Chapter Fifteen

“You called?” Benjamin Detweiler said as he poked his head through the door Heinrich Stabolis had just opened for him.

Albrecht Detweiler looked up from the paperwork on his display and raised one eyebrow at the oldest of his sons. Of course, Benjamin wasn’t just his son, but very few people were aware of how close the relationship actually was.

“Have I mentioned lately,” Albrecht said, “that I find your extreme filial respect very touching?”

“No, somehow I think that slipped your mind, Father.”

“I wonder why that could possibly be?” Albrecht mused out loud, then pointed at one of the comfortable chairs in front of his desk. “Why don’t you just park yourself right there, young man,” he said in the stern tone he’d used more than once during Benjamin’s adolescent career.

“Yes, Father,” Benjamin replied in a tone which was far more demure and chastened sounding than Albrecht recalled ever having heard out of him during that same adolescent career.

The younger Detweiler “parked” himself and folded his hands in his lap while he regarded his father with enormous attentiveness, and Albrecht shook his head. Then he looked at Stabolis.

“I’m sure I’m going to regret this in the fullness of time, Heinrich, but would you be kind enough to get Ben a bottle of beer? And go ahead and open one for me at the same time, please. I don’t know about him, but I feel depressingly confident that I’m going to need a little fortification.”

“Of course, Sir,” his enhanced bodyguard replied gravely. “If you really think he’s old enough to be drinking alcohol, that is.”

Stabolis had known Benjamin literally from birth, and the two of them exchanged smiles. Albrecht, on the other hand, shook his head and sighed theatrically.

“If he’s not old enough yet, he never will be, Heinrich,” he said. “Go ahead.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Stabolis departed on his errand, and Albrecht tipped back his chair in front of the window with its magnificent view of powdery sand and dark blue ocean. He gave his son another smile, but then his expression sobered.

“Seriously, Father,” Benjamin said, responding to Albrecht’s change of expression, “why did you want to see me this morning?”

“We just got confirmation that the Manties’ survey expedition got to Verdant Vista six weeks ago,” his father replied, and Benjamin grimaced.

“We knew it was going to happen eventually, Father,” he pointed out.

“Agreed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me any happier now that it’s gone ahead and actually happened.” Albrecht smiled sourly. “And the fact that the Manties ultimately decided to let Kare head the team makes me even less happy than I might have been otherwise.”

“One could have hoped that the fact that the Manties and the Havenites are shooting at each other again would have made them a little less likely to cooperate on something like this,” Benjamin acknowledged dryly.

“Fair’s fair –” Albrecht began, then paused and looked up with a smile as Stabolis returned to the office with the promised bottles of beer. Father and son each accepted one of them, and Stabolis raised an eyebrow at Albrecht.

“Go ahead and stay, Heinrich,” the senior Detweiler replied in answer to the unspoken question. “By this time, you already know ninety-nine percent of all my deepest darkest secrets. This one isn’t going to make any difference.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Stabolis settled into his usual on-duty position in the chair beside the office door, and Albrecht turned back to Benjamin.

“As I was saying, fair’s fair. They aren’t really cooperating, you know. They’ve just agreed to refrain from breaking each other’s kneecaps where Verdant Vista is concerned, and we both know why that is.”

“They do tend to hold their little grudges where Manpower is concerned, don’t they?” Benjamin remarked whimsically.

“Yes, they do,” Albrecht agreed. “And that pain in the ass Hauptman isn’t making things any better.”

“Father, Klaus Hauptman’s been pissing you off for as long as I can remember. Why don’t you just go ahead and have Collin and Isabel get rid of him? I know his security’s good, but it’s not that good, you know.”

“I’ve considered it — believe me, I’ve considered it more than once!” Albrecht shook his head. “One reason I haven’t gone ahead and done it is that I decided a long time ago that I’d better try not to get into the habit of having people assassinated just because it might ease my blood pressure. Given the number of unmitigated pains in the ass there are, I’d keep Isabel employed full time, and it would still be a case of weeding the tomato patch. However many weeds you get rid of this week, there’s going to be a fresh batch next week. Besides, I’ve always felt restraint builds character.”

“Maybe so, but I figure there has to be more to it than self-discipline were Hauptman is concerned.” Benjamin snorted. “Mind you, I agree about the asshole quotient of the galaxy, but he’s one asshole who’s demonstrated often enough that he can cause us a lot of grief. And he’s been so openly opposed to Manpower for so long that having him taken out in an obviously ‘Manpower’-backed operation couldn’t possibly point any suspicion in our direction.”

“You’ve got a point,” Albrecht agreed more seriously. “Actually, I did very seriously consider having him assassinated when he came out so strongly in support of those Ballroom lunatics in Verdant Vista. Unfortunately, getting rid of him would only leave us with his daughter Stacey, and she’s just as bad as he is already. If ‘Manpower’ went ahead and whacked her daddy, she’d be even worse. In fact, I suspect she’d probably move making problems for us up from number three or four on her ‘Things to Do’ list to number one. An emphatic number one. And given the fact that she’d control sixty-two percent of the Hauptman cartel’s voting stock outright, once she inherited her father’s shares, the problems she could make for us would be pretty spectacular. This survey business and those frigates they’ve been building for the Ballroom wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket compared to what she’d do then.”

“So take them both out at once,” Benjamin suggested. “I’m sure Isabel could handle it, if she put her mind to it. And she’s Hauptman’s only kid, and she doesn’t have any children of her own yet, which only leaves some fairly distant cousins as potential heirs. I doubt that all of them share the depths of her and her father’s anti-slavery prejudices. And even if they did, I imagine that spreading her stock around to so many people who’d all have legitimately different agendas of their own would end up with the family control of the cartel finding itself severely diluted.”

“No,” Albrecht said sourly, “it wouldn’t.”

“It wouldn’t?” Benjamin’s surprise showed.

“Oh, having both of them killed would dilute the Hauptman family’s control, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, it would only hand that selfsame control over to another family we have reason to be less than fond of.”

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18 Responses to TORCH OF FREEDOM — Snippet 36

  1. robert says:

    That is just not fair! Who? How do they know who Stacy H’s heir is? Does it revert to the Crown? Honor?

  2. HeavenlySword says:

    wow…. The Harrington clan owns stock in Hauptman cartel? I thought the other books said the Harrington family wasn’t within the top 100 until Honor’s Skydomes took off?

  3. Paul says:

    Maybe its the whole family that owns stock. So each individual isn’t up there in wealth, but combined they would be?

  4. J.B. says:

    The Harringtons are of yeoman stock but Allison Harrington’s family is the Benton-Ramirez y Chou’s. A family backgound that has not explored (much …)

  5. Thirdbase says:

    They don’t have to own stock to be named as heirs. Although they may own some shares.

    If Honor is named in Stacy H’s will as receiving all of her shares, or at least a controlling interest.

    There is another possibility though, imagine if Queen Berry is in the will. That actually makes more sense to me.

  6. John Roth says:

    Hm. Now the attempted assassination of Honor begins to make more sense. If she’s Stacy’s heir, then the control would wind up with a regent until her children are grown.

  7. Summercat says:


    Queen Berry, named as the heir of the Hauptman Cartel…

    Oh, the wicked wicked things that can be done that would make the industrialization of Grayson to shame…

    Question: Have we determined what the ‘Real World’ equivalent of Torch is? Seeing as the setting seems to take a lot from the 19th Century…

  8. Bernd says:

    Haiti but this time the neighbors want to succeed. When Haiti had its slave rebellion America and France both tried to kill it in the 1700s or early 1800s. We had slaves at the time and wanted no rebellion on our shores.

  9. robert says:

    Well let’s see:
    Honor is good buds with Stacy. Honor is very wealthy in her own right. There are probably joint ventures between Harrington’s corporate entity and Hauptmann’s, whether Honor know it or not. Her legal and money managers are pretty autonomous, since Honor trusts them and, if memory serves, one or more came to her on recommendation from Stacy.
    Berry is the daughter of a very wealthy ex-noblewoman who has vast political and financial connections and is a supporter of the Ballroom and everything that is anti-slavery. Berry is head of state and leader of whatever political structure exists on Torch. But why would Berry, who was really nobody a couple of years ago, be heir to the Hauptmann fortune? Stacy H. is not so capricious as too entrust one of the largest business enterprises in the known galaxy to the still very young Berry. Not when she has a proven successful and heroic and charismatic and very good buddy like Honor around.

  10. Jose says:

    Could be Liberia but not likely, could be Haiti but does not seem!!! More likely if the Manties are the British Empire and the Havenites are the French Republic, then Manpower is the analog of Belgium and Torch is closer to the Belgium Congo although Manpower could be the analog to Portugal and then Torch is the analog to Brazil. By that logic Grayson would appear to be a slightly different flavor of the US (the Puritans really). The “Terran Empire” is an analog to China, India, or more likely Spain!!! And obviously a German regime with a Chinese population would either be Prussia/Germany/Austria or Poland/Lithuania/Ukraine!!! But where is the Ottoman Empire????

  11. John Roth says:

    Something I just noticed that’s somewhat curious. Why six weeks? I’d assume by now that Mesa has a couple of moles on Torch, who are information people: if it moves, report it, if it doesn’t move for too long, report it anyway. They’d be backed up by some kind of mail drop arrangement with ships that call frequently. They’ve got Erewhon — Phoenix == Phoenix — Manticore — Beowulf and then use a streak drive courier. Or other routes, but Erewhon — Phoenix is probably the first link.

    On second thought, it’s probably not that hard to figure. Torch == Erewhon is supposed to be about a week for a merchant ship, and if we assume that there’s a week or so (average) delay for mules to carry the info, three or four weeks makes sense.

    Or am I missing something else?

  12. Peter Z says:

    I wonder if this is a set up to write out the Hauptmans? Regardless of who inherits their fortune, this just smacks of a set up; where Claus and Stacy buy it and Manpower gets the blame. The situation may not have been designed that way but end that way just the same.

    I have noticed that neither is getting any face time after Claus burried the hachet with Honor. All their activities are off screen. So, when will they buy it? This book, Mission of Honor or SoS3? Any guesses?


  13. robert says:

    @12 Peter, I think that even though they are not in the cast of characters since War of Honor, this book takes place around/during the time of At All Costs and no mention was made of them getting killed, as the failed attempts on Berry and Honor were made and the successful attempt on Ambassador Webster (it was Webster, right?) occurred. Surely if Clause or Stacy had been killed in that period or during Storm From the Shadows, it would have been mentioned in those books. And since this book overlaps that period, it could not be in this book. Those attempts were made to kill the peace conference, not eliminate the Hauptmann family. So what am I missing? Your logic is always excellent, so you must have something in mind. Also, if Honor is their heir, then having failed to kill her, there was no reason to kill them: “Unfortunately, it would only hand that selfsame control over to another family we have reason to be less than fond of.”

  14. saul says:

    Liberia was mostly settled by slaves who had never been to the west, ie inercepted in transit. I think only a few thousand actually went from America to Liberia. Thus, there the skill sets of the starting population were basically the same as West Africa of the period.

    I hope torch is not based on any ex slave states, as the recent ones have been rather dismal failures. Although, Hatie was not such a failure at the start.

    Given the completely different demographics of torches start, I doubt it can be matched to a 19th century slave state. Maybe to a 19th century America/Australia/Canada would be a better match. Torch is really more of a refugee/pioneer state than an ex slave state. After all, most of the population just arrived, or will in short order. The distinction between a escaped slave traveling to a new state and a peasant traveling to a new state does not seem so great.

  15. Thirdbase says:

    @ #10 With the ties that Hauptmann has with various antislavery organizations, they certainly are on close speaking terms with Catherine Montaigne, and more than likely have met Berry before she was Queen. Changing the will to name her as heir would have happened after her becoming Queen.

  16. John Roth says:

    @16 Thirdbase

    Hm. Catherine Montaigne. She’s certainly wealthy enough, but there’s no indication so far that she’s actively involved in running anything other than a political career. On the other hand, there is that attack by Manpower mercenaries that got slaughtered. I will admit that I don’t know where it fits into the timeline, though, so I don’t know if it’s eligible for what the Detweilers are planning.

    Although now that I think of it, it sounded more like retribution for the Manpower Incident on Terra.

    I expect that Stacey wouldn’t want her share of the business to go to someone who would be a hands-off manager and let the business drift. However, that also leaves Honor out, since she’s got other duties.

    Well, we’ll find out soon enough, I suspect.

  17. robert says:

    But, but, but how come Detweiler knows who Stacy’s heir is…and we don’t? I would not think that that information is even remotely known to anyone, even the heir(ees?) unless someone has been suborned on Stacy’s legal team.

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