When constructing an alternate timeline in the BT universe, one of the most important things to do is determine the initial event that changes everything, the one thing that can be used to alter many events down through time, yet still be plausible. As an example, I’ll use the work in progress for the Clans of the Kapteyn Universe (KU).As all 20 Clans of the KU are to survive down through the years, for added flavor down the track, I needed to find a believable way to keep them all in the story. So the critical element in all of the future story telling was going to be how to stop the Annihilations and Absorptions. After thinking over things for a while, I found I needed to change only a single event in 2821.
The event chosen was the death of Andery Kerensky, but instead of just letting him walk out the ambush that killed him, I hospitalized him for a year in a coma, allowing Nicholas to get harsh with many in the Pentagon, but not so long as to prevent Andery from returning to rescue the Wolverines. form there, many small changes are made, changes that cascade and build on the divergence from canon, one at a time. No one change is dramatic when shown within the tapestry of the alternate universe, but had I added the Trial of Supplication without having Andery there to create it, it may have seemed far less plausible.
So, here is the first part of my re-write of the Clans for the Kapteyn Universe. It may well change over the coming months, and has done so a couple of times already, but the general outline will always remain constant.
Klondike’s Fire and Supplication’s Peace
The third stage of the development of the Clans began towards the end of the campaign to liberate the Pentagon Worlds and would focus around the clash between the methods and practices of first Nicholas, and then Andery Kerensky. It can easily be said that if Nicholas Kerensky was the heart of the Clans, then Andery Kerensky was their soul and conscience. Without Andery as a break, Nicholas would become harsher and more brutal, yet without Nicholas, Andery lost the drive that had forced him to excel for so long. This third stage of the Clan’s development would last to the current day, as the action of all the Clans are still shaped by this interplay of this Clan Yin and Yang.
The beginning of this third stage occurred on Eden, where on December 1st, 2821, Andery set forth into the world’s battlefields, where he was ambushed and nearly killed. It was only the quick reactions of several Wolf warriors that saved him however, the injuries he suffered resulted in Andery being placed in an induced coma by Clan medical personnel.
Rumors continue to this day over whether Nicholas Kerensky was complicit in the ambush, attempting to rid himself of Andery, who was often a limiting factor on many of the ilKhan’s harsher actions. Whether intended or not, either Andery’s incapacitation, or death, would free the ilKhan of his brother’s conscience and allow Nicholas the freedom of action he believed he required to realize his aims.
Following the end of the campaigns to subdue Eden, Arcadia and Circe, the catalyst for much of what would come for the Clans began on Circe. The Wolverines, under Khans McEvedy and Robertson, began to move civilians from caste to caste, in order to maximize their labor pool. This action, far more liberal than even the Sea Foxes were contemplating, at first went unnoticed.
Following the conclusion of the campaigns on Babylon and Dagda, the ilKhan was provided with word of the Wolverine’s actions in June of 2822. The ilKhan then ordered all Wolverine civilians to be sent back to their original castes. However, this action did not quiet the opposition amongst some of the Wolverine’s opponents. The success of the Wolverines post-Klondike was becoming a point of concern for several Khans, primarily those of the Widowmakers.
These Khans, led by Widowmaker Khan Jason Karriage, continued to campaign the ilKhan for harsher actions. However, Kerensky was not willing to act on scant evidence, so was not going to officially censure the Wolverines. Therefore, a proposal for an inter-Clan agency, to keep watch on the Wolverines was made to the ilKhan and with his blessing, the Clan Watch was formed in July 2822.
The rapidly coalescing anti-Wolverine alliance, consisting of at least eight actively participating Clans, began an ongoing campaign of harassment against the Wolverines, seeking to weaken them at every turn. It was only the Wolverines technological and martial prowess which allowed them to whether this storm of Trials over the following eight months.
The Wolverines, ever swift to detect the ebb and flow of events, were able to determine, due to several stinging defeats, that information was being provided to their enemies. It would take the Wolverines many weeks to track down the leaks in their Clan, but what they found shocked them deeply.
The investigations of two low ranking, but later notable young officers, Franklin Hallis and Trish Ebon, revealed that lower castemen from at least five different Clans, acting as intelligence agents, were passing information back to their original Clans regarding Wolverine strengths and intentions. What was more, the effort appeared to be coordinated, with there being only one power in Clan space that could order and control such an organization – the office of the ilKhan.
The Wolverine Khans were left with a conundrum: did they present their findings to the Grand Council, likely inciting an inter-Clan civil war whilst potentially bringing down the ilKhan; or form their own watch and perhaps stain their own name if discovered? McEvedy would dwell on the problem for two months, finally taking a third option: that of doing nothing at all. McEvedy was banking on the return of Andery Kerensky, whose doctors were planning to bring him out of his induced coma by years end. Nevertheless, from November 2822, until August the following year, McEvedy would gather all the evidence possible against her foes.
In December of 2822, McEvedy’s prayers were answered, when Clan doctors successfully brought Andery out of his induced coma. Although weak, Andery would recover his full strength over the coming year, coming again in time to act as a break on his brother’s headlong rush to reform the Pentagon.
Over the preceding year, Nicholas had used increasingly harsh measures to bring both the Pentagon Worlds and the Clans themselves into line with his vision. Although many were willing to follow his lead, others were suffering a deep identity crisis. Not only were the Wolverines experiencing doubt, but other Clans, such as the Jade Falcons, Cloud Cobras, Burrocks and Steel Vipers were also undergoing a period of questioning. Despite Andery’s return to waking life in December, it was too late for those caught up in the coursing, as the final elements of the old regimes in the Pentagon were hunted down and exterminated.
In April of 2823, knowing her evidence against the other Clans required more information, Khan McEvedy decided to brief Andery on what she knew, banking on their long friendship to prevent an immediate backlash. Andery was appalled at the actions of the other Clans, seeing such victimization of one Clan for its success, as the complete antithesis of what the Clans stood for.
Despite this, Andery knew more evidence would be needed, and that a way to present this information would need to be found, a way that would not bring down the ilKhan, or start a Clan wide civil war. In order to gather more evidence, the Wolverines would go over from a defensive stance, to an offensive one, in an effort to draw out more agents and more Clans.
From late April 2823, the Wolverines struck out against known and suspected members of the anti-Wolverine alliance, gathering all the data they could. For the next four months, they saw battle after battle, winning many, but always growing weaker.
In July, as the effects of the Jade Falcon culling pushed that Clan to strike at the weakened Wolverines, McEvedy knew that her Clan was on the brink of a precipice, too much fighting had now drained them, but they now had the information they needed.
In late July Khan McEvedy, in company with Andery Kerensky, left Circe for Strana Mechty, whilst leaving saKhan Robertson on world. Speculation form the time states that Robertson was to prepare the Clan against potential reprisals, with some rumors even suggesting the Wolverines may even have intended to flee Clan space altogether.
The meeting held between the Kerensky brother’s and McEvedy was artfully managed by the two advisers to the ilKhan: designed as it was to pander to his ego; provide him with an example to make for the Clans as a whole; and allow him an out, which would in no way compromise his dignity.
McEvedy and Andery had evidence against eight Clans, with indications of involvement by at least three others, however, they limited their evidence to that against just four Clans, in order to minimize the damage the ilKhan’s rage would create. At no time did either Andery, or Khan McEvedy, ever hint at the ilKhan’s involvement, always being clear that they believed the Clans involved were acting as a rouge block within the Clans as a whole.
Although Nicholas was believed to be disgusted with his brother for siding with the Wolverines, he was in an awkward position. The Wolverines had acted in a more Clan-like fashion than those Clans loyal to him and partaking in the Watch, leaving him with two options: Denounce the Wolverines and in the process his own vision; or denounce the Khans named by McEvedy and keep face. The latter option would also allow him to show any other Clans that may be wavering, what would happen to those who did not follow Clan lore and custom. Although they hypocrisy of the ilKhan’s actions are manifest, his actions are likely the only ones that saved the Clans from a devastating civil war, one that was only narrowly avoided.
McEvedy and Andery knew however, that they would need to give the ilKhan more, as he has targeted the Wolverines and would likely bear them a grudge for the remainder of his life. Therefore Andery, after discussing his idea with Khan McEvedy and gaining her agreement for it, presented to his brother the Rite and Trial of Supplication.
The Rite of Supplication could be invoked by either by the Grand Council as judge, or by an individual Clan when wishing forgiveness for a crime. When invoked by the Grand Council, the accused Clan could call for a Trial of Supplication, where if they lost the trial, they were placed under the personal administration of the ilKhan for ten years, forfeiting their right to vote in, or attend, the Grand Council. Furthermore, they would be forced to give up 19% of all their resources, which would be split evenly amongst the other Clans as payment of their honor debt.
If the Rite of Supplication was invoked by a Clan itself, no trial was fought and only 9.5% of their resources would be given up, as their forthright action in coming forward of their own accord, would forgive them part of their debt. Additionally, a Clan that came forward, although still placed under the ilKhan’s administration, could attend, but not vote in the Grand Council. during the first five years of the Supplication, the ilKhan would be expected to take an active hand in reforming the wayward Clan and ensure the reordering of its ways, with regular reports back to the Council. As it was expected that the upper ranks of the Supplicant Clan were suspect, the first two years would see the Clan cut of from Combat Trials with other Clans as it fought internally to build a new set of commanders. After the initial two years, the Clan was fair game, but Andery’s two years of peace would allow the Clan to recover much ground lost from the Supplication gift.
Andery saw the need for all twenty Clans to live on, as each brought its own unique and important perspective to the Way of the Clans, without which the whole body of the Clans would slowly wither and die. Through Supplication, Andery believed he had found the method for preserving all the Clans.
Khan McEvedy planned to invoke Supplication, should the ilKhan allow it, to appease the ilKhan and to stave off the attacks that were sure to some from the other Clans. This way, the Wolverines took responsibility for having caused the current set of events, but would survive as a Clan and move forwards with the ilKhan’s blessing. Nicholas, though still angry with his brother, was suitably impressed with his idea, seeing a path by which Clans could be punished, but also preserved and brought back to the path. To cement the deal, Kahn McEvedy and saKhan Robertson agreed to step down, following the acceptance of the Supplication.
The Grand Council meeting of August 11, 2823, was one of great drama and surprise for all involved. The ilKhan’s announcement of the new Rite of Supplication, provided the Council with the knowledge that the Wolverines were likely to be made examples of, however, before that could happen, the ilKhan struck.
The guards of the Ebon Keshik entered the room and took positions around the table, arresting the Khan and saKhan of Clans Ice Hellion, Mongoose, Smoke Jaguar and Widowmaker. The eight Khans were accused of espionage and treason, with Khan McEvedy called upon to provide her evidence against them. When speaking in their own defense, the Khans were declared guilty by a cowed Grand Council and sentenced to execution, unless they could win a Trial of Refusal.
The Trials resulted in the death of Khan Mitchell Loris of Clan Mongoose, and Mariel Sanders of Clan Widowmaker and the loss of the Trial and later execution of Khan Stephen Cage of Clan Ice Hellion, saKhan Borislav Sais of Clan Mongoose and Khan Jason Karriage of Clan Widowmaker. saKhan Lucius Moore of Clan Ice Hellion and the Khan and saKhan of Clan Smoke Jaguar, Franklin Osis and Liam Ismiril, won their Trials and were vindicated.
A following vote by the Grand Council also censured those Clans known to be involved and warned others which may have been involved, that if ever discovered, they would suffer similar fates. The message from the ilKhan was clear: you will do as ordered, even if ordered to step outside the bounds of Clan lore, but fail the ilKhan and your punishment would be swift indeed.
Following the Censure vote, Khan McEvedy enacted the Rite of Supplication, begging the ilKhan and the Council for forgiveness for the Wolverine’s part in causing these events to transpire. The Wolverine Khan then offered up part of her Clan as the Rite of Supplication demanded. Following the ilKhan’s lead, the remaining 30 Khans accepted the Supplication and McEvedy stepped down as Khan, handing her badges of rank and office to the ilKhan.