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I’ve taken notice of an interesting discussion on the official BattleTech boards lately, as fans of the Combine debate the current “modern era” purpose of both the Internal Security Force and the Order of Five Pillars (ISF and O5P, respectively). Setting aside some of the more…obtuse…arguments, I decided to kick out one more post with “preview content” from the upcoming-but-in-a-holding-pattern HBHK.
Before I do that, however, I have to say one thing: When you argue from a position where you’re using your own assumptions as fact and then relentlessly bludgeoning others with such a position, you’re doing it wrong. Egregiously so. Conducting effective nerd debates about fictional game history is all about using only established published canon to lay out your theory so others can debate it. (Key word: debate. There’s no ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in nerd debates about a fictional game universe.) It’s not about taking your stand and then wielding your constructed argument as “the Hand of Inarguable Fact.” Because all you’re doing is annoying everyone and, possibly, trolling.
I, the current shepherd of various factions and crafter of stories and plots involving such factions, sometimes step in to correct such mishandled material. It’s amusing when I get told I’m wrong… The humor in such irony is, unfortunately, sad.
Anyway, I wanted to lay down some information for fans or the curious bystanders wanting to know more about the ISF, the O5P, and the Kokuryu-kai. Note that this information is being presented from the fictional year of 3067.
Internal Security Force [from the Pillar of Gold]
The ISF is not under the jurisdiction of any ministry. Its doings are shrouded in such secrecy that it officially does not exist. No one branch of government can claim control over the ISF, as its agents are everywhere, and their first and only allegiance is to the Coordinator.
Subdivided into five main branches, all of which operate independently of one another, the ISF has no central administration outside the director. This arrangement helps foster internal security among the various branches by compartmentalizing operations.
Currently, the ISF’s primary mission is to locate and destroy the surviving elements of the Black Dragon Society while simultaneously protecting the Combine against external threats. The Clan and Federated Suns fronts remain hotbeds of activity for the latter activities, which suggests that Theodore does not fully trust his neighbors.
It should be noted that recent efforts by the Coordinator to strengthen Japanese culture among his people has led to an influx of new Japanese names for agencies previously tagged with generic labels. Curiously enough, the ISF and DEST entities have not received this treatment, most likely because their names are recognized and feared even in foreign space.
[and from the Pillar of Steel]
Citizens of the Draconis Combine rarely mention the ISF, but they all think about it constantly. Responsible for many abductions, killings, and interrogations, the secret police fosters fear, paranoia, and devotion to the state. Those who follow the way of the samurai have little to fear from the ISF, however, unless their honor conflicts with the honor of the Draconis Combine.
Few members of the ISF are visible to the general public. Most agents belong to other groups or governmental departments, and few know about these operatives’ affiliation with the secret police. The ISF has infiltrated every organization in Kurita space and many others in the other Great Houses. Its reach is even longer, as citizens may collect a reward for reporting treasonous activity or talk by others. When military operations are called for, the ISF can take command of any Special Forces unit as needed, even without notifying that district’s Warlord.
Inside the secret police is an even more secret society. Called the “Sons of the Dragon,” the society is a group of agents who are more loyal to the Director of the ISF and the Coordinator. Few beyond the ISF, high-ranking officials in the Order of Five Pillars, and the Coordinator’s family are aware of the existence of the group, though many rumors persists in varying form among the common people.
[Please refer to the more extensive information on the ISF in the Pillar of Gold section, as the agency does not fall under the command or purview of the DCMS. —MK]
Order of the Five Pillars [from the Pillar of Gold]
The O5P is a curious agency, neither officially part of the Combine’s intelligence apparatus nor technically opposed to it. The Order is a self-sufficient organization that maintains the dual roles of protecting the spiritual honor of House Kurita while at the same time keeping watch over its people. This quasi-agency falls under the purview of the Ministry of the Court but answers directly to the Coordinator. The Order’s ministry ties exist so it can requisition materials and work with the various Court bureaus to provide assistance as needed.
In order to facilitate its own goals, the O5P has evolved its own bureaucracy and intelligence network that pervades all of Combine space and possibly beyond. They have the ear of many of the Dragon’s officials.
[from the Pillar of Ivory]
The ISF remains wary of the Order’s infiltration of all aspects of Combine society, a situation that rivals the secret police’s own machinations. Agents have attempted to infiltrate the O5P and compete with the quality of its training. Because of the ISF’s lack of women—many O5P adepts and illuminati are female—and the Order’s own counter-penetration of the agency, ISF success has been limited. This rivalry continues unabated, lasting more than five centuries, but neither side will openly admit to such disharmony. Such an admission could have disastrous ramifications on the Combine, a situation neither agency wishes to see occur.
Nonetheless, during the Keepership of Constance Kurita, efforts to reconcile differences between the two agencies were initiated. The détente continued under the Keepership of the Coordinator’s daughter Omi, who tested both sides when she asked them to relay a message to the Dragon’s enemies during the Clan Invasion. Her request sought help in freeing the Heir-Designate trapped on Teniente. Emboldened by the mission’s success, Omi continued to build on that alliance of expediency through the rest of her years.
Tragically, Omi’s death at the hands of an assassin in 3064 seems to have shattered the fragile alliance. While the two agencies might have cooperated individually with the Coordinator’s son Minoru in tracking Omi’s killer, such reports cannot be independently verified. It remains unclear at present exactly how Minoru found and executed the assassin and avenged the Dragon’s loss.
The current head of the Order and Keeper of the House Honor is Miyako Kurita, daughter of Isoroku Kurita, the Warlord of the Dieron Military District. The Abbess is Tomade Yamiro, who was recently under rigorous investigation by the ISF for possible links to the Black Dragons. Ultimately proven innocent, the Abbess has since cut the Order’s ties with the agency, forming a crack in the already tattered alliance that neither group can afford at this time.
The Kokuryu-kai Enigma [from History of the Nation]
Not all within the Combine’s nobility agreed with the changes enacted by Coordinator Takashi and his son. The Dragon’s newfound focus and more liberal policies were at odds with those of many hardline, conservative nobles. Within this environment the Kokuryu-kai—the Black Dragon Society—grew exponentially. Originally confined to the mad fancy of Combine nobles wrapped in the trappings of history dominated by Shinjiro and Hohiro Kurita, the Black Dragons found prestige, money, and strength. Bolstered through this renaissance of thought, these elder nobles found new life in their younger protégés and began suborning those who could assist them in standing against the Coordinator. Not even our own people were immune. Echoing shreds of the past, we found ourselves divided once again, though such an ideological division would not surface for several years.
In 3054, Coordinator Takashi Kurita suffered a severe stroke that would end his life, leaving Theodore as his heir. Despite the new Coordinator’s uncharacteristically open and public testimony, supported with reports from within this agency, many subversive Combine news agencies began circulating rumors that Takashi had not gone to his death willingly. These independent sources, a product of the Combine’s loosening strictures over the last few decades, bolstered the Black Dragons’ cause through persistence and casting a modicum of doubt among the populace. These reactionary elements sought a premature return to the Combine’s original doctrine of conquest and glory, before Theodore’s reforms could destroy the honor and prestige of the DCMS and the Combine.
The Kokuryu-kai claims five grievances with the Coordinator:
- The continuing détente with the Federated Commonwealth.
- According common soldiers equal honors alongside noble officers.
- Building BattleMech regiments out of yakuza and other criminals, insulting the well-born and properly bred citizens.
- Permitting the secession of the Rasalhague people.
- Opposing the noble and heroic efforts of Marcus Kurita and his followers in their attempt to redeem the Combine’s honor.
When examined thoroughly, the Black Dragons are simply using a myopic view of the past in order to claim authority over the Draconis Combine. Because this ideology is against the purposes and integrity of the Dragon, it is the ISF’s duty to completely oppose it.
—Memo attributed to Ninyu Kerai from Subhash Indrahar, 3058; Imperial Court Archives, 3067
[and from Pillar of Gold]
The ancient Black Dragon society, with roots as far back as Richard Kurita, is considered the greatest internal threat to the stability of the Combine since the Shadow War of the previous century. The Kokuryu-kai has always moved in the shadows, influencing nobles and other officials as needed to protect the Dragon from harming itself. Only in the last few decades has this society moved in a more overt manner, bringing bold violence into the realm.
The Black Dragons’ first blatant militaristic move was an attack on the Davion world of Towne, launched after the FedCom split apart in the face of a Marik-Liao invasion. Although hoping to bring back the Combine’s glory days with this unsanctioned invasion, the Society found its plans thwarted by mercenaries employed by the Coordinator’s cousin, Chandrasekhar Kurita. After the incident, a purge of the DCMS was believed to put an end to the secretive sect, but two months later, the Kokuryu-kai struck again with an assassination attempt on the Coordinator.
The 3058 incident was aided by a large number of sympathizers within the ISF and Otomo, including General Hohiro Kiguri, head of DEST. A second, more widespread purge, including within the ISF, attempted to destroy the Black Dragons for good. The ISF’s vital role in the operations to destroy the Smoke Jaguars and end the Clan crusade showed few indications that any of the Kokuryu-kai had survived. One incident, an attempt on Victor Steiner-Davion’s life during his visit to Luthien, has not been officially linked to the Society, though many among the nobility believe it to be so.
After the Clans’ defeat, much of the ISF assisted the reclamation of the worlds liberated by BULLDOG. Nearly a decade of rebellion against the occupying Clans produced planetary populations grown accustomed to resistance, which made it nearly as difficult for the ISF to assimilate these reclaimed worlds as it was to bring the remains of Clan Nova Cat into the Combine. The resource drain on both the agency and the overall economy of the Combine created a great deal of internal dissent that once again awakened the Black Dragons, who moved forward a few years later with their most ambitious plans yet.
In just a handful of isolated incidents, the latest actions attributed to the Black Dragons have provoked some of the hardest fighting and the most terrible tragedies in recent years. With the renegade attack on Alshain by the Alshain Avengers in 3062, the Society instigated the biggest conflict on the Clan front since BULLDOG. Along with the DCMS seizing worlds in the Lyons Thumb after Lyran and mercenary troops struck Combine garrisons, the Federated Suns’s Draconis March launched their own assault over the border.
These conflicts savaged the Combine military and stretched thin the already-depleted ISF resources. To save face among his people and forestall any more “renegade” adventurism, the Coordinator annexed territories along the Lyran and FedSuns borders and redistributed the DCMS to locations near hostile enemy worlds. Tensing for the next dissident attack, the Combine stands on the verge of losing most of the reforms the Coordinator has spent his life putting into effect for the nation’s own survival.
—Star League Intel Briefing 53-1; Office of the Star League Intelligence Command, 3065