BattleTech: Excerpts from the House Marik sourcebook

THE COLLAPSE OF ILLUSION
 
Democracy and imperialism are a bad mix at best. Without the full cooperation of the governed, an imperialist government must ultimately become either venal or authoritarian in order to enforce its will. The Terran Alliance has cleverly avoided the pitfalls of indecision and undertaken to become both.
 
While poor but visionary colonists carved civilization from mankind's last and greatest frontier, the bureaucracy grew even fatter and richer than it had been; when the frontiersmen complained about the situation the Navy was dispatched to coerce them into subservience. This response destroyed any illusions the rebellious colonies might have had about mother Terra's concerns for their welfare.
 
Nevertheless, the military forces of Terra were about to be disillusioned as well, discovering that invading a planet was not a simple matter of storming the beaches and seizing the airfields. If the millions of indigenous rebels wished to resist, only substantial firepower could cow them.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
-Sir George Humphreys, from the preface to The Collapse of Illusion, Globe Press, 2251
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ON THE SENATE FLOOR
 
It seems more than a trifle foolish for us to be stunned that there is unrest in the colonies. Our forebears suffered this, and for much the same reasons: they were unwilling to share the government, and even violence did not change their minds. The society of mankind, my fellow Senators, is not monolithic, like some great arch of triumph. It is like a great tree, with boughs extending in all directions. It must be willing to bend to the coursing of the winds, or else the fury of those winds will surely break it.
 
-Speech to the Alliance Senate by Charles Marik, April 14, 2231
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DEAD LANGUAGES
 
The benefits of having a single universal language are well-known. It is unfortunate, however, that the adoption of English has led to the disregard of so many other languages, each of which was an important contribution to the inventiveness of human consciousness. It was less than a century after the accords establishing English as the Free Worlds League's official language that Romanian, Bengali, and Hindi became counted as dead languages. Although they are still studied by scholars, their loss as living tongues can only be mourned as an irreplaceable loss to human culture.
 
-From Expanding Galaxies, Shrinking Thought, by Lakshmi Davis-Samsarananda, University Press, 2988
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THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY
 
It was Humphreys' Regulus Land-Grant program that really won me over. We had a world called Ngake, where we had encouraged offworld investment by giving tax breaks and seed money to investors on the condition that they develop the planet economically, providing schools, roads, and medical care for the natives. We did this not out of altruism, or out of greed (although the investors certainly improved the tax base on Ngake), but in order to unify our realm. By that I mean, the more investment from one group of our people in another, the more interrelated their interests would be, and the less chance there would be of the Principality of Regulus breaking down into separate states. When Humphreys cited this precedent, I realized that he was adapting what we did to a much larger scale, founding a state that could defend itself more efficiently than any of its component parts. And I won't deny that I was flattered that he was using my own work as a parallel to what he intended to do.
 
-From Memoirs of Raju Selaj, Regulus Unity Press, 2293
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A FOOL AND HIS KINGDOM
 
...An excellent example of such shortsightedness is a fellow called David Genovese, the dictator of Stewart. Genovese had had a brilliant career suppressing freedom. When he took over the leadership of the Stewart Confederacy, it was a ragtag, impoverished group of planets that had trouble ordering spare parts for even the simplest of their factory machinery. Genovese "made the trains run on time" (to use a phrase describing another dictator of a couple of centuries earlier), and he was proud of his accomplishments. Agricultural production on Bedeque, the most fertile of the Stewart planets, had increased 80 percent in five years. Interplanetary communications systems had been streamlined. This was one of the few cases in Free Worlds history where dictatorship worked; so, naturally, he was convinced that nothing else ever would.
 
Juliano Marik's invasionary forces, actually met with little resistance from Genovese's military. This was because Genovese insisted on commanding his troops himself, and he was not a master strategist. His rigid insistence on troops following his plans to the letter led to disaster when, ironically, a communique from the front was garbled due to bad weather. Not realizing that his troops were defending a swamp created by three days of monsoon rains, he ordered the troops to hold the position rather than abandoning it. Descending on the planet when the weather cleared, the invasionary force pummeled the Stewart troops mired in the ground. After this debacle, the Stewart forces were demoralized, and their faith in the dictator--and in dictatorship--was severely damaged.
 
The subsequent conquest of the Stewart worlds took a mere four months. Captured in his palace, David Genovese was forced to apologize to Marik publicly for inconveniencing his troops, after which Genovese was publicly beheaded.
 
-David Oglonsky, Collected Lectures, Andurien University Press, 3012.
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THE TURNING POINT
 
The breakthrough came in 2269. Humphreys had been pleading--with dignity--with Marik and Selaj for three long years. (I suspect that the biggest factor working against him was that all his arguments made such perfect sense.) Detlev Marik told me afterwards that he'd liked the idea of a Free Worlds League from the first, but had his doubts as to whether it would ever get off the ground due to the diplomatic difficulties involved. By autumn of 2269, he had just about given up, thinking that if he hadn't met with Allison and Selaj by then he probably never would.
 
The turning point came because of a historical serendipity that no one could have predicted. Leaders or anybody else with a lot of responsibility need hobbies, probably more than most people do. They try their best never to show it--the last thing any political leader needs is for news to get out that they're a little bit eccentric, and anybody's hobby looks eccentric to people who don't share an interest in it. All the same, show me a leader who doesn't have a hobby and I'll show you a person near the breaking point.
 
Anyway, Raju Selaj collected miniatures: toy soldiers, doll houses, oil paintings, first edition books of poems in four-point print. (This fact was never published in his lifetime.) During a state visit, on an impulse, Selaj invited Humphreys to examine his collection. Delighted with finally getting to see the human side of the cold, intense prince, Humphreys mentioned the collection to Detlev Marik the next time they met. What Marik collected was trophies--not his own, but samples of awards given out in different times and places. Marik appreciated excellence and liked both the form and the spirit of awards people had devised to honor one another. I'm convinced that each man's curiosity about each other's collections had a lot to do with getting them into the same room to negotiate a formal alliance.
 
Even so, it took two more years before the conference actually occurred. By that time, Selaj and Marik had corresponded several times and were thoroughly prepared to regard one another as friends when they finally met.
 
-From Origins of the Free Worlds League: Memoirs of Anthony Franchicka, Danais Press, 2310
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NO HOLDS BARRED
 
Taylor turned away to look out across the great factory/city that spread out to the horizon. DeShong was silent, knowing that the great industrialist was about to wax poetic again. He'd heard the speech before, but waited patiently while the engines of hyperbole were stoked in Taylor's brain.
 
He could almost read the platitudes as they crossed Taylor's furrowed skull; it was like he was watching some sort of electronic tickertape, sending him reports of stock prices rising.
 
"You know, Ken," Taylor finally said, "this is the time to live in."
 
Standard speech #47, DeShong thought. Here we go again. But he nodded, putting on what he hoped to be his best "bright young man" smile. "Yes, sir."
 
"I got everything I have everything you see--by working for it, clawing and fighting for it. No government handed it over to me, like some sort of birthday present. My dad, rest his soul, was a third-watch engineer on an oreship." Taylor gestured to the 3D portrait of the Old Man, hanging on the far wall like some sort of icon. "When he died of iridium poisoning at 36, he left scarcely a thousand M-Bills to bury him with and to keep my family alive. I had no choice but to leave home, finding whatever work I could--"
 
Doing anything I could set my hands to, DeShong thought, working two, three jobs--
 
"--doing anything I could set my hands to, working two, three jobs, until finally I had my chance. And I made the most of it." He slammed his fist onto the desk. "And I did it without the help of goddamn government. We didn't need 'em then, and we don't need 'em now.
 
"I don't need stinking government safety inspectors sneaking around my factories, prying into my secrets. And I'm not going to let that bastard Noren get away with it, Senator or no."
 
Now, DeShong thought, he'll start lapsing into the bit about how he'll throw them off the property with his bare hands if he has to.
 
To the younger man's surprise, however, Taylor's anger subsided, and a wry smile crossed his face. "Yes indeed, Ken," he said. "Anyone who tries to tell you 'bout the good old days, they're talking out the wrong end. These are the good old days." He picked something off his desk and tossed it into DeShong's lap: a vid cassette, labeled with the familiar emblem of Taylor and Cie and the top secret emblem.
 
"What--"
 
"Bring that over to Sherry in Liaison. Tell her to send a copy of it, with my compliments, to our crusading friend Senator Noren. I'll bet you a bottle of my finest Chateau Rothschild that we won't see any more of those scheming investigators. You see, Ken, my boy," and he placed a fatherly hand on DeShong's shoulder, "we've got the goods on Noren."
 
-from the historical novel Big Time, 2371
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ATTACK ON GERALDINE MARIK
 
Two months before her assassination, there was a less subtle attempt on Geraldine's life. She and her retinue were on the reviewing stand during a Marik Day parade (celebrating the anniversary of Charles Marik's announcement of the Free Worlds League). Dorian Marik, who allayed suspicion by standing on the reviewing stand with her, had arranged for low-power explosives to blast the supports out from under the stand. He had also hired several members of a local street gang to attack the Marik when the stand collapsed.
 
Geraldine, who was fifty years old at the time, escaped the seven-meter fall with barely a scratch, and her bodyguards, though disoriented at first, recovered in time to kill the gang members before they did anything worse than wound Allan Marik's arm. At the time, it was regarded as the most chuckleheaded assassination attempt in history, and the gang, the Satan Slashers, became a laughingstock for Marik comedians.
 
-From The Calamitous 24th Century, by Ian Barduk, Globe Press, 2732
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THUMBS DOWN
 
It is amazing to think how many of the "heroes" of classic fiction are rogues. Think of Raskolnikov, that ax-murdering madman; Charles Foster Kane, who starts a war just to sell newspapers; or Macbeth, who kills his patron and usurps his throne. These rogues, however, either repent or get their comeuppance, while the terrorists in Angel Run are not only brutes, but brutes glorified.
 
From the opening shot of the wilderness where the Sian-Mariks land, to Clorinda's apotheosis as a symbol of rebellion, this film is atrocious. That killers capable of dynamiting a nursery (as the real Roger Sian-Marik did) should be treated as heroes is bad enough, but the obsessive closeups of carnage are really sick.
 
In my opinion, there is no worse crime in film than to make the gunning down of shoppers in a supermarket exhilarating. Jettisoning a busload of intergalactic tourists into deep space is definitely not amusing; watching a laundromat full of diplomats split open in a decompression chamber is far from entertaining.
 
The only comfort I can take is that this film will soon be cut up into ukulele picks and will not immortalize these creeps.
 
-From a review in Film Orgy magazine, July 2394
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THE ENIGMA OF "UNCLE MIKHAIL"
 
One of the most intriguing case histories for psychohistorians is that of Mikhail Marik the Avenger. Here was a man whose life was full of contradictions. Everyone who knew him agreed that he was very consistent and methodical. Why then did this archetypal tough guy kill himself?
 
Some people believe that he committed suicide because he was more afraid of pain than of death, and that Allan Marik intended to put him to death in an especially grisly manner. This reasoning is highly unlikely for a couple of reasons. In his youth, Mikhail had been in a gyrocopter crash and had walked six miles through a desert without water and with a fractured ankle and a broken arm, carrying an unconscious comrade. A person capable of that kind of heroism is not easily intimidated, not even by Allan Marik. In addition, Allan himself was not a cruel man. He might have intended to have his uncle killed, but he certainly would not have tortured him.
 
A more likely explanation is that Mikhail was suffering from a degenerative disease called Knight-Grasse's Syndrome, which had started showing up in the late 21st century. In 2367, people were dying slowly and painfully from it. The autopsy on Mikhail Marik revealed that he had been in the intermediate stages of this disease.
 
Another possibility, which came to light after Geraldine, Allan, and Mikhail Marik's personal papers were published, was that Mikhail was depressed about the fate of another family member. Mikhail had an illegitimate daughter--this was never known outside the family during his life--named Hideyo Makayoshi. Her mother was a minor member of a Kurita trade mission that met with Mikhail in 2344. Apparently, the two fell madly in love, but nothing could come of it because of the ticklish political situation between the Free Worlds and the Draconis Combine. When the mother became pregnant, she realized that she faced dishonor in her Kurita home-land. Staying behind on Atreus, she and Hideyo lived in obscurity; Mikhail visited them incognito whenever he could.
 
In 2369, both mother and daughter were killed in an accident in a damaged high-rise elevator. The elevator may have been tampered with, and they may have been mistaken for Kurita spies. Hideyo had shown enormous promise as an urbanologist; her professors in graduate school and the Atreus City Public Worlds Committee had received her theories on city planning enthusiastically. of Mikhail Marik's children, Hideyo was clearly the most gifted and the one he loved the most.
 
Ultimately, we really do not know what killed Mikhail Marik. The main drawback to psychohistory, as we all know, is that we really did not know these people. If they lived in our own time, we could just ask them why they did what they did. In the case of Mikhail Marik, however, who knows if he would have given us a straight answer?
 
-From Readings in Psychohistory, by Professor Bob Kieffer, Atreus University Press, 3021
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MARIK EDUCATION
 
Many wonder why House Marik has had the sole privilege of the Captain-Generalcy. Because this House has had an incredibly illustrious string of military successes, most representatives in Parliament reason that they should not monkey with success. Since 2412, the Mariks developed many of the tactics necessary for the war of maneuver called for by the Ares Conventions. Although they never published their tactics, enemy generals soon learned their strategies.
 
Mariks are successful generals due to their upbringing. Every member of the House is taught military history from the age of four. A Weapons Master coaches the scions from the age of seven in numerous types of weapons. Later, Mariks learn battle tactics, on the gameboard and in the field. The scale of engagements gradually increases, until, by the age of 15, a Marik can handle the complexities of interstellar warfare.
 
All Mariks must serve in the military upon reaching the age of 18. Here, they begin to lead troops in earnest. It is unusual for a Marik to leave the military, and those that do are looked upon with distaste by their relations (though few are actually disowned).
 
-From The Eagle House, by Guardino Harlough, Dragon Tooth Publishing, 3002
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TRIBUTE
 
Historians have unfairly treated Simone Marik, who succeeded her father as Captain-General at the age of 19. Being listed among Captain-Generals as colorful as Geralk and Albert indeed makes her seem lackluster, but that in no way reflects on her abilities. Her famous remark in her investiture speech, "My first ambition is to avoid making history," caused historians to refer to her as "The Millard Fillmore of House Marik." Nevertheless, that she achieved her ambition is quite remarkable, as she ruled in such troubled times. Not everybody can conduct war, make far-reaching policy decisions, or promote economic expansion and technological growth and still resist the urge of self-aggrandizement. For that, she deserves our admiration. I think she would be pleased that she takes up minimal space in history books.
 
-From Character and Destiny: The Mariks During the Age of War, by Frederick Nigel Press, Atreus University Press, 2998
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ALBERT MARIK THE GREAT
 
The thing that surprised me most about Albert Marik was that, at his age, his voice still had the vigor of a young man's voice. We all made speeches on the occasion of signing the treaty, but Marik held us spellbound. The text alone, as beautifully written as it was, does not give a clear idea of the presence of this tiny man or of the force of his personality.
 
Afterward I congratulated him on his speech, and he politely returned the compliment. Then he said, "You know, giving speeches is easy. I simply had my ghostwriters knock out something overnight, and they did an exceptionally good job this time. All I could think as I stood there behind the podium, with all those hundreds of eyes on me, was that for every word there might be a thousand lives saved. It made me want to talk forever."
 
-From Memoirs of Lawrence Davion, Federation Press, 2582
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TEN REASONS TO RESIST THE BOURGEOIS BLOATPIG OPPRESSOR HUMPHRIES (SIC)
 
1. She is the representative of the oppressive Star League bourgeois bloatpigs.
2. She is in league with the murdering bandit Marion Marik.
3. We don't want no offworlder over us,
4. Smash the bourgeois bloatpigs.
5. The econnomic (sic) system needs to be revamped to support a Terenteyevian approach to agricultural reform to answer the needs of the peopl (sic).
6. Melissa Humphries has the blood of the people on her hands.
7. Only by a systematic approach to revolt can the people overcome the poverty and injustice that plagues them.
8. She is the daughter of the infamous Humphreys line, that has made war upon the people for nearly two decades and has caused innumerable deaths.
9. We don't want no woman over us.
10. Off the bourgeois bloatpigs.
 
-Anonymous handbill circulated among Canopus protesters, circa 2598, reprinted in Writings from the Front: Documenting the Canopus Resistance, edited by Larry Baxter, Windbreaker Press, 2611
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PROSPERITY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
 
MP VAN RAUEN: There is a growing despair in the Free Worlds; things are not as they were in our fathers' time. Once, the spirit of free enterprise reigned, and now there are shanties in sight of our proud capital. In years past, the spaceways were full of ships, carrying goods from world to world. Now, the financial news is striped with foreclosures and public auctions. The products of the Free Worlds, in those bygone days, were in demand across the Inner Sphere--across all of human space. Now, they are shunted aside in favor of other states' goods--cheaper, less well-made goods.
 
MP GERHARDT, MINISTER FOR TRADE: If the Honorable Member would yield for a moment. Can the Honorable Member provide any evidence for his claims?
 
MP VAN RAUEN: The evidence is surely all around the Minister. How many times was the Minister approached by beggars on his way home from the Parliament last night? Or does the Minister not deal with common citizens? The government must address these issues, and not ignore them. The government must take responsibility for the plight of the common person, if for no other reason than because it has caused that plight in the first place.
 
-Excerpt from Parliament, 2628
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THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT

At first we suspected an inside job. Lord Terrence often gathered the family in the upstairs library at the back of the mansion, sometimes to confer with the other government officials in the family, sometimes to exchange Christmas gifts, and sometimes to spend quality time with the youngsters. It was an unusual place to have a family meeting, and it seemed pretty suspicious that the assassins knew to plant the bomb there.
 
The breakthrough in the case came quite by accident. The estate on planet Marik is huge--it would take an army to patrol it--which was how the terrorists could infiltrate the estate without being noticed. In fact, there are no fences around the Marik holdings: the neighbors know not to cross the boundaries without being invited.
 
Quite by accident, Gavin Murphy, my adjutant, decided to take a long walk to think over the evidence we had uncovered. As luck would have it, his walk took him just where we needed to be looking.
 
As he got to the end of the expansive lawn in front of the Marik house, Gavin noticed that the soil had been disturbed around one of the trees in the woods ringing the estate. At first, he figured that some of the children had been digging around the tree. As he walked past, however, he noticed a peach pit. There were no peach trees on the estate, and he remembered a chance remark by one of the household staff that no one ever took food out of the house.
 
After rummaging through the ground cover, Gavin found a small, stale chunk of meat, such as might fall from a sandwich. Someone had been eating there, and Murphy realized that the disturbance in the dirt was not from children digging, but from someone climbing the tree, staying an indeterminate amount of time, and covering his tracks after leaving.
 
Gavin got back to me at a dead run. We got a ladder out of the gardener's shed and took a good look in that tree. Concealed in the branches was a sort of improvised treehouse that contained a cache of food, a portable chemical toilet, and an infrared scanning device. The Scourge of Death agent had trained the scanner on the house to trace patterns of body heat, maintaining surveillance on where people congregated during family gatherings, thus finding the perfect way to maximize the bomb's effectiveness. Once he had that information, he could abandon the rest of his materiel.
 
-From Political Investigations: Memoirs of a Terrorist Tracker, by Inspector Jonas Chiplinski. Police Procedure Press, 2698
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A FATHER'S PLEA
 
The Marik, who, since the incident at Hartsdale, had seldom raised his voice above a near-whisper, turned to face the five of us seated around the Regulan sector star map. His eyes, hooded behind the thick, dark lenses that protected his medically restored eyesight, remained shrouded in mystery, but there was no mistaking the tension in his neck muscles as he wrenched the words from his throat.
 
"Surely you understand that this is--and must remain--a family affair. These men and their paid thugs have killed a Council Lord, and butchered my son--a good and honorable man who would have made a mark in League politics that would not soon have been forgotten. I cannot allow their crime to go unavenged. Surely, they have forfeited any right to your protection. I ask you as a sovereign--as a father--for you to stay your hand, to allow me to do what must be done. If I die in my efforts, there will then be more than enough need for your troops."
 
-From Solar Flare: The Regulan Crisis, by Admiral Millard Crichton, Stark Press, 2692
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COUNTERPOINT
 
It is ludicrous to cite the sentience laws in reference to Gerald Marik. They were enacted during the Exodus to clarify guidelines regarding native lifeforms with rudimentary intelligence, as in some Terran lifeforms. The basis for the sentience laws was to provide for the possibility that space explorers could run into an intelligent--or even civilized--lifeform.
 
The gist of the sentience laws is that anything that does not fall under their protection is fair game to be used for food, medicine, shelter, or any other purpose colonists might have. Sentience was defined as the ability to do complex mathematical functions (counting horses did not count), the ability to formulate original sentences expressing emotions, abstract thought, or specific information (talking parrots did not count), or the ability to originate observations about the nature of reality from one's own biological interaction with the world (computers did not count, but mentally retarded people did). To say that Gerald Marik does not interact through his own biology because he has bionic limbs is not only absurd, but is also an insult to every person who ever had a prosthetic limb or implant since such medical devices were first invented centuries ago.
 
Having said this, I must also say that I would not mind if Dr. Menke had his arms ripped off, his nostrils slashed, and his throat sandpapered from the inside for his offenses against common sense and good taste.
 
-From A Rationalist's Approach to the Issues, by Dennis de Soto Aristides, Logic Press, 2702
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AN OMINOUS PORTENT
 
There is a cancer in the Free Worlds League, a sickness that runs through our marrow and threatens to make us weak. We must excise this disease from our flesh before it is too late, and cleanse ourselves in the pure fire of the truth. I am the vessel of my father's will, the hot knife of his loyalty that will cauterize our wounds and make us whole. I will not rest until the work he began is finished.
 
-From Elise Marik's inaugural address, printed in Seeds of Crisis, Times of Trouble, by Archibald Nelson, Termak Press, 2738
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BORIS MARIK, MAN OF DESTINY
 
Boris had more than his share of accomplishments. A champion swordsman, he won a platinum medal at the Procyon Olympics in 2712. Two years later, he wrote a paper on progressive calculus that was published by the Procyon University Mathematical Review. He founded a publishing house of his own at the age of 24, and within twelve years, it was the third largest book publishing house on Procyon.

During his imprisonment, out of respect for his distinguished contributions to publishing, he was allowed all the books, vidtapes, and other informational resources he wanted. Often, he spent as many as 18 hours a day in study. Indeed, his personal library in prison covered some six cells and was rumored to be the third largest private library in Atreus City. His writings from this period on history and philosophy are well-known.

In February of 2736, Boris noticed a strange mold on his papers in one corner of his cell. At first disgusted by the damage to his books, he moved them to the other end of the cell, only to find that the mold died, leaving the books none the worse for the attack. He spent the next month experimenting with the mold and the paper in this cell, collecting samples and having them analyzed. The mold grew only in light of a particular frequency, from which it produced its own food in a close variant of photosynthesis. Boris Marik had discovered a whole new form of protozoa that grew only on planet Atreus.

Unfortunately, he discovered something else as well. Through the prison grapevine, Boris heard vague rumors of assassination plans (which later turned out to be false). Although he believed in Bertram’s good faith, the Atreus City prison was no less violent than any other prison, and convicts had every reason to fear for their lives every day. Smuggled in with documents that Boris requested were messages written in pencil warning him of convicts sent to kill him. Boris was faced with a choice. Assuming the threat was real, he could not go to the prison authorities for help because they might be involved with the plot. He could not, on the other hand, wait for an attack that might come at any time and from any quarter. The only course of action appeared to be escape.

Boris made his ill-considered attempt on a moonless night in 2736. He got as far as a drainage pipe outside the prison complex before he was spotted from one of the watchtowers. After that, it was a simple matter for the authorities to station themselves by the river where the pipe emptied. As Boris emerged he began to run, unaware that he had been followed. The prison sharpshooters killed him without warning.

The final irony is that this gifted man never got to see the supplementary lab report on that stuff growing in the cell. The mold was found to have certain medicinal properties; during the Eleusis crisis of 2938, the mold was used to battle an epidemic on a newly settled planet in the outer reaches of Marik space. For all his accomplishments, Boris Marik’s greatest contribution turned out to be a discovery that would save the lives of people who lived two centuries after his death, on a planet he never heard of.

-From The Mariks: House of Steel, House of Dreams, by Genevieve Dalton, Nonesuch Press, 3022
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EWAN’S DIPLOMACY

One incident I’ll never forget occurred when Marik, unable to arrive at a Star League meeting due to a mechanical malfunction, accepted a lift in a Davion JumpShip. Richard Cameron, the four other House leaders, and I were there to greet him. I remember his remarks on his arrival.

“Well, ‘First Lord,’ you and your puppet Kerensky will be pleased that I had a miserable time on that Davion tub coming here. They’re as badly serviced as a Kurita brothel and as ugly as a Capellan whore, eh, gentlemen? Oh, but of course Lady Steiner wouldn’t know about such things.”

In three sentences, Ewan Marik managed to insult each of the other four House Leaders, plus the First Lord and myself, without even having removed his jacket.

-From Twilight of Courage: The Memoirs of General Aleksandr Kerensky, ComStar Archives
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BACKCHANNEL COMMUNICATION

I appreciate your solicitousness on the subject of my health. I regret to say that it is not good, and probably will not be again. Unlike many of our colleagues, I do not hold with the idea of placing artificial limbs and organs in my body. It is my firm belief that, given enough of them, they will surely seize control of a person and make him something less than human. I think, however, that if I am forced to withdraw, you will find my son Kenyon as faithful to the cause of freedom as I have been.

It seems likely that there will be enough support to defeat this evil measure[Executive Order 156], though that pig of a Steiner will waver on the matter, as he always does. Nonetheless, I do not trust the actions of our tin tyrant, general Kerensky. We have continued to perceive young Cameron as the enemy of the liberties we have justly won, but I fear that our suspicions should have been better directed at Kerensky himself. The loyalty of the Regular Army is nothing to be taken lightly, and should a war break out, his power would be unbounded.

-From dispatch sent by Captain-General Ewan Marik to Coordinator Minoru Kurita, March 8, 2762
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THE EAGLE EMBARRASSED

During his days at the military academy, Kenyon experienced more than his share of embarrassments. The worst of these occurred during his third year, at the age of 15, when he was directed to lead a battalion of underclassmen in mock maneuvers. These “war games” have always been a basic part of training for military commanders, not to mention invaluable training for combat troops.

In the battle scenario, Kenyon’s troops were required to attack a fortified building, an assignment he fulfilled competently. Unfortunately, the lad had just seen the film classic Napoleon, about the life of the flamboyant Terran military ruler, and he identified with the young Napoleon at military school. Like the Marik family, Napoleon also used the eagle as his symbol. The young Marik resolved to handle himself in battle the way the young Napoleon does in the film.

Prior to the battle, Kenyon sent for a family banner, one that he would raise over the defeated position in token of his first conquest. Swept up in the heat of battle, Kenyon failed to notice how easily his victory came. Raising the Marik standard over the fortress, Kenyon began to make a speech about courage, triumph, and destiny, when the opposing forces counterattacked. They had finessed Kenyon’s troops in a simple, strategic retreat, and now had them surrounded. In the crossfire that resulted, all of Kenyon’s troops were declared wiped out, and Kenyon’s opponents achieved total victory.

The worst part of the debacle for Kenyon was that the opposition leader, having heard about Kenyon’s plans to raise his eagle standard, had made a standard of his own. It depicted a schrack, a bird native to Sorunda that had eaten the few eagles the Marik family had tried to stock on their hunting estate there.

-From Heraldic Symbols and the People Who Bore Them, by Claudia Masakela, New World Press, 3018
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JUSTICE

By 2820, the protracted fighting on Chertan had devastated the planet’s food distribution system. As the cities received less and less produce, food riots broke out. The irony that civilians who had survived the military action were now being killed in riots did not escape Viscount Ronald Marley, interim Director-General of the city of New Pittsburgh. A man of principle passionately devoted to justice, Viscount Marley was the right man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Marley himself reviewed the proceedings of the trial during which several rioters were sentenced to death for killing security guards at a meatpacking house. Marley discovered several judicial irregularities in the trial, including the fact that the judge had disallowed testimony that the accused had not been present at the crime. Despite public opinion that strongly favored execution of the guilty parties, Marley, insisting on these three individuals’ innocence, ordered them released.

Thaddeus Marik was enraged when he heard of Marley’s action. He ordered the Viscount stripped of all titles, lands, and property, and ordered that no one on the planet Chertan ever give him another job. (The story that Thaddeus sent Marley a personal message saying that he would have had him shot if he had been a military man is probably apocryphal.) Reduced in a day to destitution, Marley was seen for weeks afterwards begging in the streets of New Pittsburgh for money to book passage to another world.

The final irony is that Thaddeus, once his initial anger had passed, might have been willing to reconsider his pronouncement, but the Captain-General was killed soon thereafter. His successor, Charles Marik, never heard about Ronald Marley, whose subsequent life story is lost in obscurity.

-From The First Tide of Resistance, by Caroline Drury-Tunis, Britannica Historian Perspectives Series, 3025
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REVENGE IS SWEET

In 2830, on the eve of House Marik’s entry into the Second Succession War, a man named Jermyn LeStat arrived on Dieudonne from the remote Steiner world A Place, and requested diplomatic asylum. Ostensibly a member of a diplomatic delegation convened to discuss mining and ore processing conventions, LeStat wasted no time in approaching the Marik authorities about defecting. He was a man of exceptional ability and was regarded as one of the rising stars of A Place’s planetary government.

It was LeStat’s original intention simply to leave Steiner space and take as much governmental information with him as possible. The Marik officials on Dieudonne, however, immediately recognized the implications of having a Steiner planetary official on their side, even one from a world as far from the Marik border as A Place. LeStat was extensively debriefed and then offered a deal. If he returned to A Place to act as a Marik agent, he would be smuggled back to Marik space whenever he wished, and he would be paid 50,000 M-Bills in a numbered bank account on Dieudonne for every month that he supplied useful information on Steiner military movements during the impending war, with an extra bonus of half a million credits if he remained in service on A Place for the duration of the war. LeStat gratefully accepted the offer.

LeStat returned to A Place and was shortly afterward promoted. During the two years that he remained on his homeworld, he became coordinator of troop movements through that sector of space. The information he supplied House Marik was invaluable in their plans for engaging House Steiner militarily, and when he began to suspect that the Steiner secret service suspected him, he requested relocation from his Marik contact. True to its word, SAFE rescued him from the barren, depressing world of his birth.

Years later, after he had taken a job in Dieudonne’s government, officials noticed that he had not touched the money in his numbered account. The SAFE officer who had originally arranged payment to LeStat was asked to interview him one more time. LeStat told him that all he really cared about was bringing down House Steiner, whom he blamed for the famine that had devastated A Place during the First Succession War. He had been the only one of his family to survive that famine, which could have been prevented if Richard Steiner had not ordered the commercial freighters conscripted for military service. The money on account he was leaving to bequeath as his legacy if he ever produced an heir, although he was nearing 50 and remained unmarried.

Jermyn LeStat lived out his life peacefully and died of natural causes, without issue, in 2868. The money reverted to the Marik government.

-From Defectors Past and Present, by Erica Brandeis, Atreus University Press, 3022
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THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

In the immediate aftermath of Charles Marik’s charges against ComStar, there was considerable speculation both in Parliament and the Atreus vidtapes as to the actual identity of the ComStar double agent. Almost inevitably, the focus of speculation fell on Charles’s sister Jeannette. Jeannette had been the bearer of ComStar’s first intelligence leak to the Captain-General, and was assigned, on several later occasions, to the relay stations that transmitted other such messages. In addition, she was present at the Oriente station when it transmitted the planet message that precipitated the Liao attack on Cursa. Even though SAFE strongly indicated that the leak had originated in the highest levels of ROM, some journalists—most notably Anders Metcalf of the New Atreus Sun—still persisted in naming Jeannette as the traitor. Metcalf wrote an inflammatory holoplay called Lies and Whispers that ran for four performances before it was closed by the Ministry of Justice as “libelous and seditious.” In it, Metcalf claimed to have incontrovertible proof that Charles and Jeannette were both part of a conspiracy to bring the Free Worlds League under the dominion of ComStar. These “proofs” never saw the light of day, however, as his personal papers were destroyed in a house fire that also claimed Metcalf’s life in September of 2838.

-Allen Artois, The ComStar Crisis, Globe Press, 2872
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GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES

Harlan Allison, the last and perhaps greatest leader of the Allison clan, stood barely one and two-thirds meters tall and weighed about 55 kilos. According to the official code of regulations for the Fusiliers of Oriente, Harlan (had his name been different) would have been automatically disqualified from piloting a ‘Mech and forced to enter a noncombatant branch of the service. At the time of his death in 2845, he had registered 127 confirmed enemy kills.

-Karen Allemagne, Dynasties of the Free Worlds, Globe Press, 2931
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ON THE HOT SEAT

MODERATOR: If we can put through the editorial writers’ prognostications, your Highness, the question I think most of the Lyran peoples would like answered is, just how good a chance at peace is there, either with the Free Worlds League or with the rest of the Inner Sphere?

ELIZABETH STEINER: Well, frankly, Mr. Tracewski, that’s the question I’d most like answered. There is no question that the sentiment of peoples throughout the Inner Sphere has turned increasingly in favor of peace.

MODERATOR: Well, there’s no question of that, but, with all due respect, I don’t think that quite answers my question.

ELIZABETH STEINER: Unfortunately, Mr. Tracewski, the situation remains fluid. There are some hopeful signs, but whether they are going to come to any real settlement of the issues involved in the war remains to be seen.

DELBERT ANDREWS: Would you say, your Highness, that the recent peace initiatives from Philippa Marik is one of these signs?

ELIZABETH STEINER: Most definitely.

FIONA BARAKA-CHEE: Would you also say, Highness, that the possibility exists for a separate peace between our Commonwealth and the Free Worlds League?

ELIZABETH STEINER: I would certainly hope for far more than that, but if a separate peace with the Mariks is all that can be accomplished at this time, I’ll certainly take what I can get.

MODERATOR: Forgive me if this seems impertinent, Highness, but I wonder why, if the peoples of the war-torn worlds want peace, why can’t their leaders get together and make peace?

ELIZABETH STEINER (SMILING): I’ve always found the questions people call impertinent to be the ones that contain the most pertinence, Mr. Tracewski. It seems that in time of war, the leaders are precisely the ones who lag the farthest behind the rest of the people.

-From Meet the Press, Lyran Broadcasting System, August 28, 2865
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TO CATCH A SPY

The execution of the Kurita delegate on New Earth was an act of spite. It had nothing to do with Steiner spite for House Kurita, though heaven knows nobody liked the Kuritas much. It had everything to do with a personal slight on the first day of the conference.

When Ken Takamura, the Kurita delegate, arrived on New Earth, all the usual diplomatic protocol was observed. Takamura, who had requested hotel accommodations with an eastern exposure in advance, was insulted when he did receive what he considered a reasonable prerequisite of his rank. Takamura complained bitterly to the host delegation, who politely asked the Marik delegate, James Marik, to switch with him.

Although Marik, whose entire delegation was tired and irritable due to a turbulent space jump, agreed to the switch, Cyril Lewis, an unstable, low-ranking functionary in Marik’s entourage, took an intense dislike to the Draconis delegate.

As the seven long weeks of acrimonious bickering wore on, personality clashes were less and less disguised. Lewis remained superficially polite to Takamura (as he did to all the delegates) but everything the Kuritan said, or didn’t say, bothered Lewis.

On the final day of the conference, as the group was breaking up, David Morgan, the Steiner delegate, announced the arrest of Takamura on charges of espionage. At his trial, no one believed Takamura’s claims that the Steiner documents found in his room were forgeries planted by a party or parties unknown, nor did they take much stock in his observation that the signatures on the documents looked like Lewis’s handwriting. Takamura was put to death immediately.

Although the Kurita government demanded an apology from the Lyran Commonwealth, no further mention of the incident was forthcoming from the Steiner government. The Free Worlds delegation refused to acknowledge the incident from then on, also.

-From Philippa Marik and the Peace Initiative, by Cynthia Vitali, Popular Press, 3021
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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

When James Marik was dispatched to the court at Tharkad in 2865 to deliver the Free Worlds’ proposal for a permanent treaty with the Lyran Commonwealth, he brought with him a gift of two rare Kakadan songbirds for Archon Elizabeth. Thirty months later, when the news of the Marik assault on the Federation of Skye reached the Estates General, the birds were caught and killed.

Fate would smile only slightly more kindly on James’s new wife Theodora Felton, daughter of an Estates-General representative, whom he met and fell in love with during the months prior to the ultimate failure of the peace talks. Though James and Theodora would have three children together, none would survive past the age of ten—indirectly creating a succession crisis upon James’s death that would nearly hurl the Free Worlds League into civil war.

-From Impetus of Change, by James Burke, Globe Press, 2912
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Elisabeth Marik’s father, Michael Marik, had been killed in battle when she was only five. He had been away from home most of her childhood, and so she had little memory of him. Her mother, Oriente Mark, resolved that the little girl, having already lost her father, should never have to experience any further privation or even see any human suffering; all of Michael and Oriente’s family wealth would be devoted to this end. In this, Elisabeth’s early childhood resembled that of the Buddha, whose father, a king, decided to shield his son from viewing misery.

The result was similar. Like the young Buddha, Elisabeth got wise to the situation, and in a very similar way. Having the natural curiosity of children, Elisabeth asked one of the household staff to take her to the vast merchandising bazaar (or “mall”) in the town near Oriente Marik’s estate. The widow Marik gave her approval, as the bazaar was in the high rent district. Elisabeth was supposedly about eight or nine at the time.

The little girl knew the goods on display at the bazaar well enough, but she wanted to see what was beyond it. She gave the servant the slip outside a whipped cream sculptor’s stand and wandered into the town.

Not surprisingly, she found things there that she never expected. All her life, whenever something terrible happened on a vidscreen, her mother or one of the servants would remind her that it was “just a story,” and that things like that did not happen anymore. On this day, she found that those things still were happening, and that people were still poor and still got sick. It was from this experience, that she began to develop the compassion that marked both her rule and her life.

Unlike Buddha, she never confronted her mother about the deceit, but let her go on believing that Elisabeth’s life was unspoiled by thoughts of suffering.

-From Stories of Young People for Young People, by Alice Seville, Conestoga Press, 3024
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DISSENT OR DUTY

The Home Defense Act is nothing but a confirmation of the basic rights that each member state in the Free Worlds League has always held: the rights of self-defense and self-determination, balanced against the needs of the whole. The League was created as a community of equals, a means by which worlds could expand their economic and political horizons without sacrificing their freedom. For centuries, the system of government has fostered this balance.

It did not, however, take into account the consequences of a Captain-General becoming a semi-permanent head of state. Though the maintenance of this position through the current crisis may be necessary (perhaps even vital) to assure military continuity, it cannot be denied that the placement of this power into the hands of a single family has tended to promote the interests of the few over the needs of the many. When we invoke the Home Defense Act, we are simply carrying out our duties both as good citizens of the League and good citizens of Andurien.

-From an Andurien secondary school history book, 2944
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INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY

The succession of three Captains-General within a year more than tripled the difficulties of transition of power. Consequently, none of the three successors of Samuel Marik were able to accomplish much, even considering their brief terms of office.

It is irresponsible to speculate, however, what might have been. For example, would Paul Marik, a highly respected soldier, have failed to get funding for a grandiose military adventure like Operation Killing Stroke? Would he even have tried? There is no question that a bellicose man like Brock Marik would have wanted to pursue such a course of action, but would he have had the imagination to conceive of a plan of such scope?

On the home front, would Iris Marik have achieved her goal of recreating the technological accomplishments of the preceding centuries? If she did, would it have been to the detriment of the war effort, which had to take top priority for all Marik citizens? Or would the pursuit of technology for its own sake have aided the war effort by advancing both the Free Worlds economy and our military technology?

Or, is it possible that Paul’s sober judgment, Iris’s progressiveness, and Brock’s will would have added up to one great leader? Any one of them might have been appropriate, or more than adequate. Brock had intended for his mother Iris to be one of his chief advisors, and so his rule might have incorporated two of the three Captains-General’s minds in one administration.

In any event, Iris was disabled, and Paul and Brock were both killed, leaving us with Thaddeus II for our new leader. It is the sort of thing I call one of God’s little practical jokes.

-Senator Davion Roback, in an interview printed in the Oriente Gazette-Herald, August 12, 2986
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MERCENARY CHIC

The new fall fashion lines introduced by Barroni Dionne, Ketch River Menswear, and Flash Jeans all reflect our current fascination with the mercenaries that have flocked to the Marik banner. Dionne’s latest collection of women’s eveningwear has many military flourishes, such as button-down jackets with broad shoulder epaulets, sashes and caps as accessories, and natural colors (greens, browns, and so on). Ketch River is marketing lines of pants, workshirts, and jackets in the regimental colors of several mercenary units. Flash Jeans has taken the boldest step of all—paying a licensing fee estimated at high six figures to become the official outfitter of clothing modeled after that of the 21 Centuri Lancers, right down to the Lancers’ traditional blue and red bandanna.

-From the vidtape Marik Prairie Companion, 2957
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A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT

Although mercenaries are often considered treacherous, the politicians who hire them are not always honorable either. Examples abound of contracts being voided because of the employer’s negligence or dishonest dealing with mercenary units.

One such tragic, if not comic, example was the case of the Van Diemen Demons and Srec’s Wrecks. (This was the same Srec’s Wrecks that had served House Kurita with distinction until their commander, Sylvia Srec, was killed in a barroom brawl by an off-duty Kurita Otomo member in 2941.) Both mercenary units were in the employ of House Marik during 2976, but Thaddeus Marik’s practice of reneging on merc contracts had alerted them both that they might need to seek other employment. When the Marik refused to drop fresh water onto the planet Ford, where they had been fighting for weeks, Colonel Brigham Stanley, commander of the Demons, met with Colonel Simon Chiu, commander of the Wrecks, to talk things over.

No one knows how many drinks either one had had, but both agreed that they did not want to face each other in battle if they found contracts with opposing Houses. Sick of fighting for other people’s worlds, they decided that the two of them had enough firepower to take at least one world of their own. Before the night was through, they had decided to invade one of the Periphery worlds (no one is quite sure which one).

Chiu and Stanley resolved to send their resignations to the Marik government next morning. Meanwhile, they woke their troops and announced their plans, including an immediate BattleMech duel to determine command of the new unit. There were a few protests against the pointless danger and expense of a drunken ‘Mech duel, but everyone went out to watch it.

Hours before dawn, Stanley’s Crusader squared off against Chiu’s Archer. They fought in a vast, rolling wheatfield. The only sign of the nearby civilian population was a glimpse of a farmer shaking his fist at them as he and his family fled the area on foot. Slowly, the two ‘Mechs marched toward one another, matching each other step for step, like cowboys in an ancient video showdown.

Stanley “drew” first. Laying down a barrage of machine gun fire (which only ricocheted off the other ‘Mech’s armor), he moved to deliver a missile attack on the Archer’s left hip.

Chiu, an excellent ‘Mech pilot, sidestepped the blast. He responded with a missle of his own, which blasted the left arm of Stanley’s Crusader. Nevertheless, the Crusader remained able to blast the Archer’s right leg.

The onlookers, who had been silent in apprehension at first, began cheering wildly now, as each unit urged on their commander. In the light of acetylene flares, the onlookers could not believe their eyes when Chiu, closing in for ‘Mech-to-‘Mech fighting, drew Stanley off-guard and delivered a judo kick to the back of the Crusader’s right knee joint.

Stanley’s ‘Mech went down, but Stanley was made of sterner stuff. He brought the Crusader up to its knees and blasted the torso of the Archer with a half-dozen rockets. The bombardment knocked the ‘Mech backward and shattered most of its torso armor, leaving it practically defenseless.

As Stanley brought his Crusader to its feet to deliver the coup de grace, Chiu brought his sights to bear on one leg of Stanley’s ‘Mech. The Archer blasted the right hip joint of the Crusader, and as his ‘Mech was crumbling from under him, Stanley loosed a barrage of missiles. The missiles crashed into the midst of Chiu’s troops, killing most of them and wounding the rest. Van Diemen’s Demons were no more.

Stanley himself was killed in the crash. Although Chiu’s ‘Mech was easily repaired and he himself was unhurt, he was left without a command, just as Srec’s Wrecks were without a commander. They elected Major Egon barkewicz, who had protested the ill-conceived foray, to be their new leader, and were soon employed by the Capellan Confederation. Chiu joined McCarron’s Armored Cavalry, another mercenary unit, with a demotion to Major.

-From Worlds Apart: Mercenary Units and the Successor Houses, by Carroll Bodnasian, Marik Military Press, 3018
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Whereas, we, the Parliament of the Free Worlds League, being the properly deputized legislature of the realm, require funding above and beyond that provided by the individual provinces we represent;

Whereas, we, the Parliament, have appropriated funds for the military of the Free Worlds League in order to provide for the common defense of our respective provinces;

Whereas, the appropriation of such funds has taken funding away from public works projects such as industrial development, agricultural support, and provisions for transportation, roads, housing, medical facilities, education for our young, and other concerns of public welfare; and

Whereas, the aforementioned military of the Free Worlds League has accomplished successful ventures into rival space, capturing profitable territories and claiming the spoils for the economy of the Free Worlds League,

Now therefore, we, the Parliament, demand restitution upon the executive branch, in the person of First Lord and Captain-General Stephan Marik, under the legal precedent and principle of Replevin, to be offered in the form of proportionate portions of the spoils of war, to be returned to our respective commonalities.

-From Special Resolution 512 (the Replevin Doctrine), Free Worlds Parliamentary Record, September 12, 2989
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LETTER FROM THE FRONT

Janos’s letter arrived during one of the Marik’s periods of lethargy. It was summer in Ryal, and swelteringly hot and humid, but the Marik refused to take leave of the capital and go to the mountain estate, even when his wife threatened him to do so…

Often, when a letter would arrive from Janos, the Marik would command me to destroy it, or would take it and place it on his desk where it would remain unopened for days. He was weary this day, however, and commanded me to open the letter and read it to him.

He sat with his back to me in his great overstuffed armchair facing the holoportrait of Kenyon Marik. I read the letter aloud to him. It began with the usual greetings and polite inquiries concerning Stephan’s health and included a formal report on his unit’s state of readiness. The Marik remained silent throughout this, though I could see him shift uncomfortably in his chair from time to time. Later, the letter lodged, in clipped phrases, a complaint about the assignments that his unit had received, how it was being ordered to suppress rebellions and crush revolts, oppressing its fellow citizens.

Quite suddenly, the Marik rose from his chair and strode to where I sat. He took the message from my hand and thumbed through the rest of the letter, his face darkening with anger. I was quite surprised, as he had not been this animated in several weeks. After a moment, he threw the pad down. “Any other commander I would cashier for questioning my authority, Elias,” he said to me. “My son is a military officer and will do as he is ordered—nothing less and nothing more.”

“I am sure he understands that, Your Grace,” I replied. “He feels quite strongly on this subject, however—“

“He’s waiting for me to die, like all the other vultures,” the Marik shot back. “He wants to be Marik so soon, not realizing what that will mean.” Just as suddenly as it had come, the anger drained out of him. I reached out a hand to steady him, but he stepped back. “There is a malaise in our country, Elias. Posterity has not yet had a chance to record what is happening in the Free Worlds League, but it is clear to me that things are not even what they were when my father was alive. Vultures within our own country—within our own palace—wait for me to die, so that they can revoke Resolution 288, so that we can have a civil war. Steiner and Liao will be glad to pick over the corpse when that is done. They do not see what is happening. Even my own sons do not see. I am the last person alive with clear vision.”

-From The Distant Shore: The Life of Stephan Marik by Elias Chu, Globe Press, Atreus, 2994
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NO CHANCE

January 29, 2992

On Second Chance, the situation was even worse. We had perhaps been counting too heavily on the likelihood that Harsefeld, which lay closer to the Capellan border, would be attacked first, and so the Second Chance garrison had been almost completely neglected. The Oriente Hussars were in a state of total combat unreadiness due to a lack of spare parts, and the officers of the 3 Ranger Division complained that they had difficulty requisitioning sufficient food for their troops. The 3 Light Infantry hadn’t been on maneuvers in three months due to a lack of motor fuel for the transport vehicles. If an attack had come first on Second Chance, the entire planet would have fallen immediately. If an attack on Harsefeld had succeeded, nothing would have stopped Second Chance from falling as well.

It seems that in the military, there is no such thing as benign neglect.

-From The Diary of Janos Marik, unpublished, ComStar Archives
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WEDDING PLANS

The Captain-General’s first wife was a Lauber, a minor noble family from the planet Dalton. This one-planet principality never had any ambition or inclination to band with any of its neighbors. Hilda Lauber came, as it were, with no strings attached.

Ana Stewart was another story. While no one doubted the sincerity of Janos’s and Ana’s feelings for each other, Ana’s father, Androcles Stewart, the Earl of Stewart Commonality, made himself a royal pain in the neck. He pointed out to the Marik that Regulus, Marik, and Oriente dwarfed the Stewart Commonality. He insisted, in all seriousness, that he be ceded the planets Gallatin, Bainsville, and Tania Australis so that Stewart could achieve “parity” with the three larger regions.

As both First Lord and bridegroom-to-be, Janos felt he had more important things to worry about. The representative of the three worlds in question, however, felt differently about the matter. On the floor of the Free Worlds Parliament, the chief delegate from Tania Australis promised armed resistance to Stewart intervention. The chief delegate from Gallatin more tactfully requested of the Captain-General that there be no interference from the Free Worlds military, so that he could see if Stewart had the ability to take his planet in a fair fight. Janos quickly abandoned the Earl’s position.

Androcles Stewart did not give up so easily, however. He carried his demands directly to the Parliament. During his speech, in which he presented why joining Stewart would be to the three worlds’ advantage, the delegates from Bainsville, Gallatin, and Tania Australis stepped forward to stand directly in front of the Earl’s podium. The three leaders raised their hands to show that they had manacled themselves together, and then the two on either side took laser pistols from their vests and held them overhead in silence. Completely flustered by the demonstration, the Earl apologized and withdrew, admitting defeat.

-From The Last Thirty Years, by Jennifer Jane Hammoud, Atreus University Press, 3016
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SECRET SOCIETY

The Exituri were among the first groups to leave Terra during the Exodus and the first to do so for purely ideological reasons. Shiloh was chosen to be their homeworld because, in 2138, it represented the farthest reaches of space to which the Human Sphere had extended.

Shiloh was, in fact, perfect for Exituri purposes. Dry, marginally fertile, cold during the day from raging winds, hot at night from the heat stored in the rocky ground, Shiloh was a physical anomaly best suited for religious ascetics.

One of the basic tenets of the Exituri religion is taken from the Bhagavad-Gita, which says that one’s faith should not be presented to foolish strangers who might make fun of it. (This is a rough paraphrase of a language centuries dead.) Consequently, the Exituri, who appear so fanatically devoted to the doctrines of their religion, would not actually tell anybody their beliefs. For one to find out enough to decide whether or not to join the order, there, one must have already joined.

Members pray periodically throughout the day, and face Terra as they do so, indicating Moslem influence. There appears to be a strong messianic strain in Exituri that is inconsistent with Hinduism. Various members of the tribe carry religious medallions in the forms of crucifix, Star of David, and pentagrams, indicating possible Christian, Jewish, or Pagan roots. They have seasonal festivals reminiscent of paganism, and they greet friends and strangers alike with the greetings “Sholom Aleichem” or “Salaam Alaikem,” which translate as “Peace be with you” in Hebrew and Arabic, respectively.

The original Exituri pilgrims were quite clear about their intentions to get away from Terra and its “corrupting influences,” so that they could raise their children in accordance with their extremely strict moral code. Generation after generation, Exituri children have rebelled against the strictness of their upbringing. Shiloh society undergoes periodic reforms, when the moral strictures are eased somewhat for a few years, followed by an inevitable, severe crackdown by the religious authorities, who insist on literal interpretations of their spiritual tenets. A larger proportion of people emigrate from Shiloh than any other world in Marik space. Even so, those who leave the Exituri faith never tell outsiders what the doctrines of the religion are.

-From Faith in the Inner Sphere, by Rev. Dr. Horace DuShane, Atreus University Press, 3021
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CAPTAIN-GENERAL’S PROMISE

For too many years, we have done little but react to the actions and the campaigns of our enemies. When they seize the offensive, we have reeled backward, our general staff hoping to find a pattern in the attacks, scarcely daring to set aside resources for attacks of our own. We welcome a respite, but we merely lick our wounds and wait for the enemy to choose the moment once again.

The Free Worlds League has a long and noble martial tradition. We have skillful officers and brave soldiers. Our economy is strong, our people are proud. They have waited too long for this terrible war to end. They have suffered while tyrants defy the cause of freedom scarcely a jump away from their homes. They have watched while barbarians destroy humanity.

They will watch no longer.

They will suffer no longer.

They will wait no longer. We will be victorious, I promise you that, upon my word and upon my name.

-Janos Marik, addressing the Free Worlds Parliament, February 3004
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BUDDIES

I lost an arm off my ‘Mech in that battle, rescuing a man I despised.

Major Nguyen had just hired this new guy, whom I’ll call Smith. He was a rangy, wiry guy, and not bad looking, but he smelled bad—his philosophy was that Warriors have to go in the field without bathing, and so he didn’t want to get used to the luxury of bathing. You can imagine how the rest of us felt about that. A Warrior who doesn’t bathe, even on R&R, has to be crazy, and there was no shortage of us to tell him so. So maybe we got off on the wrong foot, but I’ll tell you anyway he was a wrong guy.

When we finished preliminary maneuvers and jumped to Menkalinan, Major Nguyen gave me the word that Smith was going to be my partner—Nguyen liked using what he called a “buddy” system with his ‘Mechs—and so we could be responsible for covering one another in the fight. That was okay with me. Smith had come highly recommended from his previous unit, and he had functioned well during maneuvers. I was even looking forward to the battle. I’ve learned to be superstitious about that since then; looking forward to a battle brings the worst luck you’re ever going to get.

We took the Liao garrison by surprise, but it didn’t take them long to counterattack. Damn, they’re good fighters. They loaded a lance of ‘Mechs into a DropShip, lifted off, and landed a mile or so behind us. Before we knew it, they had us in a crossfire, and as they spread out, it looked like they were going to surround us.

It was only Major Nguyen’s quick thinking that saved us. We spread out, two by two, in a star pattern that allowed us to engage the enemy individually. That way, we could gain ground in all directions in order to break through wherever possible. As a contingency plan, it was a pretty good one, and I remember thinking that I was glad Nguyen was on our side.

Smith was something else again. The guy who had been so disciplined in maneuvers was suddenly like a wild man. Of course, the fiercer you fight the likelier you are to win—I’d be the last one to argue against that—but Smith just had no judgement. He waded into three enemy ‘Mechs: a Panther, an Archer, and even a malfing Warhammer, screaming at me to keep up. I tried fighting off the ‘Mechs that had surrounded Smith, but only a lucky shot that took out the Warhammer’s cockpit kept us both from being shredded.

By this time, some of the other Liao ‘Mechs smelled blood. There were three more of them coming toward us, and I could see a Locust coming up for a sneak attack just slightly to my right side. Smith was getting abusive on the intercom; it seemed the scrape we were in was all my fault for not fighting harder.

It wasn’t until then we finally got some aerial support. God bless the Flying Furies! A wing of the Furies laid down enough cover fire to keep the Liao ‘Mechs busy while Smith and I got out of there.

Immediately afterward, as we went to help out Lauren Sharpe and Bill Yee in their Shadow Hawks, he did the same damn thing. He waded into the enemy like there were a resort lake on Regulus. This time, he marched right into Bill’s and Lauren’s line of fire, keeping them from knocking out an Atlas that they had had their sights on. Within seconds, his fat was in the fire again, and he was screaming abuse at Bill, Lauren, and me for not being as suicidal as he was.

To get him out of there, I had to do just what he did, running right into the fray. Just as I knocked out a Locust, the Atlas caught me at the joint of my ‘Mech’s left arm and blasted it right off.

When the battle was over, Smith insulted me for my performance in the battle, and I requested that Major Nguyen never make him my “buddy” again. Later, I found out that Bill and Lauren had made similar comments about his rashness, and that Nguyen was seriously considering having him cashiered. It turned out not to be necessary; Smith himself requested, and was granted, permanent leave.

I also found out that the person who had recommended Smith so highly was an uncle or cousin or something in the Oriente bureaucracy. I only regret that there were no replacement parts to repair my ‘Mech. I continued working with the regiment as a Tech until the repairs could be made, but by then, I’d been out of combat for months.

-From Griffin in Hell, by Sharon Ciardi, Karamou Publishing, 3013
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DEAL WITH THE DEVIL

Maximilian Liao, in the guise of a free trader, arrived at Kashmir Arcology on Terra on a September day filled with monsoon rains so fierce that they nearly precluded the shuttle landing. It was not the Chancellor’s first visit to the world, or the mountain city-complex, but it would doubtless be his most memorable one.

He came in the company of Jaime Wolf, the commander of the justifiably famous mercenary unit, Wolf’s Dragoons. In the past few years, the Dragoons had become the scourge of the Capellan front, to the point that the Captain-General of the Free Worlds was hard pressed to coerce his battle-weary troops to enter into combat with them. Wolf was an imposing, almost frightening figure, and it would have been easy for anyone to notice that he was no trader. Still, the Maskirovka, the highly efficient intelligence service of the Capellan Confederation, had been most thorough in distracting the overworked and underpaid minions of SAFE from the events about to take place in the Himalayas.

Shortly after the Chancellor had settled himself in the penthouse suite of the Arcology, he made a vidphone call to the offices of an import-export house in the shadow of Buenos Aires Starport. It consisted of a few innocuous words: “I have come to the bank of the Rubicon.” He who received the message arrived less than six hours later on a private passenger liner. He boarded a stratospheric commuter jet within an hour of making planetfall, and shortly arrived at the Liao penthouse.

The interview was short and to the point. Troop dispositions and bribing local governments were discussed. Nothing was signed, or committed to tape; nothing of this sort ever is. Just as he had arrived first, Maximilian Liao departed first, bound for his own capital of Sian, to make the appropriate arrangements.

Jaime Wolf, however, departed with his new employer, carrying a signed mercenary contract in his vest-pocket. After three years of near-inactivity, he would finally be able to put his troops in the field, with all of the Free Worlds as possible booty. Before his contract expired, he would prove to be Anton Marik’s trump card in the conquest of the Free Worlds League.

-From Crossed Swords, by Erna Kochkov, Rahne Publishing, 3021
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MEETING OF MINDS

It was a memorable occasion when the two great leaders met. Janos Marik, the oldest Successor Lord in the Inner Sphere, seemed bowed over by the weight of his bitter experience, while Takashi Kurita, 55, stood ramrod-straight and extended his hand to grasp that of the other. For the first several minutes, Marik and Kurita exchanged small talk. Abruptly, Kurita stood, and, fixing the Marik with an expression that was half wry humor and half sadistic amusement, said, “It is probably time that we welcomed our third partner.” Before Janos Marik could reply, the pair of oak doors swung wide, and Maximilian Liao walked into the room, his perfectly tailored uniform ablaze with military ribbons and decorations, some of them clearly from the long war between the Capellans and the Free Worlds.

Marik glared at Kurita, then at Liao, then back at Kurita. “What is he doing here?” he finally asked.

He is here to negotiate peace, of course,” Kurita replied, extending a hand to the small Capellan. “He is here because he is an enemy of our enemy, Hanse Davion.” He dropped Liao’s hand and turned to face Marik once more. “He is also a loaded gun, friend Janos. It is better to take such weapons in hand and point them away from one, then to leave them for an enemy to pick up. I’m sure you agree.”

Liao flinched at the metaphor, but smiled, showing a row of perfect teeth.

“You would make this a necessary condition of our own alliance?” Marik asked.

“I would.”

“And if I do not choose to negotiate with such as him?”

“Then, friend Janos,” Kurita replied softly, “you may do what you like and be damned, Steiner and Davion will swallow you up, preying upon the deep rifts in your society and in your foolish Parliament, which you should have done away with centuries ago. You need Draconis, Captain-General. Draconis does not need you.”

-From The Course of Our Times, by Precentor David Polonia, ComStar Press, 3024

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THE COLLAPSE OF ILLUSION
 
Democracy and imperialism are a bad mix at best. Without the full cooperation of the governed, an imperialist government must ultimately become either venal or authoritarian in order to enforce its will. The Terran Alliance has cleverly avoided the pitfalls of indecision and undertaken to become both.
 
While poor but visionary colonists carved civilization from mankind's last and greatest frontier, the bureaucracy grew even fatter and richer than it had been; when the frontiersmen complained about the situation the Navy was dispatched to coerce them into subservience. This response destroyed any illusions the rebellious colonies might have had about mother Terra's concerns for their welfare.
 
Nevertheless, the military forces of Terra were about to be disillusioned as well, discovering that invading a planet was not a simple matter of storming the beaches and seizing the airfields. If the millions of indigenous rebels wished to resist, only substantial firepower could cow them.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
-Sir George Humphreys, from the preface to The Collapse of Illusion, Globe Press, 2251
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ON THE SENATE FLOOR
 
It seems more than a trifle foolish for us to be stunned that there is unrest in the colonies. Our forebears suffered this, and for much the same reasons: they were unwilling to share the government, and even violence did not change their minds. The society of mankind, my fellow Senators, is not monolithic, like some great arch of triumph. It is like a great tree, with boughs extending in all directions. It must be willing to bend to the coursing of the winds, or else the fury of those winds will surely break it.
 
-Speech to the Alliance Senate by Charles Marik, April 14, 2231
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DEAD LANGUAGES
 
The benefits of having a single universal language are well-known. It is unfortunate, however, that the adoption of English has led to the disregard of so many other languages, each of which was an important contribution to the inventiveness of human consciousness. It was less than a century after the accords establishing English as the Free Worlds League's official language that Romanian, Bengali, and Hindi became counted as dead languages. Although they are still studied by scholars, their loss as living tongues can only be mourned as an irreplaceable loss to human culture.
 
-From Expanding Galaxies, Shrinking Thought, by Lakshmi Davis-Samsarananda, University Press, 2988
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THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY
 
It was Humphreys' Regulus Land-Grant program that really won me over. We had a world called Ngake, where we had encouraged offworld investment by giving tax breaks and seed money to investors on the condition that they develop the planet economically, providing schools, roads, and medical care for the natives. We did this not out of altruism, or out of greed (although the investors certainly improved the tax base on Ngake), but in order to unify our realm. By that I mean, the more investment from one group of our people in another, the more interrelated their interests would be, and the less chance there would be of the Principality of Regulus breaking down into separate states. When Humphreys cited this precedent, I realized that he was adapting what we did to a much larger scale, founding a state that could defend itself more efficiently than any of its component parts. And I won't deny that I was flattered that he was using my own work as a parallel to what he intended to do.
 
-From Memoirs of Raju Selaj, Regulus Unity Press, 2293
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A FOOL AND HIS KINGDOM
 
...An excellent example of such shortsightedness is a fellow called David Genovese, the dictator of Stewart. Genovese had had a brilliant career suppressing freedom. When he took over the leadership of the Stewart Confederacy, it was a ragtag, impoverished group of planets that had trouble ordering spare parts for even the simplest of their factory machinery. Genovese "made the trains run on time" (to use a phrase describing another dictator of a couple of centuries earlier), and he was proud of his accomplishments. Agricultural production on Bedeque, the most fertile of the Stewart planets, had increased 80 percent in five years. Interplanetary communications systems had been streamlined. This was one of the few cases in Free Worlds history where dictatorship worked; so, naturally, he was convinced that nothing else ever would.
 
Juliano Marik's invasionary forces, actually met with little resistance from Genovese's military. This was because Genovese insisted on commanding his troops himself, and he was not a master strategist. His rigid insistence on troops following his plans to the letter led to disaster when, ironically, a communique from the front was garbled due to bad weather. Not realizing that his troops were defending a swamp created by three days of monsoon rains, he ordered the troops to hold the position rather than abandoning it. Descending on the planet when the weather cleared, the invasionary force pummeled the Stewart troops mired in the ground. After this debacle, the Stewart forces were demoralized, and their faith in the dictator--and in dictatorship--was severely damaged.
 
The subsequent conquest of the Stewart worlds took a mere four months. Captured in his palace, David Genovese was forced to apologize to Marik publicly for inconveniencing his troops, after which Genovese was publicly beheaded.
 
-David Oglonsky, Collected Lectures, Andurien University Press, 3012.
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THE TURNING POINT
 
The breakthrough came in 2269. Humphreys had been pleading--with dignity--with Marik and Selaj for three long years. (I suspect that the biggest factor working against him was that all his arguments made such perfect sense.) Detlev Marik told me afterwards that he'd liked the idea of a Free Worlds League from the first, but had his doubts as to whether it would ever get off the ground due to the diplomatic difficulties involved. By autumn of 2269, he had just about given up, thinking that if he hadn't met with Allison and Selaj by then he probably never would.
 
The turning point came because of a historical serendipity that no one could have predicted. Leaders or anybody else with a lot of responsibility need hobbies, probably more than most people do. They try their best never to show it--the last thing any political leader needs is for news to get out that they're a little bit eccentric, and anybody's hobby looks eccentric to people who don't share an interest in it. All the same, show me a leader who doesn't have a hobby and I'll show you a person near the breaking point.
 
Anyway, Raju Selaj collected miniatures: toy soldiers, doll houses, oil paintings, first edition books of poems in four-point print. (This fact was never published in his lifetime.) During a state visit, on an impulse, Selaj invited Humphreys to examine his collection. Delighted with finally getting to see the human side of the cold, intense prince, Humphreys mentioned the collection to Detlev Marik the next time they met. What Marik collected was trophies--not his own, but samples of awards given out in different times and places. Marik appreciated excellence and liked both the form and the spirit of awards people had devised to honor one another. I'm convinced that each man's curiosity about each other's collections had a lot to do with getting them into the same room to negotiate a formal alliance.
 
Even so, it took two more years before the conference actually occurred. By that time, Selaj and Marik had corresponded several times and were thoroughly prepared to regard one another as friends when they finally met.
 
-From Origins of the Free Worlds League: Memoirs of Anthony Franchicka, Danais Press, 2310
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NO HOLDS BARRED
 
Taylor turned away to look out across the great factory/city that spread out to the horizon. DeShong was silent, knowing that the great industrialist was about to wax poetic again. He'd heard the speech before, but waited patiently while the engines of hyperbole were stoked in Taylor's brain.
 
He could almost read the platitudes as they crossed Taylor's furrowed skull; it was like he was watching some sort of electronic tickertape, sending him reports of stock prices rising.
 
"You know, Ken," Taylor finally said, "this is the time to live in."
 
Standard speech #47, DeShong thought. Here we go again. But he nodded, putting on what he hoped to be his best "bright young man" smile. "Yes, sir."
 
"I got everything I have everything you see--by working for it, clawing and fighting for it. No government handed it over to me, like some sort of birthday present. My dad, rest his soul, was a third-watch engineer on an oreship." Taylor gestured to the 3D portrait of the Old Man, hanging on the far wall like some sort of icon. "When he died of iridium poisoning at 36, he left scarcely a thousand M-Bills to bury him with and to keep my family alive. I had no choice but to leave home, finding whatever work I could--"
 
Doing anything I could set my hands to, DeShong thought, working two, three jobs--
 
"--doing anything I could set my hands to, working two, three jobs, until finally I had my chance. And I made the most of it." He slammed his fist onto the desk. "And I did it without the help of goddamn government. We didn't need 'em then, and we don't need 'em now.
 
"I don't need stinking government safety inspectors sneaking around my factories, prying into my secrets. And I'm not going to let that bastard Noren get away with it, Senator or no."
 
Now, DeShong thought, he'll start lapsing into the bit about how he'll throw them off the property with his bare hands if he has to.
 
To the younger man's surprise, however, Taylor's anger subsided, and a wry smile crossed his face. "Yes indeed, Ken," he said. "Anyone who tries to tell you 'bout the good old days, they're talking out the wrong end. These are the good old days." He picked something off his desk and tossed it into DeShong's lap: a vid cassette, labeled with the familiar emblem of Taylor and Cie and the top secret emblem.
 
"What--"
 
"Bring that over to Sherry in Liaison. Tell her to send a copy of it, with my compliments, to our crusading friend Senator Noren. I'll bet you a bottle of my finest Chateau Rothschild that we won't see any more of those scheming investigators. You see, Ken, my boy," and he placed a fatherly hand on DeShong's shoulder, "we've got the goods on Noren."
 
-from the historical novel Big Time, 2371
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ATTACK ON GERALDINE MARIK
 
Two months before her assassination, there was a less subtle attempt on Geraldine's life. She and her retinue were on the reviewing stand during a Marik Day parade (celebrating the anniversary of Charles Marik's announcement of the Free Worlds League). Dorian Marik, who allayed suspicion by standing on the reviewing stand with her, had arranged for low-power explosives to blast the supports out from under the stand. He had also hired several members of a local street gang to attack the Marik when the stand collapsed.
 
Geraldine, who was fifty years old at the time, escaped the seven-meter fall with barely a scratch, and her bodyguards, though disoriented at first, recovered in time to kill the gang members before they did anything worse than wound Allan Marik's arm. At the time, it was regarded as the most chuckleheaded assassination attempt in history, and the gang, the Satan Slashers, became a laughingstock for Marik comedians.
 
-From The Calamitous 24th Century, by Ian Barduk, Globe Press, 2732
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THUMBS DOWN
 
It is amazing to think how many of the "heroes" of classic fiction are rogues. Think of Raskolnikov, that ax-murdering madman; Charles Foster Kane, who starts a war just to sell newspapers; or Macbeth, who kills his patron and usurps his throne. These rogues, however, either repent or get their comeuppance, while the terrorists in Angel Run are not only brutes, but brutes glorified.
 
From the opening shot of the wilderness where the Sian-Mariks land, to Clorinda's apotheosis as a symbol of rebellion, this film is atrocious. That killers capable of dynamiting a nursery (as the real Roger Sian-Marik did) should be treated as heroes is bad enough, but the obsessive closeups of carnage are really sick.
 
In my opinion, there is no worse crime in film than to make the gunning down of shoppers in a supermarket exhilarating. Jettisoning a busload of intergalactic tourists into deep space is definitely not amusing; watching a laundromat full of diplomats split open in a decompression chamber is far from entertaining.
 
The only comfort I can take is that this film will soon be cut up into ukulele picks and will not immortalize these creeps.
 
-From a review in Film Orgy magazine, July 2394
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THE ENIGMA OF "UNCLE MIKHAIL"
 
One of the most intriguing case histories for psychohistorians is that of Mikhail Marik the Avenger. Here was a man whose life was full of contradictions. Everyone who knew him agreed that he was very consistent and methodical. Why then did this archetypal tough guy kill himself?
 
Some people believe that he committed suicide because he was more afraid of pain than of death, and that Allan Marik intended to put him to death in an especially grisly manner. This reasoning is highly unlikely for a couple of reasons. In his youth, Mikhail had been in a gyrocopter crash and had walked six miles through a desert without water and with a fractured ankle and a broken arm, carrying an unconscious comrade. A person capable of that kind of heroism is not easily intimidated, not even by Allan Marik. In addition, Allan himself was not a cruel man. He might have intended to have his uncle killed, but he certainly would not have tortured him.
 
A more likely explanation is that Mikhail was suffering from a degenerative disease called Knight-Grasse's Syndrome, which had started showing up in the late 21st century. In 2367, people were dying slowly and painfully from it. The autopsy on Mikhail Marik revealed that he had been in the intermediate stages of this disease.
 
Another possibility, which came to light after Geraldine, Allan, and Mikhail Marik's personal papers were published, was that Mikhail was depressed about the fate of another family member. Mikhail had an illegitimate daughter--this was never known outside the family during his life--named Hideyo Makayoshi. Her mother was a minor member of a Kurita trade mission that met with Mikhail in 2344. Apparently, the two fell madly in love, but nothing could come of it because of the ticklish political situation between the Free Worlds and the Draconis Combine. When the mother became pregnant, she realized that she faced dishonor in her Kurita home-land. Staying behind on Atreus, she and Hideyo lived in obscurity; Mikhail visited them incognito whenever he could.
 
In 2369, both mother and daughter were killed in an accident in a damaged high-rise elevator. The elevator may have been tampered with, and they may have been mistaken for Kurita spies. Hideyo had shown enormous promise as an urbanologist; her professors in graduate school and the Atreus City Public Worlds Committee had received her theories on city planning enthusiastically. of Mikhail Marik's children, Hideyo was clearly the most gifted and the one he loved the most.
 
Ultimately, we really do not know what killed Mikhail Marik. The main drawback to psychohistory, as we all know, is that we really did not know these people. If they lived in our own time, we could just ask them why they did what they did. In the case of Mikhail Marik, however, who knows if he would have given us a straight answer?
 
-From Readings in Psychohistory, by Professor Bob Kieffer, Atreus University Press, 3021
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MARIK EDUCATION
 
Many wonder why House Marik has had the sole privilege of the Captain-Generalcy. Because this House has had an incredibly illustrious string of military successes, most representatives in Parliament reason that they should not monkey with success. Since 2412, the Mariks developed many of the tactics necessary for the war of maneuver called for by the Ares Conventions. Although they never published their tactics, enemy generals soon learned their strategies.
 
Mariks are successful generals due to their upbringing. Every member of the House is taught military history from the age of four. A Weapons Master coaches the scions from the age of seven in numerous types of weapons. Later, Mariks learn battle tactics, on the gameboard and in the field. The scale of engagements gradually increases, until, by the age of 15, a Marik can handle the complexities of interstellar warfare.
 
All Mariks must serve in the military upon reaching the age of 18. Here, they begin to lead troops in earnest. It is unusual for a Marik to leave the military, and those that do are looked upon with distaste by their relations (though few are actually disowned).
 
-From The Eagle House, by Guardino Harlough, Dragon Tooth Publishing, 3002
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TRIBUTE
 
Historians have unfairly treated Simone Marik, who succeeded her father as Captain-General at the age of 19. Being listed among Captain-Generals as colorful as Geralk and Albert indeed makes her seem lackluster, but that in no way reflects on her abilities. Her famous remark in her investiture speech, "My first ambition is to avoid making history," caused historians to refer to her as "The Millard Fillmore of House Marik." Nevertheless, that she achieved her ambition is quite remarkable, as she ruled in such troubled times. Not everybody can conduct war, make far-reaching policy decisions, or promote economic expansion and technological growth and still resist the urge of self-aggrandizement. For that, she deserves our admiration. I think she would be pleased that she takes up minimal space in history books.
 
-From Character and Destiny: The Mariks During the Age of War, by Frederick Nigel Press, Atreus University Press, 2998
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ALBERT MARIK THE GREAT
 
The thing that surprised me most about Albert Marik was that, at his age, his voice still had the vigor of a young man's voice. We all made speeches on the occasion of signing the treaty, but Marik held us spellbound. The text alone, as beautifully written as it was, does not give a clear idea of the presence of this tiny man or of the force of his personality.
 
Afterward I congratulated him on his speech, and he politely returned the compliment. Then he said, "You know, giving speeches is easy. I simply had my ghostwriters knock out something overnight, and they did an exceptionally good job this time. All I could think as I stood there behind the podium, with all those hundreds of eyes on me, was that for every word there might be a thousand lives saved. It made me want to talk forever."
 
-From Memoirs of Lawrence Davion, Federation Press, 2582
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TEN REASONS TO RESIST THE BOURGEOIS BLOATPIG OPPRESSOR HUMPHRIES (SIC)
 
1. She is the representative of the oppressive Star League bourgeois bloatpigs.
2. She is in league with the murdering bandit Marion Marik.
3. We don't want no offworlder over us,
4. Smash the bourgeois bloatpigs.
5. The econnomic (sic) system needs to be revamped to support a Terenteyevian approach to agricultural reform to answer the needs of the peopl (sic).
6. Melissa Humphries has the blood of the people on her hands.
7. Only by a systematic approach to revolt can the people overcome the poverty and injustice that plagues them.
8. She is the daughter of the infamous Humphreys line, that has made war upon the people for nearly two decades and has caused innumerable deaths.
9. We don't want no woman over us.
10. Off the bourgeois bloatpigs.
 
-Anonymous handbill circulated among Canopus protesters, circa 2598, reprinted in Writings from the Front: Documenting the Canopus Resistance, edited by Larry Baxter, Windbreaker Press, 2611
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PROSPERITY IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
 
MP VAN RAUEN: There is a growing despair in the Free Worlds; things are not as they were in our fathers' time. Once, the spirit of free enterprise reigned, and now there are shanties in sight of our proud capital. In years past, the spaceways were full of ships, carrying goods from world to world. Now, the financial news is striped with foreclosures and public auctions. The products of the Free Worlds, in those bygone days, were in demand across the Inner Sphere--across all of human space. Now, they are shunted aside in favor of other states' goods--cheaper, less well-made goods.
 
MP GERHARDT, MINISTER FOR TRADE: If the Honorable Member would yield for a moment. Can the Honorable Member provide any evidence for his claims?
 
MP VAN RAUEN: The evidence is surely all around the Minister. How many times was the Minister approached by beggars on his way home from the Parliament last night? Or does the Minister not deal with common citizens? The government must address these issues, and not ignore them. The government must take responsibility for the plight of the common person, if for no other reason than because it has caused that plight in the first place.
 
-Excerpt from Parliament, 2628
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THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT

At first we suspected an inside job. Lord Terrence often gathered the family in the upstairs library at the back of the mansion, sometimes to confer with the other government officials in the family, sometimes to exchange Christmas gifts, and sometimes to spend quality time with the youngsters. It was an unusual place to have a family meeting, and it seemed pretty suspicious that the assassins knew to plant the bomb there.
 
The breakthrough in the case came quite by accident. The estate on planet Marik is huge--it would take an army to patrol it--which was how the terrorists could infiltrate the estate without being noticed. In fact, there are no fences around the Marik holdings: the neighbors know not to cross the boundaries without being invited.
 
Quite by accident, Gavin Murphy, my adjutant, decided to take a long walk to think over the evidence we had uncovered. As luck would have it, his walk took him just where we needed to be looking.
 
As he got to the end of the expansive lawn in front of the Marik house, Gavin noticed that the soil had been disturbed around one of the trees in the woods ringing the estate. At first, he figured that some of the children had been digging around the tree. As he walked past, however, he noticed a peach pit. There were no peach trees on the estate, and he remembered a chance remark by one of the household staff that no one ever took food out of the house.
 
After rummaging through the ground cover, Gavin found a small, stale chunk of meat, such as might fall from a sandwich. Someone had been eating there, and Murphy realized that the disturbance in the dirt was not from children digging, but from someone climbing the tree, staying an indeterminate amount of time, and covering his tracks after leaving.
 
Gavin got back to me at a dead run. We got a ladder out of the gardener's shed and took a good look in that tree. Concealed in the branches was a sort of improvised treehouse that contained a cache of food, a portable chemical toilet, and an infrared scanning device. The Scourge of Death agent had trained the scanner on the house to trace patterns of body heat, maintaining surveillance on where people congregated during family gatherings, thus finding the perfect way to maximize the bomb's effectiveness. Once he had that information, he could abandon the rest of his materiel.
 
-From Political Investigations: Memoirs of a Terrorist Tracker, by Inspector Jonas Chiplinski. Police Procedure Press, 2698
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A FATHER'S PLEA
 
The Marik, who, since the incident at Hartsdale, had seldom raised his voice above a near-whisper, turned to face the five of us seated around the Regulan sector star map. His eyes, hooded behind the thick, dark lenses that protected his medically restored eyesight, remained shrouded in mystery, but there was no mistaking the tension in his neck muscles as he wrenched the words from his throat.
 
"Surely you understand that this is--and must remain--a family affair. These men and their paid thugs have killed a Council Lord, and butchered my son--a good and honorable man who would have made a mark in League politics that would not soon have been forgotten. I cannot allow their crime to go unavenged. Surely, they have forfeited any right to your protection. I ask you as a sovereign--as a father--for you to stay your hand, to allow me to do what must be done. If I die in my efforts, there will then be more than enough need for your troops."
 
-From Solar Flare: The Regulan Crisis, by Admiral Millard Crichton, Stark Press, 2692
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COUNTERPOINT
 
It is ludicrous to cite the sentience laws in reference to Gerald Marik. They were enacted during the Exodus to clarify guidelines regarding native lifeforms with rudimentary intelligence, as in some Terran lifeforms. The basis for the sentience laws was to provide for the possibility that space explorers could run into an intelligent--or even civilized--lifeform.
 
The gist of the sentience laws is that anything that does not fall under their protection is fair game to be used for food, medicine, shelter, or any other purpose colonists might have. Sentience was defined as the ability to do complex mathematical functions (counting horses did not count), the ability to formulate original sentences expressing emotions, abstract thought, or specific information (talking parrots did not count), or the ability to originate observations about the nature of reality from one's own biological interaction with the world (computers did not count, but mentally retarded people did). To say that Gerald Marik does not interact through his own biology because he has bionic limbs is not only absurd, but is also an insult to every person who ever had a prosthetic limb or implant since such medical devices were first invented centuries ago.
 
Having said this, I must also say that I would not mind if Dr. Menke had his arms ripped off, his nostrils slashed, and his throat sandpapered from the inside for his offenses against common sense and good taste.
 
-From A Rationalist's Approach to the Issues, by Dennis de Soto Aristides, Logic Press, 2702
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AN OMINOUS PORTENT
 
There is a cancer in the Free Worlds League, a sickness that runs through our marrow and threatens to make us weak. We must excise this disease from our flesh before it is too late, and cleanse ourselves in the pure fire of the truth. I am the vessel of my father's will, the hot knife of his loyalty that will cauterize our wounds and make us whole. I will not rest until the work he began is finished.
 
-From Elise Marik's inaugural address, printed in Seeds of Crisis, Times of Trouble, by Archibald Nelson, Termak Press, 2738
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BORIS MARIK, MAN OF DESTINY
 
Boris had more than his share of accomplishments. A champion swordsman, he won a platinum medal at the Procyon Olympics in 2712. Two years later, he wrote a paper on progressive calculus that was published by the Procyon University Mathematical Review. He founded a publishing house of his own at the age of 24, and within twelve years, it was the third largest book publishing house on Procyon.

During his imprisonment, out of respect for his distinguished contributions to publishing, he was allowed all the books, vidtapes, and other informational resources he wanted. Often, he spent as many as 18 hours a day in study. Indeed, his personal library in prison covered some six cells and was rumored to be the third largest private library in Atreus City. His writings from this period on history and philosophy are well-known.

In February of 2736, Boris noticed a strange mold on his papers in one corner of his cell. At first disgusted by the damage to his books, he moved them to the other end of the cell, only to find that the mold died, leaving the books none the worse for the attack. He spent the next month experimenting with the mold and the paper in this cell, collecting samples and having them analyzed. The mold grew only in light of a particular frequency, from which it produced its own food in a close variant of photosynthesis. Boris Marik had discovered a whole new form of protozoa that grew only on planet Atreus.

Unfortunately, he discovered something else as well. Through the prison grapevine, Boris heard vague rumors of assassination plans (which later turned out to be false). Although he believed in Bertram’s good faith, the Atreus City prison was no less violent than any other prison, and convicts had every reason to fear for their lives every day. Smuggled in with documents that Boris requested were messages written in pencil warning him of convicts sent to kill him. Boris was faced with a choice. Assuming the threat was real, he could not go to the prison authorities for help because they might be involved with the plot. He could not, on the other hand, wait for an attack that might come at any time and from any quarter. The only course of action appeared to be escape.

Boris made his ill-considered attempt on a moonless night in 2736. He got as far as a drainage pipe outside the prison complex before he was spotted from one of the watchtowers. After that, it was a simple matter for the authorities to station themselves by the river where the pipe emptied. As Boris emerged he began to run, unaware that he had been followed. The prison sharpshooters killed him without warning.

The final irony is that this gifted man never got to see the supplementary lab report on that stuff growing in the cell. The mold was found to have certain medicinal properties; during the Eleusis crisis of 2938, the mold was used to battle an epidemic on a newly settled planet in the outer reaches of Marik space. For all his accomplishments, Boris Marik’s greatest contribution turned out to be a discovery that would save the lives of people who lived two centuries after his death, on a planet he never heard of.

-From The Mariks: House of Steel, House of Dreams, by Genevieve Dalton, Nonesuch Press, 3022
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EWAN’S DIPLOMACY

One incident I’ll never forget occurred when Marik, unable to arrive at a Star League meeting due to a mechanical malfunction, accepted a lift in a Davion JumpShip. Richard Cameron, the four other House leaders, and I were there to greet him. I remember his remarks on his arrival.

“Well, ‘First Lord,’ you and your puppet Kerensky will be pleased that I had a miserable time on that Davion tub coming here. They’re as badly serviced as a Kurita brothel and as ugly as a Capellan whore, eh, gentlemen? Oh, but of course Lady Steiner wouldn’t know about such things.”

In three sentences, Ewan Marik managed to insult each of the other four House Leaders, plus the First Lord and myself, without even having removed his jacket.

-From Twilight of Courage: The Memoirs of General Aleksandr Kerensky, ComStar Archives
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BACKCHANNEL COMMUNICATION

I appreciate your solicitousness on the subject of my health. I regret to say that it is not good, and probably will not be again. Unlike many of our colleagues, I do not hold with the idea of placing artificial limbs and organs in my body. It is my firm belief that, given enough of them, they will surely seize control of a person and make him something less than human. I think, however, that if I am forced to withdraw, you will find my son Kenyon as faithful to the cause of freedom as I have been.

It seems likely that there will be enough support to defeat this evil measure[Executive Order 156], though that pig of a Steiner will waver on the matter, as he always does. Nonetheless, I do not trust the actions of our tin tyrant, general Kerensky. We have continued to perceive young Cameron as the enemy of the liberties we have justly won, but I fear that our suspicions should have been better directed at Kerensky himself. The loyalty of the Regular Army is nothing to be taken lightly, and should a war break out, his power would be unbounded.

-From dispatch sent by Captain-General Ewan Marik to Coordinator Minoru Kurita, March 8, 2762
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THE EAGLE EMBARRASSED

During his days at the military academy, Kenyon experienced more than his share of embarrassments. The worst of these occurred during his third year, at the age of 15, when he was directed to lead a battalion of underclassmen in mock maneuvers. These “war games” have always been a basic part of training for military commanders, not to mention invaluable training for combat troops.

In the battle scenario, Kenyon’s troops were required to attack a fortified building, an assignment he fulfilled competently. Unfortunately, the lad had just seen the film classic Napoleon, about the life of the flamboyant Terran military ruler, and he identified with the young Napoleon at military school. Like the Marik family, Napoleon also used the eagle as his symbol. The young Marik resolved to handle himself in battle the way the young Napoleon does in the film.

Prior to the battle, Kenyon sent for a family banner, one that he would raise over the defeated position in token of his first conquest. Swept up in the heat of battle, Kenyon failed to notice how easily his victory came. Raising the Marik standard over the fortress, Kenyon began to make a speech about courage, triumph, and destiny, when the opposing forces counterattacked. They had finessed Kenyon’s troops in a simple, strategic retreat, and now had them surrounded. In the crossfire that resulted, all of Kenyon’s troops were declared wiped out, and Kenyon’s opponents achieved total victory.

The worst part of the debacle for Kenyon was that the opposition leader, having heard about Kenyon’s plans to raise his eagle standard, had made a standard of his own. It depicted a schrack, a bird native to Sorunda that had eaten the few eagles the Marik family had tried to stock on their hunting estate there.

-From Heraldic Symbols and the People Who Bore Them, by Claudia Masakela, New World Press, 3018
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JUSTICE

By 2820, the protracted fighting on Chertan had devastated the planet’s food distribution system. As the cities received less and less produce, food riots broke out. The irony that civilians who had survived the military action were now being killed in riots did not escape Viscount Ronald Marley, interim Director-General of the city of New Pittsburgh. A man of principle passionately devoted to justice, Viscount Marley was the right man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Marley himself reviewed the proceedings of the trial during which several rioters were sentenced to death for killing security guards at a meatpacking house. Marley discovered several judicial irregularities in the trial, including the fact that the judge had disallowed testimony that the accused had not been present at the crime. Despite public opinion that strongly favored execution of the guilty parties, Marley, insisting on these three individuals’ innocence, ordered them released.

Thaddeus Marik was enraged when he heard of Marley’s action. He ordered the Viscount stripped of all titles, lands, and property, and ordered that no one on the planet Chertan ever give him another job. (The story that Thaddeus sent Marley a personal message saying that he would have had him shot if he had been a military man is probably apocryphal.) Reduced in a day to destitution, Marley was seen for weeks afterwards begging in the streets of New Pittsburgh for money to book passage to another world.

The final irony is that Thaddeus, once his initial anger had passed, might have been willing to reconsider his pronouncement, but the Captain-General was killed soon thereafter. His successor, Charles Marik, never heard about Ronald Marley, whose subsequent life story is lost in obscurity.

-From The First Tide of Resistance, by Caroline Drury-Tunis, Britannica Historian Perspectives Series, 3025
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REVENGE IS SWEET

In 2830, on the eve of House Marik’s entry into the Second Succession War, a man named Jermyn LeStat arrived on Dieudonne from the remote Steiner world A Place, and requested diplomatic asylum. Ostensibly a member of a diplomatic delegation convened to discuss mining and ore processing conventions, LeStat wasted no time in approaching the Marik authorities about defecting. He was a man of exceptional ability and was regarded as one of the rising stars of A Place’s planetary government.

It was LeStat’s original intention simply to leave Steiner space and take as much governmental information with him as possible. The Marik officials on Dieudonne, however, immediately recognized the implications of having a Steiner planetary official on their side, even one from a world as far from the Marik border as A Place. LeStat was extensively debriefed and then offered a deal. If he returned to A Place to act as a Marik agent, he would be smuggled back to Marik space whenever he wished, and he would be paid 50,000 M-Bills in a numbered bank account on Dieudonne for every month that he supplied useful information on Steiner military movements during the impending war, with an extra bonus of half a million credits if he remained in service on A Place for the duration of the war. LeStat gratefully accepted the offer.

LeStat returned to A Place and was shortly afterward promoted. During the two years that he remained on his homeworld, he became coordinator of troop movements through that sector of space. The information he supplied House Marik was invaluable in their plans for engaging House Steiner militarily, and when he began to suspect that the Steiner secret service suspected him, he requested relocation from his Marik contact. True to its word, SAFE rescued him from the barren, depressing world of his birth.

Years later, after he had taken a job in Dieudonne’s government, officials noticed that he had not touched the money in his numbered account. The SAFE officer who had originally arranged payment to LeStat was asked to interview him one more time. LeStat told him that all he really cared about was bringing down House Steiner, whom he blamed for the famine that had devastated A Place during the First Succession War. He had been the only one of his family to survive that famine, which could have been prevented if Richard Steiner had not ordered the commercial freighters conscripted for military service. The money on account he was leaving to bequeath as his legacy if he ever produced an heir, although he was nearing 50 and remained unmarried.

Jermyn LeStat lived out his life peacefully and died of natural causes, without issue, in 2868. The money reverted to the Marik government.

-From Defectors Past and Present, by Erica Brandeis, Atreus University Press, 3022
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THE UNANSWERED QUESTION

In the immediate aftermath of Charles Marik’s charges against ComStar, there was considerable speculation both in Parliament and the Atreus vidtapes as to the actual identity of the ComStar double agent. Almost inevitably, the focus of speculation fell on Charles’s sister Jeannette. Jeannette had been the bearer of ComStar’s first intelligence leak to the Captain-General, and was assigned, on several later occasions, to the relay stations that transmitted other such messages. In addition, she was present at the Oriente station when it transmitted the planet message that precipitated the Liao attack on Cursa. Even though SAFE strongly indicated that the leak had originated in the highest levels of ROM, some journalists—most notably Anders Metcalf of the New Atreus Sun—still persisted in naming Jeannette as the traitor. Metcalf wrote an inflammatory holoplay called Lies and Whispers that ran for four performances before it was closed by the Ministry of Justice as “libelous and seditious.” In it, Metcalf claimed to have incontrovertible proof that Charles and Jeannette were both part of a conspiracy to bring the Free Worlds League under the dominion of ComStar. These “proofs” never saw the light of day, however, as his personal papers were destroyed in a house fire that also claimed Metcalf’s life in September of 2838.

-Allen Artois, The ComStar Crisis, Globe Press, 2872
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GOOD THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES

Harlan Allison, the last and perhaps greatest leader of the Allison clan, stood barely one and two-thirds meters tall and weighed about 55 kilos. According to the official code of regulations for the Fusiliers of Oriente, Harlan (had his name been different) would have been automatically disqualified from piloting a ‘Mech and forced to enter a noncombatant branch of the service. At the time of his death in 2845, he had registered 127 confirmed enemy kills.

-Karen Allemagne, Dynasties of the Free Worlds, Globe Press, 2931
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ON THE HOT SEAT

MODERATOR: If we can put through the editorial writers’ prognostications, your Highness, the question I think most of the Lyran peoples would like answered is, just how good a chance at peace is there, either with the Free Worlds League or with the rest of the Inner Sphere?

ELIZABETH STEINER: Well, frankly, Mr. Tracewski, that’s the question I’d most like answered. There is no question that the sentiment of peoples throughout the Inner Sphere has turned increasingly in favor of peace.

MODERATOR: Well, there’s no question of that, but, with all due respect, I don’t think that quite answers my question.

ELIZABETH STEINER: Unfortunately, Mr. Tracewski, the situation remains fluid. There are some hopeful signs, but whether they are going to come to any real settlement of the issues involved in the war remains to be seen.

DELBERT ANDREWS: Would you say, your Highness, that the recent peace initiatives from Philippa Marik is one of these signs?

ELIZABETH STEINER: Most definitely.

FIONA BARAKA-CHEE: Would you also say, Highness, that the possibility exists for a separate peace between our Commonwealth and the Free Worlds League?

ELIZABETH STEINER: I would certainly hope for far more than that, but if a separate peace with the Mariks is all that can be accomplished at this time, I’ll certainly take what I can get.

MODERATOR: Forgive me if this seems impertinent, Highness, but I wonder why, if the peoples of the war-torn worlds want peace, why can’t their leaders get together and make peace?

ELIZABETH STEINER (SMILING): I’ve always found the questions people call impertinent to be the ones that contain the most pertinence, Mr. Tracewski. It seems that in time of war, the leaders are precisely the ones who lag the farthest behind the rest of the people.

-From Meet the Press, Lyran Broadcasting System, August 28, 2865
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TO CATCH A SPY

The execution of the Kurita delegate on New Earth was an act of spite. It had nothing to do with Steiner spite for House Kurita, though heaven knows nobody liked the Kuritas much. It had everything to do with a personal slight on the first day of the conference.

When Ken Takamura, the Kurita delegate, arrived on New Earth, all the usual diplomatic protocol was observed. Takamura, who had requested hotel accommodations with an eastern exposure in advance, was insulted when he did receive what he considered a reasonable prerequisite of his rank. Takamura complained bitterly to the host delegation, who politely asked the Marik delegate, James Marik, to switch with him.

Although Marik, whose entire delegation was tired and irritable due to a turbulent space jump, agreed to the switch, Cyril Lewis, an unstable, low-ranking functionary in Marik’s entourage, took an intense dislike to the Draconis delegate.

As the seven long weeks of acrimonious bickering wore on, personality clashes were less and less disguised. Lewis remained superficially polite to Takamura (as he did to all the delegates) but everything the Kuritan said, or didn’t say, bothered Lewis.

On the final day of the conference, as the group was breaking up, David Morgan, the Steiner delegate, announced the arrest of Takamura on charges of espionage. At his trial, no one believed Takamura’s claims that the Steiner documents found in his room were forgeries planted by a party or parties unknown, nor did they take much stock in his observation that the signatures on the documents looked like Lewis’s handwriting. Takamura was put to death immediately.

Although the Kurita government demanded an apology from the Lyran Commonwealth, no further mention of the incident was forthcoming from the Steiner government. The Free Worlds delegation refused to acknowledge the incident from then on, also.

-From Philippa Marik and the Peace Initiative, by Cynthia Vitali, Popular Press, 3021
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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

When James Marik was dispatched to the court at Tharkad in 2865 to deliver the Free Worlds’ proposal for a permanent treaty with the Lyran Commonwealth, he brought with him a gift of two rare Kakadan songbirds for Archon Elizabeth. Thirty months later, when the news of the Marik assault on the Federation of Skye reached the Estates General, the birds were caught and killed.

Fate would smile only slightly more kindly on James’s new wife Theodora Felton, daughter of an Estates-General representative, whom he met and fell in love with during the months prior to the ultimate failure of the peace talks. Though James and Theodora would have three children together, none would survive past the age of ten—indirectly creating a succession crisis upon James’s death that would nearly hurl the Free Worlds League into civil war.

-From Impetus of Change, by James Burke, Globe Press, 2912
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Elisabeth Marik’s father, Michael Marik, had been killed in battle when she was only five. He had been away from home most of her childhood, and so she had little memory of him. Her mother, Oriente Mark, resolved that the little girl, having already lost her father, should never have to experience any further privation or even see any human suffering; all of Michael and Oriente’s family wealth would be devoted to this end. In this, Elisabeth’s early childhood resembled that of the Buddha, whose father, a king, decided to shield his son from viewing misery.

The result was similar. Like the young Buddha, Elisabeth got wise to the situation, and in a very similar way. Having the natural curiosity of children, Elisabeth asked one of the household staff to take her to the vast merchandising bazaar (or “mall”) in the town near Oriente Marik’s estate. The widow Marik gave her approval, as the bazaar was in the high rent district. Elisabeth was supposedly about eight or nine at the time.

The little girl knew the goods on display at the bazaar well enough, but she wanted to see what was beyond it. She gave the servant the slip outside a whipped cream sculptor’s stand and wandered into the town.

Not surprisingly, she found things there that she never expected. All her life, whenever something terrible happened on a vidscreen, her mother or one of the servants would remind her that it was “just a story,” and that things like that did not happen anymore. On this day, she found that those things still were happening, and that people were still poor and still got sick. It was from this experience, that she began to develop the compassion that marked both her rule and her life.

Unlike Buddha, she never confronted her mother about the deceit, but let her go on believing that Elisabeth’s life was unspoiled by thoughts of suffering.

-From Stories of Young People for Young People, by Alice Seville, Conestoga Press, 3024
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DISSENT OR DUTY

The Home Defense Act is nothing but a confirmation of the basic rights that each member state in the Free Worlds League has always held: the rights of self-defense and self-determination, balanced against the needs of the whole. The League was created as a community of equals, a means by which worlds could expand their economic and political horizons without sacrificing their freedom. For centuries, the system of government has fostered this balance.

It did not, however, take into account the consequences of a Captain-General becoming a semi-permanent head of state. Though the maintenance of this position through the current crisis may be necessary (perhaps even vital) to assure military continuity, it cannot be denied that the placement of this power into the hands of a single family has tended to promote the interests of the few over the needs of the many. When we invoke the Home Defense Act, we are simply carrying out our duties both as good citizens of the League and good citizens of Andurien.

-From an Andurien secondary school history book, 2944
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INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY

The succession of three Captains-General within a year more than tripled the difficulties of transition of power. Consequently, none of the three successors of Samuel Marik were able to accomplish much, even considering their brief terms of office.

It is irresponsible to speculate, however, what might have been. For example, would Paul Marik, a highly respected soldier, have failed to get funding for a grandiose military adventure like Operation Killing Stroke? Would he even have tried? There is no question that a bellicose man like Brock Marik would have wanted to pursue such a course of action, but would he have had the imagination to conceive of a plan of such scope?

On the home front, would Iris Marik have achieved her goal of recreating the technological accomplishments of the preceding centuries? If she did, would it have been to the detriment of the war effort, which had to take top priority for all Marik citizens? Or would the pursuit of technology for its own sake have aided the war effort by advancing both the Free Worlds economy and our military technology?

Or, is it possible that Paul’s sober judgment, Iris’s progressiveness, and Brock’s will would have added up to one great leader? Any one of them might have been appropriate, or more than adequate. Brock had intended for his mother Iris to be one of his chief advisors, and so his rule might have incorporated two of the three Captains-General’s minds in one administration.

In any event, Iris was disabled, and Paul and Brock were both killed, leaving us with Thaddeus II for our new leader. It is the sort of thing I call one of God’s little practical jokes.

-Senator Davion Roback, in an interview printed in the Oriente Gazette-Herald, August 12, 2986
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MERCENARY CHIC

The new fall fashion lines introduced by Barroni Dionne, Ketch River Menswear, and Flash Jeans all reflect our current fascination with the mercenaries that have flocked to the Marik banner. Dionne’s latest collection of women’s eveningwear has many military flourishes, such as button-down jackets with broad shoulder epaulets, sashes and caps as accessories, and natural colors (greens, browns, and so on). Ketch River is marketing lines of pants, workshirts, and jackets in the regimental colors of several mercenary units. Flash Jeans has taken the boldest step of all—paying a licensing fee estimated at high six figures to become the official outfitter of clothing modeled after that of the 21 Centuri Lancers, right down to the Lancers’ traditional blue and red bandanna.

-From the vidtape Marik Prairie Companion, 2957
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A CONTRACT IS A CONTRACT

Although mercenaries are often considered treacherous, the politicians who hire them are not always honorable either. Examples abound of contracts being voided because of the employer’s negligence or dishonest dealing with mercenary units.

One such tragic, if not comic, example was the case of the Van Diemen Demons and Srec’s Wrecks. (This was the same Srec’s Wrecks that had served House Kurita with distinction until their commander, Sylvia Srec, was killed in a barroom brawl by an off-duty Kurita Otomo member in 2941.) Both mercenary units were in the employ of House Marik during 2976, but Thaddeus Marik’s practice of reneging on merc contracts had alerted them both that they might need to seek other employment. When the Marik refused to drop fresh water onto the planet Ford, where they had been fighting for weeks, Colonel Brigham Stanley, commander of the Demons, met with Colonel Simon Chiu, commander of the Wrecks, to talk things over.

No one knows how many drinks either one had had, but both agreed that they did not want to face each other in battle if they found contracts with opposing Houses. Sick of fighting for other people’s worlds, they decided that the two of them had enough firepower to take at least one world of their own. Before the night was through, they had decided to invade one of the Periphery worlds (no one is quite sure which one).

Chiu and Stanley resolved to send their resignations to the Marik government next morning. Meanwhile, they woke their troops and announced their plans, including an immediate BattleMech duel to determine command of the new unit. There were a few protests against the pointless danger and expense of a drunken ‘Mech duel, but everyone went out to watch it.

Hours before dawn, Stanley’s Crusader squared off against Chiu’s Archer. They fought in a vast, rolling wheatfield. The only sign of the nearby civilian population was a glimpse of a farmer shaking his fist at them as he and his family fled the area on foot. Slowly, the two ‘Mechs marched toward one another, matching each other step for step, like cowboys in an ancient video showdown.

Stanley “drew” first. Laying down a barrage of machine gun fire (which only ricocheted off the other ‘Mech’s armor), he moved to deliver a missile attack on the Archer’s left hip.

Chiu, an excellent ‘Mech pilot, sidestepped the blast. He responded with a missle of his own, which blasted the left arm of Stanley’s Crusader. Nevertheless, the Crusader remained able to blast the Archer’s right leg.

The onlookers, who had been silent in apprehension at first, began cheering wildly now, as each unit urged on their commander. In the light of acetylene flares, the onlookers could not believe their eyes when Chiu, closing in for ‘Mech-to-‘Mech fighting, drew Stanley off-guard and delivered a judo kick to the back of the Crusader’s right knee joint.

Stanley’s ‘Mech went down, but Stanley was made of sterner stuff. He brought the Crusader up to its knees and blasted the torso of the Archer with a half-dozen rockets. The bombardment knocked the ‘Mech backward and shattered most of its torso armor, leaving it practically defenseless.

As Stanley brought his Crusader to its feet to deliver the coup de grace, Chiu brought his sights to bear on one leg of Stanley’s ‘Mech. The Archer blasted the right hip joint of the Crusader, and as his ‘Mech was crumbling from under him, Stanley loosed a barrage of missiles. The missiles crashed into the midst of Chiu’s troops, killing most of them and wounding the rest. Van Diemen’s Demons were no more.

Stanley himself was killed in the crash. Although Chiu’s ‘Mech was easily repaired and he himself was unhurt, he was left without a command, just as Srec’s Wrecks were without a commander. They elected Major Egon barkewicz, who had protested the ill-conceived foray, to be their new leader, and were soon employed by the Capellan Confederation. Chiu joined McCarron’s Armored Cavalry, another mercenary unit, with a demotion to Major.

-From Worlds Apart: Mercenary Units and the Successor Houses, by Carroll Bodnasian, Marik Military Press, 3018
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Whereas, we, the Parliament of the Free Worlds League, being the properly deputized legislature of the realm, require funding above and beyond that provided by the individual provinces we represent;

Whereas, we, the Parliament, have appropriated funds for the military of the Free Worlds League in order to provide for the common defense of our respective provinces;

Whereas, the appropriation of such funds has taken funding away from public works projects such as industrial development, agricultural support, and provisions for transportation, roads, housing, medical facilities, education for our young, and other concerns of public welfare; and

Whereas, the aforementioned military of the Free Worlds League has accomplished successful ventures into rival space, capturing profitable territories and claiming the spoils for the economy of the Free Worlds League,

Now therefore, we, the Parliament, demand restitution upon the executive branch, in the person of First Lord and Captain-General Stephan Marik, under the legal precedent and principle of Replevin, to be offered in the form of proportionate portions of the spoils of war, to be returned to our respective commonalities.

-From Special Resolution 512 (the Replevin Doctrine), Free Worlds Parliamentary Record, September 12, 2989
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LETTER FROM THE FRONT

Janos’s letter arrived during one of the Marik’s periods of lethargy. It was summer in Ryal, and swelteringly hot and humid, but the Marik refused to take leave of the capital and go to the mountain estate, even when his wife threatened him to do so…

Often, when a letter would arrive from Janos, the Marik would command me to destroy it, or would take it and place it on his desk where it would remain unopened for days. He was weary this day, however, and commanded me to open the letter and read it to him.

He sat with his back to me in his great overstuffed armchair facing the holoportrait of Kenyon Marik. I read the letter aloud to him. It began with the usual greetings and polite inquiries concerning Stephan’s health and included a formal report on his unit’s state of readiness. The Marik remained silent throughout this, though I could see him shift uncomfortably in his chair from time to time. Later, the letter lodged, in clipped phrases, a complaint about the assignments that his unit had received, how it was being ordered to suppress rebellions and crush revolts, oppressing its fellow citizens.

Quite suddenly, the Marik rose from his chair and strode to where I sat. He took the message from my hand and thumbed through the rest of the letter, his face darkening with anger. I was quite surprised, as he had not been this animated in several weeks. After a moment, he threw the pad down. “Any other commander I would cashier for questioning my authority, Elias,” he said to me. “My son is a military officer and will do as he is ordered—nothing less and nothing more.”

“I am sure he understands that, Your Grace,” I replied. “He feels quite strongly on this subject, however—“

“He’s waiting for me to die, like all the other vultures,” the Marik shot back. “He wants to be Marik so soon, not realizing what that will mean.” Just as suddenly as it had come, the anger drained out of him. I reached out a hand to steady him, but he stepped back. “There is a malaise in our country, Elias. Posterity has not yet had a chance to record what is happening in the Free Worlds League, but it is clear to me that things are not even what they were when my father was alive. Vultures within our own country—within our own palace—wait for me to die, so that they can revoke Resolution 288, so that we can have a civil war. Steiner and Liao will be glad to pick over the corpse when that is done. They do not see what is happening. Even my own sons do not see. I am the last person alive with clear vision.”

-From The Distant Shore: The Life of Stephan Marik by Elias Chu, Globe Press, Atreus, 2994
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NO CHANCE

January 29, 2992

On Second Chance, the situation was even worse. We had perhaps been counting too heavily on the likelihood that Harsefeld, which lay closer to the Capellan border, would be attacked first, and so the Second Chance garrison had been almost completely neglected. The Oriente Hussars were in a state of total combat unreadiness due to a lack of spare parts, and the officers of the 3 Ranger Division complained that they had difficulty requisitioning sufficient food for their troops. The 3 Light Infantry hadn’t been on maneuvers in three months due to a lack of motor fuel for the transport vehicles. If an attack had come first on Second Chance, the entire planet would have fallen immediately. If an attack on Harsefeld had succeeded, nothing would have stopped Second Chance from falling as well.

It seems that in the military, there is no such thing as benign neglect.

-From The Diary of Janos Marik, unpublished, ComStar Archives
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WEDDING PLANS

The Captain-General’s first wife was a Lauber, a minor noble family from the planet Dalton. This one-planet principality never had any ambition or inclination to band with any of its neighbors. Hilda Lauber came, as it were, with no strings attached.

Ana Stewart was another story. While no one doubted the sincerity of Janos’s and Ana’s feelings for each other, Ana’s father, Androcles Stewart, the Earl of Stewart Commonality, made himself a royal pain in the neck. He pointed out to the Marik that Regulus, Marik, and Oriente dwarfed the Stewart Commonality. He insisted, in all seriousness, that he be ceded the planets Gallatin, Bainsville, and Tania Australis so that Stewart could achieve “parity” with the three larger regions.

As both First Lord and bridegroom-to-be, Janos felt he had more important things to worry about. The representative of the three worlds in question, however, felt differently about the matter. On the floor of the Free Worlds Parliament, the chief delegate from Tania Australis promised armed resistance to Stewart intervention. The chief delegate from Gallatin more tactfully requested of the Captain-General that there be no interference from the Free Worlds military, so that he could see if Stewart had the ability to take his planet in a fair fight. Janos quickly abandoned the Earl’s position.

Androcles Stewart did not give up so easily, however. He carried his demands directly to the Parliament. During his speech, in which he presented why joining Stewart would be to the three worlds’ advantage, the delegates from Bainsville, Gallatin, and Tania Australis stepped forward to stand directly in front of the Earl’s podium. The three leaders raised their hands to show that they had manacled themselves together, and then the two on either side took laser pistols from their vests and held them overhead in silence. Completely flustered by the demonstration, the Earl apologized and withdrew, admitting defeat.

-From The Last Thirty Years, by Jennifer Jane Hammoud, Atreus University Press, 3016
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SECRET SOCIETY

The Exituri were among the first groups to leave Terra during the Exodus and the first to do so for purely ideological reasons. Shiloh was chosen to be their homeworld because, in 2138, it represented the farthest reaches of space to which the Human Sphere had extended.

Shiloh was, in fact, perfect for Exituri purposes. Dry, marginally fertile, cold during the day from raging winds, hot at night from the heat stored in the rocky ground, Shiloh was a physical anomaly best suited for religious ascetics.

One of the basic tenets of the Exituri religion is taken from the Bhagavad-Gita, which says that one’s faith should not be presented to foolish strangers who might make fun of it. (This is a rough paraphrase of a language centuries dead.) Consequently, the Exituri, who appear so fanatically devoted to the doctrines of their religion, would not actually tell anybody their beliefs. For one to find out enough to decide whether or not to join the order, there, one must have already joined.

Members pray periodically throughout the day, and face Terra as they do so, indicating Moslem influence. There appears to be a strong messianic strain in Exituri that is inconsistent with Hinduism. Various members of the tribe carry religious medallions in the forms of crucifix, Star of David, and pentagrams, indicating possible Christian, Jewish, or Pagan roots. They have seasonal festivals reminiscent of paganism, and they greet friends and strangers alike with the greetings “Sholom Aleichem” or “Salaam Alaikem,” which translate as “Peace be with you” in Hebrew and Arabic, respectively.

The original Exituri pilgrims were quite clear about their intentions to get away from Terra and its “corrupting influences,” so that they could raise their children in accordance with their extremely strict moral code. Generation after generation, Exituri children have rebelled against the strictness of their upbringing. Shiloh society undergoes periodic reforms, when the moral strictures are eased somewhat for a few years, followed by an inevitable, severe crackdown by the religious authorities, who insist on literal interpretations of their spiritual tenets. A larger proportion of people emigrate from Shiloh than any other world in Marik space. Even so, those who leave the Exituri faith never tell outsiders what the doctrines of the religion are.

-From Faith in the Inner Sphere, by Rev. Dr. Horace DuShane, Atreus University Press, 3021
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CAPTAIN-GENERAL’S PROMISE

For too many years, we have done little but react to the actions and the campaigns of our enemies. When they seize the offensive, we have reeled backward, our general staff hoping to find a pattern in the attacks, scarcely daring to set aside resources for attacks of our own. We welcome a respite, but we merely lick our wounds and wait for the enemy to choose the moment once again.

The Free Worlds League has a long and noble martial tradition. We have skillful officers and brave soldiers. Our economy is strong, our people are proud. They have waited too long for this terrible war to end. They have suffered while tyrants defy the cause of freedom scarcely a jump away from their homes. They have watched while barbarians destroy humanity.

They will watch no longer.

They will suffer no longer.

They will wait no longer. We will be victorious, I promise you that, upon my word and upon my name.

-Janos Marik, addressing the Free Worlds Parliament, February 3004
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BUDDIES

I lost an arm off my ‘Mech in that battle, rescuing a man I despised.

Major Nguyen had just hired this new guy, whom I’ll call Smith. He was a rangy, wiry guy, and not bad looking, but he smelled bad—his philosophy was that Warriors have to go in the field without bathing, and so he didn’t want to get used to the luxury of bathing. You can imagine how the rest of us felt about that. A Warrior who doesn’t bathe, even on R&R, has to be crazy, and there was no shortage of us to tell him so. So maybe we got off on the wrong foot, but I’ll tell you anyway he was a wrong guy.

When we finished preliminary maneuvers and jumped to Menkalinan, Major Nguyen gave me the word that Smith was going to be my partner—Nguyen liked using what he called a “buddy” system with his ‘Mechs—and so we could be responsible for covering one another in the fight. That was okay with me. Smith had come highly recommended from his previous unit, and he had functioned well during maneuvers. I was even looking forward to the battle. I’ve learned to be superstitious about that since then; looking forward to a battle brings the worst luck you’re ever going to get.

We took the Liao garrison by surprise, but it didn’t take them long to counterattack. Damn, they’re good fighters. They loaded a lance of ‘Mechs into a DropShip, lifted off, and landed a mile or so behind us. Before we knew it, they had us in a crossfire, and as they spread out, it looked like they were going to surround us.

It was only Major Nguyen’s quick thinking that saved us. We spread out, two by two, in a star pattern that allowed us to engage the enemy individually. That way, we could gain ground in all directions in order to break through wherever possible. As a contingency plan, it was a pretty good one, and I remember thinking that I was glad Nguyen was on our side.

Smith was something else again. The guy who had been so disciplined in maneuvers was suddenly like a wild man. Of course, the fiercer you fight the likelier you are to win—I’d be the last one to argue against that—but Smith just had no judgement. He waded into three enemy ‘Mechs: a Panther, an Archer, and even a malfing Warhammer, screaming at me to keep up. I tried fighting off the ‘Mechs that had surrounded Smith, but only a lucky shot that took out the Warhammer’s cockpit kept us both from being shredded.

By this time, some of the other Liao ‘Mechs smelled blood. There were three more of them coming toward us, and I could see a Locust coming up for a sneak attack just slightly to my right side. Smith was getting abusive on the intercom; it seemed the scrape we were in was all my fault for not fighting harder.

It wasn’t until then we finally got some aerial support. God bless the Flying Furies! A wing of the Furies laid down enough cover fire to keep the Liao ‘Mechs busy while Smith and I got out of there.

Immediately afterward, as we went to help out Lauren Sharpe and Bill Yee in their Shadow Hawks, he did the same damn thing. He waded into the enemy like there were a resort lake on Regulus. This time, he marched right into Bill’s and Lauren’s line of fire, keeping them from knocking out an Atlas that they had had their sights on. Within seconds, his fat was in the fire again, and he was screaming abuse at Bill, Lauren, and me for not being as suicidal as he was.

To get him out of there, I had to do just what he did, running right into the fray. Just as I knocked out a Locust, the Atlas caught me at the joint of my ‘Mech’s left arm and blasted it right off.

When the battle was over, Smith insulted me for my performance in the battle, and I requested that Major Nguyen never make him my “buddy” again. Later, I found out that Bill and Lauren had made similar comments about his rashness, and that Nguyen was seriously considering having him cashiered. It turned out not to be necessary; Smith himself requested, and was granted, permanent leave.

I also found out that the person who had recommended Smith so highly was an uncle or cousin or something in the Oriente bureaucracy. I only regret that there were no replacement parts to repair my ‘Mech. I continued working with the regiment as a Tech until the repairs could be made, but by then, I’d been out of combat for months.

-From Griffin in Hell, by Sharon Ciardi, Karamou Publishing, 3013
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DEAL WITH THE DEVIL

Maximilian Liao, in the guise of a free trader, arrived at Kashmir Arcology on Terra on a September day filled with monsoon rains so fierce that they nearly precluded the shuttle landing. It was not the Chancellor’s first visit to the world, or the mountain city-complex, but it would doubtless be his most memorable one.

He came in the company of Jaime Wolf, the commander of the justifiably famous mercenary unit, Wolf’s Dragoons. In the past few years, the Dragoons had become the scourge of the Capellan front, to the point that the Captain-General of the Free Worlds was hard pressed to coerce his battle-weary troops to enter into combat with them. Wolf was an imposing, almost frightening figure, and it would have been easy for anyone to notice that he was no trader. Still, the Maskirovka, the highly efficient intelligence service of the Capellan Confederation, had been most thorough in distracting the overworked and underpaid minions of SAFE from the events about to take place in the Himalayas.

Shortly after the Chancellor had settled himself in the penthouse suite of the Arcology, he made a vidphone call to the offices of an import-export house in the shadow of Buenos Aires Starport. It consisted of a few innocuous words: “I have come to the bank of the Rubicon.” He who received the message arrived less than six hours later on a private passenger liner. He boarded a stratospheric commuter jet within an hour of making planetfall, and shortly arrived at the Liao penthouse.

The interview was short and to the point. Troop dispositions and bribing local governments were discussed. Nothing was signed, or committed to tape; nothing of this sort ever is. Just as he had arrived first, Maximilian Liao departed first, bound for his own capital of Sian, to make the appropriate arrangements.

Jaime Wolf, however, departed with his new employer, carrying a signed mercenary contract in his vest-pocket. After three years of near-inactivity, he would finally be able to put his troops in the field, with all of the Free Worlds as possible booty. Before his contract expired, he would prove to be Anton Marik’s trump card in the conquest of the Free Worlds League.

-From Crossed Swords, by Erna Kochkov, Rahne Publishing, 3021
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MEETING OF MINDS

It was a memorable occasion when the two great leaders met. Janos Marik, the oldest Successor Lord in the Inner Sphere, seemed bowed over by the weight of his bitter experience, while Takashi Kurita, 55, stood ramrod-straight and extended his hand to grasp that of the other. For the first several minutes, Marik and Kurita exchanged small talk. Abruptly, Kurita stood, and, fixing the Marik with an expression that was half wry humor and half sadistic amusement, said, “It is probably time that we welcomed our third partner.” Before Janos Marik could reply, the pair of oak doors swung wide, and Maximilian Liao walked into the room, his perfectly tailored uniform ablaze with military ribbons and decorations, some of them clearly from the long war between the Capellans and the Free Worlds.

Marik glared at Kurita, then at Liao, then back at Kurita. “What is he doing here?” he finally asked.

He is here to negotiate peace, of course,” Kurita replied, extending a hand to the small Capellan. “He is here because he is an enemy of our enemy, Hanse Davion.” He dropped Liao’s hand and turned to face Marik once more. “He is also a loaded gun, friend Janos. It is better to take such weapons in hand and point them away from one, then to leave them for an enemy to pick up. I’m sure you agree.”

Liao flinched at the metaphor, but smiled, showing a row of perfect teeth.

“You would make this a necessary condition of our own alliance?” Marik asked.

“I would.”

“And if I do not choose to negotiate with such as him?”

“Then, friend Janos,” Kurita replied softly, “you may do what you like and be damned, Steiner and Davion will swallow you up, preying upon the deep rifts in your society and in your foolish Parliament, which you should have done away with centuries ago. You need Draconis, Captain-General. Draconis does not need you.”

-From The Course of Our Times, by Precentor David Polonia, ComStar Press, 3024