A Rising Thunder – Snippet 33

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 33

 

Chapter Eleven

 

“What are the odds your people will actually ratify this, do you think?” Elizabeth Winton asked almost whimsically.

 

“Not as good as they would have been once upon a time,” Eloise Pritchart admitted from the other side of the small Mount Royal Palace conference table. “I’ve used up a lot of credit with Congress — and the voters, for that matter — in the last three T-years. And admitting our Secretary of State doctored the correspondence in the first place isn’t going to make our firebrands any happier.”

 

“That’s what I thought, too. Pity. I was hoping you’d have a better chance with your legislative branch than I’m going to have with mine.”

 

Elizabeth pursed her lips, looking at the document on the display in front of her. As treaty proposals went, it was about as bare bones as things got, she reflected. Neither she nor Pritchart had traded away their star nations’ sovereignty for a handful of beads, but she was sure critics and partisans on both sides were going to carry on as if they had. And little though she liked to admit it, there was still plenty of wiggle room. They hadn’t tried to nail things down in fully finished, set-in-stone form. Instead, they’d roughed out a list of absolutely essential points to be submitted to the Havenite Congress and Elizabeth’s own Parliament, coupled with a specific provision that other treaties would deal with the still-outstanding points a little thing like twenty years of bitter warfare were likely to have created.

 

Still, if someone had told her she and Pritchart could accomplish this much, agree to this much, in only seven days, she would have suggested they be confined in a nice, safe cell. Yes, there were still huge gray areas, but what they’d gotten down in written form proved that knowing one was about to be hanged (or invaded by the Solarian League) truly did concentrate one’s mind wonderfully. This treaty, rough as it was, created an alliance between the Star Empire of Manticore and the Republic of Haven which committed each of them to the defense of the other. There hadn’t been time — with one exception — to consult with the Star Empire’s allies, but Eloise had been careful to bring every one of those allies’ ambassadors on board, and most of them had initialed the draft on their governments’ behalves. The Andermani ambassador hadn’t, yet that was hardly surprising, given the traditional Andermani realpolitik. By the same token (and for the same reasons), he hadn’t voiced any official opposition to it, either, though, and the Andermani Empire was an “associated power” rather than a full member of the Manticoran Alliance, anyway.

 

The one ally there had been time to actually consult was the Protectorate of Grayson, three and a half T-days from the Manticore Binary System by dispatch boat. Elizabeth had sent Benjamin Mayhew word of Pritchart’s totally unexpected visit the day the president arrived, and Benjamin Mayhew, with a decisiveness and speed unusual even for him, had needed only hours to decide where he stood. He’d sent back his enthusiastic support…and his only brother as his personal envoy.

 

Michael Mayhew had arrived yesterday, just in time to put his own signature on the draft as Grayson’s plenipotentiary. Which, given most Manticorans’ attitude towards their most constant ally, could only be a major plus. Not to mention demonstrating to all the Star Empire’s allies as conclusively as humanly possible that William Alexander and his government were not Michael Janvier and his government.

 

So now all they had to do was submit it for the approval of the Manticoran Parliament and the Havenite Senate.

 

“All,” she thought glumly. As in “all we have to do is find the philosopher’s stone and we can turn as much lead into gold as we want.” We can ask both of them to expedite on an emergency basis and point out that there’s no time to be sending drafts back and forth for revision, but how much good is that really going to do? However big the crisis, we’re talking about politicians, and that means any number of wannabe cooks can be counted on to shove their spoons in and start stirring, damn it.

 

“Actually, I think you’re both being overly pessimistic,” another voice said, and two pairs of eyes, one brown and one topaz, swiveled towards the speaker.

 

“I hate to point this out, Admiral,” Pritchart said with a lopsided smile, “but I suspect you’ve had a bit less experience dealing with legislative idiots than Her Majesty and I have.”

 

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that, actually, Eloise,” Elizabeth said, and grimaced when Pritchart looked back at her. “Don’t forget, she’s a steadholder. I realize steadholders have the sort of absolute power you and I only fantasize about, but she still has her own Chamber of Steaders to deal with, and she’s been pretty hands-on about the job. Whenever we’ve let her out of uniform, at least. For that matter, she’s a sitting member of the Conclave of Steadholders on Grayson and our House of Lords. She’s spent her time in the trenches, and she was front and center of the Opposition during our delightful interlude with that ass High Ridge. She knows a lot more about how it works than that innocent demeanor of hers might suggest.”

 

“I suppose that’s true.” Pritchart cocked her head. “It’s hard to remember just how many hats you’ve worn, Your Grace.”

 

“Her Majesty’s comments aside, I won’t pretend I’ve had as much legislative experience as you two,” Honor replied. “On the other hand, she’s right that I’m not a complete stranger to ugly political fights, and both of you are just about dead on your feet. My feeling is that both of you are so worn out from working on this thing that it’d be a miracle if you didn’t feel pessimistic. In fact, if I’d thought it would’ve done any good, I’d’ve chased you off to bed every night to make sure you got at least eight solid hours.”

 

Pritchart considered her thoughtfully and decided she wasn’t really joking. And while the President of the Republic of Haven wasn’t accustomed to being “chased off to bed,” she rather suspected Honor Alexander-Harrington could manage it if she put her mind to it.

 

“Interesting you should say that, Honor,” Elizabeth observed. “My beloved spouse was saying something rather similar last night. Or was it the night before?”

 

“Probably the night before. Justin’s a lot better at making you rest than you are at remembering to rest.”

 

“I don’t doubt he is,” Pritchart said. She kept her voice light, although she knew Honor, at least, had sensed the spike of pain which went through her as she remembered nights Javier Giscard had made her rest. “At the moment, though, I’m more interested in why you think our estimate is overly pessimistic, Admiral. I don’t doubt you’re right about how tired we both are, and I know how fatigue and worry affect people’s judgment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re wrong and you’re right.”

 

“Of course not, Madam President.” Honor leaned back, sipping from a stein of Old Tillman and shrugged. “Despite that, though, I think you’re both underestimating the selling power of what each of you have gotten out of the other. Your offer to help us deal with Filareta when you didn’t have to do anything of the sort — when you had every reason not to, in fact — is going to buy you a lot of goodwill in the Star Empire. And Elizabeth’s renunciation of any reparations will smooth a lot of ruffled feathers in Nouveau Paris…not to mention cutting the legs right out from under that snot Younger.”

 

She smiled almost dreamily at the thought.

 

“Your own suggestion that we hand all of Second Fleet’s units back to the Republic won’t hurt, either, Honor,” Elizabeth pointed out, and this time Pritchart nodded.

 

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Comments

18 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 33

  1. John Roth says:

    Time’s a-wasteing.

  2. Geoff N says:

    “to consult with the Star Empire’s allies, but Eloise had been careful to bring every one of those allies’ ambassadors on board” Shouldn’t that be Elizabeth and not Eloise

  3. ET1swaw says:

    We took massive casualties from BoMA and now we are giving them the weapons back!! They ‘say’ they had nothing to do with the Yawata Strike, but this fairy tale about Manpower and Mesa? 400+ SLN wallers (Spindle saw off 70+ with cruisers) are coming at us, yet we are putting an armed enemy at our very back?! No reparations for a war started by ‘their’ Secretary of State’s manipulation (which has been trumpeted as Manticore’s doing) and cost countless lives and assets.

    I’m with Elizabeth and Eloise, SEM’s parliment (especially the still hidebound House of Lords) will be a definite hard sell!!!

  4. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @2 — Geoff N
    I thought it should be Elizabeth as well, but maybe Eloise was used to sell the idea to the SEM allies.

    @3 — ET1swaw
    Agreed. It’s still going to be a very hard sell, although I think Honor’s right that not demanding reparations will absolutely undercut Younger.

  5. John Roth says:

    I tend to think there are a lot of other inducements various factions will have, given proper presentation. Opening the junction to Havenite shipping is one that I think both sides want.

    It settles the Erewhon issue nicely, and I’m mildly surprised that Erewhon isn’t mentioned as being notified, even if not consulted. They are, after all, closer than Grayson by dispatch boat. I can’t imagine why the SEM would have closed the Erewhon-Phoenix leg of the Erewhon junction.

  6. EM says:

    @ET1swaw
    It’ll be a hard sell but part of that ‘sell’ may be that the SDs in question are somewhat the worse for wear and may not even be ready for battle against anyone but the SLN beyond having intimidation potential and providing extra missile defense. A hundred extra mobile SD’s, even shot-up ones, would go a long way in that respect. I’m assuming that releasing the havenite POWs to man the ships is part of the deal.

    It would be funny to see a scene where Lester Tourville and staff get dragged out of their camp and into Theisman’s and/or Pritchard’s presence. Without being briefed of course.

  7. kenny says:

    Erewhon is not part of the Manicorn Alliance anymore, it is basically neutral in favor of Haven. And I agree the sentence and paragraph reads like it is meant to be Elizabeth.

    Hard sell, hardly. Manicornians will jump at the chance to solve one of the wars.

    How ever on Haven it a little more difficult. How if Pritchard can convince her own people that MAilgns is responsible for the miscommunication it should not be that hard there either at least for the peace part. Selling the Alliance might be a little harder though.

  8. robert says:

    The Haven “empire” represents a whole lot of potential customers for Manticore’s business community, which has just had a Lacoonic shock. I don’t see how any opposition would stand a chance in the Manticoran Parliament. $$$ talks. Very loudly!

  9. robert says:

    As for Haven’s Congress, no reparations, no more war, access to Manticore’s investments and tech, no problem.

  10. JeffM says:

    @robert–they’re trading one war for another. Albeit an already “lost” one for one with someone whom they actually have a tech advantage, however momentary, against.

  11. John Roth says:

    @10 JeffM

    I wouldn’t say that. Trading implies that they don’t already have it, whatever it is. They’ve been at war with the Alignment for a couple of hundred years. They just didn’t know it. Now they do. As far as the war with the Solarian League is concerned, it’s more a matter of surviving while it breaks up and new intersteller polities are created.

  12. ET1swaw says:

    @11 John Roth: As pointed out by HH in canon (can’t remember which book): staying strictly defensive while the SL fractures (especially if SL never declares war) gives near worst case conditions as successor states might feel obliged to revenge against the barbarians that brought down the mighty SL by refusing their betters’ helping hand by allowing them to join. I mean much of the Verge and part of the Shell climbed on board without any problems; why shouldn’t have the Manties?

  13. robert says:

    In most sane societies, the economy and the well-being of the populace take precedence over damn near anything else unless the homeland is directly threatened. In this case there is mutual economic benefit, not to mention an element of revenge for what was done to them by an unknown (at the time) third party.

    Really, how hard was it to make Japan and Germany into allies after WW II, especially given the threat of the Soviet bear?

    Many people won’t ever forgive nor forget, but most will. Even many who had devastating losses will see the need to get on with it—it is a small galaxy, after all.

  14. ET1swaw says:

    @3 was an off the cuff rant from an outraged Manty (in my mind’s eye), not my personal opinion by-the-by.

  15. TimC says:

    @13
    Japan- my own father was an army medic in Burma and saw the released Japanese POWs. It was then 40 years before he would buy a Japanese product.He had a Bang and Olofson TV, Kodak and Rollei Cameras, Citroen car. I don’t recall him expressing stong emotions about Japan but yes it took time for wounds to heal.

  16. robert says:

    @15 TimC
    Indeed. I had relatives who would never buy a German product, especially an automobile, and I got a bit of hell when I bought my first VW. I expect that prolong would make it worse because the generation directly involved stays around a very long time.

  17. Doug Lampert says:

    @15 and 16
    Sure, there were lots of such people. And quite a few of them were highly resentful that we helped rebuild Germany and Japan (the Marshal plan aid went almost entirely to help rebuild former allies, you would not know this from what people say about it because so much of what is said is attacking spending even one thin dime to help former enemies).

    But very few people didn’t like having an alliance with Germany and Japan against the USSR or objected to us selling stuff to Germany and Japan.

    Plenty of Jews didn’t buy German products after the war, but Isreal used German made weapons when there was any reason to pretty much from 1948 on. Plenty of people understand that winning the NEXT war is more important than who did what in the LAST war.

  18. Willem Meijer says:

    @17 They did not buy these weapons from Germany, but from Czechoslovakia. The Germans had re-tooled the Czech weapons industries ro build German models, and the Israelis bought German design, not products from Germany.

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