A Rising Thunder – Snippet 27

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 27

 

Chapter Nine

 

“I don’t suppose we’ve received any updates on those damned missile ships?”

 

Fleet Admiral Massimo Filareta’s hundred and ninety centimeters, broad shoulders, close cropped beard, strong chin, and dark eyes gave him an undeniably commanding physical presence. When he was angry, that presence tended to become actively intimidating, and at the moment, Admiral John Burrows, his chief of staff, estimated, he was somewhere well north of “irritated” and closing rapidly on “irate.” The rest of his staffers were busy finding other places to park their gazes, and quite a few seemed to have discovered that the wallpaper on their personal computers had become downright fascinating.

 

“No, Sir, we haven’t,” the short, fair-haired Burrows said calmly.

 

He’d been with Filareta long enough to develop a certain deftness at managing the fleet admiral, and to Filareta’s credit, he realized he needed a manager. He hadn’t risen to his present rank without family connections, but in Burrows’ opinion he was also one of a handful of truly senior officers who were actually competent. He was hardworking, levelheaded, and paid attention to the details all too many other flag officers simply ignored or shoveled onto their overworked staffs. At the same time, though, he was a man of passions, unruly emotions, and huge appetites, and he needed someone like Burrows to keep him balanced…or at least focused. Which was one reason John Burrows routinely faced an irritated Filareta with a confidence which filled lesser staffers with the sort of admiration normally reserved for counter-grav-free skydivers, alligator wrestlers, and similar adrenaline junkies.

 

“Of course we haven’t!” Filareta more than half snarled, and this time Burrows simply nodded, since he and Filareta were both aware the fleet admiral had known the answer before he ever asked the question.

 

Filareta clamped his teeth hard on his frustrated anger and turned to the briefing room’s smart wall bulkhead and the distant, fiery spark of the star named Tasmania. He clamped his hands equally tightly behind him and concentrated on fighting his temper under control.

 

What he really wanted to do was to turn that temper loose. A good. old-fashioned, red-in-the-face-and-screaming tantrum might relieve at least some of the anger, frustration, and (little though he cared to admit it even to himself) fear swirling around inside him. Unfortunately, any relief would have been purely temporary, and he didn’t need to be displaying his own reservations in front of his staff.

 

Especially not on the eve of the biggest combat deployment in the eight hundred-year history of the Solarian League Navy.

 

“All right,” he said, once he was fairly confident he’d locked down his temper. “Since we’re stuck here, twiddling our thumbs until they do deign to arrive, I suppose we should look at the results of yesterday’s exercise.” He looked over his shoulder at Admiral William Daniels, his operations officer. “Suppose you start the ball rolling, Bill.”

 

“Yes, Sir.”

 

The brown-haired, brown-eyed Daniels had been with Filareta almost as long as Burrows, but he wasn’t as good at fleet admiral-managing, and he couldn’t hide his relief as the meeting turned to something less inflammatory than the ammunition ships’ much-discussed tardiness.

 

“First, Sir,” he continued, “I’d like to observe that Admiral Haverty’s task force did particularly well in the missile-defense role. We all know ONI’s current opinion is that whoever leveled the Manties’ home system has to’ve blown a huge hole in their missile umbrella, and I know we all hope that’s true. If it isn’t, though, we’re going to need the kind of performance Haverty’s people turned in. In particular,” he activated his previously prepared report and a stop-motion hologram of a detailed tactical plot appeared above the briefing room conference table, “I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to this missile salvo here.” A flight of missile icons blinked scarlet on the plot. “As you can see, we adjusted the simulation’s parameters to reflect the reports of extended ranges we’ve been receiving. As of this time, we still don’t know what their actual ranges are, of course, but this simulation assigned them a fifty percent increase in powered envelope, and we didn’t warn anyone it was coming ahead of time. Despite that, though, if you watch what happens when Admiral Haverty’s task force detects them incoming,” he entered a command and the missile icons began moving steadily across the holographic plot, “you’ll see that –“

 

*   *   *

 

“What did you think of Daniels’ analysis of Haverty’s performance?” Filareta asked Burrows some hours later.

 

The two of them sat in Filareta’s dining cabin, forming a small island of humanity at the enormous compartment’s center, with the remnants of a sumptuous lunch on the table between them. Burrows was always a little astonished Filareta could eat as heartily as he did without ever appearing to gain a single gram. Of course, the fleet admiral did work out regularly, and there were those…other interests of his.

 

“I thought he was pretty much on the mark, Sir.” The chief of staff sipped from his wine glass. “I think we probably need to push the simulator parameters further out — I agree with you there, entirely — but he was right about how well Haverty did within the existing parameters. And, frankly, there’s at least some question in my mind about how far we want to go in simulating Manticoran range advantages.”

 

Not many officers would have admitted that so frankly, Filareta reflected, but Burrows had a point. If they started putting their fleet through simulations which assumed the Royal Manticoran Navy’s effective missile ranges really were as extreme as some reports claimed, it would devastate their own morale.

 

And if the bastards do have that kind of range — and accuracy — there’s no point training to fight them, anyway. We’ll be dead meat no matter what we do!

 

It wasn’t a thought he was prepared to share even with Burrows, although he suspected the chief of staff had reached the same conclusion. On the other hand, Burrows continued to believe — probably correctly, Filareta thought — that the Manty missiles at Spindle must have come out of system-defense pods, not shipboard launchers. No matter what else, missiles that long-ranged had to be huge, which meant no mobile unit could carry them in the numbers which had been reported. And if they had come out of system-defense pods, then even that incomparable military genius Rajampet was probably right about how the January attack on the Manties’ home system had depleted their supply of them.

 

Unfortunately, that attack had occurred at least six T-months before Filareta could possibly get there to exploit it. He wasn’t as confident as Rajampet that the Manties wouldn’t be able to make a lot of that damage good in the meantime. And, even more unfortunately, there were a few things Burrows didn’t know and Filareta was in no position to tell him.

 

The fleet admiral picked up his own wineglass, sipping with less than his usual appreciation while his mind flowed down internal pathways which had become entirely too well worn over the two T-weeks since he’d received his orders for Operation Raging Justice. Actually, they’d started wearing their way into his cortex the instant he heard about Sandra Crandall’s debacle. Or, at least, the instant he first heard the Manticorans’ analysis of how Crandall had come to be aimed at them in the first place.

 

Burrows, he knew, put zero credence in Manty claims that Manpower and/or other Mesa-based transstellars had deliberately fomented the incidents in the Talbott Quadrant. The chief of staff was no innocent virgin where corporate influence on naval policies was involved, but it was preposterous to suggest that any transstellar, however powerful, could actually control major fleet movements! That was the stuff of paranoid conspiracy theories, as far as Burrows was concerned.

 

It might not have been if he’d known what Massimo Filareta knew.

 

Filareta couldn’t be positive Crandall had been influenced by Manpower, but he knew for damned certain that he had. He knew all about his own reputation as a hard-partying fellow, and he knew there were rumors about certain other of his more…esoteric tastes. As far as he knew, though, no one knew about his most deeply hidden cravings. No one, at least, but his “friends” at Manpower, who’d long since fallen into the habit of providing for those cravings. Those same “friends” had eased his way in other fashions, as well, and he’d always known that someday they’d want payback. But he’d been all right with that; it was the way the system worked, even if his particular set of incentives would have been regarded as beyond the pale even by jaded Solarian standards.

 

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Comments

25 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 27

  1. Robert H. Woodman says:

    The last paragraph brought to mind the phrase “it’s time to pay the piper” as I read about Filareta’s relationship with Manpower.

  2. John Roth says:

    Yup. It also makes me wonder what’s in those missile ships he’s waiting for. I’d think he’d already have all the missile colliers he needed.

  3. Stewart says:

    @2 It’s either (1) Off-the-books TechnoDyne extended range offensive and defensive / counter-missles or (2) Off-the-books loan from an “associated / interested party” (read Mesa / Mesa Alliance) of MAN Missles.

    If (1) it’s only a slight advantage over SLN Standard ; If (2) it blows the covert cover off Mesa Alliance and Navy — If they are recovered partially intact.

    SLN missles are at least 2 development generations behind RMN and probable 1.5 geneerations behind Haven’s missles, especially with Theissman / Torville / Foracker / Chin running Haven’s tactical operations.

    Stewart / ET1 Retired

  4. tootall says:

    Given how much ink Falerita is getting -thus far, more talked about than as an actor – I wonder if he makes it out of this alive? I’d guess not- but only because of his “deeply hidden cravings”.

  5. ET1swaw says:

    @3 Stewart: Remote possibility of a SLN?/Mesa? version of Rozsak’s Arsenal ships. Since the SLN is —very— pod light, it might also be simply as many pods as they can transport (as if they have sufficient fire control to make good use of them!).
    (Good to see a fellow twidget. I was in 78-03.)

    @4 tootall: IMO Byng and even Crandall were being manipulated more than being given a MAlign mission. OTOH Filareta seems a willing (not happy about possible blackmail though) participent (more a low/mid-level henchman than an unknowing catspaw).
    IMO he is toast. Just like Crandall he is too much of a loose end to survive (MAlign or Manty someone will get him.

  6. SCC says:

    With regards to the missiles, on paper their not going to be anything more then TechnoDyne ER, off the books they could be catrapcht (SP?) missiles, but explanations are needed, that is TechnoDyne ER could be handed out to hedge bets (esp. given what has been seen so far) but anything else would raise questions
    as for pods, NO, the SLN has nothing like that in development and couldn’t explain them being around

  7. Stan Leghorn says:

    My hope that Filareta would surrender to avoid a SL blod bath just went away. If he is caught and any of his mesa activities get revealed, he is going to be pitched out an air lock. This means he will continue past any sane level, unlike Crandal who was executed before she could reveal anything. I suspect he also has a self destruct nanite army to keep him from talking as well…

    There were solly pods at Monica, IIRC. Which is the only reason the Manties got even a scratch on their hulls.

  8. wyrm says:

    If Filareta is captured alive, then I wait with barely constrained anticipation Cachet’s interrogation of Filatera, assisted by treecat empaths with vengeance in mind.

  9. If Filareta is captured, he will doubtless indicate a price for telling everything he knows, and arrangements for hiding him someplace to enjoy his retirement; so long as it is only a reasonable cut of the graft he has stashed, he will get his wish. It’s much cheaper, and pulls a certain amount of money out of the Solarian economy.

  10. justdave says:

    @7 at Battle of Monica they were Technodyne system defense pods, not sure if SLN would/could use them in a fleet action

  11. ronzo says:

    I think that they are just waiting on normal missle collier’s as the snippet says this is the biggest fleet action in the history of the sollarian league with 400+ SD’s and a screening force the size of which hasn’t been mentioned. That’s a alot of magazine space to be refilled at the ragged edge of the supply lines if there is any shooting. Filaretta is being displayed a pretty compentent he would know even if he could punch out the homefleet and system defense he still may have worry about counter attacks by SEM forces outside the home system. You would want to ensure sustainable combat power by making sure he is well supplied.

  12. Andy says:

    @11 – I don’t think they are short of missiles in general. I think these ships are bringing something special.

    I think SCC hit it (post #6). I doubt they are going to give up acceleration, especially in light of the acceleration deficiency they know of. Therefore, I believe it unlikely that the missile pods will be the surprise. I think the most likely reason for the colliers is the two stage missiles. Given that they use nominally “standard” ISLN missiles as the first stage, they can be explained away as a new application of off-the-shelf tech that was being kept quiet until it could be fully deployed to avoid someone getting the jump on the Navy.

  13. Doug Lampert says:

    I think two stage missiles is the most likely approach, but if so it’s likely that someone’s being too cute for their own good. Filareta and his staff made no mention of any extended range of their own, not even as a comment or thought on how their modeled Manti missiles compare to their own new ammo. Which means that they’re drilling and working on tactical doctrine and the like based on how to use their current stuff when they’re about to be issued new stuff.

    Further, if they know they have longer range missiles coming, then they can also up the range on the Manti missiles to something closer to their “worst case scenario” without worrying as much about ruining the morale of their own people.

    And the new missiles are presumably somewhat larger, which means you’ll need to make at least minor changes in the ammo storage and handling methods, those sorts of changes probably go better with some lead time.

    So if you send a “go as soon as the missiles arrive” courier, I’d send specs on anything the new missiles can do along with it. Not only does that let people drill and prepare for the new missiles, but it also avoids the risk that if the missiles are too late Filareta might decide to jump off without them rather than wait if he doesn’t know they add a major boost to capability.

  14. robert says:

    Assumption: the missiles in question are coming from SLN stores.
    But…Possibly they are the Technodyne missiles used at the Battle of Torch, which are not in the SLN arsenal.

    If that is so, then where are they coming from? And who has provided them? And who has told Filareta to expect them? And is the SLN hierarchy so compromised and loaded with Mesan agents that the answer to that question is MuhMuhMuhMuhMesa?

  15. Vince says:

    For those interested in purchasing A Rising Thunder (final edited version) in electronic format, it now is available (and shows as complete) at:
    http://www.baenebooks.com/p-1550-a-rising-thunder.aspx

  16. Robert Krawitz says:

    I doubt they’ll be able to capture Filareta alive, and if they do, he would probably be physically very dangerous to those around him. Mesa’s sure to take some kind of precautions with someone of his value — at a minimum, some kind of suicide device that may not be under his voluntary control, possibly some kind of explosive device, and at worst some kind of nano magic dust that will program those around him in to seek out and kill HH, QE, EP, etc…

  17. justdave says:

    since Technodyne imploded and most of the executives went to prison after Monica, IIRC, I doubt they’re supplying system defense 2D missiles to anyone

  18. ronzo says:

    @12 You may be right, But have a vast inventory of missles in fleet bases around the core worlds and Frontier security bases in fringe is vastly different that having enough on hand for sustained combat operations months away from supply through hyper. I would want to ensure that even if I was able to punch out system defenses and homefleet that I was plenty ready for any pontential counter attacks by other Manty fleets that might come later. Given what we have seen of Rampajet he wouldn’t be able to keep his mouth shut if thought he could field something like a multidrive missle and all of the chatter to this effect is even Sollie admiralty didn’t think multidrive missle were possible.

  19. ET1swaw says:

    Cataphracts are 2-stage missiles which SLN BCs and SDs –are– capable of using with minimal adjustment.
    The Technodyne extended-range missiles at Monica were system defense pods.
    Tactical doctrine for DDMs and system defense pods are different from what Filareta has his people practicing, but the trip from his latest waypoint to Manticore might seem sufficient to integrate a technology he is not even sure he will receive.

  20. Willem Meijer says:

    Is he waiting for missiles? With a 400-ship fleet assembling under the gaze of the biggest burocracy ever imagined these must be ships with paper, and with accountants to check everything. In triplicate.

  21. TimC says:

    My guess is they are regular SLN missiles. He shows no signs of sharing information on any other type or source with his staff. Maybe the SLN does not keep many missiles on board, after all I seem to recall that they dry fire rather than live fire in practice- they certainly have a reputation for using ‘know the answer already’ sims.

  22. dave o says:

    Mesa’s plan for Filareta is that he gets smashed if Manticore has enough missiles to fight him. Then the second fleet destroys Manticore’s navy, which is supposed to be out of ammo. Mesa has no interest in supplying advanced missiles to Filareta, either directly or through Technodyne. So I think Filareta is waiting for Solly standard issue missiles, figuring that his stock is not adequate. The SLN is sufficiently behind the times that they think energy weapons are battle winners.

  23. DKCWong says:

    @11, @20, &@21

    I too favor the notion that the SLN fleet is waiting for standard missiles. As mentioned in other posts there’s no hint of the SLN conducting the sim-exercise with long-ranged SLN missiles, just how they are trying to counter the Manties range advantage.

    Not sure what else may have contributed to Filareta’s ‘irritated’ demeanor, but certainly news about the missile ships failure to arrive and that they are “…stuck here, twiddling our thumbs until…” suggests to me that he can’t proceed with his mission because, either his ships don’t have full missile loads in their magazines and/or he needs them to ensure he has adequate reloads to refill the mags after engaging the Manties to beat-off any counter-attack(s).

  24. robert says:

    @21 But Mesa may have had to change its plans as the result of the alliance between Manticore and Haven. Sure, they want Filareta and his fleet destroyed. But they may also want to damage Manticore as much as possible right away. So an extended battle with Filareta having missiles that are better than the SLN standard may accomplish more than they originally planned for. One stone and all that. Remember that they had to speed up their entire timetable when it looked like Manticore would take out Haven too soon. So now they may be forced to make more changes in their plan.

    All is TBD and the ebook is now available on the Baen site (not the eARC) for $6.00. How can we continue with this mosh pit of a discussion when that happens less than 3 weeks before the hardcover is due out?

  25. John Roth says:

    @23 robert

    First, Mesa doesn’t know about the peace agreement between Manticore and Haven yet. Weber does things in strict chronological order, and it’s beyond belief that he would ignore scenes showing something about the peace and alliance, so Detweiller’s “oh, shit” moment is still to come. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

    Second, several of us have either read the e-arc or participated in discussions where there are spoilers. You’ll notice, for example, that Drak and I haven’t ventured an opinion about those missiles. We know whether they’re standard Solarian League missiles that have gotten caught in a paperwork shuffle, Cataphracts, something new from Technodyne or whatever, so we’re keeping the yap shut.

    I’m enjoying the discussion; it’s fun regardless of the fact that I know certain things are coming down the pike. People are pointing out stuff that I missed in reading the free chapters; I expect that I’ll get the same appreciation from discussion of the next few chapters.

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