From the look in Byng’s eyes, he appreciated being called a Frontier Fleet officer even less than Michelle had expected him to. That was nice.

“Well, it’s not often we have the sort of . . . incident which occurred here in Monica, either, Admiral Gold Peak,” Byng replied after a moment. “Given the Union of Monica’s long-standing and friendly relations with the League, I’m sure you can understand why it seemed like a good idea to send someone of our own out here for a firsthand impression of events.”
“I certainly can,” Michelle agreed. “We felt a need to do the same thing after the unfortunate events here in Monica.” She shook her head. “I’m sure all of us regret what happened after Captain Terekhov attempted to ascertain exactly what President Tyler’s intentions were. According to our own investigations, those battlecruisers provided to him for his projected attack on the Lynx Terminus were supplied by Technodyne. Have your people been able to turn up anything more about that, Admiral?”
“No.” Byng showed his teeth in something a professional diplomat might have described as a smile. “No, we haven’t. In fact, according to the briefings I received when I was dispatched, we still haven’t managed to confirm where they came from.”
“Aside from the fact that they obviously came from the SLN. Originally, I mean.” Michelle smiled, adding the carefully timed qualifier as Byng appeared to swell visibly. “Obviously, once ships are listed for disposal and handed over to private hands for scrapping, the Navy’s responsibility for them is pretty much at an end. And the paper trail can easily become . . . obscured, as we all know. Especially if some criminal — and civilian, of course — type is doing his best to make it obscure.”
“No doubt. My own experience in those areas is somewhat limited, however. I’m sure our own investigation will be looking very carefully at the recordkeeping of our various suppliers. No doubt Technodyne will be included in that process.”
Michelle toyed with the notion of telling him about the indictments which had already been handed down against several of Technodyne’s senior executives. Given the Beowulf Terminus of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction, her own information loop from the Old League was far shorter than Byng’s could possibly be. She strongly suspected that he must at least have known which way the wind was setting before he set out for Monica, and the possibility that she might be able to push his blood pressure up into stroke levels made the temptation to rub his nose in the evidence that Technodyne had been caught with its hand in the cookie jar clear to the elbow almost overwhelming.
Down, girl, she told herself, suppressing the desire right womanfully.
“I’m sure it will be,” she said instead. “In the meantime, however, may I assume you’re also here in something of the role of observer of the Talbott Quadrant’s integration into the Star Empire?”
“Star Empire?” Byng repeated, raising his eyebrows in polite surprise. “Is that what you’ve decided to call it?” He gave her a small, almost apologetic wave of his hand. “I’m afraid I hadn’t heard that before I was deployed.”
His tone made his own opinion of the delusions of grandeur involved in calling something the size of Manticore’s new star nation article in “empire,” and Michelle smiled sweetly at him.
“Well, we had to call it something, Admiral. And given the political arrangements the Talbotters came up with at their constitutional convention, the term sounded logical. Of course, it’s early days yet, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is.” Byng smiled back at her, but his smile was considerably colder than hers had been. “I’m sure it’s going to be interesting to see how . . . successfully your experiment works out.”
“So far, it seems to be going quite well,” Michelle said.
“So far,” he agreed, with another of those smiles. “In answer to your question, however, yes. I have been instructed to observe events out here in the Talbott area. I’m sure you’re aware the public back home was deeply interested in events out here. Especially after that unfortunate business on Kornati began to make it into the newsfaxes.” He shook his head sadly. “Personally, I’m confident the entire affair was grossly exaggerated — newsies do need to sell subscriptions, after all. Still, the Foreign Ministry does feel a certain responsibility to get a firsthand impression of events there, as well as throughout the Cluster. I’m sure you can understand why that would be the case.”
“Oh, believe me,” Michelle assured him with deadly affability, “I can understand exactly why that would be the case, Admiral Byng. And, speaking for Her Majesty and Her Majesty’s government, I’m sure all of the Star Empire’s new member systems will be prepared to extend every possible courtesy to you.”
“That’s very welcome news, Admiral.”
“And, while you’re here, Admiral, if there’s any way Her Majesty’s Navy can assist you — for example, if you would care to set up joint anti-piracy or anti-slavery patrols — I’m sure Admiral Khumalo would be as delighted as I would to coordinate our operations with you.”
“That’s very kind of you.” Byng smiled again. “Of course, unlike your new Star Empire, the League has no direct territorial interests in this region. Aside from the security of our own allies in the area, that is. And, of course, the security — and territorial integrity — of those star systems which have been taken under the protection of the Office of Frontier Security. I believe we can see to those obligations out of our own resources. At least, it’s difficult for me to conceive of a threat to those interests which we couldn’t deal with out of our own resources.”
“No doubt.” Michelle smiled back at him. “Well, in that case, Admiral Byng, I won’t keep you any longer. We won’t be in Monica for very long. This was just in the nature of making certain our new allies here were secure, so I imagine we’ll be on our way to Tillerman shortly. I need to pay a courtesy call on President Tyler first, however. Governor General Medusa has instructed me to inform him that the Star Empire is prepared to extend government-guaranteed loans to any of its citizens who might be interested in investing here.” Her smile turned sweeter. “I believe Baroness Medusa — and Her Majesty — believe it’s the least we can do to help Monica recover from the consequences of that unfortunate event.”
“That’s remarkably generous of your Star Empire,” Byng said.
“As I said, I’m sure everyone regrets what happened here, Admiral Byng. And Manticore’s experience has been that extending a helping hand to ex-enemies and treating them as equals is one of the better ways to see to it that there’s no repetition of all that unpleasantness.”
“I see.” Byng nodded. “Well, since you seem to have quite a lot that still needs doing, Admiral Gold Peak, I’ll bid you good day.”
“Thank you, Admiral. I hope your mission here is a successful one. Henke, clear.”

About Eric Flint

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21 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 94

  1. Mike_G says:

    Gold Peak, Gold Peak, Gold Peak … "Henke clear". If he doesn't have a file on her with her real name, he's got to wonder if she just sneezed or something.

  2. mwhiddon says:

    Some of that exchange sounded llike it involved the Groaci instead of the SLN.

  3. Joint Piracy patrols? Probably bullshit, or a setup. A surface of cordiality over bad feeling and mutual misunderstanding. Byng is like "star Empire???" of course, we KNOW he is full of shit.

    • MadMcAl says:

      Actually I would think that booth sides know this moment that there will be a clash. Byng is allready full knowing and was sent out to do specifically that. And Henke has to know that somebody pulled a whole bunch of strings to get Byng here. And that that was not to simply show the flag.
      About your third sentence, sorry but I fail to get the meaning of that. What was it you wanted to say?

    • Mike_G says:

      "Joint piracy patrols" was just a courtesy. Apparently the stars are sort of like the high seas, and nations that aren't at war are expected to not mind that other nations have armed fleets sailing around nearby. So they exchange all the courtesies while watching their backs carefully. By mentioning "anti-piracy patrols" Henke was making an oblique comment that there is no other legit reason for the SL fleet to be there

      Reminds me of the Hornblower book where his boat sails past a French boat and both cheer each other and salute. The next time they see that same boat, a few weeks later, the war has resumed and they are firing for effect.

  4. MadMcAl says:

    You are wrong about the legal reasons for presence of the solly-fleet. They could be on long range maneuvers in friendly teritorry. They could be on a peace keeping mission to survey the recents fundamental chances in the regional political and social systems. They could simply show the flag. They could be on a friendly visit just for the fun of it. As long as they remain peacefull they have every imaginable legal reason to be in the area. anti-piracy and anti-slavery are only two of them.

  5. JohnRoth1 says:

    Well, I notice a couple of things. First, she's told Admiral Byng she's headed to Tillerman next. That's got my curiosity up.

    Second, it seems like David is being a bit heavy handed on hammering the time lags, at least showing that Admiral Heneke still doesn't have any idea that Mesa has some faster couriers availible

    • kingpaul says:

      But does Byng have access to the Streak couriers? I agree that SEM doesn't know, yet, about them, but from earlier snippets, I'm assuming that most outside of the Mesan inner-council don't know about them either.

      • JohnRoth1 says:

        He doesn't have to have access. It's just that, given the time delays, if anyone starts putting the information together they're going to start wondering how anyone managed to make the decision to get him there quite that soon.

  6. to madmcal, I meant that Byng has shown himself to know next to nothing about the situation, or anything about Manticore. It's just like I said before. He thinks they are neobarbarians, the FOOL.

    • MadMcAl says:

      He has read the information the solly-intelligence got together. He didn't belive them, but he read them. And you can't tell me that the solly-intelligence has no file on Michelle Henke, Countess of Gold Peak, Vice Admiral of the RMN, 5fth in the line of succession for the manticorean throne.
      They may have files on White Haven as the best manty-admiral. They propably have files on Honor after her stunt in Cerberus. They won't have many files on the rest of the manticorean flag officers. But they have at least superficial files on the royal family. And there the name Michelle Henke will come up. So if he just reads the files he has on her he will know that Manticore won't take it gracefully if he kills her.

  7. George_Phillies says:

    Byng accidentally said something nice about Manticore "That's remarkably generous." and he adapted to calling Manticore a Star Empire. If he were somewhat ingenious, he would agree vigorously to joint antipiracy patrols and take careful notes on RMN doctrine. Byng would find streak couriers even less believable than RMN warships that can break 500 gees.

  8. but even if by gees you mean go at at speed of 500 gravities or more, the HAVENITES could do that for their superdreadnoughts!! I was rereading Flag in Exile and I noticed that the Havenite Superdreadnoughts could got something like 520 gravities or so.

  9. that's what I thought. I was just checking.

  10. With all respect, I didn't say "gee" was a unit of speed. I said it is no more credible to Byng that a streak courier can go very fast that that an RMN starship can break 500 gees.

    D.Sc. (Physics) MIT, 1973

    • MadMcAl says:

      I think nobody really knows anymore what accelleration rates modern ships can archive. Even DW as it seems. The grayson LAC's in HOtQ where arround 320 g, while the technologically inferior nuncian LACs in SoS where going over 500 gs.
      But if I remember correctly it was something arround 420g not 520g for the havenite SD's. But that's arround 20 years ago. The old Nike could go at 515.5g while the new Nike can go at arround 670g (maximum military power of course). And the old Nike was the fastest ship at her time. Unbelivable fast for her size.
      So I would assume that the SLN-BC's are arround this accell now.

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