“Ensign Zilwicki to see the Captain,” Helen told the Marine sentry outside Captain Terekhov’s quarters five minutes later.

“You’re expected, Ma’am,” the corporal told her, and reached back one hand to press the button for the admittance chime.
“Yes, Corporal Sanders?” Helen recognized the voice of Chief Steward Joanna Agnelli, Captain Terekhov’s personal steward.
“Ms. Zilwicki is here,” Sanders said.
“Thank you.”
The hatch slid open a moment later, and Helen stepped through it . . . then paused in surprise. There were rather more people in the Captain’s day cabin than she’d anticipated.
Terekhov himself sat behind his desk, in the act of sipping from a cup of coffee. That much, at least, she’d expected. But Lieutenant Abigail Hearns sat in one of the comfortable armchairs facing his desk, and there were three other officers present, as well. One of them was Commander Kaplan, and Helen was both astonished and delighted to see how much better Kaplan looked than she had the last time Helen saw her, but the other two were a commander and a senior-grade captain Helen had never seen before in her life, and she braced quickly to attention.
“You wanted to see me, Captain?”
“At ease, Helen,” Terekhov said, then smiled and waved his coffee cup at the chair beside Lieutenant Hearns. “And have a seat,” he added.
“Thank you, Sir.”
Helen obeyed his command and sat, hoping she sounded less mystified than she felt as she parked herself in the indicated chair. She sensed a presence at her shoulder and looked up to see Agnelli standing there with another cup and saucer in one hand and the coffee pot in the other. Helen was scarcely accustomed to sitting around sipping coffee with such astronomically superior officers, but she knew better than to decline the offer . . . which presumably indicated that this was at least marginally a social occasion. She took the saucer and held the cup while Agnelli filled it, then took a sip and nodded in appreciation before she turned her attention back to Terekhov.
“I realize this is a bit irregular,” he said then, “but so is our situation. Abigail, I know you and Helen are both well acquainted with Commander Kaplan. However, you may not be aware — as I wasn’t, up until about –” he glanced at the time display on the bulkhead “– fifty-seven minutes ago — that she is also the brand-new commanding officer of HMS Tristram.”
Helen’s eyes flipped to the petite, fine-boned blonde with the improbably dark complexion. Kaplan happened to be looking at her at the moment, and the commander smiled at Helen’s obvious surprise. And her chagrin, for that matter, as she scolded herself for not noticing the white beret of a starship’s CO tucked under Kaplan’s epaulet.
“These other two gentlemen,” Terekhov continued, pulling her attention back from Kaplan, “are Captain Frederick Carlson, the commanding officer of HMS Quentin Saint-James, and Commander Tom Pope . . . my new chief of staff.”
This time both of Helen’s eyebrows rose in astonishment. Hexapuma had been back in home space for substantially less than two days. In fact, she’d only docked here at Hephaestus three hours ago. The Captain hadn’t even been off the ship yet — couldn’t even have had so much as the opportunity to give his wife a hug! Things simply didn’t change this quickly and drastically — not even in the Navy!
Not usually, at least.
“As I’m sure both of you were already aware, things have changed considerably since we first deployed to Talbott,” Terekhov said, almost as if he’d heard her thoughts, and smiled thinly. “Quite a bit of that seems to be our fault, as far as the Admiralty is concerned, so they’ve decided we ought to do something about it.
“Obviously,” he continued, “the Navy’s deployment plans in general are in what we might charitably call a state of flux. The cancellation of the summit talks with Haven and the decision to resume active operations make it even more unlikely that the Admiralty is going to be able to free up wallers to reinforce Admiral Khumalo anytime soon. In addition, it’s effectively anchored Admiral Blaine to the Lynx Terminus, where he can get home in a hurry if he has to. Which has lent added emphasis to the Admiralty’s decision to reinforce Talbott primarily with lighter units.
“In addition to the ships Vice Admiral Gold Peak already has, an additional squadron of Nikes is in the process of forming. Admiral Oversteegen is its commander (designate), and as soon as all of its units have joined up, it — and he — will be transferred from Eighth Fleet to Tenth Fleet. In addition, however, the Admiralty is already prepared to deploy a full squadron of brand new Saganami-Cs and one of the new Roland-class destroyer squadrons to Talbott. Tristram –” he nodded at Kaplan “– is one of the Rolands. And I, to my considerable surprise, am the newly designated commodore of CruRon 94. Commander FitzGerald will take over Hexapuma, Commander Pope will be acting as my chief of staff, and Captain Carlson will be my flag captain.”
Helen glanced at Lieutenant Hearns, who seemed remarkably composed, given how caught-in-the-slipstream Helen felt as the Captain’s — no, the Commodore’s — explanation rolled over her. She hoped she looked like she was at least managing to keep up with him, although she was at a loss to understand how he could be so calm about it all. He sounded as if things like this happened to him every day!
“I’m sure that by now both of you are wondering why I’ve dragged a pair of such relatively junior officers in to explain all of this to them. Well, I do have a reason. Two of them, in fact.
“With so many ships moving in so many directions in such a short period of time, the Admiralty is finding it just a bit difficult to meet everyone’s manning requirements. For example, Commander Pope didn’t know until last week that he was going to be anyone’s chief of staff, and the decision that he was going to be my chief of staff was actually made this morning. It looks as if we’re going to be deploying at least one or two people short for the rest of the staff, as well, although BuPers has given me permission to poach additional officers from Admiral Khumalo when we get back to Spindle. Commodore Chatterjee, the senior officer of Commander Kaplan’s destroyer squadron, is in rather better shape than that where his staff is concerned, but several of his units are undermanned.
“And the reason we’ve called the two of you in for this little conversation is that one of the slots I still need to fill is the flag lieutenant’s billet, and Tristram needs a good tac officer.
“Helen,” he looked directly at her, “you worked out very well as my liaison with Mr. Van Dort. I believe we have an established and efficient working relationship, and you’re already very familiar — especially for an officer of your youthfulness — with the political and military realities of the Cluster. I mean, the Quadrant. Normally, this slot would be filled by someone rather more senior than you are at the moment, and I’m well aware that what you would really prefer at this point in your career is to move directly into a tactical department slot somewhere. I don’t want you to feel pressured, and if you decide you want a tactical assignment, I will unreservedly recommend you for it. At the same time, the opportunity for this sort of experience, this early in your career, doesn’t happen along every day. And, unfortunately, given the time constraints involved, I need your decision almost immediately — within the next twelve hours, at the latest. And I, also unfortunately, am about to leave for several hours of conferences at Admiralty House. Since I needed to speak to you personally about this, I had to cram it at you before I leave the ship, as it were.
“As for you, Abigail,” he turned to the lieutenant, “Commander Kaplan has specifically requested you as Tristram’s tactical officer.”
Helen’s brain had been doing its best to imitate a chipmunk in the headlights as she tried to assimilate Captain — No, damn it! she told herself sharply — Commodore Terekhov’s offer. Now, despite herself, her head snapped around towards Abigail.
At a hundred and eighty-nine thousand tons, the Roland was bigger than a pre-MDM light cruiser . . . and she was armed with Mark 16s, just like Hexapuma. She and her sisters were the plum assignments of the Navy’s destroyer force, and they were offering a Roland’s tactical department to a brand new senior-grade lieutenant?

About Eric Flint

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20 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 107

  1. Josh says:

    Admiral Heneke’s force are taskforce size for a fleet on the other hand in a few days her command is going to be one of largest rmn fleets left outside of home/8th fleet. i am assuming that the second battlecruiser squadron ends up staying home after the events of the next few days

  2. Karsten says:


    One BC-Squadron more or less with 8th/Home Fleet isn’t so big a difference in combat strength (don’t forget the system defense version of Apollo, which will be availabe soon after the BoMA), so … no, there is no reason, why Overstegens squadron shouldn’t go to Talbott.

    Because in Talbott … the availability of 8 additional BCs makes a great difference in terms of available protection for the new assembled memberworlds of the Star Empire of Manticore …

  3. Thirdbase says:

    Actually, I can see it going back to Trevor’s Star. With 8th Fleet covering Manticore, nothing can get passed it. Trevor’s Star on the other hand has just the lighter units of 8th Fleet guarding it. Until heavier units can be built or moved to cover it, Oversteegen has the heaviest free unit to cover it.

    Post BoMA the Manticoran Alliance doesn’t have much in the way of Fleets.
    The Grayson Home Fleet and Protectors Own.
    The Manticoran 8th Fleet, Admiral Sarnow’s Fleet in Silesia, the units in Talbott, and the various squadrons and task forces guarding allied and other planets between Manticore and Haven.
    The Andermani Home Fleet and it’s units in Silesia, plus what ever other units it has guarding it’s planets.

    Haven has I believe another 3 or 4 hundred of the wall guarding it’s planets.

    Flag Ensign?

  4. Of course, Abigail has actually fired the torpedoes in question, iirc. Something about the former Monican Navy, now deceased. And I imagine if a Commodore asks for a Flag Lieutenant who does have a positive record of various sorts, well, she can always be promoted a bit.

  5. obelow says:

    I wonder about snippets to this book still coming since the book is already out… isn´t it time to change to snippets from the next Weber book? This book turned out to be a real cliffhanger, since only one small action scene with the battle at New Tuscany and a lot of building up of tension about what will come in the next installment of the Honorverse books… I still love Weber books very much, but this one was clearly only setting the scene for later and not really a full story in itself.
    The next Weber book would be “By Heresis rent asunder” I believe, I would hope there some more things will happen than in this book and that we see snippets of that one soon…

  6. Bryan says:

    @3 4
    Flag Lieutenant is a position not a rank. An officer doesn’t actually have to be a lieutenant to fill that particular slot on the staff. Helen will stay her current rank. My Flag Lieutenant is Ensign Zilwicki.

  7. JN says:

    Obviously the Flag Lt. is going to be a political/diplomatic position. Can you tell us how that would work?


  8. DMRG says:

    A Flag Lieutenant position is almost exactly equivalent to the Personal Assistant position in a corporate hierarchy. They act to streamline the clerical workload their primaries have to deal with (by ensuring that anything that reaches their boss’s desk are complete and correct), as well as take notes and collect other information during meetings and interviews. There is usually a lot more to the job, but the particulars would vary depending upon the actual position and just what the boss wants done.


  9. Paul says:

    Unless Zilwicki gets promoted to Lt JG if she accepts the post? The might be able to get it to slide as its a wartime promotion.

  10. John Roth says:

    Well, this clears up a problem I had with Overstegen being apparently in two places at once.

  11. Mark L says:

    “Well, this clears up a problem I had with Overstegen being apparently in two places at once.”

    That’s easy if you have a split personality.

  12. Josh says:

    the second haven war is now stalemated because the manticore allaince lost the main defense fleets for the main allaince home system. on the other hand haven actrully losted the offensive half of their fleet. meaning that anymore attacks on both sides is going to leave a major system or 2 umprotected. second why do I think that all of the promations in the section are last minute to provide commanders for a deployment that until a week ago was not the rmn warplan

  13. Kenny says:

    Keep in Mind, Honor get confirmation, tight before the Battle that someone else is responsible for the return to hostilities, don’t remember guess it is time to reread, if she knows who. Which means that Talbot will be where the action is as soon as she can sit on the Queen. If that is possible.

  14. MadMcAl says:

    A Flag Lieutenant is the factotum for the flag officer in question. He or She will do every little strenuous task for the flag officer.

    About Overstegen, well as mentioned, the system defense variant of Apollo will be deployed in short time. When Haven could manage a new attack on Manticore or Trevors Star Honor will be able to leave Manticore for a short time to defend Trevors Star, as Manticore will be defended by Apollo. Also, remember that the emergency building programs will be launching SD(P)’s in short time. So a squadron of Nikes may be a really awesome formation, outside of the second havenite war, but it is not so much inside of the war.

    The biggest rmn-fleet outside the Homefleet is propably the silesian fleet (9th fleet?). I would be interested in the fleet numbers anyway. Home Fleet is the 1st fleet, 2nd is the grayson Homefleet, 3rd was the Trevors Star Fleet. But where are the fleets between 3rd and 8th?.

  15. chris says:

    I see one uses for the Protectors Own.

    It could be used to cover Trevor’s star, as, right now, only the lighter units of 8th fleet are available. A limited strike by hevan could retake the system.

    I agree that one battlecruiser squadron will probably continue to be deployed to Tabbot. The existing light units of 8th fleet can now be drawn down (they are probably have an overabundance of lighter units, that were being used in a scouting role, that, if 8th fleet turtles up, can be freed for Tabbot or Silesia.

    Manticore is in the unusual position where, (they think) all they have to do is defend the home system for 12-18 months from Haven, and then they will have an apollo equiped fleet ready to blow Heaven out of the sky. They can afford to trade almost anything for time, with the knowlege that it can be retaken.

  16. Thirdbase says:

    @ #11 MadMcAl

    The use of numbered fleets is not always sequential, for example the US currently has 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Fleets, but no 1st or 4th. (Sorry I just found out that 4th is in the process of reforming, it is the South Atlantic Fleet, 1st Fleet was the Western Pacific.)

    I don’t think the Graysons would appreciate their Home Fleet being thought of as the Manticoran 2nd fleet.

  17. Mike says:

    I agree, there is no reason to assume there are eight actual fleets comparible in power and makeup to Home Fleet or Eighth Fleet.

    There is the home system, the junction, Basilisk, Trevor’s star, the allied systems, Sidemore and the Silesians, Talbot.

    In War Of Honor, Third Fleet was at Trevor’s Star and Honor commanded Second Fleet at Sidemore.

  18. Sounour says:

    I think it was the Second fleet of Haven under Admiral Tourville at Sidemore.
    Honor had only a TaskForce and the Protector’s own.

  19. Paul says:

    #13 “The use of numbered fleets is not always sequential”

    I used to work in campus security, and we had boots to place on non-registered cars in our lots. The boots weren’t numered sequentially so as to make people think we had more than we really did.

    Perhaps this same logic applies: “Do they have these unknown fleets off on secret deployments?” Remember, Haven kept Shannon’s toy factory secret for quite some time.

  20. JN says:

    In WW II, the US Fleet changed designation when the Admiral at the top change, Spruance or Halsey. It made the Japanese think we had two enormous fleets waiting to land on them, rather than one, and one command staff working up plans for the next rotation.


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