New Earth, Federated Commonwealth
18 June 3052
The alarm sounded the start of another day for William York. Being home was a far cry from the hell of Tukayyid only a month distant. His battalion was part of the ComGuard’s 91st Division formerly known as the Visions of Words. After their “victory” against Clan Ghost Bear his unit received a new moniker, the Luk-y 91st. Even so he didn’t feel very lucky. Many of his men had perished in the great conflict and despite his flesh wounds William often wondered if they were the lucky ones. There were many times he wished that he could change places with them but for some reason it was not to be.
While a sense of greater destiny provided his psyche comfort William felt haunted by his recent “heroics”. Survival and a proud heritage had earned him a promotion within the Order. As the great-great grandson of Primus Hollings York, who had also been Precentor of New Earth, certain doors were opened to him that might not have for others. At least that was the unspoken accusation that hung over every opportunity he ever got on New Earth or in ComStar.
The sudden death of Primus Myndo Waterly, the elevation of Sharilar Mori, and resulting Reformation had thrown everything into chaos. William’s new appointment to his ancestor’s post was a stabilizing move politically speaking. Not that he relished the idea of playing politics. He much preferred the role of soldier to that of statesman but in these trying times he would do his best. Just like Jerome Blake did after the Amaris Coup, he thought as he rolled over to hit the alarm.
Blake’s example and organization was something very special to him. Besides being the Precentor of New Earth wasn’t so bad. The administrative post had diminished in importance since Hollings once held it. No longer a relevant member of the First Circuit it was now merely a symbolic position. “I hope the Primus knows what she is getting here, Blake knows I’m no Hollings York.” Going from the military to administration would be different and running a key HPG station presented its own challenges anyway. Rolling out of bed he said to himself, “lets get to work”.
* * * * *
“Perfect, in this kind of chaos no one will be the wiser.” Nigel Hawkins was a long time operative of ROM, ComStar’s dreaded security arm. The truest of believers he had been chosen by Waterly’s rightful successor to deal with the ‘York problem’. The Precentor of New Earth was a grave threat to all that was holy. “It’s a pity he has chosen to back the heretics. York could have been a valued ally and servant of Blake.” William was a likable no nonsense type but allowing that witch Mori to use his good name was an unforgivable sin that he could not excuse.
It had to be done and slipping into the New Earth HPG facility amid the aftermath of Operation Scorpion was easily accomplished. Hawkins had been on Terra when the Primus launched her audacious scheme to deliver mankind from itself. Unfortunately it was not to be. “I guess it is true what Blake said, you can only save those who want to be saved.” While Nigel had his own reservations about the plan it led to the unmasking of a growing sacrilege within the Order. “Blessed be Blake.” Waterly should be sainted for her holy vision, her faith in Blake, and the courage to do what must be done. Now he had work of his own that must be done.
* * * * *
All was ready for his grand entrance even if the crimson robes of a Precentor didn’t look right to William. As he stepped through the door and assumed his new role in life the stage before him was set. A large Communications Center filled with people was a big change from the close confines of a BattleMech. As York entered view the command “All Rise” echoed through the room quickly bringing the Adepts and Acolytes to attention. “The Precentor of New Earth”. Many bowed heads in silent acknowledgement as he strode to his duty station. Past installment ceremonies had been more elaborate but this simple transition of authority suited William fine.
Reaching the Central Console, which had served as an altar to Blake since the days of Toyama and Kaprov, he turned and faced the assembly. The New Earth HPG had nearly eighty dedicated personnel, not including ComGuards, because of its First Circuit status. Many of these positions were non essential but the importance of the facility dictated additional billets. Several holes had been created in the station’s roster thanks to the latest Interdiction and its consequences. Many including the former Precentor had left the Order rather than serve the new Primus. Some had even gone so far as defecting to the Free Worlds League and taking sanctuary on the planet of Gibson. He could understand those who retired or those who remained in hiding but aligning yourself with a Successor Lord who was once a ComStar Precentor was an act of sheer madness.
Clearing his mind and gathering himself the Precentor began his introductory speech. “May Blake’s wisdom guide us in the challenges that lay ahead. It is my distinct honor and privilege to take up this post once held by my forebearer. With your help we will continue to fulfill the sacred mission of our beloved Order, the preservation of knowledge. Indeed many have questioned our new direction and the very future of ComStar. To those who would doubt us or the righteousness of our actions and to those who would use the Word of Blake to justify their own twisted ideas take heed. Your ignorance will be your downfall.”
* * * * *
Following his speech, which apparently went over well, York met his personnel. Some like his two Demi-Precentors were old colleagues from the ComGuards he had requested. Joseph Calloway was a self proclaimed technophile who had been York’s Chief Tech in the 91st and jumped at the chance to run HPG operations on New Earth. Demi-Precentor Alpha’s joy was tempered by the fact he had to perform double duty. Until the ComGuards rotated back from Tukayyid he would also handle Zeta’s responsibilities. With only a small security force present this assignment wasn’t all that distracting but anything that took Joe away from his new toy made him grumble. It’s a good thing that William knew how to handle his friends when they got upset. Hermann Von Weid had almost left ComStar after Tukayyid but York had convinced him to stay. Together they could make a difference he thought. Hermann was a fine executive officer in the Guard and would make an excellent Chief Security.
The other members of his staff weren’t as familiar to him. Before today he only knew them from the dossiers which he had been presented upon his appointment. Melissa Sanders, Adept Sigma, had been assigned by the Primus to maximize York’s public relations value. William couldn’t decide if Von Weid hated or loved her as the two went out of their way to argue. Doctor Winston Graves, Adept Kappa, was another new member of the New Earth staff replacing departing personnel. Extremely knowledgeable he seemed like your typical doctor and his record was exemplary. The rest were holdovers like Emeka Azuka, Adept Phi, who had in addition to his fiscal responsibilities ran the station in the interim. No small feat and Azuka had done a fine job keeping the operation despite the situation. The oldest member of the staff was Chetan Singh, Adept Eta, whose sage advise always helped those in need. Yeva Petrov, Adept Nu, was full of infectious enthusiasm and incredibly seemed un-phased by the Reformation. Instead she was caught up in the ‘heroics’ of Tukayyid.
There was a familiar face in the crowd not on his staff, not even from ComStar, who claimed ‘real authority’ over the HPG. Simon DeGrason was the Federated Commonwealth’s Planetary Consul on New Earth and an old friend of York’s. Their families once influential and still somewhat rich were now old news. They were forgotten by many powerful ‘modern’ nobles as has beens. “A lovely ceremony, congratulations on your new position here in the Federated Commonwealth”. York smiled at the not so subtle reminder that alluded to their claims of ownership over HPG facilities in their territory. “Thank you Consul DeGrason, it was an honor to have you and your armed guards here again today”. Such chiding was the norm for them but others had more serious matters to resolve. Von Weid got right to the point. “Yes Consul, I must protest these are ComStar grounds maintained since the fall of the Star League”. Simon shot back “Your Order’s recent actions have done much to sully their former impartial status. The New Earth HPG is now under the protection of the Federated Commonwealth”. York’s childhood rejoinder “Whatever Simon says” got everybody laughing and won him the initiative. “We have many issues to discuss and I’m sure things will get worked out between our respective employers”. About half way through his sentence an incoming transmission would alter the status quo.
* * * * *
A damaged courier jumpship had arrived with news of Prince Davion’s heart attack. The message was a divine master stroke thought Nigel Hawkings. The assassin who was masquerading as the aptly named Doctor Graves simply smiled at the bulletin. York’s “accidental” death won’t even be noticed by those outside of New Earth. At most it would be a tragic afterthought. All was ready. The Precentor had an interview with Tau Ceti Broadcasting, a planetary news network, tonight. His limo was due for some unexpected difficulty he thought. “What a tragedy” he muttered.
It is a shame the Fox isn’t dead. While the Davions were always a thorn in Blake’s side this one had been particularly troublesome. Hanse had nearly conquered the Human Sphere with his Lyran allies and made an effort to cut into ComStar’s sacred monopoly over interstellar communication. Only the coming of the Clans seemed to derail his plans, thank Blake. Perhaps he would pass into the great beyond and spare us any further suffering.
News of the Prince’s condition would likely spread slowly with the HPG net in complete state of disarray. The Federated Commonwealth’s “Black Box” system simply could not match the speed and efficiency of the Word of Blake. This crude device operated like a fax machine and could only transmit limited messages like a text or still picture. Added to the fact that its services were not widely available reliable information could take weeks, if not months, to travel. Had recent events not conspired to disrupt the status quo reports would appear instantly via the HPG from one end of the InnerSphere to the other.
Thanks to the heretics everyone would have to wait for updates. Sure the House Lords might find out most of the details but the masses would be subject to more uncertainty in these troubled times. Just as well. Suddenly York emerged from the Precentor’s office with Consul DeGrason. As they walked to Central Console it looked as though the Precentor was going to address the station personnel once again. What was going on? Was he going to brief everyone present on the situation? Did Hanse die? No, they looked serious not mournful, almost united in purpose. His eyes widened, NO!
York spoke “Can I have your attention please. The captain of the FCS Hermes has asked us to relay a priority message from New Avalon to Tharkad. As you know First Prince Hanse Davion has suffered a heart attack which could threaten the stability of the InnerSphere. The Hermes was badly damaged in a misjump which likely resulted from a quick charge of their KF Drive. As such an unacceptable communications delay has arisen which could spark a renewed Clan invasion. Effective immediately, I am ordering the restoration of HPG operations here on New Earth for the express goal of maintaining stability.”
Hawkings silently fumed as York paused. This heretic will surely burn for these actions. The Master was wise to want him dead. York continued “I have spoken with Consul DeGrason and have reached a temporary service arrangement based upon pre-Tukayyid rates to establish a link between New Avalon and Tharkad. So lets go to work. We have to repair the HPG and contact our fellow stations including Terra. Adept Sanders will you please contact Tau Ceti Broadcasting and tell them I won’t be able to make it tonight.” Blake’s Blood! Hawkings was so livid he had to stop himself for a moment and regain his composure. You may have escaped for now York but I will not fail. You will certainly die.