A Rising Thunder – Snippet 19

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 19


Which meant, as her listeners understood perfectly well, the tribute extracted from OFS’s empire of protectorate star systems. That particular revenue stream was scarcely what anyone might have called enormous compared to the League’s overall economy, but it was stupendous in absolute terms, and it belonged entirely to the League’s bureaucracies. That was one reason — indeed, the reason, really — Frontier Security had been allowed to build its empire in the first place. And, of course, it was also the primary reason nothing could be permitted to undermine the League’s grip on the protectorates, which had been the entire reason for the belligerent policy which had gotten them into this mess in the first place.


Unbelievable, Kolokoltsov thought for far from the first time. Unbelievable that the monumental stupidity of just two people could set something like this in motion!


Of course, a small corner of his brain reminded him, not even Josef Byng and Sandra Crandall could have brought the League to such a pass without the help of Kolokoltsov and his fellow Mandarins.


Damn it, now I’m starting to use the word! He thought disgustedly.


“So you’re telling us we’re in a position to lose up to thirty percent of the entire League’s gross product?!” Abruzzi asked incredulously.


“We’re telling you we’re already losing a big chunk of that thirty-five percent,” Quartermain replied. “Exactly how big a chunk we won’t know until the dust settles and we see how much damage the Manties have actually done us. But I don’t want anyone thinking that’s all that’s going to happen. There’ll be a ripple effect across our entire economy, one that’s going to lead to a significant drop in activity in almost every sector if it lasts more than a very short time. And, as Agatá’s just pointed out, even in a best case scenario, this is going to hammer federal revenues. Most of the system governments won’t be hurt all that badly at first, thank God, but if this goes on for two or three quarters, that’s going to change.”


Shit,” Abruzzi muttered.


“There are a couple of brighter spots buried in all this,” Quartermain said after a moment. “As Rajampet’s pointed out often enough, what’s going to hurt us badly will hurt the Manties themselves worse. In a lot of ways, this really is a case of their having cut off their noses to spite their faces, as my momma used to say. And that’s just looking at the immediate economic and financial impact. If they throw us back on our own shipping resources, and if they close the wormholes so that we need more shipping than ever to meet our requirements, it’s got to lead to a huge upsurge in our own shipbuilding. Eventually, our merchant marine will have to expand to fill the vacuum, and once that happens, it’ll be difficult for Manticore to ever maneuver itself into a similar stranglehold position again.”


“Assuming there’s still a Manticore to do any maneuvering,” Wodoslawski added.


“Exactly,” Kolokoltsov said bleakly. He surveyed his colleagues’ faces for several moments, then sighed.


“Assuming Rajani’s strategy with Filareta works, all of this becomes a moot point. Assuming it doesn’t work, things are going to get a lot uglier before they get any better. In fact, my greatest concern right now is that if the Manties basically tell Filareta to pound sand — and, worse, if it turns out Rajani was wrong about their ability to make that stick — we’re going to find it difficult to revert to that ‘short of war’ diplomatic stance.”


Heads nodded in glum agreement, and Kolokoltsov castigated himself again for allowing Rajampet’s opportunism to seduce him into accepting the CNO’s strategy. He should have known better than to listen! Yet given what had happened to the Manties’ home system, the temptation to double down had been overwhelming. Surely their morale had to crack under the one-two punch of such a devastating assault and the realization that the League wasn’t going to back off! It had to be that way, didn’t it?


And it still may be. Sure, they’re recalling their freighters and closing their termini, but they’re doing all that with no idea Filareta’s close enough to hit them this quickly. When he turns up in their own backyard, things could change in a hurry.




“If the Manties don’t cave, and if we’re looking at this kind of nosedive in revenues, can we go back to that position at all?” Abruzzi’s question put Kolokoltsov’s own thoughts into words.


“I don’t know,” the permanent senior undersecretary of state said frankly, and Abruzzi scowled.


Kolokoltsov didn’t blame him. He still wasn’t positive his own proposed strategy — buying time by negotiating “more in sorrow than in anger” until the Navy acquired weapons capable of offsetting the Manties’ tactical advantages — would have worked, when all was said. Patience was not a Solarian virtue, especially where “neobarbs” were concerned. That was one reason he’d been convinced to back Rajampet’s new strategy, despite its potential to restrict his future options. But until this moment, he hadn’t fully realized how badly a failure by Filareta would restrict them.


If the Manties defeated Filareta — and especially if they also turned the economic screws Wodoslawski and Quartermain were describing — it would be impossible to convince the public that a return to diplomacy stemmed from anything but fear of still worse to come. It would be seen as an admission of impotence. Of ineffectuality. And that was the kiss of death. If the people running the League couldn’t demonstrate they were doing something effective, the electorate might start listening to loose warheads like Hadley and demanding changes. Even completely leaving aside personal consequences, the potential for political and constitutional disaster that represented was terrifying.


“I don’t know,” he repeated. “I do know that if Rajani’s brainstorm turns into a spectacular failure — another spectacular failure, I should say — the situation isn’t going to improve! In fact, we may find ourselves essentially forced to do what Rajani wanted to do in the first place.”


“Whoa!” Wodoslawski stared at him. “I thought we were all in agreement that just serving up the Navy as target practice for Manty missiles was what they call a losing proposition, Innokentiy!”


“We still are. But whatever else may have happened, the Manties have to’ve lost a lot of their missile manufacturing capacity. Rajani has to be right about that, even if he’s wrong about everything else! So the odds are that they’d have to stand on the defensive, rather than coming after us, at least until they’re able to regenerate their industrial base. And as we’ve just been saying, they’ll be trying to do that at a time when they’ve cut off the lion’s share of their own interstellar cash flow.”


“And this helps us exactly how?” Abruzzi asked.


“It means they can’t reach just down our throats and rip out our lungs,” Kolokoltsov said flatly. “Not right away, at least. It gives us time to work on ways to negate their combat advantages. For that matter, it gives us time to see if their economy can survive, especially after so much of their home system got clear-cut. And, if we spin it right, we can use what they’ve done to our shipping routes to explain why we’re not yet in a position to take the war to them. Why we have to ‘hold the line’ until our economy and naval logistics recover from their ‘treacherous blow.’ And –“


“And at the same time we focus the anger over the economic meltdown on them, not us!” Abruzzi interjected, and Kolokoltsov nodded.


“That’s still going to be tough to pull off,” Quartermain pointed out, blue eyes narrow.


“No question,” Kolokoltsov acknowledged. “And I can think of a few of our member systems who won’t do a thing to make it any easier.”


Quartermain’s mouth tightened, her eyes glittering with more than a hint of anger, and Kolokoltsov snorted.


“We always knew that was at least a possibility, Omosupe. And I’ve been thinking about ways to, ah, rectify the situation.”


“Oh?” Quartermain cocked her head. “And have any solutions suggested themselves to you?”


“As a matter of fact, one or two have reared their heads,” Kolokoltsov said. “In fact, one of them came from Rajani, although I rather doubt he’s been thinking about it the same way I have. Let me explain…”


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34 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 19

  1. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Incredibly cynical! They’ll serve up the Navy as target practice for the Manties to “buy time” and appease the public. Do they REALLY think that’s going to fly with the Navy? Let alone the public?

    Also, yes, the SEM will be hurt economically by losing the Solarian trade, but can much of that be made up by trade with Haven?

  2. ET1swaw says:

    NTM that Manty spacer manpower availability has improved greatly.
    Their economy might hurt (Haven’s as well) with withdrawal from the SL routes but the end of Manty Alliance vs Haven 20+ years of war may open new opportunities.
    Haven will have priority on their intra- and inter- stellar commerce so that may not be as big as addition to Manty commerce as thought.
    Non-aligned systems/entities and SEM peripherals are going to get so much more attention now!
    And there is still the question of how much of the Manty Alliance (Grayson, Andermanni, Alizon, etc.) and Haven treaty partners (Erewhon, Torch, etc.) will join in the Grand Alliance in opposition to the mighty Solarian League.
    In the short term the Manty withdrawal of their shipping and closing of WHJs/Hyperbridges in reach to SL registered hulls (NOT SL products in other than Manty or SL hulls) will allow a blossoming of opportunity for others. Andermanni and Haven commerce can stake a major claim on what the Manties have abandoned (regretfully another reason not to join the GA).

    If nothing else this snippet accentuates that the ‘Mandarins’ care only for the retention of their own power. And even SL membership means less than nothing to them it seems. They are actually seemingly finally becoming aware that they -may- have overstepped in their agitation of the Solly public. They may think an actual war with the SEM to be the only way to still seem in charge. They have built it up so much that even -correctly- shifting the blame against MAlign (still unknown!!!) may not even be possible!

    Monica, Byng, Crandell, the complete withdrawal of Manty shipping and closure of Manty-controlled WHJs to the SL (Laocoon I), SEM embargo againt SL, capture and closure of other WHJs (Laocoon II), and very soon Filaretta; even without additional MAlign assistance the situation is deteriorating. Extension of embargo and Laocoons by the rest of the GA members will be even a bigger hit for the SL.

    And if they are contemplating screwing with Beowulf (one of the oldest Core Worlds with enormous influence and daughter colonies of its own), how safe will Verge and Shell systems feel?
    And their indifference to using the SLN to soak up missiles in a vain hope that the SEM -might- run out eventually; if that got out (especially with the basically attached-mercenary mindset of FF) how dependable will a SLN already facing a major technological inferiority (and starting to realize it!!) be?

  3. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @2 – ET1swaw

    I like your analysis. But doesn’t the whole situation remind you of the thinking in Haven that led up to the events in The Short, Victorious War?

  4. John Roth says:

    @2 ET1swaw

    We know from Mission of Honor that the Manticore-Haven war is about to end shortly, but the Mandarins don’t, so they don’t know that trade with Haven will take up some of the budgetary slack, or that they’ll be facing Haven’s fleet as well as what’s left of Manticore’s fleet.

  5. dave o says:

    I wonder if Manticore will allow some merchants to switch flags. Haven or the Andermanni could take up some of the trade slack, with most of the profits going to Manticore. Rather like the Dutch during their revolt from Spain. Plus, as #4 points out, trade with Haven will skyrocket. And probably also trade with planets in the former Silesian Confederacy.

  6. ronzo says:

    @2 Your right Screwing Beowulf would be political suicide seeing how it was beowulf that led the effort set earth right after the “last war” on earth. Depending on how ruthlessly they do it they could drive Beowulf its daughter colonies and close associate in the league into the SEM or at least the grand alliances arms.

  7. tootall says:

    Sorry I missed all the comments on violations of the EE. My bit on that is to consider how the Mandarins have already handled unpleasant news:
    They spin.
    An EE violation would be,
    ” Well, we only have the Manties word on that -the Navy is investigating the Manty sensor readings.”
    Or- “It was a stray group of missles, the damage wasn’t that extreme, and we’ve begun proceedings against the offending (low ranking) officer.”
    And EVERYBODY gets that message.
    And what is the Manty response?

    My point is an EE violation is on the table, if only because it can be spun away, at least in the short run.

  8. JeffM says:

    @2. “If nothing else this snippet accentuates that the ‘Mandarins’ care only for the retention of their own power.”

    Not true. They’re actually focused on retaining the status quo. Maintaining their own power is a secondary effect. A nice fringe benefit, but they ARE doing their jobs, as they see it.

    On the other hand, one thing they aren’t seeing is the peace with Haven. What that affect is that all of those Manty bottoms aren’t going to be idle, they are going to be seeking out new markets where they are allowed to do. Alot of that will be soaked up ferrying Havenite components and products to Manticore (if that’s where they want to rebuild, rather than their own “Bolthole”). Meanwhile, Shannon Foraker will be delighted to have new toys to play with. Then more of those bottoms will be going to Silesia (which has to have tamed down), the Andermani Sector–and Talbott, which will only serve to promote Talbott’s growth(along with the worlds even further out). If there are as many hulls available as I think, they’ll be stopping everywhere in hopes of a picking up anything for their hold. We all know that Manties are resourceful, of nothing else.

    Then there is how the “interior” areas of the Manticoran network expand as they snare more and more junctions and bridges. Surely a whole lot of former “Protecterates” are going to be overjoyed to have their own economy once more!

    And SOMEONE is just going to have to send an SD through Torch’s wormhole…even an obsolescent one!

    One last thought–some of you are underestimating the open land for agriculture on high density population worlds. Remember the Havenite towers? A counter-grav civilization build UP, not outward.

  9. summertime says:

    The Solarians know that someone attacked Manticore and did a lot of damage, and they plan to take advantage of Manticore’s “weakened” state. Why are they not curious as to who that “someone” was? If they want to defeat Manticore this should be prime information. Do they think Haven did it, or is this just something they have overlooked out of arrogance and carelessness? Surely some Solarian gave it a passing thought!

  10. Drak Bibliophile says:

    The Mandrians are still in “Nobody fights the Solarian League” mode of thought.

    The idea that the unknown who attacked Manticore would also attack them is something that they can’t acknowledge to themselves.

    So to the Mandrians it is only a mild thought of “those Manties annoyed somebody else” while not being really concerned about who else the unknown might attack.

    I will say that some Solarians will be “giving it more than a passing thought”.

    They just aren’t the “people in power”.

  11. John Roth says:

    @9 summertime

    I suspect they are, but that’s in their fleet intelligence area which is still pretty much in denial about Manticore’s military capabilities. The housecleaning hasn’t really started, and the person who would normally tell them what Fleet Intelligence (or whatever it’s called) has or hasn’t figured out would be Rajampet, who wasn’t at that meeting and is in denial about it anyway.

    Also, Mesa has its tentacles everywhere and they don’t really want to let the Solarian hierarchy have [i]good[/i] intelligence appreciations.

  12. robert says:

    @7 tootall
    Given the system defense capability and Manticore’s ability to stop virtually every missile shot off by Filareta’s forces and the ability to outrange him, why would you expect the SL fleet to get within missile range of any of the three Manticoan planets? I do not think an EE violation is possible. And it isn’t Mickey Mouse who is setting up the system defense for the coming battle, it is Harrington and Theisman. Woo, woo.

    We also know that Eloise brought the better part of the Haven Home Fleet with her, so there is no chance that sheer numbers will win the day for Filareta. NMo, no he is toast and it will be a rerun of Spindle just with more and bigger ships and SL losses.

  13. tootall says:

    # 12– Well, you have a point. And I seem to recall in one of the early Grayson books that HH said something about missles at C- fractional- and ballistic -would be tough to see soon enough to stop. (That is how the Oyster Bay missles arrived- unpowered until the last few seconds.) I’m not expecting the Sollies to try something like that, just that they COULD, and then figure out a way to lie about it. And who enforces the Eddict against the League?

  14. Scott says:

    An EE vialation by the League would be a bullet behind the ear for the League’s credibility. Even Haven under the revelutionist government new enough not to violate it’s own rules. A violation even by mistake would be the excuse for many systems to leave in disgust. Could be just what the MA is planning on?
    On another point I doubt that the battle at Manticore will be a massacre. HH is more likely to punch out the command ships and invite the others to surrender. I base this thought on what we know about her personality.

  15. MTO says:

    @14 Scott, I am sure she’ll try, but I *think* some portion of the SL fleet will be in denial despite the demonstration they just saw, and some will keep fighting because they’re following orders to the letter. Even if half the fleet strikes their wedge, it’ll be a bloodbath.

  16. MTO says:

    @13 I’m thinking that Manticore is about to get far more into detection technologies. They have a few motivations to, now.

  17. ronzo says:

    @14 your right HH is reasonable and probably will punch out the command ships and ask the rest to surrender. I doubt that Filareta will do anything other than drop out of hyper with his 500 SD’s and say “strike your wedges and submit to the SLN neobarbs!” Then will pull a Crandall when the RMN don’t roll over. But I think what we might see from HH and Theisman in response to that is a variant Tourville’s Paul Revere where they mouse trap the Sollies between home fleet and the havenite fleet, first which would give even a sollie admiral cause to rethink his plan and stand down, before they actually start shooting. Then with full up apollo available and plenty of data showing how dreadfully unprepared sollie missle defense is, they may actually be able shoot to disable rather than destroy at standoff ranges beyond anything the sollies could begin to compete with. Keeping Filareta alive as a credible fleet commander who just lost 5% of the sollies SD tonnage to no enemy loses might be a more useful tool than another dead idiot. Remember that what Manticore and Haven really want to be doing is tearing down the grand plans of the mesa alignment and if they get cant get the opportunity do that without a wider solarian conflict it increases the speed that they bring the fight to Mesa.

  18. justdave says:

    @17 doubt they’ll waste Apollo on SLN, save for MAlign

    RN can mop SLN up

  19. Stan Leghorn says:

    I wonder who is on the plate for the “demonstration” attack that was hinted at? Not Beowolf, that would be insane. Smoking Frog maybe? Or possibly a direct attack against Torch? Have the Torchese located and removed the MAlign suicide bombs from the ships they captured? Interesting times.

  20. rlrapp says:

    Wonder if the pressure they plan to on some of their less cooperative system government’s is the call up of their System Defense Forces, if they can be federalized. I then see them being fed into the meat grinder first.

  21. Stan Leghorn says:

    @20 That assumes they show up KNOWING what will happen when they do. But I suspect that is not the plan, more like a demonstration against someone like Smoking Frog or Torch. How far will Erewon go to protect the people buying all those SDs from them? Or Torch? There should have been some Fleet units there once the suspicion came up that they were to be attacked. QE mentioned she did not expect the attack to be as big as it was, but that does not excuse them leaving Torch so open to attack…

  22. John Roth says:

    @21 Stan

    I think Barregos and Rozak covered the situation in one of their conversations: Erewhon was keeping its units close to home and Torch doesn’t have a treaty with either Haven or Manticore like the treaty it has with the Solarian League (that is, the Maya Sector.) Once they get the Haven-Manticore peace treaty off the ground, I suspect that Torch is going to get a couple of SDs to keep an eye on the wormhole. Or possibly just a minefield.

    There was also the rather snarky comment about Battle Fleet actually being able to find its way to the Verge.

  23. robert says:

    Re: Filareta
    Who shot Crandall?
    Who attempted to assassinate Honor and did assassinate Webster?
    Who tried to kill Queen Berry?
    Who messed with Gustav’s relatives and killed two of them?
    Filareta can kiss his ass goodbye, even if Honor doesn’t shoot it off.
    And there goes 20% of the SLN active duty fleet and a couple of million more SLN officers and enlistees who did not sign up for all this.

    My main issue with all this is that the semi-bad guys are not acting rationally. Inertia alone cannot be responsible for what Weber is passing off as SL policy. Are there only two people out of the millions in the entire SLN who are questioning the status quo (well three if we count the poor boob who was tossed off Byng’s ship)?

  24. ronzo says:

    History has alot of situations were Governments don’t act rationally no matter how many individuals are screaming for sanity. The sollies have been the sole superpower in galaxy for well over a thousand years and used to getting there own way for just about all of it.

  25. Wolf says:

    I beg to differ Erehwon has a significant treaty with Haven, a mutual defense pack dating back to War of Honor.

  26. John Roth says:

    @25 Wolf

    Erewhon does. Torch doesn’t, which is what I said.

  27. Wolf says:

    My mistake, I read too fast.

  28. Scott says:

    League behaviour is believable. I remember reading books covering WW II. Both sides made insane decisions for what seemed to be petty reasons. RAF command not giving pilots parachutes? Well the pilots would just chicken out and bail. Sending your troops to Russia? Don’t have enough cold weather gear to go around. Crappy torpedoes that don’t detonate? Blame the sub crews and while you are at it question there competence.
    That’s leaving out all the political garbage. I got the impression that if you pitched the story of WW II to a publisher as a series you’d get the most snarky rejection letter ever.

  29. robert says:

    @28 Scott
    Yes. Humans do stupid things and panic. But my point is that where are all the rest of the millions of SLN personnel? Are there really so few who actually understand what the Mandarins’ policy will lead to?

  30. TimC says:

    @23 @28
    ..guys are not acting rationally.
    No need to look as far back as WWII, since I hold the SLN to be the EU of today (run by unelected bureaucrats,’represents independent states’, has a powerless parliament, fiddles its own budget …) it is only necessary to look at the business news any day this week!

  31. Scott says:

    @29 Complacency is to be expected. Especially if you believe your own bs like the League does. As for the naysayers they are ignored or are keeping there heads down for career reasons.
    @30 I understood that the League was a mirror for the EU project and it’s inevitable breakup.

  32. MTO says:

    @31 Drak said, in comment 11 on snippet 17:
    “David Weber has always said that there is no counterpart to the SL in history”

    Drak thinks its mostly China, you think its mostly the EU, I think its mostly the US. I think its fair to say you can’t draw any direct conclusions about what will happen based on the history of specific real-world countries.

  33. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Correct MTO, but we can see examples of “stupid things” done by historical individuals, groups, etc to explain some of the stupid things that the SL leadership are doing.

    Oh, David Weber once posted (elsewhere) about a historical example of a smart person doing some incredably stupid things.

    So stupid, that DW believed that if he had based a character on this person, his readers would consider the character completely unrealistic. [Smile]

  34. TimC says:

    @32 Quite right MTO, I guess it is because I LIVE in the EU, perhaps you in the USA but surely DW is in South carolina which is a great place unlike China!

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