STORM FROM THE SHADOWS – Snippet 13

STORM FROM THE SHADOWS – Snippet 13:

Chapter Four

          "– this morning, so I think that situation's under control, Milady."

          "I see." Michelle tipped back in the chair behind the desk and contemplated Commodore Arlo Turner with a hidden smile of mingled satisfaction and exasperation.

          Turner, a heavyset, fair-haired man in his mid-fifties, was, like Michelle,  from the planet of Manticore itself. More than that, he was from the City of Landing, the Star Kingdom' capital, and she suspected that he'd always been one of those people who followed the daily newsfaxes expressly so he could keep up with the doings of what was still called "the rich and famous." When she first realized that, she'd been tempted to write him off as an inept, would-be social climber, but she'd quickly realized that would have been doing him a disservice he didn't deserve. He might be fascinated by the social gossip columns, and she didn't doubt he cherished a slightly wistful hope of someday attaining at least a knighthood of his very own, yet he was anything but inept. In fact, he was one of the more efficient administrators she'd ever worked with, and she had no doubt he was a competent tactician, too, despite his present residence in one of the Republic of Haven's prisoner-of-war camps. After all, she considered herself a reasonably competent tactician, and look where she'd ended up.

          Her lips twitched, the hidden smile almost breaking free, as that thought flickered through her mind, but it wasn't what had awakened her exasperation. Despite his efficiency, and despite her rather pointed hints to the contrary, he simply could not forget that she was Queen Elizabeth's first cousin and the Countess of Gold Peak in her own right. It would be grossly unfair to accuse him of anything remotely like fawning, yet he insisted upon addressing her as "Admiral Gold Peak," and instead of the sturdy, serviceable naval "Ma'am" she would really have preferred, he insisted upon the technically correct "Milady" whenever he addressed her.

          I suppose if that's the only thing I can find to worry about where he's concerned, I don't have any real room for complaint, she reflected, and glanced sideways for a moment at Lieutenant Colonel Ivan McGregor.

          McGregor, who had been born and raised on the planet of Gryphon, less than five hundred kilometers from what had since become the Duchy of Harrington, was Turner's antithesis in almost every way. Where Turner was fair-haired and blue-eyed, McGregor had black hair, dark brown eyes, and a swarthy complexion. Where Turner was heavyset — chunky, not overweight — and stood only a little more than a hundred and sixty-two centimeters in height, McGregor had a runner's build and topped a hundred and ninety-three centimeters. And if Turner was a gossip junkie, McGregor had every bit of the native Gryphon's distrust for the majority of the Star Kingdom's aristocracy, and his eyes reflected an echo of Michelle's own exasperation with Turner's choice of address at the moment.

          Despite which, the two men were fast friends and worked smoothly together.

          Until her own unanticipated arrival, Turner had been the senior officer of Camp Charlie-Seven, and McGregor, as the senior Marine officer in the camp, had been his adjutant and the commander of Camp Charlie's internal police service. He continued to hold both of those posts, and Turner had become Michelle's executive officer.

          If she were going to be completely honest, she had to admit her own duties consisted primarily of standing back and letting the two of them get on with the smoothly oiled partnership they'd built up during their thirteen months in captivity. Both of them had been captured in the opening stages of Operation Thunderbolt, and she was impressed by their joint refusal to allow the fact that they had been captured so early in the war, through no fault of their own to embitter them.

          There's a lesson there I'd probably better learn for myself, the way this war seems to be going. Her temptation to smile disappeared with the thought.

          "So you're satisfied, then, Arlo?"

          "Yes, Milady." The commodore nodded. "It was only a misunderstanding. The kitchens screwed up their records — it looks like a simple data-entry error. According to them, we still had plenty of fresh vegetables. I think Captain Bouvier's a little ticked that he didn't realize the reports had to be in error, given the delivery schedule, and he assures me we can expect delivery within the next few hours."

          "Good." Michelle nodded.

          Captain Adelbert Bouvier was the Republican Navy's designated "liaison officer" to its prisoner-of-war camps here on the Republic's capital world. Frankly, she found the Havenites' arrangements a bit . . . peculiar. Technically, Bouvier should probably have been considered Camp Charlie-Seven's commanding officer, although he wasn't called that. He was the Havenite officer with command authority over the camp and its inhabitants, at any rate, but he and his superiors seemed prepared to allow Camp Charlie to function with a sort of semi-autonomy which had astounded Michelle when she first encountered it.

          Right off the top of her head, she couldn't think of another example of a star nation which didn't bother to post its own personnel on the ground, as it were, to at least keep an eye on a camp full of prisoners of war, all of whom could be presumed to be trained military personnel with a distinct interest in being elsewhere. On the other hand, it wasn't exactly as if they needed to put a lot of boots on the ground here at Charlie-Seven.

          Reminds me a little of what Honor had to say about Cerberus, she reflected, glancing out the window of her office in the camp's main administration building. Not that it has anything in common with the way those motherless StateSec bastards treated their prisoners, thank God! But the Peeps — no, Honor was right about that, too; the Havenites — do seem to have a thing about islands.

          Camp Charlie-Seven occupied the entirety of a relatively small, somewhat chilly island in the planet of Haven's Vaillancourt Sea. It was almost eight hundred kilometers to the nearest body of land in any direction, which provided what Michelle had to concede was a reasonably effective moat. And if there were no guards actually on the ground, everyone in the camp knew their island was under permanent, round-the-clock surveillance by dedicated satellites and ground-based remote sensors. Even assuming that anyone on the island had been able to cobble up some sort of boat that actually stood a chance of crossing to the mainland across all that water, the sensor nets and satellites would have detected the attempt to launch said boat quickly, and Republican Marines could be on the ground on the island within fifteen minutes, if they really needed to.

          With that sort of security available, Secretary of War Theisman had opted to allow his prisoners to manage their own affairs, subject to a sort of distant oversight by officers like Captain Bouvier, as long as they kept things running relatively smoothly. It might be an unheard-of technique, but it appeared to be an effective one, and it was about as far as it was possible to get from the horror stories Michelle Henke heard from Manticorans unfortunate enough to fall into Havenite custody in the previous war.

          Which is undoubtedly the reason he did it. She shook her head mentally. There's a man who still thinks he has a lot to make up for. And not for anything he did, either. Honor was right — he is a decent man.

          In fact, she'd come to the conclusion that most of the Havenites she'd met were decent people. In a way, she wished that weren't the case. It was always simpler when one could think of the enemy as the scum of the galaxy. Reflecting on the fact that the people who were firing missiles at you — and who you were firing missiles back at — were just as decent as anyone you knew on your side could be. . . uncomfortable.

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24 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS – Snippet 13

  1. Summercat says:

    Too bad the world isn’t black and white.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the Republic, even when it was the People’s Republic. I felt pity for Pierre, I felt pity for S.Just, I was hoping that McQueen would succeed in her plans and give Manticore a good drubbing, while reforming the system.

    One of my favorite lines is “Goodbye, Citizen Secretary.”

  2. Summercat says:

    Question real quick, posed here since I dislike the Baen Bar:

    ..what should happen should a treecat adopt Pritchart? Or Theisman?

  3. Karsten says:

    @Summercat:

    The world will be turned upside down – at least for Elizabeth III, that’s for sure ;)
    In fact, should it ever come to a direct meeting between QEIII and President Pritchard, some very unexpected situations will occur. So I could imagine, that not only ‘cats who are bond to humans will be part of the Manticoran delegation, but ‘free’ ‘cats, too. Because it is proven they are intelligent, there is no way to eliminate the ‘cats from any negotiations
    concerning the peace between ‘their’ humans and the havenites …

  4. laclongquan says:

    Very nice, should some unattached treecats are included in the Malticoran delegation. Though, I doubt that change over much, if only because they are not empath, or because bonding only happened due to heightened sense in danger or distress, which is a big nono during an interstellar summit meeting.

    Beside, I feel treecat is a bit too much like plot devices…

  5. Alistair says:

    Reading this makes me feel upset how two good sides are slugging it out… I guess we will have to wait 2 books or so before they get around to declaring peace and fighting Mesa with it’s Solarian friends.

  6. Karsten says:

    @laclongquan:

    Thats an error. Remember the adoptation of Miranda La Follet – or the one of the Mayhew-Girl in “Echoes of Honor” That were, for sure no “heightened sense in danger or distress” imho.

  7. JohnG2 says:

    Summercat…

    Don’t worry about Haven…it’s been clear, I think, for years they’re like a couple in a domestic quarrel: when an outside force arrives (read Union/Mesa), they’ll drop their quarrel and turn on the outsider. Of course that won’t keep them from spatting from time to time even then.

  8. dcott says:

    To what extent do you think a constraint still exists to keep Haven and Manticore at each others throats based on the Britain / France parallel?

  9. Robert Krawitz says:

    @dcott, remember that we know (from the outside) that Mesa/Manpower is deliberately provoking war — this was discussed in At All Costs. So we have an outside force involved here, which combined with Elizabeth’s long memory and the fact that some of the Havenites even under the new regime (think Giancola) *have* been bad boys and girls, fans the flames.

    Until someone proves to Elizabeth’s satisfaction that this round of assassinations has nothing to do with Haven, and is the work of Manpower, it’s going to be hard to stop the fighting.

  10. laclongquan says:

    @ Karsten: Okay. My bad. Good example.

    @ dcott: don’t forget the spat between Germany and France, either. long and bitter over the ages.

  11. Chuck says:

    The comparison between European wars and the interstellar wars in the Honor series goes deeper than you may think. If Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel) is right the reason Europe advanced so fast compared to everyone else is that the geography allowed the easy exchange of ideas and goods but had enough rivers, mountains etc. to let each “social unit” develop independently and compete. No one power could exert long term political control.
    That sounds a lot like space in DWs universe(s)-close enough in time (given FTL ships) to exchange ideas and enough goods to spark innovation and competition, but with enough barriers to mass travel to make it difficult to keep an empire going by brute force.
    I wonder how much that refection of European history (subtlety enhanced by name selection to make sure the densest reader is hit over the head with the concept every third page) adds to the appeal of the books. I’m a history nut, but I know people who don’t know Brutus from Bismarck that enthuse over his books even more than I do.

    Chuck S.

  12. JNees says:

    The term “Havenites” will not work. They Navy would come up with another, single syllable, term. “Reeps” for example, for the [i]Republic[/i] of Haven. Or Havies (hay – vees), leading to Heavies.

    DW is clearly paving the way to cooperative effort, here or through the sequal to “Crown of Slaves”, which is coming out after this one, if not both.

    J

  13. A. J. Nolte says:

    Agreed. And if he’s going to be purely ruthless about it, the constant fighting between the two has to put them in a good position vis-a-vis the (somewhat paper tigerish) solies. Particularly if Myers from the Crown of Slaves subseries comes in on the Manticoran/Havenite/Grayson/Andermani side. That just might be a pretty even fight, in that one side would have clear technical training and combat superiority while the other would have an advantage in resources which would be staggering.

  14. Summercat says:

    Chuck –

    Exactly my reasoning why Europe was so advanced. Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond, you say? Sounds like something that I’d be interested in reading.

  15. Summercat says:

    Also, to all –

    Treecats can has galatik dominashun.

  16. Chris says:

    If War with the Sollies ever broke out I think Manticore and Haven alliance could end up with a pretty decisive advantage if the imitated Cutworm or Beatrice or McQueen’s plan, can’t remember the name. Get rid of industries while the Sollies are still preparing.

  17. Summercat says:

    Chris, I think there’d be only one battle between the combined forces of the Havenite Sector (Which includes Manticore, Andermanni, …poland equivalent…)

    And the forces of the Solarian League.

    I think the Solarian League is a lot like Russia. Or rather, the Soviet Union – and there’s no nukes.

  18. Tony says:

    On amazon.com, the book is described as follows:
    Rear Admiral Michelle Henke was commanding one of the ships in a force led by Honor Harrington in an all-out space battle. The odds were against the Star Kingdom forces, and they had to run. But Michelle’s ship was crippled, and had to be destroyed to prevent superior Manticoran technology from falling into Havenite hands, and she and her surviving crew were taken prisoner. Much to her surprise, she was repatriated to Manticore, carrying a request for a summit conference between the leaders of the two sides which might end the war. But a condition of her return was that she gave her parole not to fight against the forces of the Republic of Haven until she had been officially exchanged for a Havenite prisoner of war, so she was given a command far away from the war’s battle lines. What she didn’t realize was that she would find herself on a collision course, not with a hostile government, but with the interstellar syndicate of criminals known as Manpower. And Manpower had its own plans for eliminating Manticore as a possible threat to its lucrative slave trade, deadly plans which remain hidden in the shadows.

    Clearly a follow-up of SoS.

    At the moment, I think we more or less agree who the real bad guys are. The one thing I can’t quite figure out is how all gonna fit in. The sollies have one hell of a size advantage, but on the other hand, their technology seems beneath Manticore’s (see the ending of SoS).
    At some point I expect Zilwicki and Cachat to bring the bacon back home in spades (CoS 2), with enough proof to convince even Beth. That would probably happen at the same time as the conclusion of SoS…..
    That being said, I am still fairly confident David has a few surprises in his kit, otherwise, the sollies will make really weak baddies (besides the fact that they are able to “reprogram” people quite easily apparently.

    Ah perhaps someone can explain something: I was convinced Admiral Giscard had died during the operations in At All Costs, he is yet mentioned during Storm… Which makes me wonder about the timing in the book (before the end of At All Costs or Giscard got resurrected somehow)

    Anyway, quite looking forward to the next books. :)

    @ Eric : when is CoS2 planned for release ? ;-)

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Tony while I’m not Eric (don’t know if he visits the comments area), the only date we know is in 2009 after this book.

  20. Karsten says:

    Tony asked “Ah perhaps someone can explain something: I was convinced Admiral Giscard had died during the operations in At All Costs, he is yet mentioned during Storm… Which makes me wonder about the timing in the book (before the end of At All Costs or Giscard got resurrected somehow)”

    Here’s the answer: Michelle Henke got prisoner in the Battle of Solon. Giscard died in the Battle of Lovat – which was after the mesan … actions to prevent the peace negotiations.

  21. Tony says:

    Thanks Karsten :)

  22. BB says:

    Think multi sided Civil war in the solarian league. That will set up a manty/peep alliance vs mesa/portion of Frontier securty war.

  23. Vegetables…as in, consider what issues the prisoners are not having. They aren’t being waterboarded. They aren’t being executed. They aren’t being boiled in oil. Apparently no one is bothering to try to interrogate them very hard.

  24. Paul says:

    They are not being interrogated very hard because it would not work. All military personnel are conditioned to resist physical and chemical interrogation. Remember Admiral Parnel. That is why everyone is so confused by the assignation attempt on Honor. It should not of been possible to re-condition the Lt. in that short period of time.

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