Mission Of Honor – Snippet 52

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 52

An almost physical chill went through the briefing room as she said the words out loud, and she straightened her shoulders.

“Inform the Admiral that I intend to get Reprise on her way within thirty minutes of her arrival in Thimble planetary orbit.” Even Terekhov looked a little startled at that, and she bared her teeth. “If Crandall thinks Reprise got a good look at her task force, and if she is inclined to launch an attack, she’s going to move as quickly as she can. We have to assume she could be here literally within hours, and if she’s decided to head directly for the Lynx Terminus instead, it’ll take her only one more T-day to get there than it would to get here.

“We may all agree that would be a stupid thing for her to do, but that doesn’t mean she won’t do it. For that matter, we can’t really afford to assume the ships Reprise saw are the only ones they have. What if she’s got a squadron or two sitting in reserve at McIntosh? We’re already looking at more than Anisimovna told the New Tuscans about, so I don’t think it would be a very good idea to think small.”

Terekhov and Oversteegen nodded soberly, and she turned back to Gervais.

“Go ahead and get Bill started on that, Gwen. Then come straight back here. I think it’s going to be a long night.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Gervais said for the third time, and headed for the door.

“In the meantime, Gentlemen,” Michelle resumed, “I believe it’s time the three of us started thinking as deviously as possible. If I were Crandall, and if I meant to go stomp on a bunch of neobarbs, I’d have my wall in motion within twenty-four hours, max. She may not feel that way, though. She may figure she’s got enough of a firepower advantage she can afford to take a little longer, make sure she’s dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s in her ops plan before she breaks orbit.”

“Personally, given that the passage time is over a T-month, I’d do my operational planning en route, Ma’am,” Terekhov said.

“So would I,” she agreed. “And that’s what I’m going to assume she’s done. But even though we’re going to plan for the worst, I can at least hope for the best, and the best in this case would be her taking long enough for our Invictus battle squadrons to get here before she does. Or for their Apollo pods to get here, at least. No?”

“I could certainly agree with that,” Oversteegen acknowledged with a small smile.

“And when she does get here — assuming, of course, that she’s coming — I want to accomplish four things.

“First, I want her to underestimate our actual combat power as badly as possible. I realize she’s almost certainly already doing that, but let’s encourage the tendency in every way we can.

“Second, I’d like to push her, to . . . keep her as much off-balance mentally as possible. In a lot of ways, the madder she is, the less likely she is to be thinking very clearly, and that’s probably about the best we can hope for. She’s not going to head for Spindle in strength unless she’s already got blood in her eye, which means it’s unlikely — hell, the next best thing to it impossible! — that she’s planning on presenting any sort of terms or demands Baroness Medusa and Prime Minister Alquezar are remotely likely to accept. So if push is going to come to shove anyway, I’d just as soon have her making angry decisions instead of good ones.”

She looked at her two subordinate flag officers, and Oversteegen cocked his head and pursed his lips thoughtfully, then nodded.

“Third,” she continued after a moment, “and although I realize it’s going to sound a little strange after what I just said about pushing her, I’d be just as happy to stall for as long as possible. If Baroness Medusa can get her to burn a day or two in ‘negotiations’ before anyone actually pulls a trigger, so much the better.”

“Is that really very likely, Ma’am?” Commander Culpepper asked dubiously. “Especially if she’s underestimating the odds and we’ve managed to piss her off on top of it?

“If I may, Ma’am?” Terekhov said. Michelle nodded, and Terekhov looked at Oversteegen’s chief of staff. “What it comes down to, Marty,” he said, “is how much Crandall thinks she can get for nothing. If the Baroness can convince her there’s even a possibility she might surrender the system without firing a shot, she’s likely to be willing to spend at least a little while talking before she starts shooting. And I’m pretty sure that with a little thought, we ought to be able to. . . irritate her significantly, let’s say, while simultaneously reminding her that sooner or later she’s going to have to justify her actions to her military and civilian superiors. However belligerent she may be feeling, and however angry she may be, she’s got to know it’ll look a lot better in the ‘faxes if she can report she’s ‘controlled the situation’ without any more fighting.”

“And she’s more likely t’ feel that way if she does decide she’s got a crushin’ tactical superiority,” Oversteegen added. “She’s already goin’ t’ be assumin’ exactly that, whatever we do, so there’s no point tryin’ t’ convince her she should just turn around and go home while she’s still in one piece. Which suggests th’ Admiral here has a point. No matter how pissed off she is, there’s probably a damned good chance we can keep her talkin’ long enough t’ convince her superiors — or th’ newsies, at least — that she tried real hard t’ talk us into surrenderin’ like nice, timid little neobarbs before she had no choice but t’ blow us all t’ kingdom come.”

“That’s what I hope, but Marty’s got a point that it could also work the other way,” Michelle pointed out. “If she feels confident she can punch right through anything in front of her, that may actually make her more impatient. Especially if she was already feeling the need to inflict a little punishment as revenge for what happened to Jean Bart even before we started pushing back at her.” Her expression was grim. “Don’t overlook that probability. We’ve bloodied the SLN’s nose, and we’ve done it very publicly. I’d say it’s a lot more likely than not that what she really wants is to hammer us so hard no other neobarb navy is ever going to dare to follow our example.”

“Wonderful,” Lecter muttered, and Michelle surprised herself with a bark of laughter.

“Trust me, Cindy. If that is the way she’s thinking, she’s in for a rude awakening. I’d really prefer to stall, as I said, in the hope the Admiralty’s managed to expedite our reinforcements and they come over the alpha wall in the proverbial nick of time. I’m not going to hold my breath counting on that, though, and I’m not going to delay a single minute if it looks like they mean to keep right on coming. Which brings me to the fourth thing I want to be certain we accomplish.”

She paused, and silence hovered for a second or two until Oversteegen broke it.

“And that fourth thing would be what, Milady?” he asked.

“The instant any Solly warship crosses the Spindle hyper limit inbound,” Michelle Henke said flatly, “the gloves come off. There won’t be any preliminary surrender demands this time, and despite whatever Admiral Crandall may be thinking, we’re not going to be thinking in terms of a fighting retreat, either. I think it’s about time we find out just how accurate our assumptions about Battle Fleet’s combat capability really are.”

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30 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 52

  1. Thirdbase says:

    To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women (and men).

  2. robert says:

    So I was wrong. Henke will tell Crandall to go take a flying leap.

  3. no_one says:

    Henke won’t, Medusa will.

  4. Daryl says:

    The gloves may be off when any Solly warship crosses the Spindle hyper limit inbound, but I imagine she will let them get far enough in, that they can’t just escape back into hyper when it gets ugly for them.

  5. JMN says:

    Jutland has been suggested, but I dont think Jutland fits here, for several reasons.

    If this is to be the revised Battle of Jutland, then the RMN needs to have some capital ships, and they dont yet. Jutland had a significant clash of battlecruisers, but it was a running fight, which this is not shaping up to be. In a Jutland scenario, The Solarians should be blockading, which they are not.

    There is one interesting parallel you can make to Jutland, as planned. You can make the case for missile pods being the equivalent of submarines. Even without Appolo, they can be controlled via the drones. All you need to do is draw the enemy in front of them, which the Germans failed to do in teh actual battle.

    JMN

  6. Mark L says:

    Cressy and Agincourt — or one of the Roman battles against the Parthians, with the Sollies playing Rome.

  7. robert says:

    Who needs battleships when you can fire a very well aimed & controlled massive missile salvo from 27 warships. And the enemy has no defense for that kind of offense.

    Anybody want to calculate the number of missiles in the first wave?

  8. justdave says:

    actually an analogy closer to home might be 2d Hancock with the SLN SDs as tactically equivalent to the PN BBs and the RMN LACs in pretty much the same situation, the bad guys won’t know what is hitting them when the LACs follow behind the first RMH missile salvo

  9. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @6, Will we see a Sollie SecNavy moan, “Sandra Crandall, give me back my Squadrons!” ?

  10. Jude says:

    How about simalarity to the Spanish-American War?

  11. Thirdbase says:

    Why does everyone want to keep sending the LACs into combat with the Sollies? There are 71 SDs in that fleet, and the LACs don’t have the weapons to seriously harm them. While the Sollies are going to have more problems hitting them than the Peeps did at first, there will be enough lucky shots to kill people that there is no reason to have die.

    This is going to be closer to Honor’s first use of Apollo. Henke is going to be targeting one or two targets at a time, with massed long distance fire. She has a good idea of how accurate her fire will be, but not how effective it will be. So until she knows what it takes to take out a SD, with missiles not designed to take out SDs, she will be firing at very few targets.

    She does have several advantages, including missile range, speed, and the ability to fire without having to present her broadsides. But she does have one huge disadvantage, she is defending a planet. And who makes sure the Sollies don’t violate the Iridani Edict?

  12. Robert H. Woodman says:

    “I think it’s about time we find out just how accurate our assumptions about Battle Fleet’s combat capability really are.”

    Do you think that the SLN is WORSE than the RMN has estimated them to be? Or is their assessment about correct?

  13. hank says:

    Roles for LAC’s:
    Wipe out screen elements (weakens task force missle defense)
    Pick off cripples
    SAR

  14. John Roth says:

    Well, the tactical environment depends on whether Crandall shows up before or after the ammo ships. If she shows up afterward, she’s sauce. If she shows up before I think whoever suggested concentrated fire on a relatively small number of targets is right, but take into account that they’ll be using Ghost Rider platforms and Hermes buoys as forward controllers, so they’ll be able to switch targets at long range as well as reprogram for what they see as the first wave hits.

    In my mind, the big question is whether Crandall is going to be making the same mistake Byng made — spacing his available ships too far apart so they couldn’t cover each other with counter-missile fire.

  15. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @12 Torch of Freedom mentioned that the early flights of the ex-SLN battlecruisers the Alignment provided the SS fleet couldn’t be run at their maximum cyclic rate without risking jamming issues. Bets on some SLN Wallers both A) suffering the similar issues, and B) this is NOT being used in their wargames, particularly with the lack of SLN live fire exercises?

    @11, Half the fleet is Wallers, but half is ‘below the wall’. Given the premium their missiles and pods are gonna be just to take down the Wallers the LACs might be employed to strip the screen. And however nasty they are found to be if the LAC carriers are tucked away the newsies might not realize they are offensive platforms as well as defensive.

    Another implication of the Battle of Spindle is that if a Manti fleet that is outnumbers 9 to 2 in SDs vs BCs is toast, so is any kind of attack through the wormhole. From HAE the most you can push through in a mass transit is 200 million tons, which IIRC shuts down the that leg of the Junction for 17 hours. If a couple squadrons of Nikes can toast anything the SLN can push through then its stuck coming the long way. At least if the SLN does take notice, and isn’t cold blooded enough to keep shoving fleets through at a ruinous exchange rate to blast a foothold. OTOH there is also the open question of how vulnerable Manticore looks right after OB kicks off. IIRC they are after the shipyards, not the Junction Forts.

  16. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    Opps, to clarify my last, the ex SLN BCs couldn’t fire their missile launchers at max rate without risking jamming

  17. justdave says:

    nobodies talking about sending LACs against SDs unsupported

    in EoH, as they develop LAC tactics in Operation Anzio and specifically in chapter 34, 2d Hancock, except for the LACs initially targeting the PN pods, the LACs attacked the PN BBs after they’d been shot up by the ‘Minnie’ and the RMN Hancock SDs missle attacks, the LAC mass attacks were after damaged capitol ships to keep them from escaping

    also in chapter 34 check out Captain Jackie Harmon’s, the Minnie’s COLAC, assessment of when the ‘butcher’s bill’ was worth it and when it wasn’t, if Crandall arrives before the Apollo pods, 10th Fleet will need all the fire power and guile they can muster

  18. Daryl says:

    I was the one that originally spoke of Jutland because there were both battle cruisers and super dreadnoughts there, but on reflection I wonder if it isn’t going to be more akin to what the Japanese planes did to HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, and the American planes did to the Japanese super battleship Yamato a few years later. New technology and methods are unpleasant when the other side has it and you don’t. When I worked in military aviation we used to joke that aeronautical engineers designed weapon systems and armoured core engineers designed targets.

  19. Thirdbase says:

    Robert H. Woodman,

    I think that this sentence should answer your questions about about the SLN and the RMNs opinion of them.

    “If I were Crandall, and if I meant to go stomp on a bunch of neobarbs, I’d have my wall in motion within twenty-four hours, max.”

    Since Crandall, the female one, said 48 hours, it makes you wonder why she would need an extra 24 hours.

    Actually going back to SFtS, it looks like Crandall is at least 72 hours behind Reprise. Reprise was at at Meyers for only a couple of hours at most, a bit over a half accelerating in another half hour coasting and then however long accelerating back out. While Crandall is talking to Hongbo she says: “Just who the hell do you think that mysterious hyper footprint yesterday morning was, Mr. Hongbo?” Yesterday morning implies about 24 hours, and then she is going to leave in 48 hours.

    I feel sorry for 10th Fleet and their wait.

  20. The SLN … We need to refill the officer’s brandy lockers (as at Tsushima) …some personnel need to complete their R&R …All fuel lockers must be topped off … there are a lot of newsies who will be watching the RMN surrender; check that all ship paint jobs are flawless…

    She’ll get under way within a month.

  21. John Roth says:

    @20 Nah. Unless something political turns up, I suspect she’ll be out of there on schedule. There’s an old saying that non-coms handle operations, junior officers handle tactics, senior officers handle strategy and general or flag officers handle logistics.

    Getting her fleet moving is logistics. If she can’t manage to get it moving when she says she’s going to, she’s got worse problems than she knows.

  22. justdave says:

    speaking of logistics, those support ships Crandall has in tow should also slow her passage to Spindle so, as usual w/MWW, it might be close as to whether Crandall or Apollo gets there first

  23. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @19 — Thirdbase

    Seems like the RMN has OVERestimated the capabilities of the SLN generally. I was thinking of the statement, though, in terms of the SLN’s combat capability, which is what Michelle stated she wanted to assess. I think that the RMN has a better opinion of the SLN in that regard than is warranted.

    It seems possible that the ammunition ships will arrive before Crandall does, especially if Crandall decides to go through Tillerman first. I don’t recall Crandall saying anything like that, though (and I don’t have a copy of SftS in front of me to check). My impression was that she was going to head directly to Spindle.

    IIRC Crandall does know that the RMN’s missile range is at least twice as long as her (SftS). Therefore, she ought not to make Byng’s mistake on ship spacing, though she might. I imagine, though, that Crandall believes her counter-missile ability to be far better than it actually is. She’s going to discover that she won’t be able to stop very many Manticoran missiles (relatively speaking), and she will probably be surprised at the size of the missile launches themselves. If the LACs take on the screen and the rest of the fleet takes on the SDs, then Crandall will be finished.

    Knowing that Crandall is coming from Meyers and may or may not pass through Tillerman, does that allow Tenth Fleet to predict where Crandall will show up when she does finally arrive? If so, should she have some of her force lying in ambush to hit Crandall from behind when she does cross the hyper limit? Or should she have some of her force waiting in hyper to ambush Crandall? Or should she not divide her force at all given how outnumbered she is?

  24. Thirdbase says:

    Robert, when you are overestimating militarily, generally everything flows from the top down. If you expect a certain level of competence from Flag Officers, then you expect a certain level of competence from everyone, and from their equipment. When the top doesn’t meet those expectations, the bottom probably doesn’t either.

    As Crandall says in SFtS: “Well now that they know, I don’t intend to give them time to send wallers of their own through from Manticore!”

    After that I don’t expect her to stop anywhere short of Spindle.

    George, topping off the fuel bunkers is a legitimate thing to do, just ask the Captain of the Bismark. Had he topped his fuel, it might have been the Escape of the Bismark.

  25. fester says:

    @#19 Thirdbase: The difference between Adm. Henke RMN saying she would expect Crandall departing within 24 hours of the Reprise popping in, and the implied 72 hour start Crandall herself states is the difference between a wartime navy and a peace time navy. Remember, the RMN, even before the start of hostilities with Haven in 1905 was considered to be an extraordinarily professional and well-trained navy because it had to be while the SLN could get by on being large and moderately competent. After 13 years of combat in the past 17 years, the RMN officer corps is either very competent or very dead. That same pruning process has not occurred for the SLN.

    The best RMN example of moving a fleet rapidly to address an out of area threat (not a tactical threat ala 8th Fleet @ 2nd Basilak) was the combined RMN/GSN response to the first stage of Stalking Horse where multiple navies began to move multiple task forces in multiple systems to deal with deep-area raids within 12 hours of receiving the information that required a response. Havenite units have the same type of reaction time as we saw during the interlude between Cutworm III and Lovat.

    The SLN is convinced that they have the time to spend because they are the best and the most numerous navy out there. So who cares about 24 hours when you have 71 wallers and the opponent has 8 big battlecruisers.

  26. fester says:

    @#19 Thirdbase: The difference between Adm. Henke RMN saying she would expect Crandall departing within 24 hours of the Reprise popping in, and the implied 72 hour start Crandall herself states is the difference between a wartime navy and a peace time navy. Remember, the RMN, even before the start of hostilities with Haven in 1905 was considered to be an extraordinarily professional and well-trained navy because it had to be while the SLN could get by on being large and moderately competent. After 13 years of combat in the past 17 years, the RMN officer corps is either very competent or very dead. That same pruning process has not occurred for the SLN.

    The best RMN example of moving a fleet rapidly to address an out of area threat (not a tactical threat ala 8th Fleet @ 2nd Basilak) was the combined RMN/GSN response to the first stage of Stalking Horse where multiple navies began to move multiple task forces in multiple systems to deal with deep-area raids within 12 hours of receiving the information that required a response. Havenite units have the same type of reaction time as we saw during the interlude between Cutworm III and Lovat.

    The SLN is convinced that they have the time to spend because they are the best and the most numerous navy out there. So who cares about 24 hours when you have 71 wallers and the opponent has 8 big battlecruisers.

  27. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    One clarification and one correction.

    First the clarification, the RMN, particularly at the Flag Rank levels is in the habit of rotating people to half pay or otherwise shuffle things so that they have a higher number of experienced officers, while the Sollies don’t and work strictly on senority, thus with less room to advance fewer get experience in various areas of the service. In addition Manticore’s rotation scheme caps ’empire building’ since any particular assignment is of limited duration.

    And the correction, while not in a shoot war the RMN has been in a wartime mindset well before the actual shooting. Certainly at least since Trevor’s Star was conquered (PD 1880), and IIRC the RMN tech and expansion programs started in the early 1800s, the figure 70 years stick into my mind for some reason. So by this point the RMN has spent nearly a half to close to a full century in a wartime (counting build up and “Cold War” phases) mindset. Certainly they felt they had a real and immanent threat to the existence of their nation once the PRH went Conquistador in the 1850s. And the RMN new they were the smaller dog in the fight, so in addition to their tech edge they had to be more skilled and viscous. IOW the Darwinian selection had already started, and the actual shooting just capped the process.

  28. gg says:

    I think Crandall will think that the Manties have a wall of battle, since the Nikes are the same size as BBs of SLN experience, and there’s an SD in the system as well.

  29. John Roth says:

    Re Crandall’s screening elements. Since Heneke will have forward control relays using grav pulse, she can afford to simply slaughter the screen in the first wave. None of those ships are going to stand up to Mark 23s. Whether she will or not? No idea.

  30. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    30 @29 It depends on how many Mark 23 loaded pods Spindle has. While the Mark 16 Mod E can theoretically punch hard enough to even penetrate Waller armor, even more so if Crandall has older ships, it is still an iffy proposition. So using the lighter LAC and Mark 16 launchers of her BC, CA, and DD internal tubes on the screen seems a better allocation of fire while reserving the full up Captial Missiles to demolishing the Sollie Wallers.

    Unless she has enough missile pods in system to be confident of flushing them enmass and still have a reserve to pick off any survivors.

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