Mission Of Honor – Snippet 26

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 26

Chapter Seven

“So, would you prefer we address you as ‘Admiral Alexander-Harrington,’ ‘Admiral Harrington,’ ‘Duchess Harrington,’ or ‘Steadholder Harrington’?” Pritchart asked with a slight smile as she, Honor, Nimitz, and a passel of bodyguards — most of whom seemed to be watching each other with unbounded distrust — rode the lift car from the landing pad down towards the president’s official office. There’d been too little room, even in a car that size, for any of the other Havenite officials to accompany them, since neither Honor’s armsmen nor Sheila Thiessen’s Presidential Security agents had been remotely willing to give up their places to mere cabinet secretaries.

“It does get a bit complicated at times to be so many different people at once,” Honor acknowledged Pritchart’s question with an answering smile which was a bit more crooked than the president’s. And not just because of the artificial nerves at the corner of her mouth. “Which would you be most comfortable with, Madam President?”

“Well, I have to admit we in the Republic have developed a certain aversion to aristocracies, whether they’re acknowledged, like the one in your own Star Kingdom, or simply de facto, like the Legislaturalists here at home. So there’d be at least some . . . mixed emotions, let’s say, in using one of your titles of nobility. At the same time, however, we’re well aware of your record, for a lot of reasons.”

For a moment, Pritchart’s topaz-colored eyes — which, Honor had discovered, were much more spectacular and expressive in person than they’d appeared in any of the imagery she’d seen — darkened and her mouth tightened. Honor tasted the bleak stab of grief and regret behind that darkness, and her own mouth tightened ever so slightly. When she’d discussed the Republic’s leadership with Lester Tourville, he’d confirmed that Eighth Fleet had killed Javier Giscard, Pritchart’s longtime lover, at the Battle of Lovat.

That, in effect, Honor Alexander-Harrington had killed him.

Her eyes met the president’s, and she didn’t need her empathic sense to realize both of them saw the knowledge in the other’s gaze. Yet there were other things wrapped up in that knowledge, as well. Yes, she’d killed Javier Giscard, and she regretted that, but he’d been only one of thousands of Havenites who’d died in combat against Honor or ships under her command over the past two decades, and there’d been nothing personal in his death. That was a distinction both she and Pritchart understood, because both of them — unlike the vast majority of Honor’s fellow naval officers — had taken lives with their own hands. Had killed enemies at close range, when they’d been able to see those enemies eyes and when it most definitely was personal. Both of them understood that difference, and the silence hovering between them carried that mutual awareness with it, as well as the undertow of pain and loss no understanding could ever dispel.

Then Pritchart cleared her throat.

“As I say, we’re aware of your record. Given the fact that you come from good yeoman stock and earned all of those decadent titles the hard way, we’re prepared to use them as a gesture of respect.”

“I see.”

Honor gazed at the platinum-haired woman. Pritchart was an even more impressive presence face-to-face than she’d anticipated, even after Michelle Henke’s reports of her own conversations with the president. The woman carried herself with the assurance of someone who knew exactly who she was, and her emotions — what the treecats called her “mind glow” — were those of someone who’d learned that lesson the hard way, paid an enormous price for what her beliefs demanded. Yet despite the humor in her voice, it was clear she truly did cherish some apprehension about her question, and Honor wondered why.

She used Mike’s title as Countess Gold Peak . . . but only after she’d decided to send Mike home as her envoy. Did she do that as a courtesy, or to specifically emphasize Mike’s proximity to the throne? An emphasis she wanted enough to use a title she personally despised?

Or is the problem someone else in her Cabinet whose reaction she’s concerned about? Or could it be she’s already looking forward to the press releases? To how they’re going to address me for public consumption?

“Under the circumstances,” Honor said after a moment, “if you’d be more comfortable with plain old ‘Admiral Alexander-Harrington,’ I’m sure I could put up with that.”

“Thank you.” Pritchart gave her another smile, this one somewhat broader. “To be perfectly honest, I suspect some of my more aggressively egalitarian Cabinet members might be genuinely uncomfortable using one of your other titles.”

She’s fishing with that one, Honor decided. Most people wouldn’t have suspected anything of the sort, given Pritchart’s obvious assurance, but Honor had certain unfair advantages. She wants an indication of whether I want to speak to her in private or whether whatever Beth sent me to say is intended for her entire Cabinet.

“If it would make them feel uncomfortable, then of course we can dispense with it,” she assured the president, and suppressed an urge to chuckle as she tasted Pritchart’s carefully concealed spike of frustration when her probe was effortlessly — and apparently unknowingly — deflected.

“That’s very gracious — and understanding — of you,” the Havenite head of state said out loud as the lift slid to a halt and the doors opened. She waved one hand in graceful invitation, and she and Honor started down a tastefully furnished hallway, trailed by two satellite-like clumps of bodyguards. Honor could feel the president turning something over in her mind as they walked. Pritchart didn’t seem the sort to dither over decisions, and before they’d gone more than a few meters, she glanced at the tall, black-haired woman who was obviously the senior member of her own security team.

“Sheila, please inform the Secretary of State and the other members of the Cabinet that I believe it will be best if Admiral Alexander-Harrington and I take the opportunity for a little private conversation before we invite anyone else in.” Her nostrils flared, and Honor tasted the amusement threaded through her undeniable anxiety and the fragile undertone of hope. “Given the Admiral’s dramatic midnight arrival, I’m sure whatever she has to say will be important enough for all of us to discuss eventually, but tell them I want to get my own toes wet first.”

“Of course, Madam President,” the bodyguard said, and began speaking very quietly into her personal com.

“I trust that arrangement will be satisfactory to you, Admiral?” Pritchart continued, glancing up at Honor.

“Certainly,” Honor replied with imperturbable courtesy, but the twinkle of amusement in her own eyes obviously gave her away, and the president snorted again — more loudly — and shook her head.

Whatever she’d been about to say (assuming she’d intended to say anything) stayed unspoken, however, as they reached the end of the hall and a powered door slid open. Pritchart gave another of those graceful waves, and Honor stepped obediently through the door first.

The office was smaller than she’d anticipated. Despite its obviously expensive and luxurious furnishings, despite the old-fashioned paintings on the walls and the freestanding sculpture in one corner, it had an undeniably intimate air. And it was obviously a working office, not just someplace to receive and impress foreign envoys, as the well-used workstation at the antique wooden desk made evident.

Given its limited size, it would have been uncomfortably crowded if Pritchart had invited her entire cabinet in. In fact, Honor doubted she could have squeezed that many people into the available space, although the president’s decision against inviting even her secretary of state had come as something of a surprise.

“Please, have a seat, Admiral,” Pritchart invited, indicating the comfortable armchairs arranged around a largish coffee-table before a huge crystoplast window — one entire wall of the office, actually — that gave a magnificent view of downtown Nouveau Paris.

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14 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 26

  1. Johnny A. says:

    Baen has already posted through to the end of Chapter 7 as their “Schedule” Free Sample.

  2. John Roth says:

    @1 johnny A

    Yup. The first new material should be next Monday, given what seems to be the posting schedule. This snipped doesn’t seem to have very much raw meat, though.

  3. Thirdbase says:

    It has the you woke me up in the middle of the night, so I shall snub your elitist titles.

  4. Summertime says:

    A lot of chatting, sizing-up, mood setting, mind-checking by Honor’s furry companion. Many decisions can be made based on meetings in person rather than at long distance or second or third hand.

  5. robert says:

    The point being that we have, for all intents and purposes, nits not withstanding, PEACE! At last! Except, of course, for the MA and SL issues facing Manticore. One wonders what role Haven will play in those wars, given the information that Mesa has manipulated them into the original war and its resumption resulting in the attack on Manticore (AAC). Cachet, at least, will be back with that info (McBryde’s data chip which is the evidence) and, presumably, Simoes, to provide the living proof.

    At my age I hate to wish for time to fly, but June could come tomorrow and that’d be OK.

  6. Vince says:

    @5 Pray for prolong and to avoid accidents and illnesses. For all our middle-aged readers so we can be around to enjoy the books to the end of the series and for David Weber so he will have enough time to finish the series.

  7. Shadow says:

    I have a question unrelated to this chapter, but I don’t know where else to ask, so here goes.
    On webscriptions.net, there’s often several version of an e-book. One XXXX, at 5-6 dollars, and a XXXX-ARC, at 15-16 dollars. How is the ARC version different from the cheaper one?

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Shadow, the ARC versions are “Advanced Reader Copies” that are pre-final edits versions of the final version.

    Basically, the ARCs are for people who want to see the book early and aren’t worried about mistakes.

    Here’s the history.

    All publishers create & send out paper ARCs for reviewers and other promotional reasons.

    Normally paper ARCs have a notice that they aren’t to be sold but you often find them in used book stores and (more recently) sold on-line.

    There was a period when people would ask Jim Baen (on the Bar) his opinion about Baen paper ARCs showing up on-line.

    Jim’s opinion was “no problem”.

    IE people who would pay money for the paper ARCs would also pay money for the real thing.

    He also got the impression that there were ebook readers who would pay money for Electronic ARCs and arranged for them to be available for sale on Webscriptions.

    Obviously, he decided that people who wanted the unedited ebooks early should pay more for getting them early.

    Normally the Electronic ARCs stop being available for sale when the regular ebook is released.

    Of course, it would seem to be crazy to purchase the unedited version for more money than the final edited version, but there are plenty of crazy people (like me) who purchase the Electronic ARCs.

  9. Shadow says:

    Thanks for the info. I was starting to get worried a non-ARC e-book I just bought might not contain all the chapters.

  10. robert says:

    @6 Thanks and I, too, hope that DW stays healthy. And that Eric Flint stays healthy from now on. I look at their schedules and wonder how they get as much writing done as they do without breaking.

  11. Jared says:

    David is simply not allowed to die. He has too many series to finish before he does! If he dies, then how will we ever finish the In Fury Born series? Or the Bolo, Hellgate, and Safehold series?!

  12. Summertime says:

    If Flint and Weber are like Frank Herbert, when they pass on to the next plane of existence, they will leave “notes” on all series they have going so someone can write the books and finish said series, maybe even continue and embellish upon them. Many writers are years in the grave and books are still being turned out in their names.

  13. robert says:

    @11 Jared, I thought Bolo was Keith Laumer’s creation. David has plenty of new characters in the Honorverse to last for dozens of books. And finally, please, no more overblown, predictable, and rather tedious Hellsgate books.

    @12 Summertime, as I told the gardener, if he is retiring, I will sell the house. If David and Eric go, I got next.

  14. Daryl says:

    @13 Robert, don’t depend solely on David & Eric, remember that Tolkien was simply the first of the modern fantasy writers. I’m sure that now they have shown the way there will be plenty of new authors in the years to come. In the meantime Stirling, Turtledove, Rosenberg, Ringo (if you can tolerate his fascism), and a few others are doing similar work. To show my age I despaired when Asimov and Heinlein passed on but there are still good books to read.

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