Mission Of Honor – Snippet 18

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 18

Anisimovna’s stomach muscles clenched. She knew Collin’s family lived just outside Green Pines’ central park. His children played there almost every weekend, and —

“No,” he said more gently as he saw the shock in her eyes. “No, Alexis and the kids weren’t there, thank God. But most of their friends were. And on a more pragmatic level, we picked up two of the local seccies Zilwicki and Cachat used.” This time his smile was a terrible thing to see. “They’ve been dealt with, but not before they told us everything they ever knew in their lives, and, to give the devil his due, they both insisted Zilwicki and Cachat never intended to nuke the park. In fact, it wasn’t their idea, either. One of their fellow lunatics apparently went berserk and made the decision on his own.”

Anisimovna knew she looked shell-shocked, but that was all right. She was shell-shocked.

“On the other hand,” Collin continued, “having three separate nukes go off in Green Pines on a single day isn’t the sort of thing you can cover up. We took the position that we intended to conduct a very thorough investigation before we leveled any charges — which was true enough — but we knew we’d eventually have to go public with some explanation. No one wanted to admit the Ballroom could get through to pull something like this, but we decided that was the least of the evils available to us. In fact, once the seccies confessed, we decided we could charge that Zilwicki was the mastermind behind the whole thing. Which, in a way, he was after all.”

“We considered adding Cachat to the mix,” Albrecht said, “but he wasn’t the kind of public figure Zilwicki was after that expose of Yael Underwood’s ‘outed’ him a couple of years ago, and he managed to keep his involvement with Verdant Vista under the radar horizon. Nobody knows who the hell he was, and we couldn’t come up with a plausible way to explain how we knew, either. Under the circumstances, we decided that trying to link Haven to it as well would be too much for even the Solly public to take without asking questions — like what two agents from star nations at war with each other were doing on Mesa together — we’d rather not answer. Fortunately, no one in the League expects a bunch of Ballroom terrorists to act rationally, and we’ve been chiseling away at ‘Torch’s’ claim that it’s not really a Ballroom safe harbor ever since we lost the planet. That made Zilwicki’s involvement even juicer.”

His eyes glittered, and Bardasano nodded. Once-in-a-lifetime propaganda opportunities like this one were gifts from heaven, and she understood the temptation to ride it as far as possible. At the same time, she was glad Albrecht had recognized that claiming it as a joint Manticoran-Havenite operation would have strained even the League public’s credulity to the breaking point.

Probably about the only thing that could do that, she thought, but under the circumstances . . . .

“At any rate,” Collin said, resuming the narrator’s role, “we officially completed our investigation about a week ago, and since neither Zilwicki nor Cachat are around to dispute our version of events, we’ve announced Zilwicki was responsible for all three explosions. And that the nukes represented a deliberate terror attack launched by the Ballroom and the ‘Kingdom of Torch.’ The fact that Torch’s declared war on us made that easier, and our PR types — both here and in the League — are pounding away at how it proves any Torch claims to have disavowed terror are bullshit. Once a terrorist, always a terrorist, and this attack killed thousands of seccies and slaves, as well.”

He showed another flash of teeth.

“Actually, it only got a few hundred of them, but no one off Mesa knows that. And enough seccies disappeared when the regular security agencies came down on them after Zilwicki and Cachat’s little friends confessed that no one in the seccy or slave communities who does know better is going to say a word. That’s not going to help the Ballroom’s cause any even with other slaves. And as far as anyone else is concerned, the whole operation was a deliberate attack on a civilian target with weapons of mass destruction — multiple weapons of mass destruction. We’re going to hammer them in the Sollie faxes, and having a known agent of Manticore involved in it gives us another club to use on the Manties, as well.”

There was silence in the office for several seconds. Then Albrecht cleared his throat.

“I’m afraid that’s the reason you won’t be making your report to Isabel after all, Aldona,” he said.

“I see.”

Anisimovna considered asking about the nature of the research which had been carried out in the Gamma Center, yet she considered it neither very hard nor for very long. That was information she clearly had no need to know, but she was glad Isabel had caught the traitor before he’d managed to pass whatever it had been on to anyone else. For that matter, taking out Zilwicki and Cachat was going to hurt the other side badly down the road. And she could appreciate the way the disaster could be used as a public relations weapon against Torch and the Ballroom. But the price . . . .

“I’m sorry, Aldona.” She looked up, surprised by the gentleness in Albrecht’s voice. She was almost as surprised by that as she was to feel the tears hovering behind her eyes. “I know you and Isabel had grown quite close,” he said. “She was close to me, too. She had her sharp edges, but she was also a very clear thinking, intellectually honest person. I’m going to miss her, and not just on a professional level.”

She met his eyes for a second or two, then nodded and inhaled deeply.

“I imagine she’s not the only person we’re going to lose, now that everything is coming more or less into the open,” she said.

“I imagine not,” Albrecht agreed quietly. Then he gave himself a shake and smiled at her. “But in the meantime, we have a lot to do. Especially since, as you put it, ‘everything is coming more or less into the open’. So, could you please go on with your report?”

“Of course.” She settled back in her chair, forcing her focus back on to the report she’d come here to give in the first place, and cleared her throat.

“Things went essentially as planned,” she began. “Byng reacted almost exactly as his profile had indicated he would, and the Manties cooperated by sending three of their destroyers, not just a single ship. When Giselle blew up, Byng instantly assumed the Manties had attacked the station and blew all three of them out of space. Personally, I suspect there may actually have been a fourth Manty out there, given how quickly Gold Peak responded. Someone must have told Khumalo and Medusa what happened, at any rate. The turnaround time suggests it had to be either a warship or a dispatch boat, and I’m inclined to wonder if a dispatch boat would’ve had the capability to monitor and control current-generation Manty recon platforms. No one in Byng’s task force or on New Tuscany ever saw any additional Manties, but Gold Peak arrived with detailed sensor information on the entire first incident, and someone must have provided it to her. Just as someone must have been there in order to get their response force back so fast.

“That’s actually the part of the operation I’m least satisfied with,” she said candidly. “I didn’t think there was anyone else out there at the time, either, and I’d hoped I’d have a little more time to work on tying New Tuscany more securely into our plans. I didn’t, so when the Manties did turn up, New Tuscany pretty much left Byng to sink or swim on his own.”

She shrugged.

“He managed to sink quite handily, actually, although I could wish Gold Peak had pushed him under a little more enthusiastically. She settled for blowing up just his flagship, and from everything I could see before Captain Maddox hypered out, it looked as if Sigbee was going to comply with all of Gold Peak’s demands without further resistance.”

“That’s exactly what happened,” Benjamin told her. Her eyebrows rose, and he chuckled grimly. “The Manties released their version of what happened at New Tuscany — both incidents — nine days ago. I’m sure it’s all over Old Terra by now. According to the Manties, they got everything from Sigbee’s secure databases.”

“Oh, my,” Anisimovna murmured, and it was Albrecht’s turn to chuckle.

“Exactly,” he said cheerfully. “Hopefully, this whole thing is going to spin out of the Manties’ and the Sollies’ control without any more direct interference on our part — aside from whatever we can milk out of Green Pines, that is. But, if it looks like it’s not, we can always start leaking some of that secure information ourselves, as well. So far, the Manties seem to be trying to respect the confidentiality of anything from the databases that doesn’t pertain directly to their own problems with the Sollies. I don’t know if those arrogant idiots in Old Chicago have even noticed that, but I’m sure they’ll notice if the ‘Manties’ suddenly start leaking all of those embarrassing contingency plans of theirs to the media.”

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15 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 18

  1. Thirdbase says:

    I wonder what Mesa is going to say when Zilwicki shows up later and says he didn’t do it, and says what one of the nukes really blew up.

    All those contingency plans may help with Honor’s plan to defeat the Sollies. I can see the Verge planets revolting left and right, possibly with some defections in Frontier Fleet, but definitely defections in the System Defense Forces. There may also be defections in the Shell, and possibly some Old League worlds.

  2. shash says:

    “His eyes glittered, and Bardasano nodded.”

    So, Mesa’s getting into necromancy now? ;-)

  3. robert says:

    But it falls right in line with the MAs plans, so what does that mean? Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? No way…and which one is which!

  4. Erik says:

    …and Bardasano nodded…

    I think this is Anisimovna. Bardasano’s death is being discussed.

  5. John Roth says:

    @2 Shash
    @4 Erik

    It looks like Drak is still snippeting from the e-arc rather than the final. Or not — the version on the Baen site still has that mistake.

  6. John Roth says:

    @1 Thirdbase

    The Verge planets aren’t part of the League Protectorates, so while they may be revolting, they’re not going to be revolting. (And I’m not sorry if that sentence induces a headache. grin)

    We don’t actually know what those “contingency plans” include. If they’re on Frontier Fleet flagships, I’d suspect they include military plans for handling revolts and similar matters, including things that FF shouldn’t be getting into.

  7. robert says:

    But the idiots in Old Chicago did notice that the contingency plans were now in the hands of the SEM. But they did nothing to change the plans. All that was done was to plan to massively overpower and conquer the Empire and take over the junction.

  8. robert says:

    @2 Maybe they do transplants and Bardasano’s eyes are…oh, wait. She was blown all to heck when McBryde pressed the bright red button. This is worse than necromancy. It belongs in Eric’s book’s snippets for Much Fall of Blood.

  9. John Roth says:

    @7 Robert

    Why would they change the plans? If those plans were pretty mundane responses to expectable situations like revolts on Protectorate planets, revealing them would be pretty pointless. That kind of thing is, of course, Frontier Fleet’s job. So they’re probably things that the Solly public thinks they shouldn’t be doing, like rigging plebiscites, faking revolts and incidents, and similar stuff.

    Changing those plans would do nothing to change the copies in other people’s hands.

  10. Anthony says:

    It sounds like the plans that the SEM captured are in some way illegal, illicit, or at least immoral stuff. Changing the plans doesn’t change the fact that they were made. All they can do is change the plans and then say that the ones Manticore has are fakes. All sorts of problems with that arise, like whistle blowers.

  11. saul says:

    Thats all true, unless the manties wait until some of the plans have already been implemented before revealing them. Also, there may be authentication codes, or whistle blowers who come out of the woodwork after the story breaks. Don’t forget all the internal political infighting. That might be a nice move a loosing faction could use to upset the military political position in Sol.

    What if a contingency plan is to hit a rebellious region with a fleet of 2000 sd’s after manufacturing a fake incident as justification?

    Or, what if the plans use case studies. eg in case of x, assassinate the current leader, and install a puppet govt, as successfully done in cases y and z. Case studies of past actions to help future plans.

  12. Palmer Sperry says:

    What if a contingency plan is to hit a rebellious region with a fleet of 2000 sd’s after manufacturing a fake incident as justification?

    The timing wouldn’t work for this scenario to happen, but it would be pretty bad for the SL & SLN if it went like this :-

    1 Manticore release the SLN’s plans for invading Manticore.
    2 SL/SLN strenuously deny that the plans are real.
    3 Manticore release the footage of Adm Crandal surrending the shattered remains of her fleet.


  13. robert says:

    @12 Palmer, item 3 may be a spoiler. If you know that is what happens in the book, it should not be there. If you are guessing, then I give you some alternate scenarios:
    3a. Crandall dies in the upcoming battle (assuming it takes place) and the second in command surrenders, like at New Tuscany.
    3b. The whole SL fleet is destroyed and nobody is left to surrender. Survivors are picked up and sent to some POW camp. Or not.
    3c. The SL wins (unlikely)
    3d. etc.

  14. John Roth says:

    @12 Palmer Sperry

    That wouldn’t work anyway — those are Frontier Fleet contingency plans, and FF has nothing heavier than a battlecruiser. All the SDs belong to Battle Fleet, and there’s nothing in Frontier Fleet’s purview that would justify hitting it with the entire active duty Battle Fleet line of battle.

    On the other piece: Crandall is going off on her own, without orders. She thinks she’s got the authority. I don’t think there are any “contingency plans” that cover what happened to Byng and the appropriate responses, and even if there were, it would be Frontier Fleet units, not Battle Fleet units.

  15. Vince says:

    @14 A lot of people (here, on the Bar, and on David’s website) seem to be assuming that Frontier Fleet consists solely of units below the wall. I believe Frontier Fleet has at least some ships of the wall (obviously not anywhere near the number that Battle Fleet has).

    See The Battle of Fairley’s Crossing from the infodump. http://infodump.thefifthimperium.com/site/entry/Harrington/203/0

    From a post to Baen’s Bar Honorverse dated March 3, 2004:

    The Battle of Farley’s Crossing

    …Frontier Fleet does useful, essential work every single day and Battle Fleet… does not. As someone pointed out, the Battle of Farley’s Crossing is referenced in IEH as the last major battle of the SLN. It happend approximately two centuries ago (a little less) and the simulation being used wasn’t an SLN sim; it was a Peep sim, because the Peeps were studying the battle as a training tool and the SLN wasn’t. In addition, there were 600 ships present, but less than a dozen ships of the wall. It was essentially a Frontier Fleet action, with about 160 SLN ships standing off and trashing around 3 times their number of smaller units (including some from a “rogue” system defense fleet contingent; the aforesaid Farley’s Crossing System). They trashed the opposition because of superior technology, which masked the fact that their tactics sucked wind, and Battle Fleet’s opinion of the battle is that if those Frontier Fleet yahoos can handle the neobarbs that handily, it just proves that no one would stand a chance against us! In other words, the SLN, institutionally, managed to learn virtually nothing from the battle.

    It seems to suggest that Frontier Fleet has (at least as of the time of the battle approximately 200 years ago) that Frontier Fleet has ships of the wall.

    Also see this paragraph near the bottom of Artificial Divisions Within the SLN. http://infodump.thefifthimperium.com/site/entry/Harrington/189/0

    From a post to Baen’s Bar Honorverse dated March 3, 2004:


    At the same time, however, please do bear in mind, Richard, that however bad Battle Fleet may be, Frontier Fleet is an entirely different animal, and it’s big enough all by itself to substantially out-mass the entire Manty Navy, superdreadnoughts and all. If I were the commander of Frontier Fleet and I suspected that a war with the Manties was coming, I’d be concentrating on developing the MDM, the missile pod, and probably a huge number of battlecruiser-sized (and thus fairly rapidly built) mine layers like those Honor and Sarnow used at Hancock, but optimized to deploy pods to be taken over and controlled by the large number of battlecruisers I already have in inventory. I’d be concentrating on maintaining as much acceleration and maneuverability advantage over the Manticoran wall of battle as possible and pursuing an attritional policy using the mine layer-deployed pod/battlecruiser combination.


    As of the time (of the Honorverse books timeline) that this infodump was presented, it states that Frontier Fleet is big enough all by itself to substantially out-mass the entire Manty Navy, superdreadnoughts and all. Unless Frontier Fleet has untold numbers of ships below the wall, the infodump seems to imply (200 years after The Battle of Farley’s Crossing) that Frontier Fleet does possess ships of the wall, not nearly as many as Battle Fleet, but still at least some ships of the wall.

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