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Tai-sho (General) Palmer Conti (b. ca. 2970 - d. ????) was a high-ranking officer in the service of House Kurita during the later Third and Fourth Succession Wars, and notably the commander of the 5th Sword of Light.
Described as a physically imposing man yet also a man "of many appetites", Palmer Conti was described as softened from too many of life's simpler pleasures in his fifties and a physical coward who preferred to lead from his HQ aboard the DropShip, although he did possess notable MechWarrior skills in his younger days. At some point in his career (prior to 3026), he was awarded the Katana Cluster, a decoration bestowed annually on the Kuritan MechWarrior with the most kills during the past year, and the Knight of New Samarkand Ribbon, for using strategy and tactics to win a battle against long odds.
He remained sly and skilled and was rarely caught off-guard, and was an expert political manipulator and military leader. He was said to epitomize the position of a Sword of Light regimental commander.
Fifth Sword of Light
Palmer Conti was a consummate military politician within the ranks of the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery, rising through the ranks through manipulation and dirty tricks as well as martial skill and leadership ability. Like most Sword of Light officers, he was a graduate of the elite Sun Zhang MechWarrior Academy on New Samarkand, and eventually established himself as a high-ranking officer within the Fifth Sword of Light, the Gold Dragon, one of the Combine's elite regiments.
While second-in-command of the Fifth Sword, Conti began gathering evidence on his commanding officer, Tai-sho Leonard Ohira, who permitted "certain details of his personal life to become known". In February 3014 Conti used this evidence to convince the Internal Security Force that Ohira had met with certain parties in the Federated Suns. This led Conti's elevation to the regiment's commander, while Ohira was arrested and executed for treason.
In February 3021, a food riot on Worrell resulted in the death of Tai-i Abraham Silvereen, the commander of the Fifth Sword's famed independent company then known as "Silvereen's Stallions". Conti ordered the court-martial and execution of Silvereen's surviving lance-mates for "being grossly negligent in their duty to protect a superior officer." In April 3021, he permanently promoted Daniel Sorenson to command the independent company, thereafter known as Sorenson's Sabres. Conti's first order to Sorenson was to replace Silvereen and the other three lost warriors from the Worrell fallout. Conti also reorganized the company somewhat, reassigning its Aerospace fighters to the Galedon Military District headquarters. When the Sabres were reformed, rather than a dozen 'Mechs, they featured ten BattleMechs, one aerospace fighter and a rare Land Air 'Mech.
The Fifth Sword of Light's tactical doctrine during this era was primarily small-unit actions at the company level, ignoring heavily defended targets for more lightly protected objectives and demoralizing the enemy. Nevertheless, they would conduct several movements and operations involving the entire command. Beginning in August 3025, the entire Fifth Sword of Light began a series of raids against the Federated Suns, making more than a dozen attacks over the next year. In December 3025 at a meeting of the Combine senior council on Luthien, Coordinator Takashi Kurita decided to transfer the Fifth Sword to the Dieron Military District, where they would begin raiding the Federated Suns' Terran Corridor.
In April 3026, Conti submitted an operation plan to the DCMS High Command, proposing an invasion of the Davion world of Ozawa. "Ozawa: Key to Victory" outlined how the seizure of the important planet would threaten to cut the Federated Suns off from the Terran Corridor. House Kurita approved this plan, commanded by Conti and the Fifth Sword of Light. The elite regiment was initially successful in its landings, as they easily pushed aside the Ozawa Urban Defense Brigade militia units and took the key city of Farow Junction. The Fifth Sworders killed many along the way, including the planetary governor. On 12 April, Conti declared that Ozawa had been returned to House Kurita, and that any remaining AFFS soldiers must surrender. Within a few days, however, Davion reinforcements arrived in the form of the elite 3rd Crucis Lancers, a move termed "Operation Swift Vengeance" by the AFFS. Although the fighting was brutal, with the timely intervention of the surviving militia forces, the Fifth Sword of Light's position became untenable. The DCMS reluctantly ordered a withdrawal, and Conti assigned Sorenson's Sabres the role of rearguard. Although the Fifth Sword made it off the planet, the entire affair represented a major setback to Conti's political ambitions.
In July 3026, Conti and the Fifth gained a measure of revenge against the Third Crucis Lancers when they took the planet Markab, forcing the Lancers from the planet. A lack of aerospace support doomed the AFFS defense.
Fourth Succession War
Warlord Vasily Cherenkoff of the Dieron Military District, with the Coordinator's blessing, authorized an invasion of Northwind in an effort to cut the Federated Suns off from the Lyran Commonwealth. Northwind would also make an excellent staging ground for further DCMS strikes. Conti's Fifth Sword of Light were joined by the 36th Dieron Regulars and the recently formed Genyosha, an elite, reinforced battalion of MechWarriors commanded by the legendary Yorinaga Kurita.
Opposing them were the 5th Deneb Light Cavalry, the planet's primary garrison, reinforced by Team Banzai and Bradley's Bravos, a mercenary company that had been allowed to become the Third Battalion of the Kell Hounds shortly before. The defenders were primarily based around Cromarty, Northwind's capital city. Conti and the invaders landed to the north and east of their positions, then began their advance with the Fifth Sword attacking from the north. While the Fifth Sword and Thirty-sixth Dieron kept the other defenders occupied, the Genyosha engaged the Bravos, mistaking the newly-added unit for the proper Kell Hounds. The clash ended inconclusively when Yorinaga Kurita realized the Hounds, and Morgan Kell specifically, were not on the planet. Despite their advantage in numbers, skill and reputation, the Kuritan forces faced heavy opposition in the early days of the battle, and matters appeared headed for a long, drawn-out conflict. ISF operative Hassan Faud, the Fifth Sword's liaison officer who was eager to break the stalemate, proposed a ruthless action to Conti to break the stalemate and demoralize the defending forces and the civilians of Northwind at the same time. Recognizing that the plan fit the Fifth's reputation for "total warfare", Conti had the 'Mechs of Sorenson's Sabres painted with a highly poisonous ptomaine bacteria, then ordered the Sabres to the primary water reservoir complex for the city of Cromarty. As had been planned, the paint infected the drinking supply, leading to thousands of deaths among both the civilian population and the defending forces. Half the Deneb Cavalry troops were infected, with many not surviving. Marshal Lovis Yolis, the Fifth Deneb's commander, was among the casualties. Conti himself and the Fifth Sword would be held responsible for the disaster for years to come, with defending forces nicknaming the Sworders "Conti's Killers". Soon, the Thirty-sixth Dieron Regulars launched an attack on the Cavalry's lines, only to feign retreat. When the Cavalry attempted to pursue, they were ambushed by the Fifth Sword of Light, as had been planned by Conti, routing the already battered regiment. When Team Banzai attempted to intervene, they were blocked by the Genyosha, who knocked Doctor B. Banzai out of action. Unable to hold Cromarty, Team Banzai, Bradley's Bravos and the survivors of the Fifth Deneb retreated into the Cairngorn Mountains. On 11 January, 3029, Team Banzai's Blue Blazer battalion attempted a desperate action, launching a surprise attack on the Fifth Sword's headquarters—and Conti himself—while the bulk of the regiment was hunting down the remaining AFFS forces. Fortunately for Conti, the Genyosha rebuffed the incursion, driving the Blazers back into the Rockspires with serious losses. Shortly thereafter, Conti summoned the Genyosha's command staff to his headquarters at the insistence of their commander, Tai-sa Yorinaga Kurita. There, Conti informed them of the Coordinator's Death to Mercenaries order and Faud, acting on behalf of the ISF, attempted to force the Genyosha to carry out the execution orders of the captured mercenaries. The Genyosha, eager to resume their feud with the Kell Hounds, would then depart. Despite this, Conti and his forces still boasted a huge numerical advantage. The following day, the Kuritan forces advanced on the AFFS forces, intending to finish them off. Suddenly, the four regiments of Northwind Highlanders, which had long been in service to House Liao, were burning fast towards the planet, and directly towards the coming battle. Conti believed the Highlanders had arrived to help finish off the Davion troops, and ordered the Fifth Sword forward. The Highlanders, however, contacted the Davion commanders, informing them that they had reached an agreement with First Prince Hanse Davion to return to their ancestral homeworld, and were returning home on the side of the AFFS. This reinvigorated the surviving defenders, with one Deneb provisional company, "Team Cutter", so enthused they conducted an ill-advised charge against advancing elements of the Fifth Swords' first battalion. Unfortunately for Sword of Light, elements of the 2nd Kearny Highlanders soon arrived to reinforce the overeager Davion troops. The Fifth Sword of Light managed to maul the 1st Kearny Highlanders, but Conti recognized that the situation was hopeless. He ordered a retreat, preserving most of his own regiment but ordering the Thirty-sixth to cover the withdrawal, effectively sacrificing a full battalion of the Hungry Ghosts. Although the Fifth Deneb Light Cavalry had been effectively destroyed as a unit and Team Banzai had taken severe losses, the campaign itself was a serious failure for Conti and House Kurita.
On 1 August, 3029, Conti attended a meeting of several high-ranking Dieron Military District officers, under the direction of Tai-sa Theodore Kurita, commander of the Legion of Vega and son and heir to the Coordinator's throne. This cabal met in secret, as both Warlord Cherenkoff and the Coordinator himself would not approve of their actions. Kurita, who had reviewed the reports from Northwind, rebuked Conti's actions during the campaign, pointing out that Conti could have led his forces into the Granite Fang mountain range, not only preserving his troops but also giving him a means to counter-attack. Conti attempted to excuse his actions, pointing out the attack had been conducted at the behest of Chancellor Maximilian Liao, but Prince Theodore dismissed these efforts. He would go on to propose Operation Contagion, demonstrating how an attack on Dromini VI could put the entire Lyran invasion in jeopardy by threatening to force the Federation of Skye out of the Commonwealth. When Kurita further indicated that Yorinaga Kurita and his Genyosha would deal with the Kell Hounds, Conti responded with scorn and disrespect. He was again rebuked by Theodore Kurita, who insisted Conti resolve his issues with Yorinaga Kurita outside of the command center. In the end, Contagion would commence, but Conti and his Fifth Sword would take little role in the operation itself, as they were being held in reserve for one of the follow-up attacks into the Isle of Skye. The Fifth Sword apparently recovered from their earlier losses during this period, as they later emerged at full strength.
Although Contagion was successful in knocking the wind out of House Steiner's Operation GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, the Lyran counter-attack at Domini likewise meant that Theodore Kurita's goal of cutting Skye out of the Commonwealth was no longer feasible. Conti was therefore deprived of his chance at further glory, as was the Fifth Sword of Light. Feeling deprived and continuing to resent Yorinaga Kurita and his Genyosha, Conti decided to deprive Kurita of his destiny by destroying the Kell Hounds on Nusakan. Nusakan, by mutual agreement of Takashi Kurita and Archon Katrina Steiner, had been established as a final meeting place for the Genyosha and Kell Hounds in general and their famed commanders in particular. Deciding that destroying the Hounds was the key to winning the glory and honor he desired, Conti attacked on 24 October, finding the Hounds in Blood Valley. Despite commanding four battalions to the Hounds' three, the mercenaries fought with a ferocity that even the elite Sword of Light could not match. Only Sorenson's Sabres was spared the savage destruction, as they were in the process of a flanking maneuver that would prove to be irrelevant. With the main body of the Fifth Sword reduced to seven 'Mechs, including Conti, Major Scott Bradley, who had experienced first-hand Conti's treachery on Northwind, stepped forward in his battered Cyclops, challenging the Kuritan commander to single combat. After a grueling battle, Bradley emerged as the victor, with Conti ejecting from his Banshee just before Bradley crushed the 'Mech's head. In the meantime, the Genyosha had arrived. Rather than joining the Fifth Sword in resuming the battle with the Kell Hounds, Yorinaga Kurita ordered the remaining Sword of Light away, and completed his business with Morgan Kell. Later at Yorinaga's seppuku ceremony, Conti assisted in the Genyosha commander's ritual suicide. Conti was then accosted by Yoringa's son, Akira Brahe, who noted the Genyosha's superiority to the Sword of Light, their rescue of Conti on Northwind, and his shameful efforts to interfere in the private matter between Morgan Kell and Yorinaga Kurita. Brahe further claimed that Conti would attempt to blame his defeat on the Genyosha, and that Coordinator Takashi would likely believe him. He then pledged himself to Morgan Kell and the Kell Hounds, with several of the Genyosha joining him. None among the assembled defended Conti for his actions.
Conti's exact fate is unrecorded, but he was ultimately succeeded as commander of the Fifth Sword of Light by Sho-sho Jonathan Fujimoto.
Personality and Traits
Conti was a competent military strategist, but his ability in this regard was apparently overshadowed by his willingness to resort to the most under-handed and dishonorable tactics to serve his own interests. He was considered a shrewd politician who successfully manipulated various individuals and organizations for years, resulting in his rise through the ranks of the DCMS. Conti's greatest success came in the matter of his predecessor, Leonard Ohira, when his careful planning allowed him to eliminate Ohira from command through legitimate means. Like most high-ranking Kuritan officers of his era, Conti was utterly ruthless, with little concern for his own troops and far less for innocent civilians. By his later career, Conti was a coward in terms of physical combat, only taking the field when absolutely necessary. Conti's ultimate goal was to reach the rank of Warlord of a Military District. By his 50s, as commander of the Fifth Sword, Conti had allowed himself to grow obese, and this was reflected on his personal combat skills. Conti led the Fifth Sword with a doctrine of "total war", and was more than willing to target civilians and densely populated areas if he saw an advantage in it. Conti's actions on Northwind were an excellent example of this approach. Akira Brahe noted that Conti, whatever his failings, was a man of action. His receipt of the Katana Cluster, if taken at face value, indicates that he was, at one time, a superior MechWarrior, worthy of his posting to a Sword of Light regiment.
- Palmer Conti's biography on page 11 of the Sorenson's Sabres scenario pack has an image of a man in a DCMS dress uniform at the bottom of the page. Although there is no image caption, context suggests that it depicts Palmer Conti as of 3026; the image has thus been inserted into this article's infobox. However, it should be noted that while there is evidence, it ultimately remains unproven that it really depicts Conti. No other image of the character was published in a canonical source.
- The Sorenson's Sabres scenario pack, which is set in October 3026 as "The present" according to the end of the timeline as presented on p. 10, mentions that Conti is "50-odd years" old on p. 11.
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 11, "Palmer Conti : Brief Personal History"
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 10, "Service Timeline"
- Starterbook: Sword and Dragon, p. 33, "History"
- Starterbook: Sword and Dragon, p. 33, "For the Glory of the Golden Pillar", Conti gives Sorenson his orders
- Starterbook: Sword and Dragon, p. 33, "The Fourth Succession War", the Fifth Sword's tactical doctrine
- Wolves on the Border, p. 104, Coordinator Takashi Kurita transfers the Fifth to Dieron
- House Kurita (The Draconis Combine), p. 135, "Mech Unit Deployment Table (as of 3025)", disposition of the 5th Sword of Light on Dieron
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 39, "Situation: Ozawa, April 3026", Conti proposes a campaign to seize Ozawa
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 40, "Day of the Dragon", the Fifth Sword takes Farow Junction, Conti declares victory
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 42, "Swift Vengeance", the Third Crucis Lancers counter-attack
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 45, "Situation: Ozawa 23 April 3026", Conti assigns Sorenson's Sabres as rear-guard, political setback
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 53, "Bitter Pursuit", the Fifth Sword of Light take Markab from the Third Lancers
- NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 1, pp. 78-79, "Northwind", the battle of Northwind
- Starterbook: Sword and Dragon, p. 34, "The Fourth Succession ", Conti and the Fifth Sword of Light's actions on Northwind
- The Fourth Succession War Scenarios Volume One, p. 37, "A Dirty Little War", the battle of Northwind and Conti's actions
- The Fourth Succession War Scenarios Volume One, p. 36, "Of Treason and Heroes", Team Cutter attacks
- Warrior: Riposte, pp. 276-281, the Genyosha blunts the Blue Blazers' attack, Conti informs them of the Death to Mercenaries order
- Warrior: Riposte, pp. 282-286, Scott Bradley and Tommy Lester discuss the Northwind Campaign, Highlanders arrive
- Warrior: Riposte, p. 291, Quintus Allard describes the aftermath of the fighting on Northwind
- Warrior: Coupé, p. 183, Conti had ordered the Thirty-sixth Dieron to cover the retreat of his own Fifth Sword of Light
- The Kell Hounds, p. 14, "Service Timeline : 3029", The Fifth Sword of Light and other units attack Bradley's Bravos on Northwind
- The Kell Hounds, p. 47, "To the Last Man", The Fifth Sword of Light and other units attack Bradley's Bravos on Northwind
- Warrior: Coupé, pp. 181-187, Conti at Theodore Kurita's meeting on Moore
- NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 2, pp. 78-79, "Nusakan", Conti's actions and disgrace on Nusakan
- Warrior: Coupé, pp. 291-296, Conti is defeated by Scott Bradley on Nusakan
- Warrior: Coupé, pp. 314-318, Conti is present at Yorinaga Kurita's seppuku ceremony
- Starterbook: Sword and Dragon, p. 34, "The Fourth Succession ", Conti is defeated and disgraced on Nusakan
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack), p. 12, "Regimental Data: Composition and Tactics", Conti and the Fifth Sword engage in a "total war" doctrine
- Warrior: Coupé, p. 294, Palmer Conti is piloting a Banshee
- House Kurita (The Draconis Combine)
- NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 1
- NAIS The Fourth Succession War Military Atlas Volume 2
- Sorenson's Sabres (scenario pack)
- Starterbook: Sword and Dragon
- The Fourth Succession War Scenarios Volume One
- The Kell Hounds
- Warrior: Coupé
- Warrior: Riposte
- Wolves on the Border