Saturday, 11 June 2011

Characters who can Drive the Story #3

Palace of Shandijuparanar on Raelmar/Thurgandarn
In my last post, the finger of suspicion was pointing in the direction of Dentian Venuraski, later Sector Duke Dentian I, as the murderer of Sector Duke Kolin I in 550.

To recap, in 550 Kolin I, at the age of 72, was on campaign in Gazolan Subsector, attempting to pacify a hostile and potentially dangerous pocket empire rimward of the Klarthur Confederacy. His son and heir, Metch, was, we have decided, serving as a theatre commander in Gazolan Subsector – possibly in a Ground role, but more likely as a Task Force Commander - with a Fleet Admiral and a Ground Force Commander to keep him from making any serious mistakes.

So where was Kolin’s nephew, the future Sector Duke Kolin II? While pondering this question, I re-read this passage from Origins of the Rimworlds Sector 497 - 557

“As tensions eased along the Spinward frontier, Viceroy Kolin turned his eyes Rimward and set his scouts in motion again.

“Following the path of least resistance, Imperial colonisation moved Rimward from Berimar’s Sceptre Subsector into Thurgandarn, and then into Nolgor Subsector. In 540, the years of planning and effort paid off. The Sector Duchy of the Rimworlds was formerly established with its initial capital on Raelamr/Thurgandarn and Kolin Venuraski was invested as its first Sector Duke.

“Great mineral resources were discovered in the Gazolan subsector and these fuelled the rapid expansion of the Duchy. This expansion was not unopposed. Ten years into his reign, Sector Duke Kolin I’s driving ambition led his downfall when he was killed on campaign. Gazolan subsector was to claim the life of his son and successor, Metch (reigned 550 – 552), before being finally pacified.

“The Perrsherrik Rift in Nolgor Subsector halted the march to the Rim for a few years, but by 552 Imperial forces under Sector Duke Kolin II Venuraski had penetrated the Coreward end of Gazul Subsector.”


So, contrary to what I suggested had happened a couple of posts back, expansion Rimward began soon after Kolin I signed the Treaty of Choraptur with the Klarthur Confederacy in 530. Imperial forces encountered little or no resistance as they moved through Thurgandarn Subsector and the Coreward end of Nolgor Subsector, advancing about a parsec a year until, sometime in the mid/late 540’s, Kolin’s Scouts ran into the Perrsherrik Rift. The establishment of the first Sector Duchy capital at Raelmar (Thurgandarn 0808) in 540, close to the advancing wavefront in Nolgor Subsector, and handy to the increasingly problematic Gazolan Subsector to Spinward, would seem to indicate the choice of capital was governed by the proximity of perceived flash points.

The Perrsherrik Rift was to hold up the Imperial advance for several years until Antoi Perrsherrik’s original crossing point through the Thrisk and Lotarf systems was secured. Imperial expansion then continued Rimward, encountering progressively stiffer resistance from the Zoni of Lur and the Dokari Diarchy in Core-Spinward Gazul Subsector until Kolin II’s reign when the 1st Rimward War was finally fought.

It was on this front – the march to Rimward – that Kolin Venuraski would gain command experience and why, I believe, he fought the 1st Rimward War. To Kolin I would go the honour of establishing the RimWorlds Sector. Kolin II sought his place in history by taking the Imperium to the edge of Intergalactic Space. With this goal in his mind, the war in Gazolan was a distraction for Kolin II, robbing him of the fleet elements he needed to put down the Zoni and to break up the Dokari Diarchy.

The transition between Kolin I’s administration and that of Metch, in the midst of the Gazolan War, would have effectively stalled Kolin II’s Rimward campaign. It is likely that Kolin II was required to be present for Metch’s investiture, which would have taken him out of the Gazul theatre and his conflict with the Dokari Diarchy. Given his Rimward focus, which he returned to with a vengence after Metch’s death, I am inclined to believe that Kolin II did not murder his uncle.

So, where was Dentain during this time? If Kolin II was in his fifty’s when he died in 557, and Dentian was five or six years younger, then that would make Dentian somewhere between 46 and 50 when his brother won the 1st Rimward War and was killed at the Battle of Gorth. This would make Dentian between 39 and 43 when Kolin I was murdered in 550.

Given that by 550 the conflict in Gazolin Subsector had been under way for upwards of five years, and that Dentian’s brother already had the Rimward front in hand, I suspect that Dentian – the younger of the refugee cousins - would have been put to work in some fashion in Gazolin, as another Venuraski theatre commander may very well have been of use there.

Was there some military disaster associated with Dentian, or one of his entourage in 549 – 550? A public dressing down, or similar humiliation by Kolin I, may have been the tipping point where a “disgruntled gardener” sought to do service, or regain face, by removing the Sector Duke. As Dentian did not immediately stake a claim to the Sector Duchy, nor was executed by Metch, Kolin’s successor, could it be that Metch supported his younger cousin in the face of accusations over the deeds of a minion? Metch had a war to fight, and with only two years to live, he may have taken Dentian’s word instead of waiting for the findings of a formal inquiry, which would have taken time to deliver a verdict. The murderer’s identity was discreetly buried, possibly along with his body, and Metch took the Ducal coronet.

And here’s a thought – was the indomitable Kolin I in failing health at this time? The stress of command in an increasingly bloody war, coupled with the onset of some form of age-linked neurological disorder, coupled with some form of setback that caused the Sector Duke to fly into a public rage? While TL 13 medical technology might be able to cure such things, if the patient is in a borderline state and is then suddenly pushed over the edge, the harsh words and decrees might be issued before the medics could make a difference.

I think we have processed this inquiry about as far as we can, without coming right out and making a definite statement. By examining the character and times of one individual, and it must be admitted that Kolin I Venuraski is one of those exceptional individuals, we have been able to cast some light of a personal nature upon events five hundred years before the current campaign time. This, in turn allows us the possibility of artefacts, or people, with links to those far distant times who, in turn, will have value or motivations of their own which can set events in motion even in the current time.