Mission Of Honor – Snippet 44

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 44

“And?” she demanded again.

“And I’m not equipped to evaluate it!” he admitted, displaying frustration of his own at last. “Especially not given the fact that this one’s got a strictly limited shelf life. Frontier Fleet’s going to want to run its own evaluations and check it against what it got from the Manties, we both know that. And then, if it holds up, the guys at the top are going to need to get together, decide whether or not they want to release it right away or confront the Manties with it privately. I guess they could go either way, but I’m willing to bet that as soon as they’re confident the data’s accurate, they’ll go public, whatever the New Tuscans want. That doesn’t give me a very wide window if I want to break it first.

“But in the meantime, I don’t know whether or not to trust the info, either, and if I do, and I’m wrong, I’ll be finished. You’ve got the background and the contacts to verify this one hell of a lot better than I can, and you’ve worked with most of them long enough that they’ll keep their mouths shut until you break the story if they know you’re working on it. So what I’m offering here is a quid pro quo. I’ve got my copy of the original message, and of the sensor data. I’m prepared to hand it over to you — to share it with you — and to share credit for breaking the story if it turns out there’s something to it. What do you say?”

Audrey O’Hanrahan regarded him intently for several endless seconds, and it was obvious what she was thinking behind her frown. As he himself had said, it wasn’t as if either of them didn’t know how the game was played. The old saw about scratching one another’s backs was well known among journalists, and Juppé’s offer actually made a lot of sense. As he said, he didn’t begin to have the sources she did when it came to verifying something like this . . . .

“All right,” she said finally. “I’m not going to make any commitments before I’ve actually seen the stuff. Send it over, and I’ll take a look, and if it looks to me like there might be something to it, I’ll run it by some people I know and get back to you.”

“Get back to me before you go public with it you mean, right?”

“You’ve got my word I won’t break the story — assuming there is a story — without talking to you first. And,” she added in a more grudging tone, “I’ll coordinate with you. Do you want a shared byline, or just simultaneous reports?”

“Actually,” he smiled crookedly, “I think I’d prefer simultaneous reports instead of looking like either of us is riding on the other’s coattails. After all, how often does a columns-of-numbers guy like me get to something this big independently as quickly as someone like you?”

“If that’s the way you want it, it’ll work for me — assuming, as I say, there’s something to it. And assuming you don’t want me to sit on it for more than a couple of hours after I get verification?”

“No problem there.” He shook his head. “I’m already working up two different versions of the story — one version that breaks the exposé of the Manties’ chicanery, and one version that warns everyone not to be taken in by this obviously fraudulent attempt to discredit them. I’ll have both of them ready to go by the time you can get back to me.”

“Fine. Then have that stuff hand-delivered to me ASAP.”

“Done,” Juppé agreed. “Clear.”

He killed the connection, then leaned back in his own chair, clasped his hands behind his head, and smiled up at the ceiling.

The truth was, he thought, the “official New Tuscan scan records” were going to pass any test anyone cared to perform. He didn’t know who’d obtained the authentication codes, but he could make a pretty fair guess that it had been the same person who’d coordinated the entire operation. Of course, they could have been grabbed considerably earlier. That might even explain why New Tuscany had been used in the first place. Cracking that kind of authentication from the outside was always a horrific chore, even when the hackers in charge of it were up against purely homegrown Verge-level computer security. The best way to obtain it was good old-fashioned bribery, which had been a Mesan specialty for centuries.

It didn’t really matter, though. What mattered was that they had the “records,” which didn’t show what the Manties’ records showed. And those records were about to be authenticated by no less than Audrey O’Hanrahan. He could have gone to any of half a dozen of her colleagues, many of whom had hard won reputations of almost equal stature and almost equally good sources. Any one of them could have broken the story, and he was quite positive every one of them would have, assuming the records proved out. But there were several reasons to hand it to O’Hanrahan, as his instructions had made perfectly clear, and only one of them — though an important one — was the fact that she was probably the most respected single investigative reporter in the entire Solarian League. Certainly the most respected on Old Terra.

It’s all been worth it, he thought, still smiling at the ceiling above him. Every minute of it, for this moment.

There’d been many times when Baltasar Juppé had longed for a different assignment — any different assignment. Building his personal, professional cover had been no challenge at all for the product of a Mesan gamma line, but that very fact had been part of the problem. His greatest enemy, the worst threat to his security, had been his own boredom. He’d known since adolescence that he had a far greater chance of being activated than either of his parents, and definitely more than his grandparents had had when they first moved to Old Terra to begin building his in-depth cover. But even though recent events suggested that the purpose for which the Juppé family had been planted here so long ago was approaching fruitarian, he hadn’t really anticipated being activated this way for at least another several T-years.

Now he had been, and he thought fondly of the recording he’d made of his conversation with O’Hanrahan. It probably wasn’t the only record of it, of course. He knew she had one, and despite all of the guarantees of privacy built into the League Constitution, an enormous amount of public and private surveillance went on, especially here in Old Chicago. It was entirely possible — even probable — that somewhere in the bowels of the Gendarmerie someone had decided keeping tabs on Audrey O’Hanrahan’s com traffic would be a good idea. It would certainly make plenty of sense from their perspective, given how often and how deeply she’d embarrassed the Solly bureaucracies with her reporting. But that was fine with Juppé. In this case, the more records the better, since they would make it abundantly clear to any impartial observer that he’d done his very best to verify the story which had come so unexpectedly into his hands. And they would make it equally abundantly clear that O’Hanrahan hadn’t known a thing about it until he’d brought it to her attention. Not to mention the fact that she was no knee-jerk anti-Manty . . . and that she’d been suspicious as hell when she heard about his scoop.

And establishing those points was, after all, the exact reason he’d screened her in the first place instead of simply very quietly delivering the information to her in person.

Just as Juppé had frequently longed for something more exciting to do, he’d experienced more than a few pangs of jealousy where reporters like O’Hanrahan were concerned. The public admiration she received would have been reason enough for that, he supposed, but her life had also been so much more exciting than his. She’d traveled all over the League in pursuit of her investigations, and her admirers respected her as much for her sheer brilliance and force of will, her ability to burrow through even the most impenetrable smokescreens and most carefully crafted cover stories, as for her integrity. Even more, perhaps, he’d envied how much she’d obviously enjoyed her work. But what he hadn’t known until this very day — because he’d had no need to know — was that just as his own career and public persona, hers, too, had been a mask she showed the rest of the galaxy. And now that he knew the truth, and despite the envy that still lingered, Juppé admitted to himself that he doubted he could have matched her bravura performance. Gamma line or no, there was no way he could have equaled the performance of an alpha line like the O’Hanrahan genotype.

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34 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 44

  1. John Roth says:

    Well, there’s one of the boots dropping.

  2. Thirdbase says:

    Well, apparently Mesa has people everywhere. I guess this answers the verification question, although I wonder if she will actually run tests and whether the testers will be legitimate. If the testers are legit, I wonder if any will identify it as a fake, and if they will survive that.

  3. Vince says:

    How many more thuds to go? I was completely suckered by the previous snippet(s).

  4. zathras says:

    I wonder how Mesan can guarantee the loyalty of these agents that are on deep cover assignments. I don’t think that being told by your parents that you are a deep cover agent would always work (how many kids rebel against their parents).

  5. robert says:

    Mesa seems bent on getting the SL into war with the SEM. I suppose that the folks she calls to “verify” the records will be an outfit run by a Beta Line. The League is really riddled with fifth column Mesans.

  6. tootall says:

    So, this occured to me. I don’t think we know why O.B. is about to happen.
    1) Is so that Haven can take out Mantiore?
    2) Is it so the Sollies can take out Manticore?
    3) Is it so that Mesa can take out Manticore?
    4) Is it so that Manticore and it’s allies-Grayson wasn’t on anyones radar when this was all planned years ago- will have to sit on the sidelines while Mesa does it’s thing?
    5) Does hammering Manticore somehow give Mesa warm fuzzies because they’re really angry with Beowulf, and they for some reason can’t attack Beowulf?
    6) Basically, how in their grand schemes, does this help Mesa? If Elizabeth has a rep for holding grudges til they die and then mounting them, what does Mesa think her reaction to this is going to be? A very interesting onion we have here.

  7. John Roth says:

    @6 Tootall

    Mesa’s objective is to Make the Universe Safe for Genetic Supermen. Supermen implies the existence of sub-men, and that, in turn, implies the existence of genetic slavery. Manticore and Haven are absolutely, totally, thoroughly and any number of other adjectives against genetic slavery, and don’t look all that kindly on the idea of “genies.” So I think the answer is #4 — they don’t want Manticore and Haven getting involved while the dominoes fall.

    @3 Vince


    @4. Zathras.

    So do I.

  8. Daryl says:

    Remember my comment about journalistic ethics last week? Hopefully Mesa will end up burning several lines of deep agents. For all their supposed brilliance Mesa appears to have forgotten the KISS principle of keep it simple stupid. The more complex a plan the more that can go wrong.

  9. John Roth says:

    @9. Daryl

    Reread Chapter 50 of Torch of Freedom. The Alignment owns Mannerheim, a League planet with one of the largest system defense forces, lock, stock and barrel. Then they’ve got Darius, which is their equivalent of Bolthole. I suspect this is the tip of the iceberg, and that they’ve got a lot of bench strength we haven’t seen yet.

  10. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    At this point I’m starting to wonder, is a war what the Allignment wants at this juncture? The consensus has been that Mesa wants a hard war to fracture the Solarian League so they can gobble up the pieces.

    But this kind of smear combined with the OB attack makes me wonder if they are trying to get Manticore to fold? Or at least get rolled over rather easily?

    Sure it plays well to the Solarians and might keep a ‘police action’ from being vetoed. But what if The Plan is to so stir up trouble on Manticore and within the Alliance so it falls apart and gets taken over by the SLN, with their inside people in charge of ‘administering’ it?

  11. Lord Blackmane says:

    Remember that the point of Oyster Bay is to simultaneously eliminate the military forces of the SEM Alliance and (I presume here) the Havenites, and also the major SDF’s that aren’t either useless or already under Mesan control. Manticore, suddenly in a war with the Solarians and equally suddenly with no fleet, will get gobbled up by the Solarians, who will find themselves taken over in a political coup by the Alignment. Beowulf, for all its health sciences super-tech, doesn’t even have wallers, and will be no match for the military forces under the Alignment’s control.

    Game, Set, Match for the Alignment.

    Or that’s how I see the plan, anyway. Pesky little things like Harringtons, Zilwickis, and Cachats may have their own say.

  12. John Roth says:

    @11 Lord Blackmane

    I think that was the original plan. However, remember that what’s headed Manticore way was described as a cut-down Oyster Bay, and that the Shark class ships weren’t intended to be used for anything other than training cadre for the Leonard Detweiller class superdreadnaughts that are being built somewhere, presumably in the Darius system. Since those suckers have the Spider drive, they’ll be capable of launching sneak attacks.

    The other thing to remember is that OB is aimed at fixed orbital infrastructure, not fleet units. So the result will be that Manticore still has a fleet, but without any resupply capability.

    Also, there’s no indication that they’re aimed at Haven.

  13. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    IIRC the plan is that the SKM is advancing fast enough to be a threat to the plan, particularly since after the BoM they have the capacity to end the war with Haven with decisive military action. The idea was to remake OB into a ‘snap shot’ to hit the yards before the new construction leaves, with only the survivors of the BoM left active, a window that has been missed. So not only would the ability to build more units be devestated, but at the same time you have the press smear to alienate Manticore’s Allies (as if a war with the SLN wasn’t enough), but nearly all their modern units about to make up their loses are gone too.

  14. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    One brainwave that just hit me, with all this tension what if OB gets blamed on the SLN? (based on the nature I suspect the Measan’s aren’t too worried about any ‘oops’ rounds in their attack) If they try to rush in an attack while Manticore is reeling this would lend credence to the idea that the Solarians just bombarded three planets to take them over. Who enforces the Eridani Edict when it’s the policeman who is the suspect?

  15. robert says:

    @12 and @7 John
    Where did the info about the Detweiler class SDs come from? I cannot recall it from either Storm or Torch.
    It is not genies that are the issue. It is slavery. Honor is a genie, as she has often pointed out.

    @14 That is what is supposed to happpen–Haven was also supposed to be a possible culprit. But as someone just wrote, Mesa has violated the KISS principle.

    @13 Correct and correction: after the battle (ha!) of Lovat the Mesans realized that Manticore could win the war with Haven quickly and then they would be a threat to the Plan. So they had to move OB up very quickly (by years) and change the dynamics of the situation. OB is intended to weaken Manticore so that is is no longer a threat. They manipulated the SL into a war with the SEM to weaken the League by having Manticore whittle them down. Meanwhile, the SEM war with Haven was supposed to continue and THAT part of the plan is already in the crapper but Detweiler & Fils, do not know that. What they also don’t know, and that will hurt them, is that Cachet and Zilwicki are comin’ ’round the bend…with very damaging info. I think that Weber has spun a web that he will have fun keeping from spinning out of control.

  16. robert says:

    By the way. I assume everyone remembers the Authorial Note at the beginning of Storm From the Shadows. About things getting worse for the good guys before they get better. This book is the beginning, but not the end of “getting worse.”

  17. Martin says:

    Perhaps we are not being radical enough. The “good guys” might not be the Manties but Pritchard n co. What would happen if Elizabeth ends up with eighth fleet as a monarch in exile at Haven and with Manticore under occupation. Manticore can get quite happily blasted into the stone age or conquered, I mean from a storytelling point of view there are redundancies and it can be replaced by Grayson or Haven as a home port and bastion of resistance.

  18. justdave49 says:

    @15, on the Detweiler class, try SFtS, Chapter 51

  19. John Roth says:

    @15 Robert

    I’ve posted the pointers to the info about the Detweiller class SDs several times. It is there. It’s just cleverly scattered among the various interviews with Detwiller and the various conversations among the people actually mounting Oyster Bay. Unfortunately, my Torch of Freedom CD is hiding at the moment, and I don’t have a machine-readable version of Torch of Freedom.

    However, the Leonard Detweiller class is mentioned in SftS, Chapter 51.

  20. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Wow! I was blindsided by this development. Very interesting.

    It got me to wondering, though, how deeply involved in the developing rebellion in Maya the MAlign might be. Do they have agents in place on the staffs of Governor Barregos or Admiral Rozak? If so, how did Maya’s defense of Torch advance or hinder the overall plan, and how is it being digested by the MAlign leadership? I know that in MoH, Maya is just a sideshow, but it could be important later on.

    I strongly agree with the previous comments that MAlign has violated the KISS principle. That could (should and will, I hope) come back to haunt them.

    Thoughts, anyone?

  21. John Roth says:

    @20 Robert H. Woodman

    I don’t believe the MA has anything significant in Maya Sector. We haven’t seen a reaction by Detweiller and Co. to the Battle of Torch, which seems to have taken place in October 1921 PD. Of course, they’ve been just a bit distracted by the fallout from Cachet and Zilwiki, see Chapter 62 of ToF. I doubt if we’ll see anything significant until the next Torch book.

    I disagree that they’re being unnecessarily complex. If you go back to the first Detweiller conversations in AAC (Chapters 2, 40 and 47), you’ll find that the original plan called for Haven to gobble up Manticore, and the Manticore wormhole nexus, before collapsing. That, of course, got derailed in the first couple of Honorverse books.

    What they haven’t been doing is taking the long view with Manticore, but then, they don’t have time. They did take the long view with Verdant Vista, but the wheels came off of that because of the Haven / Manticore situation.

    People usually miss the second part of Einstein’s Aphorism: Things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. It’s easy to say something is too complicated, it’s harder to say the simpler alternative — especially when you don’t see all the factors.

  22. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @4 — If Mesa can engineer in behavioral traits (or at least behavioral parameters), then they probably engineer into kids obedience to authority and a desire to follow in their parents’ footsteps as far as careers go.

    You know, come to think about it, that COULD be a major selling point for genetic engineering of kids. NOT!

  23. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @22 I don’t think Mesa can, per ‘From the Highlands’ IIRC it was mentioned that Manpower slaves require considerable ‘conditioning’ (read beatings, torture, and rape for pleasure slaves) to bring their behavior ‘in spec’. It was described as ‘best guess’ more than anything with precise metrics, case in point the process also produced the likes of Jeremy X. IOW if they had that kind of capacity it would be already in use, certainly after Jeremy X started dancing with the Audubon Ballroom. At least they can’t do it without mentally crippling them to the point of uselessness.

  24. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @23 — Yup. I had forgotten about “From the Highlands” until you mentioned it. So, I guess genetic engineering of kids for behavioral traits is out. Still, there has to be some way to maintain multi-generational deep cover spies. The point Zathras (@4) made is a good one.

  25. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @24 True, but I’d say it is environment, rather than in the genes. Told early and often they are the ‘chosen ones’ that are ‘destined to rule’. Something any fascist regime would recognized. An appeal to human pride and greed that they are special and better than anyone else. They just have to ‘stick with the plan’ to reap the eventual rewards.

    And given the corruption in the League don’t discount the under the table payout of ‘bonuses’ (in terms of money, gifts, influence, or opportunities) to their agents in the field.

  26. Thirdbase says:

    I don’t imagine that the children of the spies find out that their parents are spies until a vacation off to Mesa. Where there is wine, women, dancing, indoctrination, lack of an ability to leave if you don’t follow the party line, did we mention the wine?

    There have been a couple of groups out there that have managed to get people to sign on to a master race. If a fairly ugly Austrian could do it, I imagine some genetically engineered supermen can do it too.

  27. robert says:

    @22, @24 Herlander Simoes. Jack McBryde.

    @21 Actually the KISS acronym originally came from the Lockheed Skunk Works. It was Keep it Simple and Stupid and derived from the requirement that a jet engine mechanic had to be able to repair an engine with a fixed set of “simple” tools and easy to understand instructions (presumably the “stupid” part). When solid state computers were introduced, with removable circuit boards so they could be repaired by someone with minimal training and a set of boards in his truck, we got the Schmuck in a Truck repairman philosophy.

  28. John Roth says:

    @27 Robert

    Interesting historical tidbit about the origin of KISS. Thanks.

    Plots need to be simple enough that Murphy can’t mess it up. See the Detweiller analysis of what went wrong in Shadow of Saganami (I think it’s AAC chapter 47).

  29. John Roth says:

    @22 and others

    About genetically engineering behavioral traits. Anyone who’s looked at the genetics of personality as it’s known today ought to know that a large part of personalty is heritable. The heritability hovers around 50%, with most of the rest set during adolescence.

    Fast forward two thousand years, with 600 of them on Mesa with Manpower trying to genetically tailor slaves for particular functions, and they can’t create lines whose basic personality is a pretty close match to the personalities of people who are successful at a particular field?

    Geeze, Louise, give me a break! This is supposed to be science fiction, not an ideological polemic.

  30. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John Roth, the personalities might be ‘right for the job’ but the individuals may want another job or not like working for their current boss. [Wink]

    Seriously John, your comment is getting into the “genetics are destiny” area of thought. Are you saying that the Mesa Supermen or the genetic slaves would automatically fall in line with their ‘planned role’?

    Personalities are one thing, but “what an individual would do” is another thing.

  31. Zathras says:

    There us an ideology aspect of raising a deep cover child as a spy that I think it would be hard to instill. These children are all very smart; smart enough to be at the forfront of their professions. If they are forced to chose between the life they know, and a masterplan that they have seen very little of, how would they choose?

    How would you choose if your parents were to tell you, today, that you are actually a Russian spy? Would you risk treason (death)?

    Look at what happened to the Scientest, and the head of security, on Medan.
    And that was when dailly monitoing and indroctination were possible.

  32. Zathras says:

    There us an ideology aspect of raising a deep cover child as a spy that I think it would be hard to instill. These children are all very smart; smart enough to be at the forfront of their professions. If they are forced to chose between the life they know, and a masterplan that they have seen very little of, how would they choose?

    How would you choose if your parents were to tell you, today, that you are actually a Russian spy? Would you risk treason (death)?

    Look at what happened to the Scientest, and the head of security, on Medan.
    And that was when dailly monitoing and indroctination were possible.

  33. B. B. Wolf says:

    I don’t remember where it is mentioned, but Manpower seems to have come close to perfection with only one line. The bean counters.

  34. B. B. Wolf says:

    Or was it the bureaucrats?

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