Mission Of Honor – Snippet 13

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 13

Given that balance, and how much Manticoran and Grayson blood had been shed side by side in the Alliance’s battles, Matthews was prepared to forgive the Star Kingdom for High Ridge’s existence. Not all Graysons were, however. Even many of those who remained fierce supporters of Lady Harrington separated her in their own minds from the Star Kingdom. She was one of theirs — a Grayson in her own right, by adoption and shed blood — which insulated her from their anger at the High Ridge Government’s stupidity, avarice, and arrogance. And the fact that she and High Ridge had been bitter political enemies only made that insulation easier for them.

“I’m serious, Wesley.” Benjamin waved one hand, as if for emphasis. “Oh, Forchein’s always been a social and religious conservative — not as reactionary as some, thank God, but bad enough — but I’m pretty sure it was the combination of High Ridge’s foreign policy and Haven’s resumption of open hostilities that tipped his support. And, unfortunately, he’s not the only one that’s true of.”

“May I ask how bad it actually is, Your Grace?” Matthews inquired, his eyes narrower.

It wasn’t the sort of question he usually would have asked, given the Grayson tradition of separation between the military and politics. Senior officers weren’t supposed to factor politics into their military thinking. Which, of course, was another of those fine theories which consistently came to grief amid the shoals of reality. There was a difference, however, between being aware of the political realities which affected the ability of his Navy to formulate sound strategy or discharge its responsibilities to defend the Protectorate of Grayson and of becoming involved in the formulation of political policy.

“To be honest, I’m not really certain,” Benjamin admitted. “Floyd is taking some cautious political soundings, and I expect we’ll have a pretty good idea within the next week or so of who else might be inclined in Forchein’s direction.”

Matthews nodded. Floyd Kellerman, Steadholder Magruder, had become Benjamin’s chancellor following Henry Prestwick’s well-earned retirement. He’d been Prestwick’s understudy for the last two years of the old chancellor’s tenure, and the Magruders had been Mayhew allies literally for centuries. Lord Magruder hadn’t yet developed the intricate web of personal alliances Prestwick had possessed, but he’d already demonstrated formidable abilities as both an administrator and a shrewd politician.

“Having said that, however,” the protector continued, “I’m already pretty confident about where the problem is going to come from . . . and what our problem children — however many of them there turn out to be — are going to want.” He shook his head. “Some of them wouldn’t have supported us sticking with Manticore against Haven this time around if the Protector’s Own hadn’t already been involved at Sidemore. Their position is that High Ridge had already violated Manticore’s treaty obligations to us by conducting independent negotiations with Haven, which amounted to a unilateral abrogation of the Alliance. And while we do have a mutual defense treaty outside the formal framework of the overall Alliance, one whose terms obligate us to come to one another’s support in the event of any attack by an outside party, the Star Kingdom’s critics have pointed out that the Republic of Haven did not, in fact, attack Grayson in Operation Thunderbolt despite our involvement in defending Manticoran territory. The implication being that since High Ridge chose to violate Manticore’s solemn treaty obligations to us — along with every other party to the Alliance — there’s no reason we should feel legally or morally bound to honor our treaty obligations to them if doing so isn’t in the Protectorate’s best interests.

“And — surprise, surprise! — the way the Manticorans’ expansion into the Talbott Sector’s brought them into direct collision with the Solarian League has only made the people who are pissed off with Manticore even less happy. And to be honest, I can’t really blame anyone for being nervous about finding themselves on the wrong end of the confrontation with the League, especially after the way High Ridge squandered so much of the Star Kingdom’s investment in loyalty.

“Of course, none of our vessels have actually been involved in operations anywhere near Talbott, but we do have personnel serving on Manticoran warships which have been. For that matter, over thirty of our people were killed when that idiot Byng blew up the destroyers they were serving in. Which gives the people who worry about what may happen between the League and the Manticorans — and, by extension, with us — two legitimate pieces of ammunition. The Sollies may view the participation of our personnel, even aboard someone else’s ships, in military operations against the League as meaning we’ve already decided to back Manticore, and I don’t think it would be totally unfair to argue that the people we’ve already lost were lost in someone else’s fight. Mind you, I think it should be obvious to anyone with any sort of realistic appreciation for how Frontier Security and the League operate that standing up to the Sollies should be every independent ‘neobarb’ star system’s fight. Not everyone’s going to agree with me about that, unfortunately, and those who don’t will be airing their concerns shortly. Which brings me back to my original question for you. How satisfied are you with the system’s security?”

“In the short term, completely, Your Grace.” Matthews’ response was as firm as it was instant. “Whatever High Ridge and Janacek might have done, ever since Willie Alexander took over as Prime Minister, especially with Hamish as his First Lord of Admiralty, our channels of communication have been completely opened again. Our R&D people are working directly with theirs, and they’ve provided us with everything we needed to put Apollo into production here at Yeltsin’s Star. For that matter, they’ve delivered over eight thousand of the system-defense variant Apollo pods. And they’ve also handed our intelligence people complete copies of the computer files Countess Gold Peak captured from Byng at New Tuscany, along with specimens of Solly missiles, energy weapons, software systems — the works. For that matter, if we want it, they’re more than willing to let us have one of the actual battlecruisers the Countess brought back from New Tuscany so we can examine it personally. So far, we haven’t taken them up on that. Our people in Admiral Hemphill’s shop are already seeing everything, and, frankly, the Manties are probably better at that sort of thing than we are here at home, anyway.

“Based on what we’ve seen out of the Havenites, I’m confident we could successfully defend this star system against everything the Republic has left. And based on our evaluation of the captured Solarian material, my best estimate is that while the Sollies probably could take us in the end, they’d need upwards of a thousand ships-of-the-wall to do it. And that’s a worst-case estimate, Your Grace. I suspect a more realistic estimate would push their force requirements upward significantly.” He shook his head. “Given all their other commitments, the amount of their wall of battle that’s tucked away in mothballs, and the fact that they’d pretty much have to go through Manticore before they got to us at all, I’m not worried about any known short-term threat.”

He paused for a moment, as if to let the protector fully absorb his own confidence, then drew a deep breath.

“In the long term, of course, the Solarian League could pose a very serious threat to the Protectorate. I agree with the Manties’ estimate that it would take years for the SLN to get comparable technology into production and deployed. I think some of the individual system-defense forces could probably shave some time off of how long it’s going to take the SLN in particular, and the League in general, to overcome the sheer inertia of their entrenched bureaucracies, but as far as I’m aware, none of those SDFs are in anything like the Star Kingdom’s — I mean the Star Empire’s — league. For that matter, I don’t think any of them could come close to matching our combat power for quite a lengthy period. But in the end, assuming the League has the stomach to pay the price in both human and economic terms, there’s not much doubt that, barring direct divine intervention, the Sollies could absorb anything we and the Manticorans combined could hand out and still steamroller us in the end.”

Benjamin puffed his lips, his eyes worried, and rotated his chair some more. It was very quiet in the office — quiet enough for Matthews to hear the creaking of the old-fashioned swivel chair — and the high admiral found himself looking out the window again, at the throngs of children.

I’d really like for someone to grow up on this planet without having to worry about wars and lunatics, he thought sadly, almost wistfully. I’ve done my best to keep them safe, but that’s not the same thing.

“I wish I could say I was surprised by anything you’ve just said,” Benjamin said at last, pulling Matthews’ eyes back to him. “Unfortunately, it’s about what I expected to hear, and I don’t doubt Mueller and Friends, as you call them, have reached about the same conclusions. They already think of us as ‘Manticoran lackeys’ who put Manticore’s interests ahead of Grayson’s. That’s going to dispose them to take the least optimistic possible view, shall we say, of our long-term strategic position. Nor do I doubt that they’re going to be perfectly ready to share their thoughts on the subject with their fellow steadholders.”

“Your Grace, I could –”

“No, you couldn’t, Wesley,” Benjamin interrupted. The high admiral looked at him, and the protector smiled tartly. “I’m sure, High Admiral Matthews, that you would never suggest to the Lord Protector that it might be possible for you to prevaricate or even mislead the Conclave of Steadholders if you were called to testify before them.”

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22 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 13

  1. Joseph says:

    A thousand ships-of-the-wall? And that’s going to be revised upwards? Jeeze, I knew that Solly hardware sucked compared to the Manticorans and Graysons, but… whew. That’s not a fleet action, that’s a shooting gallery.

    I don’t even want to think about what those kind of loss figures would do to Solly morale… Oh. Wait. Retract that. Who would bet that there’d be a few mutinies aboard those ships on the way out to the Haven Sector?

  2. Thirdbase says:

    Currently the Sollie ships can’t even get close to Manticoran ships, and as soon as Grayson gets some Apollo equipped ships and running they will be untouchable also. The only way the Sollies can win, is by sending more ships than Manticore or Grayson can kill before they get to the planets. The same thing is true for the Andermani, and Havenites, but to a lesser extent. Although I imagine that the Andermani will be building Apollo ships soon also.

    I wonder if it would be considered barratry instead of mutiny. There may be some instances well before any of those ships were to head for Haven, like maybe while they were watching all the ships in front of them blowing up, well before they could do anything in response.

    “That’s not a fleet action, that’s a shooting gallery.” The Great Manticoran Turkey Shoot?

  3. saul says:

    Assuming OB does damage to the planet, the Manties will presumably massively build up their system defenses.

    A question for the experts.
    Now that they have high quality FTL comms. Why have battle stations with large crews? Why not just have some of those personal on the planet, remotely operating the systems? Sure, they will still need crews on the forts, but why put the highly skilled people in harms way. The manties are short of personnel. Having skilled people who don’t need to be trained in ship skills, ie zero-g etc, would both speed the training. It would also allow for personel who would otherwise be unsuitable for shipboard operation. ie all those folks who don’t have the right personality type to be stuck on a ship/fort could still be trained/hired to run apollo systems.

    You would get faster trained, cheaper to hire, more skilled operators for your system defense.

    Technically, the Eridani Edict should probably prohibit planet based defenses? but it might not bother, as they would have been useless in the past.

  4. Daryl says:

    @3 good point saul. My guess is that military organisations are conservative in nature; as while winning is important, not losing is even more so thus change comes slowly. If the Mesan Oyster Bay attack is successful then rebuilding capability should be along the lines you are suggesting as less space capable people would be needed.

  5. wyrm says:

    We now have the Alliance estimate of their military capability against the SL. 8000 Apollo pods (plus any Apollo-capable ships in the Grayson home fleet, would require over 1000 League SDs to defeat them.

    And since we can assume that the Manticore system has even more pods by this time this conversation occurs, and the Lynx Terminus has also been equipped with sufficient pods to handle any plausible Sollie force, I predict Rajampet’s blood pressure will achieve record heights in the near future. Now we discover whether Beowulf/Mesa biotechnology has eliminated the cause of strokes.

  6. Ian Darley says:

    @1 Sollie morale would be determined by the Sollies Ministry of Information(?). They would hear whatever the Sollie leadership decided to tell them. After all, who would listen to a bunch of neo-barb talking heads claiming that the most powerful navy in the universe was smashed by a bunch of monkeys still ruled by a Queen? As long as the Sollie leadership can control the information stream they will be able to maintain their grip. Once the Maya system breaks off and ex-Sollie talking heads start sending reports into the rest of the union all bets are off.

    @3 Key reason not to move your trained personnel of your defense satellites is electronic warfare. Do you really want to protect XX,000 trained personnel and risk losing the planet? If your opponent comes up with a jamming system that locks you out of your defense systems you have lost the battle before it ever began. Look at what Mantie tech has done to Haven book after book. Then look ahead at what the Alignment is about to do to the Manties, Sollies, etc. Personally, the thought of the Alignment in control of the orbitals over my planet is not pleasant. Even Haven with Cordelia Ransom at the helm would be better than that.

    Great website. I love reading everyones posts. It makes the books even better when they finally come out.

  7. 4th Dimension says:

    @3 The problem with your scenario is that while FTL is mightily fast, it’s not instantaneous. The information is modulated onto space-time fluctuations, who have a finite speed. Also while they can control entire flights of missiles, bandwidth necessary for control of entire stations + their missiles would be gigantic.
    And on top of it is the possibility that the enemy will develop some sort of electronic warfare suite that can combat grav-pulse networks.

  8. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @6 Scuttlebutt outraces even Measan hyperdrives. No matter what Sollie MiniTruth puts out spacers are gonna notice if increasing numbers of Wallers gets sent out to the “Manticorian Pacification” and don’t come back.

    Or assuming the train wreck of Mike vs. the Battle Fleet task force happens (look like it) covering up losing 70 of the Wall to less than a quarter of their number in battlecruisers is gonna be hard.

    AFAICT before OB changes the strategic calculus (I am assuming here it manages to go off) Grayson, Manti, and likely Andi thinking is that the threat is not current or mothballed Sollie Wallers. It is that the Sollies are not slouches in basic science, they just lacked the incentive and real world combat feed back to keep the edge sharp. The fear is the Leauge would hold together, and use its scientific and industrial muscle to build a new and up to date fleet large enough to smother them all. The true threat is not the current SLN, but what the SLN could build into if given the proper incentive, ie getting its butt kicked hard and often.

  9. John Roth says:

    @3 Saul
    @6, @7

    I think Saul is on to something. Let’s consider what we know about the system defense version of Apollo. IIRC, they are quadruple drive missiles in the general Apollo mold. I think they’re designed to be emplaced kind of like minefields, possibly with robotic control elements. They’re probably just sitting there in orbit, at minimal power so they’re not putting wear on components, waiting for targeting information.

    And where is the controller? Who knows? It might be on a ship, it might be planetside. Or there might be multiple control points possible. Remember that the grav pulse com propagates at 64 x light speed.

    Also remember that the control missile is a lot more intelligent than anything anyone has seen in a missile before. I suspect that the Apollo system defense tech has a few more surprises in store.

    @8 Jeremy DuCharme

    Yep, that’s what they’re afraid of. It’s the sleeping gorilla problem: how can you make sure that the League can’t get its military, scientific and manufacturing act together after they realize that they have to mobilize. And something else to chew over: I think that the Detwillers and the Strategy Board have been considering the same question – for several centuries.

  10. Thirdbase says:

    John Roth,

    The thing is that 20 years ago, the Sollie Fleet was the most powerful military in the Universe. It’s only in the past 20 years that the Manticoran Alliance and Haven have become so far ahead of the Sollies technologically.

    Speaking of technology, I wonder if the Mesan Streak and Spider drives use Sidewalls and Wedges. It would be funny if those Energy Torpedoes that Honor used way back when were the Achilles Heel of the Mesan ships.

  11. Ian Darley says:

    @8 True enough, rumor is frequently FTL. However, add in Sollie person-on-the-street arrogance, general dis-interest in anything outside Sollie space, and a gov’t telling them “everything is fine, the fleet is just out on maneuvers” and the Sollie gov’t can maintain control… for a while…
    I don’t think it is viable for long but the Sollies are also expecting a “short victorious war” so what could possibly go wrong?

  12. Jeremy DuCharme says:


    John, my suspicion (I do NOT have a full copy) is that the “Strategy Board” needed to build up a credible threat to the Sollies to justify taking over. Gotta have someone to pin the Reichstag fire on after all.

    Since Mesa was trying to hinder Manticore all the way back to Saganami AFAICT, I don’t think they were gonna be the original ‘villain’ to the Sollies. Up till the Manticorain Alliance kicked Haven in the balls I suspect the PRH was supposed to be the unwitting ‘dragon’ in their plans. The external threat to distract from their internal take over.

    But the threat can’t be too good, thus once they are built up enough to justify the takeover, and bloody Solarian noses a few times, OB comes along and cuts them off at the knees. JUST in time for their people to ‘take over from the incompetents’ and ride to victory.

    Or at least that’s my wild speculation, being current only through SftS.

  13. @10

    The spider drive generates artificial gravity fields to function. Clearly, its natural antithesis, carefully planted back in book one of the series, is *THE GRAV LANCE* (8^))

  14. John Roth says:

    @10 Thirdbase

    The current versions of the Spider drive ships do not have wedges and sidewalls. Whether or not the Leonard Detweiller spider drive superdreadnaughts will or not is something I don’t know. A large part of the spider drive ships’ effectiveness is that they don’t have these things, therefore there’s nothing to give away to sensor systems that are tuned to spot sidewalls and wedges.

    @12 Jeremy DuCharme

    I think you’re giving them too much credit. The whole thing with the 30 Spider drive ships is that they may be planning a coordinated attack to take out multiple planets’ space industry at one shot. Clearly they’re building cadre for the Leonard Detweiller class SDs, but I have no idea how many of them they’re making.

    I don’t remember anything in Torch that bears on that question, and I’ve only read the first 7 chapters of this — the ones that are available in the Webscriptions site. They don’t say anything, either.

    I’m still going to go with my basic scenario: they’re weakening the Solarian League with corruption, they’re going to take out the space industry of the X most threatening single planets in one sweep at the beginning of Operation Prometheus using the Spider drive ships. Then the Mesan Alignment Navy is going to take over, lead by Mannerheim and possibly other planets that may be in the Alignment.

    I don’t think they give a flying whatever for the opinion of their genetic inferiors.

    @13 George Phillies

    Over the years, David has been very consistent in saying that he wished he’d never invented the grav lance. Without sidewalls, that first generation of Spider drive ships is toast if anyone points a beam hotter than a cigarette lighter at them. And they know it.

  15. RobertHuntingdon says:

    Somebody please strangle George for bringing up the tech with the forbidden name.

    But yeah JR I think you might be right. I wouldn’t be surprised if the energy torpedo really was quite effective against the spider-drive ships. Then again, that’s still a very short-range weapon compared to Apollo missiles. Unless the Manties could figure out some way to turn an Apollo missile into a launcher for a torpedo. Hmm. That could be interesting.


  16. robert says:

    @3 and @9 Saul is missing the fact that you cannot just fight a war of defense, at home, and expect to win. You MUST take the war to the enemy and for that you need the trained personnel to man the ships heading into battle far from home.

    @10 and @13 Spoiler territory, no?

  17. Thirdbase says:


    No idea if it is a spoiler or not, I’ve not bought the eARC, I was just pondering.


    While the energy torpedo is a close range weapon, it is also fast firing. Building a LAC with energy torpedoes in place of the graser might worth while. Replacing them in a regular ship wouldn’t work, because then that ship would lose combat effectiveness against other normal ships.

    I suppose having your big bad SD destroyed by a couple of LACs would be embarrassing though.

  18. saul says:

    @16 Actually, thats part of my point. After all, if you cut down on Fort crews, you can put those people on Ships instead. Maybe the bottleneck for crews is personality types, eg those who can handle being stuck on a ship/fort.

    Someone else brought up the point (baen bar discussion) that with ftl, you could have some forts remotely controlling other forts, at least in non-high alert situations. That way, forts could be staffed with 1-2 shifts rather than the normal 3 shifts.

  19. John Roth says:

    @18 Saul

    I don’t think there are all that many people in the forts. As far as I’m aware, the only forts are by the wormholes, which means that there are at most eight groups. That’s not a whole lot compared to the number of people required to man the ships.

    The bottleneck for crews is training time, and also the proportion of the population that’s willing to serve in the Navy.

  20. Vince says:

    Just got a new email from Amazon.com with updated shipping time for Mission of Honor (order was originally placed with 2 day shipping):

    Hello from Amazon.com.

    We have received new release date information related to the order you placed on [date] (Order# xxx-xxxxxxxx-xxxxxxx). The item(s) listed below will actually ship sooner than we originally expected based on the new release date:

    David Weber “Mission of Honor (Honor Harrington Series)”
    Previous estimated arrival date: July 15 2010
    New estimated arrival date: June 24 2010

    The rest of the email is Amazon’s standard information. I guess Toni got through to Amazon.com

  21. 4th Dimension says:

    Energy torpedoes vs spider drive
    I don’t know how spider works, only the info I now read in comments that spider doesn’t generate wedge by default. But what’s stopping them from equipping such ships with bubble sidewalls like on forts?
    Also as far as I know e-torpedo is a ball of plasma. That sounds like something that would need lot of energy, and might not be compatible with Manticorian fission engine LACs

  22. John Roth says:

    @21 4th Dimension

    Storm from the Shadows, ch 51 has the actual attack run that starts Oyster Bay, and some stuff on the Shark class Spider drive ships.

    I don’t know of any reason why you couldn’t have both drive systems in the same ship, only that the current generation of Spider drive ships don’t. Possibly the Leonard Detweiller class SDs will have them.

    The wedge, sidewalls and, I believe, the wormhole transit mechanism are actually part of the same engineering package, so it wouldn’t be possible to use any variety of sidewall without the whole package being available, at least in principle.

    To reiterate: the effectiveness of the current Spider drive ships is because they don’t have the wedge, sidewalls, etc. It’s these things that make them detectable.

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