The Society of the Mandarins was a secret organization of Terran spies who assisted the war efforts of the Kilrathi Empire, and aimed to sabotage the Terran Space Navy's war progression in any way possible.
Athough very few Terrans had any desire to betray the human race in the face of the Kilrathi threat, some might have been disillusoined with the Confed and the War, or might be looking for revenge. Another possibility is that they might be looking for a means of survival in the case that the Terran Confederation lost the Kilrathi War, and the inevitable extinction of humanity. The Kilrathi contacts promised members of the society high positions within the Empire.
The name of the organization is taken by the ancient Mandarins who were threatened by the Mongols, but managed to conquer the Mongols by converting them to the Mandarin way of life.
The organization is known to have existed at least since the 2650s.
The Society of the Mandarins first came to Confed's attention in the year 2655. During the Defense of Firekka, two Terran crew members of a carrier, the TCS Winterrowd, were captured by Confed authorities after it was discovered that they were involved in Kilrathi activities. Upon discovery of these two traitors, fear spread through the Terran Space Navy over other possible traitors on other vessels, which prompted suspicion and cautiousness among countless crew and soldiers.
Due to the highly secretive nature of the Mandarins, Confed had few means by which to identify the traitors. They were experts of espionage and the conspiracy could possibly have reached up to the High Command. They also possessed a large arsenal of weapons and supplies from both warring factions. Nobody knew where their headquarters was located.
The Society of the Mandarins committed countless crimes between 2656 and 2667. In 2656, Major Zachary Colson, a pilot of the TCS Austin, decided to betray the Terran Confederation in response to the disaster at the Goddard Colony in 2654. During that year, a Kilrathi fleet annihilated the Goddard Colony with their new Graviton Weapon, leaving all 250,000 colonists dead. Among the victims was Colson's brother. The TCS Tiger's Claw was in the colony's vicinity and had every intention of saving the colony, but detoured to destroy a Kilrathi troopship before arriving. Colson was convinced that this action cost his brother his life, and swore to get revenge on everybody associated with the Tiger's Claw. When the Tiger's Claw attempted to destroy the Kilrathi starbase at K'tithrak Mang in the Enigma Sector, Colson gave away its coordinates to Crown Prince Thrakhath nar Kiranka, who deployed his Strakha Stealth Fighters to destroy the vessel. The attack succeeded and everybody on board the Claw was murdered. Only a few pilots who were on patrol at the time survived, and only the famed Colonel Christopher Blair saw the stealth fighters. Unfortunately, Colson stole his flight recorder, so Blair could not prove his story and was wrongly convicted of negligence and demoted to Captain. He was then sent to a backwater station for ten years, leaving the Kilrathi to conquer the Enigma Sector. Colson's treachery remained undiscovered.
Ten years later, Blair was reassigned to the TCS Concordia after he saved that vessel from destruction. He served alongside Colson while on the vessel, unaware of the fact that Colson was the man who betrayed him. During his service, Colson sent illegal transmissions to the Kilrathi Fleet when no one was looking. During one such instance, he murdered Comms Specialist McGuffin, who caught him in the act. He then tried to frame pilot Dirk Wright for the murder. Colson then set up explosives on the Concordia's flight deck, destroying several fuel lines and causing significant internal damage. Sometime later, Colson offered pilot Mariko Tanaka with a chance to defect to the Mandarins. He blackmailed her with the life of her fiancee Philip, who was captured by the Kilrathi ten years before. She refused to join, and that cost her her life in the Heaven's Gate System. She and Blair were sent to destroy the Kilrathi Heaven's Gate Starbase, but Colson rigged her Sabre with explosives, killing her gunner and forcing her to kamikaze into the space station, killing her instantly. The blast also killed Philip, who was on the station. Colson's involvement in these attacks continued to go unnoticed.
Finally, the Concordia arrived at K'tithrak Mang to destroy the Kilrathi starbase, just as the Claw failed to do ten years before. While there, Colson met with Colonel Jeannette Devereaux, who wanted to know more about the system. Major Colson accidentally revealed classified data which made Devereaux realize that he was the traitor. Colson then fled the Concordia, with Blair's flight disk hidden away in his cabin. Blair managed to track down Colson and shoot him down, and then tractored him back to the Concordia where he was imprisoned. He and Dirk Wright were cleared of all charges with evidence that neither man was involved in the Claw's destruction or the murder of McGuffin. Colson's numerous attempts to derail the Terran war effort in the Enigma Sector earned him the distinction as the most dangerous operative of the Society of the Mandarins.
Following the liberation of the Enigma Sector in 2667, the Mandarins dropped out of sight. Unfortunately, they reappeared again after Zachary Colson was sentenced to death for war crimes. While being shipped to Earth for his execution, Colson was rescued by Mandarin forces. This development prompted Confed to take immediate action to destroy the Mandarins permanently. It was around this time that Mandarin operative Maria Grimaldi stole a Morningstar Heavy Fighter from Major Todd Marshall's Wild Eagles Squadron. She murdered one member of the squad and permanently injured another. She is known to have had some romantic feelings for Zachary Colson. The Morningstar possessed some of the best technology Confed had to offer, and therefore could not be allowed into enemy hands.
During this time, a Mandarin was captured on a Kilrathi freighter, the KIS Gamal Gan. He later was interrogated and claimed that the Mandarin base was a starbase called Ayer's Rock. It was located in a remote asteroid field in the Ayers System. It was later discovered that a Confed spy, Scorpion, had infiltrated Ayer's Rock and gave the coordinates to his superiors. Colonel Blair from the Concordia joined his friend James Taggart in Special Operations to track down the Mandarins and destroy the base. They set out on the captured Kilrathi ship Gamal Gan, which was refitted for surveillance duty. One Terran operative who studied the Kilrathi language used his skills to gain access to Ayer's Rock, which was partially operated by the Mandarins' Kilrathi contacts. Scorpion sent transmissions to the Gamal Gan to help them determine their plan of attack, and his intelligence proved invaluable to Taggart and Blair's efforts. After thwarting an enemy ambush, the Mandarins put Ayer's Rock on high alert, forcing Blair's team to take quick action to destroy Ayer's Rock. Scorpion revealed that the Mandarins called for an emergency meeting of all leaders across the Terran Confederation. If Blair and Taggart succeeded in destroying Ayer's Rock, the entire organization would go with it.
Taggart and his team called in the T.C.S. Concordia so that the vessel could destroy Ayer's Rock. Unfortunately, the ship was ambushed by a Kilrathi force, leaving Taggart and his team on their own. However, the Mandarins intercepted only part of the interaction between the two groups, so they believed that the Concordia was en route. The Mandarins prepared to evacuate Ayer's Rock, so Blair and his squad had to act fast. Scorpion was executed by the Mandarins after he was discovered while on an insecure comms channel. Blair decided to enact his revenge on the Mandarins and alongside Maniac, he attacked Ayer's Rock head-on. The attack was a success: Ayer's Rock was totally destroyed, along with all of the Mandarin leaders. Unfortunately, two operatives, pilots Grimaldi and Colson, were still active, and Blair was determined to terminate the two traitors. However, Grimaldi's Morningstar was destroyed by the blast of Ayer's Rock, forcing her to eject in the wake of the radiation from the base. Grimaldi lay dying from the radiation, as Colson had left her for dead and fled in his Morningstar. Blair gave pursuit, knowing justice had to be served to one of Confed's greatest traitors.
Blair finally caught up with Colson and fought him in a one-on-one battle, both of them flying Morningstars. After an intense battle, Blair finally destroyed Major Colson and the Morningstar, ending the traitor's reign of terror. Blair then returned to the Gamal Gan and the entire group fled back to human space. The destruction of Ayer's Rock and the death of Zachary Colson ultimately resulted in the destruction of the vast majority of the Society of the Mandarins. Although traitors would continue to emerge, the Mandarins themselves played no further part in the War after 2667.