“Agreed.” Benjamin nodded, but his expression was calm. “On the other hand, we’ve already made our preparations. As you just pointed out, somebody like Kare’s going to realize he’s looking at something out of the ordinary as soon as he gets a detailed analysis. I doubt he’s going to have any idea just how ‘peculiar’ it is before they make transit, though, and once they do make transit, they’re not going to be in a position to tell anyone about it. I agree with Collin, Daniel, and Isabel, Father. The survivors are going to conclude that whatever it is that makes this terminus ‘peculiar’ is going to require a much more cautious — and time-consuming — approach before they try any second transit.”

“I agree that’s the most overwhelmingly likely outcome,” Albrecht conceded. “‘Likely’ isn’t the same thing as ‘certain,’ however. And, to be honest, I expect someone like Hauptman to take his initial failure as a personal affront and push even harder.”

“The only way to positively prevent that would be too take the star system back,” Benjamin pointed out.

“Which we’re already planning to do . . . eventually,” his father pointed out in return, and Benjamin nodded again.

“Should I assume you want me to be thinking in terms of bringing that operation forward?” he asked.

“I’m not sure I want it brought forward yet,” Albrecht said. “What I do want, though, is to make sure we don’t fritter away our cover assets. Losing Anhur that way in Talbott last year was just plain stupid. And we’re lucky that idiot Clignet and his ‘journal’ didn’t hurt us any worse.”

Benjamin nodded again. Commodore Henri Clignet’s ex-State Security heavy cruiser Anhur had been captured with all hands — or, at least, all surviving hands — in the Talbott Cluster the next best thing to six T-months before. Benjamin wasn’t going to shed any tears for Clignet and his fanatic cutthroats. In fact, he’d always considered the commodore one of the loosest of the loose warheads among the ex-SS personnel Manpower had recruited. On the other hand, he was also aware that his personal dislike for the entire strand of the Alignment’s strategy they’d been recruited to support might help to account for his less than hugely enthusiastic view of Clignet and his fellows.

“At least he didn’t know who’s actually pulling the strings where he and the others are concerned,” he pointed out loud. “All he could really confirm is that Manpower’s provided a home for several of the Peeps’ waifs.”

“True, but he confirmed that not just to the Manties but for Haven, as well.” Albrecht shook his head with a smile of rueful, irritated respect. “Who would’ve thought the Manties would hand him and his entire crew back to Haven in the middle of a shooting war?”

“I wouldn’t have,” Benjamin admitted. “On the other hand, it was a damned smart move on their part. It left Haven with the responsibility of trying and executing them, which ‘just happened’ to wash so much of the People’s Republic’s dirty linen very much in public. And Pritchart and Theisman actually had to thank them for it.” It was his turn to shake his head. “Talk about a win-win solution for the Manties!”

“Agreed. But it looks to us like neither the Manties nor the Peeps have any clear picture of exactly how many Clingets ‘Manpower’s’ managed to get its hands on. So I think it’s time for us to arrange a little discreet reinforcement for them. And I want to get Luff and all the rest of his ‘People’s Navy in Exile’ pulled in where no one’s going to be stumbling over any more of them.”

“I’m not sure that’s the best idea,” Benjamin said, his tone thoughtful. “At the moment, Clignet’s basically demonstrated that he and his friends have become pretty much garden-variety pirates who’re simply being subsidized by Manpower. Everybody knows about the relationship now, but nobody’s got any reason to expect that they’re being recruited for a specific mission. For that matter, they don’t know that, when you come right down to it. As far as they know, they are just doing what they have to do to survive, and they aren’t looking more than a few months into the future at any given moment. They aren’t going to be doing that until we offer them our little . . . inducement for Operation Ferret, either.”

“And your point is?” Albrecht’s question could have been irritated, angry, but it was merely curious, and Benjamin shrugged.

“I know we’ve planned all along on reinforcing Luff, but I’ve never been comfortable with the notion — not entirely. It’s one thing for an ‘outlaw transstellar’ like Manpower to be subsidizing ships which more or less just fell into its lap; it’s another thing entirely for that same ‘outlaw transstellar’ to be supplying those pirates with newer, more powerful ships. That’s my first concern. The second one is that pulling them in from their independent operations is going to be an escalation. They’re going to know that we — or Manpower, at least — really have something significant in mind for them to do. Some of them aren’t all that tightly wrapped, as Clignet demonstrated. They may not like the idea of Ferret, and they may try to wiggle out of having anything to do with it. At least some of them are probably going to be opposed to the notion of attacking Verdant Vista, too. Collin and I both pointed out that possibility when the idea first came up, you know. Even the People’s Republic of Haven took its opposition to the slave trade seriously, and some of these people are likely to do the same thing.

“And, finally, sooner or later, exactly how they prepped for any attack on Verdant Vista is going to come out. Somebody’s going to be captured somewhere else and talk, or they’re just going to drop a hint in the wrong place and it’s going to get back to Manty or Havenite intelligence. And when that happens, people are going to start wondering, first, just how Manpower came up with the ‘reinforcements,’ and, secondly, why Manpower was willing to put a bunch like Luff’s People’s Navy in Exile ‘on retainer’ — and pay them well enough to keep them there — for however long it takes.”

“Agreed. Agreed to all of it.” Albrecht nodded. “On the other hand, if we actually mount the operation, then probably by the time anybody on the other side starts putting two and two together, they’ll have other things to worry about. Don’t forget that little surprise we’re putting together for Manticore out in Monica right this minute. In other words, I’d say the chances are considerably better than even that ‘Manpower’s’ relationship with this particular batch of ‘pirates’ isn’t going to be of any great burning significance after the fact.

“Second, this wormhole survey expedition has me worried. If we wipe out the people mounting it, and turn the system into someplace that no longer has any habitable real estate, we should also reduce interest in a ‘killer’ wormhole that no longer goes anywhere interesting, anyway. Not to mention getting Jeremy X and his merry band of lunatics on Torch out of Manpower’s hair — and ours — as permanently as possible. And clearing the way for us to reassert sovereignty — after a decent interval, of course — over the system for ourselves.

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24 Responses to TORCH OF FREEDOM — Snippet 38

  1. Shadow says:

    “…and turn the system into someplace that no longer has any habitable real estate…”?

    Sound like the statesec force is meant to nuke the planet.

  2. robert says:

    How nice that the bad guys are just plain rotten evil bastards with no redeeming qualities. Too many Weber bad guys have too much niceness lately.

  3. William McLamb says:

    I don’t know about that. It seems to me that the wormhole is what iis supposed to do the killing..

  4. wyrm says:

    I can see, whether the Alignment intends it or not, an ‘Eridani Incident’ being attempted.

  5. Thirdbase says:

    An Eridani Incident by a force that has “no” home. Haven has already disavowed all ex State Sec forces and even prosecuted and executed them.

  6. John Roth says:

    Hm. That last paragraph is very, very murky. “No longer goes anywhere interesting” is a strange thing to say – did it ever go anywhere interesting from other people’s viewpoints? And if they’re going to make sure there’s no longer any inhabitable real estate, why do they want to reassert sovereignty over it?

    And then there’s that “little surprise” that they’re putting together for Manticore out in Monica. Either someone’s lost track of the timeline, they’re trying to use Monica for a second operation, or that should be a reference to New Madrid.

    Lots of raw meat in this one. Like “Luff’s ‘People’s Navy in Exile’.” And Benjamin’s personal distaste for something connected with it.

  7. Gil says:

    Man, these guys are really letting there ego and “grand strategy” get them going to a place that is really going to put them at the “TOP” of a lot of peoples “list” of things to take care of. No matter what they do, they are not going to wipe out Manticore completely, and they are not going to be able to keep blaiming “other” powers like Haven for their actions. With Anton and Cachet infiltrating them and bringing back hard evidence, these guys are going to piss every body off in a way that draws a ton of focus. Me particularly I would not want Manticore, Grayson, Haven and especially Harrington and the Wintons totaly focused on erradicating you with extream prejudice when when they already want to do that in the first place..

  8. Thirdbase says:

    @ #6 Timeline wise this is prior to the Battle of Monica, or approximately the same time.

    Aug 25, 1920 P.D. HMS Hexapuma captures the Anhur
    Feb 16, 1921 P.D. The Battle of Monica

    Chapter 8 listed the date as Feb 1921 P.D.

    So it’s likely that the Detweilers are about to get some very bad news.

  9. robert says:

    @7 Not to mention the Ballroom and Beowulf.

    @6 We are, at this time in the book, somewhere around February 1921 (per Chapter 8), and the Battle of Monica just took (or will take) place on February, 19 1921 (per the timeline in and Shadow of Saganami). So Detweiler may not know what has happened yet at Monica. In fact, nobody on Manticore may know, yet. The Battle of Manticore is not until July 1921, where the current official-ish timeline ends, and has not yet been updated with the dates from Storm From the Shadows. Puff, puff. But for all intents, the war with Haven is really all over, except for the last few shots. The war with the SL may or may not begin and the end of Mesa is just a few books away, I hope. But all this is in the “other” books’ timeline. So when is Mission of Honor due?

  10. John Roth says:

    @7 Gil

    Well, the wheels are going to come off of their little red wagon, that’s for sure. However, I’d hesitate to put it down to hubris – it’s more that they’re moving into the end game, and that means that they’re moving into territory where they’ve got to piss on a lot of littler fires at once. Before they had the time to handle things that got out of hand, now they really don’t if they want Prometheus to go off on schedule with a good chance of succeeding.

    Somehow, I don’t think the Detweilers have ever heard of David Xanatos.

  11. John Roth says:

    By the way – since I’ve mentioned TV Tropes, DO NOT go to the Honorverse entry. It contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for Torch of Freedom. Some idiot put them in without putting them behind spoiler blocks. I’m a bit too lazy to create an ID, learn how to do spoiler blocks and then put them in myself. Possibly someone else will do so soon.

  12. John Roth says:

    @8 Thirdbase.

    You’re right. I hadn’t checked the timeline.

    So making four unjustified assumptions, to wit: First, that Mesa is about 200 ly from Monica, second, that the streak drive is able to go as fast as a warship in the theta band (3000 x lightspeed effective), third, that there aren’t any convenient wormholes to duck through, and fourth, that there is a streak drive equipped courier in Monica when it hits the fan, Detweiler and company will learn about it in around four weeks (three if they don’t wait for Khumalo’s reinforcements to arrive.)

  13. John T Mainer says:

    No Eridani Edict on private property, so Verdant Vista could be sterilized under League laws (plausibly). Without the planet, and a little discrete sabotage on exploration efforts, the multi-terminal nexus that the Alignment plans on using to gut its opponents would remain a secret long enough for Oyster Bay to put them ahead of anyone’s possible reaction. Too bad they don’t know what kind of firepower Thandi’s ex-boss commands these days, and even less idea that he’s got coming.

    The fact that they underestimated how many of the wall Manticore possesses, and have no knowledge of Bolthole leaves them with the potential to pull a beautiful Pearl Harbor. Enough to force a realignment of the major powers, enough to justify suspension of all conflicts other than immediate survival, and focus the only two major interstellar alliances with wartime economies and research and development against the only enemy in all of space that they share.

    Like the Japanese in December of ’41, they are poised to launch a first strike that is just not quite deadly enough to win, and quite deadly enough to force even Elizabeth to reconsider her priorities.

  14. saladin says:

    @13 you´re wrong
    yes verdant vista was private property but torch isn´t anymore
    it is even accepted by a high sl burocrat
    and it was in the news (quite a lot of coverage that could be repeated if torch was destroyed)
    and they know of bolthole (not where it is – although they could ) because they have some highplaced spies at the rh (and in the former governement of manticore)

    but a barren torch would.´t make the wh less worth (location is everything) so the disaster must make everyone think that you can´t use the wh without being destroyed (that would also explain why mesa didn´t use it)

  15. John Roth says:

    @13 John T. Mainer

    Well, “Oyster Bay” is David’s play on words for “Pearl Harbor,” so you’re right on the money for the correspondence. We don’t really know what the Alignment is planning to use the wormhole for – if anything. At the moment they seem mostly concerned that nobody else have access to it.

    I also don’t think we know what their intelligence assessment of Manticore’s military capability is, other than it’s a lot better than the Solarian League’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s fairly accurate.

    Without digging into spoilers, we don’t know at this time whether Oyster Bay succeeds or fails, and if it succeeds, to what extent.

    The expectation on this particular forum is that we don’t discuss anything that hasn’t been published or posted here or on Jiltanith (and that isn’t marked there as a spoiler, btw.) There’s another forum for discussing what’s in the e-arc.

  16. Woff'65 says:

    John, I suspect they have a better appreciation of the RMN’s military capabilities than the SLN…which wouldn’t be that hard to be honest. However, I also suspect that after High Ridge’s government imploded they lost access to a lot of useful political and military intelligence (there are a lot of hints that his coalition leaked like a sieve). Anyone in High Ridge’s merry band of corrupt politico’s and Janachek’s corp of cock-up merchants were either out on their ear when it dropped in the pot or moved somewhere they couldn’t do any harm (and by implication would have reduced access to interestingly damaging intelligence) after High Ridge’s government melted down.

    Therefore, over time, they are going to become progressively out of touch with the RMN’s capabilities and intentions…no doubt this is going to cause them to both under and over-estimate the RMN’s operational and strategic goals/technology in several critical respects.

  17. robert says:

    @16 But, but. If they know what is in the Hauptmanns’ wills, but not what the RMN’s naval capabilities are, then their Intel on Manticore is not very deep and wildly uneven with gaps in the wrong places. If that is true, then they are goners and the only question is will a Detweiler live on to fight another day? Hope not.

    Since DW has written that he expects the series to last another 5-10 novels, maybe the Datweilers will go on. From DW’s web site FAQs, his response dated May 2009: “My current estimate is that the Honorverse will go on for at least another five to ten novels.” I assume that we’ll see the next generation (sorry about that) grow up some more.

  18. Thirdbase says:

    I think that aside from Manticore’s allies, Haven, and Erewhon, the Detweilers have the best intel on the capabilities of the Manty Fleet. Unfortunately they also suffer from the same thing that the Sollies suffer from, we are superior to everyone else because of who and what we are. While they recognize that in the Sollies, they are blind to the same thing in themselves.

  19. saul says:

    Total destruction of torch won’t stop other human interests resettling the system within nanoseconds of hearing the news.

    Even if all life on Torch is gone, its not clear who has ownership. It may still be owned by the few surviving elements of Torch’s population who were just off planet. Just what legal bodies have influence over territory outside the solarian empire?

    Even if the planet is a dead unowned area, there would be a massive rush to claim it.
    As soon as word got out, I can see every nearby political group racing to get a small orbiting or planetary habitat to the torch system to claim ownership.
    Any wormhole is worth a lot of money, and will be fought over (legally or militarily). Just look at the islands in SE asia were country x maroons a few folks on tiny islands so they can claim sovereignty.

    The best the Alignment could hope for is that they would win that legal/military race for ownership.
    Barring that the Alignment might hope the system would be tied up in legal isues until its too late.

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, it would be easier to get into a Law Firm’s files than to get into Top Secret Navy files.

    While some of the RMN’s naval capabilities are public knowledge on Manticore, lots of it will not be released to the general Manticore public.

    David Weber has stated that Manticore counter-intelligence is very strong in regards to Navy matters.

    It is likely that like Haven, the Alignment is strongest in gaining Political intelligence and placing agents into non-military Manticore governmental organizations.

  21. John Roth says:

    @18 Thirdbase

    Well, while I agree that there’s a certain amount of “we’re superior, so we’ll win automatically” thinking going on, I don’t think that’s the primary issue. The biggest issue is that Albrecht and clones have inherited a plan that was started 600 years ago, and have never had to deal with anything where their grand strategic vision has been derailed by “the devil in the details.” They’re also hampered by excessive compartmentalization and a dozen other things that they just don’t have the experience to know look good on paper, but don’t work when you get down in the muck. In fact, Detweiller said once that he had serious misgivings about the “onion”.

    And that applies to everyone on Mesa – they’ve inherited a plan that they had no voice in creating, and most of them are doing their part without a whole lot of commitment. In fact, because of the compartmentalization, most of them don’t know what the grand strategic plan is, so they’re busy doing their own thing.

    @19 Saul

    The Detweilers aren’t that stupid. They wouldn’t be considering turning the planet into a smoking cinder if they could anticipate other people taking the system over. I don’t know what else they’ve got up their sleeve, but that possibility is too obvious for them to have ignored it in their planning. I think.

    In any case, they’re out in the Verge, where interstellar law is whatever the guy with the biggest navy says it is.

  22. saul says:

    I was just responding to saladin about torch becoming worthless or to dangerous for others to be interested.

  23. John Roth says:

    @22 Saul

    Sorry if I came across a bit heavy handed. I was just pointing out that I don’t think legal process really applies. It’s out in the Verge, so the only “law” that could apply is the Solarian League’s Eradni Edict, and without a planet that’s irrelevant. As far as I know, the only system that’s been mentioned that doesn’t have an inhabited planet is Yildun, the home of Technodyne Industries (and incidentally another junction.)

    As far as sticking in a habitat, that could be a possibility, but it would only work if the owner maintained a significant military presence — and was willing to go to war against anyone who staged a “pirate” raid to clear it out so they could put in their own habitat.

    Remember that Erewhon was expecting Manticore to “do something” about Verdant Vista once they learned about the wormhole. The High Ridge Government’s failure to do anything was what lead to the current situation.

  24. KenJ says:

    One other planet-less yet now inhabited system is where the Talbot junction exits (Can’t remember name off top of my head.) That is a red dwarf w/o any planets at all. Manticore had to build the infrastructure literally from scratch and had to import EVERY thing. (No handy planetary mass to plant a colony/anchor orbiting infrastructure,etc.)

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