Chapter Twenty-Nine

HMS Hexapuma and HMS Warlock emerged from the central terminus of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction exactly one T-year from the day Midshipwoman Helen Zilwicki, Midshipman Aikawa Kagiyama, and Midshipwoman Ragnhild Pavletic had reported aboard her. Now Ensign Zilwicki tried to wrap her mind around how truly monumental the events of that year had been as she sat beside Lieutenant Senior Grade Abigail Hearns at Tactical. Abigail was undoubtedly too junior for permanent duty as a Saganami-C-class heavy cruiser’s tactical officer, but Captain Terekhov had flatly refused to allow anyone to replace her before Hexapuma’s return to Manticore.

Helen was glad. And she was glad some other people were still aboard, as well.
She glanced over her shoulder and hid a broad mental smile as her eye met Paulo’s. Ansten FitzGerald was still in obvious pain and more than a little shaky. That wasn’t especially amusing to anyone who knew and respected the Exec, but watching Aikawa Kagiyama hovering in the background while he kept an anxious eye on FitzGerald certainly was.
“Message from Invictus, Sir,” Lieutenant Commander Nagchaudhuri announced from Communications.
“Yes?” Terekhov turned his command chair to face Nagchaudhuri. HMS Invictus was the flagship of Home Fleet, no doubt in orbit about the planet of Manticore.
“Message begins,” Nagchaudhuri began, and something in his tone made Helen look at him sharply.
“‘To Captain Aivars Terekhov and the men and women of HMS Hexapuma and HMS Warlock, from Admiral of the Green Sebastian D’Orville, Commanding Officer, Home Fleet. Well done.’ Message ends.”
Helen frowned, but before the message had time to sink in, the main tactical display changed abruptly. In one perfectly synchronized moment, forty-two superdreadnoughts, sixteen CLACs, twelve battlecruisers, thirty-six heavy and light cruisers, thirty-two destroyers, and over a thousand LACs, activated their impeller wedges. They appeared on the display like lightning flickering outward from a common center, a stupendous globe thousands of kilometers in diameter, and Hexapuma and Warlock were at its exact center.
Helen recognized that formation. She’d seen it before. Every man and woman in Navy uniform had seen it, once every year, on Coronation Day, when Home Fleet passed in review before the Queen . . . with its flagship in exactly the position Hexapuma and Warlock now held.
Even as she stared at the display, another icon appeared upon it. The crowned, golden icon of HMS Duke of Cromarty, the battlecruiser which had replaced the murdered HMS Queen Adrienne as the royal yacht, sitting just beyond the threshold of the Junction. A Junction, Helen sudden realized, which had been cleared of shipping — all shipping — except for Home Fleet itself.
The vast globe accelerated towards Cromarty, matching its acceleration rate exactly to Hexapuma’s, holding formation on the heavy cruiser and her single escort, and the raised wedge of every ship in that huge formation flashed off and then on again in the traditional underway salute to a fleet flagship.
“Additional message, Sir,” Nagchaudhuri said. He stopped and cleared his throat, then continued, and despite his throat clearing, his voice seemed to waver about the edges.
“Message begins. ‘Yours is the honor.'” He looked up from his display, meeting Aivars Terekhov’s eyes.
“Message ends, Sir,” he said softly.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Hey, Helen!”
Helen Zilwicki looked up from the footlocker she was packing, and Paulo d’Arezzo waved at her, then pointed at the com unit on the outsized table in the commons area of HMS Hexapuma’s Snotty Row.
“The Skipper wants to see you,” he continued.
“Wants to see me?” Helen repeated carefully. “As in, ‘I’d like to see you around sometime,’ or as in ‘Get your butt up here right now, Ms. Zilwicki’?”
“The latter,” Paulo told her with a smile. “As in ‘Mr. d’Arezzo, ask Ms. Zilwicki to come by my day cabin at her earliest convenience.'”
“Crap.” Helen sat back on her heels, trying to think of anything she might have done to earn her a last-minute ‘counseling interview’ with Captain Terekhov. She couldn’t come up with anything right off the top of her head, but that wasn’t necessarily reassuring; it was the unanticpated reamings that smarted the most, she’d discovered. Of course, it was always possible he just wanted her to stop by because he’d heard a really good joke and wanted to share it with her, but somehow she didn’t find that possibility extremely likely.
“I don’t suppose he said anything about why he wants to see me?”
“Nope,” Paulo said with what Helen privately considered to be appallingly callous cheerfulness.
“Great,” she sighed, and stood up.
She looked down at the open locker for a second or two, then shrugged philosophically. She and Paulo were due to catch the regularly scheduled ferry flight from HMS Hephaestus to Saganami Island in order to clear the final Academy bits and pieces of paperwork required to formally graduate them and confirm their acting promotions to ensign. She’d been dreading it in some ways, since it would inevitably mean new assignments for both of them, and she was still working her way around the edges of turning her friendship with the stunningly handsome — and terminally standoffish — Mr. D’Arrezo into something deeper and more enduring. Given his hatred for the Manpower, Incorporated, genetic manipulation which was responsible for those looks of his, that wasn’t the easiest job in the universe, and she didn’t really like the thought of letting him get out of arm’s reach before she was done working on him. At the same time, she was eager to see what new challenges the Navy was going to offer her. But if she didn’t get done packing in the next twenty minutes, she was going to miss the ferry shuttle, and it seemed unlikely she could get up to the Captain’s day cabin, find out what he wanted, get back down here, and finish packing in that tight a time window.
“Unlikely,” ha! Try “no way in hell,” honey, she told herself sourly.
“Looks like I’ll be catching the evening shuttle, instead,” she told Paulo resignedly.
“Well, we won’t be assigned a formal mess billet yet,” he pointed out. “I’ll save you a place in the cafeteria.”
“Gee, thanks. Your generosity and thoughtfulness overwhelm me.”
“I’m just a naturally generous and thoughtful kind of guy,” he told her with a broad grin few other people had ever seen out of him. “A natural born philanthropist, too, now that I think about it. A veritable paragon. A giant among men, a — ooph!”
He broke off as the flying boot hit him in the region of his navel. Helen was an extraordinarily strong young woman, thanks to both natural aptitude and rigorous training, and she’d actually tossed the boot quite gently . . . for her. It seemed unlikely Paulo would have agreed with that particular adverb, and he sat down rather abruptly.
“And the strong silent type, too, I see,” Helen observed sweetly, smiled at him, and headed out of the compartment.

About Eric Flint

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23 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 106

  1. Josh says:

    Right now we are at the end of sos1 meaning that Boma should be occuring soon However does anyone who read the erc of the book know does the frontier fleet taskforce get destroyed before the BOMA info gets to the 10th fleet. I do know that somebody said that the osyter bay attack is in the procress of starting but do we have any information about what the league waller taskforce is upto before the cliffhanger ending.

  2. Shadow says:

    I know which event BOMA refer to, but what exactly is BOMA the acronym of? Shouldn’t it be something like MOAFB for Mother Of All Fleet battles?
    Whatever, I, too, look forward o their reaction to the news.
    I’m also strongly suspecting that we’ll eventually see a GSN fleet coming in to offset that big solarian fleet. It wouldn’t be the first time Grayson pull Manticoran chestnuts out of the fire for them…

  3. MadMcAl says:

    No. Not now. Yes.

    I Hope that answered your questions.

  4. Thirdbase says:

    Is it my imagination, or has this scene, the Hexapuma as Flagship, appeared in all of the Honorverse books?

    I wonder if this book will have the BoMA from the viewpoint of the Hexapuma crew?

  5. Paul says:

    No, I’m fairly certain that its shown up in the other books. Not sure if the BoMA from the Nasty Kitty’s perspective will be here or not though.

  6. MadMcAl says:

    It was the epilogue of SoS1 and it was mentioned in AAC. But as this whole series of books now (CoS,SoS,AAC,SoS2,CoS2) are more or less parralel to each other and this occurecne is a rather important one for some of the more important characters it is no wonder it will be shown from different perspectives.

  7. John Roth says:

    @4 Paul. According to the main timeline, the BOMA is in about a week. Since they only did enough work on the Nasty Kitty to enable her to get back safely, she’ll be docked at Hephaestus Station being repaired. Where Helen is going to be reassigned is a good question – I presume that’s what the skipper is going to tell her.

    I’m making a wild guess that DW is putting her into the slot one of Honor’s two children was going to fill in the original plan, so she’s probably headed back to Talbot.

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Shadow, BOMA stands for Battle of Manitcore A (the A refers to the main star of the two star system).

  9. Josh says:

    Now I remember somebody on the bar saying that the osyter bay attack force was in the manitcore home system but were still in the process of moving to a postion to hit the shipyards. can anyone help me remember does the adamiral henke and the rmn sector commander know about the league battlefleet taskforce yet. finally I am assuming that the rolands and Terekhov’s cruiser group arrived in talbot after the events of the BOMA.

  10. MadMcAl says:

    What you are asking is described in the E-ARC. If you wish and nobody speaks against it I will answer your question. But only if you really wish to. And I will wait until sunday evening to do it.

  11. dac says:

    MadMcAl – I would rather not know till “all is revealed”

  12. chris says:

    I too, enjoy the slow torture of each snippet, and have chosen to wait. As such, can we please keep the snippets free from spoilers?

  13. Scotian says:

    According to my copy of At All costs the battle of Manticore will happen five days after the return of the Hexapuma to Manticoran space. Just in case anyone wanted a precise timeframe. Anyone wants to check it for themselves it is on page 742 in the hardcover release at the bottom of the paragraph starting with “Then again, so was Bin-hwei Morser. Honor still didn’t like her much…” halfway down the page.

    I cannot wait until Mar 3 gets here, I will be picking up my copy as soon as it hits my local bookstore. Then though I have been an Honor Harrington addict since I discovered the first two books when they first came out, back then I only had to wait a few more months for the third to come out after devouring the first two in two and a half days after buying them (just couldn’t put them down, indeed I spent several hours sitting in a car in the rain reading the first title because it was the only place I could have the peace and quiet thanks to noisy roomates).

    One thing that was nice at the time was that it was released to paperback from the outset (cheaper, and on a tight income that is no small thing, not that I’ve let that stop me with any Honorverse book, indeed any Weber for that matter), the one downside of the popularity of the series is that it went to hardcover release after the first four (or was it five, can’t recall offhand) titles in the series. At least I have first edition copies of the entire series from the outset, although my copy of OBS is rather worn out from the amount of times I’ve read and reread it since 92. It is always nice to discover the next great SF series from when it first starts before it becomes well known and well regarded, especially one as excellent as this one has proven itself to be.

  14. Thirdbase says:

    Well, there won’t be many more snippets, only 11 days until the book is out. Oddly Amazon has on used listing already at $4 more than the list price.

    I can wait the two weeks for the information.

  15. Paul says:

    We’re done with the snippets? Oh well.

  16. Lars says:

    Amazon has already delivered. only one Problem, my wife is holding the book hostage until my birthday.

  17. What was this about Honor’s two children? There have been reports about the canceled alternative universe and Honor’s son playing a role in civic beautification of Mesa. Was another child plotted and canceled?

    I would have identified Abigail as the child replacement, based on what we have read so far. Tactically inspired genius. Beautiful. Not without flaws.

  18. Paul says:

    The other child might reference to Hamish’s and Emily’s child. In the Grayson sense, Honor is the mother, just not biologically.

  19. MadMcAl says:

    @dac & chris
    That was exactly why I worded it so. So Josh is in bad luck.

  20. John Roth says:


    According to the timeline at the infodump site, the BOMA is five days in the future. Given that the Rolands were working up when Admiral Heneke left, I fully expect that they’re waiting at Spindle for her.

    For the rest of it, I’d suggest you take it to the Bar in the Snerker’s Only forum. That’s where discussion is supposed to be until the paperback is out.

  21. dac says:

    Well, I bought and read the ebook, so I no longer care about spoilers.

    I will say I was right in where this book was going, and disapointed in how DW handled it. But that’s a discussion for elsewhere (like on the websubscriptions review page)

  22. Bryan says:

    @ 17
    George: The alternate timeline that you’re refering to involved Honor’s death at the BOMA. She would have died instead of Alistair. I’ve seen some discussion that she would have made some sort of dying apeal to QE to make peace, and that this would have ended the Havenite Wars.

    Weber originally planned for the fight with Mesa/the SL to take place 25-30 years after BOMA with Honor’s children (@18 yes, Raoul and Kathrine) being the main characters. One would be the spymaster, and the other would be the military commander.

    For several reasons, the plan changed. The spymaster part of the story is being played by some combination of Cachat/Zilwiki/Ruth. The military lead is somewhat unclear at the moment, with Gold Peak, Helen, Abigail, Trekov, and perhaps even Overstein all poised to become the possible focus of the story.

  23. Paul says:

    Does anyone wonder if we’ll ever see books that jump into the future and then we’ll see Raoul and Katherine in leading roles?

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