Mission Of Honor – Snippet 57

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 57

“As in disappeared aboard a Manticoran flagship at Trevor’s Star with a suicide device in his pocket just in case, you mean? That sort of ‘disappeared’?”

“Yes, Madam President,” LePic said a bit more formally than was his wont.

Pritchart gazed at him for several seconds, swinging her chair gently from side to side. Then she snorted.

“My, my, my,” she murmured with a crooked smile. “Only Victor Cachat. Now that Kevin’s out of the field, anyway.”

“You’re telling us,” Montreau said, speaking with the careful precision of someone determined to make certain they really had heard correctly, “that one of FIS’s station chiefs really went, with a known Manticoran intelligence operative, to a star system the Manties have declared a closed military reservation, for a personal conversation with the commanding officer of their Eighth Fleet before the Battle of Lovat? And then went off on a completely unauthorized operation to Mesa? Which apparently ran right into the middle of whatever really happened at Green Pines?”

LePic only nodded, and Montreau sat back in her chair with an expression of utter disbelief.

“Actually, it makes sense, you know,” Theisman said thoughtfully after a moment.

“Makes sense?” Montreau repeated incredulously.

“From what I know of Cachat — although I hasten to admit it’s all second or third hand, since I’ve never met him personally — he spends a lot of time operating by intuition. In fact, any way you look at it, a huge part of those successes Denis was just talking about have resulted from a combination of that institution with the personal contacts and relationships he’s established And you’ve met Alexander-Harrington now, Leslie. If you were going to reach out to a highly placed member of an enemy star nation’s political and military establishment because you were convinced someone was trying to sabotage peace talks between us and them, could you think of a better person to risk contacting?”

Montreau started to reply, then stopped, visibly thought for a moment or two, and shook her head, almost against her will.

“I’m willing to bet that was pretty much Cachat’s analysis,” LePic agreed with a nod. “And, if it was, it obviously worked, given Duchess Harrington’s evident attitude towards the negotiations. Not only that, but it set up the situation in which she brought us her version of what really happened on Mesa.”

His three listeners looked at one another with suddenly thoughtful expressions.

“You know, Denis,” Theisman said in a gentler tone, “if he’s been out of contact this long, the most likely reason is that he and Zilwicki were both killed on Mesa.”

“I do know,” LePic admitted. “On the other hand, this is Victor Cachat we’re talking about. And he and Zilwicki are both — or at least were both — very competent operators. They almost certainly built firebreaks into and between their covers, whatever they were, on Mesa, not to mention multiple escape strategies. So it really is possible Zilwicki could have gone down without Mesa’s ever realizing Cachat was there. And if the two of them were deep enough under, especially somewhere as far away as the Mesa System, three or four months — or even longer — isn’t all that long a lag in communications. Not from a covert viewpoint, at least. I don’t know about Manticore or the Ballroom, but we don’t have any established conduits between here and Mesa, so his communications would have been circuitous at the very least, and probably a lot less than secure. And don’t forget — it’s been less than four months since Green Pines. If he did avoid capture, he might have been forced to lie low on the planet for quite a while before he could work out a way to get back out again. And if that’s the case, he damned well wouldn’t have trusted any conduit he could jury-rig to get reports back to us just so we wouldn’t worry about him! For all I know, he’s on his way home right this minute!”

Theisman looked doubtful, and Montreau looked downright skeptical. Pritchart, on the other hand, had considerably more hands-on experience in the worlds of espionage and covert operations than either of them did. Besides, she thought, LePic had a point. It was Victor Cachat they were talking about, and that young man had demonstrated a remarkable talent for survival even under the most unpromising circumstances.

“All right,” she said, leaning forward and folding her forearms on her desk, “I’m with you, Denis, in wishing we knew something about what happened to Cachat. There’s nothing we can do about that, though, and I think we’re pretty much in agreement that what we do know from our end effectively confirms what Duchess Harrington’s told us?”

She looked around at her advisers’ faces, and, one by one, they nodded.

“In that case,” the president continued, “I think it behooves us to pay close attention to her warning about Elizabeth’s patience and the . . . how did she put it? The ‘flexibility’ of Manticore’s options. I don’t know that I buy into the notion that this was deliberately aimed at Manticore and Haven alike, that Mesa wants Manticore to trash the Republic before the League trashes Manticore. I think it’s at least remotely possible, though. More to the point, it doesn’t matter if that’s what they’re trying to do if that’s what they end up doing, anyway. So I think it’s up to us to make sure our own problem children at the negotiating table don’t decide to try to take advantage of this.”

“And exactly how do you propose to do that, Madam President?” Theisman asked skeptically.

“Actually,” Pritchart said with a chilling smile, “I don’t plan to say a word to them about it.”

“No?” There was no disguising the anxiety in Denis LePic’s voice . . . nor any indication that the attorney general had tried very hard to disguise it.

“It’s called ‘plausible deniability,’ Denis,” she replied with that same shark-like smile. “I’d love to simply march all of them in at pulser point to sign on the dotted line, but I’m afraid if I tried that, Younger, at least, would call my bluff. So I can’t just shut him up every time he starts throwing up those roadblocks of his. That’s part of the political process, unfortunately, and we don’t need to be setting any iron-fist precedents for repressing political opponents. Despite that, however, I think I can bring myself to compromise my sense of political moral responsibility far enough to keep him from using this roadblock, at least.”

“How?” This time the question came from Theisman.

“By using our lunatic who hasn’t gone missing.” Pritchart chuckled coldly. “Everyone knows Kevin Usher is a total loose cannon. I’m pretty sure that if he called Younger and McGwire, let’s say, in for confidential in-depth briefings and was very careful to speak to both of them off the record, with no embarrassing recordings, and no inconvenient witnesses to misconstrue anything he might say, he could convince them it would be . . . unwise to use these unfortunate and obviously groundless allegations out of Mesa for partisan political advantage.”

“Threaten them with, ah, direct action, you mean?” Unlike LePic, Theisman seemed to have no particular qualms with the notion, and Pritchart’s smile turned almost seraphic.

“Oh, no, Tom!” She shook her head and clucked her tongue reprovingly. “Kevin never threatens. He only predicts probable outcomes from time to time.” The humor disappeared from her smile as the shark surfaced once more. “He doesn’t do it all that often, but when he does,” the president of the Republic of Haven finished, “he’s never wrong.”

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20 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 57

  1. no_one says:

    Threaten them? Oh no, he’d never do that (wink wink, nudge nudge).

  2. no_one says:

    Threaten them? Oh no, he’d never do that (wink wink, nudge nudge).

  3. JMN says:

    It is not a threat. It IS a prediction.

    The book was supposed to hit the shelves yesterday. Time to check.


  4. Maggie says:

    First you will know fear, then you will know pain. Then, you will die. Have a nice trip…

  5. Drak Bibliophile says:

    By the way, if you were not able to purchase the individual WebScription’s version of MofH, please try again.

    Arnold’s helper thinks he’s got the individual purchase feature working.

  6. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    @4 you got that quote reversed.

    G’Kar: With luck, they may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain…
    Na’Toth: And you will know fear.
    G’Kar: And then you will die. Have a pleasant flight.

    And Kevin threaten? Heavens no. He’s just gonna make them an offer they can’t refuse.

  7. TimC says:

    What is the Na’Toth quote- must be something I need to read!

  8. Drak Bibliophile says:

    TimC, that was from the first season of Babylon 5.

    G’Kar and Na’Toth were talking to an assassin that had tried kill G’Kar.

    They had made it look like he had taken a bribe to *not* kill G’Kar and thus the assassin’s own order would be out to get him.

    Oh, the assassin’s intructions were to “make G’Kar know fear, make G’Kar know pain and then to kill G’Kar”. [Grin]

  9. Ah sir says:

    Well, MoH is out, and I’ve read it. In the next, what will be the role of the other space powers? My guess: the Andies will be neutral or come in on the side of Manticore, Maya Sector will be too weak at the start, but will be supplied, possibly by Haven with enough ships to make a difference, and come in. Mesa doesn’t seem to have the ships to defend themselves; they depend on secrecy and sneakiness, and neither the spider drive or the other seems to be suitable for naval vessels.

  10. no_one says:

    Got my copy in the mail today, and Baen’s need for a competent proofreader has never been plainer.

  11. Ed T. says:

    Just like to mention a thought of mine. Early in Echoes of Honor she is presumed dead and accorded a tomb near the also empty tombs of Edward Saganami and Ellen d’Orville, fellow naval officers. We got a sketch of Saganami’s last fight at the beginning of Shadows of Saganami. I don’t think Weber has ever written a story about Ellen d’Orville although it was stated that she also faced overwhelming odds in her last battle (in Ashes of Victory). I would really like to read such a story.

  12. John Roth says:

    @9 no_one

    I agree – the number of missing words was pretty bad.

  13. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Ah sir, this is not the place to discuss the completed MofH.

    You might want to visit the Snerker’s Only conference at Baen’s Bar.

  14. robert says:

    Drak, since the book is out, why does the snippeting continue? This is something new, I think, because usually you stop on or just before release.

  15. robert says:

    @9 Go to David Weber’s website where you can discuss all things Honorverse in the Forum of that name. You can label your comments as a spoiler and blab about your predictions, moan about how long it will be until the next book is out, and discuss the merits of Abagail Hearns with someone named namelessfly.

    Have fun.

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, I’ve always snippeted Baen books until the start of the month in which they are scheduled.

    MofH is a July release so I’ll snippet until July 1st.

    David Drake’s TOR books are a different matter, there I check the actual scheduled release date.

  17. turol says:

    @16 So, three more snippets?

    * Checks the eARC *

    Probably means we get chapter 18 but not 19. Which is just too bad, because 19 is *delicious*. I’m sure a fair and honest person like yourself was deli^H^H^H^Hdismayed you were forced to stop in that particular point.

  18. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Turol, Very Big Evil Grin!

  19. 4th Dimension says:

    I got my e-book version of MOH. Reading it now.

  20. Summertime says:

    @#9, yes, Mesa and the Detweilers have allies, or subject planets, but they do not have the forces for a stand-up fight against those powers aligned against them. They have used trickery and subversion and deceit so far to further their ends. It may be that once they are unmasked they will pack up and flee to parts unknown and distant in order to start over on a multi-century quest to rule humanity. And El Supremo Detweiler will say, “VE VILL BE BACK”. Or, they could be trapped like rats and smashed and their evil society altered to normality. Or, something else could happen, and probably will. I’m no good at predicting.

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