"You are recognized, Khan Garrick N'Buta of the Star Adders. Why do you rise before this Conclave?"
The Oathmaster's ritual words rang out across the Hall of the Khans to the considerable startlement of Wolf Khan Kerlin Ward. Kerlin had been about to call a vote on his most recent proposal, and the Star Adder Khan was, technically, out of order.
Let him challenge me to a Trial of Grievance if he does not like it. Like most Clan Warriors, Garrick was usually unfailingly polite: It never hurt to be polite when surrounded by people who would feel obligated to kill you at the slightest offense. This made the impact of upstaging the Wolf Khan all the more potent. Such a challenge could not properly be made on the floor of the Grand Council. Kerlin would have to wait while Garrick had his say or be embarrassed further. Still, he could well pay the price later. But this is important.
"I find your notion of sending a reconnaissance force to the Inner Sphere intriguing, Kerlin Ward, but I note certain deficiencies in the plan. Firstly, you would have this force placed soly under your own authority. While I cannot say that I do not trust you with such a charge, given your record and known political positions" -- this brought a guffaw from the Smoke Jaguar Khan. He could afford to be rude. He was a Smoke Jaguar. "It seems unwise to me to leave a force acting in the name of all the Clans in the hands of a Wolf. Most exalted of Clans or not, Clan Wolf is only one among the many assembled here, and the charge of gathering intelligence for the inevitable Return to the Inner Sphere is too important to be left to the offices of any one Clan."
Garrick held a hand up to forestall rebuttal while taking a drink of water. He was pleased that it worked. This meant he had the Khans' attention.
"Indeed, this august body made that same determination when establishing Intelser twenty years ago. Even as Intelser reports only to the Loremaster and the Grand Council, a force of Clan Warriors sent to reconnoiter in force must report only to this Grand Council and its Warlord. My Khans, I second Kerlin Ward's call for a reconnaissance force to be sent into the Inner Sphere itself, though I will stipulate that it must report only to this conclave. In the wake of this vote, which I trust will succeed," he paused briefly for dramatic effect.
#1. "RE: What Might Have Been" In response to Reply # 0
Katyusha City Comissary (Sven's Hole) Strana Mechty 12 November 3000
Leaving one's Clan was never easy, ilKhan Nadia Winson reflected. She was in a position to know, having now left two Clans. The first had been Clan Wolf, whose Khan was now her chief rival for power. As a junior Star Colonel, she had been captured in action against Clan Ghost Bear. Made bondsman, and eventually adopted into the Warrior Caste, the abtakha Wolf had worked her way up the ranks and finally been accepted by her peers to the point of being made a Khan.
It had been a long, hard road. She had had to learn the ways of her new Clan, and unlearn the ways of the old. A Wolf played her cards close to her chest, never letting others see the nature of her soul. A Wolf played games of dominance. She always fought, and she always won. Or she died.
A Ghost Bear was a different creature altogether. Though she hid from her prey, she was open with her family. For over a decade, she had seen her fellow-Clansmen as brothers and sisters, and then she had been a mother to them. She had even begun a Great Work, a miniature diorama showing the entirety of the Great Father's Regular Army at its height assembled as if for a parade through the streets of Old Washington. She had never finished it, and doubted she ever would.
And now it was time to set all that aside. She had been elected by her peers-- by the Khans of Kerensky-- to lead them into war. The coming war would be the greatest challenge the Clans had ever faced, and it was up to her to make sure they overcame it. She wondered how she would compare to the example of the ilKhans that had come so long before. Would she be hailed as another Jerome Winson? Or despised as another Tobias Khatib? Could she ever hope to live up to the example of the Founder himself?
Only time would tell, and her time among the Ghost Bears had taught her the right attitude to apply to the situation. She would be patient. She would wait and see. She would take what came when it came, even as the Ghost Bear did. But it was the Wolf she still remembered who would deal best with the other Khans. Especially Kerlin.
And there he sat, in the corner with his Warden cronies, doubtless plotting her downfall even as he "celebrated" her rise on her work-credits. So be it. The best of the Khans sat at her table as the Grand Council's newest member entertained them all with his rendition of a 25th-Century rock ballad.
She thought she would never understand Karaoke, but Thaddeus Jorgensson was actually quite good...