Mission Of Honor – Snippet 08

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 08

“Well, Sir,” he said, speaking for the recorders he knew were taking down every word, “I can’t say I’m looking forward to the thought of having any more of our people killed, but I’m afraid you’re probably right about your civilian colleagues’ hopes. I hope not, of course, but whatever happens there, you’re definitely right about our in-house priorities. If this thing does blow up the way it has the potential to, we’d better be ready to respond hard and quickly.”

“Exactly.” Rajampet nodded firmly.

“In that case, I’d better be getting the technical data over to ONI. I know you want to tell Karl-Heinz about Karlotte yourself, Sir, but I’m afraid we’re going to need to move pretty quickly on this if we’re going to have those models and analyses by tomorrow morning.”

“Hint taken,” Rajampet said with a tight smile. “Head on over to his office. I’ll screen him while you’re on the way over. Probably be a good idea to give him something else to think about as quickly as possible, anyway.”

* * *

Elizabeth III sat in her favorite, old-fashioned armchair in King Michael’s Tower. A three-meter Christmas tree — a Gryphon needle-leaf, this year — stood in the center of the room in the full splendor of its ornaments, mounting guard over the family gifts piled beneath its boughs. Its resinous scent filled the air with a comforting perfume, almost a subliminal opiate which perfected the quiet peacefulness which always seemed to surround King Michael’s, and there was a reason it was here rather than somewhere else in Mount Royal Palace. The stumpy, ancient stonework of the tower, set among its sunny gardens and fountains, was a solid, comforting reminder of permanence in Elizabeth’s frequently chaotic world, and she often wondered if that was the reason it had become her and her family’s private retreat. She might well conduct official business there, since a monarch who was also a ruling head of state was never really “off duty,” but even for business purposes, King Michael’s Tower was open only to her family and her personal friends.

And to some people, she thought, looking at the tall, almond-eyed admiral sitting sideways in the window seat across from her, with her long legs drawn up and her back braced against one wall of the window’s deep embrasure, who had become both.

“So,” the queen said, “what did your friend Stacey have to say over lunch yesterday?”

“My friend?” Admiral Lady Dame Honor Alexander-Harrington arched one eyebrow.

“I think it’s a fair choice of noun.” Elizabeth’s smile was more than a little tart. “Mind you, I don’t think anyone would have given very high odds on that particular friendship’s ever happening, given the way you and her father first met.”

“Klaus Hauptman isn’t actually the worst person in the world.” Honor shrugged. “Admittedly, he made an ass out of himself in Basilisk, and I wouldn’t say we got off on the right foot in Silesia, either. And, to be honest, I don’t think I’m ever going to really like him. But he does have his own sense of honor and obligations, and that’s something I can respect, at least.”

The cream-and-gray treecat stretched out on the window sill raised his head and looked at her with quizzically tilted ears. Then he sat up, and his true-hands began to flicker.

his agile, flashing fingers signed.

“‘Crystal Mind’?” Elizabeth repeated out loud. “Is that what the ‘cats call Stacey?”

“Yes,” Honor replied, but she was looking at the treecat. “I don’t think that’s entirely fair, Stinker,” she told him.

< 'Fair' is a two-leg idea,> he signed back.

“Which is one of the reasons I, personally, prefer treecats to most of the two-legs I know,” Elizabeth agreed. “And, for that matter, Nimitz’s estimate of Hauptman the Elder’s personality is closer to mine than yours is.”

“I didn’t put him up for sainthood, you know,” Honor observed mildly. “I only said he isn’t the worst person in the world, and he isn’t. Arrogant, opinionated, frequently thoughtless, and entirely too accustomed to getting his own way, yes. I’ll grant you all of that. But the old pirate’s also one of the most honest people I know — which is pretty amazing, when you get down to it, given how rich he is — and once he figures out he has an obligation in the first place, he’s downright relentless about meeting it.”

“That much,” Elizabeth conceded, “is true. And” — the queen’s eyes narrowed shrewdly, and she cocked her head — “the fact that he’s so strongly committed to stamping out the genetic slave trade probably helps just a tad where you’re concerned, too, doesn’t it?”

“I’ll admit that.” Honor nodded. “And, frankly, from what Stacey had to say, he’s not taking the possibility of Manpower’s involvement in what’s going on in Talbott what someone might call calmly.”

“No, I suppose not.”

Elizabeth leaned back in her armchair, and the treecat stretched along its top purred buzzingly as the back of her head pressed against his silken pelt. He reached down, caressing her cheek with one long-fingered true-hand, and she reached up to stroke his spine in return.

“He’s not exactly alone in that reaction, is he, though?” she continued.


Honor sighed and scooped Nimitz up. She gave him a hug, then deposited him in her lap, rolled him up on his back, and began to scratch the soft fur of his belly. He let his head fall back, eyes more than half-slitted, and her lips quirked as he purred in delight.

In point of fact, Elizabeth’s last question was its own form of thundering understatement, and she wondered what the response on Old Terra was like. By now, their newsies had to have picked up the reports coming out of Manticore, and it wouldn’t be very long before the first Solarian reporters started flooding through Manticore, trying to get to Spindle and New Tuscany to cover the story.

“I’m sure you have at least as good a feel for how people are reacting to all this as Stacey does,” she pointed out after a moment.

“Yes, and no,” Elizabeth replied. Honor looked a question at her, and the queen shrugged. “I’ve got all the opinion polls, all the tracking data, all the mail pouring into Mount Royal, analyses of what’s being posted on the public boards — all of that. But she’s the one who’s been building up her little media empire over the last T-year and a half. Let’s face it, the newsies are actually better than my so-called professional analysts at figuring out where public opinion is headed. And I’m sure she’s also hearing things from her father’s friends and business acquaintances, as well. For that matter, you move in some fairly rarefied financial circles yourself, Duchess Harrington!”

“Not so much since I went back on active duty,” Honor disagreed. “Willard and Richard are looking after all of that for me until further notice.”

Elizabeth snorted, and it was Honor’s turn to shrug. What she’d said was accurate enough, but Elizabeth had a point, as well. It was true that Willard Neufsteiler and Richard Maxwell were basically running her own sprawling, multi-system financial empire at the moment, but she made it a point to stay as abreast of their reports as she did those from Austen Clinkscales, her regent in Harrington Steading, and those reports frequently included their insights into the thinking of the Manticoran business community. And, for that matter, of the Grayson business community.

“At any rate,” she went on, “Stacey hasn’t had her ‘media empire’ all that long. She’s still working on getting everything neatly organized, and I think there are aspects of the business which offend her natural sense of order. But, I have to admit, the fact that she’s so new to it also means it’s all still fresh and interesting to her.”

“So she did bring it up at lunch!” Elizabeth said a bit triumphantly, and Honor chuckled. But then her chuckle faded.

“Yes, she did. And I’m pretty sure she said basically what your analysts are already telling you. People are worried, Beth. In fact, a lot of them are scared to death. I don’t say they’re scared as badly as some of them were immediately after the Battle of Manticore, but that still leaves a lot of room for terror, and this is the Solarian League we’re talking about.”

“I know.” Elizabeth’s eyes had darkened. “I know, and I wish there’d been some way to avoid dumping it on all of them. But –”

She broke off with an odd little shake of her head, and Honor nodded again.

“I understand that, but you were right. We had to go public with it — and not just because of our responsibility to tell people the truth. Something like this was bound to break sooner or later, and if people decided we’d been trying to hide it from them when it did . . . .”

She let her voice trail off, and Elizabeth grimaced in agreement.

“Did Stacey have a feel for how her subscribers reacted to the fact that we already sat on the news about what happened to Commodore Chatterjee for almost an entire T-month?” the queen asked after a moment.

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26 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 08

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    Great to have Honor back on stage!

  2. robert says:

    Her stage is getting larger and larger.

  3. Thirdbase says:

    “If this thing does blow up the way it has the potential to,”

    “Thing” here is equal to 71 SDs and supporting ships.

    If Battle Fleet is as bad about keeping close formation as Frontier Fleet was, it isn’t so much 10th Fleet vs TF 496, as it is 10th Fleet vs the 140 individual ships of TF 496.

    I wonder if when everything gets settled down, Elizabeth will abdicate as Queen of the Star Kingdom or whatever they are calling the “original” parts, and just be Empress of the Star Empire.

  4. robert says:

    @3 Thirdbase.
    I suspect we will not see any settling down for several more books. Does she have to abdicate one throne to assume another? Is there actually a whole another position involved? When did the name actually change? And if not (or even if it did) why should it be the SEM, where M is for Manticore, when we have so many other non-Manticoran entities in the Empire? Is there another, more appropriate name for this aggregation of star systems that is more meaningful?

    While Elizabeth has more power than the usual constitutional monarch that we are used to, is there anything in the Talbott or in the Trevor’s Star or whatever that part of Silesia is called constitutions that does anything to lessen the monarchical powers that she has in the SKM?

    I don’t think that I have seen any infodumps or textual evidence regarding name changes or arrogation of powers or any of that stuff. Has anyone?

  5. justdave says:

    SEM was set up in SftS after Talbot agreed to join SKM and the ‘integration’ of the SKM’s half of Silesia

  6. robert says:

    @5 You are right. My boo. I read all that a “long time ago” and just forgot. I found all the details in Chapter 14. But I still think that the name is very imperialistic, smelling of colonialism. It needs changing and not by putting an s after “Star.”

  7. Anthony says:

    I don’t mind the name much, after all, Manticore is the single most powerful unit of the empire by far. In the process of time, as more systems join, and those who have joined become more powerful the name might be changed. Maybe the will just be called the Star Empire.

  8. jason says:

    any idea how many years ago was it that Silesia was annexed by the Manties

  9. justdave says:

    @8 early 1920PD when SKM decides they need IAN to defeat RH

    while it’s not listed specifically IIRC EIII told HH when she returned from Sidemore, see:


  10. robert says:

    @8 I cannot find it in the timeline infodump. It looks like it should be around 1920-21. It was after The Sidemore battle (c1920) and as part of the agreement with the Andermani.

  11. Richard says:

    Only part of Silesia was annexed by the Manties. The other half was annexed by the Anderman Empire.

  12. Thirdbase says:

    I’m still wondering exactly how the division of Silesia was done and what the status of Sidemore is.

    My question about Elizabeth was partially based upon the fact that she is likely to be Queen/Empress for another 100 to 150 years. She currently around 65 years old and her son around 30.

    As for the name, it is where the Capital is and the most powerful entity in the Empire.

  13. robert says:

    @12 Sidemore is an independent system, with a large RMN base in place. So far they are not part of the SEM, but are real friendly. How the decisions/deals were made and the divvying up of Silesia done I don’t know. I will go through At All Costs and War of Honor again to see if it is specified. But I think Weber just tossed it out as a done deal.

    I read through Chapter 14 of Storm and it appears that E III is Empress of the SEM based on the agreement between and constitutions of the Old SKM and the “Talbott Quadrant.” The Old SKM is Manticore, Lynx and Trevor’s Star. Manticoran Silesia (v. Andermani Silesia) is not (yet) a member of the Empire in the sense that they have no say in the governing of SEM. This was all thought by Henke in typical Weber infodump style in the middle of the first meeting between Henke and Khumalo (sp?). I must have been skimming the last time through…

  14. John Roth says:

    @13 Robert

    Hm. Weber’s infodumps. Yeah, keeping track of them can be irritating, but I can’t figure out how he could insert all the richness of the Honorverse and the maneuverings going on without either something like that, or writing a lot of side stories whose only purpose is to provide some of the information.

    Take Chapter 50 of ToF as almost the poster child: the entire chapter deals with Mannerheim, the Mannerheim System Defense Force and the Felix wormhole junction. The only thing it seems to have to do with Torch of Freedom is that the Mannerheim SDF is what killed the Harvest Joy when it transited the wormhole. There’s a lot of raw meat in that chapter, including the information about Darius (the Alignment’s equivalent to Bolthole) and the tidbit about Mannerheim being riddled with Mesan star lines, but there’s no reason I can see for why it’s there, rather than somewhere else, or why the information couldn’t have been split up and dropped elsewhere.

    To get back to the infodump about Silesia: The placement is odd, but, assuming the information is relevant, I’m not sure where else it would go unless Weber was going to write a couple of Silesia novelettes where it would come up in the normal course of events. And I suspect it is relevant: there’s got to be a reason why Silesia comes up time and again, and why it’s the really bad example of a disfunctional star nation. I’m beginning to wonder if maybe Mesa has a hand in that as well.

  15. justdave says:

    @13 ‘Old’ SKM also included Basilisk

    gotta have control of those junction termini!

  16. Summertime says:

    @#14 – Surely Mesa can’t have a hand in every negative development in every star nation in the Honorverse! When did Mesa step from the shadows and become known as the grand manipulator? I remember in the first few Honor books the focus was on the conflict between Manticore and a Haven tht was trying to keep from coming apart by going conquering. Other star nations such as the Solar League were mentioned only in passing. Gradually, the scope of the story expanded to include more planets and people, but this was several books into the series. When did Mesa and Manpower assume such a dark role behind the scenes?

  17. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Summertime, first there is a ‘habit’ among the Weber Fans to see the ‘current enemy’ behind every ‘bad’ thing that happens in the Honorverse.

    Before Mesa/Manpower started to become the enemy, you had people wondering if Haven was involved an early assassination attempt on a Manticore princess (the first member of the royal house to be adopted by a treecat).

    After Masa/Manpower started to become the enemy, people started to wonder if Mesa was involved in that assassination attempt.

    However, David Weber has established (in either The Shadow of Saganami or Storm from the Shadows) that the Alignment was involved in the fall of the old Haven Republic.

    Also, in The Shadow of Saganami, we learn that Commodore Saganami’s last battle was against ‘pirates’ supported by Manpower and elements in the Silesian government.

    While the state of affairs in Silesia might not been caused by the Alignment, we have learned that Mesa/Manpower/the Alignment have been involved in trouble making long before the Haven-Manticore war.

    David Weber has said that the Alignment (if not by that name) has always been part of his plans for the Honorverse.

    In the early books was (for good reasons) focused on the Haven vs Manticore story line.

    Mesa/Manpower started to become important when Eric Flint asked David Weber for a common enemy for Manticore agents and Haven agents to ally against. That was in “From The Highland” in the _Changer of Worlds_ collection.

    Of course, bringing up Mesa/Manpower as an enemy early changed David Weber’s plans and saved Honor’s life. [Wink]

  18. robert says:

    @15 Maybe Basilisk was and maybe it wasn’t. From Storm From the Shadows, Chapter 14:
    “The Quadrant and the Star Kingdom (which some people were already beginning to refer to as “the Old Star Kingdom,” even though Trevor’s Star and the Lynx System had scarcely been charter members of the original Star Kingdom) would both be units of a new realm known as the Star Empire of Manticore.”
    Since the natives of Medusa are clearly not ready for self-governing in a galactic world (galaxy? whatever) the humans on Medusa are Manticorans, as are the folks manning the various stations and the junction forts. So why would anyone from Basilisk have SEM citizenship? The ‘place’ may be a part of the Old Kingdom, but that is geography or astrography, not politics.

    @14 John. I don’t really have any complaints about those multi-page embedded infodumps. Its just that I sometimes don’t have enough patience to read them very carefully. So then I say wrong things. It is embarrassing! And I can’t really find the answer to Thirdbase @12.

    @17 So Drak, Eric Flint saved Honor’s life? Hoorah!

  19. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well, from what David said, he was glad that he had an excuse to spare Honor. [Smile]

    For those who don’t know, David had planned to give Honor “Nelson’s death” in the big battle in _At All Costs_. IE Honor would have won the battle but died afterwards.

    Her last words were to ask Queen Elizabeth to make peace with Haven.

    The War with the Alignment would have started much later when Honor’s children were adults.

  20. John Roth says:

    @16 Summertime

    Well, clearly not every negative incident. However, notice the assassination attempt in the Andermani Empire using Mesa’s proprietary assassin biotechnology. I’ve never found a credible reason why they’d do that one unless they wanted to destabilize the Anderman Empire. There are lots easier ways of doing a field test, after all.

    Consider a hamburger. No, wrong story (oops!)

    Consider a basketball. Or volleyball or soccer ball. Think of that as the Solarian League out to the Protectorates, but not the Verge. Now put an orange near it. Think of that as the (People’s) Republic of Haven. Now add a couple of plums nearby, and think of them as Sileasia and the Anderman Empire.

    Now look at all the rest of the space around the soccer ball. How likely is it that none of that space contains any star nations or nascent star nations that are large and well enough organized that the Mesan Alignment considers leaving them alone to be an unacceptable risk?

    The story is in one relatively small corner of the Verge. The rest of the Verge is a heck of a big place.

    As to when Mesa came out of the shadows? The first time there was a scene with Albrecht Detweiller. I don’t remember if there was one in Shadow of Saganami or Crown of Slaves, but there were scenes scattered all through At all Costs and Storm from the Shadows. And, of course, part of Torch of Freedom actually takes place on Mesa.

  21. robert says:

    An interesting conversation with Honor and Empress Elizabeth, with Stacey Hauptmann as one of the peripheral subjects being discussed. The interest arises from what we learned about the Hauptmann’s wills in Torch of Freedom. If anything happens to them, Honor inherits their empire. She doesn’t know this even if the Detweiler’s do. Will anything happen to them as a result of the impending attack.

  22. Summertime says:

    Thanks all! Yes, the Honorverse has expanded hugely since it’s beginning as a Manticore-Haven fracas with a focus mainly on Honor. I’m glad other authors, such as Flint, helped create new and fresh concepts. Drak, one of my favorite tales is “From The Highlands” with so many great characters being brought in. That is the first instance I, too, remember of Manpower being a prominent ‘villain’. That story was in one of the Honorverse collections, I believe. I’m glad Weber has kept Honor around, even if she has ascended to the level of elder statesman. She still can be central on occasion. @John Roth – that analogy showing the relative area that Haven, Manticore, etc., occupy in the Verge offers a wide range view of human-settled space. Yes, who else is out there on the fringe, what are they up to, and what is the Mesan Alignment doing to and through them? I doubt we have seen the end of new characters being introduced, as witness the new ones in “Torch Of Freedom.”

  23. John Roth says:

    @21 Robert

    I think that the way the wills are written is insurance against anything happening to them.

    And I wouldn’t be too sure that the conversation about Stacy is just background. From what I’ve seen so far, David is fairly predictable in dropping clues. I don’t think Stacy would be mentioned this early if she wasn’t going to play some kind of part later.

  24. Summertime says:

    Speaking of “Torch Of Freedom,” the Mesan Alignment and the Detweilers are featured prominently and their background is explored. One thing mentioned is that, among their many other activities in the past, the manipulation of humans to fit them for life on less optimal planets was practiced. I guess that means planets with different gravity, atmosphere, temperature ranges, etc. I don’t remember mention of any of these situations so far in any of the books. Mention of Mesan alterations have spoken mainly of mental abilities, emotional proclivities, musculature, etc., all usable on earth-type planets. What about really extreme adaptions for really exotic planets? May be worth a mention or two in future editions of the Honorverse saga. Speaking of which, does anyone know if another edition of short stories or novelettes is going to come out? I believe there have been four so far. Lot of good ideas in those books.

  25. Thirdbase says:

    Foreshadowing, your guide to great literature.

  26. Doug Clayborne says:

    From the snippets I’ve found online as well as Torch of Freedom I get the feeling that there is a distinct possibility that alerted Manticoran Alliance ships wouldn’t be totally defenseless against spider/streak equipped vessels. But I wonder if that means that Havenite vessels wouldn’t be defenseless either once alerted. Because Haven would have a bone to pick with Mesa and the Mesan Alignment as well, based on what the security chief told Zilwicki in that diner in Torch of Freedom.

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