Saturday, July 25, 2009
The Star League Part 5
GOVERNMENT AND SCIENCE
Michael Cameron spent his first few years as Director-General becoming acquainted with the Hegemony government. He also had to become accustomed to being in the spotlight, with which he was uncomfortable. Nevertheless, he poured fearsome concentration into his new job.
One of Cameron’s first actions was to create the Hegemony Research Alliance Department, so that all government research projects, except military, could be centralized. Once this efficient management system was in place, the number of research projects funded by the Hegemony government quickly doubled. As the new director earmarked more and more money for scientific research, other members of the government began to grumble. Though many protested to funding for studies of whether prophylactics could be made from paper, few could object to research that led to invention of a portable fusion generator small enough to be carried in a suitcase or to the discovery of cures for nasty alien diseases.
Aside from creating the influential HRAD, Michael Cameron initiated several more subtle governmental changes. Because of his genius and love of knowledge, many government officials, particularly those who reported directly to him, were stimulated to redouble their efforts. With this new emphasis on intelligence filtering throughout the bureaucracy, the government became unbelievably efficient.
In the business arena, the Director-General was adamant about upholding morality. He insisted on strengthening government agencies that policed business and economic activity. He also encouraged the development of nontraditional economic systems on some worlds. Though this upset a few economic neanderthals, alternative economic systems such as socialism proved more appropriate than cutthroat capitalism on certain of the Hegemony’s poorer planets.
Sir Ewen Cameron (1426-1511)-The Cameron family can confidently trace its origins to 15th-century Scotland and a Sir Ewen Cameron of Lochiel. Before that, Camerons are mentioned in ancient Scottish writings, with most references relating to metal-working Camerons of the Scottish Highlands. Sir Ewen Cameron received his title from James Stuart IV, King of Scotland, in 1505. It was a reward for Ewen’s participation in the battle of New Dryl Ford, a minor skirmish between forces of Clan Stuart and brigands attempting to steal food from the coastal town of New Dryl.
Richard Cameron (1648-1680)-A descendant of Sir Ewen and a founder of the Reformed Presbyterian movement, Richard Cameron objected to the alliance of Church and State under King Charles II. He and his followers seceded from the official Kirk to form their own. When they refused to take the official Oath of Allegiance in 1674, the group lost many of its rights and were viewed with deep suspicion by the government. After Richard Cameron died in the Battle at Aird's Moss, King Charles persecuted his followers severely in 1680.
Simon Cameron (1799-1889)-Simon Cameron was an American who served as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s first Secretary of War. His early life was spent in Pennsylvania, where he made a fortune in railroads, banking, and newspapers. In 1824, he entered politics as a supporter of John C. Calhoun. In 1845, he was elected to Congress, and in 1860, was a presidential candidate. President Lincoln was persuaded to appoint him as Secretary of War, but within two years, Cameron’s inefficiency compelled the President to ask for his resignation. Simon Cameron went on to serve as an Ambassador and a Senator until his retirement in 1877.
Simon Cameron is regarded by many American historians as the first state boss in American politics. During his political life, he faced numerous charges of corruption, but his widespread influence kept him from prosecution. Cameron became involved in a national scandal when he mishandled funds entrusted to him as a Commissioner for the Winnebago Indians.
Sir David Young Cameron (1865-1945)-A Scottish painter and etcher who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, David Cameron abruptly changed from the study of accounting to the study of art during his years as a university student in Glasgow. He later devoted his life to painting and etching in a style that emphasized austere line over emotional expression.
Kevin Cameron (1921-1945)-Kevin Cameron was a Scottish pilot in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Before the war, he was a promising pianist, studying with several famous teachers in Europe. He joined the RAF in late 1938. He flew a Hawker Hurricane fighter in the Battle of Britain, shooting down five enemy fighters. He himself was shot down over France in 1944 and died in a German prisoner-of-war camp in early 1945.
Jessica Cameron (1960-2012)-An Australian biochemist, Jessica Cameron won the Nobel Prize in 2002 for her research into various vaccinations against retroviruses. She was also an ardent crusader for nuclear disarmament and pressed her government into declaring itself a neutral nation in 2010. She died in an automobile accident in 2012.
Timothy Cameron (2204-2238)-The Cameron family’s only convicted murderer was born in St. Vincel, Scotland, and studied to become a colonial planetary engineer at the University of Glasgow. He left Terra in 2227 and settled down on Beta Colony, Murphrid, where he was in charge of managing the colony’s meager plant and water resources.
In 2229, his wife, Bonnie DeKirk, gave birth to Mitchell Cameron. A year later, Timothy Cameron found out that the child’s real father was Lymond Du Nong, a close family friend. Lymond Du Nong was found dead of pistol wounds on March 5, 2230. Timothy Cameron was tried and found guilty for the murder of Du Nong and spent the rest of his life in the Beta Colony Corrections Center. While in prison, he published a series of papers that would later lead to a revolutionary approach to planetary resource management.
-From Cameron Family Tree, by Duke Richard Frenser, Caph Genealogical Press, 2567
THE NEW NOBILITY
The reason I have created the Peers List is not to reward people who I feel are somehow “superior” to the rest. Nor will I grant titles to people who follow some sort of approved religion, or who are of a “proper” race or lifestyle, or who blindly support my rule. To do so would surely spell ruin for the Hegemony. No, the reason I have reintroduced the concept of nobility is to reward people who have done more than what was expected of them, and have thus advanced all mankind’s fortunes. It is a reward for action, not attributes.
-From a speech by Director-General Michael Cameron before the Terran Congress, January 1, 2351
In his speech before the assembled houses of the Terran Congress on New Year’s Day, 2351, the Lord Protector of the Terran Hegemony dropped a cultural bombshell by announcing the resurrection of the medieval nobility system. The system would include six orders of titles patterned after the old English ranking. They were, in descending order of importance, Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, Baron, and Knight. Each title would allow the holder certain privileges and respect as well as a parcel of land and money as a token of the Hegemony’s gratitude. The Director-General announced that the first Peer List would appear in six months.
Why Michael Cameron chose to revive this particular class system is too large a question to resolve here, but a few comments are in order. First, it is important to note that Michael Cameron did not intend these titles to be passed on through inheritance. Right to the title died with the owner. At that time, the family of the deceased nobleman reverted to its former status, keeping only their land and money. Though Michael Cameron’s notes later revealed that he had been tempted to allow the transfer of titles to the nearest kin, he decided that it would only “create a new class of snobs, instead of encouraging the worthy to aim high.”
Second, one must remember that though titles were not used before the reign of Michael Cameron, a kind of noble class did exist in the Terran Hegemony. Most were rich industrialists, some were people with brilliant minds, and others were popular entertainers. Michael Cameron established a formal code of nobility that recognized the special accomplishments of others.
Some people were instantly opposed to the new nobility, claiming that Michael Cameron wanted to entrench his own family into the Director-Generalship. Others felt that the nobility system would reintroduce all the medieval evils, no matter what were Michael Cameron’s high ideals. Still others believed that the system would lead to distortions in social development, and that the Hegemony should be moving toward a classless society, not a hierarchical one. Most just decided to wait and see who became the first noble.
Government officials were just as noncommittal, though upper-level bureaucrats secretly rubbed their hands together in anticipation of the money, land, and prestige they hopes to acquire. Each, of course, was certain that he was a candidate for peerage, as did the upper-level members of the HAF.
When Cameron announced his Peer List, the upper-echelons were disappointed, but the common citizens were pleased. The Director-General read the names of the 31 men and women he considered worthy of titles. Eighteen had no involvement with either the government or the military, and not one was related to the Director-General.
Some of the first nobles are worth mentioning. Yumiko Sakuma was a famed novelist from an obscure village on Thorin and was Michael Cameron’s favorite author. She had spent much of her life writing about frontier life and collecting stories about the various Exoduses. Besides the title of “Countess of the Arts,” the Director-General offered her a major island on Thorin and a luxurious mansion. Sakuma refused graciously but regretfully.
Another of the first nobles was Professor Gregory Atlas, the team leader of a top-secret HRAD research project at the University of Zimbabwe. Though the nature of Atlas’s work was not revealed when he received his title, it was later learned that he was responsible for refining and redesigning the technology of myomer bundles. He would eventually design one of the first WorkMechs, and his work became the basis for BattleMechs.
LADY MARGARET CAMERON
Lord Michael Cameron served as Director-General for 27 years before retiring in 2367. By the end of his reign, the Hegemony had enjoyed 15 years of unparalleled economic prosperity and political stability and regained its importance as the center of Humanity. The new nobility was a success, for many of the new nobles had gone on to accomplish even greater deeds after becoming titled.
Few will argue that Michael Cameron was a far-seeing and competent leader. It is not surprising that he would seek to strengthen the position of his heirs, which he did in the same year that the nobility system was created. Because of his popularity, there was little opposition to Cameron’s Edict of 2351. In one stroke, he created the foundations of a ruling dynasty by making it legal for his daughters to retain the Cameron name after marriage. This meant that a female successor would come to power as a Cameron and also that her offspring would legally bear the name of the maternal line instead of the father’s surname.
When Michael Cameron decided to retire in his later years, Lady Margaret Cameron, Michael’s daughter, was the obvious choice to carry on his policies. Forty-two years old and a ten-year veteran of the HAF Navy, Margaret was almost as brilliant as her father. She was equally industrious and as intense, but more outgoing. Though Michael Cameron had been admired and respected, his seriousness always made him seem somewhat aloof. Lady Margaret, on the other hand, had grown up in the spotlight and enjoyed it.
In 2347, Lady Margaret married Alexander Ellis, a wealthy industrialist. They had three children: Raymond, Brian, and Judith. Though she retired from the Navy to raise her children, she remained active in the Hegemony government. It took only one hour for the High Councilors to agree to submit her name to the public. A month later, Lady Margaret Cameron was sworn in as the Hegemony’s third Director-General.
Within the first year of her rule, Margaret presented a controversial bill to the government. The Military Recruitment and Preparedness Bill called for every adult to be drafted into the HAF as a member of his or her homeworld’s militia. Every citizen would serve one month a year in military maneuvers until the age of 55. On worlds bordering other realms, each citizen would be issued a rifle to keep at home. This system would not only triple the size of the HAF, but also free professional soldiers for extra-potent units.
Oddly enough, the loudest protests against the bill were from high-ranking military and business leaders. The HAF complained that this new system would dilute, rather than strengthen, the military. They feared that the new militia units would be weak and thus a liability in battle. The business sector complained about losing a month’s work from their employees, nor did they like the implication that they must support the inevitable massive buildup in equipment.
As for the public, those who objected morally could serve in nonviolent ways, or even be excused entirely if their soul demanded it. Most average citizens, though a bit fearful about the future, accepted their military duty to the state and appreciated the chance to earn extra money.
Director Margaret threatened to bypass the Terran Congress and go directly to the people to pass her military reforms. Fearing defeat and a political rift, the Congress relented and passed the Military Recruitment and Preparedness Bill.
The HAF, meanwhile, continued to push the limits of military technology. A new series of warships, the Aegis Class cruisers, were built during Director Margaret’s reign. These ships were small, yet packed more firepower than previous cruisers and battlecruisers. The HAF also began to experiment with what it called “Drop Pallets,” bowl-shaped heat shields in which the tank sat while a computer within the pallet performed delicate maneuvering procedures with a series of jets. Though the first few attempts, using deadweights, were rousing failures, the HAF continued.
Lady Margaret Cameron also continued her father’s interest in the sciences. The first commercial WorkMechs were produced during her administration, as well as the development of cheaper refinery technology for efficiently extracting metals from rock. This continued technological boom stimulated the economy and raised the standard of living in the Hegemony.
In fact, this technological acceleration forced the government to consider limiting the spread of new inventions to other realms. In her heart, the Director believed that sharing the Hegemony's superior technology would honor her father’s and James McKenna’s desire to see the Hegemony shine as a beacon of Human civilization. As the years passed, however, increasing tensions between the other interstellar governments and the Hegemony forced Director Margaret to agree, in 2380, to military and HRAD demands for legal restrictions on the export of sensitive technology. This policy became known as the Mother Doctrine, and sensitive and secret technologies were specified on an official list.
OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT OF OPERATION MUSCLEBOUND, EXPERIMENT 45-B, DECEMBER 21, 2350
Experiment Summary: Professor Atlas and Team Musclebound-consisting of five section leaders and 14 assistants-are testing a new type of myomer bundle, smaller and requiring less motivating energy than previous models. The new myomer bundle, dubbed "The Schwarzenegger Bicep," was a collection of myomer strings interwoven with a new, electrically soluble nerve circuitry. The team hoped this would solve a problem that had plagued them for the past ten months: the uncoordinated contraction of individual myomer fibers, resulting in uncontrollable and useless twitching.
The myomer bundle, about two meters long and ten centimeters thick, was attached to the test harness, which was little more than a universal gym system using lead weights from a local health spa. The myomer bundle was attached with one end anchored to the concrete floor and the other to the pulley system of the test harness so that, if the contraction succeeded, the strength of the bundle could be measured by how much the bundle could lift.
ATLAS: Is everything all set? Unauthorized personnel out?...Everyone behind the safety barriers?...All right. Good luck, everyone. O.K. Devers, charge the myomer bundle.
DEVERS: Myomer bundle charge at 100 percent.
ATLAS: Trethers, measuring instruments ready?
TRETHERS: Yes, sir.
ATLAS: Fine. Iona, turn on the cameras. Countdown from five, four, three, two, one, discharge.
[Professor Atlas pushed the discharge switch. Immediately, all the potential energy stored in the myomer bundle became one swift and powerful contraction as the electric current traveled through it. The new myomer bundle composition of "Schwarzenegger's Bicep" contracted into a mass one-tenth its original size. It ripped the thick metal tubing of the test harness to shreds, causing ten-kilogram lead weights to be tossed into the air like confetti. Some of the scientists had to run for their lives to avoid the falling weights.]
ATLAS: My God. Am I hallucinating?
TRETHERS: Professor, the contraction was off the scale of my instruments!
ATLAS: Which means what?
TRETHERS: A pull of over one metric ton!
ATLAS: I think it's time to get rip-snorting drunk, don't you?