Bardasano leaned back in her chair, obviously thinking hard, then drew a deep breath.
“On that basis, I would definitely recommend bringing Aldona fully inside. Although I also think it would be a good idea to think things over very carefully before we decide whether or not we want to ‘resurrect’ Monica. And to consider it in light of the concerns I’ve already expressed about flying by the seat of our pants.”

“Granted,” he agreed. “And I’m not saying I’ve firmly decided one way or the other. I’m still thinking about it. However, if we did decide to take this approach, it wouldn’t be quite as improvisational as it might first appear, since we could use a lot of the spadework from the Monica operation. Oh,” he waved one hand like a man swatting at a gnat, “not in Monica itself, obviously. But in Myers, and with Crandall.”
Bardasano frowned slightly, then nodded.
“Use Crandall to motivate Verrochio, you mean?”
“Use Crandall, yes. And Verrochio. But I’m thinking of Crandall more as . . . reassurance for Verrochio. The motivation we’ll supply by way of Hongbo.”
“You want to make an explicit approach to Hongbo?” Bardasano’s tone was slightly dubious, and Detweiler snorted.
“We’ve already made an ‘explicit approach’ to Hongbo,” he pointed out. “So far, he’s done quite well out of us as our local manager for Commissioner Verrochio. It’s not as if he should be particularly surprised if we ‘request’ his assistance once more.”
“My impression is that he’d be . . . quite hesitant to try a variant on Monica this soon,” she said. “He’s smarter than Verrochio. I think he’s probably a lot more aware of the potential consequences if they try something like this a second time and screw up. Oh, he’s not worried about the Assembly or the courts. He’s worried about what his and Verrochio’s fellow OFS satraps will do to them if they get fresh egg on Frontier Security’s face.”
“I can see that,” Detweiler conceded. “And, of course, he’s not aware that if we succeed, his fellow Frontier Security commissioners are going to be the least of his worries. Be that as it may, though, I’m really hesitant to let all of our preparation go completely to waste. Especially since we’ll have to eliminate Crandall and Filareta after this if we can’t use them now.”
“Sometimes it’s better to just write an operation off, however much you’ve invested in it,” Bardasano cautioned. “That old cliché about throwing good money after bad comes rather forcibly to mind. And so does the one about reinforcing failure.”
“Agreed. And I fully intend to kick the entire notion around with Collin before we make any hard and fast decisions. I’ll want you in on those conversations, as well, for that matter. But it’s not just a case of pushing to recoup our investment. I’m genuinely concerned about the long term implications of whatever they used at Lovat. I think it’s just become even more important to keep them under the maximum pressure and prune them back any way we can, and what’s occurred to me is that with the summit off the table and the Manties going back to war with Haven, it shouldn’t be too incredibly difficult to convince someone like Verrochio that they’re under too much pressure from Haven to respond to a full bore threat from the Solarian League.”
“A ‘full bore threat’?” she repeated carefully.
“What I’m thinking is that with only a very little encouragement, New Tuscany would probably make an even better cat’s-paw than Monica did last time around. Frontier Fleet’s already dispatched a reinforcing detachment to Myers, which is probably enough to start bolstering Verrochio’s nerve all by itself. And I just happen to know that the senior officer of that detachment doesn’t much care for ‘neobarbs.’ In fact, he doesn’t care for Manties. Something to do with getting his fingers rather severely burned in an incident with a Manticoran freighter when he was a much more junior officer. Franklin’s contacts in the League meant we could get him assigned without ever having to approach him directly, so he doesn’t know a thing about our involvement in this. Given his background, though, I’m sure he’s already quite upset about the Manties’ wild allegations about the complicity of major League business interests — and, of course, those nasty Mesans — in what happened in Monica. If he were properly approached by H0ngbo and Verocchio, I’m fairly confident he’d be amenable to doing something about it, especially if the League’s assistance was officially requested by someone with legitimate interests in the area. Like, oh, New Tuscany, perhaps. And one of Verrochio’s outstanding characteristics has always been his temper. If Hongbo pumps a little hydrogen into the fire, instead of trying to put it out, Verrochio is going to be just itching for an opportunity to get even with Manticore for his current humiliation. And if he just happened to be aware — or to become aware — of the fact that our good friend Admiral Crandall is in his vicinity with an entire Battle Fleet task force of superdreadnoughts, it might stiffen his irate spine quite remarkably.”
“And you want Aldona fully inside to handle New Tuscany and Hongbo,” Bardasano said slowly. “Which means we aren’t going to be able to fob her off with any nonsense about Technodyne getting hold of Manty technology, or about us only wanting to prevent them from annexing the Talbott Cluster because of its proximity to Mesa, this time around.”
“That’s pretty much it, yes.” Detweiler shrugged. “Without Technodyne and Levakonic to front for us by providing Monica with battlecruisers anymore, she’s going to have to be aware of our real knuckleduster. And that’s going to suggest to someone as smart as she is that we’re up to rather more than she knew about last time. Especially since it’s going to become obvious to her that Crandall’s task force wouldn’t be where it is if we hadn’t arranged for it before the two of you ever set out for Monica. She’s going to wonder why we didn’t tell her about it then, and I don’t think it will take her very long to start making some reasonably accurate guesses about just how much else is happening that she doesn’t know about. I’d far rather tell her everything that really is going on than have her guess just enough to make some serious mistake trying to adjust for what she thinks is going on.”
“I think you really should discuss this with Collin,” Bardasano said. “If you still think it’s a good idea after that — and I’m not saying it isn’t; I just don’t know whether or not it is at this point — then I’d certainly recommend explaining everything to Aldona and putting her back in charge of it. But she’s going to need something more persuasive than mere greed and bribery to get Hongbo solidly behind her on this one.”
“In that case,” Detweiler said with a thin, shark-like smile, “it’s probably a very good thing we have all those bank records about the payoffs he’s accepted over the years from those nasty Manpower genetic slavers, isn’t it? I realize he might try to turn stubborn even so. I mean, after all, it’s not like the League judiciary is likely to do any more than slap him on the wrist over it. If he does, though, Aldona could always point out that if that same information were to the unfortunately leaked to those Ballroom lunatics . . . .”
He let his voice trail off and shrugged as he raised both hands shoulder-high, palms uppermost.
“I suppose that probably would motivate him suitably,” Bardasano agreed with a smile of her own. “The Ballroom does come in handy from time to time, doesn’t it?”

About Eric Flint

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7 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 78

  1. 1JH says:

    The Ballroom as unpaid assassin was just a bit too obvious for this treatment.

  2. Chuck S says:

    Obvious, but an important part of the plan. I think the brilliant super humans are getting a lot to cute for the real world. Complex plans rarely work well, even if the planners are very good. Too many elements make for too many contingencies. Confusion sets in and the wheels come off.
    Webber is portraying the kind of over planned brilliant and totally unworkable operations that desk generals have saddled line animals with since the days of Rome. The Japanese high command did ops like this in WW2 and we played the same stupid 'outsmart don't outshoot' in 'Nam.
    Hopefully Webber lets the brilliant plan come apart under it's own weight before Henke puts a few top of the line Mantie BCs up against League SDs.
    Does anyone else think that this whole conversation could have been boiled down to a snippet and a half without loss of characterization or information?

    • Mike_G says:

      Pretty much. Although, like I said two days ago, this particular conversation is less of an offender than most. It got a little weak at the end, when Weber decided we might be too stupid to understand the Ballroom comment from before, so he decided to hit us over the head with it really hard, just to make sure we noticed it.

  3. MadMcAl says:

    Yes, very complicated operations. But you look at them in the wrong light. The Japanese high command in WW2 and their US-counterparts in 'Nam where allready at active war.
    This is more similiar to the antics the serbians and russians did before WW1. The antics still unknown to the large population. The antics where they antagonized Astria-Hungary and Imperial Germany over years, build up hidden alliances and planned the damn war years ahead, mounting in the assination of the austrian-hungarian heir by the serbian secret service. And it is still the popular opinion that Germany started the war.

    Such overcomplex plans work when the other side doesn't know that it is in a war yet. They depend on the enemy not even searching in this direction for an antagonist. The moment when it become clear that there is somebody who wants to hurt you, you are much more carefull. You will direct much more intelligence interest into this direction, prone to unveil a good part of such plans. You will assume the enemy as the first one for laying blame for things going bust unexplainable.

    • Chuck S. says:

      Good point-I was considering the plot from a military tactical perspective. As a strategic political / intelligence operation with a limited military dimension the overall risk of failure is reduced because the attacker can always try something different while someone else takes the hard knocks for failure of individual (tactical) operations.
      Odd that you should mention WW1 as an example; I can't think of any other op of this type run by a major power against a major power until the advent of the cold war. It is more the sort of thing a weak power used to distract and weaken a strong one before the advent of wholesale terrorism in the mid sixties.

      • MadMcAl says:

        The stratagems of the Serbians and Russians before WW1 where more or less the last great use of this things.
        I think they where used extensive from the first beginings in the ancient babylon up to the industrial age.
        With the advent of communication lines working in less than weeks it became more and more propable that somebody stumbled over the truth beforehand. These strategies need the information lag to work. If it where possible to simply send a spy to mesa for a day or two, it would have been way harder to hide it. But so it takes Cachat and Zilwicki 2 or 3 month to simply get to Mesa. Not something even the most powerfull single star nation coul afford for a power that was on one hand an enemy, but on the other hand not powerfull enough, not antagonizing enough and most important arround 700 light years distant.
        There is simply no logical reason to spend money like water to establish an spy network where there is no realistical threat and the distance makes any idea of open warfare laughable.

  4. The thing is, the Mesans are thinking that they cannot be touched because of their alliances and infiltration of enemy states. But spies and assasins, even terrorists, don't bring down any kind of nation state. I also think that almost everyone is underestimating Grayson. They have gone from a tiny power to a Great Power. The Mesans are dead if they fight, they just don't know it.

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