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- This article is about the organization. For the sourcebook, see ComStar (sourcebook).
|Time period:||2788 – present|
|Controlled systems:||N/A |
|Capital world:||None (previously Terra) |
|Military:||None (Formerly Com Guards) |
|Secret Service:||None (Formerly ROM)|
ComStar, known also as the ComStar Order or simply "the Order," is an interstellar organization charged with maintaining the Hyperpulse Generator network, the primary means by which interstellar communication is conducted in the BattleTech universe. With the collapse of the Star League, Minister of Communications Jerome Blake anticipated that the upcoming Succession Wars would not only destroy the network, but also destroy the wealth of knowledge and technology humanity had accumulated over the centuries. With the agreement of the Successor States, ComStar was given monopolistic control of the HPG network, with Terra serving as its headquarters and the organization presenting itself as a neutral arbiter in the conflicts. ComStar issued its own Letter of Credit - the C-Bill - which soon became the standard in interstellar commerce; the ComStar News Bureau was created ostensibly to provide news service across the Inner Sphere; and the Mercenary Review Board was formed as an 'honest broker' for the booming mercenary industry. Much of the knowledge which became lostech in the rest of the Inner Sphere was preserved in secret by ComStar.
Beneath its benign, pacifistic facade though, ComStar itself was an antagonistic player in the Succession Wars, pitting the sides against each other for its own purposes. The shrouds of secrecy which had been necessary during ComStar's early years developed into a mystical religion, at the fore of which was the belief that ComStar had a holy duty to save humanity from itself by taking control of all knowledge and power. Tension between its original mission and new purpose came to a head in the middle of the 31st Century with the ComStar Schism, splitting the organization in two: a new secular ComStar aimed at helping humanity and a conservative Word of Blake which held on to their religious beliefs. Conflict between the two sides would escalate up to the Jihad, with the Word of Blake effectively destroyed and ComStar much reduced in power.
Among the most important technological advances of the Star League era was the Hyperpulse Generator, a variant of the technology of the Kearny-Fuchida Drive that allowed interstellar communications and made possible the smooth rule and operation of the massive Star League. While the House Lords could agree on little after the conclusion of Star League Civil War, all knew that it was vital the HPG network be restored, with Nicoletta Calderon nominating Jerome Blake for the position of Minister of Communications of the Star League on October 10, 2780. 
Blake recognised two great responsibilities in the wake of the collapse of the Star League: preserving as much of the currently available technological knowledge as possible, and preventing the Successor States from seizing the interstellar communications network and misusing it for their own destructive purposes. To this end he set about transforming the Department of Communications into a neutral trans-national corporation dedicated to the operation and preservation of the HPG network.
In 2785, the Department of Communications was officially renamed ComStar, a portmanteau of Communications Enterprise Inc. and Starlight Broadcasting Ltd. which had sold their services to the Star League. Two years later Jerome Blake was able to secure the support of the House Lords with the signing of the Communications Protocol of 2787. Then in 2788, Blake took control of Terra - using SLDF troops who had not joined Kerensky in his exodus - and declared it a neutral world. The Inner Sphere leaders were outraged by this turn of events, but were preoccupied with their own conflicts and recognized the need for open communications; they agreed to Blake's demands as a fait acompli, marking the beginning of the order of ComStar.
After Blake's death in 2819, Conrad Toyama of Dieron took control of ComStar. He replaced its corporate structure with a rigid, religious hierarchy, and shrouded its activities in mystic rituals. Toyama declared himself Primus, the highest authority in ComStar, bequeathing that august title and its responsibilities to every leader of ComStar who followed him. Initially, Primus Toyama's doctrine of religious mystery served Blake's original intent by fostering the belief that the sacred magic of HPG transmissions could only be wielded by ComStar adepts, ensuring that no Successor State would attempt to take control of the Star League's technological legacy. Eventually, and with the help of ruthless enforcement by the all-pervasive ROM, the veneer of mysticism took hold in the hearts of ComStar personnel. Where before an Acolyte might speak aloud the rituals required before activating an HPG from fear a ROM agent might report her for not doing so, within two generations of Toyama's reforms they were being invoked in the sincere belief that the HPG would not work otherwise.
When the First Succession War finally ground to a halt, Primus Toyama was concerned that the renewed peace might give the Successor States a chance to rebuild and prevent ComStar from reaching its full zenith of power. Under his direction, ComStar began to start meddling in the affairs of the Successor States: the Exclusion of Tharkad, the first-ever use of Interdiction, was leveled in response to an attempted tax on ComStar; Operation Divine Intervention, which influenced the Draconis Combine into starting the Second Succession War; and the ComStar War between ROM and SAFE. Primus Raymond Karpov went a step further with initiating Operation HOLY SHROUD, directing ROM to take an active role in suppressing scientific research in the Inner Sphere and preventing as much lostech from falling into the hands of the Great Houses as possible. Primus Karpov was also responsible for the Doctrinal Edict of 2861, which formalized ComStar's structure and the process of electing a new Primus, and the mandating of new uniforms, replacing the original grey jumpsuits with white robes to better reflect the monastic aspect of the Order.
When the Second Succession War sputtered out and peace again threatened to take hold in the Inner Sphere, Karpov used the same method as Toyama to start the Third Succession War in 2866. However, while war raged on in the Inner Sphere, ComStar was soon at war with itself. The ComStar Civil War was brief but set a precedent with the hiring of mercenaries to accomplish ComStar's goals. During the Necess Kurita Affair, ComStar used mercenaries again, this time to force Coordinator Hugai Kurita to back down from the confrontation. Embolden by this success, Primus Hollings York created the ComStar Guard and Militia in 2933, later renamed the Com Guards. The Com Guards would remain one of ComStar's greatest secret until the end of the Succession Wars.
Primus Adrienne Sims was responsible for founding the Explorer Corps in 2959; it's public mission was to explore new regions of space, with a covert goal of locating any remaining lostech and Alexsandr Kerensky's Exodus fleet. Events like the Tripitz Affair, the Jolly Roger Affair, and Anton's Revolt typified the meddling ComStar continued to employ in keeping the Great Houses fighting with each other and keeping lostech out of their hands. The New Avalon Institute of Science in particular became a target of ROM given its stated mission of recovering lostech, though in the years between it's formation in 3015 and 3025 their efforts to infiltrate it failed. Perhaps the most notable failure was the recovery of the Helm Memory Core by the Grey Death Legion, which ComStar could not destroy before it was copied and spread across the Inner Sphere.
Primus Julian Tiepolo took a different tack with ComStar's mission: where previously a fragmented Inner Sphere was seen as preferable, Tiepolo believed forging alliances between the Great Houses might bring about the cataclysmic war that would finally allow ComStar to achieve its ultimate goal. Primus Tiepolo oversaw the alliance between the Federated Suns and Lyran Commonwealth which would create the Federated Commonwealth, then helped broker the Concord of Kapteyn between the Draconis Combine, Capellan Confederation and Free Worlds League. Unfortunately the Fourth Succession War did not go in ComStar's favor: the Federated Commonwealth emerged the clear victors, becoming an even graver threat to ComStar's power, and an attempted raid on the NAIS to destroy its copy of the Helm Memory Core ended in failure.
With the Federated Commonwealth ascendant, Primus Myndo Waterly took a more active and explicit role in trying to counter the new alliance. The Com Guards were publicly revealed and stationed at every world's HPG station, ostensibly for the protection of the facilities and personnel only. Under Operation ROSEBUD, she convinced Gunji-no-Kanrei Theodore Kurita to create the Free Rasalhague Republic as a buffer state between the Combine and the Commonwealth in exchange for stripped-down Star League 'Mechs, which were put to good use in defeating the FedCom alliance in the War of 3039. When Thomas Marik was injured in a bomb explosion during the Andurien Crisis, he was replaced by a double while the real one remained under ComStar care.
The Clan Invasion would prove to be an existential threat to ComStar, though it was not treated at first as such. Ironically, the Explorer Corps' mission of finding Kerensky's Exodus fleet achieved disastrous success when one of its vessels, the Outbound Light, was captured by Clan Smoke Jaguar in 3048. Fearful that the Inner Sphere had discovered their hidden location, the Clans voted in favor of launching a peremptory invasion. As their massive fleet made its way towards the Inner Sphere, snatching up Periphery planets along the way, ComStar became aware of the Clans, and Primus Waterly decide they would be an excellent tool to help ComStar in their own mission. She sent Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht to negotiate with them, and under the terms of their agreement the Clans would not interfere with ComStar operations while ComStar would help administrate those worlds conquered by the Clans.
As the Clans marched across the Inner Sphere, ComStar's arrangement held, all while professing to the Great Houses their continued neutrality in the conflict. Eventually though, Precentor Martial Focht was told of the true goal of the invasion by Ulric Kerensky: the conquest of Terra, with whichever Clan to do so first becoming ilClan and founder of a new Star League. Realizing the danger ComStar was in, Primus Waterly approved Focht's plan for the Com Guards to fight a Trial of Possession against the Clans for control of Terra. The Battle of Tukayyid, the largest in the war, was won at great cost to the Com Guards but nevertheless earned the Inner Sphere a valuable 15-year truce.
Unfortunately Primus Waterly had also enacted Operation Scorpion, a doomed plan for ComStar to seize control of the Inner Sphere. Precentor Martial Focht confronted and killed her Primus Waterly, placing Sharilar Mori in her place and sparking the ComStar Schism. Under Focht and Mori's guidance, a more secular ComStar tried to win back the trust it had lost among the Great Houses by returning to Jerome Blake's original purpose for ComStar. Meanwhile the splinter faction Word of Blake fled to the Free World League, where the false Thomas Marik provided them with a safe haven.
ComStar helped with the creation of a Second Star League and a Second Star League Defense Force. Together with the rest of the Inner Sphere, they launched Operation Bulldog and Operation Serpent, twin campaigns designed to destroy Clan Smoke Jaguar, followed up with the Great Refusal that put a permanent end to the Clan Invasion. Unfortunately, ComStar suffered a major blow when the Word of Blake captured Terra in Operation Odysseus, forcing them to relocate their headquarters to Tukayyid. When the Jihad began, ComStar attempted to seize back control of Terra in an invasion of the newly-formed Word of Blake Protectorate in 3068, but failed.
After Devlin Stone successfully recaptured Terra and formed the Republic of the Sphere, the Republic Formation Treaty barred ComStar from operating its own armed forces or intelligence service. In an attempt to further distance themselves from the religious Word of Blake, the new ComStar removed all monastic trappings - trading in their robes for business suits - and put an end to anything approaching praise for Jerome Blake. ComStar personnel were further restricted to residing only within their compounds, which were kept under local military supervision, though anyone attempting to wander among the public could expect to be shunned or even attacked years after the conflict's end.
When Jerome Blake created ComStar, he set up the First Circuit as its governing body, composed of the chief administrators of the Prime Circuit and a Prime Administrator. When Conrad Toyama reformed ComStar into a religious order, he did away with the original corporate structure, renamed the Prime Administrator to Primus and introduced a new three-tiered system: new trainees became Acolytes. the technicians who worked the HPG stations became Adepts, and the managers and administrators of each HPG station became Precentors. This organizational structure would last for centuries until the ComStar Schism, when the informal rank of Demi-Precentor was made official by Sharilar Mori.
ComStar is composed of several branches, all reporting to the Primus and First Circuit. Current branches include:
- Explorer Corps - Formed in 2959, the corps was charged with re-establishing contact with long-lost Periphery and locating lost SLDF bases. The corp was also tasked with discovering the fate of Kerensky's lost Exodus fleet, which inadvertently triggered the Clan Invasion.
- Communications - The largest and most central division of the Order, this branch sees to the maintenance and operation of the massive HPG network.
- Financial Affairs deals with the monetary affairs of the Order, its banking services and control of the C-Bill.
- Archives and History - maintaining the vast Hall of History, this branch administers a wide range of services, including the ComStar Census and a wide range of historical research.
- Stellar Relations - The Order's diplomatic section.
- Terran Affairs - The liaison between ComStar and the citizens of Terra.
- Science and Research - The Order's R&D arm. Somewhat neglected with ComStar's focus on preserving the technology of the Star League, thanks to ROM this branch has kept parity of the developments of Great Houses.
Branches rendered defunct after the Reformation of the Order and Jihad include:
- Com Guards - Formed in 2933, the supposedly neutral Order's military branch was kept hidden from the Inner Sphere powers for most of its existence and avoided the technological decline of the Succession Wars. Rising to fame with their victory against the Clans in the Battle of Tukayyid, the Com Guards suffered horrific damage fighting at the forefront against their fanatical brethren during the Jihad. Due to the ill-feeling of an armed ComStar borne of that conflict, the Com Guards were disbanded and the survivors integrated in the Republic Armed Forces.
- ROM - Founded in 2811 ComStar's intelligence branch was tasked with protecting the Order from external as well as internal threats. One of the earliest founded divisions, as the Primuses of the Order became more militant, ROM became both a feared internal secret police as well as brutal suppressor of Great House technology. ROM was disbanded in the wake of Jihad the bulk of the survivors of the disbanded agency would join the RAF's newly formed Department of Military Intelligence. 
- ComStar News Bureau - Formed in 2826, the News Bureau was the largest news organization in the Inner Sphere during the Succession War era, also being one of the more overt methods of manipulation practiced by the old Order. Suffering from the bad press generated by Operation Scorpion, the bureau was closed and it resources were eventually split off to form the Interstellar News Network.
- Mercenary Review Board - Formed in 2789 by Blake himself, the board was developed to ensure good dealings between mercenary units and their employers. Another victim of the distrust generated by Operation Scorpion, the board collapsed and ComStar agreed to give up control, lead to its reformation as the neutral Mercenary Review and Bonding Commission in 3052.
- Fundmentals Branch - Formed during the Toyama era, this division was responsible for interpreting the writings of Jerome Blake and ComStar doctrine. Almost the entire branch defected en-masse to the Word of Blake during the schism.
Seniority between Acolytes, Adepts and Precentors is dependent upon their tenure with ComStar, which is delineated through sub-rankings known as grades. These grades are expressed as Roman numerals, with Grade I representing their first year at that rank, Grade V their fifth year, and so on. Promotion to a new rank is granted automatically after twenty-five years at their current rank - Grade XXV - or much sooner upon the recommendation of a superior. Additionally, each individual's function is further classified by a Greek letter, with the designations listed below (for the Com Guards and ROM designations, see relevant articles):
|ComStar Function Designation|
|Alpha||Hyperpulse Generator Operation|
|Phi||Financial/Monetary Control Offices|
Having inherited the vestiges of the Star League Communications Network, ComStar maintains HPG stations on 98% of all inhabited worlds in the Inner Sphere with a small number of links out to the Periphery. While control of a large number of HPG stations fell into the hands of the Successor States after Operation Scorpion, the near total monopoly the organization held on HPG maintenance, operation and parts manufacture slowly resulted in their transfer back to ComStar. While HPG stations in the Star League era were directly integrated into the communities they serviced, their vulnerability to attack during the Amaris Coup resulted in ComStar developing separate heavily protected compounds. These massive ferro-concrete structures were virtual mini-Castles Brian designed as much to defend ComStar personnel from outside attack as to separate them from the influences of the general populace.
After ComStar seized Terra as part of Operation Silver Shield, the organization obtained much of the surviving military, scientific and manufacturing facilities of the disbanded Star League's capital world, carefully rebuilding and mothballing the bulk in case of future need. Content to preserve them for centuries, the secular ComStar set about reactivating them after the Battle of Tukayyid only to fall to the hands of the Word of Blake after their Operation Odysseus took place in 3058.
ComStar primary headquarters up to 3058 was located on Hilton's Head island in North America. The site of upgraded replacement for the overstrained Terran HPG completed after the Amaris Coup, Hilton Head was the natural choice for the organization's political and operational headquarters, serving as the home and meeting place for the First Circuit and Primus. For centuries it was also the secret storage facility for a large portion of its mothballed stockpile of Star League era equipment.
The other notable Terran facility was the Sandhurst Royal Military College, the premier military academy during the Star League era initially served as the home and training center for the Order's intelligence agency ROM. After the creation of the Com Guards Primus Hollings York ordered its conversion back to a full military academy, also serving as the Com Guard central headquarters after the general public were made known of its existence in 3040s.
After the loss of Terra, the secular ComStar transferred its headquarters to the Free Rasalhague Republic world of Tukayyid, effectively under ComStar control since the Battle of Tukayyid, constructing replacement facilities such as the Focht War College. These facilities were ravaged in 3068 at the beginning of the Jihad. Clan Ghost Bear arrived and in July 3070 and freed the planet from constant attack by Blakist Warships and raids. However, by September, ComStar was asked by both Clan Ghost Bear and the Rasalhague people to leave and re-settled on Arc-Royal.
After the conclusion of the Jihad, the terrible damage wrought on the existing Terran facilities and the transfer of the planet to the control of the Republic of the Sphere, a new Class A station hub was constructed in Sydney, Australia, again the natural choice to serve as the headquarters of the organization in the Republic era.
- Founding Year: 2785
- Headquarters (City, World): Sydney, Australia, Terra
- Official Symbol: A white inner circle, slightly offset toward the bottom of a gray outer circle. Extending from the center of the white circle and pointing downward is a single gray tail.
- Location (Terra relative): Facilities on roughly 98% of all inhabited systems within the Inner Sphere.
- Estimated Personnel (3130): 14,687,000
- Government: Corporate (with monastic stylings)
- Ruler: Primus Lisa Koenigs-Cober
- Dominant Language(s): English (official), others per station.
- Dominant Religion(s): Agnosticism (official), others per station.
- Unit of Currency: C-bill (1 C-bill = 1 second of text-only HPG transmission time)
- The original BTW version of this article was found on the former BattleTech 3056 MUSE and written by an unknown author.
- Touring the Stars, p. 103
- ComStar, p. 9 "The Collapse of the Star League"
- Handbook: Major Periphery States, p. 38 "History of the Periphery - Exodus and Succession Wars - The Star League Disbands"
- BattleTech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction, p. 23, "Succession Wars Era"
- ComStar (sourcebook), p. 11
- MechWarrior: The BattleTech Role Playing Game, Second Edition, p. 142
- Field Manual: 3085, p. 176
- Field Manual: 3085, p.230
- Field Manual: 3085, p. 176 "Republic of the Sphere - The RAF - Administrative Divisions - Department of Military Intelligence"
- ComStar (sourcebook), p. 81
- Jihad Hotspots 3070, p. 14, "Timeline of the Jihad"
- Jihad Hotspots 3070, pp. 105-106, "ComStar Out!"