Intentions

Intentions
Product information
Type Sourcebook fiction
Short story
Author Paul Sjardijn
Publication information
Publisher Catalyst Game Labs
First published 2017
Content
Era Succession Wars era
Timeline 15 May 2819/11 June 2830

The short story Intentions by Paul Sjardijn was the openning fiction of the Second Succession War sourcebook.

Plot summary[edit]

In the wintery foothills in the Green Mountains on Terra, Conrad Toyama sits outside the cabin of ComStar founder Jerome Blake, both marveling at the splendor of nature before him and yet feeling deep sadness that his friend and mentor will not live to see its transition to summer. Toyama's ruminations are interrupted by head of ROM Michelle Dupreas who informs him it's his turn, the last member of the First Circuit to meet with Blake on his deathbed. Entering the cabin, Toyama runs into Herman Schwepps, a powerful member of the First Circuit and the man many assume to be obvious heir-apparent of ComStar. As both men exchange false pleasantries, playing to the rest of the First Circuit, Toyama is untroubled as he already knows that Blake had secretly selected him years ago as his successor.

Entering Blake's soundproof bedchamber, Toyama and his mentor engage in benign small talk as a cover as he moves about the room and blocks the recording devices Dupreas revealed to him per Blake's request. His task completed and the pair able to speak freely, a frightened Toyama expresses concern that he's not ready to take over from Blake so soon, assuming that they would have years to plan and prepare for the succession and that he'd be able to call upon his mentor for assistance in the years following. Blake attempts to reassure his protege that he is up to the task as their discussions turn to ongoing "Great Succession War" and ComStar's place in the Inner Sphere, serving to try and preserve technology being rapidly lost but under threat as the steadily depleted Houses continue to fight, the Inner Sphere and Humanity as a whole seemingly unaware or uncaring as what it was doing to itself.

Toyama uses the opportunity to ask a question that Blake had dodged for years, will the Star League Defense Force return to defeat the weakened Houses. Though he does not know their fate, Blake insists that Keresnky will not return within either of their lifetimes if all goes to the General's plan, reflecting with sadness at the bitterness of their final messages and he'd been too blind to see that Kerensky was right. Moving on, Blake insists that there is no hope of the Star League reborn for decades if not centuries and that the fighting will have to get much, much worse, if there is any hope of breaking humanity's endless cycle of conflict. Blake continues that while also fostering the fighting, that ComStar can serve as a shortcut to assist in the rebuilding. Toyama agrees but points out the problem is ensuring ComStar survives the centuries such a mission will require from both external and internal threats long after both of them are dead.

Blake's answer to this is that ComStar will need to become the one thing shown to last longer than a single individual leader - a religion. At first dismissive of the concept Toyama realizes what Blake is getting at, that as far back as Operation SILVER SHIELD ComStar has been moving in that direction already, both of them liberally making references to such, borrowing aspects of the religions of old, with many of its recruits already feeling a higher calling to preserving the technology of the Star League. Blake insists to Toyama that ComStar is proto-religion and soon it will have the one thing it needs to become a full religion: a founding saint.

Toyama reacts in physical horror at Blake's suggestion, refusing to turn his dying friend into a false idol of an artificial religion, but Blake insists that he's been a such a symbol for years rather than a actual person, reflecting angrily and bitterly that he'd been serving the greater good and others since his childhood rather than having his own life. Toyama tries to console his friend, but Blake knows its simply too late for him now and that sacrifices on both their parts will be required to ensure ComStar's survival.

Pressing forward, Blake provides Toyama with two noteputers, one his true personal journals he'd kept for years, the other an incomplete but heavily doctored and adulterated version of his journals foretelling the collapse of society and intended to reinforce Blake's cult of personality, with which Toyama can use along with Blake's death to push through the transformation of the secular corporation into the religious ComStar Order. Blake warns Toyama that while he will have to make an example those who will resist this new direction, like Herman Schwepps, that he also needs to guard against going too far on the religous side, that they run the risk of creating fanatical zealots and triggering a true religious war unseen in centuries.

Uneasy at what he is being asked to do and the speed of which he is being asked to do it, Blake amplifies his fears when he tells his shocked successor that Toyama will also need to overrule the request for cremation in his will to construct a tomb for his corpse to be displayed as a shining light to ComStar Order in the years hence. Though Toyama expresses dismay at the seemingly insane direction of the conversation, Blake nevertheless presses on as he also needs to discuss other equally unbelievable things such as the Gabriel base and why it took until 2802 for ComStar to turn a profit, but again warns his successor again about the dangers of the religious direction they are treading and the need to restrict and control it's extent to try and avoid it going out of control.

Shortly after discussing ancient secrets, fishing and listening to some historical musician's song of spurned love, an exhausted Blake asks to take a nap from which Toyama eventually realizes he will never awake. Feeling great sadness at the loss of his frend, growing closer in the final chat than they'd been in the preceding forty-three years, Toyama agonizes over his course of action and the enormity of what Blake has asked him to do. Unconvinced that he will be able to maintain the reglious charade for long, Toyama regardless steels himself for the tyrannical role required as he focuses instead on how to achieve the individual tasks to bring it to fruition.

Twenty one years later, Primus of ComStar Conrad Toyama enters the Shrine, emptied by Michelle Dupreas' best ROM agents, allowing him to visit the preserved body of Jerome Blake alone. Though many claim seeing the Blake relic as an uplifting experience, Toyama feels only sorrow for the loss of his mentor and friend, the sight of his embalmed corpse reminding Toyama of that fateful last meeting years before and the dark choices he has had to make since. Toyama speaks to the body of his friend concerning his fear over the path chosen so far, that he had come to realize the hard decisions Blake had warned would be required was not to create the ComStar Order but the present uneasy lull in the fighting since the conclusion of First Succession War, that to reignite the fighting will require much more proactive measures than the relatively minor meddling from before.

Tortured by the terrible suffering he himself had caused, Toyama confronts his uncertainty as he bitterly recalls the horrors the Great Houses had unleashed, the countless worlds ruined, human lives extinguished, and yet humanity had seemingly learned nothing, the cycle of conflicting continuing. Refusing to waste the lives already lost, an angry Toyama resolves that doing something is better than nothing and his hope that those who follow him and truly believe in the symbol of the Blessed Blake will be good people. His mind set as he leaves the Shrine, Toyama activates his communicator to instruct Dupreas to pass on information to Jeanette.

Notes[edit]

  • Much like Betrayal of Ideals and its revelations about Clan Wolverine, Intentions turned long-held preconceptions about the origins of the religious ComStar Order on its head. While the earliest sources in the BattleTech universe indicated that Blake had given Toyama "the Word" on his deathbed, with the ComStar sourcebook the idea that Toyama had used Blake's death to remake ComStar into something other than what its founder envisioned became the accepted view, which dovetailed nicely with the revelations of ComStar's secret manipulations of the Inner Sphere and its sundering in the ComStar Schism into the secular ComStar (that purportedly followed Blake's true intentions) and the Word of Blake zealots (that followed the "Lies of Toyama"). The narrative of Toyama warping Blake's intentions remained the standard in-universe view right up until preceding First Succession War (Sourcebook), with the only questioning of how much of ComStar's religious direction was Blake or Toyama appearing in Second Succession War.
  • With the release of Intentions the reliability of ComStar sourcebook has been brought into question. Crouched as a in-universe report written by the Secular ComStar, with injections from Word of Blake inserted to correct the "Heretics lies", "Intentions" reveals that Toyama's deathbed meeting with Blake and receiving from him "the Word" actually occurs as the Blakists indicate, not the secular ComStar states. Towards the end of "Intentions" Toyama even comments on the rise of myths and rumors around Blake's death and his ascension that line-up match up with the secular ComStar background, indicating that secular ComStar either intentionally used these rumors to demonize Toyama or that they perhaps did not know the real truth of the meeting.
  • Blake and Toyama fears about their efforts getting out of hand clearly references both the Blessed Order's manipulations during the later Succession War era as well as of course the Jihad. They also correctly deduce that there will be weapons of war named after them, in Toyama's case specifically a model of BattleMech - the Toyama.

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