Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Star League Part 3
TIME FOR A CHANGE
Attention all AGM members currently participating in the barbarities. Cease all hostile actions and return to your barracks or I will bombard you into oblivion.
-Communique from Admiral James McKenna to AGM ground forces fighting on Terra, June 2, 2315
Upon learning that Terra was in flames and that other worlds were about to erupt similarly, Admiral McKenna issued orders for the Navy’s major warships and Marine troop carriers to rendezvous with his fleet currently orbiting Mars. No one knows whether McKenna acted spontaneously or whether he had planned his actions in advance. Some have claimed that the curious coincidence of all major warships and troopships being on duty, the revoking of shore leaves a month before the war, and the storage of extra ammo were all part of a grand plan devised by the Admiral. Though McKenna had never made a secret of his dissatisfaction with the government, certain facts, such as the collision between the warships Wildcat and Yalu because of poor navigation, seem to refute the claim of premeditation.
The real issue was that on June 2 a spectacular series of explosions pulverized and vaporized Strand Rock, a tiny island in the North Sea near Scotland. At the same time, another island, this one near Australia, was also being destroyed. These events sent a wave of shock around the globe and put a temporary stop to the fighting. Then came a message from Admiral James McKenna, that was broadcast worldwide:
“To the men and women of Humanity’s cradle: attention. This is Fleet Admiral James McKenna onboard the warship Dreadnought. The destruction of the islands near Scotland and Australia was accomplished by the combined fleets of the Alliance Global Navy. I gave the order to open fire and I am just as ready to give similar orders should anyone on Terra attempt to jam my message to its people.
“You have all been suffering through a bitter war. Many, mostly the innocent, have been injured or lost everything they own in the fighting. Even the fortunate few who have gone unscathed thus far must have some friend or loved one who has suffered. Terra has been a dark place these past few weeks, with little hope of getting brighter.
“I ask you now: what is the purpose of this suffering? Do you believe that this war is a true and honorable one that will make your lives any better? Do you honestly believe that if one side or the other wins, it will benefit you?
“It is my view that all of us have been duped by the lies and deceits of a few wily politicians. They have led you to believe that this war will somehow end your, and the Alliance’s, problems once and for all. They lie. They struggle for personal power and not for your benefit.
“It is time for change. The government is corrupt and must go. We must bring back the voice of the people so that it may be heard. I propose the founding of a new government to replace the Alliance, a strong government responsive to its people, yet unburdened by constant and useless elections-a strong government that will reestablish Terra as the proper center of Humanity. Fellow Humans, it is time that we cease to behave in the violent ways of Homo Sapiens and begin to behave in the ways of Homo Stellaris, men and women of the stars.
“Those who share this view need only lay down their weapons and return home to await further messages. Those who do not agree to a change had best be warned. I intend to hunt every last one of you and feed you to the public that has been so badly abused.”
The effect of McKenna’s words was like a shot heard round the world. Almost every militia unit that had been fighting on one side or the other returned to their barracks. In any cities, citizens poured into the streets in support of Admiral McKenna and his call for a new order.
The leaders of the two parties, as well as a few AGM units, refused to surrender their right to kill one another over politics, however. True to his word, Fleet Admiral McKenna unleashed the firepower of his ships on exposed targets. Against those who hid from bombardment in cities, McKenna dispatched the Colonial Marines to root them out, alive if possible, dead if not.
The dictionary defines hegemony as “preponderant influence or authority, especially of one nation over others.” In our own Terran Hegemony-the name given to our shiny new government-freedoms have been exchanged for “decisiveness” and personal rights abrogated in favor of blindly following one charismatic man.
-From The Terran Hegemony: Monumental Fraud, by Richard Thury, HBJ Press, 2321
The few remaining officers of the Liberal and Expansionist parties were, as McKenna had promised, turned over to local authorities. Though the captives might have hoped to be freed when the furor died down, McKenna had correctly judged the mood of the people toward those who had mismanaged the planet’s fate for the past six decades. Most of those former leaders were imprisoned for long terms. Twenty were executed, and only five were released.
Survivors of the AGM units that had refused McKenna’s orders to return to their barracks might redeem themselves if they accepted a reduction in rank and assignment to units soon to see action. Most accepted the offer, and those who didn’t were imprisoned.
As the dust cleared after the sudden fall of the Alliance, Admiral McKenna, still aboard his warship, issued what came to be known as the Hegemony Charter. The document outlined what McKenna called a “fair but responsive government free of all the vices and faults of the previous administration.” The Hegemony, as McKenna saw it, would dissolve the Alliance bureaucracy and empower a new class of officials called Planetary Governors. These governors would be appointed to rule in the Hegemony’s name. Ultimate authority would lie with what McKenna euphemistically called “a single head of state chosen, but not ruled by, the people.” It was clear that he viewed this head of state as just a few notches below the status of king.
There is considerable debate about whether or not Admiral McKenna wrote the Hegemony Charter. Most believe that he lacked the educational background. Other historians believe that beneath the Admiral’s brusque attitude and military orientation there lurked a true intellect. McKenna was, they pointed out, a voracious reader and passionate fan of educational programming.
Many books about the Star League claim that McKenna declared himself leader of the new Terran Hegemony, but that is not true. He was elected as the Hegemony’s first Director-General and Lord Protector in February 2316. From all evidence, the election was fair, despite a ballot indicating that McKenna would rule “until his death or voluntary retirement.”
That the people of the former Alliance would willingly elect one man to rule over them without any legal recourse for removing him is remarkable. Perhaps the body politic was so tired of the old ways that they were willing to place their future in the hands of a man they admired, though of whom they knew little. Perhaps it was enough for them to know that the future would be different.
A NEW CHARTER
For the citizens who had elected and supported Director-General McKenna, the new government would prove to be a disappointment. On the surface, there was little to distinguish the new bureaucracy from the old. National or continental leaders ran their governments as they wished. On the global scale, McKenna commissioned the creation of Planetary Congresses to replace the various parliaments and assemblies favored by the old Alliance. McKenna
left enough latitude so that each world could alter the Planetary Congress as it saw fit. What the people did not realize was that the fine print of the Hegemony Charter contained a small provision that would authorize creation of a virtual nobility.
Director-General McKenna had blamed most of the Alliance’s corruption on the ease with which politicians and governments could be overthrown. Because of this, most politicians were in constant fear for their political lives, with governments always in danger of collapsing before being able to accomplish their aims.
To prevent this from reoccurring, McKenna had the Charter specify that a Planetary Congressman would be elected for a two-year probationary period, after which the people could grant him a full eight-year term in office. Planetary Governors served for 18 years. Congressmen could be impeached, but only if convicted by a court of law and a referendum showing that a majority of the people wished to depose him.
The upper levels of the Hegemony government were less familiar to the people. At the pinnacle was the Director-General. Immediately below him was the High Council, nine of the most qualified Planetary Governors chosen by the Director-General. The High Councilors advised the Director-General on affairs of state and served as watchdogs over the bureaucracy. High Councilors served at the discretion of the Director-General or until voluntary retirement.
Immediately below the High Councilors in importance and rank was the President of the Hegemony Congress. Elected by the people of Terra, the President ran the Terran Congress. He also served as the Director-General Pro Tem when Director-General McKenna was away from the capital or otherwise unable to fulfill his duties, which was often. Various safeguards, such as requiring that all High Councilors and commanding officers of the Hegemony Armed Forces agree on major bills and budgets, prevented the Director-General Pro Tem from taking advantage of his position.
The bureaucracy was decentralized. The headquarters of the Hegemony’s bureaucracy, called the Offices of Administration, moved from New York City on Terra to new quarters on Luna and was built next to the huge dish antennae of the Crasos Communication System. Taxes were at first reduced, but each planet’s service obligations, such as providing material and lands for the military, were increased.
Certain political activities became illegal in the new realm. Political parties were banned entirely, though the Director-General allowed groups of like-minded politicians to form what he called “Thought Groups.” Electronic voting was banned and replaced with the old paper-ballot method. Though infinitely slower, it prevented the rampant vote fraud that had plagued the last few elections of the old Alliance.
FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE HEGEMONY CONGRESS
A former lawyer, Sonya DuKirl was a member of the Terran Alliance Parliament in 2314. She was one of the few Expansionists in the Liberal-controlled Alliance Regional Parliament and one of the few with the character to fight her political battles fairly. She was considered something of a political dinosaur, and her Parliamentary fellows tolerated her impassioned speeches and legal maneuvering with amusement.
Early in 2314, the budget for Sirius, her homeworld, came before the Regional Parliament. The Liberal-dominated government did not approve a budget anywhere near what the planet needed, even though Sirius had just suffered massive crop failures. M.P. DuKirl was desperate to see the budget increased.
By now, Sonya DuKirl had gained a reputation as a scrupulously honest, but extremely tough, political fighter. Her constituents deeply appreciated her integrity, as did some of her political opponents. This gave DuKirl considerably more power than the normal member of Parliament, and many lesser politicians envied her unofficial clout.
When DuKirl appealed to them for aid, these dishonest members of Parliament promised to back her cause in exchange for deals that would have forced a compromise of her political morals. She refused and managed to use her legal abilities to maneuver the Congress into approving a budget increase for her planet. Unamused, Sonya’s enemies in government and in Parliament had her thrown into jail for “highly suspect activities.” The government then promptly forgot her. While the Expansionists and the Liberals cast aside all civilized pretenses and fought for control in the streets, DuKirl was in her cell, quietly penning books on political morality.
When the shooting stopped and Admiral James McKenna declared the creation of the Terran Hegemony, many of McKenna’s followers were moved by Sonya DuKirl’s case and acquitted her. They also made sure her story reached James McKenna. When he learned of DuKirl’s courage and integrity, the new Director-General offered her a post in the government and DuKirl accepted.
The new government elected her the first President of the Hegemony Congress. Throughout her 30 years as President, DuKirl made McKenna’s wishes for a strong and moral government a reality and ruled with fairness whenever the Director-General was absent. Toward the end of her career, she had won so much respect that the Director-General, the High Council, and the government willingly suspended the safeguards that protected the government from greedy presidents. They knew that President DuKirl could be trusted.
A year after she retired from her second term, Sonya DuKirl returned to her homeworld, where she died three years later. The Terran Hegemony erected a huge monument to honor her “dedication to integrity and honesty.”
-From Political Foundations of the Terran Hegemony, by Precentor Nicholas Drasser, ComStar Press, 3011
TERRA’S ERRANT FLOCK
The reason the colonies broke from Terra was that the previous government treated them with either indifference or outright contempt. Now things are different and there is no longer any reason for them to remain out there in the cold.
-Director-General James McKenna, as quoted in The First Lord Protector, by Gregory Donn, HBJ Interplanetary Press, 2345
After ushering in the Hegemony Congress on Terra in early 2316, Director-General McKenna set about ensuring that all the former Alliance worlds joined his Hegemony. Though most planets joined gladly, a dozen more had to be convinced, usually through political arm-twisting. It took military persuasion before either Caph or Altair would join the Hegemony.
Once the Director-General was sure of his support at home, he turned his attention to worlds that lay just outside the Hegemony’s boundaries. Using carrot-and-stick tactics, McKenna sought to enlarge his domain through intensive political propaganda backed up by an economic blitz of cheap consumer goods that he hoped would create a dependence on Terra.
Though his efforts did have some early success, most worlds had grown used to Terra’s indifference and were content to keep it that way. They realized, however, that to refuse the Director-General of the Hegemony was courting danger. Some attempted to band together, others joined one of the other established realms, and most started to arm themselves. They had heard James McKenna’s call for a united Humanity and his promise to punish “those fragmentists who believe that Humanity is like a sack of seeds to be scattered across the stars to live and grow independently of one another.” McKenna made no bones about the fact that he did not intend to take no for an answer.
The Hegemony gave these colonies very little time to prepare. In March 2316, Director-General McKenna left Terra with a large fleet of warships bound for the wealthy independent worlds of Quentin, Errai, and Helen. These worlds had just signed a defense pact among themselves. Though the planetary leaders realized they had little chance of preventing the conquest of their worlds, they hoped to teach the Director-General a lesson. To meet the HAF Navy, the three planets converted small fleets of cargoships and interplanetary messenger ships into warships by adding lasers and missile tubes. They also beefed up their ground defenses by better equipping several divisions of trained militia and backing them up with a large force of volunteers.
Despite the dogged and sometimes fanatical determination of the Errai, Quentin, and Helen colonists, HAF military might prevailed. The fight to conquer these worlds was a bitter one, but the HAF used its lessons to devise an almost standard approach to subduing other recalcitrant worlds.
The campaign for a planet usually began months before the actual fighting, with the gathering of all information available on the target worlds. Once a tentative plan had been sketched out, the necessary troops were mustered and loaded aboard their vessels for the jump into the combat zone. Two large warships, usually a Cruiser Class or larger, and several smaller JumpShips carrying aerospace fighters, would make the first jump, materializing at the system’s two jump points with their guns and missiles at the ready. These ships made sure that the jump points were free of enemy vessels before giving the all-clear to the vulnerable JumpShips carrying the troops. The Director-General himself, in his battlecruiser Black Lion, often led these efforts to secure the enemy jump points.
After the troopships and cargo vessels had arrived, attention would finally focus on the target world. Because intelligence about a world is often outdated, missing, or simply incorrect, the HAF first conducted reconnaissance patrols. Escorted by warships, special military survey vessels made runs toward the world to make detailed maps of the planet. The citizens of a world often violently opposed these runs, which crew members referred to as “naughty picture runs.”
Once the commanders had a detailed picture of the world, they drew up and executed invasion plans. This usually included a swift run of troopships, escorted by warships, into orbit about the planet, where they would let loose with their DropShips. The targets of the DropShips were most often major cities and industrial centers. Water sources were also favorite targets, as most worlds were still extremely water-poor. If all went well, the planetary government would usually capitulate once it became clear that HAF forces controlled its people, water, and industries.
During his “Campaigns of Persuasion,” Director-General McKenna acquired over 40 worlds in this way. The first campaign, which began with the capture of Quentin, Errai, and Helen, ended with the seizure of Towne in 2317. The second major campaign, launched in 2320, took Terra Firma and Capella, and eventually led to the capture of distant Nanking.
Despite the success of the offensives, certain problems and shortcomings were becoming apparent in the military of the Hegemony, most of them related to the poor performance of Hegemony equipment. The HAF did not have a true aerospace fighter, for example. Those fighters that were effective in space were terrible in an atmosphere, and the Hegemony’s best atmospheric fighters were pitiful in the vacuum of space. This often made it almost impossible to provide complete protection for DropShip landings, which enemy fighter pilots used to deadly advantage. Compounded with other minor equipment problems, HAF actions often were hampered by delays and postponements.
BATTLE OF THORIN’S SHORES
The THS Monitor furled her sails and retracted the slender ribs and delicate silver fabric into the ship’s interiors. Enemy activity had been reported in the Thorin area and the Monitor, an Essex Class destroyer, had been sent to inspect the situation.
Five days later, the Monitor arrived in the Thorin system’s asteroid field. Maneuvering between the huge rocks, some encrusted with the metal huts and shacks of mining settlements, the ship slowed to a crawl. The gunners in the turrets squinted into their gun sights, trying to discern whether the dark-pitted shadows slowly tumbling by hid sleeker, more deadly forms.
The Captain of the Monitor resisted the urge to launch his fighters to help him see. He knew that in these tight quarters fighters would spend most of their time desperately trying to avoid becoming squashed fly-specks on some freight train of a rock. Better to keep his pilots alert and rested for the fight, the Captain thought. Still, it was the not knowing that ate at his guts.
Seven days, five hours, twenty-one minutes into the mission, five tumbling shapes suddenly came cutting in toward the Monitor like sharks in a black sea. Their angles of approach were well chosen. The Monitor’s Captain observed that each vessel’s path was within the arcs of fire of his weapon turrets.
The first accelerated and attempted to rake the aft end of the Monitor with laser fire. Going past, the Captain of the Monitor noted that it was a converted courier vessel. Low on armor but fast and nimble, couriers were once interplanetary messenger ships and the playthings of the ultra-rich. Now the Outer Realms were arming them and turning them into deadly fighters.
With a curse, Captain Michael Cameron ordered his fighters to launch and his destroyer to prepare for some deadly maneuvering.
-From A Child’s Biography of Michael Cameron, by Jessica Cameron, Hegemony Press, 2498