“Agreed.” Barregos nodded. “And its hammered the hell out of the Erewhonese economy, too. Produced its own little system-wide recession, as a matter of fact. On the other hand, I think even Imbesi would be prepared to admit that some sort of Manty retaliation for all the technology that got handed over to Haven was in order, and it could have been a hell of a lot worse. Of course, they’ve managed to pick up at least some of their losses from increased trade with Haven, but they’re suddenly on the other end of the tech imbalance, which is kicking up more than a few problems while their industrial sector tries to retool and adjust. Not to mention the fact that they aren’t any too fond of Haven at the moment, either, given who actually fired the first shot that landed them in their current mess.

“At any rate, right now, and not wanting to wish any additional unhappiness on our newfound friends in Maytag, it’s offering us quite a few interesting opportunities we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. Among other things, CIG ended up needing a lot more capital investment from our side to get it up and running. That’s why we floated that new bond issue back on Old Earth, which is also one of the reasons we’re in better economic shape — and in a much better strategic position in Erewhon — at this point than we’d expected to be. Financially, the fact that the Sector was already so heavily invested in Erewhon gave us plenty of cover when the resumption of hostilities meant we had to raise additional capital from sources outside our immediate area. And Treasury was perfectly willing to sign off on the bonds — for the bureaucrats’ usual cut, of course.”

He smiled evilly, and Rozsak raised both eyebrows in silent question.

“Well,” Barregos told him cheerfully, “those same bureaucrats back on Old Earth insisted — positively insisted — that the bond issue in question be underwritten directly by the Treasury instead of the Sector administration. I think it had something to do with . . . bookkeeping issues.”

Rozsak snorted harshly in amused understanding. He wasn’t at all surprised that the Treasury Department personnel in question wanted to handle the accounting as much in-house as possible, since it was so much easier to cook their own books (and hide their inevitable peculation) than it was to skim off of someone else’s cash flow without detection. But that was merely the Solarian League’s basic SOP, and he was still a bit puzzled by the governor’s obvious amusement.

“And having them do the bookkeeping helps us exactly how?” the admiral asked after a moment. “Obviously it does, somehow, but I would’ve thought that having their fingers directly in the pie would be more likely to sound alarms at their end as we get further down the road.”

“As long as the graft keeps rolling in, they aren’t going to care what we’re really doing with the money at this end,” Barregos pointed out. “That’s a given, and it’s been part of our strategy from the very beginning. But what else it does for us is to make the debt a charge on the Solarian League, not the Maya Sector, and it never occurred to me or Donald that we might be able to get away with that!”

“And?” Rozsak asked.

“And, Luiz, if the day should ever come — perish the thought — when we good, loyal Solarians out here in the Sector should find ourselves in less than full accord with Frontier Security HQ or the Interior Department in general, we won’t be the ones responsible for paying the bondholders off. As far as we’re concerned, all that dreadful debt — close to sixty percent of our total investment in CIG, will be owed to Solarian citizens, not anyone out here. And the obligation to pay off those bounds, Donald tells me, will also belong to the League Treasury. Which means that as far as we’re concerned it will just . . . go away. Poof.”

He smiled beatifically, and despite his own monumental aplomb and self-control, Rozsak’s jaw actually dropped a half-centimeter or so.

“And,” Barregos continued even more cheerfully, “I’ve just had a memo from one of Wodoslawski’s senior aides. He wants to know if it would be possible to interest the Erewhonese directly in floating additional bond issues in the League to support their military expansion. It seems reports about Erewhon’s concern — its worry about finding itself caught between its old allies and its new ones if things go really sour — has inspired certain individuals back on Old Earth to be thinking in terms of combining personal opportunity with foreign policy objectives. According to the memo, Treasury and State would like to acquire a bigger financial stake in Erewhon as a means of gaining additional leverage with the Republic down the road.”

“Damn,” Rozsak said mildly, and shook his head. “Those poor bastards. They don’t even have a clue, do they?” Then he snorted. “Talk about history repeating! The whole thing reminds me of what Lenin had to say about capitalists selling rope to the proletariat!”

“I don’t know about that,” Barregos replied. “Frankly, you’re a lot better student of pre-space Old Earth history than I am. I know who you’re talking about, but I’m not familiar with the specific comment you’re actually referring to. If he meant those idiots in Old Chicago are stupid enough to be paying for the pulser darts likely to be coming their own way, though, yes. I’d say it does sort of . . . resonate.”

“You know,” Rozsak said thoughtfully, “I can’t say I was especially delighted when the Manties and the Havenites started shooting at each other again. To be honest, it seemed likely to make a lot of problems for us. Oh, I figured there’d be opportunities in it, too, of course, but I was more worried about the probable economic dislocation and what might happen if Erewhon got sucked into the fighting and took our investment plans with it.”

“That,” Barregos conceded, “would really and truly have sucked from our perspective.”

“Tell me about it!” Rozsak snorted. “Instead, it’s worked out so much in our favor that I’m starting to wait nervously for whatever bad news the karma department is waiting to hit us with by way of compensation.”

Barregos nodded. The Republic of Erewhon had been both surprised and more than mildly irritated by the Republic of Haven’s decision to resume hostilities against the Star Kingdom of Manticore less than a T-month after Berry Zilwicki’s coronation on Torch. In fact, Erewhon had been downright pissed off about it. There’d been just time enough for Maytag and Nouveau Paris to ratify the brand-new self-defense treaty between their two republics before the shooting started up all over again, and despite how severely pissed off the Erewhonese had been with the High Ridge Government, it hadn’t cared at all for the position in which Eloise Pritchart’s decision had placed it.

It was fortunate that the new treaty was defensive in nature, since, in light of the fact that Haven was clearly the aggressor this time around, that had at least obviated any requirement for Erewhon to sign on for active operations against its erstwhile fellow members of the Manticoran Alliance. On the other hand, as the Star Kingdom’s new economic policies had made painfully evident to Erewhon, Manticore was less than totally pleased by the technology transfers which had been part of the Erewhon-Haven agreements. Personally, Barregos felt confident that the real reason Manticore hadn’t been even less delighted (not to mention inclined to punish Erewhon even more harshly) was that the Manties were unhappily aware that Haven had probably captured enough even more modern Manty military technology in the course of Operation Thunderbolt to give the Republican Navy at least as much of a leg up as anything Erewhon could have handed over. It might have taken Shannon Foraker and Haven’s revitalized R&D establishment longer to capitalize on what they’d captured without the starting point Erewhon had given them, but Foraker was dismayingly competent from Manticore’s perspective. She’d have gotten there in the end on her own, eventually, and the Manties knew it.

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25 Responses to TORCH OF FREEDOM — Snippet 41

  1. robert says:

    I guess we know now where this is leading, thanks to the comments in snippet 40 from those who remember. The interesting part will be how it gets there. Also interesting is the giveaway by DW in Storm of what is going to happen here. It is not like him to mitigate the suspense like that. So therefore I just know that he and Eric have something else up their sleeves to spring on us.

  2. Thirdbase says:

    There are at least four things that the book has to get through that I can think of:

    1. The attempt on Queen Berry.
    2. The Battle of Torch.
    3. The exploration of the Torch Wormholes.
    4. Cachet and Zilwicki doing those things that they do best.

    Can anyone come up with other things?

  3. efg567 says:

    @ 2 5.might be where maya sector is headed?

  4. John T Mainer says:

    What is really coming into notice is the fact that the Alignment has plans to neutralize the Solarians, Manticore, and Haven. There don’t really seem to be any plans to neutralize Maya sector’s growing independent action. When they smash the Solarians, and leap to pick up the pieces, they may find Maya already holds them.

    Torch will be the rallying point. How fitting the slaves will sow the seeds for the destruction of the Alignments conquest.

  5. John Roth says:

    @4 They’re also planning on smashing Torch and sowing the ground with salt (or the equivalent.)

    I’m not sure I like TvTropes characterization of the book as a 30 Xanatos Pileup, though. Both Barregos and Detweiller are capable of doing a Xanatos Gambit, but I don’t see either of them actually doing one here. (Detweiller is, of course, doing one with Manpower and the Ballroom.)

    And I agree – Detweiller’s intel on the Maya Sector seems to be lacking — which is fortunate for Barregos. If he had accurate intelligence, he’d probably make sure the Frontier Security bureaucracy discovered it.


  6. robert says:

    @2 There may be several more items, some not really related to Torch, some really related.
    First some comments on your items:
    1. The attempt on Queen Berry.
    But we know about that since At All Costs.
    2. The Battle of Torch.
    We know about this (not the details) from Storm From the Shadows.
    3. The exploration of the Torch Wormholes.
    We do not know the outcome of this.
    4. Cachet and Zilwicki doing those things that they do best.
    Which include a visit to Honor aboard her flagship in At Al Costs.

    More stuff to be covered:
    –We need to see the Battle of Monica, the Battle of Manticore, and Henke’s adventures in Talbott from the Torch perspective.
    –We need to know about casualties during the Battle of Torch–they may be significant.
    –We need to find out what happens with the Beowulf Commandos and the folks from the “amusement park”.
    –Will there or won’t there be Mesan defectors and if so, what will be their role?

  7. We know that it’s safe to lend money to Erewhon because they practice the cleanest of clean governments, as witness the name of their capital…Maytag.

    Or perhaps the Erewhoners give practical advice to Terran Bureaucrats on how to skim from loans.

  8. John Roth says:

    @6 Robert

    I doubt if there’ll be much, if anything, about the affairs in Talbot.

    Frankly, I’m getting a bit puzzled by the timeline; this isn’t helped since neither Storm from the Shadows nor At All Costs is in it (except for the Battle of Manticore.)

    The thing is, the BOM is in approximately five months (Feb to July.) In that time span, on one thread we’ve got to have the Battle of Torch, news has to get back to Detweiller, he’s got to authorize operation Rat Poison, that’s got to fail. The news has to get back to Manticore, Elizabeth’s calling off the peace conference has got to get to Haven, Pritchert and Thiesman have to organize their assault on Manticore, the fleet has to get to Manticore without using any convenient wormholes.

    What am I missing? Or is the date at infodump.fifthimperium for the BOM simply wrong?

  9. Richard says:

    @1 Robert, As I unerstand it .this book was to be released before STORM. Then Eric got sick and TofF was delayed. That is why there is information on the Torch battle in STORM

  10. Thirdbase says:

    While I don’t have dates,

    Rat Poison is authorized in Feb, they do this as soon as they find out about the peace conference.

    The peace conference is finalized the beginning of April (11 days each way with 3 trips; Elizabeth’s answer, Pritchart’s acceptance, and Elizabeth’s conformation). Rat Poison goes off within days of this. From the text Pritchart had to leave for Torch 21 days after receiving confirmation of the conference. She authorizes preparation for the Battle of Manticore on the day she was supposed to leave, and it was supposed to take 3 months for all the preparations, which gets us to the end of July.

    The Battle of Torch happens well after the Battle of Manticore.

    No I didn’t remember all this, I looked in the books to get the approximate time line.

  11. John Roth says:

    @10 Thirdbase.

    OK. So we’re not heading straight into the Battle of Torch. This particular piece of Maya Sector planning has a different purpose. Then I suppose talking about the Battle of Torch is off topic at the moment.

  12. Drak Bibliophile says:

    The Battle of Torch will occur much later in the book after the last of the snippets.

  13. Can we expect to hear further about the Mesan man and woman whose adopted child is developing below the expected range, according to the examining official? Will they, perhaps, interfere with the evil plotters’ plans?

  14. robert says:

    @13 Prediction: I bet that the adopted child will be very important. Her survival will drive certain events. The anger, by the father at least, will be the key–but what he knows that is so vital is the question.

    @9 Thanks for the reminder, Richard. And that also explains some of the less-than-sterling-writing in the most recent Ring of Fire books. Sorry, but all that gossip passing for alternate history is just confusing and boring. So after reading this book (soon, soon) I will go back and reread Storm.

  15. John Roth says:

    @13 Jim Summerlin

    David doesn’t usually write whole chapters and then leave the plot thread they support dangling!

    As of this point in the book, we really don’t know what’s going on with Francesca Simoes, other than that it isn’t exactly what the Long Range Planning Board is expecting (see Chapter 6).

    @14. Robert

    Sometimes the order that authors are given for joint works can be confusing. There are four Ring of Fire novels up on the Baen’s Publishing Schedule page. One of them is by Virginia DeMarce, two of them are indicated as being by both Eric and Virginia, and one is by David Weber and Eric. My suspicion is that there is relatively little of Eric’s actual writing in the two that are supposedly by him and Virginia.

    Beyond that, I have no idea what’s going on with that series. I lost interest some time ago.

  16. whiddon says:

    Oh man .Shannon Foraker is going to get to play with the Alignments little toys,isnt she?

  17. Thirdbase says:

    Imagine Foraker and Hemphill working together.

  18. John T Mainer says:

    Foraker given Manticoran tech and funding and even a single example, or good sensor read off a spider or streak drive. For that matter, something about the unique nature of the Torch wormhole seems to be part of what gave Mesa the spider drive. If they get a good survey, how long will it take Manty wartime R@D, let alone Foraker’s reverse engineering miracle workers to put something together. Other than their drives, Mesa really is not even the equal of the Mayans or Havenites when it comes to weapons technology.

    Manticore/Haven conflicts have rendered all previous understanding of weapons, electronics and doctrine to be as relevant as black powder broadsides.

    I pre-ordered the book, but the wait is still killing me.

  19. John Roth says:

    @18 John T. Mainer

    If I remember the comments in Storm, there isn’t supposed to be anything externally observable that identifies a ship with the Streak drive. I suspect that, once Manticore finds out about them, they’ll start digging through ship arrival and departure times and identify a couple of streak drive equipped couriers. Some other things may also fall out of that data–you never know what you’ll find when you really start looking!

    Another issue: from something David said, it would be a mistake to equate the Mesan navy with the Alignment navy. The Mesan navy probably has current Solarian military technology.

    I don’t think that either R&D department will be able to do much with the wormhole data by themselves. Think about it: when Mesa originally discovered it, there probably wasn’t a big “here there be Military Applications” sign hung on it! More than likely the astrophysicists had to get to work figuring it out first, and then the military hardware people took their theories and did something with them.

  20. efg567 says:

    19.With the Manpower/Mesa navies nothing so far appears as it is.Also,how can Beowulf/Manaticore terminal control miss not checkng travel times.

  21. Drak Bibliophile says:

    efg567, checking travel times is hard when ships are leaving ‘ports’ outside your control and the posts have no reason to send you departure times.

    The only time ‘travel time’ can be checked is when a ship leaves a port under your control and the ship arrives at a port also under your control.

    Otherwise, you’re depending on the ship logs which can be faked.

  22. John T Mainer says:

    After the fact it will be easy to spot. Do remember the streak couriers were all non Manpower/Jesek flagged ships. They were quite open about admitting the Alignment was worried about having their couriers noted, and biting their nails about having to run them through junctions where there comings and goings could be noted. How many small freighters are using the junctions? Build it on a hull of a common Solarian small freighter and you will be hiding a half dozen needles in haystacks of millions.

    The best defense is that the volume of trade most places is big enough to hide in. In the Verge this is less true, and they may just get caught.

  23. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John, point taken about the Alignment’s worries.

    As far as using small freighters, how many courier ships are running around in the Honorverse?

    The Alignment could ‘hide’ their streak drive couriers by having them ‘flagged’ to star nations or companies that nobody knows are Mesan allies.

    Still, once people know that the streak drive is possible, there may be more inspections of ship drives.

  24. Wof1965 says:

    Not all the Alignments streak ships were Mesam flagged, wasn’t one a “private” yacht. I also suspect that generally streak ships would avoid junctions and proceed “normally” until they translated out.

    No way would they risk an Alliance, Havcn or even Sollie boarding party to poke one of those ships if they could avoid it. way too much chance of someone noticing something was odd about them…and there would need to be something odd about the propulsion, nodes etc. Also if a ship is making regular trips through a junction, too many people would log their comings and goings. Much better to pose as a tramp freighter and change transponder codes regularly less likely anyone would notice a ship appearing somewhere it shouldn’t be too quickly.

    Also, the Spider drive will mean that the Allaince’s (and to a lesser degree RHN) targeting advantages are largely nullified. A Spider drive ship could sneak much closer to a “conventional” warship as it would have no wedge to give it away. Suddenly battles could start at energy ranges once again.

  25. John Roth says:

    @24 Wof

    On the spider drive: I believe there was a comment that it was rather easy to detect if you knew what to look for. That’s why they only built 30 of them–they were intended for the initial wave of Prometheus. If anyone survived that, then they would figure out how to detect them.

    On the streak drive: it’s faster than anything else, but it’s not magic. We won’t know exactly how fast it is until David tells us, and I doubt if that’ll be until the book is out–if then. He may hold off on that tidbit until MoH.

    I doubt that it’s so fast they could avoid using convenient wormholes.

    There are two points about finding streak drive ships by correlating wormhole transits. One is that Mesa is about the same distance from either Beowulf and Lynx (around 200-250 ly), so there is no point in using the Manticore junction.

    According to the map, Meyers, Monica and New Tuscany are relatively close together, and getting arrival and departure logs from any of them wouldn’t be easy, so finding that particular “private yacht” would be fairly hard. They’d be better off just noting the dates when she showed up at one location or another.

    The other is that people wouldn’t normally correlate arrival and departure times anyway. Unless they’ve got a continuing problem with “merchants” that have military grade hyper generators, there’s really no point to it, and it would be a waste of computer power.

    Of course, once Mantcore figures out that they’ve got a super-fast hyper drive, then they’ll start running the logs. But right now they don’t have a clue.

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