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The Dancing Joker's (30?? –17 February 3067) real name is unknown. His code-name is one of the most commonly referenced, making him one of the best known professional assassins in the Inner Sphere. His most notable achievements were the assassinations of Melissa Steiner-Davion and Omi Kurita.
The Dancing Joker is referenced to be of average size and weight, with straight black hair, and likely of Caucasian descent. It is noted that he held no morals, and thus had little regard towards anyone's life. The only known psychological trait is that he believed himself to be an "unstoppable force of nature."
Marked as a master of disguise, the Dancing Joker would regularly create false personae for cover. His dedication was such that he would rigorously adopt the character of a person he might impersonate to the point that he would become indistinguishable from the original character.
In the mid-to-late 3040's the Assassin had been hired by an agent of Chancellor Romano Liao to murder a minor noble in the Capellan Confederation that displeased her. While successfully completing his task, the Chancellor had then ordered him killed to tie-up loose ends, the Assassin needing every drop of his cunning and resourcefulness to escape Romano's hired killer. The Assassin would not reflect back upon the contract with fondness.
The Melissa Steiner-Davion Contract
Dancing Joker's most famous assassination was that of Melissa Steiner-Davion. He was initially hired by Melissa's daughter Katherine Steiner-Davion and her cousin, Ryan Steiner. Using the knowledge that Melissa's favorite flower was the Mycosia pseudoflora, a genetically-engineered versions of the Mycosia blossoms which Hanse Davion had shipped to Terra for his and Melissa's wedding years before, the assassin adopted the cover identity of a florist hired to outfit a banquet on Tharkad.
Creating garden pottery out of plastic explosives, Dancing Joker was able to effortlessly smuggle his tools of trade past Melissa's security detail. With the explosive detonators linked to water absorption timers, he was capable of arming the weapons by simply watering the flowers. On June 19th, 3055, with the pseudo-pots holding her beloved flower arrays as a disguised tribute, the explosives instantly killed Melissa Steiner-Davion during a live broadcast throughout the Inner Sphere. The subsequent detonation also took the life of Salome Ward, and maimed her husband, Morgan Kell. Melissa's death was felt keenly by many throughout occupied space, and was made worse by the fragmentation of the pots acting as a deadly and gruesome shrapnel, ultimately preventing an open-casket funeral.
The Ryan Steiner Contract
Unfortunately for Dancing Joker, First Prince Victor Steiner-Davion succeeded in capturing his mother's assassin. However, due to the morally gray world he had been thrust into, Victor found he had to call upon the assassin's skills himself a year later in 3056. With evidence coming to light that Ryan Steiner was one of the masterminds behind Melissa's death, the MIIO had arranged a car accident to capture and interrogate the assassin. During the assassin's recovery from the planned accident, Victor Steiner-Davion saw the perfect opening for an assassination attempt, and Dancing Joker agreed to carry it out, with the ulterior motive that it would also provide a possible opening for him to escape. Using a sniper rifle, the assassin killed Ryan Steiner while he was talking to his personal assistant Sven Newmark. Immediately after the successful kill, Dancing Joker dispatched Victor Steiner-Davion's wardens and escaped via a prearranged cover identity of a Buddhist monk.
The Dancing Joker
Attempting to lay low on Zurich in the Sarna March after his escape, Dancing Joker's cover identity was dragged into the counter-insurgency against Capellan backed terrorists in 3057. It is during this time that he officially adopted the alias "Dancing Joker", which was born of his terrorist cell's use of joker playing cards at the site of their attacks. Working pro-Bono, the assassin almost single-handedly liberated Zurich for the Federated Commonwealth (crippling the Burr's Black Cobras mercenary unit in the process), purely because Zurich's location in the Capellan Confederation would have made his escape off-world that much more difficult.
The Anastasius Focht Contract?
In early 3061, Dancing Joker received a message from Katherine Steiner-Davion querying if "Karl" had indeed come out of retirement. Her message also queried whether he had accepted a contract against ComStar's Precentor Martial Anastasius Focht, and if he would require any assistance. Arriving on Tharkad in the lead-up to the Second Whitting Conference on October 27th, the Assassin murdered and adopted the identity of Harrison Harding, an agent of the LIC's Diplomatic Guard. As Harding, he prevented the assassination of Focht at the hands of a pretender claiming to have been the one responsible for the murder of Melissa Steiner-Davion. Dancing Joker's ultimate motive in this action was to protect his professional reputation, and he did so by using the Precentor Martial as bait. Recognizing that the entire plot against Focht was purely designed to tempt him from retirement, the Assassin received his confirmation in the form of a classified personal ad in the days after the attempt. The classified ad itself was a request for a meeting, at which Dancing Joker took considerable risk by directly approaching Katherine Steiner-Davion's private residence.
The Omi Kurita Contract
Katherine Steiner-Davion's intention was to hire him to pay back her brother for stymieing her efforts, more specifically his methods of blocking her attempts to become First Lord of the Second Star League. The assassin was later activated in the midst of the FedCom Civil War, with Katherine's desire to break the spirit of her brother Victor by killing the most important person in his life: his love Omi Kurita.
Dancing Joker got his first chance on Mogyorod. Omi and Isis Marik were visiting Victor during a short period of reconciliation. The arrival of Isis Marik was the assassin's chance to regularly enter the mansion: He posed as a mentally disabled delivery boy and spent days transporting carpets, furniture and other items. When the time was right, he entered the house at night. Reaching the door to Omi Kurita's bedroom, he quickly dispatched her bodyguard Tiaret Nevversan by heavily wounding her with a salvo from his needle-gun. However, Isis Marik stabbed him from behind with a letter opener, interrupting the assassination. Dancing Joker answered the conflict with a punch to her face, and quickly turned around with the intent of killing Omi. At this moment, a wounded Tiaret fired a bullet into his chest, breaking one of his ribs. His attempts foiled, the assassin barely escaped the mansion with his life.
In 3064, Dancing Joker attained a second chance to kill Omi: On Luthien, in the palace of the Kurita family itself, the assassin disguised himself as an Asian gardener who had immigrated to Luthien from the recently reconquered Smoke Jaguar worlds. His plan involved manipulating a souvenir Victor had given to Omi; a stone which had a special place in the garden. He was aware that no other gardener would dare touch the stone, and based on this knowledge installed a trap and moved the stone out of the original position. When Omi Kurita corrected its position, poisoned darts were fired into her arm. She died with Victor's name on her lips. (The poison was apparently provided by an expert in such things.)
The assassin knew that prey stirs attention by movement, and with the completion of his mission, he had turned from hunter into prey. Theodore Kurita immediately shut down all interstellar travel throughout all of Draconis Combine controlled space. But Dancing Joker was unaffected by these blockades. He had already lived a life under the persona of a neighborhood-watchman, and easily adopted the role again in order to survive.
Prince Victor Steiner-Davion sent his personal aide, Jerrard Cranston, to help the Draconian authorities in catching the assassin. But this help was largely unappreciated, as Cranston was deliberately held back with bureaucratic work.
In the end, it was Minoru Kurita who tracked Dancing Joker down. In 3067, he retrieved evidence of the assassin's prior victims and personae, and suspecting his current persona, began applying psychological pressure to him. He consistently laid out hints that reminded the assassin of his former alter egos. Dancing Joker began to instinctively adapt to these old patterns, with his new role somehow gaining attributes of his past roles. The Assassin eventually fled into Lyran held space, burning several of his fake identities in the process. But this had little effect on the outcome; Minoru Kurita was always one step ahead, and finally awaited the assassin in a domicile Dancing Joker had thought to be safe. Minoru killed him with a katana, and took his head as proof.
- Natural Selection, "Chapter 32"
- Assumption of Risk
- A Guide to Covert Ops, p. 102
- BattleTech: 25 Years of Art & Fiction, pp. 167-173 "Means to an End"
- Patriots and Tyrants, p. 150-154, chapter 19