Beyond the Cascade
The True Story of the Valerius

The History of Eric Calther

Mr. Eric Calther was born in ISD 535, in the town of Nereth, in the newly-conquered Lijasicion (now New Duetre). His mother was Maria Dovanan, a distant relative of the famous rebel, Dovanan the Scar. She does not seem to have any significant contact with the rebel, a fact which, when combined with her change of name upon marrying into the Calther family largely spared her from the Empire's aggression against the Dovanan family. Her husband was Mr. Victor Calther, a shipwright of no small note in the region. Mr. Calther made a point of not involving himself in the politics of the region, a fact which brought some ridicule, but also largely shielded him and his family from the chaos of the time.

It was in these circumstances that Eric Calther was born. His family, though notable in the region, was not particularly wealthy. Thus, while Eric received a fair education until the age of 14, that was the extent of what his family could afford. He began to assist his father at the time in the family business, but does not seem to have taken too much interest in it. Therefore, in the year of ISD 553, at the age of 18, Eric Calther joined the Imperial Navy. Despite his Lijaseite ethnicity, Eric Calther was accepted into the force. The apolitical nature of his family's history, as well as the Imperial Navy's ever-present need for man-power, likely were significant contributing factors to this decision. At the time, Directive 10419 of the High Directorate of Generals was in effect, which prevented anyone of "divided or uncertain loyalties, particularly those of... Lijaseite... origin." Official records were therefore altered so that he appeared to be half-Duetrian by blood. This falsification is also the source of the future confusion that lead so many authors to portray Mr. Calther as ethnically Duetrian.

Mr. Calther served four years in the navy aboard the dreadnought Indomitable as an able-bodied seamen. Near the end of this period, he was twice awarded a note meriti (letter of merit, awarded by a captain to deserving seamen who are not officers), the second of which was accompanied by a letter of recommendation to the Imperial Military Officers Academy. Considering the technical illegality of Mr. Calther's service in the navy, it is surprising that such a letter would be written, as it is almost definite that the captain was made aware of Mr. Calther's situation prior to handing him the letter. Unfortunately, the captain's personal diary could not be found, and the letter of recommendation itself is protected for another several years under strict rules of confidentiality, so no insight into that decision is available at the time of this publishing.

Whatever the motive may have been, it remains a fact that Mr. Calther attended the Imperial Military Officers Academy for two years, beginning in ISD 557. Any first-hand evidence regarding his time there is extremely difficult to come by, as Mr. Calther himself is not known to have kept any journal, and no others at the academy considered him to be worthy of mention. Therefore, the only specific mention of Mr. Calther from that time is a comment on the register of recommended of graduates (559), which stated simply, "Despite his mixed origins, [Mr. Calther] has proven to be a sensible and level-headed man, with clear ability to handle himself and others in difficult situations." It was with this endorsement that Mr. Calther graduated, and was offered a commission on the battleship Fellstar.

Once again, details of his conduct at this time are few and far between. For the first few years of his service, there are no substantial, reliable reports of the man. It wasn't until the then-lieutenant Lawrence Asper joined the crew that an extent, subjective perspective on Mr. Calther is offered. Since Mr. Asper's journal stands as the only authority on a formative piece of Mr. Calther's life, I will quote him rather extensively:

"I have found that I rather enjoy the company of Mr. Calther. A result, I am sure, of his engaging personality and humour. All sarcasm aside, however, I admit that I have found it rather difficult to pin down exactly why I like this man as I do, but I shall hazard a guess: he has qualities which I find to be lacking in other gentlemen, even those gentlemen whom I hold in high regard. Mr. Calther is the epitome of a grounded and rational man, capable of achieving his goals with as little wasted effort as possible.

I should, however, qualify these statements, and put them in perspective. Mr. Calther's detractors see in him a man who is silently, stern, asocial, introverted, humourless, and in no way a gentleman. All of those points I would not argue, except for the last. For, in my opinion, it is the values not mentioned that make a true gentleman: honour, dependability, respectability, tactfulness, and courage (among others) are the true qualities of a gentleman, and I would be the first to say that Mr. Calther embodies those virtues as well as any other gentleman I know (and significantly better than some).

I believe it is for this reason that I have taken a liking to Mr. Calther. While I have no objection to the society of the lieutenants and the Captain, I feel far more at ease in the silent, efficient presence of Mr. Calther than I ever could in a high-society dinner party."

Mr. Asper's high opinion of Mr. Calther is clearly understood through this passage. It is dated only a few months after Mr. Asper joined the crew of the Fellstar, evidence of the speed with which the two men took to each other. While Mr. Calther's opinions cannot exactly be known, this following excerpt hints at a special friendship between the pair.

"I feel as if Mr. Calther and I are a secret team. Though he and I have never discussed the matter openly, we seem to have a certain understanding that allows us to operate seamlessly together. I say secret, too, because he and I are rarely in the same place, and so I very much doubt that any others aboard the Fellstar view the matter this way. However, a ship is an insular environment, with any action being echoed through the entire ship. A ripple in one area of the ship will affect every corner. Thus, while Mr. Calther and I have little direct contact, our actions reflect a tendency towards the same goals, and have a surprisingly potent ability to affect the other positively. It is in that sense that we are a team."

As mentioned in the previous chapter, it was shortly after the outbreak of the Rekkjav War in ISD 568 that the Fellstar fought and was heavily damaged, causing the navy to abandon it in favour of using the crew elsewhere. Mr. Calther, for his part, was assigned to the expedition that advanced up the Neskar River, eventually besieging and laying waste to Neskonheim itself. This is maybe the most well documented segment of Mr. Calther's life, but as this is ultimately not a full biography of Mr. Calther himself, but rather an overview of his life as context to the later story, only a few salient facts shall be mentioned here.

Most relevantly, it is known that Mr. Calther saw action during the Siege of Neskonheim. Despite being a naval officer, a shortage of qualified officers (and possibly some ethnic bias) saw Mr. Calther assigned to lead a force of marines. He seems to have handled this reasonably, considering that he and most of those under him survived. He was directly involved with the storming of the walls at Neskonheim, and is said to have killed several men before being brought down by a bullet wound to the left shoulder. His conduct attracted the attention of Captain Leonard Strong, of the gunboat Nolling, who offered him a position as sixth Lieutenant. After a surprisingly quick recover, Mr. Calther accepted the position, serving on the ship for the next six years, until ISD 576. At that point, a new lieutenant aboard the Nolling raised concerns over Mr. Calther's origins and the possibility of a violation of Directive 10496. Due to the length of Mr. Calther's service, and the honour with which he had conducted himself, Captain Strong chose to honourably discharge Mr. Calther, rather than uncover the truth of the matter.

It wasn't until nearly three years later that Mr. Calther made contact once again with Mr. Asper, but there is no evidence to suggest where he was or what he did in the intervening years. It is furthermore a mystery how Mr. Asper contacted Mr. Calther, given how little the men knew of each other. Regardless, it remains a fact that, in the summer of ISD 579, Mr. Calther was hired as the first mate of the ship that would become the Valerius.

With that concludes the relevant facts of Mr. Erik Calther's history as is salient to the purposes of this story.