He paused, and Michelle nodded. The most urgent priorities of the new war emergency construction programs had focused on producing as many ships of the wall, pod-laying superdreadnoughts like Honor's Imperator, as was physically possible. It couldn't have been any other way, given the overwhelming primacy the new "podnaughts" had attained. Because of that emphasis, lighter ships, like cruisers and destroyers, had been assigned a much lower building priority. Large numbers had been projected, and, indeed, laid down, but only after the needs of the superdreadnought-building programs had already been met. As a result, construction had been much slower to begin on those smaller, lighter units.

            On the other hand, it took much less time to build a destroyer or a cruiser — or even one of the new battlecruisers — than it did to build a ship of the wall. Which meant there'd been time to refine their designs and get classes like the new Nike-class battlecruisers and Roland-class destroyers into the pipeline. And it also meant that, despite their later start, truly enormous numbers of brand-new ships "below the wall" were already in the process of working up for service. But although the adoption of such vastly increased automation meant the once vast gulf between the absolute numbers of noncommissioned and enlisted personnel required by a superdreadnought and a mere battlecruiser had shrunk substantially, a battlecruiser still required almost as many officers as a superdreadnought. And while the new LACs might free up large numbers of starships which might once have been tied down on picket, patrol, or anti-piracy system security, each of them required its own slice of officers and enlisted, as well, which, in turn, put an even greater strain on the available supply of trained personnel.

            "Here's what we have in mind, Milady," Cortez said, leaning forward and folding his hands on his desk blotter. "Initially, we'd earmarked somewhere around two thirds of the new cruisers and battlecruisers for Admiral Sarnow's command in Silesia. That, unfortunately, was before the situation in Talbott blew up in our faces. So now it looks as if we're basically going to be reversing the proportions we'd originally projected and sending two thirds of them to Talbott, instead. Including you, Admiral."

            "Me, my Lord?" she asked when he paused as if to invite comment.

            "You," he confirmed. "We're giving you the 106th."

            For a moment, it failed to register. Then her eyes flared wide in astonishment. He couldn't be serious! That was her first thought. And on its heels, came another.

            "Sir Lucian," she began, "I don't –"

            "We're not going to have that particular discussion, Milady," Cortez interrupted her. She closed her mouth, sitting back in her chair, and he gazed at her sternly. "You've been not-pestering Captain Shaw for a billet, and now you've got one, and this decision has nothing to do with the fact that you're the Queen's cousin. It has to do with the fact that you are a highly experienced officer, who has just returned from demonstrating exactly how capable you are, and who — to be frank — we can't use where we'd most like to use you. But if we can't give you a superdreadnought division or squadron and send you back to Eighth Fleet, the 106th is, in the Admiralty's considered opinion, absolutely the next best use we can make of you."

            Michelle bit her tongue rather firmly, remembering a conversation with Honor on this same topic. She still wasn't fully convinced favoritism had played no part at all in the Admiralty's decision. Still, she had to admit Honor had also had a point. The fact that Michelle had spent so long guarding against even the appearance of playing the patronage game which had so bedeviled the prewar Manticoran officer corps might, indeed, have made her overly sensitive in some respects.

            "Having said that, however," Cortez continued, "and to be completely honest, there are some factors in your orders which don't relate directly to your demonstrated capabilities as a combat commander. Not to the decision to give you the 106th, but to the decision as to where to send you — and it — after giving it to you."

            Michelle's eyes narrowed as she sensed the impending fall of the second shoe, and Cortez smiled a bit crookedly.

            "No, Milady, we didn't make any deals with Mount Royal Palace," he told her. "But the fact is that we've known from the beginning that we couldn't permanently leave Vice Admiral O'Malley in Talbott, for a lot of reasons. Among them, the fact that he's just about due for his third star. Another is that we have a task group of Medusa-Bs waiting for him when he gets it. But we're going to need someone to replace him in Talbott, and we're going to be recalling the pod battlecruisers we borrowed from Grayson when we deployed him in the first place. We're replacing them with the 106th, and we're replacing him with you . . . Vice Admiral Gold Peak."

            Michelle stiffened in her chair, and Cortez's smile grew broader.

            "You were already on the list before Solon," he told her. "In fact, the promotion board had acted before Ajax was lost, although the paperwork was still being processed. And then things got a little complicated when we thought you were dead, of course. That's been straightened out, however, and some of those factors other than your combat skills are coming into play here, as well. For one thing, it's been decided Admiral Khumalo will also be promoted. In fact, he's already been notified of his promotion to vice admiral. His date of rank precedes your own, so he'll still be senior to you, and he'll be staying on as the Talbott Station commander."

            Michelle kept her mouth shut . . . not without difficulty, and this time Cortez allowed his smile to slide over into a chuckle. Then he sobered.

            "I'm sorry, Milady. I shouldn't have laughed, but your expression . . . ."

            He shook his head.

            "No, My Lord, I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean –"

            "Milady, you aren't the only one who's been . . . under-impressed by Augustus Khumalo over the years. To be honest, there'd been serious consideration of recalling him from Talbott before this situation with Monica blew up. And, the truth is, he's always been more of an administrator than a combat officer. But he demonstrated a lot of moral courage — more, to be honest, than I, for one, ever really thought he had, I'm a bit ashamed to admit — when he backed Terekhov to the hilt. His instincts turned out to be very sound in that instance, and he really is a superior administrator. Hopefully that's going to be more important than tactical acumen, assuming we can avoid a war with the League. And his and Terekhov's response to what every Talbotter is convinced was an OFS plot to annex the entire Cluster has made both of them extremely popular in Talbott. A lot of people would be very unhappy if we recalled him and replaced him with someone else at this particular time.

            "All of that's true, but it still seems to us here at Admiralty House that he's going to need someone who has the combat experience he lacks as his second-in-command. Given your availability — and the fact that you aren't available for service with Eighth Fleet any longer — you're well suited to provide that for him. And, quite frankly, the fact that you stand so high in the succession, not to mention the fact that he's directly related to you through the Wintons, should give you an extra handle for influence with him. Not to mention the fact that your relationship to Her Majesty should also help to underscore the Government's support for the Cluster under the new constitution."

            Michelle nodded slowly. In a sense, what Cortez had just said demonstrated that politics and her birth had, indeed, helped to dictate the Admiralty's policy. On the other hand, she couldn't disagree with a single one of the points he'd made, and little though she might like politics, she'd always known political and military strategy were inextricably entwined. As that ancient Old Terran military historian Honor was so fond of quoting had put it, the setting of national goals was a political decision, and war represented the pursuit of those same political goals by nonpolitical means.

            "I know this doesn't constitute much warning," Cortez continued. "And I'm afraid you aren't going to have time to assemble your own staff. For that matter, you're not going to have time to properly work up your new squadron, either. From the last report I received, I'm not even sure all of your ships will have completed their acceptance trials before you have to depart. I've done my best to pull together as strong a team for you as I could, however."

About Eric Flint

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24 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 33

  1. The 106th What, the reader wonders.

    However, we reached new material. In a mere 33 sadistically sliced snippets.

  2. Virgil says:

    Well most of you should be happy. Khumalo gets a promotion and does not get transfer. Michiele get a promotions and command of teh 106th whatever that is and I’m think a Battlecrusier squadron or a ligth task force. Task force would be better give more ships and ligther ones for patrol where using a Battlecruser is a waste of tonnage.

    Two things though, one, Terekhov no explanation on what happens to him. The other they promote Khumalo and his date of promotion is earlier then Michiale but they told her that her promotion was being processed before she was captured. Then held up when they thought she was dead. Then he said but we took care of that. So how can Khumalo promotion precedes hers.

  3. jamesx says:

    okay. Any body remember text evd from proir books about Honor
    And Mike talking about a 106th ?

    Plus isn’t strange to have 2 vice admirals together in one spot
    That isn’t head quarters–

    You can almost say the Cluster is a seperate area of opperational command
    m the terminal–with commanders of equal rank

    From memory– BC squadrons are in the 80’s
    Like BatRon 82 or BatRon 84

    What woud 106 desinate? Nike’s ? Even though a vice admiral
    Rates SD(p)s

  4. A. J. Nolte says:

    Wonder which if any familiar faces will show up on Vice-Admiral Goldpeak’s staf?

  5. MadMcAl says:

    Actually the squadron-numbers depend in many parts on the respective fleet.
    BatRon 81 and 82 for example are part of 8th fleet.

    Task-forces are number of the fleet followed by the number of the task-force (making it a bit confusing with the squadrons in the fleet).
    Task-groups are the task-force-number a dot and the task-group-number.

    Then there are the unaffiliated task-forces, task-groups and squadrons.

    Following that logic the 106th is either the 6th squadron in the 10th fleet, the same task-force, or the the 106th unaffiliated task-force, task-group or squadron.

    From the text here, the 106th is an BatRon (it replaces the grayson BC(P)’s), propably an mix of Agamemnons and Nikes.
    The discussion with Honor is about Mikes unwillingnes to accept promotions, and not about the 106th.

    I find it much more interesting that O’Malley gets an Medusa-B-task-group… considering that in AAC it was decided to concentrate on Invicti because of the shorter build-time. And now we learn that in relative short time there will be at least 12 of them.

  6. Alistair says:

    Terekov would be flag captain or one of her commodores I bet

  7. Mike says:

    On one level (the most important one), Khumalo is senior because the story needs him to be. If he hadn’t been in charge last time, the whole “forming a squadron without authorization” subplot would have not worked. Weber’s better stories are about more junior officers, in my opinion.

    On the other level, probably the rule is something like your official date of promotion is when you officially receive the notice. Or, maybe, Khumalo’s papers had also been in the works. Whatever. Who cares?

  8. Tarl says:

    Yah – official date of promotion is when the promotion occurs, not when you get listed for it. As long as the paperwork for Khumalo goes through before Mike’s, he’ll be senior.

  9. PM says:

    What I find of particular interest here, exciting also, is that the Mad Wizard has chosen to finally bring forth the Medusa-B SD(P)’s. Some of the comments in At All Cost about ship construction priorities made it a bit unclear as to just when construction of the new Medusa-B SD(P) variant would would start and when one could expect it to enter the active fleet.

    More info on the Medusa-B can be reviewed at

    Based upon the quote that Vice Admiral O’Malley in the immediated future will have a “task group of Medusa-Bs” waiting for him. It certainly appears that BuShips started to construct as least some of these new ships a bit earlier than I had expected based upon Textev in both At All Costs and from information provided by Mr. Weber in his postings on the bar.

    I am really looking forward to see this new SD-(P) starting to show up in service.

    @ jamesx – I personally wouldn’t read too much into the numbering of Battle Cruiser Squadrons. From my perspective squadron numbers can be activated and deactivated at will by the Admiralty. I am sure that some squadron numbers will always be active, just like there is always a Nike BC, but squadron numbers for the most part will only be used as origanizational tools. For all we know, the plans could be that squardon numbers for all BC’s in the Talbott Cluster will always be numbers that start in the 1** range. The key part is that how squadrons, divisions and fleets are numbered for the Royal Manticoran Navy hasn’t really been covered in much detail, if at all.

  10. Stephen says:

    PM’s comment about the numbering makes particular sense given Henke’s strong reaction to hearing that she had the 106th. There are two possibilities that I see:
    1. The 106th happens to be the squadron number that Henke already knew was receiving some sort of highly desirable ship mix, but whose number has no particular significance without that prior knowledge. However, if Henke already knew a lot about squadron arrangements, she wouldn’t have needed Cortez’s explanation of their new deployment arrangements. (That’s not a fatal argument, however; there are any number of reasons she might have heard about the new ‘cool’ unit without knowing where it was headed, or she knew where it was headed withot knowing what else was headed there.)

    2. The 106th is a special number given to some sort of distinguished unit, much as Nike is the prize battlecruiser command. Maybe it was the number of Saganami’s old squadron or something. Whatever it is, it’s important enough to give to a Vice Admiral, not a lowly Rear Admiral.

  11. JN says:

    The significance of the 106th is that it is a Vice Admiral’s command. Cortez is telling her of the promotion by telling her the size of the command. Further, he is also making it clear that this is the heavy portion of the fighting force.

    I am guessing that it is a Cruiser Division. That would emphasize mobility over firepower. Khumalo would get the heavier, but slower force, since he will be running the office.


  12. RDC says:

    Why do I suspect that we are likely to see how will the BCPs do against Solarian Super Dreadnaughts before the end of this book.

  13. fester says:

    Let’s run through the evidence here:

    a) The RMN does not want to fight the SLN or parts there-of

    b) The RMN is concerned about local SLN commanders getting yippy and overconfident about any local force concentrations that they can achieve

    c) The RMN assumes that the SLN really does not know how much they are outclassed — every instance of Manticoran built ships beating on Solarian built ships could be dismissed as one set of competent neo-barbs beating on a set of incompetent neo-barbs

    d) We as readers have been told repeatedly that Frontier Fleet has nothing heavier than modern old style battlecruisers.

    e) Most of the new Mk-16 construction is now going into Talbott

    f) Michelle needs to get promoted to command it as the Talbott field commander

    g) The 106th is either a new Battle Squadron (as it is implied that BuPers would have had no problem giving her a BatRon for 8th Fleet) or a very heavy battlecruiser squadron with attached screen and potentially CLAC support.

    I’m leaning towards the heavy battlecruiser squadron with a screen given this line “truly enormous numbers of brand-new ships “below the wall” were already in the process of working up for service. ”

    However given what we’ll see in Snippet 34 (that is the only one I could read ahead of on the bar), I would not be shocked if it is a green battle squadron. I’m going 80/20 for a Nike BC-Ron, but I would not be shocked if it is a taskforce built around a new Invictus squadron.

  14. jamesx says:

    JN. There is no way a BC(p) can go toe to toe with a Solarian
    SD even one of the old style—
    The only advantage you would have is multi stage drive missiles.

    A old style SD could soak up your missile damage as it return fire with
    It’s old single drive missiles, then once you rolled your last pod watch you
    Run with your tail between your legs. There is no way you would alow
    The SD to close to energy range.

    Honor and Whitehaven talked about this— a pod layer has a hollow core– so can’t take
    The damage a old style SD could

    Now I would say 3 or 4 BC(p)s together could kill a single
    Old style SD in combat

  15. Brom says:

    Well, I got some right – VADM Gold Peak; Talbot Station command elevated to VADM …. and I got some wrong – VADM Khumalo as CO Talbot Station.

    Reference the 106th, IMHO that will be a multi-sdrn Task Force, probably with a sdrn or two of SD/CLACs and several BC sdrns as the core, screened by CA & CL sdrns and DD flotillas.

    Recall Yancey Parks and HH, as Hancock and Sidemore Station commanders, also commanded task forces (although HH’s TF 34 was as large as a Fleet). Khumalo is being given TC Station, but command of the operational forces has gone to Henke, and because those forces require a VADM commander, they are much larger than just one or two sdrns. Ergo, the 106th is a task force.

  16. DefiantG says:

    Jamesx, I recall in one of the earlier Honerverse books, there was a conversation talking about a pod-format based BC taking on a “conventional” SD. I think the ratio mentioned was 3 BC’s to a SD. I can’t remember, but if it is OFS, and not the league taking action, I don’t know that they would have all that many of the wall. The Solarian captain in CoS was only able to call in a flotilla of DD’s with a light CA as a flagship.

  17. af says:

    I suspect the 106th is composed of some sort of BCs. If RMN licensed the BCPs from Grayson, then I expect some of those. I wouldn’t expect Nikes because the former administration terminated those with only one ship built, so they wouldn’t come onstream yet, probably.

    The fleet base at Lynx seems to be deficient in support, and as it’s already a Manticore home world, that’s unusual.

    If they dig up all the oldest outdated ships and dumped them there, and trained up Lynx personnel, they’d might have a reserve force. That’d also serve as a cadre for building the eventual Talbot home fleet.

    Since a modern frigate design exists in Manticore, perhaps Talbot can start a home fleet with a few frigate units, one per world. And several modern LACs per world, of all varieties (missile Ferrets, graser Shrikes, antiLAC Katanas, and the modern general purpose ones from Silesia) The Manticore Q-ships could also serve as the core of a Talbot home fleet…

    With a Talbot home fleet, and Lynx home fleet, Khumalo would have some forces to twiddle with, while Henke gets the good stuff that’s not on Terminus.

  18. Tony says:

    What I don’t get …

    In which way is Khumalo related to the Winton family ? Marriage ?

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Members of Royal Families (especially if they’re low in terms of being Monarch) often marry into Noble Families. Since he was described as having some Winton facial features, his relationship is genetic (an ancestor was of the Winton family).

  20. MadMcAl says:


    The time-factor is decissive.
    The OLD administration hat only 1 Nike. But they also had only a dozen or so Invictuses and no Medusa-B’s.
    But the old administration is gone for more than a year now.
    We see the emergency build SD(P)’s coming out of the docks.
    And an Nike is a bit faster to build than an Invictus or an Medusa-B.
    Also the RMN has its own BC(P)-design, considerably bigger and more powerfull than the Grayson variant.
    And we know that they will propably discontinue this design, thanks to the structural weaknes of the hollow core design that hits the BC(P) so much harder than the SD(P).

    Also… sorry, but the “modern general purpose LAC’s” from Silesia were an intermediade between the old-style-LAC’s and the Shrike.
    Or, in other words, the Shrike is the Successor of this LAC’s.
    No reason to build this obsolete ships.

  21. fester says:

    Back to the BC-P v. SD argument — we had a similiar conversation regarding the Sag-C class heavy cruiser versus a Short Victorious War era frontline superdreadnought… and here is the final words on that one:

    In general, could a single Saganami-C defeat an old-style superdreadnought, circa 1905pd?

    The answer, assuming that the old-style superdreadnought has circa 1905 electronics and defensive systems, is probably yes. And (allowing for your final question under #3, below) adding the additional proviso that a mission kill could undoubtedly be scored more quickly than the total destruction of the target.

    A Sag-C has a magazine capacity of 1200 to 1320 missiles (Hexapuma SoSag), an Agg has 306 or more missile pods so a magazine capacity of ~4,300 Mk16s or 3060 old style capital ship MDMs, or ~3,700 MK-23 fusion capital MDMS. This is important for the next piece of evidence:

    The limiting factor on a Saganami-C in this sort of engagement of is more likely to be magazine capacity rather than fire control. It takes a lot of hits to kill a superdreadnought…

    So a BC-P has between 2.5 and 3.5 times the magazine capacity of a Sag-C, so this constraint is much weaker. It also has a whole lot more fire control and it is theoretically capable of using full-up MDMs if BuShips is so kind. It’s offensive firepower is significantly higher than a Sag-C. Both ships will shoot themselves dry in roughly 15 minutes of max rate fire. The BC-P just can send out 280 missiles per minute v. either 80 or 120 missiles per minute for the Sag-C.

    All of this presupposes the BC-P is facing a 1905 waller. The mission gets a whole lot tougher if it is facing a ship is updated and would be a typical unit deployed with the Manticoran Home Fleet as a tube waller. It really depends on how good the most modern SLN EW and counter-missile equipment really is, and how far forward deployed it is. Then throw in the scenario in which this fight takes place, but I would still put my money on a BC-P crippling a single drive missile tube waller over a SDM waller crippling/killing a BC-P.

  22. BrianBridgePro says:

    Chap 11 Shadow of Saganami

    Rear Admiral of the Green Augustus Khumalo was three centimeters shorter than Terekhov, with a very dark complexion, dark eyes, and thinning dark hair. He was broad shouldered, with big, strong hands and a powerful chest, although he was becoming a bit on the portly side these days. He was also distantly related to the Queen, and there was something of the Winton look around his nose and chin

  23. af says:

    I would say that a revised Silesia LAC would be better suited to Talbot general use than a Shrike, since the Shrike is not very general purpose, it’s a purpose built capship killer, and the Ferret is also a purpose built ship killer, the Katanas are even more specialized.

    I also see that a Grayson BC-P would be very fast to build up, and CLACs, since they’re so much hollow space. And facing someone else’s non-P BCs, or Manticore non-P BCs, it’d likely blow the other ship out.

    Manticore seems to be getting rid of DNs and replacing them with same sized CLACs… so they can transfer what’s left of DNs after Battle of Manticore to Talbot, Medusa, and Silesia, pulling out some SD-Ps.

  24. af says:

    The books all mention that Sollie tech is near equiv to Mantie tech, and much better than Haven tech… And with so many more devious weapons contractors, they have tonnes of weird designs… like the assassination missile, and the superheterodyne drive killer.

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