"Admiral Gold Peak," Larson replied while that thought was still running through the back of her brain, and it became instantly obvious that whatever the similarity to Oversteegen might be, it wasn't going to be Oversteegen's aristocratic sense of who he was. Not with that highland Gryphon burr. It was strong enough Michelle could have used it to saw wood.

            "Let me guess," she said with a chuckle. "Commander Adenauer was raised fifty kilometers from Duchess Harrington and you were raised fifty kilometers outside what's become the Duchy of Harrington, right?"

            "No, Ma'am," Larson said, shaking his head with a smile of his own. "As a matter of fact, I was born and raised on the other side of the planet. On the other hand, it's a fairly small planet, I suppose."

            "Almost neighbors, in fact," Michelle agreed. Then she released his hand and stood back, gazing at the other officers.

            "In a few minutes," she told them, "I'm going to want the ten-dollar tour. I had Michael Oversteegen and the original Nike in my last squadron, briefly at least, so I'm generally familiar with the class, but I'm sure Achilles has her own brand new bells and whistles, and I want to see all of them. First, though, I'd like to say a couple of things about our mission, as I understand it at this time."

            The smiles had disappeared into sober, focused expressions, and she gave a mental nod of approval as they shifted gears right along with her.

            "I have another briefing scheduled with Admiral Givens' people tomorrow morning at Admiralty House," she continued. "Cindy, I'd like you and Captain Armstrong to accompany me for that one. And I have another briefing, this one with Admiral Hemphill at BuWeaps, the day after that."

            "Yes, Ma'am," Lecter agreed, and Armstrong nodded.

            "I don't expect any major surprises," Michelle told them. "On the other hand, I've been surprised anyway, a time or two in the past. In fact, I've been bitten right on the ass a time or two, if we're going to be honest about it. Assuming that doesn't happen in this case, however, the basic parameters of our orders are clear enough. I'm sure all of us hope the summit meeting between Her Majesty and President Pritchart will actually do some good. Unfortunately, we can't count on that. And, equally unfortunately, we're not going to be here while that happens — if that happens. Instead, we're going to be off in the Talbott Quadrant, showing the flag and generally making certain no ill-intentioned souls make any more trouble for us.

            "I'm confident all of you have taken steps to keep yourself abreast of events in Talbott. In light of the domestic political changes there, I think we all need to get into the habit of thinking of the Cluster by its new name, the Quadrant, but that isn't going to change any of the unpalatable realities about the region, I'm afraid. Until the rest of the staff assembles and we receive our actual instructions, we can't really get into a lot of detailed planning, but I learned a long time ago that the more people you can involve in actually thinking about a problem, the more likely someone is to come up with something that hadn't occurred to you. So here's what I want you to be thinking about.

            "Militarily, our first responsibility is going to be to secure the physical integrity of the Quadrant and the lives, persons, and property of Her Majesty's new subjects. And, ladies and gentlemen, our responsibility is to secure those things against any threat, no matter who — or where — it may have come from. And lest anyone misunderstand me, let me make it very clear that that specifically includes the Solarian League."

            She met each set of eyes in turn, and there were no smiles at all on flag bridge any longer.

            "Admiral Caparelli, Earl White Haven, and Baron Grantville have made that perfectly clear to me," she continued after a moment. "No one wants a shooting incident with the League. God knows the last thing we need is a war with the Sollies. But the Constitutional Convention in Spindle has ratified the Cluster's new constitution and enacted all of the amendments Her Majesty requested. That means the citizens represented by that convention are now Manticoran citizens, ladies and gentlemen, and they will be defended by Her Majesty's Navy as such."

            She paused once more to let that sink in, then shrugged.

            "Our second military responsibility will be to provide support, as directed by Vice Admiral Khumalo, if, as, and when requested by Baroness Medusa or any of the planetary governments in the Quadrant. Despite the ratification, there are strong indications that the terrorist campaign in the Split System is still with us. They've been pruned back drastically, and they've become increasingly irrelevant, but those are some very angry people. The terrorists themselves — especially their leadership and central cadre — are probably even angrier than they were, now that the constitution's been ratified by their parliament, and that's scarcely likely to make people who've already picked up guns behave themselves. On the other hand, I expect much of the anger that drove anyone outside that central cadre to begin fading once the new civil rights provisions of the constitution work their way down to the grassroots level. And, frankly, I expect the upturn the entire Quadrant's economy is going to experience in the very near future will go even further towards eroding support for Nordbrandt and her FAK lunatics among anyone in the general population who was prepared to see them as some sort of freedom fighters or liberation movement instead of cold-blooded murderers. That, however, is going to take some time, and I'm sure Her Majesty would prefer for us to arrange things so that no more of her new subjects get killed by these idiots in the meantime than we can possibly avoid.

            "Our third responsibility is going to be the fulfillment of our role as Baroness Medusa's and Vice Admiral Khumalo primary fire brigade. The good news is that we're going to see a steady increase in light units in the Cluster. Plans are already afoot to forward deploy enough LACs to provide at least one LAC group to each system in the Quadrant to provide basic security against piracy and backup for local customs efforts in light of the increase in traffic we're expecting in the area. It's going to take a while to get all of that moving, especially with the call for LAC carriers for Eighth Fleet and system defense closer to home, but as soon as the CLACs can be freed up, they'll start moving forward. In the meantime, it's going to be up to our available starships to cover the most exposed systems.

            "That's almost certainly going to lead to a certain inevitable dispersal of force, but it can't be helped for the immediate future. For that matter, despite all the Navy's experience in commerce protection and system defense, we've never before been responsible for the security of a single star nation spread out over this large a volume of space, so we're making some of this up as we go. That's going to pinch our toes harder than just about anyone else's in the immediate future, but at least everyone knows it, which is why the Admiralty's trying so hard to give us the tools we'll need . . . and why we're expecting at least two full flotillas of the new Roland-class ships, as well as additional Saganami-Cs and Nikes. The Agamemnons are going to be going to Home Fleet, Third Fleet, and — especially — Eighth Fleet, but we'll be getting the Nikes in compensation."

About Eric Flint

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29 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 40

  1. Tony says:

    2 Flotillas of Rolands (DDs if memory serves)

    Saganami-C, they got the Bow walls, Heavy cruisers.
    Nikes, latest generation of Battlecruisers, kinda big, i.e. mini wall of battle.

    Wondering how the mix gonna be at the end of the day….

  2. fester says:

    Yeah, this is a decent size deployment — at least 6 BC-Ls, assuming a squadron or more of Sag-Cs and 4 or more squadrons of Rolands plus support ships — looks like Michelle will be commanding between 48 and 60 hyper capable combatants at the very least — a nice size task force.

  3. iggy says:

    about time we got to some idea of the force she’ll be working with. it appears to be so new it squeaks but it should be more than enough to knock the shit out of anything OFS might think to use against them if it comes to that. Of course Mesa and thier Sharks complicate things a bit don’t they?

  4. DeanTP says:

    Yes, but this is before the Battle of Manticore, which will upset all these fine plans. I suspect that Mike will end up with only what she takes at first (if she’s lucky).


  5. hank says:

    They’ll need more tin cans. Every fleet needs more tin cans than they get!

  6. Tim says:

    New bells and whistles? Can the grav lance be supported on the new construction without compromising the rest of the weapons?

  7. lkan says:

    I wonder why they don’t load up with Q-ships for convoy defense? A Haven Q-ship can take on a cruiser.

  8. John Roth says:

    Maybe, maybe not. Remember that at the time of the Battle of Manticore the SKM was only a few months away from deploying the new system defenses, and also that Home Fleet is very heavy on D and SD types. Screening elements aren’t very useful unless there’s something to screen.

    Once the new system defenses go in I’d expect a major shift in the composition of Home Fleet.

    John Roth

  9. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Tim, David Weber has stated that he wished he never invented the Gravity Lance. It is far from ready as a weapon since anyship using it was to get extremely close to use it. At a time when Manticore weapons can ‘reach out and touch somebody’ from a distance that only Haven can match, why use Gravity Lances??

  10. Tim says:

    Just thought with so many technologically unlikely things happening already, why not a long range gravity lance?

  11. Robert Krawitz says:

    The reality is that in any R&D shop mistakes of that kind will be made (people come up with things that look good on paper but don’t bear out in practice). That isn’t going to change in the future.

    If the grav lance could be made smaller to fit on a missile…now that might have possibilities.

  12. Sam says:

    Grav lances used a lot of power, right? Might be difficult to squeeze into a missile, but how about a mine?

  13. MadMcAl says:


    Technically, because the grav lance needs an full out warship-impeller, or better the field strength of said warship-impeller.
    Even the impeller of an light cruiser is nearly to shallow to use it.
    The much weaker impellers of missiles will never be able to support such stresses.
    The impellers of smaller warships (like cruisers) have to be strengthend to the point where they consume much much more mass.
    On larger warships there has been the realisation that at the ranges of the grav-lance, namely 100k km the normal energy weapons of this ships go through an sidewall as if it wasn’t there, so there was no longer a need to let said sidewall disapear.

    In reality, because questions just as yours, as DW was swamped with suggestions how to use the grav-lance, how to make it smaller and make sidewall-busting missiles, or even impeller-busting missiles and such ideas that he has completely striken the grav-lance from ever be mentioned again in his presence.

  14. MadMcAl says:

    Sorry, if it sounded like I actually knew what the real technical reasons are.
    That was only something I just dragged out of my hat, and if anything of it resembles the reasons DW has given or will give that is pure coincidential.

    I just thought that it sounds like a rather compelling reason why the grav-lance-line has been abandoned.

  15. MadMcAl says:

    Wasn’t so far away from the truth. ;)

  16. lkan says:

    Hmm… I can see some weird Sollie designs using grav lances… DW has already shown that weapons manufacturers there do weird designs aplenty.

  17. Blackmane says:

    “Hmm… I can see some weird Sollie designs using grav lances… DW has already shown that weapons manufacturers there do weird designs aplenty.”
    With One Stone, Service of the Sword.
    It’s not official canon as Zahn wrote it, but it’s probably the closest Weber is going to come to saying “Yes there is such a thing as a LR Grav Lance, but it’s completely worthless.” Of course, he’s not going to discuss that technology ever again, but there it is.
    On a more germane note, I have to agree with DeanTP. It will be interesting to see how the Quadrant’s balance of forces is affected by the BofM. Especially in light of the loss of light units sustained at Monica. 6 small ships isn’t a lot to lose out of a fleet of thousands, until there are no more ships coming for years, and those that are eventually built will head straight for Home, Third, and Eighth Fleets.

  18. John Roth says:


    I think you’re missing some very significant points. First, the new system defense system. At the BOM they were only a few months away from installing it; IIRC it was intended to replace (or at least supplement) Home Fleet. If I understand the strategic supply situation, within the year after the BOM they’ll have it in the critical systems. ROH isn’t going to be able to scrape together another major fleet and shake it down to where it could possibly be effective in much less time than that. And even then they won’t have much, if any, idea about the new system defenses.

    A second point is that it takes a lot less time to build lighter units than it does SDs, and that the screening units for the SDs are already earmarked in the building plans. Battlecruisers are wall of battle units, but the Nikes, not being pod designs, aren’t really favored as main fleet combatants any more.

    So the 106th might not get any more Nikes for a while, but I doubt if they’d see a problem getting cruisers and below.

    John Roth

  19. MadMcAl says:

    1. The ‘crippler’ has nothing in common with the Grav Lance. It works by overloading the nodes of the impeller by heterodyning the frequency of the attacking ship with the frequency of the defending ship, thus creating a harmonic.
    The great problem is that for that the frequency of the defending ship has to be known to the attacking ship, what is possible with an civilian single impeller, but not with an military double impeller. Also if once known it is relatively easy to counter by installing fuses, that cut out the wedge when attacked and activate it a minute or two later again. Combined with the socalled long range (1 million km) of the weapon, easy inside of Apollo range for example (wich is known to work at 75 million km) it is an rather ineffective weapon not worth the tonnage to inlcude it.
    2. The Grav Lance is dead! DW has decreed never to use it again. So every speculation about it is at best moot.
    And even if I find that a bit sad I can understand it if I read this totally irritating vehemence with that some people speculate about it.
    Guys, think a bit. There are 2 people repeatly stating that DW has declared the Grav Lance is a dead topic. That regardless how many petitions, suggestions or demands for it come from the fan-block it will never be used in the series again. While one of the 2 people, namly my person has most propably not so much weight in this, the other, Drak is a well known Bar Fly. So you can assume that he knows what he is writing.
    And still there are 5 comments AFTER his explanation that it will never be used again ascing for it or its variants. No pretent to be DW, and reading not 5 of them but 5000! Or even 5000000! Every one of them sounds actually reasonable considering that the writer of the comment doesn’t know the tech-base for the universe. Every one of them expects more or less an immediate personal response to his outstanding idea. There are no people that nip such a discussion in the bud like now. You would become mad with them. And the worst is, you can never reasonable use the Grav Lance again without starting a new round of this. So you scrap the whole idea and concentrate on other technologys.
    From the storys point of view it has been absolutely proofed beyond doubt that the Grav-Lance is more or less useless.
    Remember, the Grav Lance enables a smaller ship to get into a knife fight with a much greater ship. When it reaches knife range.
    But to get there it has to cross the optimal combat distance of that greater ship without being destroyed.
    Before the Graysons began building its new navy, the energy mounts of every ship where designed to burn through the sidewalls of its own type of ship at reasonable distance (500k km i think is the average). So you don’t need the Grav-Lance to kill this ships.
    Agains greater ships your chances of reaching the 100k km for using the Grav-Lance are much slimmer. So slim that they nearly don’t exist. Against a ship 2 or more types larger (BC vs. CL or BB vs. CL) it is pure suicide to try that.
    There is no way that the effects are worth the disadvantages of the additional mass (in a CL the Grav-Lance supplantet 75% of her broadside armament with the respective magacine space).
    In greater ships (BB up) the mass penalty is more and more irrelevant. But the effects are even more unimportant. So you can kill an SD with an BB at a range of 100k km. So what? The SD WILL kill the BB at a Range of 500k km (shown at 4th Yeltsin).
    And you don’t need it to attack other BB’s with it. DN’s more or less the same. SD’s… well, an SD was designed to burn through the sidewalls of SD’s at comparatively long ranges. At 100k km the sidewalls could as well not be there. So you don’t need the Grav Lance.
    And that was, as I wrote before the Grayson revolution of the weapon layout. After that, well, now the warships carry fewer but much heavier weaponry. Now the Grav Lance is not even a bit productive. An CA can damage an BC more without it.

  20. Tim says:

    Apologies, MadMcAl, I didn’t realize I was tossing an M-80 in the privy with that comment.

  21. cedarcreekreader says:

    See eARC, $10, “Oopsie” version at Baen.

  22. MadMcAl says:

    There is no need to appologize to me.
    I am not upset. I just wished to explain.
    Look at the comments your simple question startet in the course of one day.
    And now think about it if such an discussion runs unchecked for a month or more.

    I think it perfectly understandable that DW was overwhelmed by such discussions. And to prevent such an swarm I am among the people who explain that it is an thema no grata. Also I try to make an effort to explain why that is so.
    DW is an outstanding autor, who gifts us with great storys. We should avoid to give him grief if we can (even if only that his anger can’t be good for the quality and quantity of his novels).
    Every now and then somebody (mostly somebody who doesn’t know the history) asks for the Grav Lance. And then we explain it.
    So your apologie is not accepted for reasons that there is no need for it.

  23. John Roth says:


    I’m not going to buy the “oopsie” version, for the simple reason that I enjoy discussing things here and on the bar, and I don’t want to get ahead of the story.

    BTW – it’s not the eArc. According to the note, that’ll be out in around 6 weeks.

    John Roth

  24. I enjoy Weber’s books, and the comments and speculations by other fans. I think we all would benefit from a little less hysteria about technical points. Also, shorter, more organized comments with better spelling. Thanks all, and keep the comments coming. I learn a lot every posting. JLS.

  25. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Tim, I agree with MadMcAl about you bringing up the GL.

  26. Robert Krawitz says:

    Comments on all this:

    1) We’re all geeks (well, a lot of us are, at any rate), and this is hard SF. Well, a lot of it is really engineering fiction, and we love the infodumps. You’ll note that there are more comments about each snippet here than there are about some entire books. Ergo, we like to speculate and try to design something better. The hysteria about the technical points is half the fun! We can’t help it! We’re watchmakers! Hackito ergo sum!

    2) IRL, somebody would prototype something clever, find out that in the lab it looks great, then when it’s in alpha test, figures out that it doesn’t quite work like it’s theoretically supposed to. Turf fights erupt, and eventually management cancels the project. Pretty much what has happened here, even if it was all in a virtual universe inside Weber’s brain. I’m sure Scott Adams could come up with some really creative ways of making this happen :-)

    3) What happens next depends upon the company. At some companies a squelched idea stays squelched. At other companies it never dies, and a new head keeps popping up, only to get lopped off.

    4) The competition thinks “gee, this is a really cool idea” and tries again. Maybe someone deep in the bowels of OFS found out about this or came up with the idea on their own…

    Back to waiting for the next snippet!

  27. Tim says:

    Intriguing, might I ask where would be a place to look for an overview of the techbase in the Honorverse?

  28. MadMcAl says:

    And of course the infodumps in the books.

    That is the best we have available. And even there it is hard to know or remember everything.

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