Mission Of Honor – Snippet 01

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 01

David Weber

December, 1921, Post Diaspora

“To understand Solly foreign policy, we’d have to be Sollies
. . . and nothing would be worth that!”
— Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore

Chapter One

Any dictionary editor stymied for an illustration of the word “paralyzed” would have pounced on him in an instant.

In fact, a disinterested observer might have wondered if Innokentiy Arsenovich Kolokoltsov, the Solarian League’s Permanent Senior Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, was even breathing as he stared at the images on his display. Shock was part of that paralysis, but only part. And so was disbelief, except that disbelief was far too pale a word for what he was feeling at that moment.

He sat that way for over twenty seconds by Astrid Wang’s personal chrono. Then he inhaled explosively, shook himself, and looked up at her.

“This is confirmed?”

“It’s the original message from the Manticorans, Sir,” Wang replied. “The Foreign Minister had the chip couriered straight over, along with the formal note, as soon as he’d viewed it.”

“No, I mean is there any independent confirmation of what they’re saying?”

Despite two decades’ experience in the ways of the Solarian league’s bureaucracy, which included as the Eleventh Commandment “Thou shalt never embarrass thy boss by word, deed, or expression,” Wang actually blinked in surprise.

“Sir,” she began a bit cautiously, “according to the Manties, this all happened at New Tuscany, and we still don’t have independent confirmation of the first incident they say took place there. So –”

Kolokoltsov grimaced and cut her off with a wave of his hand. Of course it hadn’t. In fact, independent confirmation of the first New Tuscany Incident — he could already hear the newsies capitalizing this one — would take almost another entire T-month, if Josef Byng had followed procedure. The damned Manties sat squarely inside the League’s communications loop with the Talbott Sector. They could get word of events there to the Sol System in little more than three T-weeks, thanks to their never-to-be-sufficiently-damned wormhole junction, whereas any direct report from New Tuscany to Old Terra would take almost two months to make the journey by dispatch boat. And if it went through the Meyers System headquarters of the Office of Frontier Security, as regulations required, it would take over eleven T-weeks.

And assuming the Manties aren’t lying and manufacturing all this evidence for some godforsaken reason, any report from Byng has to’ve been routed by way of Meyers, he thought. If he’d shortcut the regulations and sent it directly by way of Mesa and Visigoth — like any admiral with a functional brain would have! — it would’ve been here eight days ago.

He felt an uncharacteristic urge to rip the display unit from his desk and hurl it across the room. To watch it shatter and bounce back in broken bits and pieces. To curse at the top of his lungs in pure, unprocessed rage. But despite the fact that someone from pre-Diaspora Old Terra would have estimated his age at no more than forty, he was actually eighty-five T-years old. He’d spent almost seventy of those years working his way up to his present position, and now those decades of discipline, of learning how the game was played, came to his rescue. He remembered the Twelfth Commandment — “Thou shalt never admit the loss of thy composure before thine underlings” — and actually managed to smile at his chief of staff.

“That was a silly question, wasn’t it, Astrid? I guess I’m not as immune to the effects of surprise as I’d always thought I was.”

“No, Sir.” Wang smiled back, but her own surprise — at the strength of his reaction, as much as at the news itself — still showed in her blue eyes. “I don’t think anyone would be, under these circumstances.”

“Maybe not, but there’s going to be hell to pay over this one,” he told her, completely unnecessarily. He wondered if he’d said it because he still hadn’t recovered his mental balance.

“Get hold of Wodoslawski, Abruzzi, MacArtney, Quartermain, and Rajampet,” he went on. “I want them here in Conference One in one hour.”

“Sir, Admiral Rajampet is meeting with that delegation from the AG’s office and –”

“I don’t care who he’s meeting with,” Kolokoltsov said flatly. “Just tell him to be here.”

“Yes, sir. Ah, may I tell him why the meeting is so urgent?”

“No.” Kolokoltsov smiled thinly. “If the Manties are telling the truth, I don’t want him turning up with any prepared comments. This one’s too important for that kind of nonsense.”

* * *

“So what’s this all about, anyway?” Fleet Admiral Rajampet Kaushal Rajani demanded as he strode into the conference room. He was the last to arrive — a circumstance Kolokoltsov had taken some care to arrange.

Rajampet was a small, wiry man, with a dyspeptic personality, well suited to his almost painfully white hair and deeply wrinkled face. Although he remained physically spry and mentally alert, he was a hundred and twenty-three years old, which made him one of the oldest human beings alive. Indeed, when the original first-generation prolong therapy was initially developed, he’d missed being too old for it by less than five months.

He’d also been an officer in the Solarian League Navy since he was nineteen, although he hadn’t held a space-going command in over half a T-century, and he was rather proud of the fact that he did not suffer fools gladly. (Of course, most of the rest of the human race was composed almost exclusively of fools, in his considered opinion, but Kolokoltsov could hardly quibble with him on that particular point.) Rajampet was also a formidable force within the Solarian League’s all-powerful bureaucratic hierarchy, although he fell just short of the very uppermost niche. He knew all of the Navy’s ins and outs, all of its senior admirals, the complex web of its family alliances and patronage, where all the bodies were buried . . . and precisely whose pockets were filled at the trough of the Navy’s graft and corruption. After all, his own were prominent among them, and he personally controlled the spigots through which all the rest of it flowed.

Now if only the idiot knew what the hell his precious Navy was up to, Kolokoltsov thought coldly.

“It seems we have a small problem, Rajani,” he said out loud, beckoning the gorgeously bemedaled admiral towards a chair at the table.

“It bloody well better not be a ‘small’ problem,” Rajampet muttered, only half under his breath, as he stalked across to the indicated chair.

“I beg your pardon?” Kolokoltsov said with the air of a man who hadn’t quite heard what someone had said.

“I was in the middle of a meeting with the Attorney General’s people,” Rajampet replied, without apologizing for his earlier comment. “They still aren’t done with all the indictments for those damned trials, which means we’re only just now getting that whole business with Technodyne sorted out. I promised Omosupe and Agatá” — he twitched his head at Omosupe Quartermain, Permanent Senior Undersecretary of Commerce, and Permanent Senior Undersecretary of the Treasury Agatá Wodoslawski — “a recommendation on the restructuring by the end of the week. It’s taken forever just to get everyone assembled so we could sit down and talk about it, and I don’t appreciate being yanked away from something that important.”

“I can understand why you’d resent being interrupted, Rajani,” Kolokoltsov said coolly. “Unfortunately, this small matter’s come up and it needs to be dealt with . . . immediately. And” — his dark eyes bored suddenly into Rajampet’s across the table — “unless I’m seriously mistaken, it’s rather closely related to what got Technodyne into trouble in the first place.”

“What?” Rajampet settled the last couple of centimeters into his chair, and his expression was as perplexed as his voice. “What are you talking about?”

Despite his own irritation, Kolokoltsov could almost understand the admiral’s confusion. The repercussions of the Battle of Monica were still wending their way through the Navy’s labyrinthine bowels — and the gladiatorial circus of the courts was only just beginning, really — but the battle itself had been fought over ten T-months ago. Although the SLN hadn’t been directly involved in the Royal Manticoran Navy’s destruction of the Monican Navy, the consequences for Technodyne Industries had been profound. And Technodyne had been one of the Navy’s major contractors for four hundred years. It was perfectly reasonable for Rajampet, as the chief of naval operations, to be deeply involved in trying to salvage something from the shipwreck of investigations, indictments, and show trials, and Kolokoltsov never doubted that the admiral’s attention had been tightly focused on that task for the past several T-weeks.

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27 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 01

  1. jjakx says:

    a bureaucrat that actually does something in the SL (running around on showtrials)… hmm… I wonder why he didn’t die of a heartattack from all the exertion.

  2. Thirdbase says:

    I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, I was going to do it at the end of the last snippets, but it appeared that no one was coming back to read them. So I shall do it now.

    I’m sorry. It wasn’t completely my fault, but I feel, and others agree with me, that I bear enough of the responsibility that I should apologize. I won’t say what I did, and I don’t think it will ever happen again, and I shall do my best to never cause it or something like it to happen again. Again I am sorry and I certainly wish that I had never done what I did or caused what happened to happen.

    On with the snippets.

  3. John Roth says:

    And so it starts. I wonder how much confusion David is going to portray in the Solly bureaucracy.

    I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever get any snippets for MoH. Since the E-ARC is already out I wonder how many people we’re going to get here for the discussion? I like looking at it leisurely piece by piece.

    Has anyone noticed that this seems to be becoming a standard opening — showing a meeting of one set of bureaucrats to set the stage? I saw the same thing in Torch of Freedom.

  4. Maggie says:

    My dog didn’t bite you. If he did, it was your fault. By the way, I don’t have a dog.

  5. Anthony says:

    Th Honor Harrington series has arrived at the point where the important story effecting decisions are made by bureaucrats, politicians, and admirals, not a lowly captain like On Basilisk Station. It as part of the story progression that has promoted Harrington to admiral and placed here in command of a fleet of the most powerful and advanced star ships in the known galaxy. Well maybe not more advanced than the Alignment’s ships, waiting to see how that fight turns out.

  6. jjakx says:

    The Harrington series is a Weber exercise in excessive Manticore superiority with no reason for it, ever since he said that you could defend against pod wave attacks, when he already explained why you couldn’t using the same non-pod ships that deployed those waves…

    And of course Apollo missiles are just excessive (oh look, Manticore is suddenly invincible, not just excessively strong…)… as are the graser LACs (if it isn’t a Pacific War analog, then I can’t see why a LAC can take out a capital ship with a few shots) and the “fission v fusion” power is flipped as backwards from reality. (just look at a fusion bomb v fission bomb – the Lithium Deuteride is a smaller component than the pit, but provides much more power than the pit; if you really lasted decades until need to refuel a LAC, it would be running on a power output that is so low it couldn’t run the lasers described on destroyers, let alone the “SD graser” they supposedly use)

  7. evilauthor says:

    6. Read the E-Arc. All I can say without giving away spoilers is that Manticore is NOT invincible. Of course, it doesn’t die either, but that’s because it’s the Star of the Show and all.

  8. John Roth says:

    @6 jjakx. I don’t think it’s giving anything away to mention two words from the end of AAC – Oyster Bay. The cover for MoH on the Baen site is also awfully suggestive.

    We also know there’s a major Solly fleet headed toward the Talbot cluster with blood in the Admiral’s eye.

    John Roth

  9. robert says:

    @6 Or, you can read the series for its geopolitical (galactopolitical?) and character stuff. Those who read it for the techie stuff are very likely to find errors because the weapons’ capabilities and the 3D geometry of space make it very easy for even a real physicist to make errors in calculation and continuity. And Weber is not a scientist, he is a historian.

    I like the characters and don’t pay a lot of attention to the so-and-so-missile-has-a-range-of-x million kilometers, yada yada stuff. To my mind, Chapters 6 and 7 of this book (based on the Sample Chapters for the eARC) are brilliant.

  10. Shadow says:

    Here’s a quote from the product description on amazon US: “…There are forces in play, hidden enemies in motion, all converging on the Star Kingdom of Manticore to crush the very life out of it, and Honor’s worst nightmares fall short of the oncoming reality.

    But Manticore’s enemies may not have thought of everything after all. Because if everything Honor Harrington loves is going down to destruction, it won’t be going alone. ”

    That, and the book cover showing station damage as well as planetary damage, suggest a death toll in MoH that will make At All Costs look like a stroll in the park…

  11. robert says:

    Hint to all who (like me) did not read the eARC: Stay away from the snerkers on the Weber and the Baen sites. They will tell you who was killed, who won what battle, and all sorts of stuff that YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW yet…because you are the patient people who are willing to wait for the actual book’s release (or even the paperback, unwieldy as it will be) so you can read something that is way better edited with a lot fewer mistakes (like Haven getting whipped at the Battle of Monica) and a lot less eye strain.

  12. d says:

    @3 John, go back to On Basilisk Station and read the first chapter ;)

  13. d says:

    @11 I find less strain reading on the computer because you can
    a) change the font size and type
    b) change the background and text colours
    c) change the brightness and contrast of the screen.

  14. Anthony says:

    I’ve always found it easier to read the book. Simply reading from the monitor (even while experimenting with font and type size) always made my eyes hurt.

    @6 I believe the argument in favor of the fission plants (highly advanced fission plants) in the LACs was that they would eliminate the bunkerage (hydrogen fuel storage) or at least most of it. This allowed for a larger power plant than would otherwise be possible. They also described once how they had to juggle the Shrike’s power needs, and that they used a lot of their capacitor’s storage for side walls and to fire the huge battlecruiser sized (not SD sized) graser. They also needed repeated attack runs to take out battleships and it was deemed suicide for them to go up against an intact wall of battle.

    And if you don’t like it so much why are you reading it?

  15. robert says:

    @13 I sometimes read in bed, at the dining room table (but not while eating), on a comfy easy chair, at Starbucks, and one other unnamed place, none of which are easy places to lug a desktop. Even a laptop is still a pain to move around just to read from. And the laptop is labeled “Hers.” And it still makes my eyes hurt, which a book doesn’t do.

    I might, someday, consider an eBook, but never an eARC because for $2 or $3 less than the book I don’t want to have to put up with the typos, authorial brain cramps, etc. that get fixed before the printer gets going. And where is the cover art? Where is the left-handed salute (now fixed)? No dedication, no ISBN, etc. No book-ness.

  16. Summertime says:

    Print book means easy ability to skip back to check something, look at a map, refer to a name in the table at the back – all a little complicated in an electronic version. Plus skipping ahead, sampling a page here and there, to get a clue as to what’s coming, when that little devil sitting on your shoulder prompts you.

  17. Daryl says:

    @15&@16, I enjoy a good movie and loved the next level (Avatar), but these are as well as, not instead of a good book. As new technology arrives it adds to the alternatives available but does not necessarily supplant old favourites. I enjoy eating a good steak, or nice desert, but this doesn’t mean that I have given up a fresh toasty loaf of bread as an experience either. Even when holographic projections or direct brain wire experiences come about there will still be people reading paper books. On that topic I do wish that George Lucas would look at the Honorverse and do a series of 3d movies. I’m sure that eventually someone will do it.

  18. robert says:

    @17 If Hollywood ever gets its hands on the Honorverse, you will not recognize it. I promise that you will hate it because
    1. They chose the wrong person to play Honor (or somebody you like). She is only 5’3″ and looks anorexic, etc.
    2. They screwed around with the story and it is no longer recognizable. Go ahead-strip out all the weaponry exposition, the political exposition, the long discussions among the bad guys about what they are gonna do, etc. and try to substitute action and dialog for that. It won’t work. And when they do get a decent script, the director or the studio will insist on changes that make it totally dopey.
    3. The weaponry is all wrong. You know they won’t get that right. Just like the ships will be all wrong. Too much like Star Wars stuff.
    4. Nimitz/Treecats will look like stretched-out chipmunks. Look how wrong they look in the cover art, for goodness sake. Do you think the film makers will do better?
    5. As the lyric goes, I could go on all day.

    Sure, I would love to see that movie and if they do a cable show I might even get cable. More likely I’ll get the DVDs for each season from Netflix. But I will be bitterly disappointed.

  19. d says:

    @18.3 have to agree with that, the distances that weapons get fired in the Honorverse is too far away for film. I would bet that in film battles end up being so close you can see the ships with the naked eye through a window.

  20. robert says:

    @19 And that is number 5, for certain!
    One more thing. Thus far the series has covered the better part of what, 3 decades? Just think of all the tiyles reading something like
    “Five years later, in space orbiting Trevor’s Star…” Gaaa!

  21. robert says:

    I keep hitting the y instead of the t..I meant “titles” Sorry.

  22. John Roth says:

    @18 Robert.

    We can always hope. Most of those problems are solvable, given a decent creative team and not too much interference from the suits in the head office. Some of the stuff would go better with total animation rather than a mix of live and animation.

    As far as space battles go, I’d imagine them seen from the bridge. You can get just as much dramatic tension with the right display and the people’s faces as they go “oh SHIT!” And all those meetings are dialog. It would just take a bit of creativity (and good acting) to play the scene where Barregos and Roszak decide Lt. whatzisname has become a liability, and they hope he takes care while grav-skiing. Or maybe that’s a skippable detail.

  23. robert says:

    @22 John, I hope that you are right. I would love to see it. But not 100% animation. I’d pass on that. The trouble is that it takes at least 2 – 3 years to get a project from conception to the screen, especially one like this, and only a very few film makers have the clout to get it done at whatever the cost and understand the genre well enough to do a decent job. And they are both cornballs when it comes to a screenplay. Maybe DW can learn how to write a screenplay…in his spare time. If Curt Siodmak or better yet, Leigh Brackett were still alive it could work.

  24. robert says:

    Something else occurs to me. This book, Mission of Honor, promises to be a rich, detailed, action-packed work with a lot of emotional moments. It probably could translate to the screen. But I cannot see how War of Honor, for example, could. There are maybe five cinematic bits in it. All the back and forth with the Haven cabinet and those machinations would empty the theater.

  25. Daryl says:

    Sigh, I have to agree with the pessimism about translating the stories to film. Possibly Peter Jackson might be able to do it, as I had no disconnect between my concept from the Lord of the Rings books and the movies. The distant weapon scenes could be handled by a combination of holographic battle displays and switching to close ups of the action at the right time.

  26. Thirdbase says:

    If Peter Jackson gets his hands on the rights to make anything from the Honorverse, I am burning my copies of the books, erasing all digital copies, and beating DW about the head with a wet noodle.

    The only way to give the series the proper treatment would be to do it as an animated series. That way DW can approve of the way the characters all look, and the ships, etc.

  27. Bret Hooper says:

    @several of you: I agree: I prefer real books to screens, which is why I never considered a kindle. And the movies I would most like to see are 1632, 1633, 1634, 1635 (so far).

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