Saturday, July 25, 2009
The Star League Part 7
Civilian deaths estimated at about a hundred thousand. Civilian casualties estimated about three times that. The number of dead is only a rough estimate because the threat of disease from the decomposing bodies forces us to bury the dead as quickly as humanly possible.
-Transmission by a member of the Interstellar Relief Force concerning genocide in the Tintavel system in November, 2412
News of the incomprehensible butchery that occurred on the planet Tintavel spread like a shock wave throughout the Inner Sphere. Even those responsible for the atrocities would later express regret and remorse for their actions. Despite this, everyone knew that the atrocities on Tintavel had begun as just another battle. Though it was like the battles being fought on countless worlds at that very moment, this one had been carries to extremes.
The revulsion that Chancellor Aleisha Liao, leader of the Capellan Confederation, felt for this episode transformed her from being just another trigger-happy leader into a person deeply committed to preventing future atrocities. Aleisha also had her realm’s best interests at heart. At that time, the Capellan Confederation had only a tenuous industrial base, which was another good reason for finding a way to protect her realm’s resources, industries, and trained personnel from the destruction of war.
After months of reflection and counsel with the best minds of her realm, Chancellor Aleisha drew up an 80-page document describing conditions for “civilized warfare.” The plan encouraged battles based more on maneuvering and less on the use of destructive force-battles in a planet’s more desolate sections and away from population centers. These provisions would also make warfare less expensive, which would be a relief to all the parties, for every state’s supply situation was beginning to degenerate.
Chancellor Aleisha dispatched copies of her work to the leaders of all the warring realms, but expected only a lukewarm response. Instead, most rulers immediately communicated their wholehearted agreement. Only the twin despots of the Federated Suns, Edmund and Edward Davion, scorned the plan. So encouraged was Aleisha Liao that she immediately suggested a summit meeting on the Capellan world of Ares to further discuss and officially sign the Ares Convention.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Many books place the signing of the Ares Convention on the planet New Olympia. This is incorrect. The Ares Convention was signed in the Grand Hall in the city of New Olympia on Ares. The planet New Olympia is in the Free Worlds League and not the Capellan Confederation.]
Many leaders balked at this latter proposal. Though all wished to discuss Aleisha’s ideas, few were bold enough to venture so far into a rival state without adequate protection. Threatened with the collapse of her initiative, Chancellor Aleisha turned to Director-General Judith Cameron for help. She asked the leader of the Hegemony to provide naval escort and troops to safeguard the lived of the visiting dignitaries. The Chancellor believed that guards from the Hegemony, the cradle of mankind, would be the perfect symbol of the work the summit was called to do.
The people of the Hegemony were split in their views. Many still deeply resented the Capellans’ attempt to take the Hegemony world of Terra Firma and wanted little to do with Chancellor Aleisha. Director Judith agreed to Chancellor Aleisha’s request, however, believing that Aleisha’s war proposals would be to the Hegemony’s advantage and that to provide escorts and guards for the dignitaries would bolster the Hegemony’s image. Thus were ten separate flotillas of Hegemony warships, hastily cleaned and painted white for the occasion, dispatched to transport the leaders of the great states to Ares. Members of the Hegemony’s Marine Corps protected these heads of state.
Once the Ares meeting was underway, the leaders of the six Inner Sphere realms dominated the negotiations, which dashed any hope for unanimous agreement. Because the six Inner Sphere states were doing most of the fighting and most of the suffering in the wars, they thought they should do most of the talking. Unfortunately, they could not agree. Chancellor Aleisha had the support of Director-General Judith Cameron and Archon Katherine Steiner of the Lyran Commonwealth. On the other side were Combine Coordinator Robert Kurita and Captain-General Peter Marik of the Free Worlds League, who both believed that the Ares rules “would transform warfare into a kind of pavane better suited to ballerinas than to soldiers.” Simon Davion, representing the Federated Suns for his cousin Edmund, was undecided.
Everyone was surprised when the Periphery outworlds also came out against the Ares Conventions, calling them a shabby Inner Sphere trick to force their proud people to lay down their arms. Despite the fact that the Conventions did not technically need majority approval, Chancellor Aleisha realized that if one major leader refused to sign, the others would to do the same.
Both Simon Davion and Director Judith had remained relatively quiet during the debate, voicing only occasional comments. Now the Chancellor of the Confederation focused her attention on them. It is a testament to her skill that she managed to win Simon Davion’s support after he had privately decided to vote against the Conventions. With the announcement of the Federated Suns’ support, the Free Worlds League and the Draconis Combine also agreed to sign the new rules of war. They realized that if they did not, the other three Inner Sphere realms could unite against them.
Only two of the Periphery realms would sign the accords. For the other two, the Age of War would be business as usual. On June 13, 2412, the leaders of the eight signing states appeared on the balcony of the Grand Hall before a throng of cheering citizens. None was more pleased than Aleisha Liao, who accomplished what no one had thought possible.
Though hailed as an act of peace, the Ares Conventions made war legal. It was not long before every state had embarked on even more campaigns, adhering to the letter of the Conventions but totally missing the intention.
Richard Cameron, the illicit child of Lord Brian and Lady Katherine McQuiston, came to rule the Hegemony when Judith Cameron stepped down in 2419. At the time of his aunt’s retirement, Richard was a naval officer in command of the Lola Class destroyer Beatrice. His nomination by the High Council and election by the Hegemony public took place without difficulty.
Lord Richard is best remembered for his seizure of the Kentares system from the Federated Suns in 2431. Two decades earlier, relations between the two realms began to deteriorate when the Hegemony claimed that the Federated Suns had violated their joint-ownership agreement for the planet Cartago. In response, citizens of the planet, most loyal to the Federated Suns, alleged that the oxygen-generating factories were stripping oxygen from the air instead of adding to it in retaliation for recent economic sanctions taken by the planet’s government. Lives were lost in the clashes between the two groups, and the Hegemony used this incident to take the planet permanently under its control. The Federated Suns attempted to retake Cartago a month later, but the HAF was too strong. After that, House Davion made several more military and political attempts to win back Cartago, and the tensions increased with each action.
Director-General Richard Cameron considered Kentares to be an ideal site for a spearpoint thrust into the Federated Suns, and so decided to take that world. Though this was against the counsel of his advisors, he ordered the HAF to take that world in early 2431. The fighting lasted for six months, a long series of feints and maneuvering typical of warfare under the Ares Conventions. Though the HAF had less combat experience than the Federated Suns forces, its troops proved to be skilled at this near bloodless sport and finally pushed the Davion forces off Kentares.
After the boost this victory gave to the Director-General’s popularity, he profited from the situation by revising the nomination laws in 2432. The law not stated that the Director-General had the right to choose his or her successors without consulting anyone. This further weakened the semi-democracy envisioned by James McKenna and moved the Hegemony toward constitutional monarchy. Though other states had long since adopted the idea of a ruling nobility, there was still opposition within the Hegemony.
CASTLE BRIAN FORTRESSES
"Well, cadets, the topic for today's discussion is defensive fortifications, namely the Hegemony's Castles Brian. First, who can tell me how many there are? Cadet Jackson?"
"As of last year, there were more than 120 Castle Brians. The six on the world of Lambrecht represent the most on any single planet."
"Very good, Cadet Jackson. Now, who can tell me the average firepower and unit strength of a Castle Brian. Cadet Ivey?"
"Each Castle Brian has a minimum of 20 heavily armed turrets carrying an assortment of weapons and missiles. In addition to these active fortifications is the passive strength of the fortress itself, which is usually built deep inside a mountain and is virtually impregnable to anything but a full-scale nuclear blast."
"Excellent. Now for the big question. What is the purpose of a Castle Brian? Cadet Green?"
"To prevent the invasion and takeover of a Hegemony planet?"
"Absolutely incorrect. It has always been a failing of strategists to believe that a fortress protects and prevents the surrounding land from being taken over by an enemy. A fortress could only do that if it was built completely around the countryside it was to protect. Just look at what a mess the Maginot Line caused the French. They thought that building a huge network of fortresses would keep the Germans out. Trouble was, they were so confident of their Line that they didn't even bother to see it finished to the Atlantic coast. When the Germans wanted to invade France, all they had to do was run around the northern end of the Maginot Line into France. The French were so sure of their fortifications that they hadn't even bothered to design Maginot Line turrets to swivel around and fire into France. No, Castles Brian aren't meant to protect anything but themselves. Cadet Guilliam?"
"A Castle Brian is meant to be a permanent hindrance against an enemy taking the planet."
"Can you expand on that thought?"
"Castles Brian, with their stockpile of weapons, food, and men, represent a permanent threat to any enemy attempting to seize control of the planet. Because more than one Castle Brian is on most border worlds, they represent a major hidden force than can attack the enemy almost at will. If an enemy really wanted to take a Hegemony world protected by Castles Brian, it would have to do so with a huge force of men and equipment and would have to remain on that planet for a very long time. It is a price most enemies are not willing to pay."
"Excellent, Cadet Guilliam. It's good to see that someone studied the material."
-Mars Military Academy, 2423
Jacob Cameron became the eighth Director-General after his father died of a massive heart attack while visiting a HRAD facility deep in the Canadian Rocky Mountains on Terra. Like James before him, Jacob was a Navy Captain, in command of a Vincent Class corvette, the Crowned Lion.
Jacob’s doting father had spoiled him as a child, while his mother, the class-conscious Duchess of Northwind, taught the boy that he was socially and morally superior to others. Jacob grew up to be a pompous, arrogant man who alienated all but the most devoted sycophants.
It was pure ego on Jacob’s part that he ordered the HAF to embark on a campaign against both the Federated Suns and the Capellan Confederation that culminated in the Battle of Tybalt in 2435. In that battle, Major Theodore Cameron distinguished himself by assuming command of the 132nd Heavy Armor Regiment after its commanding officer was mortally wounded. Though he led the unit to victory, the HAF offensive was a minor success at best, paid for with many Hegemony lives.
This campaign did not endear Lord Jacob to his public, whom he daily harangued for their supposed laziness. Several anti-establishment movements sprang up during this time to fight Jacob and his growing army of posturing minions. Some of these underground movements were no more than groups of disgruntled youths out for a night of rioting; others were bands of nobles and politicians determined to remove Jacob from power.
In February 2448, an unknown assassin slipped poison into Lord Jacob’s champagne. Though he became deathly ill, Jacob had not ingested enough poison to kill him. Upon recovering, the Director ordered a blackout on news of the assassination attempt. Meanwhile, agents from the Hegemony Central Intelligence Department undertook the largest manhunt in the realm’s history. In charge of the investigation was the young and ambitious High Councilor, Lady Terens Amaris.
After the attempt on his life, Lord Jacob tended to be less strident and aggressive. He even relented in his attitude toward the lower classes with humanitarian acts such as the establishment of the Cameron Mercy Hospitals and Cameron Shelters for the Poor.
Though his personality was not the most winning, Director Jacob would be fondly remembered by the HAF for presiding at the birth of the BattleMech. Though research had been going on for decades, it was Lord Jacob who realized that the ‘Mech could become the dominant weapons of war. After the first successful combat test of a prototype in February 2439, he made sure that production of BattleMechs became the government’s number-one priority. For several years running, he devoted a significant portion of the realm’s budget to construction of BattleMech factories on Hegemony and jointly owned worlds.
In 2443, a lance of BattleMechs from the 801st Heavy Armored Regiment met a company of Kurita tanks on Styx. Lord Kurita, seeking to exploit any weakness in the Hegemony’s defenses, sent a heavily armed force to “test the Hegemony’s resolve.” The four ‘Mechs easily trampled the entire company of Kurita tanks, leaving one to scurry back to its DropShip. It was not long before Lord Kurita received news of this fearsome new weapon in the Hegemony’s arsenal.
In 2461, Combine commandos stole BattleMech plans from the Lyrans (who had themselves stolen plans from the Hegemony in 2455). In reaction, Lord Jacob accelerated plans to maintain and widen his military’s technological edge. To accomplish this, the Hegemony sacrificed other programs, including those for naval warships. Those ships, which had once been the pride of the military, went a whole year without regular maintenance.
FIRST COMBAT RUN
[Editor's note: On February 5, 2439, the first BattleMech received its baptism of fire on a desolate series of steppes near the North American city of Yakima. The BattleMech, a joint effort by more than 20 of the best weapons manufacturers in the Hegemony, was tested against four ancient Merkava heavy tanks specially fitted with remote control devices. The commander of the BattleMech and the first MechWarrior was Colonel Charles Kincaid.
The few people allowed to witness the first combat run of the BattleMech were debriefed. What follows is a transcript of a verbal report filed by Professor Htov Gbarleman, chief research scientist for Karena's Fiber Optics Interstellar, manufacturer of the BattleMech's sensor systems.]
Colonel Kincaid, with his usual impatience, rushed through the pre-test warmup and nearly ripped apart one of his umbilical connections trying to get the test started. As I began to monitor the sensor output, I noticed that the BattleMech's myomer-neural feedback circuits were faithfully echoing Colonel Kincaid's brain wave patterns. It was eerie - almost as though the 'Mech were technically alive and Kincaid was its spark of divinity. The Colonel's howl of sheer pleasure quickly cleared my head of that notion. He pushed the Mackie forward in a trot straight into the test range where four tanks waited among low, rolling hills.
One of the tanks opened fire. Its shot was true and hit the 'Mech just above the right hip. Everyone in the brightly lit bunker seemed to hold his breath as all the readouts fuzzed into snow at the blast interference. No damage! A piece of steel no thicker than my finger, strengthened by radiation casting techniques and impregnated with a sheet of woven diamond fibers, had stopped cold an armor-piercing shell. That same shell would have gone straight through a third of a meter of normal steel.
The tracking cameras watched as the Colonel swiveled his chest to bring his weapons to bear. Twenty years of my life seemed to focus into a single action that would take no more than five seconds. I watched as Colonel Kincaid used his sensors-my sensor-to pick out the tank hidden behind a group of small trees and bushes. He fired both his PPC and autocannon. Both shots were direct hits and the tank erupted into a ball of flame.
A thunderous cheer swept the bunker, while everyone present began to slap me on the back. Instead of feeling pleased at the 'Mech's performance, I felt increasingly sad.
I didn't realize why until Kincaid began to track down the last tank. The tank operator was sitting at his remote control panel next to me. I'll never forget the expression on the young man's face.
Outside, Kincaid had disabled the last tank. As he stood over it, he raised the 'Mech's right foot and brought it crashing down onto the tank. Before the hunk had a chance to explode, Kincaid twisted the 'Mech's foot deeper into the tank's carcass. Next to me, the operator of the tank was trying so hard not to show his fear that tears were streaming down his cheeks.
It hit me than that my colleagues and I had just turned loose one of the most powerful weapons ever conceived by man, but we were celebrating like giddy children. While my companions jumped up and down with glee, that poor boy was trying to hide the fact that in the instant his screens went black, he had wet his pants.
-From Terran Hegemony Document 0324610.04, Hegemony Research and Development Department, Military Weapon Systems Division, ComStar Archives, Terra.