A Theory to Explain Everything
By all accounts, Marshall Dill was a well liked and respected professor of history at Dominican College who was very supportive of Richards. He sent a letter to the court at the end Mark’s trial and there is no reason to question his sincerity. His very support now makes it possible that he holds the key to the entire story.
To understand this, think of a time around 1997. Years before, Mark had faced the potential of a capital crime, yet he had been released on bail. His situation might have seemed unreal.
When the verdict came down, Mark was stunned. The jury had been out for four days and there was a plausible defense that Mark was only guilty of being an accessory after the fact. Within a moment, that changed and he was faced with serving the rest of his life in prison. By the early 90s his appeals and writs had been denied. His father died that year. The future was the past, one day blended into the next.
Still, Mark was creative. He once had written a screen play. He wrote a book, Imperial Marin, about an Arthurian kingdom of the future. He invented Ragocazy, a fictional alter-ego when he wanted to go out on a date while waiting for trial. So after the verdict, to keep himself amused, he began telling stories.
Mark began to tell about being in the space command. Captain Mark Richards was more than a prisoner, he was the embodiment of a heroic ideal with a bit of an ego to keep it real. To his surprise, some people believed him. The stories began to get more embellished, with tales of bring a captain on a spaceship with a nine foot tall Raptor named Nagadraconis serving as his science officer — Prince Naga was Spock to Mark’s Kirk. Richards began to fill out the details with being in the military and having several degrees. Like Kirk, he was at the center of countless adventures with a woman on every planet. It had all the elements of a parody.
Perhaps because Mark was believed by some, even this site approached the saga as if it were a serious attempt to develop a hoax. It was easy to show that Mark could not have been in three places at once, he had never been in the military, he was not a Rhodes Scholar, and his father had not headed a secret earth security force. But all of that was beside the point and did not dissuade him. Although Mark requested pictures of his father’s plane crash, he kept talking about Ellis battling aliens. That it was a physical impossibility did not matter. There either was a disconnect or something else was going on with him.
The key to it all is Marshall Dill. In the Battle of China Gates, Mark described Dill as being an operative for International Security, the super-secret organization that was said to been headed by Ellis Richards. Mark had been on the front lines of IS and and the story took readers on various space adventures. Then Dill appeared as a character.
Raptors who love chocolate and antiquing? Sure. Cat people in space? Of course. A love affair with a beautiful Peledian? Everyone who watched science fiction shows had that fantasy. It is easy to understand why sites like the Knowledge Fight loved Mark so much.
But Marshall Dill? Dill was a respected teacher and a published historian — although very few people knew who he was. Mark gave him a cameo to acknowledge his past relationship, but in so doing, the Dill Factor gave away the story. Mark could not have intended for anyone to believe it. It was the kind of satire that could only have been done from prison, with plenty of time to develop it.