Mission Of Honor – Snippet 53

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 53

Chapter Sixteen

“I suppose the first thing to worry about is whether or not it’s true,” Sir Barnabas Kew said.

Kew sat with Baroness Selleck and Voitto Tuominen at the conference table behind Honor as she stood gazing out over the thundering cataract of Frontenac Falls. She stood with her hands clasped behind her, Nimitz sitting very still on her shoulder, and her brown eyes were bleak.

“It isn’t,” she said flatly.

Her Foreign Office advisors glanced at one another, then turned as one to look at that ramrod-straight spine, those calmly clasped hands.

“Your Grace, I’ll be the first to admit that neither Manpower nor Mesa have ever been noted for truth in advertising,” Tuominen said after a moment. “This seems a little audacious even for them to be manufacturing out of whole cloth, though, and –”

“It isn’t true,” she repeated in that same flat tone.

She turned away from the window, facing them. But for Nimitz’s slightly flattened ears and slowly twitching tail, the civilians might have made the mistake of assuming she was as calm as she looked, and she smiled sardonically as she tasted their emotions, sensed the way they were settling back into their chairs. Kew, especially, seemed to be searching for the most diplomatic possible way to point out that she couldn’t know that, and she looked directly at him.

“A lot of things could happen in the galaxy, Sir Barnabas,” she told him. “A lot of things I never would have expected. But one thing that isn’t going to happen — that couldn’t happen — would be for Anton Zilwicki to deliberately nuke a park full of kids in some sort of demented terrorist attack. Trust me. I know the man. Nimitz knows the man.” She reached up to caress the treecat’s ears gently. “And that man is utterly incapable of doing something like that.”

“But –” Baroness Selleck began, then stopped, and Honor snorted harshly.

“I don’t doubt he was on Mesa,” she said. “In fact, I have reason to believe he was. What it looks like to me — and I’d really like to be wrong about it — is that Mesa figured out he’d been on-planet and decided to add him to the mix when they came up with their cover story for whatever actually happened.”

She decided, again, not to mention the personal message from Catherine Montaigne which had accompanied the official dispatch from Mount Royal Palace. Or, even more to the point, that she’d already known Zilwicki and Victor Cachat were bound for Mesa even before the Battle of Lovat.

The other three glanced at one another, considering what she’d just said, then looked back at her.

“You think they captured him when he was there, Your Grace?” Selleck asked quietly, and Honor shook her head.

“No,” she said softly. “They didn’t capture him. If they had, they’d have produced him — or at least his body — to substantiate their charges instead of claiming he was ‘caught in his own explosions.’ But I don’t like the fact that no one’s heard from him since Green Pines. If he got off-planet at all, he should have been home, long since. So I am afraid they may finally have managed to kill him.”

Nimitz made a soft, protesting sound of pain, and she stroked his ears again. As she’d said, unlike the civilians sitting around the table, she’d known Anton Zilwicki. In fact, she’d come to know him and Cathy Montaigne very well, indeed, since their return to the Old Star Kingdom following the Manpower Affair in Old Chicago. She and George Reynolds, her staff intelligence officer, had worked closely — if very much under the table — with both of them, and her own credentials with the Audubon ballroom had been part of the reason Zilwicki had been so prepared to share information with her.

No wonder Cathy’s so worried, she thought now, her own emotions grim. She probably wondered if he’d been involved somehow in whatever happened in Green Pines ever since the news broke. I know I did. And then, with the days and weeks dragging past, and no word from him . . . it must’ve been a living hell for her. Then this . . . this travesty. But she knows Anton even better than I do. He may’ve been there, and whatever he was up to might have led to this somehow, but she knows he never would have signed off on nuking the park, no matter what. Which is going to be pretty cold comfort if she’s not only lost the man she loves but thinks she’s going to see him vilified as one of the galaxy’s worst “terrorists” when he’s not even around to defend himself.

“Excuse me, Your Grace, but would you happen to know why he was on Mesa?” Tuominen asked.

She cocked her head at him, and he shrugged.

“I don’t really expect Pritchart or most of the members of her Cabinet to be lining up to take Mesa’s word for what happened,” he said. “I can think of a few of her congressional ‘negotiators’ who’d be likely to believe anything — officially, at least — if they thought it would strengthen their bargaining position, though. Even without that, there’s the media to worry about, and Havenite newsies aren’t all that fond of the Star Empire to begin with. So if there’s another side to this, something we could lay out to buttress the notion that it wasn’t Zilwicki or Torch . . . ”

He let his voice trail off, and Honor snorted again, even more harshly than before.

“First,” she said, “how I know he was on Mesa is privileged information. Information that has operational intelligence implications, for that matter. So, no, I don’t intend to whisper it into a newsies’s ear. Second, I’d think that if I suddenly announced to the media that I ‘just happen’ to know why Captain Zilwicki was on Mesa and that I promise it wasn’t to set off a nuclear device in a public park on Saturday morning, it’s going to sound just a little suspicious. Like the sort of thing someone trying desperately to discredit the truth might come up with on am especially stupid day. And, third, Voitto, I don’t think anyone willing to believe something like this coming from a source like Mesa in the first place is going to change her mind whatever anyone says. Or not, at least, without irrefutable physical proof that Mesa lied.”

“I can see that,” Tuominen acknowledged with a grimace. “Sorry, Your Grace. I guess I’m just looking for a straw to grasp.”

“I don’t blame you.” Honor turned back to the window, looking down on the boat-dotted estuary, wishing she were down there in one of her sloops herself. “And I don’t doubt this is going to complicate our job here in Nouveau Paris, as well. To be honest, though, I’m a lot more worried about its potential impact on Solly public opinion and what it may encourage Kolokoltsov and those other idiots in Old Chicago to do.”

Tuominen nodded unhappily behind her and wondered if one reason he himself was focusing so intensely on the situation here in the Republic of Haven was expressly to avoid thinking about how Old Chicago might have reacted to the same news. It was ironic that Manticore had received the reportage of the Mesan allegations about Green Pines before anyone on Old Earth had. By now, though, the sensational charges were racing outward to all the interstellar community of man, and God only knew how that was likely to impact on the Solarian public’s view of the Star Empire. The one thing Tuominen was prepared to bet on was that it wasn’t going to help.

“I agree that the way the League reacts to this is ultimately likely to be a lot more significant as far as the Star Empire’s concerned, Your Grace,” Selleck said. “Unfortunately, there’s not anything we can do about that. So I think Barnabas and Voitto are right to be considering anything we might be able to do to mitigate the impact here, in the Republic.”

She shrugged.

“Voitto’s right about people like Younger and McGwire. I’ve been quietly developing some additional information sources since we got here, and the more I find out about Younger, the more revolting he turns out to be. I’m still not sure exactly how the internal dynamics of the New Conservatives lay out, but I’m coming to the conclusion he’s a much more important player than we’d assumed before we left Manticore. If there’s anyone on Pritchart’s side of the table who’s likely to try to use something like this, it’s Younger.”

“But how can he use it, Carissa?” Kew asked. “I realize the media’s going to have a field day, whatever we do. And God knows there’s enough ‘anti-Manty’ sentiment here in the Republic already for these allegations to generate even more public unhappiness with the fact that their government’s negotiating with us at all. But having said all of that, it’s the only game in town. The bottom line is that Pritchart and her people have to be even more determined than we are to keep us from blowing up their capital star system!”

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24 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 53

  1. Thirdbase says:

    I wonder if Pritchart or anyone knows where the wandering Officer Cachat has been. You know, like Honor’s Flagship, Torch, Mesa, and exactly whom he associating with. Actually sometimes I wonder if Cachat tells himself where he has been.

  2. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @1 — Cachat would only tell himself where he’d been if he needed to know that.

    :-)

    “I’ve been quietly developing some additional information sources since we got here, and the more I find out about Younger, the more revolting he turns out to be.”

    First Pavel Young, now Gerald Younger. Did DW have a bad experience in his life with someone named “Young”? People with that name keep ending up as slime-balls in this story? (asked only half-facetiously)

  3. Mark L says:

    @1 – I am sure that Pritchart will learn where Cachet has been before the end of the novel. I imagine her reaction will make a tacnuke explosion seem tame.

  4. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @2 Cachat would probably respond like Garibaldi did in “Matters of Honor”

    “I’m not authorized for that kind of information.”
    “But you are the head of security.”
    “Then what kind of head of security would I be if I let people like me know things that I’m not supposed to know? I know what I know because I have to know it. And if I don’t have to know it, I don’t tell me, and I don’t let anyone else tell me either.
    Garibaldi and David Endawi, Matters of Honor

    And to round this out with another B5 quote about the pacing.

    “No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There is always a boom tomorrow!”

  5. robert says:

    Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-Today?

  6. robert says:

    “The bottom line is that Pritchart and her people have to be even more determined than we are to keep us from blowing up their capital star system!”

    But if one or more of the negotiators for Haven are not really “one of her people” but are one of Detweiler’s people, then what?

    Is Younger, or McGwire, or both, another Mesan sleeper?

  7. Kenny says:

    My question is, does Cachet and Zilwicki know why it happened or were they to busy escaping to know that the bomb they had planned made an emergency landing thanks to a bomb they had not planned.

  8. robert says:

    Meanwhile, what does Kevin Usher know about where Victor and Anton have gone? And how is his investigation of what really was going on with respect to the falsification of diplomatic notes progressing?

  9. tootall says:

    #5– LOL -thanks

  10. John Roth says:

    @7 Kenny.

    I just checked, and ToF doesn’t say they spotted it. It doesn’t say they didn’t, either.

    @8 robert

    I expect that Victor told his second that he was going to be away for a while. Whether he told her where he was going, or gave her a message to pass on to Trajan via secure channels is a different question.

  11. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @10 OTOH it was fairly obvious from orbit, and the way everyone was scrambling the location almost certainly got broadcast. The question is did the two bother to listen during the great escape?

  12. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @11

    ToF made no mention Anton’s and Victor’s reaction to the nuking of the park. I imagine, though, that they did notice and are grieved by it. I imagine DW will spin out the implications for them later in the story once they make their reappearance.

  13. ronzo says:

    Well Anton and Victor may not even be aware of it of the events in the park yet. They were fleeing for their lives, then were stuck in the middle of no where with a broken hyper drive, and the Amusement station was described as a back water with little to no legitimate traffic. So the first they may hear of their diversion going awry is when the get back to Beowulf on there way to
    Manticore.

  14. Thirdbase says:

    Anton and Victor where sealed in the cargo bay before, at least it happens before in the book, the bomb was detonated in the park. The distance from the stadium to the park couldn’t be that far, the car carrying the bomb was damaged by the “Scorched Earth” bomb, and after overshooting the stadium he was already near the park. So unless they were looking from orbit at the park with a pretty good resolution system, they probably would not have been able to see the difference. Plus the people on the ship didn’t even know what was about to happen anyway. Astro-control never contacted them, so the only way they would know is if someone was monitoring a broadcast news program, actually likely under the circumstances.

    They will probably find out when the parts to repair the hyper drive are brought back. “Horizontal boosters. Alluvial dampers? Ow! That’s not it, bring me the Hydrospanner.”

  15. robert says:

    @13 Why do you assume they are going to Manticore? Why not Haven?

  16. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @14 however the chaos of the bombs, in addition to making Mesa think they were dead (so as not to lock down the system to catch them), but also provide a plausible excuse for suddenly breaking orbit and fleeing the system. It is nearly certain that emergency services were broadcasting in the clear, and the newsies listening in were squawking about the Green Pines explosion.

  17. robert says:

    @16 et al.
    Consider the government of Mesa. A secretive, near-totalitarian regime. No Free Press on Mesa. There would be no news of the Green Pines explosion until the government had the correct handle/response to it and to the destruction of the secret laboratory.

    I do not think anyone knew about the details of the explosions until Detweiler OK’d the story.

  18. justdave says:

    not sure where I saw it but the Dynamic Duo intend to head for Haven first with their ‘haul’ since Cachet has more of an official status there than Zilwicki has in SEM

  19. robert says:

    @18 That makes more sense. Also Haven needs to learn about the Mesan Alignment’s penetration into their government and its influence on their history and policies as soon as possible. So Cachet will want to get that information home ASAP.

  20. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @18 IIRC the decision by Cachat and Zilwicki to go to Haven was made at the end of ToF.

  21. robert says:

    @20 Robert
    You may be right, but I can find nothing in the last several chapters of Torch to suggest that they are going to Haven.

  22. John Roth says:

    @18 Robert H. Woodman
    @21 robert

    That’s a snerk. The decision on where to go is toward the end of MoH. It’s not in ToF. I do know where they decided to head, but I’m not going to confirm or deny it here.

  23. Martin says:

    As an aside, from the previous snippets I see quite a few folks comparing the upcoming conflict between Henke and the Solarians with naval battles from history, Jutland etc, and you know, the comparisons are a bit off. There was a film, in the 80’s I think, where the US supercarrier USS Nimitz goes back in time to just before Pearl Harbour. A pretty crappy film if I remember with the only fun bit being where two Tomcat fighter jets get into a “dogfight” with a couple of Japanese Zeros. In that film the Nimitz is whisked back to the “present” just before they engage the Japanese attacking force closing on Pearl. If they hadnt and had met the Japanese then I think that would have been closer to whats coming…

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