A Rising Thunder – Snippet 21

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 21


Although his official title was simply Secretary of the Planetary Board of Directors, the red-haired, blue-eyed Pinder-Swun was actually the Vice Chairman and CEO of the system government. He was a little unusual for someone of his exalted political position in that he’d come late to politics, and then through the Chamber of Professions, rather than the Chamber of Shareholders. One of Beowulf’s leading physicists before his “temporary” election to the Chamber of Professions some twenty T-years before, he still cherished the illusion that he would someday be allowed to return to his beloved research. Everyone else knew that wasn’t going to happen.


“I doubt it,” Pinder-Swun repeated when everyone’s eyes swiveled to him, and shrugged. “First, from all I’ve seen, no one has a clue our conduit to Manticore even exists. Second, if anyone on Old Terra had figured out we’d warned Manticore, they would’ve sent someone a lot more senior — and probably a lot more official — to…remonstrate with us.” He shook his head. “No, this has something to do with Filareta, all right, but I don’t think it’s anything to do with our having alerted the Manties.”


“I think Joshua has a point,” Caddell-Markham said. “The problem is that if she’s not here to break our heads over our little security faux pas — and Joshua’s definitely right about that; if that was what they wanted, they would’ve sent someone more senior — that means Rajampet’s had another brainstorm. One that involves us. And given the fact that we’re two T-months from Manticore through hyper-space even for a dispatch boat, and that Filareta’s supposed to be leaving Tasmania (assuming he manages to make Kingsford’s schedule) in less than two weeks, whatever brilliant inspiration he might’ve had has to concern our terminus of the Junction.”


Faces tightened, and Mikulin nodded grimly.


“I can’t see anything else that would cause the Navy to send us a personal representative,” he agreed. “If it were a purely political matter, we wouldn’t be looking at someone from the military, and they would’ve come to call on you, Jukka, not Gabriel. Or if they’d wanted to handle it at a higher level, on you or Joshua, Chyang. And Gabriel’s right about the Junction. It’s a bit late in the day for them to suddenly decide to ask us if we have any insight into Manticoran capabilities which might have somehow eluded their own inspired analysts.” Mikulin’s contempt was withering. “Which means some ass in Kingsford’s or Rajampet’s office has decided there’s some way to use the Junction against Manticore.”


“I realize we’re not talking about mental giants,” Pinder-Swun observed, “but surely they have to realize any sort of attack through the Junction would be suicide!”


“You’d think so, wouldn’t you?” Caddell-Markham said. “On the other hand, calling the geniuses running the SLN — and the rest of the League, for that matter — ‘imbeciles’ would be a gross slander on imbeciles.”


“Are you positive this is coming out of Rajampet or Kingsford?” Longacre asked.


“No, but who else would be sending Kingsford’s ops officer as his messenger girl?” Caddell-Markham asked.


“That depends on what it is they’re really after,” Longacre countered. “I’ll grant that Kolokoltsov and his apparatchiks have been acting as if they don’t have two brain cells amongst them, but as far as gaming the system he understands is concerned, he’s right there in Machiavelli’s league. The problem is that he doesn’t seem to grasp the possibility that there’s any universe outside the system he understands. Or, at least, that he failed to grasp it in time to avoid our current debacle.”


“And?” Caddell-Markham knew he looked skeptical, and he twitched his head apologetically. “I’m not disagreeing with your analysis of Kolokoltsov and the Mandarins, Jukka. I just don’t understand why he’d send someone from the military to deliver a political message.”


“That’s because you grew up as a straightforward military officer!” Longacre snorted.


“Maybe he did,” Mikulin said, “but I still think it’s a valid question.”


“Of course it is. But think about this.” Longacre looked around the other faces, ice-blue eyes more intent than ever. “We’re agreed Kolokoltsov and the others — probably especially MacArtney — stumbled into this because they were too arrogant and full of their own omnipotence to realize where it was headed. By now, though, Kolokoltsov, at least, has to’ve realized he’s looking down the barrel of a pulser at a full-fledged political and constitutional crisis. Rajampet’s twisting Article Seven like a pretzel to cover what he’s already done, far less what he plans on doing. In the end, that pretzel may break. If it does —when it does — the shit’s going to hit the fan in a way the Solarian League’s never seen. And even if none of the Mandarins suspect we’ve already warned Manticore what’s coming, they all know how close our relations with the Star Kingdom — Empire, I mean — are.”


He paused, and Caddell-Markham nodded.


The Star Empire of Manticore was far and away Beowulf’s biggest trading partner. Given that fact and Manticore’s unwavering support of Beowulf’s crusade against the genetic slave trade, it had been one of Beowulf’s closer allies for over three T-centuries. Indeed, unlike any other Solarian military organization, the Beowulf System Defense Force had a tradition of close cooperation with the RMN and carried out frequent joint exercises in defense of the Beowulf Terminus. More than that, Manticorans and Beowulfers had been intermarrying (among other things) ever since the Junction’s discovery in 1585 PD. At least four members of the Planetary Board of Directors, including its CEO, had relatives in Manticore. For that matter, quite a few Beowulfers (again, including members of the Board) had lost family members in the Yawata Strike. Even the masterminds responsible for the Solarian League’s foreign policy had to grasp what that was going to mean where Beowulf’s attitude was concerned.


As far as that goes, the director of defense reminded himself, by now it sure as hell ought to have occurred to someone in Kingsford’s shop that we must’ve known a lot more about Manticore’s capabilities than we ever shared with the Navy. It couldn’t be any other way, given all those joint exercises. So by this time, somebody’s got to be asking himself why we never mentioned those multi-drive missiles. Of course, no one ever asked us about them, but still…


“Well,” Longacre continued, “suppose it’s occurred to them that we’re not going to be happy when we find out about the attack on Manticore we’re not supposed to know anything about at the moment. And suppose it’s also occurred to them that if it comes down to a genuine debate over a formal declaration of war, we’re certain to exercise our veto to prevent it. What do you think they might want to do about that?”


“I don’t think there’s anything they can do,” Caddell-Markham replied. “I think they’re in so deep they figure the only thing they can do is keep bashing straight ahead and hope for the best.”


“Probably so, but that’s not going to keep someone like Kolokoltsov from trying to shove an ace or two up his sleeve, Gabriel.” Longacre shook his head. “No, he’s going to be looking for some way to change the equation. And one way to do that might be to get us involved in the attack. If we help them attack Manticore, we’ll be right in the same boat with them when it comes to defending our actions.”


“But no one with even half a brain could believe we would help them,” Pinder-Swun objected. “Not only do we have obvious commercial and cultural ties with Manticore, but our Assembly delegates’ve been calling for moderation ever since the Monica Incident. Not to mention Hadley’s motion! And we’ve been steadfast in rejecting the hysteria about the Green Pines bombing, as well. They have to realize how Manticore’s allegations of Mesan involvement in everything that’s happened to the Star Empire are going to play with our citizens!”


The secretary had that right, Caddell-Markham reflected. Indeed, Pinder-Swun himself was an outstanding example of why that was true, since his mother had been a liberated genetic slave. Liberated, in fact, if memory served, by a cruiser of the Royal Manticoran Navy.


“Of course Kolokoltsov’s perfectly well aware of that, Joshua,” Longacre agreed. “But if he’s taking the long view — trying to position his little quintet for an actual war, or at least a protracted crisis — then what he may want is to discredit us with the rest of the League.


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21 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 21

  1. ET1swaw says:

    Smart people with some very nasty speculations:
    Attack through WHJ using Beowulf SDF in support:
    If they do attack a significant ally at Mandarin request they lose all credibility
    If they refuse the Mandarins point to them as causitive to the suicidal bloodbath suffered, they lose credibility and are set up as a target

    They are supposed to be out of the loop for Filareta yet they not only already know (which may be discovered; implying spying on other SL members and the government) , they have backchannelled the Manties =and= Haven (hopefully not discovered by MAlign or Mandarin; jump-starting (along with C-Z) the GA).

    Re-emphasis by Weber on closeness of Manty-Beowulf ties and antipathy toward Mesa and all their works. C-Z info obviously not yet attained.

    At the very least the SLN intel specialists should be smelling something fishy about information throughput on Haven Sector (Manty/Haven/Andermanni/Grayson) technological and warfare developments. ‘Not invented here’ and ‘they are only jumped up neobarbs’ can only account for some of the dismissal/denial by higher. But you also see the same (to a lesser extent) in Maya Sector even in the reporting on Erewhon and Torch. Monica is still reverberating; much less New Tuscany, Spindle, and now Zucker! Do they even look at reports from Beowulf in the SLN? Manties are: a major trading partner, intermarried heavily, and only a WHJ away. Yet from all we’ve seen; from Mandarins down nobody is asking Beowulf or even Maya Sector! The Beowulf rep at SL was quoting economic breakdowns on SL/Manty (and possibly SL/Haven Sector) inter-relations weeks before Laocoon was implimented and was not only ignored but the information was suppressed (beyond buried).

    More ammunition that the SL is not the enemy merely the tools of the enemy (let’s you and him fight).

  2. Wolf says:

    A little bit more about the board members but not much else. Too bad I had wanted to see what Adm Simpson was up to.

  3. Anthony says:

    “…then what he may want is to discredit us with the rest of the League.”

    Positioning themselves to neutralize any effect Beowulf can have on the League? Pinder-Swun is right, even Rajampet and Kingsford can’t honestly thin Beowulf will help them destroy Manticore.

    If that is the case then they must also believe that Beowulf will betray them (at least be giving information to the neobarbs). I still think they are trying to make an excuse to move against Beowulf (not necessarily a military move) before that happens.

  4. Stan Leghorn says:

    I am not sure beowolf is completly safe from such an attack. If the sollies push Beowulf to support an attack on manticore and use the refusal as reason for it, a major fleet attack might not be out of the question.
    But, most likely they are trying to discredit Beowulf and maybe strip them of their vote in the League Parliment.

  5. Captain Button says:

    Maybe the plan is to feed disinformation to the neo-barb-loving Beowulfians in the hopes that they will leak it the SEM?

  6. summertime says:

    How large is the Beowulf space navy? Do they have advanced weaponry, if not in the Manticore or Haven range, at least better than the Solarians?

  7. hank says:

    ISTR seeing somewhere that the SLN can’t call upon (Federalize) the SDF’s *unless* war has been formally declared which would require an act of the League’s legislature where they have the Polish system in place. So Beowulf can tell the Mandarins to go p*ss up a rope and demand the full formal process.

  8. ronzo says:

    @6 Thats a good question, even if manticore was selling them pre butter-cup tech they would still be alot more advanced the SLN.

  9. rlrapp says:

    Just wondering what this Article 7 their justifying military action with specifically says? Presumably it allows “emergency” responses without a declaration.

  10. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Ronzo, IIRC Beowulf was actively involved in the research that has led up to Manticore’s current Military Tech superority but not used any of the High Tech in their System Defense Forces.

    Rlrapp, I suspect that this Article 7 was intended for (as you said) emergency responses. It may have been “misused” in the past to support OFS actions (ie very short “wars”).

  11. tootall says:

    #9 and #10 Good question- What does Article 7 say?

  12. John Roth says:

    @6, @8, @10.

    I don’t remember any actual textev supporting it, but since Drak has mentioned it, Beowulf definitely does not have the Manticoran tech in place in their SDF, at least where it shows. I don’t remember anything about them being involved in the research, but I’m pretty sure they have access to it and could get it into production. Saying anything more gets into spoiler territory.

  13. Richard says:

    @9, @11

    IIRC, Article 7 has been explained elsewhere as the “self-defense” clause. Basically, the SLN Reserve can be activated and the fleet can be sent on operations to “defend” against threats. Justifying an attack on Manticore on the grounds of Byng and Crandall embarrassing themselves is somewhat more of a stretch than the usual “police actions” that I’m sure they do from time to time in support of OFS.

    I might be mistaken, of course

  14. ET1swaw says:

    @13 Richard: Sending one fifth of your active wall (Filareta) against an independent stellar entity without declaration of war is not just pretzeling any possible Article 7!!
    Beowulf is not officially in the loop yet on Filareta (all but Mandarins and SLN chain of command (even possibility of sealed orders; so like the task force at Torch WHJ no one will expose it) are supposed to be clueless).
    Justifications for action against Manticore may include:
    =Destruction of offensive capability and imposed defense treaty of a SL ally (Monica) (catching SL supplied warships and missles in a proposed attack on the SEM red-handed (no solid =proof= of OFS involvement though) did not help!)
    =Destruction of SLN warship(s) and demanded unconditional surrender while unprovoked (destruction of Manty destroyers with wedges down doesn’t count) (Byng) (that the Manty force suffered no casualties and was signifcantly smaller didn’t help; nor did the discard of the mighty SLN’s technology like so much trash!!!)
    =Destruction of SLN warship(s) and demanded unconditional surrender while unprovoked (stated presumption of attack on the SEM to teach a lesson doesn’t count (the comm files were obviously faked)) (Crandall) (that the Manty force suffered few casualties and was apparently signifcantly outmatched didn’t help!!)
    =Economic Warfare against the SL unprovoked (Embargo, Laocoon I) (the fallout is just beginning)
    =Blockage of SLN free trade unprovoked and against SL treaty provisions (Laocoon I and II) (that Manticore is not signatory and SL OFS only gave lip service doesn’t matter in the least; and the ?Zucker? demonstration against SLn forces didn’t help!!!!)
    =Takeover (even temporarily) of SL allied/controlled WHJ/Hyperbridges against an opposed possessor (Laocoon II) (if not merely a temporary operation such as to escort Manty freighters through, it actually is actionable I think?)
    =Disregard of Diplomatic niceties and obstructionist correspondence reminiscient of Manty-Haven froo-froo (that it is almost entirely Mandarin driven matters not in the least!)
    =Rapidly growing perception of SL voters (supposedly with input to their government) that Manticore is an expansionistic neobarb with an inflated sense of self that actually feels superior to the pinnacle of human endeavour that is the SL (that Mandarin information control/propaganda are driving it doesn’t matter!)

  15. Stan Leghorn says:

    14@ Good summation. We shall see what Adm Simpson is there for and that will give more info on what might be going down.

  16. robert says:

    No doubt that Simpson is there to convince Beowulf to either participate in or stand aside from another harebrained scheme cooked up by Rajampet. But for what purpose?

    Given the capabilities of the forts protecting the Manticore side of the junction, there is no way that the SLN can use the junction against Manticore, even if Beowulf were to let them. There are limits to the number and tonnage of ships that can go through at any one time before the junction is disrupted for how long? Hours? Any SL warships that pass through the junction will be blown away by the forts. So Simpson’s visit is for something else. Something that will likely discredit Beowulf to the advantage of which set of bad guys? Easy guess, huh?

    More to come tonight.

  17. Lone Wolf - Sans Cub says:


    missed it by that > < much

  18. ronzo says:

    @16 A simple formal request for access or assistance for a terminus assault asked and answered is all they need. Beowulf stating they will not assist with a terminus assault plays into the madarin’s hands in terms of discrediting them, with the appropriate spin if and when things go south for filaretta’s fleet. Rampajet to the Sollie media: ” A million Sollarian league Navy spacers could have been spared death/imprisonment if Beowulf had only assisted with the CRUCIAL second prong of the assault.” Or something similar. This will give them all juice they need to drown out whatever else Beowulf might be saying.

  19. Stan Leghorn says:

    18@ Best thought yet. Tho Beowolf could under cut by openly warning the assembly and solly public that such an attack would be suicidal. We shall see what is coming

  20. ET1swaw says:

    @19 Stan Leghorn: Filareta’s mission is ==== secret (SHHHHHH!!!!!) ===, anything after the fact looks like CYA; anything before (publicly) is treason (or would be spun by the Mandarins as such!!).

  21. PDA says:

    Not speculating on tactics or anything, I just have a question because English is my second language : what does Longacre mean when he says “That’s because you grew up as a straightforward military officer !” ?

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