POD: May 30, 1942
|Appearance(s):||In the Balance|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct (POV Second Contact-Aftershocks)|
|Nationality:||Home, resident at times in United States and Race Colonies on Tosev 3|
|Occupation:||Shiplord, Author of Non-Fiction|
|Military Branch:||Conquest Fleet (Race Invasion of Tosev 3)|
Straha was shiplord of the 206th Emperor Yower of the Race's Conquest Fleet. In the Fleet's chain of command, he was subordinate only to Fleetlord Atvar and Shiplord Kirel, and was a bitter rival of both. He was extraordinarily flexible by the Race's standards and was frequently frustrated by the slowness with which his colleagues, and especially Atvar, adapted to the Fleet's unexpected circumstances. He insisted that he would make a better commander for the Conquest Fleet, following a much more aggressive strategy of using the Fleet's most powerful weapons against the Tosevites before they could design countermeasures.
When the Soviet Union detonated an atomic bomb against the Race, Straha called for a vote of no confidence in Atvar, a very rare legal maneuver for the Race which occurred only when an appointed officer of the Emperor was accused of gross malfeasance or incompetence and there was no higher imperial authority available to whom his or her subordinates could appeal. Straha's measure was supported by an overwhelming 68% of his colleagues, but not by the 75% super-majority needed to take effect.
After his failed attempt to overthrow Atvar, Straha defected to the United States near St. Louis, Missouri. There he made propaganda recordings encouraging the Race's soldiers to desert and defect which were broadcast all over the world.
Life in Exile, 1962-1966
After the war ended with the Peace of Cairo, Straha was not allowed to rejoin the Race's society. He endured 20 years in exile, a difficult time for him during which he became addicted to ginger. He was not fully trusted by the US Government, which assigned an agent named Gordon as his driver and "assistant"--but his real mission was to keep an eye on the shiplord. Straha was not fully comfortable with the Race's expatriate community in the United States, made up mostly of POWs such as Ullhass and Ristin; he saw them as too quick to give up their allegiance to the Empire, and derisively saw them for turning into "Big Uglies". The only bright spot for him in those years was his friendship with Sam Yeager.
It was Yeager who eventually provided Straha with a means to end his exile. When Yeager determined that President Earl Warren had ordered a secret attack on the Colonization Fleet in 1962, the OSS seized him and took him to an undisclosed location for an indefinite amount of time. Fearing for his safety, Yeager had entrusted Straha and a number of others with an envelope to be opened in the event of his death or disappearance. The envelope contained evidence proving Warren's involvement. Straha opened the envelope, took it to the Race consulate in Los Angeles, California, and sent it to Atvar, who in his gratitude ended Straha's exile.
Atvar, Kirel, and Reffet all reluctantly consulted Straha on matters related to Tosevites after his return to Cairo. He was also quietly allowed to continue his ginger use despite its strict illegality in the Race's territory. With his title of Shiplord no longer valid, Straha, for his own amusement, chose his new title to be "current nuisance".
Following the destruction of Indianapolis in retaliation for the American government's attack on the Colonization Fleet, Straha was summoned to a commission formed by Atvar to learn the reasons why President Warren sacrificed the city. Straha already knew why due to having been in electronic communications with Sam Yeager, who was in personal communications with Warren. Warren knew beforehand what he was about to do and chose the only option that could least hurt the United States, much to the ire of Diffal and Felless. Straha also shared words with Ttomalss in which he admitted to holding a level of respect for the Tosevites and admiring Warren for being a very great leader, especially for his role in the attack on the Colonization Fleet that had remained undetected for years and that he may have gotten away with it. On the other hand, Warren's failure at least allowed Straha to return to his people much to Ttomalss' disgust.
Outside of his close peers, Straha was largely regarded in fascination by veterans of the Conquest Fleet, and the males and females of the Colonization Fleet. Because of his notorious status, Straha decided to exploit it by making a memoir and living off the proceeds of publication.
Return to Home
In 2031 the United States invited Straha to be an observer for the Race on the inaugural flight of the FTL starship Commodore Perry. On reaching Home, he confirmed that he had not been put into cold sleep and that the journey had indeed lasted only five weeks. Atvar attempted to discredit him, and the two immediately resumed their antagonistic relationship. At one point a quarrel was prevented only by the intercession of their mutual friend, Sam Yeager.
Of all the members of the Race to have dealings with humanity, Straha had perhaps the best understanding of the human mindset. After decades of antagonism, Atvar accepted that Straha had probably been right all along in calling for aggressive tactics against the Tosevite not-empires. This did nothing to change their dislike for each other, however.
- "But for me, Sam Yeager, of amnesty there shall be none. I tried to remove the fleetlord Atvar, to keep him from losing the war to you Tosevites. I failed-and so did he, for is the war won? Do you think he will let me enter any land the Race holds after peace comes-if peace comes? It would but remind him I was right to doubt him, and that the conquest failed. No. If I am to live, it must be among you Big Uglies."
- "We have done what we needed to do to survive and flourish on a world of individualism run wild. That is the Race's view, of course. To the Big Uglies, we are hopeless reactionaries."
- "Facts? Facts are ugly things, Senior Researcher. They pierce the boldest theory through the liver and send it crashing to the ground."