What Might Have Been (Part 7)

Hall of the Khans
Strana Mechty
25 December 3005

“Order, my Khans! Please!” Nadia Winson hammered furiously at the podium with her gavel, in a futile attempt to draw attention that for the moment simply seemed to add to the general din in the Great Hall. Resigned for the moment she just relaxed and let the noise wash over her. It was thrilling in a way, even if it seemed for a moment there that the Khans would come to blows. Magnus McKenna and Thaddeus Jorgensson had not got far into their presentation before the Khans had abandoned their traditional decorum in favor of a shouting match. Jorgensson, for his part seemed to simply be biding his time, waiting for the right moment.

“Silence!” he barked as the moment came. Nadia had no idea how, but it worked. The Khans settled into a kind of constrained, moody mumbling over which the Snow Raven Khan could be heard to clearly state “If you have questions, we will take them, but please, one at a time. Khan Smoke Jaguar.”

This last was directed at the massive Khan of Clan Smoke Jaguar who had thrust his massive hand petulantly into the air in the middle of the statement, and who now proceeded to speak.

“What is the purpose of this general warship refit you are proposing?”

The junior Diamond Shark Khan interrupted before Magnus could respond “Why to force you to spend your resources in his shipyard, of course.” There was another general explosion, but this time Nadia’s furious hammering brought the expected response and she turned the floor back over to Magnus.

“While we suspect that the Inner Sphere lacks large modern Warship forces and thus our older units should be adequate to defeat whatever they may supply to oppose us, They do stil have a large and well-organized aerospace corps. Our ships are of a traditional design and so lack significant small-scale defenses of their own. The proposed refits would simply remedy these and some other operational inadequecies in order to ready our fleet for the kind of action they can expect in the Inner Sphere.”

“Also, our vessels will need to be ready to withstand nuclear strikes.” This comment from Thaddeus Jorgensson might have provoked another roar of confused dissention, but somehow the Khans settled into a kind of shocked silence. Utterly serious and contemplative for once as a group. It was Khan Kerlin Ward of the Wolves who broke the silence.

“You truly believe they would stoop to nuclear weapons to destroy us?” There was a sneer of contempt in his voice, but it rang false against his earlier silence. It seemed clear to all that he had never considered the possibility. And yet…

“Intelser has asserted and confirmed that nuclear weapons played an important part in the devastation of the Succession Wars and that each House maintains a significant stock of weapons as a deterrent. We would be fools to discount this. It is a very real threat, and one we must be prepared to counter.” Thaddeus Jorgensson again.

The Smoke Jaguar Khan waited to be recognized again before speaking “But what is the purpose of spending so much of our effort on Warships? Do you not intend to destroy the enemy on the ground as the Founder intended? Surely you do not mean to answer nuclear weapons with orbital bombardment!”

Magnus shook his head “No, of course not. We intend the Warships to act in a supporting role as troop transports and as part of a blockade fleet. Any destruction of enemy Battlemech forces will be accomplished by conventional means.”

Any Destruction?” That would be the Khan of the Coyotes. The Coyotes were generally content to remain silent in Council and simply follow the lead of the Wolves. But trust them to pick up on a subtle philosophical point like the implicit possibility that such destruction might not be necessary.

Thaddeus Jorgensson chuckled. “Do not worry. There will be plenty of fighting for our Mechwarriors to do, I expect. The purpose of the blockading forces is to cut down the ability of the Inner Sphere lords to mobilize. If we can destroy enough of their ships, they will be unable to reposition their forces to oppose us. If we destroy their ability to move their forces, we destroy their ability to wage war on an interstellar scale. Ending the enemy’s capacity to wage war is the end goal in any real war, and make no mistake my Khans, this will be a real war.”

Magnus continued “A Successor State exists only so long as it excersises power across dozens or hundreds of worlds. If we can cut off Jumpship traffic, seize hyperpulse stations, and destroy factories, we can topple their regimes simply by rendering them meaningless. A united Lyran Commonwealth or Draconis Combine is a threat, but thousands of individual worlds are nothing. Once we have toppled these pretenders to the Star League Throne it is simply a matter of pacifying our territory, which we may do at our leisure. Intelser even suggests that most planets would not be unwilling to swear allegiance to a Clan as their interstellar protector.”

“This task, of course, is not as easy as it would appear. First we need better reconaissance. To this end, we are proposing that the Grand Council authorize the creation of five new Galaxy-sized units answerable to the ilKhan and to this Conclave. Wolf’s Dragoons have drawn significant attention by their size and by the oddity of their ways, but these new units can put what Wolf’s Dragoons have learned to work to blend into Inner Sphere society. Thus positioned, with one unit seeming to serve each of the Pretender Lords, they will gather intelligence and wait for the signal to strike. When we invade, they will act as our first wave, striking targets of vital import and sowing confusion in advance of our general invasion.”

“Five Galaxies?!” One of the Fire Mandrill Khans, no doubt contemplating the fact that such a force would outmatch his entire Clan, to say nothing of his own Kindraa.

“Five Galaxies. But we know this is a nontrivial force, and that we asked you for five Galaxies before. Therefore, we intend to raise only one such Galaxy every four years, assigning each as it is comissioned to the state that Wolf’s Dragoons has most recently departed. In the meantime, we will be building supply infrastructure for a grand envelopment campaign against the Inner Sphere. We have divided the Inner Sphere into twelve occupation zones, each of which will be the responsibility of a single Clan. If a Clan is unable to meet Grand Council objectives in that zone, it will be replaced.”

The Khans continued to argue over the details for several more hours. Finally, a vote was called. In the end, it was nearly unanimous. The Crusaders felt this would finally give them the promised Return, while the Wardens hoped that the McKenna-Jorgensson plan would delay matters long enough for them to rally support and crush the idea outright. Twenty-five years was a very long time, after all.

But for now, the Clans were officially at war.

5 thoughts on “What Might Have Been (Part 7)

  1. BobRichter

    Since the mission of the Dragoons was in this timeline dictated by the ilKhan and Grand Council rather than old Kerlin Ward (whose behavior in the canon was practically treasonous,) I had decided that they were to use the considerable communications technology available to them to remain in regular and frequent contact with the homeworlds. This not only gets information where it needs to be faster, but reduces the sense of alienation the Dragoons feel from the Clans. It’s a subtle change (and kudos for picking up on it) but an important one.

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  2. mame_snidely

    Bob, confusion here. Why would the Clans NOT use orbital bombardment? I mean, if they have the abillity to not lose their own ‘men’ to fight people that they obviously hold nothing but distain for, why not just use orbital bombardment to cow everyone?

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  3. Psychopompousgb

    @mame_snidely – 

    Because that’s how Clan Warriors think. The way their culture is structured they need to prove themselves in combat to earn a bloodname (the ultimate goal that every Clan warrior strives toward). They need to engage in single combat with ‘mechs to prove their worth, to ensure that their genetic material is used to create the next generation of Clan Warriors. If they don’t take that goal seriously, they probably washed out of training. And that’s been happening in the Clans for a few hundred years at this point, they probably have a genetic tendency towards being glory-hounds. If they have potential opponents they can fight with ‘mechs, it’s not even going to occur to them that they could or should use some means of destroying those enemy forces with asymmetric warfare.

    Maybe some explanation of who or what the Clans are should go in here somewhere… but I’m not sure exactly where. I think having the grand council shocked by the idea of potentially using orbital bombardment does it well enough. Regardless of why, destroying enemies with Weapons of Mass Destruction is anathema to them – and that in itself is important enough to the story.

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  4. BobRichter

    @mame_snidely – Basically, I’m avoiding tedious exposition by showing you rather than telling you that the Clans aren’t keen on orbital bombardment. Since this is being told from a Clan perspective, I don’t know how appropriate it would really be to explain the Clan philosophy of war in the text.

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