|Position||Primus of ComStar|
Raymond André Karpov was the third Primus of ComStar, holding the role during the end of the Second and start of the Third Succession War. His brutal reign saw the expansion of ROM to target both internal and external threats to the Order's technological superiority, as well as greatly accelerating the transformation of ComStar from a corporate entity to religious order.
Early service to ComStar
Born on Terra, the young Karpov survived Conrad Toyama's massive purges of ComStar and even becoming friends with Precentor ROM Michelle Dupreas, eventually rising to the rank of Precentor Alpha C, serving on the Order's First Circuit. As the ComStar War concluded in compromise and his support on First Circuit suffered, Primus Toyama gave consideration to retirement and handpicked Karpov as his successor. Karpov was named Primus upon Toyama's death from a massive stroke in April 2837.
Primus of ComStar
Karpov's first act was to name Toyama a saint of the Blessed Order. Toyama's death, so soon after he named Karpov as his successor, led some to believe he had perhaps hastened his death, a belief that was only fueled by Karpov's increasingly hardline approach.
While Toyama had created special, almost mystical procedures whenever ComStar techs operated a hyperpulse generator, under Karpov these became mandatory and heavily religious Gregorian-style chants that soon extended to almost all ComStar equipment. Those who refused soon found themselves victims of ROM as Karpov continued to expand upon Toyama's radical interpretation of the Word of Blake. Among the many symbolic changes instituted by Karpov was the replacement of previous gray jumpsuits of Blake's era with white robes adorned with mathematical symbols taken from holy "scriptures" of a physics book or technical readout and nightly indoctrination sessions at each HPG station.
Horrified that Karpov was proving even more extreme than Toyama, two members of the First Circuit resigned, but this just allowed Karpov to appoint more agreeable replacements. Even Karpov's friend Michelle Dupreas also began to question his extremism when he proposed Organizational Edict 3056 in the summer of 2838. The edict called for a massive expansion of ROM to allow it to change its scope from internal security to targeting and preventing the Successor States efforts to maintain their level of technology.
While the horrors of the First and the ongoing Second Succession War had all but reduced the general level of technical knowledge in the Inner Sphere, as a firm believer in the Word of Blake and the prophecies of Conrad Toyama that the Great Houses would ultimately destroy themselves and the Blessed Order alone would survive, Karpov viewed any technological recovery as a dire threat to ComStar and easily persuaded the First Circuit of the need to take proactive action against it.
Dupreas however believed such blatant use of power was counter to Jerome Blake's desire to avoid interference with the affairs of the Inner Sphere and unsuccessfully appeared before the First Circuit to argue against it. When an enraged Karpov named her a heretic for her defiance, Dupreas tendered her resignation as Precentor ROM and ComStar as a whole, before dying under highly suspicious circumstances. Under her replacement Janice Laidlaw, a staunch supporter of Karpov's policies, the newly agreeable ROM launched what would later be called Operation Holy Shroud, a massive five-year effort to kill over 300 of the best scientific minds in the Inner Sphere.
While ROM worked to cripple the Great Houses' efforts at recovering LosTech, to allow the Order discover what advances escaped their grasp Karpov took a leaf from his predecessor's actions in the ComStar War, opening up a fixed number of Acolyte positions to the scions of most powerful Inner Sphere families to gain detailed insights to the Great Houses' levels of technology.
While having increasing success in dealing with external threats, Karpov turned again to internal issues. ComStar's efforts to expand the network had placed increasing strain upon the Terran and the First Circuit HPG stations and had dramatically slowed transmission times, leading Karpov to expand the First Circuit to ten stations 2857, adding Arcturus, Oriente, Altair and Capella. This expansion fixed the problem and left room for future growth, as well as allowing Karpov to further strengthen his hold on the political First Circuit.
Shortly after the addition of these stations, an internal auditor of the Order found the expansion of the network had also resulted in an increasing fragmentation of its organizational structure, with many outer stations customizing their management structure, complicating and diluting the Primus's reforms. Karpov addressed this by issuing the Doctrinal Edict of 2861, which formalized the three-tiered structure established in the time of Blake and Toyama as well as making official the process for naming a Primus.
Events such as the Veddar Affair led Karpov to formalize even more procedures. After Rosemary Veddar, a Lyran Commonwealth Loki agent, successfully infiltrated ComStar and remained undetected for three years, Primus Karpov responded with increasing ROM's almost all-pervasive powers to allow it to test current and potential members of the Order to prevent any further Great House spies. This was further aided when Karpov instituted a rotational posting system, with no ComStar personnel remaining at a given assignment or world for more than two years to prevent familiarity and make it impossible to infiltrate the Order.
While his reformation of the Order's internal structure continued, external issues continued to haunt Karpov. While Operation Holy Shroud had succeeded beyond Karpov's wildest dream, it also unfortunately forced the Great Houses to end the Second Succession War in an effort to recover their strength. When Precentor ROM advised the First Circuit in 2866 that Inner Sphere would likely recover all lost technology within three decades if the present peace continued, Karpov reacted quickly. Following Conrad Toyama's efforts in the ComStar War to fan the conflicts between the Successor States, Karpov authorized ROM to filter information to the Lyran Commonwealth about the so-called Shadow War in the Draconis Combine between the Internal Security Force and Coordinator Miyogi Kurita. Just as Karpov had hoped, in typical Kurita fashion when Miyogi learned the Lyrans knew of the Shadow War the simmering tensions along the Combine-Commonwealth border exploded into open warfare again, touching off the Third Succession War.
Despite Karpov's success in restarting the fighting and maintaining Blake's predictions about the eventual collapse of society through war, he had becoming increasingly disenchanted with the politics of the increasingly hostile First Circuit. With the liberals complaining about his somewhat draconian measures and the conservatives claiming he hadn't gone far enough, the despondent Primus simply stopped attending the meetings of the First Circuit for three months in 2874. By 2875 he had had enough, citing failing health. Karpov stepped down as Primus in favor of Precentor Arcturus Andrea Marteen, having named the more liberal Marteen several years earlier as a compromise with his critics.
Death and Legacy
While arguably overshadowed by massive changes wrought by both Blake and Toyama, much of the religious trappings of the pre-Schism Blessed Order either came into being or were officially formalized during the reign of Raymond Karpov. Future Primus Yin Takami would later canonize Karpov for his efforts on shaping ComStar.
Documents recorded in the secret journal of Victoria Parrdeau secured by Chandrasekhar Kurita during the Jihad allegedly claim that a less publicly known legacy of Karpov was the hiring of Clinton's Cutthroats to protect The Five after the accidental discovery of one of the worlds on 15 October 2869. Parrdeau's journal also linked some unspecified success of Karpov's to the direction of medical research on the hidden world of Jardine.
In the documents relating to the Not-Named supposedly uncovered by Chandrasekhar Kurita at the same time, the ambitious Karpov reportedly courted the support of The Blood, assassinating Toyama and instigating his more proactive efforts like Holy Shroud at the insistence of the Blood's "Blessed Father". Supposedly a Wolverine in spirit if not blood, Karpov's most notable contribution to their cause was finding and assisting in the setup of The Five, but the documents also indicate Karpov's selection of Marteen to succeed him was a possible change of heart about the Blood's direction.
Philosophical and/or political views
Considered somewhat abrasive and uncultured, historians are divided on if uncharismatic Karpov was a religious zealot turning to extremism to cope with a role for which he was unprepared or a tool of conservatives on the First Circuit.
What is known is where Blake and Toyama had preferred an indirect wait and see approach, Karpov actively worked towards bringing about the Word of Blake, becoming the first Primus to make ROM a tool of external assassination and death.
- ComStar, p. 32
- Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents, p. 127: "The Not-Named - Primus Raymond Andre Karpov"
- ComStar, p. 27
- ComStar, p. 28
- ComStar, p. 29
- ComStar, p. 30
- ComStar, p. 31
- ComStar, p. 33
- Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents, p. 114: "Karpov's Legacy"
- Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents, pp. 127–128: "The Not-Named"