And, he reflected respectfully, Elizabeth Winton is smart enough not to forget that there’s always a tomorrow. I’m sure she’s pissed off as hell at Erewhon right now, but she also knows how much her own damned prime minister had to do with creating the new situation. And she’s pragmatic enough to roll with the punch of Erewhon’s tech transfers as long as Erewhon goes on refusing to participate in military operations against the Alliance. She doesn’t want to do anything that’s going to inflict irreparable damage on the possibility of future relations between the Star Kingdom and Erewhon.

“It has offered us an even better opportunity to firm up our own relationship with Erewhon than I expected,” he said out loud. “Completely irrespective of how it’s helped our funding drives back on Old Earth.”

“I’m afraid I’m a bit more focused on the hardware side of things,” Rozsak said. “Having Manticore and Haven shooting at each other again has given Admiral Chapman and Glenn Horton the perfect pretext for expanding their wall of battle just as fast — and as much — as they possibly can. Which, of course, is going to expand our own strength right along with theirs. And, frankly, I’m more than a little impressed with some of the tech transfers flowing the other way. Foraker and her crew have obviously been working hard on catching up with the Manties. And from what Greeley is saying over in the ESN’s Office of Research and Development, combining that with the Solarian tech we’ve been quietly feeding him is opening up some interesting possibilities of its own.”

“Really?” Barregos looked thoughtful. “I hadn’t thought about that possibility,” he admitted after a moment, then shrugged. “I suppose I’ve been so well aware of how the Manties have been pushing the envelope that it didn’t occur to me that the League might have anything significant to offer Erewhon.”

“I’m not sure the League would have ‘anything significant’ to offer Manticore.” Rozsak grimaced. “Even now, and even while I’m fully aware of how much that particular fact is likely to be working in our own favor in the not-too-distant, I’m still a little pissed off — well, irritated, at least — by the thought that the Manties are so far out in front of the SLN. It’s downright humiliating. Almost as humiliating as the realization that no one back on Old Earth seems to have the tiniest sliver of an awareness of just how bad things really are from their perspective. I’d like to think that someone in the Navy somewhere has at least the IQ of a gerbil!

“But Erewhon isn’t Manticore,” he continued. “The Erewhonese’s tech base isn’t nearly as advanced as the Manties’ is, and I’d estimate that they’re at least a generation or two behind the Manties’ deployed hardware. How far behind the Manties’ R&D they are is something I’m not even prepared to guess about at this point, but there are a lot of ways in which Solarian tech is letting them downsize and improve on some of the stuff they’re getting from Foraker’s teams. And,” he bared the tips of his teeth, “under the circumstances and given the way Haven surprised them, as well as the Manties, with Thunderbolt, neither Greeley nor Chapman seems to feel any great need to fall all over themselves passing on their own improvements to Haven.”

“I’m not really surprised to hear that,” Barregos said.

“No, I’m not either,” Rozsak agreed. Then he frowned.

“What?” Barregos asked, and the admiral shrugged.

“I’ve just been thinking about the other opportunities — and risks — involved in our current complicated little political calculus out this way. Admittedly, so far it’s working out in our favor — in ways I never would have anticipated, as well as the ones we’d figured on all along. But the downside of it is, first, that despite everyone’s best efforts, the fighting could spill over onto Erewhon after all, which wouldn’t exactly come under the heading of a good thing from our perspective. And, second, that with Manticore and Haven so busy shooting at each other, we’re right back to where we were when it comes to dealing with any little interstellar situations that crop up in our neighborhood.”

“Such as?” Barregos gave him a quizzical look. “I mean, I’m certainly not disagreeing with you, Luiz. God knows I trust your instincts! But from where I sit right this moment, it looks like any ‘little interstellar situations’ that come up are more likely to play into our hands than to create additional problems. After all, the more potential hot spots we can point to out here, the less likely anyone in Old Chicago is to get all hot and bothered about our ‘readiness campaign.'”

“Oh, from that perspective, I agree entirely. That’s a win-win situation from our viewpoint. And Edie, Jiri, and I don’t have anything more solid in the way of worrying about potential ‘blow-up-in-your-face’ hot spots than what Brigadier Allfrey and Richard Wise are reporting. It’s not that I have any specific worries in mind, Oravil.”

Rozsak didn’t use the governor’s given name very often, even in private conversation, and Barregos’ eyes narrowed slightly at the indication that his admiral’s concerns were serious.

“It’s just that we’re still at a vulnerable stage,” Rozsak continued. “We’ve got a dozen of the new destroyers, and a couple of the new light cruisers, in inventory now, but we’re still well short of any significant increase in our overall combat power. And we’re also at a point where we can’t call on anyone else — except for additional Frontier Fleet units, which we both know is the last thing we want to do — if something comes along that we end up needing backup to handle. I know that’s not likely to happen, but one of my jobs is worrying about unlikely things, and I don’t like the feeling of being spread too thin to handle all of our obligations if something does fall in the crapper.”

“I can appreciate that,” Barregos said after a moment. “At the same time, as you say, there doesn’t seem to be anything looming on the horizon.”

“Well, that’s the problem with horizons, isn’t it?” Rozsak smiled crookedly. “You can never see what’s on the other side of one until it comes at you.”

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14 Responses to TORCH OF FREEDOM — Snippet 42

  1. catboy says:

    I wonder how haven takes the news. when they find out that erewhon is holding out on them.

  2. William McLamb says:

    How likely is it that Cachet is missing it?

  3. John T Mainer says:

    How likely is it that Cachet is smart enough to know its more important to get Manticore, Erewhon, Haven, and Maya all on the same side against the manipulators who have plotted the death of millions of their best and brightest. Really, against that, what is a fleeting possibility of advantage in unproven tech, against the goodwill of entire star nations, at a time his own nation needs allies most desperately?

    Cachet is cold blooded enough to pay whatever price, even the blood of his own, to do what has to be done to stop the wrong war, and start the right one. If he wins that, Manticore, Erewhon, and Maya will be pooling their tech far more ably than simply passing along isolated stolen tidbits would allow.

  4. robert says:

    How likely is it that Zilwicki Pere is missing it? And so, how unlikely is it that Manticore Naval Intel is unaware of it? In fact, even without Anton, isn’t it likely that Manticore has deep intel into their former ally?

  5. Thirdbase says:

    How likely is it that Cachet realizes that were he to do anything about it, the Erewhonese are likely to stop sending what they are already sending, thus killing the goose that laid the tech egg.

    Right now Maya, Manticore, and Haven are all pretty much willing to let Erewhon do whatever they want with the Tech they have and acquire. None of them want Erewhon to get mad(der) at them.

  6. saul says:

    Regarding the last snippets streak drive thread. No one mentioned the possibility of relays. If the Alignment was worried the ships might be compromised on certain routes, a relay would be an easy, but expensive fix.
    Streak ship could just have the streak ship drop out of hyper 6? hours, 1 day etc from the destination, pass the info to a cheap freighter thats waiting. The freighter travels that last distance, loosing only a very small amount of time. Then, the streak drive ambles in later, whenever it was due.

    Yes, that would cost some money, depending on just how many routes and couriers you are dealing with. However, the last thing
    the Alignment needs is a boarding party noticing something about those ships. Inconsistent logs/times would be a red flag for smuggling/piracy/espionage etc.

    Since piracy is a problem, there are bound to be places that don’t share any logs. But, Larger anti-piracy, anti-slavery systems would have incentives to share logs.

  7. John Roth says:

    @6 Saul

    Given the “onion”, I doubt if, for example, Manpower’s communications are using the streak drive. In fact, I doubt if they even know it exists.

    I suspect most of the routine intelligence gets passed using mules and age-old techniques. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a network of rather ordinary spacers picking up data chips from a drop, leaving them somewhere else at their next port of call, and having a few extra credits to spend outside of their other small scale smuggling activity.

    @2 William McLamb

    When Cachet talked to Honor after the attempt to assassinate Queen Berry, he said he knew relatively little about the military side of things. That doesn’t mean he isn’t supervising an intelligence network that’s infiltrated Erewhon’s military research, but he probably doesn’t know anything about what they’re finding, if they’re finding anything at all.

  8. efg567 says:

    Erewhon tech increase and miltary expansion is being done with approval of Haven and Manaticore. Why? Because a strong neutral Ereowhon keeps this flank closed for both Haven and Manaticore. Haven and Manaticore are well aware of what is happen in Maya sector. Each does not have extra resources to help Torch and Ereowhon. Victor and Anton would leave their area not very well covered,meaning they now whats really going on. Well just for Eric and David to tell us.

  9. Woff'65 says:

    I don’t think it is being done with the actual approval of either Manticore or Haven; I think Manticore tolerates it to avoid further hacking off the Erewhonese and if/when Haven turns on them they will at least be able to defend themselves (which the Manties probably expect sooner or later). Haven allows it as they get an ongoing source of undamaged hardware and more importantly allows them to pick the brains of people who had some input into its design. The point that a strong NEUTRAL erewhon is as much a bulwark protecting the RHN & RMN’s flanks is a good one and makes a lot of sense.

    However either the RHN and RMN suspected the tech was being shared with Maya, both sides would have a fit, particularly the Manties. Following later events in the Talbott Cluster I suspect the Erewhonese would get a cease and desist order delivered by Home Fleets Podnaughts and Lady Harrington.

    Neither the RHN or RMN know what Barregos or Rozak intend to do in Maya and I doubt they would want the fruits of their already adapted tech fall into the hands of the SLN should they fail or be discovered.

  10. If Cachat learned of the Erewhon data flows and lacks thereof, his reaction I expect would be entirely unsurprised, at least once the war started.

  11. catboy says:

    @9 I remember in storm of shadows that Elizabeth said something like, Erewhon had really good tech it give to Maya. She din’t say anything about being mad. I think she was more worried about the SLN. I think Honor and Eilzabeth know what Rozak is up too. and so does Eloies.

  12. KenJ says:

    @11 …AND, both would much rather Maya have a tech leg up as a relatively friendly power than OFS/Solli Satraps. Yes, officially Maya is part of OFS, however there is some strong evidence, even in what an intelligence expert there could pick up, that shows that they are not a part of the Uber-korrupt establishment. Corrupt yes, establishment no.

  13. robert says:

    @9 “Following later events in the Talbott Cluster I suspect the Erewhonese would get a cease and desist order delivered by Home Fleets Podnaughts and Lady Harrington.”

    I do not understand why Manticore would object. And since we learned (too soon and out of sequence, it seems) that Maya takes a beating in the soon-to-come attack on Torch, and that Elizabeth wants to upgrade Torch’s security as a result, it seems clear that Manticore was aware of and counting on Erewhon and Maya to provide security for Torch.

  14. catboy says:

    @13 yeah I remebmer reading that thinking something was off. I’m just glad Eric is ok.

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