Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Star League Part 16


The Draconis Combine dueling has been called the First Hidden War because people everywhere, including inside the Combine, were blind to the seriousness of the events. Unless one lived nearby, news of the Combine and Star League ‘Mechs’ duels seemed the stuff of romantic fiction, even though the Combine’s state-run news hailed every victor and provided extensive video coverage. This unreal quality was fine with the First Lord and the Council Lords. With the possible exception of Lord Urizen, no one wanted war when peace was so profitable.

The political serenity of the realm gave Michael Cameron the time to be with his three children. Jonathan, the eldest and most like his father, was an athletic boy who grew up to be an expert swordsman. Jocasta, three years younger, was a pretty child with an insatiable intelligence and a quiet demeanor. William, ten years younger than Jonathan, was the dark child. Though he was as attractive as his brother and sister, a cloud seemed to hang over him since birth, when he needed respirators to assist his breathing.

Culturally, the Star League was increasingly centered on the style of the Court of the Star League. Immigration laws had been relaxed between most member states, except for the Draconis Combine, whose government made it difficult for its citizens to leave. The Hegemony drew people like a magnet, increasing its population by a third during the reign of First Lord Michael.

Those unable to travel to the Hegemony watched and studied what was going on at the “Cradle of Humanity,” as Terra was known. People hundreds of light years away followed everything that happened in the Hegemony, and the Court of the Star League, in particular. Hegemony books, films, and art were all tremendously popular in the other realms. Billions watched shows that depicted court fashions, manners, customs, morals, language, and even the ways of wooing a mate. This universality pleased the Cameron family, who believed that their ancestors’ dream of “One Species, One Realm” was finally coming true.

In 2690, Michael Cameron underwent a routine physical and learned that he had pancreatic cancer. Because the prognosis was poor, the First Lord announced his retirement on October 13, 2690. Lady Katarina, though she would have made an excellent leader, chose to minister to her ailing husband. Thus did Jonathan Cameron, the eldest son, succeed his father.

Michael Cameron spent his last years completing the immensely important Journey of Humanity. A 26-volume epic work, it is the history of mankind from the dawn of civilization to its author’s retirement. Using the vast resources of the Library of the Star League, located near the BSLA, for most of his research, Michael had started the work decades earlier and poured himself into the task after his retirement. He not only served history well with his scholasticism, but he served art too in beautiful passages attempting to fathom the psychology of some of the most famous people in Human history. It was a tribute to Michael’s strong will that he was able to complete these volumes during a time when he must have been in constant pain.

Perhaps it is an omen of Humanity’s eventual renaissance that a copy of the Journey of Humanity survived the fall of the Star League and landed in the possession of our Blessed Order.


Court of the Star League (SLPI)-The Star League government announced today that Trailblazer One, the ambitious expedition launched 35 years ago to map and survey unexplored star systems, has been found floating above the third planet of the Omega Lord star system.

Court officials said that none of the ship’s 479 crewmembers was found alive, though they did survive the mechanical breakdown that stranded them in the star system. Extensive interviews with highly placed sources reveal the following scenario. Two months ago, surveillance vessels of the 169th Flotilla picked up a faint HPG transponder signal coming from a distant group of unexplored stars. The commander of the flotilla, Commodore Thomas Jenkins, received permission from his superiors to track the signals.

The flotilla entered a small G Class star system that was the source of the transmissions, which had been identified as the Trailblazer’s transponder code. The ships’ instruments revealed that the Trailblazer was orbiting the third world of the star system.

The Trailblazer’s exterior was in good condition, but a landing party of Marines and engineers found the ship to be a gutted hulk. Ship’s logs made by the Trailblazer commander, Commodore Niamola Bendricks, report that a micro-asteroid had penetrated the vessel at the circuit junction that tied the ship’s three jump drives into its computers. The damage rendered the ship’s vital computer inoperable, stranding the Trailblazer.

After a year of attempted repairs, the crew mutinied and killed the ship’s commander and most of the senior officer staff. The remaining 391 crew members went to live on the planet’s surface, hoping that the planet’s lifeforms would sustain them.

A platoon of Marines from the 169th Flotilla, aided by medical teams, landed on the planet to search for the crew.

When a landing party from the 169th investigated the crude fortress-settlement that the Trailblazer crew members had built, they found no survivors. Journals recovered from the site reveal that huge herds of carnivores and catastrophic diseases had killed the crew.

-From Star League Press Interstellar, November 19, 2690


I resent being called a warmonger. Just because I have an interest in keeping our military up to date does not mean the passion of a conqueror flows through my veins. In fact, the opposite is true. I want to so fortify our League that it would be foolhardy for even the strongest militaries to attack us.

-First Lord Jonathan, responding to reporters’ questions about whether his massive military buildup was the prelude to war, 2694

Jonathan, the eldest son of Michael Cameron, assumed control of the Star League in 2690. Thirty years old, married to a noblewoman from the planet Sheratan, and at ease before the public, he projected the image of a confident man with few pretensions and affectations. People looked forward to decades of peace and continued prosperity under this handsome new leader.

With the exception of the Draconis Combine dueling, peace had become such a way of life that First Lord Michael had even considered proposals to cut the military budget. When First Lord Jonathan proposed a major expansion of the SLDF, therefore, it was a shock.

When asked why he wanted to pour so much money into the military, the First Lord explained that League scientists were on the verge of a “renaissance in military technology that would make all previous advances seem puny in comparison.” Without funding, those discoveries might die stillborn, he continued.

Asked if he would share the new technology with the member states, First Lord Jonathan said that he would follow the laws regarding weapon technology. Any new weapons systems would go to Royal units in the SLDF first, to the other SLDF units a few years later, and finally to the House militaries after a decade or more. The member states would not get the new technology for many years, but they would benefit from hand-me-downs. Such devices as advanced computers, advanced personal weapons, and ‘Mech designs that had been restricted to the Royal units would become available to the House militaries.

The thought of being able to purchase new and better equipment for their armies outweighed any doubts the Council Lords may have had about whether to build new and more lethal weapon systems just because scientists knew how to do it. First Lord Jonathan got the Council’s approval for the funding.

The fruits of First Lord Jonathan’s military renaissance began to appear in Royal units of the SLDF almost immediately. Improved ‘Mechs, Headhunter Missiles, Snub-nosed PPCs, and countless new vehicles appeared, utilizing breakthrough research in such areas as energy and myomer technology.

One of the most important weapon systems developed during this time was the Space Defense System. The SDS was a series of free-roving system defenders called M-5 Drones. The drones were automated warships that packed the punch of a battlecruiser in the frame of a Lola destroyer. These drone ships, dubbed Caspars, were designed to defend a planet against enemy vessels. Using an ultrasophisticated computer system, the SDS could easily operate with only a handful of Humans monitoring the system. The computers were capable of repairing themselves and of launching other drone ships from computer-run spaceports. Backing up the drone warships were ground bases that could fire huge lasers and missiles at any ship that evaded the drone warships.

This mammoth weapon system did give the Council Lords pause, especially because the new SDS networks were slated for construction only around Hegemony worlds. The First Lord assured the worried Lords that he had chosen these sites because the untried SDS networks should be near their place of manufacture in case of problems. The First Lord promised that when the systems proved reliable, the capitals of the member states would get their own SDSes.

Space Defense Systems were usually deployed in orbit near a sun’s two main jump points and the most important planet, but First Lord Jonathan wanted Terra to have a more formidable defense. Not only was the space around Terra strewn with automated warships that challenged each approaching ship with an “Identify-or-be-Destroyed” ultimatum, but so was the entire solar system. The area around the two standard jump points was especially well-protected. This SDS was named the Reagan Defenses for an obscure Terran leader who had dreamed of a similar system.

The huge number and cost of drones being built and deployed disturbed many people. They believed that the idea of an attack on Terra was ludicrous. Besides, they argued, Terra was for everyone; to encircle her with weapons went against Humanity. Discontent grew when the SDS accidently destroyed three ships. Even after the glitches in the friend-or-foe identification system was remedied, many Terrans questioned the sanity of a man who believed their planet was in so much danger.


My greatest nightmare is that of Terra dying in explosion and flames. No hope exists amid the rubble, only the step of hulking ‘Mechs, the smell of smoke and death, and the wail of orphaned children.

-From a letter by Jonathan Cameron to his wife, 2704

In response to the public’s concern about the huge sums being poured into the SLDF, Jonathan Cameron spoke glibly of “covering every possible contingency” or of benefits from the general scientific advances that would eventually reach the public sector.

Meanwhile, from the Periphery came rumors of spreading discontent. In 2722, the Capellan Confederation and the Free Worlds League pushed through Council Directive 41. Ostensibly giving the Periphery Territories more freedom, the directive actually gave Inner Sphere companies a free hand to loot the territories in all manner of unscrupulous business deals. Because war seemed likely, some people believed the First Lord was farsighted in building up the SLDF for another Periphery campaign.

Others believed that the First Lord was shoring up the SLDF because of the Draconis Combine’s continued belligerence toward the Star League. If Jonathan Cameron was spending so much money on the military, those people thought, perhaps he was seriously considering waging war against House Kurita to rid himself and the Star League of its greatest irritant.

If these pundits of the time had been able to read some of Jonathan Cameron’s letters, they would have understood that he had become obsessed with the fear that Terra would be besieged, captured, and ruined by foreign enemies. His letters to his wife, who preferred the tropical islands to the coolness of the Court of the Star League, and those to his trusted sister, Jocasta, were filled with disturbing phrases: “dreams of Terra scarred and mutilated”; “foreign flags upon Earth’s soil and strange, coarse men walking the white halls of Unity City”; “Humanity leaving Terra ad the universe like the delicate wind-blown seeds of a dandelion, never to be seen again”; and “Terra dimmed and no longer the bright beacon of the Human race.”

The Star League’s collapse, Stefan the Usurper, the destruction of Terra, and the Exodus make these few phrases seem prophetic. Indeed, his letters are so full of prophecy that even a skeptic might wonder whether Jonathan could predict the future. One researcher has recently and aptly compared him to Nostradamus, a 16th Century prophet.

Whatever his abilities, Jonathan Cameron paid dearly for them. Though he maintained his charming, self-assured exterior, he was tormented by insomnia, anxiety attacks, and losses of physical control similar to mild epileptic seizures. He said he had visions during these seizures.

Setting aside the prescience of his words, the tone of Jonathan Cameron’s letters indicate that his mind was beginning to crumble. His emphasis on weapons and defense systems was obviously his attempt to protect the Hegemony, and Terra in particular. He hoped to create an “impenetrable shield of swords and ever-vigilant eyes to guard against any threat approaching Terra.” That his creation eventually protected those who despoiled Terra is one of the great ironies of history.


The First Lord’s sister, Jocasta Cameron, did not share her brother’s torments of spirit. Where her brother was publicly open and outgoing, yet privately troubled, Jocasta had withdrawn from the pressures of political life to the wilds of Scotland. She joined the cloistered Benedictine Order, devoting her life to God in the serene privacy of the Abbey of St. Joan.

Little about her childhood suggested that Jocasta Cameron would surrender herself to prayer and contemplation. She was as bright and precocious as both of her brothers when it came to navigating the complexities of Court society. She loved the grand balls, the pomp, the ceremony, and the elegance of her high station in life. Many in the Court looked forward to the day when the intelligent Jocasta might be the Hegemony’s Director-General.

At age 17, however, she heard the call of God, became a Catholic, and spent a year preparing to enter the Abbey of St. Joan. Though she frequently doubted her ability to survive life as a nun, she never doubted the calling. She entered the abbey on the day after her 18th birthday.

For the next two decades, Jocasta thrived on the ascetic lifestyle. The drug-related death of her younger brother, William, saddened her but did not shake her religious conviction or vocation. In 2704, after 23 years as one of the choir nuns, she became Mother Jocasta, a sign of her importance in the abbey.

Throughout these years, Jocasta maintained a close relationship with Jonathan. More than anyone else, she seemed to be aware and concerned about what was happening to him. His wife, who had lived mostly away from the First Lord, died in 2710. His son, Simon Cameron, had also been away from his father and thus unaware of what was happening.


Just as his obsession was beginning to crack Jonathan’s public facade, a crisis arose that demanded the First Lord’s total concentration. Associates later said that this crisis drained the last shreds of his sanity. Historians point to it as the beginning of the end of the Star League.

In 2696, while on a diplomatic mission to the Draconis Combine, Mary Davion, daughter of Prince Roger Davion, met and fell in love with Soto Kurita, son of Urizen Kurita and brother of the current Coordinator, Takiro Kurita. In spite of her family’s protests, Mary and Soto married. Their union produced two sons and a daughter.

According to the ancient traditions of primogeniture, the entire Federated Suns would pass from the Davion family into the hands of the dreaded Kuritas upon Prince Roger Davion’s death. Because Mary was raising the children as Kuritas and not Davions, Prince Roger was desperate to prevent them from claiming the Davion throne.

He thought he had solved the problem in 2700, when he passed the Act of Succession, which called for Mary Davion to relinquish her children’s rights to succession and recognized Joseph Davion as heir to the throne. Mary signed her consent in 2702. The crisis seemed revolved when Prince Joseph succeeded Roger Davion in 2703.

The issue re-emerged when Mary Davion died in 2715, just as Prince Joseph was about to name his 19-year-old son heir to the throne. Almost immediately after her death, embassies from House Kurita arrived demanding that Mary’s eldest son, Vincent Kurita, be named heir. The Davion family dismissed the claim as ludicrous. They did not expect the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine to take the matter to the High Council.

During the spring and winter sessions of 2716, Coordinator Takiro Kurita pleaded his case and produced convincing evidence that Mary Davion had expected her son to become Prince of the Federated Suns. The seeming authenticity of the Coordinator’s documents, apparently signed by Mary Davion, cast doubt on the Davion Act of Succession and placed the question of who would rule the Federated Suns squarely in the lap of First Lord Jonathan Cameron.

The First Lord knew that if he decided the issue, there was a strong possibility that the losing party would withdraw his government from the Star League. Jonathan Cameron therefore ordered an investigative commission to study the question. He declared that if Prince Joseph died before the question was decided, the Star League would rule in favor of the Federated Suns. Though this was not entirely satisfactory to the Davion Prince, it guaranteed that his realm would not fall suddenly into the Kurita family’s hands.

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