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Cassander Lodewijk Marten, 13th Duke of Nieuwvaalia KIC OM (11 June 3221 – 6 May 3268) was a Terran colonial nobleman, politician, and criminal of the Late Terran Empire. He acceded to the dukedom and hereditary governorship of Nieuwvaalia in 3247, after serving in the Imperial Army Cavalry Corps. He was tried for criminal activities, and paroled after serving part of his sentence. During his lifetime, he was emblematic of the decadence and corruption of the Terran aristocracy.

His violent death was the subject of an extensive investigation, which found that he had participated in an extensive aristocratic plot against the monarchy, which had planned a coup d'etat to assassinate the Emperor and the Crown Prince. He died in his home, along with his family and several other aristocrats and businesspeople who were determined to have all been involved with the conspiracy.

Early life and education

Cassander was born on June 11th, 3221 to Rebecca van Rijn and Duke Johannes Fredrik Marten, in the Calvinist East Hospital in Martenstad, the capital city of the planet Nieuwvaalia. He was entitled to carry from birth the courtesy style Count of Martenstad, as his father's heir apparent. His early life was spent in the opulence of the ducal palace in the city, with his corpulent and jovial father. His father spent lavishly, attracting criticism as an emblem of the excesses of the aristocracy. However, Duke Johannes Fredrik was generous as well, investing enormous sums of money into beautification projects and gentrifying the planet's townships. Cassander was spared no expense in being provided the best of things.

His education consisted of private tutoring up until the age of 18, whereupon he enlisted in the Imperial Army Cavalry Corps. He was educated mostly in the humanities, history, equestrianism, fencing, and sport shooting. Like most of his family, he was baptised into the Dutch Reformed Church and attended services up until age 13, whereupon he voluntarily ceased attending.

Military service

On July 1st, 3238, Cassander Marten enlisted in the Imperial Army. He attended Officer School after graduating Army basic training and mecha school in 3239. In 3240, he was commissioned a Lieutenant. He was placed in command of a Light Walker Platoon in the 929th Hussar Battalion of the 20th Cavalry Division. After proving his leadership in combat duties against colonial insurrectionists in the early 3240s, he was promoted to the rank of Captain and commanded a company of mixed light walkers and heavy artillery walkers. In 3244, he purchased a commission as a Major, and took command of the 929th Hussars, which became known as the "Duke's Light Horse" due to his predisposition towards fast, light mecha armed primarily with laser weaponry.

He served as a combat commander until 3247, whereupon he was legally obliged to return home to take up the hereditary governorship of Nieuwvaalia. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and retained his Army commission, but was placed into the reserves. He retired in 3260 with the rank of Colonel but was cashiered in 3262 after his conviction for criminal offences.

Governorship and trial

Marten became governor of Nieuwvaalia in 3247 after his father died. He inherited the dukedom and the hereditary right to govern the planet as per the world's constitutional charter. He governed the planet until 3262, when he was dismissed by Imperial decree. As reported by courtiers and revealed in the legal proceedings of his criminal trial, his rule over the planet was marked by vast building projects and increased white-collar crime and corruption, including decadence in his court. He regularly held balls and parties in his manorial estate, where aristocratic attendees could obtain and use various drugs including opium, amphetamines, and hallucinogens, and employ the use of black-market prostitutes, human and alien alike. He interacted with crime lords of the Dragon Syndicate to obtain these goods and services, and turned a blind eye to their depredations on the poorer population of the planet's cities. Using the crime syndicate as an intermediary, he also participated in illegal human and alien trafficking. In exchange for employing his world as a safe haven and waystation for traffickers, he made regular purchases of custom-grown black market androids for use as sex slaves. Of these, only one was described as useable only by him and not any other guest of his parties--a red-haired, tan female model named Lucille. He was also a member of the House of Lords in the Imperial Parliament, but attended parliamentary sessions only twice in person, instead usually delegating his place to his brother and heir, Willem.

Rumours of these sordid goings-on filtered out to Imperial law enforcement and investigative agencies, in the course of their investigation of the Dragon Syndicate. An investigation began in 3259, and came to a head in late 3261. A police raid on his manor house saw the confiscation of his drugs, alcohol, weapons and sex androids; his favouite, Lucille, was conscripted into the Army and notably saw combat in the Great War with the Lonely Hearts squad. He was was indicted for multiple criminal felonies: racketeering, human trafficking, extortion, illegal possession and distribution of controlled substances, sexual abuse of a minor, and slavery. A decree by the Emperor removed him from his gubernatorial office and appointed a replacement. Despite being retired, he was still entitled to his military honours and titles; he was ejected from the Army by a military court of honour and cashiered. As per tradition, his officer's sword was broken in half, his uniform was stripped of all insignia of rank, and his medals were torn off and stamped on the ground in public, at the army mustering plaza in the Imperial capital of Brussels. He was put on trial before the House of Lords in 3262 and convicted of all charges. In January 3263, he began serving his twenty-year sentence in the Heligoland Imperial Military Prison.

Marten served four years of his sentence before being paroled in early 3267.

Life after prison

Released from prison on 3 March 3267, he returned to Nieuwvaalia. His brother and heir, Willem Marten, had been appointed governor and nominally ruled the planet. However, after Cassander's return home, Willem Marten became essentially a puppet governor for his brother. Marten was allowed to retake his seat in the House of Lords, and fell under the patronage of Lord Frederick Rycon. The Rycons and the Martens had long been friends and associates, and Marten had previously been under Lord Rycon's protection until the Imperial investigation had uncovered incontrovertible evidence of Marten's misdeeds. His return to public life also entailed his return to Rycon's assistance. While in the House of Lords, he became newly active in politics, supporting Rycon's attempts at moderating the National Humanist Imperial Labor Party, of which Rycon was an influential member. However, Rycon was also a member and leader figure in the Imperial Conservative Party, also called the Tory Party. The cross-benching allowed Rycon a measure of political influence in both moderate-right and far-right wings of the political spectrum, and allowed Marten access to political connections in the higher aristocracy, some of whom were suspicious of the revolutionary NHILP.

Unbeknownst to Rycon, Marten had began to conspire with a group of right-wing aristocrats who were strongly opposed to the course being taken by Prime Minister Maximilian Compton and the Emperor in guiding the Terran Empire and its allies towards unification and meritocracy. Marten and others supported the feudalism and oligarchy crafted by the decaying Imperial system, under which he and his friends had grown rich and powerful. Some, including Marten himself, hearkened back to the days of the Terran Dominion in the 2400s and 2500s, where the Terran sphere of influence was completely disunited and composed of warring feudal domains, and the nation was ruled by a nominal First Lord rather than by a sovereign Emperor.

To fund his conspiracy, he obtained significant stakes in mercenary companies, began trading in the black market with alien merchants, and consorted with major figures of the criminal underworld, particularly the Dragon Syndicate. Aside from these vague details, little else is known to the public of the extent and nature of his criminal conspiracy. It is suspected, however, that he had accumulated the involvement of several aristocrats and nobles, merchants, and criminals throughout the Empire. He met with his supporters periodically, which was to take a turn for the violent in May 3268 during a lavish ball at his manor house. At the ball, he was celebrating the finalisation of a contract with the Imperial military to provide them with combat androids for the protection of the Emperor, and unveiling a type model.

Death

Cassander Marten was found dead in the foyer of his country estate home on 6 May 3268, wearing antique combat plate armour and having suffered numerous blows to the head with blunt weapons and several gunshot wounds to the neck and torso. It appeared that he had been engaged in a serious hand-to-hand and close combat situation with some assailants, the identities of whom are still unknown to the public. Others were found dead in his home as well. Approximately nine armed guards were found with several dozen gunshot wounds, two with severe blunt-force trauma to their heads. The type model android he was unveiling to his guests head been struck with a large motor vehicle that had driven through the back wall of the house, and then blown apart with grenades. Marten's brother and heir, Willem, was found dead from severe cranial injuries from a blunt weapon, likely a large hammer; he had been struck in the head at least four times and been partly asphyxiated before a fatal blow killed him instantly. Willem's wife and child were found in an adjacent room, shredded by shrapnel from a fragmentation grenade. Five lesser nobles and aristocrats of baronial and knightly rank were found dead at the scene from a mixture of gunshot wounds and blunt trauma. The gunshot wounds consisted mostly of 9mm pistol rounds and 7.92mm automatic rifle rounds, with two fatal 12.7mm rifle round injuries delivered from a sniper rifle of some distance away. Several aliens were found dead in another room, disembowelled and eviscerated with some heated, bladed weapon.

The investigation by local and Imperial law enforcement agencies determined that a shoot-out had occurred during the Duke's gala, starting with some attack or ambush in the Duke's upstairs chambers. An Imperial investigation took over the case once it came to light that some attendees had fled, were captured and interrogated, and revealed that the Duke was the ringleader of a treasonous conspiracy. A motor vehicle was found two kilometres away, abandoned. The survivors who confessed to being party to the Duke's conspiracy testified before an Imperial tribunal that the Duke had orchestrated a plan to assassinate the Emperor, the Prime Minister, and others in order to topple the Empire and restore the aristocratic and feudal Terran Dominion. The plan had not yet come to fruition, frustrated some of the Duke's partners, and some conflict had began among the group of conspirators over the details. This apparently erupted during the gala into a bloodbath between the Duke, his mercenaries, and his criminal co-conspirators, the latter of whom were considered 'well prepared' by the Imperial investigation report. The sniper weapon fatalities were ascribed to a still-unknown assailant presumably associated with the Dragon Syndicate. However, the full report of the investigation is still classified and very few details have been released to the public, including the exact explanation as to the preparedness of the syndicate, the identity of whom specifically bore responsibility for the Duke's death and that of his family, and the nature of the Duke's conspiratorial plan to assassinate high officers of state.

After his death and the investigation, Cassander Marten as posthumously tried by the House of Lords for the crime of high treason, for which he was found guilty unanimously on 13 August 3268. His body, cryogenically preserved since his assassination, was brought out to the main square in Brussels. There he was publicly hanged, drawn, and quartered, and his military uniform and accoutrements burned. His torn body parts were then thrown into the fire.

All of the conspirators who confessed to aiding and abetting his treason were tried and convicted for high treason as well, and were hanged until death. Many more aristocrats were revealed during these trials for complicity, and were likewise tried and convicted for treason, and hanged.

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