“I’m afraid you’ve lost me,” Benjamin admitted.

“That’s because Collin just turned up something you don’t know about yet. It would appear our good friend Klaus and his daughter Stacey don’t want to see their opposition to Manpower falter just because of a little thing like their own morality. Collin got a look at the provisions of their wills a few T-months ago. Daddy left everything to his sweet little baby girl, pretty much the way we’d figured he had . . . but if it should happen that she predeceases him or subsequently dies without issue of her own, she’s left every single share of her and her father’s ownership percentage — and voting stock — to a little outfit called Skydomes of Grayson.”

“You’re joking!” Benjamin stared at his father in disbelief, and Albrecht snorted without any amusement at all.

“Believe me, I wish I were.”

“But Hauptman and Harrington hate each others’ guts,” Benjamin protested.

“Not so much anymore,” Albrecht disagreed. “Oh, everything we’ve seen suggests that he and Harrington still don’t really like each other all that much, but they’ve got an awful lot of interests in common. Worse, he knows from direct, painful personal experience she can’t be bought, bluffed, or intimidated worth a damn. And, worse still, the daughter he dotes on is one of Harrington’s close personal friends. Given the fact that he won’t be around anymore for Harrington to irritate, and given the fact that he knows she’s already using Skydomes’ clout to back the ASL almost as strongly as he is, he’s perfectly happy with the thought of letting her beat on Manpower with his money, too, when he’s gone. Which” — he grimaced — “makes me wish even more that our little October surprise on her flagship had been a bit more successful. If we’d managed to kill her, I’m sure Klaus and Stacey would have at least reconsidered who they want to leave all of this to.”

“Damn,” Benjamin said thoughtfully, then shook his head. “If Hauptman and Skydomes get together, Harrington would have control of — what? The third or fourth biggest single individually controlled financial bloc in the galaxy?”

“Not quite. She’d be the single biggest financial player in the Haven Quadrant, by a huge margin, but she probably wouldn’t be any higher than, oh, the top twenty, galaxy wide. On the other hand, as you just pointed out yourself, unlike any of the people who’d be wealthier than she’d be, she’d have direct personal control of everything. No need to worry about boards of directors or any of that crap.”

“Damn!” Benjamin repeated with considerably more force. “How come this is the first I’m hearing about this?”

“Like I said, Collin only found out about it a few T-months ago. It’s not like Hauptman or his daughter have exactly trumpeted it from the rooftops, you know. For that matter, as far as Collin can tell, Harrington doesn’t know about it. We only found out because Collin’s been devoting even more of his resources to Hauptman since his active support for Verdant Vista became so evident. It’s taken him a while, but he finally managed to get someone inside Childers, Strauslund, Goldman, and Wu. Clarice Childers personally drew up both Hauptmans’ wills, and it looks very much as if they decided not to tell even Harrington about it.” Albrecht shrugged. “Given the sort of tectonic impact the prospect of what would be effectively a merger of the Hauptman Cartel and Skydomes would have on the entire quadrant’s financial markets, I can see where they’d want to keep it quiet.”

“And Harrington would probably try to talk them out of it if she did know about it,” Benjamin mused.

“Probably.” Albrecht showed his teeth for a moment. “I’d love to see all three of them dead, you understand, but let’s be honest. The real reason I’d take so much pleasure from putting them out of my misery is that all three of them are so damned effective. And however much I may hate Harrington’s guts — not to mention her entire family back on Beowulf — I’m not going to underestimate her. Aside from being harder to kill than an Old Earth cockroach, she’s got this incredibly irritating habit of accomplishing exactly what she sets out to do. And while she may not be as rich as Hauptman is, she’s already well past the point where money as money really means anything to her. From everything we’ve been able to find out, she takes her responsibilities as Skydomes’ CEO seriously, but she’s perfectly satisfied running it through trusted assistants, so it’s not as if she’d be interested in adding Hauptman to Skydomes as an exercise in empire building, either. In fact, I sometimes think she’s at least partly of the opinion that what she’s got already represents too much concentrated power in the hands of a single private individual. Combining Hauptman with Skydomes would create an entirely new balance of economic power — not just in the Star Kingdom, either — and I don’t see her wanting to stick her family with that kind of power.”

“So he’s planning on sneaking up on her with it and trusting her sense of duty to take it in the end?”

“I think that’s what’s going on, but I think it’s really Stacey Hauptman who’s doing the ‘sneaking up’ in this case,” Albrecht said.

“Either way, it’s a fairly unpalatable prospect,” Benjamin observed.

“I don’t think it’s going to make the situation fundamentally worse,” Albrecht replied. “It’s not going to make it any better, but I don’t expect it to have any sort of catastrophic consequences . . . even assuming Hauptman shuffles off before we pull the trigger on Prometheus.”

Benjamin’s expression turned very, very sober at his father’s last seven words. “Prometheus” was the codename assigned to the Mesan Alignment’s long awaited general offensive. Very few people had ever heard the designation; of those who had, only a handful realized how far into the final endgame of its centuries-long preparations the Alignment actually was.

“In the meantime,” his father continued more briskly, “and getting back to my original complaint, we’ve got to decide what we’re going to do about Kare and his busybodies. It’s not going to take them very long to complete their survey of the terminus. They’re going to figure out that something’s peculiar about it as soon as they do, and we really don’t need them making transit and finding out where it goes.”

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18 Responses to TORCH OF FREEDOM — Snippet 37

  1. Thirdbase says:

    Honor wins, sort of.

    Will we finally find out what is so mysterious about this wormhole in the next snippet, or will we have to keep waiting. Standby for Fridays Snippet to find out.

  2. Mike says:

    So … here is the first evidence that the secret of the wormhole is “where it goes”.

  3. ij70 says:

    It is probably man made wormhole. That would also explain some physical anomalies of Torch wormhole. It is as close to the system star as possible… which is just too convenient, cuts down on transit time very nicely.

    Remember, all wormholes so far are natural phenomena. You do not get to pick and choose where they are. Can you imagine how nice it would be to have a wormhole where you need it when you need it?

  4. rustyj says:

    I can’t help wondering if there is a connection between the physical properties to this wormhole and the streak drive.

    does one lead to the other and could they have found this wormhole from the other end using streak drive tech.

  5. Summercat says:

    A wormhole that goes where you want…

    THAT would revolutionize.. Well, everything.

    It would also destroy the Star Empire of Manticore.

  6. John Roth says:

    So we know that one of the Detweiller clones is on Manticore. And that Honor’s family was part of the group that kicked the Detweillers off of Beowulf.

    As far as the wormhole goes, it’s not that close in. The number in chapter 13 says it’s 64 lm from the primary, while Torch itself is “twice as far as Earth”, which means it’s 18 lm from the primary. I’ve forgotten the exact classification, but the hyper limit for F class stars is between 22 and 26 lm, so the wormhole is comfortably outside of the hyper limit. It’s just not at the 2 light-hours or more of most wormholes.

    It’s also very faint, and either someone stumbled across it by accident (see the comment in chapter 13,) or it was discovered from the other side. That’s a thought that’s really notable for its absence from the book so far.

  7. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John Roth, it is stated that some of Collin’s people got the info. Collin himself is not on Manticore. It was Collin’s people who are on Manticore and they reported their info to Collin on Mesa.

  8. wyrm says:

    Drak Bibliophile – A typo that should be fed back into the editing process:

    “don’t want to see their opposition to Manpower falter just because of a little thing like their own morality” might read better if it used the word “mortality”

  9. John Roth says:

    @4 Rusty

    In Chapter 5, there’s this little tidbit:

    “I’m still in the loop, generally speaking, but it’s not like the astrophysics are still a central concern of our shop. We settled most of the military implications decades ago. I’m sure someone else’s still working on the theory behind it full time, but we’ve pretty much mined out the military concerns.”

    Note ‘working on the theory behind it’. There’s obviously something that’s got the astrophysicists baffled, and it’s quite possible that Mesa got the idea for both the streak drive and the spider drive from studying it.

    It does seem, however, that getting the streak drive from it, and using the streak drive to explore it, are incompatible scenarios.

  10. Douglas says:

    OMG!!! Honor in the position of . . . “[Not quite] the third or fourth biggest single individually controlled financial bloc in the galaxy . . . the single biggest financial player in the Haven Quadrant, by a huge margin” and “the top twenty, galaxy wide . . . unlike any of the people who’d be wealthier than she’d be, she’d have direct personal control of everything. No need to worry about boards of directors or any of that crap.”

    Are we looking at Empress Honor Harrington?

  11. @10

    See the (atomic, repeating, autofire capacity) shotgun.

    And now it has been put up on the wall for all to forget.

    How many books until the Hauptmans both die? And is it true that Stacey’s fiance has initials JB?

  12. robert says:

    @11 Stacy has a fiance? Please give me/us the reference for that. Who is JB?

    @10 We are not looking at Empress Harrington, I hope. That would be kind of strange because she is already practically royalty on two planets and the politics could be awful: to which does she owe primary allegiance? Manticore or Grayson? If Elizabeth AND Benjamin were not her good buds, she would already be in a political quagmire.

  13. evilauthor says:

    Y’know, I recall making jokes about how by the end of the series, Honor would be ruling over all mankind as the Empress of Human Space or some such thing.

  14. Alistair1 says:

    Hi (it’s alistair using another computer towrite this)

    I picked this up in pearls of weber where it says the following about Hauptmans wealth:

    Klaus Hauptman, despite his enormous wealth (and make no mistake about it, his personal wealth is absolutely staggering on almost any conceivable scale), probably wouldn’t even make it into the Solarian Fortune 500, if for no other reason that the people who do make it into the Solarian Fortune 500…

    Yet above it suggests that their wealth is a little bigger than being another also run

    any comments?

  15. @12


    JB — He who is certain to die. Taking his fiance with him, this time.


    Ask not, lest ye receive by the dump truck load.

  16. John Roth says:

    @10 Douglas.
    @13 EvilAuthor

    The original series conception was for Honor Harrington to be killed in the Battle of Manticore, and for the Mesa arc of the series to be carried on by her children when they grew up. When David redid the series to bring the Mesa conflict forward by a generation and incidentally not kill off Honor, I seriously doubt if he put something in there for her to wind up as Empress of All She Surveys.

  17. robert says:

    @14 Arghhh. Not him again!

    I totally agree with John @15. I just remember the last Hornblower story where is is older, retired and living happily with his Lady and I think Honor deserves that kind of ending as well. Despite prolong!

  18. Woff'65 says:

    I don’t think it is an artificial wormhole, maybe the end point isn’t fixed but cycles between a number of “destinations”; that would be interesting but not that world shattering.

    The destination has to be the most important thing about it. I certainly wouldn’t expect to have the destination revealed yet, I think poor Dr kare is going to pop through the ‘hole and wind up under the guns of a fort or a couple of warships before he can find out where he is.

    At least we know the name of the Alignments masterpaln now…Prometheus.

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