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Assassination of Roger III Winton

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On 7 October 1883 PD, King Roger III of Manticore fell to his death while grav skiing with his wife Angelique at the Indigo Salt Flats. The "accident" resulted from sabotage of the king's grav ski by a conspiracy of Manticoran politicians, including paid agents of the People's Republic of Haven. (HHA2.3: QG)

The incident proved to have major short and long-term political repercussions, extending all the way to the First and Second Havenite-Manticoran Wars.

Background Edit

King Roger III had been aggressively pursuing an expansion of the Royal Manticoran Navy and building up the Manticoran Alliance, in preparation for what he considered an inevitable war with the expansionist People's Republic of Haven. There were figures in Manticoran politics who opposed Roger's policies, believing it to be alarmist, wasteful and/or provocative of Haven. (HOS) Daniel Chou of the Palace Guard Service thought that the fact that Roger III was the first Manticoran monarch to receive prolong made the situation particularly intolerable for his opponents, as he would have centuries to advance his goals. (HHA2.3: QG)

The conspiracy to assassinate Roger had five members. Willis Kemeny, 9th Earl of Howell and MP Jean Marrou were respected politicians who were privately opposed to Roger's policies.[1] Paula Gwinner, Baroness Gwinner of Stallman and MP Marvin Seltman were (unbeknowst to their fellow conspirators) in the pay of the People's Republic of Haven. The point man for the assassination was Major Padraic Dover of the King's Own Regiment, who was infatuated with the Crown Princess Elizabeth and deeply jealous of her fiance Justin Zyrr.

The conspirators plotted not only to kill Roger, but also to maneuver their own choice (namely Howell) into the regency for the new Queen Elizabeth, hoping to influence her in a direction more to their liking.[2]

Haven had previously attempted to kill Roger III with a virus, but he survived. (HHA2.3: QG)

Assassination and Elizabeth's ascension Edit

Roger and Angelique had gone to the Indigo Salt Flats for some recreational time ahead of his planned visit to San Martin, where he intended to announce a mutual defense treaty with President Hector Ramirez in opposition to Haven. (HOS) Roger brought a new grav ski with him, a birthday gift from Elizabeth. Dover falsely down-checked the ski as defective, and the king took a backup ski stored on-site instead. This ski had been rigged to be remotely shut down by Dover while in mid-flight, and Roger was unable to activate his standby grav pack in time, leading to a fatal crash. The receiver disintegrated in the crash, and Dover destroyed the transmitter.

Elizabeth was notified of the incident while at Landing University. There she took the Monarch's Oath and accepted the oaths of loyalty from the speakers of both houses of Parliament, at the age of 18. As she was not yet 21, a regent would have to be named for her, but as she was over 16, the regent would be selected by her. As Elizabeth and her advisers anticipated some political disputes in Parliament over her choice, a plan was devised: Lord Chamberlain Jacob Wundt would be named as the initial candidate, to be rejected after some debate. Subsequently, Elizabeth's real choice of her paternal aunt Caitrin Winton-Henke should be accepted.[3]

While the conspirators maneuvered to have their man Howell named as Elizabeth's regent, they also planned to break up the relationship between Elizabeth and Zyrr[4], in order to further emotionally undermine the young queen. (HHA2.3: QG)

Investigation Edit

Elizabeth was suspicious of the supposed accident, as her father had apparently not used the grav ski she gifted him after making a point of taking it with him. She asked Zyrr to quietly investigate.

Zyrr went to the Flats, where he encountered Daniel Chou. The PGS officer explained reasons to be suspicious of the supposed accident, given the opposition to Roger's policies and the opportunity to Elizabeth in the present time. Chou had inspected the physical evidence and found nothing, but when Zyrr ran his own diagnostic on Elizabeth's gift ski, he found that it was in perfect condition.

Later, Chou discovered that Dover had been the one to persuade the king to use the other ski. While the major's record was impeccable, Zyrr arranged a private interview appointment with Dover to discuss the matter. Dover planned to use the opportunity to murder Zyrr, covering it up as self-defense after the other man allegedly attempted to solicit his assistance in some scandalous activity and then became violent.

Prior to the meeting, Michelle Henke had asked Zyrr to look after Roger's treecat Monroe, in a state of depression and near-catatonia following his person's death. When Zyrr explained his suspicions, Dover attempted to kill him with a blow to the neck, but was attacked by Monroe. Though the treecat was too emaciated to kill Dover outright, he and Zyrr were able to subdue the would-be assassin, after which Chou arrived. When Chou informed Dover he was under arrest for Roger's assassination, the attempted murder of Zyrr and treason, Monroe clawed out the major's face and throat. He died without revealing the conspiracy.

During Roger's wake, Marrou showed up to pay her respects, but left early after discovering that Zyrr and Elizabeth's treecat Ariel were apparently in a state of alert. She headed to a scheduled meeting of her fellow conspirators; arriving early, she overhead a discussion between Gwinner and Seltman that revealed Haven's involvement in the assassination. A shocked Marrou pretended to have noticed nothing amiss, but after the meeting she sought to contact the Queen, and ended up meeting with Zyrr and Chou to confess the plot. (HHA2.3: QG)

Action against the conspiracy Edit

Elizabeth was advised that she could not publicly expose the plot and put the conspirators on trial, due to the political consequences involved. Such an action would throw the Manticoran government into turmoil, create witch hunts against traitors real or imagined (and in turn allow the People's Republic of Haven to sneak in political candidates under the guise of anti-Haven positions), and provoke a war with Haven which Manticore was not yet ready for. Neither could she challenge the offenders to duels; Seltman would refuse unless the reasons were publicized, and Elizabeth's enemies would have an opportunity to kill her by offering Marrou a skilled specialist for a champion.

Instead, Elizabeth summoned the four surviving conspirators to Mount Royal Palace. She offered them a deal: all four of them would be removed from the centers of power, and spend the rest of their lives under surveillance. Howell would retire in favour of his daughter Maralise, Gwinner and Seltman were to be sent to the Basilisk System under the pretext of government employment and business respectively, while Marrou would relocate to Sphinx to study the treecats. The conspirators accepted the bargain (though in Seltman's case, only after threats of the loss of his seat and destruction of his business interests through a rumour campaign). Elizabeth ordered the records of the meeting to be sealed till 100 years after her death. (HHA2.3: QG)

Aftermath Edit

Elizabeth III proved to be a monarch strong beyond her years, and continued her father's policy of buildup against the People's Republic. This would prove immensely vital during the First Havenite-Manticoran War. (HOS) However, the incident also left her with a lasting prejudice against Haven, which contributed to the breakdown of the proposed peace summit with President Eloise Pritchart during the Second Havenite-Manticoran War. (HH11)

Having only recently been crowned, Elizabeth lacked the political stature of her father and could not realistically hope to pursue the planned mutual defense treaty with San Martin. The PRH was thus able to annex the Republic. (HOS)

Monroe adopted Justin Zyrr following their encounter with the murderous Dover, saving the treecat from death after the passing of his original person. Zyrr and Elizabeth later married.

Dimitri Young, Earl of North Hollow learned of the plot through his own channels, and blackmailed Howell, Gwinner and Seltman. (HHA2.3: QG)

Due in part to her experience with her inability to bring her father's killers to justice, Elizabeth strongly sympathised with Honor Harrington during the latter's duels with Denver Summervale and Pavel Young.

References Edit

  1. In Marrou's case, this was due to her blindness which resulted from a case of Artemesian measles during her mother's pregnancy; Marrou believed that Roger's pursuit of trade and expansion would contribute to further such cases.
  2. Chou and Justin Zyrr suspected that the timing of the assassination was selected such that Elizabeth would be young enough to require a regent, but not so young that the regent would effectively rule in her stead.
  3. In the event that Wundt was accepted, he could retire after a few months citing his old age, allowing Winton-Henke to take over.
  4. In Dover's case, his intent was to kill Zyrr and take his place as Elizabeth's consort.

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