Mission Of Honor – Snippet 39

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 39

That thought elicited a quiet snort of amusement, and she ran back through the timing. It was obvious Elizabeth had reacted as promptly (and forcefully) as Michelle had expected. Additional dispatches had arrived since her initial approval of Michelle’s actions — along with the influx of journalists of every stripe and inclination — and it was evident to Michelle that very few people back home had appreciated the patronizing tone Roelas y Valiente and Gyulay had adopted in the Solarians’ so-called responses to Elizabeth’s notes. She also doubted it had surprised anyone, however, since it was so infuriatingly typical of the League’s arrogance.

When the first of the Solarian news crews reached Spindle, it had been obvious there was already plenty of blood in the water as far as they were concerned, even though they’d headed out for the Talbott Quadrant before the League had gotten around to issuing a formal press release about what had happened to Jean Bart. They’d arrived armed with the Manticoran reports of events, but that wasn’t the same thing, by a long chalk. And the Solarian accounts and editorials which had accompanied the follow-on wave that had departed after the official League statements (such as they were and what there was of them) were filled with mingled indignation, anger, outrage, and alarm, but didn’t seem to contain very much in the way of reasoned response.

Michelle knew it wasn’t fair to expect anything else out of them, given the fact that all of this had come at them cold. Not yet, at any rate. And so far, none of the ‘fax stories from the League which had reached Spindle had contained a single solid fact provided by any official Solarian source. Every official statement the Solly newsies had to go on was coming from Manticore, and even without the ingrained arrogance the League’s reporters shared in full with their fellow citizens, it wouldn’t have been reasonable for them to accept the Manticoran version without a healthy dose of skepticism. At the same time, though, it seemed glaringly evident that the majority of the Solly media’s talking heads and pundits were being fed carefully crafted leaks from inside the League bureaucracy and the SLN. Manticore’s competing talking heads and pundits weren’t being leaked additional information, but that was mainly because there was no need to. They were basing their analyses on the facts available in the public record courtesy of the Star Empire of Manticore which, unlike the Solly leaks, had the at least theoretical advantage of actually being the truth, as well. Not that many of Old Terra’s journalists and editorialists seemed aware of that minor distinction.

It was all looking even messier than Michelle had feared it might, but at least the Manticoran version was being thoroughly aired. And, for that matter, she knew the Manticoran version was actually spreading throughout the League faster than the so-called response emerging from Old Chicago. The Star Empire’s commanding position in the wormhole networks could move things other than cargo ships, she thought grimly.

At the same time Elizabeth had dispatched her second diplomatic note to Old Terra, the Admiralty had issued an advisory to all Manticoran shipping, alerting the Star Empire’s innumerable merchant skippers to the suddenly looming crisis. It would take weeks for that advisory to reach all of them, but given the geometry of the wormhole network, it was still likely it would reach almost all of them before any instructions from the League reached the majority of its local naval commanders. And along with the open advisory for the merchies, the same dispatch boats had carried secret instructions to every RMN station commander and the senior officer of every RMN escort force . . . and those instructions had been a formal war warning.

Michelle devoutly hoped it was a warning about a war which would never move beyond the realm of unrealized possibility, but if it did, the Royal Manticoran Navy’s officers’ orders were clear. If they or any Manticoran merchant ship in their areas of responsibility were attacked, they were to respond with any level of force necessary to defeat that attack, no matter who the attackers might be. In the meantime, they were also instructed to expedite the return of Manticoran merchant shipping to Manticore-dominated space, despite the fact that the withdrawal of those merchant ships from their customary runs might well escalate the sense of crisis and confrontation.

And, Michelle felt unhappily certain, office lights were burning late at Admiralty House while Thomas Caparelli and his colleagues worked on contingency plans just in case the entire situation went straight to hell.

For that matter, little though she cared for the thought, it was entirely possible the penny had officially dropped back home by now. But even if the Star Empire had received a formal response from the League — even if the League had announced it would pursue the military option instead of negotiating — Michelle hadn’t heard anything about it yet.

All of which meant she was still very much on her own, despite all the government’s approval of her previous actions and assurances of its future support. She’d received at least some reinforcements, she’d shortstopped the four CLACs of Carrier Division 7.1 on her own authority when Rear Admiral Stephen Enderby turned up in Spindle. Enderby had expected to deliver his LACs to Prairie, Celebrant, and Nuncio, then head home for another load, and the LAC crews had expected nothing more challenging than a little piracy suppression. That, obviously, had changed. Enderby had been more than willing to accept his new orders, and his embarked LACs had been busy practicing for a somewhat more demanding role. She expected her decision to retain them for Tenth Fleet to be approved, as soon as the official paperwork could catch up, and the arrival of another division of Saganami-Cs had been a pleasant surprise — in more ways than one, given its commanding officer. For that matter, still more weight of metal was in the pipeline, although the original plans for the Talbott Quadrant were still recovering from the shock of the Battle of Manticore.

In a lot of ways, given Enderby’s diversion, she was better off at the moment then she would have been under the initial plan, but that might turn out to be remarkably cold comfort if there was any truth to the New Tuscans’ reports that major Solarian reinforcements had already been deployed to the Madras Sector, as well . . . .

Well, you’ve got orders for dealing with that, too, don’t you? she asked herself. Of course, they’re basically to “use your own discretion.” It’s nice to know the folks back home think so highly of your judgment, I suppose, but still . . . .

She inhaled deeply. Baroness Medusa, the Talbott Quadrant’s Imperial Governor, had dispatched her own note directly to Meyers at the same time Michelle had departed for New Tuscany and Josef Byng’s date with several hundred laser heads. It must have reached Verrochio two T-weeks ago, and she wondered what sort of response he’d made.

You’ll be finding out soon enough, girl, she told herself grimly. But even if he dashed off a response the instant Reprise got there with O’Shaughnessy, it couldn’t get back here for another T-week. And one thing Solly bureaucrats aren’t is impetuous about putting their necks on any potential chopping blocks. So even if he didn’t have a thing to do with anything that’s happened — however unlikely that is — I doubt he’s going to have been a lot faster out of the blocks than Roelas y Valiente was.

She remembered the old proverb that said “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” It was remarkably little comfort at the moment. She had absolute confidence in her command’s ability to defeat any attack Frontier Fleet might launch against Spindle. They’d have to transfer in scores of additional battlecruisers if they hoped to have any chance against her own Nikes, Saganami-Cs, Enderby’s CLACs, and the flatpack missile pods aboard her ammunition ships. In fact, she doubted Frontier Fleet had enough battlecruisers anywhere this side of Sol itself to take Spindle, even if they could send every one of them to call on her, and battlecruisers were the heaviest ships Frontier Fleet had. But Battle Fleet was another matter, and if the New Tuscans had been right about Solly superdreadnoughts at McIntosh. . . .

She gave an internal headshake and scolded herself once again. If there were Solly ships-of-the-wall in the vicinity, she’d just have to deal with that when she got confirmation. Which, of course, was one reason she’d assigned Oversteegen to defend against Mark 23s. She might relent and pull Apollo back out of the equation, but she doubted it, because the purpose wasn’t really to smack Michael, no matter how much he deserved it for being such a smartass. And no matter how much she would enjoy doing exactly that, for that matter.

No, the purpose was to force one of the best tacticians she knew to pull out all the stops in defense of the Spindle System. Seeing how well her own staff did against a truly capable Mark 23-equipped opponent would have been desirable enough in its own right, yet that was actually secondary, as far as she was concerned. She was confident of her own tactical ability, but there was always something new for even the best tactician to learn, and Michelle Henke had never been too proud to admit that. She’d be watching Rear Admiral Oversteegen closely, and not just to evaluate his performance. If he came up with something that suggested tactical wrinkles to her, she’d pounce on them in a heartbeat, because she might need them altogether too soon . . . and badly.

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24 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 39

  1. Thirdbase says:

    Well, it appears the the Battle of Spindle is only about a week or two away. At least they will have a warning about what is incoming.

    At least Henke is also willing to believe the possibility that the rumors are true, and prepare for the them, unlike previous admirals that are no longer among the living.

  2. no_one says:

    Does anyone else hear the Ominous Music playing in the background?

  3. B. B. Wolf says:

    I wonder if this will take long enough for the doctored data on the First Battle of New Tuscany to reach Earth from Mesa. I’m sure the Mesans will try to time it just right. The timing of OB & the Battle of Spindle will make for good speculation. David wouldn’t have them happen at the same time, would he? Dare I guess that this will be the first Battle of Spindle?

    Also is it fair to call what happened to the destroyers a battle?

  4. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @2 That noise you hear is Chekhov’s Gun cocking…

  5. robert says:

    Where’s Denton and O’Shaughnessy? I guess they have not come back yet or Henke would not be sitting there wondering about whether she is perfect or only extremely competent and hoping that Oversteegen will come up with the perfect plan. Poor thing. When Reprise gets back she will have more to worry about than her own standing with the Admiralty and Elizabeth.

    Realistically, she should also be planning the rescue missions for all the SLN personnel who will be adrift when she gets done with them.

  6. Pam K says:

    Is there something off on the dates for Denton’s trip? Based on “Baroness Medusa, the Talbott Quadrant’s Imperial Governor, had dispatched her own note directly to Meyers at the same time Michelle had departed for New Tuscany and Josef Byng’s date with several hundred laser heads. It must have reached Verrochio two T-weeks ago” the Reprise left Spindle about 6 Nov 1921 PD. This is halfway between 1st and 2nd New Tuscany. Current date seems to Be 15 Jan 1922 PD “It didn’t seem possible that it was one day short of two months since she’d destroyed a Solarian League battlecruiser with all hands.” from Snippet 38. That would mean that it took the Reprise 55 days (approx) to get from Spindle to Meyers but will take her 21 days to get back. Am I missing something here?

  7. DougL says:

    No, she shouldn’t be planning SAR work for SLN personnel. SOMEONE in her fleet should be, but if they have a dedicated hospital ship it sould be someone on that ship, and if they don’t have a dedicated hospital ship it should be someone fairly junior in her opperations section.

    SAR on your OWN people is a high priority and MIGHT get some actual planning time from the admiral commanding, SAR on the other side comes way the heck lower in priority then figuring out how to make them need SAR in the first place and shouldn’t be a concern of the admiral commanding till the minute she tells someone else, “We can start recovering their survivors now.”

  8. Pam K says:

    I wonder becuase if it takes the Reprise 3 weeks to travel from Meyers to Spindle then I would expect it to take Crandal and her Superdreadnoughts at least 4 weeks to make the trip. If it takes 38 days for the Reprise then Crandal’s fleet should take at least 50 days if she is heading to Spindle. If Denton arrives in Spindle by 22 January, then Crandal won’t arrive until early to mid February. Since as far as I can tell Oyster Bay should happen sometime during the first half of February, the 2 could happen within days of each other.

  9. robert says:

    @6 How long did Henke spend at New Tuscany? When did she get back? So then, when was the Reprise sent out? Factor all that in and retry the timing.

    From Storm From the Shadows, Chapter 50, Hongbo, Verrochio and Crandall meeting at Meyers, Crandall says:

    “I mean they obviously didn’t have any idea my task force was anywhere in the vicinity, or they wouldn’t have tried this shit in the first place. But they damned well know now. Or they know more than they did, at any rate. Just who the hell do you think that mysterious hyper footprint yesterday morning was, Mr. Hongbo? I don’t know what it was doing here, but I know damned well it was a Manty, and whoever it was, she’s on her way straight back to tell her superiors about my wall of battle. Well now that they know, I don’t intend to give them time to send wallers of their own through from Manticore!”

    and later in the conversation:

    “I mean I’ll be underway within forty-eight hours, Mr. Commissioner,” Crandall said flatly, “and the Manties won’t be happy to see me at all.”

    So, depending on how slow Crandall’s slowest ships are, she can arrive as soon as 72+ hours after Denton gets Reprise back and reports what he saw.

  10. Joe B says:

    I seem to recall the mention of 70+ days in relation to the trip to Meyers.

    I just ran the numbers and it looks like it’s possible that my recollection was in relation to the round-trip time, because it looks like it’s about 77 days R/T, Spindle to Meyers.

    So… call it 37-38 days each leg.

    Second New Tuscany was 11/17/21.

    Reprise departed Spindle a couple days after Pam’s estimate.

  11. saul says:

    Following up on the last snippet thread on the russo-japanese war. In the land battle, there was an interesting tech miss-match in the artillery dual. Only one side had airbursting shells, the other had a faster rate of fire. They also built very different defenses vs artillery. (ie good vs crappy)

  12. lst says:

    I wonder if Crandall will split her force up into two, to directly hit Manticore as well, at say, Lynx System (not Lynx Terminus), to not only get the neobarbs back under OFS control (Talbott), but to also smack a neobarb home, one of the Manticore Home Systems (Lynx)

  13. Thirdbase says:

    To those wondering, it is uphill to Meyers and takes longer. :P

    Seriously, it took Henke “barely three weeks” (from SFTS) to get the message about the destruction of the DDs at New Tuscany and return. That would be about a 10 day trip, so unless she spent 5 weeks at New Tuscany I think the the 2 months should have been 1 month in the last snippet. That makes the the 3 week trip from Spindle to Meyers fit, but it is an “almost six-week voyage from Spindle to Meyers” (from SFTS). Which means that the 2 months fits, so the the “2 weeks ago” should have been “5 weeks ago.” If anyone understands that please explain it to me.

    But if she expecting Denton and O’Shaughnessy back in a week, that means they will probably be early (they didn’t make it to the planet, or spend any time dealing with people) and that Crandall should only be a week or so behind.

  14. Daryl says:

    Hints, calculation, speculation and male intuition indicate to me that the Spindle battle will be in the second week of February and Oyster Bay between one and two weeks later. After the next couple of snippets I’ll probably be eating those words, but worth a posting. I do agree that the situation does seem to have some parallels with the russo-japanese war.

  15. robert says:

    I am sure that Reprise is near-redlining it all the way back to Spindle. But it is an older and rather slower ship than just about all the other hyper-capable ships under the Khumalo-Henke command — except for Khumalo’s flagship, maybe. So they may be back even earlier than one week. But the soon-to-be-late Admiral Crandall will be more than a week behind. Perhaps even 2 weeks. But she will be spotted as soon as her fleet hypers out and will be just as surprised as Byng was when she ends up communicating with either Khumalo or Henke in near real time. She won’t have long to live after that given Detweiler’s intention to eliminate her and engineer an SL-Manticore war.

  16. Martin says:

    I see a considerable amount of confidence in the tech advantage Henke has, but quantity has a quality all of it’s own and the Sollies are coming in with a whole fleet of Superdreadnaughts, probably with escorts while she has a single squadron of battlecruisers, a couple of squadrons of heavy cruisers a few tin cans and a handful of LAC carriers (though I shudder at the bloody swath the LACs will carve through the Sollies). The disparity of tonnage is horrible. Yes she has vastly better tech, but all the Sollies have to do to pin her is drive headlong straight for some target she HAS to defend and that will cut her available options badly. If she doesnt get heavy support she’s going to have to run or get hurt, probably very very badly. Yes she’ll inflict damage far outweighing the odds due to the tech advantage but she’s still not going to have a fun day.

  17. justdave says:

    @15 Why use FTL, Mike has no illusions on why the SLN is there

    keep that capability under wraps ala HH not using it at BoM until she asked for Tourville’s surrender

    as far as the ‘not to be lamented’ Crandall,ahhh the legacy of JB

  18. John Roth says:

    @15 Robert

    How fast it gets there depends on what hyper band it can reach, not how fast it can accelerate. As I understand it the maximum speed in any particular hyper band is pretty well constant. Also on whether it has current charts so it can use available grav waves. I suspect Meyers to Spindle is fairly well mapped, though. I see no particular reason why any of the military ships shouldn’t be zipping along in the theta band. (Of course, a streak drive ship will be two bands higher, but they don’t know about them, let alone have any.)

  19. Thirdbase says:


    I can’t see the Reprise “redlining” it to get back. The information is too important to risk anything happening to the ship. Plus the fact that he is already faster, and has a head start, over Crandall’s ships. He will travel at or near the maximum safe/allowed speed, but won’t exceed that. That would fall under the unduly risking his command.

    I got confused with the rest of your post starting with “But she will be…”
    Who is she, and who will spot her “hypering out” and who will eliminate her?

  20. Shadow says:

    @16 (Martin)

    “I see a considerable amount of confidence in the tech advantage Henke has, but quantity has a quality all of it’s own and the Sollies are coming in with a whole fleet of Superdreadnaughts, probably with escorts while she has a single squadron of battlecruisers, a couple of squadrons of heavy cruisers a few tin cans and a handful of LAC carriers (though I shudder at the bloody swath the LACs will carve through the Sollies). The disparity of tonnage is horrible.”

    Yes, the tonnage disparity is horrible. But think about the two major advantages given by Apollo: The first one, accuracy at range, has been detailed several times now. But there’s a second one that until the Spindle battle has only been implicit: since you only need one telemetry link to control 8 attack/EW missiles via the Apollo missile, what do you think happen to the salvo density a modern Manty ship can throw around?

  21. robert says:

    @18 John. Shhh. I don’t think we are supposed to know that about the streak drive, are we?

    I keep thinking of Truman’s wild ride to Manticore in Honor of the Queen. And Alexander’s wild ride back. Will Denton attempt something like that?

  22. Vince says:

    @21 If Denton plays games with his hyper generator at all I would think that he would take Reprise about as high as Alexander took his battlecruisers, but no higher. The information is too important to risk not getting through. Also he has a diplomat on board.

  23. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @22 While Denton might be willing if not to actually risk his ship, burn considerable time to his next refit running back fast, would the Sollies be willing to do the same? Given the four week turn around time would the SLN consider it ‘wasteful’ to run the upper hyperbands, when more economical travel will still get them there in plenty of time to ‘settle’ *snerk* the matter ahead of any theoretical RMN reinforcements?

    @20, Mike doesn’t have Apollo, she doesn’t have anything assigned to her both heavy enough to carry Keyhole II and recent enough in construction to fit it.

    What she almost certainly has is scads of missile pods, likely both towed and system defense M-23 MDMs. The question is whether Mike’s has enough superior weight of pod launched missiles will be able to take down the Sollie superior weight of ships.

  24. John Roth says:

    @21 Robert

    I thought that had already been mentioned in the Detweiller conversation earlier.

    In fact, it’s in Chapter 4 — here it is:

    The streak drive represented a fundamental advance in interstellar travel, and there was no indication anyone else was even close to duplicating it. For centuries, the theta bands had represented an inviolable ceiling for hyper-capable ships. Everyone had known it was theoretically possible to go even higher, attain a still higher apparent normal-space velocity, yet no one had ever managed to design a ship which could crack the iota wall and survive. Incredible amounts of research had been invested in efforts to do just that, especially in the earlier days of hyper travel, but with a uniform lack of success. In the last few centuries, efforts to beat the iota barrier had waned, until the goal had been pretty much abandoned as one of those theoretically possible but practically unobtainable concepts.

    But the Mesan Alignment hadn’t abandoned it, and finally, after the better part of a hundred T-years of dogged research, they’d found the answer. It was, in many ways, a brute force approach, and it wouldn’t have been possible even now without relatively recent advances (whose potential no one else seemed to have noticed) in related fields. And even with those other advances, it had almost doubled the size of conventional hyper generators. But it worked. Indeed, they’d broken not simply the iota wall, but the kappa wall, as well. Which meant the voyage from New Tuscany to Mesa, which would have taken anyone else the next best thing to forty-five T-days, had taken Anisimovna less than thirty-one.

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