Several faces had tightened at her mention of the Constitutional Convention, and she concealed a mental smile of catlike satisfaction as she saw them. Frankly, she’d been flabbergasted — initially, at least — to learn that New Tuscany had, in fact, declined to ratify the new constitution. In their place, she would have been falling all over herself to get under the Manticoran security umbrella and share in the flood tide of commerce and investment which was likely to be coming the Cluster’s way. Except, of course, for that other little problem they had. She’d already concluded, just in the short trip from the spaceport to this meeting, that Bardasano’s analysis of the New Tuscan oligarchs and their motivations had been right on the money. In fact, the lid was screwed down even more tightly here on New Tuscany than she’d expected from Bardasano’s briefings. Uniformed security forces had been a high-visibility part of the ground car drive from the shuttle pad, and she’d noticed an extraordinarily high number of extraordinarily obvious (for a planet with New Tuscany’s tech base) security cameras on light standards and at intersections. No doubt there were other, far less obtrusive measures in place to monitor the situation without giving away their presence, but clearly the New Tuscan security forces wanted to do more than simply keep a close eye on things. They also wanted to make any potential troublemakers abundantly aware of the point that they were keeping that eye on things.

Between the devil and the deep blue sea, weren’t you, Mr. President? Her mental tone was mocking, although she supposed it wasn’t very funny from the New Tuscans’ perspective. If you didn’t ratify the constitution, you got left out in the cold where all that lovely investment and capital flow were involved. But if you did ratify it, you’d’ve had the Manties swarming all over New Tuscany, and they wouldn’t have approved of your ‘security measures’ at all, would they?
Looked at from that perspective, she supposed the New Tuscan decision to opt out of the constitutional process when Manticore and their fellow Talbott delegates declined to give them the domestic security carte blanche they’d insisted upon actually made a degree of sense. The last thing any properly exploitative oligarchs could afford was for their social inferiors to get uppity notions, after all. Unfortunately for New Tuscany, the mere example of what was about to happen in the rest of the Cluster was virtually certain to contaminate their star system with those very notions. Their only real hope had been to siphon off enough of the increasing commerce and Manticoran investment to provide an at least modest but real improvement in the general New Tuscan standard of living. Frankly, the chance of their ever having been able to control the situation through any combination of carrot and stick had never been realistic, in Anisimovna’s opinion, but it appeared to be the only one they’d been able to come up with.
Not surprisingly, since the only other approach would have been to recognize when they were beaten and try to make the best terms they could with the people they’ve been systematically pissing on — and pissing off — for the last two or three generations, she thought. Somehow, I don’t think they would have enjoyed the only terms they could get.
“As you say, it would appear the organization of this ‘Talbott Quadrant’ is an accomplished fact, Ms. Anisimovna,” Prime Minister Vézien said. His tone was sour, but she noticed he was regarding her shrewdly. “Yet somehow I can’t avoid the suspicion that you wouldn’t have come to call on us — or been so . . . forthcoming, shall we say? — about your involvement with Monica unless you thought that state of affairs could somehow still be . . . rectified.”
“I see you’re as perceptive as my briefings suggested you were, Mr. Prime Minister. Yes, we do believe the situation can be rectified, which I’m sure you here in New Tuscany would find almost as welcome as we would in Mesa. And, to anticipate your next question, yes, again. I have come here to discuss ways in which the two of us could assist one another in bringing that rectification about.”
“Forgive me for pointing this out, Ms. Anisimovna,” Alesta Cardot said, “but the last star system you recruited for this no doubt laudable objective doesn’t seem to have fared very well.”
“And there’s also the little matter of certain collateral damage inflicted by your previous efforts, if you’ll pardon me for saying so,” Dusserre added. The Security Minister met Anisimovna’s eyes very levelly, and she nodded slightly in acknowledgment of his point.
“Madam Minister,” she said to Cardot, “you’re absolutely correct about what happened to Monica. As I’ve already said, however, that was due to a completely unpredictable coincidence of circumstances — circumstances which are unlikely, at the very least, to ever repeat themselves. Moreover, even if they — or something like them — did repeat, they would have no significant impact on the strategy we have in mind this time. And, Mr. Dusserre,” she said, turning to face the Security Minister squarely, “I’m afraid we must plead guilty to supplying Agnes Nordbrandt and her fellow lunatics with the wherewithal for their campaign against the Kornatian authorities. I’m sure that’s made subsequent difficulties for you here on New Tuscany, and my own reading of events suggests that it helped Alquezar and his allies force through the constitutional provisions they favored all along. I regret that, but, in fairness, I ought to point out that at the time we decided to supply Nordbrandt, our objectives revolved around Monica, not anyone here in the Cluster itself. The consequences here on New Tuscany are unfortunate, but to be brutally honest, at that time New Tuscany was completely secondary to our calculations and concerns.”
“Well, that’s certainly frank enough, Ms. Anisimovna,” Cardot said dryly.
“In this case, Madam Secretary,” Anisimovna replied, “candor is clearly the best policy. And since that’s the case, there’s very little point in pretending that what I’m here to discuss is anything except a marriage of pragmatic self-interest. I’d be the first to admit you have a lovely planet here. Indeed, I quite enjoyed observing it from orbit and on the flight down, and the scenery around the spaceport is breathtaking. Nonetheless, it would be dishonest of me to pretend that Mesa has any intrinsic interest whatsoever in New Tuscany . . . aside from the fashion in which the two of us can assist one another in bringing about a state of affairs we both desire.”

About Eric Flint

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14 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 86

  1. The problem is that in Crown of Slaves we found out that the Solarian League is like Russia if it were run by the League of Nations and manipulated by everything from interstellar corporations to League members to Mesa, and everything in between. The real question I've got to ask is Haven going to find out they've been manipulated since the Legislaturalists, and are still being used to keep the pot boiling, I guess so Mesa could build up a big enough fleet to start conquering. I don't see how they will beat anyone though, "Sharks" or no Sharks. They are surely outnumbered at LEAST 10 to one, with, by their admission, worse technology. About the only problem about smashing Mesa's navy into space dust would be their open and hidden allies. As for the Office of Frontier Security, they sound just like that unlamented harridan, Cordelia Ransoms, (Who Weber obviously based on Murat) State Security. It would be a blessing for the Honorverse if they were all blasted into bits. Personally, I HATE Mesa, and I wish he had mentioned them in more than a very shaky way before book 6.

    • kingpaul says:

      "Personally, I HATE Mesa"

      I think we're supposed to hate them. I can't see them surviving once Manticore and Haven get involved with them…Sollie navy or not.

  2. Security measures, eh? Sounds like repression and tyranny to me… But will they call in the Sollies? And if they do, they will be sorry they came, the SCUM!!

  3. Drak says:

    Arthur, David Weber had always planned on Mesa being a foe of the Star Kingdom, but had planned on the Manticore-Mesa war happening years after Honor's death and the end of the Manticore-Haven war.

    Honor's adult children would have been involved against Mesa. There was no reason until recently to make a big deal about Mesa.

  4. John Roth says:

    Anismovna said: "Nonetheless, it would be dishonest of me to pretend that Mesa has any intrinsic interest whatsoever in New Tuscany."

    Wonder if any of them are going to translate that as: "We're not going to stand in the way of Frontier Security taking you over when we've driven the Manties away."

    And if any of them do, what's going to happen to them.

  5. catboy says:

    or how about "you can beilve as much as that as you wish" I i won't belive a thing mesa says on anything!

  6. How on earth did he think he was going to be able to kill her? I mean in On Basilisk Station or The Honor of the Queen and even in other books he had TONS of chances to kill her, and in A Short, Victorious War the story wasn't even mostly about her. Also, admitted I didn't read Crown of Slaves or the Shadow of Saganami when they first came out, Crown because it seemed to detract from the so-called main story line and Shadow because of bad reviews. I recently read Shadow and was impressed. But the one really peculiar thing I think very important is even though MESA and Manpower are mentioned, genetic slavery never is. The situation with "genetic" slavery seems to be like real slavery before William Wilberforce, or maybe a little bit after . And speaking of Honorverse history, why is the Final War almost never mentioned at all. And if there is going to be way more secondary characters, I would love to read some stories about Warner Caslet. I mean he gets mentioned first in Flag in Exxile, and his tactical officer figures out Honor's superdreadnought trap. Then he's a major character in Honor Among Enemies, In Enemy Hands, Echoes of Honor, and part of Ashes of Victory. And then I have hardly heard from his character again. Did he die? Or is there some reason he was never used again? Did Theisman take his role as "the good Peep" or the "honorable Peep"? And am I the only one who HATES this second Havenite war, and finds it absolutely worthless for both sides, unless the point is to advance technology. And 2000+ Super / Dreadnoughts or no, if the League fights, they will be sorry. A "conventional" dreadnought/superdreadnought is worth about as much as a 1900s pre-dreadnought battleship, which is to say, the ratio is three to one, or worse. Weber has said many times how Bloody tough dreadnought/superdreadnought's are, but I think the League is not going to win a war with Manticore, leaving out Haven, the Andermani, and Grayson.

  7. Erik says:

    Caslet is first mentioned in "From the Highlands" by Eric Flint in Changer of Worlds. He is also given a lot of play in "Fanatic" by Eric Flint in The Service of the Sword. And as you note, his role in Crown of slaves. These are, as far as I remember, his three major appearances.

    • I think you are thinking of that lunatic Cachat, the SPY, NOT Warner Caslet, the naval officer who is first met in Flag in Exile, with his tactical officer who is Shannon Foraker. the scene is this: "Something funny going on here, Skip."

      " 'Funny'? What d'you mean 'funny'?" Citizen Commander Caslet demanded. TG 14.1 sped straight towards the enemy at a combined closing velocity of over forty-six thousand KPS, which meant maximum effective missile range would be just over thirteen million kilometers. They'd enter that range in less than five more minutes, and he was more anxious than he wanted to reveal. Vaubon was only a light cruiser, hardly a high-priority target with battleships to shoot at, but there were light units on the other side, as well, and they might well choose to engage Vaubon simply because she was small enough they might actually get through her defenses.

      "It's just—" Citizen Lieutenant Foraker leaned back, rubbing the tip of her nose, then grimaced. "Let me show you, Skip," she said, and switched her own tactical readouts to Caslet's tertiary display. "Watch this motion," she said, and he gazed intently at the display as the raggedy-assed enemy formation bobbed and swirled. There'd been some movement in it all along, but it had become more pronounced as the range dropped—a fact he'd put down to nerves.

      "I don't—" he began, but Foraker was tapping commands into her console, and Caslet's mouth closed with a snap as the same movement replayed itself. The only difference was that this time a half-dozen or so of the dots left little worms of light behind, charting their paths, and the "formation" they'd dropped into. . . .

      "What is that?" he asked slowly, and this time there was more than a trace of worry in his techno-nerd tactical officer's reply.

      "Skip, if I didn't know better—and I don't know better—I'd say six of those battlecruisers just slid into a modified vertical wall of battle."

      "That's crazy, Shannon," Caslet's astrogator said. "Battlecruisers don't form wall against battleships! That'd be suicide!"

      "Yep," Foraker agreed. "That's exactly what it would be—for battlecruisers."

      Caslet stared at the glowing light worms and felt his stomach drop clear out of the universe. It wasn't possible. And even if it were possible, surely one of the battlecruisers or battleships with their better sensors and more powerful computers would have seen it before a light cruiser did!

      But those battlecruisers and battleships didn't have his resident tac witch, a cold, clear voice said in his brain.

      "Communications! Get me a priority link to the Flag—now!"

      • Erik Ker says:

        I think you are right and I mistook those two names. I do not think it likely Caslet will get major time. Unless he stands sponser to a Junior Harrington in the future….?

  8. I wonder if anyone has noticed that the whole referandum issue seems to be a lot like joining the empire in In Fury Born. It seems like the same people are against it and for it

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