Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

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Ahriman238
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Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-05-28 08:13pm

Picking up again after five years of peace, and more moronic misrule by miscreant Manticoran nobles. Well, Haven is still having problems with breakaway states, warlords and people who decided to just flee rather than take chances with the new regime.


"Well, every merchant line knows that if one of its ships is taken, whoever grabbed her will want to pull the wool over the eyes of any Navy ships they run into. But most navies have at least their own national shipping list in memory—complete with transponder codes matched to emissions signatures. So pirates also know there's at least some risk an alert plotting and com team will cross check and notice some little flaw any time they use a false transponder code." The exec shrugged. "That's why pirates tend to go on using the original code until they get a prize safely tucked away somewhere, rather than generating a fresh, false one."

"Of course it is," Glockauer said as his second-in-command paused. His comment could have sounded impatient, since Engelmann was busy saying something both of them already knew perfectly well. But he recognized that tone of voice. Binyan was onto something, and Glockauer was willing to give him time to lay out the groundwork for whatever it was.

"The thing I'm wondering, Skipper," the korvetten kapitän said, "is whether or not someone at Reichenbach figured out a way to take advantage of that tendency. Suppose they set up the beacon software to tag the transponder with a Seventeen-Alpha if the ship was taken? If they did, then they could also have rigged the rest of their software to strip the tag off when it plays the transponder code back to the bridge crew."


Why a freighter may be coming into the system, acting all casual but blaring a distress signal with their transponder, specifically a 17A- pirates have boarded. Apparently a 17 is pirates are boarding, and either is pretty rare outside of fiction. The crew rigged it and told the bridge displays to show the normal transponder squawk.


Little though Glockauer or any other Andermani officer might care to admit it, the Royal Manticoran Navy had been the true mainstay of piracy suppression in the Confederacy for over two centuries. It was only in the last hundred or so T-years that the Andermani Empire's fleet had begun to acquire the size and the numbers to pretend to exercise any meaningful, long-term police power in the area. Glockauer knew that was true, just as he understood that until the last fifty years—seventy-five, at the most—the Andermani merchant fleet had been too insignificant to justify the expense required to build up the Navy's light forces to a point which would have permitted it to make any real inroad into the bloody forays of the Confederacy's pirates and privateers.


So Andy expansion into Silesia is a relatively recent thing, you know, just the last century. Then again a hundred years ago Haven was the mecca of the Galactic North, so...


But the RMN's abrupt, stunning victory over the People's Navy had been even more complete than anyone had ever anticipated. So far as Glockauer knew, no one in Naval Intelligence had so much as suspected what sort of knockout punch the Manties had been preparing to deliver. Obviously, Intelligence had known at least a little about what Manticoran R&D had been up to. The recent and ongoing additions to the IAN's own hardware were proof enough of that, especially in light of the reports Glockauer had read of the Manties' new weapons and tactics. But he very much doubted that anyone in the Empire had realized the full magnitude of the RMN's qualitative superiority over its foe until Admiral White Haven finally pulled the trigger.


The Andy perspective on Operation Buttercup.


By rights, the RMN should by now have reverted to its prewar stance throughout the Confederacy. It hadn't, and in some ways, the situation was even worse than it had been before the war. The Manticorans hadn't built their light forces back up to their traditional levels, which meant piracy continued to flourish largely unchecked in much of the Confederacy. Worse, some of the "pirates" out here had acquired rather more capable ships. None of them were bigger than cruisers, but so far the Manties and the IAN between them had destroyed at least three of those which had . . . left the service of the People's Republic of Haven and fled to find greener pastures elsewhere. That meant that not only had the level of lawless activity increased, but so had its scope, with more planetary raids added to run-of-the-mill piracy. Intelligence's most recent estimate was that as many as a quarter million Sillies had been killed in the last year alone. A pinprick against the total population of something the size of the Confederacy, but a horrifying number when it was considered in isolation.

But if the Manties hadn't built their light forces back up, they had established a treaty relationship with the Sidemore Republic in the Marsh System. Over the past eight T-years, Sidemore had been built up into a fairly powerful fleet base, despite the Manticorans' need to concentrate most of their effort against the Peeps. The Marsh System's location, just outside the somewhat amorphous borders claimed by the Confederacy and on the flank of the Empire-to-Confederacy leg of the Manties' "Triangle Route," made it an ideal logistics base for the RMN's operations throughout southwestern Silesia.


Sidemore being the planet Honor saved from Warnecke The pirates are getting worse, but so far new fresh wave of Manticoran veterans in light cruisers to go a-hunting, and the war ended years ago. To much like a foreign adventure for the present administration, no doubt. Also, a lot of Peep ex-pat pirates, either StateSec or Navy unwilling to trust the new regime have wound up in Silesia, or even further afield.


Other than a certain desire to do it for himself, Glockauer had no objection to watching the Manticorans swat pirates. And their Marsh-based flotillas had enabled them to do a remarkable job of pacifying something like a tenth of the entire Confederacy. But they'd done it by establishing a Manticoran presence in an area in which they had persistently refused to countenance an Andermani one. If any star nation had a legitimate interest in controlling the situation in Silesia to protect its own borders and territorial integrity, that nation was the Andermani Empire . . . not the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Worse, the Manties had based an entire task force, two understrength squadrons of the wall, with battlecruiser and cruiser support, at their new Sidemore Station.

Ostensibly, those forces, which were far heavier than would have been required for any legitimate anti-piracy operations, were intended to cover Confederate space against a fresh intrusion of Peep commerce raiding squadrons. The official Manty position—to which the freelance operations of rogue ex-State Security and ex-People's Navy warships lent a certain point—was that covering against any renewal of the Peeps' commerce warfare in the Confederacy was the true (and only) reason for their treaty with Sidemore. No one in the Empire believed that for a moment, and resentment against Manticoran high-handedness had grown steadily over the last five T-years or so. Now that the Peeps had been militarily defeated, whether an actual peace treaty had been finalized or not, that excuse for the RMN's presence in Marsh was growing steadily more threadbare. Resentment over it had increased in direct proportion, and Glockauer suspected that the foreign policy considerations which had mitigated against any confrontation with Manticore were rapidly eroding.


Sidemore station, a major thorn in the Andies' side, has a lot of firepower to deter Andy expansionism, and the official excuses have long since worn thin.


"It looks like they'd stuffed their cargo holds full of missile pods," the commodore continued. "They'd obviously hoped we'd come in close enough for them to roll the pods, but when they realized we weren't going to bring the heavy ships into their range, someone figured out that just killing off the destroyers was only going to really, really piss us off. So since we'd declined to walk into their ambush and there was no way in hell those merchies could run away from us, they decided to own up and surrender while we were in a prisoner-taking mood. Unfortunately, from the preliminary reports, it sounds like their CO had other ideas, so apparently his exec shot him in the back of the head to change his mind."


Improvised pod-layers used in an attempted ambush, by forces of a StateSec warlord.


With Montague out of the way, Carson was reduced to only two star systems still under his direct control. Citizen Admiral Agnelli, Carson's theoretical ally currently controlled three more, but Agnelli and Carson had been strange bedfellows from the beginning. Both of them were ambitious, but Carson apparently retained at least some genuine loyalty to the New Order created by the Committee of Public Safety. That might have something to do with the high StateSec rank he'd attained under the previous management, and he was a thoroughly unpleasant individual, who remained addicted to brutality and terror as his preferred methods of crowd control. But for all that, there was at least some evidence he was motivated by something other than the possibility of personal gain.

No one would ever be foolish enough to believe anything of that sort where Federico Agnelli was concerned. Tourville reminded himself that he might be prejudiced by the fact that he'd known Agnelli for many years, and detested him for all of them. The reminder was strictly pro forma, however, because try as he might, he couldn't think of a single redeeming characteristic Agnelli might have possessed. The man was a marginally competent tactician, with a pronounced belief in his own infallibility. He'd climbed aboard the Committee's political bandwagon not because of any belief in what Rob Pierre and Oscar Saint-Just had promised the Mob but because it had offered him the opportunity for personal power, and he'd played the political game with a skillfulness which somehow managed to elude him in the field of naval tactics. At least two other flag officers Tourville knew of had been shot because they'd stood in Agnelli's way and he'd convinced StateSec they were "enemies of the People" to get rid of them.


Just two of the many warlords and separatists that the new Haven regime has been hard at work dismantling.


Basilisk was rebuilding now, and much more rapidly than anyone—including Reynaud—would have believed possible before the attack. Partly he supposed that was because the original infrastructure had grown only as the demand for it grew, whereas the replacement installations had been designed and constructed to meet an established and clearly understood need. And another factor, he acknowledged unhappily, was that the High Ridge Government had seen the reconstruction of Basilisk as a perfect opportunity to pour vast sums into public projects. Not only did it create jobs, not a minor consideration now that the military was downsizing and demobilized Navy personnel were glutting the job market, but it fitted perfectly with the High Ridge slogan: "Building the Peace."


Reconstruction of Basilisk, High Ridge slogan of "Building the Peace."


"The numbers are very preliminary, Mike, and we're still a huge distance from nailing down a definitive volume. Even after we do that, of course, we're going to be looking at the better part of a solid T-year, more probably two or three of them, before we get any farther than this end of the string. But unless I'm very mistaken, we've finally correlated enough sensor data to positively state that there actually is a seventh terminus to the Junction."

"My God," Reynaud said quietly. He leaned back once more and shook his head. "I hope you won't take this the wrong way, Jordin, but I never really expected us to find it. It just seemed so unlikely after all these years."

"It's been a bear," Kare agreed, "and I can see at least half a dozen monographs coming out of the hunt for it—probably more. You know the original theoretical math was always highly ambiguous, and it's only been in the last fifteen or twenty T-years that we've had Warshawskies sensitive enough to collect the observational data we needed to confirm it. And we've pushed the boundaries of wormhole theory further than anyone else has done in at least a century, in the process. But it's out there, and for the first time, I'm completely confident we're going to find it."

-snip-

That was the main reason Reynaud objected so strenuously to the government's involvement in RMAIA. The work itself was important, even vital, and the funding level required for the dozen or so research ships, not to mention the lab and computer time, certainly left it with a price tag very few private concerns could have afforded. But the entire thing was one huge PR opportunity as far as the current Government was concerned. That was the entire reason they'd created the agency in the first place instead of simply increasing the funding for the Astro Control's Survey Command, which had been quietly pursuing the same research for decades. The RMAIA had been launched with huge fanfare as one of the "long overdue peaceful initiatives" which had been delayed by the war against Haven, but the reality was just a little different from the shiny facade the Government worked so hard to project.

Nothing could have made the calculating reality behind the "peaceful initiative" more obvious than the blatant way the politicos scrambled to make political capital off of the work of the project's scientific staff. Official spokespeople who "forgot" to clear their copy with Kare or Reynaud were bad enough, but at least they could be thumped on for their sins. The project's political overlords, like High Ridge and Lady Descroix, were another matter entirely, and they were the ones who'd really infuriated Kare.


The Search for the Seventh Wormhole, and the political motives behid funding it.


"And the 'strike zone' is?" she asked.

"Anywhere between the knees and the shoulders, as long as the ball also crosses home plate," Honor told her with the competent air of a longtime afficionado.

"You say that like you knew the answer a year ago," Henke replied in a pretension-depressing tone.


Umm.... LaFollet set out to teach her baseball, for which she was fairly enthusiastic fourteen years ago by this point. I sure hope Honor knew the difference between a strike and a ball last year.


"Sure it is. That's why this is the only planet in the known universe where they still play it!"

"That's not true," Honor scolded primly while the cream-and-gray treecat stretched across the back of her seat raised his head to twitch his whiskers insufferably at his person's guest. "You know perfectly well that they still play baseball on Old Earth and at least five other planets."

"All right, on seven planets out of the— what? Isn't it something like seventeen hundred total inhabited worlds now?"


Seven planets, including Earth and Grayson, still plau baseball. Probably not enough to get a proper interstellar League going. More importantly, roughly 1700 human-colonized worlds in the honorverse, with potential for more in neobarb worlds that have been off the grid for a long time.

Which makes Haven, by real-estate at least, 1/17th of the human sphere.


"Updating is only a good idea if it constitutes an improvement, as well, My Lady," LaFollet pointed out. "And it's not quite fair to say we haven't made any changes. If the record books are accurate, there was a time, in at least one league back on Old Earth, when the pitcher didn't even have to bat. Or when a manager could make as many pitching changes in a single game as he wanted to. Saint Austen put an end to that nonsense, at least!"


Differences in how Graysons play ball.


"I hope you won't take this the wrong way, Andrew," she told the colonel, "but somehow the discovery that the founder of your religion was also a baseball fanatic doesn't really surprise me. It certainly explains the careful preservation of some of the . . . archaic aspects of the game, anyway."

"I wouldn't say Saint Austen was a fanatic about baseball, My Lady," LaFollet replied in a considering tone. " 'Fanatic' would probably be much too mild a term, from everything I've ever read."


Which is one reason the game is still alive and well, it's practically a religious imperative.


The huge sports facility seated at least sixty thousand in its tiers of comfortably upholstered chairs, and she hated to think how much the place must have cost. Especially on a planet like Grayson, where what would normally have been outdoor sports required stadiums with things like air filtration systems just to protect the local population from the heavy metal contents of their own atmosphere.

Not that any expense had been spared on more mundane considerations when James Candless Memorial Field was erected. The immaculately manicured playing field was a green jewel, broken only by white stripes of the traditional powdered lime and the bare, rich brown earth of the base lines. The colors of the field and the even brighter colors of the festively garbed spectators glowed brilliantly in the protective dome's filtered sunlight, and the crowd was liberally festooned with team pennants and banners exhorting the home team to victory. There was even a ventilation system carefully designed to exactly recreate the wind conditions outside the dome, and the Grayson planetary flag, with its crossed swords and open Bible, flew from the top of one of the two foul poles while the Harrington Steading flag flew from the other.


The Jamie Candless (she does like naming things after him) Memorial Field for Harrington Steading.


"Not so mature and responsible that you didn't name your team after a certain furry, six-footed celery-thief and his friends," Henke shot back, reaching out to rub the treecat on Honor's shoulder between his ears.

"Nimitz and Samantha had nothing to do with my choice," Honor replied. "Mind you, they approved of it, but I actually picked it as the lesser of two evils." She grimaced. "It was that, or the 'Harrington Salamanders.' "

Henke looked up sharply, then spluttered a half-smothered laugh.

"You're joking!"

"I wish I were. As a matter of fact, the Commissioner of Baseball had already assigned the Salamanders name when the Owners' Committee and the Rules Committee agreed to expand the league. I had an awful time changing their minds."

"I think it would've been a marvelous name," Henke told her with an impish grin.

"I'm sure you do," Honor said repressively. "I, on the other hand, don't. Leaving aside the entire question of modesty, can you imagine how High Ridge and his crowd would have reacted? It would have been tailor-made for their op-ed pieces!"


I'd have honestly expected that to be one of the things that happened while she was dead, but then she'd have never gotten them to change the name. And yes, High Ridge would love to have such an obvious sign of Honor's megalomania in her little fief.


Indeed, the visibility of Duchess Harrington as one of the Crown's staunchest supporters in the Lords (and as one of the inner circle of "kitchen advisers" the Queen turned to for advice instead of the members of her official government) was one reason the pro-Government media had spent so much time trying to discredit Honor in any way it could. The subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) vilification which had come her way had been downright ugly at times. But however that might be, she admitted, Honor had not only spent more time working with Elizabeth but also possessed certain advantages others lacked when it came to evaluating people and their emotion.


Honor's status as the Queen's biggest backer in the House of Lords and a known member of her inner circle of political advisers. Implied efforts of the media to discredit her specifically because of her new prominence in politics.


"Even assuming that there were no ideological fissures within the High Ridge Government, there aren't enough Conservatives, Liberals, and Progressives in the Lords to sustain High Ridge's majority without the support of at least some of the Independents," Honor pointed out. "High Ridge has managed to bring Wallace's New Men on board, as well, of course, but even that's not enough to change the dynamics of the major parties significantly. And however much she might have frightened or angered High Ridge and his cronies, she never said anything threatening to the Independents who've decided to support him, now did she?"


There are a substantial number of Independents in the Lords, including many who back High Ridge for the time being. Again mention of the New Men, the smallest party consisting of the nouveau rich nobles banding under a banner of realpolitik to sell their votes for a chance at real wealth and power.


Honor, who, unlike Henke, had a very good notion of how the Countess of the Tor had come into possession of the damning documentation, agreed. For a moment, she considered explaining her suspicions about Captain Zilwicki and his role in the mysterious intelligence windfall to her friend, then decided against it. They weren't really something Mike needed to know . . . just as she didn't need to know some of the other things Andrew LaFollet had discovered about Anton Zilwicki. Like exactly what it was that the half-pay captain's new private security firm was doing with some of the information which the Countess had not turned over to the authorities.


So Zilwicki got, not canned, but beached on half-pay after the Manpower Incident. And has started a private security company, presumably with close ties to the Ballroom.


"Unfortunately," she went on instead, "the individuals who were specifically named were all relatively small fish. Socially prominent in some cases, perhaps, and politically important enough to be highly visible in others, but not close enough to the seats of power to be really crippling. The fact that so many of them had connections to the Conservatives and—especially!—to certain members of the Liberal Party, as well, was certainly embarrassing. For that matter, the Ministry of Justice has put a couple of dozen of them away for a long, long time. But there were just enough of them in the other parties or among the Independents—even two among the Centrists, I'm sorry to say—for the apologists to argue that 'everyone did it' and keep any one party from being singled out for blame. And the fact that there were no direct links to the party leaders let the Government defuse the worst possible repercussions by shouting louder than anyone else for the prosecution of the individuals who were named. Like Hendricks, when they recalled him from Old Terra and sent out a new ambassador."


For a bit there, it looked like the Manpower Incident would down the High Ridge government early, but there were enough people from all parties involved to keep any one group from taking the fall, or looking totally clean. So High Ridge gets to sacrifice a few expendables, including Admiral Young who turns out to be a fourth cousin of Pavel and Stefan's.


"Mike," she said patiently, "this is basic Political History 101. What's the one thing the Crown has been trying to take away from the Lords ever since there's been a Star Kingdom?"

"The power of the purse," Henke replied.

"Very good," Honor said. "But the Founders, who were otherwise a fairly decent lot, were virtually unanimous in their determination to see to it that they and their descendants hung onto the real political power in the Star Kingdom. That's why the Constitution specifically requires that the Prime Minister come from the House of Lords and specifies that any finance bill must be introduced in the Lords. I happen to think there's something to be said for placing substantial political power in the hands of a legislative chamber which can be . . . insulated from the political and ideological hysteria du jour, but the Founders set up too much of a good thing. The fact that they never have to stand for election means that too many of the peers—present company excluded, of course—have . . . questionable contact with reality, let's say. Worse, it's even easier for someone who inherits her title to become an empire builder within the Parliament. Trust me," she added dryly. "I've seen how that works on two different planets now, and with a considerably better vantage point than I ever wanted."

-snip-

"But for generations, the Crown has wanted to see a better balance between the powers of the Commons and the Lords, and the best way to accomplish that would be to give the Commons control of the purse as a counterweight to leaving the premiership permanently lodged in the Lords. Except that the Crown has never been able to assemble the required majority in the Lords to amend the Constitution to transfer that power to the lower house."

"Of course not," Henke snorted with the rich contempt for aristocratic defense of privilege possible only for one born to that same aristocracy. "What? You really think that anyone who has as good a thing going for them as the peers do is going to vote to give half of her power to someone else?"


A history of the Crown's efforts to get the Lords to let the Commons determine the budget. Which may be a major Centrist point, since fear of just that happening is a lot of what's keeping High Ridge's coalition together.

As a good rule of thumb for exposition though, you should never have characters tell each other things they should both now. Michelle Henke is a born noble, fifth or sixth in line for the crown, and like Honor is pushing seventy T-years old now. If she doesn't understand the Manticoran political system by now, there's simply no hope for her. However many years she's been chasing pirates, the basic history should all be there.


It's all a matter of numbers, Mike, and the San Martino peers could very well shift the balance in the Lords to a point that makes it possible for the Queen to pull it off at last. But the joker in the deck is the combination of the Constitution's limit on the creation of new peerages and the terms of the Act of Annexation which admitted Trevor's Star to the Star Kingdom. The Constitution limits increases in the total membership of the House of Lords to no more than ten percent between any two general elections, and the Act of Annexation specifies that none of the new peers from San Martin will be confirmed or seated until after the next general election.

"So what the Government and its supporters in the Lords are trying to do is to postpone that election as long as possible. At the moment, there's not much question that the San Martinos are very solidly behind the Queen and the Centrists. After all, it was our Navy, under Elizabeth and the Cromarty Government, which kicked the Peeps out of the Trevor's Star System and liberated them, and it was Cromarty and your father, as Foreign Secretary, who negotiated the actual terms of their admission to the Star Kingdom. Not only that, but San Martin had no hereditary aristocracy before its annexation, so it's not likely that the San Martinos are going to have the same . . . devoted attachment to the status quo in Parliament. Gratitude to the people they see as responsible for their liberation, coupled with that lack of aristocratic tradition, means the new peers would be likely—almost certain, in fact—to support a motion by Lord Alexander, as the leader of the Centrist Party, to transfer that power of the purse to the House of Commons.

"But until they're actually seated, they can't support anything. And what High Ridge and his cronies are up to right now is building a sufficiently strong majority among the members of the existing peerage to resist any such action. According to the latest figures I've seen, the number of current peers opposed to the required constitutional amendment gives them at least a fifteen-percent edge, but that number could erode. And even if it doesn't, two general elections will put enough San Martinos into the Lords to overcome it, assuming their support for the amendment is solid.


The reason Elizabeth can't stuff the Lords full of tractable nobles, she can only the group by 10% between general elections, which are called by the Government and not something that happens automatically every couple of years. Also, the Commons need to confirm her nobles by majority vote. The new San Martino peers and MPs will not be able to vote until after that election, so High Ridge is in no hurry to call it and install a bunch of new blood to upset the applecart.


Ultimately, she felt certain, it had been her relationship with Giscard, with its resonances to his own relationship with LePic, which had made her acceptable to him. He'd known and trusted Giscard; by extension, he'd felt able to trust her because he knew Giscard did. But the thing which had truly astounded her was that when he offered her both the political and the military powers of the head of state, he'd meant it.

There hadn't been any strings, no reservations, no secretly retained authority. The one thing Thomas Theisman would never be was a puppet master. There'd been one, and only one, condition, and that had been that Eloise Pritchart prove to him that she was as committed as he was to the restoration of the old Constitution. Not the Constitution of the People's Republic of Haven, which had created the office of Hereditary President and legally enshrined the dynastic power of the Legislaturalists, but the Constitution of the old Republic. The Republic whose citizens had been expected to be more than mere drones and to vote. The one whose presidents and legislators had served at the will of an electorate which held them responsible for their actions.

Pritchart had felt almost awed when she realized she was in the presence of a true romantic. A man who actually believed in the rule of law, the sanctity of solemn oaths, and the inviolability of personal responsibility.

She wondered if he'd always been so divorced from reality, or if he'd become that way as his own defense mechanism as he watched the star nation of his birth go insane about him. It didn't really matter. What mattered was that he was truly and absolutely committed to the very principles for which the Aprilist Movement had come into existence . . . and that she was almost as hopelessly romantic, in that respect, at least, as he was.

And so, just over eighteen T-months from Oscar Saint-Just's death, Eloise Pritchart, after organizing the transition government and bringing the old Constitution back from the ash heap of history, had become the first elected president of the Republic of Haven in almost two centuries, with Thomas Theisman as her Secretary of War.


How Prichart became interim, than elected, President after Saint-Just was shot.


Not everyone had been prepared to accept Theisman's overthrow of the Committee of Public Safety gracefully. In fact, initially, he'd controlled only the capital system and its fleet. Capital Fleet was the Navy's largest, of course, and two-thirds of the other core systems of the People's Republic had declared for him—or, rather, for Pritchart's interim government—within the first three T-months. The majority of the rest of the People's Navy had also supported him, as well. But a large minority of the Navy had been under the control of other citizen admirals or, even worse, StateSec system commanders, who'd refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the new government.

-snip-

Fortunately, she'd never really been concerned (unlike some people) that Theisman might not succeed in his pacification efforts in the end . . . as long as the Manties stayed out of it. The fact that most of his adversaries distrusted one another even more than they distrusted him had given him a powerful advantage, but not even their merry-go-round of mutual betrayal would have been enough to permit the interim government to survive in the face of an active Manticoran resumption of the offensive.


The various breakaways, rebels and warlords. Reminds me sort of the Star Wars EU with the feuding Imperial Remnant.


"Yes, thank God. I expect Javier's next report within another couple of days, and I'll be very surprised if it doesn't tell us that Mikasinovich is ready to call it quits."

"Really?" Pritchart brightened visibly. Citizen General Silas Mikasinovich was the last major StateSec holdout. He'd managed to hammer himself together a six-star vest-pocket empire which had proved a surprisingly tough nut to crack.

"Really," Theisman confirmed, then raised one hand in a brief throwing-away gesture. "I'm afraid you're going to have to amnesty him like the others, and I wish you weren't. But unless I'm badly mistaken, he's enough of a realist to recognize that his only real chance now is to cut the best deal with you that he can."

"I'll give him a lot better deal than he deserves," Pritchart said grimly. "But the bottom line is going to be that he surrenders every one of his capital ships, then gets the hell out of the Republic and stays out."


Amnesty and exile for the warlords who surrender peacefully.


So far, as nearly as Theisman and his staff could tell, not a single Havenite ship above the size of a battlecruiser had managed to simply disappear. He knew damned well that at least some lighter units had elected to set up independent operations as pirates or small-scale warlords safely beyond his own reach, but at least he'd managed to prevent any ships of the wall from doing the same thing, and he intended to keep it that way.


No wallers unaccounted for, they think. A lot of StateSec ships were off the books, but they were also called out in force near the end, right? Missing cruisers and BCs turned pirate will be a problem, but no capital ships.


Arnold Giancola had been a low mid-level Treasury bureaucrat under Hereditary President Harris. Like hundreds of thousands of other bureaucrats, he'd continued in his precoup position—in his case, administering disbursement of the Basic Living Stipend right here in Nouveau Paris—under the Committee. None of them had been given much choice about that, aside from the very senior Legislaturalist administrators, who'd all been purged by the new management, because someone had to continue to run the day-to-day machinery of the state, and Rob Pierre and Oscar Saint-Just had innumerable ways to make sure they did. But to be completely fair (which Pritchart found difficult in her Secretary of State's case), Giancola had done his job better than most, and with what certainly appeared to have been a genuine concern for the Dolists under his jurisdiction.

His competence had drawn favorable attention from his new superiors, and after four or five T-years, he'd been transferred to the Department of State, which was always in search of capable administrators. He'd done equally well there, rising steadily in seniority, only to be shifted back to Treasury when Rob Pierre nominated Avram Turner to drive through his enormous economic reform package. Giancola's new position had brought him back to his old Nouveau Paris neighborhood, where he'd prospered despite the pain and economic dislocation involved in the Turner Reforms. He was, after all, an effective administrator who possessed an undeniable talent for attracting the loyalty of his subordinates, and he'd done his level best to minimize the reforms' traumas for the citizens for whom he was responsible. As a result, he'd emerged from the Committee's downfall with a base of genuine popular support—quite a large one, actually—on the Republic's capital (and most populous) planet.

He'd capitalized on that support shrewdly. His brother Jason was a senator; his cousin Gerard Younger was a representative; and Arnold himself had played a prominent role in reorganizing the capital following Theisman's overthrow of Saint-Just. He'd obviously had ambitions of his own at the time, but he'd been smart enough, whatever his other failings, to realize Theisman would have squashed him like a bug if he'd acted on them. So instead, he'd settled for building a powerful political machine in Nouveau Paris—still the most important single city in the Republic, although the Mob's heady days of power were a thing of the past. That had not only assured him his slot at the Convention but also allowed him to directly influence the election of a surprising number of representatives and no less than eight senators (including himself), which was not an inconsequential Congressional power base.

It had also made him Pritchart's most significant opposition when she ran for the presidency in the first election under the restored Constitution. Had it come down to a straight contest between the two of them, his candidacy would have been not only significant but a serious challenge, and she knew it. Fortunately, she'd enjoyed two enormous advantages he simply could not overcome: her status as the provisional head of government who'd actually kept her promise and held general elections when she'd said she would, and the endorsement of Thomas Theisman. There had been seven candidates on the ballot, and Pritchart had taken seventy-three percent of the popular vote. Arnold Giancola had taken nineteen percent, and the other five candidates between them had split the remaining eight percent.

The election hadn't even been close, but Giancola had clearly emerged as the second most consequential figure of the restored Republic's youthful political establishment. That was precisely why Pritchart had chosen him for what was technically the number one position in her cabinet. In actual fact, Theisman's combination of the offices of Secretary of War and Chief of Naval Operations made him the de facto second-ranking member of the administration, but Giancola was definitely the third. And under the Constitution, it was he who would lead the three-month caretaker administration and supervise the special election to replace Pritchart if something happened to her.


Anold Giancola, who ran against Prichart for the historical position of the first democratically elected President of the Haven Republic in centuries. He lost but is now Secretary of State/Vice President, at least in that he will take over if Prichart dies.


The Constitution had also just coincidentally required him to resign from the Senate to accept a cabinet-level post, and she'd calculated that he would be less dangerous in the cabinet where she could keep an eye on him and demand his loyalty than he would directly controlling a senate seat. But he'd foiled that part of her plans by securing his brother's election in his place in the special election his resignation had set up. Nor had her plans to co-opt him to support her policies proved an unadulterated success. As far as she could tell, he'd simply recognized that he had to work through a different set of rules and priorities in pursuit of his original ambition and policies, and he was building a steadily growing faction in Congress. The fact that he was also busy building support within the Cabinet for at least some of his policies had the potential to turn into a major nightmare, yet she couldn't demand his resignation. It was probably clear to everyone that he was maneuvering to put himself into position to challenge any reelection bid of her own when her term ended in another four T-years, but his alliances in Congress would provoke a bigger fight than ridding herself of him would be worth.


Their various battles and maneuvers against each other.


There were very few things Rob Pierre and Oscar Saint-Just had done with which Thomas Theisman found himself in complete agreement. Operation Bolthole was one of them, although Theisman was scarcely happy about the circumstances which had made Bolthole necessary.

The thing that most amazed him about Bolthole was that Pierre and Saint-Just had managed to pull it off in near total secrecy. Theisman himself hadn't heard so much as a whisper about it until he'd taken over as commander of Capital Fleet, and virtually no officer outside the project itself below the rank of vice admiral—and damned few senior to that—knew about it even now. Which was a state of affairs Theisman intended to preserve as long as possible.


Bolthole, the secret, formerly StateSec, shipyards. Also the R&D facility where Shannon Foraker has been tasked with duplicating for finding solutions for all the new weapons unleashed during Buttercup. That way they can build podnoughts and CLACs in secret as she and her teams work out the bugs.


"Right this minute," he went on after a second or so, "the Manties are completely confident that no one poses a significant threat to their naval superiority. Their new missile pods, their new superdreadnoughts, and—especially—their new LACs give them a degree of tactical superiority which would make it suicide for any conventional navy to engage them. Janacek may be an idiot, and he may have brought in other idiots to help him run the Manty Admiralty, but it's obvious that they recognize their technical advantages. That's the only possible explanation for their build-down in conventional hulls. They're actually reducing their fleet to very nearly its prewar size, Eloise. They'd never do that if they weren't so confident of their tech edge that they figured they could hack extremely heavy numerical odds if they had to.

"But look at what that means. Their entire current strategic stance is built on that edge in technology, and their First Lord of Admiralty is stupid. He's going to be upset enough if he suddenly discovers Pierre and Saint-Just managed to build a shipyard complex even bigger than the one here in the Haven System without anyone in the Star Kingdom so much as suspecting it. But if he figures out what we've had Foraker and her people doing out there for the last couple of T-years, he's not going to be upset—he's going to panic."

"Panic?" Pritchart shook her head. "Tom, this is your area of expertise, not mine. But isn't 'panic' just a little strong? Let's be honest. You and I both know the Manties kicked our butt up one side and down the other. If Saint-Just hadn't managed to snooker them into 'truce talks,' White Haven would have smashed straight through Twelfth Fleet, punched out Capital Fleet, and dictated terms right here on Haven. I was there with Javier and Lester. I know there was nothing we could have done to stop him."

"Of course there wasn't . . . then," Theisman agreed. "But that's my very point. We know that, and they know that. Worse, they're depending on it. Which means they have to be certain they maintain that technological edge, especially in light of the reduction in their total tonnage. So if they realize Foraker is busy building us an entire new navy specifically designed to offset their advantages, they're also going to realize they've created a situation which effectively allows us to begin even with them in the new types. Since their entire defensive stance requires them to retain their advantage in those types, one solution would be for them to hit us before we have enough of the new designs available to defend ourselves."


I agree with Theisman here, actually. If you simply announce that you've duplicated the tech there will be one of two reactions: panic which could start the shooting war all over again, or disbelief which profits you nothing. Of course, Janacek estimated way back then that Haven could duplicate these things given four or five years. He also suggested that would be plenty of time to conclude negotiations or decide Haven wasn't dealing in good faith and get Eighth Fleet back to rolling over Lovat before haven itself. Pity it's the Manties that are dealing in bad faith and stretching out the talks.


"But that would violate the terms of our truce," Pritchart pointed out.

"Which is just that—a truce," Theisman emphasized. "The war isn't over. Not officially, anyway, which is exactly what Giancola keeps pointing out. Hell, the Manties keep pointing it out! I'm sure you saw the same analysis I did on their Prime Minister's most recent speech. They're still 'viewing with alarm' where we're concerned, if only to justify the tax structure they're retaining. So there's no formal treaty to dissuade them from resuming the war any time they choose. And if we openly acknowledge that we're building an entire new fleet capable of standing up to them in combat, the temptation to nip the threat in the bud would have to be intense. Worst of all, Edward Janacek is stupid and arrogant enough to recommend to High Ridge that they do just that."


Haven is still out there, a paper tiger to justify the taxes and duties that will go to PR and dream-projects and not into anything militarily useful.


"Agreed. And that's precisely the domestic problem that most concerns me. Most of our senators and the members of the Cabinet are still a bit more diffident than I'd really like them to be in a lot of ways. For one thing, if more of them would grow spines and build up other power bases I could use to balance Giancola, it would help a lot when it comes to reining him in. They won't do it any time soon, though, and in the meantime there's still entirely too much of the reflex acceptance of restrictions on information simply because the government says it's 'necessary.' That's the only way we got the budget to keep Bolthole running through without debate in the first place. But if Giancola keeps on pushing more and more strongly for us to take a harder line in the negotiations with the Manties, then sooner or later he's going to start bolstering his arguments by dropping some of the details his brother has obviously fed him. Which is going to bring the Department of State into direct conflict with the Department of War."


For the moment, the elected officials are still being careful not to piss off the bosses or call attention to themselves, and they're willing to accept secrets, too much so for Prichart's comfort.


"As I said, I'm not prepared—or even tempted—to overrule you in this particular area. I just wish the Manties would stop providing Arnold with fresh grist for his mill. And truth to tell, I think they're up to something, myself. There has to be a reason they keep refusing even to seriously discuss the return of the occupied star systems, and if they're not planning to hang onto them permanently, then what the hell are they doing?"


A major bone not adequately dealt with in the talks, what happens to all the systems Manticore liberated? Some were eager for the change, others sullen, do we hold a vote? Go back to pre-War territories sans San Martino? Is Manticore keeping them?
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-05-28 08:14pm

Which had made it inevitable that Helen would hear Lady Cathy's opinion of the ill-considered attempt Sir Edward Janacek had made to revoke Duchess Harrington's special permission to bring armed personal retainers into the sacred precincts of the Naval Academy.

His efforts had failed ignominiously, exactly (in Helen's opinion) as they deserved to. Fortunately for him, he, or at least his political advisers, had possessed enough sense not to conduct his campaign in a public forum, which had left him room to retreat when he ran into the Queen's unyielding resistance. Since the dispensation which allowed for the presence of the Harrington Steading armsmen on the island in the first place had been granted by the Queen's Bench at the direct request of the Foreign Secretary in light of the fact that Steadholder Harrington and Duchess Harrington were two totally separate legal entities who simply happened to live in the same body as Admiral Harrington, the decision to revoke it had not been the purely internal Navy affair Janacek had attempted to make it. The Foreign Secretary who had requested it had also happened to be the Queen's uncle, and the Queen's Bench answered directly to her, not to Edward Janacek or even Prime Minister High Ridge. Given both of those things, only an idiot would have tried to overturn the arrangement out of what was clearly a sense of petty spite.


Janacek tried to revoke Honor's special dispensation to have her armsmen accompany here everywhere, it went south, but the whole affair was actually really quiet and never caught public attention. Also, Helen Zilwicki, Anton's daughter, is getting ready to graduate out of the Academy and into the next spin-off series.

Oh yes, Janacek had Honor resume teaching in the belief he could somehow shuffle her off by making her a prominent feature at the Academy, where htousands of future officers would come to know and respect her. Janacek is an idiot.


The Duchess' immaculate space-black and gold uniform was unique. She was the only RMN officer who properly wore a Grayson Space Navy shoulder flash bearing the flame-enshrouded salamander emblem of the Protector's Own Squadron even in Manticoran uniform, since she was the Protector's Own's official commander. But in addition to that, she was also the only person in history whose uniform tunic carried both the blood-red ribbon of the Star of Grayson and the crimson, blue, and white one of the Parliamentary Medal of Valor. There were persistent rumors that Duchess Harrington had refused the PMV after leading the escape from Cerberus, but even if they were true, she hadn't been able to avoid it after the Cromarty Assassination. Helen suspected that she'd accepted it with very mixed emotions, however, since Baron High Ridge, as the new Prime Minister, had played the media event for all it was worth when he announced she was to receive it.


Honor's uniform, she wears her medals including the PMV which she couldn't turn down after saving her Queen and Protector in the last book. She also wears a Protector's Own patch (with, as it happens, a salamander logo) on her shoulder.


Lady Harrington's ".45" was famous—or infamous, depending on one's perspective—throughout the Navy. Those who continued to cling to the notion that she was some sort of loose warhead, a dangerous lunatic unable to recognize the difference between the derring-do of bad historical holo dramas and the reality of a modern officer's duties, saw the archaic hand weapon as proof of their prejudices. Others, like Helen and Anton Zilwicki, regarded it somewhat differently. Perhaps it was because, unlike those who condemned Lady Harrington's "recklessness" and considered her some sort of glory hound, both Helen and her father had spent their own time in a place those critics had never been. It wasn't something Helen ever discussed with any of her classmates, but she sometimes wondered how they would have reacted if she'd ever told them about her adventures on Old Earth. Or mentioned the fact that before she was fifteen T-years old she had killed three men with her bare hands.


Honor's Colt 1911 is now a famous affectation, though opinions differ on it.


Unfortunately, and even though she'd been the one who'd suggested the compromise, Honor shared his view of what had inspired Janacek's attempt. Which was why she, too, resented it so bitterly.


Honor breaks Grayson law by keeping just one armsman with her on Saganami island, a compromise after the attempt to remove them entirely.


Which didn't mean he approached her trips to the range without a certain trepidation. For one thing, he wasn't at all in favor of allowing anyone—even fellow naval officers—into the Steadholder's presence with weapons in their hands. He knew better than to raise that particular point with Lady Harrington, however, which was why he'd somehow overlooked reporting to her about the private conversation he'd had with Sergeant Johannsen's predecessor over four T-years ago. The colonel had long since discovered that the easiest way to prevent the Steadholder from complaining about irksome security considerations was simply not to mention them to her. Not even Lady Harrington could get exercised over something she didn't know about, although keeping secrets from her wasn't exactly the easiest thing in the universe.

In this case, though, he was reasonably certain she remained blissfully unaware that Johannsen, like the last range officer, discreetly saw to it that no other shooter was ever admitted to the range while she was at the line. It was certainly possible that sooner or later she would begin wondering why she always seemed to have the range to herself, of course. When she did, she was probably going to ask some extremely pointed questions, and LaFollet wasn't looking forward to answering them. But in the meantime, his if-you-don't-ask, I-won't-tell policy seemed to be working just fine, and tomorrow could look after itself when it got here.


Well, on Grayson there's a pretty harsh, if unspecified, penalty for bringing a weapon into the presence of a Steadholder, assuming the armsman don't simply blow you away and ask questions later. Nor is this the first time he's snuck around Honor's sensibilities to be proactive.


The armsman came to attention and saluted, despite the fact that White Haven, unlike the Steadholder, was in civilian dress. That made him stand out like a deacon in a house of joy here on Saganami Island, and LaFollet suspected it was deliberate. The Earl was widely acknowledged as the premier field commander of the entire Manticoran Alliance after his brilliant performance in Operation Buttercup, and the Grayson Space Navy had granted him the rank of Fleet Admiral in its service. He was fully entitled to wear the uniform of his rank—in either navy—whenever he chose, despite the fact that Sir Edward Janacek had seen fit to place him on inactive, half-pay status with indecent speed as one of his first actions as First Lord of the Admiralty. If he could have, Janacek would undoubtedly have attempted to order him not to accept the Grayson promotion, as well. Technically, he had that power, since the Graysons had not made the rank honorary, despite the fact that White Haven was not a Grayson citizen, but not even the High Ridge Government had dared to offer an insult quite that gratuitous to the man who'd won the war. So the First Lord had swallowed the ground glass and accepted it . . . then deprived White Haven of the opportunity to wear any uniform on active duty. The fact that White Haven chose not to wear it off-duty, either, even here at the very fountainhead of the Royal Manticoran Navy's officer corps, only emphasized the pettiness and spite of Janacek's action.


For single-handedly winning the war, White Haven got a Fleet Admiral's commission from Grayson and got beached by Manticore. He and Janacek being old rivals.


"In answer to your question," she went on a moment later, her voice completely normal as she reclaimed her hand, "yes. I did consider trying out for the pistol team. The rifle team never really interested me, I'm afraid, but I've always enjoyed hand weapons. But I was just getting really into the coup at that point, and I decided to concentrate on that, instead." She shrugged. "I grew up in the Sphinx bush, you know, so I was already a pretty fair shot when I got here."


Saganami Island maintains pistol and rifle teams, and Hamish admits a moment later his soccer rivalry with Caparelli happened on the Island too.


"Not specifically. But Elizabeth had invited him to the Palace as the Leader of the Opposition to hear the official briefing on the latest inspirations to strike High Ridge and his flunkies." Lady Harrington looked up from the gun case to dart a sharp glance at the Earl, but he either failed to notice or pretended that he had. "The official message inviting the Opposition Leader to the briefing had somehow gone astray. Again."

"I see," she repeated, and closed the gun case with a snap. She reached for her accessory bag, but White Haven's hand got to it before hers, and smiling, he slung it over his own shoulder.

She smiled back, but her eyes were troubled. LaFollet wasn't surprised. The Steadholder had come an enormous distance from the politically unsophisticated naval officer she'd been when LaFollet first became her armsman. Which meant she was unaware neither of the fresh contempt in White Haven's voice when he spoke of the Prime Minister, nor of the pettiness of High Ridge's obviously intentional failure to advise Lord Alexander of the briefing.

Like the Steadholder, although to a lesser degree, the colonel had become better informed on Manticoran political processes than he'd ever really wanted to be. Because of that, he knew there was no specific constitutional requirement for the Prime Minister to invite the leader of his opposition in Parliament to the Queen's official weekly briefings. By long tradition, however, he was supposed to invite the Opposition Leader to the regular briefings, both as a matter of common courtesy and to ensure that if there were a sudden change of government, the individual who would almost certainly replace him as Prime Minister was as fully up to speed as possible.

No one expected any politician, even the Prime Minister of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, to invite his main political rival to Cabinet meetings, or to special Crown briefings. That would have been both unreasonable and foolish. But the twice-a-week general briefings were another matter entirely, and LaFollet knew Duke Cromarty had been scrupulous even at the height of the war against the Peeps about inviting High Ridge, who'd led the Opposition at the time, to attend them. It was typical of High Ridge to "forget" to extend the same courtesy to the man who'd been Cromarty's political second-in-command.


More pettiness that benefits High Ridge not at all, and makes him look childish. There's a lot more in this vein.


"No, but I'll buy you lunch," she countered, and LaFollet felt a fresh sinking sensation as he saw the way her eyes suddenly danced even more devilishly than Nimitz's had. White Haven arched a questioning eyebrow, and she chuckled. "You're here on the Island, Hamish, and whether Janacek likes it or not, you are a flag officer. Why not let me com ahead to Casey and reserve one of the flag dining rooms for lunch?"

"Oh, Honor, that's evil," White Haven said with a sudden huge grin, and LaFollet closed his eyes in profound agreement. Casey Hall was the enormous cafeteria right off the Quadrangle. Its main dining hall was capable of seating almost a third of Saganami Island's entire student body simultaneously, but it also boasted smaller, much more palatial dining rooms for more senior officers. Including fifteen or twenty small, private rooms reserved for admirals and very senior captains of the list and their guests on a first-come, first-served basis.

"Janacek will fall down in a frothing fit when he hears you and I had lunch together in the very heart of what he'd like to consider his own private domain," the Earl continued. "Especially when he figures out I came straight from Willie's after discussing what he and High Ridge had to say at the briefing this morning."


Well if he considers it his private domain, then it's a piss-poor place to dispose of his enemies, no?
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-05-28 11:01pm

Ahriman238 wrote:Oh yes, Janacek had Honor resume teaching in the belief he could somehow shuffle her off by making her a prominent feature at the Academy, where htousands of future officers would come to know and respect her. Janacek is an idiot.
It was this or beach her. Also, do bear in mind that Janacek has at least some desire to actually make the Navy function; he's dumb but he's not explicitly trying to ruin everything. He beaches White Haven because he thinks White Haven is an upstart, smug son of a bitch and would probably rather eat ground glass than have to put up with him as a senior fleet commander- but to be fair, White Haven would happily return the favor.

But as far as I can recall, Janacek doesn't have much of anything personal against Harrington. The Conservative Party does, but that doesn't automatically guarantee that Janacek will totally ignore Harrington's potential utility to the RMN. If Harrington has a good track record as an instructor at the naval academy, Janacek might honestly think it was a good idea to put her there.

More pettiness that benefits High Ridge not at all, and makes him look childish. There's a lot more in this vein.
As an alternate character interpretation, ignoring the out-of-setting reality that Weber just can't create sane politicians who disagree with Our Heroes In Uniform...

This is, frankly, the Opposition that the 'good guy' side of Manticoran politics has spent the last seventy years creating. By methodically cutting their ties, by privately deciding to hold them in contempt, Roger III, Elizabeth III, and many of the current generation of Centrist leaders have made it almost impossible for them to have a civil political relationship with the opposing parties. Cromarty, who played 'older but wiser head' right up until his death, could at least engage with enough of the nonaligned peers to effectively manipulate the Lords. His successors lack that knack; they've lost the ability to govern effectively except by issuing marching orders to people who already agree with them.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Terralthra » 2014-05-29 12:10am

Ahriman238 wrote:Saganami Island maintains pistol and rifle teams, and Hamish admits a moment later his soccer rivalry with Caparelli happened on the Island too.
We knew this from Short, Victorious War.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-05-31 12:11pm

Considering Saint Austin was such a baseball nut, I wonder if Masada isn't one of the other planets that plays the sport?


Simon_Jester wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:Oh yes, Janacek had Honor resume teaching in the belief he could somehow shuffle her off by making her a prominent feature at the Academy, where htousands of future officers would come to know and respect her. Janacek is an idiot.
It was this or beach her. Also, do bear in mind that Janacek has at least some desire to actually make the Navy function; he's dumb but he's not explicitly trying to ruin everything. He beaches White Haven because he thinks White Haven is an upstart, smug son of a bitch and would probably rather eat ground glass than have to put up with him as a senior fleet commander- but to be fair, White Haven would happily return the favor.

But as far as I can recall, Janacek doesn't have much of anything personal against Harrington. The Conservative Party does, but that doesn't automatically guarantee that Janacek will totally ignore Harrington's potential utility to the RMN. If Harrington has a good track record as an instructor at the naval academy, Janacek might honestly think it was a good idea to put her there.


Well, he calls her a lunatic repeatedly, and mentions at least once that if she really had the tactical acumen people assume she does she wouldn't keep getting her ships and squadrons shot up. Which sound both personal, and like mighty big words from someone who, AFAIK has never participated in a real battle and whose major contribution to the war effort was serving as an expert advisor and talking head for the Opposition leaders.


Simon wrote:
More pettiness that benefits High Ridge not at all, and makes him look childish. There's a lot more in this vein.
As an alternate character interpretation, ignoring the out-of-setting reality that Weber just can't create sane politicians who disagree with Our Heroes In Uniform...

This is, frankly, the Opposition that the 'good guy' side of Manticoran politics has spent the last seventy years creating. By methodically cutting their ties, by privately deciding to hold them in contempt, Roger III, Elizabeth III, and many of the current generation of Centrist leaders have made it almost impossible for them to have a civil political relationship with the opposing parties. Cromarty, who played 'older but wiser head' right up until his death, could at least engage with enough of the nonaligned peers to effectively manipulate the Lords. His successors lack that knack; they've lost the ability to govern effectively except by issuing marching orders to people who already agree with them.


That makes a lot of sense, for decades the Centrists have kept a laser-like focus on a war the other parties didn't believe would occur, except the Progressives who figured they could never win and should surrender without a shot fired. The Opposition fought them on the buildup, the annexation of Basilisk, the actual declaration of war after being attacked, and each time they were proven wrong. So yeah, they're afraid of what the next election will look like. They're afraid of a Centrist majority that will never end, because all the Centrists have done for the last seventy years is rattle the saber.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-05-31 06:11pm

At around five million tons, the freighter was of little more than average size for most regions of space, although she did tend towards the upper end of the tonnage range here in Silesia. But although she was obviously well maintained, she was not—despite her defiantly aggressive name—much to look at.


5 million tons average for a freighter, though there's little else average about the Pirate's Bane.


"The Bane may not look it, Oberleutnant, but she's as heavily armed as a lot of heavy cruisers. Most merchies can't afford the tonnage penalty and structural modifications to mount a worthwhile armament, but the Bane isn't like most merchies." He chuckled dryly. "As a matter of fact, she started life as a Vogel-class armed collier for your own Navy something like seventy T-years ago. I picked her up cheap when she was finally listed for disposal about ten T-years ago because her inertial compensator was pretty much shot. Aside from that, she was in fairly good shape, though, so it wasn't too hard to get her back on-line. I replaced and updated her original armament at the same time, and I put a good bit of thought into how to camouflage the weapon ports while I was at it." Another shrug. "So most pirates don't have a clue that the 'helpless merchant ship' they're about to close with and board is actually several times as heavily armed as they are.


Which lets Captain Bachfish troll the local pirates while still making a mostly honest living as a freighter captain.


Bachfisch might never lose his Manticoran accent, but he'd spent the last forty T-years in Silesia, and like most crews in Silesia, the one he'd assembled aboard the Bane was drawn from every imaginable source. It included Silesians, Andies, other Manticorans, Sollies, even one or two men and women who obviously sprang from the People's Republic of Haven. But the one thing every one of them had in common was that, like the crew of the Bane's sister ship Ambuscade, they'd signed on with the express assurance that their ships would never be surrendered to the raiders who plagued Silesia. It might be a bit much to call any of them crusaders, and certainly if they were knights at all, most of them were at best a murky shade of gray, but every one of them took a profound satisfaction in knowing any pirate who went after the Bane or Ambuscade would never make another mistake.


They also charge premiums as the two ships that always reach their destination, cargo intact, but this all a personal project by Captain Bachfish. Still, he never had problems finding people willing to submit to military discipline to be safe from that threat.


Bachfisch rested his left hand lightly on her right shoulder and leaned forward to tap a query on her data pad. The computer considered his inquiry for a nanosecond or two, then obediently reported Todfeind's tonnage. Lieutenant Hairston looked down at the fresh numbers blinking on her own display, compared them to the acceleration sidebar, and pursed her lips.


I doubt this is an accurate measure of Honorverse computer speed as opposed to artistic license, but I'm including it anyway.


He straightened and rubbed his chin gently while he gazed intently at the plot. Todfeind wasn't the very newest ship in the Andy inventory, but her class had been designed less than ten T-years ago, and she massed right on four hundred thousand tons. At that tonnage, her normal maximum acceleration should have been around five hundred gravities. Since the Andermani Navy, like every other navy in space, normally restricted its skippers to less than the maximum acceleration available to them under full military power, she should have been accelerating at no more than four hundred or so. But according to the tac officer's sensors, she was pulling just over four-seventy-five.

-snip-

But what Bachfisch knew that Hairston didn't was that the Andermani captain had invited Bachfisch and his senior officers to supper aboard his ship. The IAN didn't extend that sort of invitation to mere merchant spacers every day of the week, and Bachfisch had been sorely tempted to accept it. Unfortunately, as he'd just finished remarking to Gruber, the detour to deliver the captured pirates had put Pirates' Bane well behind schedule, so he'd been forced to decline the invitation. But if Kapitän der Sterne Schweikert had seen fit to issue one in the first place, then he'd obviously planned on hanging around long enough for the meal to be served.

Which suggested that he wasn't in any particular hurry. Which, in turn, suggested that he wasn't pushing the envelope on his compensator.


Uh-oh, the Andies have Grayson-style compensators, at least as good as anything the RMN has.


Thomas Bachfisch had visited his native star nation no more than half a dozen times over the past forty T-years. Most of his old friends and associates in the Star Kingdom had given up on him decades ago, sadly writing him off as someone who had "gone native" in Silesia, of all places. And, he admitted, there was at least some truth to that verdict. But that didn't mean he'd failed to stay abreast of the news from Manticore, and he had a shrewd notion that the Queen's Navy would not be happy to discover that the increasingly resentful Imperial Andermani Navy's ships were now just as fast as its own.

Assuming anyone at the current Admiralty was prepared to believe it, at any rate.


That last part seems sadly unlikely, as you're about to see.


"Assuming that we freeze construction on all units not at least sixty-five percent completed, scrap about twelve percent of our older ships of the wall still in commission, mothball another sixteen percent of the wall to go with them, and put the yard space we won't need anymore into inactive controlled storage, we can implement your plans and still reduce naval spending by approximately fourteen percent of the currently budgeted funds," Houseman continued, and this time there was a pronounced note of approval in his voice. "That amounts to the better part of two trillion dollars we can divert to far more useful ends."


They made Reginald Houseman the Second Space Lord, in charge of the naval budget? Houseman? And he accepted a role so closely associated with the hated service? Oh, and extent of the latest budget cuts, scrapping or mothballing 28% of the wall of battle and freezing construction en masse.

Previous budget around 14-odd trillion Manticoran dollars, unless I've made another math goof.


"If we're going to be completely honest," the Foreign Secretary continued, "on the surface, their proposal was much too reasonable. If we'd accepted it, certain elements in Parliament would probably have insisted that we seriously consider using it as the basis for a formal treaty. Which would have opened the door to the territorial concessions from us which were also part of their new proposals. And which, of course, would have required us to give up far too much of all that our courageous Navy won for us."


Rationale for flat-out ignoring the latest peace proposal from Prichart, it's too reasonable and would have actually moved them forward.


In the final analysis, everyone in the present Government understood all the reasons not to bring the war against the Peeps to a formal conclusion. There was no real need, given the Star Kingdom's overwhelming technical superiority. The Havenite Secretary of War, Theisman, obviously understood just how helpless his forces were in the face of that superiority. Even if he hadn't, in High Ridge's private opinion, he'd never have the nerve to resort once more to open military action against a star nation which had so decisively defeated his own. If he'd come equipped with that sort of testosterone supply, he would never have supinely surrendered the absolute power which had lain in his grasp to someone like Pritchart!


Just to cement that he's a Bad Guy, High Ridge has no innate understanding that some people have priorities besides personal ambition and power.


The Constitution required a general election no less than once every four Manticoran years, except under certain carefully specified extraordinary circumstances . . . yet the last election had been over five Manticoran years ago. One of the circumstances which permitted electoral delays was the existence of a declared state of emergency, proclaimed by the Crown and confirmed by a two-thirds majority of both houses. Any state of emergency, however, had to be reconfirmed each year, both by the Crown and by the same majority in each house, or it automatically lapsed.

The other circumstance which permitted the postponement of a general election was the existence of a state of war. The Constitution didn't require that elections be postponed in either case; it merely provided that they could be, at the discretion of the current government. Unlike High Ridge, the Duke of Cromarty's primary base of support had been found in the Commons, and despite occasional sags in the public's morale, it had remained essentially firm. Cromarty had timed the elections carefully, but he'd also called two of them during the course of the war, and his majority in the lower house had increased after each.


Occasions in which a general election can be suspended. Not that Cromarty still held elections during the war, even if he was careful to hold them while they were winning and the Centrists polled well. High Ridge and co. plan to put off the elections as long as possible, for reasons already outlined.


The Star Kingdom's Constitution had been drafted by people determined to restrict the power of the state by restricting the power to tax, and the Founders had crafted a fiscal system in which the government's income was intended to depend primarily on import and export duties and property and sales taxes. The Constitution specifically required that any income tax be flat-rated and limited to a maximum of eight percent of gross income except in time of emergency. To make their position crystal clear, the Founders had also specified that even in emergency conditions, any graduated income tax could be enacted only with the approval of a super-majority in both houses and automatically lapsed (unless confirmed by the same super-majority) in five T-years or at the next general election.

Those restrictions had made it very difficult for the Cromarty Government to pass the income tax (with a top rate of almost forty percent in the uppermost brackets) and special import duties required to finance the war. The public had accepted the immense financial burden of that tax structure with glum resignation only because Cromarty had successfully made the case for its necessity . . . and because the voters had expected it to lapse as soon as the war ended. Unfortunately for their expectations, the war hadn't ended (not officially, at any rate), and so the taxes remained in effect.

Naturally, High Ridge and his allies deeply (and publicly) regretted the fact that the Havenite refusal to conclude a formal peace required them to maintain the tax burden the Centrists had enacted. But their duty to ensure the Star Kingdom's security would not allow them in good conscience to reduce taxes until they could be positive the military theat had been ended once and for all in a formal treaty. In the meantime, that same tax structure provided an enormous influx of funds they could divert to other programs now that the shooting had stopped. Which was, of course, a simple, unanticipated consequence of the unsettled international situation.


Uh huh. Peacetime income tax of no more than 8%, that's constitutionally mandated. We already covered how unpopular a graduated income tax is, and how it's default state would have a terribly short expiration date.

I think the High Ridge crowd are trying to hard to have their cake and eat it too. The 'old administration's taxes' excuse must be wearing pretty thin after five years.


Quite a bit of that largess had gone very quietly to certain political action organizations, union leaders, industrialists, and financiers. Siphoning those funds discreetly into the intended hands had been relatively easy, although it had been necessary to dress up the transfers with justifications like "research grants," "employment conditions studies," "educational subsidies," or "industrial expansion incentives." The new Royal Manticoran Astrophysics Investigation Agency had been one of the most successful of those sorts of ploys. No doubt some practical good would come of it, but its real value was that it had engaged the public imagination. It was the poster child for the "Building the Peace" campaign New Kiev had devised, and with excellent reason. After all, something like three quarters of the Star Kingdom's prosperity rested on its carrying trade and the mammoth through traffic the Manticoran Wormhole Junction serviced. Discovering additional destinations the Junction could serve could only enhance that wealth.

Of course, it was also a hideously expensive undertaking . . . rather more so than its administrators fully realized, High Ridge devoutly hoped. Almost ten full percent of its budget could be neatly skimmed off the top and passed directly to various ship builders and consulting firms without ever being wasted on something useful, and it had become such a popular icon no one dared question its expenditures.

Here and there, a few more odd forty or fifty million-dollar transfers had disappeared completely even without benefit of the RMAIA's cloak of respectability. Most of them had gone through discretionary funds or payments whose recipients could be concealed under a claim of national security endorsed by obliging members of the intelligence community, but very little of that sort of thing had actually been required.


Money laundering disguised as grants, incentives, subsidies, and black budget military and intelligence projects, but actually going into PACs, corporate and private hands, that which doesn't stick to some fingers on the way out.


By far the largest expenditures, however, had gone into long-cherished Progressive and Liberal social programs. High Ridge himself regarded them as nothing more than vote-buying boondoggles, and he was certain Descroix shared his view, whatever she might say for public consumption. But New Kiev was another matter. She truly believed that the "poor" of the Star Kingdom were destitute . . . despite the fact that the poorest of them enjoyed an effective income at least four times that of the average citizen of their Grayson allies, and somewhere around seven or eight times that of the average Havenite living in the financially ravaged Republic. She and her fellow Liberals were determined to build a new "fairer and more equitable Star Kingdom" in which the "indecent wealth of the monied classes" would be redistributed by government fiat, since the normal operation of the marketplace seemed incapable of doing so.


Social programs at least do well under the new Government and the average income diparties between Manticore, Grayson and Haven.


That had taken on additional importance following that damned Montaigne woman's hysterical slavery charges and the scandal they'd spawned. For that matter, the reorganization which had given the Liberals such a disproportionate share of ministerial power had been dictated by the same scandal. Support for the Government's handling of the resultant witch hunt had been reasonably solid in the Lords, although it had proven unfortunately necessary to sacrifice a few individuals to the moral outrage of the proles. The Commons had been a different matter, however, and Alexander's efforts to initiate a special inquiry—separate from and in addition to the official Government investigation—had been dangerous. In fact, it had been extremely dangerous, because although there'd been one or two names from the Centrists and a single Crown Loyalist in the files Montaigne and her common-born lover had turned over, there'd been many more Conservatives and Progressives.

-snip-

High Ridge himself deplored the very existence of something like genetic slavery, of course, although he frankly doubted it was carried on on anything like the scale that hysterics like Montaigne insisted it was. But much as he deplored it, there were other matters to be considered, and he could scarcely be expected to throw away his one opportunity to prevent the Crown from destroying the fundamental balance of power mandated by the Constitution over a single issue, however much public agitation that issue might generate.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to explain that to a Liberal. Or, at least, to a Liberal member of the House of Commons who thought his constituents or the press might be listening in on the explanation. There'd been a dangerous groundswell of Liberal support for Alexander's demand for a separate inquiry, and High Ridge had managed to defuse it only by shifting things around to give New Kiev the Cabinet's second-ranking position and make Sir Harrison MacIntosh Home Secretary. In his new post, MacIntosh had been the member of the Government responsible for overseeing the investigation, and he had a well established reputation as a jurist. He was also a member of the Commons, not a peer, which had allowed the Liberal MPs to argue that he would never be a party to any "aristocratic coverup." And just as importantly, certain indiscretions in his past, coupled with a personality that was far more pragmatic in private than his public persona might have suggested, had helped provide the Prime Minister with a certain additional leverage even New Kiev wasn't aware existed.


How the Manpower Scandal was handled from the Government's side of the room. Mostly by moving New Kiev to a new high office and replacing her with an investigator scrupulously honest... whom the Conservatives have solid blackmail on.


All in all, High Ridge was rather pleased with how neatly he'd managed to turn a potential liability into an advantage and, at the same time, cover himself and his own party against charges of collusion with the accused. If it became necessary, he could always point out that it was his coalition partners, the Liberals, who'd dropped the ball. And the fact that the Liberal Party enjoyed such a towering reputation for moral rectitude, at least among its own voters and a certain segment of the news media, also provided an additional layer of cover. After all, if anything had been allowed to slip past during the course of the investigation, it had to have been an honest mistake on the part of such upright investigators.

Nor, for that matter, did it hurt to have New Kiev and her coeterie of Liberal advisers—like the Housemans—to hide behind if any awkward questions were asked about fiscal and monetary policy, ether.


And High Ridge, at least, is already planning for the day he and the Liberals no longer need each other.


That point might become particularly critical in the next few months, since the time limit on the graduated income tax was rapidly running out. The other tax increases could be legally maintained until the next general election, but not the income tax, and the disappearance of that huge fiscal surplus (which the Centrist-controlled House of Commons would never vote to renew) was the real reason Janacek and Houseman had been instructed to cut naval spending still further. Without those cuts, non-military spending would have to be reduced, instead, which was tactically unacceptable to any of the Government's parties.


They're about to lose the income tax, and are slashing the military budget specifically to maintain all the social programs and pay-offs. This is no way to govern.


Perhaps even more importantly, High Ridge knew that when it came down to it, he and New Kiev agreed absolutely on one principle which was anathema to the Centrists: both of them believed in using the power of the state to accomplish their ideological goals. They differed intensely on what those goals should be, but both were perfectly prepared to embrace a degree of intrusiveness into public policy and private lives (or, at least, other people's private lives) which Alexander's Centrists would bitterly have opposed . . . and to make tactical compromises with one another along the way.


More vague hints on Centrist policy. They object to government overreach? Or at least to people using the state as their private piggy bank.


"None of us have any imperial ambitions, Marisa," he told her earnestly. "Despite that, however, and especially in light of the security problems the Cromarty Government committed us to in the annexation of Trevor's Star, we're going to have to insist on some Havenite concessions. And it's about time they were the ones who gave a little ground, too. We already made a major gesture towards meeting them more than half way by agreeing to the general repatriation of POWs when we didn't have anything but a truce agreement, you know."


At some point in the last couple of years, Haven and Manticore released all their POWs. The HRG (High Ridge Government) probably crowed in triumph over bringing the prisoners home, then acted as if they'd done the whole thing as some huge favor to Haven. Not that this behavior is unusual in real-life politics...


"Surely they know as well as we do that the next major concession has to come from their side," High Ridge continued earnestly. "And they must be aware that territorial adjustments to address our new security issues are inevitable. Yet every proposal Secretary Giancola has so far put forward has been based on the return of all occupied systems as a very first step. There's no way any Manticoran government could accede to that sort of demand when our military personnel paid so high a price to occupy them in the first place."

That wasn't quite accurate, of course, though he had no intention of pointing that out. The Havenite position did, indeed, insist on the return of all occupied planets, but everyone in the Foreign Office recognized that as little more than the staking out of a bargaining position from which concessions could later be made. And High Ridge, unlike New Kiev, knew Descroix's reports to the Cabinet had carefully not mentioned Giancola's latest suggestion that perhaps plebiscites—overseen by the Republic, of course—might allow individual star systems to choose which side should retain control of them.


The bargaining between Haven and Manticore, and the way Haven's proposals are carefully edited for public consumption. Later we'll see Giancola is doing the same thing, even worse, on his end.


"I agree, of course," Stefan Young, Earl North Hollow, said. North Hollow had received the Office of Trade as the price of bringing the enormously potent secret files his father had assembled to the Government's support. The power of those files was also the reason he was the fifth and final person present for this high-level strategy session despite his ministry's relatively junior rank in the official Cabinet hierarchy. After all, they were what had provided the crucial leverage which had made High Ridge confident he could . . . constructively direct MacIntosh's slavery investigation if that became necessary.


Baby Young, all grown up and Secretary of Trade. I had wondered if he'd been the one to provide the blackmail.


Stefan Young was much smarter than his older brother, Pavel, had been before Honor Harrington killed him on the Landing City dueling grounds. Not that being smarter than Pavel would exactly have required a genius IQ, but at least Stefan could usually zip his own shoes without assistance. Neither of them, however, would ever amount to more than a pale shadow of their father, and High Ridge was just as glad of it. No leader of the Conservative Association could have crossed Dimitri and survived, and all of them had known it, for his extensive, painstakingly assembled files had contained far too many devastating political secrets.

When Dimitri died, his eldest son had shown disturbing signs of an ambition which would inevitably have challenged High Ridge's own position. Fortunately, Harrington had eliminated that threat along with Pavel, and Stefan, although ambitious enough and possessed of the same deadly files, was also wise enough to be guided by his wife. Lady North Hollow was a most astute tactician and strategist, and she clearly recognized that Stefan was not the material of which charismatic political leaders were made. Before her marriage to him, Georgia Young—the former Georgia Sakristos—had been a senior aide to both Dmitri and Pavel, however. Officially, she'd been their security chief, but it was common knowledge, though never openly discussed, that she'd actually been the "dirty tricks" specialist for both of them, which was the reason High Ridge had selected her to chair the Conservative Association's Policy Coordination Committee. The fact that placing her at the head of the PCC might also help bind her loyalties to the Association's current leadership had played a not insignificant part in his decision, and while he was never likely to forget she was a two-edged sword, it had worked out well so far.

Which was why recognizing that the concern North Hollow had just raised actually came from his wife suggested that it was at least potentially a valid one, the Prime Minister reflected.


Ah yes "Georgia" now married into the family and controlling Stefan the way Pavel tried to control her.


All of them knew he was referring to Admiral Sonja Hemphill. It was a habit of his to give Hemphill and her so-called jeune école full credit for the enormous changes in the Royal Navy's hardware, since, after all, she was his cousin. Of course, that overlooked the fact that the success of the new ship types which had revolutionized combat had resulted at least as much from people who'd managed to restrain Hemphill's enthusiasm by opposing her most radical suggestions. And the fact that she'd all but publicly disassociated herself from the Janacek Admiralty because of her fundamental disagreement with the Government's policies.


I know fans who give Hemphill full and sole credit for Ghost Rider, Anzio and any development whatsoever to Manty hardware. Good to see she's having no part of this political tomfoolery.


"But whatever might have been the case before the war began, or even as recently as four or five T-years ago," Janacek resumed, "the Cromarty military posture is hopelessly out of date in light of the new realities of naval warfare and our current fiscal constraints. Our plan will hold the number of battle squadrons up to approximately ninety percent of the current totals."

By, he did not add, reducing each squadron from eight ships to six. Which meant that a ten percent reduction in squadrons represented a thirty-three percent reduction in hulls.


They're "only" mothballing or scrapping 10% of their squadrons of capital ships, through the magic of reducing squadron sizes. I'd heard politics was all a game of presentation, but yeesh.


"The Navy has been badly in need of lighter units for years," Janacek replied. "For the most part, the relative drawdown in those types was unavoidable, especially in the early years of the war. The need to build the largest and most powerful wall of battle we possibly could diverted us from the construction and maintenance of the light cruisers and cruisers required for things like commerce protection. Those we did build were never sufficient to meet the scouting and screening requirements of our main battle fleets, let alone police commerce in places like Silesia. As a consequence, piracy activity everywhere in the Confederacy beyond the immediate reach of Sidemore Station is entirely out of hand."


Turning back the clocks almost a century, wallers are out, cruisers are in.


"No other navy in space has so far commissioned any pod superdreadnoughts," he pronounced with the infallibility of God. "Admiral Jurgensen and his analysts at ONI have amply confirmed that! We, on the other hand, have a solid core of over sixty. That's more than sufficient to defeat any conventional navy, especially with the CLACs to support and scout for them."

"No other navy?" North Hollow repeated. "What about the Graysons?"

"I meant, no potentially hostile navy, of course,"


60 podnoughts in service.


"And while no one but a planet full of lunatic religious fanatics would be idiotic enough to pour so huge a percentage of their gross planetary product into their naval budgets at a time like this, at least they're our lunatics. Exactly why they think they need such an out-sized navy is open to different interpretations, of course, and I, for one, don't happen to believe their official explanations are the whole truth."

In fact, as all of his colleagues knew, Janacek nursed more than a few dark suspicions about Grayson. Their religious ardor made them automatically suspect, and he did not find their argument that the lack of a formal peace treaty required them to continue to build up their defenses convincing. It was entirely too convenient a pretext . . . as he and the rest of the Cabinet had already discovered. Besides, Graysons were uppity, without the proper respect and deference such a planet full of hayseed neobarbs ought to show the Alliance's senior navy. He'd already had three venomously polite exchanges with their High Admiral Matthews—who'd only been a commodore, for God's sake, when Grayson signed the Alliance—that amply demonstrated Grayson's overinflated opinion of its interstellar significance.

One confrontation had been over the long overdue security restrictions he'd found it necessary to institute at ONI after getting rid of Givens. The previous Second Space Lord's "open door" policy with second-rate navies like Grayson's had been a standing invitation to disastrous security breaches. In fact, the risk had been even greater with Grayson than any of the Alliance's other minor navies, given Benjamin Mayhew's willingness to trust ex-Peep officers like Admiral Alfredo Yu, the de facto commander of his grandiosely titled "Protector's Own." A man who would turn his coat once was always capable of turning it again if it seemed advantageous, and the restoration of the old Havenite constitution would actually provide a moral pretext for doing so. Yet the Graysons had steadfastly refused to cut such officers out of the information loop. They'd actually had the effrontery to dismiss the Admiralty's entirely legitimate security concerns on the basis that the officers in question had "proven" their loyalty. Of course they had! And the ones most likely to go running home to Haven were the ones who would have taken the greatest care to be sure they'd proved they wouldn't. No doubt they could even justify their deceit on the basis of patriotism, now that the StateSec regime they'd fled had been demolished!

Well, Janacek had put a stop to that nonsense, and if the "High Admiral" had a problem with the closing of the open door he'd so willfully abused, that was his lookout.

The second confrontation had been over the First Lord's decision to shut down the joint Manticore-Grayson R&D programs. There'd been no need to continue funding them—not when what they'd already produced would provide at least twenty T-years worth of development work under peacetime budgetary constraints. Besides, it was obvious to Janacek that what the "joint programs" really amounted to was little more than a way for Grayson to siphon off technology from Manticore without footing the bill for developing it on its own. It was hardly surprising Matthews had been miffed when he cut off access to the trough . . . especially after the way the Cromarty Government and Mourncreek Admiralty had coddled and cosseted their Grayson pets.

And as for the third one . . . There was no way Matthews could have been unaware of the insult to the First Lord involved in granting that asshole White Haven the rank of a full admiral in their precious Navy. And it would be a cold day in Hell before Janacek forgot it, either.


Go ahead, tell us what you really think. Janacek has locked the Graysons out of their intelligence briefings, shut down all joint naval R&D, and been generally insulting and dismissive. For all that, he's treated them far better than he has the Erewhonese.


"Whatever it is they think they're doing, though," he went on after a moment, "not even Graysons are stupid enough to think they could hope to accomplish anything significant on an interstellar scale without our support. Whether they want to be or not, they're as much in our pocket as the Erewhonese, and they know it. So their navy—even assuming both that they could find some way to sustain it at its present size for more than a year or two without bankrupting themselves and that they knew what the hell they were doing with it without us to hold their hands—is really a non-factor in our security considerations. Except inasmuch as it actually increases 'our' modern warship strength, that is."


Isn't that presuming, rather a lot? The Graysons are quite competent, and probably less dependent on Manticore than Janacek thinks, nor is their assistance quite as guaranteed as it was when Manticore treated them as partners rather than 'uppity hayseed neobarb zealots.'


"You're probably right," Janacek conceded sourly. "But in answer to your question, our only conceivable enemy for the immediate future would be the Peeps. As you say, they undoubtedly have an incentive to match our capabilities, but, frankly, their tech base is much too far behind ours for them to duplicate our hardware any time within the next ten years or so, by ONI's most conservative estimate. I've discussed this very question with Admiral Jurgensen, and he assures me his analysts are virtually unanimous in that opinion.

"Furthermore, even if they had the technical ability to build matching ships, they'd still have to lay down the hulls, build them, crew them, and then train them up to an operational standard before they could pose any threat to us. As all of you are aware from the ONI reports I've shared with you, Theisman, Tourville, and Giscard are still busy fighting their own dissident elements with exactly the same obsolescent ships they used against us. We've seen absolutely no sign of any enhancement in their capabilities. Even better, from our perspective as a potential adversary, the way they're continuing to kill one another off is not only continuing to cost them their more experienced officers and crews but producing a steady drain even on the ships they do have."

He shook his head.

"No, Stefan. Only the Peeps have any reason to threaten us, and they simply don't have the capability. By the time they could begin to produce a fleet which could threaten us, we'd have plenty of lead time to increase our own SD(P) and CLAC strength. In the meantime, sixty-four of the new superdreadnoughts are more than sufficient."


Five years ago you said it would take them five years to duplicate these advances, and now you say ten? Also gone up to 64 SD(P)s.


"Eighth Fleet was essentially an offensive instrument, a means to project force against an enemy. Now that we've folded its modern units over into Third Fleet, of course, it also serves a powerful defensive purpose as a deterrent at Trevor's Star, but it remains an offensive asset. Third Fleet's superiority to anything it might face is so pronounced that it would be able to cut its way directly through any opposition to the capital system of any opponent, much as it Eighth Fleet was in the course of doing to the Peeps when the current truce was arranged."

He unaccountably failed, High Ridge noted, to mention the name of the officer who'd been in command of Eighth Fleet at the time.

"Given that capability, what we really need to be concerned about is the protection of our own territory and the defense of the Havenite star systems we currently control against the purely obsolescent ship types any potential adversary might be able to bring to bear against them. The most cost-effective and efficient way to do that is to use the new light attack craft. We can build and man LACs in enormous numbers compared to superdreadnoughts, and enough of them will be able to hold any star system that needs to be held. In the meantime, the ships which we're not currently completing will still be available if we need them later. We're not scrapping them, after all. We're merely halting construction. The hulls will remain in their building slips and docks, and all of the materials already acquired for their completion will be kept in orbital storage, as well. The money we save in the meantime can be used to build up the force of LACs we require for system defense and also to support the construction of our anti-piracy forces, not to mention the many vital domestic programs which urgently require funding," Janacek added, glancing sideways at New Kiev.

"And," Descroix murmured, also flicking a glance at the Chancellor of the Exchequer, "suspending construction will be a demonstration of our own desire for peace. Superdreadnoughts, as Edward so rightly points out, are used to project power. They're offensive weapons systems, unlike the cruisers he wants to build as an anti-piracy measure. And LACs are even less suitable for aggression against our neighbors, because they're not even hyper-capable without a carrier."


Eighth Fleet has been dissolved, it's allied ships returning to their own navies, it's Manticoran podnoughts and carriers folded into Third Fleet. Oh, and they're stealing Hemphill's ideas and want to use vast swarms of disposable LACs to protect all Manticoran worlds. Even seeing this as a viable alternative to an actual navy.


"Harrington," Janacek grated, "is a maniac. Oh, I suppose she's charismatic enough, but she has yet to demonstrate anything approaching true strategic insight. And my God, the casualty figures she's run up!" He snorted harshly. " 'Salamander,' indeed! Too bad the fire seems to burn everyone else to a crisp!"

"But she does enjoy immense popularity," North Hollow pointed out calmly.

"Of course she does!" Janacek growled. "The Opposition media's seen to that, and the general public is too ignorant of military realities and too besotted with her public image of derring-do to question it."

-snip-

"I know." Janacek drew a deep breath and made himself sit back in his chair. "In fact, I might as well admit that not offering Harrington a space-going command was a mistake. I wanted to keep her off any flag bridges, especially since she's obviously totally out of her depth as a flag officer, despite the promotions the previous Admiralty administration so unwisely showered upon her. The last thing I wanted was her anywhere near the Havenite front while we were in the process of negotiations, because God only knew what sort of unilateral lunatic action she might have committed us to. That's why I approved her request to return to the Saganami Island faculty; I thought we could keep her safely shelved teaching, instead. Failing that, I'd hoped the Graysons would be foolish enough to call her home and offer her a command, since they so obviously worship the ground she walks on. I never expected her to turn into a permanent fixture at Saganami, but she has, and now I can't justify removing the damned 'Salamander' from the faculty without opening a tremendous can of worms." He shrugged unhappily. "I hadn't considered that she might realize that by keeping her here on Manticore I'd also keep her handy to Parliament as well as keeping her in the public eye."


Janacek's feelings on Honor, and why she was assigned once more to the classroom. Let me repeat, Janacek is an idiot.


"So I think we're all in agreement," North Hollow said, "that anything which could, um, decrease White Haven's and Harrington's popularity, especially at this particular moment, would be . . . advantageous?"

He looked around the conference table with bright, speculative eyes, and one by one, the others nodded. New Kiev's nod was smaller and less enthusiastic than the others, almost uncomfortable, but it was a nod nonetheless.

"The question which comes to mind, My Lord," Descroix remarked, "is precisely how we could go about decreasing the popularity either of them enjoys, much less both of them. Goodness knows they've proved remarkably resistant to previous efforts in that direction."

"Ah, but that was because our efforts were directed at . . . disarming each of them. Not both of them," North Hollow said with a most unpleasant smile.


The latest scheme to discredit Honor and White Haven, create the appearance that they're dating behind Hamish;s (White Haven) wife's back. It doesn't help that they are actually pretty attracted to each other or that Ham has had several flings.


"As a steadholder, I hold the powers of high, middle, and low justice in Harrington. I don't want them, mind you, and any steadholder's power of arbitrary decision has been steadily reduced by precedents over the last few centuries. Not to mention what the Sword's done to subordinate steading law codes to the planetary Constitution since the 'Mayhew Restoration.' But Steadholder Harrington is still a head of state in her own right, with all of the legal prerogatives and responsibilities that entails. Duchess Harrington is only an administrator—a Crown governor, basically."


A steadholder is simply an ancient feudal lord with sweeping powers in ways that Manty aristos only wish they were.


"The total population of the duchy is—what? Clear up to two thousand now? Scattered over how many thousands of square kilometers?"


Population of Honor's Manticoran duchy.


The House of Lord's power to initiate finance bills was only part of its advantage in controlling the power of the purse in the Star Kingdom. In addition, any bill which actually passed had to pass in the final form approved by the Lords. That meant that, as Honor had just complained, the Lords could effectively strip out any Commons-sponsored amendment of which it disapproved and require a straight up-or-down vote on its own version of any financial bill. Under normal circumstances, the Commons still had quite a lot of say-so, since it could always refuse to approve the Lords' final version and—especially—refuse approval for any extraordinary funding measures required to support the Lords' budgets. But these circumstances weren't normal. The "extraordinary funding measures" were already in place, and the authority the Lords also enjoyed to pass special financial enabling authority for core government services on an emergency basis even without the Commons' approval in the event of a budgetary standoff was the icing on the cake.

Of course, prudent prime ministers were usually careful not to overstrain their weapons. For the Lords to ride roughshod over the Commons required a situation in which a sufficiently sizable piece of the electorate would be prepared to blame the Commons for failure to achieve compromise. Under those circumstances, the house which had to stand for reelection faced a fatal disadvantage, but if the Lords had been foolish enough to court situations in which they would be blamed for the ensuing shutdown of most government services, the long-term resentment might have allowed the Crown to strip the senior house of the power of the purse long ago.

That was precisely why the High Ridge Government had been so assiduously attempting to buy public support . . . and what had made Duchess Harrington and Earl White Haven so valuable as the Opposition's spokespeople in the House of Lords. Where the naval budgets, in particular, were concerned, their voices carried a great deal of weight with the electorate.


The budget battles, and why Honor and Hamish are crucial to them. Of course, no Manticoran would be so petty as to shut down the government, not without clear evidence it was all the other party's fault.


The members of the Government themselves had to be extremely careful about seeming to pick personal quarrels with the two most famous heroes of the war against the Peeps. But that only required them to be more inventive and delegate attacks to suitably distanced henchmen. Nor did it do a thing to restrain the Government-sponsored "commentators" and 'faxes or the idiots who actually believed them, and Lady Harrington's cumulative exhaustion was beginning to show.


More evidence that this isn't the first time this administration has taken shots at her in the press. Though between the Young court-martial, her duels and her time on Grayson, this should all be old hat.


"How can they possibly justify cutting the Fleet even further?" she asked William, and she was more than a little surprised that she sounded so calm herself. "We're already down to a lower number of hulls than we had before the war started," she pointed out. "And as they're fond of reminding people, the war still isn't over."

"Not officially, anyway," Hamish growled.

"They plan to justify it exactly the way they've justified all the other reductions," William replied to Honor's question. "By pointing to how much of the naval budget they can save through the increased effectiveness and combat power of the new types. They don't need all those 'obsolescent' older ships getting in the way of the new, lean, efficient Navy Janacek has single-handedly created."


Even before this latest round of cuts they're down to less than their pre-war hulls.


Admiral Givens had gone for largely the same reasons as Caparelli, despite her phenomenally successful record as Director of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Her loyalty to and close working relationship with Caparelli would probably have required her dismissal in Janacek's eyes as part of his "clean broom" theory of personnel management under any circumstances. There were also rumors about fundamental disagreements between her and Janacek over his plans to restructure the Navy's intelligence priorities, but her greatest sin had been her refusal to slant her analyses at ONI to say what her civilian superiors wanted them to say. So, she too, had found herself on half-pay as her reward for helping to preserve the Star Kingdom.

One thing of which no one would ever be able to accuse her replacement was excessive independence. Admiral Francis Jurgensen had become something of an anachronism in the war-fighting Royal Navy: a flag officer who owed his exalted rank far more to political patronage than to any personal ability. Such officers had been depressingly common before the war, although they'd been weeded out ruthlessly since, usually by Caparelli, but far too often (and painfully) by enemy action. Unfortunately, they were making a comeback under the Admiralty's new management. However disgusting she might find that, Honor supposed it was inevitable. After all, Sir Edward Janacek had been exactly that sort of officer throughout his own career.

What mattered in Jurgensen's case, however, was that he understood precisely what Janacek and his political superiors wanted to hear. Honor wasn't prepared to accuse him of actually falsifying evidence, although she was far from certain he would refuse to do so. But it was widely known within the Service, and especially within the Intelligence community, that Jurgensen had a long history of interpreting evidence to suit his superiors' requirements.


Pat Givens booted from ONI to the beach, replaced with a sock puppet who finds whatever data he's supposed to.


For the most part, Manticoran social mores were far more relaxed than those of Grayson. Indeed, those of the capital planet itself were more liberal than those of Honor's native Sphinx. Normally, the idea that an affair between two consenting adults was the business of anyone besides the two adults concerned would have been laughable. Normally.

But not in this case. Not for Steadholder Harrington, who also had to concern herself with the sensibilities of her Grayson subjects and how Grayson public opinion would rebound against her. And through her, against Protector Benjamin and his beleaguered efforts to maintain Grayson's military preparedness in the face of the Star Kingdom's effective abandonment of the Manticoran Alliance. Her earlier relationship with Paul had been hard enough for Grayson to swallow, but at least if they'd never married, neither of them had been married to someone else, either.

White Haven was, and that was the second prong of the threat, for Lady Emily Alexander, Countess White Haven, was one of the most beloved public figures in the entire Star Kingdom.


Why this new tactic is going to be so effective.


"So what do we do now?" she asked bitterly. "Can they really get away with reducing the fight for political control of the entire Star Kingdom to something as petty and poisonous as an invented rumor of infidelity?"

"No," William replied. "They can't reduce the entire fight to something like that, Honor. But that isn't really what you were asking, and the truth is that you and Hamish have been two of our most potent weapons . . . and they can destroy our ability to use either of you against them effectively. It's stupid and vicious and small minded, but that doesn't mean it won't work. At the very least, it's almost certain to cripple you two while they drive through the naval cuts and the budget, but I'm sure they're hoping for a much longer-term effect, as well. And the beauty of it, from their perspective, is that the more vehemently you or any of your friends and allies deny it, the more surely a certain percentage of the electorate will believe it must be true."


Seriously? This is junior-high level tactics.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Batman » 2014-05-31 07:22pm

[quote=A238]
Bachfisch rested his left hand lightly on her right shoulder and leaned forward to tap a query on her data pad. The computer considered his inquiry for a nanosecond or two, then obediently reported Todfeind's tonnage. Lieutenant Hairston looked down at the fresh numbers blinking on her own display, compared them to the acceleration sidebar, and pursed her lips.

I doubt this is an accurate measure of Honorverse computer speed as opposed to artistic license, but I'm including it anyway.[/quote]
It doesn't say they got an answer within nanoseconds (probably physically impossible even if the actual processing time involved was zero).
I'll not derail this thread with speculation about the options the term 'considered' opens up-like the computer deciding the inquiry was boring and blithely ignoring it :D
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Irbis » 2014-05-31 09:33pm

Ahriman238 wrote:Well, he calls her a lunatic repeatedly, and mentions at least once that if she really had the tactical acumen people assume she does she wouldn't keep getting her ships and squadrons shot up. Which sound both personal, and like mighty big words from someone who, AFAIK has never participated in a real battle and whose major contribution to the war effort was serving as an expert advisor and talking head for the Opposition leaders.

Wasn't his major contribution to war effort, you know, was winning it by keeping traditionalists with Admiral White Haven at the top shut up? The jeune ecole thing of Admiral Hemphill was possible only because Janacek kept pushing it personally. Imagine - no ghost rider, no carriers, no podnoughts, no grav comms, no nothing if White Haven was in charge instead :lol:

White Haven's contempt of Hemphill made no sense even in book 1, where old, obsolete ship annihilated his commanding superdreadnought, but doing so and trying to kill her projects after Honor first used them to demolish fleet of dreadnoughts with far inferior force, then absolutely annihilated everything with unarmored Q-ships, borders on lunacy.

That makes a lot of sense, for decades the Centrists have kept a laser-like focus on a war the other parties didn't believe would occur, except the Progressives who figured they could never win and should surrender without a shot fired. The Opposition fought them on the buildup, the annexation of Basilisk, the actual declaration of war after being attacked, and each time they were proven wrong.

And they were right. Without deus ex machina tech Manticore would have lost. Period. No if, no buts, the only things that kept war going was first sudden tech advantage, second sudden attack of major idiocy from supposedly competent Parnell who decided to commit his force in penny packets instead of opening it by Operation Beatrice and winning war by Book 4.

The centrists were only 'right' because events were at each turn devised for them to be right. One, just one slip up anywhere, just one instance of major Manticore fleet not lying in perfect ambush by accident and Haven's attack might have robbed them of operational tempo and win it, tech advantage notwistanding.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-05-31 10:32pm

Irbis wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:Well, he calls her a lunatic repeatedly, and mentions at least once that if she really had the tactical acumen people assume she does she wouldn't keep getting her ships and squadrons shot up. Which sound both personal, and like mighty big words from someone who, AFAIK has never participated in a real battle and whose major contribution to the war effort was serving as an expert advisor and talking head for the Opposition leaders.

Wasn't his major contribution to war effort, you know, was winning it by keeping traditionalists with Admiral White Haven at the top shut up? The jeune ecole thing of Admiral Hemphill was possible only because Janacek kept pushing it personally. Imagine - no ghost rider, no carriers, no podnoughts, no grav comms, no nothing if White Haven was in charge instead :lol:

White Haven's contempt of Hemphill made no sense even in book 1, where old, obsolete ship annihilated his commanding superdreadnought, but doing so and trying to kill her projects after Honor first used them to demolish fleet of dreadnoughts with far inferior force, then absolutely annihilated everything with unarmored Q-ships, borders on lunacy.


Janacek wasn't in charge during the war years at all. For that matter, Honor never crossed swords with White Haven, you're thinking of the time she waxed Sebastian D'Orville's flagship, shortly followed by seventeen spectacular failures? Yes, White Haven did take his rivalry with Hemphill too far, but then so did she.


That makes a lot of sense, for decades the Centrists have kept a laser-like focus on a war the other parties didn't believe would occur, except the Progressives who figured they could never win and should surrender without a shot fired. The Opposition fought them on the buildup, the annexation of Basilisk, the actual declaration of war after being attacked, and each time they were proven wrong.

And they were right. Without deus ex machina tech Manticore would have lost. Period. No if, no buts, the only things that kept war going was first sudden tech advantage, second sudden attack of major idiocy from supposedly competent Parnell who decided to commit his force in penny packets instead of opening it by Operation Beatrice and winning war by Book 4.

The centrists were only 'right' because events were at each turn devised for them to be right. One, just one slip up anywhere, just one instance of major Manticore fleet not lying in perfect ambush by accident and Haven's attack might have robbed them of operational tempo and win it, tech advantage notwistanding.


I can think of quite a few ifs and some buts. Manticore did really well for the first six years of the war, and that wasn't exactly author's fiat, they lost sometimes, Haven changed up their strategy but it didn't work. They did manage to hold onto Trevor's Star for an awful long time, and it was only a risky gambit that dislodged them. Manticore never pulled off a "perfect ambush" without a hell of a lot of planning, unless you'd care to argue for First Hancock where the last part was thrown together on the fly owing to the surprise return of Yancey Parks.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Batman » 2014-05-31 10:53pm

Um-Parks didn't return for First Hancock, what enabled Honor and Sarnow to pull off that (absolutely jury-rigged at the last moment, up until then they were planning on surrendering the system) ambush was the premature arrival of Danislav's dreadnoughts.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Terralthra » 2014-06-01 02:12am

Ahriman238 wrote:
"Assuming that we freeze construction on all units not at least sixty-five percent completed, scrap about twelve percent of our older ships of the wall still in commission, mothball another sixteen percent of the wall to go with them, and put the yard space we won't need anymore into inactive controlled storage, we can implement your plans and still reduce naval spending by approximately fourteen percent of the currently budgeted funds," Houseman continued, and this time there was a pronounced note of approval in his voice. "That amounts to the better part of two trillion dollars we can divert to far more useful ends."


They made Reginald Houseman the Second Space Lord, in charge of the naval budget? Houseman? And he accepted a role so closely associated with the hated service? Oh, and extent of the latest budget cuts, scrapping or mothballing 28% of the wall of battle and freezing construction en masse.

Previous budget around 14-odd trillion Manticoran dollars, unless I've made another math goof.
They made him the Second Lord of the Admiralty, not Second Space Lord. The Space Lords are the senior uniformed officers. The Lords of the Admiralty are the civilian overseers. The Second Space Lord was Admiral Givens under the Summervale Administration, and is Admiral Jurgensen under the Janvier Administration.


Ahriman238 wrote:
"No other navy in space has so far commissioned any pod superdreadnoughts," he pronounced with the infallibility of God. "Admiral Jurgensen and his analysts at ONI have amply confirmed that! We, on the other hand, have a solid core of over sixty. That's more than sufficient to defeat any conventional navy, especially with the CLACs to support and scout for them."

"No other navy?" North Hollow repeated. "What about the Graysons?"

"I meant, no potentially hostile navy, of course,"


60 podnoughts in service.
Over 60. Matches up with "64" later.


Ahriman238 wrote:Isn't that presuming, rather a lot? The Graysons are quite competent, and probably less dependent on Manticore than Janacek thinks, nor is their assistance quite as guaranteed as it was when Manticore treated them as partners rather than 'uppity hayseed neobarb zealots.'
Despite all this political snubbing, Grayson armed forces come to the rescue of the RMN twice during Thunderbolt.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-06-01 06:27pm

Irbis wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:Well, he calls her a lunatic repeatedly, and mentions at least once that if she really had the tactical acumen people assume she does she wouldn't keep getting her ships and squadrons shot up. Which sound both personal, and like mighty big words from someone who, AFAIK has never participated in a real battle and whose major contribution to the war effort was serving as an expert advisor and talking head for the Opposition leaders.

Wasn't his major contribution to war effort, you know, was winning it by keeping traditionalists with Admiral White Haven at the top shut up? The jeune ecole thing of Admiral Hemphill was possible only because Janacek kept pushing it personally. Imagine - no ghost rider, no carriers, no podnoughts, no grav comms, no nothing if White Haven was in charge instead :lol:

White Haven's contempt of Hemphill made no sense even in book 1, where old, obsolete ship annihilated his commanding superdreadnought, but doing so and trying to kill her projects after Honor first used them to demolish fleet of dreadnoughts with far inferior force, then absolutely annihilated everything with unarmored Q-ships, borders on lunacy.
First, you're conflating the opinions and actions of different people. White Haven was not D'Orville.

Second of all, you're grossly misrepresenting the actions Honor was involved in. Saying she destroyed ships she did not in fact destroy, that she "annihilated everything" when she in fact annihilated only weak ships and was in fact stuck in a murder-suicide situation when she encountered a pair of battlecruisers.

Third of all, you're asserting without evidence that White Haven was at the top of the Manticoran naval hierarchy in the prewar era. He wasn't. He was one of several Manticoran admirals of roughly equal status. In 1903 PD, shortly before the war began, he has to report to a different admiral, James Webster, for orders. And all he's given to carry them out with is a couple of squadrons of battlecruisers- a responsible assignment, but hardly "I'm on top of the whole fleet."

Fourth of all, you're asserting without evidence that White Haven tried to kill programs such as the missile pod, Ghost Rider electronic warfare, and FTL comms. We know he was hostile to the LAC program and to the idea of refitting existing ships to fire the heavy multiple-drive missile. We cannot simply, mindlessly assume that he had some kind of reflex opposition to all new technology everywhere.
_____________

Did you even read the books? Your opinions bear very little resemblance to them. I'm reminded of all the crap you threw out in the first analysis thread, stuff like "Honor is an idiot because Tactic X would have so worked better even though it's only my opinion saying so and she physically didn't have the assets to do Tactic X."

That makes a lot of sense, for decades the Centrists have kept a laser-like focus on a war the other parties didn't believe would occur, except the Progressives who figured they could never win and should surrender without a shot fired. The Opposition fought them on the buildup, the annexation of Basilisk, the actual declaration of war after being attacked, and each time they were proven wrong.
And they were right. Without deus ex machina tech Manticore would have lost. Period. No if, no buts, the only things that kept war going was first sudden tech advantage, second sudden attack of major idiocy from supposedly competent Parnell who decided to commit his force in penny packets instead of opening it by Operation Beatrice and winning war by Book 4.
That is not accurate.

The technological advantage in question was not 'sudden.' It had been laboriously developed over a long period of time, and was already present before the novels began.

The part about Parnell being an 'idiot' by launching a broad-front offensive instead of just massing all his ships and hitting the Manticoran home system... that is just so fucked up in terms of the way you're expecting everyone to think about strategy that it makes very little sense. Do you understand this concept of "X would have worked in my opinion in hindsight" not equating to "storybook character Y was an idiot for not doing exactly X and winning glorious victory?"

The centrists were only 'right' because events were at each turn devised for them to be right. One, just one slip up anywhere, just one instance of major Manticore fleet not lying in perfect ambush by accident and Haven's attack might have robbed them of operational tempo and win it, tech advantage notwistanding.
Uh, no, that is not in fact the case. The Manticoran operations consisted of several different prongs on different fronts, and having a Havenite attack succeed in one place would not mean they were doomed to failure in other places.

Granted, excellent Havenite strategy and tactics across the board might have done a lot to nullify the Manticoran technical advantage. But there were a lot of reasons to expect Haven to put in at best an average performance in this war.
_______________________________________

Ahriman238 wrote:
This is, frankly, the Opposition that the 'good guy' side of Manticoran politics has spent the last seventy years creating. By methodically cutting their ties, by privately deciding to hold them in contempt, Roger III, Elizabeth III, and many of the current generation of Centrist leaders have made it almost impossible for them to have a civil political relationship with the opposing parties. Cromarty, who played 'older but wiser head' right up until his death, could at least engage with enough of the nonaligned peers to effectively manipulate the Lords. His successors lack that knack; they've lost the ability to govern effectively except by issuing marching orders to people who already agree with them.
That makes a lot of sense, for decades the Centrists have kept a laser-like focus on a war the other parties didn't believe would occur, except the Progressives who figured they could never win and should surrender without a shot fired. The Opposition fought them on the buildup, the annexation of Basilisk, the actual declaration of war after being attacked, and each time they were proven wrong. So yeah, they're afraid of what the next election will look like. They're afraid of a Centrist majority that will never end, because all the Centrists have done for the last seventy years is rattle the saber.
I think we're talking past each other.

You're talking about the Righteous Vengeance of the Obviously Right All Along Centrists.

I'm talking about the chronically negative, confrontational attitude that the monarchy and many Centrist political figures have been taking towards the Opposition for that long half-century. Basically, I don't think there's been much serious effort put into ensuring that ties to certain slices of the Conservative and Liberal parties remained healthy. As a result, the Centrist majority became rather... brittle.

Basically, in real life, a party that spends decades fixating on how it is right and its opponents are WRONG WRONG WRONG is setting itself up for disaster when it finally loses the means to force those opponents into a subordinate role. The opposition has forgotten the art of compromise because they never got any compromises in all that time.

Ahriman238 wrote:Uh-oh, the Andies have Grayson-style compensators, at least as good as anything the RMN has.
Or at least close enough not to matter. A 10g acceleration advantage doesn't really signify on Honorverse scales, and even a 50g advantage can be compensated for. It's a 100g advantage that's potentially decisive, especially for capital ships.

Uh huh. Peacetime income tax of no more than 8%, that's constitutionally mandated. We already covered how unpopular a graduated income tax is, and how it's default state would have a terribly short expiration date.

I think the High Ridge crowd are trying to hard to have their cake and eat it too. The 'old administration's taxes' excuse must be wearing pretty thin after five years.
It seems to work for the Republicans for decades at a time...

"Taxes are too high!"

"We gave you six years of uninterrupted control of the government in which to change them!"

"Taxes are STILL too high!"

That's just me being cynical, I guess. Anyway, it also occurs to me that one of the main reasons Manticore can afford this is, well, Junction money. Having a massive stream of free cash that literally pours into your coffers from out of empty space means you can finance a lot of popular social programs without taxing actual citizens. It works for the Arab petro-states, after all.

As I recall it, according to Weber, Manticore has a more or less recognizable 20th century welfare state, with the sole notable modification that it... pretty much totally disenfranchises anyone who receives noticeable government assistance or doesn't pay net income taxes. Given how low the tax rate is, that's probably a wider swath of the population than he'd care to acknowledge.

I suppose that's ONE way to avoid having a large Dolist voter block controlled by corrupt ward bosses take over your political system... :roll:

They're about to lose the income tax, and are slashing the military budget specifically to maintain all the social programs and pay-offs. This is no way to govern.
The military budget cuts aren't actually stupid if you accept the premise that Haven is too primitive to duplicate RMN weaponry. The stupid part is trying to govern with so much corruption and bribery, which makes it impossible to operate efficiently and leaves you dependent on the good will and support of all these people whose loyalty you have to buy.

More vague hints on Centrist policy. They object to government overreach? Or at least to people using the state as their private piggy bank.
I honestly think Weber kept the Centrists' politics deliberately vague to avoid alienating any major sector of American readers... Not saying he succeeded, but I think that's his motive. They're apparently supposed to be some sort of space libertarian, but without enough influence or enough fanaticism to create a truly libertarian state.

At some point in the last couple of years, Haven and Manticore released all their POWs. The HRG (High Ridge Government) probably crowed in triumph over bringing the prisoners home, then acted as if they'd done the whole thing as some huge favor to Haven. Not that this behavior is unusual in real-life politics...
True. Note that since Manticore had vastly more Havenite POWs (the total might even represent something like 1% of the Manticoran population) than vice versa, getting rid of Manticoran POWs relieves an economic strain on the Government. Arguably a good strategic call, taken in isolation.

"The Navy has been badly in need of lighter units for years," Janacek replied. "For the most part, the relative drawdown in those types was unavoidable, especially in the early years of the war. The need to build the largest and most powerful wall of battle we possibly could diverted us from the construction and maintenance of the light cruisers and cruisers required for things like commerce protection. Those we did build were never sufficient to meet the scouting and screening requirements of our main battle fleets, let alone police commerce in places like Silesia. As a consequence, piracy activity everywhere in the Confederacy beyond the immediate reach of Sidemore Station is entirely out of hand."
Turning back the clocks almost a century, wallers are out, cruisers are in.
This actually makes sense to a point, though, and the Cromarty Government might have done the same. Of course, they'd probably have tried to negotiate an end to the war rather faster (even assuming they'd accepted the cease-fire offer in the first place). Either way, though, having established a solid core of SD(P) firepower, their logical next move would be to build back up the worn-down, and largely obsolete, light RMN units that were never constructed in truly adequate numbers even to support the battleline, let alone to provide commerce protection.

Commerce protection IS an RMN core mission, and there are good reasons for that.

Go ahead, tell us what you really think. Janacek has locked the Graysons out of their intelligence briefings, shut down all joint naval R&D, and been generally insulting and dismissive. For all that, he's treated them far better than he has the Erewhonese.
And yet, there are quasi-rational justifications in his brain, which is unusual for a Weber antagonist, at least a political antagonist. It does have to raise some eyebrows when Grayson decides to give Alfredo Yu (formerly one of the Legislaturalists' best captains) full access to military technologies that Manticore had been carefully building up and sheltering from Havenites for nearly fifty years.

"No, Stefan. Only the Peeps have any reason to threaten us, and they simply don't have the capability. By the time they could begin to produce a fleet which could threaten us, we'd have plenty of lead time to increase our own SD(P) and CLAC strength. In the meantime, sixty-four of the new superdreadnoughts are more than sufficient."
Five years ago you said it would take them five years to duplicate these advances, and now you say ten? Also gone up to 64 SD(P)s.
Five years ago he was giving an off-the-cuff estimate. Which was, as it happened, accurate- and may have been informed by his knowledge of how long it took Manticore to develop the same systems.

He's spent most of the time since then banning firing "assholes" in his own military and intelligence services who told him what he didn't want to hear. No wonder he's retreated further into his own little reality-warping bubble.

Eighth Fleet has been dissolved, it's allied ships returning to their own navies, it's Manticoran podnoughts and carriers folded into Third Fleet. Oh, and they're stealing Hemphill's ideas and want to use vast swarms of disposable LACs to protect all Manticoran worlds. Even seeing this as a viable alternative to an actual navy.
I don't think it counts as 'stealing' when you're the very organization she developed the ideas FOR. Also, I think this is based on a fundamental failure to understand that the LACs' window of superiority is going to close as soon as anyone puts even modest effort into building an effective counter-LAC capability. Hell, the Sollies could probably do it too without too much trouble.

Janacek's feelings on Honor, and why she was assigned once more to the classroom. Let me repeat, Janacek is an idiot.
For a Weber political antagonist, he's pretty smart, but the average Weber political antagonist is about as smart as an equivalent mass of slime mold. Even stimulus-response thinking is usually beyond them; they prefer to experience a stimulus, then... just not react at all. :D

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-06-02 08:06am

I think we're talking past each other.

You're talking about the Righteous Vengeance of the Obviously Right All Along Centrists.

I'm talking about the chronically negative, confrontational attitude that the monarchy and many Centrist political figures have been taking towards the Opposition for that long half-century. Basically, I don't think there's been much serious effort put into ensuring that ties to certain slices of the Conservative and Liberal parties remained healthy. As a result, the Centrist majority became rather... brittle.

Basically, in real life, a party that spends decades fixating on how it is right and its opponents are WRONG WRONG WRONG is setting itself up for disaster when it finally loses the means to force those opponents into a subordinate role. The opposition has forgotten the art of compromise because they never got any compromises in all that time.


Oh no, sorry if I was unclear. The Centrists have been consistently right about Haven and the war, because the Centrists are the only ones allowed to have a clue about foreign policy. On the other hand, they've spent decades building up for the war in the face of all this opposition, and it gave them a distinct "no surrender, no retreat, no compromise" attitude. You have to be very self-assured to keep at unpopular policies so long. I completely agree that the Centrists have crippled their own ability to govern effectively.

In fact, though outside the story we know Weber wants readers to sympathize with the Centrists and giving them too many distinct qualities could interfere with that, I wonder if in-universe we don't see so much of their domestic policy because the needs of THE WAR have made everything else a third-tier priority.


And yet, there are quasi-rational justifications in his brain, which is unusual for a Weber antagonist, at least a political antagonist. It does have to raise some eyebrows when Grayson decides to give Alfredo Yu (formerly one of the Legislaturalists' best captains) full access to military technologies that Manticore had been carefully building up and sheltering from Havenites for nearly fifty years.


I would be prepared to give Weber a lot more credit for that, if our vile villain hadn't immediately followed it with a sneer at the idea of trusting a foreign national just because they've "proved" themselves over the years and in multiple battles. Granted, I've never been a huge fan of the idea that someone helps you once or twice so you trust them forever with everything that keeps popping up in fiction but a.) this is clearly done just to show how vile Janacek is and how he may have worn the uniform but can never understand the noble martial principles of Our Heroes in Uniform b.) come on, the guy defected, what, seventeen years ago now? If that amount of time, and the havoc he wreaked at Fourth Yeltsin haven't earned the guy a little trust, I think you're officially deciding to never trust him, ever, based on his origins.


Five years ago he was giving an off-the-cuff estimate. Which was, as it happened, accurate- and may have been informed by his knowledge of how long it took Manticore to develop the same systems.

He's spent most of the time since then banning firing "assholes" in his own military and intelligence services who told him what he didn't want to hear. No wonder he's retreated further into his own little reality-warping bubble.


Yay for the echo chamber. Another trap the HRG and Janacek Admiralty should easily avoid simply by virtue of being a diverse coalition government. For that matter, they should have a pretty good idea by now how that works. There's no good reason they should be less adept at examining their assumptions or considering alternate viewpoints than anyone else, even if they have to bite their tongues a lot in the name of keeping the coalition together.


For a Weber political antagonist, he's pretty smart, but the average Weber political antagonist is about as smart as an equivalent mass of slime mold. Even stimulus-response thinking is usually beyond them; they prefer to experience a stimulus, then... just not react at all. :D


He preferred Honor away from the front, lest she somehow cause an incident. So he assigns her to the Academy, where she was immensely popular and can shape the next generation of officers. That generation will take Honor's inclusion as a sign that she is an example to be lived up to. This places her in the heart of what Janacek considers his domain, and within a 20 minute flight of the Capital so she can regularly attend Parliament meetings and consult with the queen and Centrist leaders. He couldn't say, bundle her off to another round of pirate hunting in Silesia? Give her Sidemore Station, or Hancock, or Grendelsbane or a dozen other remote stations and allied systems? Send her as a more permanent liaison to Grayson. Even Basilisk would limit her influence a lot compared to where he stuck her.

Really, all his problems stem from his utter inability to take Honor seriously as a commander, tactician or a political threat.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-06-02 08:07am

Batman wrote:Um-Parks didn't return for First Hancock, what enabled Honor and Sarnow to pull off that (absolutely jury-rigged at the last moment, up until then they were planning on surrendering the system) ambush was the premature arrival of Danislav's dreadnoughts.


Whoops. You are correct, it was Danislav.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Black Admiral » 2014-06-02 08:13am

Ahriman238 wrote:
Five years ago he was giving an off-the-cuff estimate. Which was, as it happened, accurate- and may have been informed by his knowledge of how long it took Manticore to develop the same systems.

He's spent most of the time since then banning firing "assholes" in his own military and intelligence services who told him what he didn't want to hear. No wonder he's retreated further into his own little reality-warping bubble.


Yay for the echo chamber. Another trap the HRG and Janacek Admiralty should easily avoid simply by virtue of being a diverse coalition government. For that matter, they should have a pretty good idea by now how that works. There's no good reason they should be less adept at examining their assumptions or considering alternate viewpoints than anyone else, even if they have to bite their tongues a lot in the name of keeping the coalition together.


The current Coalition government here in the UK is a pretty clear example that that doesn't automatically follow (although Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems' utter lack of a spine & willingness to sell out their principles without waiting for their thirty pieces of silver certainly contributed).
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-06-02 08:30am

Ahriman238 wrote:In fact, though outside the story we know Weber wants readers to sympathize with the Centrists and giving them too many distinct qualities could interfere with that, I wonder if in-universe we don't see so much of their domestic policy because the needs of THE WAR have made everything else a third-tier priority.
Probably true. Something similar happened in American politics during World War II, just to pick an example that was probably firm on Weber's mind.

I would be prepared to give Weber a lot more credit for that, if our vile villain hadn't immediately followed it with a sneer at the idea of trusting a foreign national just because they've "proved" themselves over the years and in multiple battles. Granted, I've never been a huge fan of the idea that someone helps you once or twice so you trust them forever with everything that keeps popping up in fiction but...

a.) this is clearly done just to show how vile Janacek is and how he may have worn the uniform but can never understand the noble martial principles of Our Heroes in Uniform
b.) come on, the guy defected, what, seventeen years ago now?

If that amount of time, and the havoc he wreaked at Fourth Yeltsin haven't earned the guy a little trust, I think you're officially deciding to never trust him, ever, based on his origins.
Well, yes. That happens to defectors sometimes. Grayson may be comfortable taking in a defector, but you'll notice that there are no former Havenite military officers in Manticoran service. And that this appears to be a general policy, not one unique to the Janacek admiralty.

And, as Janacek points out, a lot of Havenite defectors would have every reason to return home to the new regime, which is... pretty much everything any reasonable opponent of either the Legislaturalists or Pierre could have hoped for.

Five years ago he was giving an off-the-cuff estimate. Which was, as it happened, accurate- and may have been informed by his knowledge of how long it took Manticore to develop the same systems.

He's spent most of the time since then banning firing "assholes" in his own military and intelligence services who told him what he didn't want to hear. No wonder he's retreated further into his own little reality-warping bubble.
Yay for the echo chamber. Another trap the HRG and Janacek Admiralty should easily avoid simply by virtue of being a diverse coalition government. For that matter, they should have a pretty good idea by now how that works.
Agreed. The catch is that they're a coalition between the Conservative Party (who at least have some competent military officers, but also have a lot of inbred-cretin-incompetents), and the Liberal Party (who seem almost entirely non-military and anti-military to the extent of being a parody). So when it comes to actually administering the armed forces, they are not really a coalition government, they're a Conservative province. And the Conservatives are very very big on putting people with seniority and social rank into positions of power, then letting them run their departments as personal fiefdoms. Which is exactly how you create an echo-chamber.

There's no good reason they should be less adept at examining their assumptions or considering alternate viewpoints than anyone else, even if they have to bite their tongues a lot in the name of keeping the coalition together.
Agreed. Weber political antagonists tend to be about as smart as a pile of slime mold.

For a Weber political antagonist, he's pretty smart, but the average Weber political antagonist is about as smart as an equivalent mass of slime mold. Even stimulus-response thinking is usually beyond them; they prefer to experience a stimulus, then... just not react at all. :D
He preferred Honor away from the front, lest she somehow cause an incident. So he assigns her to the Academy, where she was immensely popular and can shape the next generation of officers. That generation will take Honor's inclusion as a sign that she is an example to be lived up to. This places her in the heart of what Janacek considers his domain, and within a 20 minute flight of the Capital so she can regularly attend Parliament meetings and consult with the queen and Centrist leaders. He couldn't say, bundle her off to another round of pirate hunting in Silesia? Give her Sidemore Station, or Hancock, or Grendelsbane or a dozen other remote stations and allied systems? Send her as a more permanent liaison to Grayson. Even Basilisk would limit her influence a lot compared to where he stuck her.
Part of his concern is that given a combat command she'll charge off and do something provocative and cause the war to go hot again. Which seems rather unrealistic, but he's only marginally smarter than the average Weber political antagonist (i.e. slime mold).

Really, all his problems stem from his utter inability to take Honor seriously as a commander, tactician or a political threat.
I think part of the problem there is that Honor is vastly, hilariously junior to him in terms of time in service. Janacek was a captain in 1844 PD; he's got to be at least a 110-120 years old by now. Honor is 'only' sixty. Janacek probably made flag rank around the time Honor was born, was commanding fleets when she was commanding LACs, and was First Space Lord for the first time when Honor was a junior captain.

She's a whippersnapper, is what she is. ;)

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby PKRudeBoy » 2014-06-02 09:28pm

Black Admiral wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:
Five years ago he was giving an off-the-cuff estimate. Which was, as it happened, accurate- and may have been informed by his knowledge of how long it took Manticore to develop the same systems.

He's spent most of the time since then banning firing "assholes" in his own military and intelligence services who told him what he didn't want to hear. No wonder he's retreated further into his own little reality-warping bubble.


Yay for the echo chamber. Another trap the HRG and Janacek Admiralty should easily avoid simply by virtue of being a diverse coalition government. For that matter, they should have a pretty good idea by now how that works. There's no good reason they should be less adept at examining their assumptions or considering alternate viewpoints than anyone else, even if they have to bite their tongues a lot in the name of keeping the coalition together.


The current Coalition government here in the UK is a pretty clear example that that doesn't automatically follow (although Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems' utter lack of a spine & willingness to sell out their principles without waiting for their thirty pieces of silver certainly contributed).

I have to imagine that having a veritable hoard of blackmail files does wonders for party discipline. The North Hollow files are keystone of the coalition.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-06-03 08:03am

Simon wrote:That's just me being cynical, I guess. Anyway, it also occurs to me that one of the main reasons Manticore can afford this is, well, Junction money. Having a massive stream of free cash that literally pours into your coffers from out of empty space means you can finance a lot of popular social programs without taxing actual citizens. It works for the Arab petro-states, after all.

As I recall it, according to Weber, Manticore has a more or less recognizable 20th century welfare state, with the sole notable modification that it... pretty much totally disenfranchises anyone who receives noticeable government assistance or doesn't pay net income taxes. Given how low the tax rate is, that's probably a wider swath of the population than he'd care to acknowledge.

I suppose that's ONE way to avoid having a large Dolist voter block controlled by corrupt ward bosses take over your political system... :roll:


I've not heard of that. Do you have a source? Not because I'm skeptical, this really sounds like something of Weber's, but because I'm curious. The disconnect with contemporary society is rather jarring.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-06-03 08:14am

There's a one line mention in the Honorverse wiki:

"The Constitution contained a clearly defined Declaration of Human Rights, though the right to vote was applicable to citizens who had been paying taxes for five Manticoran years. Policies encouraging immigration were stopped fifty years after their declaration. "

Googling also found a random forum post here:
http://www.davidweber.net/forums/viewto ... f51#p51674

"Not at all. Pay one penny more in taxes than you get in direct benefits, and you keep the franchise..."

It's not something he makes a thing about, and I really have neither the energy nor the... settledness right now to make a detailed search for evidence, though I'd be happy to this summer if I can. But basically, you only get to vote in Manticore if you pay net taxes to the government.

Now, the problem with this, which I think is predictable, is that with the actual tax rates being so low, the breakeven point is probably rather high- because you have to have quite a bit of income for the taxes on it to add up to more than a government aid program would be giving you.

Everyone receiving student loans, everyone on pretty much any kind of housing or other assistance, is disenfranchised- at least for now; they get to vote again when they become GOOD PRODUCTIVE CITIZENS.

This is assuming, of course, that such programs even exist in Manticore; I had thought they do but, again, lack the energy to exhaustively search everything I've ever read about the Honorverse looking for the answer.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-06-04 09:55pm

She was one of the relatively few Sidemore officers serving aboard Royal Navy ships in senior positions. It wasn't because of any prejudice against Sidemorians, so much as it was the fact that there weren't all that many senior Sidemore officers serving anywhere. The entire Sidemore Navy was barely eight T-years old, which meant that Zahn was incredibly junior for her rank by Manticoran standards. She also happened to be extremely good at her job, which was how she'd come to be assigned as the tactical officer aboard the senior ship of CruDiv 237. Intellectually, she knew she wouldn't have been here if the Manties didn't believe she would be able to pull her own weight. It had been Manticoran policy since the beginning of Sidemore's alliance with the Star Kingdom to cross-assign officers whenever possible as one way to be sure both navies were familiar with RMN doctrine and procedures and also as a way to build the SN's experience base as rapidly as possible. Which didn't mean they were about to put anyone whose competence they doubted into a position as sensitive as that of a heavy cruiser's tactical officer. But whatever her brain might know, her emotions remained stubbornly unconvinced.

Maybe it wasn't just her. Maybe the entire Sidemore Navy—such as it was, and what there was of it—wasn't quite able to believe that anyone else would take it seriously at its young and tender age. She couldn't really speak for the rest of her home world's officer corps, but there were enough times she still felt like the new kid in class herself when she measured her own meager seven T-years of naval experience against the professional resume of someone like Ackenheil, who was very nearly three times her own age and a highly decorated combat veteran, to boot.


After Honor liberated Sidemore, they've started putting together a navy, with considerable help from Manticore which maintains a major fleet base in that system, and is happy to provide cross-training and loaner officers.


The truth was that despite her ability, the Navy had indeed gone out of its way to assign SN officers to responsible slots aboard the RMN ships deployed to Sidemore Station, and some of them—no, be honest, all of them—were extremely short on experience, by Manticoran standards, for the positions they held. There was no way to avoid that. Unless they wanted the Sidemorians to have an entire navy which contained no officer above the rank of lieutenant, then the locals had no choice but to promote at a ridiculously rapid rate. Like the prewar Grayson Navy, the Sidemorians had acquired a skeletal core of Manticoran "loaners," but the bulk of their officer corps was being built from within, and assigning as many as possible of their more promising home-grown officers to Royal Navy ships was one way to transfer some of the much greater Manticoran experience to them.


Extent of the above.


There were two more incidents than there'd been the last time he checked, he noticed, and rubbed his chin while he considered them. He supposed he should be grateful the Imperial Andermani Navy had chosen to make a substantial effort to squash the operations of pirates in and around the region the RMN patrolled from its base in the Marsh System.

-snip-

But welcome as that might be, it was also disturbing. The Andermani had been careful to tread lightly in the region after the Admiralty announced its intention to establish a fleet base in Marsh. A few Andermani officers Ackenheil had met hadn't bothered to disguise the resentment they'd felt over the Star Kingdom's treaty with the Republic of Sidemore. They'd obviously regarded it as one more example of Manticoran interference in an area they felt properly belonged to the Andermani Empire's sphere of interest. But whatever they might have felt, the Empire had made no formal protest, and the official Andie position was that anything which reduced lawlessness in Silesia was welcome.

The diplomats who said that lied in their teeth, and everyone knew it, but that had been the official position for almost nine T-years. And during those same nine T-years, the Andie Navy had restricted its presence in and around the Marsh System to port visits by destroyers, interspersed occasionally with the odd division of light cruisers, and very rarely by individual heavy cruisers or battlecruisers. It had been enough to remind the Star Kingdom that the Empire also had an interest in the region without using forces heavy enough to be seen as some sort of provocative challenge to Manticore's presence.


Mounting tensions in Silesia, and the status quo since Honor left.


"He says that as far as ONI's database is aware, they've never committed anything as heavy as a battlecruiser division to routine anti-piracy ops," Zahn went on. "Records says that the only times they've used forces that heavy were when someone had managed to put together a force of pirates or privateers capable of carrying out at least squadron-level strikes, like Warnecke did." She shook her head and waved a hand at the red icons on her plot. "Nothing like that has been going on anywhere in the region they're operating across now, Skipper."


Squadron-level pirates happen, but they are quite rare.


"As to why they might have decided that this was the right time to do something about it, Skipper," Zahn went on, "I can think of a couple of factors. The biggest one, though, is probably the way the Alliance has kicked the Peeps' butts. They don't think they have to worry about Haven coming through Manticore at them, anymore, and if they don't need a buffer zone any longer, they might not see any reason to go on being 'neutral' in our favor. And—"

She stopped speaking abruptly, and Ackenheil looked sharply down at the crown of her head. He started to prompt her to continue, then paused as he suddenly realized what she'd probably been about to say.

And now that we're downsizing the Fleet—like idiots—and we've gotten ourselves a Prime Minister who wouldn't recognize a principle if it bit him on the ass and a Foreign Secretary with a spine about as stiff as warm butter, they probably can't believe the opportunity we've handed them, he told himself sourly. True enough, but not the sort of thing a Sidemorian exactly wants to say to her Manticoran skipper.


The "why now?" for the Andies to start peeing on trees and staking their claim to the Confederacy.


Zahn watched him go, and just as he had recognized what she'd left unsaid, she knew what he hadn't said. Any Sidemorian would have known, although no one she knew would have been tactless enough to say so to any of their Manticoran allies. All of them knew precisely what the Cromarty Government's policy would have been in the face of any Andermani effort to expand its territory into Silesia.

No one had a clue how the High Ridge Government might react . . . but they didn't expect it to be good.


Well, assuming blind panic is off the table.... probably try to end one of their political enemies via Uriah gambit. It didn't work before but if at first you don't succeed, stay the course and stubbornly refuse to consider alternate tactics!


"I know damned well that Jeremy expected us to do better than we did, given what you managed to hack out of those idiots' files. I hate disappointing him—disappointing all of them. And I don't much like failing at anything, myself."

"You want me to believe that you expected them to just roll over?" he asked, and there was a hint of a twinkle in the dark eyes.

"No," she half-snarled at him. "But I did hope that we'd get more of the bastards nailed!"

"I understand what you're saying. But we did get convictions for over seventy percent of the names on my list. Given the timing, that's actually better than we had any right to expect."

"And if I'd come straight home by way of the Junction the way you'd wanted to, the timing wouldn't have mattered," she grated.

"Woman, we've been over this," Anton Zilwicki said in a voice as patient as his beloved mountains. "Neither one of us could have foreseen the Cromarty Assassination. If it hadn't been for that, we'd have been fine, and you were perfectly right about the need to get Jeremy off Old Earth." He shrugged. "I admit that I haven't spent as many years as deeply committed to the Anti-Slavery League as you have, but it's grossly unfair of you to blame yourself for spending three extra weeks getting home."


Cathy Montaigne and Anton Zilwicki, placing this part of the book before just about anything in Crown of Slaves. Oh well, minor timeline pileups were bound to happen.

They got Jeremy off Earth and away from the heat following the Manpower Incident, and even with the HRG whitewash managed convictions for 70% of Anton's list.


"Of course," the countess continued, "he hasn't exactly told me so in so many words, but he would have told me if he'd thought otherwise. So I suppose he's probably about as satisfied as we could reasonably expect. Not that I think for a minute that he and the Ballroom—or Jeremy—are prepared to call it quits. Especially not since they know who was on the list and wasn't convicted."


In this case, acquittal may not be the end of things. Isaac, Jeremy and co. really hate slavers and people who profit off of slaves' misery.


"You may have a point," she said after a thoughtful moment. "Mind you, you wouldn't have one if he didn't have a shopping list for those other places. And I'm not sure how successful we're going to be at keeping the pressure on now that High Ridge and that unmitigated asshole MacIntosh have managed to 'damage control' everything right under the carpet."


Jeremy also has extensive lists of people to visit and bring gifts to in the Solarian League and Silesian Confederacy. so it could take a while to get to every little Manticoran who escaped justice. Nevertheless, Jeremy X can be patient sometimes, and he'll probably feel the need to get creative to make up for the wait. Yes, there is definitely coming a time when a nice, safe prison cell will seem like a bargain.


"Let me put it this way. We're both in agreement that the current Government is in a position to continue to exclude you from the House of Lords, effectively indefinitely, which means that your position as a peer actually doesn't give you any advantage at all. Put another way, the powerbase you have is all but useless under the current political circumstances. Yes?"

-snip-

"Then consider this scenario," he suggested, crossing his legs and settling even more comfortably into his chair. "A fiery noblewoman, consumed with the passion of her convictions, renounces her claim to one of the most respected and venerated titles of nobility in the entire Star Kingdom. Determined to fight for her principles, she sacrifices the privileged status of her birth in order to seek election—election, mind you—to the House of Commons because she's been excluded from the House of Lords because of those same convictions. And once elected, of course, she has a moral imprimatur she would never have enjoyed as the holder of an inherited title. She's paid an obvious price for her principles, given up of her own volition something no one could have taken from her, because it's the only way she can fight effectively for what she believes in. And unlike her aristocratic opponents, who are obviously fighting at least in part to maintain their own privileged positions under the status quo, she's started out by giving up her special privileges. Not to mention the fact that her successful election campaign demonstrates that she commands the popular support to get herself into Parliament on her own merits in the first place. Which none of them do. Or, at least, which none of them is prepared to risk finding out whether or not they do."


And it just so happens that Anton knows of a guy, wants to give up his seat to pursue a lucrative banking job in the Solarian League, but can't stand to leave his constituents in the hands of an HRG yes-man. His leaving would cause an automatic special election in his district, not a general one that High Ridge can quash, and if he's willing to endorse a candidate, the one described in Anton's little thought experiment...

And this is how Cathy Montaige reenters Manticoran politics, looking to split the Liberal Party.


Every insider in Parliament, Lords and Commons alike, recognized exactly what had been done to her, and it didn't matter at all. Hayes' initial column had been followed quickly by the first op-ed piece, and that first "respectable" commentary had been the polished, meticulously crafted opening salvo in a carefully planned campaign. It was the first picador's dart, placed with impeccable skill, and the fact that the High Ridge Government was an alliance of so many parties gave a disastrously broad base to the orchestrated attack. The Manticoran public was accustomed to vociferous exchanges between party organs and spokespeople, but this time the party lines were blurred. No, not blurred. The real problem was that the divisions were even clearer than usual . . . and that this time every single major party except the Centrists and Crown Loyalists was on the other side. The condemnation came from across the entire traditional political spectrum, and that gave it a dangerous degree of legitimacy in all too much of the public's eyes. Surely so many people of such diverse views would never agree on anything which wasn't self-evidently true!


The attacks against Honor and Hamish, legitimized by coming from a wide variety of corners and parties, even if they've been marching more-or-less in lockstep the last five years. I blame the prolong, it takes everyone too long to adjust to political and social changes.


Honor had released her own statement, of course, and she knew William Alexander had used his own press contacts to do as much preemptive spadework as he could before the story broke, as well. She'd done some of her own, for that matter, and even appeared, not without a certain carefully concealed trepidation, on "Into the Fire" herself. The experience had not been one of the most enjoyable of her life.

Neither Prince, a lifelong Liberal, nor DuCain, a card-carrying Crown Loyalist, had ever attempted to conceal their own political affiliations. That was one of the things which made their program so widely watched. But for all their political differences, they respected one another, and they made a conscientious effort to extend that same respect to their guests and reserve their own polemics for their closing segment. But that didn't mean they refrained from hardhitting questions.


Return of "Into the Fire" Manticore's favorite political talk-show.


They didn't have it all their own way, of course. Indeed, Honor was surprised to find half a dozen prominent Liberals and even one or two Conservative commentators who genuinely sought to disassociate themselves from the witch hunt. A part of her was ashamed when she recognized her surprise for what it was. Realized she'd become so cynical about the supporters of the High Ridge Government that the very thought that any of them might possess true integrity was astonishing to her. But only a part of her felt that, and as the tempo increased those voices of reason simply disappeared—not silenced, but drowned out and pounded under by the carefully conducted orchestra of innuendo and accusation.


Honor admitting she was wrong and some of her opponents are decent people after all. Some.


Nor had she been devoid of other defenders. Catherine Montaigne, in the midst of a campaign which pitted her against her own party's leadership, had come out swinging. Her scathing denunciation of the tactics being employed had been downright vicious, nor had she shrunk from identifying New Kiev and other senior members of the Liberal Party as accomplices in what she openly defined as a smear campaign. Ironically, even as the party leadership turned on her in fury for her temerity, it was actually helping her with the voters of High Threadmore.


Cathy's doing well.


Unfortunately, Manticoran slander and libel laws, while harder hitting than many, had their own loopholes. The most important one was that the law recognized a journalist's right to maintain the confidentiality of her sources and set a very high hurdle for plaintiff demands that those sources' identities be revealed. As long as Hayes restricted himself to reporting that his "sources" suggested that Honor and Hamish were lovers and never once said that he himself claimed they were, he stayed one thin millimeter on the safe side of the libel laws. Honor had done her dead level best to goad him into making that fatal assertion, but he'd refused to be drawn into that error. She could still sue for slander and, probably, win, but the trial would stretch out for years (at least), and however monumental the damages awarded might be in the end, it would have no impact on the current political situation . . . except to convince people that she was desperate to shut his mouth any way she could.

Fortunately, perhaps, the Code Duello also specifically exempted journalists from being challenged on the basis of published reporting or commentary. It would have been possible to contrive some other basis for a duel, perhaps, but she had to agree with William; in the end, it would only make the damage even worse. Besides, Hayes had obviously taken careful note of what had happened to Pavel Young. There was no way in the universe he was going to place himself in any position where Honor might possibly challenge him.


Can't challenge reporters to duels for libel. Manticoran slander/libel laws, protecting sources and the reporter as long as everything is said on behalf of a source and not directly stated.


Bad as it was for White Haven, it was even worse for Honor. For all his continuing vigor, Hamish Alexander was one hundred and three T-years old, almost fifty T-years older than she was. In a society with prolong, where life spans would be as much as three T-centuries, that gap meant very little. But Hamish was from the very first generation of Manticoran prolong recipients. Most first- and second-generation prolong recipients had grown to at least young adulthood surrounded by pre-prolong parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts. Their fundamental attitudes towards what age meant, and particularly towards the significance of differences in age, had been formed in a society which had not yet developed a true acceptance for how long people, themselves included, were now likely to live.

Worse, perhaps, the earlier, less advanced generations of the prolong therapies stopped the physical aging process at a later stage, cosmetically, at least. So, as a first-generation recipient, Hamish's black hair was liberally threaded with silver, his face more deeply graven by character lines and crows feet. In a pre-prolong society, he might have been taken for a vigorous man in his mid-forties or very early fifties. But Honor was a third-generation recipient. Physically, she was no more than into her late twenties, and so for many of those following the story, she was the "younger woman." The Jezebel. In their eyes, his "betrayal" of Lady White Haven after so many years of unwavering fidelity could only have resulted from the way she had tempted and systematically pursued him.


Prolong effect on concepts of age, also appearance.


The Star Kingdom's mores were essentially liberal, and Honor and Hamish's "crime" in Manticoran eyes was that any affair between them would have violated the sanctity of a personal oath White Haven had chosen to swear in a particular sacrament of marriage. Other religions and denominations accepted other, less restrictive versions of marriage, and each of them was just as legally binding and just as morally acceptable in the eyes of society as a whole. In many ways, that made his alleged offense even worse, because he had voluntarily bound himself to a particular, intensely personal union with his wife when there'd been no social or legal requirement that he do so. If he'd now chosen to offer his love to another woman, then he had evaded a personal responsibility he'd chosen freely to accept.


Manticoran mores.


Grayson's attitude towards the Star Kingdom had shifted dangerously over the last three T-years. There were still immense reservoirs of gratitude, admiration, and respect for the Royal Navy, for the Centrists, and—especially—for Queen Elizabeth, herself. But there was also a deep, seething rage directed at the Kingdom's current government and the arrogant fashion in which it had arbitrarily and unilaterally accepted Oscar Saint-Just's truce offer when unequivocal victory had been within the Alliance's grasp. That decision was widely regarded as a betrayal of all of the Star Kingdom's allies, and especially of Grayson, which had made by far the greatest contribution—and sacrifices—of all those allies.

Nor had High Ridge's subsequent policy mitigated that outrage in any way. It was as obvious to Grayson as it was to the Havenites themselves that High Ridge and Descroix had no intention of negotiating in good faith. There might be different interpretations of the reasons for that, but recognition of their duplicity was virtually universal. High Ridge hadn't made things any better by continuing as he had begun, simply announcing his decisions to those who were supposed to be his treaty partners rather than consulting with them and acting in concert. Partly, Honor suspected, that insensitivity resulted from his intense focus on his purely domestic concerns, but it was also an inescapable reflection of his own personality. He considered Manticoran yeomen and commoners his infinite inferiors, and foreign commoners, by definition, were even less worthy of the expenditure of his precious time.


Grayson, and the other allies are getting distinctly annoyed. This mess of mudslinging towards two war heroes isn't helping relations any.


Even now, the surviving strictures of Grayson's pre-Alliance social code absolutely precluded public insult to a woman. Any woman. And especially this woman


Grayson isn't tossing out all their traditions overnight. And slandering a woman is considered an incredibly low move.


Chakrabarti had managed to attain his present very senior rank without ever commanding in combat. He'd last seen action as Lieutenant Commander Chakrabarti, executive officer in the heavy cruiser Invincible, against Silesian pirates, over thirty-five T-years before. Since that time, his career had been devoted primarily to administration, with a detour for a brief stint at BuWeaps.

Some might have questioned how that sort of career qualified a man to be First Space Lord, but as Janacek saw it, at this moment the Navy had less need of some grizzled veteran of a warrior than it did of a superior administrator. Anyone could win battles when his wall of battle held such a decisive qualitative edge, but it required someone who understood the ins and outs of administrative decisions and budgetary realities to balance the requirements of the Service against the need to downsize the Fleet. Chakrabarti had that understanding, not to mention exemplary political connections. His brother-in-law was Adam Damakos, the Liberal MP who was the ranking member of the Naval Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, but he was also the cousin of Akahito Fitzpatrick, the Duke of Gray Water, one of Baron High Ridge's closest allies in the Conservative Association. That would have made him the perfect choice for such an important position even without any other recommendations. And at least Janacek had been able to pick the man himself, instead of having someone foisted off on him the way that idiot Houseman had been chosen as Second Lord!


Just some of the cronyism of the Janacek Admiralty. Coming down off a major conflict, with more experienced officers than hulls, the senior uniformed officer of the RMN is a thirty-year desk jockey whose never fired a shot in anger. Except for some pirate hunting. But he has excellent family connections and some actual admin experience, plus political reliability. Clearly it was an awesome idea to eject Caparellit for this guy.


"The Andies' hardware was almost as good as ours before the war; if they've improved theirs since, we may have to seriously reconsider force levels in Silesia. The Prime Minister isn't going to like hearing about that less than four months after we finished telling Parliament we're making further reductions in our wall."


Andy pre-war hardware was probably at least Solly-level then. And unlike the SLN, they've been paying attention.


"What sort of details do you have?" Chakrabarti asked after a moment.

"Almost none, actually," Jurgensen admitted. "A Sidemorian analyst claims that visual imagery of one of the IAN's new Thor-class battlecruisers shows fewer missile ports than the class is supposed to have. Exactly what that might mean, we currently have no idea, and we haven't yet confirmed his claim with an independent analysis of the imagery. The raw visual take is on its way here, but we won't see it for another week or two.

"In addition, we have two reports from merchant skippers suggesting that the Andies may have managed at least some improvement in their inertial compensators. The evidence is extremely sketchy, but both of the captains involved report observing Andermani ships pulling accelerations considerably higher than they should have been."


Why not send the footage with the initial report? I have a guess why the fewer missile tubes, but I don't want to hazard it just yet.


"There are a half dozen other reports, most of them from independent stringers run by our naval attaches in the Empire, that indicate the Andies have at least been experimenting with longer ranged missiles, and we've known for years now that they've been developing their own pods. What we don't know, and what I haven't found a way to confirm one way or the other yet, is whether or not they've begun laying down SD(P)s of their own."

"Find a way to confirm it, one way or the other." There was an edge in Janacek's voice. His estimates of necessary force levels had been predicated upon maintaining the RMN's monopoly on the new superdreadnought types. His reports to the Cabinet hadn't even considered the possibility that the Andermani might already be beginning construction of their own SD(P)s.



Longer ranged missiles. What the Andies are actually doing is making half-sized pods with integral tractor units. They latch onto a ship, limpet-style until it's ready to deploy. Making every ship a potential pod-layer, even if the smaller ones will only carry a few. I think the fewer missile tubes on the new Thors is making more room for pods on the hull.


If it came down to it, he would certainly recommend to the Cabinet that reasonable territorial concessions be made to the Andermani. It wasn't as if the territories in question belonged to the Star Kingdom, anyway, and nothing inside Silesia struck him as being worth the risk of a shooting incident, much less an actual war. But that meant whoever was sent out to Sidemore would find himself in the unenviable position of attempting to deter the Andermani in the full knowledge that no additional reinforcements would be forthcoming. And if the Andermani declined to be deterred and there was an incident of any sort, the Government would almost certainly disavow the station commander's actions. Even in a best case situation, whoever wound up in command would be remembered as the officer on whose watch the Empire had moved in on Silesia. It wouldn't have been his fault, of course, but that wouldn't prevent his peers—and his superiors—from associating it with his assumption of command.

So where did he find someone who could make bricks without straw if he had to, convince the Andermani he would fight to the death before he let them have Silesia (until, at least, he got the inevitable order to hand it over to them), and be expendable if it became necessary for the Government to disavow him? Right off the top of his head, he couldn't think of anyone, but he was sure something would come to him.


And here we go again.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-06-04 10:33pm

Of course, "close" was a relative term aboard something the size of Sovereign of Space. The superdreadnought was the next best thing to nine million tons of battle steel and armor. She was also the first unit of the biggest and most powerful class of warships the Republic of Haven had ever built, although it probably wouldn't hold that distinction for long. The plans for the follow on Temeraire class were well into the final approval stage, and if things stayed on schedule, the first Temeraire would be laid down here at Bolthole within the next three or four months, for completion in another thirty-six. Which might have been a considerably longer building time than someone like the Manties would have required, but still represented an enormous decrease in construction times for Haven . . . much of which was the work of one Vice Admiral Shannon Foraker and her staff.


Wow, two classes of SD(P)s. Also it takes them three years to build an SD, which is more time than it takes Manticore or Grayson, (a lot more, for Grayson at least) but is still an improvement.


It had taken her months to get used to the very notion of having a "steward" of her own, admiral or no admiral, because such "elitist" institutions had been among the first casualties of Rob Pierre's systematic efforts to eradicate all traces of the old Legislaturalist officer corps. A part of Foraker had rebelled against the restoration of the old officer corps' privileges, and she was just as happy Theisman had refused to reinstate at least half of them. But she'd also been forced to admit that assigning stewards to commanding officers and flag officers actually made an awful lot of sense.


Haven is using stewards again.


"You know, much as I loathed and despised the Committee of Public Safety, I have to admit Pierre and his cronies actually accomplished some good. Like the way they eventually managed to turn the economy around for one, and the way they broke the Legislaturalists' stranglehold on the officer corps, for another. Under the old regime, someone like Anders would never have gotten a commission. Which would have been an enormous loss."


I really wonder, given how much reform Pierre and his group set out to accomplish before entrenching against counter-coup and insurrection, just how much of the current regime would be possible without Pierre's spadework in fixing the economy and education.


"But whether we like it or not, we still have to decide how we're going to respond. Obviously, my original concerns about coming out into the open too soon and panicking the Manties into doing something hasty still apply. On the other hand, you've done much better than I'd hoped at tweaking the production queue. How many Sovereigns are you projecting by the end of this quarter?"

"Assuming we don't hit any more bottlenecks, I believe we'll be looking at right on sixty-six of them, Sir," she told him with simple, well justified pride. "We have thirty-eight currently in full commission, with another sixteen in various stages of working up, and the yard is supposed to hand a dozen more over to us next month."


So almost a match for Maticoran podnought numbers already.


"And the Astra class?"

"As you know, we haven't assigned them quite the same priority the superdreadnoughts have had, Sir. And Commander Clapp came up with a few LAC modifications we decided were worth retrofitting to the completed birds as well as incorporating in those still on the production line, which has slowed things still further. We have about thirty of the Astras either in commission or working up, but we don't have complete LAC groups to put aboard them. And the same shortage of LACs is putting a crimp into our training schedule, as well. I don't think we could deploy more than twenty, or possibly two dozen, by the end of the quarter."


And 20-24 CLACs. Astra must be the most generic name for a starship, ever.


"What I'm hoping is that we can keep you and Bolthole under wraps for at least one additional quarter, possibly two, but I don't think we can hope for much more than that. And, in a worst-case scenario, we may have to go public this quarter.

He saw her slightly puzzled expression and waved one hand.

"If Secretary Giancola creates a situation in which he and the President and the rest of the Cabinet end up on opposite sides of a public debate, I don't want him dropping any bombshells about our new and improved military posture. Not out of the blue, anyway. I can't be positive, but I suspect that he's at least considering the advantages of suddenly revealing the capabilities of the ships you've been building and working up out here.


It's possible, of course. And something it's reasonable for him and Prichart to worry about.


"The Manties clearly don't have any serious interest in negotiating a treaty which would return any of our occupied planets. There's some disagreement as to why that should be true. I personally tend to agree with General Usher over at FIA—that they could care less about hanging onto our territory except for the political advantages it secures the High Ridge crowd domestically—but other people have different theories. Including, I'm afraid, quite a few of the analysts at FIS . . . and at NavInt, for that matter."

-snip-

"The people who disagree with General Usher tend to fall into two main camps," Theisman told her. "One group, which agrees with Secretary Giancola's position and probably represents the largest number of dissidents, believes the Manticoran government intends to hang onto the occupied planets indefinitely. Their view is that Descroix's refusal to respond to any of our proposals or to make any serious offers of her own is simply a ploy to waste time until they've properly prepared public opinion in the Star Kingdom to accept outright annexation of at least some of the occupied planets. For the most part, they point to Trevor's Star as their example, although at least some of them will admit that the junction terminus makes that system a special case. A much smaller percentage will even admit that the way the Legislaturalists and StateSec treated the San Martinos made the system even more of a special case. I personally can't see any Manticoran government pursuing any sort of territory-grabbing policy across the board, but I suppose it would be stupid to completely rule out the possibility. Especially if there were to the some sort of drastic change in the Manties' internal political dynamics.

"The second group who disagrees with General Usher's analysis doesn't bother its head with imputing any deep, conspiratorial machinations to the Manties. They're still locked into the mindset that the Manties are our natural and inevitable enemies. I don't know how much of that is left over from old Public Information propaganda and how much of it's simply the result of how long we've been at war with the Star Kingdom. Whatever the origin of their beliefs, though, they're either unwilling or unable to consider the possibility of a lasting peace with the Manties. So in their view, of course the Star Kingdom has no interest in negotiating seriously with us. All that High Ridge and Descroix are doing is killing time before the war between us inevitably breaks out again."


Uh huh. These are less reasonable things to worry about. For goodness' sake, the new bosses are the ones most opposed to either the military or "dangerous foreign adventures."


"If they seriously anticipated resuming combat operations," she pointed out, "they certainly wouldn't be delaying construction of the ships they'd need to fight the war. They may not realize that by doing so they're giving us an opportunity to build up a counterweight, but even assuming our security has held as well as we hope, they'd want as great a margin of superiority as they could get. Remember, their Eighth Fleet was the only real spearhead they had, and now that they've deactivated it and reassigned its wall to Third Fleet—not to mention scrapping and mothballing their pre-pod wall of battle so enthusiastically—their "spearhead" is a lot shorter than it was. As I see it, the fact that they're busy systematically reducing their margin of superiority even over the wall of battle we hope they think is all we have is the best possible indication that they think the war is effectively over."


Which is a fine point.


"I see." Theisman regarded her for a moment. "And I think I generally agree with you, as well. But tell me, Shannon—if the Manties did plan on retaining all of the occupied planets and systems, would you be in favor of resuming operations against them if what you've been building out here really does level the tactical balance?"

-snip-

"Do you know, Sir, I never really thought that hard about it. But now that you ask, I think probably I would be in favor." She shook her head, obviously bemused by her own conclusion. "I never thought I'd say that, but it's true. Maybe part of it's patriotism, and maybe part of it's a desire for revenge—to get some of our own back after how completely they kicked our butts. And much as I hate to admit it, maybe part of it's a desire to see how my new hardware would actually perform."


But she'd still do it, and Shannon is one of the people least likely to support war with Manticore.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-06-05 03:11pm

Ahriman238 wrote:
Of course, "close" was a relative term aboard something the size of Sovereign of Space. The superdreadnought was the next best thing to nine million tons of battle steel and armor. She was also the first unit of the biggest and most powerful class of warships the Republic of Haven had ever built, although it probably wouldn't hold that distinction for long. The plans for the follow on Temeraire class were well into the final approval stage, and if things stayed on schedule, the first Temeraire would be laid down here at Bolthole within the next three or four months, for completion in another thirty-six. Which might have been a considerably longer building time than someone like the Manties would have required, but still represented an enormous decrease in construction times for Haven . . . much of which was the work of one Vice Admiral Shannon Foraker and her staff.
Wow, two classes of SD(P)s. Also it takes them three years to build an SD, which is more time than it takes Manticore or Grayson, (a lot more, for Grayson at least) but is still an improvement.
This parallels the Manticoran arrangement: Manticore has the Medusas and Invictuses. Haven has their lead Sovereign class (design work on that may have started even before the Theisman coup), and a followup class that is more thoroughly refined and improved upon in the Temeraires.

I really wonder, given how much reform Pierre and his group set out to accomplish before entrenching against counter-coup and insurrection, just how much of the current regime would be possible without Pierre's spadework in fixing the economy and education.
Very little; Weber's said as much.

Uh huh. These are less reasonable things to worry about. For goodness' sake, the new bosses are the ones most opposed to either the military or "dangerous foreign adventures."
Well yes, but how can an outsider know that? Besides, the Havenites have plenty of experience with nominally 'democratic' governments that are in fact full of corrupt oligarchic families who routinely engage in naked land grabs on other people's planets. Their own government worked that way just fifteen years ago.

So assuming that Manticore might actually be trying to keep the territory it grabbed during the war isn't entirely unreasonable. To some people, it might even seem more plausible than the truth, which is "High Ridge and friends are idiots who effectively have no foreign policy, except insofar as foreign policy decisions impact their domestic policy objectives."

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-06-08 11:26pm

She wasn't running through her practice katas, nor was she working out against a human partner. No, she was going all out in a full-contact bout against the humanoid training remote she'd had specially built, and it was pushing her hard.


Honor has a personalized training robot. Just like Darth Vader.

Now that I think about it.... she's got an impressive number of cybernetic parts, practices archaic swordsmanship skills, is a skilled pilot, hot-tempered direct and impatient particularly where self-involved politicians are concerned, has special empathic powers no one else she interacts with regularly does, is widely feared in some parts of the galaxy, has a close personal and working relationship with an empress, cuts an impressive figure in black and is significantly taller than everyone else. It all makes sense now, that's how she was able to beat Burdette so easily.



For all its savage power, that ferocious, left-handed blow was delivered with lethal precision, and the fact that it was her left hand made its precision even more remarkable, because that hand was no longer human. He suspected that no one, outside her therapists (and probably Andrew LaFollet), would ever know how hard she'd had to work to master the replacement for the arm she'd lost on Cerberus. But he knew few people ever learned how to use a powered prosthesis as naturally as the organic limb it had replaced or to regain the true full range of motion, and the process took many years for those who did manage it.

Honor had done it in little more than three . . . and done it well enough to not merely regain her old form at coup de vitesse, but to actually attain the next rank of mastery.


Honor's fanatic regime of exercise and practice has let her master her prosthetic arm enough to step back into the ring.


Of course, the prosthesis did provide a few unusual advantages. For one thing, it was several times more powerful than natural flesh and bone. There were limits to what she could do with that strength, because her shoulder had been undamaged when she lost her arm, and the natural limitations of that joint dictated how much stress she could exert. But the fact that "her" left arm was far stronger than any arm had any business being was dramatically—one might almost have said gruesomely—evident when the back of the training remote's "skull" deformed under the force of her blow and the entire head flopped forward in a disturbingly realistic representation of a snapped neck.


So few people think of the shoulder and back, and the stresses a superstrong arm places on them.


Remotes like Honor's were rare. That was primarily due to their expense, but it also reflected the fact that they could be dangerous. In fact, they could be deadly. Like Honor's prosthetic arm, their maximum strength was far greater than that of any human, even a genetically-modified heavy-worlder like Honor Harrington, and their reflexes were much faster. Any training remote came equipped with governors and software inhibitors intended to protect the user, but it was ultimately the responsibility of the person training against one of them to determine its actual settings. More than one human being had been seriously injured, or even killed, as a consequence. No remote had ever "gone berserk," but they performed precisely as their owners instructed them to, and sometimes those owners made mistakes when they specified performance levels.


Honor's armsmen do not like the training bot. Even if one has never gone berserk, people have gotten hurt messing with the speed and strength controls.


There was too much going on, too many pressures and impossible demands, for Honor to sort out what was happening, but she felt Samantha reaching out. Stretching. There was no word in any human language for what the 'cat was doing in that instant, and Honor knew she would never be able to truly explain it even to herself, yet she had an instant of warning, a brief flash of awareness. Just long enough for her to cry out, although she would never know whether it was in protesting horror or in shared joy.

It didn't really matter which it was. She could no more have stopped what was happening than she could have halted Manticore in its orbit. Nothing could have stopped it, and she watched through three sets of eyes—hers, Nimitz's, and above all, Samantha's—as Hamish Alexander's head turned towards the 'cat. As astonishment and disbelief flared in those ice-blue eyes and he reached out a hand just as Samantha hurled herself from the floor into his arms with a high, ringing bleek of joy.


White Haven bonds with Samantha, the first time a second human bonds with a treecat. Then again, it's rare for treecats to survive the death of their first bonded, I think Samantha may be the first, and that only because she had Nimitz.


Except in very special cases, like that of Prince Consort Justin and Monroe, the 'cat who had previously adopted Elizabeth's father, treecats recognized "their" people within seconds, minutes at the outside, of first meeting. Monroe had been all but comatose, shattered and almost totally destroyed by King Roger's death, the first time Justin entered his proximity after the assassination. He'd been truly aware of nothing, not even the grieving family of his murdered person, until the traitor responsible for the King's death came foolishly within his reach, intent on murdering Justin, as well. The intense emotional shock he and the future Prince Consort had shared in fighting off the killer's attack had dragged Monroe back from the brink of extinction and forged the adoption bond between them.

But unless the 'cat half of a bond was literally at death's door, he always recognized the unfulfilled . . . polarity of the human meant to become his other half. Only Samantha hadn't. She'd met Hamish scores of times, without so much as twitching a whisker in any sort of recognition.


Ah. Nevermind then.


If someone had given her ten years to think about it, she couldn't possibly have come up with something better calculated to make everything immeasurably worse. When the newsies heard about this, any trace of momentum the attacks upon her and White Haven might have lost would return tenfold.

Even now, after the 'cats had been "talking" for almost four T-years, much of the Manticoran public continued to regard them as little more than pets, or, at most, very young children. The notion that they were a fully sentient species with an ancient, sophisticated society, might have been accepted intellectually, but it would be decades yet before that acceptance replaced the earlier general view of treecats as adorable, fluffy animals.

Which meant it would be all too easy for the character assassins to convince people that the only reason Samantha was with White Haven was because Honor had given her to him. Efforts to explain what had really happened would be dismissed with a knowing, leering wink as nothing more than a clumsy pretext, a maneuver the seductress Harrington had concocted as a cover to let her stay close to the object of her adulterous affair.


Treecat-human relations still have a long way to go.


Oh, it covered more ground than Harrington House did on Grayson, but that was because it had been built on a planet friendly to humans, not one where humanity's most deadly enemy was the planetary environment itself. It could afford to sprawl comfortably over the gently rolling slopes of its grounds, and its low wings, none of them more than two stories tall, seemed to invite visitors to join it. It was made of native stone, with the immensely thick walls the first-wave colonists had used as insulation against the harsh winter climate of these northern latitudes, and it possessed a certain imposing presence, despite the fact that its oldest, central block had obviously been designed and built before its owners realized they were about to become nobles. It was only a little more ostentatious than an extremely large and rambling, extended farmhouse, but it didn't really need to be anything more impressive than that, and subsequent generations had been wise enough to insist that their architects coordinate the centuries of expansion with the original, simple structure. Other noble families had possessed less wisdom, and all too many of their family seats had become hodgepodges of architectural cacophony as a result.


Architecture of Manticoran noble houses.


"You and Hamish—and I—have been made the victims of a concerted, vicious attack. One that depends for success on innuendo and hypocrisy in the service of the belief that the end justifies any means whatsoever. And ugly as it may be, and for all the potential for public opinion to recoil on the accusers in disgust, it's unfortunately effective. Because it relies on the knife in the back rather than open confrontation, it can never be answered by reasoned argument or proof of innocence, however genuine and however convincingly presented. Even if you and Hamish were having an affair, which I don't for a moment believe you are, it ought to be your business. And mine, perhaps, but no one else's. Yet even though almost anyone in the Star Kingdom would agree with that statement in the abstract, by now it's completely useless as a defense. You realize that, don't you?"

"Yes." Honor nodded again, stroking Nimitz's silky pelt.

"I don't know that there is a defense, really," Emily said frankly. "It's always harder to prove a negative, and the more you two or your surrogates deny the lies being told about you, the more a certain portion of the electorate will believe them. Worse, all of the Government newsfaxes and commentators are beginning to take it as a given that you're guilty as charged. Very soon now, they won't even bother to argue the case any longer. The assumption of guilt will simply be there, in everything they write or say, and the taint will cling despite anything you can do."


Looks like they're losing the PR war.


"But the key to their entire position is to portray me as a 'wronged woman' as the result of your alleged actions. The public's anger has been generated not because you and Hamish might have had an affair, but because Hamish and I married in the Church, in a sacrament we've never renounced or altered which pledged us to honor a monogamous marriage. And because you're a naval officer, not a registered courtesan. If you were an RC, the public might resent any relationship between you and Hamish on my behalf, but no one would consider that either of you had 'betrayed' me or our marriage. But you aren't an RC, and that lets them portray any affair between the two of you as a direct attack upon me. You and he have already issued statements of denial, and you were wise to let those initial statements stand without the sort of repeated denials which so many people would consider little more than sure proof of guilt. You were also wise to avoid the rather disgusting tactic of claiming that even if you'd been guilty, 'everyone' does it. I know some of your advisors must have suggested that approach as a way to brush off the seriousness of your alleged offense, but any move in that direction would have been tantamount to admitting that the charges were justified. Yet even though you've issued your denials with dignity and as calmly and effectively as you possibly could have, they haven't been enough. So I believe it's time to move to the next level of counterattack."


Apparently if Honor were a licensed prostitute, the public would be a lot more forgiving with the idea of Hamish cheating on his wife, Interesting.


She knew Hamish Alexander loved her. She knew she loved Hamish Alexander. And she knew Hamish and Emily loved each other, and that all three of them were determined not to hurt the others.

And none of it did a bit of good, because whatever they did, whatever happened, someone was going to be hurt. And looming over that deep immediate and personal dread of pain to come was the chilling knowledge of how many other people would be affected by what ought to be their deeply personal decisions.


Spoiler, it actually works out pretty well.


"If they can't digest it, and if it, um, clogs their systems, then why do they all love it so much?" Emily asked.

"That was something that puzzled every human who ever studied 'cats," Honor said. "So once they learned to sign, we asked them, of course." She shrugged. "Part of their answer was exactly what you might have expected—they love the way it tastes. Think of the most chocolate-addicted human being you've ever met, then cube her craving, and you'll start closing in on just how much they love it. But that's only part of the reason. The other is that there's a trace compound in Sphinxian celery that they need."

"In Sphinxian celery?" Emily repeated.

"They love the taste of any celery from anywhere," Honor told her. "But back when humans first came to the Manticore System, we had to make some minor adjustments in our Old Terran flora and fauna before we introduced them into their new environments. As," she added in a dust-dry tone, gesturing briefly at herself, "we've done with human beings themselves, in a few other cases. We didn't do anything really drastic in the case of Sphinx, but a few minor genetic changes were designed into most of the Old Terran food plants to prevent the fixing of elements we didn't need in our diet and to discourage some particularly persistent local parasites and the plant diseases they carry. The basic idea was to get the genegineered plants to manufacture and store a Sphinxian organic compound that's harmless to humans but serves as a natural insect repellant. It worked in all of them, but better in some than in others, and it was most effective of all in celery, of all things. The version in the descendants of the modified Old Terran plants is slightly different from that which occurs in the native flora, sort of a hybrid. But it appears to be either necessary or extremely beneficial to the maintenance of the 'cats' empathic and telepathic senses."

"But where did they get it from before we came along with our celery?" Emily demanded.

"There's a Sphinxian plant that produces the native plants' version of the same compound. They call it 'purple thorn,' and they've known about it forever. But it's scarce and hard to find, and, frankly, they say celery just tastes a whole lot better." Honor shrugged again. "And that, it turns out, is the answer to the Great Celery Theft Mystery which first brought humans and treecats together."


By accident, a psychic booster was placed in gene-tweaked Sphinxian celery, which may be partially indigestible but is way tastier and more common than the plant they normally get it from.


"One thing which does seem to be clear, however, is that 'cats simply aren't innovators. Their heads don't work that way—or, at least, they haven't in the past. I suppose it's possible that that will change, now that they've begun interacting so much more fully with humans in general. But traditionally, 'cats who're capable of new insights or of conceptualizing new ways to do things have been very, very rare. That's one reason treecat society tends to have been extraordinarily stable, and also the reason that it seems to be difficult for them, as a species, to change their minds once they've embarked upon a consensual policy or way to do things."

-snip-

"But if they produce a limited number of innovators," she continued instead, "they have at least one huge offsetting advantage when it comes to promoting change. Once any 'cat figures out something new, the new knowledge can be very rapidly transmitted to all other treecats."

"Telepathy." White Haven nodded, blue eyes bright. "They just 'tell' each other about it!"

"Not quite,"


They have "memory-singers" who serve as keepers of lore, able to form deep connections to record a 'cat's memories and widely distribute them even thousands of years later in perfect clarity.


It was all about timing, Honor thought as the guests filed into the banquet annex to Queen Caitrin's Hall. It was remotely possible that there was someone here tonight who was naive enough to believe Hamish and Emily had just happened to arrive immediately behind her, or that Elizabeth and Emily's nephew had just happened to join the three of them—well, five, with Nimitz and Samantha—where every single guest could see them. It was even possible that that same naive someone might think it was pure coincidence that her own title took precedence over every other guest present except the Duke of Manticore. That "coincidence" just happened to seat Honor to the Queen's left and the duke to the Queen's right . . . and the fact that the entire function was officially in honor of Emily's birthday and that Emily was "family" had given Elizabeth the perfect excuse for seating her and her husband at the same table, despite the fact that Hamish was "only" an earl. Which just happened to put Honor and Emily right next to one another where every single guest could see how naturally and cheerfully they spoke with one another.


The subtler argument against the HRG's attack.


The Tactical Department's D'Orville Hall home boasted every modern electronic teaching aid known to man. Its simulators could re-create anything from the flight deck of a pinnace to the combat information center of a superdreadnought task force flagship, and reproduce all of the sights and sounds of the most horrific combat. The online teaching interfaces could put an instructor face to face with a single student, a group of two or three, or a class literally of hundreds. Those same interfaces made reference works, histories, lecture notes, syllabuses, official after action reports, analyses of past campaigns, and class schedules instantly available to students, as well as delivering student course work and exams equally instantly to instructors.

Saganami Island made full and efficient use of all those capabilities. Yet the Royal Manticoran Navy was a great believer in tradition, as well, and at least once per week, lecture courses met physically in their assigned lecture halls. Honor was perfectly willing to admit that the tradition was scarcely the most modern possible way to transmit knowledge, but that was fine with her. As she herself had discovered as a child, too great a reliance on the electronic classroom could deprive a student of the social interaction which was also a part of the educational process. The electronic format could serve as a shield, a barricade behind which a student could hide or even pretend to be someone else entirely . . . sometimes even to herself. That might not constitute a serious drawback in the education of civilians, but Navy and Marine officers couldn't afford walls of self-deception about who and what they were any more than they could afford to leave their social skills underdeveloped. Their professional responsibilities required them not only to interact with others in a corporate, hierarchical service, but to exude confidence and competence when exercising command in situations in which their ability to lead quite literally might make the difference between life and death. Or, even more importantly sometimes, between success or failure. That was the major reason Saganami Island relentlessly stressed traditions and procedures which forced midshipmen and midshipwomen to deal with one another, and with their superiors and instructors, face to face, in the flesh.


Saganami island courses are largely online, but meet for real at least once a week.


Emily Alexander's counterattack had rolled up the High Ridge machine's campaign of slander like a rug, especially when the Queen got behind it and pushed. One or two of the most bitterly partisan 'faxes and commentators continued the attack, but the vast majority had dropped it like a hot rock once Emily's intervention reversed the poll numbers virtually overnight. The abrupt simultaneity with which the campaign had been terminated by almost all participants should have been a flare-lit tipoff to any unbiased observer that it had been carefully coordinated from the beginning, too. Only a command from above could have shut down so many strident voices so instantly. And only people whose deep, principled concern over the "fundamental questions" being beaten to death had been completely artificial from the outset would have abandoned those principles with such alacrity when they became inconvenient.

But if the attack had been beaten back, it hadn't been defeated without leaving scars. The Grayson public, for example, remained furious that it had ever been mounted in the first place. That would have bothered Honor under any circumstances, but the opposition Keys in the Conclave of Steadholders had seized upon it as an additional weapon in their struggle to roll back Benjamin IX's political power. Their persistent attacks on the Manticoran Alliance—or, rather, on the wisdom of Grayson's remaining bound to that Alliance—had been sufficiently unremitting before the allegations of infidelity ever saw the light of day. That opposition to the Alliance had survived even the execution for treason of Steadholder Mueller, who'd first put it forward, and the inexcusable and stupid arrogance with which the High Ridge Government had treated its allies had lent it a dangerous strength since. Now those same steadholders saw the attacks on Honor as yet another weapon with which to bolster their argument, and the fact that so many of them hated her as the symbol of the "Mayhew Restoration" which they loathed with all their hearts only gave them a sense of bitter, ironic satisfaction when they reached for it.


They survived, but Honor's polticial enemies on Grayson made a lot of hay out of anti-Manticoran sentiment.


"I've been doing some additional . . . research on Harrington and White Haven," the countess replied. "It hasn't been easy. In fact, it's been impossible to get anyone inside Harrington's household or inner circle. Her security is provided entirely by her Steadholder's Guard, with backup from the Palace Guard Service, and it's the next best thing to impenetrable. Not to mention the fact that she herself seems to have a damnable ability to 'read' the people around her. I've never seen anything like it.

"Fortunately, White Haven isn't quite that tough a nut. He maintains excellent security on the sensitive materials he receives as a member of the Naval Affairs Committee, and his people are almost as loyal as Harrington's. But they're not as security conscious about, ah . . . household matters as hers are. I wasn't able to put anyone actually inside his or his wife's quarters, but I did manage to get a few listening devices into the servant's quarters. And some of his people let much more slip than they thought they did when someone asked them the right questions."


Honor and Hamish's relative security levels, Georgia Young knows now how close they really came to be being right.


High Ridge and Janacek looked uncomfortable at her deliberate reminder of precisely what it was she did for them. The calm, matter-of-fact way she discussed spying on their political opponents made both of them uneasy, if only because of their awareness of the consequences if they were caught at it. Such privacy violations were illegal for anyone, but the fines and even jail time violators could draw would have been minor considerations beside the devastating public opinion damage awaiting any politician who got caught actually bugging his opponents. And what would have been bad enough for any political figure would be even worse for one of the leaders of the current Government, which was supposed to be in charge of stopping anyone from committing such acts.


Spying is frowned upon in polite society. I think this is generally so.


"To make a long story short, My Lord, both White Haven and Harrington, but especially Harrington, appear to be under enormous emotional and, to some extent at least, political pressure, regardless of the current turnaround in the poll numbers. And I've analyzed both of their records. You can't produce enough pressure to make Harrington flinch from what she believes her duty requires of her under any conceivable set of circumstances . . . except one. You can shoot at her, blow her up, threaten her with assassination, or tell her her principles are political suicide, and she'll spit in your eye. But if you can convince her that something she wants or needs threatens to undermine what she believes her duty requires of her, that's something else entirely. She'll back away from whatever it is, even shut down completely, rather than 'selfishly' pursue her own interests. And once her emotions are fully engaged, once it's become personal for her, all of the 'Salamander's' decisiveness tends to disappear.

-snip-

"The key here is that she won't evade anything unless there's an 'honorable' way to do it," the countess said. "She may be able to rationalize her way into choosing a way out from among several possible courses of action, but not simply to save herself. There has to be a reason. There has to be something that needs doing, and that she can be convinced—or that she can convince herself—is also her responsibility. Give her an honorable task, a responsibility, especially one that's likely to demand some sacrifice on her part, and the odds are considerably better than even that she'll take it."

"What sort of 'responsibility' did you have in mind?" Descroix arched an eyebrow. "Personally, I can't think of a single thing Harrington would feel compelled to do for any of us—except, perhaps, to pump a little more hydrogen into the furnaces in Hell while we roasted over them!"

"Actually," Reginald Houseman said, speaking up for the first time, "I believe we may have just the job for her. In fact, it's rather like one she was offered once before. She accepted that one, and it almost killed her."

He smiled with an ugly vengefulness he would never have allowed any other audience, and especially not his fellow Liberals, to see.

"Who knows? Maybe this time we'll be luckier."


The HRG has figured that Honor tends to run away from nebulous political and personal problems, particularly where her personal needs conflict with her duty as she understands it. Hence sending her to Silesia again, giving her an excuse to run out on Hamish and sort out her feelings while taking her away from the seat of power.


Honor and Admiral Draskovic had never met before Sir Edward Janacek returned as First Lord of Admiralty. Since then, they'd crossed swords twice, and Draskovic had not enjoyed either of her appearances before the House of Lords' Naval Affairs Committee one bit. She owed most of that lack of enjoyment to one Duchess Harrington, who'd turned up for the first one armed with her own analysis of the personnel figures included in the current naval estimates. The bare numbers Draskovic had reported to Parliament hadn't exactly been a lie, but the way she'd presented them had been. And Honor had not only caught her in the act but given the admiral enough rope to hang herself before she produced the actual breakdown between active duty and half-pay personnel.

It had not been Draskovic's best day, and her second appearance had been little better. She hadn't been caught in any lies that time, but Honor's devastating, relentless questions had driven her into near incoherence trying to defend basically indefensible Admiralty policy. She'd looked like a total incompetent—an amateur, competing out of her class—and she'd resented her humiliation even more because, unlike Honor, she'd always been one of the coterie of "political" admirals who'd made their careers out of negotiating the halls of political patronage. Which was undoubtedly the reason she held her present position.

Now it was Draskovic's turn to pay Honor back. As Fifth Space Lord, decisions on personnel assignments were ultimately her responsibility, and those assignments included things like the staff officers and flag captains assigned to fleet and task force commanders. The Royal Navy tradition was that a flag officer being sent out to command one of the Service's fleet stations had broad authority to select her own choices for those positions. The Bureau of Personnel had to sign off on her nominees, but that was only a formality. Traditionally, the only limiting factor was the availability of the officers in question, but Draskovic clearly wasn't a great believer in tradition. Especially not when ignoring it let her get her own back on someone who'd helped her humiliate herself so thoroughly.


The RMN tradition is that commanding officers pick their officers and if they're not doing anything more pressing, BuPers approval is a rubberstamp. But each admiral in the Janacek Admiralty guards their fief zealously and Honor has publicly embarrassed this woman so...


"Meaning that I'm as aware as you are—or, as aware as Sir Edward Janacek is, for that matter—that this command wasn't offered to me because of the enormous respect in which the current Admiralty administration holds me. It was given to me in no small part as a deliberate maneuver contrived to remove me from the political equation here in the Star Kingdom."

Draskovic sat abruptly back in her chair, her expression stunned. Clearly, she hadn't anticipated Honor's bareknuckled attitude, and the thinnest possible edge of true humor crept into Honor's smile as she tasted the other woman's astonishment. The fact that Honor had never once played the political game in her own career didn't mean she hadn't known how it was played, though it appeared that possibility had never crossed Draskovic's mind. But if Honor was going to play it at last, she would play it her way—head on, and damn the consequences. Let Draskovic react to it however she wished; they were never going to be anything except enemies, anyway.

"It was also given to me," she continued in that same, chill tone, "because of Silesia's potential to turn into a major catastrophe. You may have believed I was unaware of the fact that this Admiralty is willing to deliberately select a flag officer with the express intention of making her the scapegoat if our relations with the Andermani collapse. If you did, you were in error.

"So under the circumstances, Admiral Draskovic, any violence your sense of authority may have suffered as a consequence of my attitude leaves me completely unmoved. You and I both know that the only reason my personnel requests are 'impossible to meet' is that you chose to deny me the traditional prerogatives of a station commander out of a petty sense of spite. I can't prevent you from abusing your authority in that manner, Admiral. But if you choose to continue to deny my requests, then I'm very much afraid you're going to have to inform the First Lord that it will be impossible for me to accept the command after all."


Honor's dealing with Draskovic.


"Well, I can't say I'm going to miss Trevor's Star, Ma'am. It's a perfectly nice star system, and the San Martinos are perfectly nice people, but there's not a whole lot to do there except drill. And I hope you know without my saying it how pleased and flattered I am by the assignment. It's really good to see you again, and having you fly your lights aboard Werewolf—Well, that's something the entire ship's company was delighted to hear about."


Honor's new flagship is HMS Werewolf, a CLAC from the monster name. Commanding officer, Rafe Cardones.


"I'm not comfortable about the sources our assessments are apparently based on, either," she went on. "ONI is always reticent about naming sources, and rightly so. But from reading between the lines, and especially from looking at what isn't there to be read at all, it looks to me like our human resources are thin on the ground in both Silesia and the Empire right now. Admiral Jurgensen has assured me that my concerns in that area were unnecessary, and I certainly don't have any hard evidence that he was wrong. But I've deployed to Silesia several times, Rafe, and there's a distinctly different feel between these assessments and the ones my captains or I were given then. I can't explain the difference exactly, but they feel . . . unfinished. Incomplete.


The benefit of making stuff up, it's cheaper than paying spies.


The official Foreign Office position at this moment is that the Andies themselves aren't certain just what they have in mind. That they're testing the waters, as it were, with these shows of force around Sidemore Station. The official opinion is that the Empire's position hasn't yet hardened, and that there's an opportunity for us to shape the ultimate Andermani intentions by demonstrating 'firmness and consistency.' "

"Excuse me, Ma'am," Cardones said, "but have any of these Foreign Office types ever actually been to Silesia? Or the Empire?"


The Foreign Office policy line.


"I'll concede that the Emperor tends to exercise very direct control of the Empire's policy. For that matter, my own opinion is that he probably knows exactly what it is he has in mind. Unfortunately, he's always been a bit on the unpredictable side


Apparently the Andermani Emperor has considerable power to dictate policy.


"I wouldn't worry about it, though. While Admiral Draskovic and I were discussing other personnel assignments, I requested a new COLAC for you. I believe you know him. A Captain Jay-Gee . . . Tremaine, I think it was."

"Scotty? You got Scotty for me?" Cardones' white teeth flashed in an immense grin. "Dare I hope that you got me Harkness, as well?"

"Where one of them goes, the other is certain to turn up," Honor said dryly.


And Scotty will be their COLAC.


"And who else did you get for us, if I may ask?"

"Well, let's see. I got a task group commander named Truman, and another one named McKeon." Honor looked up at the ceiling and rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "And at my urgent request, High Admiral Matthews has agreed to release a Commodore Brigham to serve as my chief of staff. And for an ops officer, I got Captain Andrea Jaruwalski. I don't know if you know her, but she's good, Rafe. Very good. Oh, and I got Fritz Montoya as our senior medical officer, too." She shrugged. "There may be—oh, one or two other officers I specifically requested, but those are the high spots."


Brigham and Jaruwalski are more recent, but otherwise this will be a grand reunion of the old Fearless crew and Alice Truman. Seriously though, Truman commanded the first carrier, and later the first carrier group under White Haven, and was the woman (with help from Honor) devising LAC doctrine. That she's available for any old assignment is a criminal waste of skill and experience.
"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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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-06-09 02:55am

Ahriman238 wrote:Honor has a personalized training robot. Just like Darth Vader.

Now that I think about it.... she's got an impressive number of cybernetic parts, practices archaic swordsmanship skills, is a skilled pilot, hot-tempered direct and impatient particularly where self-involved politicians are concerned, has special empathic powers no one else she interacts with regularly does, is widely feared in some parts of the galaxy, has a close personal and working relationship with an empress, cuts an impressive figure in black and is significantly taller than everyone else. It all makes sense now, that's how she was able to beat Burdette so easily.
:D

"Like Darth Vader, only prettier."

Honor had done it in little more than three . . . and done it well enough to not merely regain her old form at coup de vitesse, but to actually attain the next rank of mastery.
Honor's fanatic regime of exercise and practice has let her master her prosthetic arm enough to step back into the ring.[/quote]

So few people think of the shoulder and back, and the stresses a superstrong arm places on them.
True. You wind up with the grip strength from Hell, but there's a very real risk of pulling or dislocating something if you strike, push, or pull at full strength.

Then again, Honorverse medical technology might well make such injuries less of a serious problem.

Honor's armsmen do not like the training bot. Even if one has never gone berserk, people have gotten hurt messing with the speed and strength controls.
Also, we can deduce from this that the technology exists in the Honorverse to make extremely nasty combat robots: just build one of these training remotes, but with guns built in. If I can make a robot that's faster and better than (almost?) any human at karate, I can build one that will be hell on wheels in a firefight.

Apparently if Honor were a licensed prostitute, the public would be a lot more forgiving with the idea of Hamish cheating on his wife, Interesting.
Hm. They don't have quite the same cultural thing that, say, the Alliance from Firefly has about Companions. But Manticore does seem to have this idea that a strictly professional relationship revolving around sexual services is... not quite the same thing as an emotionally intimate relationship.

Especially in a case like Lord and Lady Alexander's, where a sexual relationship within their marriage is pretty much precluded by Emily's injuries. Most religious cultures would be stern enough to demand however many decades of chastity out of Hamish that his marriage lasts; Manticoran society does not. Not strictly.

The HRG has figured that Honor tends to run away from nebulous political and personal problems, particularly where her personal needs conflict with her duty as she understands it. Hence sending her to Silesia again, giving her an excuse to run out on Hamish and sort out her feelings while taking her away from the seat of power.
I'd partially forgotten this rationale. Come to think of it... hm.

She avoided interpersonal problems with her XO at Basilisk to the point where it began to actively impede the functioning of her ship, she 'ran off' to Casca and took most of the task force with her on convoy escort rather than confront Grayson sexism during the prewar diplomatic mission to Grayson, she left for semi-exile in Grayson rather than stay in Manticore and lobby for the resumption of her RMN naval career after her duel with Young, and she more or less jumped back into active RMN service in command of a cruiser squadron when she started hitting it off with White Haven and knew they'd be seeing each other again.

Granted, at least some of those decisions to avoid an interpersonal problem may have been the right decision. But it actually is a pattern of hers, and potentially a weakness.

Brigham and Jaruwalski are more recent, but otherwise this will be a grand reunion of the old Fearless crew and Alice Truman. Seriously though, Truman commanded the first carrier, and later the first carrier group under White Haven, and was the woman (with help from Honor) devising LAC doctrine. That she's available for any old assignment is a criminal waste of skill and experience.
Agreed. Honestly I think the help she got from Honor was minimal; she did most of the real work while Honor was a POW.

On a side note, Brigham was indeed a member of the old Fearless crew- sailing master. The only real newbie here is Jaruwalski, who's sort of like an adopted member of the family.

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Ahriman238
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-06-09 07:51am

Simon_Jester wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:
Of course, "close" was a relative term aboard something the size of Sovereign of Space. The superdreadnought was the next best thing to nine million tons of battle steel and armor. She was also the first unit of the biggest and most powerful class of warships the Republic of Haven had ever built, although it probably wouldn't hold that distinction for long. The plans for the follow on Temeraire class were well into the final approval stage, and if things stayed on schedule, the first Temeraire would be laid down here at Bolthole within the next three or four months, for completion in another thirty-six. Which might have been a considerably longer building time than someone like the Manties would have required, but still represented an enormous decrease in construction times for Haven . . . much of which was the work of one Vice Admiral Shannon Foraker and her staff.
Wow, two classes of SD(P)s. Also it takes them three years to build an SD, which is more time than it takes Manticore or Grayson, (a lot more, for Grayson at least) but is still an improvement.
This parallels the Manticoran arrangement: Manticore has the Medusas and Invictuses. Haven has their lead Sovereign class (design work on that may have started even before the Theisman coup), and a followup class that is more thoroughly refined and improved upon in the Temeraires.


Right, Invictus class is mentioned in passing this book, but IIRC not explained or seen in detail until the next.

Short version for everyone who hasn't read these books before, the Invictus is the follow-up to the Medusa/Harringtons which made the radical choice of removing all broadside missile launchers. With space savings from this and the magazines, plus more frantic redesign, they were able to double the size of the pod bay, and increase their pod-count from 500 to 1,000. They also added 30 counter-missile launchers and 10 laser-clusters to each broadside, since vast missile swarms are now the norm.

I don't believe they saw any frontline duty in Buttercup, but either shortly before or since the war ended, they completed a dozen. Granted there are something like 70-80 lying in building slips in various stages of completion.


Simon_Jester wrote:
So few people think of the shoulder and back, and the stresses a superstrong arm places on them.
True. You wind up with the grip strength from Hell, but there's a very real risk of pulling or dislocating something if you strike, push, or pull at full strength.

Then again, Honorverse medical technology might well make such injuries less of a serious problem.


Eh, at the very least it's useful when the underlings lack faith in your abilities. I'm sure Honor fantasizes about choking the life out of certain politicos with her kung-fu grip. It's probably very useful for blocking, being far tougher than most people's arms, not getting into some of the bonus features. I'm more surprised that for years and years Honor's had problems with her artificial face nerves, and how the one side of her face always responds a fraction of a second slower than the natural one, but Honor's got her arm up to speed whether that's not an issue or she's trained to deal with the slight hesitation.


The HRG has figured that Honor tends to run away from nebulous political and personal problems, particularly where her personal needs conflict with her duty as she understands it. Hence sending her to Silesia again, giving her an excuse to run out on Hamish and sort out her feelings while taking her away from the seat of power.
I'd partially forgotten this rationale. Come to think of it... hm.

She avoided interpersonal problems with her XO at Basilisk to the point where it began to actively impede the functioning of her ship, she 'ran off' to Casca and took most of the task force with her on convoy escort rather than confront Grayson sexism during the prewar diplomatic mission to Grayson, she left for semi-exile in Grayson rather than stay in Manticore and lobby for the resumption of her RMN naval career after her duel with Young, and she more or less jumped back into active RMN service in command of a cruiser squadron when she started hitting it off with White Haven and knew they'd be seeing each other again.

Granted, at least some of those decisions to avoid an interpersonal problem may have been the right decision. But it actually is a pattern of hers, and potentially a weakness.


Right, naval matters an attacking fleet, a fight between two ratings and she's firm and decisive. Figuring out her relationship issues, she's not. Honor understands and accepts that this assignment is a trap, and probably a way to make her the scapegoat if things explode in Silesia. But she still takes the job so she can get some space and think things through regarding Ham.


Brigham and Jaruwalski are more recent, but otherwise this will be a grand reunion of the old Fearless crew and Alice Truman. Seriously though, Truman commanded the first carrier, and later the first carrier group under White Haven, and was the woman (with help from Honor) devising LAC doctrine. That she's available for any old assignment is a criminal waste of skill and experience.
Agreed. Honestly I think the help she got from Honor was minimal; she did most of the real work while Honor was a POW.

On a side note, Brigham was indeed a member of the old Fearless crew- sailing master. The only real newbie here is Jaruwalski, who's sort of like an adopted member of the family.


Mercedes Brigham! :banghead:

How could I forget?! Particularly after my frustration where we never found out what her job was on the ship, only that she's the sailing master, and the RMN has been steadily eliminating the position for over a decade by OBS.


Other than that, found a disturbing number of people LARPing in homemade Manticoran uniforms online. I didn't think the honorverse had that many or that dedicated fans. I saw some of the 'Tales of honor' comic book and found it... okay. There's ships blasting at each other from easily visible range, which shouldn't surprise anyone. The uniforms are wrong, which drove me a bit nuts, and I imagined Pavel Young as quite a bit fatter than he's shown here. Other than that, it's fine, not a lot happens.
"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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