Author Topic: Bonfire of Worlds: a comparison of Malvina and Timur  (Read 931 times)

Bren

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Bonfire of Worlds: a comparison of Malvina and Timur
« on: 24 February 2012, 06:56:57 »
repost, original lost in old forum crash


Merciless villain, peasant, ignorant
Of lawful arms or martial discipline!
Pillage and murder are his usual trades:
The slave usurps the glorious name of war.

          — Tamburliane the Great, 1.IV.i (Marlowe)

          Early in his career Timur gained the wounds that gave him the name Timur-i Lenk—Timur the Lame; two arrow wounds to his right arm and right leg. He lost the use of his elbow as well as losing his fourth and fifth fingers.  His hip seized, causing his leg to remain rigid and forever shorter than the left. Biographers such as the 14th century’s Ahmad ibn Arabshah state that Timur became a vengeful monster after these crippling wounds.

          Malvina Hazen also suffered grievous, life-altering injuries to the very same limbs—her right arm and right leg. After a defeat by Republic forces on Skye in 3134 her injured leg, arm and eye were replaced with cybernetic prosthetics. Like Timur, Malvina—already vicious and somewhat unhinged—turned into a sadistic fiend after suffering her injuries.

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          Near Tashkent in 1365 the forces of Timur and Husayn met an invading force led by the former governor of Mawarannahr, Ilyas Khoja. During the battle a terrific storm began and the battlefield turned to thick mud. Pressing hard in the mired and confused battle, Timur seized the upper hand and signaled for Husayn—nominally his commander—to bring forward his men and finish the enemy. Yet Husayn held back. The Moghul forces rushed to take advantage of this fatal mistake and swarmed through, cutting men down on all sides. Ten thousand were killed. Timur and Husayn fled the battlefield and across the Amu Darya. It was an ignominious ending, to say the least.
          For Timur, who had ambitions on a scale far beyond this small theatre of war, this battle sowed the seeds of doubt into his alliance with Husayn. How reliable was a man who refused to fight alongside his partner in battle when the fighting was at its most critical? In Timur’s mind, he had been betrayed.

          The situation was similar—or so Malvina felt—for the Falcon desant. The three Falcon Galaxies had gained numerous victories and an invaluable foothold in Republic space. However, Khan Jana Pryde held the Falcon touman back. Requests for resupply were ‘essentially unanswered’. Requests for much-needed reinforcements and replacements were met with a trickle of dregs and solahma. Malvina questioned Jana’s ability to lead the Clan and her motives for sending the desant deep into enemy territory.

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          The alliance between Timur and Husayn had been sealed with the marriage of Timur to Husayn’s sister Aljas. Her death around this time, which represented the final severance of family ties, now looked like a harbinger of destiny.

          This was somewhat mirrored by Malvina’s situation. Her brother Aleksandr’s death at the time of the perceived betrayal removed the only thing grounding her as a Clan warrior. In her mind, this also signified a final severance from Jana’s Jade Falcon proper and represented a harbinger of destiny.

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          In 1370 Timur rode south over the Amu Darya, his sights set on removing the last obstacle to supreme power in Southern Mawarannahr; Husayn. After a long fight, his former ally was defeated and executed. In deference to the traditions of Genghis Khan, by which only a man of royal blood could aspire to supreme command, Timur installed a puppet Chagatai Khan, Suyurghatmish, as nominal ruler. This was no more than a formality. All knew that power lay with Timur alone. Ahmad ibn Arabshah recorded: ‘Under his sway were ruler and subject alike … and the Khan was in his bondage, like a centipede in the mud …’
          The realities of this power sharing arrangement were underlined in a dramatic ceremony of enthronement where Timur crowned himself imperial ruler of Chagatai.
          Additionally, one of the more important spoils gained by Timur was Saray Mulk-Khanum, the wife of Husayn, who he now made his own. Daughter of Qazan, the last Chagatai Khan of Mawarannahr, she was also a princess of the Genghis line. Taking her as his wife bolstered Timur’s legitimacy. From this point on, he styled himself Timur Gurgan (son-in-law) of the Great Khan.

          Malvina performed a similar feat, defeating and slaying Jana Pryde in personal combat. She installed her fellow Galaxy Commander and advisor, Beckett Malthus, as Khan of Clan Jade Falcon. As with the Chagatai, all knew who held the reins of power despite the title. Here Beckett was very much the ‘Khan in bondage, like a centipede in the mud …’
          Malvina also gave herself a title for her new position, also in homage to the past; Chingis Khan, Emperor of all Mankind.


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          Timur’s name has gone down in history and legend as a synonym for cruelty. His string of constant battlefield successes and almost inevitable massacres that followed are the hallmark of his legacy in most of the world.
          This is in somewhat of a contrast to his ancestors. Whereas Genghis and his sons also indulged in massacres, these were usually carried out dispassionately and with a coldly calculated purpose—to terrorize foes into submission. Timur’s massacres were more frequent, more obviously sadistic and often served no apparent purpose.
          Historian John Joseph Saunders wrote succinctly: ‘Till the advent of Hitler, Timur stood forth in history as the supreme example of soulless and unproductive militarism’.

          Malvina, as we are all aware, is certainly in this league of cruelty. Like Timur, her savage massacres greatly exceeding in number and in viciousness those contributed by her predecessors.