Mark Gordon was born Crown Prince of the [Kingdom of Atholl]?; as was traditional at the time, he gave up his title at the age of twenty-two to enter military service. Until the third phase of the Orbital Wars, he led a relatively quiet career as a two-star general in the Union Peace Armada, but he rose to interstellar prominence when he led his division--renamed the Atholl Royal Marines--to sever ties with the Armada and declare war on the Jatok. This is commonly held as the beginning of Phase Three, and it would fundamentally alter the course of the conflict.|
Gordon cited his reason for desertion as the failed attempt on the life of his mother, [Queen Audrey]?; rumor (carefully manipulated by Atholl's own Galaxy Magazine) had it that the attempt had been made with a carefully designed mechanical bee, and that was enough evidence for Gordon to convince his soldiers to follow him out of the Union?. Later investigation (prompted by the Book of The Veere's Cirencester album) would, of course, reveal the attempt to be the work of a fringe group of Erks, using a mechanical wasp. This information was deliberately delayed by Atholl until Gordon's plans came to fruition.|
The Royal Marines were nobody's friend, making full use their mobility to attack supply dumps for the Jatok (ostensibly the target of his ire) and other factions alike. Freed from Union weapons restrictions, Gordon began using Coronal Manipulation on the systems he stormed; this tactic allowed his relatively small fleet to cripple worlds that would otherwise have laughed at his assault. As a crucial side effect, the manipulation also knocked out long-range communications, leaving them for long periods of time with Galaxy Magazine as their only source of news and information.
A random-seeming pattern of attacks eventually led the Marines to the edge of the Grey Zone. There, at an otherwise unregarded merchant resupply station, Gordon used a pre-Bartleby freight convoy, a rogue group of Kelvodian Dymetricists, and a great deal of luck to transport his entire fleet safely through the Zone and its Ion Mines. It was this extraordinary plan that would enter popular metaphor as the [Zavada Gambit]?.
Gordon's arrival took the Union seat of authority by surprise, and a round of Coronal Manipulation left Earth defenseless and unable to send for help. Yet after the disruption, Gordon made no physical assault. Instead, he privately offered a promise of Marine noninterference and safe passage to a group of powerful, self-serving Senators. In exchange for their escape, Gordon demanded that they select him as their permanent voting proxy. Few hesitated to agree.
With fifty-three percent of the [Terran High Senate]? vote in his hands, Gordon swiftly--and legally--appointed himself Senate Speaker; with the powers of that office, he withdrew the Union from the conflict and then dissolved it. The last was largely symbolic, as the Union had long since lost control of the galaxy it professed to govern.
With proof of all the proceedings securely stored in the Royal Marines' data banks (using [Othello Encryption]? to prove their veracity), Gordon led his fleet back out of the Grey Zone, pausing briefly to send a single Cracker back toward Earth. In fact, it would be redundant, as the East Rim Consortium's Cracker would arrive first.
The events of the Battle for Oubliette 2 are detailed elsewhere. Suffice it to say, here, that Gordon's arrival--and the evidence he bore of that the Union had recognized him as the Terran leader--were enough to sever the New Unified Terran-Jatok alliance and end the war's Fourth Phase.
The admirals of the New Unified Terran fleet initially refused to recognize Gordon's appointment, but they returned to their base of operations at Proxima Centauri to discover that Galaxy Magazine had beaten them there. The civilian population had already accepted the facts that the Jatok alliance was dead and that Gordon was their Senate Speaker. In fact, since a disproportionate number of surviving Senators were those he had allowed to escape Earth, Gordon now controlled fully eighty-five percent of the new Senate's vote.
Faced with a possible schism in their already-weakened faction, the admirals grudgingly gave Gordon final authority over New Unified Terran forces (though, by his own insistence, he retained the title of General). It was arguably the most spectacular--and the most drawn-out--coup in galactic history.
As the war dragged on, Gordon's military genius proved ill-adapted to the management of the entire alliance fleet; he was more suited to the smaller, faster scale of the Royal Marines. He briefly lost control of the Terran fleet during the oddly-aligned Seventh Phase, then regained it when the Royal Marines withdrew back to Atholl in the Eighth. Popular opinion turned against him for good when it finally came to light that he had launched a Cracker at Earth. The Senators under his control suspended their proxy votes--technically illegal, but in light of the Terran population's rage, a wise move. The decision to have him arrested for treason was made just hours before news of the Crylla Treaty reached Proxima Centauri.
As the war petered out, Gordon renounced all Terran authority and returned to Atholl, where the Treaty and the surviving remnants of the Royal Marines were enough to shield him from Terran hatred. He and all remaining members of the royal family would soon cede their power to the Clergy Council of the Faith of the Kingdom and enter a permanent time-dilation facility, ensuring their collective status as the last full-blooded rulers of the Faith.
Gordon remains in the facility to this day, breathing once an Atholl year.