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|Also known as|| The Red Duke|
The Red Hunter
|Affiliation|| House Ricol|
|Duke, Governor of Alshain District|
|Children||'Jade' (son; see text)|
A tall and heavy-set man, Hassid Alexander Ricol, Duke of Chekaar and Rodigo, was an extremely influential Draconis Combine noble of House Ricol and a MechWarrior. He was known as the Red Duke for his flamboyant and usually red wardrobe, and as a MechWarrior was also known throughout the Successor States as the Red Hunter. Within a conspirator ring in the Rasalhague Military District and later the secret Black Dragon Society (Kokuryu-kai), both of which used gemstone codenames, Ricol used the alias 'Ruby'.
Although he was technically a civilian administrator, he maintained private military forces at least up until the Fourth Succession War, apparently by virtue of his noble status and military background. Those House Ricol forces had their own uniforms with a characteristic piping and kana symbols spelling out "Kurita" and "Duke Ricol", with the House Kurita symbol on them; he also had House Kurita forces at his disposal at times, including naval assets and a DEST unit.
Hassid Ricol, born to a noble family in 2977, was a native of Rodigo. After graduating with honors from the Sun Zhang MechWarrior Academy he served with distinction in the 5th Sun Zhang Academy Cadre, then earned a position in the prestigious 2nd Sword of Light. However, after his parents died in a DropShip crash in 3002 then-Sho-sa Ricol was granted permanent detached duty from the DCMS to assume the position of Duke of the Rasalhague Military District (though still a subordinate to the overall civilian governor of the Rasalhague District—Ottar Sjovold until 3019, then Malcolm Kurita and by 3025 Mies Kurita). With his military background, Ricol quickly formed a personal military force despite his nominally civilian title, and seized more than a dozen Lyran Commonwealth worlds by 3025. This greatly elevated his reputation, and he was recognized as Archduke and given control of the worlds he had conquered.
In 3018 he secretly met with insurgents from the Free Rasalhague underground who conspired to kill Coordinator Takashi Kurita. Ricol did not commit to their conspiracy but remarked that their plans did not conflict with his, and that they might help each other later when it would be mutually beneficial. At that time, it was remarked that he had let his ambitions show too clearly of late and that his enemies in the court on Luthien were almost in a position to deny his petition for elevation to the status of Archduke over the five worlds he controlled..
On 22 September 3019 Duke Ricol was summoned to the starport control center of the Rasalhague military starport by a message from District Warlord Marcus Kurita, where he met Theodore Kurita who had received a similar message. Curiously, Marcus Kurita was not present to meet them. The DropShip Startreader was inbound at the time, carrying Coordinator Takashi Kurita to his son Theodore's planned wedding to Anastasi Sjovold, daughter of Governor Ottar Sjovold, ruling Jarl of Rasalhague. As the DropShip was approaching the starport, the very agitated governor Sjovold approached Theodore Kurita and urged him to come with him. Ricol, sensing that something was amiss, included himself and they left in a helicopter. Moments later, the sabotaged DropShip crashed into the starport. Governor Sjovold then explained that he had saved Theodore's life from the conspirators (and thus, admitted his complicity in the conspiracy; he may have been their leader, 'Diamond'). Ricol at that point noted that Sjovold had made no attempt to rescue him. When Theodore Kurita rebuffed Sjovold, Ricol attacked and killed Sjovold, then pointed out to Theodore Kurita that he had saved his life as Sjovold had tried to attack Kurita with a blade from behind. It is implied, but not explicitly spelled out, that Sjovold had no such intentions after all and that Ricol had actually killed Sjovold to conceal his own connection to the conspirators, and also to ingratiate himself with the Coordinator's heir-apparent.
(Takashi Kurita actually survived the assassination attempt. Marcus Kurita had apparently betrayed the conspirators and tried to become Coordinator himself by arranging for Theodore Kurita's death; no solid proof could be found however.)
Author William H. Keith, who had created the character, provided a detailed (but technically apocryphal) writeup on Hassid Ricol and House Ricol in BattleTechnology magazine, issue #0102 (Hiring Hall: The Red Duke). The magazine is written as an in-universe publication from October 3027.
According to this write-up, Hassid Ricol was 34 years old when he inherited the Duchy of Rodigo from his father in 3011, and became the 12th ruling Duke of Rodigo in his line. (This seems to conflict with the canonical notion that he succeeded his father in 3002 already, though it is possible he was not technically confirmed as Duke until 3011.) The capital and ducal court are maintained at Alexis on Rodigo.
At least five plots against his life failed between 3019 and 3027. It is noted that Ricol's private intelligence-gathering network has a reputation for unrivaled thoroughness and efficiency.
As of 3027 Hassid Ricol is described as the de-facto lord of 14 worlds within the Rasalhague Military District from Kufstein's World to The Edge; other named worlds include Verthandi, New Caledonia, Basiliano, Dahlgren, and Auric II (Harvest).
- For details, see the plot summary for the novel Decision at Thunder Rift
In 3024 Duke Hassid Ricol enacted a scheme by which troops from the Oberon Confederation which were sent to the Lyran Commonwealth world of Trell I (Trellwan) to supposedly reinforce the Lyran garrison there turned on the garrison, destroying Carlyle's Commandos. Ricol then arrived with a 'Mech force to ostensibly protect the planet from the pirates' depredations. This would have allowed Ricol to win over the population and gain a secret, strategically valuable foothold in Commonwealth space. However, Grayson Carlyle survived the initial attack and formed a guerilla resistance with remnants of the garrison, the militia and even some of the double-crossed Oberon Confederation MechWarriors. They managed to recapture the House Mailai JumpShip that had brought the Oberon forces to Trellwan, uncovered Ricol's plot, and unmasked House Mailai Proctor Sinvalie as an ISF agent. By using the recaptured JumpShip as a courier vessel to inform House Steiner of the situation, they thwarted Ricol's plot, negated the world's value as a secret base, and convinced him to withdraw.
- For details, see the plot summary for the novel Mercenary's Star
Verthandi was one of the planets House Steiner had recently ceded to House Kurita, and which had been placed under Ricol's rule. Despite the heavy-handed, even atrocious actions of Governor General Masayoshi Nagumo, who was answerable to Duke Ricol, a local uprising gained momentum and hired the Gray Death Legion (incidentally, the mercenary unit formed from the Trellwan guerrillas). Trapped on the world after their DropShip was damaged during a botched insertion on 25 October 3025, the Legion fought Ricol's garrison forces to a stalemate in another extended guerrilla campaign for roughly a year. This ultimately resulted in a favorable negotiating position for the people of Verthandi and at least a temporary quasi-autonomy, a dangerous setback for Duke Ricol as it fanned the flames of dissent on other occupied worlds House Ricol had to garrison.
- For details, see the plot summary for the novel The Price of Glory
In 3028 Duke Ricol and the Gray Death Legion would meet once again on Helm in the Free Worlds League. Ricol had learned of a long-forgotten Star League weapons depot on Helm, incidentally in a landhold granted to the Gray Death Legion in exchange for their mercenary service. Other parties also interested in the cache, including the Duke of Irian and ComStar, framed the Legion for war crimes to outlaw them and obtain the landhold from them. Facing increasing numbers of House Marik troops on the planet, the desperate Legion entered into a shaky alliance with their erstwhile nemesis Ricol to loot the cache and escape. They succeeded, and Ricol gained not only an unspecified amount of salvage from the vast cache but also a copy of the invaluable Helm Memory Core. Honoring his pact with the Legion, Ricol's JumpShips evacuated the two Legion DropShips and he also gave them a share of the recovered material that allowed the Legion to rebuild itself after clearing their name.
- For details, see the plot summary for the short story Dance of Vengeance
Immediately upon his return from Helm, Ricol ordered Tyrell's Terrors, his private 'Mech company under Salvadore Tyrell, from their garrison posting on Verthandi to meet him on Kajikazawa where he was invited to attend a reception. Sho-sa Victor Garreth, whom Ricol wanted dead, was also in attendance. Ricol engineered for Tyrell, who claimed a vendetta against Garreth, to challenge him to a duel in which Garreth was killed.
Fourth Succession War
In the Fourth Succession War, the Lyran Commonwealth participated on the Draconis Combine front through Operation Götterdämmerung and captured many worlds before being stalemated. Ricol's private army fought well in the Kurita counterattacks and it was acknowledged that he achieved a limited military success, but was ultimately unable to stop the Steiner juggernaut. By 3034, it was noted that Ricol's forces and estates had suffered greatly and that he had been dispossessed of his estates in the Steiner invasion.
Alshain Military District
On the eve of the formation of the Free Rasalhague Republic in 3034 Ricol bought himself back into House Kurita's good graces by providing them with a copy of the Helm Memory Core, a full six years after he had obtained it himself. (House Kurita had known about copies of the core being distributed, but had been unable to procure one for themselves before for unknown reasons, speculating possible obstruction by ComStar could be the reason.) As a reward, he was installed as duke and civilian administrator in the newly formed Alshain Military District which consisted of the remnant of the former Rasalhague Military District plus ten worlds from the Buckminster Prefecture.
In the War of 3039, the lack of experience of the troops in the Alshain Military District, namely the Alshain Regulars, showed. Chastised for their performance, Tai-shu Ricol instituted an intense training regime. By 3046, following sweeping reforms of the DCMS, Ricol had used his influence to create a personal MechWarrior training battalion and staff it with men and women loyal to him from the best of the Alshain Regulars, to gain some influence in the new army that Theodore Kurita was building; it was noted that he had invested "much" in this training program. The training battalion was sent to attack Ryde, but suffered heavy losses when it turned out the ISF had failed to note or report the presence of the 12th Donegal Guards on the planet. This was the last time that any military forces were directly associated with Duke Ricol.
Post Clan Invasion
By 3062, Duke Ricol liked to sit on a favorite bench in Peace Park, Newbury, on Dieron, still planning and scheming for the Kokuryu-kai. His hair and beard had grown white. Ricol mentioned at one point that he had discontinued the use of "a most ostentatious uniform" and that it was his visible age that now commanded respect in the Combine's society.
Although he had not used the appellation Red Hunter (or hanta akai) in decades, he took the name again in 3062 when he planned and prepared Operation Batsu, the attack of the Alshain Avengers on Alshain that would instigate the Combine-Ghost Bear War. It was also observed in a discussion that Ricol had made investments that had proven more than worth the expenditures, referring to the attack on the Lyons Thumb; the entire area had been annexed by the Combine. In the aftermath of the attack on Alshain Theodore Kurita suspected that Hassid Ricol was involved, but no evidence could be found.
Jihad and death
After 3067, several unverified audio recordings relate meetings of the Council of Gems (which appear to be the Kokuryu-kai, where Ricol was a leading figure as 'Ruby'). During the meetings Ruby is increasingly suffering from failing health, wracked with coughing. One conspirator called 'Jade' addressed him as sensei and later Otosan (father) and seemed particularly concerned about his health.
In a meeting in ca. 3071 they discussed the problems of Clan Nova Cat disobeying the Combine's current government and civil disobedience of the Azami people. Ruby suggested to have their agents influence the crew of the Kirishima-class WarShip DCA Siriwan to attack one of the worlds of the Azami. This was the last time Ruby appeared on the recordings; he appeared to be very sick and left the meeting early, apparently for health reasons.
By late 3072, elements of the Sons of the Dragon and a DEST team managed to capture two of the Black Dragon Society's ruling members on Luthien, 'Pearl' and 'Diamond'. They named their leading members after interrogation. It was thus officially revealed that the "now deceased" (as per a report dated 12 May 3074) Duke Hassid Ricol had been a member of the Kokuryu-kai.
In an undated and unverified message from 3072 attributed to the Red Duke that is addressed to Warlord Kiyomori Minamoto he named Minamoto his heir in the fashion of a last will and testament, noting that he had "no riches to bestow. No lands. Not even a title, but a mockery of one. A flimsy shell from decades ago, when my title and my name brought fear to many. No longer." In the same letter, the author warned that 'Jade', explicitly called the author's "own flesh and blood," was unhappy with this arrangement. This seems to confirm that 'Jade', whose true name remains unknown, is indeed Ricol's son but would not inherit Ricol's legacy. 'Jade' is in fact called a tool in the message, and Minamoto is advised that one "discards of a tool once it is dulled."
Hassid Ricol was a Sho-sa (Major) with the 2nd Sword of Light when he was granted permanent detached duty from the DCMS and became a civilian administrator, albeit one with a sizable private army and marked success as conqueror. Draconis Combine dukes generally had responsibility for only a single world; his rule over several conquered worlds soon saw him recognized as an Archduke. He would still at least in theory be answerable to the District Governor, however.
After losing most of his assets in the Fourth Succession War he was appointed Duke of the Alshain Military District, and apparently also held the position of Warlord (Tai-shu) there at the time of the War of 3039.
His title and position after the Clan Invasion remain unclear. It would seem he became an advisor or power broker, working through his extensive connections rather than maintaining a power base of his own.
As a MechWarrior, Hassid Ricol preferred to pilot a Marauder painted red with black legs and trim. In at least one instance, the 'Mech itself was also referred to as "The Red Hunter", a name otherwise applied to Hassid Ricol personally. From ca. 3009 through 3024 he maintained a "Red Hunter Special Operations Group" under Captain Lord Harimandir Singh who was, however, killed on Trellwan, implicitly with heavy, possibly crippling losses to Ricol's 'Mech forces at the time.
Ricol himself felt in 3024 that it had been too long since he had piloted his 'Mech in combat, suggesting his MechWarrior heydays as the Red Hunter were already behind him at that point.
- Immensely wealthy, Duke Ricol owned at least the following starships (and implicitly many more):
- private JumpShip Huntress;
- private DropShip Alpha, used as a command/HQ vessel during military ventures abroad;
- the only (as of ca. 3025) privately operated Behemoth-class DropShip in existence. (Its name is not mentioned, but since Behemoths cannot land on a planetary surface the Alpha must have been a different vessel.)
- In the Draconis Combine, the position of Duke usually entails civilian administration of one planet while those ruling over several worlds are typically Archdukes. It thus seems unlikely that Hassid Ricol was made Duke of the entire Rasalhague Military District upon the death of his parents, given that he was only elevated to Archduke after capturing a number of Lyran systems and bringing them under his control. The overall civilian District Governor was Ottar Sjovold until 3019, followed by Malcolm Kurita and then Mies Kurita. Ricol was 'a' (but not 'the') Duke of the Rasalhague District. As noted above, apocryphal information also suggests he formally inherited the Duchy proper only in 3011, possibly after a successful period as designated regent.
It was also not specified in canon what system formed the core of Ricol's duchy, or which systems Ricol ruled over beyond those named above.
- It seems Ricol's final ploy with the Black Dragon Society succeeded beyond all expectations. Analysis of (unverified) Council of Gems discussion transcripts and events within the Draconis Combine imply that he managed to place at least two of his associates into the Combine's most important positions, where they were ironically tasked with hunting down the Black Dragon Society from a trusted position; this allowed them to sacrifice their co-conspirators and thus cover their tracks while at the same time "proving" they were not Black Dragons themselves.
A fan theory even suggests that 'Tiger's Eye' (Order of the Five Pillars Abbess Tomade Yamiro) was falsely fingered as a co-conspirator by the Black Dragon Society to free the way for her successor, Black Dragon Society member Mara Selencia. That would make three high-ranking Black Dragons in key positions. (Supporting this theory is the fact that 'Tiger's Eye' never seems to appear as a speaker on any council meeting transcripts.)
- Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 47
- Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents, p. 43, "Black Dragons Unmasked"
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 27
- In his (apocryphal) BattleTechnology writeup in issue #0102 he is consistently described as Duke of Rodigo, while Chekaar is not mentioned; a canonical source (Dance of Vengeance, Shrapnel anthology) establishes that Hassid Ricol is in fact a native of Rodigo.
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 10
- As per the description of the position of Duke in the Draconis Combine in House Kurita (The Draconis Combine), p. 95 "Governmental Structure"
- Mercenary's Star, chapter 14
- Mercenary's Star, chapter 5
- Dance of Vengeance (Shrapnel anthology), p. 45
- Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 47 (Duke Hassid Ricol sidebar)
- Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 43
- Heir to the Dragon, chapter 3
- Heir to the Dragon, chapter 11
- BattleTechnology issue #0102, pp. 4-7, "Hiring Hall—Hassid Ricol: The Red Duke" (apocryphal)
- Heir to the Dragon, chapter 51
- Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 46
- Vengeance, p. 38
- Path of Glory, chapters 5, 29
- Path of Glory, chapter 21
- Path of Glory, chapter 12
- Path of Glory, chapter 29
- Black Mist Rising
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3072, p. 53, "Council of Gems"
- Jihad Hot Spots 3072, p. 77: "Passing The Gem"
- The Price of Glory, chapter 22
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 33; an image of the 'Mech is shown in Combat Manual: Kurita, p. 47
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 28
- Handbook: House Liao, p. 162, "Mówáng-class courier"
- Black Mist Rising
- BattleTechnology, issue #0102
- Combat Manual: Kurita
- Decision at Thunder Rift
- Handbook: House Liao
- Heir to the Dragon
- Jihad Hot Spots: 3072
- Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents
- Mercenary's Star (novel)
- Path of Glory
- Shrapnel (Dance of Vengeance)
- The Price of Glory
- Vengeance (Blitzkrieg)