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History of the Draconis Combine

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Crest of the Draconis Combine
This article details the history of the Draconis Combine. For more information, see Draconis Combine. For the in-universe book, see History of the Combine.

Early History[edit]

Shiro Kurita, founder of the Draconis Combine

The Draconis Combine may have been officially founded in 2319, but the history of the Combine begins before then, with the man who would become its first ruler, Shiro Kurita. Kurita was an ambitious man who sought political power and control. At the age of twenty-six, he was able to unite all of his homeworld, New Samarkand, under his sole authority through a mix of diplomacy, force, and more underhanded methods. Six years later, he established an alliance with the nearby world of Galedon V and became the Director of the Alliance of Galedon, which was nominally a defensive pact against the nearby Ozawa Mercantile Alliance. Shiro used the profits from Galdeon's privateering to finance a growing merchant navy.[1]

In the meantime, Shiro's brother Urizen trained the newly equipped Galedonian militia on New Samarkand. Seeking to expand the Alliance, the entire Galedonian militia assaulted the world of Sverdlovsk and took it quickly and easily; the people of Sverdlovsk had no army of their own. Shiro implied that other worlds which refused his 'offer' of allegiance could meet similar fates, and the Alliance of Galedon grew rapidly. His fledgling empire almost doubled in size through the use of his trademark method — he would convince a nearby world that their neighbor was ready to attack, but that they could receive protection if they joined his Alliance. They all agreed, though tensions quickly flared as some worlds realized that their enemies had been offered the very same deal. The army of the Kurita brothers met each of these challenges quickly and fiercely, quelling the various haphazard attempts at rebellion that sprung up. [2]

In 2319, Kurita dispensed with the formality of maintaining the Alliance of Galedon. In recognition of the fact that his nation now bordered the lifeless Draconis Rift, Shiro declared himself Coordinator of the Draconis Combine.[3]

Shiro's nation had grown ever larger, beginning to abut upon neighboring powers, including the Terran Hegemony and Federated Suns. Between since 2335, the Director-General of the Terran Hegemony James McKenna had been courting Shiro for an alliance and offered the Draconis Combine the opportunity to join the Hegemony — Shiro was uninterested, and would only agree to limited trade with the Hegemony after Michael Cameron suceeded McKenna as Director-General some 15 years later. Meanwhile, Shiro decided to assault the Principality of Rasalhague, a mostly peaceful but densely populated nation, in 2330. During this war, a new generation of Kurita leaders came to the fore — Urizen was replaced as Warlord by his son Adam, and Tenno took over for Shiro as Coordinator after Shiro's death from natural causes in 2348.[4]

In 2367, Tenno declared victory in the war against Rasalhague, but the reality was far from as simple. Although the Principality had been defeated, and acknowledged the Combine as their overlords, in reality the Rasalhagians largely maintained their independence (albeit under brutal Kuritan oversight). Tenno was not the military strategist that his father was — his abilities were in administration, and it was Tenno that set down the system of districts and prefectures that is still in use. He encouraged large families and indoctrinated his subjects into the feudal Japanese culture that would come to dominate the Combine. Tenno committed seppuku in 2376 after the assassination of his sister, paving the way for his son Nihongi and his descendants.[5]

Coordinator Nihongi Von Rohrs

Nihongi's rule was ineffective and his untimely death in 2396 saved his son Robert the trouble of assassinating him.[6] Robert Kurita joined in the Age of War happily, launching an invasion of the Lyran Commonwealth in 2407. After he had his sister Marika's lover Werner von Rohrs assassinated in 2395, Robert was himself assassinated in 2412 (possibly on Marika's orders) and his brother Parker's reign was cut short by a coup in 2421 led by the bastard Nihongi von Rohrs, who was the illegitimate son of Marika and Werner von Rohrs. To cement his rule, Nihongi began a series of bloody purges, and immediately exiled all other members of the Kurita family except a few who supported him. The Von Rohrs dynasty ruled for eighty-nine years, amid a bizarre culture of secrecy that left the Coordinator separated from his subjects. Only a few people in the Combine ever knew who their leader actually was and when power changed hands.[7] It was during the time of the Von Rohrs dynasty that the secretive Order of the Five Pillars (O5P) was established to covertly regulate the lucrative ivory trade.[8]

In 2461, during the rain of Nihongi's son Kozo von Rohrs, Combine agents were able to successfully steal the technology to create BattleMechs from their Steiner counterparts. Lyran leaders decided to press their advantage while they had it and launched a full-scale invasion of the Combine, leading to the Battle of Nox in 2475, the first true 'Mech-on-'Mech engagement. The Lyrans were able to make initial gains, but once Combine BattleMechs entered full-scale production, the DCMS was able to recoup their losses.[9]

The Combine went on to launch an invasion of the desert worlds of the Azami people in 2497, during the reign of Kozo's son Yama von Rohrs. The DCMS was unable to subdue the Muslim Azami because von Rohrs' soldiers lacked immunity to a terrifying native disease — instead, the parties came to an agreement whereby the Azami swore fealty to the Coordinator but retained a degree of autonomy.[10][11]

The Von Rohrs dynasty was brought to a violent end in 2510. Martin McAllister, onetime envoy to Rasalhague and the Captain of the Household Guard, colluded with Lord Blaine Sorenson of Rasalhague to engineer a coup. McAllister was actually a Kurita in hiding and, when Sorenson invaded, McAllister used his position to take advantage of the decrease in palace security to assassinate virtually everybody in the palace, a move that was necessitated by the fact that few people knew what the Coordinator looked like. With that, House Kurita was restored to the Dragon Throne, and the Draconis Combine emerged from the Age of War.[12]

Star League[edit]

Martin ruled until his assassination in 2515. With no clear male heirs, his daughter Siriwan McAllister-Kurita was installed as "brevet" Coordinator until a suitable male could be found. She quickly married Warren Kurita, who succeeded her a month after she ascended. A year later Hehiro Kurita was born, and Warren named him as heir. Warren died almost two years later of mysterious causes, and Siriwan was again Coordinator, though technically as regent for her infant son. She maintained peace during her forty-year reign, cleverly playing court nobles off against each other. She finally allowed her son to become Coordinator when he was forty years old, though she remained at court as an adviser.[13]

Coordinator Hehiro Kurita

Hehiro was the last Inner Sphere leader to join the Star League, having signed the Treaty of Vega in 2569. Hehiro joined his nation to the other five Star League members primarily to gain access to scientific data they had collected and because Ian Cameron offered the Hegemony's powerful military as an ally to the Combine if the Federated Suns were to attack,[14] though Hehiro's decision to join the Star League left him with a reputation as a calm peacemaker. The Director-General of the Terran Hegemony served as First Lord, while the other five members received seats on the Council. While the Star League did enable the Combine to achieve technological parity with their neighbors, it also thrust the DCMS into the Reunification War. From 2577 until 2597, the DCMS fought the Outworlds Alliance and Rim Worlds Republic in a blatant war of conquest. This at least gave the DCMS an outlet for their latent aggression and allowed the people of the Combine to display their martial prowess in a way they had not been able to do during the recent decades of peace.[15]

Hehiro's death in 2591 revealed a problem in the succession: his son Leonard. Leonard was a notorious playboy who was more at home in brothels than at court. His death was another of the mysterious kind, after (in one of his inebriated fits of rage) he swore to invade the Terran Hegemony — having finally had enough of him, others in the Kurita family ordered his assassination in 2605. That year saw two new Coordinators as Leonard's sickly son Blaine took power, but died a few months later. His great-grandmother Siriwan was again inaugurated as Coordinator in October of that year. Siriwan stepped down in 2607 because, at over 100 years of age, she did not have the energy to spar with the court nobles any longer. However, she named her granddaughter Sanethia Coordinator so that she could still rule from behind the scenes until she died in 2632 at the age of 136.[16]

During the Star League years, the DCMS became bored as they had no enemies to fight, so they turned to the Star League Defense Force. MechWarriors of the DCMS and the SLDF fought duels to satisfy Combine aggression. In this vacuum, Sanethia came up with a novel solution. In 2617, she announced that the capital was moving from New Samarkand to a resource-poor and largely agricultural world, Luthien. The state poured its resources into constructing a new capital and the people were happy as this massive spending created an economic boom. Sanethia resigned in 2620 and Urizen II oversaw the construction of the new capital. He resigned in 2691 in favor of his eldest son, Takiro, but Urizen had left the Combine a changed place. No longer was the Draconis Combine a realm of melded cultures and regional identities — Urizen imposed the culture of old feudal Japan upon his people, whether they wanted it or not, and the powers of the Internal Security Force (ISF) were greatly expanded to enforce this imposition. This restrictive society placed greater emphasis on the distinction between noble and commoner and stifled technological innovation, even as Urizen expanded the Combine's industry and made the nation more competitive economically.[17]

Coordinator Minoru Kurita
Main article: Amaris Civil War

First Lord Simon Cameron died in 2751, leaving his eight-year-old son Richard as heir. The Star League Council appointed Star League Defense Force Commanding General Aleksandr Kerensky his regent, though Kerensky was reluctant to use the power of First Lord. Takiro Kurita is credited with convincing his fellow Council members to pass two controversial laws. The first allowed the members to double the size of their militaries (which was really only a formality as most were secretly built up to begin with), while the second raised the taxes on the conquered Territorial States and distributed that wealth to the Member States. Three of the Periphery nations finally revolted in 2765 because of the higher taxes, but the leader of the Rim Worlds Republic, Stefan Amaris, was close to First Lord Richard Cameron and had a different plan in mind. Amaris had befriended Richard as a child and continued this friendship as Richard grew embittered at the bickering Council and the revolting Territorial States. Cameron sent much of the Hegemony Armed Forces to the Periphery to deal with the revolts when Amaris' plan was executed. He loaned troops from the Rim Worlds to garrison the Hegemony and, when his troops outnumbered the Terrans, he seized power in the Hegemony and executed Richard and every other Cameron. At the same time Amaris had secured the Draconis ambassador and Takiro's grandnephew Drago Kurita, along with the rest of the ambassador's family. Takiro died at the age of 121, leaving his son Minoru as Coordinator. Minoru, although by nature aggressive, did not act against Amaris out of concern for the safety of Drago and his family. Instead, Minoru denied Kerensky entry into the Combine during the General's war against Amaris, forcing Kerensky to invade Draconis space in order to access SLDF bases there. Despite Minoru's efforts, however, Drago and his family were killed sometime before Kerensky liberated Terra and executed Stefan and every Amaris he could find.[18]

First Succession War[edit]

The five Council Lords were finally able to reconvene on Terra in 2780. There, they stripped Kerensky of his title as Protector of the Realm and appointed General Jerome Blake Minister of Communications and charged him with rebuilding the damaged HPG grid. The Council Lords did nothing to attempt to come to any kind of an agreement that would have allowed the Star League to live, so, when General Kerensky led eighty percent of the SLDF into exile in 2784, he had also removed any impediment to outright warfare. Minoru Kurita promptly invaded the Lyran Commonwealth in 2785 and declared himself First Lord in 2786. Using a diversion, Minoru was able to drive the Lyrans back — in fact, the Lyrans seemed so weak that Minoru did not even believe them to be worth his time, so he shifted his attention to the Federated Suns.[19][20]

Main article: Kentares Massacre

Coordinator Minoru and his son Jinjiro launched their assault against the Federated Suns in 2787 and gained territory quickly because the Suns had shifted most of their troops to deal with the Capellan Confederation. By 2792, the DCMS had punched through the Draconis March and was assaulting the Crucis March. A successful guerrilla operation threatened the Kurita rear, so Minoru took his own 6th Sword of Light to secure Kentares IV. There, Minoru was assassinated in 2796. Jinjiro secured the world for the Combine, then ordered his troops to "kill them all." It took five months, but DCMS troops massacred ninety percent of the population of Kentares, some fifty-two million individuals. The effect of the Kentares Massacre was to galvanize the Davion troops, while demoralizing the Kurita forces. Indeed, many DCMS troopers who had participated in the massacre committed seppuku rather than face the shame of living. The Davion forces were able to push the Combine back to the prewar border by 2821.[21][22]

The First Succession War saw the Ares Conventions being ignored for the first time on a widespread basis. The war was brutal and savage, as forces on all sides attacked civilian population centers and JumpShips, targeted factories and scientists, and engaged in a level of total war not seen in centuries. The First Succession War was the beginning of mankind's backward slide.[23]

Minnesota Tribe[edit]

Main article: Minnesota Tribe

In the latter part of 2825, a strange military unit using SLDF tactics and bearing the insignia of the former American state of Minnesota attacked the Combine world of Svelvik. The army unit refused to communicate with the Combine militia, stole whatever supplies they wanted from the planet, and left the system. They next attacked Trondheim, where the 20th Rasalhague Regulars were stationed. They defeated the regular unit, again refusing communication, even to the extreme of committing suicide before they could be captured. This scared Jinjiro, because he believed that they could be an advance unit for the return of the Kerensky's troops, so he shifted troops to the Periphery borders of both his Pesht and Rasalhague Military Districts. The army unit, which had now been labeled the "Minnesota Tribe," attacked Jarett, this time using massed aerospace fighters to keep the Combine BattleMechs out of the fight. The Tribe attacked for the last time on the planet Richmond, though it is unclear whether they knew about the jail that housed political prisoners before they freed them. The Tribe loaded the freed prisoners up in their DropShips and left, never overtly making their presence known in the Inner Sphere again.[24]

Second Succession War[edit]

After the end of the First War, Jinjiro nationalized all the heavy industries in the Combine to ensure that the nation was reconstructed in exactly the way he wanted. Jinjiro also formed the People's Reconstruction Effort, led by his half-brother Zabu, who was more an intellectual than a soldier. Arguably the crowning achievement of the PRE was the establishment of the PRE Academy on Dover, which would come to be known as the Dover Institute for Higher Learning. Jinjiro was slowly descending into madness, and would suffer fits of manic rage. Several high-ranking members of court decided to have a doctor quietly examine the Coordinator during one of his bouts of mania — after his loyal ISF provided him the records of the examination, he studied the recordings of his own periods of insanity and determined that even in the grip of madness, he still managed to effectively direct military strategy. Considering that it would be unwise to resign, since the unmilitary Zabu would succeed him, Jinjiro instead decided that he would strengthen the Combine through the only course of action that would not be upset by his affliction. Jinjiro went to war.[25][26]

One of the first actions of the Second Succession War was Jinjiro's use of the so-called Chain Gangs. The DCMS equipped effectively three regiments' worth of misfits, convicts, and Unproductives with BattleMechs, gave them only the most rudimentary training, and dropped them onto neighboring industrial worlds to wreak havoc before immediatly recalling the transport ships, leaving the Unproductives to their fate. Though these were rather costly missions that achieved relatively little, they did have the intended effort of somewhat slowing down reconstruction in the Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns.[27] Meanwhile, ComStar (the quasi-religious order that Jerome Blake founded to manage the HPGs) sensationalised the results of the Chain Gang Missions and fed intelligence to the Commonwealth, which allowed the Lyran Commonwealth Armed Forces to easily outmaneouvre the DCMS. Enraged, Jinjiro ordered a full-scale invasion of both the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns in 2830. The Second Succession War had begun.

Coordinator Yoguchi Kurita

Jinjiro would not live to see the results of the war he started. On February 14, 2837, the mysterious gift of a perfectly angelic doll, dressed in the uniform of a SLDF soldier, arrived at the Imperial Palace. The sight of the doll drove Jinjiro into a berserk mania from which he would not return. Unable to bring him back from his madness, the court confined Jinjiro in a secure mental institution where he eventually hanged himself in 2841 with a noose fashioned from his own clothing. His brother Zabu would rule for a year before being assassinated in 2838, and Zabu was succeeded by his son Yoguchi, who placed the ISF under the command of the DCMS. The ISF, incensed at what they perceived as an insult, began a shadow war that severely hampered Yoguchi's military offensives. While Yoguchi had limited success along the Steiner border, a powerful Davion counterattack threatened the Kurita positions along that border.[28]

At home, Yoguchi made the mistake of appointing his sister Roweena Director of the PRE. She saw how the ISF was disaffected and began a tenuous alliance between the PRE and the ISF against the new Coordinator. Because Roweena allowed the ISF to use PRE channels, she grew to wield a large amount of influence over the intelligence service, becoming something like its de facto leader. Before long, Roweena had effectively taken control of the Combine by virtue of her position as leader of the PRE and her influence with the ISF.

Despite this, she organized a rescue effort when it became clear that Yoguchi was trapped, not dead, on Tishomingo. Yoguchi had decided to lead the defense of the planet himself, but the force he led was vastly outnumbered by the invading Davion troops. After being extracted from Tishomingo, the Coordinator returned to the capital — Yoguchi did not live to see Luthien for long, as he was assassinated by a mysterious Lyran Intelligence Corps agent known only as Snow Fire, who had been undercover and became Yoguchi's favorite concubine. Yoguchi was succeeded by his brother Miyogi, who swore vengeance against the Steiner family over his brother's death — he ordered a strike against the BattleMech facilities on Hesperus II, destroying them along with two veteran 'Mech regiments and the Lyran WarShip LCS Invincible, at the cost of fifty percent casualties and some of the Combine's last remaining WarShips.[29]

Miyogi launched more limited assaults than his predecessors had, leading to more limited gains. The Combine did manage to score a major victory with the capture of Robinson, the capital of the Federated Suns' Draconis March in 2858.[30] Largely because of equipment breakdowns and a lack of spare parts with which to effect repairs, Coordinator Miyogi called for a halt to all offensives in 2862.[31]

The Second Succession War had seen more of the First war's brutality, as civilian targets were fair game and the Inner Sphere found it increasingly difficult to maintain their technology base in the face of the massive destruction caused by the fighting. WarShips became the rarest of Lostech, the vast majority having been destroyed by the end of the Second Succession War. The Successor States now had to face the fact that ComStar was the only power that still knew how to use HPGs, thus all interstellar messages had to be passed through the Order, including military orders.[32]

The Shadow War[edit]

With the cessation of open warfare, Miyogi turned his attention to Roweena and the PRE. His aunt had gained much power and influence — especially with the common people — and her popularity threatened Miyogi. He directed a group of ISF agents known to be loyal to him, led by the metsuke Rajiv Sulevani, to investigate her activities. Sulevani and the loyalists began a campaign of assassinations to purge the ISF of elements who had cast their lot with Roweena. These killings and the counterattacks escalated into a hidden war within the ISF between those elements loyal to the Coordinator and those allied with Roweena and the PRE.

The DCMS attempted to remain neutral, but when it began to look like foreign powers were gearing up to take advantage of the situation, the DCMS High Command decided to pick a side. After an impassioned speech in favor of the Coordinator to the generals of the High Command by the young officer Taragi Kurita, the High Command swiftly intervened and the DCMS defeated the PRE. Miyogi, secure in his power, dissolved the PRE and placed Roweena under house arrest.[33]

Third Succession War[edit]

The Third Succession War saw an informal return to the Ares Conventions as the Successor States collectively realized that they were soon on the brink of being unable to fight their interstellar war for dominance, such was the technological regression caused by the loss of so much LosTech during the First and Second Succession Wars. JumpShips and cities were again off limits, factories were fought over instead of destroyed, and raiding took the place of assaults. Losing defenders did not destroy their charges — instead they had to console themselves with the hope that their side would retake their lost territory in the future. Ironically, the return to the Ares Conventions ritualized warfare in a sense, devaluing it of its horrific connotations. This led to the idea, much as it had during the Age of War, that war was an acceptable method of political expression. This low-level war dragged on for over a hundred years and whole generations were born and died believing that a constant state of war was the natural order of humankind.[32]

The Third War began when Miyogi and Taragi (who had been promoted and was now Miyogi's trusted advisor) decided to punish the Lyrans for their suspected involvement in the struggle between Miyogi and Roweena. They targeted the industrial worlds of the Isle of Skye in 2866 and found great success. This success was marred by the successful advance of House Davion against the Combine's rimward border. Davion troops constantly pushed the Kurita defenders back, thanks in part to Taragi's manipulation of supply routes to make his own victories look even better. Miyogi appointed his son Jon to head the Davion front, an act that deeply insulted Taragi, who had been carefully manipulating the situation to ensure that the position would go to him. He then approached Roweena Kurita, who was still under house arrest, to secure her aid in usurping the position of Coordinator. She offered the help of a few ISF agents that remained loyal to her. Using them and his own abilities, Taragi ensured that the Suns reclaimed Robinson in 2879, a move that embarrassed Jon and, by extension, Miyogi. When the military called for Jon's removal, Miyogi balked. Unwilling to endure the dishonor of defeat, a member of the unit that defended Robinson executed a suicide bombing of Miyogi's open court, killing the Coordinator. Taragi and Roweena arranged for a show trial that implicated Jon in his father's death, leading to his execution a week later. Taragi then succeeded Miyogi as Coordinator.[34]

Taragi's only real military achievement was an unsuccessful assault against Skye, although one great success of his reign was the defeat of the plague of Albiero Consumption (the disease that would soon be engineered into the biological weapon known as the Curse of Galedon) that struck the Albiero and Rjarred Prefectures in 2903. Taragi chose to actively combat the disease, directing relief efforts until a vaccine was synthesised, when he might easily have simply placed the prefectures under quarantine and let the disease burn itself out among the populace. He died in 2907 of complications from heart surgery, leaving his son Shinjiro to succeed him. Shinjiro had been an object of major concern for Taragi, as the former Coordinator believed his son to be politcally naïve and unsuited to lead the Combine. However, Shinjiro proved himself to be an able Coordinator, defeating the "Bandit King" that had been conducting major piracy on the Combine's Periphery borders.

Meanwhile, the Third Succession War raged on. The DCMS, although having lost the chance to take Skye, was camped within striking distance of Tamar. The Combine attacked Tamar, but found themselves unable to take and hold the planet from a reinforced and seemingly better-trained LCAF, and so the DCMS abandoned the Tamar in 2916.[35]

The suddenly stiff Lyran resistance forced the DCMS to devote more resources to that front, leaving the Davion front less secure and even inviting further raids from bandit kings along the edges of the Periphery. Sensing that the stretched resources of the military might require the ISF to take a more active role in the defense of the Combine, Coordinator Shinjiro travelled to New Samarkand to repair relations with the intelligence agency, easing their concerns by granting the Director of the ISF a permanent seat at the High Command. In 2925 Shinjiro died, leaving his son Hugai as the Coordinator.[36]

Early in Hugai's reign, the Federated Suns invaded the important strategic world of Xhosa VII, seeking to take its rich mineral and chemical reserves from the Combine. Defending the planet with two regiments of the Galedon Regulars as well as other assets, Sho-sho Samson Sakamoto mounted a spirited defense but was overcome by the relentless Davion assault. Sakamoto, who had been Coordinator Hugai's commanding officer during Hugai's militay career and whom the Coordinator thought of most fondly as almost a father figure, was killed in action in late 2929 while defending Xhosa VII, although the AFFS would eventually conquer the world by 2930.

2931 saw the beginning of an odd international incident play out. Coordinator Hugai's oldest sister Necess, who was an intellectual and traveled to other states researching medicine, joined ComStar. A Kurita had never before joined the Order, and Hugai was determined not to let his sister be the first. He discovered that she was working at a hospice on Luthien as an apprentice to ComStar and sent a team of ISF agents to return her to Imperial City, killing two ROM agents in the process. It was only with the threat of a full communications interdiction and a targeted strike against Unity Palace from The Bandersnatches, a heavy BattleMech mercenary batallion that ComStar had smuggled onto Luthien, that Hugai agreed to release Necess.[37]

The loss of both Hugai's mentor and his sister threw him into fits of melancholy and he withdrew from participation in the governing of the Combine in 2953, crippling the ability of the military with severe logistical issues. He died in 2963, leaving his son Hohiro to succeed him. Hohiro, an imposing and bellicose man, attempted to strengthen his grip on the nation through an ambitious programme of reforms known as the "Dragon Renewals", which would remove funding for all types of welfare services that existed for nonmilitary personnel and repurpose the funding for the Arm of the Dragon. Unfortunately for Hihiro, his efforts were rebuffed at almost every turn. ComStar opposed his attempts to close down their clinics, the ISF audaciously demonstrated when he attempted to renegotiate Coordinator Shinjiro's agreement with them, and the masses rose up when he attempted to make Japanese the only language that could be spoken legally. His largest failure came when he tried to seize power from merchants and industrialists. They closed down as many factories as they could, forcing Hohiro to back down. Hohiro's reign became increasingly tyrannical, even by Kuritan standards, and he was reviled as the most cruel and merciless Coordinator that the Combine had seen in many years — it was perhaps not much of a surprise when he was assassinated by a member of his own household guard, the Otomo, in 3004 (two years after the death of his youngest son, Miyamoto). Hohiro's killer, Kashira Ingmar Sterenson, proclaimed that his cause was that of Rasalhague independence rather than anything directed at the Coordinator specifically — regardless, Hohiro's beloved eldest son Takashi, who had been the commander of the Otomo at the time, had Sterenson shot and his body displayed on a tree in the palace gardens.[38]

Coordinator Takashi Kurita

Coordinator Takashi Kurita quickly set about reversing many of the ultrarepressive edicts his father had passed, though he proved just as ruthless when silencing opposition to his rule as his father had been. Takashi devoted more resources to the Davion front than many of his predecessors had, leading to the reclamation of worlds that had been under Davion control. When Lyran Archon Katrina Steiner circulated her now-famous peace proposal to her counterparts in 3020, Takashi flatly refused the offer, but he became concerned when Hanse Davion reacted affirmatively, leading to an alliance between the Combine's two neighboring Great Houses.[39] In response, Takashi sent a delegation to both Chancellor Maximilian Liao of the Capellan Confederation and Captain-General Janos Marik of the Free Worlds League to forge a counteralliance between them. Negotiations almost derailed when the Chancellor and Captain-General each discovered that the other was present, but with the aid of ISF Director Subhash Indrahar the three nations forged the Concord of Kapteyn, a loose alliance between Houses Kurita, Liao, and Marik, in 3024.[40][41] Despite the existence of the Concord, however, the three states never managed to achieve much more than limited military cooperation.[42] There was never an official end to the Third Succession War, so much as it simply bogged down to the point that all five Great Houses stopped launching attacks, though local treaties also helped slow the momentum of the war. The war's official ending year is considered to be 3025.[43]

Of particular historical note is Takashi's peculiar friendship with Hanse Davion, despite their respective positions as heads of warring states. Having familiarised himself with the ISF's reports on the First Prince, Takashi grew to admire Hanse's military career and the two began a peculiar rapport. When Hanse's father Andrew Davion died in 2999, Takashi took the unprecedented and radical step of sending a personal note of condolence to Hanse. In return, when Takashi's wife Jasmine fell seriously ill in 3019, Hanse sent a message to Takashi expressing his sincere wish that she would recover, despite the Third Succession War pitting the Combine and Suns against each other.[44] Takashi was even reported to have smiled with grim admiration when Hanse and his soldiers fought their way out of capture by the Second Sword of Light on Halstead Station in 3014.[45]

Wolf vs. Dragon[edit]

In 3023, the Draconis Combine employed the legendary mercenary company Wolf's Dragoons. Prior to 3022 the Dragoons had been employed by House Steiner against the Combine, dealing the DCMS two convincing defeats at New Wessex and Dromini VI.[46] It was during the fighting over the latter that Jaime Wolf met Tai-i Minobu Tetsuhara of the 2nd Sword of Light, who in observation of bushido allowed Wolf to leave the battlefield alive as Wolf's Archer stood alone and crippled against Tetsuhara's lance.[47]

Now free of Steiner, the Dragoons and their families relocated to the Combine while the Lyran Commonwealth and Federated Suns together took six systems from the Combine. Coordinator Takashi desired revenge, and with Wolf's Dragoons now available he directed the Professional Soldiery Liaison (PSL) to hire them. The Dragoons accepted the contract and established a new home base on the planet of An Ting, and were placed under the command of Grieg Samsonov, the Warlord of the Galedon Military District. Initially, the Dragoons were deployed to fight the Federated Suns' Draconis March Militia and their own hired guns, the prestigious Eridani Light Horse. The Dragoons and DCMS fought both Davion units to a standstill on the planet Hoff, destroying an important Federated Suns research base in the process.[48] After this success, the Dragoons were deployed to raid the manufacturing bases on Quentin IV. During the fighting, Minobu Tetsuhara — since demoted to the PSL for his sparing of Jaime Wolf while the Dragoons were employed by the Lyran Commonwealth — saved Jaime Wolf's life a second time, holding off Davion forces in a hand-me-down BattleMech until both could be extracted. This would begin a strong bond of friendship between Wolf and Tetsuhara, a bond which would be sorely tested in battles to come.[49]

The Dragoons earnt the true ire of Grieg Samsonov after both they and the Coordinator himself refused to place the Dragoons under his direct control, which would prove to be the start of a severe deterioration of relations between the Dragoons and the DCMS.[50] Relations took a turn for the worse after the disastrous Galtor campaign, which cost both the DCMS and Dragoons dearly. Chafing under Samsonov's command by 3026, the Dragoons decided they would leave Combine employ when their five-year contract expired. Wary of the mercenaries exercising their escape clause as they had done to leave Steiner service, Takashi authorised the creaton of the Ryuken, a DCMS regiment trained in the Dragoons' tactics by the Dragoons themselves.[51] Minobu Tetsuhara was made their commander, and the Ryuken project would prove so successful that their ranks would swell to five regiments in size by 3028.

Meanwhile relations soured even further with the DCMS persistently setting logistical challenges in the way of the Dragoons, preventing them from receiving supplies and equipment even while the Ryuken were well provisioned. Matters intensified further when a mysterious explosion injured Tetsuhara, putting him out of action — deprived of their only friend in the DCMS, the Dragoons found themselves facing ever more dangerous missions while also seemingly enduring a smear campaign from Grieg Samsonov. When the Dragoons were forced to launch an unauthorised raid on the Federated Suns to obtain badly needed supplies, Wolf was summoned to Luthien where Samsonov accused him of treason and breach of contract, but rather than punishing the Dragoons the Coordinator simply offered them a new contract.[52]

Samsonov's revenge finally arrived when a group of Kuritan terrorists destroyed the Haephestus, the Dragoons' orbital space station. The DCMS took advantage of the situation and attacked the Dragoons' base on An Ting, but the enraged Dragoons drove them back. While the Dragoons' civilian dependents fled to the Federated Suns, Jaime Wolf challenged the DCMS to a contest of skill on the planet of Misery.[53]

Samsonov dispatched the Ryuken to Misery, 'promoting' Tetsuhara to Tai-sho in charge of all five Ryuken regiments and giving him explicit orders to annihilate Wolf's Dragoons.[54] The Battle of Misery began as a series of honor duels, which proceeded with due formality until the Dragoons suddenly broke etiquette and fired on a duelling Ryuken 'Mech before fleeing. The enraged Ryuken charged forwards in pursuit but were led into a trap, and only the timely arrival of reinforcements from the Sword of Light and Galedon Regulars prevented a total disaster for the DCMS. What followed was several weeks of skirmishing before the Dragoons finally brought the DCMS forces to battle on May 20 and destroyed them in detail.[55]

Tetsuhara was captured by the Dragoons, and Wolf allowed him to commit seppuku to atone for the dishonour of failing to destroy Wolf's Dragoons as he was ordered to do. Wolf even acted as his second, shooting Tetsuhara in the head with a laser pistol before he showed any sign of pain.[56]

Furious at the death of his friend as well as the tremendous losses inflicted on the Dragoons at Misery, Wolf arrived in person at the wedding of Hanse Davion and Melissa Steiner, where Coordinator Takashi would be present. Wolf confronted the Coordinator and threw Tetsuhara's swords to Takashi's feet, before he publicly chastised the Coordinator for wasting Tetsuhara's life, and swore revenge against the Combine. Unaware until this moment of the full extent of Grieg Samsonov's machinations against the Dragoons,[57] Takashi swiftly ordered Samsonov's execution before beginning to plan his retaliation against the Dragoons for the dishonour they had showed him.[58] This wedding would prove to be the start of the Fourth Succession War, during which the Draconis Combine and Wolf's Dragoons would clash many further times.[59]

Fourth Succession War[edit]

Main article: Fourth Succession War

While the Kurita leadership knew that a Steiner-Davion alliance was forthcoming, they had no idea of its scope. The FedCom Accords that had signed by Archon Katrina Steiner and First Prince Hanse Davion in 3022 included a secret provision that called for the betrothal of Archon-Designate Melissa Steiner to First Prince Hanse. Thus, their firstborn child would become the ruler of both the Lyran Commonwealth and the Federated Suns. Preparations for the war began in 3026, when the two nations held joint war games in the Terran Corridor. Their opponents, including the Combine, became used to observing large troop movements. When all of the leaders of the Inner Sphere and their aides met on Terra for the historic wedding, Prince Davion launched a sneak attack against the Capellan Confederation, touching off the Fourth Succession War.

House Kurita was caught unawares when House Steiner stirred up and armed Rasalhague secessionists, a group that had caused little trouble since the 26th century. Most Rasalhagians from the Combine, like Haakon Magnusson, were trying to attain their independence peacefully, while the Lyran Rasalhagians decided that it was time to fight. Led by Christian Månsdottir, the commander of the First Tyr BattleMech Regiment, these Rasalhague patriots sought to force the Combine to recognize their realm's independence. The Lyrans used these forces to liberate world after world in the Rasalhague Military District.

At the same time, Hanse Davion contracted Jaime Wolf and Wolf's Dragoons to tie up his Combine front. With most of the AFFS fighting the Capellans, Davion's border with the Combine was woefully underdefended. Luckily for Hanse, Jaime had insulted Takashi during the wedding reception by challenging him face-to-face over the fate of Minobu Tetsuhara, going to so far as to hurl Tetsuhara's daishō at the Coordinator's feet. The Dragoons requested a posting on the Combine front, which Hanse was only too happy to grant them. Meanwhile, the full extent of Takashi's mental instability became apparent — ever since the wedding, the Coordinator had become violently obsessed with Wolf's Dragoons, as he hurled unit after unit at them, most of which the mercenaries chewed up and spat back out.[60] Despite the Dragoons' tenacity, the DCMS was able to make inroads into the Draconis March, capturing the so-called Galtor Thumb[61] — something they had failed to do before in 3025 with the Dragoons as their allies.

Coordinator Theodore Kurita

That success was marred by the Combine's losses on the Lyran front. Takashi's obsession with destroying Wolf's Dragoons led him to dedicate large portions of the DCMS to the Davion front in an effort to annihilate the tenacious mercanaries, which left the Lyran border dangerously undermanned. The Lyrans quickly took advantage, securing over twenty systems. At some point Takeshi suffered a stroke that severely impacted his cognitive abilities, and he was compelled to undergo surgery to reverse some of the damage by his cousin Constance Kurita, the Keeper of the Family Honor.[60]

The one bright spot on the Lyran front was Takashi's son Theodore. Theodore had in the past advocated a reform of the DCMS' warrior code of bushido that included the embrace of combined-arms warfare and a greater emphasis on tactical flexibility. Many diehard samurai rejected these ideas, and the disagreement created a rift between father and son that had seen Theodore posted to the scorned Legions of Vega, a sinkhole for the DCMS' misfits and malcontents, in 3024. Theodore took to reforming the regiments immediately, and they displayed remarkable skill during the Fourth Succession War.[62] After Takashi's stroke and withdrawal from military matters, Theodore assumed command and ably directed counterattacks against the LCAF. Theodore's shining moment was when his forces were able to defeat the 10th Lyran Guard and capture its commanding officer, Frederick Steiner. Other DCMS forces struck out at Skye, retaking worlds that put them one jump from the important regional capital. With the LCAF unable to retake those worlds and unwilling to press an offensive that would further jeopardize Skye, the Lyran invasion ground to a halt thanks to Theodore's open-minded strategic thinking.

Hanse Davion officially called for an end to the 4th War in 3030, decreeing that the war had met its objectives, but the ramifications of the war did not stop there for the Draconis Combine.[63] It was a matter of public record that Theodore Kurita had essentially managed the Lyran front himself while the Warlords of Dieron, Rasalhague, and Benjamin failed. While Takashi did not want to, he had to acknowledge that Theodore was becoming very popular, so he resurrected the title of Gunji-no-Kanrei (Deputy for Military Affairs) for him. Theodore leaped at the chance to reform the DCMS in his image, much as he had done with the Legions of Vega. Takashi disbanded the Genyosha and Ryuken in an attempt to undermine Theodore's power, but doing so only disseminated Theodore's ideas more quickly throughout the units those soldiers joined. Theodore reconstituted the two regiments by 3039, but the philosophy of the new Gunji-no-Kanrei had already been spread throughout the DCMS.[64] In addition, Theodore contacted those within the most despised of Unproductives, the criminal yakuza, who would help him reform the Arm of the Dragon. Acknowledging the yakuza and their role in society won Theodore their sincere support.[65] Beginning in 3033, the DCMS fielded BattleMech regiments comprised wholly of yakuza members. These regiments became known as the "Ghost Regiments", since they did not officially exist.[66][67]

Nor was Theodore without political allies. As well as his contacts in the yakuza, Theodore enjoyed the support of both ISF Director Indrahar and Constance Kurita, who in addition to her governmental position of Keeper of the Family Honor was also the Abbess of the Order of the Five Pillars, the secret society that had been initially established to secretly control the ivory trade but had since mutated into its own intelligence network. The support of Indrahar and Constance no doubt helped conceal the fact that Theodore had married in secret, for love, O5P agent Tomoe Sakade in 3019. The marriage was not revealed to Takashi until 3033 after Tomoe had already given Theodore two children, Hohiro and Omiko.[68] A tenuous balance of political power now existed between Takashi and Theodore, with Takashi holding the support of the older, more traditional DCMS officers while Theodore enjoyed the support of his new crop of reformist DCMS staff, his allies in the intelligence services, and his devoted followers among the yakuza. The remainder held their judgement, waiting to see which way the scales would tip. [69]

Rasalhague secession and the Ronin War[edit]

Further compounding the political issues facing the Combine, the Duke of Tamar, Selvin Kelswa, decided that the Rasalhagian people of the Lyran Commonwealth would not be given their independence because many of their worlds, including Rasalhague, were still a part of the Combine. This angered many Rasalhagians, who began to see the Lyrans as oppressors, just as the Kuritans had been in the past. Into this void stepped Theodore Kurita and ComStar Primus Myndo Waterly. They negotiated a deal with Haakon Magnusson that granted the Rasalahagian territories within the Combine their independence. ComStar saw this as a chance to gain influence by breaking up the large Successor States, so they gave the DCMS incentives in the form of BattleMechs that incorporated Star League-era technology.[70] By this action, Theodore shamed the Lyrans into giving up the dozens of worlds they had conquered from the Combine to the nascent Free Rasalhague Republic. The creation of the FRR also created a large buffer state between the Combine and the Commonwealth, though this action was not without its own consequences.

Haakon Magnusson's surprise announcement of the success of his negotiations propelled him to election as the first Elected Prince of the Free Rasalhague Republic in 3034. The Warlord of Rasalhague was assassinated before he could cause any problems, but the Warlords of neighboring Dieron and Pesht used their forces to try to make the Republic stay, against the wishes of the Coordinator and Kanrei. Theodore branded them ronin, then swiftly intervened with units loyal to him, destroying or disarming many elements within the DCMS that were obviously disloyal, such as the Altenmarkt Militia and Rasalhague Regulars. The Ronin War was quick, but it also impressed the now-independent Rasalhagians that the Draconis Combine would still fight for them.[70] With the loss of the Rasalhague Military District, Takashi used portions of others to create the Alshain Military District, a narrow strip of worlds that bordered the FRR and existed more to keep the balance within the DCMS High Command than for any other reason.[71]

War of 3039[edit]

Main article: War of 3039

In 3039, Archon Melissa Steiner and Prince Hanse Davion decided to launch the assault the Inner Sphere was waiting for: the invasion of the Draconis Combine. The differences between the Combine in 3039 and the Capellans in 3028 were legion, however. The Allies' initial attack was delayed by a secessionist uprising in Skye in 3034, which gave the Combine crucial time to prepare.[72] Before and during this time, the Combine had repaired its relationship with ComStar, who did not wish to see the nascent Federated Commonwealth grow to conquer the entire Inner Sphere.[73]

The war began on the 16th of April, 3039 after Hanse Davion publicly denounced Kuritan repression of pro-FedCom protests on worlds captured from the Commonwealth during the Fourth Succession War. The initial phases of the war went very well for the Allies, as they first struck into the Dieron District and later Galedon and Benjamin. The FedCom swiftly took several worlds including An Ting, Vega and Altais. The sheer scale of the invasions and the ferocity of the Allied forces initially overwhelmed DCMS resistance. Rivalries flared up between frontline and garrison DCMS units, interfering with coordination, as did the disagreements between command staff loyal to Coordinator Takashi's old-shool doctrine and those that embraced Theodore's reforms. Further attacks into Dieron, Galedon and Benjamin went similarly well for the FedCom, and by the end of May the Allies had conquered no less than thirty planets.[74] The only real issued for the AFFS and LCAF proved to be their communication difficulties, as Hanse had begun to suspect that ComStar had sided with the Combine and refused to transmit sensitive information via HPG, instead relying on the Allies own inefficient 'Black Box' communications network.[75]

Gunji-no-Kanrei Theodore made maintaining command and control his priority while attempting to blunt the invasion as well as he could, making extensive use of his new Ghost regiments. An attempted counterattack against Caph by two regiments of the Ryuken ironically set them against Wolf's Dragoons, who were still not back to full strength after Misery and the Fourth Succession War. The fighting on Caph proved to be cathartic for both sides, with far fewer casualties than had been inflicted on Misery, and finally allowed Wolf and his forces to lay the past to rest.[76]

The Second Wave of the war went much better for House Kurita — a wave of counterattacks before the FedCom forces could mobilise for the second wave caught the Allies unprepared. ISF-sponsored uprisings on previously conquered worlds depleted the Allied garrison forces, while Theodore ordered a series of daring hit and run strikes against recently conquered worlds, giving the impression that a vast DCMS counterattack was underway. In reality this was a bluff, and Theodore was gambling that forcing the stretched-thin DCMS into counterattacking would fool the Allied commanders into thinking that the Combine had somehow, suddenly, replenished its military strength. The audacious Operation OROCHI, a DCMS counterinvasion of the FedCom, confronted the Allied command with the possibility that the Arm of the Dragon was renewed and ready to take its revenge. Confounded by guerilla war on captured territory, DCMS counterattacks across the front line and now a counterinvasion of their own territory, Hanse Davion issued the recall order on 5 October, directing all FedCom forces to return to their own territory.[77]

A surgical strike by the DEST severely injured Lyran general Nondi Steiner, taking her out of the fight. In her place, Hauptmann General Kathleen Heany took command and her preferred simple, frontal-assault tactics were easily countered by Theodore's reformed DCMS, putting the LCAF's participation in the war in extreme danger.[78]

From this point on the tide of war began to turn in favour of the Combine, as the uncoordinated and demoralised FedCom forces were little by little overtaken by the DCMS' new advance as the FedCom recall order forced the Allies to retreat. Furthermore the Free Worlds League and Capellan Confederation began to attack underdefended FedCom worlds, forcing Allied troops to redeploy.[79][80]

Hostilities died down by December of 3039, with the Exeter Accords being formally signed on 19 Jan 3140. Overall the war had little effect on national borders — the Combine had taken Fomalhaut, Saffel and Quentin but lost Murchison, Markab, Skat and McComb. Notably, the war saw the use of LosTech on both sides after the discovery of the Helm Memory Core, and the DCMS brought new 'Mechs to the fight such as the Hatamoto-Chi and Charger CGR-1A9. ComStar also provided the DCMS with extra equipment, including LosTech designs.[81] Hanse Davion was surprised at the advanced technology BattleMechs the DCMS was fielding, as well as the strength the DCMS must have had to launch a counterattack, which contributed to his decision to end the War of 3039. It would be eleven years before he would find out that he fell for Theodore's bluff.

Politically speaking, the victory of 3039 restored a sense of honor to the Combine after the losses of the Fourth Succession War. Moreover, Theodore's rescue of the Combine's military situation with Operation OROCHI greatly improved his strained relationship with his father, and the public image of the Coordinator and Kanrei working together to control the state and the military gave the Combine a much-needed boost to morale.[82]

Clan Invasion[edit]

The Inner Sphere continued on more or less peacefully until 3049, when rumors of a large force invading the coreward Periphery made themselves known and pirate activity in the region suddenly and dramatically declined.[83] In 3050, the Clans crashed into the Lyran half of the Federated Commonwealth, the Free Rasalhague Republic, and the Draconis Combine in what was simply termed the Clan Invasion. The Clans were alien in their ways, and they fielded 'Mechs vastly more powerful than anything the Inner Sphere had, even at its height. They also fielded battle armor, a technology that was unknown to the denizens of the Inner Sphere. It was believed that one of the earliest casualties was Kanrei Theodore's son Hohiro Kurita. Hohiro was, in fact, captured and held on Turtle Bay which was under the control of Clan Smoke Jaguar after the initial battle. With the help of Shin Yodama, a local yakuza and later DCMS officer, Hohiro escaped — though the Smoke Jaguars razed the city of Edo in response.[84][85]

As Clans Smoke Jaguar and Ghost Bear continued their advance through the Combine, Theodore hit upon a plan to slow their advance. He placed Hohiro at the head of the 1st Genyosha, which he renamed the Yuutsu so that he could honorably forward the "new" unit's blank history to the Smoke Jaguar leader. Using his experience of Clan culture and his knowledge of their system of honor, Hohiro convinced the leader of the invasion of Wolcott to give him ClanTech OmniMechs and battle armor as isorla, as well as a promise that the world would never be invaded again, if the Combine won. Believing he was facing a new unit, the Jaguar commander committed little to the assault, and the Battle of Wolcott began. The DCMS forces had already planned an elaborate series of traps in a swamp that negated the Clan Warriors' range advantage, and Hohiro's deception ensured that for once the Clan forces were outgunned. With the Combine victory, they gained valuable pieces of equipment to study for the purposes of retroengineering, as well as a secure forward base.[86] Despite this one victory and a few other scattered examples across the Inner Sphere, it took the ultimate sacrifice of Rasalahagian pilot Tyra Miraborg to bring a temporary respite to the invasion after her suicidal attack on the invasion fleet's flagship killed ilKhan Leo Showers, forcing the rest of the Clan leadership back to their homeworld of Strana Mechty to elect a new warleader.[84][87]

In 3051, the leaders and scions of the Inner Sphere traveled to Outreach at the request of Jaime Wolf. Despite the fact that Takashi had issued his infamous "Death to Mercenaries" order that included Wolf's Dragoons, the Coordinator allowed Theodore and his children to attend the summit. Here, Wolf revealed that the Dragoons were actually a reconnaissance force sent by the Clan leaders to determine whether or not to invade the Inner Sphere, but that they had decided to defend the Successor States and never to return to the Clan homeworlds. Theodore and Hanse came to agree upon a truce that freed up many of both states' best units to be used against the Clans. Hanse and Melissa's eldest son Victor and Theodore's daughter Omiko quickly started a secret romantic relationship, much to Hohiro's dismay. For his part, Hohiro placed second out of the noble scions in a Clan-style Trial of Position, which Jaime rewarded by gifting him a powerful Daishi OmniMech.[88]

Main article: Battle of Luthien

When the invasion resumed in 3052, the DCMS was more prepared to deal with the attack, but they also found that the new ilKhan Ulric Kerensky had added Clan Nova Cat to help the Smoke Jaguars in their invasion corridor through the Combine. Together, these two Clans attacked Luthien. Theodore alerted Hanse to the coming battle, who responded by ordering the Kell Hounds and Wolf's Dragoons to help, even though both mercenary units were under a death sentence for entering the Combine. Along with the mercenaries, fourteen DCMS regiments (including Takashi himself and his personal guard, the Dragon's Claws) helped to hold the line against the Clans, decisively destroying the Smoke Jaguar and Nova Cat forces after two days.[89] The victory prompted Takashi to rescind his "Death to Mercenaries" order, and the additional fact that Takashi was no longer suffering from brain clots also helped to further reconcile his with his son, as both traditional samurai and warriors born out of Theodore's reforms had helped to save the Black Pearl of Luthien.

Main article: Battle of Tukayyid

In May of 3052, ComStar fought a proxy battle for Terra on the Rasalahagian world of Tukayyid. ComStar's great victory in this battle secured a 15-year truce, during which time the Clans could not advance beyond Tukayyid. This left many Combine worlds, including Luthien, vulnerable to attack, but the massive losses inflicted at Tukayyid combined with the pause in the Clans' invasion allowed the Combine to take a breather.[90][91]

The Combine suffered little from the abortive Operation SCORPION, a failed attempt by ComStar Primus Myndo Waterly to take control of both the Successor States and Clans.[92] (After Operation SCORPION, ComStar would split into a new, secularised order bearing the name 'ComStar', and a rival organisation that retained the religious trappings that became known as the Word of Blake.) With fifteen years of peace guaranteed by the Truce of Tukayyid, the Combine looked to rebuild and refit its exhausted military using salvage from Luthien.[93]

Phoenix Rising[edit]

by 3052 it was apparent that the Clan Invasion had inflicted massive losses on the DCMS. Many regiments were total losses and many more were badly damaged — nearly a third of the DCMS' regiments had been rendered combat innefective.[94] Except for a few worlds, the entire Alshain District had been conquered by Clans Ghost Bear and Smoke Jaguar, prompting Takashi to fold those worlds into other districts, but leaving the Alshain leadership intact and labeled them "in exile." In 3054 Takashi Kurita died — the circumstances of his death are unclear, as the official position is that the elderly Coordinator died peacefully in his sleep in on Luthien, although unsubstantiated rumors would persist that he had committed seppuku or had been assassinated, possibly by an agent of Jaime Wolf.[95][96][97] After his father's death, Theodore became Coordinator and immediately began a crash program to rebuild the Combine's shattered military.

Having set a precedent for recruiting from unorthodox sources (such as women and the yakuza) with his Ghost Regiments, Theodore also began to rebuild the gutted forces of the DCMS. Many units had been transferred to the Clan border, but the Federated Commonwealth remained an ever-present threat and Hanse Davion's goodwill could not be relied upon forever to secure the Combine's anti-spinward border. Theodore dubbed his new course of military reforms the 'Phoenix Programs', and these programs included full adoption of ClanTech and the diverting of resources to non-'Mech branches such as aerospace, conventional armor and infantry (both standard infantry and those equipped with battle armor).[98] Theodore also focused on reducing the power of the district Warlords in favor of cultivating good relations with their subordinate generals and subcommanders, both to curb the power and ambition of the Warlords and encourage among district units a greater sense of loyalty to Coordinator and Combine rather than to their District or Warlord.[99] The Combine mostly stayed out of the chaos that was erupting in the Federated Commonwealth in 3057, instead remaining focused instead on the threat the Clans still posed — however, some DCMS units were posted in the Lyons Thumb as peacekeepers under ComStar's aegis.[100] Also in 3057, Theodore's son Hohiro took a wife, marrying Fiona Kurita (previously of a prominent Luthien business family). The marriage was kept secret for a long time, and would not be publicly revealed for over twenty years, by which time Fiona would have already given Hohiro two sons.[101]

All was not well within the Combine, however. Dissatisfaction with the current regime led to the emergence of the Kokuryu-kai, also known as the Black Dragon Society, a widespread conspiracy against Theodore and his new reforms — particularly his policy of détente with House Kurita's traditional rival, House Davion, as well as his promotion of the "new bushido" that included the use of new tactics. This organization's influence made itself felt when they launched an unauthorized invasion of the Federated Commonwealth's Towne system. Thanks in large part to Camacho's Caballeros, a mercenary unit under contract to Chandrasekhar Kurita of Tanadi Computers, the invasion was foiled. The Kokuryu-kai made their widespread presence known again in 3058 when members of the Otomo, the Coordinator's bodyguard, attempted to assassinate Theodore at his birthday celebration. Again, Camacho's Caballeros stepped forward to stop the plot alongside the Tenth Ghost Regiment, saving Theodore in the process.[102][103]

3058 also saw the historic Whitting Conference wherein the Second Star League was formed, with the stated goal of eliminating the threat the Clans posed to the Inner Sphere.[104] They began this process with the annihilation of the brutal Clan Smoke Jaguar. An alliance of Star League member states sent military forces to Jaguar-occupied territory in the Draconis Combine to assault the Clan and force it out of the Inner Sphere, an offensive codenamed Operation BULLDOG. The Combine was greatly helped in Operation BULLDOG by its former enemy of Clan Nova Cat, whose mystic visions had convinced them to submit to the Combine and become a part of the budding new Star League Defense Force. At the same time, a secret force called Task Force Serpent left Defiance to travel to the Jaguar capital world of Huntress to defeat them there. Meanwhile, the DCMS provided the single largest contingent to BULLDOG. The assault, which was led by Anastasius Focht and Victor Steiner-Davion, succeeded beyond anything the Star League could have hoped for and the Jaguars were routed from the Inner Sphere. It was quickly realized, however, that these Jaguar forces would return home to find Task Force Serpent, so Victor assembled an elite force and swiftly journeyed to Huntress to aid them — his elite force included Hohiro Kurita and the 1st Genyosha.[105] While Theodore worked to reintegrate the conquered worlds, Hohiro and his Genyosha unit destroyed their opponents on Huntress, then traveled to Strana Mechty and defeated the Clan Blood Spirit contingent in a great Trial of Refusal against the Clan Invasion in 3060. With the Clans and the Star League officially at peace and the Dragon regaining its strength, the citizens of the Combine believed they could relax. This sentiment was only reinforced when Theodore was elected First Lord during the 3061 Whitting Conference.[106]

A Thousand Cuts[edit]

3062 saw the first in a multitude of conflicts that slowly bled the Combine. In that year, the Kokuryu-kai again flexed its muscle and convinced the four remaining regiments of the Alshain Regulars (renamed the Alshain Avengers) to launch an unprovoked attack on Alshain itself. What they did not know was that Alshain had become the new capital of Clan Ghost Bear, which had relocated almost all of its assets to its Inner Sphere Occupation Zone (which it had renamed the Ghost Bear Dominion). One regiment was destroyed by Clan Nova Cat before it could head off to Alshain, as a result of a vision one of their warriors had. The rest of the Alshain Avengers reached Alshain, but they further lost half a regiment to the WarShip orbiting Alshain, before reaching the surface. They were virtually annihilated and the survivors fled into the wilderness, fighting a desperate guerrilla war. The Ghost Bears retaliated by launching an invasion of the Combine. This invasion was incredibly successful, in part due to the fact that Theodore was in the process of relocating his Ghost Regiments to the Federated Commonwealth border to protect his nation from any spillover from their looming civil war. He was forced to bring the Ghosts back to the Ghost Bear border, only to have the Draconis March launch an invasion of their own in retaliation for raids along their border, apparently by DCMS troops.

This new Federated Suns invasion was also successful and captured important worlds such as Al Na'ir, Proserpina, and Ashio. The Combine found itself fending off these two simultaneous invasions, which continued apace through 3063. Late in that year, however, Clan Hell's Horses invaded the Ghost Bear Dominion, so both the Bears and the Combine were looking for a way to honorably extricate themselves from the fight. Theodore offered up the world of Courchevel for a Trial in 3063. Both sides agreed to give up their conquered worlds, and the winner of the Courchevel Trial would keep the world. The Ghost Bears won the Trial, but the real prize was the ceasefire that followed. Thus ended the First Combine-Ghost Bear War — the DCMS troops engaged with the Ghost Bears redirected to deal with the Federated Suns' incursion. The DCMS ejected all of the March invaders, then followed up with punitive raids of its own. Some of the DCMS forces were defeated, but the Combine netted two worlds while the two halves of the former Federated Commonwealth were involved in their civil war.[107][108] The FedCom Civil War touched the Kurita family in a very personal way in 3064 when an agent hired by Katherine Steiner-Davion assassinated Omiko Kurita, Theodore's daughter and the Keeper of the House Honor as a psychological attack against Katherine's brother Victor, as he and Omiko had been carrying on a secret love affair since they had first met on Outreach in 3051.[citation needed]

In 3063, Kitsune Kurita was born. Publicly it was announced that he was the son of Lady Miyako Kurita[109] — in truth his mother was Omiko Kurita. Even more alarmingly, his true father was Victor Steiner-Davion. Kitsune's official parentage would have made him the cousin of Hohiro's two sons, Shinjiro and Vincent, and thus the Kokuryu-kai began to favour him as a suitable replacement Coordinator for after they had displaced the current ruling Kurita line.[110]

Jihad[edit]

Coordinator Hohiro Kurita II

December of 3067 saw the Fourth Whitting Conference on Tharkad. Here, three of the members announced their intention to pull out of the Star League. Despite Theodore Kurita's support, the Star League officially disbanded under the watch of First Lord Christian Månsdottir. The Word of Blake was in disbelief, as they believed that their pending membership was the be the fulfillment of a centuries-old prophecy that described the way in which the quasi-mystical order would come to power. The Word had secretly amassed a huge army and navy, and deployed WarShips to Tharkad and New Avalon in an attempt to force the League member states to rescind their decision to dissolve the League. When their demands were not met the Word attacked the two worlds — the Jihad had begun.[111]

While Theodore and Hohiro were away at Tharkad for the Whitting Conference, the Kokuryu-kai attempted to seize control of the Combine by shutting down the Luthien HPG and using military units loyal to them to conquer the capital. They took control of Unity Palace and declared the Coordinator unfit for his position, assuming control of the planet.[112] Blakist forces soon descended on the world, using vague language to indicate that they were attempting to help the "rightful" rulers of the Combine, sparking a three-way battle for control of the world. Other uprisings took place across the Combine,[113][114] while the Kuritans' Nova Cat allies withdrew to their territory in Irece Prefecture, beginning a period of isolation.[115][116]

The Blakists next attacked Dieron in February of 3068. Theodore and Hohiro attempted to return to their nation, only to be beset by both Blakists and Black Dragons. Both leaders were incapacitated, Theodore by a stroke and Hohiro when he was captured by Blakist forces after he led an assault on their occupying forces on Dieron.[117] Meanwhile the Word of Blake were striking civilian and military targets all across the Inner Sphere — Blakist forces continued to rampage across the Combine, subjecting Altair, Asta, Fomalhaut and Yorii to nuclear, chemical and biological attacks in June of 3068. To make matters worse, Clan Snow Raven began a series of attacks against the Combine in retaliation for the destruction of one of their most prized WarShips as it attempted to dock with a Combine recharge station after having won a Trial of Possession for a recharge.[117]

With the Coordinator and his son both indisposed, the path was open for the Warlord of Pesht, Kiyomori Minamoto, to seize power. Minamoto was known as a staunch traditionalist and possibly a Black Dragon; regardless, he formally assumed command of the DCMS on the 5th of August in the absence of the Coordinator. After the Federated Suns' Draconis March opportunistically took advantage of the Dragon's distraction to initiate attacks of their own,[117][118] Minamoto declared himself Gunji-no-Kanrei and temporarily moved the capital of the Combine back to New Samarkand to avoid the chaos of Luthien.[114][119][120] Attacks back and forth between the DCMS and Draconis March would continue for some time, at one point resulting in the death of ISF Director Ninyu Kerai Indrahar.[121]

In early 3069 Hohiro was freed from captivity, but this was a single point of good news amidst disaster. The Word of Blake were still cutting a path through the Combine, conquering planets such as Benjamin and Vega with seeming impunity. Clan Snow Raven also continued to raid the Combine, provoked by the Word of Blake, who took to masquerading as DCMS units to attack the Snow Ravens in order to invite reprisal on the Combine. Worse still, a deadly epidemic emerged during the DCMS campaign to retake Galedon V in April of 3069, which was eventually discovered to be the lethal bioweapon known as the Curse of Galedon. Somehow released from containment during the fighting, the Curse spread further when Clan Snow Raven bombed several cities on the planet, releasing more samples of the Curse. The plague spread to the Snow Ravens themselves, who were forced to scuttle three of their own ships to contain it, and by the 15th of September the entire planet of Galedon V was placed under strict quarantine.[122]

Further tragedy struck the Combine as 3070 began — Coordinator Theodore Kurita, who had been in a coma since his stroke in February of 3068, died. Hohiro, who had been acting in the capacity of the Coordinator for some time but never actually declared himself the Coordinator after his father was rendered comatose, was hastily named to the Dragon Throne. His first act as Coordinator was an infamous one — deeming what was left of Galedon V beyond saving after two invasions and the ravages of the Curse, the DCMS launched a large-scale nuclear bombardment of the planet, sterilizing it completely by the end of February. Two months later, however, an outbreak of a similar disease was reported on An Ting. Refugees had fled Galedon V as fast as they were able and had arrived on An Ting — once this new plague was confirmed to be the Curse of Galedon, An Ting was also placed under strict quarantine.[123][124] An Ting would eventually succumb to the Curse, and by 3081 it was considered a dead world.[125]

Gunji-no-Kanrei Kiyomori Minamoto

The Combine also faced a seccessionist crisis during the Jihad. On the 12th of April 3071, a freak asteroid strike devastated the world of Arkab, home to the Combine's longtime servants, the Azami people. The planetary government sent desperate pleas for aid to New Samarkand, but there was no reply forthcoming — already dealing with plague and war on three fronts (indeed, the Word of Blake had just seized Pesht[126]), the Combine government could not respond. Dissatisfied, the Azami leaders recalled all of the Legions of Arkab back to the Azami world of Algedi on the 11th of August. In November, when Coordinator Hohiro could finally address the Azami problem, he ordered them to resume proper service to the Dragon or be declared enemies of the state. This time, it was the Combine that received stony silence for a response. Dispatching the WarShip Siriwan to Algedi to cow the Azami into capitulation, Hohiro was shocked when the ship was destroyed by nuclear missiles after Gunji-no-Kanrei Minamoto ordered the bombing of two of Algedi's cities to teach the Azami the price of disobeying the Dragon. On the 12th of April, DCMS assets attacked Algedi, liberating prisoners taken from the WarShip. [126]

Meanwhile, the war against the Word of Blake raged on. In October of 3071 Clan Nova Cat made a sudden reappearance from their isolated holdings in Irece Prefecture, striking at Word of Blake targets in support of the resistance movement led by the enigmatic Devlin Stone. The Blakists seized control of Benjamin, but the Nova Cats foiled their attempt to conquer Irece. In July the Cats made a valiant but ultimately futile attempt to liberate Luthien from Blakist control, but did manage to destroy the rogue Combine WarShip Urizen II, whose crew had fallen under the sway of the Kokuryu-kai. In November the DCMS attempted to retake Benjamin but were defeated by dug-in Blakist resistance, but after the Nova Cats raided the Word's defences in December the DMCS forces still planetside were able to overcome the weakened Blakists and secured the planet.[127]

3073 would see two attempts at Combine diplomacy fail. A Blakist suicide bomb destroyed a January peace conference between several Inner Sphere and Clan leaders, preventing them from forming any organised resistance to the Jihad. In June, the leaders of the Azami agreed to send a delegation to New Samarkand for peace talks with the Combine, but a Blakist ambush killed the Azami diplomats en route. Enraged, the Azami leaders accused Coordinator Hohiro of deliberately allowing their envoys to be slain. Also during 3073, a fresh round of anti-Kokuryu-kai purges of high Combine society caught, among others, the Abess of the Order of the Five Pillars. Rogue ISF operatives, likely in the employ of the Black Dragons, attempted to assassinate Kiyomori Minamoto, but their attempt was foiled.[128]

In October of 3073, Hohiro agreed to meet with Devlin Stone and Peter Steiner-Davion on Tukayyid to discuss a collaborative attempt at defeating the Word of Blake. Stone's plan, which would be known as Operation SCOUR, required loans of military personnel and equipment from all participants — Hohiro agreed to support the plan using the Nova Cat forces at his disposal, as they had already demonstrated loyalty to Stone. Hohiro's agreement, however, was contingent on Stone promising to only accept half of the Nova Cats that wished to defect to his cause. Stone reluctantly accepted, and won a Trial of Refusal against the Nova Cat force that wished to join him, accepting half of them and sending the other half back to the Combine.[129]

3074 went better than the previous year for diplomatic efforts by the Combine. The Azami people sent a second delegation to negotiate with Kanrei Minamoto, and this time the DCMS and Azami warriors defeated the Blakists that attempted to ambush them. The Combine promised aid to the stricken Azami worlds and the two factions agreed to focus militarily on fighting the Word.[130] Also in that year, Luthien and Pesht would be freed from Blakist control — not by the DCMS or their Nova Cat allies, but by Clan Ghost Bear. The Ghost Bears attacked the Blakist garrisons, destroying them in detail, and then left before the DCMS could muster reinforcements, expressing no interest in taking Luthien or Pesht for themselves. By the time the Arm of the Dragon arrived to reclaim the planets, the Ghost Bears had already departed. The Ghost Bears would continue to travel through Combine space, attacking the Word wherever they could be found but declining to take liberated worlds for themselves, even strategically important planets such as Vega.[131]

By 3077, Operation SCOUR had begun in earnest. The objective of SCOUR was to drive into the Word of Blake's territory around Terra, the Word of Blake Protectorate, from multiple angles using forces loaned from each of the participating powers. The Draconis arm of SCOUR struck Telos IV in February, and the operation continued apace — by October, the pressure had been relieved from the DCMS enough that forces could be spared to retake Dieron, with the aid of Clan Ghost Bear.[132]

In November of 3077, however, the Kokuryu-kai again made their presence felt. Overthrowing the government of Qandahar, the Black Dragons issued a call for other cells of their organization to rise up and overthrow the Kuritas. Other Kokuryu-kai uprisings occurred on several worlds, most notably on Korramabad where the Black Dragons perpetrated a horrifying massacre of the planet's Azami minority. In response, Hohiro dispatched the Second An Ting Legion to Korramabad to put down the Black Dragons there. After hearing of the massacre, the Azami Brotherhood (as the Azami planets were now calling themselves) sent the Legions of Arkab to Korramabad for the same purpose — once the Arkab legions arrived, they found that the An Ting Legion had already purged the planet of Black Dragon influence. Instead, they accompanied the An Ting Legion and the Tenth Pesht Regulars to other planets to remove the Kokuryu-kai there.[133]

Meanwhile in the Word of Blake Protectorate, Operation SCOUR continued to roll over the Blakist defenses. The DCMS subdued Altair without bloodshed, and Hohiro judged the operation to be going so well that he recalled the DCMS from Protectorate space in July. The Combine's participation in the Jihad ended in 3079 when Devlin Stone defeated the Word of Blake on their capital of Terra.[134]

The Combine emerged from the Jihad bloodied and diminished. Galedon V and An Ting were lifeless after the Curse of Galedon and the measures needed to prevent it exploding across the entire realm, and the Blakists had launched assaults against Combine worlds to damage their infrastructure, resulting in massive damage to the Combine's production capabilties. In addition, the DCMS had lost twenty-five regiments in the relentless violence,[135] and the Kokuryu-kai remained a persistent threat as well as the new self-deterministic attitude of the Azami people. Finally, as part of the fallout from Operation SCOUR, Hohiro was forced to cede a number of worlds from the Dieron Military District to the new Republic of the Sphere, and had lost half of his Nova Cat warriors to the new Republic Armed Forces.

Peace Destroyed[edit]

The years after the Jihad were marked by a resistance to Hohiro's rule, which forced him to roll back some of the reforms his father had initiated. The Combine lost many of its worlds as well. Some were voluntarily ceded to the Republic of the Sphere (such as four of the five Azami Brotherhood worlds, which effectively removed the burgeoning Azami seccession as an issue),[136] while other worlds fell into a buffer state that sprung up between the Combine and the Federated Suns. Both the Kurita and Sandoval families continued to pour money and resources into the low-level conflict that persisted in that region. Perhaps the most significant political effect of the Jihad was the decentralization of power that allowed the three remaining Warlords to become very powerful and independent, especially compared to the reigns of previous Coordinators.[137]

In 3081, Hohiro's youngest son Vincent married Lady Ramiko Nishimura, securing the continuity of the Kurita line — Vincent would then depart to serve with the Sixteenth Sun Zhang Cadre. The Coordinator's eldest son, Shinjiro, was seemingly disinterested in marriage and apparently preferred to keep his attention on his military career, a fact which was rumoured to irritate Hohiro.[138]

Between 3089 and 3093, the Combine found itself in conflict with the Republic of the Sphere after the Kokuryu-kai began a campaign of false-flag raiding against former Combine worlds now controlled by the Republic. This conflict, which would become known as the 'Hidden War', ended after the Republic and Combine both realised that they were being manipulated by the Black Dragons. A joint DCMS-RAF task force began rooting out the Kokuryu-kai agents responsible, the final strike of the Hidden War being led by Kitsune Kurita. After the successful operation Kitsune was offered a Knighthood in the Republic, to which he responded that he would only accept if he was knighted by his true father, Victor Steiner-Davion. This announcement of Kitsune's true heritage dealt a blow to Black Dragon morale (many of the society's members comitting seppuku at hearing of it), and the Black Dragons were further harried by another wave of purges within the DCMS.[139]

Nonetheless, the Kokuryu-kai continued their subversive activities, choosing Clan Nova Cat as the target of their new machinations.[140] The Nova Cats were depleted after the Jihad, having lost forces against the Blakists within the Combine and having then committed a large portion of their touman to Devlin Stone's Republic. Their military forces were further divided by Hohiro's mandate that only half of the Nova Cat warriors that volunteered to join the Republic could leave the Combine.[141] After the Jihad, as a result of their prestigious Alpha, Delta and Tau galaxies leaving to fight for the Republic, the remainder of the Nova Cats' touman was barely large enough to garrison the Irice prefecture. While accepting the leavers' defection, Hohiro still harbored a grudge over losing Combine forces to the Republic, and began to doubt the remaining Cats' loyalty.[142]

To replace their depleted forces, the Nova Cats began to raid territory belonging to Clan Ghost Bear. The raids were not conducted with honor, contributing to worsening relations between the two Clans. Matters came to a head in September of 3098 when Kokuryu-kai operatives discovered the location of the Cats' Khan and leaked it to the Ghost Bears — the Bears struck, killing the Nova Cats' Khan. In response the Nova Cats began to consolidate, electing Ajax Drummond for their new Khan. After an audience with the Coordinator, Drummond was able to gain the support of the DCMS.[143]

Clan Nova Cat reopened hostilities with the Ghost Bears in November of 3098, almost totally wiping out the Third Ghost Bear Hussars with their opening strike.[144] The Ghost Bears retaliated in early 3099, soundly defeating the Nova Cats across three planets. The DCMS were forced to move assets into the Irece Prefecture in order to protect their interests there, which played into the hands of the Kokuryu-kai as the likelihood of open conflict between the Combine and Clan Ghost Bear was now extremely high. That conflict came on Itabaiana — sabotage by the Black Dragon ensured the neutrality of a local Diamond Shark force, allowing the Ghost Bears to attack and nearly annihilate the Third Pesht Regulars. Hohiro and Drummond agreed to a combined strategy for the defence of Irece Prefecture — the DCMS would take operational command on worlds where both it and the Nova Cat touman were present. The Dragon had officially joined the fight, and so the Second Combine-Ghost Bear War began in earnest.[145]

The war dragged on across 3099, resulting in territorial exchanges between the players while also seeing the destruction of both ground and naval assets on both sides, including the Inazuma-class WarShip Amber Lotus and the Nightlord-class battleship Ursa Major. The war began to shift decisively in favour of Clan Ghost Bear when they assaulted Irece itself and destroyed the Nova Cat manufacturing facilities and most of their touman. The Ghost Bears' Omega Galaxy subjected the capital city of New Barcella to two days of bombardment with cruise missiles, indiscriminately targeting Nova Cat civilians and warriors alike.[146]

The fighting continued into 3100, a year which largely saw Clan Ghost Bear press its advantage over the DCMS. The Combine lost four planets across the year, their only significant response a failed attempt to liberate Mualang. By the end of the year the Ghost Bears called for a ceasefire as they were facing considerable unrest from within their civilian caste as protests against the destruction of New Barcella broke out, agitated by the Motstånd terrorist network. Hohiro agreed to a ceasefire and investigations from both parties and the Republic uncovered evidence of Kokuryu-kai meddling, including the mass killing of Nova Cat civilians while the fighting was elsewhere. Even while the DCMS began to hunt the elusive Black Dragons anew, anti-Clan sentiment intensified in the Combine as the populace regarded Nova Cat aggression as the cause of the war. Hohiro introduced reforms to the legal status of Clan citizens within the Combine, placing them on reservations inside Irece Prefecture — a decree to which Khan Drummond had no choice but to agree given the devastation of his touman.[147]

Also in 3100, Hohiro's eldest son and Heir-Designate Shinjiro was killed in a traffic accident on a military base on Niles during sporadic raiding by the Raven Alliance. Some time after the conclusion of the Second Combine-Ghost Bear War, Hohiro's wife Fiona also died. The Coordinator recalled his remaining son, Vincent, from his duties with the 16th Sun Zhang Cadre in order to prepare him for his accession to the office of Coordinator.[148] Not half a decade later, Hohiro himself passed away on the 4th of June, 3104, at the age of 81. He was succeeded as Coordinator by Vincent.[149]Gunji-no-Kanrei Minamoto also died during the opening years of the 32nd century — he committed seppuku in January of 3102 after a private meeting with Coordinator Hohiro.[150] He left behind him the three remaining Warlords; Doppo Saito of Pesht, the hotheaded Mitsura Sakamoto of Benjamin and the calculating Matsuhari Toranaga of New Samarkand.[151]

The HPGs Go Dark[edit]

On Gray Monday, in August 3132, the HPG network suffered a serious blow as unknown forces disabled almost all of the known stations across the Inner Sphere.[152] The Republic of the Sphere that was formed by Stone in 3081 descended into chaos as the loss of interstellar communications brought the fears the integrated society had simmering below the surface. A number of splinter groups within the Republic emerged, led by individuals seeking to claim the vulnerable Republic's territory for themselves or for their Great Houses of choice. One such individual was Katana Tormark, formerly the Prefect of Prefecture III.[153] Tormark formed the Dragon's Fury, a group that wanted to return traditionally Kuritan worlds to the Combine. The Fury captured a number of worlds in the name of the Combine, albeit without the Coordinator's permission or approval since the HPG network was nonoperational.[154]

Tormark continually called out to Coordinator Vincent Kurita and asked for his support, but the Coordinator refused to involve himself in Tormark's land grab. Warlord Sakamoto, frustrated that the actions of the Dragon's Fury were making the Combine appear weak,[155] decided to take action without the Coordinator's approval and invaded the Republic using his own troops.[156] The DCMS forces under Sakamoto's command were initially hostile to the Dragon's Fury, despite Tormark ordering her troops into "pulling their punches" against their spiritual brethren.[157] Sakamoto's push swept through Republic territory, attacking the worlds that had previously been owned by the Combine. His forces attacked Al Na'ir in June of 3135, notoriously breaching the Phoenix Dome during the invasion, an action which resulted in the deaths of thirty million civilians.[158][159]

Sakamoto's forces cut through to Saffel, intent on eradicating the RAF presence there. However, Sakamoto himself had been poisoned by the Bounty Hunter, who had allied himself with the Dragon's Fury and infiltrated Sakamoto's company in the guise of a talented chef.[160] Sakamoto, debilitated by the poison, lost consciousness inside the cockpit of his No-Dachi at the critical moment during the combat drop, and plummeted to his death from his DropShip. [161] The Dragon's Fury arrived during the battle, and Sakamoto's second-in-command, Tai-sho Carol Worridge, placed the remaining DCMS forces under Tormark's command. Together, the Combine forces conquered Saffel.[162][163]

Gunji-no-Kanrei Matsuhari Toranaga

In October of 3135, the Fortress Republic protocol was activated, preventing any JumpShip from crossing into the Republic's Prefecture X. Meanwhile, Katana Tormark was received with honors by the Coordinator and promoted to Warlord of Dieron.[164] She continued Sakamoto's campaign, securing the aid of Clan Nova Cat forces after striking a bargain with their new Khan, Jacali Nostra. Nostra was determined to free the Nova Cats from Combine oppression, and saw Tormark as a potential rival to Vincent Kurita who could undermine and distract the Dragon while the Nova Cats prepared to break away from the Combine.[165] The Nova Cat Oathmaster called for all disparate Nova Cats to rejoin their parent clan, and by 3137 the Combine and their Clan allies had captured all the Republic worlds of the Deiron Military District up to the border of Fortress Republic.[166]

Coordinator Yori Kurita

3137 would prove to be a time of utter chaos for the Combine. It started with the death of Vincent Kurita's eldest son, Theodore Kurita II after his JumpShip was destroyed trying to cross into Fortress Republic.[167] Throughout the rest of the year, nearly all of Vincent Kurita's family died in suspicious circumstances, including the Coordinator himself.[168] The Coordinator's wife Ramiko died in her care home in February, while his daughter and Keeper of the House Honor Emi was apparently killed in a DropShip accident — Vincent, as well as his other son Ryuhiko, were killed by a mysterious explosion on the 15th of March, while an assassin murdered his pregnant daugher-in-law Chomie.[169] Suspcion for these tragedies would eventually settle on Warlord Matsuhari Toranaga and ISF Director Ramadeep Bhatia, although no implicating evidence was able to be produced.[170]

With these deaths, nearly all of Hohiro Kurita II's descendents had been slain. The only person remaining who could claim to be a blood member of the Kurita line was one Yori Sakamoto, the daughter of Franklin Sakamoto, an illegitimate son of the first Theodore Kurita. Toranaga tracked her down and brought her to New Samarkand, where she was hastily crowned Yori Kurita, the new Coordinator.[171] Yori promptly appointed Toranaga Gunji-no-Kanrei, and many now believed that he was the true power in the Combine, with Yori merely a puppet who was allowing herself to be used by Toranaga.[170]

Toranaga set his sights on the Draconis Reach, and took the remarkable step of hiring Wolf's Dragoons to help him take it.[172] The DCMS attacked their initial targets in the Reach in 3141, but a daring Federated Suns counterattack led by Corwin Sandoval, the Duke of Robinson, struck the Combine's rimward border.[173] Before any effective response could be mustered by the DCMS, another pressing issue arose — Clan Nova Cat's long-planned rebellion.[174]

The Nova Cats had long chafed under the rule of the Combine, having been effectively isolated in the Irece Prefecture since 3100. The Cats' Khan, Jacali Nostra, wished to free her Clan from the yoke of the Dragon, and the opportunity to do so arose in 3141. Emi Kurita, far from being killed in a DropShip accident as had been publicly claimed, had in fact escaped the brutal purge of the Kurita family that had taken place in 3137. Faking her death, she sought refuge with Clan Nova Cat — the Cats, recognising her importance as a potential weapon or bargaining chip against the Combine, granted her shelter in secrecy. Under their protection, she set about conceiving a true heir to the Kurita line with her lover, Joji Ashido.[175] Soon afterwards Emi birthed a son, Daisuke Kurita, who was at best an illegitimate grandnephew to Vincent Kurita — nonetheless, Clan Nova Cat recognised him as a potential heir to the Combine.[176] With his birth, the Nova Cats had their casus belli, and declared war in order to place Daisuke on the Dragon Throne, with assurances from Emi that the Nova Cats would rule an independent Irece Prefecture after they had overthrown the pretender Yori and her puppetmaster Toranaga.[177]

The intial phase of their rebellion went well for Clan Nova Cat. They conquered several worlds, especially those within the newly reformed Dieron Military District — since that District was comprised of former Republic territory, there was already a sizeable contingent of Nova Cat warriors present and ready to spring into action. Their cause found another blessing when Katana Tormark, now Warlord of Dieron, declared for Emi Kurita. Tormark already had good relations with Jacali Nostra and her Clan, and had been a close friend of Theodore Kurita II and strong supporter of the late Coordinator Vincent. Given their previous good relations, the Nova Cats had been careful not to damage any assets loyal to Tormark during their early operations in the Deiron Military District, and this strategic gamble proved successful when Tormark threw her support behind Emi and Daisuke. Tormark's regiments struck into the Benjamin Military District, covering the Nova Cats' flank.[176]

Unfortunately for the Nova Cats, their rebellion had been fatefully mistimed. Gunji-no-Kanrei Toranaga, unwilling to risk a Federated Suns counterattack punching through the Draconis Reach and cutting deep into the Combine's rimward territories, had held several regiments in reserve to absorb any attack by the AFFS. These regiments were now able to redeploy to deal with the Nova Cats, and the rebellious Clan quickly found itself entirely outnumbered and outgunned. Forced to abandon the Dieron Military District by DCMS offensives, the Cats were eventually hemmed in to only two worlds, Irece and Kagoshima. By 3142 the Cats had been finally defeated there, the DCMS putting every Clan warrior they found to the sword. Katana Tormark's forces held out for a further month before surrendering, and Tormark herself was captured and hauled back to Luthien in chains, where she was imprisoned and left to rot. As for Emi and Daisuke Kurita, their bodies were discovered on Irece during the DCMS occupation — Emi had apparently poisoned herself and her son, choosing death rather than allowing herself and Daisuke to be humiliated before Coordinator Yori.[178]

Ultimately, the failed rebellion would prove to be the end of Clan Nova Cat as a military power. The Clan was almost completely exterminated — any captured warriors were executed, while members of the lower castes were sterilized and dispersed among the Combine as Unproductives. The only remnant of the once-proud Clan to escape was Mystic Kisho Nova Cat and his followers, who fled Irece before the final battle and departed for the Clan Protectorate in the reformed Free Worlds League.[179]

With the Clan rebellion put down, Toranaga was able to return his attention to the Federated Suns. His planned invasion finally began in March of 3144.[180] Toranaga had used the time after the end of the civil war to rebuild damaged units, and Duke Sandoval's counterattack had run out of momentum after capturing a string of worlds near the Draconis Reach. Deciding that the time was right to renew the offensive, Toranaga's renewed invasion struck with surpising force, capturing Palmyra in June.[181] The taking of Palmyra was a stunnning success for the DCMS, destroying no less than 13 AFFS combat formations.[180] First Prince Caleb Davion was killed in action during the AFFS retreat from Palmyra, despite orders that he should be taken alive — nonetheless, the DCMS moved on to take Tsamma. Suprisingly, Clan Snow Raven also attacked the Federated Suns, harrying their anti-spinward border. This came after a peaceful disposition of three worlds from the Combine to that Clan, suggesting a possible alliance between the Dragon and the Snow Raven. Robinson was the DCMS' next target, and in another stunning victory it fell to the DCMS in August after Duke Sandoval was killed in action by the Ryuken-go.[182]

Bouyed by the capture of these important worlds, and the slaying of both the First Prince and Duke of Robinson, Toranaga decided to go for the throat and the DCMS attacked New Avalon, capital of the Federated Suns, in 3146. With First Prince Caleb Davion dead and Julian Davion (the new First Prince elected in absentia) trapped in Lyran space with the Kell Hounds, the demoralised AFFS defended New Avalon for two months before sounding the retreat. The capital world of the Federated Suns now belonged to the Dragon, and the DCMS wasted no time in emphasising the fact — across the world's cities, any artifact that celebrated the Suns or House Davion was defaced or destroyed — notably, Pope Beneficent XVII and his cardinals were rounded up and summarily executed for "publicly practicing an unsanctioned religion within the borders of the Draconis Combine".[183] Toranaga immediately set about securing and consolidating the string of worlds conquered by the Combine between Palmyra and New Avalon, and this region was given the name "the Dragon's Tongue".[184] While Toranaga saw to military affairs, Coordinator Yori hosted a lavish month of celebrations on Luthien, publicly honoring the veterans of Toranaga's campaign who had been quickly rotated back to the capital for this purpose. These celebrations significantly helped to improve Yori's public image, and far from a mere pawn of Toranaga the public now saw Yori as the Coordinator who had overseen both the destruction of the hated Clan Nova Cat and the humilitation of the utterly loathed Federated Suns.[185]

However, the Federated Suns were far from entirely defeated, and the coming years would demonstrate that the Davion realm was still a deadly enemy for the Combine. Julian Davion eventually reappeared, leading a collection of AFFS units (some survivors from New Avalon) and mercenaries hired during his journey from Lyran space. He promptly began Operation PERCEVAL, a campaign to destroy key DCMS strategic targets in quick raids, and move on without wasting manpower trying to hold terrain. PERCEVAL was highly successful, and together with constant industrial action from former Federated Suns citizens, the Combine found holding the Dragon's Tongue to be fraught with problems. Toranaga appealed to Yori for the creation of more regiments, but she denied his requests.[186]

By early 3148, the situation was worsening - Toranaga was unable to effectively counteract Task Force PERCEVAL's actions with the DCMS' strained resources in the Dragon's Tongue.[187] Toranaga became frustrated at Yori's constant refusal to grant him new troops - eventually, she outright forbade him enquiring about military procurement. The Kanrei worried that he was starting to lose his grip on his puppet Coordinator. Yori, however, surprised Toranaga with the revelation that she had created the Hikage, a new regiment constructed similarly to an AFFS Light Combat Team. Though happy at the delivery of more troops, Toranaga was concerned that Yori had managed to form, train and equip the Hikage without his knowledge. Such a development almost certainly meant that the other Warlords were in league with her rather than him.[188]

Toranaga wanted an opportunity to test the Hikage in combat, and found it when ISF discovered the PERCEVAL base on Remagen. He sent the Hikage, with support from the Ryuken-hachi, to destroy the base - although they effectively severely damaged the First Kestrel Grenadiers, they failed to destroy the base or capture the commander, Erik Sandoval. Still, Toranaga was pleased with their performance, considering the operation had been conducted so deep into Federated Suns territory.[189]

3149 saw the long-awaited reemergence of the Republic of the Sphere. The Fortress Republic protocol was lowered long enough for two Army Groups of the RAF to move out, and they attacked the DCMS with a campaign of unconventional and quick raids christened Operation ERUPTIO in March. The RAF struck first at Dieron, routing the 1st and 2nd Dieron Regulars,[190] then quickly moved on to attack Quentin and Towne, capturing the functional HPG on the latter and using it to broadcast disinformation into the Combine. This caused the DCMS to misprepare for the RAF's next attack on Addicks, which saw the death of Tai-sa Gerald Nixon. The RAF then moved on to Ozawa, where the DCMS put up more of a fight but were still defeated.[191]

The following month, ambassadors from the Capellan Confederation arrived on Luthien, seeking a military alliance with the Dragon - Yori and her immediate advisors took the meeting, initially preventing Toranaga from taking part. After he was eventually admitted, he found that he could not convince the Coordinator to accept the proposal - her refusal was based on an unwillingness to allow the Capellans to easily conquer Terra, as Fortress Republic was down and the ISF had advised her that CCAF assets were within reach of humanity's home. After learning that Devlin Stone was alive, however, Yori consented to the alliance,[192] which would become known as the Unity Pact.

Meanwhile, the AFFS continued to make life difficult for Toranaga. Hearing of the Republic attack on the DCMS and regarding it as Devlin Stone keeping his promise of an alliance, Julian Davion moved forward with Operation PERCEVAL, further attacking the Dragon's Tongue. The task force took O'Fallon easily, but Coloma became a two-week stalemate - meanwhile, the newly created Dawn Guards attacked Augusta while the First Davion Guards defeated the Wolf Spiders Battalion of Wolf's Dragoons to take Saginaw.[193]

The Unity Pact launched Operation TIAMAT in June of 3149 - the year-long project saw the Combine and Confederation both gain territory around Terra from the Republic and Federated Suns. The DCMS took a number of worlds in the Terran Corridor, including Mallory's World and Ingress, cutting the Federated Suns off from the Republic.[194] However, the continued activities of Task Force PERCEVAL pressured the Dragon's Tongue and the Combine aborted the second wave of TIAMAT in order to defend that region. Additionally, tensions began to rise with Wolf's Dragoons, as Toranaga was upset that the Dragoons continued to allow AFFS forces to retreat rather than gunning them down, to which the Dragoons' General Thomas Brubaker responded that Toranaga was free to ask for a renegotiation of the Dragoons' contract with the DCMS.[195]

Elsewhere, the RAF struck at the Draconis March, capturing planets and inciting unrest on Combine worlds.[196] The RAF conquered Robinson, despite the presence of several DCMS elite units - the Warlord of New Samarkand, Angmar Kyuzu, and planetary governor Adam Ogata were both captured.[197]

In 3150, reports from the CCAF indicated that the Fortress Republic protocol had been reestablished. The new Warlord of Dieron, Mineo Tadashige, undertook a probing campaign, recapturing Asta, Altair and Fomalhault. Tadashige then petitioned the Coordinator for further orders to strike towards Terra, but Yori instead announced the indefinite suspension of TIAMAT.[198] Instead she delivered an ultimatum to Toranaga - secure the Draconis March and the Dragon's Tongue, or be dismissed as Gunji-no-Kanrei.[199] Toranaga commanded his Warlords to secure the March, against their wishes to recapture Robinson. They began to try and do so, but AFFS counterattacks continued to destabilise the region.[200] The replacement Warlord of New Samarkand, Takutoro Inada, defied the Kanrei and attacked Robinson with the entirety of the Sixteenth Galedon Regulars. The attack failed, and Toranaga ordered Inada dismissed, but Yori personally interceded to belay that order. Toranaga, at the next strategic meeting, explicitly declared Robinson to be off-limits - nonetheless, the raid revealed that the RAF no longer held the world, and it was instead occupied by an irregular collection of AFFS units. Toranaga, compliant with the Coordinator's directive, continued to oversee the eventual stabilisation of the Draconis March, plotting for the day when the DCMS would return to Robinson.[201]

However, a new enemy appeared - the Rasalhague Dominion. The Dominion attacked the closest Combine worlds, agitated by internal demands for protection from the Combine. The DCMS did not respond to this annexation, too focused on the war with the AFFS to care.[202] .[203]

Matters worsened when DCMS and CCAF forces actually came to blows in mid-December on Northwind, when the CCAF turned on their allies over suspicions that the Combine wished to steal Northwind and its functional HPG from the Confederation. In the end, the HPG was destroyed in the fighting.[204]

Some time later in 3150, Yori again surprised Toranaga with a sudden recruitment effort - the Coordinator signed temporary conscription orders for worlds throughout the beleaguered Dieron Military District. The rising threat of either Clan Wolf, Clan Jade Falcon or the Rasalhague Dominion could no longer be ignored, and Yori reasoned that should Terra be conquered by any one of these powers, Clan forces may emerge into Dieron without warning. Furthermore, Wolf's Dragoons had suddenly exercised the escape clauses in their contracts and departed the Combine for an unknown destination. As a preventative measure, the so-called Ashigaru Initiatives were enacted, the militia regiments thus created to be trained for defensive warfare - allowing extant DCMS forces to be redeployed as needed. Toranaga, however, viewed this boost in manpower as his cue to conduct further offensive operations, and readied the DCMS to attack the Rasalhague Dominion if the Ghost Bears decided to make a play for Terra.[205]

The ilClan Era[edit]

On 14 April 3151, after Operation TIAMAT had stalled and the Dragon's momentum seemed to have faded, Yori reached out to Toranaga to assess the current military issues of her realm and the Inner Sphere at large. Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon seemed to have departed their Occupation Zones, the Capellan Confederation was within one jump of Terra, the Lyran Commonwealth was mobilising and Wolf's Dragoons had apparently disappeared. Yori sent a message to Toranaga requesting his opinions on these issues and on the appropriate next steps to take - unbeknownst at the time to either Toranaga or the Coordinator, however, the very day that this message was sent was V-T Day, when Devlin Stone formally surrendered Terra to Clans Wolf and Jade Falcon and announced the dissolution of the Republic of the Sphere.[206]

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Bibliography[edit]