Mission Of Honor – Snippet 07

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 07

Chapter Two

“I can’t believe this,” Fleet Admiral Winston Kingsford, CO, Battle Fleet, half-muttered. “I mean, I always knew Josef hated the Manties, but, still . . . .”

His voice trailed off as he realized what he’d just said. It wasn’t the most diplomatic comment he could possibly have made, since it was Fleet Admiral Rajampet who had personally suggested Josef Byng as the CO of Task Group 3021. Kingsford had thought it was a peculiar decision at the time, since the task group was a Frontier Fleet formation and Byng, like Kingsford, was a Battle Fleet officer. He’d also expected Fleet Admiral Engracia Alonso y Yáñez, Frontier Fleet’s commanding officer, to resist Byng’s appointment. For that matter, he’d expected Byng to turn it down. From a Battle Fleet perspective, a Frontier Fleet command had to be viewed as a de facto demotion, and Josef Byng had certainly had the family connections to avoid it if he’d chosen to.

All of which suggested it might not be a good idea to even hint at “I told you so” now that things had gone so disastrously awry.

“Believe it,” Rajampet said heavily.

The two of them sat in Rajampet’s luxurious office at the very apex of the Navy Building’s four hundred stories. The view through the genuine windows was spectacular, and in another thirty or forty years it would almost certainly belong to one Winston Kingsford.

Assuming he didn’t screw up irretrievably between now and then.

“Have you looked at the technical material yet, Sir?” he asked.

“Not yet.” Rajampet shook his head. “I doubt very much that you’ll find any clues as to secret Manticoran super weapons in it. Even if they’ve got them, I’m sure they’ll have vacuumed the sensor data before they sent it on to us. And since Sigbee surrendered all of her ships, I’d imagine they did a pretty fair job of vacuuming her computers, too. So I don’t think we’re going to get a lot of insight into their hardware out of this even if they do oh-so-graciously return our property to us.”

“With your permission, Sir, I’ll hand this over to Karl-Heinz and Hai-shwun, anyway.”

Admiral Karl-Heinz Thimár commanded the Solarian League Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence, and Admiral Cheng Hai-shwun commanded the Office of Operational Analysis. OpAn was the biggest of ONI’s divisions, which made Cheng Thimár’s senior deputy . . . and also the person who should have seen this coming.

“Of course,” Rajampet agreed, waving one hand brusquely. Then his mouth tightened. “Don’t hand it over until I’ve had a chance to talk to Karl-Heinz first, though. Someone’s got to tell him about Karlotte, and I guess it’s up to me.”

“Yes, Sir,” Kingsford said quietly, and gave himself a mental kick for forgetting Rear Admiral Karlotte Thimár, Byng’s chief of staff, was — had been — Karl-Heinz’s first cousin.

“Actually, getting them started on this is probably a damned good idea, even if we’re not going to get much in the way of hard data out of it. I want the best evaluation OpAn can give me on these new missiles of theirs. I don’t expect miracles, but see what you can get out of them.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“And while they’re working on that, you and I are going to sit down and look at our deployment posture. I know the entire Manty navy’s a fart in a wind storm compared to Battle Fleet, but I don’t want us suffering any avoidable casualties because of overconfidence. Kolokoltsov has a point, damn him, about the difference in missile ranges. We’re going to need a hammer they won’t be able to stop when we go after their home system.”

“When we go after their home system?” Kingsford stressed the adverb, and Rajampet barked a grating laugh.

“Those civilian idiots can talk about ‘if’ all they want to, Winston, but let’s not you and I fool ourselves, all right? It’s not ‘if,’ it’s ‘when,’ and you know it as well as I do. Those Manticoran pricks are too arrogant to recognize what their real options are. They’re not going to go for this ultimatum of Quartermain’s, and in the end, that means we’ll be going in. Besides –”

He broke off rather abruptly, and Kingsford raised one eyebrow at him. But the CNO only shook his head, waving his hand in another brushing away gesture.

“The point is,” he continued, “that it’s going to come to shooting in the end, no matter what sort of ‘negotiations’ anyone may try to set up. And when it does, the strategy’s actually going to be pretty damned simple, since they’ve only got one really important star system. They don’t have any choice, strategically. If we go after Manticore itself, they have to stand and fight. No matter how long-ranged their missiles may be, they can’t just cut and run, so I want to be sure we’ve got enough counter-missiles and point defense to stand up to their missile fire while we drive straight for their planets. It may not be pretty, but it’ll work.”

“Yes, Sir,” Kingsford said yet again, and he knew his superior was right. After all, that concept lay at the bottom of virtually all of Battle Fleet’s strategic doctrine. But however much he might agree with the CNO about that, his brain was still working on that aborted “Besides” of Rajampet’s. Something about it bothered him, but what . . . ?

Then he remembered.

I wonder . . . Did he even mention Sandra Crandall and her task force to the others? And while I’m wondering, just how much did he have to do with getting her deployed to the Madras Sector in the first place?

It took all of his self-control to keep his eyes from narrowing in sudden, intense speculation, but this was definitely not the time to ask either of those questions. And even if he’d asked, the answers — assuming Rajampet answered him honestly — would only have raised additional questions. Besides, however far into this particular pie Rajampet’s finger might be, the CNO was covered. Byng’s assignment, while not precisely routine, wasn’t completely unprecedented. It was certainly justifiable in the wake of the Battle Monica and all the charges and counter charges that had spawned, as well. And, equally certainly, Crandall had the seniority to choose, within reason, where to carry out her training exercises. So if it just happened she’d picked the McIntosh System for Exercise Winter Forage (or whatever she’d decided to call it in the end), and if that just happened to mean Task Force 496 was barely fifty light-years away from the Meyers System, that didn’t necessarily indicate any collusion on Rajampet’s part.

Sure it didn’t, he thought. And I’ll bet that answers my first question, too. Hell no he didn’t tell them. And he’s covered no matter what happens, because she’s undoubtedly made up her own mind by now what she’s going to do, and he can’t possibly get orders to her in time to stop her. So, really, there was no point in telling them, was there?

Winston Kingsford hadn’t commanded a fleet in space in decades, but he had plenty of experience in the tortuous, byzantine maneuvers of the Solarian League’s bureaucracy. And he was well aware of how much Rajampet resented his own exclusion from the cozy little civilian five some which actually ran the League. Minister of Defense Taketomo’s real power was no greater than that of any of the other cabinet ministers who theoretically governed the League, but Defense was — or damned well ought to be, anyway — at least as important as Commerce or Education and Information. It had a big enough budget to be, at any rate, and it was critical enough to the League’s prosperous stability. Yet Rajampet had been denied his place at the head table, and it irritated the hell out of him.

But if we should just happen to get into a real, genuine war for the first time in three or four hundred years, all of that could change, couldn’t it? Kingsford thought. I wonder how many people Rajani would be willing to kill to bring that about?

Despite his own trepidation, Kingsford felt a certain grudging admiration. It was always possible he was wrong, of course. In fact, he wouldn’t have thought Rajampet had that sort of maneuver in him. But it wasn’t as if Winston Kingsford felt any inclination to complain. After all, if Rajampet pulled it off, it was Kingsford who would eventually inherit that increased prestige and real political clout. And if everything went south on them, it wouldn’t be Kingsford’s fault. All he would have done was exactly what his lawful superior had instructed him to do.

It never even crossed his mind that in most star nations what he suspected Rajampet of would have constituted treason, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. For that matter, under the letter of the Solarian League Constitution, it did constitute treason — or, at the very least, “high crimes and misdemeanors” which carried the same penalty. But the Constitution had been a dead letter virtually from the day the original ink dried, and what someone else in some other star nation, far, far away, would have called “treason” was simply the way things were done here in the Solarian League. And, after all, somebody had to get them done, one way or another.

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32 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 07

  1. Thirdbase says:

    Hey look I’m going to start a war to advance my political power.

    “There you are, then,” Palmer-Levy said. “What we need is a short, victorious war . . . and I think we all know where we can find one, don’t we?”

    A slightly different reason, but the same thought processes involved.

  2. robert says:

    Indeed, but on a very much larger scale. Good analogy and great memory.

  3. Rod says:

    hehe, the problem for Rajampet and the SLN of course is that they aren’t actually starting this war, despite what they think. It’s all part of Mesa’s grand scheme. What I wonder is what if when Zilwicki and Cachat finally begin to spill the beans widely about what they now know of the Alignment. Will news get back to the league, and if so will that cause some sort of investigation on who’s in bed with Mesa and just what they are doing? I mean they already have the Technodyne incendent and if you add this, I think even the league might pay attention……. but then maybe not.

  4. robert says:

    @3 They better pay attention if Beowulf has anything to say about it. Otherwise Beowulf might secede from the SL and that would start the disintegration.

  5. obelow says:

    @3 I think Rajampet must have close connections to the alignment, since obviously he positioned Byng and Crandall and I cannot imagine that he is unaware of whats going on since those events were arranged by the mesa alignment. The others in the top echelons of the league are just dupes mesa and Rajampet are tricking into doing what they want.
    Who knows, Rajampet might even be part of the alignment… or he just thinks that Mesa’s goal is to just wipe out Manticore because of its strong stand against Manpower and the he can better his position by playing along…

  6. Mark L says:

    If the Solarian League attacks Maticore would Beowulf secede? Weber tends to borrow from history, so it might be worth reviewing a previous hemogenic alliance for clues as to what might happen. In particular, it seems that the SL is similar in many ways to the Delian League in ancient Greece. The fates of Naxos and Thasos might be relevant.

    (Or maybe not. Still. . . the leaders of Beowulf would have to consider it.)

  7. jgnfld says:

    @6 As I mentioned a snippet or 2 back. Honor specifically brought up to Elizabeth at the end of AAC, I think, that there were clear fault lines along which she could split the Solarian League if push came to shove. This sounds like part and parcel of what you’re getting at.

  8. robert says:

    @7 I believe you mean the HH’s analysis at the end of Storm From the Shadows, not At All Cost, of how to dismantle the SL.

    I wonder if that is the scenario that Weber will, or even can, follow given the impending Oyster Bay attack.

  9. Shadow says:

    @8: You’re right, but don’t forget that the Alignement’s main objective is to create a civil war within the League. Manticore may or may not be able to dig on the fault lines due to Oyster Bay, but Mesa will be happy to push in the same general direction anyway. The Alignement just won’t go out of it’s way to paint the manties as the good guys in that scenario.

    The initial SL reaction to byng’s demise is pretty fun. In order to avoid humiliation, they pursue a confrontation with Manticore. When you read the rest of the book, you’ll see the irony in that motive. ^^

  10. jgnfld says:

    Yeah, SftS. Sorry. But to answer your question, yes I think that’s exactly where Weber will take things. As some mention here, Beowulf is not going to send fleets to destroy Manticore for one.

  11. jgnfld says:

    added from @10: …Beowulf might even send direct support. (How big a fleet do they have??? I’ve never seen a reference much to their navy.)

  12. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Jgnfld, we know that Beowulf has a System Defense Force (from Weber comments) but we have no idea how big it is.

  13. justdave says:

    I imagine Beowulf (and Maya for that matter) can defend themselves a lot better than Naxos and Thasos did

  14. John Roth says:

    @9 Shadow

    Au contrare, the Alignment’s main objective is not to start a civil war. Its objective is to Make The Universe Safe for Genetic Superhumans. Breaking up the League is one strand in its strategy for doing that. It’s the one we’re seeing now, partly because it’s the most interesting one to write about.

    David has a tendency to pick names that are historically or mythologically significant. Rob S. Pierre could have been named John Smith for all it matters to the story, for example. Elizabeth III harkens back to Elizabeth I of England, one of the all time most effective monarchs in western history. So one could look at the code name for Mesa’s final denoument: Prometheus, known for bringing fire to mankind, not for breaking things up and causing chaos.

  15. Richard says:

    Beowulf is a SL member so her citizens are SL citizens. I wonder how many Beowulf citizens are in the SL Navy. Were any were killed when Byng’s flag ship was blown away? How would that affect Beowulf’s attitude toward Manticore?

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Richard, considering the size of the Solarian League, the odds of any Beowulfians being on Byng’s flag ship is extremely low.

    Second, Beowulf is ‘right next door’ to Manticore and the Harringtons isn’t the only Manticorian family to have connections with Beowulfians.

    Third, David Weber has stated that there are very good relations between the Government of Beowulf and the Manticore Government.

    It is extremely likely that Beowulf and its people don’t share the standard attitude (ie Manticorians are neobarbs) of the Solarian League.

    So IMO the Beowulfians would put the blame for any deaths of their fellow Beowulfians onto Byng not onto Manticore.

  17. robert says:

    Beowulf is bound to find out about the stuff that Zilwicki and Cachet discovered on Mesa. Beowulf hates Manpower and Mesa, and when they hear the name Detweiler, they will go bonkers. I am willing to bet a 6 pack of Mojave Gold that they will quit the League in an eyeflick.

  18. Anthony says:

    It hasn’t been stated that the Alignment wants to break the League up. After all why destroy one large super government if it means you just have to establish another to accomplish your own ends. Better to co-opt the existing government and make it into what you want it to be. Plans for the League may be to keep it together while Manticore begins disassembling it.

    As For Beowulf once they here about the Alignment and Detweiler then they will most likely secede from the League and turn their system defense force into a real navy. And with the Very good relationship between Manticore and Beowulf, all sorts of Technical goodies might be available for that transformation (or even right at this immediate moment for that matter).

    As for Beowulf citizens on Byng’s ship, DW has already mentioned that most of the navy personnel is drawn from protectorate and verge systems, and that they have no real loyalty to the League. Most Citizens in the League have loyalty to their planet, and not the League as a whole, so more likely those citizens would be members of the various system defense forces.

  19. Shadow says:

    @14 John Roth.

    Damn, it’s pretty hard when you’ve read MoH to know what you can say on matters covered in several books without spoiling anything signifiant.

    We’re both right. While the Alignement’s ultimate objective is indeed to impose to everyone their view of the universe, they have to aquire control of civilised space to do it. And the destruction of the SL as a nation is a big part of this strategy for control.

  20. robert says:

    @18 From your analysis I would say that indeed Beowulf and Manticore will ally with one another, and since Beowulf is a leader in hyperphysics, among other sciences, there is a strong likelihood that Herlander Simoes will end up there. If he does, the secret of the Alignment’s hyperspace drives will soon be available to all. But not overnight, I think.

  21. John Roth says:

    @19 Shadow

    Of course. My comment was directed to the phrase main objective. The fact that they’ve been pursuing the breakup of the League for so long as a subgoal is undoubtedly highly significant, but what does it mean for the rest of the plot? That is the question.

  22. Shadow says:

    @18: If Mesa wanted to take over the league from the inside, they’d need only a political penetration, without a military side, and that would be boring. In that scenario they wouldn’t even need to try to get Manticore or Haven destroyed first, or even to hide behind Manpower. The most sensible course would have been to join the League and present the appearence of being just one system among countless others, while their agents corrupt more and more people or get promoted in positions of influence.

    But that wouldn’t be good for the storyline, that need some fleet action between bits of cloak and dagger stuff. :)

  23. John Roth says:

    @22 Shadow

    Since any league member can veto actions, Beowulf would not allow it.

  24. saul says:

    A political take over would not be that easy. Granted these guys are supposed to be ‘ubermen’, but there are plenty of other talented people and organizations in the league. They would be competing with all those other groups on a mostly level footing.

  25. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Another aspect to a political takeover of the Solarian League is that it appears that the Solarian League ‘government’ has very little power over the citizens of the full member systems (systems under OFS aren’t full members of the SL).

    The Alignment’s plans would require more power than controlling the SL government could give them.

    For their plans to work (forcefully ‘uplifting’ human genetics), the SL has to go and a new government (with greater power of the member worlds) has to take its place.

  26. robert says:

    @22 Shadow, you are describing a science fiction political thriller not a military science fiction novel/series. I wonder who writes those? Hmmmm.

    @25 Drak, yes, but…by boring from within, as Shadow wrote, they could have destroyed the League’s entire structure a long time ago without all this involvement in genetic slavery and all the other nutty things they have been doing for hundreds of years. Then we could have more of Alicia DeVries.

  27. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, no argument that the Alignment *could* have done things differently.

    What we appear to be seeing is the end result of ‘bad decisions’ by the Alignment starting with the decision to *not* trying to convince the human galaxy that their way was the better way.

    At the very beginning, the Alignment decided that mankind was too stupid to know what is best.

    That was IMO their first mistake.

  28. John Roth says:

    @27 Drak

    I’m not so sure of that. We really know very little about the original split between Leonard Detwiller and Beowulf. We can presume that a large part of it was that Detwiller saw a stratified society on a genetic basis, and Beowulf is represented as aggressively egalitarian. He also saw specialized human lines, and most of them would be designed so that they were (supposedly) incapable of running their own affairs competently, or at least as well as the lines specifically designed to be the Masters of Humanity.

    If that was really Detwiller’s vision, trying to convince the Galaxy at large of the benefits of a genetically stratified society, with most of the people who needed convincing on the bottom, would seem to be a non-starter.

    There was also the legacy of the genetic stupor-soldiers who made the final war on Earth such a devastating mess. Trying to put both of those propositions over would be a project worthy of Frank Luntz.

  29. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John Roth, have you read _Torch Of Freedom_?

    In it we get an insider’s view of Leonard Detwiller’s dream.

    In some ways, it sounds good but the insider begins to realize just how evil the means (which started with Leonard Detwiller) by which the dream is to be created.

  30. Summertime says:

    Who is Frank Luntz?

  31. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Summertime, I’m not sure but this may be the person John was talking about.


  32. Richie says:

    The Allignment wants to control what is happening. Umder the present system this is hard for three reasons. Firstly as Drak (25) stated there is little cohesion between the members and the whole. Secondly as this Snippet shows there is a culture of the SL for doing your own thing. (ie whatever you can get away with) which will work against them when they are in control. So not desirable. Lastly the SL is huge and even if they impose a dictatorship or some other totalitarian government their ability to effectively enforce policy against the members wishes will be hampered by the size of the police/military force required to do so.

    It is much easier to break the SL into small parts which can be absorbed in the Allignment’s structure at a rate more manageable. Also a certain amount of natural selection will occure as some parts of the SL lean more closely towards the Alliance’s goals allowing for quick integration. Others will need to be wooed and some just outright squashed. However, I suspect that one of the reasons that Mesa and consequently the Allignment were interested in places like Torch and Talbot cluster or even that little planet mentioned in one of the short stories defended by Abigail Hearns (in “The service of the Sword”) is that they need unpopulated planets or ones where nonone will miss the population. This will give them the oportunity to engineer whole societies and populations.

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