Mission Of Honor – Snippet 28

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 28

“But because we saw that aggression coming, our military buildup to resist it began forty T-years before even the attack on Basilisk, so for all intents and purposes, our nations have been at war — or preparing for war — for over sixty T-years. Which means we’ve been actively fighting one another — or preparing to fight one another — since I was roughly four T-years old. In a very real sense, my Star Empire’s been at war, hot or cold, against Havenite aggression, in one form or another, for my entire life, Madame President, and I’m scarcely alone in having that ‘life experience’ or the attitudes that come with it. After that long, after that much mutual hostility and active bloodletting, either side can easily find any number of justifications for distrusting or hating the other.

“But there are two significant differences between this point in the struggle between Manticore and Haven and almost any other point, Madam President. The first of those differences is that we’re no longer dealing with the People’s Republic. Your new government has claimed your primary purpose is the complete restoration of the old Republic of Haven, and I accept that claim’s validity. But you’ve also chosen, unfortunately — for whatever combination of reasons — to resume the war between Haven and Manticore, which leads many — indeed, most — Manticorans to doubt there’s any true difference between you and the Legislaturalists or the Committee of Public Safety.

“I hope and believe they’re wrong. That this Havenite regime does care how many of its citizens are killed fighting its wars. That it does want to safeguard the enormous progress it’s made recovering from generations of misrule and domestic political brutality. And that it does feel some sense of responsibility to see as few as possible of its people, military or civilian, killed rather than simply feeding them into the furnace of political ambition and spinal-reflex aggression.

“Which brings us to the second significant difference. To be blunt, and as I have no doubt you and Admiral Theisman realize just as well as Queen Elizabeth does, the Star Empire’s present military advantage is even more overwhelming than it was at the time of the Admiral’s coup against Saint-Just. We can, if we choose to do so, drive this war through to a decisive, unambiguous military victory. We can destroy your fleets from beyond any range at which they can effectively counterattack. We can destroy the infrastructure of your star systems, one by one, and for all of the undoubted courage and determination of your naval personnel, they can’t stop us. They can only die trying — which I, for one, have no doubt they would do with the utmost gallantry.”

She looked directly into Eloise Pritchart’s tawny eyes, watching their expressionless depths even as she tasted the combination of fear, frustration, and desperation concealed behind them.

“There are those in the Star Empire who would prefer, in no small part because of that history I just mentioned, to do exactly that,” she said flatly. “And I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit Her Majesty is strongly inclined in that direction herself. If, as I assume you have, you’ve had access to Internal Security’s and State Security’s secret files, I’m sure you understand why Queen Elizabeth personally hates Haven and distrusts all Havenites with every fiber of her being. I suspect just about anyone would feel that way about a star nation which murdered her father, murdered her uncle, her cousin, and her prime minister, and attempted to murder her.”

Pritchart said nothing, only nodded slightly in acknowledgment of Honor’s point, but Honor tasted a confusing whirlpool of emotion within the president. Obviously, Pritchart had learned about the assassinations — including King Roger’s — before Honor told her, and, equally obviously, she wasn’t surprised someone with Elizabeth’s fiery disposition would find it impossible to forget such offenses. Yet there was a strand of personal regret, as well. An understanding that someone as wounded as Elizabeth had every right to her fury, and a sense of sorrow that so much pain had been inflicted.

“Immediately following the Battle of Manticore,” Honor resumed, “our own losses were severe enough to preclude our launching any fresh offensives. I’m sure your own analysts reached that conclusion, as well. Now, however, our new construction and our repair of damaged units have reached a point at which we can detach sufficient vessels to launch decisive attacks on your star systems without exposing our own system to attack. And, to be brutally frank, the situation in the Talbott Quadrant is nowhere near as close to resolved as we’d believed it was.”

She paused again, tasting Pritchart’s reaction to that revelation. The Havenite president would have been more than human if she hadn’t experienced a surge of hope that Manticore’s possible preoccupation elsewhere would work in Haven’s favor. Yet there was also an even sharper strand of wariness, and Honor suppressed a desire to smile sardonically. She and her political advisers had discussed whether or not she should raise that particular point with Pritchart. Now, tasting the other woman’s mind glow, she knew she’d been right; Pritchart was too smart not to see the possible downside for Haven, as well.

Still, I might as well make certain we’re both on the same page.

“We continue to hope for a diplomatic resolution in and around Talbott,” she said, “but I won’t pretend we’re confident of achieving one. Failure to do so will obviously have potentially serious repercussions for the Star Empire, of course. I’m sure you and your advisers are as well aware of that as anyone in Manticore. But you need to be aware of this, as well.”

She held Pritchart’s gaze with her own.

“The threat of a direct conflict with the Solarian League is one we simply cannot ignore. Obviously, it’s also one of the reasons we’re seeking to compose our disagreements with the Republic. Any star nation would be insane to want to fight the Solarian League under any circumstances, but only one which was stupid, as well as insane, would want to fight the League and anyone else simultaneously. At the same time, I’m sure your own analysts have come to some of the same conclusions we have where the Solarians’ war-fighting technology is concerned. In case they haven’t, I can tell you that what’s happened so far has confirmed to us that the SLN is considerably inferior technologically at this time to either the Star Empire or the Republic. Obviously, something the size of the Solarian League has plenty of potential to overcome tech disadvantages, but our best estimate is that even if they were ready to begin putting new weapons systems into production tomorrow, we’d still be looking at a period of at least three to five years of crushing superiority over anything they could throw at us.

“The reason I’m telling you this is that you need to understand that while we don’t want to fight the League, we’re a long way from regarding a war against the Sollies as tantamount to a sentence of death. But we’re not prepared to fight the Solarians at the same time someone whose technology is as close to equal to ours as yours is comes at us from behind. So as we see it, we have two options where the Republic is concerned.

“One, and in many ways the less risky of them from our perspective, would be to use that technological superiority I spoke about a few minutes ago to destroy your infrastructure in order to compel your unconditional surrender. In fact, one month ago, I was instructed to do just that, beginning with this very star system.”

It was very, very quiet in Eloise Pritchart’s office. The emotions of the president’s bodyguards were a background of taut anxiety and anger restrained by discipline, yet Honor scarcely noticed that. Her attention — and Nimitz’s — were focused unwaveringly upon Pritchart.

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22 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 28

  1. no_one says:

    Who put the benzedrine in Admiral Harrington’s Ovaltine? Just what is in that cocoa she’s always drinking?

  2. John Roth says:

    @1 no-one

    She’s laying out the background for what she’s described as a set of very difficult negotiations. I’d hoped that we’d get into new material on Monday, but it looks like Wednesday.

  3. hank says:

    Me, I can’t wait to hear Eloise’s comeback! btw, not bennies, it’s all that raw meat they fed her when she was a Cruiser Captain. :)

  4. Grant says:

    To summarize…

    “If the Sollies come for us, either we have a peace deal or we’re going to be forced to wipe your entire empire’s military infrastructure off the face of the universe, which we can do without breaking a sweat whether the Sollies hit us or not… so, wanna talk?”

    Yay diplomacy. :)

  5. 4th Dimension says:

    Appolo diplomacy :D

  6. Joseph says:


    Grant, Succinctly put.

  7. robert says:

    Whew! All that in one breath. And she isn’t even finished. Great chapter, great writing. One hopes the rest of the book is as engrossing as this.

  8. Ian Darley says:

    #4 it won’t just be the military infrastructure if it comes to a military decision. It would have to be everything in orbit around every major planet / system to ensure Manticore has the time to resolve a war with the Sollies. If they just hit the military infrastructure (and remember they don’t know where Bolthole is) then the civilian infrastructure will keep the Republic together while they rebuild a naval force to hit Manticore while Honor is busy with the Sollies. Manticore would have to take out everything so that Haven would have no choice but to use any surviving warships to keep people fed and hold the Republic together.
    Likely result, a thousand years of war and hatred. I don’t see this as likely considering the fact that our heroes would turn very grey at best if not outright evil.

  9. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I like the idea of Honor saying (though half of it is implied), “Oh, by the way, the Sollies may be coming for us, and once they get up a good head of steam, they’ll be coming for you too.” Very strong encouragement to negotiate. :-)

  10. Thirdbase says:

    So have they decided which cover to use, or are they going to use both?

    I find it a bit funny that many sites are using both covers.

  11. lorenco says:

    I went to a signing at forbidden planet (london) and got david weber to sign my copy of A Mighty Fortress and got a free unorrected proof copy of Mission of Honor, as well as a Baen cd Mission of Honor disc which he also signed.
    Great to finally meet David Weber.

  12. robert says:

    @2 John, I find that recently the Baen Sample Chapters have been fewer than they were several years ago. I don’t know if this is the result of snippeting, the passing of Jim Baen or what.

    @10 3rdbase. I would think that the cover on the Baen website is the official one. They caught the error before it went to the printer and changed it, so the right hand is the right hand.

    Honor is doing a little venting here, as well as laying the groundwork for negotiations. But with OB and the return of Cachet just ahead, they may all be best buds soon enough.

  13. JMN says:

    The side light of all this is the involvement of ManPower, which is the one thing both sides have always agreed about.

    These are not going to be difficult negotiations. Manticore lays out the terms, and Haven signs them. What will make it interesting is that Manticore will get hit in the middle of the process. All kinds of things can settle out of that. Having a truth detector physically in the Haven Capital could be pivotal.

    Honor in the middle of a fire storm. Imagine that.


  14. robert says:

    I cannot imagine this occurring if Weber had killed her off in the Battle of Manticore as he planned to do. In fact, I cannot imagine this book being written if that had happened. And this chapter is the most powerful one he has written since Honor of the Queen. Glad that brain cramp passed.

  15. John Roth says:

    @13. Robert

    As I understand it, Honor’s last words were supposed to be to Queen E III to stop the war.

    Then the Mesa war would be pursued by her children about 30 years later, assuming that Weber ever wrote it. So in that plan, Oyster Bay wouldn’t have occurred at this time.

  16. justdave says:

    ah the best laid plans of mice and the MWW

    thank Eric for inventing Victor Cachet who seems to have that effect in both the Honorverse and our ‘reality’

  17. Michael says:

    Oh, the implications ….

    If OB is as successfull as everybody beliefs, we might see Sonja Hemphill and Sharon Forraker(?) working together. Now, would’nt that be just bad ….. for the Sollies and Manpower! :-)

    I wait for one of the next logicall steps in Manticoran technollogical improvment. Apollo CMs. Or Recon drones with CMs. Hell, MultiDrive CMs.
    Because the Attackbirds got improved in a really major way. The CMs have seen only slight improvments. The biggest beeing the Attack/CM Missile the Katana Class LAC uses.

  18. robert says:

    @11 So David made it to London despite the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano screwing up North Atlantic air travel. Will he make it back when he planned to? Did he bring his laptop with him?

  19. Thirdbase says:


    David’s pinnace ignores such minor things as exploding volcanoes. :)

  20. Daryl says:

    @19 Thirdbase, if not I’m sure Merlin would give him a lift.

  21. no_one says:

    Why wouldn’t he use the mat-trans?

  22. robert says:

    On the return flight…

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