Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 38

Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 38

Dueñas looked blank, and Dubroskaya reminded herself not to sigh.

“Sir, our Rampart-class destroyers are only half that big, and their maximum acceleration rate, with zero safety margin on the compensator, is only five-point-zero-nine KPS squared.”

Understanding blossomed in Dueñas’ eyes.

“Manties,” he said.

“I don’t see how it could be anyone else with that accel, Sir,” Dubroskaya agreed.

The system governor didn’t look very surprised, she thought. Unhappy, yes; but not surprised.

“Damn,” Dueñas said mildly after a moment. “I’d hoped to get some additional reinforcements in here before they turned up.” Dubroskaya stiffened visibly, and the governor shook his head quickly. “That’s no reflection on you or your ships, Vice Admiral, I assure you. But I’d be happier if we had an even greater margin of superiority. One thing these people have already demonstrated is that they’re not exactly likely to be reasonable.”

Dubroskaya contented herself with a silent nod, although she wasn’t sure “reasonable” was a word Damián Dueñas should be throwing around at a time like this. Impounding the merchant vessels of a sovereign star nation and jailing their entire ships’ companies without trial or bail didn’t strike her as meeting the dictionary definition of that adverb, either, no matter what theoretical justification for it he might have concocted. On the other hand, the decision wasn’t hers to make, and she wasn’t going to shed any tears about pinning the Manty upstarts’ ears back the way they needed.

“Even assuming there’s any truth to the rumors about Spindle, Governor,” she said, “we’re not picking up anything that could be transporting the missile pods they’d need to equalize the odds here in Saltash.”

Those rumors were a lot more fragmentary than she would have preferred, but they did seem to strongly suggest that Fleet Admiral Sandra Crandall’s visit to the Spindle System hadn’t gone very well. The only problem was that no one in Saltash had a clue as to how badly it might have gone. The battle (if a battle had actually been fought at all) had taken place little more than two months earlier, and there simply hadn’t been time for any reliable account of it to reach a backwoods star system like Saltash.

One thing Dubroskaya was confident of was that the stories they had heard — like the ones about what had happened to Josef Byng in New Tuscany — had obviously grown in the telling. There had to be at least some core of truth to the wild tales of disaster, but the destruction of dozens of SDs while the Manties got off scot free? Ridiculous! Still, the SLN had clearly taken losses and, presumably, retreated from the system in the face of unexpectedly heavy resistance, and that was more than bad enough for Oxana Dubroskaya. The fact that a Solarian fleet had failed to take its objective for the very first time in the SLN’s history was a sobering — and infuriating — thought, and she was determined not to let overconfidence lull her into creating her own disaster, which was one reason she was less than enthralled by Dueñas’ strategy. She and her staff had analyzed the badly garbled bits and pieces of information they had as carefully (and pessimistically) as possible, however, and it seemed evident that the Manties must have managed to get more system-defense missile pods into the system than Crandall had realized. They’d probably been longer-ranged than Crandall had expected, too, judging by the limited accounts they had. That was the only explanation they could come up with…and as she’d just pointed out to the governor, missile pods in Spindle weren’t going to help them in Saltash.

“I’m glad to hear that, of course, Vice Admiral.” Dueñas nodded. “But I’d like to settle this without an exchange of fire if we can, and having more of our warships in attendance might help assure that outcome.”

“I’d just as soon not shoot myself, Sir,” Dubroskaya said. “If the Manties are crazy enough to push it, though, they’ll soon discover they shouldn’t have.”

“I don’t doubt that at all, Vice Admiral,” Dueñas replied. “My concerns have nothing at all to do with your ships or your people. I’m just thinking about the political and diplomatic as opposed to the directly military implications.”

“Understood, Governor.” Dubroskaya nodded, although the truth was that she was far from certain of exactly what Dueñas’ political objectives were in this case. Still, whatever his intentions, his orders had been clear enough.

He wasn’t especially shy about handing those orders out, either, she thought with more than an edge of resentment. She’d been a flag officer for over twenty T-years, and she didn’t enjoy being ordered around by the governor of a single star system on the backside of nowhere that wasn’t even officially League territory. Unfortunately, her deployment orders made the chain of command clear and unambiguous. And according to Tucker Kiernan, her chief of staff, Dueñas was well-connected back on Old Terra, which suggested that pushing back against his presumptuousness might not be a career-enhancing move, however much the pain in the ass deserved it.

What I’d like to do is squash him like a pimple, she thought. But then she gave a mental snort. Not like he’s the first arrogant civilian you’ve had to take orders from, Oxana! And at least the Manties only sent along light cruisers. However…questionable his strategy may be, you’ve got more than enough force advantage to keep a lid on the situation.

“Thank you for getting this information to me so promptly,” Dueñas continued after a moment. “I need to confer with my people here in Kernuish. Please keep us apprised of any additional information that comes your way.”

“Of course, Governor.”

* * *

“What do you think, Cicely?” Damián Dueñas asked two minutes later.

“Probably the same thing you do,” Lieutenant Governor Cicely Tiilikainen replied from his com, and shrugged. “Dubroskaya’s right — they have to be Manties, with that acceleration rate.”

“But why haven’t they said anything yet?” Dueñas wondered out loud.

“Who knows?” Tiilikainen shrugged again. She’d never shown any particular enthusiasm for Dueñas’ plan, and he felt a flicker of anger at her obvious intention to stand back and make it abundantly clear it was his plan. “Maybe it’s some kind of psychological warfare ploy. They have to’ve thrown this together pretty quickly to get here this soon, so maybe they figure we don’t have any Navy detachment of our own. If that’s the way they’re thinking, they may figure that letting you worry about them for a while will soften you up for their demands.”

“Maybe.” Dueñas rubbed his chin, eyes narrowed in thought, carefully taking no note of the second-person pronoun in her last sentence. Then he gave himself a shake and straightened up.

“I’d better get dressed. Meet me in my office as soon as you can.”

“On my way now,” she said, panning her visual pickup to let him look out the side window of her air car as it sped through the sparse late-night aerial traffic of the city of Kernuish. “I’ll be waiting by the time you can get there.”

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28 Responses to Shadow Of Freedom – Snippet 38

  1. Scott says:

    So, how many ships does she have?
    They are stil thinking in terms of system defence pods.
    Only 2 months past so the “Oh shit” moment hasn’t happened yet.
    It will though.

    • John Roth says:

      A bigger question is what ship classes does she have. She’s a vice Admiral, but then the SL has a lot of rank inflation. My guess would be a heavy cruiser division, probably not a BC division.

      Another question: do Rolands have Ghost Rider platforms?

      • iranuke says:

        They had Ghost Rider platforms at New Tuscany in Storm From the Shadows.

      • Robert H. Woodman says:

        I’m wondering if the Sollies have their own system defense missile pods stashed away somewhere in Saltash with the intent of pulling them out if shooting starts.

        • John Roth says:

          Well, we know that Technodyne has them; they got used at the Battle of Monica in Shadow of Saganami. They’ve also been discussed rather freely by various Solarian officers, so they’re not precisely a secret.

          However, Duenas has been talking about wanting reinforcements for Admiral Dumbroska’s (? sp) fleet, so I doubt if he’s got a shoal of system defense pods up his sleeve. If he did, I think he’d be making Evil Overlord noises instead of muttering that the Manties are earlier than he expected and that he’d like reinforcements.

  2. Daryl says:

    I just love the understatement of “strongly suggest that Fleet Admiral Sandra Crandall’s visit to the Spindle System hadn’t gone very well”.

    • Richard H says:

      It’s notable that few or none of them seriously believe that the force *surrendered*, which we all know that we know they did.

      They’re also making the same mistake every single commander on both sides of this war has made with regards to assumptions of missile range. Going all the way back to whatever missiles those Mesa-hired StateSec outlaws had, someone has been surprised by the other sides’s missile range.

  3. ET1swaw aka Rob says:

    They think the Rolands are light cruisers!! I wonder what will go through their minds when they discover that despite their size these Manties consider themselves DDs.
    OTOH if they get (and believe) the info that the largest hulls at Spindle were cruisers (despite considering that the system defence missiles were the true offense/defence) I don’t know if they will increase or decrease their opinion of the capabilities of simple destroyers. IIRC SLN doctrine equates DDs as minor screening elements/convoy escorts at best (overgrown frigates with barbarian/incapable crews).

    Monica, New Tuscany(Byng), and Spindle(Crandell) NTM those Laocoon incidences and the Sollies still haven’t trickled down any coherent info to their forces. I get that Filareta?sp? is still somewhat in the future as well as SL info about what happened in Oyster Bay; but these guys are so clueless!!!

    OTOH the ex-FF admiral with many ties back to the SL is quite possibly a MAlign catspaw (he seems more than suitably corrupt and the timing of his appointment seems suspiciously neat). Him taking Mantie merchantmen hostage (even going so far as to sequester the crews and seize their vessels) kinda hints to something fishy IMO.


    • John Roth says:

      That “big destroyer” thing will tell them that the Manties can’t build a smaller platform with the same firepower as one of their destroyers. At least, that’s what the SLN mindset has always been. It probably won’t occur to them that the size is because they’ve got a lot of very big missiles.

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      In the last snippet we read this:

      Dueñas stiffened and felt his face oozing towards expressionlessness. Merchantships didn’t travel in shoals like that in Solarian dominated space, and he wasn’t expecting any additional Navy visitors. Or not from his own Navy, at any rate.

      Two thoughts now come to my mind. I throw them out for your amusement. 1. The “not from his own Navy” means that he expected the Manties to show up, because he wants a confrontation that ends badly for the SLN; or
      2. “[N]ot from his own Navy” means that he expects the MAlign Navy to show up to offer “assistance” in dealing with the Manticoran problem.

      I really think that option 1 is what Dueñas is after (and what’s going to happen, IMHO), but I wonder if option 2 is in play here. Most likely, given my absymal track record in guessing what MWW intends, he has an option 9 that has not even crossed my mind. It does seem to me, though, that what little we have seen of Dueñas’ mind makes him a MAlign agent who is in the know about MAlign’s plans for the SLN.

      Comments? Rebuttals? Thoughts?

      • John Roth says:

        I expect a variation on #1. The MAlign doesn’t currently have a navy that they’re willing to deploy. Given that he’s impounded some Manticoran ships, he’s got to expect the RMN to show up, just not this soon.

        Whether he’s a knowing MAlign agent, or whether he’s simply being manipulated by the MAlign is something I can’t guess at. What I will suggest is that Admiral Dubroskaya has Cataphracts, though. It’s going to come as a bit of a surprise when the Manty ships stay out of their range, though.

    • Stewart says:

      Rob —

      It’s a bit hard to blame the Sollies when they have been out of the loop on the size and class “inflation” that has been going on in the Haven / Manticore Quadrant of the Honorverse. In our own century consider: the post-Dreadnaught BB’s (including Arizona / Nevada / California (BB-44)) were approx 600 ft +/- long; the light Cruiser California (CGN-36), one of my old ships, was 596 ft (although much less displacement); the new Zumwalt class Destroyers are approx 590-610 ft (don’t have their specs).
      Length within rock-throwing distance the same between all three classes.

      — Stewart (another ET-1 ret)

      • ET1swaw aka Rob says:

        reactor operator or comms/radar?

      • J. says:

        Analog to the size inflation in certain honorverse names might be the size/displacement inflation present in American battleship classes after the launch of HMS Dreadnaught. USS Michigan (BB27) commissioned in 1910 and displaced 16,000 tons. USS Pennsylvania (BB 38) commissioned in 1915 and displaced 31,400 tons. USS West Virgina commissioned in 1923 and displaced 32,600 tons. Then following the Washington treaty the US commissioned the 35,000 ton North Carlolina (BB 55) in 1941 and the 38,000 ton South Dakota (BB 57) in 1942 before it moved on to the 48,500 ton Iowa (BB61) in 1943. (And that leaves out the Montana class which was projected to hit 65,000 tons since the USN finally abandoned the requirement that its battleships had to fit through the Panama canal.) So in 33 years the size displacement of a US battleship basically tripled due to the heavier armor, bigger guns, and more powerful engines.

        You can basically do the same thing with US cruisers, destroyers, etc… In fact the WWII era Alaska class cruisers displaced more and were more heavily armed than the USS Michigan… The same is also true for the Des Moines class heavy cruisers which were also heavier than the USS Michigan and arguably more powerful due to their better firecontrol.

        • J. says:

          Err… This is what happens when I try to post late at night…

          The opening to the previous should be:
          A better analog to the size inflation in certain honorverse navies might be the size/displacement inflation present in American battleship classes after the launch of HMS Dreadnaught.

    • Something very fishy, Rob. If I’m following the timeline correctly–which I admit I may not be, there are so many concurrent threads running through it, but I’m pretty confident that I am–the seizure of the Manty merchies and crews took place BEFORE “Lacoon” was put into motion, which means that Dueñas hugely overstepped his authority, and effectively tipped his hand as to who he is really working for.

      • John Roth says:

        According to my timeline notes, the first Lacoon faceoff (ART chapter 1) occurred in March 1922, while the Saltash confrontation takes place at the end of April, 1922. However, Duneas was assigned to Saltash a year earlier, which suggests that he’s not reacting to Lacoon, but enacting a different plan.

  4. Scott says:

    My thoughts exactly. Make sure several events occur across the league.
    Just in case common sense breaks out, pump as much hydrogen in to the fire at as many points as you can.

  5. John Roth says:

    While this has nothing to do with Shadow of Freedom, let me mention that the House of Steel eARC is now up at Baen: .

  6. Cobbler says:

    This has probably been discussed elsewhere. If so I’ve never read it.

    Is MWW using the difference in size/guns between British and American frigates in the eighteenth century as a pattern here? The disparity in power between America and the British superpower status seems a close enough match to the Manties and the Solarian League.

    • jimhacker says:

      Although weber is a naval history nut and he probably factors that into how he sees events working out, no I’m pretty sure this is not a direct comparison.

    • ET1swaw aka Rob says:

      If you mean theHumphreys frigates (Constitution and her sisters), they were built in the 1790s and most used against the RN in the war of 1812 (early 19th century).
      And though they were overmuscled for their class and on the average smaller class American vessels were better designed as well, they were much too few. The early USN had NO Ships of the Line vice triple digit(Ithink) RN vessels and the Humphreys frigates were only 6. Individually we take pride in many of their accomplishments, but they were widespread isolated incidences. IMO American privateersmen (and some of them were sailing merchant-conversions) did more in the War of 1812 than the USN.

      OTOH the Manties are a WWII level force against a very large battleship-based navy(with much better hulls class by class as well).
      They have made the paradign shift!!!!!!!!


      • Mark L says:

        Actually there were only three 44-gun Humphreys frigates at the start of the Wo1812 – Constitution, United States, and President.

        Three frigates were armed with 18-pound batteries: Constellation, Congress, and Chesapeake. They were rated as 36-gun frigates at the start of the Wo1812, although Chesapeake (along with the departed Philadelphia) had been rated as a 44-gun frigate when launched.

        The USN had some other, smaller 12-pounder frigates, which were recognized as obsolescent by 1812. (Essex was given a virtually all carronade armament to fill the role of an oversized sloop-of-war, because the Navy Dept recognized that even with a long gun battery, it would fare poorly against the standard Royal Navy 18-pounder frigates.)

        In the Wo1812 God was on the side of the heavier battery in every battle or on the side with the better-trained crew when the difference in broadside weight was too small be significant. Chesapeake had a few pounds extra iron over Shannon, but Chesapeake’s crew had been together only a few weeks while Shannon’s had been together for years (and had one of the few RN captains that actually conducted live-fire practice at targets.)

  7. Margo says:

    Back to Duenas – perhaps he’s just an ambitious idiot?! MAlign aren’t everywhere – yet…and certainly not in low-powered placements. The only one we’ve glimpsed is Captain/Rear Admiral Gleon and he is onTerra and head of one of their Navy intellignce departments (ART). And the governments of some (11) SL star systems. The others are agent provocateurs and closer to Mantie space. As the pot starts to boil there are logically going to be splatters of disruption totally un-Aligned to be dealt with.

  8. ronzo says:

    Duenas, doesn’t have to be MAlign agent he would just need be paid or given nudges in the right direction by one. Especially given the tenuous frame work of the Sollies being in this system, it would be a very cheap way of further tarnishing sollie reputation while also causing yet another shooting incident between the league and Manticore. At this point given the acceleration of the MAlign plan I imagine that their “station chiefs” have been given carte blanche to discretely sabotage any interaction between the sollies and Manticore. Because any situation in which cooler head prevail could begin to shift the momentum away from open conflict.
    Given that Abigail generally ends barely scraping through situations that have gone sideways, this should be very interesting

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