack again.

The purpose behind this erratic behavior was to tie up as many Kurita units as possible by tantalizing them with the hope of successfully invading Tamar. Every unit hanging about Tamar was one less to cause problems elsewhere for the Commonwealth High Command somewhere else. Though it did not take the Kurita officers long to understand this new “fly-paper strategy,” the temptation of Tamar, the capital of one third of the Lyran Commonwealth, proved too great to resist. For the next six decades, Kurita units would make periodic attempts to invade Tamar, only to be pushed back each time.

-From Blood and Tears: A Kurita Family History by Laura Smythe-Jones, Pesht National Press, 3000

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THE ARM OF THE DRAGON UNDER HOHIRO

While Hohiro’s policies were causing one of the few public demonstrations of mass disobedience in the history of the Draconis Combine, the Combine military was suffering under its own set of new policies.

Coordinator Hohiro had stripped the warlords of much of their power to carry out at least some actions under their own initiative. Now all actions had to pass through the High Command, which resulted in a military very sluggish about responding to new situations. Also taking its toll was the ultra-harsh treatment of the soldiers, which Hohiro seemed to feel was beneficial to warriors. The constant terror under which the average soldier now lived was making him dull, completely lacking in the fire that had formerly characterized the Kurita troops.

Both the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns took advantage of Hohiro’s egomania by making gains against the Arm of the Dragon. The Lyrans managed to take a few worlds back from the Federation of Skye section of the front, but it was the Federated Suns that gained most from the Combine’s military sluggishness. During Hohiro’s reign, House Davion succeeded in taking back seven of its worlds.

-From “Leadership Trends in the Draconis Combine During the Third War,” Internal ComStar Bulletin, 3012

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THE CONTINUING ALLIANCE

The alliance between the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns has had a major impact on the fighting abilities of these two Houses. The Federated Suns launched a major offensive in 3022 that resulted in the capture of the important worlds of Tancredi II, Galatia, Rome, and several others. They also managed to seize Galtor III, a major source of Star League materials. These successes became even sweeter with the return of the elite Eridani Light Horse, which had been resting and recouping from losses of a decade earlier.

On the Steiner front, Tamar and Sevren, two planets that had been contested for decades, have now fallen to the Lyrans. The abilities of the LCAF have continued to improve, and the Steiners have further bolstered their military by employing mercenary units such as Hansen’s Roughriders.

If House Kurita is known for anything, it is for their ability to respond fiercely and passionately when pressured or cornered militarily. If Takashi can hold onto his reign, his lenient policies plus the ability to skillfully manipulate his officers should combine with traditional Kurita fervor to sorely test anything the Steiner-Davion alliance can throw at him.

-From “An Unofficial Look at the Kurita-Steiner-Davion Fronts,” Precentor Stils Weinstein, Internal Bulletin, ComStar Publications, 3025  

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Posted by Delta_Ass

THE RIGHT MOMENT

Scene I

SETTING: The flag bridge of the IJS Yamato, near Samar Island, The Philippines. Gathered there are Admiral Takeo Kurita, Flag Captain Sobu Kuna, and several officers.

TIME: Dawn, 25 October 1944

KURITA: Gentlemen, it has been a long and most unsatisfying war, but I see an opportunity to seize a valuable victory.

KUNA: Then we shall continue to press the attack. I shall ring up the engine room and order more speed, if possible. [Just then the WIRELESS OPERATOR bursts into the room and remains at salute.]

KURITA [annoyed]: Yes, what is it?

OPERATOR: Excuse me, your Admiralty, but I have just received word from Northern and Central Forces. I thought you would wish to know immediately.

KURITA: Has it been decoded?

OPERATOR [handing papers to Kurita]: Yes, your Admiralty. They are ready for your examination. [Pause.] Will there be any response?

KURITA [hunching down]: No.

[OPERATOR salutes and exits.]

KURITA [muttering]: I thought the worst had come with the sinking of Musashi. I see I was mistaken. [Straightening up, he speaks aloud in a normal tone.] Gentlemen, the Northern Force under Admiral Ozawa has been destroyed; all carriers lost. Ozawa’s defeat has left a stain on my own honor, and one I hope to live down. [He brightens visibly then.] There is some good news, however. Nishimura’s fleet has doubled back and now threatens the entire American invasion force in the Gulf of Leyte.

KUNA: Then we still advance?

KURITA: We advance! 


Scene II

SETTING: Takeo Kurita is alone now on the flag bridge.

TIME: Late morning.

KURITA [speaking thoughtfully to himself]: We have finished losing the war that we began to lose nearly two years ago. After being shelled for several hours, the Americans have lost a small carrier, a few escorts. What of it? They have dozens more to replace them. We have lost three cruisers that we could ill afford to sacrifice. We could press on, but to what avail?

No, they are no fools, these Americans-Halsey and Sprague and Kinkaid. They would never, never leave such valuable ships as a target… unless they hoped to use them as bait to trap what is left of my command. Though my head tells me to fight to the death on the high seas, my heart tells me to withdraw in hopes of meeting them another day. I would rather lose face now while there is still a chance to retreat than suffer the ignominious defeat that came to Jisaburo Ozawa.

KUNA [enters]: Admiral.

KURITA [subdued]: Sobu.

KUNA: You wish to change our course? Don’t you intend to pursue?

KURITA [croaks]: No, I have something else in mind. Set course for three-five-five. Flank speed.

KUNA [shocked]: Three-five-that will take us right back through the Strait, Admiral!

KURITA: I know. We are going home, if we can survive that long.

KUNA: May I ask the reason?

KURITA: I owe the men one last look at Fujiyama, one last cherry blossom, one last walk along the seashore. I have had enough of death and destruction, especially if it is to be our own.

KUNA: But Admiral! A force of small carriers lies before us, nearly untouched and practically without escort. Surely we could obliterate them before moving off?

KURITA [sadly]: The Americans have fooled you, have they? Well, they nearly fooled me as well. No, we must withdraw immediately. Perhaps, when the moment is right, we shall strike again, but we must wait for that moment. In the meantime, change course for Yokohama.

KUNA: It shall be done. [He turns to leave.]

KURITA: And Sobu?

KUNA [turns back]: Yes, Admiral?

KURITA: You might wish to light a prayer candle. It cannot hurt.

[CURTAIN]

-From Hell in High Water: a Dramatic Re-Creation in Five Acts, by Marsalis Coye, produced by the Stellar Lights Theatrical Troupe, 3012

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FTL SHIP EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS

It’s green… and it’s beautiful! Look at that beautiful little world orbiting its own beautiful sun!

Thirty seconds ago, no, wait a minute-the ship’s chronometer doesn’t show any time lapse.

Zero time? Is that-I mean, that’s what some of the scientists told us to expect. Still, they’re not here and we are. Wherever we are.

Well, it felt like 30 seconds ago, to my biological clock if to no other. Engineer Land set the hyperspace field generator for one second, and aligned the field for right ascension, declination, and distance. Then he snapped the relay.

Very little happened, except that the ship seemed to shudder minutely. We were forewarned about that, too. But no one told me to expect this brief, strange sensation of wrenching nausea. It’s almost as if the outside of my body had weight but my insides were completely weightless and trying to drift loose. Or like my body was trying to turn itself inside out, or something. The feeling doesn’t last long, fortunately, and there are no lingering after-effects. The accompanying jolt of adrenaline sure comes as a surprise.

I am very glad we brought along the spectrum analyzer and computerized spectrograms of all stars within 50 light years of Sol. Otherwise, we might have had a real chore in figuring out where we are go-I mean, where we are.

Hmm. The first rule of order is to grab some protective goggles and take a quick look at the ex-cams. Only one blindingly bright spot in the sky, with a negative visual magnitude I’d estimate in the minus 20s. Wherever we are, it is definitely not a binary or multiple-star system. Working in silence, I quickly aim the ‘lyzer at the sun, wait 15 seconds, watch the four-laser color printout, and voila! We are in the presence of a G8V spectral class star.

We have, indeed, traveled to another star, and are the first men and women to ever see its light at close range.

A G8 main-sequence is a fairly rare class of star. There are less than a dozen within half-a-hundred light years of our home sun. This is making it unexpectedly convenient for me. I run a quick comparative analysis on the ‘comp, and it confirms that we are in the Tau Ceti system-just as we had hoped, planned, dreamed! I re-aim the scope up a little and to the right (where is up and right from here, anyway?) and run another analysis. Merry old Sol, right where it’s supposed to be. Incredible as it seems, we really have traveled 3.46 parsecs in no time at all!

Observing the orbiting planet, I note that it appears to be just a touch smaller than Earth. It is also a little closer to Tau Ceti than Earth is to Sol, say around 0.8 AU, which would be just about perfect. It’s a little higher on the ecliptic plane than I had expected. (Another detail that depends entirely upon one’s frame of reference.) Looks like it might be the fourth in position. The planets are really bunched up around this star.

It’s a little soon to tell, but my first guess is that it may be square in the middle of Tau Ceti’s life zone. It does have continental land masses, and could those be-bodies of liquid water? Yes, the albedo is right, absorption lines, hmm… everything seems to check out. If it is habitable, we’ve got to call this planet “New Earth.” Maybe it means our race is going to get a second chance. Oh, brave new world that looks so much like home!

-From Transcription of Official Spaceship Log, TAS Pathfinder, 5 December 2108, Captain Norm McKenna, Commander/Astrogator. Courtesy of ComStar Archives

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COLONIZATION LAW PASSES

In a surprise move, the Terran Parliament narrowly passed a bill to severely restrict interstellar colonization and non-governmental uses of the new Kearny-Fuchida interstellar drive. Sources in Geneva report that voting was extremely close, but have not released the exact vote count. Copies of this new law are not yet public, either, but it is believed to contain the following provisions:

1. All extra-solar colonization falls under the sole authority of the Terran Alliance’s Foreign Ministry. Colonization within the solar system is not affected.

2. All colony ships, regardless of origin or manufacturer, must register with the Terran Alliance, and be equipped with an identification transponder. This ID beacon continuously broadcasts a unique message to identify each ship.

3. No person whose name appears on a composite list of known subversives may book passage aboard a colony ship unless he has obtained a special governmental waiver.

4. An armed ship of the Terran Alliance will escort every colony ship departing from Terra.

5. All colonies settled by citizens of the Terran Alliance automatically become part of the Terran Alliance and its jurisdiction. An Alliance-appointed governor will rule each colony, with authority to use force if necessary.

6. These provisions take effect immediately.

A spokeman for the Alliance candidly admitted that “this should bring an end to all them [sic] troublemakers runnin’ off in all directions.” The same spokesman refused to be named for the record.

-From Washington Post-Times, 25 May 2128

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RYAN ANNOUNCES INNOVATIVE WATER TRANSPORT

I called this little get-together because I have some pretty important things to say. I do have a prepared statement to read first. I hope to answer all questions at the end of the session; please hold them until then. If I tell you anything you already know, bear with me. I’d rather make my point and insult your intelligence than wind up talking to myself. [Laughter.]

The last few years have been important ones for all of us, though they might not have seemed that way. In only a few short decades, man has been able to colonize several dozen planets. Maybe it’s getting to be old hat now. Ho hum. Another world populated. That’s nice. What’s new in the sports playoffs? [Laughter.]

Perhaps we are spoiled. We need to be reminded that for millennia upon millennia, mankind only had one world: Earth. I don’t think any of us were even around when the Pathfinder traveled to Tau Ceti and orbited New Earth for the very first time. No one among you gathered here today can remember when Humankind was not venturing among the stars. Oh sure, there were problems occasionally, but we could and would persevere.

Provided we had something to drink. [Lifts up glass of water and drinks from it.] Water. Nothing but a little hydrogen and oxygen mixed up in a liquid arrangement of molecules. Plus, of course, any extra additives we Humans seem to put into everything. [Laughter.] Just water.

Humans, consisting of about two-thirds water by weight, can go weeks without food, but only a few days without water. We need a minimum of two quarts per day to enjoy good health, and it doesn’t matter whether the water comes in the food we eat or in liquid form. I might add, death by dehydration is an extremely unpleasant way to go, or so I’ve been told.

Even so, only a small fraction of total water usage goes for personal consumption. Much more is used for agriculture and hydroculture. Finally, industry uses tremendous quantities in the manufacturing process, particularly heavy industry. It can take as much as 240 tons of water to make just one ton of medium-grade steel.

Yet water-pure, clean, potable water suitable for running a factory, irrigating a crop, or cooling the throat of a young and thirsty child-is hard to find out there. [Points up.] Though not unique in its habitability, our Terra is more blessed than we ever realized, with its oceans of drinkable, easily-distilled water.

During the late 20 and early 21 centuries, scientists discovered the first practical process for the bulk purification of seawater. The equipment was quite expensive and used enormous amounts of electricity. It was also large, fairly complex technically, and its filtration system required constant attention. All in all, it was barely cost-effective.

Still, the need was vital in certain parts of the world, and the process did provide a necessity of life: clean water. Later improvements allowed the removal of more than just chloride compounds. We could now remove certain metals, foreign particles, and other undesirable elements, leaving drinking water.

Of course, with the advent of interplanetary space travel during the middle of the last century, our water problems in this solar system were over forever. Fusion-powered mining vessels and tugs entered our solar system’s asteroid belt and removed as many megatons of almost pure water-ice as we needed. Even though industrial pollution and other ravages had contaminated many of our oceans and rivers over the decades, the ice asteroids were still around, as yet untouched.

Not every solar system has an asteroid belt, however, and not every asteroid belt contains asteroids composed of water-ice. No matter how far we travel, humans still cannot drink ammonia or methane. Nor can humans or plants drink poisonous water. Even machinery can suffer corrosion, or worse, from contaminated water. So what choices do we have when we arrive at a world that is habitable, but possesses little free potable water and no icy asteroids to tap into? It is simply not practical to ship water-purification equipment throughout the galaxy. It is far too expensive, massive, and delicate.

We are left with one possibility. Again, we go back to the “space icebergs” in the asteroid belt. Instead of moving them around within a particular solar system, we move them from one system to another, just as our FTL ships move through space. I came here to announce that I have just obtained a patent on a design to convert interplanetary tankers into KF-powered iceships. I can hear you asking how much a single tanker can hold and whether the idea is practical. Probably not, or we would have already begun doing it. Nor is that exactly what I have in mind. Here is how my plan will work.

The tankers will operate in squadrons of 16 ships. A mining ship will cut a block of water-ice about two kilometers square, and a tug will tow it to the jump point. Once there, the enormous ice cube will be encircled by the tanker squadron. Each ship, operating in exact formation, will then generate its hyperspatial field. The cube, in the approximate center of this roughly globe-shaped formation, will become suspended with the squadron in the hyperspatial field they create. Navigational controls and KF drives of the entire convoy will be computer-controlled from the tanker flagship. In less than an instant, the water-ice and escorts will move from wherever they are to a distant star whose planet is water-poor. Tugs already in-system can then move the ice to any desired location for any desired purpose.

Using this technology, tankers can transport enormous quantities of water-ice anywhere that mankind chooses to go. Dozens of otherwise uninhabitable star systems will now have the water supplies needed to make them livable. Best of all, no one can complain that we are robbing our own solar system’s asteroid belt. My ships will only use ice asteroids from the belts of star systems that could never be made habitable.

There are a few minor technological problems to worth out, mostly in control circuitry for sustaining interlapping hyperspatial fields and for jump-directional navigation. I’m confident my engineers can overcome these minor obstacles in short order. Using this patented process, I expect to start making deliveries within six months to any party or parties who request my services. I’ll even supply the Alliance with water, if they ask politely. [Laughter.] For a reasonable fee, I might add. [More laughter.]

Now, are there any questions? [Applause.]

-Rudolph Ryan, at the media conference announcing his development of iceships, Los Angeles, Terra, 10 January 2177. Courtesy of Terran Broadcasting System

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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

The time has come for a change, and the winds of fate now blow cold across the plains of this, our home. The warmth of our sun has been lost by the oppressions of a world that no longer understands our needs, no longer guards us from danger, no longer supports our wants. Our people have maintained their heart in the face of adversity, but we fear our soul has been lost. Yet, we do not wish a violent confrontation with our one-time benefactors. Such a course might lead to even worse conditions. Rather, we respectfully request a peaceful resolution to our problem, if such be possible.

[section omitted]

As of this date, the planet Freedom does hereby renounce, revoke, withdraw, and deny the authority, accountability, and responsibility of the Terran Alliance, based on Terra, for our world. We hope that our actions will be acknowledged by the Terran Parliament, and accepted in the humane spirit in which they are intended. However, should the need arise, we are prepared to defend our skies, our soil, our lives, our land, with whatever resources at hand.

-From an editorial published by the Jefferson City [Freedom] Press, 27 May 2235

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WORD OF REBELLION REACHES TERRA

Once the Freedom declaration was received on Terra, things began to move quickly. Major Renault Ygon, a top-echelon military courier, verified the message’s contents, and then delivered a hardcopy by gyrocopter from the Matterhorn transceiver station to the Geneva complex. After we became friends, Ygon confessed that he had never been so nervous in his whole life. After showing identification, he interrupted an ongoing Parliament floor discussion on allocating additional funds for aquaculture farming.

At first, I was unimpressed by Major Ygon’s purpose or credentials and I nearly threw him out of the council hall, until he began shouting, “The rebellion has begun! The planet Freedom has seceded!” Ygon had a powerful baritone voice, lending good effect to his unexpected proclamation.

An unearthly silence came over the council chamber as Ygon explained the nature of his message. The faces of the ministers showed outrage mixed with a sense of controlled panic. Within hours, briefings were called, military officers were informed, and plans were discussed.

Most senior military officers saw the secession as a golden opportunity to show the flag, flex some muscle, and test the Alliance’s yet-unproved ability to conduct interstellar warfare. Some of the more rabid even sought to make an example of Freedom. After three hours of debate, two officers had had enough. I watched as they excused themselves for a few moments to place some calls. Less than half an hour later, they returned to quietly observe the debate, which continued throughout the day and well into the evening.

Those two officers were none other than General Armando Luchesi and Admiral Leondard Julliard, senior commanding officers of Terra’s 2 Interstellar Strategic Combined Assault Force [INTERSTRATCAF]. As it happened, three squadrons of KF-equipped strike cruisers, assault carriers, and attack transports were already on maneuvers near Saturn. After Luchesi and Julliard gave the orders, instructions were transmitted from Terra and the force quickly dispatched to the nearest jump point. Pleased with themselves, the two men returned to the debate, knowing that the matter was already well in hand. In less than three days, warships had arrived in-system and were moving toward the worlds of Freedom, Ryde, and Sevren.

Their plan had several general steps. First, to block both jump points of each seceding system, cutting off all interstellar travel, trade, and supplies. Second, to land detachments of Terran marines at each colony of each seceding world to establish a state of total martial law. Third, to severely limit the availability and use of arms by unauthorized personnel (i.e., civilian colonists). Fourth, to replace-by force, if necessary-any civilian leadership with military officers serving on active duty. It was an ambitious plan, if I may say so. As we were all soon to discover, even the best-laid plans can fail.

-From Parliamentary Procedures: An Autobiography, by Kendal Mannhauser, Terran Parliament Master-At-Arms, Cole-Wittkowski Publishing Co., 2257

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MIGRATION

As a result of the Outer Reaches Rebellion, the sociopolitical structure on Terra unraveled. With the Expansionist and Liberal Parties struggling viciously for political control, individual freedoms suffered enormously. “The Terran Alliance has lost control of the stars,” one contemporary political analyst stated, “but its leaders are not about to lose control of Terra.”

When the Expansionists held sway, they passed new laws intended to oppress man’s creative spirit. Strict limitation were placed on all artists (now also construed to mean attorneys, physicians, and certain categories of laborer), and their works were regulated by at least three separate Alliance agencies. Restrictions included the actual number of hours the artist could work, the amount he could charge, and the quality of work he must perform. Enforcement of these laws fell to a new branch of security police called “artistic administrators,” created especially for the occasion. These police would take the artists into custody at special rehabilitation facilities, though the nature of the rehabilitation was not divulged. The AA, as they were known, wore elaborate black uniforms that closely resembled another well-known black uniform from three centuries before.

When the Liberals were in control, they too passed laws. First of all, the government took over all credit establishments and sharply devaluated Terran currency. This gave the government complete control over the price of all Terran goods merely by changing the going rates. It then became a criminal offense to speak of offworld colonies or of anything associated with the Outer Reaches Rebellion. Though these laws were difficult to enforce, there were severe penalties for violations. The most convenient technique consisted of devaluing a person’s electronic credit balance. After a few millionaires spoke unwisely one day and woke up impoverished the next, many others decided to hold their tongues.

Space travel from Terra was almost impossible during the first few years of this “Exodus” period, especially under the Liberal-controlled Parliament. A change in policy took place by 2247, however, when politicians decided to make Terra into a political paradise. This was mostly easily accomplished by giving any dissidents the freedom to migrate if they so chose. By this time, there were enough hyperdrive-powered ships available to remove the troublemakers from the homeworld.

Before long, the government went from “permitting” these people to leave to actively helping them. The rehabilitation camps were now filled beyond capacity, and the devaluation of currency had begun to have wide-scale negative effects on the entire Terran economy. As a direct result, increasing numbers of starships were constructed, and it became politically “correct” to work in any industry that was directly or indirectly related to the colonization effort.

This, too, came at high price, though many did not realize it then. All research and development efforts ceased as both Liberals and Expansionists cut government funding for new technology from their budgets. Instead of investing in design improvements in starship technology, for example, the government earmarked all funds for mass-producing ships of proven design and equipment. Though the strategy was eminently practical at the moment, the policy slowed technological growth to a crawl.

Another factor contributing to stagnation on Terra was that those most oppressed under the current regime were among Terra’s brightest, richest (at least, formerly), and most talented. Those of second- or third-rate intelligence resented their loss of freedom to a lesser degree but were also less-equipped to make up the technological losses. Before the 23 century ended, the elite few thousand who were most at home in a fully stocked laboratory or library instead found themselves fighting for survival on new, hazardous, but politically unrestrictive colony worlds.

-From “The Role of the Terran Political System During the Exodus,” an essay by S. Galpin, in Notes From the Past. Levis Simmons, ed., Star League Historical Press, 2608

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AUDIENCE FROM SVERDLOVSK

SHIRO KURITA [mock-genial]: I am pleased to be among you again, citizens of Sverdlovsk.

1 VOICE: Why don’t you go back where you came from?

KURITA [disdainfully]: Identify yourself, peasant.

2 VOICE: We meant you no harm… why did you attack our world?

KURITA: I offered your leaders a chance to join with me. They refused-

3 VOICE [interrupting]: They didn’t refuse. You gave them no choice.

KURITA [screaming]: Any government that does not side with me is against me! Any man who does not help me, hurts me! Anything that does not provide aid is in my way and must be destroyed! How many of you imbeciles must I kill before you begin to understand this?

-Excerpt of live dialog between Sverdlovsk citizens and Director Shiro Kurita, transmitted via satellite from Chyornyy, Sverdlovsk, 23 December 2303

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SHIRO THE CONQUERER

Dear Kyoodai [brother]:

Things proceed well on this grand tour. So far, I have visited many worlds. Most of their leaders have wisely chosen to cooperate with us. The others will agree eventually too, or else they will die.

I know your constant travels between New Samarkand and Galedon have been hard on you. I have your letter saying that the duties are going well, that the army is still growing, that the Alliance munitions facilities have increased their production. This is good, for we may need them at any time to convince reticent parties of our earnest goal.

Also, you must continue to convert light industrial factories to build weapons of war. The colonists may suffer, but the cause is far greater than their petty pain. Be of strong heart. Our accomplishments shall prove the worth of all our efforts.

Though I am satisfied with my results, we still cannot know the final outcome. War may begin in this instant, the one after, or an eternity from now. Maintain a strong sense of discipline, and we shall always be greater than our enemies. I see you have found that the whip and the electronic bullhorn, when combined, make effective weapons of motivation.

-From a letter written by Shiro Kurita to his brother Urizen, quoted in Son of the Dragon, Abner Jenkins, ed., University of Pesht Press, 2917

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THE WAY OF THE DRAGON

Dear Musuko [son]:

You are 14 years old now, and a man. Though I am still well and fit to lead, you will serve the Kurita line in the event of my demise. You are also old enough to learn some things that I could not tell Tenno-the-boy.

Our forces have paid the price in blood, valor, and high honor to help me create a domain… a kingdom… a dynasty. I charge you, my son, with its protection after my death, on whatever day that may come. I am the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine. My brother Urizen is the Warlord. But you are its future, and your children and their children. Remember this.

I have chosen the dragon as our standard and our symbol, reflecting many facets of our existence. We must never forget the ancient Terran heritage of our line, with its samurai greatness. I remind you, too, that in many mythologies, the dragon is feared and respected for its strength, cunning, and willingness to destroy for the sake of its own power. Always keep the virtues of the dragon in mind, and use them to defeat your opponents.

You may recall that I have spoken much about the treacherous Ozawas and their wealthy merchant fleets. You may now know that the Ozawas no longer concern me. Having met our forces, they were forced to concede defeat after many losses. We, not they, are now the power with whom all in our quadrant must reckon. The Ozawa Mercantile Association must now abide by our rules. Give them no thought or care. A debt nearly four centuries old has been paid in full. From now on, we have the advantage and shall press it whenever we choose. If one wishes to show who is master and who is victim, it is better to inflict a lingering pain upon an enemy than a quick death.

Always preserve the dragon, and its magic will keep you strong.

-From a letter written by Shiro Kurita to his son Tenno, as quoted in Son of the Dragon, Abner Jenkins, ed., University of Pesht Press, 2917

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THE PRINCIPALITY OF RASALHAGUE

We Rasalhagians were a noble collection of proud peoples. We asked little, except to be left to our own destiny and devices. Though life was hard on the new and often forbidding worlds during the Exodus, we managed. It was no harder for us on those strange new planets than for our own ancestors of a millennia before. The freedom to live or die-by our own choice, and not the choice of our government-that is all we sought.

During the Exodus, many of us left our homeworld, never to return. With heavy hearts and a deep sense of regret, thousands of colonists ventured from the Federal Democratic Republics of Sweden, Finland, and Norway. It seemed that our ancestors saw the shape of things to come and decided to abandon Terra even before the main wave of emigration had begun.

Our reasons for leaving were as much geopolitical as they were economic. It was not so much that we wanted to go, but that conditions forced our departure. Our nations had suffered extensively as a result of the Second Russian Civil war in the early 21 century. The hordes of displaced civilians fleeing across the border from their destroyed Soviet homes created severe economic dislocation and near-anarchy in our homelands. As late as the mid-23 century, nearly 150 years later, these once-prosperous nations were still paying the exorbitant social and financial costs of rebuilding the splintered Soviet states. The assessments, assigned by the Terran Parliament and cruelly enforced by Alliance authorities, ensured the economic and psychological bankruptcy of our once proud lands.

When our chance came, we chose to flee. At that time, the unexplored planet of Rasalhague was about as far away from Terra as anyone could imagine. Thus, it was the perfect refuge for a people who had developed a deep and lasting resentment for oppressive, impersonal bureaucracies supported by a strong military. The Terran homeworld seemed bent on depriving our people of their dignity and their means of survival. Thus, we found our sanctuary in Rasalhague and other nearby worlds. Here we looked forward to autonomy and as much physical distance as possible from the authority of Terra.

The worlds settled in this region during this time were organized into a loose structure of clan-oriented families. Family heads took responsibility for their own, and annually elected a single head for each planet, known as a varldherre, or world-lord. In turn, each world-lord paid lip service to the Prince of Rasalhague, elected once every ten years (hence the name “Principality”). We were loyal to our Prince, but not fanatical.

The prince, often referred to affectionately as the “High Chieftain,” was nominally responsible for the safety and wellbeing of every Rasalhagian. In practical terms, though, this protection amounted to little more than verbal agreement to a mutual defense pact. For all intents, every family was on its own and would live or die by its wits and the resources at hand.

Aside from petty family in-fighting and inevitable minor disagreements in planetary politics, we minded our own business. Surviving, we found, was a difficult chore. It became a standard political joke for commentators to add that ‘The Principality of Rasalhague was generally conspicuous by its absence.” As a rule, our citizens showed little interest in interstellar politics, other newly formed governments, or the activities of Terra.

In fact, we might have kept entirely to ourselves until population pressure built up to the point that we needed to expand our vision and our territories (not necessarily in that order). Judging from current trends and if left to our own ways, this might have taken several centuries. Unfortunately, our independence would be forever crushed in 2330 by the heavy boots of the armies of the Draconis Combine.

-From Under the Dragon’s Claw, a History of Rasalhague, by Rebekka Rogers, Tamar Interstellar Press, 2561

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NEW BERGEN BATTLE REPORT

Dear Kyoodai:

With an inflamed heart, I write to you.

I have suffered heavily from an attack made by the rebellious subversives who reside in the Principality of Rasalhague, and I seek blood vengeance for an eternity.

My sons Victor and Isaac are both dead, killed by cowardly villains who would strike blows with stones at children.

A vicious attack has just occurred on New Bergen. Catching our forces unaware, the enemy massacred the entire garrison and also made off with the contents of the supply depot. It was the main storage facility for our entire Rasalhague offensive, billions of yen in equipment stolen. Everything-EVERYTHING—is gone, even a flight of our newest JumpShips!

Rage overfills my heart, and I now see the faces of my dead sons in nightmares. Shiro, I have had the same dream four nights running: Isaac stands in a circular pit of flames, and Victor, standing above, stretches out his hand, trying to reach him. I can see everything, but am too far away to help or cry out a warning. I think this vision comes to me from that stanza of Kokinshu that touched us both so much.

These losses in munitions and equipment will delay the war against Rasalhague for months, or even years. I assure you that I have created some of the most exquisite tortures possible, should I ever capture those responsible. Weep for Victor and Isaac, as I do.

-From a letter written by Urizen Kurita to his brother Shiro, as quoted in Son of the Dragon, Abner Jenkins, ed., University of Pesht Press, 2917 


This night of no moon

There is no way to meet him.

I rise in longings—

My breast pounds, a leaping flame,

My heart is consumed by fire.

-Kokinshu by Ono no Komachi, ninth century

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TYRANT OF RASALHAGUE

Tragedy struck during the last week with the return of Jason Kurita. Why couldn’t he have stayed on New Samarkand, or gone elsewhere?

He has replaced his father Vladimir as Military Governor, and the new reign of terror has already begun. One day a week, at dawn, randomly selected civilians are taken (or carried or dragged) to a field adjacent to the Governor’s Palace in New Rasalhague. As soon as I heard about it, I hid myself there to secretly witness what was going on.

Jason was having the poor people executed, though they were not charged with any crimes. Some were still wearing their nightwear, trying to get their eyes to focus, as they were placed back to back in a rude huddle. Then the slug-throwers opened up. That patch of ground is already being called the “killing field.” Last week, a dozen. This week, two dozen. How many next week?

Our esteemed Governor was in attendance, clothed entirely in black. Sources indicate that he plans to attend as often as possible. His expression showed grim determination rather than enjoyment, which is curious. One wonders why he is ordering these murders, but no one will question him directly.

Every day, Jason makes his two-hour planetwide radio address, making insults and veiled threats, then wailing and weeping at the loss of his family. Rumor has it that if the Military Governor learns of any citizen who does not listen to the address, he will add him to the executions.

With Jason Kurita as Military Governor of Rasalhague, we may soon think of Vladimir’s reign as the “good old days.”

-Anonymous editorial from the Rasalhague Freedom Caller. [a subversive alternate media publication] December 2375

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THE DYNASTIC GOVERNMENT: A DISCUSSION

TORINA: During the 24th century, the dynastic form of government reappeared in force. This “dynacracy” reached its previous peak in ancient Egypt and China, among other Terran nation-states. Now, can anyone tell me what was the major advantage of the dynastic government?

SULLIVAN: To create a rigid ruling caste by virtue of birth?

TORINA: Not exactly. Aoki?

AOKI: The dynasty provided each citizen with an instant means of identifying the powers-that-be. Name recognition, ease in determining persons of authority.

TORINA: Correct, but what single major factor led to its reappearance?

MARDIPEN: The anarchy on Terra and the Exodus?

TORINA: Right. Can anyone tell me how we can be sure the dynasty is still working?

AOKI: Because that governmental form inherently leads to good government.

TORINA: What is good government? Never mind. The dynasty was chosen because some system was needed and it was the most viable, given the circumstances of the time. It still works, and that is proof in itself. There have not been any attempts to alter the governmental form for centuries.

JIGLICH: How does that explain the Succession Wars?

TORINA: Those wars are essentially family feuds, involving five competitive dynastic lines. Each Successor State advocates the supremacy of its own House over all others. There are no democracies, republics, or theoretical sovereignties even in the running, at least not within the Inner Sphere.

MONTROSE: What effect is there when the leader of a House is killed?

TORINA: You have had your biology and classical mythology classes. Like the mythical hydra or common flatworm, when a House loses its head, it grows a new one.

D’ANCONIA: How does one destroy a dynasty, then?

TORINA: When you have mastered that secret, you will have learned how to unravel the greatest fallacy inherent in the Successor States.

-From a ComStar lecture in pre-League political history by Precentor Adam Torina

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He who complies with the ways of the world may be impoverished thereby; he who does not appears deranged. Wherever one may live, whatever work one may do, is it possible even for a moment to find a haven for the body or peace for the mind?

-Kamo no Chomei, 1153-1216

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THE CHANGING NATURE OF WAR

LENNOX: Since approximately the mid-19 century, the relative offensive firepower of trained, individual soldiers increased exponentially, while their defensive ability increased only linearly, at best. It thus became harder and harder to survive the intensity of conventional combat, a problem that grew even worse by the 25 century. Every state that fielded an army realized that it had the potential to wipe out entire populations, even without using chemical, biological, or radioactive weapons.

Full-state warfare could-and would-destroy civilian populations, industrial targets, delicately balanced economies, and entire cultures. Mankind was thus faced with two choices. What were they? Anyone?

KY-TANG: One: Cease to fight wars entirely-with all the sociological implications that would have. Or two: Somehow to make wars less dangerous.

LENNOX: And which did man choose?

PALMERSTON: He chose to make wars less dangerous.

LENNOX: Right. In their typical wisdom, the powers-that-be opted for the second alternative.

Granted, the Ares Conventions drastically changed the rules of war. After they were enacted by all ten major political signatories, battles were less a life-and-death struggle of resources and men, and more a game of maneuver, minimal casualties, and surrender or withdrawal. In some cases, both parties agreed upon secluded battlefields-at safe distances from factories and population centers-before the fighting actually began.

A few commanders even went so far as to draw up lists of ‘victory conditions,’ detailed guidelines for determining the winner of a particular engagement. Many conditions dealt with one side reaching a particular objective, either side suffering a certain percentage of casualties, or other battle-related details. After one or more victory conditions were met, the battle was declared over, and both sides could regroup, advance, withdraw, or surrender, based on their relative successes. When used, these parameters often led to temporary gains or losses in territory, transferal of booty, or other substantial assets in exchange for a hard-fought but relatively bloodless victory. Sometimes, an entire planet might even change hands. Days later, the next battle might completely reverse the previous battle’s outcome.

LI-PO: But what if the commanders refused to abide by the victory conditions?

LENNOX: My best guess is that the commanders would not cheat, because they loved the game of war too much. Admittedly, it makes little sense, but then, war seldom does. One warning: you should never examine the military mind or its motives too closely. There is an inherent degree of insanity present.

Anyway, literally hundreds of these small-scale skirmishes, which some officers refer to as scenarios, were fought between the major states during the century-and-a-half Age of War. These mock wars did preserve the continuity of each major state, permitted populations to grow, and allowed various societies, cultures, and civilizations to thrive.

The Conventions also affected the fundamental concepts of war. The degree of strategic skill needed to win battles attained new heights. Commanders had not only to fight, but to be victorious in compliance with very structured parameters. War was no longer a vocation for the unskilled or undisciplined. Indeed, after the introduction and widespread acceptance of the BattleMech, war was also no longer for the technologically untrained. War had become complicated, more so than in any period of Terra’s past. Now, can anyone tell me what all these battles of the Age of the War accomplished?

NORDWALD: They encouraged esprit de corps among members of the various armies?

LENNOX: That’s absolutely true, but totally irrelevant. War, even in its most insane capacity, has more merit than to give a small percentage of the population a feeling of false superiority over the remainder of the population.

In practical terms, however, all these battles accomplished almost nothing. No Major Political alliances were permanently formed or broken, few appreciable gains in territory were sustained, and no massive military superiorities were achieved. In retrospect, the battles only vented man’s own violent instincts through a partially controlled and ostensibly safer alternative to total war and utter destruction. That is the only good that may be said for them.

However, one must not presume that even these limited battles were without some cost. Valuable and highly skilled men-both military and civilian—died, expensive machinery was destroyed, and even the most insular of battles had a negative impact on the surrounding countryside. The Ares Conventions simply minimized the overall effects of war and kept casualty totals in the thousands, instead of the millions or tens of millions who might have otherwise died.

Even so, the Age of War had a direct impact on the Draconis Combine’s ruling families. Who can name an important personage who was a casualty of the Age of War?

MYCHALS: How about Saigo Kurita?

LENNOX: Correct. Robert and Parker Kurita’s brother Saigo was killed in battle in 2419. Also, three decades later, Lord of Rasalhague Daniel Sorenson’s only son Erik was killed in combat in 2449. Though Saigo’s death had little impact on New Samarkand politics, the loss of Erik forced Daniel to retain the Lordship longer than he had originally intended.

Every major state leader signed the Ares Conventions, although not every leader agreed that they were needed. In particular, Robert Kurita of the Draconis Combine found the provisions to be demeaning, too restrictive, and simply not bloody enough. The Ares Conventions did take some of the horror out of war and made it an acceptable substitute for interstellar diplomacy and peaceful relations. Perhaps it was for their own good reasons, but Robert Kurita and his Combine armies did abide scrupulously by the provisions. Kurita still possessed the right to execute traitorous citizens of his own domain, however. Therefore, he immediately made violation of the Conventions a treasonable offense, for which the punishment would be severe. Whether it was bloodlust or honor that motivated this law, Kurita invoked it often and well.

Does anyone know Robert Kurita’s ulterior motive for signing the Ares Conventions?

POLTER: So he would not lose face with his own people?

LENNOX: Reread your House Kurita history. Kurita would lose more face at home by signing than by not signing. No, he had a more urgent reason. If he refused to sign, the united forces of the signatories would go to war against the Draconis Combine. As bloodthirsty as he may have been, he knew his own forces could not defeat the entire Inner Sphere at one time.

By the mid-25 century, the BattleMech became a frontline weapon system, gradually replacing more conventional equipment. This change revolutionized the technological aspects of warfare as much as the Ares Conventions affected the strategic and tactical aspects. It also made it easier to abide by the Ares Conventions. Fewer combatants were needed, which invited fewer potential violations. Military training evolved into a proud tradition, with intensive preparation required to become a skilled warrior. Though regular foot infantry and armor would continue to have their secondary roles, the concept of ‘quality of manpower’ forever replaced the advantages of sheer numbers.

LI-PO: That explains why it is such an honor to be a MechWarrior.

LENNOX: That may be so, but as far as I’m concerned, becoming a soldier-especially by volunteering-is an incredibly stupid way to live… or die.

-From a lecture in pre-League military history, Precentor Shandar Lennox instructing

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DIPLOMATIC MISSION TO RASALHAGUE

McALLISTER: I wish to thank you, Lord Sorenson, for your most gracious audience and excellent hospitality.

BLAINE SORENSON: Quite all right, Captain. I would not have it said that we were rude, even to those with whom we have political differences. Now that our meal is finished, why don’t you tell us something of your background and how you came to be chosen for this assignment? I’m sure you must have had many exciting adventures.

McALLISTER: I think you flatter me, sir. However, as you request. I was born on the planet Echo in July 2474

ILLIYANA SORENSON [interrupting]: So young, yet so important! Please tell me, what is your birthday, Captain?

McALLISTER [smiles]: Please call me Martin. My birthday is the 4; just a few days ago.

ILLIYANA: How wonderful. Father, may we have a party for Martin?

BLAINE: We shall see, daughter. [To McAllister] What was Echo like?

McALLISTER: It always seemed a backwater world to me, and so I was glad to leave. Anyway, I joined in the army when I was 15.

BLAINE: Kurita takes them that young?

McALLISTER [chuckles]: No, sir. I confess I lied about my age. I served for two years before I acquired a BattleMech. What with the war and all, I was a lance commander before long. My superiors seemed to think I was a natural-born leader. Because my service record was good, they made me a captain.

BLAINE: And how did you come to Lord Von Rohrs’ attention?

McALLISTER: Earlier this year, I met with a senior representative of Lord Von Rohrs on New Samarkand. I had proven my loyalty to the Draconis Combine, and we talked on numerous occasions. Finally, I was given the chance of becoming the Draconis Combine’s emissary to the Principality of Rasalhague. They reassigned me, and here I am.

BLAINE: What is Lord Von Rohrs like?

McALLISTER: I’ve never actually met him, sir. I’ve only dealt through his representatives.

BLAINE: Well, as I said earlier, we would flatly refuse to accept a lasting peace by uniting with the Draconis Combine under the Von Rohr’s dragon banner. Other possibilities for peaceful solutions may yet exist. Visit our land and learn something of its charms. Meanwhile, this is my family. My wife Diana, Illiyana, my elder daughter; Katherine, my younger daughter. This is Jarod, my son.

ILLIYANA [bows while remaining seated, and smiles]: Martin.

McALLISTER [stares at her, then blushes]: Illiyana.

-From conversations at a Principality of Rasalhague State dinner, 9 July 2494. Guest of Honor: Captain Martin McAllister, diplomatic envoy from the Draconis Combine, Rasalhague Government Archives

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A FEMALE HEIR

My father, Martin McAllister, became the Tenth Coordinator in 2510, after he executed the entire Von Rohrs line. He may have been a vain man, but he had earned the right. Though he died young (only 41), he had enjoyed life to the fullest, and won the love and respect of his people. In April 2515, he was murdered in his sleep by a female assassin.

Father’s sudden and untimely death created problems among Draconis Combine nobles because my father had left no male heir. My maternal grandfather, Blaine Sorenson, was popular among his own people of Rasalhague, but the other Military District Governors certainly did not trust him, nor did the rest of the Combine. Thus, he was ruled out.

Someone had to take over. I think a handful of nobles though they could install me and then push through their own plans with little opposition. The end result was that they named me “brevet” Coordinator. I was quite young at the time, only 19, but not as naïve as they expected. Moreover, the other nobles did not trust me much. The Draconis Combine had been ruled as a patriarchy for two centuries, and so having a female leader was almost beyond the comprehension of most nobles. Women may have had their place in the Combine, but it was not in any position of high influence. The nobility were not too fond of having “a daughter of Rasalhague” on the throne either. In fact, efforts to remove me from office came on the heels of my ascension.

If Father had sired a son, I never would have become Coordinator, and if Warren Kurita had not emerged, I probably could not have stayed at court. Warren was the great-grandson of exiled Grant Kurita, and he happened to show up on New Samarkand “in the nick of time,” to use an old cliché. There have been stories that I sent notices throughout the Draconis Combine in search of a suitable Kurita-line spouse. A fascinating tale, I’m sure. We married within days, and, five weeks later, Warren succeeded me as the Twelfth Coordinator in May 2515. The nobles seemed satisfied, and political unity was restored to House Kurita.

No longer tied down to the stressful duties of Coordinator, I settled into a very domestic existence. Warren and I had a very good personal relationship, and our son Hehiro was born in February 2516. Early the next year, though, Warren came down with a peculiar ailment and died after only a few days. Court physicians attributed the death to “mysterious causes,” and some actually suspected me causing Warren’s death. I simply ignored the rumors.

Because my infant son was a legitimate heir to the Kurita line, no one opposed my ruling as regent, although I was not terribly enthused. After all, I was only 20 and wanted to enjoy life outside court. Knowing my duty, however, I accepted my destiny. Just as my father would have done.

-From Lords I Have Known, by Siriwan McAllister-Kurita, Carp of Truth Press, 2628

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THE TREATY OF VEGA

It is resolved whereby the parties who sign and come into accordance with the provisions and conditions of this treaty shall be jointly agreed to abide by the provisions and conditions contained therein.

Condition 1) At which time all parties and States to be concerned have become signatory members, and within a reasonable administrative period not to exceed five years immediately thereafter, the existence of a new hegemony will be created and recognized. This new hegemony, to be known as the Star League, will:

A) consist of founding parties and States, or any subsequent parties and States who accept a bona fide offer to become signatories,

B) recognize, individually and equally, all parties and States as member-Federates within the Star League.

Condition 2) The signatory members of this Star League shall, as their first concern, while chartering this League, provide for the rulership and control of said League in a manner agreeable to all. This rule may include, but is not bound by this treaty to require:

A) a single administrator of the Star League, and

B) a body of ruling persons representing each founding Member-Federate

Condition 3) The individual ruler of the State now known as the Draconis Combine, and the rulers of other Member-Federate States, shall maintain control over the internal affairs of their separate states, beyond the control of the Star League, within whatever limits are arrived at in the charter of the Star League, including

A) complete autonomy over all matters of policy that in no way exceed the borders of the state over which he and/or his government rules, the definition of such matters as exceed these borders to be arrived at by agreement of all Member-Federates, and B) preservation of the internal political structure within the borders of that state.

Condition 4) The Member-Federates shall arrive at a mutual agreement of protection and alliance in the case of attack from outside, non-member states, and a formula for negotiation and/or retaliation in the event of attack by one Member-Federate against another for whatever reason.

Condition 5) The individual signers of this agreement shall not, publicly or privately, discuss, disclose, or otherwise reveal or open the contents herein, until such time as the Terran Hegemony representative, Ian Cameron or his heir or assign, shall deem it meet to open the chartering negotiations of the Star League among all signers of such treaties of intent.

Condition 6) If, within two years from this date, no convention or concordance shall be announced whereby a charter for the aforementioned Star League shall commence, or, if no agreement shall be forthcoming from such convention by five years from its commencement date, this treaty of intent shall become null and void.

Signed this August 15, 2569, Standard Terran Calendar

Ian Cameron, Thirteenth Director-General, Terran Hegemony

Hehiro Kurita, Fourteenth Coordinator, the Draconis Combine

[EDITOR’S NOTE: A similar document was also signed by the Lyran Commonwealth (House Steiner), the Federated Suns (House Davion), the Capellan Confederation (House Liao), and the Free Worlds League (House Marik).

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HEHIRO KURITA, PEACEMAKER

Hehiro Kurita was born in 2516 on New Samarkand. The next year, his father died “mysteriously,” leaving only the infant boy as heir to the Combine throne. His mother Siriwan was to rule as regent, which she did for almost 40 years. She did not relinquish the throne until 2556, a few months before Hehiro’s 40 birthday. Even after her son assumed rule, Siriwan continued to be a major, positive influence on his reign and style of leadership. This is not to say that he was totally dominated, however. Indeed, most historians consider Hehiro to have been one of the most influential and capable leaders in the Combine since Shiro Kurita’s reign two and a half centuries earlier. Siriwan may have been a “kingmaker,” but only her son Hehiro could be the king.

Like his noteworthy ancestor Shiro, Hehiro also believed in militant self-reliance and the inherent ideological superiority of his subjects, when compared with any other state in the Human Sphere. However, Hehiro’s judgments were significantly influenced by his mother, herself a strong proponent of peaceful expansion and administration. Being raised by his mother rather than by his father undoubtedly made Hehiro a bit more charming than many Kuritans, but he also possessed her cunning mind and skill at matters of state.

Many questions have been raised as to why Hehiro permitted his mother to act as regent until he was 40 years old. In all honesty, he never wanted the position of Coordinator. He married at the age of 19, and his wife died in childbirth. He spent the next decade raising his son Martin, before remarrying. Some informed sources indicate that Siriwan offered to step down on several occasions, but Hehiro only accepted after Martin turned 20. Sadly, Martin died just two years later in a battle along the Periphery.

A skilled and convincing orator, a just arbiter, and an iron-willed leader, Hehiro constantly strived for his ideals of perfection, and sought means to attain them. He may be most famous for signing the Treaty of Vega in 2569, which made the Draconis Combine a member of Ian Cameron’s brainchild, the Star League. For this, some members of the military and the nobility angrily accused him of trusting his enemies more than his friends. In response, Hehiro only smiled.

In 2577, he backed the Star League on another major issue: the Unification War against the Periphery worlds. Having rejected the Star League’s offer of membership, these outer worlds formed their own alliance to protect their autonomy. A bloody, 20-year-long war between the Star League and the worlds of the Periphery then followed. These two decades would prove to be more costly in human lives than even the 150-year long era known as the Age of War. Despite some political pressure and significant casualties, the general populace threw its support behind Hehiro.

On issues closer to home, he did condemn many of the court nobles for using bribery, favoritism, blood vendettas, and other similar means to promote their own personal interests. While his action drew considerable hostility from those same nobles, it endeared Hehiro to his subjects to a degree rarely seen in the Draconis Combine before or since. This probably explains the popular support he was able to muster for participation in the Reunification Wars. Though he had inherited his position, Hehiro liked to believe that he would have been the people’s choice had they been given one. However romantic this notion, Hehiro was certainly no fool. That he tripled the size of the Household Guard is an illuminating footnote to the story of his reign. It shows that Siriwan managed to teach him the difference between gullibility and trust. This well-protected man would ultimately die by accident in 2591, when he tripped and fell down a long palace staircase, breaking his neck instantly. Witnesses confirm that no one else was near enough to have pushed him, completely ruling out the possibility of foul play. Hehiro’s son Leonard was next in line.

-From “Hehiro the Peacemaker,” a bulletin compiled by ComStar researcher Joanna Green

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ARS GRATIA ARTIS

Attention: Artists!

Do you work in light, sound, taste, hearing, scent, or balance?

Are you skilled in the ancient arts of painting, dance, architecture, film, theatre, music, or sculpture?

Or have you tried the newest forms of cubing, holoart, light-painting, air-music, sine-sculpting, impressing, null-g ballet, or others even more exotic and original?

If so, you may be eligible for a subsistence grant from the Ministry of Artistic Development, an original program sponsored by Lord Sanethia Kurita of the Draconis Combine.

Contact the nearest Ministry office for more details.

-Public service announcement from New Samarkand News Radio, November 2612

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THE KURITA STYLE OF BUSINESS

The Draconis Combine was never one to shrink from a task. Their efforts to enter into the League-wide economic market showed determination, if not finesse. The case of Waddesdon Traders is a good example of the Kurita style of business.

In 2617, a Sammuel Kestrich and Timth Miyasato bought two near-derelict freighters and boldly proclaimed themselves the Waddesdon Traders. Their first two years were spent carrying chemical fertilizers from their homeworld of Tannil, a Davion world just across the border.

Though business was good, the two wanted to get into bigger-ticket items, but all their attempts were being thwarted by the Kosoan Trading Company, a Davion merchant association with five brand new freighters.

By 2621, the Waddesdon Traders were in deep trouble. Though they had managed to up their fleet to four freighters, the Kosoan Trading Company now had a virtual lock on almost all inter-house trade in that area of the border. Something had to be done, no matter what the cost, no matter what laws might be broken.

In March 2622, an unidentified freighter entered the Shinono system and quietly approached the SS Franklin, a Kosoan freighter. Few noticed the men hidden in the rigging of the unidentified freighter, much less that one of them used a rocket pack to scoot across to the SS Franklin, where he planted an object at the drive-sail junction. The mysterious freighter then moved off, and left the system a day later. An hour after its departure, an explosion rocked the SS Franklin, destroying both the drive core and the sail mechanism. Then came the reports that the SS Franklin was only one of four Kosoan ships to suffer a crippling explosion that very day. The cloud of suspicion quickly settled over the Waddesdon Traders.

The Federated Suns protested these incidents strenuously and demanded that the Waddesdon partners be turned over to them for trial. It was no use, however, for Waddesdon Trader’s audacity had impressed Lord Kurita and his Minister of Economic Exchange and Expansion. The scandal eventually fizzled out, resulting in Waddesdon Traders becoming the largest trading company in its region within two years. Their flagship was a huge, brand-new freighter secretly donated to them by Coordinator Sanethia “in recognition of their business skills.”

-From Trade Relations During the Star League Era, by Precentor Sevir Devasu, Economics Division, ComStar

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RETURN TO ISOLATIONISM

Of the six realms that made up the Star League, the Draconis Combine had been the least enthusiastic about joining. This was because of the belief ingrained into every citizen of the Combine that it was the destiny of House Kurita to eventually rule all humanity. Many, from the highest general to the lowliest Unproductive, had believed that to join the Star League was to admit failure, and implied that the Kuritas no longer honored their sacred destiny.

To win back public support, particularly among the military and the ISF, the Kurita leaders went about it in a typically egocentric way. Schoolbooks underplayed cooperation between the Combine military and the Star League Regulars during the Reunification War, for example. Historians and propagandists also began to claim that the Draconis Combine had not joined the Star League because it offered any special benefits, but out of a sense of pity. Meanwhile, the news media and propagandists were ordered to avoid reporting on events occurring outside the Draconis Combine. This created an image of the Star League as somewhat apart from the realm, and so the Kurita Lord could portray the League’s policies and laws as outside interference whenever it suited his purposes.

-From Political Relations Between the Member States and the Star League, by Professor Jev Avigdor, University of Washington Press, 3021

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URIZEN’S LEGACY

When Urizen Kurita stepped down as Coordinator of the Draconis Combine in 2691, he left a realm radically altered. Because of his many official and unofficial policies, his domain had taken on a nearly uniform culture and a quite disturbing fanaticism. Gone were the trends toward a mellowing and melding of cultures to create something unique among the races and ages of man. Urizen’s mandate to the Internal Security Force had effectively put a stop to that. In its place, he reinstated the culture of a Japan that had existed over a thousand years before, which the Japanese themselves had overthrown when it proved too restrictive. As might be expected, imposing a culture so alien to many citizens of the Combine had several serious consequences.

The first was to stifle a trend that might have encouraged more avenues for the expression of political criticism. The ISF purges quickly put an end to that.

Another effect was to further stratify the society, which was already divided between the nobles and the common people. The new division was between those who could adapt to the new culture, and those who could not, or would not, change to fit the times. Those who refused to adapt often lost all privileges, including the right to work. When such people were high enough in the social hierarchy, they might remain outwardly unscathed, but the ISF would haunt them to their graves.

The last and perhaps most damaging effect of this imposition of the medieval Japanese culture upon the many billions in the Combine was to give the ISF more power then ever. Indeed, they now had carte blanche to practice their dark ways.

During Urizen’s reign, two other positive trends occurred. The first was the expansion of trade between the Combine and its neighbors. Though Kuritan traders had much to learn, they made up for it in hustle and hardball tactics. (In one example, a merchant from the Lyran Commonwealth, the acknowledged expert among traders, bilked a Combine firm out of over 3 billion League bills. In response, the swindled company sent hirelings to lay waste to a warehouse filled with valuable materials owned by the Commonwealth company.)

The other trend was toward technological self-sufficiency. Up until Urizen’s reign, the Combine had relied on other states to provide them with parts for their equipment. When Urizen saw how aggressive the interstellar market was, he was understandably shocked. He immediately ordered a program to encourage the construction of more factories and to assist the expansion of Kuritan industries to supply the parts and supplies needed by the realm.

Imperial City on Luthien may be the most vivid example of the many forces acting on the Draconis Combine during this period. Completed in the final year of Urizen’s reign, the city included stunning imitations of Oriental architecture jammed up against buildings that could only be called “Kurita Kitch.” Most of these buildings, built in the ancient ways from ancient materials such as teak, often house the most sophisticated technological tools and equipment. The greatest irony, however, may be that so many thousands died to build this city that no one but the Kurita family and its elite of courtiers, nobility, and high military men are allowed to enter.

-From The Great Draconis Lizard, by Samuel Puente, Lyran Commonwealth Historical Press, 2871

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ALEKSANDR KERENSKY

My private audience with General Aleksandr Kerensky did not turn out exactly as I had hoped. He refused to stop his military maneuvers near Luthien. This displeases me much, and so I have ordered as many ISF agents as can be spared to infiltrate the Regular Army. We must have an earlier warning the next time General Kerensky decides to try to bully the Draconis Combine. Not only will he fail to get his way, but his military exercises might have to be postponed in favor of defending his very life.

Why so many people are so pleased to hear that he has been appointed Regent and Protector is a mystery. He is a soldier. An excellent one, true, but a soldier nevertheless. It is doubtful that he will stray too far from what Simon Cameron would have wished. If he were truly as good as everyone claims, he would take his power as Regent and rule as First Lord until the boy Richard comes of age.

Even now, it seems that the young Cameron lacks the inner authority to rule effectively-not ten years from now, not twenty, not thirty years from now. We will have no choice but to gut the Star League once and for all.

-From the personal diary of Takiro Kurita, entry dated June 2751

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BETWEEN TWO ENEMIES 

Though bushido has been adopted to suit many different situations, the concept of courtesy toward one’s enemy has always remained vital to a warrior’s sense of honor.

Throughout history, there have been instances of a strong warrior facing an opponent who is ill-prepared to fight, let alone to die. In many such situations, the warrior would simply bypass his opponent, believing it a courtesy to ignore the other’s weakness and to give him a chance to prepare for the next meeting.

On the other hand, the bypassed warrior would feel great shame because of his lack of composure and the fact that he was denied the chance to fight. He would do his best to improve himself for the next meeting. In this way, bushido encouraged weaker warriors to improve themselves so that victory in combat could occur between equally matched opponents and not because of an honorless conquest of the weak.

This courtesy also extends to large strategic actions, such as those of House Kurita during the early days of the First Succession War. The Combine military had exposed the Lyran Commonwealth for what it was: a realm made vulnerable by the incompetence of its military. Instead of pouncing, Lord Kurita decided to take on a much worthier opponent, the Federated Suns.

-From Considerations Upon the Way of the Way of the Warrior, by Professor Timothy Hudello, NAIS 3021

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HEAVEN’S GATE

Second in importance and political power to Coordinator Minoru Kurita during this period was his son Jinjiro. Born to a concubine on Luthien, Jinjiro had spent much of his early life at the center of hot political wrangling.

Though his mother’s given name has been lost, it was customary for a concubine to have an adornment-name, and hers was Heaven’s Gate. A native of the Rasalhague District, she was apparently a beautiful woman whose non-Oriental features made her popular in the ukiyos, or pleasure districts, until Minoru bought her contract. After Jinjiro was born, Heaven’s Gate used every persuasive art she knew to get Minoru to officially adopt the child, making him the legal heir. So great was her desire to see her son become the next Coordinator that perhaps there is truth to the rumors that she spiked the food and drink of Minoru’s wife and other mistresses with an abortion powder. Minoru did eventually recognize Jinjiro as his son and heir. Jinjiro was already ten years old by that time and Minoru’s wife, Yvonne Toshi, was six months pregnant.

Soon, many in the Court were whispering that the Coordinator had been bewitched by his concubine. Whether or not that was true, Yvonne Toshi did not like recent developments concerning the son of Heaven’s Gate, and so she had her pushed off the parapets of Imperial City one dark night. When Jinjiro discovered the twisted form of his mother the next morning, she was still alive. It was almost as though she had hung on, hoping that somehow he would find her, for she died there in Jinjiro’s arms. Legend says that the weeping of Heaven’s Gate can still be heard at certain times among the chambers of the palace concubines.

Perhaps it was the trauma of having to watch his mother die so suddenly and so horribly that began to gnaw away at Jinjiro’s sanity. The pain and shock may have been just enough to push a sensitive boy along the road to madness and atrocity.

Though he grew up to be an unstable, violent man, Jinjiro Kurita was also a skilled military strategist. He carried out some brilliant actions against the Steiner military in the late 2780s, which affirmed his own private belief that House Steiner was too weak to be a worthy target at the present time.

-From “Analysis of Childhood Factors on the Personality of Jinjiro Kurita,” Internal Bulletin by David Morgenthau, Director of the ComStar Psychopolitical Archives, Terra

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BLOOD FEVER

Military indoctrination courses are required of all raw recruits entering the military. These courses, usually consisting of speeches, films, and discussions, attempt to drill into each potential soldier why and for whom he is laying his life on the line. Though every Successor State uses this time-honored military technique, that of the Draconis Combine is by far the most exhaustive.

Though every Combine citizen knows the current line of propaganda chapter and verse, the recruit is treated as though totally ignorant of his realm’s history and destiny. In addition to rigorous physical training, he must endure a political and mental training that is every bit as demanding and has its own share of accidents and casualties.

Those who crack under the mental strain are automatically mustered out of the military. Indeed, the ISF will now keep them under almost continuous surveillance because their failure in indoctrination marks them as permanent security risks. Many who are booted out of the military in this way commit suicide soon after.

The remaining recruits become so steeped in political dogma and the belief in the infallibility of their superiors that they are generally incapable of independent actions on the battlefield. The old saying that a Kurita soldier is about as independent as a pebble in a rockslide is exactly the state of mind the Kurita officers want in their men. It is true that a soldier who obeys orders to the letter may never take the initiative, but neither will he rebel.

This extreme tendency to bottle up emotions and urges at times causes virtual explosions of mental frenzy. Known as the “Berzerker Syndrome” or “Blood Fever,” the condition also breaks out among the militaries of other Successor Houses, but Kurita soldiers seem especially prone to it.

The Kentares Massacre is the most obvious example of this bloodlust. When ordered to murder the entire population of Kentares IV, most Kurita soldiers resisted the idea at first. Indeed, it took the execution of several Kurita troopers to guarantee that the order was carried out at all.

Once the killing started, however, the participating soldiers began to do the work with more and more speed. It no longer mattered to them what they were doing; all that mattered was to see the job done. Many soldiers, particularly those in the lower ranks, went on a virtual frenzy of killing. They nearly gave up resting, eating, and sleeping. All that slowed these men was the lack of ammunition and the time it took to hunt down their “Targets.”

One soldier who succumbed to this form of group madness said it best. “The people of Kentares no longer seemed human to me. They became mere objects, and I felt kilometers distant as I watched them fall beneath my laser rifle. It was more like trying to mow down an endless sea of flesh-colored grass that moved, parted, and made funny noises when I pulled the trigger.”

Of course, many of these soldiers eventually shook themselves free of this mania. Some managed to cope with what they had done because of their strong political beliefs and loyalty. Others were not so lucky, and many committed suicide during and immediately after the Kentares Massacre.

-From Mob Psychology In Military Matters, by Major-General Trevish Bradley (Ret.), ComStar Publications, 3002

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DEVOTION THROUGH HARDSHIP

The war was by now beginning to put a strain on the civilian sectors of the Draconis Combine. After the military seized most of the commercial JumpShips, the Kuritan economy ground almost to a halt. Factories devoted to the production of purely civilian goods either converted to manufacturing for the military or else they closed.

The lower classes of the society were hardest hit, as in every war. On most worlds, the common people were the first to feel the shortages of essentials such as food, clothing, and housing. For these people, the rationing of food and water began six years into the war and remained partially in force until after the Second Succession War. Because the textile industry had to channel almost all available materials into the manufacture of uniforms, clothing for the average citizen had to be made into the cheapest cloth. The situation was similar for housing, too, with the added fact that the war destroyed existing housing at the same time it siphoned away building materials for new housing.

Into this misery came the propaganda that to sacrifice one’s comfort, security, and health for the greater good was a worthy, honorable deed. There were numerous government-sponsored contests to promote the art of selfless giving and to hold up for praise those who best exemplified it. Though some might have questioned the war measures that led to so much scarcity, the ISF was efficient enough to nip in the bud any potential protest long before it could spread. Anyone who complained publicly was executed publicly in a particularly gruesome manner.

Blood sports first made their appearance in the Draconis Combine during this time. Though the early forms were gladiator-like contests between criminals—a diversion not unknown to humanity—the propagandists put their stamp of approval on it. These brutal spectator sports helped to channel off the resentment that might otherwise have built up to dangerously explosive levels.

-From The Draconis Combine And Moral Entanglement, by Professor Uverman Brav, Tharkad University Press, 2910

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SNAKES AND SNEAKS

In 2825, the Paul Bunyan Regiment, a mercenary unit of MechWarriors from the Regular Army as well as from several Periphery realms, rebelled against the Draconis Combine. Stationed on the Kurita world of Zlatous, the unit had every reason to feel ill-treated by its employers. Though the Paul Bunyan Regiment had served as the rallying point for the retreating Kurita units of the Galedon District in the latter part of the war, the Office of Professional Soldiery Liaison (the department within the DCMS that handled relations with mercenary units) was not even bothering to pay the unit’s salaries now that peace had come.

In 2822, the DCMS announced a new, totally optional system of procurement for mercenary units. On the surface, the system seemed quite fair. Instead of having to request supplies, the new system allowed an increase of the mercenary unit’s pay so that they could buy supplies directly from the Procurement Division of the military. The Paul Bunyan Regiment, along with most of the other merc regiments in the Draconis Combine, agreed to the new system.

It did not take long for the regiment to realize that they had been conned. Their pay increase did not nearly cover the expense of buying supplies. As a result, the mercenary unit went deeper and deeper into debt to the Procurement Division. In an effort to work their way out of the situation, the regiment was forced to take on more and more missions. That, in turn, created a need for more supplies, which caused more debt, which created the need to carry out more missions, and so on.

In June 2825, the Paul Bunyan Regiment had had enough. Its units struck at warehouses on Zlatous, seizing what equipment it could for their weapons. Food warehouses were also a prime target, because most of the unit’s members had been forced to cut back on their ration chits.

Though the ISF had taken note of the regiment’s growing discontent, their violent actions did surprise the Kurita government. In reaction, Jinjiro ordered the destruction of as many of the mercenary unit’s DropShips as possible, along with the capture and seizure of their JumpShip. He then ordered in the nearby 5 and 9 Galedon Regulars to punish the rebellious unit.

Deprived of a way off Zlatous, the Paul Bunyan Regiment dug in and prepared to face the coming Kurita force. It took the Kuritans two months to destroy the regiment, in the process laying waste to much of the planet. Some of the mercenary regiment did escape by seizing a Kurita DropShip and disappearing into the Periphery.

As a result of this incident, the Draconis Combine altered the way it handled mercenary units. It made the Company Store syndrome more subtle, so that it took a merc unit longer to sink into debt with the Combine. It also meant that it took longer before the unit realized what was happening. The DCMS perfected this system to the point where several mercenary units were eventually forced to sell themselves into the DCMS in order to pay off their debts.

Though the other Successor Houses do not necessarily treat mercenary units very well, none make such a concerted effort to subjugate their mercs. The Combine either ignores the needs of a unit to avoid having to squander its own precious supplies or money, or else it attempts to entangle the unit in a web of debt.

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DIVINE WIND

Mission Elapsed Time—00:18:23.34

Glory to the Arm of the Dragon. Drop proceeding as planned. Heat shell cracked and pieces dispersed as expected, hopefully jamming the sensors of the Steiner military presence on Maestu. The auto-Drop systems on the ‘Mechs of my lance members seem to be working well. Only Unproductive Metsuko’s Stinger is deviating off reentry path, but not seriously. Time to touchdown is two minutes, forty seconds. Expected to be within three kilometers of the Steiner water purification plant.

Mission Elapsed Time—00:25:02.23

Light flak bearing zero-niner-niner. Likely to be a couple of autocannons and a laser battery. They are not in path, and so have ordered lance to avoid and disregard. Unproductive Mitchell is having trouble remembering how to work the elbow joint of his Phoenix Hawk or else the actuator has failed. Tough to tell, because all the Unproductives ‘Mechs are such piles of guano…

Mission Elapsed Time—00:29:19.99

Just picked up blips of what can only be Steiner garrison ‘Mechs. Computer estimates one assault, two medium, and one light in size. Trouble is they’re right in our path. No going around. For the greater glory of the Dragon…

Mission Elapsed Time—00:31:23.32

Harrison? Pattern fire on my count. Group, on my count, execute the Dive-Drive Maneuver. Mitchell, Metsuko, and Harrison-you’ll be the dives. Coverfire for one, and only one minute only. Rachter, you and I will be the drives. Remember, don’t concentrate all your fire on just one opponent. Hit them all if you can to stun them into letting you drive past.

Hit your ChemCourage, group. What? Yeah, it’s a hell of a way to win salvation. But just think, if you survive, you’ll be heroes and citizens. Might even get to shake the Coordinator’s hand. Ready? OK men, there they are. Dive, NOW! For the greater glory of the Dragon!

Mission Elapsed Time—00:33:36.01

-Transcript from Mission Log of Lieutenant Hevly Gomes, Lance Leader of Chain Gang 23 in the strike against the Lyran Commonwealth world of Maestu

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THE NIGHT OF THE SWORD

I, General Frederick J. Kozoma, member of the DCMS High Strategic Council and the Procurement Evaluation Board, do hereby assert that what follows is a factual and account of what transpired on June 23, 2838.

My reasons for acting as I did are numerous and perfectly reasonable. After Jinjiro’s illness forced that great leader to retire, Zabu assumed the throne.

Though I am sure he was an honorable man, Zabu lacked what has always made the Kurita family great-the desire to reduce his enemy to groveling at his feet. I doubt that Zabu even believed in the Kurita destiny. He certainly didn’t show any such Kurita breeding when he issued the 2839 Budget.

My fellow generals and I couldn’t believe it when we received copies of the budget. It called for a 4 percent cut in our military budget! I haven’t the serenity of my more Japanese colleagues, and so I was unable to control my anger and displeasure.

Apparently I was not the only one who felt betrayed by Coordinator Zabu’s actions. Three nights later, a group of my colleagues knocked at my door one evening. They had come to say that Zabu Kurita represented a clear and definite threat to the destiny of the Draconis Combine and that something had to be done about him before his pacifist policies spread further.

They appointed me to be the sword of their desire. The next night-last night-I concealed a special sword in my cloak. The sword was made of a special plastic that enabled me to walk through the metal and explosives detectors without incident.

I informed Zabu’s secretary that I was there to deliver an urgent message of military importance. The fact that the secretary dared ask me if it could wait till morning confirmed the rightness of the deed I had come to do. Why, in Jinjiro’s day, any man bearing important military news would have been ushered in immediately.

As it was, I had to wait some ten minutes in the corridor outside his door. When I finally entered, it was a shock to see one of his concubines lying among the rumpled sheets of his bed. Gods, Jinjiro would never have allowed a mere woman to stay a second longer than was necessary to service his needs-not that any of the concubines would have wanted to. This seemed one more proof of Zabu’s weakness. He must have been one of those “perfume men.” You know the type, the ones who actually lend a serious ear to what a woman might have to say.

All this so enraged me that I immediately drew my weapon. Seeing the sword did not affect Zabu as I had expected, however. He showed no fear, but only looked me in the eye and asked if I were acting alone or if I represented the other generals as well. When I told him that I was acting in accord with the views of most of the military High Command, he gave a slight nod.

He looked at my sword again, then got up and walked toward one of the room’s walls. Half expecting him to call for guards, I was preparing to launch myself at him when he reached up and pushed a concealed button. A portion of the wall slid back, revealing an array of the most exquisite swords I had ever seen.

He reached up for one, smiling slightly. By now, I was certain that he was going to fight me personally. Feeling a bit outclassed by the sword he chose, an incredible blade that must have been an ancient Japanese antique, I prepared myself to die. Just then, Zabu turned and offered me the sword with a smile.

Shocked, I took the blade without saying a word. He then asked to be allowed to send his woman away. I agreed and watched with more puzzlement as he roused her, kissed her most lovingly, and sent her from the room.

I could not help but ask how he was able to accept his death so gracefully. It was far from what I had expected. Zabu replied that he was above all a Kurita and so viewed death in its proper light. He said, too, that it would have been ridiculous to try to avoid his death when his own military was dead set against him. No matter what he might do—purges, executions, and the like-he would always have to consider the DCMS as the enemy. Better to let the inevitable happen now, he said.

I gave him all the ritual courtesies. First, he wrote his death haiku, which was a fine one. I then allowed him to shower and to change into his best uniform. Finally, he took a silk mat and laid it in the center of his room. Kneeling on it, he took a short sword-another antique with beautiful designs along the blade-and wrapped it in a sheet of clear, white rice paper. He then took the sword and laid the point of it on the skin of his belly. I raised my sword.

I still do not understand his ability to meet death so honorably. Could he have been a better man than we imagined?

-Confession by General Frederick Kozoma, taped by ISF agents

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KEYS TO THE MYSTERY

Snow Fire was a Steiner assassin, of that there could be no doubt. She had been planted in the Rasalhague district by the Lyran Intelligence Corps years earlier to gather information and to be ready should the ultimate assignment come. Her many skills had served her well.

Apparently, she had also had her own personal reasons for wanting to assassinate Lord Kurita. Her lover had been a member of the 4 Royal Guards, a unit that had been destroyed by the Kuritans. The regimental patch she had laid on the Coordinator’s dead body was that of the 4 Royal Guards.

What has sparked considerable debate is how Snow Fire managed to get so close to Yoguchi without being discovered by the all-seeing ISF. The most plausible explanation is that someone high in the Combine government knew that Snow Fire was an assassin and simply turned a blind eye to the fact.

The Director of the ISF at that time was Malcolm Katsuyori, who had taken deep offense at the Coordinator’s decision to place the ISF under control of the military. Though he could not order his own minions to kill the Coordinator, it is possible that he might have allowed Snow Fire to become the Coordinator’s mistress, knowing full well that she was a spy and an assassin.

Roweena Kurita is another possible link to the mystery. As Coordinator of the PRE and confidante of Malcolm Katsuyori, she could also have been aware of Snow Fire’s secret profession. Her motives for allowing the concubine to fulfill her mission would have been more complex, but not at all political. Roweena did not seek power; indeed, she refused to take over as ruler of the Combine when Yoguchi died.

From evidence gleaned from private letters and diaries, we know that Roweena was deeply in love with some unnamed person. From other evidence gathered, it is quite possible that the object of her affections was Snow Fire. (Such an affection would not have been out of place in Kurita society, where sexuality has its place in life, as long as it does not interfere with the Code of Honor.) Roweena’s unnamed lover apparently spurned her advances. If that person was Snow Fire, the hurt and angry Roweena could easily have kept her own counsel about the concubine, knowing that the girl would soon be dead by her own hand.

-“Some Evidence Gathered on the Death of Yoguchi Kurita,” ComStar Internal Bulletin, 2851

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SWORD OF LIGHT

In Buddhist legend, the Myoos are wrathful deities who drag unwilling souls to their salvation. Each Myoo carries a flaming sword that represents the radiance of Buddha’s teachings. This odd sense of salvation through the actions of a wrathful deity appealed to the earliest members of the Kurita ruling family. It rationalized warring upon one’s neighbors to save them from themselves. As the elite of the DCMS, the Sword of Light were always compared to the flaming sword of the Myoos.

To be accepted into a Sword of Light regiment, a candidate must have spent at least five years in a lesser ‘Mech regiment and have scored in the upper 5 percent of a rigorous battery of political, religious, and military tests. Those who manage to make their way into a Sword of Light regiment are the crème de la crème. If he lives to retire-no easy feat-a Sword of Light warrior can look forward to a life of comfort and glory. There have been twelve different Sword of Light regiments throughout the history of the DCMS. There are currently five.

-From “Unique Regiments in the Armies of the Successor States,” General Malvos Steinburg (LCAF ret.)

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THE UNOFFICIAL RULES OF WAR

Since the beginning of the third war, a set of rules governing combat has been slowly evolving. As the high commanders realized that their supply of parts and resources was dwindling fast, they began to adapt to the scarcity. Even before engaging in battle, one side might realize that his force had no chance to win and so would withdraw to cut his losses. Such a phenomenon would have been unthinkable during the first two wars, both of which were famous for battles in which the winner was the last one left standing.

Early in the Third Succession War, commanders began to plan battles in clear and open areas away from cities because they wanted their troops to have the best terrain in which to use their precious supplies. This tendency to fight away from cities was soon reinforced by the scavenger mentality that seized all the realms. With parts and equipment often irreplaceable, scavenging through the rubble for supplies and spare parts in the aftermath of battle became almost as important as the fighting.

This trend did not sit well with many of the more conservative DCMS generals. Raised in the old ways, they expected war to be terrifying, gruesome, and dramatic.

When Taragi learned that some of his generals questioned the new way, he issued a booklet entitled The Katana Principle. Consisting of a series of the Coordinator’s observations, this small report outlined the religious and moral beliefs that supported the newer, more humane way of fighting. He wrote that the new style of fighting might not be as exciting as some of the older ways, but it was the only way to preserve the equipment and people vital to the Draconis Combine’s eventual dominion over all humanity. The brief essay ended with the remainder to the generals that bushido demanded obedience to one’s lord above all. The question never came up again.

-From “Taragi And The Katana Principle,” Simone De Guthul, Precentor of Luthien

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THE FLY PAPER STRATEGY

The Arm of the Dragon’s failure to capture Tamar proved more than just another humiliation for the Kurita generals. In one of the few truly clever strategic moves in the history of the Lyran Commonwealth, the LCAF High Command purposely left Tamar under-defended after forcing the last Kurita attacker offplanet.

Believing that the Commonwealth generals had just made a grievous mistake, the DCMS immediately attacked Tamar once again. As in the first invasion attempt, Lyran reinforcements arrived in time to drive away the Kurita attackers. Then, while the Kurita forces were retreating, the Lyrans pulled off most of their defenders in an open invitation to the Combine to attack again.

The purpose behind this erratic behavior was to tie up as many Kurita units as possible by tantalizing them with the hope of successfully invading Tamar. Every unit hanging about Tamar was one less to cause problems elsewhere for the Commonwealth High Command somewhere else. Though it did not take the Kurita officers long to understand this new “fly-paper strategy,” the temptation of Tamar, the capital of one third of the Lyran Commonwealth, proved too great to resist. For the next six decades, Kurita units would make periodic attempts to invade Tamar, only to be pushed back each time.

-From Blood and Tears: A Kurita Family History by Laura Smythe-Jones, Pesht National Press, 3000

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THE ARM OF THE DRAGON UNDER HOHIRO

While Hohiro’s policies were causing one of the few public demonstrations of mass disobedience in the history of the Draconis Combine, the Combine military was suffering under its own set of new policies.

Coordinator Hohiro had stripped the warlords of much of their power to carry out at least some actions under their own initiative. Now all actions had to pass through the High Command, which resulted in a military very sluggish about responding to new situations. Also taking its toll was the ultra-harsh treatment of the soldiers, which Hohiro seemed to feel was beneficial to warriors. The constant terror under which the average soldier now lived was making him dull, completely lacking in the fire that had formerly characterized the Kurita troops.

Both the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns took advantage of Hohiro’s egomania by making gains against the Arm of the Dragon. The Lyrans managed to take a few worlds back from the Federation of Skye section of the front, but it was the Federated Suns that gained most from the Combine’s military sluggishness. During Hohiro’s reign, House Davion succeeded in taking back seven of its worlds.

-From “Leadership Trends in the Draconis Combine During the Third War,” Internal ComStar Bulletin, 3012

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THE CONTINUING ALLIANCE

The alliance between the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns has had a major impact on the fighting abilities of these two Houses. The Federated Suns launched a major offensive in 3022 that resulted in the capture of the important worlds of Tancredi II, Galatia, Rome, and several others. They also managed to seize Galtor III, a major source of Star League materials. These successes became even sweeter with the return of the elite Eridani Light Horse, which had been resting and recouping from losses of a decade earlier.

On the Steiner front, Tamar and Sevren, two planets that had been contested for decades, have now fallen to the Lyrans. The abilities of the LCAF have continued to improve, and the Steiners have further bolstered their military by employing mercenary units such as Hansen’s Roughriders.

If House Kurita is known for anything, it is for their ability to respond fiercely and passionately when pressured or cornered militarily. If Takashi can hold onto his reign, his lenient policies plus the ability to skillfully manipulate his officers should combine with traditional Kurita fervor to sorely test anything the Steiner-Davion alliance can throw at him.

-From “An Unofficial Look at the Kurita-Steiner-Davion Fronts,” Precentor Stils Weinstein, Internal Bulletin, ComStar Publications, 3025