Michelle managed not to chuckle again, although it was difficult. Not many captains would have been prepared to wax quite that cheerful with a vice admiral they'd never met before. Especially not a vice admiral whose flag captain they'd just become. Armstrong, obviously, was, and that said interesting things about her. Either she was a buffoon, or else she was sufficiently confident of her own competence to be who she was and let the chips fall wherever they fell.

            Somehow she didn't strike Michelle as the buffoon type.

            In fact, what she strikes me as is the Michelle Henke type, she admitted to herself. God. I wonder if the squadron's going to be able to survive two of us?

            "Ah, here we are," Armstrong observed as the lift slid to a halt and the door opened.

            They passed two more yard dogs in the very brief walk between the lift shaft and the armored hatch protecting Achilles' flag deck, and Michelle shook her head mentally. A lot of what was being done seemed to come under the heading of "cosmetic" — closing up interior bulkheads around circuitry runs, painting, lighting fixtures, that sort of thing — but she doubted that she could have been as cheerful as Armstrong if she'd been the captain of a ship due to deploy into a potential war zone in less than one week now and still buried under such swarms of yard workers.

            That thought carried her through the hatch, and the spacious, dimly lit coolness of her flag deck spread about her.

            Four people had been waiting for her there, and all four of them came to attention as she appeared.

            "Rule Number One," she said pleasantly. "Unless we're trying to impress some foreign potentate or convince some newsy we're really earning our lordly salaries, we all have better things to do than spend our time bowing and scraping before my towering presence."

            "Yes, Milady," a trim blonde at least twelve or thirteen centimeters shorter than Michelle replied.

            "Rule Number Two," Michelle continued, reaching out to shake the smaller woman's hand. "It's 'Ma'am,' not 'Milady,' unless the aforementioned foreign potentate or newsy is present."

            "Aye, aye, Ma'am," the other woman said.

            "And it's good to see you, too, Cindy," Michelle told her.

            "Thank you. Although," Captain (junior-grade) Cynthia Lecter told her, "after what happened at Solon, I didn't think I was going to be seeing you again quite this soon."

            "Which makes two of us," Michelle agreed. "This," she continued, waving Archer forward, "is Gwen Archer, my flag lieutenant.” She grinned as Lecter quirked an eyebrow at the first name. “Don't let that innocent expression of his fool you, either. He graduated fourteenth in his class in Tactics, and he's just finished a deployment as JTO on a heavy cruiser."

            She decided against explaining exactly how and when that deployment had ended. Cindy was more than good enough at her job to discover that information – as well as the reason for Archer’s nickname – without having it handed to her on a plate. Besides, the practice would do her good.

            Lecter didn’t seem particularly perturbed by Michelle’s failure to provide the information. She only nodded and smiled at Archer, who smiled back, and Michelle looked past Lecter at a considerably taller dark-haired commander

            "And this must be Commander Adenauer," she observed.

            "Yes, Ma'am," Adenauer confirmed as she shook Michelle's hand in turn. Adenauer was obviously from Sphinx, and her accent reminded Michelle strongly of Honor's, although Adenauer's voice was considerably deeper than her own contralto, far less Honor's soprano.

            "I hope you don't mind me mentioning this, Commander," Michelle said, "but your accent sounds awfully familiar."

            "Probably because I was raised about thirty kilometers outside Twin Forks, Ma'am," Adenauer replied with a grin. "The other side of the city from Duchess Harrington. But she's my . . .um . . . fifth cousin, I think. Something like that, anyway. I'd have to ask my mom to nail it down any closer than that, but just about everyone born in Duvalier is related to everyone else, one way or another."

            "I see." Michelle nodded. "Well, I've met Her Grace's mother and father,  and if their level of competence runs in the family, I think you and I should get along just fine, Commander."

            "Being related to 'the Salamander' is actually something of a karmic burden, Ma'am," Adenauer said. "Especially for a tac officer."

            "Really?" Michelle chuckled. "Well, so is being her tac officer or XO. Both of which positions I happen to have held in the dim shades of my own youth."

            "And speaking of tactical officers," Armstrong put in, "may I introduce Wilton Diego, my tac officer?"

            "Commander Diego." Michelle offered her hand once again and hoped he hadn't noticed the sharp, biting flicker of pain she'd felt when Armstrong introduced him. It wasn't Diego's fault, but simply hearing his last name reminded her of her last flag captain, Diego Mikhailovich.

            Fortunately, the stocky, broad-shouldered commander was as fair-skinned as Lecter and as red-haired as Archer. He didn't look a thing like Mikhailovich, and if he'd noticed her tiny twitch, he gave no sign of it.

            "Admiral," he said, returning her grip firmly.

            "I'm sure you're looking — that you and the Captain both are looking — forward to getting the yard dogs out of your hair, Commander," she said.

            "You've got that right, Mil — I mean, Ma'am," Diego said fervently. "Actually, Tactical is in pretty good shape. If it weren't for the traffic passing through at the most inopportune possible moments, I'd be a lot happier, though. It sort of takes the edge off a simulation when some yard dog cuts power at the critical moment because he has to change a heating element in the air scrubbers."

            "I know," Michelle said with carefully metered sympathy.

            "And this," Armstrong continued, waving the fourth and final officer forward, "is Ron Larson, my exec."

            "Commander Larson."

            Larson's handshake was as firm as Armstrong's own, although he was half a head shorter than the flag captain. He was as dark-haired as Adenauer, but his eyes were a curious slate-gray, not brown, and he sported a luxuriant but neatly trimmed beard that made him look vaguely piratical. There was something about him that reminded Michelle of Michael Oversteegen, though she couldn't put her finger on what it was. Hopefully it wouldn't turn out to be Oversteegen's cheerfully unquenchable arrogance. Michelle had always rather liked Oversteegen, and she respected his abilities, but that didn't mean she liked everything about him.

About Eric Flint

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20 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 39

  1. Craig Thomas says:

    Is it just me, or with each book is David taking longer to say less?

    So far, I’ve bought everything, but I’m starting to think about it.

  2. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Patience ‘Grasshopper’, things will be moving faster soon. [Wink]

    Seriously, DW is IMO trying to help new readers to get caught up on things.

    Plus, with snippets we can’t ‘skip over’ the slow parts like we can with the full version.

    What’s funny is that DW is also ‘hit’ for not saying enough. There was a discussion on Baen’s Bar about why the Manticore Wormhole hadn’t been discovered earlier.

    DW had thought of putting the explanation in AAC but decide that it would be too much of an infodump.

    Poor DW, people gripe if he has too much infodump and gripe if he has too little infodump. [Wink]

  3. MadMcAl says:

    Seems to me that it will be another BC(P)-squadron.
    Achilles sounds like an Agamemnon. And the flagship of the squadron should be the most powerfull there is (in an newly assembled squadron with newbuild ships at least).
    So no Nike for Mike.

  4. Mike says:

    It’s not just you, Craig.

    In fact, I stopped buying everything years ago — I think Echoes Of Honor is the last one of these books that I bought. I still have been reading them from the library (and places like this), but I’m not even sure I’ll continue doing that.

    This snippet, for example, is awkward and boring. One might argue that it is realistic, because such introductions among working teammembers (especially to their new boss) do tend to be awkward and boring. But that is no excuse to include it in the book, IMO.

    Weber just explains and explains and explains EVERYTHING to us. IMO, it’s great that he can build up this world and has such a detailed universe “bible” with technical details of every missile and every ship and career histories of every officer and probably the daily exchange rate of every currency…. But that just bogs down his stories when he tells us all about it in detail, instead of just using it in the background and letting us see the result.

  5. Seth says:

    I’d disagree: it’s not boring, it’s merely an introduction to the characters who are going to be acting throughout the arc of the story. If it were some nameless, faceless person, there’d be far less emotional impact should one of them die.

    Infodump happens, but this here, it’s not infodump. It’s the beginning of characterization.

  6. Drak Bibliophile says:

    MadMcAl, Mike’s squardon are Nikes.

  7. MadMcAl says:

    And you know that from where? I see nowhere where the class of Achilles is declared. And Achilles as one of the besiegers of troy fits squarely into the naming conventions of the RMN, with the lead ship of the class, Agamemnon is named after the warlord who led the siege. But if you know that the squadron consists of Nikes, well, better and better.

    This is insofar one of the most important chapters of the book as it introduce some of the most important secondary characters, namely Mikes staff and flag-crew.
    And if you remember, every time Honor gets a new staff with unintroduced characters something like that happens. This characters are very close to the main-character of the book, and it would disrupt the flow of the story to the extrem to fiddle this neccessary introducion into the battle, where they become important.
    Sure, neither Sarnows nor White Havens staffs where discussed really extensive. But they are themself secondary characters, and this staffs are only even mentioned for 1 or 2 scenes.
    Of course the action of the book is rather slow here. So what? In the end it fills 1 or two chapters in the book. Chapters you read the first time and skip when you reread it.
    But this chapters fill the until then faceless people arround Mike with life. Makes them into persons rather then statistics. They prepare the ground for something besides the intrigues, battles and statistics.
    And later in the book it is much more satisfying to read about ‘Commander Adenauer’ as to read about ‘the Tac Officer’ for example.

  8. Dave says:

    MadMcAl – Drak likely has the copy of the whole book that was inadvertently posted to Baen’s Bar (and quickly removed; those who were browsing late at night — at least in the US — or who got the bar via email ended up with it). But I have to agree with you that I don’t see why the MWW didn’t tell us exactly what Mike’s squadron was made up of right when she got it.

  9. Olegreyowl says:

    Craig and Mike. Don’t forget that these snippets are no more than a couple of pages at most. So in the full book the pacing is not nearly as slow as it might seem when presented one snippet every couple of days. Myself I enjoy the slow pacing of the snippets because I am one of those readers who will “skim” ahead (Hangs his head in shame) :) And the snippet form forces me to slow down and absord the deapth of the world that Weber weaves.

  10. Olegreyowl says:

    Errr that would be “depth”. Bad spellcheck! No cookie.

  11. Brom says:

    Bad Drak, snerking outside of Snerker’s Only … by virtue of having received the ‘whoopsie’ manuscript.

    No crunchy Sir George w/ketchup for you today.

  12. Drak Bibliophile says:

    At the time I thought it was clear from the new Chapter Nine that the 106th was Nike-Class Battlecruisers not pod battlecruisers. After rereading the new Chapter Nine, it appears to not be as clear as I thought.

    Still Brom, if I want to have a crunchy Sir George with ketchup, are you going to try to stop me? [Evil Grin]

  13. D says:

    Between the other books that deal with this time frame and the chapters up until now you can be fairly certain that there will be a number of Nike class ships in Michelle’s little fleet.

  14. lkan says:

    Yeah… his books get more and more bloated, while producing less and less story, and including more and more soap-opera.

  15. joeedh says:

    Ikan: I’d agree his books are becoming more bloated, but not really with soap opera. The romance story of Honor is an exception but not, I think, that important to the meat of the story (except in World of Honor, a book I try not to think about).

    What Weber makes the mistake of doing is that when characters become “good”, they tend to spout his political and personal ideology, essentially becoming clones of himself (or simply identical to each other, at least). Mostly this happens during moments of exposition (*shudder*) where as many as five characters may sound almost the same in accent, mannerisms, personal beliefs, even their sense of humor.

    Now you should note, that Weber does seem to be fairly good (in my opinion) at characterizing the villains or even “shady” characters. It’s almost like it’s the ones he admires that suffer from characterization problems.

    Anyway, I still immensely enjoy the series, despite all of this. I think the collaboration with Eric and the spinoff series have helped a great deal. Plus I suspect Weber may be aware of this to some extent. . .he’s already explained the inherent complexity and bloating problems of Honor being an admiral, citing that as a major reason for him and Eric to do the spinoff series.

    Hope this wasn’t a too long post,

  16. MadMcAl says:

    That was the discussion. Nikes are pretty rare by the time of BoMA, and this plays before this battle.
    In the first phase of this war, before Apollo the RMN assigned nearly every BC-building-slot to Agamemnons as they are podlayers.
    In the end a worse choise compared to an Nike, but in this desperate phase any podlayer was better than no podlayer.
    So the idea (at least my understanding) was, that if there is an Nike in the squadron, it would be the very best choise for the squadron-flag.
    And the name Achilles leads to Agamemnon-class. From this name it should have been one of the first-flight-agamemnons (the problem with this naming conventions, if there are still some Homers arround).

  17. Craig Thomas says:

    Thanks for the kind comments and thoughts, various folks!

  18. Robert Krawitz says:

    @Drak, thanks for the pointer to the fifthimperium snippets. See, just to prove I’m not cheating :-)

    Did anybody happen to notice what Gwen Archer’s *real* first name is (in the “real” chapter 8, the one that didn’t get snippeted here)…and a reference to an individual with that same, rather unusual name in an *entirely* different context (in chapter 10)…and just who Lt. Archer “tasted” like to Honor (again, chapter 8)?

    No, it couldn’t be. Just my overactive imagination. Has to be. Impossible. The honorable David Weber would *never* play games with us like this.

  19. rafe says:

    who is gwen archer ???

    anyway ,, if i may ask, drak bibliophile, who are you ?

    are you simply a loyal fan of david weber or his agent or another Baen author or david flint ??? i am simply curious. thanks.

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Gwen is the ‘nick-name’ of Mike’s Flag LT.

    As for me, I’m just a Bar-Fly (poster on Baen’s Bar). I have helped post snippets for Eric on this site.

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