Heir to the Dragon
|Heir to the Dragon|
|Author||Robert N. Charrette|
|Pages|| 338 (original)|
|Cover artwork|| Jeff Laubenstein (original)|
Bruce Jensen (reprint)
|Publisher|| FASA (original)|
Roc Books (reprint)
|First published|| 1 August, 1989 (original)|
1 September, 1996 (reprint)
|Era||Succession Wars era|
|Timeline||3 February 3004 - 18 June 3040|
Heir to the Dragon, by Robert N. Charrette, follows Theodore Kurita for twenty-two years as he learns to survive and thrive in the subtle and deadly courts of the Draconis Combine. The novel concludes the "classic" Succession Wars era of BattleTech and bridges the gap between the Fourth Succession War and the 3040s, shortly before the Clan Invasion era.
From the back cover (1989 edition)
|“|| A FLASH OF STEEL,
a thin crimson line, and a foamy gurgle of confusion marked the beginning of Takashi's rule, and the passing of Theodore's grandfather.
Theodore Kurita is the son of Takashi Kurita, and heir apparent to the Draconis Combine, one of the most powerful realms of the Inner Sphere. But the Draconis Combine has never been a place of smooth transitions. Historically, a Kurita proves himself a fit leader by a successful bid for power, political or... otherwise.
Theodore's perilous journey to power is a twenty-year odyssey beginning with his graduation from Sun Zhang Military Academy. At each level of ascendancy, Theodore finds that keeping power is far more difficult than getting it, and failure lies in wait at every turn.
Theodore's tactical knowledge is put to the test all too many times. His successes in impossible situations are dismissed as smoke and mirror trickery by some, but lauded as genius by others.
Upon reaching the level of Lord of the Combine Military, his new power allows him to see the uncertain future of his people. Theodore must step carefully as he bargains for his future with ComStar, the mystic sect, and the Yakuza, an interstellar network of organized crime. All the while, maintaining an uneasy truce with the man whom he must one day depose... his father, Coordinator of the Draconis Combine!
Following the assassination of Coordinator Hohiro Kurita on late 3 February 3004, Hohiro's son and heir Takashi takes his own six-year-old son Theodore to see the slain man's body at the murder scene. To Takashi's satisfaction, young Theodore announces that he wants to kill the perpetrator. Takashi then gives him his first lesson and explains that to be Coordinator is to act through others, and to put justice above personal vengeance. He then orders the assassin (who was apprehended by guards) be shot on the spot. Takashi Kurita's childhood friend, Internal Security Force assistant director Subhash Indrahar, forms a bond with the confused and frightened young Theodore.
Book 1: Bravery
On 17 May 3018, the night of his graduation from Wisdom of the Dragon school on Kagoshima, Theodore Kurita finds himself on the run from a group of ninjas in high-tech sneak suits after he overpowered the first would-be assailant in his paramour Kathleen Palmer's apartment. He took the ninja's sneak suit and sword, then ran into the industrial district. Here he is confronted by another ninja in an alley who wounds him at the hip in a brief swordfight and then retreats. Somewhat later, Theodore is finally cornered and it turns out the attack was a test of sorts by his mentor and friend Subhash Indrahar, who sent operatives with non-lethal weaponry and is satisfied with Theodore's performance. Indrahar offers Theodore to join the secret Sons of the Dragon society, and Theodore agrees. However, Indrahar mentions that he sent six attackers while Theodore counted seven—the one who actually wounded Theodore was not one of Indrahar's men.
On the same night, Order of the Five Pillars Adept Constance Kurita is informed by her great-aunt Florimel Kurita, Keeper of the House Honor, that she is to become her successor. Constance witnesses Florimel debriefing an operative who was also tested this night. The operative delivers Theodores's pouch that she cut from his belt as ordered, but she feels she has failed her test as she could not overpower him and even inadvertedly cut him. Florimel, however, seems extremely pleased with the outcome.
Meanwhile on Kirchbach in the unruly Rasalhague Military District, a group of conspirators using gemstone codenames meets their new associate "Ruby"—Hassid Ricol, the Red Duke and civilian ruler over many Rasalhague worlds. Ruby refuses to formally commit to the group's goals but indicates they have a common agenda before he leaves. Group leader Diamond takes this to mean Ruby is now an informal member.
On the next day's graduation ceremony, Theodore learns that he graduated top of his class—deservedly, in his opinion. However, his father dismisses the honor and posits that Theodore received preferential treatment because of his heritage; Theodore's respected teacher is reassigned to a world on the periphery border. Theodore is further embittered by being assigned a DRG-1N Dragon BattleMech by his father. It is a highly symbolic 'Mech for the Combine, but Theodore feels slighted because it is on the lower end of the heavy 'Mech category. He is overjoyed when Florimel Kurita presents him with an ON-1K Orion as his personal 'Mech instead, incidentially the refurbished original Orion once piloted by Aleksandr Kerensky himself.
Eager for his son to be married and produce heirs, Coordinator Takashi Kurita has arranged a political marriage to Anastasi Sjovold, daughter of Jarl Ottar Sjovold, the governor of the Rasalhague Military District, in mid-3019. Notably, the wedding will take place on Rasalhague, not on Luthien. Theodore's secret lover Tomoe Sakade, XO of his personal lance, is rather unhappy with the situation. On 22 September 3019, Coordinator Takashi Kurita is inbound to Rasalhague aboard Tai-sho Ivan Sorenson's Leopard-class DropShip Startreader. However, it the ship is sabotaged by a sleeper agent and rigged to explode just above the starport's command center to cause maximum damage.
A message from Warlord Marcus Kurita calls Theodore Kurita and Duke Hassid Ricol to the starport's command center as the DropShip approaches. They are confused when the Warlord is not actually there to meet them. Jarl Ottar Sjovold manages to extract Theodore (and Ricol who includes himself, sensing something is amiss) with an implausible explanation just before the ship crashes, causing widespread death and destruction at the command center. Sjovold admits that he was in on the plot and saved Theodore from Warlord Marcus Kurita's double-cross to ingratiate himself with his prospective son-in-law and future Coordinator. When Theodore rebuffs Sjovold, Ricol assaults and kills Sjovold, then suggests that the narrow blade lying near Sjovold's body had been meant for Theodore (which may or may not be true), putting himself in Theodore's good graces.
Unexpectedly, Takashi Kurita has survived the plot: Ivan Sorenson took him on a passenger seat in his Grasshopper and they escaped by jumping the BattleMech from the stricken DropShip's 'Mech bay after shooting their way through the hull. In the aftermath, Sorenson is made Warlord of the Rasalhague Military District and Takashi orders the conspirators and their entire families executued, including Anastasi Sjovold; Marcus Kurita is "promoted" to Chief of Strategies for the DCMS and recalled to Luthien where Takashi can keep him on a short leash. Defiant after his pleas to spare the naive and innocent Anastasi fell on deaf ears with his father, Theodore makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to secretly marry Tomoe Sakade. As he proposes to her, she tells him that she is an operative for the Order of the Five Pillars and that she was the one who cut him on the night before his graduation. They get married before a buddhist monk during the night of 23 September 3019.
Over the next five years, the O5P helps Theodore and Tomoe kepting their marriage and the birth of a son (Hohiro Kurita II) secret, while Theodore is transferred from one combat unit in the DCMS to the next in a flurry. In October 3024 Florimel Kurita steps down and Constance Kurita succeeds her as head of the O5P.
When Theodore rudely rejects another arranged marriage in December 3024, Takashi Kurita sends him into de-facto exile by promoting him to command the Legion of Vega, the dregs of the DCMS. Theodore whips the regiment into shape over the next years, displaying considerable leadership skills and military aptitude. He is joined by professional ISF assassin Ninyu Kerai and by Fuhito Tetsuhara at his HQ on Marfik. Tomoe secretly gives birth to another child (Omi Kurita).
Marfik comes under attack from Steiner forces under Kathleen Heany in late August 3028, at the beginning of the Fourth Succession War. Heany specifically aims to capture the Draconis Combine's heir-designate. The outmatched Legion under Theodore's command fights far beyond expectations, but despite some embarrassing setbacks Lyran numerical superiority eventually wears them down. In the end Theodore escapes the planet on the DropShip Arctic Fox by capturing the Lyran courier JumpShip Kit Carson. He joins the Legion's other regiments on Vega and leads them through a successful defensive campaign where deceit and misinformation convinces the confused Lyran attackers to retreat.
By mid-3029 Theodore is planning and preparing for Operation Contagion, a counter-offensive on the Steiner border, against resistance from the Coordinator and the Warlords, and is drawing troops together at Dromini VI. However, a strike force under Duke Frederick Steiner destroys the stockpiles on Dromini VI, smashing the invasion plans. Theodore guns down the captured Duke when he learns that even the Kurita JumpShips in the Dromini system were sabotaged, but then decides to spare the man's life as he knew nothing of the sabotage plans.
Book 2: Tenacity
When the Fourth Succession War winds down, Theodore is hailed as a war hero for his successes and before long is promoted to the newly created position of Gunji-no-Kanrei, but his father still believes reports of his performance were doctored. Having matured during the war and adopted a more strategic thinking, Theodore is acutely aware that the Federated Commonwealth, having effectively won the last war, will soon turn their attention to the Combine. House Kurita needs to rebuild and improve its military, but has fallen hopelessly behind their enemies' military strength and production capacity. In this situation, and being an open-minded up-and-coming political player, Theodore is approached by Primus Myndo Waterly of ComStar. ComStar offers to covertly provide House Kurita with much needed military aid in exchange for the right to station troops at ComStar holdings throughout the Combine and Theodore's promise to grant the Rasalhague Military District freedom to form the Free Rasalhague Republic—which will incidentially force House Steiner to relinquish many recently captured Kurita worlds to the new nation, create a buffer along the frontier, and also fan the fire of secession in Steiner's critically important Isle of Skye region. Theodore warily accepts.
On 8 October 3030, Theodore, Ninyu Kerai and one ISF agent Panati are ambushed and apprehended by the Bounty Hunter who turns out to be none other than Michi Noketsuna on his quest of vendetta. Panati is killed, but Theodore manages to convince Noketsuna to put his vendetta against Takashi Kurita on hold, as the Draconis Combine is in grave danger and cannot afford to lose the Coordinator at this critical time. Noketsuna agrees. He enters Theodore's service together with his ex-Dragoon companions Dechan Fraser and Jenette Rand and passes the Bounty Hunter legacy on to Vic Travers. Travers' extensive underground connections in turn provide Theodore with a contact to the yakuza as a parting gift. Theodore immediately seizes the chance to raise additional troops from yakuza criminals, much to Ninyu Kerai's displeasure. His wife Tomoe bears him another son (Minoru Kurita).
Book 3: Audacity
On the eve of the Coordinator's birthday festivities on 18 August 3033 Theodore has come to Luthien and boldly presents his wife and three children. Takashi Kurita is initially furious, but Subhash Indrahar as well as Constance Kurita convince him to play along and he accepts Tomoe Sakade as his daughter-in-law. Subhash Indrahar orders Ninyu Kerai to "tie up all loose ends", and a month later Ninyu tracks down and kills Kathleen Palmer and her son, Theodore's bastard child, on Wolcott (not realizing that he had killed a decoy; knowing what would happen upon learning of Theodore's marriage she had immediately sent her real son into Marcus Kurita's care).
On 14 March 3034 Theodore calls a meeting of the Combine's Warlords, with the Coordinator and also Duke Ricol in attendance. The treacherous Marcus Kurita is absent, as is Ivan Sorenson, Warlord of the Rasalhague Military District. Theodore bluntly informs them that the Free Rasalhague Republic has declared its independence and has been acknowledged by ComStar. He goes to to state that the Draconis Combine should also acknowledge the Republic, to serve as a buffer state on the Steiner front and to coerce House Steiner into giving up the Rasalhague worlds they conquered in the recent war; he has arranged the death of Warlord Sorenson because he anticipated the Warlord would balk. Takashi Kurita storms out of the meeting, proclaiming that he will never sign the documents; Warlord Vasily Cherenkoff also leaves after the Coordinator. Theodore proceeds to announce that Duke Ricol, recently dispossessed of his realm by House Steiner, shall rule over the newly formed Alshain Military District that includes the remnant of the former Rasalhague Military District. Clearly unhappy, Ricol in turn provides the Combine with a copy of the Helm Memory Core that he had apparently held back as a bargaining chip for the past six years. Finally, Subhash Indrahar watches through a spy program how Theodore simply forges the Coordinator's seal for the recognition documents and sends them off to the HPG station.
The formation of the Free Rasalhague Republic leads to open rebellion of parts of the Combine military (with Marcus Kurita a prominent leader). They are branded Ronin by Theodore, and the Ronin Wars erupt. Theodore uses the conflict to test the effectiveness of his new army doctrine (as epitomized by the Ryuken and Genyosha regiments) by leading them against the conservative DCMS renegades. They also field new 'Mechs such as the Hatamoto series and modified Chargers, as well as some vintage Star League era 'Mechs provided by ComStar as part of their deal such as a Kintaro and a BLR-1C BattleMaster with Command Console that Theodore uses as his command 'Mech in battle (piloted by Fuhito Tetsuhara).
Ronin leader Marcus Kurita is assassinated in his HQ on Predlitz by Ninyu Kerai, who leaves false evidence to create the impression a Lyran agent had carried out the deed. Elsewhere, Warlord Cherenkoff is assassinated by his aide Dexter Kingsley in Theodore's name, but not on his orders. Appalled and fearing for his reputation, Theodore orders Kingsley to commit seppuku and promotes an unwilling Michi Noketsuna to the position of Warlord of the Dieron Military District in the late Warlord Cherenkoff's stead.
Primus Myndo Waterly feels that the Combine has not fully fulfilled their part of the deal when certain worlds were withheld from the Free Rasalhague Republic; Theodore feels ComStar has largely failed to deliver the Star League quality military equipment they promised, and stands up to ComStar's threat of interdiction when they argue. They settle the matter amicably, and as a parting gift Theodore offers Waterly something ComStar with its newfound military strength sorely lacks: a compentent general, in the person of (former) Duke Frederick Steiner. Thought dead throughout the Inner Sphere, he has renounced his past and taken on the name Anastasius Focht.
When the long-expected FedCom attack against the Combine manifests as the War of 3039, Theodore's planning pays off. In the Dieron Military District, Warlord Noketsuna's forces hold their ground while in the Galedon Military District, Warlord Kester Hsiun Chi makes good use of the Ryuken regiments under Fraser and Rand to fend off the invasion. A DEST decapitation strike against House Steiner wounds Field Marshal and leaves Kathleen Heany the ranking officer on the Steiner front. Still smarting from her failures in the Fourth Succession War a decade earlier, Heany dismisses the new tactical doctrine from the Federated Suns and reverts to the old and ineffective Steiner tactics, effectively blunting the Steiner offensive. On the Davion front, Theodore bluffs with Operation Orochi, a bold counteroffensive (that in reality totally exposes most inner worlds. Together with the surprising appearance of the previously unknown yakuza "Ghost Regiments" and Star League era designs courtesy of ComStar, the counteroffensive convinces Hanse Davion to call off the offensive.
Following Theodore's sterling performance in the war in which he relied heavily on yakuza troops, yakuza oyabun Yasir Nezumi orders the assassination of Takashi Kurita, anticipating that Theodore would want this. Theodore races back to Luthien, where he has another heated argument with Takashi over his performance in the war. During the argument on 9 January 3040, Theodore spots and stops the assassin. In the chaos that ensues, Theodore assumes leadership over his wounded father and Subhash Indrahar.
In June 3040, Piotr Hitsu, the oyabun of the oyabun, delivers an apology to Theodore by having Nezumi's son deliver his frozen head and by performing the yubitsume ritual on himself—cutting off the last digit of his little finger. Takashi Kurita offers rare praise after he leaves, stating that Theodore handled the situation well. The Coordinator concedes that Theodore has factually usurped his power, despite Theodore's protests that he does not even want to be Coordinator. They agree on a truce of sorts since the Draconis Combine is more important than either of them, and decide to maintain the outward appearance of strength and harmony despite their ongoing struggle for power.
Theodore feels that even his father now grants him the first three Virtues of the Dragon: Bravery, Tenacity, and Audacity; and that he managed to maintain the fourth, Integrity; which might be the path to the fifth, Wisdom.
- Kester Hsiun Chi
- Dechan Fraser
- Kathleen Heany
- Piotr Hitsu
- Subhash Indrahar
- Ninyu Kerai
- Constance Kurita
- Florimel Kurita
- Hohiro Kurita I
- Hohiro Kurita II
- Jasmine Kurita
- Marcus Kurita
- Minoru Kurita (cameo as a baby)
- Omi Kurita (mentioned, as baby/small child)
- Takashi Kurita
- Theodore Kurita
- Yasir Nezumi
- Michi Noketsuna (as the Bounty Hunter)
- Esau Olivares
- Kathleen Palmer
- Jenette Rand
- Hassid Ricol
- Tomoe Sakade
- Franklin Sakamoto (mentioned, as "Franklin")
- Ardan Sortek
- Frederick Steiner
- Fuhito Tetsuhara
- Tomiko Tetsuhara
- Vic Travers
- An Ting
- Corsica Nueva
- Dromini VI
- Le Blanc
- New Mendham
- Charger (also upgraded models provisionally dubbed Charger II, presumably CGR-1A9)
- Hatamoto (-ku and -kaze variants)
- Leopard (Startreader)
- Union (Arctic Fox)
- unspecified DropShips Mukade, Tetsuwashi, Starsled
- unspecified JumpShip Kit Carson