Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by StarSword »

Batman wrote:Err-I was referring to the missiles Wayfarer used massing a measly 120 tons yet supposedly being capital scale.
Well, it's been, what, ten T-years in-universe since OBS? Maybe they've bulked up since the last time we got a mass number, or started making them in different sizes.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Batman »

My point was if the missiles on a practically antiquated CL already mass 70 tons, you'd either expect capital ship missiles to mass a hell of a lot more than that, or an explanation for why they don't-we're talking a below 2 mass difference between Fearless and Wayfarer's missiles vs a mass difference of approximately a hundred between the ships.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Batman wrote:Err-I was referring to the missiles Wayfarer used massing a measly 120 tons yet supposedly being capital scale.
Well, we know that SDs are supposed to be able to fire scores of broadsides from internal storage (tech bible says 120 missiles per tube). Given how many tubes they have, that means they have to store somewhere in the general range of seven to ten thousand missiles. If the individual missiles weighed much more than 120 tons, it would be increasingly impractical to fit the requisite number of them inside the ships.

If dreadnought missiles outweighed cruiser missiles by the same margin the capital ship outweighs the cruiser, then the missiles would individually weigh thousands of tons... and the pile of missiles in the dreadnought's magazines would physically outweigh the dreadnought itself.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Ghetto Edit:

I was poking through some of the previous Honor Harrington analysis thread, and... I found a reference to the ground-based missiles Haven supplied to Masada to fortify Blackbird Base. They tipped the scales at a hundred and sixty tons, and were explicitly larger than normal capital ship missiles.

Thinking about it, I suspect that ~100-150 ton missiles are just plain the biggest you get in the Honorverse, for one or more of the following reasons:

1) Larger missiles are so physically hard to handle that it's not worth the bother, and you'd be better off carrying more smaller missiles.
2) It may not be practical to build a platform of, say, 200 tons that accelerates at the rates we normally associate with Honorverse missiles, or at least it may be hard enough that diminishing returns kick in.
3) To make missiles so big and heavy you must sacrifice either salvo volume or sustained combat potential for your ship. Not good.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Lonestar »

Simon_Jester wrote:The Navy is also a long-service organization that until recently was both all-volunteer and relatively limited in size; it relies on a very high level of technical skill among its crews. Two years isn't necessarily enough to learn all the hardware skills you need.
Bit late to the party on this quote, but the USN requires 6 year hitches for the very technical rates(Firecontrolmen, ETs, Sonartechs, various flavors of nukes). Most of the schools require around a years worth of training, plus or minus a few months. The two "dumb" nuke rates are going to have more like 2 years worth of training, and the ET-Nukes are going to walk out with everything they need to get a undergrad degree in nuclear engineering minus the various humanities and such. Unsurprisingly that in the future where naval ships operate far away from tech reps and stuff they would require more training and longer terms of service.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Vehrec »

Hey, is there a definite reason why big ships accelerate slower than smaller ones? I mean, is there a reason you just can't use bigger engines and inertial compensators to create a fast dreadnought that runs with the battlecruisers or even destroyers?
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

I think there is a reason. It seems to have to do with inertial compensators; all ships are physically capable of accelerations greater than their compensators can stand, except for pre-1900 era LACs, which was one of the reasons they sucked.

However, I do not recall what this reason is.

It seems like for a given level of compensator performance there is a fixed curve of practical acceleration as a function of ship mass. The maximum is for relatively low masses (i.e. 50 thousand tons). Then the function drops off slowly (maybe logarithmically, I'd have to graph it to be sure) to something like 0.5 or 0.6 times its maximum (at around 8-9 million tons). Then it drops off quite sharply until for a ship of, say, sixteen million tons, accelerations are down to around 100g.

Improving compensators increases acceleration across the board, to the point where a 'modern' dreadnought probably could pull out all the stops and keep up with a (much older) battlecruiser or maybe even destroyer. But there doesn't seem to be a way to take a ship of 100 times a destroyer's mass and give it a destroyer's acceleration just by doubling up the engines.

Not sure why.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

Vehrec wrote:Hey, is there a definite reason why big ships accelerate slower than smaller ones? I mean, is there a reason you just can't use bigger engines and inertial compensators to create a fast dreadnought that runs with the battlecruisers or even destroyers?
The compensators work by dumping Gs into an "inertial sump" formed by the wedge in normal operations. In a grav wave, the sump is massive, hitching onto the wave. As Simon says, any impeller ship is capable of tens of thousands of Gs, it's the compensators that are lacking.

So there are effectively two factors in a ship's accel/decel. One is the efficiency of the compensator itself in moving G-forces from the ship to the sump, which is why the Grayson-style compensators are a treasure, and part of the reason freighter accel sucks. The other is the mechanical capacity of the sump itself, which is a function of the ratio of ship's mass to wedge size. There's not a lot you can do about that except intentionally limit your ship's mass, or figure out a way to build a much bigger wedge.

I get the feeling (and at this point I'm just speculating) that Honorverse ships already make their wedges as big as possible (or until they hit diminishing returns) as wedge sizes seem pretty uniform, and you'd want as much accel capability as you could reasonably pile on.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Vehrec »

Hmmm. It seems odd that the wedge of a ship that weighs less than the engines of a dreadnought can generate a wedge big enough to well, compensate for the size difference between the hardware. Gravity generating hardware must have a logarithmic scaling factor-small is efficient but big is not so you have to add eight times the mass to double the output? That seems to fit the data

Anyways, it's all speculative I suppose. Though I wonder what the limit would be on a very small, nearly spherical courier with a purpose-built 'cyborg' crew. I suppose the limit might be how much reinforcing of the brain you can do, and how long they could stand to be brains in jars. :p
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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The problem is that once you pass the acceleration limit of the compensator, you get hit by all the G-forces applied to your ship at once. So you basically go from feeling nothing to feeling, say, 500-600 gravities. Which is probably enough to destroy even heavy machinery and solid structures unless they are specifically built to survive such accelerations. I'm not sure even brains in jars could ride it out.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

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Re: wedge sizes and why they are what they are - I suspect it's a problem with the wedge-generating machinery rather than with the power supplies. Suppose a superdreadnought's wedge represents a practical maximum size for current Honorverse 'physics.' Do smaller ship classes generate wedges which are closer in size to an SD's wedge than the ships are themselves, proportionally? If so I'd consider that pretty compelling evidence that the limit isn't on the power generation side. I'd check myself but I haven't got the books on hand.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Esquire wrote:Re: wedge sizes and why they are what they are - I suspect it's a problem with the wedge-generating machinery rather than with the power supplies. Suppose a superdreadnought's wedge represents a practical maximum size for current Honorverse 'physics.' Do smaller ship classes generate wedges which are closer in size to an SD's wedge than the ships are themselves, proportionally? If so I'd consider that pretty compelling evidence that the limit isn't on the power generation side. I'd check myself but I haven't got the books on hand.
My understanding is that they do. For that matter, missile wedges are within an order of magnitude of capital ship wedge sizes, and missiles weigh about five orders of magnitude less.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

Esquire wrote:Re: wedge sizes and why they are what they are - I suspect it's a problem with the wedge-generating machinery rather than with the power supplies. Suppose a superdreadnought's wedge represents a practical maximum size for current Honorverse 'physics.' Do smaller ship classes generate wedges which are closer in size to an SD's wedge than the ships are themselves, proportionally? If so I'd consider that pretty compelling evidence that the limit isn't on the power generation side. I'd check myself but I haven't got the books on hand.
Yes they do. The primary means of estimating ship classes from a distance is how quickly they're accelerating or decelerating, or the splash if they emerge from hyper. Which is how they're sometimes able to be deceptive about them.

Vehrec wrote: Anyways, it's all speculative I suppose. Though I wonder what the limit would be on a very small, nearly spherical courier with a purpose-built 'cyborg' crew. I suppose the limit might be how much reinforcing of the brain you can do, and how long they could stand to be brains in jars. :p
The short answer is "not nearly enough difference to be worth the radical redesign and cyborg brain-jars." Honorverse speeds through hyper are determined by other factors (grav waves, particle density and rad-shielding) and are pretty fixed. So is sublight speed, though it takes hours to build up to or come down from 0.8 c. As part of getting from point A to point B a ship will spend 10-30 hours (depending on ship type and distance to hyper limit) leaving the system, go through hyper, then spend a similar length maneuvering in-system. And if you're a courier, you probably transmit during that final stage.

If you could increase grav resistance a hundred times with cyborg modifications, you might be able to shave a whole three hours off a trip that will probably take several weeks.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

So, 75% of the way through. Honor got the bad guy, captured Caslet, proved the existence of the Haven commerce raiders which will shortly force them to abandon operations. Even the bullying subplot has been wrapped with a pretty bow. So what will we do with the long denoument? Crap. She's going to go after Giscard's BC squadron herself. After all, we haven't had a death ride in this book, and we need to wrap up the Hauptman storyline.
Like every wartime passenger ticket, the tickets of Artemis' current passengers specifically included the proviso that her captain, at her discretion, could make such changes in scheduling en route to their ticketed destinations as she deemed appropriate. That proviso was intended to allow a skipper to protect his vessel by avoiding danger spots without fear of legal action from an irate passenger, but that wasn't what it was being used for this time.

Klaus Hauptman had decided he needed three extra days with his primary Andermani factor in Sligo. It was typical of the man's arrogance that he'd directed Fuchien to hold the ship there while he dealt with his business affairs. Usher doubted he'd even considered the extent to which it might inconvenience others, though he had gone out of his way to provide free shuttle service to and from the planet Erin's renowned ski resorts.

-snip-

There were three Hauptman Line freighters in New Berlin when Artemis and Hawkwing arrived, all waiting to join the next scheduled escorted convoy. But ships didn't earn any money sitting still. Despite their huge size, interstellar freighters were cheaper to operate on a ton-for-ton cargo basis than most forms of purely planetary transport. A single freighter could easily stow four or five million tons of cargo, and counter grav and impellers made it easy enough to lift freight out of a gravity well to make even interstellar transport of foodstuffs a paying proposition. But she also cost her owners almost as much to operate sitting in a parking orbit as she did earning revenue between stars, and no shipowner liked to see his vessels waiting around.

Of course, given ship losses in Silesia, only an idiot wanted them to proceed independently when they didn't have to, either. Swinging around a planet while they waited for the next convoy might shrink profit margins, but not as much as losing the entire ship would. Unfortunately, Hauptman had seen no reason not to make use of the destroyer which "just happened" to be going his way, and he'd instructed his freighters to join Artemis for the trip to Sachsen.
Liners reserve the right to divert or stay put in wartimes. Spacelift is cheap enough and freighters have so much cargo capacity that pretty much anything can be shipped to another system at a profit.

Artemis' bridge was a peculiar hybrid. Civilian vessels required fewer watch officers, yet civilian bridges were usually larger than those aboard warships, where internal space was always at a premium. That normally made a merchant ship's bridge seem almost ostentatiously spacious to a naval officer, but Artemis' command deck was more crowded than most. A naval-style tactical plot occupied a full quarter of the available space, and a combined EW and missile control station, already manned by Lieutenant Annabelle Ward and her tactical crews, was placed right beside it.

Fuchien came to a halt at Ward's shoulder and glared at the plot. All she could see were the freighters and her own ship, all accelerating at their best speed—close to two thousand gravities, thanks to the grav wave—at right angles to their previous heading. Hawkwing was also visible, on an exactly reciprocal heading at over fifty-two hundred gravities. The range between them was opening at over fifty-one KPS2, and the destroyer was already 3.75 light-seconds—over a million kilometers—astern of the merchantmen.
So pretty much an order of magnitude increase in accel/decal in a grav wave. Also the differences between freighter and warship bridges: merchantmen have less stations and less need to worry about wasted space/mass so their bridges are usually very roomy.

Fuchien nodded and turned her attention back to Ward's plot. The destroyer was a full thirty light-seconds astern now, with a relative velocity of over thirty thousand KPS, and she was already deploying missile decoys. That was an ominous sign, and Fuchien swallowed a sudden lump of fear. Why was Usher doing that? Nothing could be in missile range without showing up on Artemis' scanners, whatever local conditions were like!
I was going to comment that even a liner captain is absolutely confident that in the worst sensor conditions he can spot a ship at ~40 light-seconds (distance to Hawkwing plus missile ranges for high-speed attackers) but the next couple chapters reveal that Artemis has a sensor suite almost as good as a BCs. In fact, it is a Manty BCs, less the classified bits. Still another useful data-point regarding detection ranges.

Her voice chopped off abruptly as Usher threw Hawkwing into a violent turn to port. The destroyer screamed around, and even as she turned, she was spinning on her axis. Missiles spat from both broadsides, drives programmed to bring the double salvos in together on whatever she was shooting at, and Ward paled. Hawkwing's launchers were at maximum rate fire, each launcher spitting out a missile every seventeen seconds. What in God's name was out there to draw that kind of fire from the opening broadside?
Is that another double broadside? And damn it, now we have a Mantie destroyer spamming fire at a rate sluggish for the first two books so we can't even pretend that Honor was confused about the source of her missile launchers and the low rate of fire was a Grayson thing.

Hawkwing's first double salvo detonated, bomb-pumped lasers slashing at something no one on Artemis' bridge could even see. There was absolutely nothing there according to their sensors, yet five full double broadsides tore down on exactly the same spot and detonated with savage fury. And then, suddenly, Hawkwing ceased fire, turned another ninety degrees to port, and came loping after the merchantmen.

Fuchien stared at the plot in total confusion, then turned to meet Ward's gaze. The tac officer looked just as confused as Fuchien was and raised her hands in baffled ignorance.

"Beats the hell out of me, Skipper. Never saw anything like it in my life."

"I—"

"Burst transmission from Hawkwing, Captain," the com officer announced.

"On speaker," Fuchien said tautly.

"All ships resume original heading," Gene Usher's voice said pleasantly. "Thank you for your cooperation and excellent response time, but this concludes our unscheduled exercise."
Or, the only way Hawkwing's captain could think of to mess with Hauptman and express his displeasure.

Like the wine, the novel in her lap was a gift from her father. She hadn't had much time to read over the past arduous months, and she'd decided to save it for a special treat—a reward to herself, which she would know she'd earned when she actually had time to read it anyway.

It was a very, very old book, and despite the way printed and audio recordings had frozen the language, its pre-space English was hard to follow, especially when characters used period slang. It had also been written using the old English system of measurement. Math had never been Honor's strong suit, and all she knew about English measurement was that a "yard" was a little shorter than a meter and that a "mile" was a little less than two kilometers. She had no idea how many grams there were in a "pound," which was of considerable importance for this particular novel, and the situation was complicated by the fact that "pounds" (and also "guineas" and "shillings") seemed to be monetary units, as well. She remembered pounds (and "francs") from her study of the Napoleonic Wars, but her texts had converted most monetary amounts into present-day dollars, which left her only a vague notion of how much a pound had been worth, and she'd never heard of "guineas" or "shillings" in her life. It was all very confusing, though she was fairly confident she was catching most of it from context, and she considered—again—querying her desk computer for English measurement equivalents and a table of pre-space currencies.

-snip-

Well, that was for the future—which had a pronounced gift for taking care of itself in its own good time, however much humans dithered in the process. Meanwhile, she had an excellent glass of wine and a novel which was thoroughly enjoyable. This Forester guy writes a darned good book, and I can certainly identify with his hero. Besides—she giggled—I like his initials!
Ha. Ha ha ha ha. And, special bonus, Ha.

Seriously, when I was thirteen I got that, but didn't see any point. As an adult, I still see no point to referencing Hornblower in this series, except perhaps to say that he isn't trying to hide the source of his inspiration.

She was a captain of the list with almost nine years' seniority. Even if the Opposition managed to block any Admiralty plans to promote her out of the zone, time in grade would make her a commodore within another four or five years—probably less; wars gave ample opportunity to step into a dead man's shoes. And from what Earl White Haven had said on Grayson, she'd probably be dropped into an acting commodore's slot much sooner.

When that happened, her days as a captain would be over. A part of her looked forward to it as she always looked forward to the next challenge—with anticipation and an eagerness to be about it—and for once she didn't feel the nagging uncertainty that this time she might not be equal to the task. She'd proven she could command a squadron of the wall—or, for that matter, an entire heavy task force—in Yeltsin. More than that, she knew she'd done it well. Her abilities as a strategist had not yet been tested, but she knew she could hack the tactical side of it.

But for all the satisfaction that brought her, and for all her awareness that without flag rank she could never play a role on the larger stage of actually shaping the war's direction, she hated the thought of giving up the white beret of a starship's commander. She knew she'd been lucky to command as many ships as she had, and to have had two of them straight from the builders as a keel plate owner, but she also knew she would always hunger for just one more.
Kind of conflicted. On the one hand, yes it's good to have more insight into Honor's character and having her feel conflicted is very real and humanizing. On the gripping hand, she's been an admiral for almost three years, she's lucky to get a single-ship command again if that's what she really wants, why complain?

Oh well, let's get to the actual fighting.

"He's altering course again, Skipper," her tac officer reported tersely. "I don't— Jesus!" Another double broadside spat from the Manticoran destroyer, and at least half the incoming birds carried jammers and penetration aids, not warheads. They played merry hell with Kerebin's point defense, and Stellingetti swore again as yet another laser smashed into her ship's hull.
Kind of heavy on the EW, but it helps at least one missile get thorough. Pretty good, since this is a destroyer fighting a battlecruiser.

The one Tactical had originally assumed was a battlecruiser might just pull it off. She was generating delta vee at an amazing rate for a merchie, and Stellingetti wondered what the hell she was. She certainly wasn't the warship CIC had initially called her. No Manty battlecruiser would run away, leaving a single destroyer to cover her flight.

No, that had to be a merchant ship, and Stellingetti felt a cold chill as a thought occurred to her. Whatever it was, it mounted excellent point defense as well as a military-grade drive, and she was abruptly glad it did. The entire picket line had been coasting towards Silesia under total EmCon at barely 40,000 KPS to allow other traffic—traveling at the maximum 44,000 KPS local conditions imposed—to overtake, when the small convoy strayed into Kerebin's sights, and Stellingetti had thrown her entire opening salvo at the "battlecruiser" on the assumption that it was her most dangerous foe. Its defenses had stopped a lot of her birds, despite its surprise, yet she'd scored at least three direct hits. If it hadn't mounted point defense, she would have blown it right out of space, and if it was what she suddenly suspected it was . . .
Ambush directed most of their fire on Artemis, which stopped most of it before running like heck. Cruising pattern of Giscard's raiders, spread out near the limits of comm range so they could be rapidly informed if anyone spotted a convoy. Oh, and cue horrified reaction at the realization they fired on a passenger liner.

"Pass—" Herrick broke off. "Christ, Skipper! If that's an Atlas, she could have up to five thousand passengers on board, and we hit her clean at least three times!"

-snip-

Margaret Fuchien slammed her fists together, eyes burning with shame as she glared down at Annabelle Ward's tactical display. Artemis' missiles might have made the difference between death and survival for Hawkwing . . . if she'd been allowed to fire them. But Commander Usher's harsh orders had been unequivocal, and he'd been right. If Artemis fired on the Peep, the Peep would certainly—and justifiably—return fire, and the unarmored liner's weapons were intended to deal with pirates of cruiser size or smaller. No one in her worst nightmares had ever anticipated her going toe-to-toe with a Peep battlecruiser. Even if Artemis and Hawkwing won, the liner would be hammered to scrap, and she had almost three thousand passengers on board. Fuchien couldn't endanger those passengers by trying to help Hawkwing, and so she was running at her best acceleration while the destroyer died to cover her flight.
Artemis can fit 5,000, but 4,000 or so are needed to break even on a trip.

With their impellers and active sensors down, there'd been no emissions signature to warn Hawkwing—or Artemis—until they launched, and they'd obviously misread Artemis for a battlecruiser. That was all that had prevented Hawkwing's instant destruction, and Ward had done almost impossibly well to stop seventy-five percent of the incoming fire.
So we have a rare example of ships hiding doggo by accelerating up to speed and then shutting down their drives and continuing at that velocity.

When she was gone, the Peeps would be coming after Artemis, and if Fuchien couldn't climb higher than the delta bands, there was no way in hell she could outrun them. She could match them kilometer for kilometer in actual velocity, but she'd been caught in the delta bands because the accompanying freighters could go no higher. From Cheney's report, she couldn't either, now, and that was going to be fatal. Unlike her, the Peeps could still pop up into the epsilon or zeta bands, overfly her easily, then drop back down into the deltas right on top of her.
The problems with fleeing military ships in hyperspace, which wouldn't apply to Artemis except for bsttle damage.

"Skipper, I can't stop a battlecruiser from blowing us apart eventually. We might last a while against just her chaser tubes, but we'll never stand more than a half-dozen full broadsides."
This is with point defense damaged earlier. Then again, it took something like that to off the one Chalice ship in the beginning.

The plot was further confused by the Manty's EW drones, but Kerebin had been close enough to see them launch and CIC had managed to keep track of them as they came on-line. Knowing which were false targets allowed her to ignore them to concentrate on the real one, and the battlecruiser plunged after it. Battle damage had reduced her own acceleration by five percent, but she was smaller than her prey, and she could still pull a higher accel than the Manty could.
This is probably a relatively close range thing, since tracking the decoys before they activate has never come up before or since.

"Damn!" The citizen captain gnawed on a thumbnail and, for the first time, wished Commissioner Reidel were aboard. It wasn't like Stellingetti to evade responsibility, but if the Committee of Public Safety was going to saddle her with its damned spy, the son-of-a-bitch could at least make himself useful by telling her how to clean this mess up! Her orders required her to "use any means necessary" to prevent any Manticoran-flag vessel from escaping with word of the task force's presence, but when Citizen Admiral Giscard and People's Commissioner Pritchart wrote that order, they'd never contemplated having a passenger liner on their hands. Stellingetti's conscience would never forgive her if she killed several thousand civilians, yet her orders left no option. If the liner wouldn't stop, she had to destroy it, and her soul shriveled at the thought. No doubt Public Information would claim the ship had been armed—which it was—and that its armament and refusal to stop had made it a legitimate target. Public Information was good at blaming victims for their fate. But Stellingetti would still have to look into her mirror every day.

And what was the damned Andermani up to? Her orders also required her to steer clear of Andies, and even to assist them against other raiders. But if that freighter insisted on poking its nose into this, it would be sitting right there, witness to the entire incident if she blew away the liner. And what did she do then? Did she kill the Andy, too, just to finish off any witnesses who might dispute Public Information's version of what had happened out here?
Villains with consciences. Always a nice departure. And Public Information's spin-doctoring abilities.

Far astern of her, the cruiser Durandel launched her own pinnaces to assist Kerebin's SAR efforts. They'd already picked up over eighty members of Hawkwing's crew, an amazingly high number which spoke volumes for the determination of the searching pinnaces, yet the cruiser's rescue operations had effectively taken her out of the hunt. The battlecruiser Achmed, however, had come rumbling past Durandel over forty minutes ago, with her velocity building steadily, and she still had an excellent chance to overtake Kerebin and Artemis.
Peep forces in this battle. Kerebin launched pinnaces immediately to retrieve Hawkwing's survivors while continuing the pursuit of the convoy, and now another cruiser has taken itself out of the fight entirely for this humanitarian purpose.

"Coming up on eight hundred thousand klicks," Edwards announced, and Stellingetti grunted. Another light-second and a half, and she could bring the Manty under fire with her energy weapons. The Andy's interference wouldn't save the liner from that, and when the Manty captain realized he couldn't possibly get away, he'd have no choice but to—

"Missile trace!" Edwards screamed, and Marie Stellingetti half-rose from her command chair in disbelief. It wasn't possible! That titanic salvo couldn't be from the Manty, or she would never have abandoned the destroyer! They had to be from the Andy, but how—?

"Hard skew port!" she shouted. "Return fire on the Andy!"

Kerebin snapped around to her left, rolling frantically to interpose her wedge against the incoming holocaust, but there was no escape—not from that many missiles. She got a single broadside of her own into space before her writhing evasion maneuvers threw her tubes off target, but no one aboard had time to see what—if anything—her fire accomplished. The missiles roaring down on her would arrive a full twenty seconds before her own did. They streaked in, spreading out to englobe the battlecruiser, and there was nothing she could do to escape. ECM fought to confuse them, counter missiles roared out, laser clusters trained onto the incoming laser heads and fired with desperate intensity, and almost a hundred missiles lost track or vanished in the fireballs of successful intercepts. But five hundred others kept coming, and as they reached attack position and detonated, their x-ray lasers engulfed Kerebin like a dragon's breath.

They didn't all reach attack position at once. They came in in sequence, and it took almost nine seconds for all of them to detonate, but the trailers were simply wasted effort. Five seconds after the first laser head detonated, PNS Kerebin and every man and woman aboard her had become an expanding ball of plasma.
The Andy merchant with the bizarre behavior is Wayfarer, which fires 600 missiles into the teeth of Kerebin at point blank range. They stop a hundred missiles and get off a single retaliation broadside.

Honor Harrington made herself sit motionless as the damage reports washed over her. A part of her was horrified at what she'd just done, but a Sultan-class battlecruiser was simply too dangerous to fool around with. She'd had to take it out with her first salvo, even knowing that so much overkill virtually guaranteed there would be no survivors from her target, and so she'd just blown over two thousand people to plasma without giving them any chance at all.
Kerebin was a Sultan-class, like Saladin/Thunder of God.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Batman »

Re Hawkwing's less than stellar refire rate, you have to remember that she was considered middle-aged by the time Honor got her-ten or so years before OBS. That ship is hardly representative of contemporary Manticoran technology.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Batman »

Just thought I'd add my own 2 cents to this, if a bit belatedly.
Vehrec wrote:Hmmm. It seems odd that the wedge of a ship that weighs less than the engines of a dreadnought can generate a wedge big enough to well, compensate for the size difference between the hardware. Gravity generating hardware must have a logarithmic scaling factor-small is efficient but big is not so you have to add eight times the mass to double the output? That seems to fit the data
Anyways, it's all speculative I suppose. Though I wonder what the limit would be on a very small, nearly spherical courier with a purpose-built 'cyborg' crew. I suppose the limit might be how much reinforcing of the brain you can do, and how long they could stand to be brains in jars. :p
As ship geometry is apparently mandated by the physics of impeller/sail drive I don't think a spherical ship (of whatever size) is going to work, and even if it did, what difference would it make? The limiting factor for Honorverse ship acceleration isn't 'how fast can the engines go', it's 'how much of it can we use without the crew going splat'. Any impeller-driven ship can theoretically go from a standing start to lightspeed in an instant, it's how much acceleration they can actually compensate for that limits them, and for whatever reason, small ships can do that better than big ones.
'Next time I let Superman take charge, just hit me. Real hard.'
'You're a princess from a society of immortal warriors. I'm a rich kid with issues. Lots of issues.'
'No. No dating for the Batman. It might cut into your brooding time.'
'Tactically we have multiple objectives. So we need to split into teams.'-'Dibs on the Amazon!'
'Hey, we both have a Martian's phone number on our speed dial. I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt.'
'You know, for a guy with like 50 different kinds of vision, you sure are blind.'
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Ahriman238 wrote:I was going to comment that even a liner captain is absolutely confident that in the worst sensor conditions he can spot a ship at ~40 light-seconds (distance to Hawkwing plus missile ranges for high-speed attackers) but the next couple chapters reveal that Artemis has a sensor suite almost as good as a BCs. In fact, it is a Manty BCs, less the classified bits. Still another useful data-point regarding detection ranges.
Of course, realistically with military sensor suites the classified bits make almost all the difference. The power behind a radar antenna or sonar system is nothing compared to the role of signal processing and so on, and that stuff is classified about as deep and dark as the secrets of nuclear bomb design in real life.

I mean... if the Hauptmann line can outright purchase equipment used aboard an RMN battlecruiser, so can a Havenite front company. So the RMN can't possibly be allowing the stuff that gives them a real technical edge to go out on the open market- they'd lose that edge almost instantly as soon as someone had the sense to order it on eBay.

Plus, Artemis probably lacks anything like the EW drones used by RMN ships. So no, I'd suspect that its sensor suite is sharply inferior to that of a real warship, even though it's greatly superior to that of a normal merchantman, and very possibly a normal pirate.
Is that another double broadside? And damn it, now we have a Mantie destroyer spamming fire at a rate sluggish for the first two books so we can't even pretend that Honor was confused about the source of her missile launchers and the low rate of fire was a Grayson thing.
...Huh? I don't understand what you're talking about.
Kind of conflicted. On the one hand, yes it's good to have more insight into Honor's character and having her feel conflicted is very real and humanizing. On the gripping hand, she's been an admiral for almost three years, she's lucky to get a single-ship command again if that's what she really wants, why complain?
Eh, she'll miss it, especially now that she got another taste.

She loved this role of captain, and she probably quietly resigned herself to the idea that it was gone forever after she went to Grayson for Flag in Exile. Then she gets it back, and it's like everything's back to the 'good old days' before the war for her: hyper-capable command fighting pirates in Silesia, like she's experienced on... what, at least three tours of duty before?

Thinking about the novel up to this point, her ship kicks ass, the enemies go down like a bunch of chumps, it's practically a dream command.

Now she realizes it's going to end.

I can't blame her for being a bit conflicted.
Kind of heavy on the EW, but it helps at least one missile get thorough. Pretty good, since this is a destroyer fighting a battlecruiser.
Of course, destroyer-weight missiles probably aren't going to be all that effective against a battlecruiser, but at least Hawkwing IS landing hits.
So we have a rare example of ships hiding doggo by accelerating up to speed and then shutting down their drives and continuing at that velocity.
This might not work well in real life. Recently I calculated that the radiation flux experienced by an object moving at 0.9c through interplanetary space is 480 kilowatts per square meter- ignoring effects of radiation itself, the heat transfer is forty times that experienced at noon on Mercury. So an object moving that fast would have (in principle) a very visible heat signature because it's bright and glowy.

Now, we don't know what the density of particles in hyperspace actually is; we're assured that it's "high" but we're not told how many orders of magnitude greater than interplanetary vacuum in Euclidean space (two? one? half of one?). On the other hand, the battlecruisers are only moving at about .13c, not .9c.

Hm. In interplanetary space, a square-meter area of the battlecruiser's hull sweeps out a volume... forty thousand kilometers long, forty million meters long, and one meter high and one meter wide. Forty million cubic meters per second.

If we assume something like solar flare conditions (100 particles per cubic centimeter)... hm.

Forty million cubic meters, one million cc's per cubic meter, forty trillion cubic centimeters and four quadrillion subatomic particle strikes per square meter per second. Assuming the particles are mostly at rest "relative to the fixed stars," the impact velocity is 0.13c.

Space is electrically neutral, so assume half those particles are electrons of negligible mass, to balance the charge of the protons. The other half are protons- so, two quadrillion protons per second at 0.13c. [And you thought those missile barrages were numerous!]

0.13c isn't atom-smasher speeds, so we can theoretically just pour the protons onto a scale, weigh them, and use the nonrelativistic kinetic energy equation for a rough approximation. (2*10^15 protons)(1.67*10^-27 kg/proton)...

OK, that's 3.33*10^-12 kilograms of protons. Impact velocity 4*10^7 m/s, we got that earlier. One half em vee squared...

0.5*(3.33*10^-12)*(4*10^7)*(4*10^7) joules...

Roughly 2600 joules.

2.6 kilojoules per second per square meter, or 2.6 kW per square meter.

Okay, that's pretty intense by merely human standards, and that's fairly hard radiation flux, but it's not going to light the ship's bow up like a flare.



At this point, of course, you'll say: But Simon, Honorverse ships have some kind of radiation-proof force-field protecting them!

I'll reply, of course they do, but for our purposes what makes the ship detectable are energetic side effects of radiation flux being stopped by a fast-moving object... and when subatomic particles hit that radiation shield, there will assuredly be side effects.

So anyway.

The practical upshot is, if a fast-moving, truly relativistic object coasts past you in deep space, if it's close enough you'll be able to spot the highly energetic side effects of its passage through space, because it's slamming through the interplanetary/interstellar medium like a relativistic icebreaker. Particles and heat will scatter away in all directions.

But at speeds that I would call "mildly relativistic" or "not really relativistic," and forty thousand km/s qualifies... the intensity is much less. Both because your ship is hitting fewer particles per second, and because it is not hitting them nearly as hard.

And for that matter I may have miscalculated earlier. :(
"Skipper, I can't stop a battlecruiser from blowing us apart eventually. We might last a while against just her chaser tubes, but we'll never stand more than a half-dozen full broadsides."
This is with point defense damaged earlier. Then again, it took something like that to off the one Chalice ship in the beginning.
Plus, remember that Sirius had roughly a battlecruiser's armament- and the missile defenses of Honor's old CL Fearless were enough to "last a while" against Sirius's six-tube chase armament.
The Andy merchant with the bizarre behavior is Wayfarer, which fires 600 missiles into the teeth of Kerebin at point blank range. They stop a hundred missiles and get off a single retaliation broadside.
Six hundred? That's ten patterns of pods- I'm genuinely surprised.

Then again, when you've long since ceased to care about fire control telemetry, there's really not much stopping you from doing that.

Of course, Kerebin gets some hits in too, as I recall...
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Terralthra »

Ahriman238 wrote:So, 75% of the way through. Honor got the bad guy, captured Caslet, proved the existence of the Haven commerce raiders which will shortly force them to abandon operations. Even the bullying subplot has been wrapped with a pretty bow. So what will we do with the long denoument? Crap. She's going to go after Giscard's BC squadron herself. After all, we haven't had a death ride in this book, and we need to wrap up the Hauptman storyline.
To my knowledge, she doesn't know it's a battle-cruiser squadron. She encounters a single light cruiser. She guesses the probable strength as being a squadron of heavy cruisers, maybe battlecruisers, but she never intended to actually engage whatever she found. She found out about the orders to assist IAN ships, and plans to just sail through the rift under IAN transponders and scan for a sign of enemy ships, while avoiding engagement. Her plan is to confirm the presence or absence of PRN ships, and bail the hell out for reinforcements. Coming across Artemis under attack changes her plan, as the presence of 3k+ civilians damn well ought for a navy with the Saganami tradition.
Ahriman238 wrote:Is that another double broadside? And damn it, now we have a Mantie destroyer spamming fire at a rate sluggish for the first two books so we can't even pretend that Honor was confused about the source of her missile launchers and the low rate of fire was a Grayson thing.
Yep, that's the third time we see a light ship doing a double broadside.
Ahriman238 wrote:Peep forces in this battle. Kerebin launched pinnaces immediately to retrieve Hawkwing's survivors while continuing the pursuit of the convoy, and now another cruiser has taken itself out of the fight entirely for this humanitarian purpose.
Sure, but as far as the other BC knows, there isn't a battle any more. Hawkwing is gone, and the only targets left on the scope are merchies. Given the apparent circumstances, simple humanity says what the hell else do you but help the helpless?
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

But the Peep hadn't gone without striking back. Her single broadside had sent twenty missiles slashing towards Wayfarer and Artemis, and the liner's proximity had forced Honor to make her own ship an even easier target. If any of those missiles had gone after Artemis and gotten through, they could easily have destroyed her, and with her the very civilians Honor was fighting to protect. And so she'd turned Wayfarer directly across the liner's stern, deliberately sucking Kerebin's dying vengeance in upon her. Her missile defense crews had done well, but she'd never had a proper warship's point defense, and eight laser heads had gotten through.

"We've got ninety-two confirmed dead so far, Skipper," Rafe Cardones said harshly. "Sickbay reports over sixty additional casualties, and they're still bringing them in."

"Material damage?"

"We've lost Grasers One, Three, and Five out of the port broadside," Tschu replied from Damage Control Central. "Missiles One and Seven are gone, as well, and Five and Nine are available only in local control. LAC One's launch bays are totaled, but at least they were empty. Gravitic Two is gone, I've lost three sidewall generators, also from the port sidewall, and Impeller Two's lost a beta node."

"Skipper, I'm reporting negative function from Cargo One," Jennifer Hughes added urgently, and Honor felt her belly knot.

"Harry?"

"I'm checking now. We don't show a rail malfunction, but—" The engineer broke off and mouthed a silent curse. "Correction. We do show a malfunction—it's just not with the launch system." He studied his monitors, then shook his head. "The rails are still up, Skipper; it's the cargo doors. That hit in the after impeller ring must've sent a surge through their power train. The port door's cycled half-way shut, and the starboard door's almost as far in."
Damage to Wayfarer. They've lost the pod-bay doors, which says bad things about their chances of survival against the next BC.

"Understood." Honor's mind raced. Her ship was pathetically slow compared to the Peep warship still charging towards her, the brutal damage to her port broadside reduced her close-range firepower by a quarter, and the jammed cargo doors amputated her ability to deploy pods. Even if Tschu had time to get the port door open again, she'd lost two thirds of her long range punch. Her chance to survive against a regular warship which got inside her missile envelope was virtually nil, and as the first Peep battlecruiser had just demonstrated, even a ship she managed to kill with missiles could still take Wayfarer with it.

She still had her second LAC squadron—that was why she'd exposed her port side, rather than the starboard launch bays—and she could use them here in the Selker. With them to support her, she'd be willing to take on a heavy cruiser even without her missile pods, but they wouldn't be enough against a battlecruiser. Even if she managed to destroy something that size, it would smash Wayfarer up so badly any of the other Peep warships could take her with ease.
Well, at least she still has the LACs.

"As I say, I intend to transfer all nonessential personnel to your vessel," Honor went on. "I will also be detaching six LACs to support and cover you. As soon as the transfer is complete, you and the LACs will shut down all emissions. All of them, Captain Fuchien. I want you to turn your ship into a hole in space, do you understand me?"

"Yes." The word came out of Fuchien in a near-whisper, and Honor made herself smile.

"Before you shut down, I'll deploy an EW drone programmed to match your emissions. Wayfarer will break away from you, taking that drone with her. With any luck, the Peeps will think we're remaining in company and leave you alone. As soon as you're certain they have, I want you to begin a gradual downward translation. Drop into n-space and stay there for at least ten days. Ten days, Captain! Repair your generator and put as much space between you and this volume of h-space as you can before you go back into hyper."

"You coward!" Klaus Hauptman hissed. He was out of control, and he knew it, and it shamed him, but he couldn't help himself. It wasn't fear for himself; it was fear for his daughter which drove him. "You're not even going to try to defend this ship! You're just going to run away and hope no one spots us! You're abandoning us to save your own gutless—"

"Daddy, shut up!" Hauptman whirled from the com, for the icy voice wasn't Honor Harrington's. It was Stacey's, and her eyes flamed with a fury he'd never seen in them before.

"But she's—"

"She's about to die for you, Daddy," Stacey Hauptman said in a voice of iron. "Surely that should be enough even for you!"

Hauptman staggered, wounded as no one had ever wounded him, and his soul shriveled at the look in his daughter's eyes.

"But—" He swallowed. "But it's you I'm worried ab—" he began again, but Stacey only reached past him and slammed her hand down on the com disconnect. And then she turned her back, and walked out of his stateroom without another word.
The plan. Wayfarer and an EW drone impersonating the liner go one way, Artemis kills it's drive and hides, along with Wayfarer's wounded, prisoners and nonessentials and the LACs for an escort.

Also, the moment Klaus Hauptman goes too far and has a personal crisis, emerging as a right-thinking person who, naturally, simply adores Honor.

"We'll do our best to draw them after us. How good are your sensors?"

"We've got the same electronic suite the Homer-class battlecruisers started the war with, and we've received most of the Phase One and Two upgrades, including the decoys and EW drones—everything but the stealth systems and FTL com. Those were too highly classified."
Maybe the Hauptman cartel has better sources in the Navy, and is able to get this hardware with the understanding that there can be no leaks? Everything but the stealth and FTL comm. Also, there have been at least two major sensor upgrades since the war started.


"I see." Honor had commanded five starships. Now the second had been scrapped, the first had been destroyed, and the last was about to die with her. She allowed herself one more moment to grieve for the ship which had once meant all the universe to her, then opened her eyes once more, and her soprano voice was calm and even. "All right, Captain. I'll be transferring at least one of my surgeons, as many SBAs as I can spare, and all our wounded to you. Do you have the facilities to handle them?"

"We'll damned well make the facilities, Milady."

"Thank you. Now, about the LACs. They're a new model, and the six of them can probably stand up to a heavy cruiser for you if they have to. They don't have hyper generators or Warshawski sails, however. They can't enter a grav wave, and you'll have to take their crews off and destroy them when you begin translating."
Honor has a quiet moment for her first command's loss. Then reminds them to scuttle the LACs when the time comes to ditch them.

Master at Arms Thomas was dead, as was his senior assistant, and none of Wayfarer's surviving police force thought to check the brig. Randy Steilman, Jackson Coulter, Elizabeth Showforth, Ed Illyushin, and Al Stennis had been given skinsuits when the ship went to battle stations. But they were still confined in their cells—which were located at the core of the ship and safer than almost any other place aboard her, anyway—but brig skinnies didn't have coms, and no one heard their screams for release.
Master at Arms, and a dedicated police force for the ship. Apparently there are special skinsuits without comms for the brig, so prisoners aren't vac-fodder. Which sort of contradicts the need for each skinnie to be carefully and precisely tailored to each wearer. Or maybe they seize the prisoner's suits and give them a helmet with no comm? Anyway, in all the rush and casualties, everyone completely forgets about Steilman and his merry band of deserters.

Klaus Hauptman sat in his stateroom, hunched in a deeply cushioned chair while he held his face in his hands, and shame filled him. Not the anger which so often drove him: shame. Raw, biting shame. The kind that crawled up inside a man and destroyed him. A part of him knew it was his terrible fear for his daughter which had driven him to defy Honor Harrington, to rail and curse at her, yet that offered no comfort, no shield against the hurt shock, the disbelief that he could do such a thing, he'd seen in Stacey's eyes. The one person in the universe whose good opinion truly mattered to him had looked into his soul and turned away from what she saw there, and he felt his eyes burn with the tears he somehow refused to shed.

Yet behind the look in Stacey's eyes was the cold contempt he'd heard in Harrington's voice. It wasn't the first time he'd heard it, but this time he'd deserved it. He knew that, with no ability to tell himself differently. And in facing that poison-bitter truth, he was forced to face his memories of their earlier encounter, as well. Forced to admit, possibly for the first time in his adult life, that he'd lied to himself. He, who'd always thought he could face himself unflinchingly, knew better now. Harrington had been right the first time, too, he thought wretchedly. Right to reject the pressure he'd tried to bring to bear, right to feel contempt for him—even right to threaten a man who could stoop so low as to use her parents against her out of nothing more than choler and pique and offended pride. A man who could do that without even realizing how contemptible it was, because such considerations meant nothing beside his anger of the moment.
The two paragraphs of reflection that lead Klaus Hauptman to repent and join the side of the angels. This... was really poorly handled.

"This is going to have to be smartly done, Chief," she told him quietly, and her helmsman nodded his understanding. Artemis was so close the safety perimeter of her impeller wedge cleared Wayfarer's by barely sixty kilometers. She had to be, if she was going to hide her own impellers from the Peep battlecruiser behind the Q-ship's, but Wayfarer was still accelerating at over a hundred gravities. The tiniest helm error on her part when Artemis' wedge went down and Honor executed her breakaway maneuver could bring her own wedge into direct contact with the liner's hull, which would tear the other ship apart instantly.
The difficulties of the discreet breakaway maneuver.

But you do know, don't you? he told himself. Or, at least, you know who must have done it. That extra "merchantman" has to be a Manty Q-ship. God only knows what it's doing here—and He's also the only one who knows what the hell it could be armed with to punch Kerebin out that way—but you know that's what it is.

He'd picked up enough information from Durandel as he passed to know Stellingetti's "Target One" hadn't done the job; if it had that kind of firepower, it would have used it before Kerebin snuffed its destroyer consort. No, it had to have been the second ship, and that ship had a civilian-grade compensator, or it would have been running a hell of a lot faster than it was. So it had to be one of the Manties' "merchant cruisers," which meant it was far more fragile than his flagship. But it obviously carried something extraordinary in the way of armament, and the range had been eight hundred thousand kilometers when Kerebin died, well beyond energy range.
All the Peep ships are sharing tactical data, so even the late arrivals have recordings of what went on at the initial ambush. Good.

They were on their second EW drone now, and they'd need number three shortly. The drone's transponders required a fearsome amount of power to simulate the drive strength of an Atlas-class liner, and no drone could keep it up forever. But that was one reason Honor was holding the drones in so tight. It was also why she had Carolyn Wolcott maneuvering them in and out of Wayfarer's grav shadow at random intervals. It must look like sloppy station keeping to the Peeps, but it also let Honor bring "Artemis" squarely back in front of her for each drone changeover. It probably wasn't necessary—by now, the Peeps must have it firmly fixed in their brains that they were chasing two ships—but there was no point being clumsy.
It's been a while since anyone mentioned that decoys and EW drones don't have infinite endurance.

She made herself face that, accept that she'd deliberately sentenced her own crew to death knowing they couldn't defeat their enemy. The Peep CO astern of her had to know she'd killed his consort with missiles. He wouldn't want to get in any closer than he had to, so he'd turn to open his broadside at maximum range and fire his own birds in to see how she responded. And when she didn't return a matching fire, he'd stay right there and pound Wayfarer to death without ever closing into the reach of her energy weapons.

She was going to die. She knew it, but if she could cripple the enemy too badly to catch Artemis even if they detected her, the sacrifice would be worth it. She accepted that, as well . . . but behind her calm face her heart bled at condemning so many others to die with her. People like Nimitz and Samantha. Like Rafe Cardones, Ginger Lewis, and James MacGuiness, who had flatly refused to evacuate the ship. Aubrey Wanderman, Carol Wolcott, Horace Harkness, Lewis Hallowell . . . All those people—people she'd come to know and treasure as individuals, many as friends—were going to die right beside her. She could no more save them than she could save herself, and guilt pressed down upon her. Those others would die because she'd ordered them to, because it was her duty to take them all to death with her and it was their duty to follow her. But unlike them, she would die knowing it was her orders which had killed them.
Humanizing Honor again, though she shows a surprising lack of self-awareness. How many times now has she faced certain death for her and her crew?

Under normal conditions, he would have turned to open his broadside, but these weren't normal conditions. He had his own EW systems fully on-line, and the same conditions which hurt his fire control had to be hurting the Q-ship's, as well. Under the circumstances, it actually made sense to keep the vulnerable throat of his wedge towards the enemy, for it gave the Manty a weaker, fuzzier target than his sidewalls and the full length of his wedge would have.

Of course, it also restricted him only to the three tubes of his bow chasers, but that was all right. He wanted to sting the bastard, goad him. If he could get the Q-ship to fire off any pods it might have at extreme range, his point defense would be far more effective . . . and the Manty's target would be far harder to hit.
In some circumstances, charging the enemy throat-on makes a certain amount of sense. Like if you have a bow wall, or it's a nasty sensor environment and the smaller target area is worth the exposure.

And we see how tactics are evolving to include the pods. Pods won't survive the first salvo to reach them, so they essentially have to be fired off before the enemy's first birds arrive. Best if you can do that at max range, so you have the most time to deal with the first heavy pod salvo.

Honor's eyes narrowed as the Peeps' firing patterns changed. The battlecruiser was using her three bow-mounted tubes to fire the equivalent of a double broadside. It doubled the interval between incoming salvos and gave point defense longer to track, but it also increased the threat sources and allowed the battlecruiser to seed her fire with jammers and other penetration aids. Honor understood the logic behind that; what she didn't understand was why the Peeps were restricting themselves solely to their chasers. They had twenty tubes in each broadside and far higher acceleration. They could slalom back and forth across Wayfarer's wake, hammering her with salvos from each broadside in turn, and send in six times as many missiles in each wave.
Double broadsides again, this time by a BC. With the chasers. In a stern chase.

There's a Q-ship that's done it's job and just wants out, being pursued by a warship in a stern chase. The actual survival of the Q-ship is academic, because the Havenite mission here is so completely blown. But the warship captain has no way of knowing that. My, we really have come full circle.

Missiles continued to bore in on Wayfarer, racing up from astern in groups of six. Carolyn Wolcott's decoys and jammers played merry hell with their onboard seekers once they went into final acquisition, and Jansen's counter missiles and laser clusters picked them off with methodical precision. But the laws of chance are inexorable. Sooner or later, one of those missiles was bound to ignore the decoys, burn through the jammers, and evade the active defenses.

Honor's earbug buzzed, and she looked down to see Ginger Lewis' face on her small com screen.

"Message from Commander Tschu, Ma'am! He did it! He's got power to the port door and its opening! It's opening, Ma'am!"

Honor's heart leapt. They could only launch two pods at a time, even if the port door functioned perfectly, but that might be enough. With the enemy still coming up astern, running directly into their fire when he hadn't seen even a single shot coming back at him, they might—

That was when a missile finally broke through, and the laws of chance seemed to play no part at all in its coming. The hand of some malicious deity guided that bird, sent it slithering past the first counter-missile and let its penetration aids fool a second, then slipped it like a dagger through the desperate lattice of the last ditch laser clusters. The single missile shrieked in to twenty-four thousand kilometers before it detonated, directly astern of Wayfarer, and sent five centimeter-wide x-ray lasers ripping straight up the wide open after aspect of her impeller wedge.

Wayfarer's megaton bulk bucked as energy seared through her unarmored plating with contemptuous ease. Beta Node Eight of her after impeller ring took a direct hit, and Nodes Five, Six, Seven, and Nine blew in a frenzy of energy which took Alpha Five with them. Generators exploded in Impeller Two, killing nineteen men and women and sending mad surges of power crashing across the compartment like caged lightning bolts. Point Defense Nineteen, Twenty, and Twenty-Two were blasted away, along with Radar Six, Missile Sixteen, and all the men and women who'd manned those stations.

But none of those were the cruelest thing that missile did.

A single laser slashed through Cargo One's port door. It blew the motors which had just begun to whine, blasted two complete missile pods into deadly, man-killing splinters, and smashed the control runs Honor's engineers had fought so desperately to repair. And along the way, it killed seventy-one people, including Lieutenant Joseph Silvetti, Lieutenant Adele Klontz . . . and Lieutenant Commander Harold Tschu.
Little flicker of hope, and it's gone.

They'd obviously gotten a good, solid hit on the Q-ship, but the atmosphere loss was low. He didn't know Cargo One had been depressurized; all he knew was that despite the Manty's antics, she was spilling far too little air.

His brain raced as he tried to guess why that was. The Manty's new course had robbed Achmed of a good missile target, but it also stole her forward acceleration from her. She was building delta vee perpendicular to Achmed's base course, but she was starting from scratch, which would let Holtz close on her rapidly if he chose to. But—

He thought a moment longer, then looked at the com screen tied to Jurgens' flag bridge.

"We're getting very little atmospheric loss from her, Citizen Commodore, and she hasn't fired a single shot at us, much less flushed any pods. I think—" He drew a deep breath, then committed himself. "I think she's not firing because she can't. I can't conceive of any captain who could shoot back not doing it. She may not be trailing more air because Kerebin already got a much bigger piece of her than we thought and depressurized a lot of her spaces."

Jurgens grunted, and his eyes narrowed. Holtz could be right. His theory fit the observed data, at any rate. And if he was right, they might be able to forget this long-range pussyfooting and get down to it. But if she was that badly hurt, then why—?

"Skipper!" It was Helen Pacelot, her voice sharpened by discovery and chagrin. "That isn't Target One in front of her!"

"What?" Holtz whipped back around to her, and she shook her head savagely.

"I just got a good read on it. It's a drone—a goddamned drone!"

-snip-

"I only see one option, Sir," he said flatly. "From their maneuvers and Tactical's observations, we can only assume Kerebin hurt them far worse than we'd estimated. That makes sense; if they can't fight us, all they could do was run to draw us off the liner. But every minute we spend chasing them is another minute we're not decelerating to go after Target One."

He punched rapid commands into his own display, projecting the Q-ship's track—and Achmed's—across it. Another command produced a shaded cone that crossed Achmed's track port to starboard almost ten light-minutes back and stretched far out to its left, as well.

"The liner's got to be in that area. Our chance of finding it is slight if they're careful, but the sooner we start looking, the better the odds. Only we've got to finish the Q-ship, too; if she gets away, the covert side of the operation is blown just as wide as if we let the liner get away."
The game is up. The Achmed realizes they need to finish Wayfarer quickly if they're to have any hope of catching up with Artemis and suppressing word that the Peeps are here. Looks like a high-speed pass with energy weapons is in order, the poor, poor bastards.

For a frozen sliver of eternity, both ships had clear shots at the other, and in that instant, the firing plans locked into two different computers activated.

No human sense could have coped with what happened next; no human brain could have sorted it out. The range was barely twelve thousand kilometers, and missiles and lasers and grasers sleeted destruction across that tiny chasm of vacuum like enraged demons.

Achmed staggered as the first massive graser blew effortlessly through her sidewall. Her flanks carried over a meter of armor, the toughest alloy of ceramic and composites man had yet learned to forge, and the graser tore through it with contemptuous ease. Huge splinters blew out of the dreadful wound, and her relative motion turned what should have been a single puncture into a huge, gaping slash. It opened her side like a gutting knife opening a shark, and air and wreckage and human beings erupted in a howling cyclone.

But that was only one of eight such grasers. Every one of them scored direct hits, and no one on the battlecruiser had dreamed a converted merchantman could mount such weapons. Her communication circuits were a cacophony of screams—of agony, of shock, of terror—as Wayfarer's fury rent her like a toy, and then the Q-ship's missiles came blasting in, stabbing her again and again with bomb-pumped lasers to complete the grasers' dreadful work. Weapon bays blew apart, power surges ran mad, control runs sizzled and popped and exploded. Her forward impeller room blew up as a graser stabbed straight into its generators, and the blast tore a hundred meters of armored hull into shredded wreckage. All three fusion plants went into automatic shutdown, and blast doors slammed throughout the ship. But in all too many instances, there was nothing for those blast doors to seal air into, for Wayfarer's grasers had blown clear through her hull and out the other side, and she spun away, a dying, helpless hulk.

Yet she did not die alone.

Wayfarer had fired a fraction of a second before Achmed—but only a faction of a second, and unlike Achmed, she had no armor, no tightly compartmentalized spaces. She was a merchant ship, a thin skin around a vast, cargo-carrying void, and no refit could change that. The weapons which survived to tear into her hull were far lighter than the ones which had disemboweled Achmed, but they were hideously effective against so vulnerable a target.

Her entire starboard side was shattered from Frame Thirty-One aft to Frame Six-Fifty. The empty LAC bays blew open like so many glasses shattering under an enraged heel. Magazines Two and Four were torn apart, along with every tube except Missile Two. Six of her eight graser mounts exploded in ruin, taking virtually their entire crews with them. A laser slashed deep into the heart of her hull, destroying Fusion One and stabbing straight through the brig, where Randy Steilman and his fellows would never come to trial, and another blew straight into the command deck itself. Shock and concussion whipsawed the bridge madly, bulkheads and hull members tore like tissue, and a raging hurricane plucked Jennifer Hughes from her bridge chair despite her shock frame and whipped her into space. No one would ever find her body, but it scarcely mattered, for the tidal bore of atmosphere slammed her against the edge of the hull breach and shattered her helmet instantly. John Kanehama screamed over his com as a flying alloy spear impaled him; Senior Chief O'Halley was cut in half by a splinter as long as he was tall; and Aubrey Wanderman retched into his helmet as the same splinter slashed through his own control party and tore Carolyn Wolcott and Lieutenant Jansen apart.

That pocket of hell was repeated again and again, throughout Wayfarer's vast hull. Bits and pieces of the ship exploded into the people Achmed's fire had missed, as if the dying ship were wreaking vengeance on the crew who had brought her to this, and HMS Wayfarer went tumbling away, her drive dead, her hyper generator destroyed, and with eight hundred dead and dying people in her shattered compartments.
Who said the later books lack the personal touch of characters we know getting turned into hamburger? Oh well, that's the end of Wayfarer vs. Achmed. Tune in next time for the denouement.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

...Huh? I don't understand what you're talking about.
Three data points.

In Honor of the Queen, we establish that the new Fearless has the latest missile launchers (Mod 7b) and can spam a broadside every 11 seconds, while Saladin/Thunder's max fire rate is a missile broadside every 15 seconds, and they're not as worried as Honor about burning through their magazine.

Flag in Exile, Grayson cruisers have a 17 second refire rate, despite explicitly having the same model of launcher and he same missile types as Fearless did three books ago. Haven SDs, and their Grayson refit cousins, fire three broadsides a minutes (20 seconds.) At the time I mentioned this as an oddity and assumed Weber flubbed the figures he'd already written down. Being charitable, it's possible that Honor who had recently taken command was simply wrong about the number of Manticoran systems in the GSN. Unlikely, sure. But not impossible.

This book, Hawkwing's max fire rate is established as... also 17 seconds. As Terralthra said, it could be that Hawkwing is simple an older ship.


Plus, Artemis probably lacks anything like the EW drones used by RMN ships. So no, I'd suspect that its sensor suite is sharply inferior to that of a real warship, even though it's greatly superior to that of a normal merchantman, and very possibly a normal pirate.
Apparently they do have EW drones, and general EW capabilities.

This might not work well in real life. Recently I calculated that the radiation flux experienced by an object moving at 0.9c through interplanetary space is 480 kilowatts per square meter- ignoring effects of radiation itself, the heat transfer is forty times that experienced at noon on Mercury. So an object moving that fast would have (in principle) a very visible heat signature because it's bright and glowy.

Now, we don't know what the density of particles in hyperspace actually is; we're assured that it's "high" but we're not told how many orders of magnitude greater than interplanetary vacuum in Euclidean space (two? one? half of one?). On the other hand, the battlecruisers are only moving at about .13c, not .9c.

Hm. In interplanetary space, a square-meter area of the battlecruiser's hull sweeps out a volume... forty thousand kilometers long, forty million meters long, and one meter high and one meter wide. Forty million cubic meters per second.

If we assume something like solar flare conditions (100 particles per cubic centimeter)... hm.

Forty million cubic meters, one million cc's per cubic meter, forty trillion cubic centimeters and four quadrillion subatomic particle strikes per square meter per second. Assuming the particles are mostly at rest "relative to the fixed stars," the impact velocity is 0.13c.

Space is electrically neutral, so assume half those particles are electrons of negligible mass, to balance the charge of the protons. The other half are protons- so, two quadrillion protons per second at 0.13c. [And you thought those missile barrages were numerous!]

0.13c isn't atom-smasher speeds, so we can theoretically just pour the protons onto a scale, weigh them, and use the nonrelativistic kinetic energy equation for a rough approximation. (2*10^15 protons)(1.67*10^-27 kg/proton)...

OK, that's 3.33*10^-12 kilograms of protons. Impact velocity 4*10^7 m/s, we got that earlier. One half em vee squared...

0.5*(3.33*10^-12)*(4*10^7)*(4*10^7) joules...

Roughly 2600 joules.

2.6 kilojoules per second per square meter, or 2.6 kW per square meter.

Okay, that's pretty intense by merely human standards, and that's fairly hard radiation flux, but it's not going to light the ship's bow up like a flare.



At this point, of course, you'll say: But Simon, Honorverse ships have some kind of radiation-proof force-field protecting them!

I'll reply, of course they do, but for our purposes what makes the ship detectable are energetic side effects of radiation flux being stopped by a fast-moving object... and when subatomic particles hit that radiation shield, there will assuredly be side effects.

So anyway.

The practical upshot is, if a fast-moving, truly relativistic object coasts past you in deep space, if it's close enough you'll be able to spot the highly energetic side effects of its passage through space, because it's slamming through the interplanetary/interstellar medium like a relativistic icebreaker. Particles and heat will scatter away in all directions.

But at speeds that I would call "mildly relativistic" or "not really relativistic," and forty thousand km/s qualifies... the intensity is much less. Both because your ship is hitting fewer particles per second, and because it is not hitting them nearly as hard.

And for that matter I may have miscalculated earlier. :(
I am impressed. Of course, even a worst-case scenario for particle impacts making them visible is still going to be far better than an active wedge that can be seen from half a system away.

Six hundred? That's ten patterns of pods- I'm genuinely surprised.

Then again, when you've long since ceased to care about fire control telemetry, there's really not much stopping you from doing that.

Of course, Kerebin gets some hits in too, as I recall...
When Honor is feeling bad for not being able to warn them or call on them to surrender, or give the crew a chance to evacuate she reflects that exactly this amount of overkill was needed to guarantee an instant kill. I'm a bit skeptical on that point.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Honestly, there is no combat experience with what happens when six hundred (effectively uncontrolled) missiles all gang up on the same PN battlecruiser. She had no way of knowing for sure whether Kerebin would generate a miss with EW on 50% of her salvo, or 70%, or 80%, or 90%.

And remember that Vaubon only managed three hits out of eighteen with a (similarly uncontrolled) double broadside against a Chalice destroyer. While the RMN's EW advantage over Haven may be greater than Haven's advantage over Chalice, she could easily be looking at an eighty or ninety percent miss rate.

In which case, to score the dozens of hits it takes to reliably destroy a battlecruiser, she did in fact need to launch hundreds and hundreds of missiles. If her missiles then performed significantly better than expected and hit more often, or if one of the earlier missiles in the barrage got lucky... well, there is no kill like overkill.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

Two-thirds of her bridge crew were dead, and others were wounded. She saw Aubrey Wanderman and Rafe Cardones bent over a Tracking yeoman, hands flashing as they slapped emergency seals onto her skinsuit, and her eyes flinched away from the mangled ruin which had once been Carolyn Wolcott and Kendrick O'Halley and Eddy Howard's drifting corpse. Then she was throwing aside pieces of wreckage herself, dragging bodies out and searching desperately for signs of life.

She found all too few of them, and even as she fought to save someone and her heart raged at the universe, she knew the same scene was being repeated all over her ship.

-snip-

"Any person in Fusion One, this is DCC. Report status!"

Still there was no answer, and she dropped to the next name. "Ensign Weir, this is DCC. Report status on Fusion Two."

An endless moment dragged out, and then a hoarse voice replied.

"DCC, this is PO Harris, Fusion Two. We—" The petty officer coughed, but his voice was stronger when he resumed. "The plant's on-line. Ms. Weir's dead, and we've got four or five more casualties, but we're still on-line."


-snip-

Angela Ryder looked up as another rescue party staggered into sickbay. She and her sole remaining assistant had just amputated Susan Hibson's right leg and had no time to spare from their desperate, losing fight to save Sergeant Major Hallowell's life, but Yoshiro Tatsumi was there in an instant, bending over the writhing, skinsuited woman the party carried.

It was a miracle sickbay had retained pressure. The surgeons were working on backup power only, and Ryder refused to let herself think about what happened when that power ran out. Anyone she saved would only die later. She knew that, but she was a physician. Her enemy wore no uniform, and she would fight him to the last ditch.

-snip-

"Ma'am, I've been contacting each station by suit com," she said, and her tone was flat now. "So far, less than twenty percent have responded. What we know so far is that Fusion One's gone, but Fusion Two is still on-line. Environmental's a total write-off. Main Hyper took a direct hit, and we've lost the generator. Both Warshawski sails are down, and Impeller One and Impeller Two are both badly damaged. We may be able to get a few beta nodes back in each ring, if we can find anyone for repair parties, but not the sails. Artificial gravity's also out—the Bosun's trying to get down there for a look. I won't know if we can get it back until I hear from her, but it doesn't look good. As nearly as I can tell, all sensors are out. We've got one operational graser in the port broadside, and a single tube to starboard, but no sidewalls, no radiation fields, and no particle shielding. The hull's a mess. Without a survey, I'm not sure we've got enough frame integrity left to stand up to the drive even if we can get the impellers back. Sickbay still has pressure and backup power, and I've got some people trying to restore main power to it. Flight Ops is totaled, but both pinnaces are intact, and we've got a pilot for both of them—one'll need a replacement flight engineer, though."

The voice on Honor's com paused, hesitated, and then resumed quietly. "The headcount from the people reporting in is under a hundred and fifty, Ma'am. I think that's pessimistic, but it's the only hard number I have now." Ginger cleared her throat. "That's my report so far, Captain. Sorry it's not complete, but we're working on it."
Damage to Wayfarer after that furball at the end of the last chapter. It's pretty much a crippled wreck, and they'll have a job just fixing it enough to survive the next couple of days.

"We can't leave," someone said, and Fuchien turned in shock, for it was Klaus Hauptman. Her employer faced her, his face gaunt and his eyes haunted, but there was something behind the shame in them now. He shook his head, then looked at the other officers on her bridge—and at his daughter—and went on in a quiet, almost humble tone none of them had ever heard.

"I . . . haven't handled this well. If I hadn't held Artemis in New Berlin for the freighters, we would've crossed the rift up in the epsilon bands, and the Peeps never would have seen us. As for the way I spoke to Lady Harrington—"

He paused and shook his head again, and his voice was a bit stronger when he resumed.

"But that's beside the point now. We know where Wayfarer went off the plot, and we know what her vector was. If there's anyone left alive aboard her—or aboard the Peep, I suppose—we're the only people who can help them."
Hauptman speaking up for trying to pick up survivors from Wayfarer. The captain still refuses but is reminded they have another option.

He and Harkness had taken a pinnace out for an inspection of the hull, and one look had told them there was no hope. Wayfarer was broken and buckled, her impeller rings shattered. That meant none of them would survive, and Honor had sent Tremaine and Harkness to search for the Peep. Perhaps her damages were less serious than Wayfarer's. If they were, and if the survivors of both crews worked together, perhaps they could get her to a port . . . and at the moment, even a Peep POW camp would be heaven.

Now Honor listened over her suit com as Scotty described Achmed's damages, and her heart sank. She was in one of the enlisted mess compartments which had somehow retained pressure, with her helmet off, and aside from a few small parties MacBride still had probing wreckage where someone might be trapped alive, all of her surviving personnel were either here, in sickbay, in DCC, or down in Fusion One.

-snip-

Stephen Holtz followed the Manty lieutenant into the mess compartment, and his face was numb, still frozen with the shock of loss. His casualties were far worse than the Q-ship's, in both absolute and relative terms. There'd been twenty-two hundred men and women on his ship; the forty-six survivors had all been able to fit into the single pinnace which had come to pick them up.
Achmed is even worse shape, with less than fifty total survivors. Who are nonetheless picked up and join the effort to save Wayfarer.

"Thank you," Harrington said simply, then looked him straight in the eye. "Our vector's carrying us lengthwise down the rift, Captain, but we're angling towards the Silesian side. My best guess is that we've got about nine days before we drift into the Sachsen Wave and break up. That, of course, assumes the Selker Shear doesn't get us first. As I see it, our only real chance is to use the pinnaces to mount a sensor watch and hope one of your people comes looking for you so we can get a com message to them. If they get here in time," she drew a deep breath, "I will surrender myself and my people to you. For now, however, what's left of this ship is still a Queen's ship, and I am in command."

"Should we consider ourselves your prisoners in the meantime?" Holtz asked with a ghost of a smile. Both of them knew the chance of rescue was effectively nonexistent, yet both of them continued to play their roles, and the thought amused him.
Cooperation between enemies, planning to signal and surrender to the first ship they meet.

"I think we've got the immediate situation under control, Skipper."

"Good. In that case, let's start getting the people fed." Honor waved at the tables, where volunteers had managed to assemble huge plates of sandwiches out of the mess compartment's galley supplies. "We're going to have enough trouble from fatigue without adding mistakes induced by hunger and low blood sugar."

"Agreed. And it should help morale some, too. God knows I could eat a kodiak max!"
Honor orders meals served the moment the ship is no longer in immediate danger of exploding or decompressing.

"Wayfarer, this is Harold Sukowski, approaching from your zero-two-five, three-one-niner," it said. "I am aboard LAC Andrew with your Lieutenant Commander Hunter, with John, Paul, Thomas, and five shuttles in company. James and Thaddæus are keeping an eye on Artemis, but we thought you might like a ride home."

-snip-

She hadn't been able to believe it when Sukowski turned up. For all the brave front she'd projected, she'd known—not thought; known—they were all going to die. Changing her mind had been hard, even with the proof right in front of her, and then her elated relief had been replaced by a deep, terrible anger that Sukowski and Fuchien and her own detached LAC skippers could have run such an insane risk after Wayfarer had paid such a terrible price to buy Artemis' escape.

She'd known at the time that her fury was born of her own whipsawed emotions, but the knowledge hadn't been enough to keep her from feeling it, and the haste with which Sukowski and Lieutenant Commander Hunter had begun explaining that they weren't really running a risk would have been hilarious had she been even one or two centimeters closer to rational.

And, in fact, they had been careful. Artemis had dropped the LACs and her shuttles and then translated very cautiously down to the alpha bands without using her impellers at all—possible for such a slow translation, though only the best ship handler and engineer could have pulled it off—and hidden in the lower bands while Sukowski led the search mission towards Wayfarer's last known position. The LACs' sensors were inferior to those of a battlecruiser, but their impeller signatures were far weaker, as well; they would have seen any Peep long before the Peep could detect them in return, and all of them had been prepared to shut their own wedges down instantly.

It was Sukowski who'd plotted their search pattern, and he'd done a good job. But they would probably have missed Wayfarer's inert hulk if Scotty Tremaine and Horace Harkness hadn't picked them up on passive and guided them in, and Honor still woke shivering when she considered the odds against their success. Yet they'd done it. Somehow, they'd done it, and the four LACs and five long-range shuttles had lifted every surviving crewman—Manticoran and Peep alike—off Wayfarer.
It was fairly improbable, but they manage to save most of the survivors and take them off the ship using the LACs.

The chance that anyone would stumble across her before she blundered into a grav wave and broke up was less than minute, but Honor had made sure no one would. She'd set the nuclear demolition charge herself, with a twelve-hour delay, before she went aboard Andrew with Sukowski and Hunter.
And so ends the story of Wayfarer, scuttled to be absolutely sure none of her technical secrets would be compromised.

"I don't like you, My Lady. That makes me feel smaller than I'd like to feel, but whether I like you or not, I know I've treated you . . . badly. I won't go into all of it. I'll only say that I deeply regret it, and that it stops here. I owe you my life. More importantly, I owe you my daughter's life, and I believe in keeping my accounts squared, for better or worse—maybe that's part of what makes me such a son-of-a-bitch from time to time. But the debt I owe you is one that can't be repaid, and I know it. I can only say thank you and apologize for the way I've spoken to you—and of you—over the years. I was wrong in Basilisk, too, and I want you to know I realize that, as well."

She'd looked back at him levelly, feeling his strain and recognizing how monumentally difficult it had been for him to say what he just had. She didn't like him, either, and she doubted she ever would, but in that moment, she'd come far closer to respecting him than she'd ever believed she might, and she'd nodded slowly.

"I won't disagree with you, Sir," she'd said quietly, and if his eyes had flared, he'd taken it without protest. "As far as debts are concerned, my crew and I were simply doing our duty, and no repayment is necessary. But I will accept your apology, Mr. Hauptman."
Hauptman's apology.

The Andermani had not been pleased to learn the Peeps were operating raiders in their vicinity, and they were making their displeasure known through diplomatic channels. The decision to offer Honor's crew—and prisoners—the IAN's hospitality until the RMN could retrieve them was another way to make the same point, and it hadn't been lost on the Havenite ambassador when he tried—unsuccessfully—to demand those prisoners be released to him.
The Andermani, as promised, are unhappy about the Havenite commerce raiding they were pretty confident was going on.

"Herzog Rabenstrange is waiting to join us all for dinner. He'd like to meet you all, but the reason I asked you to stop here first was to tell you something Citizen Captain Holtz has already been informed of. At my recommendation, and with the approval of the Andermani and our ambassador to the Empire, you and all survivors from Achmed will be released to your ambassador in three days. We're attaching no conditions to your release."

Caslet's smile froze, and she felt his alarm—and his fellows'. She paused a moment, knowing she shouldn't but unable to resist the temptation, then cleared her throat and continued calmly.

"Despite Citizen Commander Foraker's efforts to wheedle technical information out of my people," she said, watching Foraker blush under her level gaze, "none of you have observed anything which isn't already or won't very soon become available to your Navy through other sources. For example, you're aware our Q-ships mount heavy energy weapons and are able to deploy powerful salvos of missile pods, but by now other sources within the Confederacy have undoubtedly already sold that information to one of your many spies there. Accordingly, we can return you to the Republic without jeopardizing our own security, and given your services to Captain Sukowski and Commander Hurlman, not to mention Captain Holtz's people's efforts aboard Wayfarer, it would be churlish not to release you."

And, she thought, letting you go home to tell your admiralty that our "mere" Q-ships destroyed two of your heavy cruisers and a pair of battlecruisers—not to mention Warnecke's entire base—for the loss of only one of our ships may just cause it to rethink the value of commerce raiding in general.

"Thank you." Caslet couldn't quite keep the flatness out of his voice as he visualized what StateSec would do to him for losing his ship trying to save a Manticoran-flag vessel, and she smiled at him.

"You're quite welcome, Citizen Commander," she said gravely. "I do have one small favor to ask of you before you depart, however."

"Favor?"

"Yes. You see, I'll be returning to Manticore for reassignment shortly, and I've been trying to tidy up my paperwork. Unfortunately, we lost many of our records when Wayfarer was destroyed, and I'm having some trouble reconstructing my after action reports." Caslet blinked at her, wondering where she could possibly be headed, and she frowned. "In particular," she went on evenly, "I can't seem to remember the name of the Andermani ship whose transponder code I was using when you came to our assistance in Schiller."

For just a moment, it totally failed to register, and then Caslet stiffened. She knows, he thought. She knows about our orders to assist Andy merchantmen! But how can she possibly—?

He shook that question off. It didn't matter. What mattered was that she did know . . . and that the men and women in this quiet room were the only people who'd been on Vaubon's bridge. They were the only ones who knew they'd deliberately gone to the assistance of a Manty vessel, and every one of them knew what would happen if their superiors found out they had.

Caslet looked around, seeing the same confusion and dawning comprehension in all of their faces. He looked at Allison MacMurtree, who nodded with a crooked grin, and then at Denis Jourdain. The people's commissioner sat very still, face expressionless, while seconds trickled past, and then his shoulders gave a small twitch and his lips curved in the shadow of a smile.

"Ah, I believe it was the Andermani ship Sternenlicht, My Lady," he said, addressing her with a nonmilitary title for the first time ever, and Honor smiled back at him.

"I thought that was it," she murmured. "Thank you. I'll see to it that my report—and those of my other officers—reflect that information."
The Peeps are being repatriated by the Andies (presumably a goodwill gesture for ending the commerce raids) and Honor takes the time to make sure Caslet and co. won't be in trouble with StateSec for their bit of nobility earlier. And that's the end.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Ahriman238 wrote:The plan. Wayfarer and an EW drone impersonating the liner go one way, Artemis kills it's drive and hides, along with Wayfarer's wounded, prisoners and nonessentials and the LACs for an escort.

Also, the moment Klaus Hauptman goes too far and has a personal crisis, emerging as a right-thinking person who, naturally, simply adores Honor.
Well, she did save him from being shot full of Havenite lasermissiles. That kind of thing tends to adjust a man's thinking.
The two paragraphs of reflection that lead Klaus Hauptman to repent and join the side of the angels. This... was really poorly handled.
Pray expound.
Humanizing Honor again, though she shows a surprising lack of self-awareness. How many times now has she faced certain death for her and her crew?
Uh... on purpose? Twice now. Once when she took big risks but wasn't actually planning to die, too. Arguably another time at First Hancock, but she really wasn't taking unusual risks there for ships planning to enter heavy combat.

I don't imagine she ever really gets used to it.
Who said the later books lack the personal touch of characters we know getting turned into hamburger?
I actually consider Honor Among Enemies to be the last of the "early Honor" books.

I also consider Field of Dishonor and Flag in Exile to be the first two "mid-Honor" books, contradictory as that may seem.

"Early Honor" consists of:
1) Honor having ship command and devising clever tactics for one or a handful of ships.
2) Ground combat is likely to be involved, not necessarily involving her.
3) Enemies are usually a mix of honorable and dishonorable.
3a) Some of these enemies are very dangerous, usually in direct proportion to the number of missiles they carry.
3b) The ones with more missiles are usually more honorable.
4) The novel ends with a Harrington Death Ride. Honor wins, at a terrible price.
5) Missile barrages are small.
5a) Wayfarer is obviously excepted from (5). With extreme prejudice.

"Mid-Honor" consists of:
1) Honor does not command a particular ship, or if she does, her command is irrelevant to the plot.
2) Ground combat is likely to be involved, almost certainly involving her.
3) She has vile enemies.
3a) Enemies who could easily cause her great political harm and/or personal harm.
3b) There may or may not be any decent enemies, but the decent enemies will be playing second fiddle.
4) The novel ends with a daring plan in which Honor wins/survives at a considerable, but steadily decreasing, price.
5) Missile barrages are moderate in size.

"Late Honor" consists of:
1) Honor commands a fleet. Politics and fleet command take up almost the entirety.
2) Ground combat is unlikely.
3) Honor's personal enemies will be weaksauce.
3a) Honor is in less personal danger as a rule. Localized exceptions to this are allowed.
3b) Most of Honor's personal enemies are decent. Exception: Mesa, and Honor doesn't realize she's fighting Mesa for quite a while.
4) The novel ends with a massive fleet battle in which Honor beats the ever-loving tar out of the enemy through superior tactics and technology. Allied forces may suffer horribly; Honor's own command does not, at least in percentage terms.
5) Missile barrages are absurd and ruinous in both size and power.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Simon_Jester »

Ahriman238 wrote:
He and Harkness had taken a pinnace out for an inspection of the hull, and one look had told them there was no hope. Wayfarer was broken and buckled, her impeller rings shattered. That meant none of them would survive, and Honor had sent Tremaine and Harkness to search for the Peep. Perhaps her damages were less serious than Wayfarer's. If they were, and if the survivors of both crews worked together, perhaps they could get her to a port . . . and at the moment, even a Peep POW camp would be heaven...
Achmed is even worse shape, with less than fifty total survivors. Who are nonetheless picked up and join the effort to save Wayfarer.
Two thoughts:

One, some irony here given what happens to Honor in the next book.

Two, didn't Achmed have a high relative velocity compared to Wayfarer? It could be very difficult to catch up with her. On the other hand, the <50 survivors would probably all fit in one pinnace, so at least they wouldn't have to shuttle back and forth repetitively across a rapidly widening gap between the two ships.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington II

Post by Ahriman238 »

Breaking open In Enemy Hands, where Honor is captured by the Peeps. Not much of a spoiler when it's the title. The first time I read this I remember it really sinking in that this was Horatio Hornblower in space, because it reminded me so very much of Hornblower, the Duchess, and the Devil. Well, I'd seen the connection before, obviously, it was just here that I was thinking "Now they're going 1:1 on Forester. I bet in the next book she has to deal with a crazy superior."

Anyways, we open on an ominous gathering of Haven leaders. Haven't had that in a while.

Officially, Pierre was the most powerful man in the People's Republic of Haven. As the creator and head of the Committee of Public Safety, his word was law and his power over the PRH's citizens absolute. Yet even he faced limits—including the one which had finally decided him his proposal was necessary—and the fact that most of them were invisible to those beyond the ranks of the Committee's membership made them no less real.

His was a revolutionary government which had imposed itself upon the Republic by force. Everyone knew it had extended its grasp far beyond the caretaker role the People's Quorum had envisioned when it voted to ratify his creation of the Committee and named him its chairman. The Quorum had thought it was setting up little more than a caretaker panel to restore domestic stability as quickly as possible . . . what it had gotten was a revolution run by a multiheaded dictatorship which was quite prepared to use coercion, suppression, and outright terror tactics to maintain its grasp and promote its own agenda. That was the heart of his problem. By using force and ruthlessness to reach so far beyond what the Quorum had expected and authorized, he'd made his power real and undeniable, but he'd also deprived his authority (which, he conceded, was not—quite—the same thing) of that subtle and elusive quality called "legitimacy."

A rule imposed by violence or the threat of violence could be overturned the same way, and as a creature of force, his Committee had no recourse to the rule of law or custom to support it. It was odd how little thought people gave to governments which could claim those supports, he thought moodily. Or of how the destruction of a society's underlying social contract, even if the contract in question had been a bad one, smashed the stability of that society until a new contract, acknowledged by its members as legitimate, replaced it. Pierre himself had certainly underestimated the consequences when he set out upon the revolutionary's path. He'd known there had to be a period of unrest and uncertainty, but somehow he'd assumed that once he and his colleagues got past those initial rough spots, the simple passage of time would be sufficient to legitimize their authority in the eyes of those they ruled. That was how it ought to have worked, he told himself yet again. However they'd gotten to where they were, they had at least as strong a claim to their places as the Legislaturalists they'd destroyed to get here had ever had. And unlike the Legislaturalists, Pierre had become a revolutionary in the first place because he genuinely believed in reform. Yet by the very act of seizing power, he had created a situation in which the ability to take that power was all that truly mattered to those who might compete for authority, for his own actions had eliminated not only all previously existing avenues to it but also any "legitimate" constraints upon the use of force.

All of which meant that the seemingly all-powerful Committee of Public Safety was, in fact, a far more fragile edifice than it appeared. Its members were careful to display their confidence to the Dolists and Proles they'd mobilized, but Pierre and his colleagues knew that any number of unsuspected plotters could be working to overthrow them at any moment. Why not? Hadn't they overthrown the Republic's previous lords and masters? Hadn't the Legislaturalists' long monopolization of the power of the state produced crackpots and fanatics in profusion? And hadn't the Committee itself crushed enough "enemies of the People" to guarantee its members potential—and passionate—enemies galore?
Dictator problems, worse than First World problems. Alright, it's a fair point that a revolutionary government needs legitimacy in a bad way, but he's had several years to work at the problem and there's still the odd counter-revolution or coup attempt? Anyway, the point is that Rob Pierre's power is theoretically unlimited, but in practice quite limited by his fear of riling the populace into a new revolution. Maybe ease up on the purges there? Alright, he knew going in that reform would come slowly, and they were effectively committed to fighting and winning a war against Manticore for short-term economic survival. He probably didn't interpret just how much his desire for reform would be buried by pressing military and security concerns.

Fortunately, most of the outright lunatics, like the Zeroists, who had supported Charles Froidan's demands that all money be abolished, had been too incompetent to plan a bottle party, much less stage a coup. Others, like the Parnassians, whose platform had included the execution of all bureaucrats on the grounds that their choice of employment was prima facie evidence of treason against the People, had been reasonably competent conspirators but guilty of bad timing. By moving too soon, they'd made too many enemies among their competing extremists, and Pierre and State Security had managed to play one faction off against the other to destroy them. (Actually, that had been one of Pierre's harder decisions, for he'd discovered that, having dealt with the enormous, glacially paced bureaucracy bequeathed to him by the Legislaturalists, he felt a certain personal sympathy for the Parnassians' views. In the end, however, he had decided—not without regret—that the Committee required the bureaucrats to keep the Republic running.)

Some of their enemies, however, like LaBoeuf's Levelers, might have been lunatics but had certainly been capable of excellent timing and good security. Their idea of a proper society made anarchy look positively regimented by comparison, but they'd been organized enough to get several million people killed in less than a day of heavy fighting. It was amazing what a few kinetic bombardment strikes and pee-wee nukes could do to a city of thirty-six million souls, he thought. Actually, they'd been lucky to get off as lightly as they had . . . and at least none of the Levelers' known leadership had survived the bloodbath. Of course, it was almost certain that at least some of their inner cadre actually held seats on the Committee itself. They had to for the Levelers to have come so close to success, and they remained unidentified so far . . . whoever they were.
Okay, there are a lot of groups who would be king. Between the last book and this one the Levelers attempt a coup that very nearly succeeds.

As head of the SS, Saint-Just was the Committee's executioner, with a power base which was far more readily apparent than Ransom's. Yet the very reasons Pierre was willing to trust him with that authority underscored the fact that Saint-Just could never be the threat Ransom might someday become. Unlike Cordelia, Oscar knew his reputation as the Republic's chief warden would preclude his maintaining himself indefinitely in power even if he somehow managed to seize it. He was the focal point of all the fear, hatred, and resentment the Committee of Public Safety had engendered . . . on top of which, he genuinely had no desire to supplant his leader. Pierre had given him sufficient opportunities to prove otherwise, but Saint-Just had taken none of them, for he knew his own limitations.
Now we're just explaining the triumvirate that runs the Committee, and thus the People's Republic. Pierre handles the politics, St. Just runs the secret police. Also, some of the reasons Pierre trusts St. Just implicitly.

Ransom didn't, and that was why Pierre would never have given her the position Saint-Just occupied. She was too unpredictable—which translated into "unreliable" in his mind. And where he was determined to at least attempt to build something constructive atop the bones of the old, murdered power structure, she often seemed more interested in the exercise of power than in the ends to which it was exercised. She was always at her best whipping up the Proles' mob mentality, and it was her ability to direct that mentality against targets other than Pierre and his regime which made her so valuable. Yet it also gave her Office of Public Information the first opportunity to put its spin on each issue as it came along, which gave her a degree of power—intangible, but frighteningly real—that made her very nearly Saint-Just's equal. And, Pierre reminded himself, Cordelia had more than her fair share of cronies within Oscar's own SS, as well. She'd been one of the Committee of Public Safety's roving headsmen immediately after the coup, before he moved her to Public Information, and she retained personal contacts with the men and women with whom she'd served. The fact that she and Oscar were both fierce empire-builders (although, Pierre suspected, for quite different reasons) only made the situation worse in many ways, but at least it let him play them off against one another, maintaining their "constituencies" in a delicate, sometimes precarious balance he could force to support his own position rather than undermining it.

-snip-

Her tone was sharper than usual, for manipulator or not, she truly believed in the concept of enemies of the People, and her suspicion of the military was almost obsessive. Despite her need to produce pro-war propaganda which extolled the Navy's virtues as the Republic's protectors, her personal hatred for it was the next best thing to pathological. She loathed and despised it as a decadent, degenerate institution whose traditions still tied it to the old regime and probably inspired it to plot the Committee's overthrow in order to restore the Legislaturalists. Even worse, its persistent failures to throw the enemy back and save the Republic—which was probably at least partly due to its disloyalty—only reinforced her contempt with fear that it would fail to save her, and it was starting to get out of hand. In fact, her increasingly irrational antimilitary biases were a main reason for Pierre's decision that he needed someone from the military as a counterbalance.


Meet Cordelia Ransom, the triumvirate's third member and mistress of Public Information. She has a fanatical hatred for the military and an amazing filter for reality. Today she cynically manipulates information, tomorrow she will apparently sincerely believe her previous lies.


"We've spent over five T-years convincing everyone the Navy was responsible for the Harris Assassination, and while we've, ah, removed virtually all the precoup senior officers, putting my commissioners aboard the Navy's ships hasn't won us many fans among their replacements. Whether we want to admit it or not, granting political agents—we might as well be honest and call them spies—veto authority over line officers helps explain the fiascoes the fleet keeps sailing into . . . and the officer corps knows that, too. When you add all that to the number of officers we've shot or locked up 'to encourage the others,' it could certainly be argued that taking our boot off their necks is a questionable decision, at best . . . even if it was the Navy that saved our asses from LaBoeuf's maniacs. I mean, let's not fool ourselves here; anyone would have looked good compared to the Levelers. Don't forget that part of their platform called for shooting anyone above the rank of lieutenant commander or major for the 'military-industrial complex's treasonous misconduct of the war.' There's no guarantee the Navy would back us against someone less, um, energetic than they were."
Rob understands the consequences of the purges, the commissars and "collective responsibility" he just imagines he has no choice but to use the terror tools.

"If we put someone from the military on the Committee, how do we keep him or her from finding out things we don't want the military to know? Like who really killed off the Harris government?"

"There's not much chance of that," Saint-Just pointed out reasonably. "There was never any hard evidence of our activities . . . and aside from a few people who had a hand of their own in the operation, there's no one left who could challenge our version of what happened." He gave a chill smile. "Anyone who knows anything—and is still alive—could only incriminate himself if he tried to talk about it. Besides, I've made damned sure all of StateSec's internal records reflect the official line. Anyone who wants to challenge all that 'impartial evidence' is obviously a counter-revolutionary enemy of the People."
I admit this has confused me in the past. The Committee has never been shy about disparaging the corrupt, elitist regime of the Legislaturists, or praising the Glorious Revolution but... they won't take actual responsibility for the decapitation strike that punched out the Harris regime. That remains the work of the cowardly and treacherous military.

"Frankly, it would be irrational for the officer corps to trust us under the present circumstances, and I think our past failures demonstrate that we have to 'rehabilitate' ourselves in their eyes if we expect them to become an effective—motivated—fighting force. We were incredibly lucky that the Navy didn't just stand by and watch the Levelers roll over us. In fact, I remind you that only one ship of the wall—just one, and not even a unit of the Capital Fleet, at that—had the initiative and nerve to intervene. If Rousseau had stayed out of it, you and Oscar and I would all be dead now, and we can't count on that sort of support again without demonstrating that we at least know we owe the people who saved our hides a debt. And the only way I can see to do that is to give them a voice at the highest level, make sure the rank and file know we've done it, and actually pay that voice some attention . . . publicly, at least."

"Publicly?" Ransom repeated with a cocked eyebrow and an arrested expression, and Pierre nodded.

"Publicly. Oscar and I have already discussed the sort of insurance policy we'll need if our tame war dog gets out of hand. Oscar?"

"I've considered each of the officers Rob's nominated," the SS man told Ransom. "It wasn't too hard to edit their records and their people's commissioners' reports. Any one of them will look like a knight in shining armor when we introduce him to the public, and all of them are quite competent in their own field, but we've got enough time bombs hidden in their dossiers to blow them away any time we have to. Of course," he smiled thinly, "it would be convenient if the officer in question were already dead before we make those bombs public. It's ever so much harder for a dead man to defend himself."
The topic of discussion is making the triumvirate a quadumvirate, adding a military officer. And in the same breath that Rob uses to convince Ransom of the necessity, he prompts St. Just to explain their precautions.

"If she's that damned good, how did we lose Trevor's Star?" Ransom demanded, and Pierre hid a smile behind his hand. Cordelia's ministry had turned Trevor's Star into a sort of metaphorical redoubt for the entire People's Republic—the "line in the stars," the point from which no retreat could even be contemplated—despite his own suggestions that she might want to tone the rhetoric down just a bit. To be sure, the system had been of enormous strategic importance, and the military consequences of its loss were what had originally inspired him to look for a naval representative for the Committee. Yet viewed against the sheer size of the Republic, even Trevor's Star was ultimately expendable. What was not expendable was public morale or the People's Navy's will to fight, both of which had taken yet another nose dive when "the line in the stars" fell to the Royal Manticoran Navy's Sixth Fleet.
So Trevor's Star was definitely taken as planned in the last book. Also Ransom hoist on her own PR petard.

"she's a better choice than the next candidate in line."

"Which candidate would that be?" Ransom asked.

"Before our raid on the Manties' commerce in Silesia blew up in our faces, Javier Giscard would have been an even better choice than McQueen. As it is, he's completely ineligible, at least for now. His political views are more acceptable than McQueen's—in fact, Commissioner Pritchard continues to speak very highly of him—and in fairness to him, what happened to his plan wasn't his fault. In fact, our decision to recall him was probably a mistake. But we did recall him, and he's still on probation for his 'failure.' " Ransom cocked her head, and Saint-Just shrugged. "It's only a formality—he's too good for us to shoot unless we absolutely have to—but we can't rehabilitate him overnight."

"All right, I can see that," Ransom nodded, "but that just tells me who the next candidate isn't."

"Sorry," Saint-Just apologized. "I got distracted. In answer to your question, McQueen's only real competition is Thomas Theisman. He's considerably junior to her, but he was the only flag officer to emerge from Operation Dagger with a reputation as a fighter, and he distinguished himself in the Trevor's Star fighting before we pulled him out. His stand at Seabring is one of the very few victories we've had to crow over, but while the Navy respects him as a tactician and a strategist, he's been very careful to remain totally apolitical."
Javier Giscard, mastermind of last book's commerce raids, is still in the dog house but isn't going to be shot. Today, anyway. And poor Theisman, his name is on the Commitee's lips. But I am much amused that he emerged from Operation Dagger (Fourth Yeltsin) "with a reputation as a fighter." However, he's too carefully apolitical, which speaks volumes of his discontent with the status quo.

"At any rate," Pierre said, trying to reclaim the conversation before Ransom's suspicions had time to come fully to life, "Theisman was acceptable from the professional viewpoint, but he's a Brutus, and we need a Cassius. McQueen's aspirations may make her dangerous, but ambition is more predictable than principle."
+5 for the classical reference.

Ransom nodded. The Manticoran Alliance's capture of Trevor's Star gave it a near-impregnable position between the heart of the People's Republic and the Barnett System, but the massive infrastructure of DuQuesne Base and all the other military installations of the system remained. Barnett had been intended as the jump-off point for the inevitable war against Manticore, and the Legislaturalist regime had spent twenty T-years building it up for its task. However much the Manties might want to let it wither on the vine, they couldn't afford to leave it intact in their rear, for unlike wet-navy ships, starships could easily avoid interception if they planned their routes through hyper-space with even moderate care. Reinforcements—or fresh attack forces—might take time to reach Barnett on such roundabout courses, but they could get there.

The Manties, however, could get there more quickly. While their Sixth Fleet had been busy taking Trevor's Star, other Allied task forces had taken advantage of the People's Navy's distraction and snapped up the forward bases of Treadway, Solway, and Mathias. They'd captured the naval facilities in Treadway virtually intact, which was bad enough, but they'd also broken through the arc of bases which had guarded Barnett's southeastern flank . . . and that didn't even consider what the loss of Trevor's Star implied. With the capture of that system, the Royal Manticoran Navy had attained control of every terminus of the Manticore Wormhole Junction, and that meant convoys—and task forces—could move directly from the Manticore Binary System to Trevor's Star and come down on Barnett from the north.

For all practical purposes, then, Barnett was doomed, yet the Manties had taken their own pounding to capture Trevor's Star. They'd need at least a little time to reorganize and catch their breath, and once they were ready to move again, Barnett was almost certain to attract their immediate attention away from the Republic's core and back out towards the frontier. That made holding the system as long as possible, even if only as a diversionary measure, critically important, which, in turn, required the services of a competent system CO.
Three more systems besides Trevor's Star fell to the Manties between books, including the intact fleet base at Treadway. Now that they have a flanking position, the Manticorans will almost certainly want a piece of Barnett, the forward position for command decisions since the war began. Tom Theisman is holding Barnett for now, the Committee plans to extract him before the end, because of their need for experienced commanders.

For now, Cordelia will be taking a little trip up near the front, get in some interviews of the noble heroes before Barnett goes and carrying out a personal inspection of Theisman, setting up the main plot.
"Any plan which requires the direct intervention of any deity to work can be assumed to be a very poor one."- Newbiespud
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