A Rising Thunder – Snippet 23

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 23


“I’m sure you and Assistant Director Miternowski-Zhyang have been fully briefed on what happened to Admiral Crandall’s task force at Spindle,” she resumed. “Obviously that came as a shock to all of us in the Navy. We’re not convinced by any means that the Manties’ version of what happened is accurate, of course. In particular, given what we know of Admiral Crandall’s standing orders, it seems unlikely her actions and attitudes were actually as provocative as they’ve been portrayed. It does seem probable that she…mismanaged the situation badly, but some of our analysts believe the com records the Manties sent us have been skillfully edited. Be that as it may, however — whatever actually happened and whoever really fired the first shot — we’re all left facing the consequences of Manticore’s actions.”


She paused again, as if inviting a response to what she’d just said. Particularly, Caddell-Markham suspected, to her version of just whose actions were responsible for the consequences in question. Both Beowulfers had their expressions as thoroughly under control as her own, however.


“Clearly,” she continued with an air of candor when neither of them rose to the bait, “what happened to Admiral Crandall indicates we in the Navy have badly underestimated Manticoran military capabilities. Our analysts are firmly of the opinion that the missile performance we observed at Spindle never came from anything that could be launched from cruiser or battlecruiser missile tubes, whatever they may be claiming or seeking to imply. But even with that caveat — even assuming what they actually used were heavy system-defense missiles — their capabilities were, frankly, little short of terrifying. It’s painfully evident that at the moment, at least, the Manty navy has a significant technological edge.


“At the same time, however, the Solarian League has a tremendous quantitative advantage. There’s simply no way anything the size of the Manties’ ‘Star Empire’ could possibly match our productivity and available manpower. In the end, those advantages have to prove decisive.


“Unfortunately, despite the fact that their defeat would be ultimately certain, God only knows how many of our own people would get killed along the way.” She shook her head, expression grave. “Even completely ignoring our moral responsibility not to throw away lives unnecessarily, those sorts of casualty levels would inevitably — and rightly — lead to universal repugnance in the League. Bearing all of that in mind, it seemed evident to everyone on Admiral Kingsford’s staff — and to Admiral Rajampet and his staff, for that matter — that Assemblywoman Hadley had a point. Even if not everyone agreed with her logic, the ultimate conclusion was effectively the same: despite the Navy’s understandable fury and desire for vengeance, any sort of precipitous operations against Manticore were out of the question. At the very least, every diplomatic avenue had to be explored first.”


She paused again, and this time Caddell-Markham allowed himself to nod in sober agreement, despite his quick lick of anger at Simpson’s clumsy effort to suggest some sort of agreement with Felicia Hadley.


“Unfortunately,” the admiral went on, “it’s become evident to Foreign Minister Roelas y Valiente and to Permanent Senior Undersecretary Kolokoltsov that Manticore has no intention of negotiating in good faith.” She sighed. “Whatever Assemblywoman Hadley and those who share her concerns may think, the Manties’ diplomatic correspondence — not to mention the obvious duplicity of the way in which they misrepresented the Republic of Haven’s diplomacy in the resumption of their long-standing war against Haven; the shameless, cynical imperialism of cold-bloodedly partitioning a sovereign star nation in the Silesian Confederacy’s case; the unilateral decision to close not just their own Junction but every other terminus they control against Solarian traffic; and their questionable actions in the Talbott Cluster — all make it clear they have every intention of pressing their current military advantage for all it’s worth.”


That wasn’t, Caddell-Markham reflected, the way he would have described the Star Empire’s diplomatic exchanges with the League. Or any of the rest of its foreign policy over the last, oh, fifty T-years or so. As fantasies went, though, it stuck together fairly well, he supposed. Or would have, assuming anyone with the IQ of a gnat had been prepared to believe a single word that came out of the Office of Frontier Security.


And isn’t it interesting that she never even mentioned Green Pines? He thought sardonically.


“That was the unpalatable situation in the immediate aftermath of the New Tuscany and Spindle incidents,” Simpson said. “More recently, however, that situation has changed radically. I’m sure you here in Beowulf have an even better appreciation than most for just how badly the Manties were damaged by that attack on their home system.”


For just a moment, despite her obviously formidable self-control, those brown eyes hardened. Obviously she and her superiors suspected Beowulf really did have a far better “appreciation” for events in Manticore than it had chosen to share with them. Caddell-Markham and Miternowski-Zhyang only nodded courteously, however. Her lips thinned ever so briefly, but then she shrugged and actually smiled.


“We don’t know who was responsible for that attack. I assure you, ONI is working overtime to figure out who it could have been! The obvious fact that at least one other navy also has capabilities we can’t match at the moment doesn’t make any of us very happy. At the same time, it’s clear this mysterious third party has managed to significantly prune back Manty capabilities. In fact, our analysis suggests the Manticoran heavy industrial structure’s been effectively destroyed, with obvious consequences for their ability to support sustained operations. None of which has done anything to mitigate Manty ambitions, unfortunately. To be honest they seem to have become even more ambitious — or aggressive, at any rate — judging by their actions where the wormhole network is concerned. In fact, we have reports — unconfirmed at this time, but from usually reliable sources — that they’ve begun to go beyond shutting down their own termini by actually seizing control of any other termini they can reach, regardless of who they may belong to, to close them against us, as well.


“Given the Manticorans’ clear, unwavering intention to hold to the aggressive course they’ve set, Prime Minister Gyulay concurs with Admiral Rajampet’s view that it would be criminally negligent to give them the gift of time to rebuild their military. Ultimately, that would almost certainly result in an unconscionable death toll for our own military. For that matter, it would result ultimately in a staggering death toll for the Manties, once we fully mobilized against them. So, the Navy intends to move quickly, taking advantage of this window of opportunity. We happen to have a force of approximately four hundred ships-of-the-wall either already at or within a very few days’ hyper travel of the Tasmania System. Within the next two or three weeks, those ships, reinforced by everything we’ve been able to get to them, will advance on Manticore under Fleet Admiral Filareta. They should reach Manticore no later than the middle of June.”


Simpson’s voice had become deeper and more measured, and this time the Beowulfers allowed their own eyes to widen in surprise leavened by more than a hint of trepidation.


“Admiral Rajampet fully realizes the grave risks of the operation he’s instructed Admiral Kingsford to mount. Obviously, we hope the combination of the damage the Manties have already suffered and the speed with which Admiral Filareta can reach their home system will convince them to see reason. Failing that, we believe their defensive capabilities will have been sufficiently reduced for Admiral Filareta to succeed in defeating their remaining forces with a minimum of casualties. Nonetheless, the possibility does exist that he’ll take severe losses if it turns out their defensive canopy hasn’t been quite so badly eroded as our current analyses suggest. Which is what brings me to Beowulf.”


She stopped speaking almost abruptly and sat back in her own chair, gazing at Caddell-Markham levelly.


“I beg your pardon?” he said. “I’m afraid I don’t quite understand how Admiral — Filareta, you said? — and his operations affect us here in Beowulf, Admiral Simpson.”


“It’s actually fairly simple, Director,” Simpson replied. “In an ideal universe the psychological aspects of this operation will allow Admiral Filareta to succeed without firing a single shot. The idea is to demonstrate to the Manties that whatever their present, transitory advantages, they can’t ultimately hope to defeat something with the size and staying power of the Solarian League and the Solarian League Navy. To help push that lesson home, we need to apply pressure from as many directions as possible as closely to simultaneously as possible.”


“Wait a minute,” Caddell-Markham said (after all, it wouldn’t do to appear too obtuse). “I do hope you’re not proposing to launch a second prong of this attack through the Beowulf Terminus, Admiral Simpson!”


“That’s exactly what we’re proposing, Sir.”


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33 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 23

  1. Gene Evans says:

    Note that Admiral Simpson is not proposing to lead this second prong herself. I wonder who screwed up badly enough to draw a suicide mission.

  2. summertime says:

    It appears that the SLN is making major decisions based on inaccurate and incomplete information. Will Beowulf attempt to set them straight, or let them blunder into disaster? Does even Beowulf know about the detente between Manticore and Haven? Or has that happened yet; I’m not sure about the time lines?

  3. Richard says:

    No. Zilwicki and Cachat have not gotten to Haven yet.

  4. Wolf says:

    @2The last time we received a time reference in these snippets it was April 1922 PD. President Prichard doesnt arrive in the Manticore system until May 1922 according to Mission of Honor. However Beowulf has already leaked the Filareta orders Haven as of March 1922 in Mission of Honor so the Alliance hasnt happened yet but is on its way.


  5. Wolf says:

    @3 didnt read your note until had posted mine. Zilwicki and Cachat might have made it to Haven or they might not, this month April 1922 is the same one in which they do arrive.


  6. John Roth says:

    @3 Richard.

    They may have gotten to Haven; I have that happening in April. The conference at Manticore happens in May. It’s two weeks from Noveau Paris to Trevor’s Star plus some amount of time to get the local political situation squared away at Haven and cut orders for most of Haven’s Home Fleet to proceed to Trevor’s Star, so it’s likely that these bits are happening simultaneously.

  7. westrim says:

    Chapter 9 ends with Eloise deciding to go to Manticore and Chapter 10 begins with Elizabeth getting more coffee during the discussion after she and Eloise meet. The snippets are still in Chapter 7, so they may not reach that point. Hopefully they finish chapter 9 though.

    Because seeing the book in bite sized pieces does interesting things to my understanding of it.

  8. John Roth says:

    @7 westrim

    Please don’t post comments about things we haven’t gotten to in the book yet.

    I expect we’ll get to chapter 10, possibly 11, although I don’t know how long 9 and 10 are – I haven’t read the eARC.

  9. ET1swaw says:

    Well we now know the Mandarin spin on Monica, New Tuscany (Byng), Spindle (Crandall), and Laocoon I.
    We also know that Laocoon II is taking effect and being noticed by the Sollies.
    We have the Mandarin dogma on Manty diplomatic correspondence and their perceived attitude/status (as promulgated by SL Bureau of Information).
    We have the SLN (stone tablet) intelligence analysis on Manty technology/capabilities and their reduction by ‘Oyster Bay (MAlign)’ / ‘Yawata Strike (Manty Alliance, Haven, Beowulf)’ / ‘Attack by Unknown Agressor (SL/SLN/Mandarin position; being “looked into”)’.
    We have the SLN considered feasibility of a two prong attack (widely separated in space with limited communication capabilty) that can conduct an effective operation. As well as the perception that despite Spindle’s proof positive of ‘System Defense missile control capability by Manty CRUISERS that they can drive home a WHJ-limited attack in the face of system defense missiles, the WHJ covering fleet, (possibly unknown to them) –extremely– capable LACs, and the Manty WHJ FORTRESSES (that at least they should know size and perceived capability of; I mean news and dispatch boats still transit even during Laocoon II). IMO I totally agree with an earlier snippet statement that I want some of what they are smoking/sniffing!!

    The SLN believe themselves still superior to both the Manty Navy and the ‘Unknown’ (quantity over quality) whereas they are in at the very least tenth place (Manty, Grayson, Haven, Andermanni, Manty Alliance, Maya Sector, Erewhon, Beowulf, (with MAlign falling somewhere within; they have spider, streak, Darius, and RF SDFs), etc.)!!

    They have even disregarded information and after-actions from the Battle of Manticore (Manty/Haven War)!!!

    Hopefully the SL/Mandarins/SLN are unaware of Beowulf intelligence capabilites internal to the SL and their conduits to non-SL members (Manticore, Haven, Andermanni, etc.)! Admiral Simpson did betray the awareness that information flow from Beowulf about non-SL members capabilities/technology to the SL and the SLN is less than robust (if not directly asked, they don’t tell and limit their answers as much as possible (they don’t seem to pass false information but maximum omission is fair game!)).

    Beowulf is now officially read in at the second highest classification level to Filareta’s force and his proposed OPSPLAN (if you can call it that with a straight face). I’m sure the SL has the equivalent of an ‘Official Secrets Act’ to gag public disclosure of the suicidal idiocy (even without the WHJ attack) of the proposed plans.

    Admiral Simpson seems to be actually proposing that Beowulf support/join a WHJ attack (in conjunction with Filareta no less!) against a sovereign empire (not only their closest trading partner. but ally and in myriad cases relatives/family)!! Refusing would be spun as Beowulf defecting to the neobarbs and they are already on thin ice with the Mandarins/SLN for their information shortfall.

  10. Stan Leghorn says:

    And the stupidity train rolls on. The Junction forts were not involved in the Yawata strike and are just aching for someone to kill. Simpson has to be a COMPLETE idiot if she did no research on what could be seen by standard freighters. Which should be enough to tell her no simul-transit from any one terminus would carry the day. OTOH, there was mention of a surprise waiting for Manticore. Perhaps another force at a less well guarded junction point or a perviously unknown to anyone but MAlign wormhole to the area? What have the spider ships been up to since the last appearance? Maybe they are setting up a similar attack on the Junction forts?guess we have to wait for the next snippet, or buy the eArc.

  11. John Roth says:

    @10 Stan

    As far as the MAlign is concerned, I’m pretty sure Detweiller has decided he doesn’t want to risk the Sharks a second time. There’s a discussion somewhere in MoH where his clones convince him not to try to repeat Oyster Bay.

    It would be possible to coordinate a two pronged attack *if* they’ve set it up in advance. Have the main fleet stop short in hyper where they can coordinate with a dispatch boat, and then send the dispatch boat through the wormhole junction with the final plan and time. If they haven’t set it up in advance, and there’s no evidence to date that they have, trying to coordinate a wormhole assault would be rank folly.

    The question in my mind is whether Simpson is really as much of an idiot as she appears, or whether she knows the political dimensions of the plan and is really a very good politician.

  12. warren wyman says:

    wail whine etc. Will we EVER get to the battle?

    OK, OK, I admit that the snipes are really interesting and generate fun discussions. But still…

  13. robert says:

    @12 Not in the snippets, you can be sure. Since the book is due out in about 4 weeks you will have to wait that long.

    This all sounds too complicated. Clearly there is no way that Beowulf would support a SLN attack through the junction, and any attack that did come would be chewed up by the forts. So why has Kingsford (actually Rajampet) sent Simpson to propose this? If the object is to destroy as many SLN vessels as possible, then clearly Rajampet is, at best a tool of the Mesan Alignment. If the object is to surprise the SEM forces after/during the battle with Filareta, then Rajampet is a fool and does not understand what will happen to Filareta, never mind the alliance with Haven, et al, and the presence of half the Haven home fleet in Manticoran territory. If the ploy is to discredit Beowulf, then we know that the folks who run Beowulf are lots smarter than the folks who run the SL and Beowulf can easily side with Manticore-Haven if the SL is that stupid (& they are).

    Please remember, fellow Honorverse fans, that all the attempts so far at attacking the SEM by the SLN ended up with the SLN’s commander way, way dead, thanks to Mesan Alignment machinations and that damn nanovirus. I think somebody here once said that Filareta can kiss his behind goodbye and I agree.

    My money is on Rajampet being a paid agent of the Mesan Alignment, and like Crandall, so is Filareta, the DOM. Nobody is that old and that dumb. And they are both very expendable by Detweiler-style reckoning.

  14. westrim says:

    @John: But we have gotten to them in the book- just not this book, the last one. Chapter 9 is quite long and does setup for several groups while chapter 10 is mostly discussions, so it seems a natural cutoff point.

    I’m still confused by what, exactly, the Solarians think was damaged defenses wise by the Yawata Strike. Production is offline, but did they think it somehow caught the magazines of the Manticoran fleet half empty?

  15. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Westrim, I suspect that the Solarians don’t believe in “invisible spaceships” so they believe that whoever attacked Manticore had to destroy Manty defenses.

    Also, the Solarians may be thinking that only system defense missiles have extremely long ranges not missiles used by Manticore warships.

    So, the Mandarins may be thinking that Filareta’s fleet will outnumber the Manticore Home Fleet and that the Manticore Home Fleet won’t be able to “out range” Filareta’s fleet.

  16. John Roth says:

    @14. westrim

    The issue is that most of us haven’t read the eARC, and giving a definite chapter number for something we know is going to be there says that nothing else of interest is going to happen before that point.

    This group isn’t supposed to be for snerks. Those discussions should happen either at Baen’s Bar in the Snerker’s Only forum, or on David’s site in a thread marked “Spoiler.” In this group, if we do know what’s going to happen past the current snippet, we should keep the yap shut.

    If you need to hear it from the moderator, I’m sure Drak will be glad to enlighten you. Kapish?

  17. John Roth says:

    @14 westrim

    To expand on what Drak said a bit, it’s quite clear that most of the Solarian command thinks that the strike had to have blasted its way through Manticore’s system defenses, so those system defenses, whatever they were, no longer exist or at least aren’t as effective as they were. They don’t have a clue that the strike came in from extreme range on ballistic, and were given final targeting orders by platforms placed by very hard to detect, and actually undetected scout ships.

    To put it another way, they think that Manticore used a lot of their ammunition defending the system, so they don’t have a lot left.

    They’re also quite correct that the system defense versions of Apollo missiles have longer range than the ship-born versions. Where they’re wrong is that they haven’t actually seen the system defense versions yet. They’ve seen the super-dreadnaught versions. They also haven’t seen either version being used with FTL communications: they used the old communication links at Spindle because they don’t have the FTL links on battlecruisers.

  18. ET1swaw says:

    @17 John Roth: And they seem as firmly wedded to that analysis as they do to their extremely overblown analysis of SLN capabilities and tactical excellence.
    IMO they are so far past tunnel vision (and rapid denial of negatives) that they aren’t even in the same universe as the Manties.

  19. JeffM says:

    @17–actually, they’ve seen the BATTLECRUISER version. Unless you were referring to the pods…

    What’s a “snerk”? Is plain English difficult?

    @10,11–Simpson isn’t the analyst–she’s just the messenger girl. A mere rear admiral isn’t going to be a motivating force here.

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    JeffM, from Baen’s Bar’s FAQ “Master Lexicon 1a” comes the following.

    Snerk = from “sneaky smirk.” To gloat over the possession of privileged information, such as books or chapters not available to the general public. To post spoilers (q.v.) of the same.

    Those of us who have read the complete EARC or seen the sample chapters have to be careful about “snerking”.

  21. JeffM says:

    Ah. Thank you. I had looked up “snerk” in the Urban Slang Dictionary, and it didn’t seem to fit.

    I’ve read the sample chapters, and I’ve been a good boy. I think. I hope. ;)

  22. Willem Meijer says:

    May I return to a discussion we had several snippets ago? We were discussing what the loss of Manticorean shipping to the SL would do to the economy. I asked wether anyone knew how much transport was used to ship foodstuffs, and I think most contributors did not foresee widespread famine in the SL. I was reading Honor Among Enemies, and ran across the following quote in chapter 36:
    ‘A single freighter could easily stow four or five million tons of cargo, and counter grav and impellers made it easy enough to lift freight out of a gravity well to make even interstellar transport of foodstuffs a paying proposition.’
    If it’s a paying proposition I am sure some systems (say when they are specialised in mining and refining minerals) will be dependent on importing foodstuffs on a masisve scale. Even if you could divert existing shipping space to emergency food relief it would a) always be late, so there will be localised famine and b) divert shipping from other essential goods (weapons, components) needed in the conflict with Manticore.

  23. Cobbler says:

    @ # 13. “Nobody is that old and that dumb.”

    Robert, I find your lack of faith in human stupidity disturbing.

    “Two things are infinite. The universe and human stupidity. And I’m not certain about the universe.” Einstein.


  24. Maggie says:

    @22 Three things: Einstein had great faith in the infinite power of compounding interest…

  25. ronzo says:

    We are probably going to have to wait for publication for a serious battle, However when it comes, it seems like the second Battle of Manticore is going be to epic in scale but more of a slaughter than a battle by any other measure even with out widespread use of Apollo. Afterward I can see things going down the toilet very quickly(just about as fast in dispatch boats can travel) for the Solarian league. What I deperately I want to see is a snippet Foraker and Hemprill and their respective teams at bolthole in the same room working together. I can’t wait to read this book.

  26. kenny says:

    Ok, I just reread Mission of Honor.

    What we know, is Filareta is a week to ten days out.
    Haven has 400 of the wall 8 hours out.

    This means that when Filareta arrives he will be facing more ships of the wall than he got Haven + Manicorn. In this snippet we learn Filareta may not be a complete idiot, he seems to be questioning his info, at least enough to question it further when he see 500 of the wall.
    Honor will probably be blaring at the “top of the radios’ the SL has been maneuvered into a false position by elements from Mesa. WE known that Filareta location so close to Manicorn is unusual which means he knows how he was maneuvered into this position.

    So the question is Filaretta willing to admit his own movements towards Manicorn were coerced or suggest by an element of Mesa, admitting he is in effect a traitor, or is he willing to commit suicide by ordering the attack to continue.

    On the subject of food, we know that the Montanan system has a sizable export of beef, this means somewhere they are importing beef. If (the cost of verge labor+the price of verge land+the price of transportation) is cheaper than (the price of core labor+ the price of core land) then food will be grown in the verge. Even if the core had the capability to grow their own food, they simply would not have been doing it. Weather or not DW decide to take this angle I feel confident in stating under the circumstance presented there would be food riots in the core very quickly. Even without the alignment pushing disorder. Unless of course there was a strong and quick push from the central government to ensure food shipments were given priority by Solarian ships.

  27. Cobbler says:

    @ # 26

    “On the subject of food, we know that the Montanan system has a sizable export of beef, this means somewhere they are importing beef. If (the cost of verge labor+the price of verge land+the price of transportation) is cheaper than (the price of core labor+ the price of core land) then food will be grown in the verge. Even if the core had the capability to grow their own food, they simply would not have been doing it.”

    Perhaps. Perhaps not.

    Montanan may have a combination of environment and mutated cattle stock that produces really good meat. They might be bulk exporting the equivalent of Matsusaka beef, no beer or massage necessary. That would be a luxury item because no other planet can get the same results.

    If that is the story, restricting imports would cause as much planetary food shortage as America would suffer if all imports of Beluga caviar stopped.

  28. ET1swaw says:

    @26 kenny: In amplification to @27: Even with the canon cheap transportation rates that allow shipping of foodstuffs to be economical, bulk staples IMO will not be. Medium bulk high-end foodstuffs (comparable to Australian mutton/beef to US) would be a bit better than break-even. Luxury foodstuffs (like Montanan beef) would be the moneymaker. Food riots are IMO not going to be an issue if limited to lack of subsistance reasons (lack of variety possibly, or upset wealthy and social climbers missing their luxuries).

  29. John Roth says:

    @28 ET1swaw & others

    There was a thread on David’s site on exactly this issue. I don’t think it included any spoilers, but I can’t be sure, so the essential point is that there may well be planets where there is too much population to allow for agricultural land to grow staples. I don’t know of any, but think Trantor at the beginning of I. Asimov’s Foundation series. I think the geometry is wrong, but several of the regulars were beating me up on my point of view which was that it won’t happen.

  30. kenny says:

    It would be more like the interstate highway system disappeared along with 1/3 of the trucks. Were not talking just international trade here. We are taking about the highways (Wormholes) being off limits and draw down in shipping by a third.

  31. justdave says:

    Drak, to pick a nit, if the sample chapters are available to all is anything in them actually a snerk??

  32. Doug Lampert says:

    @30, and if you did that to the USA overnight, no one much would starve to death (unless the entire economy collapsed).

    We’d hurt, bad, but we wouldn’t starve, and the pain would almost all come from problems other than simply feeding people.

    They’re richer than we are in the future, and thus presumably have proportionately more surplus capacity being used for luxuries other than staple foods and can make up the difference easier.

  33. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Justdave, I’m not a Moderator but IMO it would be more polite to say “you should see Chapter XX” of the sample chapters without going into details about what that Chapter says.

    Some here may want to just follow the snippets without going to see the sample chapters.

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