A Rising Thunder – Snippet 22

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 22

 

“Try this scenario. The Navy wants our assistance in carrying out its attack on Manticore. Maybe they want the BSDF to participate actively, or maybe they just want to use the Junction to threaten Manticore from the rear and expect us to help with the necessary ship movements. Anyway, whatever they want, they tell us about it, and we turn them down. Under Article Five of the Constitution, we can refuse to place the System-Defense Force under federal control unless the League’s formally at war, and the Beowulf Terminus of the Junction is outside the twelve-minute limit, which means it’s not ‘our’ property to dispose of, anyway. They might not want to buy that interpretation, especially given our treaty with Manticore, but technically Beowulf Astro Control is a chartered private company, not an official organ of our government, and it leases the terminus from its Manticoran discoverers. So we’ve got plenty of wiggle room to keep the lawyers happy for the odd decade or two if they try to push it. Which means that if we do turn them down, refuse to cooperate, we can legitimately argue we’re within our rights under the Constitution.

 

“From their perspective, though, one of two things is going to happen when Filareta reaches Manticore. Either he succeeds and the Manties back down without a fight — which every one of us knows perfectly well isn’t going to happen — or else there’s going to be a battle. Kolokoltsov and the others may actually believe Filareta can win, given how badly Manticore’s been damaged. Of course, if any of their so-called analysts think anything of the sort after what happened to Crandall, I’d like to distribute a few kilos of whatever they’re snorting at my next fundraiser! At any rate, either Filareta wins, in which case our refusal to cooperate doesn’t hurt anything since the crisis is over, or else Filareta gets hammered…in which case, they blame his defeat on our lack of cooperation. You can bet your bottom credit that when the official report gets presented, we’ll be the reason Filareta got blown out of space, which will undercut our credibility as opponents to any post-Filareta hard-line position.”

 

“You really think they’d believe they could get away with that?” Caddell-Markham wished his own tone sounded more incredulous.

 

“I’m pretty sure they would,” Longacre replied. “Believe they could get away with it, at any rate. I think they’d probably be wrong, but let’s be honest, Gabriel. It wouldn’t be any rawer than a lot of other ‘facts’ they and Abruzzi’s shills at Education and Information have sold the public, now would it? I doubt any of them think they could count on brushing us permanently out of their way — even in the League, the truth has an annoying tendency of coming out eventually. But if there’s any basis to my suspicions, then what they’re after is a tactical objective, rather than a strategic one. If Filareta’s operation blows up in their faces, the Mandarins want us neutralized during any immediate public debate over exactly how that happened or who’s to blame for the resultant bloodbath.

 

“In the longer term, they’ll hardly be heartbroken if they can keep us sidelined long enough to get the entire League committed to their policy vis-à-vis Manticore. We all know from personal experience that once a policy’s been set, it’s a lot harder to change it than it ever would have been to nip it in the bud. And they probably figure that if the Assembly’s signed off — even passively — on whatever policy they choose, it’s a lot less likely anyone’s going to be able to generate any effective resistance to that policy.”

 

The director of state leaned back in his office chair, folding his arms across his chest, and the other participants in the holo conference looked at one another’s images. Caddell-Markham was pretty sure most of the others were thinking the same thing he was. Unfortunately, what Longacre had just suggested sounded entirely too likely for comfort.

 

“All right,” Benton-Ramirez said after a moment. “Personally, I hope you’re being excessively paranoid, Jukka. I’m not prepared to bet against you, though. So the question before us becomes how we respond to whatever ‘request’ this Simpson is here to make.”

 

“You want my honest, off-the-cuff, immediate reaction to it, Chyang?” Pinder-Swun asked.

 

The CEO nodded, and the secretary gave a harsh, barking laugh. It sounded like the hunting cry of some forest predator, and Pinder-Swun’s always ruddy complexion was about half a shade darker than usual.

 

“Okay,” he said. “What I’d really like to do is point them at the terminus and invite them to go right ahead!”

 

He smiled nastily, and Caddell-Markham winced.

 

The ceiling on any simultaneous mass transit of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction was around two hundred million tons. That meant the largest force the SLN could throw through the Beowulf Terminus in a single wave would be about thirty of its Scientist-class superdreadnoughts, after which the terminus would be destabilized and useless for over seventeen hours. That sounded like a lot of ships…until one reflected that a single missile salvo from a force composed solely of cruisers and battlecruisers had completely destroyed twenty-three units of the same class in the Battle of Spindle. What the Manticoran Home Fleet’s ships-of-the-wall — or even just the Junction forts — could do would make Spindle look like a love tap.

 

“While I’ll admit to a certain vengefulness of my own, Joshua,” Benton-Ramirez said after a moment, his tone mild, “we might want to bear in mind that the spacers aboard those ships wouldn’t be the ones who decided to attack Manticore in the first place. Not to mention the fact that they’re our fellow Solarians…and somebody’s husbands, wives, sons, or daughters.”

 

“I said it was my immediate reaction,” Pinder-Swun replied. “You’re right, though, of course. Although when I think about how often the Navy’s sat on its collective ass and watched slavers go trundling past, my sense of empathy becomes oddly deadened. Despite that, I agree we shouldn’t be encouraging Rajampet and Kingsford to get job lots of Navy personnel killed in one-sided massacres.”

 

“So what do we do?” Benton-Ramirez looked around his colleagues’ faces once more. “Suggestions, anyone?”

 

*   *   *

 

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me so promptly, Director,” Rear Admiral Marjorie Simpson said, reaching across the desk to shake Caddell-Markham’s proffered hand. Her smile actually looked genuine.

 

“I’m sorry I wasn’t available when you first screened, Admiral,” Caddell-Markham replied with an equally warm (and false) smile. “According to Mr. Sung’s message, though, it sounded fairly urgent, so I cleared space on my calendar as quickly as I could.”

 

“I appreciate that,” Simpson told him, but she also cocked her head at the fair-haired, gray-eyed woman who’d risen from one of the armchairs in front of Caddell-Markham’s desk. The rear admiral’s expression was politely inquiring, and Caddell-Markham released her hand and gestured at the other woman.

 

“Allow me to introduce Assistant Director of Defense Justyná Miternowski-Zhyang,” he said. “Justyná is the assistant director for the BSDF’s naval component.” He smiled. “Given your own naval rank, it seemed likely your errand here on Beowulf was going to involve Justyná’s bailiwick. Assuming it does, it seemed simplest and most efficient to have her here at the outset.”

 

“I see. And I appreciate your forethought,” Simpson said, although her own smile seemed just a little forced as she reached out to shake Miternowski-Zhyang’s hand in turn.

 

“Please,” Caddell-Markham said then, waving at the waiting armchairs. “Let’s all have seats and get down to whatever brings you to Beowulf, Admiral. Can I offer any refreshment?”

 

“I’m fine, Director,” Simpson demurred, shaking her head. “Perhaps later.”

 

“Fine.” The director of defense tipped back slightly in his own chair and waved one hand in an inviting “go-ahead” gesture.

 

Simpson paused for a moment, as if making certain her mental note cards were properly arranged, and he took advantage of the opportunity to study her unobtrusively. She wasn’t a particularly tall woman, although she was solidly if compactly put together. According to the dossier Mikulin had shared with him, she was in her early seventies, but her hair was still dark, without a hint of gray, and her brown eyes were commendably open and mild. Earnest. Even guileless, one might almost have said. Which, given her position and duties, had to be deceptive.

 

“What I’m about to discuss with you,” she said finally, “is Top Secret, Level Seven classified material.”

 

She paused again, briefly, as if for emphasis. In the Solarian classification system, there was only one level above that, and Caddell-Markham reminded himself to look suitably impressed.

 

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Comments

17 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 22

  1. TimC says:

    What’s with these double barrelled names in Beowulf? Is it something about the ‘fluidity’ of personal relationships? ie do children take the surname of their male and their female parent? (or do I mean their male and female gamete provider)

  2. Stan Leghorn says:

    Another weekend cliffhanger. Will the Sollies not take the obvious option or will the steamroller of idiocy continue?
    Counter measure: Beowolf sends a “Peace envoy” to tell Fillaretta to stand down until a proper league debate is completed as his actions exceed Article 7 authorization levels.

  3. ronzo says:

    @2 Given the geometry of travel any Peace envoy Beowulf sent wouldn’t reach Fillaretta before he made it to manticore. This meeting was probably postponed by design until the communication lag made it impossible for Beowulf to send anyone to Fillaretta or information and instructions to it’s representatives on Old Terra. This is a effective plan to discredit Beowulf short term but it also makes beowulf a long term political adversary of the mandarins. It’s really does feel like the Havenite mindset at during short victorious war, These reactive short term plays with long term repercussions, are only going to play well if they can get a knock out punch which is out of their reach. The pretense that Beowulf could have saved the day at manticore will only last until the end of the next battle they lose to the RMN, then what do they say.

  4. ET1swaw says:

    They are talking about Beowulf’s effectiveness/reputation being downgraded/sullied in the SL and with the independents. What if Rajampet is playing for an even crazier stakes and is thinking of ‘justification’ for actually taking out Beowulf (convincing others that their alliance with Manticore makes them an enemy combatant / traitor to the SL)?

    @2 Stan Leghorn: Officially this is the first word about Filareta that is being put out and the Mandarin’s timing can’t allow anyone to possibly detour it (as @3 said above). And with a level 7 security classification, ANY leakage (even of a patently suicidal WHJ attack) will be considered betrayal/treason by Beowulf aagainst the SL and can be acted upon accordingly.

    @3 ronzo: The Mandarins simply add that with Beowulf’s apparent defection to Manticore’s side; the resultant sabotage, traitorous actions, etc. weakened the mighty SLN from within allowing the backstabbing Manties to ambush them (attacking with no provocation other than their misguided desire for expansion and overblown self-image as on near-par to the pinnacle of human endeavour that is the SL and its unsurpassed SLN).

  5. ET1swaw says:

    @1 TimC: I think that like Manticore (i.e. Alexander-Harrington) it is simply to honor both bloodlines. And I know of no textev even hinting at the kind of disconnect implied.

  6. robert says:

    @1 TimC:
    Think about Spanish names with the maternal and paternal family name used.

    So now we have to wait a whole weekend for Simpson’s message. Poor us that we can’t even guess what it is. So obvious…the Beowulfers got it right away.

  7. John Roth says:

    @3 ronzo

    AFAIK, Manticore is not blocking diplomatic or news courier services, regardless of what flag they’re registered under. If the Mandarins wanted to send a courier to Manticore with instructions for Filaretta to stand down, they could.

  8. Lone Wolf - Sans Cub says:

    @7 John

    And spoil a perfectly good ass kicking delivered by the SLN, not. One way or another the SLN will be handed their asses, and the SEM navy will be nice and give the SLN a brown paper bag to take it home with them. I can see the SEM/Haven navies destroying the ships and sending the survivors back home to the SL to spread the news of the battle

  9. Stan Leghorn says:

    @8 The shortcut, meet Filaretta when he arrives at Manticore is what I was implying. If Simpson give Beowulf official warning of the attack, Beowulf could go public with the fact the Navy is acting without authorization and use back channels to get more of the League assembly to take sides. This puts the Madarins in the spotlight as exceeding their authority and might be justification for resignations. Or air car accidents if they refuse…

  10. ronzo says:

    @9 Going public with the new of the impending attack thats been communicated to them as way above top secret ,would make Beowulf’s leadership look guilty of treason first and formost, even if it’s later found to be an illegal order. The madarin’s could easily spin that to their favor they think they just need Beowulf discredited in the court of public opinion long enough so that the navy can over run the Manticorans.

  11. We will send through the junction a group of ships, just after Filareta arrives. The Neobarbs will see they are surrounded and after changing to clean furs will grovel in surrender.

  12. ronzo says:

    The mandarin probably don’t actually want to send anything through the terminus. Even as Myopic as they have been they could easily get sensor data from any sollie merchant vessel or dispatch ship showing massive forts and knowing the maximum tonnage the could send through even the sollies would see it to be a folly. It’s all about being able to implicate Beowulf for not agreeing to assist with the endeavor and then they can leave out the rest of the facts when shouting “Beowulf Refused to help!” from the roof tops.

  13. Lone Wolf - Sans Cub says:

    @12 Ronzo

    in a sane world and if the mandarins had 2 brain cells to rub together, i’d say your post would make sense. But i doubt the mandarins have even thought that far. And the SL Navy is so far in dreamland and denial that they will actually think Beowulf will think attacking thru the junction is a good idea and will join in.

  14. shadowdancer says:

    Question:

    Can Beowulf commit treason against the SOL?

    First, it’s part of the SOL itself, so no real reason to discredit them.

    Secound, the SOL is official still at peace with Manticore.
    “You are accused of leaking secret information about military operations against a starnation we are at peace with!”?

    Third, there are no real information weather the Mandarins know about Beowulfs leakage.

    Then there is the messanger. Simpson is Kingsford’s staffmember. That suggests, that the message is primary from Kingsford, and i dont think he will try for some sort of political maneuver.

    I still say it has something to do with the wormhole and not Beowulf. Perhaps sending some warships throught to demand the surrender of the forts after Filareta arrives.

  15. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @14 – Shadowdancer

    Remember that this snippet follows on the heels of a conversation among the Mandarins about how they could discredit Beowulf. Kolokoltsov (sp?) stated that he was going to take an idea Rajampet suggested and transform it into a way to neutralize Beowulf. We didn’t get to read that conversation, but the visit to Beowulf from Admiral Simpson of Admiral Kingsford’s staff came immediately after this. So … you can bet your bippy that this is a political move instigated by the Mandarins, but run through Kingsford’s office to give the appearance of military legitimacy, even though, because it comes from Rajampet, it is probably about as harebrained a scheme as you will ever hear about.

    Now, does it involve Beowulf or does it involve the wormhole? Just guessing, but it’s probably something that involves the wormhole but also requires Beowulf’s permission to carry out. That way it looks and feels “military”, but it has political implications since Beowulf’s permission to carry out whatever is being asked means that Beowulf can be discredited if they deny permission to carry out Rajampet’s harebrained idea and then Filaretta gets hammered by the combined naval forces of the SEM and Haven.

    The Mandarins are not stupid, but they are both arrogant and ignorant. They KNOW that their ships are outclassed in every way by SEM ships. They DON’T know about the Haven-SEM alliance, so they are proceeding on the philosophy that their quantity will overwhelm the SEM’s quality. If the SEM was still fighting with Haven, then the SLN probably could overwhelm the SEM eventually. With Haven now on the side of the SEM (and I’m sure Grayson will stay in the fight; I hope that the Andermani Empire and the minor allies like Zanzibar will stay in as well), the SLN is totally and completely screwed. They are at best a 4th rate power. (Remember the old joke about the first Gulf War? Analysts said that Saddam Hussein started out the war with the 4th largest army in the world and ended with the second largest army in Iraq.)

    If this really is a move to discredit Beowulf — and I think it is — this could be the catalyst that causes Beowulf to leave the SL and become either an independent star nation allied to the SEM or become part of the SEM. (I doubt the latter, though, because Beowulfers — this is from what I’ve read in the series over the years, which, admittedly, isn’t much WRT Beowulf and its culture — seem far too wedded to their own cultural peculiarities, and even though they get along well with Manticorans, I don’t think that Beowulfers would be happy as subjects of the Empress of Star Empire of Manticore.) Either way, Beowulf might be or become so fed up with the Mandrins that they would leave the SL to wander off into oblivion. If that happens, I think many of the nations under OFS “protection” might decide to leave as well, and there won’t be much that the SL can do about it because they will no longer have the image of “the invincible navy” to prop up their OFS governors. Anyone want to speculate on how quickly OFS governors and commissioners begin dying in droves as waves of rebellion start running through the outlying provinces and protectorates?

    Anyway, it will be an interesting weekend waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    I’m really looking forward to the publication of this book!

  16. Phil says:

    So, is this Benton-Ramirez related to Honor in some way… cause isn’t her mother’s maiden name Allison Benton-Ramirez y Chou?

  17. John Roth says:

    @16 Phil

    I think it’s been mentioned in one of the books. The answer is yes, but I have no idea of the degree of relationship. One of their common ancestors signed the Cherwell convention. It just hasn’t been emphasized before this.

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