They were good, Aldona Anisimovna thought, watching approvingly from the studio’s control room. In fact, the New Tuscan Information Ministry had shown a far more sophisticated touch where little things like propaganda and special effects were concerned than she would have expected out of someone with a Verge tech base. Of course, they’d probably needed a bit more sophistication than most, given their local proles’ evident unhappiness.

She particularly liked the touch with the pre-interview conversation and Brulé’s efforts to put Captain Carmouche more at his ease. They wouldn’t be part of the formal report, of course . . . but they would “just happen” to have been left attached to the raw footage which would accompany the formal report. Where, of course, Commissioner Verrochio’s people would “just happen” to discover them. They’d give a certain additional sense of veracity to the final report when it was presented to Verrochio as part of the evidence supporting claims of harassment. Of course, while there’d been no particular effort to hide the fact that Anne-Louise Brulé worked for the Ministry of Information, no one had bothered to mention the fact that ‘Captain Carmouche’ was actually being portrayed by one Oliver Ratté, who was also employed by the Ministry of Information. Unlike Brulé, whoever, who was a recognizable anchor from the New Tuscan news broadcasts, Ratté was effectively anonymous. Although he’d appeared in innumerable propaganda efforts, he’d never appeared under his own face. Instead, his job had been to provide the body language, voice, and facial expressions the computers transformed into someone else entirely.
It was still the best and simplest way to produce high-quality CGI, especially for someone whose tech base might not have all of the latest bells and whistles. In fact, New Tuscany’s computer technology was probably at least a couple of centuries behind that of the Solarian League in general. They’d demonstrated over the years just how much could be accomplished by substituting technique and practice for technology, however, and this time around, Ratté was appearing under his own face. There would be absolutely no computer chicanery with this little masterpiece, and the same held true for all the others the New Tuscans were working up. After all, it would never do for any of the Manties’ contacts in the League to demonstrate that sort of fancy tricks by analyzing the recording.
And by the time Dusserre and his little helpers over at the Security Ministry get done massaging the planetary database, there won’t be any way to prove that Captain Carmouche and the good ship Antelope have never existed. In fact, she thought with amused satisfaction, there’ll be all kinds of evidence that they have existed. Of course the Manties are going to claim that neither of them have ever visited San Miguel, but who is Frontier Security supposed to believe? The poor, harassed New Tuscans who are asking for their intervention, or the nasty Manties who are trying to come up with reasons why Frontier Security shouldn’t investigate?
It was a nice touch, although it was scarcely necessary. Not that she had any intention of telling the New Tuscans that. From their viewpoint, there was every reason to set up an invulnerable defense in depth, since they could anticipate the Manties’ protestations of innocence. Especially given the fact that the Manties were innocent, she admitted. But what the Mesan Alignment in the person of one Aldona Anisimovna had seen no reason to worry New Tuscany over was that it really didn’t matter at all. No one was going to be looking at any records on New Tuscany. The Solarian League wouldn’t feel any particular need to do so; the Manties weren’t going to be in a position to do so ; and both sides were going to be far too busy with what the Alignment really wanted them to be doing to each other for it to matter one way or the other to anyone.
She watched Brulé and Ratté working their way smoothly through the well written and carefully rehearsed script and wondered if the sense of almost godlike power she felt as she watched the entire New Tuscany System dancing to the Alignment’s script was the same sort of thing Albert Detweiler felt? And if so, was it as addictive for him as she realized it could easily become for her? For that matter, if it was, did he care?
I understand what we’re trying to accomplish and why — now, at least, she thought. I wouldn’t have understood before he and Isabel explained it all to me, but I do now. But knowing only makes the game even more intoxicating. It defines the scope, the scale, in a way nothing else ever has before. But ambitious as it is, it’s still all . . . intellectual for me. The game is what’s real. I wonder if it’s that way for Albrecht and the others? And if it is, what are they going to do when we’ve finally pulled it off and there are no more games to play?
* * * * * * * * * *
“He said what?”
Lieutenant Commander Lewis Denton frowned at Ensign Rachel Monahan. The ensign sat just a little nervously in a chair across the desk from him in his compact day cabin. Despite the fact that Denton was only a lieutenant commander, and that HMS Reprise was only a somewhat elderly and increasingly obsolescent destroyer, he was still the captain of one of Her Majesty’s starships, and at the moment, Monahan seemed only too well aware of the fact that she was the most junior officer aboard that same starship.
She was also conscientious and, although Denton had absolutely no intention of saying so to a single living soul, remarkably easy on the eye. She wasn’t the very smartest junior officer he’d ever encountered, but she had a generous helping of common sense, and she was a long, long way from stupid. In fact, Denton was one of those officers who preferred attention to duty and common sense to erratic or careless (or, even worse, lazy) intelligence, and he’d been entirely satisfied with her performance since she’d joined Reprise’s ship’s company. That was one of the reasons he’d been giving her progressively bigger opportunities to demonstrate her competence and self-confidence, and, so far, she’d met all of them quite handily.
Which was what had led directly to her request for this interview, even if Denton didn’t have a clue in Hell what was going on.
“He said he was going to formally complain about our ‘harassment,’ Sir,” Monahan repeated now.
“Your harassment,” Denton said in the tone of a man trying to get some ridiculous concept straight in his own mind.
“Yes, Sir.”
Monahan sounded more than a little anxious, and Denton could understand that well enough. A great many junior officers who’d screwed up would make it their first order of business to get their version of what had happened in front of their commanding officers before any inconvenient little truths could come along to make matters worse. In Monahan’s case, though, that very notion was preposterous.
“About the harassing you obviously hadn’t done, Rachel. Is that what he was implying?”
“Yes, Sir.”
“Had you done anything that could have gotten him pissed off enough at you to fabricate some sort of complaint in an effort to make trouble for you?”
“Sir, I can’t think of a single thing,” she said, shaking her head. “I did everything exactly by The Book, the way I’ve done it every time before. But it was like . . . I don’t know, exactly, Sir, but it was like he was waiting for me to do something he could complain about. And if I wasn’t going to do it, then he was ready to claim I had, anyway! I’ve never seen anything like it, Sir.”
She was obviously even more confused than she was worried, and Denton made another mental check mark of approval for her end-of-deployment evaluation. Despite her evident concern that he might wonder if she was trying to cover her posterior, she’d reported the entire episode to the XO as soon as she’d come back aboard ship. And the XO had been sufficiently perplexed — and concerned — to pass her report along to Denton before she’d even left his office. Which was the reason Monahan was now sitting in Denton’s day cabin repeating her account of the customs inspection.
“So you went aboard, asked for his papers, checked them, and did a quick walk-through, right?”
“Yes, Sir.”
“And he was giving you grief from the very beginning?”
“Yes, Sir. From the minute I cleared the personnel tube. It was like he was on some kind of hairtrigger, ready to bite my head off over anything, no matter how polite my people and I were. Skipper, I think I could have complimented him on the color of the bulkheads and he would have managed to turn it into some sort of mortal insult!”

About Eric Flint

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39 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 99

  1. MadMcAl says:

    Actor, I knew it.
    But i think DW's gone a bit overboard with the name. Ratté… Ratte means rat in german.

    • dac says:

      lol – DW is the one who brought us Rob S. Pierre – if that wasnt overboard nothing is

      • MadMcAl says:

        Rob S. Pierre was at least a historical name play. But to call a treacherous slime simply Rat that is a bit overboard even for DW.
        I mean, the average person won't know what he plays at with Robert Stanton Pierre and simply takes that name. The rest are a bit amused.
        But even if only a very small percentage of all living humans know enough german to translate Ratte to Rat that word is similiar enough to make the connection.
        Or with other words, with Rob S. Pierre he hit us with the glove in the face. With Ratté he used the sledge hammer.

  2. And Brule is close to Bruja which means witch in spanish. So what, doesn't it describe the scum?

  3. catboy says:

    if aldrona is worndering what will happen when the game is over she just has to remember Russia. they turned on each other as soon as the game was over. But I think our frineds Henk Lester and Thomas will tear mesa apart long before that happens.

    • MadMcAl says:

      I think you mean Honor, Lester and Thomas, right? And you conveniently forgot Hamish, Mark, Chien Lu and Judah. The problem lies in knowing the enemy. The moment they can prove to semselves that it was Mesa, Mesa is as good as dead.

      • kingpaul says:

        There's also how the Manties will react when they find out this was falsified info. They didn't take to kindly to discover that Honor's "death" was staged.

        • MadMcAl says:

          Much worse. Think about it when Pritchard and Queen Elizabeht learn how they've been had by Mesa. Instand relocation of every single manticorean and havenite military effort.
          And when Gustav Andermann learns of the little testrun of the nanovirus… bad form. Very bad form. The only ones actively engaged in the second havenite war with only a marginally interest in destroying every single stone on Mesas surface will be the graysons. And only marginally because Honor survived the assassination-attemp. In other words, The whole wrath of 4 modern, war-steeled and extremely powerfull navys will unload on Mesa. And regardless of the new technology Mesa developed, they simply can't stand against 1500 SD(P)'s with 40000 LAC's and additional screen. Nothing can stand against this type of firepower.

          • Thirdbase says:

            The Erewhonese aren't all that upset, oh wait they were attacking Erewhonese shipping with the first set of exSLN vessels weren't they.

            I think that Grayson will be sufficiently upset at the attempted assassination of Honor, remember her Armsman was the first to die.

            Unfortunately those 4 modern, war-steeled and extremely powerful navies are half the size, or less, than they were before the BoM.

            • MadMcAl says:

              Erewhon is not actively partaking at the second havenite war, so it doesn't really fall unter the description I gave.
              And you are right about the size of the navys. But the RHN will comission arround 600 SD(P)'s in the next few month, while the RMN will answer with up to 100 Apollo-capable SD(P)'s. Not to mention what IAN and GSN will bring online in the next time.
              If the well, call it anti-mesan alliance will wait half a year, nothing can stop them. And if they are smart, they plan all this under the pretention that the havenite war still rages.
              Including awfully long loss-lists of ships and crews.
              But we all know that even 100 SD(P)'s would be enough for Mesa. Mesa might build up a Navy at this moment, but they have 30 testbeds. It takes time to build the final ships. Time to build up shipyards. Time to train workers. And time to build up defenses.
              And they won't do that in their own system, for the risc of being found out.

              • kingpaul says:

                I'm curious about the Sharks (am I remembering that name right?) we heard about a while back. While I'm not thinking they have the firepower of an SD(P), they might be an interesting ship to run into .

              • Sounour says:

                I had the same idea.
                What's so special about these ships? Why can only Mesa build them? And the only answer I came up was because they are bio-engineered warships. Like … fully automated Shrike LACs … they could theoretically achieve much higher accelleration rates because there is no crew onboard …
                that could prove to be a problem even for apollo SD(P)s

              • MadMcAl says:

                First, the E-ARC is out. So I allready know a bit more about them. But what I am to say is actually allready mentioned in the snippets.
                The reason only Mesa can build them is that only Mesa thought about them.
                Be honest, anybody with the right techbase could build powerfull LAC's, as Haven proved. To think about it is the real thing.
                Anybody could have build a SD(P) anytime in the last 50 years if they wanted. But nobody thought of it.

  4. Mike_G says:

    What I don't follow is how this is supposed to trigger some sort of diplomatic incident. Manticore could completely close their ports to New Tuscany if they wanted. They have repeatedly put pressure like that on the SL before. And New Tuscany isn't even in the SL.

    I guess it's supposed to be just the excuse to get some ships out there, and then an aggressive officer might start a fight. That would be the diplomatic incident.

    • Sounour says:

      I think they are gonna try to provoke an incident … this is just the buildup
      first they complain about harrassment and produce some evidence, second they are gonna play propaganda like "evil Manties" and when the Tuscan public is angry enough somebody ist gonna say "We have to do something about this. The Manties are even worse than the OFS" … and this leads to third: They are gonna call the Sollies for "protection of the open trade" from the Manticorans or they are gonna acuse the Manty officers of outright piracy and this will lead to an OFS investigation …

      • MadMcAl says:

        All well. But Mike is right. New Tuscanny has no divine right to trade with the SEM. When the harrasment mounts to high the SEM simply can explain that no further direct trade between it and New Tuscanny will occur. And there is nothing New Tuscanny can do about it.
        And piracy is when a unlawfull party forces a merchant to give up his ship, freight and in some cases his life.
        The important word there is unlawfull.
        It is absolute in the right of every sovereign nation to confiscate any ship they want to, on every trumped up charged they may think of when it is in their territory. If this doesn't suit you, than leave them alone.
        There is nothing anybody has a right to do about it.
        It would only be piracy if it would happen in neutral or New Tuscan territory.

        • Sounour says:

          I don't think the SEM has the right to confiscate every ship that enters it's star systems
          there has to be a valid charge or it would be unlawfull … no one would be that stupid but they could just fabricate charges …
          and now think: The "Antilope" never even existed. So what's the problem about saying it was unlawfully seized by Manty authorities?
          And in my opinion, and as far as I have understood interstellar law, an unlawfull seizeing of ships equals piracy

          • MadMcAl says:

            Of course they have the right to confiscate every ship that enters their territory. But in doing so they would get the monicer of rouge state. So they need a real reason. So what? If they want a ship confiscated they trump up some reason, like, well, smuggling, slavery, piracy or what not.

            • Thirdbase says:

              They have the ability, not the "right." The British thought they had the "right" to impress US sailors, the War of 1812 showed that the ability to do so was not a "right."

              • MadMcAl says:

                I think you are a bit mistaken about the sovereign rights of any nation. Any nation has the right to do anything in its territory.
                Nobody has the right to do more than protest against that.
                But some other nations have the ability to do more, and then use military threats up to an intervention to either make the nation in question step down from their rights to do what they want inside their own borders or deny them their sovereingty outright.
                Or, to use an extreme example, what Hitler did in Germany until the invasion of Poland was from the point of law his absolute right as legally appointed head of state.
                It was morally wrong as nothing. It was not very friendly to his neighbours. But it was his RIGHT to do it. If he wanted to kill every second german just for the fun of it, nobody outside of Germany would have had the RIGHT to intervene.
                The moral obligation, yes, but not the right. Only after Hitler invaded Poland and violated the sovereignty of another sovereign nation the other nations had a RIGHT to intervene as to relief the polish.
                In the same light, Saddam had every RIGHT to kill the kurds in his north with every means available to him. It was morally wrong, and the civilized world had the moral obligation to stop him long before they did, but they had not the right to do so.

                Or, in other words, the right to do something is not neccessary the right thing to do, but every sovereign nation has the absolute right to do as it pleases in its own territory.
                The british had every right to impress any available sailor inside their own territory. It was not the right thing to do. But they had the right.
                We today are… well spoiled by the post WW2 world. Where powerfull nations forced some sort of international rules through. These rules actually violate the sovereignty of the nations under it, but most nations have out of their free will, or through the threat of the powerfull nations accepted them. But even now you are mostly on your own if you are for example in China.
                China only accepts these rules if it wants to. There is nobody powerfull enough to force China to anything. So if an chinese apparatchik fancys to vanish you, well, if you are in the sovereign nation called Peoples Republic of China you simply have lost.
                The only thing your nation can do is to protest.

              • Thirdbase says:

                Your examples are flawed, based on your previous statements. Hitler and Saddam had the right to do what they did in their countries because it involved their citizens. Once you start involving the citizens and property of other countries, you now may the ability to do what you are doing, but it isn't a right.

              • MadMcAl says:

                I think you really don't understant me. The fundamental state of humanity is, that everybody has the right to do anything in his private little territory.
                Meaning if you walk into the house of your neighbour you have to bow to his rules. Whatever this rules are.
                We have conceded much of this right to the comunity for the sake of living together and be stronger.
                Meaning if you walk into the house of your neighbour you have to bow to these of his rules that don't violate the rules of the comunity.
                The highest form of such a comunity is the sovereign nation.
                Meaning the sovereign nation has every right to make the rules for its territory to its convenience.
                Or in other words, the nation has the absolute right to make the rules as it likes.
                If the nation declares redheads illegal then EVERY redhead in its territory is breaking the law of said territory, and can be fined, arrested or even executed if the nation in question sais so.
                And that is independend of the nationality of the redhead in question. If you are a redhead in a nation that declares redheads illegal you are breaking the law.
                In the same manner if a Nation like, well, say, Britain declares any foreign sailor in its territory has to be employed by the Royal Navy or is illegal than every foreign sailor on its territory has to be employed by the Royal Navy or they are criminals.
                That is the absolute sovereign right of Britain.
                It is the right of the foreign nations to protest. It is even the right of the foreign nations to press the matter up to and inlcuding a military intervention. But Britain has the absolute right to do anything in her territory.
                About the citizens and property of other nations, well if you enter a foreign nations you automaticly accept their sovereignty over this nation and over you as long as you are in this nation. If you are not willing to do so you HAVE to stop from entering. If you do enter and violate the sovereign rules of said nation YOU are the criminal. Not they.
                Also neither Hitler nor Saddam ONLY terrorized their own citizens.
                And the example of China you seem to conveniently ignore.

                And in this light, if the Star Empire of Manticore declares every New Tuscan ship unlawfull then every singly new tuscan ship is unlawfull as soon as it enters the territory of the SEM.

              • Thirdbase says:

                I disagree with the definition of right that you are using,

                Everyone doesn't have the right to do what they wish in their own private little territory. I for example do not have the right to shoot my friend that is visiting me in my home, I have the ability to, but not the right.

              • Mike_G says:

                Somehow we moved from customs inspection to shooting people.

                Manticore does have the right to close its ports. Or to place whatever customs obligations it feels like on New Tuscany shipping. As such, this is a pretty thin cover to use for justification of an incident — if it's the only such cover. More likely, they will try to invent a pattern of harassment. Then they will invent a real shooting incident, and claim later that the invented pattern of harassment shows the invented shooting incident was real.

              • Thirdbase says:

                I agree that Manticore has the right to close its ports, and create laws. I disagree with how far those rights go, especially when dealing with foreigners and their property.

                For example Captain Terekhov did not have the right to "borrow" the Solarian-registry freighter, the Copenhagen, but he did have the ability to do it.

              • MadMcAl says:

                You are right. He didn't have the right to do so.
                1. The freighter was in sovereign MONTANAN space. Terekhov was in all legal aspects only a guest.
                2. Even if it had been in manticorean space, he wouldn't have had the right as the goverment of Manticore has not given its navy the right to simply confiscate ships without reason.
                3. Even if it had been in manticorean space and if the RMN had the right to confiscate ships it has to happen under at least a legal pretext.

                But don't misunderstand me, if Manticore was, what we call a rouge state, and Terekhov had the allowance from the manticorean goverment to confiscate ships in manticorean territory then he would have had the right.

                Under these conditions the solarian freighter would have had accepted this possibility by entering manticorean territory under free will.
                Or, in other words, if you don't like the rules of the game, don't play.
                If you know that there is a possibility of you loosing your ship, freight, freedom or even life in the region then you accept this risc if you enter the region.
                If the conditions change while you are in the territory, you have to either leave immediatly or accept the risc.
                If you have no chance to do so, tough luck. But the nation in question has every right to change the rules, if they are willing to accept the consequences.

              • MadMcAl says:

                You have conceded THAT special right, the right for violence to your comunity and your society. If you where on a small little island somwhere far far away from any nation and somebody came to you you had every RIGHT to do as you wish, as you make the rules.
                It may be morally wrong, but you have the right to do so.
                About your friend, well if you invite your friend he can of course expect some sort of hospitality from you.
                After all, he is your friend, you respect at least to some extend his opinion and like him.
                But if your neighbour, the one old bastard that everytime throws stones after your dog, steals your newspaper every other morning and littereally pisses on your roses comes uninvited into your house and rummages through your underwear-drawer, drinks your 50 years old wiskey and insults you, I think you would think a bit different about violence, won't you?

                What I am trying to say is that yes, there are rules. But these rules only work because the ones being ruled by them accept them.
                There are two very different things about rules.
                There are the rules of the society and nation, normally called law. They are made up by the consent of the people living under them. When somebody decides to ignore these rules the society can and often will take measures to enforce these rules.
                Then there are the rules of international relationships.
                These rules are completly optional. If a nation choose not to follow them this nations just doesn't follow them.
                If this nation is a relative weak nation and pisses off a considerably more powerfull nation this more powerfull nation can choose to force its point of view onto the weaker nation.
                If the nation ignoring the rules is more powerfull than the pissed of nation there is NOTHING it can do about it.
                The rules are fully optional.

                In regards of internationally relationships we still are more or less in the "might makes right" phase.

  5. Chuck Shaw says:

    So far the OFS isn't really being dragged in. They can throw Verrochio off the sleigh and show clean white hands to the league as a whole. I assume what Det & crew are trying to do is a progressive escalation. One FS regional force, the whole SF, a local detachment of the League Navy and finally the League Navy itself.. Every time the Alliance beats them, they up the ante. A classic zero sum game where the side with the deepest pockets has a huge advantage, regardless of the odds at the table. It worked for Attila, Genghis, Tamerlane, Stalin and Ho. If you can keep upping the stakes and the other guy can't walk away, you only have to win the last hand. So how will DW overturn history?

  6. hank says:

    Let us not forget that Mesa has a bunch of former SS ships from Haven on retainer. Anybody want to put down bets on who the “pirates” will be?

    • kingpaul says:

      But if they use the SS ships, won't that imply that Haven is the guilty party, not the Manties?

      • Thirdbase says:

        Except that the Manties know that there are SS ships around, and while Haven has sent fleets to Silesia, they haven't sent just light warships out to harass shipping.

        Plus for the Sollies, one Neobarb is the same as another Neobarb.

  7. 1JH says:

    One of the problems with this type of smear campaign is that Manticore has extensive experience from dealing with Haven. There will be initial success, but the mock up will be transparent to the experienced eye. It immediately begs the questions of who and why?


  8. Summertime says:

    Will Manticore initially blame the Havenites or the Solarian Frontier people for the smear campaign? So far they have difficulty putting a focus on Mesa as the prime culprit . When will the real menace, and the enormity of the plot that Mesa has set in motion , become clear to people in authority in Manticore and Haven, to the extent that they set aside their fatal attention to each other? To these two star nations, events in the Talbot Cluster are far away and of lesser importance than their struggle with each other, even if some people are paying attention because of the potential for conflict with the Solarians. Someone will have to bring to light some convincing evidence for all involved to understand the true situation. Time for those Manticore and Havenite secret agents to do their stuff!

  9. kingpaul says:

    But I thought that was the point about using skilled actors and not any computer enhancements? The Manties, theoretically, shouldn't be able to tell that the "interview" is fake.

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