A Rising Thunder – Snippet 17

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 17


“Exactly.” Kolokoltsov nodded. “Yeou Transstellar has a lot invested in President Yeou.” And in all of us, as well, he carefully did not add out loud. “I’m inclined to think this is at least mostly a case of Kun Sang reminding us of that investment.”


Quartermain and Abruzzi grimaced in understanding. Yeou Kun Sang was the president’s younger brother. He also happened to be on Old Terra at the moment (officially on a “personal family visit” to his older brother which just happened to have been announced as soon as word of the New Tuscany incidents hit his home world’s faxes) and the President and CEO of Yeou Transstellar Shipping. Yeou Transstellar was one of the Solarian League’s dozen largest interstellar shippers, and, like most of those shippers, it actually owned very few freighters. Its business model — like its competitors’ — relied on leasing cargo space from people who did own freighters…which meant that whether the great commercial dynasties of the Solarian League liked Manticore or not, they did a great deal of business with it.


“I’m surprised Kun Sang didn’t go directly to you, Omosupe,” Abruzzi said after a moment.


“So was I, at first,” Quartermain agreed. “But now that I think about it, Kun Sang’s always been inclined to stay out of the day-to-day details of managing the clan’s business with Commerce or Interior. And the Yeou family’s really old money, you know. They’ve been one of the first families of Sebastopol for the better part of a thousand years, and they like to pretend all that sordid business of trade is beneath them.”


“Yeah. Sure it is.” Abruzzi rolled his eyes.


“Well, part of the pretense is that everyone knows it’s only a pretense,” Quartermain pointed out. “And the fact that Kun Sang started out as a mere planetary manager and worked his way to the top tends to make it a bit more threadbare in the Yeous’ case. Still, now that he’s at the top, he’s more or less required by tradition to work through the interface of professional managers. The ‘hired hands’ that do all of those sordid, business-related things the aristocratic family doesn’t sully its own digits dealing with, especially where politics are concerned.”


“Exactly,” Kolokoltsov agreed. “Which I think is part of the point he’s making, assuming I’m reading the situation accurately. He still keeping his thumbs out of the soup, but at the same time he’s letting us know — indirectly, at least — that he’s sufficiently concerned to be on the brink of coming into the open.”


“Which, for a family that’s spent so much time operating in the Sebastopol mode, indicates a lot of concern,” Quartermain said soberly.


“Exactly,” Kolokoltsov repeated. “I’m pretty sure Kun Chol was reading from a prepared script, and what it all came down to was finding out how much worse we expect this to get and how long we expect it to last.”


“If we had the answer to either of those questions –” Abruzzi began, then cut himself off, shaking his head grimly.


“I notice neither Rajampet nor Nathan has joined our little tête-à-tête,” Quartermain observed.


“No, they haven’t, have they?” Kolokoltsov showed his teeth for a moment.


Nathan MacArtney, the permanent senior undersecretary of the interior, was the fifth “Mandarin,” and Fleet Admiral Rajampet Kasul Rajani was the Solarian League’s chief of naval operations.


“Is there a reason they haven’t?” Wodoslawski asked.


“Nathan’s out of the office at the moment,” Kolokoltsov replied. “He’s on his way out to Elysium — family business, I think — and I don’t really trust the security of his communications equipment until he gets there. Besides, he’s already out beyond Mars orbit. The light-speed delay would be almost a minute and a half.” The permanent senior undersecretary of state shrugged. “I’ll see to it that he gets a complete transcript, of course.”


“Of course.” Quartermain nodded. “And Rajampet?”


“And I think we all already know what Rajampet’s contribution would be.” Kolokoltsov’s colleagues all grimaced at that one, and he shrugged. “Under the circumstances, I thought we could just take his excuses and posturing as a given and get on with business.”


Quartermain nodded again, more slowly this time. The permanent senior undersecretary of commerce was a striking woman, with gunmetal gray hair and blue eyes that contrasted sharply with her very dark, almost black skin, but at the moment those blue eyes were narrowed in speculation. She had no doubt Nathan MacArtney was exactly where Kolokoltsov had said he was, but she wasn’t exactly blind to the fact that as much as MacArtney personally despised Fleet Admiral Rajampet Kaushal Rajani, he was also the closest thing to an ally Rajampet had among the civilian permanent senior undersecretaries who actually ruled the Solarian League. That was inevitable, really, given the fact that the Office of Frontier Security belonged to the Interior Ministry, which meant MacArtney’s personal empire was even more directly threatened than most by the specter of a successful “neobarb” star nation’s resistance to OFS’s plans. Not to mention the fact that Frontier Security’s entire position depended on the perceived omnipotence of the Solarian League Navy.


“So what, exactly, is the point of this meeting, Innokentiy?” Wodoslawski asked.


“I realize there’s not a lot we can do about the Manties’ shipping movements,” Kolokoltsov replied just a bit obliquely. “At the same time, I feel pretty confident that while Yeou Kun Sang may have been one of the first to ask those questions of his, he’s damned well not going to be the last. Under the circumstances, I think we ought to be thinking about how we want to respond — not just in private, Malachai, but publicly, with the newsies — when those other people start asking. And I’d appreciate it if you and Omosupe could give us a better feel for how bad this is really going to be, Agatá.”


“Exactly what do you think we’ve been trying to do? Especially since your little tête-à-tête with that son-of-a-bitch Carmichael?” Wodoslawski demanded tartly, and he shrugged.


“I know you’ve been warning us we were headed for trouble,” Kololokoltsov said in a slightly apologetic term. “And I may not’ve been paying as much attention as I should have. I’ve known it would be bad, but I haven’t really tried to conceptualize the numbers for myself, because it’s not my area of competence and I know it. I know they’re huge, but I’ve been a lot more focused on finding ways to prevent it from ever happening than on trying to really grasp numbers that big. I’m trying now, though, so could you go ahead and give it another try, please? What I’m looking for isn’t the reams of numbers and detailed alternate contingency estimates and analyses in all of those reports of yours but more of a broad overview. Something even an economic ignoramus can grasp. In that sort of terms, just how bad is this really likely to get?”


“That depends on how far the Manties are prepared to push it, now doesn’t it?” Wodoslawski snorted. “We can give you a pretty fair estimate, I think, for what happens if they settle for simply recalling all their own shipping, though.” She raised her eyebrows at Quartermain as she spoke, then returned her attention to Kolokoltsov when the permanent senior undersecretary of commerce nodded. “And the short answer to that part of your question is that it will really, really suck.”


“I’m not precisely sure what that technical term means,” Kolokoltsov told her with an off-center smile.


“It means Felicia Hadley has a point,” Wodoslawski replied without any answering smile at all, and Kolokoltsov scowled.


Felicia Hadley was the senior member of the Beowulf Delegation in the Legislative Assembly. That gelded body had exercised no real power in centuries, but it still existed, and Beowulf, unlike most of the League’s member systems, still took it seriously enough to send delegates who could seal their own shoes without printed instructions. Hadley was a prime example of that, and ever since the current crisis had begun, she’d been a persistent (and vociferous) critic of the government’s policies. She’d even formally moved that the Assembly empanel a special commission of its own to investigate exactly how those policies had come to be put into place! Fortunately, there’d been too few delegates present for a quorum when she made the motion, and Jasmine Neng, the Assembly Speaker (who, unlike Hadley, understood which side of her personal bread was buttered) had killed it on procedural grounds and removed it from the vote queue before most of the other delegates (or any of the ‘faxes) even realized it was there.


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15 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 17

  1. Stan Leghorn says:

    Their only way out and they dump it without thought because it might upset their secret trough. Typical politicians.

  2. ronzo says:

    2. Let me get this straight. They have been on the losing side of two major “incident’s” (Battles), and they are pushing for an act of all out war, and they hadn’t even analyzed what would happen if manticore pulled its Shipping? That’s a terminal case of instituitional arrogance they have no idea how big this going to blow up their collective faces at this point without any further meddling by the MA.

  3. saladin says:

    if the usa starts a war with say iraq the wouldnt worry about what iraq could do to them
    for the sollies all else is small fry
    they havent realized that the name of the game has changed

  4. ronzo says:

    3. The USA started a war Iraq and werent overly concerned yes you are right,however Iraq for more than decade before we went in had been under heavy embargos and had a limited economic impact. But Irag is not an accurate analogy for this,The Sollies Going to war with manticore is like the USA going to war with greece, panama, and the other major merchant shipping/ vessel registration nations all at once and expecting their shipping companies to still carry our commerce around. Whilst also letting our tonnage use the canal while we were at it is a more accurate analogy. Yes would probably clean all of their clocks at the same time but all the while they would be hamstringing our economy even if they are even collectively small fry. Assumptions get you killed or at least ruin you. Even washington as it now stands would recognize it and wouldn’t be stupid enough to do that. The first order of business for who ever picks up the pieces after the mandarins is stop the assumptions and to gut the solly intellegence services.

  5. JN says:

    Panama is an apt example, because of the havoc closing the canal would bring. Add in an economic and manufacturing clout like Singapore or even Taiwan and the Japanese merchant fleet. For the Sollies think late USSR, but with no USA, or even Germany.


  6. John Roth says:

    @2 Ronzo

    They’ve been in a position for centuries where the Invincible Solarian League Navy will swat anyone who doesn’t toe the Solarian line. They’ve been aware from the beginning that if their navy is no longer regarded as Invincible, they’re in deep do-do. If you go back to the original discussions they lay this out quite clearly; they have no fallback position if the Solarian League Navy is no longer seen as Invincible.

    I really can’t fault them for not laying out contingency plans for how badly someone could hurt them when the obvious answer has always been: use the Invincible Solarian League Navy to pound them into rubble.

    They also have no idea that the MAlign exists, or that its strategy didn’t include an outside power pounding their superdreadnaughts into scrap metal.

    @4 ronzo

    I doubt if anyone is going to pick up after the Mandarins simply because I don’t think the Solarian League is going to last that long. We’re in Chapter 6, which takes place in April 1922 PD. According to my timeline, Detweiller is going to activate the MAlign as a star nation in May (MoH chapter 41.)

  7. Anthony says:

    If I remember correctly the MA will still remain a secret until the SL falls apart. That could be six months, a year, maybe two. It all depends on factors that no one can control at this point. If sanity breaks out in the League, and the send a message boat to Manticore to recall their attack fleet, and tell everyone they were wrong while making reparations, then they could just possibly survive. But hey would lose to much face (in their mind) to take all those painful steps.

  8. John Roth says:

    @7 Anthony

    That’s certainly what Detweiller is planning on. In fact, he’s planning on the MAlign never becoming known; it’s the Renaissance Factor that’s going to show up.

    However, that secret gets blown when Cachet, Zilwiki and Simoes arrive at Haven in April, and then Manticore, which is in May, less than two months from this date (MoH 42 and 43.) Whether they decide to keep it a secret or blast it to the winds I don’t know – I haven’t read the eARC.

  9. wyrm says:

    @8 John Roth

    The biggest secret that the Manticore-Haven-Beowulf-Torch-Maya alliance (effectively already in existence) have, and the one that MUST be concealed, is that they KNOW of the Mesan Alignment’s existence and objectives.

    While this fact is concealed from the Alignment, their actions have a logic that makes them predictable. As soon as the Alignment knows that Cachet and Zilwiki are alive, their actions become unpredictable.

    Even if the grand alliance develop the streak drive and the spider drive, the Alignment’s reaction would be “damn Manticoran scientists”. Even if the grand alliance develop a counter to the assassination nanotech, the Alignment’s reaction would be “damn Beowulfian scientists”. If the Alignment discovers that Zilwiki or Cachet are alive, their reaction would be “Oh shit!!! What do they know? We need to change our plans!”

    Zilwiki and Cachet should be scheduled for immediate major biosculpt and name change, and then buried so deep that sleepers have no chance of finding them. Then Givens and Usher must second a small, skilled team to go black and work with Zilwiki and Cachet on predicting the Alignment’s behaviour.

  10. Ben says:

    The America vs Panama metaphor isn’t perfect because in the Honorverse the Solarian League has been the sole uncontested superpower for centuries. What’s happening here is more like the USA vs Panama/Greece/etc is a world where China and Russia don’t exist as superpowers and never did. From that perspective the Sollies arrogance isn’t so surprising. Still criminally stupid, but given their history they could hardly be any other way.

    Also, I always took the League as a satire of the federal system of government (and maybe a poke at the UN) rather than having anything to do with the USSR.

  11. Drak Bibliophile says:

    While David Weber has always said that there is no counterpart to the SL in history, I’ve thought of it as Imperial China.

    IE once the most advanced human nation and an attitude that outsiders are “barbarians”.

  12. MTO says:

    @11 Interesting, ’cause it comes across as very American to me. I think that just underscores that its not real, its a synthesis of the worst of all the world’s governments.

  13. Kevin says:

    Roth.. actually your right, but your also wrong, in general, if they want to form an alliance, Elizabeth and Pritchet are going to have to tell their people the whole thing, lay it out on the table so to speak.

    To keep a secret, only two people can known it, and even then, only if one is dead. (and even that is only true in a universe without some form of necromancy, in a magic universe, a secret is never certain).

    Furthermore, there is not a chance that Anton will allow his family (children, beloved, etc.) to believe that he’s still dead, especially when Cathy is taking hits from her political opponents and media, and from mesa’s own poisonous politics. The queen could maybe make a request for him to keep it secret for a little while, but not for long. Besides, they need to come out with it to their entire alliance, on both sides..

    Besides, knowing your enemy is first part of the battle, and the most important, now that they know where to look, the MA is going to have to rush their plans.. and then comes the law of unintended consequences.

  14. ronzo says:

    @12. the worst of the worst.
    “And I may not’ve been paying as much attention as I should have…” the playing wait and see approach. The Sollie’s are a cocktail of hubris, assumptions, and belief that a big enough stick will take of all problems. Granted they have been the biggest dog in the yard for centuries but you would think they would look all the precedents of history that no one remains on top forever.

  15. John Roth says:

    @14. Ronzo

    I’ve lived long enough to learn that there are only two lessons that history teaches. First, nobody in power ever learns from history, and second, it doesn’t matter how good you think what you’ve built is, your children or grandchildren are going to want to change it. Everything else is either biography or the winner’s posturing.

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