Mission Of Honor – Snippet 29

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 29

“But those instructions were modified, Madam President,” she said softly. “Not rescinded, but . . . modified. Her Majesty’s been convinced to at least consider the possibility that the Republic of Haven truly isn’t the People’s Republic any longer. That it was not, in fact, responsible for the assassination of Admiral Webster on Old Earth, or for the attempted assassination of Queen Berry on Torch. To be honest, she remains far from convinced of either of those possibilities, but at least she recognizes them as possibilities. And even if it turns out the Republic was responsible, she’s prepared to acknowledge that killing still more millions of your citizens and military personnel, destroying still more trillions of dollars worth of orbital infrastructure, may be a disproportionate response to the Republic’s guilt.

“In short, Madam President, the Queen is tired of killing people. So she’s authorized me to deliver this message to you: the Star Empire of Manticore is prepared to negotiate a mutually acceptable end to the state of war between it and the Republic of Haven.”

The president didn’t even twitch a muscle. Her self control was enormous, Honor thought. Which it had no doubt had to be for her and Javier Giscard to survive under the eternally suspicious, paranoid eye of a megalomaniac like Oscar Saint-Just for so many years. She might have been carved from stone, yet her sudden burst of incredulous joy, leashed by discipline and wariness, was like a silent explosion to Honor’s empathic sense. However eager she might be for an end to the fighting, this woman was no fool. She knew how difficult “negotiations” might prove, and she was as aware as Honor herself of how many bloody years of hostility, anger, and hatred lay between the Star Empire and her own star nation.

“No one in Manticore expects that to be an easy task, even assuming that, in fact, the Republic wasn’t responsible for the assassinations which led Her Majesty to reject the summit you had proposed. Nonetheless, Her Majesty is prepared to make a best-effort, good faith attempt to do just that, and I’ve been authorized to begin that negotiating process for her and for the Star Empire.

“At the same time, however, Her Majesty has instructed me to tell you she is not prepared to stretch these negotiations out indefinitely. Given what I just told you about the situation in Talbott, I’m sure you understand why, and I fully realize that you here in Nouveau Paris feel — with what I recognize as good reason — that it wasn’t the Republic of Haven which failed to negotiate in good faith following the overthrow of the Saint-Just regime. Her Majesty was opposed to the stance of the High Ridge Government at the time, but the peculiarities of our constitutional system prevented her from simply removing him and replacing him with someone more responsive to the duties and responsibilities of his office. And, frankly, no one in Manticore had any reason to believe his intransigence, arrogance, and ambition would contribute to an active resumption of the war between Haven and the Star Empire. She, like virtually all Manticorans, regarded the situation primarily as a domestic political struggle — one which might have diplomatic implications, but certainly not as one likely to spin out of control into an active resumption of the war. Under those circumstances, she was unprepared to provoke a constitutional crisis to remove him rather than waiting until that same ambition and arrogance led to his inevitable eventual fall from office. I have no doubt that, as President, you’ve experienced similar difficulties of your own.”

Despite all her own self-discipline and focus, Honor nearly blinked at the sudden white-hot explosion of mingled fury, frustration, and something which tasted remarkably like . . . guilt? . . . that roared up inside Eloise Pritchart with her final sentence. It was, in some ways, an even stronger emotional spike than the president had shown when she realized Elizabeth was willing to negotiate after all, and it puzzled Honor almost as much as it surprised her. Most of all, because it didn’t seem to be directed at Manticore or High Ridge. It seemed to be aimed somewhere else entirely, and a corner of Honor’s mind whirred with speculation as it considered the hours of political briefings which had preceded her departure for the Haven System . . . and occupied much of the voyage, for that matter.

But she couldn’t allow herself to be distracted, and so she continued, her voice as level as before.

“Her Majesty deeply regrets her inability to call High Ridge to heel, and she’s prepared to acknowledge the Star Empire’s fault in that respect. Nonetheless, she and the current Grantville Government are firmly resolved to move forward with a prompt resolution of this conflict. If it can be resolved over the negotiating table, the Star Empire of Manticore is prepared to be as reasonable as circumstances permit in order to achieve that end. As an indication of that, I’ve been instructed to tell you that the only two points which the Star Empire will insist must be publicly and acceptably addressed in any peace settlement are the question of precisely who falsified the diplomatic correspondence between our two star nations and why, and a public acknowledgment of who actually resumed hostilities. The question of reparations must also be placed on the table, although the final resolution of that question may be open to a later round of negotiations. It is not, however, the Star Empire’s intention to insist upon cripplingly punitive terms, and Her Majesty hopes it will prove possible to completely regularize relations — commercial, scientific, and educational, as well as diplomatic — between our star nations as part of the same negotiating process. Manticore desires not simply an end to the killing, Madam President, but a beginning to a peaceful, mutually advantageous relationship with Haven based upon mutual respect, mutual interests, and — ultimately, at least — mutual friendship.

“If, however, it proves impossible to negotiate an end to hostilities in what Her Majesty considers a reasonable period of time, the offer to negotiate will be withdrawn.”

Honor met Pritchart’s gaze squarely, and her voice was unflinching.

“No one in the galaxy would regret that outcome more than I would, Madam President. It’s my duty, however, to inform you that if it happens, the Star Empire will resume active operations. And if that happens, the Royal Manticoran Navy will destroy your star nation’s Navy and its orbital industry, one star system at a time, until your administration, or its successor, unconditionally surrenders.

“Speaking for myself, as an individual, and not for my Star Empire or my Queen, I implore you to accept Her Majesty’s proposal. I’ve killed too many of your people over the last twenty T-years, and your people have killed too many of mine.”

She felt Javier Giscard’s death between them, just as she felt Alistair McKeon’s and Raoul Courvoissier’s and Jamie Candless’ and so many others, and she finished very, very softly.

“Don’t make me kill any more, Madam President. Please.”

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Comments

18 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 29

  1. no_one says:

    Just say yes. Say: “OK, we accept your terms.” The End.

  2. robert says:

    Let’s amend that to “Yes, it was our fault that the diplomatic correspondence was falsified and that is why we resumed hostilities. But, OK, we accept your terms. Let’s draw up the peace treaty and end this gigantic and costly mistake.”

  3. JMN says:

    Next, the other shoe falls, but we will probably have to wait some time to see it. We need updates ont he situation on Earth, on Mesa, and with Oyster Bay.

    J

  4. Thirdbase says:

    I have to go back and read it, but wasn’t Highridge or some one on the Manty side, also playing a bit fast and loose with the diplomatic correspondence?

  5. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Thirdbase, IIRC the Highridge Government was ‘down playing’ the correspondence when reporting it to the rest of the Manticore Parliament.

    In other words, they knew how bad the Haven correspondence sounded but didn’t want the rest of the Parliament to know about it.

    Once the Grantville Government took over they could see what the Highridge Government actually saw but didn’t report to the Parliament.

  6. Paul says:

    And this is the last of the snippets that are in the free preview. I’m curious to see how Haven reacts.

  7. DougL says:

    The Highridge government falsified at least one report on what Haven was saying to their own cabinet, never mind to the Parliment and the shadow cabinet and Queen Elizabeth.

    But for some reason NO ONE in Manticore has yet admitted to that blatant fraud which their OWN RECORDS should show they committed on the correspondence, or has admitted that their side might have falsified anything! This despite the fact that they HAVE to know that the reported correspondence doesn’t match their own records in at least one case.

    So they know someone in the High Ridge government was messing with the correspondence, they know their were crooks in that government, they haven’t caught them all to question, and yet they STILL insist the fraud has to have all been at the Haven end. I’m boggled myself. Diplomatically it would make sense to LIE about who was at fault, but Honor has internally thought that it has to be Haven.

    Maybe the “logic” is that the one KNOWN fraud shows that High Ridge couldn’t do a competent job of fraud…. But that assumes only one source of fraud and that it never makes mistakes. Mind boggling. I think DW just threw that bit of fraud in and then forgot about it. There’s no way the characters wouldn’t have figured that one out, it’s far more straightforward and obvious than the stuff at the Haven end.

  8. David H says:

    High Ridge did not falsifie any offical correspondence.

    He did tone down the message,so it did not seem so hardline, but the offical correspondence was filed as it was received.

  9. John Roth says:

    @8 David H.

    That was my impression. He wasn’t pursuing the peace negotiations with any degree of seriousness, or he’d have discovered that what the ROH thought they were getting wasn’t what he was sending them.

    The piece that hasn’t come to light yet is that the ROH Foreign Minister had the Manty’s state department private key for signing correspondence. How did they get it? That might be a question that gets pursued with some vigor.

  10. robert says:

    The High Ridge government’s Foreign Secretary was bribed to give it to “somebody” who, in turn, gave it to “somebody” in the Haven Foreign Office, etc., etc. Mesa was behind it, you can bet, and manipulated everyone into restarting hostilities. Usher is on the trail and will certainly find out, especially when Cachet shows up with his cache of info. I think that the culprit in Manticore has flown the coop by now.

  11. John Roth says:

    @10 Robert

    I wouldn’t be so sure that’s what happened. I seem to remember that when the High Ridge government dissolved, one of the Secretaries promptly went off planet and vanished. I’m not sure whether she took a chunk of the treasury with her. So I have this sneaking suspicion that nobody was bribed.

  12. Doug Lampert says:

    David H: He reported a message to the Cabinet that did not match that recieved. I’m not sure what your definition of “falsified” is that this doesn’t meet it. Reporting a message says (A) when in fact it says something else is exactly what falsifying MEANS.

    He clearly DID falsify the message, that he didn’t ALSO falsify the official recorded traffic in that particular case is WHY it is trivial to catch that particular falsification and why the failure to note it is mind boggling.

    Further, he falsified it in order to make the message seem less like an ultimatum or threat of war. Given that that particular message was followed by a resumption of shooting the changes were CLEARLY and OBVIOUSLY relevant and important.

  13. robert says:

    The High Ridge government was culpable in the sense that High Ridge misstated the Haven diplomatic notes in order to keep from ending the war. That was dicovered by Manticore when they examined the correspondence after that government fell.

    We know that the haven Foreign Secretary had the Manticore encryption key and was responsible for modifying Manticore’s correspondence. We also pretty much know how he came by the key. Eloise is perfectly aware that that was what her Foreign Secretary did because Usher told her that.

    So all that remains is to straighten out the details, draw up the peace treaty, sign it, exchange ambassadors and fini…except for Oyster Bay and the spy in the Foreign Office.

  14. Thirdbase says:

    robert,

    That would be spies. I believe that there is at least one agent in both the Mantie and Haven government. There is the one in the Mantie government that passed on the info about the peace summit, and the one in the Haven government that arranged for the “suicide” of Grosclaude, and that would be Col. Nesbitt.

  15. John Roth says:

    @13 Robert

    Well, there’s Cranberry, oops. I meant Adm. Crandall and her upcoming attack in Talbot, which hasn’t been mentioned yet. Then there’s Adm. Filaretta. As Thirdbase mentioned, there’s Col. Nesbit, who was shown gaining a lot of influence over one of the cabinet secretaries. You can take it for granted that David has enough material for 43 chapters, going into May (a month after Cachet and Zilwiki return.)

  16. justdave says:

    IIRC Descroix was a bought and paid for by Mesa, and while I can’t find the textev I believe Detweiler commented she’d been ‘taken care of’

  17. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Justdave, yes and no on Descroix.

    She had taken bribes from Manpower but wasn’t completely playing by the Manpower playbook.

    IE Manpower wanted a renewed war between Haven and Manticore but her political plans didn’t call for a renewed war.

    Unfortunately for her, Mesa saw her as a ‘loose end’ not as somebody they could use elsewhere.

    Manpower did kill her.

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