Mission Of Honor – Snippet 43

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 43

“Maybe, if he was a complete lunatic. Or just plain stupid enough to pull something like that,” O’Hanrahan retorted. “I checked his available public bio, including that in-depth report what’s-his-name — Underwood — did on him, as soon as Mesa’s version hit the data channels. I’ll admit the man’s scary as hell if you go after someone he cares about, but he’s no homicidal maniac. In fact, his more spectacular accomplishments all seem to’ve been defensive, not offensive. You come after him or his, and all bets are off; otherwise, he’s not especially bloodthirsty. And he’s for damned sure smart enough to know what nuking a public park full of kids would do to public support for his daughter’s new kingdom. For that matter, the whole damned galaxy knows what he’ll do if someone goes after one of his kids. You really think someone with that kind of resume would sign off on killing hundreds or thousands of someone else’s kids?” She shook her head again. “Which am I supposed to believe? The public record of someone like Zilwicki? Or the kind of self-serving, fabricated, made-up-out-of-whole-cloth kind of ‘independent journalism’ that comes out of Mendel?”

From the look in her eye, it was evident which side of that contradiction she favored, even if a huge segment of the Solarian media had chosen the other one. While it was true the Solarian League’s official position, as enunciated by Education and Information, refused to rush to judgment on the spectacular Mesan claims that Manticore — or, at least, Manticoran proxies — had been behind the Green Pines atrocity, “unnamed sources” within the League bureaucracy had been far less circumspect, and O’Hanrahan and Juppé both knew exactly who those “unnamed sources” were. So did the rest of the League’s media, which had been obediently baying on the appropriate trail of Manticoran involvement from day one.

Which, as Juppé knew full well, had absolutely no bearing on O’Hanrahan’s categorization of the original story.

“Much as I hate to admit it, given how much impact Mesa sometimes has on the business community here in the League,” he said, “I can’t really argue with that characterization of a lot of what comes out of their newsies. Mind you, I really am less convinced than you seem to be that Anton Zilwicki’s such a choir boy that he wouldn’t be involved in something like Green Pines. But that’s beside the point, this time.” He waved one hand in a brushing-aside gesture. “This story isn’t from Mesa; it’s straight from New Tuscany. It only came through Mesa because that was the shortest route to Old Terra that didn’t go through Manty-controlled space.”

O’Hanrahan cocked her head, her eyes boring into his.

“Are you seriously suggesting that whoever dispatched this mysterious story from New Tuscany was actually frightened of what the Manticorans might do if they found out about it?” she demanded in obvious disbelief.

“As to that, I’m not the best witness.” Juppé shrugged. “I don’t cover politics and the military and Frontier Security the way you do, except where they impinge on the financial markets. You and I both know a lot of the financial biggies are major players in OFS’ private little preserves out in the Verge, but my personal focus is a lot more on banking and the stock exchange. So I don’t really have the background to evaluate this whole thing. But I do know that according to my friend, and to the courier, they really, really wanted to avoid going through any Manty wormholes.”

“Why?” Her eyes were narrower than ever, burning with intensity, and he shrugged again.

“Probably because this isn’t really a story, at all. It’s a dispatch from someone in the New Tuscan government to one of his contacts here on Old Terra. And it’s not for public release — not immediately, at any rate.”

“Then why send it?”

“I tracked the courier down and asked that very question, as a matter of fact. Got the answer, too — for a price.” He grimaced. “Cost me the next best thing to five months’ street money, too, and I hope like hell my editor’s going to decide it was worth it instead of sticking my personal account for the charges. And to be honest, I don’t think I’d gotten it even then if the man hadn’t been so unhappy with his bosses’ instructions.”

“And why was he so unhappy?” Her tone was skeptical.

“Because the person he’s supposed to deliver it to is over at the Office of Naval Intelligence, but his immediate boss — somebody in the New Tuscan government; I couldn’t get him to tell me who, but I figure it’s got to be somebody from their security services — doesn’t want the Navy to go public with it,” Juppé said. “They want it in official hands, because it doesn’t track with the Manties’ version of the story, but they’re asking the Navy to keep things quiet until Frontier Fleet can get reinforcements deployed to protect them from the Manties.”

“According to the Manties, they don’t have any big quarrel with New Tuscany,” O’Hanrahan pointed out. “They’ve never accused the New Tuscans of firing on their ships.”

“I know. But, like I say, this stuff doesn’t match what Manticore’s been saying. In fact, the courier let me copy what’s supposed to be the New Tuscan Navy’s raw sensor records of the initial incident. And according to those records, the Manty ships were not only light cruisers, instead of destroyers, but they fired first, before Admiral Byng opened fire on them.”


O’Hanrahan stared at Juppé, and the financial reporter looked back at her as she frowned in concentration.

“That’s ridiculous,” she said finally. “The Manties wouldn’t be that stupid. Besides, what would be the point? Is this mysterious ‘courier’ claiming the Manties are crazy enough to deliberately provoke an incident with the Solarian Navy?”

“As far as I know, he’s not claiming anything, one way or the other,” Juppé replied. “He’s just delivering the dispatch and the scan records, and as I understand it, they’re certified copies of the official data.” He grimaced. “Hell, maybe the Manties knew all along that it was their man who screwed up, and they’ve been working on ‘proving’ it was the League because they figure the only way to avoid getting hammered is to put the blame on the other side.”

“Oh, sure.” O’Hanrahan’s irony was withering. “I can just see someone in the Manty government being stupid enough to think they’d get away with something like that!”

“I was just offering one possible theory,” he pointed out. “Still, I have to say that if there’s any truth to Mesa’s allegations about Zilwicki and Green Pines, the Manties don’t seem to be playing with a full deck these days. In fact, I think ‘out of control’ might not be a bad way to describe them. And, for that matter, weren’t you one of the people who pointed out just how stupid what’s-his-name — Highbridge? — was in the lead up to this fresh war of theirs?”

“That was High Ridge,” she corrected, but her tone was almost absent. She frowned again, clearly thinking hard, and then her eyes focused again, boring into his once more.

“I’m not about to jump at the first set of counter allegations to come along, especially when they’re coming from — through, at least — someplace like Mesa. So why bring this red hot scoop to me?”

Her suspicion clearly hadn’t abated in the least, and he shrugged yet again.

“Because I trust you,” he said, and she blinked.

“Come again?”

“Look,” he said. “You know me, and you know how it works. If this is an accurate report, if it’s true, the Manties’ position is going to go belly-up as soon as it’s verified, especially given what Mesa’s already saying about Green Pines. And if that happens, the markets are going to go crazy — or maybe I should say crazier — as soon as the implications for the Star Empire and its domination of the wormhole net sink in. I mean, let’s face it. If the Manties did fake the sensor data they sent with their diplomatic note — if this is another instance of what the Havenites say they were doing all along under what’s-his-name — and they’ve killed the entire crew of a Solarian battlecruiser when they know the original ‘incident’ was their own fault, all hell’s going to be out for noon, and Green Pines is only going to squirt more hydrogen into the fire. The SLN’s going to pound their miserable little star nation into wreckage, and that’s going to have enormous consequences where the wormholes are concerned. There’ll be fortunes — large fortunes — to be made if something like that happens.”

“And?” she encouraged when he paused.

“And I’m an analyst, not just a reporter. If I peg this one right, if I’m the first one — or one of the first two or three — on the Net to advise investors to dump Manty-backed securities and stock issues, to reevaluate their positions in shipping, I’ll make a killing. I’ll admit it; that’s what I’m thinking about. Well, that and the fact that it won’t hurt my stature as a reporter one bit if people remember I’m the one who broke the story on the financial side.”

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19 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 43

  1. Thirdbase says:

    Of course should you be wrong, you can now point to your trusted journalist colleague for leading you astray, and not try not to take the blame for all the money lost.

    So Mesa is trying to set Manticore up for the Sollies, and New Tuscany up for the Manties. Two, two setups for the price of one.

  2. Texan says:

    Also the added advantage of entangling a non-mesa friendly reporter into this, if she does go with it possibly smearing her reputation. I’ll assume the sensor data is probably a very very good fake and she will go with it.

  3. robert says:

    Of course, with Zilwicki dead… Did I just hear a big oops coming out of Mesa.

    And Manticore is clearly about to be concerned with much more important things than a propaganda war.

  4. saul says:

    While the Manties might loose lots of stock value in the short term……they might also be able to buy up vast quantities of undervalued stock. I wonder just how much cash Honor can muster.
    Will the Rich of Manticore buy up stock, betting everything on a manti victory, or will they dump stock and hope they survive the conquest.

  5. Thirdbase says:


    The answer to your question is Yes. The rich and bold will buy up what they can, and the rich and anti-military will dump stock.

    Honor won’t even notice when her financial people start buying. Hauptmann on the other hand will know exactly what he and his people are doing.

    A better question is what will happen in the Haven markets.

  6. Daryl says:

    I have no trouble accepting that in the future we will have FTL, inertialess drives, gravity control, and other engineering wonders; but an ethical journalist?

  7. lmwatbullrun says:

    If personal ethics and honor don’t make a strong comeback in Western culture, together with their philosophical underpinnings, there won’t be FTL, inertialess drives, gravity control, and the other engineering wonders. Without the philosophical foundation, the wonders will never be invented.

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Texan, just remember her reputation is built, in part, on her admitting when she’s wrong.

  9. hank says:

    Sounds like the fake data the New Tuscan government was going to create(SFtS pg 578), which the responsible party was glad they hadn’t gotten around to making (SFtS pg589), DID get made and is now surfacing.
    Wonder how fast the New Tuscans will be about disowning it? If twer me, I’d set a new interstellar record distancing myself from it!

  10. Thirdbase says:


    New Tuscan faked data won’t stand up to scrutiny. Their tech base isn’t up to date enough to get past whatever tech is available on Earth. This is probably a Mesan fake.

  11. tootall says:

    #6-Daryl, lol-thanks!

  12. Daryl says:

    Thanks tootall @11, and Imwatbullrun @7 chill out it was a joke, although on your argument the Mesans would be primitives. Generally the good guys win eventually, as more inclusive societies harness all their talents, and not shooting the messenger leads to better intel. Being an Australian (there I outed myself) I expect that this will boomerang, in that the fake data will suck O’Hanrahan in initially, then when she realises she has been had she will recant and become Manticore’s champion out of embarrassment and remorse.

  13. Martin says:

    Clearly all the intelligence sources agree that the Manties are terrorists or in league with terrorists and will soon attack the Solarians with their weapons of mass destruction…

  14. Daryl says:

    @11 Martin good analogy. Only difference here is that Manticore actually does have weapons of mass destruction. Just as well that they have no intention of using them as such.

  15. @14 At some point, it may occur to the Omnipotent* Solarian League Navy that if you go to war with someone the threat ‘do not violate the Eridani Edict or we will go to war with you’ is not much of a threat any more.

    *so has the author revealed, putting the word into the mouth of one of the characters who should know.

  16. heath says:


    anyone with a large spaceship has a weapon of mass destruction

  17. Robert Krawitz says:

    Doesn’t even need to be that large, with impeller drive; a 50,000 ton ship at 0.2c (60,000 kps) has about as much kinetic energy as an asteroid weighing 1.5 *trillion* tons. Assuming a density of 5 g/cm^3 (5 tons/m^3), that’s 300 billion cubic meters — a sphere roughly 12 km in diameter. We’re talking Chicxulub territory here.

  18. John Roth says:

    @17 Robert Krawitz

    Yep, that’s been specified any number of times. Any hyper-capable spaceship, traveling at the normal speeds for hyper entry and exit, is a kinetic energy weapon that’s fully capable of obliterating a large chunk of a planet. Add an active impeller drive at the time of impact, and it’s questionable how much of the biosphere would survive.

    This is one of any number of things that David is arm-waving away. I’m reasonably willing to suspend that amount of disbelief.

  19. Vince says:

    @18 It doesn’t even need to be hyper-capable, or even a sub-light freighter. In Storm From the Shadows, Vice Admiral Michelle Henke thinks that even a pinance could do significant although local damage. Maybe somewhere on the scale of the fusion bombs set off at Bikini atoll.

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