Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 12

Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 12

“All right, then,” she said, “as Duchess Harrington would say, ‘let’s be about it.'” She smiled tightly. “What certain unnamed senior parties would like to know is whether or not I think there’s any truth in the reports that my father and his lunatic terrorist cronies were responsible for detonating multiple nuclear devices — probably with the Star Empire’s knowledge and direct connivance — in the town of Green Pines. Nuclear devices which, according to the Mesan authorities, killed thousands of people, and one of which was detonated in the middle of a crowded park on a Saturday morning, incinerating every child present. Is that about the gist of it?”

Gervais winced internally. Helen Zilwicki had one of the sturdiest personalities he’d ever met, and that acid tone was very unlike her.

“More or less.” He sighed. “That’s not exactly the way anyone put it, of course. And I don’t think it’s the way anyone would describe it if they were asked to. What I think they’re really interested in is any insight you might give them as to why the Mesans might’ve gone about it the way they did. Claiming your father was involved, I mean.”

“I’d think that was pretty obvious!” Helen planted her forearms on the table and leaned forward over them. “Daddy’s been a pain in their ass ever since Manpower kidnapped me in Old Chicago when I was thirteen. Trust me, you do not want my dad pissed at you — not the way that pissed him off — and having him get together with Cathy Montaigne only made bad even worse from Mesa’s perspective. Then there was that little business on Torch. You remember — the one where my sister wound up queen of a planet populated by liberated slaves, every single one of whom hates Mesa and Manpower on a — you should pardon the expression — genetic level? If there’s anyone in the entire galaxy whose reputation they’d like to blacken more than his, I don’t know who it might be! And if you throw in the opportunity to saddle Torch with responsibility for something like this, and then claim Daddy’s involvement means the Star Empire was behind it, as well, it can only get even better from their viewpoint. Just look how they’re using it to undercut our credibility when we claim they’ve been involved in everything that’s been going on out here in the Quadrant! Obviously we’ve invented all those nasty, untruthful allegations out of whole cloth as another prong of whatever iniquitous plot we’ve hatched against them! Doesn’t the fact that we’re enabling Ballroom terrorists to nuke their civilian population prove we’re only targeting them as a way to distract all right-thinking Sollies’ attention from our own evil, imperialist agenda?”

The anger in her tone wasn’t directed at Gervais, and he knew it. It wasn’t even directed at the “unnamed senior parties” who’d asked him to have this conversation with her. It was, however, an indication that she was more worried — and hurting worse — than she wanted anyone to suspect. And it didn’t do a thing to make him feel any better about dragging her into this conversation in the first place, either.

“I think they’ve already figured that part out,” he said after a moment. “What they’re really asking about is whether or not you have any idea what really happened. What could have transpired to suggest the idea of blaming your father and the Ballroom to them in the first place.”

“You mean they’re wondering what Daddy could’ve been doing that might’ve gotten him involved in whatever happened, whether he was responsible for it or not, don’t you?”

“I think that’s probably a fair enough way to put it,” he agreed.

“Well, I’m afraid I can’t help you out with any specifics,” she said a bit tightly. “Daddy understands operational security pretty well, you know. And he’s always been careful not to put me in an awkward position by telling me things a Queen’s officer ought to be reporting to ONI. If he had been up to something, he wouldn’t have discussed it with me — definitely not before the fact, anyway. And there’s no way he would have sent me any letters that said ‘Oh, by the way, I’m off to Mesa to nuke a city park.'”

Her scorn was withering.

“Helen, I don’t think anyone thinks you’ve been deliberately ‘holding back’ anything that could help them get a handle on this. And I’m sure everyone’s fully aware your father wouldn’t be sending you chatty messages about clandestine operations, whether they were his or the Ballroom’s or Torch’s. They’re looking for…deep background, I guess you’d say.”

“I don’t have a lot of that for them, either,” she said in a more normal tone. “Anything they don’t already have available, I mean. That exposé Yael Underwood did on him a while back did a pretty good job of blowing his cover and pasting a great big target on his back. Underwood did get most of his facts right, though, and I doubt I could add a lot to his history. The short version is that ever since he resigned his commission after he tangled with Manpower for the first time, he’s been directly involved with the Ballroom. He’s never made any secret of that, or of the way he’s been directly involved with Torch, as well, ever since its liberation. He’s more of an analyst than a ‘direct action’ specialist, and I don’t doubt he’s helped the Ballroom plan the occasional operation. I’m not saying he’s not capable of a more…hands-on approach when it seems appropriate, either, because he damned well is. But I think pretty much everyone realizes that’s not really what you might call the ‘best and highest use’ of his talents. Of course, that’s subject to change if you go after somebody he cares about. When that happens, he gets very hands-on.”

She paused, looking steadily into Gervais’ and Helga’s eyes across the table, then shrugged.


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12 Responses to Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 12

  1. lone wolf sans cub says:

    chirp, chirp, chirp

    Guess i’m not the only one ubhappy about the way the last couple of books have been not goinig

    • John Roth says:


      • lone wolf sans cub says:

        Analyze and develop

        Ok, We all know this book and the last book, were meant to be one book, but Baen Books put a limit on length of books, so it was spilt into two books.

        My main gripe is where’s Honor, and why is the story dragging. Readers are getting confused, about what is happening when, I think due the dragging plot line. What if anything has happened to move the plot along. To me and several others, it (the plot) is going nowhere very very slowly.

        Where’s Eric when you need him, Weber needs to write this series or some of his other great series or turn them over to people who want to write, and have the time to do so.

        • John Roth says:

          DW has said, rather vehemently, that Baen had nothing to do with his decision to split the book into two. He decided to do it not only before Baen had seen the manuscript, but before he was a third of the way through the first draft. There were multiple reasons, length only being one of them. Another one was problems coordinating with Eric Flint on the third volume in this timeframe, tentatively named “Cauldron of Ghosts.” No publication date has been set on that yet.

          As to where Honor is? I thought it was pretty common knowledge among the fans that the original outline had Honor killed off in the Battle of Manticore, and then the second part would pick up 30 years or so later with Honor’s two children taking up the roles now filled by (I think) Princess Ruth and Admiral Henke.

          In other words, the original plan was that, at this point in the series, Honor would be a revered memory. This part was always planned (I think) to examine the war against the MAlign from multiple viewpoints. It just happens that, right now in the timeline, there are two theaters. Honor is the theater commander in one, and Admiral Kuhmalo is the theater commander in the other.

          Frankly, I’d like for things to move faster as well, but then reality very seldom works out the way I think it will.

  2. hank says:

    RE: Moving too slow.
    And here I was thinking the series was really speeding along now after bogging down so badly from “Ashes of Victory” through “War of Honor.” Amazing how killing off a few dozen secondary characters speeds things up.
    As for missing Honor, she can’t be everywhere. The story is bigger than any one person now, deal with it! (or not)

  3. robert says:

    This is a Shadows book, not an Honor book. Also the timeline for this book very nearly overlaps the timeline of “Thunder” so Honor is busy, you see, planning for the defense of Manticore and then getting all kinds of surprise allies. If you go to Amazon and read the jacket blurb, which is pretty good as far as jacket blurbs go, you will understand that “things are happening” in the Protectorates nearby the TQ. Relax and enjoy the snippets–there are about 30 more to come. I am sure that David Weber’s sleeve is full of surprise goodies for us.

  4. Scott says:

    Honor is finished as a character. As far as I can see anyway. She is so high up both military and politically that nothing else but the big stuff will do for her. She can’t be sent out the back of beyond and triumph with only a souped up fraighter. For the action we want, we need to see from characters closer to the ground. DW is developing those characters. Explodey goodness is coming.

  5. George Phillies says:

    I believe that Abigail Hearns, Lady Denby, is the replacement for Honor’s daughter. Not sure where I read that. Having said that, I believe matters are doing extremely well here.

    • John Roth says:

      You could be right; that thought had crossed my mind. However, except for The Service of the Sword we haven’t seen Abigail Hearns taking center stage. It’s going to be a while until she’s ready for independent command, and the pace of the story, at least in Honorverse time if not in real time, is picking up.

  6. George Phillies says:

    It’s going to be a while — one magic BB on the ship on which she is now the surviving senior officer, a ship that conveniently is halfway across the verge from anyone else.

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