Mission Of Honor – Snippet 20

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 20

January, 1922, Post Diaspora

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this . . . .”
— Admiral Patricia Givens, RMN
CO, Office of Naval Intelligence

Chapter Five

Captain (JG) Ginger Lewis was not filled with confidence as she headed down the passageway aboard HMSS Weyland towards Rear Admiral Tina Yeager’s office. It wasn’t because she felt any worry over her ability to discharge her new duties. It wasn’t even because she’d started her career as enlisted, without so much as dreaming she might attain her present rank. For that matter, it wasn’t even because she’d just been assigned to the Royal Manticoran Navy’s primary R&D facility when all her actual experience had been acquired in various engineering departments aboard deployed starships.

No, it was because she hadn’t seen a single happy face since she’d arrived aboard Weyland half an hour before. Most people, she suspected, would have felt at least a qualm or two at being the new kid, just reporting in, when something had so obviously hit the rotary air impeller.

I wonder if it’s just over here in R&D or if Aubrey and Paulo are about to get the same treatment? she wondered. Then she snorted. Well, even if they are, Paulo has Aubrey to take care of him.

The thought made her smile as she remembered Aubrey Wanderman’s first deployment. Which, by the strangest turn of events, had also been her first deployment. She’d been quite a few years older than him, but they’d completed their naval training school assignments together, and she’d sort of taken him under her wing. He’d needed it, too. It was hard to remember now how young he’d been or that it had all happened almost fourteen T-years years ago. Sometimes it seemed like only yesterday, and sometimes it seemed like something that had happened a thousand years ago, to someone else entirely. But she remembered how shiny and new he’d been, how disappointed he’d been at being assigned to “only” a “merchant cruiser” . . . until, at least, he’d discovered that the captain of the merchant cruiser in question was then-Captain Honor Harrington.

Her smile faded just a bit as she remembered the clique of bullies and would-be deserters who’d made Aubrey’s life a living hell, at least until Captain Harrington had found out about it. And the way she’d found out about it had been when their attempt to murder a certain acting petty officer by the name of Ginger Lewis had failed and Aubrey, who’d fallen under the influence of Chief Petty Officer Horace Harkness and HMS Wayfarer’s Marine detachment, had beaten their ringleader half to death with his bare hands. She was still a bit surprised she’d survived the sabotaged software of her EVA propulsion pack, and she knew she hadn’t emerged from the experience unscarred. Even now, all these years later, she hated going EVA — which, unfortunately, came the way of the engineering department even more than anyone else.

Still, there was a world — a universe — of difference between that once-bullied young man and Senior Chief Petty Officer Aubrey Wanderman.

And, she thought a bit enviously, neither he nor Paulo is going to have to report in to someone with the towering seniority of a flag officer. Lucky bastards.

Her woolgathering had carried her successfully down the passage to Rear Admiral Yaeger’s door. Now, however, she bade a regretful farewell to its distraction and stepped through the open door.

The yeoman seated behind the desk in the outer office looked up at her, then rose respectfully.

“Yes, Ma’am?”

“Captain Lewis,” Ginger replied. “I’m reporting aboard, Chief.”

“Yes, Ma’am. That would be Delta Department, wouldn’t it, Ma’am?”

“Yes, it would.” Ginger eyed him speculatively. Any flag officer’s yeoman worth her salt was going to keep up with the details of her admiral’s appointments and concerns. Keeping track of the comings and goings of officers who hadn’t even known themselves the day before that they were about to be assigned to Weyland was a bit more impressive than usual, however.

“I thought so, Ma’am.” The yeoman’s expression didn’t actually change by a single millimeter, yet somehow he managed to radiate a sense of over-tried patience — or perhaps a better word would have been exasperation. Fortunately, none of it seemed to be directed towards Ginger.

“I’m afraid the Admiral’s unavailable at the moment, Ma’am,” the yeoman continued. “And so is Lieutenant Weaver, her flag lieutenant. It’s, ah, an unscheduled meeting with the station commander.”

Ginger managed to keep her eyes from widening. An “unscheduled meeting” with Weyland’s CO, was it? No wonder she’d sensed a certain tension in the air.

“I see . . . Chief Timmons,” she said after a moment, reading the yeoman’s nameplate. “Would it happen we have any idea when Admiral Yeager might be free?”

“Frankly, Ma’am, I’m afraid it might be quite some time.” Timmons’ expression remained admirably grave. “That’s why I wanted to confirm that you were the officer Delta’s been expecting.”

“And since I am?”

“Well, Ma’am, I thought in that case you might go down to Delta and report in to Captain Jefferson. He’s Delta Division’s CO. I thought perhaps he might be able to start getting you squared away, and then you could report to the Admiral when she’s free again.”

“Do you know, Chief, I think that sounds like a perfectly wonderful idea,” Ginger agreed.

* * *

“Well, that was an interesting cluster fuck, wasn’t it?”

Vice Admiral Claudio Faraday, the commanding officer of HMSS Weyland, was known for a certain pithiness. He also had a well-developed sense of humor, although, Tina Yeager noted, there was no trace of it in his voice at the moment.

“Would it happen,” Faraday continued, “that tucked away somewhere in your subordinate officers’ files, between their voluminous correspondence, their instruction manuals, their schedules, their research notes, their ham sandwiches, and their entertainment chips, they actually possess a copy of this station’s emergency evacuation plan?”

He looked back and forth between Yaeger and Rear Admiral Warren Trammell, her counterpart on the fabrication and industrial end of Weyland’s operations. Trammell didn’t look much happier than Yaeger felt, but neither was foolish enough to answer his question, and Faraday smiled thinly.

“I only ask, you understand,” he continued almost affably, “because our recent exercise would seem to indicate that either that they don’t have a copy of the plan, or else none of them can read. And I hate to think Her Majesty’s Navy is entrusting its most important and secure research programs to a bunch of illiterates.”

Yaeger stirred in her chair, and Faraday’s eyes swooped to her.

“Sir,” she said, “first, let me say I have no excuse for my department’s performance. Second, I’m fully aware my people performed much more poorly than Admiral Trammell’s.”

“Oh, don’t take all the credit, Admiral,” Faraday said with another smile. “Your people may have performed more poorly than Admiral Trammell’s, but given the underwhelming level of Admiral Trammell’s people’s performance, I very much doubt that anyone could have performed ‘much more poorly’ than they did.”

“Sir,” Captain Marcus Howell said diffidently, and all three of the flag officers looked in his direction. Aside from Yaeger’s and Trammell’s flag lieutenants — whose massively junior status insulated them from the direct brunt of Admiral Faraday’s monumental unhappiness — he was the junior officer in the compartment. He was also, however, Faraday’s chief of staff.

“Yes, Marcus? You have something you’d care to add?”

“Well, Sir, I only wanted to observe that this was the first emergency evacuation simulation Weyland’s conducted in the last two T-years. Under the circumstances, it’s probably not really all that surprising people were a little . . . rusty.”

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21 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 20

  1. robert says:

    Are we to infer that Weyland gets creamed in the Oyster Bay attack? Why else would old friends be there? At this point in time?

  2. Thirdbase says:

    Rotary air impeller, should really be Forced Air Node. :)

    Now, just in case you have forgotten who Captain (JG) Ginger Lewis is, we will recap where she came from. Then we will use your guide to better literature, foreshadowing.

  3. obelow says:

    Having a known figure that started her career in damage control come in to such an important facility when an evacuation drill just went so dismally bad is an ominous sign of things to come… I guess the last days of Weyland are near…
    I just hope that Oyster Bay somehow gets blunted and the author does not get Manticore get maimed too bad… after the setbacks at the reopening of hostilities with Haven and the battle of Manticore they have been hit so bad already it seems most unfair if they get reamed again… how should they stad a chance after a new disaster with the solarian league about to attack them?
    On a personal level I pray that nothing happens to Honors family and that not too many of the known and much liked characters die…

  4. Rod says:

    Oyster Bay…….. Taadaaaa!!!!

  5. Rod says:

    on a lighter note, all I will say is……. there is still hope.

  6. wyrm says:

    David revisits an old character

    …. and awards her a redshirt?

    Will Ginger Lewis die heroically during the Oyster Bay attack?

  7. 4th Dimension says:

    @3 better pray for Mesan sake, for if that happens, that would be the last straw that unleashes the beast. She’ll not stop until she has nuked Mesa back to Stone Age

  8. Ian Darley says:

    After all the build up with Mesa manipulating everyone behind the scenes I suspect Manticore’s bases are about to get absolutely creamed. But with the discussion about evacuation plans I suspect they will be able to get some / most of their people off the bases before they are totally destroyed.
    With Harrington’s mission to Haven already in process these R&D folks will end up at Bolthole to help forge a combined Manticoran / Haven fleet allowing both sides to end a war they will soon realize was orchastrated by… Mesa. This war will also help the man/woman on the street come to terms with the fact that the enemy of the last 20 years+ is in fact human and worthy of respect and trust.
    I just wonder if HH will survive this time since her death had been planned for in one of the previous books. Like Tom Clancy’s character, once you get into high office / high command the storylines become incredibly restricted.

  9. Summertime says:

    The Mesan leaders are the villains in this scenario. It seems unfair to castigate “Mesans” and suggest that the planet should be bombed to extinction when 90% or so of them are slaves and second class peons with no power over the direction the leaders, alphas, etc., are taking events. Is there no way to target the guilty few?

  10. John Roth says:

    @9 Summertime

    Nah, not going to happen. That would not only violate the Eradni Edict, it would also violate the final scene David is said to have released some time ago. (I can’t verify it, but if that’s the scene I think it is, he’s already lampshaded it a couple of times.)

    The big problem with eliminating Evil Overlords is that the Heroes have to wade through the rivers of blood shed by their minions to get to them. Even though most of those minions would prefer that they be somewhere else so it wasn’t their blood being added to said rivers. Or else that the Hero be stopped by the previous layer of minions so they could get on with whatever they were doing.

    Unfortunately, that isn’t just fiction. Consider the size of the rivers of blood during WW II to get to those Evil Overlords.

  11. 4th Dimension says:

    Shannon Foraker and Manty R&D personnel?!? I’m giddy at the possibilities.

  12. Ian Darley says:

    @11 – me too. But I do think something like this will have to happen. It is just too unbelievable of Haven and Manticore just kiss and make up after 20 years of war.
    @9 – I don’t see Mesa getting flattened literally as the Eridani Edict is a big deal, and I do not see the good guys in this story resorting to those kinds of tactics anyway. Now I can easily see the Alignment carpet bombing planets, their attitude towards normal humans and their willingness to kill billions to achieve their aims is well documented, and if/when the wheels start to come off I can picture these “supermen” lashing out at the universe with every dirty toy in their arsenal.
    My concern here is what kinds of mass distribution nerve agents do they have stock-piled as a last resort if the sub-humans get uppity? Their assassin nano-tech is scary enough as a targeted weapon. I wonder what happens with it if you spray it over a city, with it programmed to turn everyone psychotic (Like the Reavers in Firefly / Serenity).

  13. Rod says:

    I have yet to conceive of a way the ‘superhumans’ of mesa intend to rule the galaxy and the rest of “normals” if they manage to smash the SL and the rest of the stellar powers as they seem intent on doing. Having read the ARC I have a better idea of how some of the rest of their centuries long machinations are intended to turn out, but I still can’t think of a way for them to effectively rule even if all of it suceeds. Any ideas?

  14. Mark L says:

    @13 I think the answer is obvious. You cannot think of a way for them to effectively rule (and neither can I, come to think of it) because we are mere “normals” instead of elite Mesans. Look how well that thinking worked for the Scrags — bet it will work as well for the Detwiliers.

  15. John Roth says:

    @14 Mark L.

    Not having read the e-arc, I’m as much in the dark as anyone. However, my suspicion is that The Master Plan is to smash the current power that’s holding things together (the Solarian League), then have their proxies (Mannerheim, Darius, possibly more) form a new power base, and let it evolve from there. Their animus for Haven and Manticore is that either of them could form the nucleus around which the chaos coalesces, so they have to be eliminated first.

    I don’t think they care about ‘ruling” in the sense of “Detweiller the 1st, Emperor of the Universe.”

    As far as the Scrags go — they were never the masterminds. They were the enhanced soldiers created by the ? for the final war. To echo Miles Vorkosigan: “They’ve recreated the enlisted man!”

  16. Anthony says:

    Might be a spoiler for some but since the info has already been officially released:

    DW said in the infodump that the assassin nano-tech had to be specifically calabrated to a persons DNA to work, and that it could only control someone for a few minutes. This would not work well to kill of entire populations. Of course Mesa would have no technical problems creating something that could drive a population insane.

  17. Daryl says:

    @15 John,
    I agree in that I doubt Detweiller actually wants to rule directly. Barring megalomania, really smart people don’t want to be direct rulers because long term administration is not fun. Let some other turkey do this and reap the benefits from behind the scenes by ensuring that they do it under your benevolent guidance.

  18. robert says:

    As John Roth has so aptly quoted Miles V. regarding the Scrags, let me do the same with respect to the Detweilers and their plans.
    After the haut Pel took Miles’ DNA for the second time (in “Diplomatic Immunity”), he said to her “It’s prob’ly nurture, not nature, y’know.”

  19. John Roth says:

    @18 Robert

    I know a little too much about current genetic and other research to take anything I read in a work of fiction seriously. Especially when at least one of the authors has a very large and obvious ideological ax to grind.

    The Detweillers are, to put it politely, nuts. Assuming that their long term goal is to make the universe safe for genetic supermen, there are probably dozens of strategies that would accomplish that faster, more certainly and with less hassle than the way they’re doing it. Of course, it wouldn’t make as great a space opera series.

    If they really wanted to make a contribution, possibly breeding an honest politician would be enough of a challenge.

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John Roth, there were some thoughts by a Mesan character in Torch Of Freedom concerning the “Great Plan”.

    Basically he was realizing that the first Detweiller (and the current Detweillers) were going about it wrong.

    Apparently the Detweillers are more interesting in ‘forcing the universe to do things *our* way’ than in improving humanity.

    By the way, IMO breeding an honest politician is impossible until you can breed perfect people. [Wink]

  21. robert says:

    Drak and John, there are honest politicians and I have met them, er, him. We had a congressman who never took any campaign contributions from anyone and he came back home every time congress adjourned and went around holding meetings in high school auditoriums and folks’ back yards explaining what was actually going on in D.C. And he voted exactly the way we liked him to. But cloning was not possible and eventually he retired. Honesty is not really the problem. Idiocy is. I believe that the result of any election automatically turns the winner into an idiot. This is especially true of local elections, for some reason.

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