|Also known as|| The Red Duke|
The Red Hunter
|Affiliation|| House Ricol|
| Duke (Draconis Combine)|
|Children||'Jade' (son; see text)|
A tall and heavy-set man, Hassid Alexander Ricol, Duke of Chekaar and Rodigo, was an 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 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. 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, although there is no clear indication that he ever served in the regular Draconis Combine military.
Hassid Ricol was described as a native of Rodigo.
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, Ricol was apparently already a duke (being adressed as Your Grace), and 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 is technically an Archduke. He 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. 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 unrivalled 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 (incidentially, the mercenary unit formed from the Trellwan guerillas). Trapped on the world after their DropShip was damaged during a botched insertion, the Legion fought Ricol's garrison forces to a stalemate in another extended guerilla campaign. 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, incidentially 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 3046, following the War of 3039 and the sweeping reforms of the DCMS, Ricol had used his influence to create a MechWarrior training battalion and staff it with men and women loyal to him, 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' adressed 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 adressed 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, and Minamoto is advised to "discard" of a tool once it is dulled.
It was noted that Hassid Ricol's rule over several worlds gave him the actual power of an archduke; dukes generally had responsibility for only a single world.
There is no indication that he ever held the military title of Warlord. He is referred to as "a warlord" at one point, but from the context it seems to be simply a descriptive remark.
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. 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 more):
- 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 actually appeares 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
- 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
- Venceance, 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
- Venceance, p. 34
- Decision at Thunder Rift, chapter 33
- 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)