"May I ask exactly why you're telling me this?" she asked after a handful of seconds.

            "Because I want you to understand exactly how grave the Star Kingdom's strategic position has just become, Admiral," Pritchart said levelly, looking back at her. Michelle bristled slightly internally, but Pritchart continued in that same, level tone. "I strongly suspect, Admiral Henke, that an officer of your seniority, serving directly under Duchess Harrington and with your close family relationship to your Queen, has access to intelligence reports indicating the numerical superiority we currently possess. I fully realize that your Manticoran Alliance's war fighting technology is still substantially in advance of our own, and I would be lying if I told you Thomas and I are completely confident our advantage in numbers is sufficient to offset your advantage in quality. We believe it is, or shortly will be; both of us, however, have had too much personal and distinctly unpleasant experience with your Navy's . . . resilience, shall we say.

            "But now this new element has been added to the equation. Neither you nor I have any idea at this time what consequences — long term or short term — your Captain Terekhov's actions are going to produce. Given the general arrogance quotient of the Solarian League where 'neobarbs' like the Star Kingdom and the Republic are concerned, however, I believe it's entirely possible local League administrators and admirals are likely to react without any concept of just how devastating your Navy's quality advantage would prove where they were concerned. In other words, the potential for Manticore to find itself in an ultimately fatal confrontation with the League is, in my judgment, very real."

            "And," Michelle said, trying very hard to keep an edge of bitterness out of her tone, "given the distraction potential of all this, no doubt your calculations about your numerical superiority have revised your own prospects upwards, Madame President."

            "To be perfectly honest, Admiral," Theisman said, "the first reaction of most of my analysts over at the New Octagon was that the only question was whether or not we should press the offensive immediately or wait a bit longer in hopes a worsening situation in Talbott will force you to weaken yourself still further on our front and then hit you."

            He met her gaze unflinchingly, and she didn't blame him. In the Republic's position, exactly the same thoughts would have occurred to her, after all.

            "That was the analysts' first thought," Pritchart agreed. "And mine, for that matter, I'm afraid. I spent too many years as a People's Commissioner for the People's Navy under the old régime not to think first in those terms. But then another thought occurred to me . . . Lady Gold Peak."

            The abrupt change in the President's chosen form of address took Michelle offguard, and she sat back, pushing herself deep into her chair's physically comforting embrace, while she wondered what it portended.

            "And that thought was, Madame President — ?" she asked after a moment, her tone wary.

            "Milady, I was completely candid with you in your hospital room. I want a way to end this war, and I would genuinely prefer to do it without killing any more people — on either side — than we have to. And because that's what I would prefer to do, I have a proposal for you."

            "What sort of 'proposal'?" Michelle asked, watching her expression narrowly.

            "I've already told you we've been considering proposing the possibility of prisoner exchanges. What I have in mind is to offer to release you and return you to the Star Kingdom, if you're willing to give us your parole to take no further part in active operations against the Repyblic until you are properly exchanged for one of our own officers in Manticoran custody."

            "Why?" Michelle asked tersely.

            "Because, frankly, I need an envoy your Queen might actually pay attention to. Someone close enough to her to deliver a message she'll at least listen to, even if it comes from me."

            "And that message would be?"

            Michelle braced herself. Her cousin Elizabeth's temper was justly famous . . . or perhaps infamous. It was one of her strengths, in many ways — part of what made her as effective as she was, part of what had won her her treecat name of "Soul of Steel." It was also, in Michelle's opinion, her greatest weakness. And Michelle had few illusions about how  Elizabeth III was going to react when the Republic of Haven politely pointed out that her position had just become hopeless and it was time for her to consider surrendering.

            "That message would be, Milady, that I wish to formally propose, as the Republic's head of state, a summit meeting between the two of us. A meeting to be held at a neutral location, to be chosen by her, for the purpose of discussing both possible ways to end the current conflict between our two star nations and also, if she so desires, the circumstances and content of our pre-war diplomatic correspondence. In addition, I will be prepared to discuss any other matter she wishes to place upon the agenda. I will declare an offensive standdown of the Republic's forces, to begin the moment you agree to carry our message to the Queen, and I will not resume offensive operations, under any circumstances, until your Queen's response has reached me here in Nouveau Paris."

            Somehow, Michelle managed to keep her jaw from dropping, but something very like a faint twinkle in the President's striking eyes suggested to her that she shouldn't consider a career change to diplomat or professional gambler.

            "I realize this has come as . . . something of a surprise, Milady," Pritchart said with what Michelle considered to be massive understatement. "Frankly, though, I don't see that you have any option but to agree to take my message to Queen Elizabeth, for a lot of reasons."

            "Oh, I think you can safely take that as a given, Madame President," Michelle said dryly.

            "I rather thought I could." Pritchart smiled slightly, then glanced at Theisman and looked back at Michelle.

            "For the most part, Her Majesty should feel free to include anyone she chooses in our meetings. I hope we'll be able to restrict staff and advisers to a manageable number for the direct, face-to-face conversations I hope to hold. We do, however, have one specific request in regard to the advisers she might choose to bring with her."

            "Which is, Madame President?" Michelle asked just a bit cautiously.

            "We would like to stipulate that Duchess Harrington be present."

            Michelle blinked. She couldn't help it, although she managed — somehow — to keep her eyes from darting to Theisman to see his reaction to what the President had just said. At that moment, Michelle Henke wished, with a burning intensity, that she were a treecat, able to peek inside Eloise Pritchart's mind. From her own conversation with Theisman, it was evident to her that the Republic of Haven — or its intelligence services, at least — had, indeed, been aware for some time of the Manticoran media's reports about the 'cats and their recently confirmed abilities. And they must know that even if Elizabeth would be willing to leave her Ariel home, Honor most definitely would not agree to leave Nimitz home. Indeed, Theisman had personally seen just what the level of attachment between Honor and Nimitz was. Which meant Pritchart was deliberately inviting someone with a living lie detector to sit in on her personal conversations with the monarch of the star nation with which she was currently at war. Unless, of course, Michelle wanted to assume that someone as obviously competent as Pritchart, with advisers as competent as Thomas Theisman, was somehow unaware of what she'd just done.

            "If the Queen accepts your proposal, Madame President," Michelle said, "I can't imagine that she would have any objection to including Duchess Harrington in her official delegation to any such talks. For that matter, while this is only my own opinion, you understand, I think Her Grace's unique status in both the Star Kingdom and Grayson would make her an ideal candidate for any such summit."

            "And do you think Her Majesty will accept my proposal, Admiral Gold Peak?"

            "That, Madame President," Michelle said frankly, "is something about which I'm not prepared even to speculate."





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13 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 17

  1. Summercat says:

    Survey of land is now 100% complete.

    The time to begin pouring the foundations has begun. My my my, I’m going to be VERY eager for the next mainline Honorverse book.

  2. A. J. Nolte says:

    Knowing Weber they’ll probably spend at least the first half of the next book beating the crap out of one another to absolutely no good purpose. Then, suddenly, either (A) the Solarians will do something stupid (B) Mesa will overplay their hand or (C) Kevin Usher will figure what’s going on and leak it to the intergalactic media. Something like that. Oh, and both sides will spend entire chapters developing entirely new ship types, since they’ve both got to develop new fleets.

    And with all that said, yes, I’m really really looking forward to it as well. Mostly I’m looking forward to Manticore and Haven ending this stupid war and getting onto the real serious business of putting the Solarians through a meat-grinder.

  3. Drak Bibliophile says:

    My guess is that this book and CofS2 will setting the stage for both Haven and Manticore learning who the real enemy is. I don’t expect any more major battles between Haven and Manticore happening.

  4. Ron says:

    “I don’t expect any more major battles between Haven and Manticore happening.”

    Considering what happened to Haven’s last über fleet, you are probably correct. :)

  5. KlausB says:

    Dear Eric,

    I deeply like it to read all of them [Honor Harrington, 163x-Series, Nimue Alban-Series (“Off Armageddon Reef”,”By Schism Rent Asunder”)].
    Unfortunately, It takes some time to get a paperback in German language, it’s even sometimes a pain to get
    the hardcovers or paperbacks in English here. My most favourable bookstore is right within the main station
    of Frankfurt, Germany. Usuallay they have two dozen different paperbacks from you, David Weber and John Ringo.
    But, … darn, I have them nearly all, allready – three of Harrington’s are sold out – did try to order them, have to wait for the next edition. In the beginning, I took some of the free versions from Baen first, until I could grab a sample of the second or third edition.

    So, the snippets are all we have here.
    Inbetween – were are lost in space or time – or Germany – and we suffer deeply.

    I think I can say so, have never read so much SF from you guys,
    since when I was young and read Asimov’s Foundation cycle,
    nearly all from John Brunner,
    Phillip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld books & The Other Log of Phileas Fogg,
    generally all from William Tenn (Philip Klass) – personally, what I
    liked mostly, was: “Of Men and Monsters”

    Eric, it may be not possible due to contractual constrictions,
    but for us poor bloody sods – from outer space – or Germany –
    one single snippet – once per month – until it’s available here, too
    would be samaritan’s offer.

    By the way, I am born at the border of Lower Saxony and Thuringen.
    My ancestors did live around the Harz since 1297.
    So, the 163x series is – currently – my favorite, maybe simply
    all the cities mentioned – from Sweden, via Denmark, over
    Schleswig-Holstein (Ahrensboek is near Eutin, where my first an second
    son were born, in Luebeck I was nearly one year when I was in the Federal
    German Navy), Jena, I was several months doing job after the fell of the Wall.
    In the Netherlands, England, Scotland, France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Hungary,
    Slovenia – I visited the the major cities once, at least)

    History isn’t something finished, somehow: History still breathes.
    And there did some really strange things happening.
    In the Napoleonic war’s, two of my family name were with Napoleon to Russia.
    Then five, were with my family name, with Wellington, Bluecher, the Count of Brunswick
    at Quante Bras and Waterloo. One came back, at least. Somehow in the muddle, he lost
    one of his legs.
    A few weeks prior to the Battle of Copenhagen, one with my family name was the first
    mate of a merchant vessel, originated from Oldenburg, coming from the Netherlands.
    They were captured by a frigate of the King’s Navy. As allways, and especially in
    war times, the Royal Navy was short of expierienced sailors. So he got an offer he
    couldn’t deny. To join the King’s Navy – or to end up on a prison hulk – on the River
    Thames – where you, of course have, again, two other choices, eaten by whom: The rats
    or the tuberculosis.
    So he joined the Royal Navy. He died as the sailing master of a ship-of-the-line in
    the second British-American war, after 1812.
    Some with my family-name emmigrated to the U.S. (in Texas, New Brunswick, stere are still some.
    Louisiana and Georgia, too). Too, in Illinois, Okey-City, Nevada, Idaho (Silver Valley).
    So, at Fredericksburg, in the night of Dec 14th,/Dec 15th we were and fell on both sides.
    Strange, but if history isn’t strange, what else?

    Best Regards


  6. KlausB says:

    Addendum to my July, 28th 04:33 pm

    Dear Erin,

    have read, of course, C. S. Forester, and Alexander Kent, too.

    But away from Bolitho,
    my most favorites from Alexander Kent (Douglas Reeman) are:
    1. “Rendezvous – South Atlantic”
    2. “The Pride and The Anguish”
    3. “A ship must die”
    4. “Winged Escort”

    and my very special favorite is: “HMS Saracen”

    … and of course, there are some others:

    Alistair McLean, (don’t like most of him that much) but “HMS Ulysses” is great.
    Nicolas Monsarrat, “The Cruel Sea” & “HMS Frigate” (Still somewhere for free on the web, .pdf)
    Wolfgang Ott, “Haie und kleine Fische”, translated “Sharks and little Fishes”
    unfortunately, there seems to be no English version available, because, personally,
    I prefer it, compared to Buchheim’s “Das Boot” []

    Best Regards


  7. Daryl says:

    To KlausB I’m an Australian of German heritage and we here also have trouble getting these books, incidentally my ancestors lived in Saalfeld in the early 1600s. Now, as an fan I humbly offer a suggestion to the masters. I’ve noticed that the ship classes have some correlation with the British navy 1900-1950, and wonder if you will develop a Monitor class. Not the USA Civil War verson but the long range bombardment type use by the Brits in WW1. Basically use mass drivers or rail guns to provide high %C velocities to stealthed inert missiles that only turn their wedges on when close to the target, or mines for that matter. This is now useful as real time control is possible over such long ranges. They could enter systems in stealth and lie low sending long distant barrages into the area prior to an attack.

  8. Robert Krawitz says:

    Daryl, the acceleration needed to reach, say, .5c in something the size of a rail gun is immense — orders of magnitude more than the missile drives of the current generation missiles.

    0.5c is 150,000 km/sec. If we assume that a ship-mounted rail gun or mass driver is 1 km long, it needs to reach that velocity in 1/75,000 of a second. So the acceleration required is 150,000 km/sec / (1/75000 second), or 1.125E+09 km/sec^2, or 1.125E+12 m/sec^2. 1G is roughly 10 m/sec^2, so this is an acceleration of over 100,000,000,000G — that’s about 6 orders of magnitude more than the acceleration capability of the “existing” missile drives. It’s hard to see any material standing up to that kind of acceleration, and it’s way beyond what any inertial compensators seem to be capable of.

    In addition, there’s the matter of the reaction of the ship, if the velocity were imparted by a mass driver or rail gun mounted to the ship. An SD weighs 8.5E+06 tons; I’m not sure if the weight of a missile has been specified anywhere, but it’s a reasonable assumption that it’s at least 1 ton (and probably not more than 100 tons, I’d venture). So if the missile is fired, cannon-style, at 1E+11G, the reaction would be somewhere in the range of 1.2+E05~1.2+E07G. We’re not talking for very long — 1/75000 second — but 1E+06 m/sec^2 for 1/75000 second is a deltaV of about 15 m/sec, or 100 times that for heavier missiles (not to mention that missiles are fired in bursts — a burst of 10 would mean 10x the deltaV). The inertial compensator would need to soak up that deltaV rather quickly, and no doubt the gravitic energy required for that would be quite visible on a detector as a quick but probably unmistakeable blip.

    Cannons with whatever form of propulsion have their uses, but achieving *really* high velocities isn’t one of them. The HARP project in the 1960’s or thereabouts used 16 inch guns to fire projectiles about 60 miles high, but that’s nowhere near orbital velocity (and they were relatively small projectiles compared to what rockets can deliver).

  9. Daryl says:

    Thanks Robert for that quick and interesting analysis, which I’d been too lazy to do. I obviously was a bit optimistic regarding the %C, but I still think it could be viable. From memory I believe the missiles are about 30 tonne. A postulated rail gun by another author was 100 kilometres long by deploying independent stations that each assisted in the boost and relocated themselves after each shot, so you could use several ships. While the rate of fire would be slow, a relatively small number of unexpected missiles in the right place could cause havoc. Even if the velocity is relatively low it could still be high enough for a week timeframe preceeding an invasion.

  10. LordNecros says:

    The problem, Daryl, as I understand it would be that you are going to have to light off the missile’s drive at some point. Except when firing on stationary objects, or objects with predictable motions (planets), you’re going to have to make a fairly major course adjustment during the attack run.
    At which point the point defense clusters are going to chew through the ridiculously low number of missiles you’re lofting.
    It would, conceivably be a snazzy maneuver to have a cannon fire a goodly number of these missiles from stealth, and then have a force fire at the target(s) opposite of the cannon. Attempt to time the attack so that the target(s) will have rolled their (hopefully) damaged sidewall away from the force, exposing it to the now incoming stealth missiles.
    It’d be nifty, but horribly, ridiculously implausible.

  11. Daryl says:

    I’d like to post a scenario and if any aspects were ever incorporated I’d be Honoured. The Brit monitor class was only a small number and they were used against stationary targets in specific circumstances. A squadron of monitors drops out of hyperspace just outside the hypersphere of “name your enemy”. Naturally the defenders lift up out of the gravity well to repel them. During the time this takes the squadron fires off four series of shots. Using different accelerations they can arrange for all to get to where they should be when they should, and with the computation available should be accurate. One lot is aimed at the asteroid manufacturing belt led by a beacon that fires off a message to get out two hours before the warheads (no drives) arrive. Another one consists of laser heads (no drives) and arrives at the jump point defences in stealth just before the invasion. Another consists of stealth recon platforms spread throughout the system and primed to transfer data when the invasion comes. Yet another goes to the opposite side of the system to the jump point and consists of decoys that simulate a fleet translating in about a day before the invasion to draw off some defenders. The monitors naturally translate out just before the defenders get into range after their launches.

  12. Robert Krawitz says:

    Remember that with multi-drive missiles and FTL links there’s already quite a bit of stealthing that can be done (think the climactic battle in AAC, when Genevieve Chin’s fleet was destroyed).

  13. Mike says:

    To be honest, this “Monitor” idea represents the silliest bits of the whole Honor series all wrapped up into one. You have to jump through a dozen hoops just to create a marginally useful scenario whose only purpose is to recreate a marginally useful weapon of the Napoleanic Wars.

    From the very start, all the effort that Weber had to go to in order to justify FTL starships that fought like age of sail cannon-armed warships was silly and distracting. What you are proposing is only worse.

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