Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Star League Part 14


As of midnight September 3, 2596, the Provisional Government of the Rim Worlds Republic does hereby surrender unconditionally to the forces of the Star League. All citizens are ordered to cease hostile actions and lay down their weapons…I realize that the fight has been long and hard and to surrender now is a bitter pill, but to fight any longer would damn us to oblivion. May God have mercy on our souls, we don’t want to see everyone die.

-Senator Benjamin Trivallor, spokesperson for the Provisional Government of the Rim Worlds Republic

With the surrender of the Rim Worlds and then the Taurian Concordat in 2596, the Reunification War finally came to an end. In 2597, the four conquered Periphery governments became Territorial States of the Star League, with large occupation forces present to enforce the will of the League-appointed Military Governors. Most of these garrison forces would be withdrawn by 2607, when home rule was reestablished and Star League Associate-Member status accorded to the four Territorial States.

To soften the trauma of these changes, the Star League launched a massive reconstruction effort and propaganda campaign to “foster good will between the distant frontiers and the cradle of Humanity.” The people of the Periphery reacted with cynicism at first, finding it hard to believe such propaganda after all that had occurred. As the years passed and the Star League government’s reconstruction efforts began to show results, many citizens of the Periphery began to feel a grudging respect for their former enemies.

For the next 150 years, the Star League would guarantee its people an unparalleled era of peace, prosperity, high technology, and improved quality of life. Ian Cameron did not live to see the true greatness of the Star League, which flowered only after the Reunification War.


I realize that I’m supposed to live up to the high ideals of my youth and not cave in to the lure of comfort and security, but I do like these Star League folks. Yes, I remember all our war cries: “Remember the Republic,” “Down with the puppet governments,” “Kick the Cameron bastards out,” and the rest-but that doesn’t change the fact that things are better now than before the wars. We’ve got hospitals, we’ve got farms where once there were deserts, and we’ve got more jobs than there are people to fill them. And what do the Camerons ask in return? That we get up and pledge allegiance to the League flag, that we pay our taxes, and that we put up with a few BattleMechs stomping around. I call that a fair trade. Now what can you young rabble-rousers offer me that’s better?

And, before you accuse me of being a League sympathizer, let me remind you that I was toting a laser rifle in the Black Hell Mountains and risking my neck against Star League ‘Mechs long before you young firebrands were even born. Never accuse me of being a coward or I’ll be tempted to shove my fist down your scrawny little throat.

I am not a coward, and I’m not a fool, either. So when you come around here throwing rocks and causing a ruckus, remember that being independent means having to take care of yourselves. Judging by the looks of you, we’d be in big trouble if we were suddenly independent. If you didn’t have the Star League to change your diapers, what would you do?

-From One-Eyed Jack, a novel about life in the Periphery Territories, by Venalla Hafnerson, Star League Press, 2609


In 2600, Lady Shandra Cameron died. Two years later, Lord Ian Cameron followed her. The Star League marked their deaths with a year of official mourning, and the High Council Lords ordered all Star League officials to wear black and all official vehicles to display a black stripe. This would become a tradition after the passing of every subsequent First Lord.

Ian’s son Nicholas became leader of the Star League when he was 46 years old. None of the other High Councilors opposed his accession because the elder Cameron had trained his heir well for the power and responsibilities he would face.

Just after his 18th birthday, Nicholas Cameron had entered the Sandhurst Royal Military College, an SLDF Academy in Berkshire, England, on Terra, where he trained as both a MechWarrior and computer specialist. In 2578, he graduated with honors and was assigned to the Forty-third Royal Light Horse Regiment (later known as the Steeds of Nicholas). Within six months, he had been promoted to Lance Commander and in another six months to Company Commander.

In 2600, the Forty-third’s posting was the small Concordat world of Badlands. It was a dangerous assignment, because tough and stubborn groups of Concordat rebels still roamed the arid mountains of the planet’s southern continent, refusing to surrender. Twice, Nicholas Cameron was wounded in action. In the first incident, a small piece of shrapnel penetrated the cockpit of his Rifleman and slightly wounded the left side of his face. The second time was more serious. After walking his Rifleman into an ambush of three autocannons, his cockpit was completely destroyed before his company could come to his aid. Nicholas lost an arm and nearly lost his life.

He arrived back on Terra for recuperation just after his mother’s death. Within weeks of the funeral, the First Lord appointed Nicholas First Lord-Designate. By 2602, he became First Lord.


In the grand and everlasting debate on which is more vital for a man, a well-built slut or a slug from a bottle, one thing must be said in defense of the bottle: it’s always willing.
-Remarks attributed to Coordinator Leonard Kurita

The one sour note in the era of postwar reconstruction and the healing of war wounds came, predictably perhaps, from the Draconis Combine. In 2591, Coordinator Hehiro Kurita died after falling down a flight of stairs. Where Hehiro had been a skillful politician as well as a wise ruler, Leonard Kurita, his son and successor, was a willful, erratic, perhaps even unbalanced man. The fact that he was also an alcoholic and a libertine did nothing to improve his qualifications to rule a powerful state.

Indeed, his accession to the Combine throne was not auspicious. As soon as he received news of his father’s death in 2591, the middle-aged Leonard decided to celebrate his new power by hopping from planet to planet across at least a dozen of his worlds in an orgy of women and drink.
This was, of course, in the midst of the Reunification War, and Ian Cameron did not appreciate the newest member of the High Council being off on a debauch instead of tending to crucial affairs of state. The new Coordinator only shrugged when he heard about Cameron’s speech censuring him before the other members of the High Council. It was his first duty, Leonard said, to produce an heir, even if he had to visit every seraglio in the Combine to do it.

Both his excesses and his vices seemed to multiply as time went on. As a result, the Combine’s District Military Governors had to assume responsibility for the Combine’s role in the Reunification War. Nor did they yield any of this power with the war’s end, for Leonard paid neither them nor his duties any mind.

Whether it was due to drink, drugs, or some intrinsic mental defect, the wildly unpredictable Leonard would sometimes order large contingents of BattleMechs to land on worlds near the Hegemony/Combine border. Perhaps he wanted to see what the First Lord would do. Cameron interpreted this behavior as deliberate aggression against his people and a challenge to his power. Cameron was also angry because Leonard’s ‘Mechs were badly needed elsewhere to fight the war.

While the Reunification War went on, Cameron limited himself to issuing ever more strongly worded protests. Once the Periphery War was over, he immediately took more direct action. As many units began to return homeward, Cameron began to order some of these to positions along the Hegemony/Combine border. Yet Leonard did not seem at all intimidated. Rather, he seemed inspired to new heights of folly.

In 2601, the unmarried Leonard Kurita decided it was time to search the Combine for the bastard children he had tried to sire ten years before. Though he located a few, the Coordinator was not satisfied. Obsessed with the idea of finding all his children, he began to have paranoid fantasies that Ian Cameron had spirited some of his offspring across the border into the Terran Hegemony.

In 2602, several lances of Combine BattleMechs, reinforced with platoons of infantry, landed on Asta, a world jointly owned by the Combine and the Hegemony and therefore a demilitarized zone. The Combine troops headed directly for the planet’s schools and orphanages, where the soldiers ordered the frightened children to line up for scrutiny. By the time elements of the Regular Army’s Ninety-first Heavy Assault Regiment (The Armadillos) arrived, the Combine troops had gone, but not before taking 14 children whom they believed to resemble Leonard Kurita.

Even after medical tests proved that these children were not related to the Coordinator and they had been returned home, relations between the Hegemony and the Combine remained severely strained. Royal units of the SLDF were placed along the Combine-Hegemony border in a state of heightened readiness, for no one knew what scheme the erratic Leonard might conjure up next.
During the Fall 2604 session of the High Council, Coordinator Leonard stumbled into the Council Chamber, strode up to the First Lord, and spat in his face. When guards rushed forward with their weapons at the ready, the First Lord raised his hand to signal them to wait. Calmly wiping his face, he asked the enraged Council Lord what was the meaning of this act.

Lord Leonard launched into a tirade about how the First Lord was deliberately hiding his Kurita heirs. Waving a half-empty bottle of his favorite brew, Leonard next accused Cameron of deliberately attempting to gut the Combine of military forces during the Reunification War. Nicholas Cameron calmly denied the charges and invited the Coordinator to sit down to discuss the matter with dignity. Wobbling where he stood, the Coordinator screamed that he would do no such thing and threw the bottle at Nicholas Cameron.

The bottle missed the First Lord, but hit one of the guards. As the guard instinctively fired a shot with her laser rifle, the bolt grazed the Coordinator’s right arm. Leonard leaped at the guard before she could react, stabbing her with a dagger that he pulled from beneath his robes. Then he ran from the Council Chamber while Nicholas Cameron and the other Lords tried to help the wounded guard. She died before medical assistance could arrive.

The guard’s name was Sergeant Tanya Kerensky. To honor her attempt to protect him, First Lord Nicholas Cameron awarded the Kerensky family the special title, “Defender of the First Lord,” and the right to attend any university or military academy. So began this great military line, whose name has become almost synonymous with the Star League.

Coordinator Leonard Kurita fled Terra for the safety of the Draconis Combine. When he arrived, he immediately began to assemble an army and a fleet for the invasion of the Hegemony. He did not listen to his family or his generals’ pleas to reconsider. Even the normally timid public was uncharacteristically bold in demonstrating their opposition.

Leonard Kurita lent a deaf ear, even after his sister committed seppuku in shame. It truly looked as though the Hegemony and the Combine were about to go to war. With the Coordinator so unpopular among the other Council Lords, he would surely have to go it alone against the entire Star League. If this was to be war, it would be one the Combine could not win.

Before the first attack could be launched, Coordinator Leonard Kurita died mysteriously. It came out only much later that members of the Kurita family, humiliated and shamed by Leonard, had secretly tried the hopelessly corrupt Coordinator and found him guilty. Leonard had been assassinated at their command, averting a useless war. The Kurita family stood down the assembled warships and divisions and began to hope for a much saner regime under the new Coordinator, Blaine Kurita.


In many ways, the passing of Leonard Kurita marked the true, though unofficial, end of the Reunification War. By 2605, most of the participating troops had returned to the Inner Sphere and were making their way back to their homeworlds. Everyone was eager to sweep away the last vestiges of the bad years and enjoy the peace that the Star League had promised but not yet delivered.

With Leonard gone, the threat of war evaporated. The Star League forces poised to attack on the Kurita/Davion border were ordered down from War Alert status, but First Lord Nicholas Cameron decided that Star League or no Star League, he was taking no more chances. In another of the great ironies of history, the First Lord of the Star League asked his most trusted advisores and military strategists to create contingency plans for war with each of the other five members of the Star League at the very moment he was about to lead the Human race into its finest moment.

Though a minor economic depression affected every government immediately following the Reunification War, the Inner Sphere began to boom as corporations retooled their factories to produce civilian rather than military items. Trade with the new Territorial States was especially profitable because they lacked almost everything and were willing to pay with vital raw resources from their worlds. Once again it was cargoships laden with goods rather than SLDF troopships making their way among the worlds of the Periphery.

The period from roughly 2600 to 2650 has been often referred to as the Good years. Freed from the demands of researching ever more potent weapons and of churning them out for ward, the leaders of Star League member-states could direct their scientific and industrial resources toward creating a better life for all. The Terran Hegemony, the Federated Suns, and the Lyran Commonwealth were the leaders in research and development, but the whole race benefited from the fruits of their research.

The Terran Hegemony could now return to what it knew best: high technology. Spurred on by a series of decrees from the Director-General, major industries adopted long-range plans for research programs aimed at widening the Hegemony’s technological edge. Also important in shaping the Hegemony’s future was a series of secret messages, only recently discovered by ComStar researchers, in which the government urged these same industries to voluntarily reinstate the ban on selling advanced technology. This was because Cameron was still not convinced that no other Lord would challenge his power. In return, First Lord Nicholas awarded the firms lucrative military contracts to help make up for any business lost.

Perhaps the most significant technological development during Nicholas Cameron’s reign was the HyperPulse Generator. The origins of the HPG go back to the equations of the great Professors Kearny and Fuchida. In one obscure section of their papers, published in 2022, they speculated on the possibility of creating artificial jump points and they provided equations for generating them. Because the costs would have been astronomical, the scientific community did not pursue these hypotheses any further.

In 2614, First Lord Cameron appointed Joshua Hoshiko as Minister of Communications. The next year, Hoshiko enlisted Cassie DeBurke, a brilliant young professor from the University of Terra (located near the Court of the Star League), to study the problem further. DeBurke realized that the cost to transmit matter through artificial jump points might be prohibitive, but the cost to transmit bundles of energy-modulated energy, such as simple radio waves-was within the range of modest reactors. If this idea could be converted into practical technology, it would make possible the instantaneous transmission of messages to receivers 50 light years away.

For the next 15 years, Professor DeBurke and her research staff worked secretly and feverishly on her theories. The culmination of their work was the first HPG station, built just outside the Court of the Star League, which transmitted the first HPG message on New Year’s Day 2630. Once this revolutionary system was set up all over the Inner Sphere, it took a mere seven days to broadcast from Terra to Tharkad. Messages to the most distant Periphery planet took less than six months to arrive, at least twice the speed of the previous transmission time.

Another major change that First Lord Nicholas instituted was the unification of the entire Star League under one economic system. When he announced his ambitious plans in 2621, reactions were varied. Interrealm speculators vehemently opposed the idea, which was understandable because they made their living from trading in the various currencies and taking advantage of differing economic systems.

The Kurita government was at first opposed because they feared becoming too dependent economically on the other states of the Inner Sphere. The Steiner Archon also opposed the idea because it seemed to violate the sovereignty of an individual realm. The major corporations in all the member-states approved of the First Lord’s economic plan, however. Indeed, a protest shutdown of 80 percent of all Lyran business forced the Archon to accept the plan. Businessmen saw a single currency as a way to raise profits and to simplify the maddeningly complicated monetary exchange system that hampered all their dealings.

The change over to the new money system officially began on July 1, 2623. The new currency was based upon the Star Dollar. The paper money had the official seal of the Star League on one side and a small holographic engraving of a spaceship on the other. The Council Lords suggested that Lord Nicholas’s image appear on the bills, but he declined. Because every member-state had the responsibility of printing the money, under strict League supervision, each bill would also show the seal of its own realm.

As the First Lord had foreseen, the new economic system led to an unparalleled boom in trade. Merchants traveled to the farthest corners of occupied space, bringing prosperity and a better quality of life to all. Truly, this was a golden age of cooperation and the good life.

From 2632 on, the League began to expand at a rapid rate because of advances in water purification technologies that reduced the costs appreciably. The process was so much cheaper than what the Ryan Cartel iceships could provide that Ryan eventually went bankrupt. The other major difference was that these new water purifiers required high-tech maintenance, but that was no problem during this optimistic era. By the year 2700, more than 1,000 new planets had been colonized and the League had expanded to control a sphere roughly 540 light years in diameter.


The Jamerson-Ulikov Water Purification Procedure
First demonstrated in 2622, the J-U Purifier was a breakthrough that rivaled the development of the HPG in importance. The procedure, which used a filtering agent made from common sand, was half the size of the previous purification plant and could be produced at a third of its cost. The device was developed at the Caph Institute of Technology.

When news of this important technology was announced, it sparked considerable debate within the Hegemony government as to whether the J-U Water Purifier should be placed on the Hegemony’s unofficial list of “sensitive” technology, preventing its sale to anyone outside the Hegemony. First Lord Nicholas decided that to suppress the device would be unusually cruel to those worlds that had to devote enormous resources just to obtain drinkable water. He approved the licensing of the purifiers to other member-states. Soon, previously marginal or uninhabitable worlds were opening up for colonization while other colonies blossomed with the aid of the J-U Purifier.

The Eligus Medical Diagnoser
Developed in the 2640s, the Eligus Diagnoser was the brainchild of the Saffel Medical Institute. Using the latest computer technology, the Diagnoser was capable of doing a complete medical work-up on a patient in an amazingly short time with only minimal Human assistance. The Diagnoser also combined various devices, such as X-Ray, CAT, GRT, and VelRay scanners into one compact device. With the Eligus Diagnoser, it was now possible for a computer with the intelligence of a specialist to diagnose a medical problem and suggest a treatment in a fraction of the normal time and cost. The machine was so proficient that the Star League Medical Association would not allow it into hospitals until 2665 because of groundless fears that its use would throw thousands of doctors out of work.

Neural-Dimensional Computer Technology
While photon coursing had long ago replaced electronic wiring in computers, a major breakthrough occurred when several research groups discovered that light beams could be phased and modulated to represent more than simple on-and-off messages. The discovery resulted in the development of the Light Tree as the basic building block of computers and allowed computer designers finally to build a computer patterned after the Human brain. Though the resulting computer, called SIBYL, was in some ways a disappointment (not being able to “think” like Humans, as its designers had hoped), its ability to calculate and make rational decisions was a quantum leap beyond the capabilities of computers. Neural-Dimensional Computers were a development that the Hegemony kept to itself while funneling them into its military.

-From A Timeline of Technology, by Duchess Nichole Simon, Hegemony Press, 2734

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