Otherwise known as the First Bellato Civil War
and the Rise of the Union
The beginnings of dissent: the founding of the RBFL
For most of their history, the Bellato have done nothing but fight amongst themselves. Bred to be the ultimate super soldiers by Project Alpha Adam, they could do no less than be true to their “design.” Fighting was in their blood, waging war in their very genetic code. So, at their “liberation” from the Project during the last Arcane Virus outbreak in the Sector, the Bellato proceeded to lay waste to each other after consolidating their respective Demesnes and gathering what resources they could.
This only stopped with the arrival of the Corite Exiles. Aside from the “strategic importance” of the advanced Force techniques brought by the refugees of the War of Color, this made the Bellato realize that they weren’t alone. Mostly through the efforts of Clans Aquius and Avius, the Bellato became a largely unified people, with the ruling House of Clan Aquius being named as the Monarch of the whole Race.
The operative term here is “largely.”
Until the reign of Serena I, Clan Aquius Monarchs barely kept the Clans united. Chief among their problems lay with the age-old rivalry between the Lupus and the Solus, the leading “Fighter” Clan and the foremost “Force” Clan of the Bellato. Both prided themselves in their martial abilities, and their belligerence was only kept in check by the implied threat of orbital bombardment by the new Avius space assets and the elite Marines of Clan Aquius.
When her father Sargon died trying to prevent a skirmish between the Solus and Lupus from turning into a full-blown war, Serena, upon ascending the throne, thought this precarious state of affairs would not do. The Lunus, by this time their bloodline enhanced by their intermarriage with the Cora’s House Elis, had been telling her family that “conflict with the Race of the Exiles is inevitable,” and that there was another Race out there that could presumably challenge even the combat expertise and large numbers of the Bellato armies. Serena was also aware of the existence of the Herodians, since she had to undergo a “full briefing” from the Recluses at her ascension to the throne, and part of that briefing involved hearing Altair Edian and Delphiam Elis talk about why the War of Color happened in the first place.
Serena knew she had to keep the Bellato ready for anything the universe will throw their way, and having her “cousins” remain in a constant state of belligerence using their standing military forces was not part of the solution. Still, she was Bellato to the core, and knew that fighting was part of their birthright, and that she also needed a way in which the Clans could keep their combatant troops, or at least a sufficient number of them, in battle readiness without having to risk inter-Clan warfare when their official armed forces clash on the field.
After consulting with Keris Duval and Andreas Solaris (the latter without the knowledge of Keris’ husband, Mikhail, Archduke and Head of Clan Solus), Serena announced two things: the reduction of all standing Clan forces to “optimal defense requirements”, and the formation of the Royal Bellato Foreign Legion.
There were, of course, loud protests from the major military Clans about the reduction in forces. Essentially, this, alongside the expansion of the Royal Guards, would make Clan Aquius forces equal to the combined forces of all the other Clans save the Avius (whose real military might rested in their warships and orbital assets). The promise of Avius neutrality on all “atmospheric disputes” – the Clan, really, was only concerned with the exploration of, and expansion into, space – did little to assuage the concerns most vocally raised by the Archdukes of Clans Lupus and Solus. There was even a minor, but telling, voicing of concerns by Clan Tellurius about this reduction in forces, but many knew it was because the Tellurius were more interested in the potential drop in their profits from the loss of so much… clientèle.
But when Keris, speaking as Serena’s Voice as always, told them about the concept of the Foreign Legion, the voices of dissent quieted down.
The RBFL Divisions were mercenary formations that the Clans could raise, train and provision as they can and see fit, similar to regular Clan military units. Clans could raise as many Divisions as they can sustain, but all must be employable after a period of training. And all would be under rules of engagement that were set up by the Foreign Legion Regulatory Commission. Any breach of the most important rules set out by the FLRC in the conduct of their operations by RBFL Divisions would merit serious penalties and repercussions, up to and including being the subject of a military operation from the aggrieved party plus whatever forces the Royal Guards and the Combined Fleet could muster.
Serena was not to worry about the reception of the idea. For various reasons, the major military Clans saw the logic in the concept of the RBFL. The Lupus saw it as a means to indefinitely increase their military might. The Solus saw it as a way to tap hitherto inaccessible sources of soldiers and to “spread the wealth” of the Clans, so to speak. The Verdana saw it as a way to… legitimize the services offered by their “covert ops” units. The Tellurius, meanwhile, simply kept hearing the ringing of cash registers from all those equipment purchases.
It was that provision, that the Clans could start recruiting from the “Freemen” of Bellato society – members of the Race who, for one reason or another, were not part of any of the Great Clans – that really piqued the interest of the leaders of the Great Clans, and many of the Frees saw this as a way to get into the Clans, so to speak, and partake of the wealth and easy living commonly associated with those entities.
One significant achievement of the RBFL was that some of the greatest heroes of the Bellato would come from their ranks: Aldarion Ihn-Benyakan, Bo Hammer, Craig Abernathy, Tony Villamor and Helena La Vance, to name a few, all came from the RBFL. These men and women, born of Bellato Freemen (although rumors persist that La Vance is somehow related to the Queen, or one of her cousins) and therefore denied access to “higher service” with their Race prior to the creation of the RBFL, now found employment for their skills and talents, honing them into the potent weapons they are today.
And, of course, if it wasn’t for the RBFL, Harvey Lunus, by then living as a ronin after his expulsion from Clan Lunus by his uncle Isidore, would never have found direction in his life without his employment first with the Lupus (where Duke Leonidas would induct him to the Way of the Hammer) and then the Solus (where, aside from being placed under Andreas Solaris’ command, Harvey would finally meet his mentor, the Corite Weapons Master Kendrin Aenderil). And neither would Harvey be in a position to meet Phaera Ladenus – and everything that meeting caused thereafter – the way he did. Finally, without the RBFL, it is doubtless that Harvey Lunus would become the foremost Hero of the Bellato today and provide the Race with a warrior to match Blackdread and Prince Vanderion, or to deal with threats like the Hands of Hybroer.
Eventually, many Clan Heads agreed that perhaps the biggest boon of the mercenary units was the largess they brought home. Now, everyone and everything could, for a price, access the elite of the Clans, and many would pay a pretty Dalant just to have these premier troops in their employ.
Some of the biggest contracts, pre-First Novus War, of the RBFL were during the “Trader Wars”, when several of the largest businesses and corporate families of the Bellato waged a semi-secret fratricide amongst themselves. This saw the rise of the Cartella as the major conglomerate first of the Bellato and then of the whole Sector.
Next: The Sons of Unity, and the RBFL during the First Novus War