A Rising Thunder – Snippet 28

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 28


So he hadn’t been surprised when one of his “friends” explained why they wanted him in command of the task force to be deployed to Tasmania. They wanted a Solarian naval presence close to the Manties — close enough to discourage them from diverting strength to Talbott to respond forcefully to Manpower’s proxies — and they wanted its CO to be someone they could trust to make that point to Manticore if the need arose.


And you just can’t quite brush off the suspicion that they may have sent Crandall out to Talbott with exactly the same “you’re just a diversion” explanation, can you, Massimo? Especially when you’re sitting here waiting for the damned missile colliers.


That was the final element which had him considering the sort of “paranoid conspiracy theories” with which Burrows had so little patience. The order to prepare to receive a massive influx of reinforcements had arrived on April the eleventh, with instructions to sortie no later than the twenty-fifth. Obviously, the reinforcements he was to expect had already been put into motion, and although the timetable had been tight, he’d felt reasonably confident of making the ordered departure date. Except that two days later, he’d received orders to await a convoy of ammunition ships loaded with the latest Technodyne ship-to-ship and system defense missile variants. As a follow-up dispatch had explained, it would delay the operation by no more than forty-eight hours, assuming the missile colliers experienced no delays of their own.


He’d been surprised Technodyne was supplying anything, given the legal firestorm still swirling around the huge arms manufacturer. But then he’d examined the new order a bit more closely and discovered that the “Technodyne” shipment had actually originated in the Mesa System.


Which was odd, since there was no Technodyne manufacturing facility in that star system.


Technodyne did have a corporate headquarters on Mesa, so it might have made sense for shipping orders to originate there, but there was no way the missiles themselves should be coming from that star system. Not if they’d actually been built by Technodyne, at least. Unless, perhaps, they were coming out of ammunition stockpiles already amassed by someone — someone other than the Solarian League Navy — in the aforesaid system.


As far as Filareta knew, not even Burrows had noticed that discrepancy. Nor had the chief of staff looked at the transit times involved. Oh, if anyone did look, they’d probably find that the colliers had been “diverted in transit” from some other, reasonably innocent destination, just like quite a few of his reinforcing superdreadnought squadrons. Massimo Filareta wasn’t “anyone,” however. He was as certain as a man could be that the missiles in question had actually left Mesa before his orders to sortie had been written on Old Terra, and they hadn’t been “diverted in transit,” either. They’d been intended for Tasmania from the outset…which, in turn, suggested that the same someone in the Mesa System from whose stockpiles they’d been drawn had calculated that Filareta’s command was going to receive exactly the orders it had received.


And those orders had been written only as a consequence of what had happened to Sandra Crandall.


Given all that, the Manties’ “preposterous” claims about Mesa began to seem a lot less preposterous. And the fact that “Technodyne” just happened to have been developing a longer-ranged, tube-launched shipkiller missile at the very moment the analysts back home in Old Chicago had finally become aware of Manticoran missile ranges was another of those “coincidences” Filareta found difficult to swallow.


No, he thought now, lowering his glass and staring down into the wine. No, you’re a pulser dart aimed at Manticore by your “friends,” Massimo. And so was Crandall. And someone else — someone back in the Sol System itself — has to be in on this, too. It’s the only way those oh-so-fortuitously available missiles could have been slipped into the order queue so smoothly. It could be Kingsford, I suppose. He’s spent long enough learning to punch Rajampet’s buttons. Or it could be Rajampet himself. I never would’ve thought he was smart enough to make a good conspirator, but someone else could be calling the shots for him the same way they were for Crandall…or me, for that matter. And when you come down to it, it doesn’t really have to’ve been someone at the top. Someone in the right position in Logistics could’ve stage-managed the whole thing, at least as far as the missiles are concerned. Not that it really matters how they managed that part. No, what matters is whether they pre-positioned me just in case I’d be needed, or because they figured all along that Crandall was going to get reamed? Because if they deliberately set her up to get wasted, they could be doing exactly the same thing to me.


On the face of it, he couldn’t see any advantage for anyone in the Mesa System in getting another three or four hundred Solarian ships-of-the-wall killed. On the other hand, he was damned if he could see what advantage they’d gotten out of what had happened to Crandall. So either they’d miscalculated in her case, or else they saw an advantage he couldn’t.


It was odd how neither of those possibilities reassured him.


*   *   *


The bored-looking electronics tech swiped her ID and presented a palm to the scanner before stepping onto SLNS Philip Oppenheimer‘s flag bridge. The scanner considered the card’s biometric data, comparing it briefly but thoroughly to the DNA of the proffered hand. Then it blinked a green light, and the officer of the watch glanced in the newcomer’s direction with a raised eyebrow.


“Permission to enter Flag Bridge, Ma’am?” the tech asked with a salute which might have been a bit sharper.


“Do we have a fault I don’t know about, PO…Harder?” the officer of the watch responded, checking the readout from the ID for the tech’s name before acknowledging her salute.


“I don’t think so, Ma’am,” Harder replied. “Just a routine, scheduled maintenance check somebody forgot to make. Or forgot to log, anyway.”


Harder’s tone made it clear she didn’t appreciate having been sent to tidy up someone else’s mistake.


“The Chief Engineer sent me to make sure it’s done and done right,” she continued. “Everything’s probably fine, really, but Captain Hershberger wants to be certain it really is, under the circumstances.”


“Well, I’m not about to argue with that,” the officer of the watch agreed, and nodded for Harder to get on with it.


The noncom pulled up her mincomp work order, then double checked the command station number to be certain before she headed across the bridge. She pulled the access panel on the back of Admiral Daniels’ console, laid out her toolkit, flopped down, on the decksole and slid under the complex collection of molecular circuitry with her testing equipment.


*   *   *


“Well, there’s a thing,” Anton Zilwicki said mildly.


He sat at the communications officer’s station on the Havenite dispatch boat’s cramped bridge. Such bare-bones craft couldn’t begin to match the sensor reach of a real warship, and their much simpler sensor suites had no dedicated plot, either. Instead, they used the main com screen to display such data as they managed to collect, and it was customary for the com officer to be responsible for them. As it happened, the dispatch boat’s official com officer — who seemed to be about twelve, anyway — was in sickbay with, of all ridiculous things, an impacted wisdom tooth.


The situation, Zilwicki thought, said volumes about just how poor medical care, and especially preventative medical care, had been under the People’s Republic of Haven. The restored Republic was working hard to get the backlog of completely preventable complaints — like dental problems — under control, but it hadn’t caught up yet.


Fortunately for Lieutenant Dahmer, the boat’s skipper, Anton Zilwicki had forgotten more about sensor systems and communications equipment than his ailing com officer had yet learned. Which explained why Zilwicki was monitoring the display as the small vessel accelerated towards the planet of Haven. Now he leaned forward, fiddling with the controls and frowning at the icons before him.


“What?” Victor Cachat demanded after a moment, and Zilwicki looked up over his shoulder.


“What ‘what’?”


“You said, and I quote, ‘Well, there’s a thing.”


“Did I?” Zilwicki raised both eyebrows and sighed. “A bad sign, Victor. Talking to myself, I mean.” He shook his head. “I hope you avoid this kind of mental disintegration when you get to be my age.”


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25 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 28

  1. Scott says:

    No 8th fleet. Hmm, was I lied to?

  2. ET1swaw says:

    So …… probable Cataphracts (DDMs) and Monica/Technodyne (ERSDMs(extended range system defense missiles (pods))) delivered by MAlign (er ….. I mean Manpower, er ….. I really mean Mesa).

    And Filareta is starting to see the crack he has been deposited in by his ‘friends’. And he has a working brain (not blinded by emotional prejudice like Byng; or by wounded pride like Crandall). Plus he has their shining examples to the forefront of his ruminations. All he needs now is to find out about the ?Zunker? demonstration to really make his day!

    SEM Naval Intelligence is well aware of the ERSDM’s capabilities, but I wonder how much was passed from Torch about the Cataphracts? Rozsak asked them to keep as much as possible on the downlow, so tech specs may be vague at best. And from the BoT we know SLN BCs and up can handle Cataphracts with little or no modification. Whoever meets Filareta may get the same surprise Rozsak did in the BoT (much to the mauling of his command; though Peep ships were BCs and below, Rozsak had CAs and below). And at Monica there was a limited number (large but limited) of ERSDMs, but they still did a number on the pick-up Manty Squadron (though Monica had BCs as well, the Manty’s heaviest was Hexapuma). By this time their tech specs on SLN combat capabilities may be thought to be fairly thorough, but it might just bite them (the worst surprise is when what you —know— is true is predicated on old or incomplete data).

    Z&C on approach to Haven. I wonder if they see 8th Fleet hanging about. That has got to put the cat among the pigeons in their eyes (especially as they have Simoes with them)!

  3. ET1swaw says:

    @1 Scott: Sorry I posted over you. 8th Fleet is probably still in the neighborhood. IIRC HH took her courier boat back to Manticore when she withdrew and left the fleet in place but in truce mode (the treaty talks were not concluded but only delayed; the deadline HH had set had not yet arrived when the Yawata Strike occurred and she withdrew temporarily).

  4. Gene Evans says:

    From Mission of Honor:

    “Filareta?” Teague repeated a bit blankly, and al-Fanudahi shrugged.

    “He’s Battle Fleet, so you probably don’t know him. Trust me, you’re not missing much. He’s smarter than Crandall was. In fact, I’m willing to bet his IQ is at least equal to his shoe size. Aside from that, his only recommendation for command is that he has a pulse.”

    Is this an accurate assessment of him? He seems to be coming to a rather clear understanding of what is going on, though it is probably too late for him to do anything about it.

  5. tootall says:

    I posted earlier wondering if Filarita was going to get out of this alive– he’s still getting ink from the MWW but he seems to know TOO much. Survival odds just dropped.

  6. jfenton says:

    What was the name of Filareta’s flagship? If it was the one that that ‘tech’ was working on in this snippet, then that was probably a MAling assassin setting up a bomb to be triggered at the appropriate time to ensure that the Manties don’t get their hands on Filarita.

  7. wyrm says:

    I suspect that the ship might launch the Mesan missiles without orders/targets from Filareta or actions from the gunnery crew. what I wonder is whether the missiles will be aimed at the Manty fleet or the Manty planets? Could the intended MA lever to break the SL apart be an Eridani Incident?

  8. Scott says:

    @ET1swaw, my mistake I thaught that HH took back the fleet. Really should reread MOH.
    @wyrm, if the SLN target planets not even Haven home fleet will stop at anything short of total annihilation of Solly units. Just the kind of provocation MA does best. Who back in the league will believe that the SLN would launch at worlds?

  9. TimC says:

    OK so I was comprehensively wrong in thinking them standard SLN missiles! More fun this way.

  10. John Roth says:

    From MoH Chapter 33:

    “Eloise,” she said in a softer voice, using Pritchart’s given name for the very first time, “it’s not just me they’re recalling. They’ve recalled Eighth Fleet, as well.”

  11. wyrm says:

    @8 Scott

    FYI I thought I’d add the logic that backed my original posting.

    When David introduced this anonymous technician, I immediately thought of Detweiler’s message to the ‘crown jewels’ of the MA onion

    “… At which point the Manties will refuse and he and most of his superdreadnoughts will get exactly the same treatment Crandall got at Spindle And if is should happen that restraint seems likely to rear its ugly head at the critical moment, we’ve taken a few precautions to … help the situation along, let’s say.”

    From the viewpoint of the outside observer (i.e. us!) it seems probable that this technician is one of the “precautions”. Since the Alignment, the Manties and the Republic *all* know that the SL is outgunned, the missiles can’t hit the Mantie/Haven fleets. However, a planet can’t dodge a missile on ballistic trajectory. I wonder where Honor and Theismann will place their CLACs? I hope it’s in the inner system.

  12. ronzo says:

    Well I hope Honor and Theisman are reviewing the reports from monica and anything that might have filtered through from torch, and that are thinking that the might have to deal with solly state of the art, Which should be the the case because neither of them are big on assumptions. If the lever is to EE a planet in the home system and they cant stop it Hopefully its gryphon due to its lower population and not being the home of the treecats, In any case Honor will become Shiva incarnate if that happens.

  13. JohnF says:

    @10 John Roth – Well, I just noticed that the complete ebook is available on baenebooks.com, and the answer will be in the next snippet!

  14. justdave says:

    got the e-book last nite, some very interesting days/nights for EEII already (ouch!, damn collar!)

    I guess snippets will continue until dead tree is released??

  15. John Roth says:

    @13 JohnF

    The answer to what? What Anton saw (or rather didn’t see) ought to be obvious. We know from an earlier snippet that Victor and Anton headed for Haven because they thought Eighth Fleet was there, and we know from Mission of Honor that it was withdrawn as a result of the Oyster Bay attack. There is absolutely no reason why DW would hold explaining what Anton didn’t see for later.

    And yes, I know the official ebook is out. It’s been discussed on David’s site and presumably on the Bar. Someone went through and did an analysis of what changed from the eArc. One scene got some needed back story; otherwise there were a ton of proofreading edits. Nothing in it changed anything we’ve seen already or most likely will see in the remaining snippets.

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    The hard cover should be available March 6th and the last snippet will be March 7th.

  17. Jeff Ehlers says:

    I snagged the e-book as well. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out.

  18. robert says:

    We all know what happened with Zilwiki and Cachet. It was all in MoH. We know that after the debrief to Pritchard & Co. they took a huge chunk of the Haven Home Fleet and went off to Manticore to do a Peace Treaty and mutual defense pact. The Haven fleet is sitting just outside Trevor’s Star waiting permission to transit the junction to support Eighth Fleet and Home Fleet.

    So Eighth Fleet is back in Manticore space, Filareta is toast whether he surrenders or not because the bomb or whatever has been planted, and surely one of his staff has been nanoed to set it off if he surrenders or even if he lives through the battle. The backdoor ploy through the Beowulf side of the junction will not happen. The questions that remain are who will join the Alliance (Anderman Empire, Torch, etc.-we know Grayson is on board, who else?), what strategy will Honor use to entrap and defeat Filareta, will the SL really send a fleet to Beowulf to try to support Filareta and how will that so not work, and finally, when the heck will they go after Mesa? They have all the proof they need. Get on with it!

  19. John Roth says:

    @18 Robert

    Frankly, I’m enjoying going through the book at a leisurely pace; it gives me time to chew over things and see things I might have missed in a fast read-through. I can understand being impatient for the rest of it!

    The thing I find frustrating, and that I think other people find frustrating, is that we used to get snippets long enough in advance so we were past the sample chapters when they came out. Now there’s an overlap between the snippets, the sample chapters, the eARC and the eBook release. We only got past the sample chapters with the last two snippets. Are they even worth it any more?

    For myself, yes. As I said, I enjoy the leisurely discussion.

  20. Stan Leghorn says:

    I still have trouble believing that a fully wired system like Manticore could have been hit by any kind of free-falling missile system, but author fiat rules. If nothing else, those pods would have left detectable wakes thru the solar wind moving at 20% the speed of light.

    I do NOT expect that to work a second time. Especially with FTL comms from the sensor array so the missiles do NOT arrive at the same time as any warning could. A lot of changes have occured between first contact with Grayson and now.The ships will probably continue to attack no matter what the crew wants to do which will force Honor to kill them all.

  21. robert says:

    @19 John, I get what you are saying and I do not disagree. I am just wondering, aside from destroying Filareta’s fleet, what else can possibly happen in this book that is so consequential that Shadow of Freedom had to be split from it.

  22. John Roth says:

    @21 Robert

    I see what you’re saying. It seems Weber wanted to merge the main line with the Talbot Sector books to avoid a lot of the repetitive setup that the original split forced in each of the books.

    The original answer is that the book was simply too big: Weber has a habit of writing 250 thousand word tomes that can be used as doorstops. The suspicion is that the market has shifted and that’s now too large so The Word came down from Baen’s corporate owners to write smaller books. To give context, a “novel” is defined to be anything over 60 thousand words; the conventional guidance to new authors is not to submit anything over 100 thousand words.

    Whether that’s true or not I don’t know. An alternate explanation is that they (Weber, Flint, Toni Weiskopf (the Baen publisher)) realized that there was too much interaction between the Talbot Sector activity and the next Torch book so they split it out.

  23. John Roth says:

    @20 Stan Leghorn

    There are lots of holes in the science of the Honorverse due to not fully considering the ramifications of current technology. These days, nobody can be fully conversant with everything that’s going on, let alone make reasonable extrapolations with where that particular technology will be in 2000 years. The TvTropes article on Applied Phlebotinium (warning – major time sink) and linked articles discusses this issue. Also see David Langford’s article: A Gadget Too Far (http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/dlnw.htm)

    A few months ago I had a rather spirited discussion on Weber’s forum about the possibility of detecting Bolthole using current radio telescope technology, adapted for portability by Honorverse spaceships. Projecting that technology into the future you should be able to determine if any star within 50 to 100 ly has any planets worth sending an expedition to look at. You should also be able to determine if the planets have a civilization advanced enough to be using radio or emitting a significant amount of RF noise.

    I’m not so sure it would be feasible to use shock waves in the solar wind to detect c-fractional kinetic strikes. If nothing else, it would take an improbably large number of stations for a full spherical shell of detectors. The Oyster Bay attack came in on the ecliptic; future attacks don’t have to do that.

  24. JeffM says:

    @23 I wish that some of you guys would remember that this is science FICTION, and forget about current technology entirely. I mean consider where someone operating under Newtonian assumptions would find himself today. Doubtless Einsteinien/Hawking/Whomever physics are merely another stage in our understanding, not the end all, tell all.

  25. Stan Leghorn says:

    @23 The attack, IIRC, came from above/below the ecliptic. And they were large swarms which would have left a noticable disruption, but the Author has spoken. Manticore was totally wired in three-d and any abnomality would have stuck out. C-fractional attacks require the missiles to run up to speed and then coast. Any coasting object is going to disrupt the Solar wind, and a swarm will be very obvious. There is only so much you can do with stealth tech, especially at such high velocities.

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