Hollings York (ComStar)
- This article is about the Primus of ComStar. For the WarShip, see Hollings York (Individual Congress-class WarShip).
|Position||Primus of ComStar|
Hollings York was the eighth Primus of ComStar. While notable for being one of the most publicly beloved leaders in the Order's history, his biggest contribution to ComStar was the foundation of the ComStar Guard and Militia, later renamed the Com Guards.
Early service to ComStar
Despite his youth, Hollings York rose to the rank of Precentor New Earth, serving on the Order's First Circuit during the reign of Kari Marshall. The 22-year-old York was named as the aging Primus' successor in 2922, Marshall taking him under her wing and carefully grooming him to succeed her.
Becoming her confidant, York represented the Primus on a number of diplomatic missions to the Lyran Commonwealth and Draconis Combine. While a number of members on the First Circuit opposed York's quick rise to the spotlight, Marshal defended her charge from all attacks, with some linking her efforts as a part of a long-game for him to serve as her puppet on the throne. No matter her intentions, Kari Marshal died from a stroke in November 2930, with 29-year-old Hollings York confirmed as the eighth Primus of ComStar, the youngest to ever hold the post.
Primus of ComStar
Among his first acts was inviting the leaders of the Great Houses who attended his predecessor's state funeral to a series of private meetings. The only leader who refused was Hugai Kurita, Coordinator of the Draconis Combine, somewhat of a precursor of the tensions to follow when ComStar became embroiled in a serious political conflict with the Combine when Hugai's older sister Necess Kurita asked to join the organization a few months later.
While the Blessed Order had actively sought to recruit a high-ranking scion from House Kurita for many years, Hugai had no intention of his sister being the first and angrily accused the organization of interfering in the Combine's internal affairs, with York curtly responding that ComStar viewed his actions in the same light. After ordering Precentor Luthien Stephanie Hendriks to personally verify Necess's desire to join, though some of the members of the First Circuit pressed the Primus to use her "defection" as a propaganda tool, York instead tried to avoid further confrontation with the Coordinator by the leaving Necess stationed on Luthien for two years and having her inducted under a veil of secrecy with no public announcement.
Despite what York believed was a show of good faith in keeping things quiet, the furious Hugai responded in mid-November by dispatching a squad of ISF agents to take back his sister from the ComStar hospice on Luthien by force. When the First Circuit received word of the event, the body debated whether to acquiesce to the Coordinator or escalate the conflict and ultimately chose to support York's hardline stance. Though a number of members of the First Circuit called for an Interdiction, York refused the move with support from Precentor Dieron, pointing out that House Kurita's honor and pride would force them to resist it and that only military response could satisfy the Combine's honor. While reluctant, the First Circuit ultimately chose to support York's hardline stance and use military force to back the will of ComStar.
Though the Order lacked a true military, with York's approval the organization used its capacity as the Mercenary Review Board to sign contracts with almost six regiments worth of crack mercenary units, a force considered large enough to prompt the Coordinator to reconsider. The pièce de résistance however was The Bandersnatches, a ROM-employed mercenary unit in close proximity to Luthien. Primus York then contacted Precentor Hendriks and invoked the never-before used Emergency Powers Act of the Communications Protocol of 2787, allowing her to operate without interference from Terra and directly telling her the kidnapping could not stand.
While he traveled from Terra with the remaining mercenary forces, York placed the Bandersnatches en route to Luthien and all ROM elements on world under Hendriks' direct command along with the order to use whatever force necessary to enforce the will of Blake and ComStar. Hendriks outlined her plan to use the Bandersnatches as the Sword of Damocles and perform a combat drop directly onto the Unity Palace to cripple or destroy House Kurita's leadership, receiving York's full support. The audacious move finally forced the Coordinator to step back and release his sister.
While the Combine hushed up the affair, within ComStar itself York publicized the incident to good effect. Taking part in a number of parades and speeches beside Necess and the Bandersnatches' commander, York used the successful resolution and his personal zeal and charisma to raise his stature almost to the level of Jerome Blake himself. York would also reward Stephanie Hendriks the next year with a promotion to the First Circuit post of Precentor Dieron, replacing one of his fiercest antagonists in the process. In 2933, York would further use the affair as the justification to propose to the First Circuit the formation of a standing military for ComStar.
Settling with five regiments' worth of full-time troops as part of a compromise with liberal elements on the First Circuit, York placed the new military under the shared control of the Primus and First Circuit. Building his military around the core of the now disbanded Bandersnatches and outfitted from ComStar's SLDF stockpiles, York tapped the vast resources of ROM to fund its creation as well as convincing the First Circuit to approve millions of C-bills to transform the Sandhurst Royal Military College from a ROM training school back into a full military academy again. Upon publicly announcing the formation of the branch to the stunned House Lords, York took great pains to convince them the ComStar Guards would be a light infantry force trained only for defensive purposes and stationed strictly on Terra
Despite his relative successes with the House Lords, York began to suffer increasing opposition from elements of the First Circuit, some resenting his relatively young age, others considering him brash and reckless for his actions during the Necess Kurita Affair and his formation of the ComStar Guards and Militia. In 2939 the divisions worsened when York was assailed with accusations of an affair with well-known holovid actress Carrisa Sanders which he vehemently denied. Precentor Oriente Adrienne Sims, one of York's chief opponents, having already engaged in heated debates with the Primus over the funding of the ComStar Guards and Militia now used the scandal to demand his resignation for "soiling" his holy post. Having no intention of stepping down because of some gossip and innuendo, York promptly silenced his opposition by naming Sims as his successor for the primacy, forcing her to cease her attacks lest she appear to be power-hungry.
While tensions with his opponents on the First Circuit began to abate, York would find himself increasingly in disfavor with the Order's shadowy intelligence agency ROM. Despite the protestations of York and his handpicked Precentor ROM that ROM would be maintained, as each passing budget diverted more and more funds from ROM in favor of the ComStar Guards and Militia, field agents increasingly found their investigations underfunded and understaffed. With the Great Houses intelligence agencies taking advantage of ROM's sudden weakness to eliminate or capture numerous ROM agents in their realms, the organization's pleas for aid were outright refused by an increasingly and openly hostile York. Things ultimately came to a head in the spring of 2947 when York publicly proposed the formal disbanding of ROM to a full gathering of all Precentors on Terra, with its intelligence-gathering and security role to be reassigned to the ComStar Guards.
Death and Legacy
Two months after his history-making speech, Hollings York would attend the cornerstone laying ceremony at Sandhurst Royal Military College, accompanied by more than half the First Circuit. After a ticker-tape motorcade, Primus York delivered a ringing speech to a jubilant crowd of ComStar Adepts and civilian construction workers. York was in the midst of this speech when a burst of laser fire struck him three times, also wounding Precentor ROM and Precentor Alpha C. While hanging on for an hour, not even ComStar's advanced Star League medical technology could save Hollings York.
Six hours after his death, Adrienne Sims was named the ninth Primus of ComStar. Recognizing that she stood in the shadow of her charismatic predecessor, her first act was to proclaim seven days of mourning for the fallen York. In a move that endeared her to the rank and file of the grieving Order, Sims also called for the canonization of him as a ComStar saint and proposed that Saint York be buried in the church floor of Sandhurst. His public reputation was such that numerous parks, streets, spaceports and buildings throughout the Inner Sphere and especially Terra were renamed York in his honor.
Despite her public canonization of him, Sims quickly undid York's winding back of ROM, reversing the flow of funding and transforming his ComStar Guards and Militia into a mere division of ROM. Whether the shadowy intelligence organization or Sims herself directly or indirectly caused the assassination of the openly hostile York, the increase of funding and elevation of her brother Karl to head the branch helped ensure ROM totally supported Sims and she in turn referred to it as the core and essence of preserving ComStar.
While the Order had a number of strong leaders over the years, Hollings York was the first to have a strong personal magnetism and appeal to the general public at large, rather than just the organization itself. A dynamic and idealistic speaker, York would broaden the appeal and reach of the Blessed Order. Even after Schism, ComStar would continue to use the well-known public image of York on its recruitment poster.
The most far-reaching decision of York's reign as Primus was the formation of what would later become the Com Guards. Starting out as a five-regiment light infantry rapid response force would eventually expand to a 50-regiment strong army equipped with Star League-era BattleMechs, aerospace fighters, and WarShips that would expand ComStar's influence immeasurably.
Documents supposedly uncovered by Chandrasekhar Kurita during the Jihad allegedly claim that York was a member of The Blood, his proactive hardline response to the Necess Kurita Affair and formation of the ComStar Guards and Militia in keeping with their aggressive goals. The documents also claim the Blood were behind his assassination, York's removal of funding from ROM endangering the heavily Blood linked branch, forcing them to act against one of their own.
- ComStar, p. 38
- ComStar, p. 39: "Age of Enlightenment"
- ComStar, p. 40: "Age of Enlightenment"
- ComStar, p. 42: "Age of Enlightenment"
- Field Manual: ComStar, p. 12: "The New Dawn"
- ComStar, p. 43: "Age of Enlightenment"
- ComStar, p. 44: "Calm before the Storm"
- Jihad Secrets: The Blake Documents, p. 128: "The Not-Named - The Book of Vengeance"