Saturday, July 25, 2009
The Star League Part 9
ONE SPECIES, ONE REALM
The unification of all Humanity into one realm is an obvious path. What I don’t understand is why we broke up into petty realms in the first place.
-Lord Ian Cameron to his High Advisors, quoted in The Statesman of the Stars, by Duke Torrence Ferl, Belgrade Press, 2599
MAN WITH A DREAM
The September Revolt and its aftermath held Lord Ian’s attention for some months after the last rebels had surrendered. The last stronghold of the soldier cabals, the Dresser Military Base on Lipton, had been subdued a month after the recapture of Geneva. The rebels were a considerable problem for the Director-General and the government. Treated too harshly, they would have an air of martyrdom about them; treated too gently, they would be free to rebel again.
Of the three thousand captured in the revolt, a thousand were condemned to death. The rest received life sentences, but most of those were paroled within ten years. This seemed to meet with the public’s approval, much to Lord Ian’s relief.
To assure the HAF that they were a strong and vital part of the Hegemony, Lord Ian reversed the trend of cutting the military budget by granting the military a huge increase to reestablish the HAF’s technological edge over its neighbors. He also quietly, but surely, retired generals and admirals he suspected of being sympathetic to the cabals, replacing them with his own people. To prevent the government from being caught off guard again, Lord Ian expanded the HCIB, adding a special Department of Military Investigations (DMI) to ensure the full loyalty of the military. That was a big order, but Cameron realized it was vital to ruling as he, and not the military, pleased.
Perhaps an even greater threat to his rule was the economic situation of the Terran Hegemony when Ian Cameron came to power in 2549. By now, most Hegemony worlds had been depleted of natural resources, a situation that could bring the realm’s technological achievements to a standstill. Cameron was determined to find a solution to the Hegemony’s rapidly shrinking resources, for he was determined that Terra and her worlds would never become dependent on imports from the other Houses of the Inner Sphere. He believed that Terra was the heart of Human space and that it should always stand taller than the rest in terms of technical mastery and leadership.
It was hard-headed practicality as well as idealism that prodded Lord Ian to begin to act on a dream he had cherished for almost as long as he could remember: the complete and total reunification of all Humanity. Considering that his mother was Lady Deborah Cameron, originator of the Strategy of Aggressive Peacemaking, it is not surprising that his determination never failed, even when all seemed lost.
After his stint as an HAF officer, Ian Cameron had traveled extensively throughout the various interstellar realms as an ambassador-at-large, first for his mother and then for his brother. He had visited all but one of the Inner Sphere states and met with all but two leaders during that time. Though impressed with the diversity of people, ways, and languages, Ian came away believing more strongly than ever that all should be united-and that Terra, the cradle of all mankind, qualified as leader.
First, Cameron had to lay the foundation. In addition to revitalizing the HAF, he further expanded the Department of Foreign Relations. He also began to fund several research projects to improve interstellar communications, a step whose ramifications would later became especially important.
In documents recovered recently on Terra, it has been learned that Lord Cameron developed a long-term plan that he hoped would result in the creation of a “Star League.” Those documents indicate that he estimated it would take 50 years to bring his dream to fruition. The first tentative step, to tie together the five Houses of the Inner Sphere by economic means, would be accomplished after a decade of careful and meticulous preparation by the diplomats of the Hegemony.
Then fate stepped in and Lord Ian was given a chance to accelerate his timetable by many years.
Why don’t some maps show Andurien? Don’t you know your history, man? Andurien is where the Age of War started! Almost 200 years of misery were let loose there. It’s not on the maps because it’s a place best forgotten. The land is cursed with lost souls, the water polluted with the iron taste of blood. Andurien? Friend, it’s just Hell with jump points.
-Captain Helen Redoar, quoted in An Informal History of the Age of War, by Nicholas VanBurn, Tharkan Press, 2549
In 2398, the Age of War began when the forces of the Free Worlds League and the Capellan Confederation clashed over control of the much-disputed Andurien systems. After the Free Worlds won control of these planets, the Capellans still did not resign themselves to the fact. Meanwhile, the Andurien conflict seemed to trigger battles and confrontations between every power in the Inner Sphere in a chain reaction that lasted for more than 150 years. The Capellans never lost their desire to retake Andurien, though a century would pass before they made another attempt.
In 2528, Chancellor Kalvin Liao launched the Second Andurien War by sending ground and naval units against the Andurien systems. Captain-General Albert Marik responded immediately, and once more war consumed the whole region. The devastating conflict lasted three years, with the Marik forces ultimately defeating the Liao invaders, even though seriously outnumbered. The war finally came to an end when Director-General Deborah Cameron persuaded the two leaders to attend a summit conference on New Delos in 2531. These peace negotiations confirmed Marik control of Andurien, settled dozens of other Marik-Liao border disputes, and required that the Capellans pay heavy war damages.
Though the Free Worlds League emerged victorious, Albert Marik was so deeply shaken by the death and destruction of the Second Andurien War that he became dedicated to the ideal of peace. In this, he was far ahead of Ian Cameron, who was only a boy of 17 in 2531. When fate finally did bring both men together, they would combine their dreams of peace and unity to create the greatest experiment that Mankind has ever known: the Star League.
Twenty years later, in 2551, Andurien once again became the focus of hostilities when Terrence Liao decided to attack the Andurien systems to prove that he was a strong male leader after two decades of female Chancellors. When the Third Andurien War broke out in that year, Albert Marik was 73 years old. Despite his dedication to peace, he dutifully accepted reinstatement as Captain-General and went forward to meet the enemy. Once more, the Free Worlds forces battered the Liao troops, but it would be five long years before Terrence would admit that he and his army were exhausted by the struggle.
It was in 2551, the same year that the Third Andurien War broke out, that Ian Cameron began the long trail of initiatives, talks, secret meetings, and negotiations that he hoped would lead ultimately to the realization of his dream of a Star League. In that year, he attempted to persuade Terrence Liao of the folly of the war against the Free Worlds, but the Capellan Chancellor had his heart set on making a name for himself. Though Terrence rejected Cameron’s peace initiatives, Albert Marik was interested in what Ian Cameron had to say. Cameron also contacted Craig Steiner, then-Archon of the Lyran Commonwealth, in 2551. The two man met in a series of ultra-secret talks, but Cameron could not persuade the Archon to commit the strong industrial base of the Commonwealth to the plan for an interstellar government.
Cameron was not discouraged, however. By 2556, he again proposed that the Liao Chancellor and the Marik Captain-General meet with him on Terra to negotiate an end to the Andurien War. By now, the Capellans’ poor showing in the war made Terrence Liao more than ready to accept the invitation.
The many weeks of treaty negotiations offered Ian Cameron a rare opportunity to earn the respect and trust of the Liao Chancellor and to further cement his relationship with Albert Marik. Albert was, of course, already privy to the Terran leader’s dream of a government spanning the whole of Human space. Terrence, however, was dubious at first. Cameron patiently explained that he wished to end the debilitating Age of War by uniting the ten realms of the Inner Sphere and the Periphery under one government, with each one retaining its own identity, style, and internal authority. Though Cameron was persuasive, Chancellor Liao was not sure he could trust this new Star League to keep out of the internal affairs of each member-state.
What finally won Liao’s cooperation was Cameron’s promise to extend to the Capellans “favored-nation” trade agreements, financial assistance, and access to some of Terra’s advanced technology. It was Albert Marik who executed the coup de grace when he agreed to cede the long-disputed Andurien systems to the Capellan Confederation. With this concession, Terrence Liao agreed to sign the Clasped Hands Agreement, a secret subtreaty to the Andurien Peace Treaty that officially ended the Third Andurien War in March 2556.
This secret trade and non-aggression pact laid the groundwork for the Treaty of Geneva, which established the intentions of creating the Star League, with the Terran Hegemony, the Capellan Confederation, and the Free Worlds League as founding members. Signed secretly on June 3, 2556, the Treaty of Geneva spelled out the basic terms for the new interstellar government. Each state would maintain control over its internal affairs, while the leaders would meet in a High Council to determine the outcome of important interstellar questions. The agreement named Terrence Liao and Albert Marik (and their successors) as the rightful hereditary rulers of their realms.
Once the Star League was fully in operation, it would unite the economies of all its members into a single structure, with a single currency, the Star League Dollar. There would be a number of regional economic exchanges for trading in the shares of all major corporations. Like Lady Deborah, Ian Cameron believed that few ties were stronger than economic ones. Though every House leader who eventually joined the League would be concerned that their local industries would be swallowed up by foreign stockholders, the lure of buying into the immensely wealthy Hegemony firms would always prove to be irresistible.
The Star League would also raise a joint defense force, partially outfitted by member-states but based on the advanced Hegemony Armed Forces military technology. The HAF had at least a 30-year margin of technological superiority over all other Inner Sphere militaries and a 50-year margin over the Periphery realms. There was an even wider gap in certain key areas of military hardware. For example, the ‘Mechs of the other House armies could not effectively fight attacks from the air, but the HAF could, aided by the Air Aggressor Fire Control Adjuster (AAFCA) attached to their ‘Mech computers. Many a House MechWarrior would have given their souls for an AAFCA, which Hegemony warriors knew affectionately as “Auntie Antis.” Now here was Ian Cameron willing to give AAFCAs to any realm that joined him.
In return, he seemed to ask ridiculously little. The other states must agree to recognize Lord Ian and his heirs as the only legitimate First Lords of the Star League. They would also be asked to contribute soldiers, equipment, and tracts of land for the Star League Defense Forces, as well as pay a membership tax in cash or raw materials.
This fateful document concluded with a statement that the three signatory parties would “continue to serve Humanity and Peace… with the eventual unification of all Humanity as our dearest wish.”
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Late one night in 2553, my lance was patrolling the southern edge of the Brighton Cliffs, on the planet Cassias. After two months of heavy fighting, there had been little action for two weeks.
It was almost dawn as I walked along a chalk cliff, counting the minutes until I could be off duty. Suddenly I felt the ground give way beneath my feet. Firing my jump jets helped save me, but my ‘Mech sustained damage around the cockpit, particularly the communication equipment. That meant I couldn’t call on my buddies for help. Looking around with the few sensors left operational, I could see that I was half-buried in rubble and that one huge boulder had my right leg pinned behind me.
I’d only been sitting there, half-stunned, for a few minutes when a Kurita Archer appeared, followed by three others. The Archer’s hands were held up and the covers to its missile tubes were down and locked. Confused, I held my fire. The pilot opened the hatch to his cockpit and poked out his bare head. He continued his approach and didn’t seem too concerned when I pointed my laser directly at him. He stopped a few meters in front of me and began to shout and gesture. Since I couldn’t understand and wasn’t about to open my cockpit, I made the malfunction sign with my ‘Mech’s arm to signal that I couldn’t communicate.
In response, the Archer’s right hand swung up and seemed to be giving me a signal of its own. The first two fingers of the ‘Mech’s hand poked up, while the other two curled to its palm with the thumb over them. The gesture had no meaning to me. The Kurita warrior had by now returned to his controls, and the ‘Mech was in motion. I allowed him to come closer, but what other choice did a Stinger have against four heavy ‘Mechs?
The Kurita pilot lowered his ‘Mech to its knees. As I watched incredulously, the Archer grabbed huge fistfuls of rock from around my ‘Mech. One of the other ‘Mechs, a Phoenix Hawk, moved forward and the two of them pushed the boulder off my ‘Mech’s leg. They helped me up and held me while I tested my ‘Mech. It was in amazingly good condition, considering what it had been through. Then the warrior pointed me south along the cliff face to where I could make my way back to my unit. It wasn’t until I rejoined them that I found out a cease-fire had been declared.
I never met the Kurita warriors who helped me out of my predicament because I was soon transferred offplanet. One thing that stayed with me was that MechWarrior’s strange hand gesture. I asked many other pilots all the next year, but no one else recognized it, either. Finally, I consulted an historian at the university near our base. I showed him, half afraid it was something lewd. The man only smiled, and began to rummage through some old books, most filled with ancient, 20th-century photographs. Finally, he seemed to find what he was looking for and handed me a book open to a photo of a young man making the same gesture. The caption read, simply, “Peace.”
-Captain Lessiva Toral (AFFS Ret.), quoted in Anecdotes of the Age of War, edited by Duke Oscar Flyth, Terran War Memorial Press, 2661
BIRTH OF THE STAR LEAGUE
While Ian Cameron was slowly but surely laying the groundwork for the Star League, he did not neglect Terra’s role as mediator. All the while he was wooing the other major powers of the Inner Sphere, he also continued Terra’s important role as adjudicator of disputes. In a number of these settlements, he was able to negotiate agreements that allowed the disputing governments to become co-rulers of a world, with the Terran Hegemony as administrator of the government. In exchange, the Hegemony received a percentage of the planet’s gross income and was able to extend its sphere of influence. By 2555, the Hegemony was part-owner of almost 30 such worlds, arranged in five ragged lines radiating out along the borders of the Inner Sphere. These planets were almost all resource-rich. While the Hegemony’s cut in the planet’s resources seldom amounted to more than 10 percent of the planet’s total gross product, that still added up to a substantial amount of manufactured goods and raw resources. Cameron had already gone a long way to solving Terra’s economic problems. The creation of a Star League would complete the task.
The Hegemony’s role as peacemaker was a great success publicly, and Director Ian Cameron was hailed as the greatest leader since James McKenna. Meanwhile, for the next 13 years, he continued his relentless, but secret, campaign to persuade the rest of the Inner Sphere to join with him in the Star League. It has been said that he was a man with a golden tongue, a skilled and charismatic negotiator. What few people know or wish to recognize was that Cameron had a very special assistant in his quest. That man was Albert Marik, who was able to offer clandestine and often devious assistance along the path that would eventually lead mankind to the Star League.
Modern historians now date the end of the Age of War with the signing of the Andurien Peace Treaty of 2556. Terrence Liao’s invasion of the Andurien system must have been a kind of last gasp, for the people of the Inner Sphere had long since grown weary of the continual stress of war. By 2566, interstellar manufacture and trade in consumer goods had already begun to pick up because of the loosening of wartime priorities and trade restrictions. Raw materials were flowing into the Hegemony at an unprecedented rate, creating a major expansion of heavy and technical industries. The Hegemony was also doing a brisk business selling their finished products to the other states. With the general thaw, Cameron negotiated numerous trade and non-aggression pacts that led to lowering of nearly all trade barriers in the Inner Sphere and to a near-total cease-fire. No matter how much other House leaders might hold out against the idea of a Star League, Cameron and his secret ally Albert Marik knew that it was just a matter of time.
The other realms were experiencing similar economic booms, though the Lyran Commonwealth was having difficulty meshing its economy with the others. The Steiner government was at first unprepared to regulate the sudden inflow of money and resources. Whole planets were swallowed up by foreign industries while immigrants came pouring into the Commonwealth in search of jobs. Archon Tracial Steiner was finally forced to reimpose the trade barriers while her government rearranged, enlarged, and strengthened its power to control business.
Politically, the treaties had brought near-peace to the Inner Sphere. The remaining occasional outbreaks of violence were mainly grudge matches between groups of soldiers on contested planets. In the main, things had become so quiet that a few Inner Sphere leaders were considering agreements that would allow them to stand down their militaries.