"It's a pleasure to meet you, Milady," he assured her.

            "A lawyer, and tactful, too," Michelle observed, and nodded her head at Lieutenant Archer. "My Lord, Commander, this is Gwen Archer, my flag lieutenant."

            "Lieutenant," Cortez said, acknowledging her with another nod, and then gestured at the comfortable chairs which faced his desk.

            "Please," he said. "Have a seat. Both of you."

            "Thank you, My Lord," Michelle murmured, and settled herself in the indicated chair. Archer, with a junior aide's unfailing instincts, took another one, set slightly behind and to the left of Michelle's, and Roach resumed his own chair after Cortez seated himself behind his desk once more. Then the admiral tipped back slightly and cocked his head to one side as he regarded Michelle with deep-set dark eyes gleaming with intelligence.

            "I understand you've been pestering Captain Shaw, Milady," he said.

            "I'd hardly call it 'pestering,' My Lord," she replied. "I may have contacted the Captain a time or two."

            Captain Terrence Shaw was Cortez's chief of staff, which made him the ultimate keeper of the keys where BuPers was concerned.

            "Captain Shaw didn't call it that, either," Cortez said with a twinkle. "On the other hand, Milady, seven com calls in eight days does seem just a tad . . . energetic."

            "Did I really screen him that many times?" Michelle blinked, honestly surprised by the total, and Cortez snorted.

            "Yes, Milady. You did. One would almost think that you were eager to get off-world again. Surely there's something you could think of to do with your convalescent leave?"

            "Probably, My Lord," Michelle conceded. "On the other hand, I really wasn't gone all that long, and it wasn't particularly difficult to get things sorted back out after I got home. And," a smile softened her expression, "I made it in time for the one thing I really wanted to do."

            "The birth of Lady Alexander-Harrington's son, Milady?" Cortez asked in a considerably gentler tone.

            "Yes." Michelle's nostrils flared as she inhaled deeply, remembering that moment, once again seeing Honor's transcendent happiness and reliving her own joy as she shared that joyous experience with her best friend.

            "Yes, My Lord," she repeated. "Mind you, I missed the wedding, along with all the rest of the Star Kingdom, but at least I did make it home for Raoul's birth."

            "And then promptly began hounding BuMed again," Cortez observed. "So, tell me, Milady — how's the leg?"

            "Fine, My Lord," she replied just a bit warily.

            "BuMed agrees with you," he said, swinging his chair gently from side to side. "In fact, they've endorsed your fitness report in very positive terms." Michelle began to exhale a surreptitious sigh of relief, but amusement flickered in Cortez's eyes as he continued, "Although Captain Montoya did point out that you've been persistently . . . less than completely candid, shall we say, about the amount of physical discomfort you're continuing to experience."

            "My Lord," she began, but Cortez shook his head.

            "Believe me, Milady," he told her, his eyes now deadly serious, "Montoya would have to be reporting something a lot more serious than a case of someone who's too stubborn to take the convalescent leave to which she's entitled before we worried about it at this point."

            "I'm . . . relieved to hear that, Sir," Michelle said frankly, and Cortez snorted.

            "I'm going to assume that what you mean is that you're relieved we have a command for you, rather than that we're so desperately pressed for personnel we're cutting corners where medical considerations are concerned, Milady."

            Well, there's something there's no good response to, Michelle thought, and Cortez chuckled.

            "Forgive me, Milady. I'm afraid my sense of humor has gotten itself a bit skewed over the last T-year or so."

            He gave himself a shake and let his chair come fully back upright once again.

            "In fact," he told her, "the real reason I've been ducking your calls — and I have been, if I'm going to be honest — is that we've had quite a problem deciding exactly what to do about that parole of yours. No one here at Admiralty House has any qualms about your having given President Pritchart your parole, especially under the circumstances that obtained," he said quickly, as she started to open her mouth. "It's more a matter of our needing to figure out which precedents apply. Which is what Commander Roach is here to explain to you."

            He looked at Roach and raised one hand. "Commander?"

            "Of course, My Lord," Roach replied, then turned his attention to Michelle.

            "For fairly obvious reasons, Milady, there weren't any paroles during the last war, and I'm afraid we've never set up the proper channels between us and the Repulic since the fall of the Committee of Public Safety, either. An oversight we ought to have rectified long since, once we were rid of StateSec. Unfortunately, it would appear the previous government had other things on its mind, such as it was and what there was of it, and we've been just a bit busy outselves since Baron High Ridge's . . . departure. So, frankly, we've been going around in circles over in the JAG's office, trying to decide how to handle your case."

            "Not just over at the JAG's office, either," Cortez added. "Public Information's been dithering about it, too, I'm afraid, because of all of the interstellar news coverage this whole summit meeting proposal has spawned. Given your close relationship to Her Majesty and the glare of publicity which has accompanied your return, it's particularly important that we get it right, as I trust you understand."

            "Yes, Sir. Of course," Michelle agreed.

            "There was a minority opinion," Roach told her when Cortez nodded for him to resume, "that the exact wording of your parole technically disqualifies you from active service anywhere until you've been properly exchanged, on the basis that allowing you to serve somewhere besides directly against Haven would still free up another officer for that service. That's a very strict interpretation of the Deneb Accords, however, and it's one the Star Kingdom has never formally accepted. It was also, frankly, an interpretation that Admiral Cortez didn't much care for, so I was asked to do some additional research, probably because I'm currently the executive officer over at the Charleston Center for Admiralty Law."

About Eric Flint

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23 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 31

  1. Summercat says:

    Who was berating us for jumping the gun that he’s here to explain the parole?

  2. rickthomaskorea says:

    Sounds like it will get complicated.

  3. Maria says:

    Legalese. Oh, joy. ;-P

  4. Tony says:


    In the end, they probably will end up interpreting the parole along the way of “serve in a theater of operations far away from the Republic of Haven’s territory”: i.e. writes off Silesia and the main theater of operations. … Now remind me… isn’t the Talbott Cluster kinda wayyy out of the errr way for the Republic ? And do they need a combat admiral ? Well considering the event in Shadow of Saganami…. one might want to say that.

    Frankly, at the moment, it is just filling up the blanks, with the good old nicely written DW dialogue… Just almost nothing about the plot of the new novel yet and we are by snippet 31……

  5. af says:

    Hmm… Admiral X from SoS and her… and a squadron at the fleet base at Lynx, admiral at the terminus, admiral in the cluster, and admiral at Monica… and a sector admiral (presumably Gold Peak here)…

  6. Karsten says:

    I think, Khumalo will be relieved by Henke; and O’Malley’s relief-force will return to Manticore, too – so there are 2 Manticoran flag-officers at the outmost in this Sector: one for the Terminus – and Henke for the Cluster itself. And I think, Henke will be the most senior flag-officer there (the watch-dog for the terminus could be a job of a commodore, too)

  7. hank says:

    it would seem a poor reward to Khumalo to relieve him of command at this point. I’d expect, given her record & senority, that Mike would recieve another squadron command. Probably she’d get either another squad of BC’s or, given that the Cluster is still going to around #4 in priority (after Home Fleet, 3rd & 8th fleets, and Silesia) that it might even be CA’s. Probably not going to tie her down to SD’s for dramatic reasons. Unless of course there’s going to be a Big battle with the Sollies and/or Mesa. OTOH, it’s Webers universe and he’ll do as he likes, but he’s always seemed to go in orderly fashion in promoting people before – except that Honor sorta jumped the queue after her trip to Hell…

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    I agree with Hank and what do you think the people of the Cluster think about Khumalo now?

    Terekhov is likely to be popular with the people of Cluster for uncovering the Monica Plot and Khumalo’s support of Terekhov’s actions will make him popular as well.

    They may see Khumalo as their admiral and see his departure as more a slap at him even if it is because he had been promoted and transfered to another position.

    While Khumalo may never be a good ‘fighting’ admiral, he may very well be the type of admiral needed to support fighting admirals. Of course, he’s shown that he’ll *back* fighting admirals.

  9. Brom says:

    For all the unexpected depth Khumalo has shown, he is primarily an administrator, not a combat commander. When Talbot was considered a rear echelon command, an able administrator was enough. Now that Talbot has shown itself to be more of another ‘front’, a commander with combat experience is required.

  10. Robert Krawitz says:

    So, then maybe Khumalo becomes the military administrator for the cluster, much as White Haven was for San Martin, while Henke commands the actual force, Terekhov is promoted to commodore (which he would appear to amply deserve)? If Khumalo has the seniority to be promoted to vice admiral, that would make perfect sense. The Alexander brothers definitely are cleaning house, but they don’t seem to be vindictive about it — Khumalo would have been on half pay (or worse) if they really wanted to tag him for being a High Ridge crony.

    Monica doesn’t want to deal with either Terekhov or Khumalo at this point, so Henke is a fresh face to them — but given who her cousin is (and her personality), that would really drive home the point that Manticore cares about what’s going on here. Henke’s going to get more than CA’s; Monica already showed they had a bunch of BC’s and Henke’s not going to get less than that. I suspect the Admiralty can spare her some BC’s; they aren’t any good for static defense against ships of the wall, and there’s obviously a Sollie connection.

    The question is, what would Terekhov’s job as commodore be? Watchdog over the terminus seems a bit of a waste of his capabilities, although he’s certainly shown a nose for sniffing out trouble, and Honor started out doing exactly that kind of thing — and it didn’t interfere (too much) with her career.

    Given what’s obviously going to happen, having a good commander like Henke in there will be a big long-term help for Manticore (and probably Haven as well, even if no one in the story knows it yet).

  11. Brom says:

    The RMN military administrator position is the COS, and Khumalo is too senior to become COS for anyone, except possibly Caperelli. Khumalo is in the unfortunate position of having the nature, threat structure and requirements of his command – Talbot Station – transition from a low threat (piracy) & “show the flag” posture to a high threat potential with combat patrols a real possibility. The former he was, with a stretch, qualified to command. The latter, despite his actions to support Terekhov, he is not qualified to command.

    Leaving him in Talbot would be, in some senses, similar to leaving Sarnow in Hancock when Parks assumed command of Hancock Station. The difference is that Khumalo, IIRC, has had support base commands, probably since Commander or Captain JG, lacks operational sdrn command experience and thus can’t be given the SD or BC sdrn command that would be appropriate for his rank & seniority.

    I give Khumalo full credit for doing unexpectedly well with his “motley crew” of mostly old, almost obsolete DDs, CLs and CAs (with a new unit mixed in here or there ..), in responding to support Terekhov’s adhoc sdrn. However, the fact that it was Terekhov and Hexapuma which lead the way out of the quagmire that the TC was about to fall into, can’t be escaped.

    IMHO, Khumalo has reached his Peter Principle point. The RMN would not be doing him – nor those who would come under his command – to either leave him in Talbot or to give him an operational sdrn command.

  12. Brom says:

    Minor correction on last sentence ..

    “IMHO, Khumalo has reached his Peter Principle point. The RMN would not be doing him – nor those who would come under his command – _a favor_ to either leave him in Talbot or to give him an operational sdrn command.”

  13. LambdaDriver says:

    Talbot is a a huge volume of space to patrol and secure. I wouldn’t be surprised if Khumalo was kept as the Area commander or what ever they call it and slot Michelle in as his 2nd in command(assuming she’s junior to him, but I’m pretty sure she is). But I would see him being tied to Lynx and the wormhole mostly, while Michelle would have an adhoc station/outpost in one of the systems further out. Help shorten chain of command lag for the patrol units and such. And while the forces under her command might not be as glamorous as a BC Sq it would have more responsibility attached.

  14. Virgil says:

    Well Like I said in the snippet comments The commander was there to explain the legal position in reference to her parole, She will be transfer to Talbot, I an not sure of command positions but I see the the command at Talbot growing quickly waht has happen is simalar to Honor at Baslick Station it will now become a major command which excuse K from the command poisition Doesnlt Heneke out rank him now? So if she is transfer there taking a larger task force with her would it not be expected that she would now take command of the cluster, military command.
    Also by doing so it will be saying you two did a good job with what had, Now the big boys are here
    This has been standard action with almost every major defensive battle that Honor Fought when through they upgrade the station and move more ships and higer rank into position. I think that Manticore will need to start building ships in the Talbot cluster. And recuriting from the local popluation. Maybe not majore ship but crusiers at least

  15. af says:

    Khumalo can be given command of Lynx fleet base, as it’s still under construction. Someone gets Lynx terminus command… Terekhov gets an independent command tasked with patrol. Someone gets Monica occupation duty. Henke gets Talbot cluster fleet. Someone gets Talbot home fleet (from member worlds)… and maybe Khumalo also has sector command from Lynx.

  16. Brom says:

    The forces being put into Talbot are sufficiently large and powerful (with several sdrns of SD and also of CLACs, total numbers will be up to 100-200 vessels) that overall command would be VADM or even ADM.

    If High Ridge were still PM, then Khumalo would be promoted to it, because they valued reliability over command experience/ability. IMHO, this won’t happen now with Grantville.

    I could see VADM O’Malley staying in the cluster as “Talbot Station/Sector Command” after straighting out Monica.

  17. Karsten says:

    @Virgil: There’s no way, Manticore will build ships in the cluster. There’s an infodump about that. About recruiting … first, the people in the cluster need some firstgrade educational program, _then_ you can think about recruiting from there. I don’t think we’ll see RMN-officers or even noncoms from Rembrandt, Split, Dresden or Montana for the next 8 to 10 T-years (at least, if you count for 1 or 2% of all RMN personnel coming from Talbott).

  18. Brom says:

    @Karsten: While I agree that massive educational and health care upgrades are required for many, even most, of the TC planets, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that there aren’t one or more planets where some high quality schools and medical facilities – even if limited in number and in who they service – exist. The oligarches are going to get their families good medical and educational facilities, and those would probably be open to the wealthier of the middle class and also open to the families of the bureaucrats. I might also say that one or more planetary space forces are sufficiently advanced, that their personnel might be brought up to RMN standard with minimal – say a year or two – training and be incorporated into the fleet. After all, the RMN did that with Sidemore, and I would not say that Sidemore was more advanced than Rembrandt, for example.

  19. Karsten says:

    @Brom: Sure, there will be some high quality schools and medical facilities – but high quality only compared to TC-standards. Remember, Van Dort had to go to Beowulf to get his 1st Generation Prolong …

    No, the best chance to find really 1st-class education and medicine near the cluster prior the discovery of Lynx-Terminus would be Asgard (about 250 Lightyears away), because Asgard has a Wormhole-Junction of his own (with all the financial goodies for his economy). Naturally, I don’t know, why Van Dort isn’t go there to get his Prolong – David didn’t mention Asgard more then once or twice.

  20. baldbastard2 says:

    maybe bahzell banahkson will fly in on a winged horse and save the day! oops, sorry. wrong universe :o)

  21. Brom says:

    That was more than 60, or maybe 70 years ago. Van Dort may not be a centurian, but he’s not far from it.

    In his efforts to upgrade Rembrandt and the RTU planets, he was trying to get them to close to SL standard and I doubt he would have neglected bringing in the best medical and educational facilities that he could afford – including prolong.

    IIRC, we found that prolong recipients were present on a fair number of planet. Didn’t virtually all planetary reps at the annexation congress have prolong, or why else did DW emphasize that the congress chairman was one of the few who was not a prolong recipient, despite his relative youth. Being that widespread, even if mostly of the oligarchy, points to a prolong source within TC.

    Regarding why he went to Beowulf, his father ran trade ships into the SL, so Beowulf may have been the most convenient location. But Rembrandt will be the most advanced system in the cluster, with the highest overall standard of medicine and education.


  22. Noah Katz says:

    Why the presumption that Terekhov will be sent back?

    He may be promoted and brought back into the ‘active’ war zone, against Haven.


  23. DefiantG says:

    Maybe there will be limited ship construction in the cluster. Something like a sat-yard. The alliance built similar yards in Alizon and Zanzibar. Rembrandt would probably be a logical location. The whole tier economy thing. Construction of CA’s and lighter screening units. With all the other stuff going on, even the deployment of SD’s seems incredulous. They would be pulled back after the events at the close of AAC.

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