Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Star League Part 18


In February 2751, the First Lord visited the disputed world of Star’s End on the Lyran-Rim Worlds border. While there, Simon was invited to visit the mining facilities of the large asteroid of New Silesia. Though it was not on his itinerary, Cameron accepted because of his interest in low-gravity mining.

On New Silesia, the First Lord met with the men and women living in the company’s small domed city. Intrigued by their life, he eagerly accepted an offer to see how they earned their living. Simon Cameron and his entourage traveled down into the tunnels where the precious titanium and silenium ores were extracted from the asteroid. What he saw was a typical low-G mining operation. Mining robots cut at the asteroid with a series of lasers and diamond bits, while the robots’ operators sat at the end of a pressurized tunnel a short distance away, using a control system very similar to a MechWarrior’s control panel.

In Tunnel 5T, Level 42, the First Lord asked if he could control the mining robot. As he had been a MechWarrior and was familiar with the neurohelmet and controls of the mining robot, no one objected. He donned the helmet and confidently took the controls, looking through the thick glass window into the vacuum of the tunnel where the robot sat idling.

What happened next is uncertain. Cameras recording the event from inside the control booth and on the robot indicate that the First Lord must have made a mistake. The mining robot, which had been working at the far end of the tunnel, wheeled and charged the control booth. Simon Cameron tried to shut the robot down, but he either did not know how or the robot did not respond to the command.

The 30-ton machine crashed into the control booth, shattering the porthole through which the First Lord had been looking. The decompression sucked him through with great force against the front of the robot. His death was quick. Nine other people also died.


The facts surrounding Simon Cameron’s death, with their many inconsistencies and gaps, have invited countless theories, most of which conclude that he was murdered. Following are some facts and speculations raised by the High Council’s Panel of Investigation into the death.

1) The mining robot, a Digger 500 built by Wotan Mining Industries, had been overhauled and inspected just ten days before the incident. There was nothing in the report to indicate any unusual defects.

2) Mining Operator Charles “Mole” Dryden reported that the robot had exhibited “damned unusual control twitching” two days before the incident. The robot was pulled off-line, but a check of its control system revealed nothing.

3) Examination of the robot itself proved fruitless because the collision had split one of the hydraulic reservoirs, spilling its highly corrosive fluid all over the computer center.

4) Log-in sheets indicate that Petrovia Drewsivitch, a robot technician, worked on the robot the night before the incident. The company had no record of an employee named Petrovia Drewsivitch, however. This is not conclusive because the company had very poor bookkeeping, but investigators were unable to find the woman.

5) One hour after the death of Simon Cameron was confirmed, government agents noticed a transmission from somewhere within the colony. Investigators were never able to find the source of the transmission or to decode it.

Speculation abounds about what happened in that tunnel. Most people believe that Simon Cameron was the victim of a plot. The Draconis Combine, the Lyran Commonwealth, and the Periphery realms are the three possible villains mentioned most often. The Commonwealth is probably the least likely of the three, even though the First Lord’s appeal to the people had caused the Steiners some political discomfort. The Periphery, with its countless anti-Star League groups, definitely had enough reasons to wish the First Lord dead, but it is unlikely that any of the Periphery realms had the resources to pull off the feat.

If Cameron’s death was not an accident, the Draconis Combine is the one that most people think was responsible. Not only was there a longstanding feud between the Camerons and the Kuritas, but the Draconis Combine was also the next destination of the First Lord’s Peace Mission. The Kurita family had always placed a high priority on maintaining complete control over the Combine population, and it is reasonable to believe that the Kuritas had the First Lord killed to prevent him from entering the Combine and appealing directly to the people.

With everything we know and love collapsing around us, it is unlikely that we will ever know if the First Lord was murdered or not. Even if we did, it is unlikely that it would make any difference in what is likely to happen next.

-From Investigation into the Death of Simon Cameron, by Paula Catterson, Terra Press, 2784


During these sad times it is the responsibility of us, the Council Lords, to ensure that the Star League survives and that the Camerons continue on as its unbroken heart…

-From the joint statement issued by the High Council, April 3, 2751


First Lord Simon’s death was not only a tragic shock, but it left the Star League without a leader when it needed one most. Lord Simon’s only child, Richard Cameron II, was barely eight years old. Richard’s mother had died a year earlier. Nor was there any other Cameron family member qualified to become First Lord. Where was the League to turn for leadership?

Richard Cameron was the Star League’s only hope, but it would be at least a decade before he could rule effectively. Would there still be a League then? Many people could not imagine that the Council Lords would do anything but fight for ascendancy in the absence of a First Lord. Many others predicted that war was inevitable.

Archon Michael Steiner II of the Lyran Commonwealth, Chancellor Warex Liao of the Capellan Confederation, Coordinator Takiro Kurita of the Draconis Combine, First Prince John Davion of the Federated Suns, and Captain-General Ewan Marik of the Free Worlds League left for Terra as soon as they received news of First Lord Cameron’s death. When they arrived, the Lords immediately entered the Council Chamber for a series of long meetings. They met day after day, often for ten hours at a time. As they left the Chamber each evening, their drawn faces and refusal to talk to reporters created a mood of foreboding. The dissolution of the Star League and a new era of war seemed imminent.

It was a stunning surprise when, on April 3, all five Council Lords gathered before the Star League Throne and read a joint statement to the gathered dignitaries. The five named young Richard Cameron as the next First Lord of the Star League but stopped short of giving him all of the powers. Instead, they appointed General Aleksandr Kerensky, commanding officer of the Star League Defense Forces, as Richard Cameron’s Regent and Protector.

Tapes of the meetings between the five leaders reveal that the Lords never raised the possibility of dissolving the Star League. The five saw their responsibility as continuing the realm, not burying it. Later events showed that the five cooperated not because they believed in the Star League, but because each wished to expand his own power.

For the moment, the Star League had been saved. The people of the Inner Sphere reacted to news of the Regency with great joy. There were joyful demonstrations in support of the new Regent and the Council Lords. General Aleksandr Kerensky was already well known to the public as an extremely honorable and trustworthy officer.


Of all the men and women who have earned mention in the Star League’s long and rich history, few hold the awe, respect, and admiration of so many people as General Aleksandr Kerensky. His life and the effect it had on the lives of billions, as well as how he behaved in the chaos of the League’s final days, have been the subject of thousands of books and shows. In many ways, he has come to represent everything that seems lost since the collapse of the Star League. Kerensky possessed such traits as honor, courage, compassion, and sympathy, so missing in our modern world.

Aleksandr Sergeyevich Kerensky was born on December 16, 2700, in Moscow, Terra. Legend has it that he was born in his parents’ home during a blizzard. When his father saw that both Aleksandr and his mother were ill and it looked as though the child might die, the father bundled them both up in blankets and carried them from the warmth of their home through the howling winds to a hospital.

His father, Nikolai Maksimovich Kerensky, was head curator at the People’s Museum of History. He had served as a trooper in the SLDF but retired after his first tour. He was a great, kind, bear of a man who took his son on tours of the museum after closing hours, telling Aleksandr grand stories about the various exhibits. Aleksandr’s mother, Anna Tronchina Kerensky, spent more time in the military, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major before leaving the SLDF to become a major administrator in the Moscow city government. She loved literature, a love she passed on to her son, who was a voracious reader in English and French, as well as his native Russian.

Aleksandr’s early childhood was plagued by a heart condition that required a major operation when he was just three years old. It took two years for him to recover fully. His early troubles left Aleksandr small, thin, and reserved. Nothing about his early schooling could have predicted that he would become such an important person. His teachers noted that the blond, blue-eyed boy was remarkably observant, polite, and shy. Indeed, one teacher later remarked that he might have wagered on Kerensky becoming a poet rather than a warrior.

At 18, his grades and manners won him a Star League scholarship to Tharkad University in the Lyran Commonwealth. While attending the university, he met Michael Steiner, a research assistant studying to become a professor. The two formed a deep friendship that continued throughout their lives.

During a routine physical, Aleksandr learned that he had a keenly responsive nervous system that could easily adapt to the strains of being a MechWarrior. The SLDF, looking at his excellent grades and background, offered Aleksandr a place in the next class of cadets at the Nagelring Military Academy. Despite his initial reluctance, Aleksandr decided to join because his parents and friends were so persuasive.

Cadet Kerensky completed training at the Nagelring with honors. He was immediately asked to join the Gunslinger Program at the War Academy on Mars. There, he learned to put his Orion ‘Mech through maneuvers that most people considered impossible for such an old BattleMech design. (Though Kerensky soon qualified for one of the Hegemony’s ultra-sophisticated ‘Mech designs, he, like many MechWarriors, had grown fond of his first ‘Mech and never willingly piloted anything else.)


MechWarrior Kerensky was assigned to be the champion of the 564th Hussar Regiment, then part of the 160th BattleMech Division (The Sirius Division). Stationed on the Draconis Combine world of Paris, the young officer fought four duels his first year, winning one. His abilities as a MechWarrior soon paled next to his budding skills as a leader. In 2729, the 160th BattleMech Division participated in Operation Smother. Kerensky, a Captain in his first combat command, led a lance that distinguished itself despite being outnumbered and surrounded by Combine forces on Royal. The commanding officers of the 564th Hussars were killed in a DropShip collision.

Leaderless, the regiment was in danger of being split apart and destroyed piecemeal by a Sword of Light regiment from the Draconis Combine. Captain Kerensky stepped in and assumed command of the regiment. He successfully regrouped the Hussars and held off the Kurita regiment until his company was reinforced. For his quick thinking and actions, Aleksandr Kerensky was given the Medal of Valor and promoted to the rank of Colonel, one of the rare officers in the history of the SLDF to merit such a jump in rank.

The young Colonel was then given command of the 261st Royal Dragoon Regiment stationed in the Taurian Concordat. He spent a year commanding the regiment and became deeply embroiled in local politics. The corruption of the local government and the greed of companies from the Inner Sphere sickened him.

On five occasions, he arrested and tried corrupt politicians and businessmen, using an obscure provision in Periphery law that allowed SLDF officers of high rank to arrest men and women who represented a threat to the Star League. His actions won him the respect and admiration of many people in the Periphery.

Colonel Kerensky’s crusade against corruption angered some of the Council Lords, who were responsible for the exploitation of the Periphery in the first place. Colonel Kerensky was a threat they had to remove. Chancellor Warex Liao came up with a plan that found ready support among the Lords. With effusive public praise, the Council Lords lauded the exploits of Aleksandr Kerensky, making him seem twice as heroic and important as he was. Hearing of a hero they knew little about, the public media traveled to the Periphery to do programs and articles about Kerensky, just as the Council Lords hoped. Their glowing reports made the First Lord eager to meet the dashing officer. He approved Kerensky’s promotion and transfer in 2731.

The new Lieutenant General was somewhat shocked that almost everyone on Terra recognized him and considered him a true Star League hero. He responded to all the fuss with dignity, courtesy, and bemusement, which endeared him to the public all the more. The General met the First Lord, Mother Jocasta Cameron, and Jonathan’s son, Simon. Simon Cameron and Aleksandr Kerensky became good friends.

Lieutenant General Kerensky was assigned to the Planning and Strategy Sub-Command, the think-tank of the Regular Army. He was promoted to Major General in 2733 and assigned as a aide to General Rebecca Fetladral, commander of the Star League Defense Forces.

The public’s interest in General Kerensky did not wane. His frequent appearances at parties and balls at the Court of the Star League charmed the nobility. The media found him unusually charismatic and kept the public attuned to his life.

Though General Kerensky did not seek out this attention, he used it to his advantage when necessary. He publicly berated the Council Lords for their reluctance to investigate the huge MedTech Scandal of 2736, suggesting their reluctance might signal their involvement. The five Council Lords were enraged and demanded that General Kerensky be court-martialed under the Hooks Act, which prohibited members of the military from voicing their opinions on political matters.

For a short time, the First Lord seemed ready to acquiesce to the Lords’ demand. The public outcry was so great, however, that the First Lord gave General Kerensky only a slap on the wrist. None of the Council Lords was implicated in the scandal, but neither did General Kerensky’s popularity diminish.

When First Lord Jonathan died and Simon Cameron became the new leader of the Star League, General Rebecca Fetladral retired. She recommended Aleksandr Kerensky as the only person qualified to become the next SLDF leader. That recommendation, plus Simon Cameron’s personal friendship with General Kerensky, greatly outweighed the objections of the Council Lords.

During First Lord Simon’s reign, General Kerensky commanded the SLDF with great dynamism. Tirelessly, he toured fortresses and installations, inspecting the troops and the condition of the fortifications. During the 13-year reign of Simon Cameron, Kerensky inspected at least 1,000 SLDF bases throughout the Inner Sphere. During these visits, he inspired the absolute loyalty of his troops.

General Kerensky was also busy overhauling the military bureaucracy, eliminating waste and ruthlessly ferreting out any hint of corruption. He also tightened security around secret projects and intelligence-gathering. The result was a military that was much more responsive and efficient and no longer top-heavy with officers and administrators.


It’s nice having a hero as our leader. His aura shines so brightly that it tends to blind anyone trying to watch us, making it much easier for us to get the job done.

-Chancellor Warex Liao, from private tapes of the Winter Meeting of the High Council, 2752.

General Kerensky offered to step down as SLDF commander when the Council Lords appointed him Regent of the Star League. Many people were surprised when the Council Lords rejected the General’s resignation, but the Lords said he was too vital to be replaced on the brink of war. They doubted that the military could function properly without his guidance.

This was essentially true. The general’s success at cutting away the fat in the military had given every officer, particularly the commanding general, more responsibility. If General Kerensky stepped down, the SLDF would be disrupted for months while a new commander learned to control the immense military machine. With the situation so tense in the Periphery, the Star League could not afford an unsteady and unsure military; it was essential that Kerensky stay on.

There was considerable speculation about whether the Lords had ulterior motives in refusing the General’s resignation. Critics of the Lords felt that they wanted him to remain as commander so he would not be able to take an active part in running the government. This way, the Council Lords won public approval for appointing Kerensky as Regent and yet kept him from interfering with these plans. The scheduling of High Council meetings seemed to bear this out; they were consistently held when the general could not attend because of SLDF duties. Because of these scheduling conflicts, General Kerensky suffered the same fate as his ancient ancestor and namesake, becoming little more than a rubber stamp in the Star League government, often reduced to signing entire stacks of unread documents.

Within the High Council, the five leaders of the Inner Sphere realms continued their plans to gut the Star League. In the Spring Meeting of 2752, the five Council Lords passed, without the General’s signature as required by law, an amendment to First Lord Michael’s Edict of 2650. While the earlier Edict limited the number of troops that each House government could raise, the new amendment doubled the allowance. The next year, another Edict permitted the Houses to build up by raising taxes on the Periphery.

General Kerensky, who was inspecting Hegemony fortifications and SDS networks, was livid when he heard the news. He ordered all SLDF troops to increase their readiness in response to provocation by the Lords. He briefly considered challenging the legality of the order but decided against it.

The situation in the Periphery was heating up. The anti-Star League factions, which had been idle during the shocked months after Simon Cameron’s death, were active again. Terrorist acts against SLDF bases and Inner Sphere companies were on the rise, with no end in sight. General Kerensky decided that having the Council Lords on his side in the event of a Periphery war was more important than trying to stop them from stockpiling weapons.

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