Mission Of Honor – Snippet 61

Bad news, this is the final snippet.

Mission Of Honor – Snippet 61

Bautista started to open his mouth angrily, but Vice Admiral Ou-Yang Zhing-Wei, Crandall’s operations officer, spoke up before he could.

“I’m disinclined to think they could have a great deal more range Pépé, but Commander Shavarshyan is right. It’s a possibility we have to bear in mind.”

“Yes, it is,” Crandall agreed, although she manifestly didn’t like doing so. “All the same,” she continued, “it really doesn’t matter in the long run. Assuming Gruner’s observations and Sigbee’s report were accurate at all, we already knew we were going to be out-ranged by at least some of these people’s missiles. On the other hand, I agree with Sigbee — and with you, Commander — that no missile big enough to do that could be fired from missile tubes the size of the ones we’ve actually observed aboard even those big-assed Manty battlecruisers. So they had to come from pods.”

She shrugged. Like the woman herself, it was a ponderous movement, without grace yet imbued with a self-aware sense of power.

“But whether they came from pods or missile tubes, they can’t have the fire control links to coordinate enough of them to swamp the task force’s point defense, and their accuracy at such extended ranges — assuming they actually have even more range — has to be poor. I know some of them will get through. We’ll take damage — hell, we may even lose a ship or two! — but there’s no way they’re going to stop a solid wall of battle this size by just chucking missiles at it. And I’m not going to let them bluff me into going easy on them because of some kind of imagined ‘super weapon’ they’ve got!”

She snorted in contempt, and her eyes were harder than ever.

“By now that damned destroyer of theirs must’ve gotten back to Spindle. I imagine that once they all got done crapping their skinsuits, they sent home for reinforcements. But after the reaming they got from the Havenites, they can’t have much left to reinforce with. So we’re just going to turn up and be their worst nightmare, and we’re going to do it right now.”

“I understand your thinking, Ma’am,” Ou-yang said. “And I agree we need to move quickly. But it’s one of my responsibilities to see to it that we don’t get hurt any worse than we can help while we pin their ears back the way they’ve got coming. And just between you and me, I’m not all that fond of surprises, even from neobarbs.”

She rolled her almond eyes drolly with the last phrase, and Crandall chuckled. At least, that was what Shavarshyan thought the sound was. It was difficult, sometimes, to differentiate between the admiral’s snorts of contempt and snorts of amusement. In fact, the commander wasn’t certain there was a difference.

At the same time, he had to admire Ou-yang’s technique. The operations officer was the closest thing to an ally he had on Crandall’s staff, and he rather thought she shared some of the suspicions which kept him awake at night. For example, there was that nagging question of exactly how someone like Josef Byng, a Battle Fleet officer with limitless contempt for Frontier Fleet, had ended up in command of the Frontier Fleet task force he’d led so disastrously to New Tuscany. Given the involvement of Manpower and Technodyne in what had happened in Monica, and knowing some of the dirty little secrets he wasn’t supposed to know about Commissioner Verrochio and Vice Commissioner Hongbo, Shavarshyan had a pretty fair idea of who’d been pulling strings behind the scenes to bring that about.

Which brought him to the even more nagging question of exactly how Admiral Crandall had chosen the remote hinterlands of the Madras Sector for her “Exercise Winter Forage.” He was willing to admit the distance from any of Battle Fleet’s lavish bases in the Core and Shell made the sector a reasonable place to evaluate the logistic train’s ability to sustain a force of Battle Fleet wallers for the duration of an extended campaign. On the other hand, they could have done the same thing within a couple of dozen light-years of the Sol System itself, if they’d wanted to pick one of the thoroughly useless, unsettled star systems in the vicinity and just park there.

But even granting that Battle Fleet had decided it just had to actually deploy its evaluation fleet hundreds of light-years from anywhere in particular in the first Battle Fleet deployment to the Verge in more than division strength in the better part of a century, it still struck him as peculiar that Sandra Crandall should have chosen this particular spot, at this particular time, to carry out an exercise which had been discussed off and on for decades. And one possible explanation for the peculiarity lay in the fact that someone had obviously had the juice to get Byng assigned out here and get him to agree to the assignment. If they could accomplish that outright impossibility, Hago Shavarshyan didn’t see any reason they couldn’t accomplish the mere implausibility of getting Crandall out here for “Winter Forage.”

He didn’t care for that explanation at all, which unfortunately made it no less likely. But it did leave him with another burning question.

How deep inside Manpower’s pocket was Sandra Crandall? Shavarshyan hadn’t been a Frontier Fleet intelligence officer for the last fifteen T-years without learning how things happened here in the Verge. So the fact that Manpower had an “understanding” with Verrochio and Hongbo had come as no surprise. He was surprised by Manpower’s apparent reach inside Battle Fleet and the SLN in general, but it wasn’t that much of a stretch from the arrangements he’d already known about. So he could more or less handle the concept of individual Battle Fleet admirals taking marching orders from Manpower.

He’d come to the conclusion that Byng, at least, had been more in the nature of a ballistic projectile than a guided missile, however. Certainly no one with any sense would have relied upon his competence to accomplish any task more complicated than robbing a candy store. If he’d been running an operation that sent Josef Byng out here, it would have been only because he anticipated that the man’s sheer stupidity and bigotry would steer him into doing pretty much exactly what he’d actually done. He certainly wouldn’t have taken the chance of explaining his real objectives to him, and he would never have relied upon the man’s nonexistent competence when it came to achieving those objectives.

At first, Shavarshyan had assumed Manpower had been as confident of Byng’s ability to smash the Manties as Byng himself had been. On that basis, his initial conclusion had been that New Tuscany represented the failure of their plans. But then he’d started thinking about Crandall’s presence. If they’d been confident Byng could handle the job, why go to the undoubted expense (and probably the risk) of getting seventy -plus ships-of-the-wall assigned for backup? That sounded more as if they’d expected Byng to get reamed . . . which, after all, was precisely what had happened.

Assuming all of that was true, the question which had taken on a certain burning significance for Hago Shavarshyan since his unexpected staff reassignment was what they expected to happen to Crandall’s command. Was Byng supposed to provide the pretext while Crandall provided the club? Or was Crandall simply Byng written larger? Was she supposed to get reamed, as well? And was she aware of how her — call them ‘patrons’ — expected and wanted things to turn out? Or was she another ballistic projectile, launched on her way in the confident expectation that she would follow her preordained trajectory to whatever end they had in mind?

If, in fact, Crandall was intentionally cooperating with Manpower, it seemed pretty clear Ou-yang Zhing-wei wasn’t part of the program. Bautista was basically another Byng, as far as Shavarshyan could tell, but Ou-yang obviously had functioning synapses and a forebrain larger than an olive. In fact, it was the operations officer who’d convinced Crandall that she had to at least attempt a negotiated outcome instead of simply opening fire the minute she crossed the hyper limit. Bautista had all but accused Ou-yang of cowardice, and Crandall clearly hadn’t cared for the note of moderation, but Ou-yang was at least as good at managing her admiral as she was at carrying out training simulations.

And the fact that it took this fat-assed task force a solid week to get underway probably helped, the commander thought sourly from behind his expressionless face. Not even Crandall can argue that we’re going to have the advantage of surprise when we arrive!

He’d heard about Crandall’s tirade in Verrochio’s office, complete with its vow to be underway for Spindle within forty-eight hours. Unfortunately, the real life lethargy of Battle Fleet’s stimulus-and-response cycle had gotten in her way.

Welcome to reality, Admiral Crandall, he thought even more sourly. I hope it doesn’t bite your ass as hard as I’m afraid it will, given that my ass is likely to get bitten right along with yours.

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21 Responses to Mission Of Honor – Snippet 61

  1. robert says:

    So this is the last snippet and there is no Eastern Front snippet. Soon there were none…

  2. robert says:

    Must be some automatic procedure failed. And Drak is long gone to beddy-bye.

  3. Daryl says:

    A solid week to get underway settles some of our previous discussions, gives time for the ammunition ships to arrive, and for Gold Peak to distribute her forces effectively. Perhaps using the cruisers with FTL communications as forward control nodes?

  4. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, Eric hasn’t gotten me the next Eastern Front snippet.

  5. Jeremy DuCharme says:

    I can’t help but feel that the Sollies are handing an engraved invitation to Murphy like this (they can’t have the control links to saturate OUR point defense!), but then again anyone notice the name of the flag ship in the last snippet? It’s the SLNS Joseph Buckley, so maybe the doom being so heavily forecast is fitting the meme. Poor, poor Joe, we hardly knew thee, again. :)

    A week to get underway suggests their formation discipline might be similarly sloppy? With attendant effects on point defense plans? I wonder if SLN Waller anti-missile launchers suffer jamming faults at their maximum ROF like the older BCs used to attack Torch had with their anti-ship launchers?

    And the irony is that while the missiles that killed Byng were pod launched, they Mantis do have dual stage drive missiles that can fit out of those ‘dinky’ missile tubes.

  6. robert says:

    @4 OK Drak. Saw it this AM and it was a fun read. Backroom pols.

    Plenty of extra time for the ammo ships to arrive.

    @5 The real Buckley has said that he has never been killed like THAT before. Ghost Rider will tell the defenders (ha!) which ship is which so that they can make Crandall go Boom. Now I gotta go read. ‘Til next time.

  7. Summertime says:

    It is too bad, in all these tales, that so many bright people are in the commands of the dumb ones, who were promoted above their capabilities for political reasons. The evil plotters work in the shadows and move these puffed-up buffoons around like chess pieces, and those who toil in their service go down to doom and destruction as destined. This is like the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ in space. Many go forth and the lucky ones return.

  8. ronzo says:

    The sollies are about to get a second leason in bureaucratic appointees in command, plus your going to get a lot mediocrity in something the size of the SLN. But it stands to reason that that they will need half a dozen such leasons at a death toll in the millions and similar tonnage losses to even begin to rethink their strategies. “seventy failed to get the job done? send two hundred next time we’ve got thousands!” is going to be the knee jerk reaction. The sheer size of the SLN and bureacratic mentality of the leader ship is going going make them see this as application of abstract numbers rather than lives. This is really going to working those fracture points in the league that honor was talking about when the rank and file start seeing causalty lists in the hundreds of thousands.

  9. robert says:

    If this is the last snippet, then what is the next book to be snippeted? Since this is Eric’s site, I think I can rule out certain of the more bloodthirsty books/authors (Eric already had a Vlad), but maybe I am wrong. Were I to have a vote I would go for Cryoburn because I have missed Miles for quite some time.

  10. John Roth says:

    @9 Robert

    I believe there are a number of books being snippeted on Baen’s Bar that aren’t on this site. It’s completely at the author’s discretion (with some limits set by the publisher) how much they want to snippet and where. I haven’t been back there for a while, so I could be wrong about that, though.

  11. John Roth says:

    @9 Robert(2)

    I see 9 chapters of What Distant Deeps (David Drake) on Jiltanith, so that’s one that isn’t here.

  12. robert says:

    @11 — John
    But the Drake book is being snippeted here. Or am I not understanding your post.

    What I did was look several months ahead on the Baen site to where a book might be almost ready for publication, but still had 3-4 months before release. Saw Cryoburn, salivated. I know LMM is not one for snippeting, but miracles can happen. Like, for instance, Ghost Ship might be finished before the end of the year. Maybe look at another publisher’s site???

    There are several books being snippeted on Buckley’s jiltanith site that could not ever be snippeted here, I think. Like Stirling’s book, which has about one snippet a month, darn it.

  13. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, other authors are snippeted here because they decided to allow Eric to have them posted here.

    David Drake and Eric Flint have worked together so David had no problems with Eric posting them here.

    The same for David Weber and Dave Freer.

    Other authors have ‘different standards’ on how much they’ll snippet (if at all) or where they’ll snippet them.

    Tom Kratman has posted snippets in the Kratkeller on the Bar but none have been posted here.

    John Ringo has (in the past) had snippets of his books posted in Ringo’s Tavern on the Bar but none have been posted here.

    As for Joe, he spots snippets posted several places and *with permission* posts them on his place.

  14. robert says:

    I guess that we will be having two snippets rather than three for a while, based on what you wrote. Sob.

    Earth is conquered. The Shongairi have arrived in force, and humanity’s cities lie in radioactive ruins. In mere minutes, over half the human race has died.

    Now Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky, who thought he was being rotated home from his latest tour in Afghanistan, finds himself instead prowling the back country of the Balkans, dodging alien patrols and trying to organize the scattered survivors without getting killed.

    His chances look bleak. The aliens have definitely underestimated human tenacity—but no amount of heroism can endlessly hold off overwhelming force.

    Then, emerging from the mountains and forests of Eastern Europe, new allies present themselves to the ragtag human resistance. Predators, creatures of the night, human in form but inhumanly strong. Long Enemies of humanity…until now. Because now is the time to defend Earth.

    Ta da.

  15. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, that’s up to David Weber *but* I sent him an email about snippets for _Out Of The Dark_. [Wink]

  16. robert says:

    Now I know why I appreciate you, Drak.

  17. NewAgeOfPower says:

    Now another 2 years till weber’s next book in the honorverse…

  18. Stewart says:

    Two points —
    1) Remember, The Japanese-US War of 1941-1945 (Pacific Theater WWII) started, from the Japanese viewpoint, when the US embargoed strategic materials (steel / oil) after the Manchuria invasion (Rape of Nanking).
    2) ref Adm Crandall’s remarks, I wonder how her colleagues will react when they meet the Agamemnon BC’s…..

  19. robert says:

    @17 One year is what I make it, but it will be a Saganami sequel, not a mainline sequel. Look for snippets soon after the New Year 2011.

  20. D says:

    @17 NewAgeOfPower according to his tweets he is 70,000 words into the next Honorverse novel.

  21. Thirdbase says:

    Amazon has In Fire Forged: Worlds of Honor V listed for Feb 1, 2011, and what looks like the paperback MoH for Apr 5, 2011.

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