Mission Of Honor – Snippet 09

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 09

“Some of them are upset about the delay, but she says e-mails and com calls alike are both running something like eight-to-one in support of it, and the opinion poll numbers show about the same percentages.” Honor shrugged again. “Manticorans have learned a bit about when and how information has to be . . . handled carefully, let’s say, in the interest of operational security. You’ve got a pretty hefty positive balance with most of your subjects on that issue, actually. And I think just about everyone understands that, especially in this case, we have to be wary about inflaming public opinion. And not just here in the Star Kingdom, either.”

“That’s my read, too,” Elizabeth agreed. “But I’m still not entirely happy about mentioning the possible Manpower connection.” She sighed, her expression worried. “It’s bad enough telling people we’re effectively at war with the Solarian League without telling them we think a bunch of nasty genetic slavers may be behind it all. Talk about sounding paranoid!”

Honor smiled wryly. Yet again, Elizabeth had a point. The notion that any outlaw corporation, however big, powerful, and corrupt it might be, was actually in a position to manipulate the military and foreign policy of something the size of the Solarian League was preposterous on the face of it. Honor herself had been part of the discussion about whether or not to go public with that particular aspect of Michelle Henke’s summary of her New Tuscan investigation’s conclusions. It really did sound paranoid — or possibly just like the ravings of a lunatic, which wasn’t all that much better — but she agreed with Pat Givens and the other analysts over at ONI. Lunatic or not, the evidence was there.

“I agree some people think it’s a little far fetched,” she said after a moment. “At the same time, a lot of other people seem to be looking very hard at the possibility Mike’s onto something. And, to be perfectly frank, I’m just as happy to have that aspect of it out in the public ‘faxes because of the possible out it gives those idiots on Old Terra. If Manpower really was behind it, maybe it will occur to them that cleaning their own house — and letting their public know they’re doing it — is one response that might let both of us step back from the brink. If they can legitimately lay the blame on Manpower, then maybe they can admit they were manipulated into a false position. They’ve got to know that if they’ll only do that, we’ll meet them halfway at the negotiating table. And after what already happened to them in Monica, and with Technodyne, surely the groundwork for that kind of response is already in place!”

“Sure it is. And you can add in the fact that they’re going to be pissed as hell at Manpower when they realize we’re right. So they’ve got all sorts of reasons to climb on board and do exactly what you’re suggesting. But they’re not going to.”

Elizabeth’s expression was no longer worried; now it was grim, and Honor frowned a question at her.

“If they’d been going to be reasonable, they never would’ve taken better than three weeks just to respond to our first note. Especially when their entire response amounted to telling us they’d ‘look into our allegations’ and get back to us. Frankly, I’m astounded they managed to leave out the word ‘ridiculous’ in front of ‘allegations’.” The queen shook her head. “That’s not a very promising start . . . and it is very typically Solly. They’re never going to admit their man was in the wrong, no matter how he got there, if there’s any way they can possibly avoid it. And do you really think they’re going to want to admit that a multi-stellar that isn’t even based in a League star system — and is involved up to its eyebrows in a trade the League’s officially outlawed — is able to manipulate entire squadrons of their battlecruisers and ships-of-the-wall?” She shook her head again, more emphatically. “I’m afraid a lot of them would rather go out and pin back the uppity neobarbs’ ears, no matter how many people get killed along the way, than open any windows into corners of the League’s power structure that are that filled with dirty little secrets.”

“I hope you’re wrong about that,” Honor said quietly, and Elizabeth’s lips twitched.

“I notice you only ‘hope’ I am,” she said.

“I’d prefer a stronger verb myself,” Honor acknowledged. “But . . . .”

“‘But’, indeed,” Elizabeth murmured. Then she pushed herself more briskly upright in her chair. “Unfortunately, I don’t think either of us can afford to treat ourselves to any of those stronger verbs of yours. Which, along with thinking about the possibility of past errors, brings me to what I really wanted to ask you about.”

“Four days,” Honor said, and Elizabeth chuckled.

“That obvious, was I?”

“I have been thinking about it a bit myself, you know,” Honor replied. “The ops plan’s been finalized, even if everyone hopes we won’t have to use it; Alice Truman’s running the fleet through the rehearsal exercises; and I’m just about finished up with my briefings from Sir Anthony. So, about four days.”

“You’re sure you don’t want a couple of more days with the fleet yourself?”

“No.” Honor shook her head, then smiled. “Actually, I could probably be ready to leave even sooner than that, especially since I’m taking Kew, Selleck, and Tuominen with me. But if it’s all the same to you, I’m not going anywhere until after I’ve celebrated Raoul’s and Katherine’s first Christmas with Hamish and Emily.”

“Of course ‘it’s all the same’ to me.” Elizabeth’s face softened with a smile of her own, and it was her turn to shake her head. “It’s still a bit hard sometimes to remember you’re a mother now. But I always figured on your at least having Christmas at home before we sent you off. Are your parents going to be there, too?”

“And Faith and James. Which, by the way, made Lindsey happy, when she found out about it. This would’ve been the first Christmas she hadn’t spent with the twins since they were a year old.”

“I’m glad for all of you,” Elizabeth said. Then she inhaled deeply. “But getting back to business, and allowing for your schedule, you’re sure about how you want to go about this?”

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was sure about it, and I’m not going to pretend I’m anything anyone would be tempted to call an expert at something like this, either. I just think it’s the best shot we’ve got . . . and that we can at least be pretty sure of getting their attention.”

“I see.” Elizabeth looked at her for several seconds, then snorted. “Well, just remember this little jaunt was your idea in the first place. Mind you, now that I’ve had time to really think about it, I think it’s a good idea. Because whether you were right in the beginning or I was” — her expression sobered once more — “it would be a really, really good idea for us to get at least one forest fire put out. If this entire situation with the League turns out as badly as I am afraid it could, we’re not going to need to be dealing with more than one problem at a time.”

* * *

Honor Alexander-Harrington stood as James MacGuiness ushered the tallish man in the uniform of the Republican Navy into her Landing mansion’s office. Behind her, beyond the crystoplast wall and the office balcony, the dark blue waters of Jason Bay were a ruffled carpet under a sky of dramatic clouds and brilliant late-afternoon sunlight, patterned in endless lines of white-crested waves as a storm pushed in from the open sea, and Honor supposed that made a fitting allegory, in many ways, for her relationship with her visitor.

“Admiral Tourville,” she said, rising and extending her hand across her desk while Nimitz sat upright on his perch and cocked his head thoughtfully at the Havenite.

“Admiral Alexander-Harrington.” Lester Tourville reached out to shake the offered hand, and she tasted his own flicker of ironic amusement. His lips twitched in a brief almost-smile under his bushy mustache, and she released his hand to indicate the chair in front of her desk.

“Please, take a seat.”

“Thank you,” he said, and sat.

Honor settled back into her own chair, propped her elbows on the armrests, and steepled her fingers in front of her chest as she contemplated him. The two of them had, as the newsies might have put it, “a history.” He was the only Havenite officer to whom Honor had ever been forced to surrender; the man she’d defeated at the Battle of Sidemore in the opening phases of Operation Thunderbolt; and the fleet commander who’d come perilously close to winning the war for the Republic of Haven five months earlier.

But as Andrew always says, “close” only counts with horseshoes, hand grenades, and tactical nukes, she reminded herself.

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34 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 09

  1. HeavenlySword says:

    ops plan…. I thought for a second, they were going to do a ‘First Strike’ on the SLN fleet, wipe out their reserves and all their critical building nodes and perhaps Eridani’ng (glassing) most of the SLN worlds that wouldn’t incorporate into the Star Empire of Manticore.

    for a split second, then i laughed aloud.

  2. Anthony says:

    No war with the SLN yet. I Bet she is headed to Haven, “Peace, or else.”

    She would be implementing the plan described in Storm From the Shadows, remove Haven from play as a hostile force (peace agreement, or wipe out the industry), then focus all efforts on the breaking up the League.

  3. Lordship2 says:

    “But as Andrew always says, “close” only counts with horseshoes, hand grenades, and tactical nukes, she reminded herself.”

    My friend and I have been using this phrase for years; we’d get some of the funniest looks from people. Can’t wait for the book to come out.

  4. robert says:

    Yes, I agree. But meanwhile, lurking in the “Shadows” is the real enemy.

  5. obelow says:

    What comes to my mind is that Honor, and as a guess 8th fleet, will not be in the Manticore system when the “late christmas surprise” from the Alignment hits Manticore and probably also not when the solarian battlegroup hits, either in the Talbot sector or on Manticore itself…

  6. Thirdbase says:

    The question is how late is the Christmas present? Days? Weeks? Months? If it’s days, she might still be there. Weeks she probably won’t. Months she might be back.

    The way Weber writes she should be on her way back to the Trevor’s Star – Manticore wormhole when a Case Zulu comes through because of a giant Sollie fleet closing on Manticore.

  7. Mike S says:

    In the late 17th century, France had the potential to be the greatest European power. Louis XIV took that potential and exploited it for the glory of his dynasty and France, seeking through territorial expansion to secure their future. This objective alone would not have uni9ted all of Europe against him. It was the arrogance with which he used this power, making and breaking treaties as if the rules did not apply to him. Which was the real motivator for his neighboring dynasts . As a result, Louis and France spent some 40 years fighting a series of coalitions which sought to limit and then remove the threats his ambitions created. When it becomes apparent that the SL seeks to destroy Manticore as an independent power because it had the temerity to react to the SLN’s arrogance, the other Star Nations will ask themselves this question? Are we next? There is every chance here for Queen Elizabeth to play the role of William of Orange (William III) in building a coalition (Manticore, Haven, Torch, etc) which could even eventually include Beowulf and Maya when the part Mesa is playing becomes more apparent. What would 71 SLN SD’s do against a combined Manticore/Haven/Maya force?

  8. John Roth says:

    @17 Mike S.

    It’s not Crandall’s tiny fleet of obsolete targets that’s the problem. It’s those 10,000 SDs that the Solarian league has – 2,000 on active duty, 8,000 in the reserve and supposedly ready to be activated.

    Rajampet is aware of this: he’s already thinking of how to strengthen his counter-missile fire so at least some of his tidal wave of SDs can get into their own missile (and possibly energy) range.

    Besides which, Crandall is a non-issue in strategic planning. Whatever she does, it’s going to be finished long before the diplomats get to work building a coalition.

  9. jgnfld says:

    “What would 71 SLN SD’s do against a combined Manticore/Haven/Maya force”???

    Shoot down one weather satellite, perhaps???

  10. Mike S says:

    Actual, it’s “close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and H-bombs”. This gous back at least to the Sixties as my Dad was assigned to a commo site under SAC and that’s where I first heard it.

  11. Thirdbase says:

    @#9 jgnfld That would depend upon the defenses that the weather satellite was equipped with. I might put a Manty weather satellite up against a Sollie SD, I’d at least look at the odds Vegas was giving on the satellite surviving.

  12. Summertime says:

    Some of the expansion of the Honorverse came out of the short story collections. There have been four to date; does anyone know if a fifth one is slated to come out?

  13. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Summertime, there will be a fifth one but I haven’t heard when it will be coming out.

  14. jgnfld says:

    @11 :-)

  15. wyrm says:

    @6 Thirdbase, @8 John Roth

    The first wave of Solarian SDs, be it 100, 1000 or 10,000 strong, is dog-food, whether or not Honor and the 8th fleet are around. By the time the Sollies arrive, the Manties will have the system-defence variant of Apollo deployed so thickly across the binary system that you could probably move from pod to pod using suit-thrusters – without any need to use a ship. Powered-down missile pods are pretty near ghost-rider quality in anti-detection measures, and the Sollies have no reason to expect the pods. The Sollies arrive, are hailed within minutes through Apollo relay with a call to surrender, and, upon a Solly refusal the Manties can decide whether to take out the mission commander, to decimate the fleet, or to exterminate the fleet. All before the Sollies can recharge their engines to jump out. Militarily, the best resolution for the Manties is for Rajampet to send all 10,000 SDs out in the first attack. The Sollies can build new ships, but having the majority of their battle fleet officers and ratings in prison camps would be a disaster it would take the League a long time to recover from.

  16. justdave49 says:

    @12, from the Bar

    Subject: RE: after MoH
    Group: Toni’s Table
    Author: Toni Weisskopf
    Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2010 22:05:37 GMT

    In terms of schedule, there will be a WORLDS OF HONOR volume in Spring 2011; beyond that it’s still hasn’t settled into its final quantum state. –Toni

  17. John Roth says:

    @15 Wyrm

    I think it’s fairly obvious that, since Rajampet is thinking in terms of assaulting the home system, and since Manticore has to survive for the plot, that whoever leads that first wave (Filaretta?) is going to be taken out somehow, and the system defense version of Apollo seems as good a guess as any. Especially since it would most likely be useless against Oyster Bay, and hence some observers, at least, wouldn’t have any idea that it existed.

    It isn’t just manpower that Rajampet is going to be having problems with. I think he’s overestimating his reserves, given the amount of corruption in the organization. Most of those wallers probably exist, but I wouldn’t bet on how many of them will actually come up to battle ready status when someone presses start. I also wouldn’t want to bet how many of them would pass the giggle test if you tried to claim they were up to current SLN standards. Some of them may be so old that the only component that could be upgraded is the shower head in the Admiral’s quarters.

    They probably couldn’t actually sell wallers except to a few neo-barb navies that wanted a white elephant, oops, awe-inspiring flagship, but a lot of the battlecruisers and below might simply be missing. They got sold to some neo-barb navy or other sometime or other, and the money wound up in some bureaucrat’s pocket.

    Assuming that the League has time to recover, rebuilding the Navy from scratch might be a good idea — leaving behind all of the deadwood and “old Navy families” with their ingrained traditions of graft and corruption.

  18. @15 “having the majority of their battle fleet officers and ratings in prison camps”

    would be an excellent way to improve the SLN.

    Mind you, the middle-aged ships may still have antimissile weapons that are muzzle-loading and fire solid shot.

  19. John Roth says:

    @18 George Phillies

    Not even grapeshot? That is backwards!

  20. Thirdbase says:

    @ #17 John Roth, the Iowa class BB is fine ship class, and I’m sure that with enough time the Sollies could do more than just upgrade the shower head in the Admirals shower.

  21. Rod says:

    lol wait a min, this is the future we are talking about. Do we even know if they have shower heads?

  22. robert says:

    @15 We are not considering the missile production capability that may be destroyed in the Oyster Bay attack. If a considerable amount of that capability is wiped out, then so is Manticore’s ability to defend itself. And as I remember, Grayson is about to get walloped as well, so there may be no help from that quarter. All I can think of is the Amdermani Empire, if they are still allies, and a total peace agreement with Haven, which could take quite a while to achieve, resulting in an unlikely alliance of Haven and Manticore. Even so, is there going to be enough ammo?

    So after the first “wave” which is likely to be the mysterious Admiral Filaretta with his Task Force 891 with over 300 ships of the wall, there will be a rather larger (1000 wallers? 2000? who knows?) SLN fleet sent against Manticore. A virtually missile-less Manticore at that. Is space big enough for all those wallers in one star system? Will they keep bumping into one another? Oh, well, you get the point: an empty gun doesn’t shoot.

  23. robert says:

    ANDERMANI. Bad fingers, bad!

  24. wyrm says:

    @17 John Roth, @18 George Phillies

    Yes, having the ‘old’ SLN officers & ratings removed might be good for the SLN, in the long run. We saw that as the Peep navy gradually improved in quality. But it took the best part of two decades. And the consequences to the League’s morale of losing so much of the supposedly irresistible battle fleet would be disastrous in the short run. In the long run, unless Manticore followed an ‘eridani policy’ throughout the League, a united League would win, as we have been told several times. In the short run, removing battle fleet’s trained military manpower seems the best result for Manticore. With the League’s requirement for political unanimity, and Beowulf’s presence as a key member of the League, do you believe that Rajampet would be able to get sufficient powers (or budget) to replace the human and material losses without bringing it to the League parliament. And with Beowulf to ask the questions, could the bureaucracy emerge unscathed?

  25. Thirdbase says:

    Rod, I’m sure that there has been mention of people taking showers. Honor and Paul Tankersley come to mind.

    @ various, The loss of the ratings would hurt much more than the loss of the officer corps. Remember that for the most part the ratings aren’t making decisions about to conduct attacks and such, they are just doing their jobs. Training up 10,000,000 – 20,000,000 new ratings would take a while also.

  26. John Roth says:

    @22 Robert

    Yes, Oyster Bay is likely to wipe out Manticore’s missile construction plants. On the other hand, remember that Manticore doesn’t seem to have signed on to the “just in time” manufacturing mantra. Ammo is going to be tight for a while, but getting the missile production lines back up and running almost has to be the number one top priority.

    Also, by the time Oyster Bay occurs, I’d imagine that the system defense version of Apollo is in place, working and fully supplied with missiles to where they think it can repel the next Havenite attack, even if Haven pulls all of the system defense ships into one more titanic wave. And given the way they’ve been looking over their shoulders nervously at the Solarian League, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve got the supplies sitting there to handle all 2000 of the League’s active wallers.

  27. jgnfld says:

    Is all ammo construction in orbit? With countergrav, there is no great energy penalty to putting stuff in the gravity well I seem to remember.

  28. John Roth says:

    @27 jgnfld

    Excellent question! I kind of assumed it was, but I really have no definite knowledge. I’ve seen discussions elsewhere, but none of them really seemed to be all that well founded to me.

    In any case, we’ll find out when we get to Oyster Bay.

  29. robert says:

    “Some of them are upset about the delay, but she says e-mails and com calls alike are both running…”

    So DW thinks that in 2000 years we will still have email. I wonder what it will look like… Will there still be junk ads or will people still be sending lame jokes around? The mind boggles.

  30. robert says:

    @26 John, I am not as concerned about Haven attacking–they will soon hear about Mesa from Victor Cachet, and apparently about peace from Honor–as I am about the SL strategy that Rajampet set forth, of sending in massive amounts of ships in huge waves and forcing Manticore to use up its existing missile supplies before they get all the theoretically destroyed production facilities back up and running full out. Oyster Bay has the potential to do exactly what the MA wants it to accomplish.

    We’ll see. If I am right, where will the missiles come from AFTER Crandall and Filaretta?

  31. TimC says:

    “where will the missiles come from AFTER Crandall and Filaretta”
    That nice Havenite Admiral will make them in Bolthole perhaps.

  32. Thirdbase says:

    @#29 robert, Yes email still exists, although Honor is not quite sure why she keeps getting messages in bad English from someone in Nigeria telling her that they have 434.000.000 USD that they want her help getting out of the country. :)

    I can’t remember, has the SEM rebuilt any of those shipyards that Haven was regularly using for target practice. Also have they built any facilities at Trevor’s Star?

    With the dispersed manufacturing methods used by Grayson, how effective will the Oyster Bay attack be on them?

  33. robert says:

    @32 Well at least I haven’t read Weber describing anyone getting cell phone calls in the middle of a battle or in a restaurant or even in the shower… If they did would they be the naughty kind?

    The reason you can’t remember whether Grendelsbane et al were rebuilt was because Weber never said they were. Therefore they weren’t. As for Trevor’s Star, it is all closed military space so we haven’t been able to penetrate it and see what’s there asside from Eighth Fleet.

  34. jgnfld says:

    Maybe people have learned by that date they really don’t need to drop everything they’re doing in the here-and-now real world just because someone in the digital world punches their code.

    H’mmm…my pet peeve may be showing. :-)

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