Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-17 11:32pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:I'm guessing if Manty intelligence has a really good count on Peep ships that fled after the Theisman coup, and they never anticipated anything like the Battle of Torch, the remaining StateSec pirates must be pretty small time and not a major threat.
Well, suppose they know there ARE that many StateSec pirates out there (remember, it's been about seven years since the fall of the Committee of Public Safety). They would still expect most of those pirates to operate as pirates, not to suddenly form up into a full-sized naval flotilla and attack a civilian target which has nothing in particular to attract pirates.

That would have required some paymaster to organize them into a single cohesive whole... which the Alignment took some pains to make sure nobody knew it was doing.


Oh they absolutely weren't expecting that. I was more thinking though, that based purely on their knowledge of how many ships ran, and how many have been since destroyed, they know that Luff and the PNE were heavily reinforced, to the effect of more than half their ships. This implies to me that the remaining renegades couldn't fill half the list of ships that went to Torch.


Apparently the Manty intelligence apparatus is well-aware of Victor Cachat, at least after he pretty much threw together Torch out of odds and ends. Even the bloody Queen of Manticore knows who he is.
Especially the Queen. Remember, Ruth Winton is her niece, a very sharp, clever young woman. And Ruth was directly, personally, heavily involved in the operation to retake Torch, including being party to Victor's strategy sessions.

Even if the Manticoran intelligence services knew literally nothing about Cachat's involvement in the whole affair, Elizabeth III could have gotten precise, detailed information by the simple expedient of inviting her niece over for tea.


For that matter, it's not impossible she'd have heard of him in connection to the Manpower Incident.

Just to be sure, Grayson and the Andermani know of Honor's negotiations and if they aren't cheering in the streets, they didn't object. Mind, small as Honor's party is, you'd think there'd be room for each major Alliance partner to send a rep.
Honor IS a representative from the point of view of Grayson; she is higher-ranking and at least as thoroughly tied to the Steadholder as anyone he could reasonably spare to send there.


Point, I hadn't remotely thought of that.

Though, thinking of Frontier Fleet containing commerce raiders, I wonder if Manticore might not be forced to those tactics they've always despised in others to survive? The Solly internal trade must be massive, and it'd give something for even those aged light units to do between massive Solly fleets getting massacred.
Well, the main problem is that the older light RMN units can't reliably outfight Solarian warships on the scale that they might encounter in the commerce raiding operations. Frontier Fleet probably has more battlecruisers than the RMN has destroyers. Heck, it probably has more battlecruisers in service right now than the RMN has ever had destroyers, and we know that Manticore had built at least 1000 destroyers during its history even before King Roger's buildup kicked into high gear.


Maybe, but how much of these vast Solly forces engage in commerce protection? Even a little DD is death itself to an unescorted freighter.

"First, I want her to underestimate our actual combat power as badly as possible. I realize she's almost certainly already doing that, but let's encourage the tendency in every way we can.
That's going to be stupidly easy. Crandall is so armored from reality by her arrogance and contempt, I suspect she could find Eighth Fleet and the Protector's Own in full force defending Spindle, and she'd still sneer at the thought of neobarb 'toy boats' offering any threat to her command.
...Actually, I don't think she's that dumb. If she saw RMN superdreadnoughts she'd at least expect her own command to lose some ships. Her main mistake is that she thinks "Manticore has fourteen two-million-ton 'battlecruisers.'" and weighs that in terms of her own experience.

It'd be no surprise that fourteen light battleships with modern or semimodern weapons could handily defeat Byng's sixteen battlecruisers. Remember how confident Thurston was at Fourth Yeltsin when he thought he faced similar odds in his favor.


Maybe, hell as far as she knows she's going to find seven BCs, the ones from Second New Tuscany, there.


Yay Democracy! No, wait. That's the other thing.
Frankly, the guys they're intimidating are the equivalent of the Russian oligarchs. They're not really the product of democracy. They're the product of a rapid transition from state-owned property under an oppressive dictatorship, over to private property with the dictatorship and state oppression apparatus removed.

Moreover, this is a matter of survival for the state.


Eloise Prichart cares so much for democracy and the Constitution that she'll include a snake like Arnolde Giancola in her Cabinet, because political compromise is how the system works. She'll invite the opposition to this most sensitive and crucial of negotiations. And she'll intimidate them into toeing the party line.


Simon_Jester wrote:
You know, eight or nine years ago, Solarian EW, stealth etc. was at least competitive with Haven Quadrant powers, somewhere between Haven and Manticore. In fact, it was largely the injection of Solarian hardware that kept Haven competitive for the few years before Buttercup, not to mention that stealthy slow-missile that almost killed the Queen and Protector. Perhaps the problem is that Manticore is so used to Solarian EW wielded by smart, battle-experienced officers that it's made them jaded about the basic hardware. Or perhaps the problem is that was pre-Ghost Rider, during a time when the RMN had a new generation of electronics every year, sometimes twice a year and eight years is a vary long time on a wartime R&D cycle.
Yeah. The Solarian EW systems are marginally inferior to pre-Ghost Rider Manticoran hardware. The problem really comes down to "Sollies don't have Manticore's mini-fusion plants," so they can't build missiles and drones with the powerful EW emitters used by modern Manticoran drones and MDMs.

Nor have they ever designed their own ECCM (counter-countermeasures) to cope with EW capability that powerful. So for example, Havenites using the same basic equipment know about crap like the "Dragon's Teeth" jammer missile and its ability to cunningly impersonate eight totally fictitious missiles. They've programmed the computers to cope with this, to try and spot clusters of missiles that pop out of nowhere with powerful (illusory) impeller signatures, and automatically ignore them. Stuff the Solarians could totally do if only they had a realistic appreciation of the scope of the problem.

The Sollies... haven't. Their EW systems would probably perform rather well against the Manticore of 1905 PD or even 1910 (suffering there from lack of experience)


This is true, though I imagine once they start paying attention to these things, they'll get a lot better at them. Pity so many innocent Solly servicemen have to die first.

And here's another weird thing about the SLN, it's commented on much later, but there are flag officers everywhere. At one point a Solarian admiral is introducing her staff and it's a constant chain of Admirals ending with something like "and this is my Flag Lieutenant, Commodore _____."
Well, unlike the RMN they aren't an expanding service, they don't rotate senior officers out of positions or force them to retire, and their basic force structure hasn't changed since before prolong was invented.

If they didn't have this stupid proliferation of flag officers, no one would ever get promoted anymore, because all the positions of any real authority would be filled by prolong-enhanced centenarians who are going to hold those same jobs for the next two hundred years.


Of course, Manticore has that policy precisely so no serving admiral gets too mired in the politics at Admiralty House and loses touch with operational realities, which we see a number of Solly flag officers have issues with.


Fascinating, they've concluded MDMs only come from pods (and they're half right, despite starting from a flawed premise, internal capability for full-up MDMs is still a pretty rare thing. DDMs are a different story.) Acknowledge the range, and that pods will thicken salvos, and remain totally convinced that mere missiles could never threaten them.
Well, remember, even assuming pod salvoes towed by warships (the prevailing paradigm up to about 1912 PD even in Manticore)...

Each of those RMN 'light battleships' can only tow maybe 10-15 pods or so. Call it 2100 missiles from the pods, plus several hundred more from internal tubes. Three thousand missiles, optimistically, once.

That's still not nearly enough to be a serious threat to the broadside missile defense of seventy of the wall, let alone the armor of seventy of the wall, if you're still thinking in terms of the lethality and defense evasion capability of single drive missiles.

Basically, picture fourteen two million ton capital ships, with DDM-capable pods, in a position similar to what Honor was in during The Short Victorious War. The imbalance of raw tonnage would be about as bad, and one pod-launched salvo from outside the SDs' effective range wouldn't change that.

So the lighter force would get stomped flat, just as Sarnow's command was going to get stomped flat by the Havenite dreadnoughts.

That's the scenario Crandall thinks she's looking at.


That is more-or-less what would happen, if not for a few facts unfortunate to Crandall. First, they have an awful lot of pods. Second, even their light units have more control links than any previous conventional naval force. Three, Apollo. Even without Keyhole II to send FTL directions, Apollo lets one very smart missile manage eight, and the whole cluster takes up a single missile link.

Interesting. We established much earlier that the inner system automatically belongs to the inhabitants, farther out depends on their ability to enforce their claim. But it seems there's a far wider band in which ships are legally obliged to answer challenges and obey any lawful orders from the locals.
Probably because ships can easily build up so much speed out there that by the time they get to the inner system, they're travelling too fast to stop and too fast for defenders to react. So if they see someone building up speed to charge their planet, they have a right to challenge them (and position forces to shoot back if it's an enemy).


It makes considerable sense that way, still a bit odd to have to defer to someone from comfortably outside their claimed territory, but it makes senses.


"I see," Medusa said finally. "And you think I'm going to submit to your demands because—?" She cocked her head slightly and raised polite eyebrows.

"Unless you're considerably more foolish than I believe," Crandall's tone made it obvious no one could be more foolish than she believed Medusa was, "the nine squadrons of ships-of-the-wall just outside your hyper limit should suggest at least one reason."

Yet another endless interval dragged past; then Medusa nodded calmly. "Which means I should assume this enumeration of warships is intended to communicate the threat that you're prepared to commit yet more acts of deliberate aggression against the Star Empire of Manticore?"

"Which means I am prepared to embrace whatever means are necessary to safeguard the sovereignty of the Solarian League, as every Solarian flag officer's standing orders require," Crandall retorted. It was remarkable, Shavarshyan thought, still studiously pondering the facts and figures on his own display, how an eighteen-minute wait between exchanges undeniably robbed threats of immediacy and power while simultaneously distilling the pure essence of anger behind them.
Oh yes, this is clearly going to make the SLN appear to be the reasonable party when reviewed later.
Yeah. Holding your negotiations from out around two or three astronomical units out is just... not a good idea. :D


As is opening with threats and demands.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-18 06:06am

VhenRa wrote:Yeah, in circa 1900 PD fleet doctrine, missiles seemed to be used to soften the enemy up prior to the decisive beam engagement. In the hopes of decreasing the amount of damage you take, because decisive beam engagements from memory seem to be fairly mutually destructive.
On the other hand, decisive beam engagements were also relatively easy to avoid by creative maneuver, so that actual decisive battles became hard to bring about. Missiles had a larger engagement envelope, so it was easier to get your ship into missile range of enemy ships, and harder for the enemy to avoid action. So missiles were there not only to soften the enemy up, but also so you actually had a prayer of engaging them at all if they decided they didn't want the risks of a beam duel.

Ahriman238 wrote:Oh they absolutely weren't expecting that. I was more thinking though, that based purely on their knowledge of how many ships ran, and how many have been since destroyed, they know that Luff and the PNE were heavily reinforced, to the effect of more than half their ships. This implies to me that the remaining renegades couldn't fill half the list of ships that went to Torch.
Well, at least the renegades under Luff couldn't. It'd be damn hard to prove that the renegades under Luff are all there are, and indeed not very likely in the first place.

Maybe, but how much of these vast Solly forces engage in commerce protection? Even a little DD is death itself to an unescorted freighter.
Not sure. My basic point is just that the League Navy can afford to commit vast forces to escort and antipiracy, and probably does since that's the one form of naval action they are actually likely to see on a regular basis. So if you try to commerce-raid them using your weakest units, older light ships that can't really outrange or outpunch a Solarian light unit by a major margin... you're going to start losing them pretty fast. That prewar RMN destroyer is death to freighters, but if it runs into a Solarian cruiser it's very likely to be toast.

Eloise Prichart cares so much for democracy and the Constitution that she'll include a snake like Arnolde Giancola in her Cabinet, because political compromise is how the system works. She'll invite the opposition to this most sensitive and crucial of negotiations. And she'll intimidate them into toeing the party line.
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic and to what extent.

Basically, Pritchart is trying to run a state that doesn't turn into a single-party dictatorship or anything. Doing that can be tough because some of the 'parties' that naturally arise in the wake of the fall of a tyranny are going to be pretty tyrannical themselves. Now, she may well be making some of the wrong decisions, and the decision to intimidate opposition leaders is very questionable in the context of "politics as usual." But this kind of peace negotiation is not politics as usual, so I can understand it.

Of course, Manticore has that policy precisely so no serving admiral gets too mired in the politics at Admiralty House and loses touch with operational realities, which we see a number of Solly flag officers have issues with.
Well, Manticore would still run out of places to put its flag officers, if it weren't for the fact that their entire military has been expanding rapidly throughout the period during which prolong existed.

I mean, pre-prolong, even with other anti-aging techniques in the Honorverse I suspect the average flag officer was joining the service at around 20 and retiring at, oh, 70-75. They'd only be admirals for the last decade or two of that career. With prolong, officers still take about 30-40 years to reach flag rank, but by 1860-1870 PD the ranks would be full of prolong-recipient admirals.

Twenty years or so after that, there are twice as many admirals as 'normal' for the pre-prolong navy. By 1910 or 1920, it's more like four times as many... unless you just stop promoting people to flag rank at all.

The RMN handles this by actually being at least four times the size now that they were in 1860 PD (probably more), so they need four times as many admirals. And that's ignoring attrition among flag officers.

Since the SLN lacks that safety valve, the proliferation of flag-rank officers is a pretty much inevitable side effect. As is the rise of a huge class of permanent captains and commanders that will likely never be promoted no matter what, and the process of "interest" and family political leverage becoming even more important in determining who gets promoted and who doesn't.

That is more-or-less what would happen, if not for a few facts unfortunate to Crandall. First, they have an awful lot of pods. Second, even their light units have more control links than any previous conventional naval force. Three, Apollo. Even without Keyhole II to send FTL directions, Apollo lets one very smart missile manage eight, and the whole cluster takes up a single missile link.
Well yes, all this is clearly true. I'm simply trying to lay out what calculations Crandall could reasonably make based on what she knows, as opposed to second-order consequences that are predictable in theory but non-obvious in practice.

It makes considerable sense that way, still a bit odd to have to defer to someone from comfortably outside their claimed territory, but it makes senses.
True. In the final analysis, Isaac Newton is still the deadliest son of a bitch in space, and traffic control customs are going to have to defer to that.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Laguna » 2014-11-18 09:24pm

I think that whole sequence between O'Shaughnessy and Crandall is the best part of the "battle" of Spindle. Cue up the Mantie Missile Spam...

I also found the preponderance of admirals in the SLN to be odd and funny. I simply attributed it the massive patronage and favors system in Battle Fleet, where anyone who is "in" gets to be a flag-rank officer no matter their actual job. I wonder if Weber had in mind the fact that the current US Navy has more flag-rank officcers than it has ships. :D

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-22 10:55pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:Oh they absolutely weren't expecting that. I was more thinking though, that based purely on their knowledge of how many ships ran, and how many have been since destroyed, they know that Luff and the PNE were heavily reinforced, to the effect of more than half their ships. This implies to me that the remaining renegades couldn't fill half the list of ships that went to Torch.
Well, at least the renegades under Luff couldn't. It'd be damn hard to prove that the renegades under Luff are all there are, and indeed not very likely in the first place.


Sure, but it's not any intelligence on Luff's forces in particular, but a list of missing People's Navy vessels that leads the Manties to conclude that Luff must have received substantial reinforcements.


Maybe, but how much of these vast Solly forces engage in commerce protection? Even a little DD is death itself to an unescorted freighter.
Not sure. My basic point is just that the League Navy can afford to commit vast forces to escort and antipiracy, and probably does since that's the one form of naval action they are actually likely to see on a regular basis. So if you try to commerce-raid them using your weakest units, older light ships that can't really outrange or outpunch a Solarian light unit by a major margin... you're going to start losing them pretty fast. That prewar RMN destroyer is death to freighters, but if it runs into a Solarian cruiser it's very likely to be toast.


Actually, it looks like commerce-raiding will be part of Manticore's strategy going forward. Though yours is a valid objection. True I think a Nike or an Agamemnon could make short work of any number of Solly BCs they're likely to find as escorts, but those are the ships most needed besides wallers for major fleet stuff.


Eloise Prichart cares so much for democracy and the Constitution that she'll include a snake like Arnolde Giancola in her Cabinet, because political compromise is how the system works. She'll invite the opposition to this most sensitive and crucial of negotiations. And she'll intimidate them into toeing the party line.
I can't tell if you're being sarcastic and to what extent.

Basically, Pritchart is trying to run a state that doesn't turn into a single-party dictatorship or anything. Doing that can be tough because some of the 'parties' that naturally arise in the wake of the fall of a tyranny are going to be pretty tyrannical themselves. Now, she may well be making some of the wrong decisions, and the decision to intimidate opposition leaders is very questionable in the context of "politics as usual." But this kind of peace negotiation is not politics as usual, so I can understand it.


Oh, I think this is completely self-consistent on Prichart's part. She's willing to kill, die, and make major concessions to her political enemies all in the name of preserving the Constitution. A little intimidation is nothing compared to any dozen things she's done for the cause. I just can't resist the irony that someone would strive so long and hard to forge a genuine forum for political discussion, unseen for generations in her state, and then resort to backroom arm-twisting. Or that this situation wouldn't have come about if she'd been a bit more dictatorial in forming her Cabinet.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-23 12:03am

Ahriman238 wrote:Sure, but it's not any intelligence on Luff's forces in particular, but a list of missing People's Navy vessels that leads the Manties to conclude that Luff must have received substantial reinforcements.
True. On the other hand, it's hard for Manticore to know the known missing vessels are all there are. Suppose you're a Manticoran analyst circa 1920 PD. You already know the PN was working on at least one whole secret shipyard complex, the one that later became Bolthole. Who's to say they didn't start turning out Warlords and Marses for StateSec in 1910 PD? Hell, the entire StateSec naval order of battle may have been produced at Bolthole for all we-the-readers know; it'd certainly explain why the People's Navy viewpoint characters are surprised to find capital ships in StateSec hands in Ashes of Victory.

Actually, it looks like commerce-raiding will be part of Manticore's strategy going forward. Though yours is a valid objection. True I think a Nike or an Agamemnon could make short work of any number of Solly BCs they're likely to find as escorts, but those are the ships most needed besides wallers for major fleet stuff.
Right.

The most effective 'commerce raiding' strategy the RMN could pursue would be that of infrastructure-killing raids similar to the Cutworm raids, because then you don't need huge numbers of individually tiny ships (i.e. too tiny to carry weapons qualitatively superior to their SLN counterparts). Things that, against a first-rate enemy navy in the prewar era, would require the commitment of a solid core of capital ships, but which can now be handled by the RMN's superheavy 'battlecruisers.'

Of course, this is also the strategy most likely to result in Manticoran DDM-armed ships encountering the first generation of Sollie extreme range missiles fired from stationary system defense pods... :D

Oh, I think this is completely self-consistent on Prichart's part. She's willing to kill, die, and make major concessions to her political enemies all in the name of preserving the Constitution. A little intimidation is nothing compared to any dozen things she's done for the cause. I just can't resist the irony that someone would strive so long and hard to forge a genuine forum for political discussion, unseen for generations in her state, and then resort to backroom arm-twisting. Or that this situation wouldn't have come about if she'd been a bit more dictatorial in forming her Cabinet.
I imagine that she fondly hopes the 'second generation' Havenite politicoes will look back on the (known) parts of the history as a fond example of collaboration in the interests of the public good. Sort of like how we in the US tend to view the very traumatic election of 1800 as evidence that our political system can function in the face of very sharp political disagreements.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-23 12:11pm

And now for your viewing pleasure the Massacre er, "Battle" of Spindle.

He'd helped Ou-yang work on her analysis of the sensor ghosts her recon platforms had been picking up, and he'd come to the conclusion that the operations officer was correct. Those "ghosts" really were there, although it had proven impossible to wring any details out of the frustratingly vague data. Apparently the reports about the efficacy of Manticoran stealth systems had actually understated the case, which didn't make Shavarshyan a lot happier when he reflected on all the other reports which had been so confidently dismissed by naval intelligence at the same time. And to add insult to injury, it seemed the ops officer's fears about the Manties' ability to pick up their recon platforms had been well founded. They'd tried getting in close enough for a better look, and each time their platforms had been detected, localized, and killed before they could get close enough to penetrate their targets' stealth. He wasn't at all certain Solarian sensors could have locked them up that well, but from Ou-yang's reaction, he suspected it would have been at best a toss-up.


Manty stealth and sensors versus Solly ones.


"Well," Khumalo said with more than a little regret, "I suppose it's time." He raised his voice slightly. "Communications, pass the word to Tristram. Instruct Commander Kaplan to execute Paul Revere. Then contact Commodore Terekhov and inform him that Code Yankee is now in effect. Captain Saunders," he looked down at the command chair com display tied into Hercules' command deck, "tactical command is passing to Commodore Terekhov at this time."


Agustus Khumalo passes tactical command to Terekhov for the time being, he's got the most experience and a far more modern flagship. Also, the Sollies are lagging not just in technology, but in tactics and doctrine. Here's a little wrinkle we call a 'Sidemore Surprise.'


As she'd expected, the various destroyers' emissions signatures varied widely, which wasn't surprising given how much the Rampart and War Harvest classes had been refitted over their lifetimes. The heavier ships' emissions were much closer to their "book" profiles, though. Hercules' CIC had easily tagged the individual units of Rear Admiral Gordon Nelson's battlecruiser squadron, since they'd lifted his ships' electronic fingerprints out of the data they'd captured from Byng's task force. And although they didn't have hard individual IDs on the other battlecruiser squadron, it was obvious all of them were Nevadas.


The old joke about no two Solly destroyers really resembling each other holds out. Some of the data they got off Byng's ships includes individual ships' emission signatures, though clearly not for all or even most of Crandall's force.


There was an impressive uniformity among the superdreadnoughts, as well. All but seven of them were Scientist-class ships, and all seven of the others were members of the Vega class, which were basically only repeat Scientists with a couple of additional missile tubes in each broadside. By the standards of the prewar Royal Manticoran Navy, they weren't that bad a design, although the first of the Scientists had been built long enough ago that they'd still been equipped with projectile-firing point defense systems. At least all of these ships seemed to have been upgraded to laser clusters since, judging from the detailed passive scans Augustus Khumalo's Ghost Rider platforms had pulled in. And it was painfully obvious that even now the Sollies didn't begin to grasp just how capable—and stealthy—the Ghost Rider recon drones actually were. To be sure, the really close passes had been purely ballistic, with no active emissions to betray their presence, but even so they shouldn't have been able to get in close enough to literally read ships' names off their hulls without someone noticing something.


Even against Haven, Manty recon platforms didn't operate with such impunity. Solly SD classes, the most recent Vega and it's immediate predecessor the Scientist. A given class seems to last a really long time in Solly service, even Khumalo's Hercules wasn't around before laser clusters.


The Scientists were 6.8 million-ton units with thirty-two missile tubes, twenty-four lasers, and twenty-six grasers in each broadside. That was a heavier—or, at least, more numerous—energy broadside than any modern Manticoran or Grayson superdreadnought would have mounted. On the other hand, they had only sixteen counter-missile tubes and thirty-two point defense stations in each broadside, whereas Artemis, although technically only a battlecruiser, had thirty-two CM tubes and thirty much heavier and much more capable point defense clusters. Even the Saganami-Cs had twenty tubes and twenty-four clusters in each broadside, and given the fact that Michelle Henke had absolutely no intention of straying into energy range of her opponents, that imbalance was just likely to prove fatal for Admiral Sandra Crandall.


Scientist-class SDs have a broadside of: 32 missile tubes, 26 grasers, 24 lasers, 16 countermissile tubes and 32 PD.

Thats's almost as many missiles as a circa-1900 Manty or Peep SD, almost twice the energy weapons with about half the countermissile tubes of a pre-war Gryphon class. And the follow up Vegas are "basically only repeat Scientists with a couple of additional missile tubes in each broadside."


Dr. Joseph Buckley had been a major figure in the development of the original impeller drive on Beowulf in the thirteenth century. Unhappily, he hadn't been one of the more fortunate figures. He'd been a critical part of the original developmental team in 1246, but he'd had a reputation among his peers even then for being as eratic as he was brilliant, and he'd been determined to prove it was accurate. Although Adrienne Warshawski was to develop the Warshawski sail only twenty-seven years later, Buckley had been too impatient to wait around. Instead, he'd insisted that with the proper adjustment, the impeller wedge itself could be safely inserted into a hyper-space gravity wave.

Although several of his contemporaries had acknowledged the theoretical brilliance of his work, none had been prepared to endorse his conclusions. Unfazed by his peers' lack of confidence, Buckley—whose considerable store of patents had made him a wealthy man—had designed and built his own test vessel, the Dahak, named for a figure out of Babylonian mythology. With a volunteer crew embarked, he'd set out to demonstrate the validity of his work.

The attempt, while spectacular, had not been a success. In fact, the imagery which had been recorded by the Dahak's escorts still turned up in slow motion in HD compilations of the most awe-inspiring disaster footage in galactic history.

While Buckley undeniably deserved to be commemorated alongside such other greats as Warshawski and Radhakrishnan, and despite the huge body of other work he'd left behind, it was the dramatic nature of his demise for which he was best remembered. And his various namesakes in SLN service had fared little better than he himself had. Of the current ship's predecessors, only one had survived to be withdrawn from service and decommissioned.


The fate of the Honorverse's Joe Buckley, for whom Crandall's flagship is named.


Unlike Ou-yang Zhing-wei and Hago Shavarshyan, he knew precisely what those ten "sensor ghosts" they'd been picking up actually were.

Four of them were the CLACs Pegasus, Hippogriff, Troll, and Goblin, with the next best thing to four hundred LACs embarked. As stealthy as the Manticoran Alliance's light attack craft were, four CLACs were much smaller sensor targets than all those LACs would have been if they'd been deployed, which meant they could be more readily concealed or, at least, that their natures could be readily disguised, while they remained in their shipboard bays.

Two more of the "ghosts" were ammunition ships, stuffed to the deckhead with Apollo missile pods crammed full of fusion-powered Mark 23 and Mark 23-E MDMs. And the other four were Scotty Tremaine's cruisers: Alistair McKeon, Madelyn Hoffman, Canopus, and Trebuchet.


So three Manty forces. Terekhov's heavy cruiser squadron in close to the planet with absurd numbers of pods, Henke with Oversteegen and all the BCs in hyper waiting to pounce Sidemore-style once Crandall gets too deep into the hyper-limit to escape, and Scotty's four cruisers with four carriers and two ammo ships full of pods lurking in stealth in the outer system.


"Ma'am, I'm still picking up those grav pulses," Sambroth said, and van Heutz frowned.

Sambroth was one of the better tac officers with whom she'd served, but the commander appeared to have been badly spooked by the implications of the Manties' apparent FTL com ability. Not that van Heutz really blamed her, assuming the report of the single dispatch boat to escape the New Tuscan debacle was accurate. Not only that, but she knew Vice Admiral Ou-yang shared Sambroth's concerns.


At least one thing came out of New Tuscany, though only a single dispatch boat escaped with only it's own poor sensor readings and a last message from Sigbee as she surrendered, even Crandall has accepted FTL comm as a reality.


Against a Havenite wall of battle, even the Manticoran Alliance's newest-generation LACs no longer possessed anywhere near the survivability they'd boasted when the Shrike-A was first introduced all of nine T-years ago. And even if they had, superdreadnoughts—even Solly superdreadnoughts—were normally too heavily armored for even a Shrike's enormous graser to damage significantly. Of course, the Shrike-B, like her own Typhoon, had significantly improved its graser's grav lensing when the newest generation of bow wall came in. The Bravos really could blast their way through SD armor, assuming they could get close enough.


Apparently LACs have gotten at least some upgrades, the new Shrikes have a more potent graser and stronger bow walls. Though it should properly be a Shrike-C, the B variant became the standard after Second Hancock, with rear missile defense and stern wall in place of the pinnace the original carried. Oh, and ability to do real damage against an SD does not, in any sense, equal the ability to survive engaging a wall of battle with LACs. Not against a Haven Quadrant power, anyways.


Despite that, two-thirds of her LACs were Katana-class space-superiority fighters with magazines packed with Viper dual-purpose missiles, because Manticoran LAC doctrine had changed—especially after the hideous losses of the Battle of Manticore—to emphasize the missile defense role rather than the strike role. LACs were smaller and much more elusive targets than any hyper-capable ship and, especially with Mark 33 counter-missiles (or the Vipers based on the same missile body and drive), one of them could provide very nearly as much screening capacity as an all up destroyer. Which meant a LAC group had become the most effective (and least costly) means of bolstering a wall of battle's missile defenses, which also freed up the perpetually insufficient number of lighter starships for deployment elsewhere.


But these days LACs mostly do missile defense. It seems a single LAC contributes almost as much to a point-defense net as a destroyer, but they can more easily deploy hundreds or thousands of LACs than traditional screening units.

No mention of Ferrets, which may or may not be in the process of being phased out. A Katana can do anything a Ferret could, except poke at big ships with relatively ineffectual destroyer-weight missiles.


Had Captain Levinsky only known, a part of Tremaine—a rather large part, as a matter of fact—would have preferred to be sitting where she was rather than in his palatial command chair on the flag deck of a brand spanking new heavy cruiser. It wasn't so much that he doubted his competence in his present role as that he'd become so comfortable in his previous role.

How did a nice boy who only wanted to be a shuttle pilot end up sitting here, of all places? he thought wryly.

He'd really assumed that when he finally got starship command it would be of a carrier, not a cruiser. But he'd also long since concluded that BuPers worked in mysterious and inscrutable ways. True, this one seemed a bit more inscrutable than most, but when the Navy offered you a command slot like this one, you took it.


Scotty feels ambivalent about his new cruiser command (and I assume division command is why he's on the flag bridge) having figured he'd stick it out as a COLAC until offered a carrier to command.


He glanced at the battered and bedamned-looking chief warrant officer sitting at the electronic warfare officer's station. Aboard any other starship he could think of, that position would have been held by a commissioned officer. Aboard a unit as powerful as a Saganami-C, especially on a division flagship's staff, the officer in question would have been at least a senior-grade lieutenant, and more probably a lieutenant commander. But CWO Sir Horace Harkness was pretty much a law unto himself within the RMN.

"Of course you can have Harkness!" Captain Shaw, Admiral Cortez' chief of staff, had snorted when he'd made the unusual request. "There's a note somewhere in your personnel jacket that says we're not supposed to break up Beauty and the Beast." The captain's lips had twitched at Tremaine's expression. "Oh, you hadn't heard that particular nickname, Captain Tremaine? I hadn't realized it had escaped your attention."

Then Shaw had sobered, tipping back in his chair and regarding Tremaine with thoughtful eyes.

"I don't say it's the sort of habit we really want to get into, Captain, but one thing Admiral Cortez has always recognized is that there are exceptions to every rule. Mind you, if it were just a case of favoritism, he wouldn't sign off on it for a minute. Fortunately, however, the two of you have demonstrated a remarkable and consistently high level of performance—not to mention the fact that between you, you and his wife seem to have permanently reformed him. So unless we have to, no one's interested in breaking up that particular team. Besides"—he'd snorted in sudden amusement—"even if we were, I'm quite sure Sir Horace would be more than willing to massage the computers in your favor."

Tremaine had opened his mouth, but Shaw had waved his hand before he could speak.

"I'm perfectly well aware that he's promised not to do that sort of thing anymore, Captain Tremaine. Even the best-intentioned can backslide, however, and we'd prefer not to expose him to too much temptation."


It's so nice to have Scotty and Horace giving us human moments before another huge fleet battle.


"I've been lookin' at th' take from th' platforms," she continued now. "Assumin' these people have th' brains God gave a gnat—not that th' evidence so far available would suggest they do, you understand—they ought t' be pullin' out all th' stops after what happened t' Byng. Better safe than sorry, after all." She shrugged. "If they are, then I don't think th' attack birds are going t' have much problem lockin' up th' real targets."

"Compared to Peep EW?" Harkness shook his head with an evil smile. "Not hardly, Ma'am! These people're toast, if that's the best they've got."


Again, for much of the last war, Peep EW was Solly EW, though I don't doubt a ton of refinements were made before kicking off the war again. And I suppose if we're being fair the average Peep officer was a lot more devious and motivated to succeed than any Solly we've seen to date.


We're picking up more of those grav pulses, though. And I'm still a bit concerned about this volume here."

She indicated a large-scale display of the space immediately about Flax. A zone directly on the far side of the planet was highlighted in amber, and Crandall glanced at the indicated area, then grimaced.

"The pulses have to be from that damned FTL com of theirs," she said with an impatient shrug. Her tone was irritated, perhaps even a bit petulant, as if she still didn't much care for admitting the Manties really had developed a practical faster-than-light means of communication. Unfortunately, even she had been forced to admit that what had happened at New Tuscany demonstrated that they had.

"At the moment, though," she continued, "all it really means is that they may be getting recon information on us a little quicker than we're getting it on them. It's not going to change the odds any. And unless they've magically teleported in reinforcements directly from Manticore, I'm not especially worried about what they may be hiding in that uncertainty volume of yours, either, Zhing-wei. There wasn't anything particularly scary in there before we started in, after all."


Crandall both acknowledges the FTL comm's existence, and dismisses it's relevance. And you should really be worrying about the large volume of space you can't see into. Particularly since that zone comes from all your recon sats getting killed short of it.


She dropped a cursor onto the master display, indicating the sextet of impeller wedges their remotes had picked up thirty-six minutes earlier. They hadn't been able to get a solid read on whatever was generating those impeller signatures, but from the wedge strength, whatever they were, they were well up into the multimillion-ton range . . . despite the ridiculously high acceleration numbers they were putting out.

"Freighters," Bautista said dismissively. Ou-yang looked at the chief of staff, and he shrugged. "That's all they can be, Zhing-wei. Oh, I'll grant you they're fast. They must be fleet auxiliaries to pull that accel—probably supply ships; maybe repair ships—but they sure as hell aren't warships! With their assumed masses, they'd have to be superdreadnoughts, and with us bearing down on them this way, why run with six of them and leave number seven behind with nothing but cruisers to support it?"


Fair assessment, but missing the obvious question. Why are six support ships fleeing?


"Or maybe until they'd finished offloading their cargo," Ou-yang said pointedly. Bautista arched an eyebrow, and the ops officer inhaled deeply.

"We've all agreed the missiles they used on Jean Bart had to come from pods, Pépé," she pointed out. "To get that kind of range, they have to be bigger than their battlecruisers' tubes can manage, right?" Bautista nodded, and it was her turn to shrug. "Well, I don't know about you, but I have to wonder how many pods six 'freighters' that size can transport. And I also have to wonder why it is that all of a sudden any recon drone we steer into a position to take a look at the planet's shadow is getting blown right out of space."


Admiral Ou-Yang has it figured out, but one problem with having a bridge full of admirals is the duelling egos can easily get out of hand.


"Makes sense," she acknowledged. "Or as much sense as anything someone stupid enough not to surrender is likely to be doing, anyway. And you're right, six freighters that size could dump a hell of a lot of pods."

Bautista's expression smoothed quickly as Crandall took Ou-yang's suggestion seriously. It wasn't the first time something like that had happened, and Shavarshyan wished he could believe Crandall had deliberately chosen Ou-yang for her staff in hopes the ops officer's ability (for a Battle Fleet officer, at least) to think outside the box might offset Bautista's inclination towards sycophancy and his habit of automatically dismissing any opinion that didn't agree with his own. Much as the Frontier Fleet officer might have wanted to believe Crandall had done it on purpose, he wouldn't have wagered anything on the probability. Still, now that Crandall had endorsed at least the possibility that Ou-yang had a point, Bautista's expression, after a moment of blankness, had become intently—one might almost have said theatrically—thoughtful.

He may not do subtle very well, Shavarshyan thought dryly, but he does have an awesome ability to spot the glaringly obvious, especially when someone rubs his nose in it. No, siree! No one's going to hide any flare-lit Old Earth elephants from Pépé Bautista in any dark rooms, no matter how hard they try!


See what I mean?


"All the same," Crandall continued, "whatever they've got stockpiled is still going to be bottlenecked by their available fire control."

"Agreed, Ma'am," Ou-yang acknowledged without even glancing in the chief of staff's direction. "On the other hand, as Commander Shavarshyan and I have both pointed out, we don't really know how good their fire control is." She shrugged. "There's no way a heavy cruiser, even one the size the Manties seem to be building these days, could match a waller where control links are concerned, but I think it's entirely possible they can throw bigger salvos than we'd anticipated."

"Maybe." Bautista's tone, like his expression, was much more thoughtful than it had been, and he pursed his lips. "I still don't see any way they could throw salvos big enough to saturate our defenses, though."


They came so very close, but no comprehension of what they're walking into. The Peeps could have told them all about Manticoran Missile Massacres, but they don't care to know.


"Status change!" she announced sharply. "We have hyper footprints directly astern of the task force, Ma'am!"

Crandall snapped around to the master plot as twenty-one fresh icons flared into existence four and a half light-minutes behind her own ships. Whatever they were, they'd popped out of hyper-space in an exhibition of pinpoint-precise astrogation. Their tightly grouped crash translation put them right on the limit, approaching it at almost five thousand kilometers per second, and everyone on Joseph Buckley's flag bridge seemed to hold his or her breath while they waited for the sensor platforms Ou-yang had left behind to identify the newcomers.

-snip-

"The platforms make it fourteen of those big battlecruisers, what look like four light cruisers, and three ships in the four to five million-ton range," Ou-yang finally announced. The icons in the master plot blinked, changing color and shape to reflect the IDs CIC had assigned to each of them as lightspeed data on their emissions came in. "From their formation and emissions, it looks like the three biggies are probably freighters. Ammunition ships, I'd guess."


Henke arrives to the party with all 14 of Tenth Fleet's BCs, 4 CL and three more ammo ships heavy with pods. In perfect position to prevent their escape, with expert timing. Are you worried yet?


Crandall said nothing for a moment or two, but then she gave a sharp bark of a laugh.

"Well, I'll give them credit for audacity," she said as Bautista and Ou-yang looked at her. "This Gold Peak's obviously an ambitious bitch, isn't she?" The admiral jutted her chin at the icons beginning to accelerate in-system after her own forces. "And she must've used quite a bit of ingenuity arranging her ambush. But ingenious or not, she's no mental giant!"


....

Yes, Henke is clearly foolish to so underestimate her opposition. Unlike, say, Sandra Crandall.


"We know they've got a range advantage, at least as long as they stick to their missile pods, and we also know from what they did at New Tuscany that they can obviously tow at least a fair number of pods inside their wedges without compromising their acceleration. So what they probably wanted to do was to catch us in-system of them, stuck inside the hyper limit, with them outside us but close enough they could get into their range of us well before we reached the planet. There's no way we could match their acceleration rate, so as long as they were careful about it, they could probably get into their range of us while staying outside our missile range of them, and use their accel advantage to cut back out across the limit and escape into hyper if we reversed course to come after them. That's why I'm pretty sure they screwed the pooch with their timing, because even with the accel rates Gruner reported, they can't catch us with the geometry they've actually got. And they damn sure can't do it before we get to the planet, pound every warship in orbit around it out of space, and bring the entire system's infrastructure—such as it is and what there is of it—into our own range. At which point they've got three options: surrender to keep us from trashing all that infrastructure; go ahead and fight us on our terms, in which case we still wreck their infrastructure and they all get dead; or turn around and run away with their tails between their legs when they run out of missiles."


That actually sounds reasoned out, but precludes the idea that the BCs are actually there to prevent her from escaping.


Michelle shared that opinion, but she also stood by her observation about Crandall's alternatives. Her superdreadnoughts were holding their acceleration to just over three hundred and thirty-seven gravities, in strict accordance with the "eighty percent of maximum power" which was the galactic naval standard inertial compensator safety margin. At maximum military power, they could have managed almost four hundred and twenty-two gravities, but that was it. At eighty percent power, Michelle's trio of four million-ton milspec ammunition ships—HMS Mauna Loa, New Popocatépetl, and Nova Kilimanjaro—could manage a hundred gravities more than the Solly SDs' maximum military acceleration; running flat out they could manage over six hundred and fifty gravities, while her Nikes could top six hundred and seventy.


What, Solly SDs max out at 420 Gs? Wow, are they going to be amazed as rings get flown around them.


What that meant was that Crandall's ships-of-the-wall could neither run away from her nor catch her if they tried to go in pursuit. And with Michelle outside Crandall's position, coming up her ships' wakes, there was really no way she could dodge, either. Nor could she possibly make it all the way across the hyper sphere to the opposite edge of the limit without being brought to action. And however confident Crandall might be of her task force's defensive capabilities, the Solarian admiral had to know her missiles were substantially out-ranged. In fact, just on the basis of what Michelle had done at New Tuscany before that first dispatch boat translated out, Crandall damned well ought to know her own anti-ship missiles' maximum powered envelope from rest was at best less than a quarter of that of the missiles which had killed Jean Bart. So, given her unpalatable menu of maneuver options, the one she was pursuing actually made the most sense. However nimble Michelle's ships might be, the planet couldn't dodge, and it was what Michelle had to defend. So if Crandall could get into her own range of Flax with what she no doubt believed to be her crushing superiority in missile tubes, she could compel Michelle to either come to her or concede strategic defeat regardless of any tactical advantages the RMN might possess.


Not that this factored into Crandall's thinking at all. She just figured the BCs couldn't do more than a little ineffectual sniping from beyond her range and couldn't stop her from reaching the planet, and so could be safely ignored for the time being.


"I'd guess we gave her a bad few minutes when we turned up, judging by the way she delayed her turnover, but I imagine she got over it once she figured out we don't have any superdreadnoughts. At any rate, I don't expect her to be screening us with any surrender offers anytime soon."

"That would make it simpler, wouldn't it, Ma'am?"

"Probably. But it looks like it's going to take Admiral Khumalo and Commodore Terekhov to convince her of that, after all. In the meantime, go ahead with the Agincourt Alpha variant. We'll just quietly follow along behind until—and unless—we're needed."


For the moment, Henke's force, the largest concentration of strength in Tenth Fleet, is out of it.


Given the steady, consistent improvements in compensator design over the last ten or fifteen T-years, Manticoran captains—and admirals, she thought wryly—no longer fretted anywhere near as much as the officers of other navies over compensator safety margins. The fact that they'd been operating on a wartime basis for twenty T-years or so, rather than the peacetime basis of the rest of the galaxy had something to do with that, as well. The RMN had discovered that even with old-style compensators, "Book" safety margins had been excessively cautious, and Michelle's current acceleration rate was 6.5 KPS2.


Apparently 80% acceleration as most navies restrict to in nonemergencies is over cautious. And Manty/Grayson compensators are even safer, I can't recall one ship lost to compensator failure without battle damage in two wars.


At the moment, her plot was being driven by a highly stealthy platform less than one light-second from Crandall's flagship, and the directional transmissions from the platform were less than five seconds old by the time she saw them on the display. Aside from the actual impeller signatures of Tenth Fleet's ships, any data Crandall had was almost five minutes old. At the moment, that meant little, but when the missiles started to fly, it was going to mean a great deal, indeed.


Apparently the recon platforms can get really close even moving under power and matching accel with the SDs.


"Let's go ahead and spot the alpha launch, Stilt."

"Yes, Sir."

Commander Lewis began inputting commands, and as those commands reached the shoals of pods the withdrawing ammunition ships had left behind, onboard tractors began reaching out from clusters of them. They locked onto the ships designated to control them, moving out of the planetary shadow, settling into launch position. And as if that had been a signal—which it had—the LACs which had been left behind by the CLACs began jockeying into position. If everything went as planned, those LACs wouldn't be needed, except to sweep up the pieces. Neither would Gold Peak's battlecruisers, for that matter.


Not planning on using the LACs for more than the mop-up. Which is playing it safe with human lives, but also disappointing. I'd like to see Sollies try and deal with large LAC swarms. Oh yes, and they're prepping their first MDM pod salvo.


Despite the best efforts of both BuWeaps and BuShips, the Royal Manticoran Navy's missile pods kept obstinately proliferating, spinning off one new variant after another, and of late, pod capacity had trended steadily downward. The original "flatpack" pods, which had come in with the final generation of superconductor capacitors, had carried twelve MDMs each. Then along had come the next-generation flatpacks, with internal tractor systems. They'd still managed to keep capacity up to a dozen birds, but only until they'd shifted to the fusion-powered Mark 23. At that point, the designers had been forced to figure out how to cram in the pod's own fusion plant, since its new power budget had to be able to spin up the Mark 23s' plants at launch. The Bureau of Weapons had opted to hold the pod's dimensions constant in order to simplify handling and manufacturing constraints, despite the fact that it had dropped its capacity to only ten Mark 23s.


I remember when the pods were first introduced and they had 10 missiles to a pod. This was upped to 12, then reduced back to 10 for missiles with onboard fusion plants, and pods with a fusion plant to start them.


The reduction in throw weight hadn't been universally popular, particularly since the number of pods each ship carried hadn't magically increased, which left them with a sixteen percent overall reduction in magazine capacity. BuWeaps had argued, however, that the advantages of the new fusion-powered missiles—especially the advantages that kind of power supply made possible for the electronic warfare platforms—and of the new pods' vastly extended capacity for independent deployment more than compensated for the reduction in missiles per pod, especially coupled with the introduction of the Keyhole platforms. Although each pod might carry fewer missiles, Keyhole-based tactics were going to emphasize stacked patterns, anyway. The number of control links the new platforms made available would have required that even with the older style pods, if salvo density was going to be maximized.


And with Keyhole providing far more fire-control links, they were going to be stacking huge pod salvos anyway.


But then Apollo had come along, and the Apollo control missile—the Mark 23-E. The Echo was the heart of the Apollo system . . . and big enough that a single Mark 23-E displaced two standard Mark 23s. That had pushed the maximum capacity of a same-dimension pod down to just nine missiles, only eight of which were attack birds. No one had objected to that, given the incredible increase in lethality Apollo made possible, but it had constituted yet another reduction in over all ammunition stowage, so BuWeaps had gone back to work and come up with yet another in the flatpack pod series—the Mark 19.

The Mark 19 was the same size as the Mark 15 and Mark 17 pods, and it contained no more missiles, but its surface contours had been changed significantly. Whereas earlier marks of pods had been symmetrical, the Mark 19 was asymmetrical. Its surface contours had been deliberately designed so that flipping alternate layers of pods allowed them to pack even more flatly into the available volume of the RMN's SD(P)s' missile cores. As a consequence, although the total number of missiles which could be deployed using a single pattern of pods was no greater, the total missile stowage of the existing SD(P) classes had been restored to pre-fusion levels. In fact, it had actually increased by just under four percent.


The newest pod for Apollo, the Mk. 19, lets them double the number carried in an SD(P) or a an ammo ship, as compensation for the mass taken up by Apollo control missiles.


None of which had any particular relevance to Tenth Fleet at this particular moment, since it had no SD(P)s currently on its order of battle. But the fact that the reserve missile pods for the podnoughts Tenth Fleet was supposed to receive had already arrived had quite a bit of relevance. And despite the fact that not a single one of Michelle Henke's ships mounted Keyhole, and certainly none of them had Keyhole-Two capability, Aivars Terekhov was very happy to settle for only nine missiles per pod.

And wasn't it nice of BuWeaps to leave the Echo's sub-light telemetry links in place, too? he thought coldly, watching the icons of Sandra Crandall's ships sweeping closer and closer.


After all, 23-Es aren't just FTL relays, they're packing far more AI than your average missile and let ships control all 9 with a single missile's control link.


Part of the tension was an odd mix of apprehension and anticipation. For some, it represented eagerly sought retribution for the destruction of Jean Bart, but for the majority it was something far less welcome: the anticipation of launching the first real war the Solarian League had ever fought. Because that was what this really was. Crandall could present it any way she wanted, but this no simple "police action." For the first time in its history, the Solarian Navy faced an adversary which had a genuine battle fleet, a true wall of battle, even if that wall was far smaller than the SLN's. And little though any Solarian officer wanted to admit it, most of the men and women around Shavarshyan were clearly aware that they were about to go up against an experienced adversary. Confident in their own equipment and doctrine or not, however contemptuous of "neobarbs" they might be, they were far from immune to the anxious butterflies which always affected the novice when he looked across the field of battle at a grimly prepared veteran foe in battered, well-used armor.


So, apparently this is the SLN's first brush against anyone with an actual wall of battle. Ever.


"Any changes in their EW, Chief?" he asked.

"No, Sir." Harkness shook his head, his eyes intent as he studied his own displays. "We're picking up a little activity on those 'Halo' platforms of theirs, but nobody's bringing them online just yet. We should see them pretty soon, though—this looks like pre-battle systems tests to me."


Testing Halo before the fight, which probably means the platforms are out and ready for activation.


The Saganami-C-class heavy cruiser massed four hundred and eighty thousand tons. It mounted forty missile launchers in each broadside, and it had been designed to fire double broadsides at its enemies, then provided with a sixty percent redundancy in control links as a reserve against battle damage. That gave each of Aivars Terekhov's cruisers one hundred and twenty eight telemetry links, and each of those links was assigned to one Mark 23-E missile, which, in turn, controlled eight standard Mark 23s.

The twelve ships of Cruiser Squadron 94 and Cruiser Division 96.1 fired just over fifteen hundred missile pods at Task Force 496, Solarian League Navy.

* * *

"Estimate twelve thousand—repeat, twelve thousand—incoming!"


60% redundancy in fire control links, for double broadsides ever since Manticore developed the capability. The Sollies freak out at the huge salvo, naturally.


Of the 12,288 standard Mark 23s in that stupendous initial launch, fully one quarter—just over three thousand—were EW platforms. The remaining nine thousand plus were distributed over twenty-three of Sandra Crandall's seventy-one superdreadnoughts. Experience against the Republic of Haven indicated that two hundred to two hundred and fifty Mark 23 hits would destroy—or mission-kill, at least—even the latest Havenite SD(P) . . . which was why Fire Plan Alpha had allocated four hundred missiles to each of its targets.


Even against an opponent they're pretty sure has inferior missile defense and survivability, the Manties would rather err on the side of overkill against fewer targets. 200-250 missile salvos needed to kill or mission-kill a Havenite SD(P) in a fleet battle setting.


"It's got to be some kind of EW!" Bautista protested hoarsely. The chief of staff was staring at the plot, shaking his head again and again.

"That's no ECM, Pépé," Crandall grated. She jabbed her chin at the secondary displays showing Joseph Buckley's combat information center's analysis of the incoming impeller signatures. "They're there."

"But . . . but they can't possibly control them." Bautista turned his head to stare at Crandall. "They can't have the control links! And . . . and even if they did, at this range their accuracy has to suck!"

"I doubt even Manties would have fired missiles they can't control." Despite her own shock, despite her truculence and undeniable arrogance, Sandra Crandall's eyes were dark with a refusal to hide behind simple denial. "You may be right about the accuracy penalty, but if they can throw enough salvos this size, even crappy accuracy's going to rip our ass off."


Dawn breaks o'er Marblehead.


That would have been bad enough from the Sollies' perspective even if there'd been no Apollo birds driving along behind the attack missiles. But the Mark 23-Es were there, and each of them represented a far more sophisticated and capable advanced control node than the SLN had ever imagined. The Echoes had been preloaded with dozens of alternative attack profiles, based on every permutation of Solarian defensive measures Tenth Fleet's tactical officers and the simulators had been able to come up, and their extraordinarily competent onboard AIs were far more capable of adjusting and reshaping those profiles on the fly than any previous attack missile would have been. Of course, even with those stored profiles and AIs, Lewis' fire wouldn't be remotely as effective as it would have been if he'd had the all up Keyhole-Two systems, instead.


They analyzed and played with the Solly EW system, and on that basis have preloaded dozens of possible EW programs and responses into their Apollo missiles.


"Halo active." Horace Harkness gazed at his displays, hands moving with the precision of a pianist as he refined the data. "Looks like about a twenty percent increase on their battlecruisers' efficiency, but the filters should be solid unless it gets a lot worse. We're seeing a lot of lidar lighting off, too, though. I think we'll be looking at the first counter-missiles pretty soon."


Halo 20% more effective from SDs than BCs. But the RMN still has a huge advantage from getting to study the system firsthand.


Solarian counter-missile doctrine had never envisioned a salvo density like this. Traditional missile defense planning focused on identifying the attack missiles most likely to achieve hits and then targeting each of them with multiple counter-missile launches. But there wasn't going to be time for that in the face of such a ferocious closing velocity. In fact, there would be time for only a single CM launch before the MDMs screamed completely across their engagement envelope, and even taking full advantage of the additional fire control of the Aegis refits a third of Crandall's ships had received, her superdreadnoughts could produce less than two thousand counter-missiles per launch. That was approximately one CM for every 6.5 Mark 23s slicing towards them, which would have been hopelessly inadequate under any circumstances.


"Less than 2,000" CMs from 71 SDs, translates to 28 birds per ship. Subtract 16 for internal counter-missile tubes and we get a dozen (or less) CMs from Aegis. So very much "too little, too late."


Now "inadequate" became "futile" as the control missiles activated their slaved electronic warfare platforms.

Missile defense officers stared in disbelief as their displays went berserk. Dragon's Teeth blossomed like seductive flowers, flooding Task Force 496's fire control with false targets. The number of threat sources doubled, then doubled yet again, and again, hopelessly swamping the Solarian systems' ability to discriminate the true threats from the counterfeit. The computers driving those systems, and the men and women behind those computers, did their best, but their best wasn't good enough.

The incredible horde of false signatures guaranteed the limited number of counter-missiles the Solarians could bring to bear would be effectively useless, but Michelle Henke and her officers had been unwilling to settle for that. Even as the Dragon's Teeth spawned, the Dazzler platforms spread across the front of the attack salvo activated in a carefully sequenced chain, ripping huge, blinding holes in Task Force 496's sensor coverage. The Dazzlers' exquisitely choreographed chaos reduced even the last ditch laser clusters of their targets' point defense systems to impotence.

Of the ninety-two hundred Mark 23 attack birds in Aivars Terekhov's Alpha launch, Sandra Crandall's task force managed to stop exactly one thousand and seven. The other 8,209 got through.


Yes, very unimpressed with Solly missile defense.


Those missile-born talons gouged and tore. Energy mounts and missile tubes, counter-missile launchers, radar arrays, point defense clusters, boat bays, gravitic sensors, impeller nodes—all of them shattered, exploding into tattered ruin in a single catastrophic moment, faster than a man could have blinked. In less time than it would have taken to cough, Sandra Crandall's flagship was transformed into a broken wreck, a splintered hulk, coasting onward under momentum alone, with three quarters of her crew wiped out of existence.

Nor did van Heutz' ship die alone. Her squadron mates Joseph Lister, Max Planck, and Joseph Hutton died with her. Like Buckley, Hutton at least avoided immediate and total destruction, but Lister and Planck were less fortunate. Lister shattered, breaking into three distinct pieces; Planck simply disappeared in a flash of white-hot fury.

Archimedes, Andreas Vesalius, Hipparchus, Leonardo da Vinci, Gregor Mendel, Marie Curie, Wilhelm Roëntgen, Alfred Wegener, Avicenna, al-Kawarizmi . . . every one of the Alpha launch's twenty-three targets—thirty-two percent of Crandall's total wall of battle—was reduced to splinters and wreckage in that single inconceivable, exquisitely synchronized explosion.


The moral of this story, Saganami-Cs with large pods are overkill against Solly SDs.


"Execute Exclamation Point," he said.

"Executing Exclamation Point, aye, Sir!"

Lewis' finger stabbed a key at his console, and twenty seconds later, every one of the Bravo launch missiles detonated as one, millions of kilometers short of their targets.


They have the second 12,000 missile salvo self-destruct, while bringing the pods out to show they're perfectly capable of a third launch, maybe more. Your move.


Forty-five more seconds ticked past. A minute. Ninety seconds. Then, abruptly, every surviving Solarian starship's wedge went down simultaneously.

Another two and a half minutes oozed into eternity while light-speed limited transmissions sped towards HMS Hercules and Quentin Saint-James. Then—

"Sir," Captain Loretta Shoupe told Augustus Khumalo quietly, "Communications is picking up an all-ships transmission from an Admiral Keeley O'Cleary. She wants to surrender, Sir."


Smart move.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-23 03:39pm

Ahriman238 wrote:
Manty stealth and sensors versus Solly ones.
Notably, Manticoran sensors are localizing and engaging Solarian drones at ranges at which the Solarians think they could feasibly have done the same, hopefully. Whereas Manticoran drones are invisible to Solarian sensors, even at basically point blank range.

So it looks like the major RMN advantage in the drone-war category is stealth, not (vastly) superior sensor capability. Of course, that superior stealth lets them sneak very close for a better look, but still.

Agustus Khumalo passes tactical command to Terekhov for the time being, he's got the most experience and a far more modern flagship. Also, the Sollies are lagging not just in technology, but in tactics and doctrine. Here's a little wrinkle we call a 'Sidemore Surprise.'
To be fair, the "Sidemore Surprise" really doesn't work without FTL comms, although some kind of relay that relies on ships' wedges and essentially says "hey, outlying destroyer, summon the reinforcements when we flash the beacon" might sort of work. A little.

The more general idea of hiding part of your fleet from the enemy is not new. Variations on the theme exist in, for example, prewar Havenite doctrine (see the Battle of Nightingale, which almost has to have been the product of a Legislaturalist admiral, or a non-Legislaturalist officer highly senior in the pre-Pierre PN.

On the other hand, Battle Fleet may not have much knowledge of them, because their only experience is training exercises. And as I discussed, Solarian training exercises seem too devoted to making the commanding admirals look good for anyone to really pull out all the stops and get tricky. This has the effect of making Solarian admirals very predictable, because they do the logical thing in response to the situation they think they see. If any important information is concealed from them, they will fail to make allowance for it... and get hammered.

Bad officer training can be almost as bad a handicap as being this hideously outgunned.

they weren't that bad a design, although the first of the Scientists had been built long enough ago that they'd still been equipped with projectile-firing point defense systems. At least all of these ships seemed to have been upgraded to laser clusters since, judging from the detailed passive scans Augustus Khumalo's Ghost Rider platforms had pulled in. And it was painfully obvious that even now the Sollies didn't begin to grasp just how capable—and stealthy—the Ghost Rider recon drones actually were. To be sure, the really close passes had been purely ballistic, with no active emissions to betray their presence, but even so they shouldn't have been able to get in close enough to literally read ships' names off their hulls without someone noticing something.
To be fair, with even today's optics you could probably read five-meter-tall letters on the goddamn moon with a big enough orbital telescope... although the Hubble, by contrast, only has about fifty-meter resolution at that distance.

Even against Haven, Manty recon platforms didn't operate with such impunity. Solly SD classes, the most recent Vega and it's immediate predecessor the Scientist. A given class seems to last a really long time in Solly service, even Khumalo's Hercules wasn't around before laser clusters.
Well, the Scientist's basic design didn't urgently need an update as far as the SLN knows. Manticore went through several dreadnought/SD classes before the First Havenite War, sure. But that was mainly because they were progressively modifying their designs to accomodate lessons learned from constructing the last wave of capital ships, and trying to upscale their newer ships to overpower older Havenite ships. Also because they were constantly building new facilities to make the ships, which meant they weren't limited by the tooling or size of existing infrastructure.

Whereas the SLN has probably been using the same building slips for decades of not centuries- which may limit the length or diameter of ships that can be constructed, or at least greatly delay the start of construction on ships that exceed those dimensions. They have specific contractors who have been building things like engines and compensators for their SDs for a long time, and who can make the same piece of machinery over and over very efficiently. Changing to an updated version would be expensive... and make it damnably hard to update and upgrade the hulls they already have.

So it makes a lot more sense to keep building ships of basically the same general type, and modify them only slightly as time goes on except to swap out primitive systems for modern ones of comparable dimensions and superior performance.

Scientist-class SDs have a broadside of: 32 missile tubes, 26 grasers, 24 lasers, 16 countermissile tubes and 32 PD.

Thats's almost as many missiles as a circa-1900 Manty or Peep SD, almost twice the energy weapons with about half the countermissile tubes of a pre-war Gryphon class. And the follow up Vegas are "basically only repeat Scientists with a couple of additional missile tubes in each broadside."
The heavy emphasis on laser point defense also indicates a missile defense doctrine that hasn't changed much since the laser head was new, probably because they've never seen missile barrages dense enough to saturate the defenses they do have. A Scientist-class could probably handle one of its own broadside salvos while taking few or no missile hits, because most of the countermissiles would hit, the lasers would pick off several more, and (especially with Halo) the tethered decoys would draw off several of the rest.

We know this because that's more or less what happened to early-series salvos of single-stage missiles fired from a ship's own missile tubes. Unless there was a truly gross technical mismatch between the missiles and the defense, a few would get through sometimes, but not enough to cause rapid degradation of a ship's combat capability.

So, figuring that she's fighting battleship-sized "battlecruisers" with 20 or 25-tube broadsides, Crandall figures that even one on one her ships could probably shoot down a large fraction of all the missiles involved. Sure, the Manticoran missiles might be good enough, or big enough, to penetrate her defenses more often than they otherwise would, but that's what her three or four to one superiority in defensive platforms is for!

Basically, while you could design an SD-sized platform to counter the MDM threat, it would look very different from a Scientist-class, or its RMN and PN contemporaries.

Apparently LACs have gotten at least some upgrades, the new Shrikes have a more potent graser and stronger bow walls. Though it should properly be a Shrike-C, the B variant became the standard after Second Hancock, with rear missile defense and stern wall in place of the pinnace the original carried. Oh, and ability to do real damage against an SD does not, in any sense, equal the ability to survive engaging a wall of battle with LACs. Not against a Haven Quadrant power, anyways.
To be fair, the sheer volume of beam fire that any SD could put out would be devastating to the LACs... assuming anything like adequate sensor locks on them, and assuming a doctrine that is remotely prepared for their existence.

But these days LACs mostly do missile defense. It seems a single LAC contributes almost as much to a point-defense net as a destroyer, but they can more easily deploy hundreds or thousands of LACs than traditional screening units.
Well, a pre-Roland destroyer in RMN service might only weigh eighty to one hundred thousand tons compared to the LAC's twenty... but the LAC skips out on the destroyer's hyper generator, alpha nodes, beam armament, small craft, and probably a lot of its long-endurance life support.

It can still rotary-launch a considerable mass of countermissiles into space in a short amount of time, so against a single huge MDM barrage, it can probably put up about as many countermissiles as the destroyer could. I imagine their magazine capacity is inferior, but that really doesn't matter so much against MDMs because they come in such staggeringly huge numbers; being able to shoot down five missiles now, and having a hundred little launch platforms just like you, is better than having to dribble out those same 500 countermissiles a hundred at a time through the launch tubes of twenty older platforms.

No mention of Ferrets, which may or may not be in the process of being phased out. A Katana can do anything a Ferret could, except poke at big ships with relatively ineffectual destroyer-weight missiles.
Honestly yes, although they might still be desirable and effective for countering SLN 'destroyer-weight' combatants (destroyers and CLs that are basically upscaled destroyers). Whereas getting into beam range of an SLN combatant is always risky; no matter how good your ECM is and how strong your missile defense is, in beam range you just don't have that level of tactical edge over the enemy.

Again, for much of the last war, Peep EW was Solly EW, though I don't doubt a ton of refinements were made before kicking off the war again. And I suppose if we're being fair the average Peep officer was a lot more devious and motivated to succeed than any Solly we've seen to date.
Also, the Havenites had a lot more of a clue what they were dealing with. Remember that in 1913 PD, the Ghost Rider fusion-powered missile ECM was enough to totally foul up Havenite missile defense and blow right through it like it was hardly even there. In 1918, without any drastic improvement in what Haven could physically build technologically as far as we know... not so much. Shannon Foraker had figured out decent countermeasures.

Realistically, a lot of this just has to do with design parameters of the hardware. You have a sensor that detects the wedges of incoming missiles. Fake decoy missile impersonators are, no doubt, already a thing (we know that drones that can impersonate capital ships are), so you have the ship's missile defense computer programmed to ignore anything that looks like a fake missile. Thing is, you don't want the targeting computer to ignore a real missile that 'looks Photoshopped,' because then you get a face full of lasermissile.

So you hardwire the targeting computer to never ignore a target that is "too strong" to be a fake missile, on account of it being impossible to generate multiple fake impeller signatures with a strength greater than X given the power storage capacity of the missile.

Likewise- jammer missiles are a thing known even to prewar Peeps. We know Rafe Cardones' signature tactic as a missileer was to send a 'burner' missile with a point-blank-range fusion warhead in under cover of one or more jammer missiles. So sensors need to be able to ignore or block out a jamming signal and continue to function. But designing your sensor with an "auto-darken" function that can handle increasingly powerful jammers costs money, and at some point it probably compromises the sensors' long range sensitivity and precision. Therefore, you build the "auto-darken" to handle any known or foreseeable threat- but not to cope with jamming signals an order of magnitude brighter than anything now known.

Then Manticore goes and redefines the limit of the possible in ECM. Suddenly they actually can generate ten fake impeller wedges that are all close enough to real that your fire control computer tries to ignore them as "looks Photoshopped," but isn't allowed to due to your hard-coded overrides. Suddenly they have jammers that are powerful enough that the self-darkening sunglasses on your radar antenna just can't cope.

As Foraker might (and probably did) say, oops.

And yet really, much of the challenge here is just reprogramming the hardware you already have to not make stupid mistakes that are actively counterproductive in combat against the new weapon systems. That takes a year or two to fix, tops, if your coders are any good.

"At the moment, though," she continued, "all it really means is that they may be getting recon information on us a little quicker than we're getting it on them. It's not going to change the odds any. And unless they've magically teleported in reinforcements directly from Manticore, I'm not especially worried about what they may be hiding in that uncertainty volume of yours, either, Zhing-wei. There wasn't anything particularly scary in there before we started in, after all."
Crandall both acknowledges the FTL comm's existence, and dismisses it's relevance. And you should really be worrying about the large volume of space you can't see into. Particularly since that zone comes from all your recon sats getting killed short of it.
To be fair, yes. On the other hand:

If you think that the actual threat comes from battleship-sized "battlecruisers" that fire really big dual-drive missiles as big as or larger than normal capital ship missiles, and which tow pods that fire the same, and you know that the enemy has fourteen in the entire sector and you outnumber them five to one with ships that can easily soak up thirty-missile broadsides each for a long, long time...

Well, frankly it doesn't matter. This is just one of those training exercises you've gone through where the opposing staff is careful to not humiliate you. Sure, it would be nice to be able to get your drones into that area, but the disparity in firepower and missile defense capability is so great that it won't matter. So you press the attack anyway, much as a Havenite commander circa 1905 PD might have done, not fully grasping the nature of the threat, prepared to believe that there is a threat, but confident that your quantitative edge lets you deal with it.

Fair assessment, but missing the obvious question. Why are six support ships fleeing?
Because you're coming down on them with seventy of the wall? I'd run away too...

They came so very close, but no comprehension of what they're walking into. The Peeps could have told them all about Manticoran Missile Massacres, but they don't care to know.
Thing is, so much of it relies on Manticoran superweapons- the ability of the Apollo control missiles to multiplex those command telemetry channels and downlink to eight attack missiles apiece being chief among them.

Without that last eightfold increase in firepower, this ambush probably wouldn't work nearly so well even with the other major Manticoran advantages.

That actually sounds reasoned out, but precludes the idea that the BCs are actually there to prevent her from escaping.
Well, for God's sake, if the only things resembling capital ships in the whole sector are behind her, what could possibly be in front of her for her to run away from?

Not that this factored into Crandall's thinking at all. She just figured the BCs couldn't do more than a little ineffectual sniping from beyond her range and couldn't stop her from reaching the planet, and so could be safely ignored for the time being.
To be fair, she is not, given the available facts and a projection of RMN capability that is based on the idea that they have incrementally improved on SLN hardware technology and as a result have gotten some quite respectable new weapons...

Crandall really is, more or less, right.

I mean, suppose we had Tom Theisman appear out of hyperspace with twelve Peep battleships from Operation Dagger. Grant him, for the sake of argument, missiles that can fly four times further because they're big freaking missiles. Grant him missile pods that can do the same. He still wouldn't be able to accomplish that much against seventy SDs. Not unless you posit massive superiority in electronic warfare and fire control... which Crandall doesn't actually have any evidence the RMN possesses. They have better stealth, that much is clear, but exponentially better ECM and missile telemetry? Really?

Why not just assume they have a magic weapon that collapses impeller wedges from two hundred million kilometers and have done with it?

Apparently 80% acceleration as most navies restrict to in nonemergencies is over cautious. And Manty/Grayson compensators are even safer, I can't recall one ship lost to compensator failure without battle damage in two wars.
Well, it's not like that was actually a common outcome before that, either. It's just that during peacetime, routinely running ships close to the limit of their performance puts undue stress on the compensators and increases maintenance costs.

Plus, think about it like this. A typical Honorverse warship (prior to the revolution in military affairs created by the Manticoran innovations in 1905-1920 PD) lasts about 50-100 years before becoming too antiquated to be worth keeping around.

Now, we know that running at maximum military power, Honor's SDs at Fourth Yeltsin had a 0.5% chance of compensator failure during one runup to high speed as they charged out to meet Thurston's battleships.

Suppose you regularly run your compensators at a very high power level and that this results in a 0.01% chance (20 times less than the risk Honor ran) of compensator failure during each day of operation.

Do that every day for a year and there is a 3.6% chance (roughly) of the ship being lost to compensator failure. Do it every day for twenty years and the ship has roughly a 50/50 chance of survival.

Whereas during an actual day-long pitched battle, accepting a 0.01% chance of losing a ship in order to get it somewhere in 15% or so less time is often a very good idea. And even if you do this every day, you still only have about a 3.6% chance of losing the ship every year. If the ship losses you take to enemy action aren't higher than 3.6% a year, you're probably doing pretty damn well for yourself.

Now, losing 3.6% of your ships every year to random engineering failures is still bad, so you'd normally NOT run at such a 'risky' power level as to give your ships a 0.01% chance of being lost each day. But during a battle that's still acceptable. And even during routine operations, something like a 0.001% chance would be acceptable... because then the risk declines to about .36% chance a year, which is pocket change compared to all the other stuff threatening to wreck ships.

But during peacetime operations, that .36% chance a year is probably the greatest single risk your ships face at all. For a fleet the size of the SLN that is probably several ships a year, perhaps dozens, lost to compensator failures every year, with thousands of resulting casualties. Which means that you will be under immense pressure to stop overclocking your ships' engines to reduce absolute losses, even if the relative losses are tiny.

Whereas, as I noted above, at war it's the relative losses that matter, not the absolute ones, so higher, riskier power settings are more appropriate.

Apparently the recon platforms can get really close even moving under power and matching accel with the SDs.
Note that their acceleration to match an SD is only about 10% or so of the acceleration they're capable of, which helps to explain how they can conceal their impeller wedges so well. It's equivalent to an Honorverse starship running at, oh, 25-50 gravities, which we get several cases of being pretty sure they can do.

Not planning on using the LACs for more than the mop-up. Which is playing it safe with human lives, but also disappointing. I'd like to see Sollies try and deal with large LAC swarms...
Thing is, they probably could deal with that. Their shipboard sensors are good enough that the LACs probably won't have absolute invisibility, and all it takes is a few snapshots with beam weapons. Since each SD has dozens of beam weapons, any of which could annihilate a LAC, and since it would take many, many hits from each LAC to put down a single SD... yeah.

That's just inviting unnecessary casualties by trawling your soldiers out where the enemy can get at them.

After all, 23-Es aren't just FTL relays, they're packing far more AI than your average missile and let ships control all 9 with a single missile's control link.
In light of this it beggars my imagination why Foraker didn't do the same thing. After all, the entire doctrinal focus of post-Theisman-coup RHN missile doctrine is overwhelming mass, even at the expense of precision control. Something like an Apollo control missile acting as central processing node for eight conventional missiles to improve their reliability and coordination would make perfect sense.

It's even, in a real sense, a logical descendant of something Theisman himself did at Barnett by having his orbital forts upgraded to slave multiple pods' worth of missiles to a single pod's fire control channels.

60% redundancy in fire control links, for double broadsides ever since Manticore developed the capability. The Sollies freak out at the huge salvo, naturally.
Yeah. Also note that if it weren't for the Apollo control missiles, Terekhov's command would be firing 1500 attack missiles, not twelve thousand. Still enough to put a few of Crandall's ships out of commission with each launch, but the launches have to take place several minutes apart due to flight time. Also, 1500 missiles in a salvo means that Crandall's individual ships can task more antimissile weapons to engaging each incoming attack missile, and would get a much higher kill probability against each individual missile.

At the allocation figures they're using, they'd be limited to about 1200 attack birds aimed at three, perhaps four targets- and there would be roughly 840 countermissile launchers shooting back at each incoming barrage of 1500 missiles.

"Less than 2,000" CMs from 71 SDs, translates to 28 birds per ship. Subtract 16 for internal counter-missile tubes and we get a dozen (or less) CMs from Aegis. So very much "too little, too late."
And yet, without the Apollo control missiles, that would be... probably a little more than one countermissile per attack missile.

Of the ninety-two hundred Mark 23 attack birds in Aivars Terekhov's Alpha launch, Sandra Crandall's task force managed to stop exactly one thousand and seven. The other 8,209 got through.
Yes, very unimpressed with Solly missile defense.[/quote]And yet... again, if Terekhov had been firing pre-Apollo missiles, Crandall would still have shot down about a thousand of them. With the significant difference that this would be practically every missile in the incoming salvo. She might well have even managed to shoot down more of them down, because she'd only have to deal with about ten thousand sensor ghosts, not about a hundred thousand of them.

Another way to look at it is that SLN missile defense against an Apollo-capable RMN opponent is a little less good as 1912-era People's Navy missile defense was against first generation Ghost Rider missile hardware. About 10-20% of an incoming salvo gets shot down.

Which is a significant improvement, given the SLN's deficits (no combat experience, archaic doctrine, no reason to expect massed missile barrages on the scale of what they're facing here).

The moral of this story, Saganami-Cs with large pods are overkill against Solly SDs.
Well, really it's the pods. Anything with decent fire control could have done this; Saganami-Cs are just what happened to be available.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Batman » 2014-11-23 07:35pm

So...ignoring Apollo and pods, seventy-three solarian superdreadnoughts would have very likely been able to intercept the internal-tubes missile fire of...12 Manticoran heavy cruisers. Call me paranoid but as a Solarian, I'd be a tad worried about needing a 6 to one numerical and 86 to 1 tonnage advantage to achieve that.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Terralthra » 2014-11-23 08:29pm

Hm. ~2,000 counter missiles total. 71 SDs * 16 counter-missile launchers each = 1100 CMs. The 900 remaining are from the screen and Aegis. The screen is 24 BCs, 12 CA, 23 CL, and 18 DD. Nevada-class BCs have 18 CM launchers each (36 total makes it 18 per broadside), Marksman-class CLs have 6 per broadside. CAs probably have around 10, destroyers what, maybe 4?

432 + 120 + 138 + 72 = 762, making the total shipboard CM-launch ~2000 - (~1100 from the SDs + ~750 from the screen) = 150 from the Aegis launchers. The text says only 1/3 of the SDs have Aegis, meaning there are about 20-25 of them, meaning each Aegis-equipped SD adds...6-8 CMs per launch cycle.

I guess the real question is why the Nevadas have more missile defense than the Scientist SDs nine times their size.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby VhenRa » 2014-11-23 09:55pm

Because Nevada-class vessels are only just being introduced and thus post-date the Laserhead. Its incredibly likely the Scientist class is around 100+ years old. You see a massive increase in counter-missile focus in every navy after the Laserhead was introduced. Pre-Laserhead you had more PD clusters then CMs, vessels introduced after the Laserhead moved the focus over to counter-missiles.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-23 11:23pm

The RMN was, if the tech bible can be believed, only mounting nine countermissiles per broadside on the relatively modern Reliant-class battlecruisers in the 1890s PD. If it weren't for their EW advantage over Havenite missile seekers, those things would have been laughably weakly defended.

(Of course, they were later retrofitted to double the countermissile throw weight...)

Batman wrote:So...ignoring Apollo and pods, seventy-three solarian superdreadnoughts would have very likely been able to intercept the internal-tubes missile fire of...12 Manticoran heavy cruisers. Call me paranoid but as a Solarian, I'd be a tad worried about needing a 6 to one numerical and 86 to 1 tonnage advantage to achieve that.
The Saganami-C's dual drive missiles would be easier to intercept coming in because they'd come in slower. Pod-launched three stage missiles come in ridiculously fast; they also come in smarter courtesy of the Apollo control missiles.

And my basic point here was that if Terekhov were restricted to the same weapons that would have been available to him only, say, one T-year ago... he would not have been able to do this with such tiny forces. The combined force of a dozen or so Nikes still might, which speaks badly enough of the tonnage disparity. But it would have been a lot less easy, is the point I'm making.

Apollo really does serve to complete a revolution in military affairs that began with the missile pod, became obvious with the MDM, and was finalized with Apollo. The missile pod gives volume of fire; the MDM lets you launch that volume of fire from far enough away that it turns the missile into a fully decisive weapon, and Apollo lets you use that volume of fire to its full potential.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-24 09:24am

The one huge problem with the RMN's decision to adopt increased automation in order to reduce its warships' manpower requirements was that it worked even better than anyone had expected. There were very few warm bodies aboard modern Manticoran or Grayson cruisers or destroyers, and even superdreadnoughts had crews smaller than prewar battlecruisers. That was an enormous advantage in Fifth Space Lord Cortez's Sisyphean task of manning the navy's ships, but it also meant the smaller companies of the ships in question found it much more difficult to generate detachments for little things like, oh, boarding parties, for example.


It's true, remember back in OBS where Honor was able to split off a third of the crew into detachments, dump all the marines on the ground and still fight Sirius without apparent loss of efficiency. That doesn't happen anymore.


Solarian ships' companies, conversely, were even larger and more manpower-intensive than prewar Manticoran designs had been, and Sandra Crandall had entered the Spindle System with seventy-one superdreadnoughts, each with a ship's company of over six thousand. Even completely ignoring the rest of her task force, that had amounted to the next best thing to a half-million personnel.


6,000+ aboard a Solly SD, even more than an old Manty one.


Tenth Fleet, on the other hand, had nowhere near that many people. A Roland-class destroyer like Naomi Kaplan's Tristram had a total company of less than seventy, and not a single one of them was a Marine. A Saganami-C, like Aivars Terekhov's Quentin Saint-James, was somewhat better off—at least each of them had a hundred and forty Marines available, but that was out of a total crew of only three hundred and fifty-five. For that matter, even one of the lordly Nikes, like her own Artemis, had a company of barely seven hundred and fifty. Which meant the total personnel of all Michelle's warships—including Khumalo's superdreadnought flagship and the four carriers of Stephen Enderby's CLAC squadron and their LAC groups—amounted to barely thirty-two thousand. Crandall's surviving forty-eight superdreadnoughts, alone, carried ten times that many men and women, and that didn't even consider the fifty thousand or so aboard her battlecruisers and destroyers.

Nor did it consider the need to provide search and rescue parties for the nine crippled superdreadnoughts which had not been totally destroyed.


Extent of the problem securing their prisoners. Then again, I seem to recall a tale from WWII about a single soldier taking a full company prisoner, so it's not the most lopsided captor-captive ratio there's ever been.


She had nowhere near the hyper-capable personnel lift to transfer them back to the prison camps in the Star Empire currently populated by the personnel of Lester Tourville's Second Fleet. For that matter, she wasn't at all certain those camps, despite their frenetic expansion following the Battle of Manticore, would have had sufficient space for her current catch even if she'd been able to get them there!

Baroness Medusa was scrambling to find someplace to store them, at least temporarily. Unfortunately, no one on Flax had ever contemplated the absurd notion that the planet might suddenly have to absorb the better part of four hundred thousand "visitors" like these, and the governor's options were limited. At the moment, Michelle knew, Medusa was inclining towards the same solution Michelle herself had experienced during her brief stint as a prisoner of war on Haven. Flax possessed several large, uninhabited tropical islands, many with the sorts of climates that evoked Pavlovian salivation from vacation resort developers. There was no housing on them at the moment, but food and water could be transported in, emergency sanitation arrangements could be made, and more permanent housing could be built once the immediate crisis had been dealt with.

No matter what we do, the Sollies're going to scream we've "abused" their personnel by "refusing" to house them properly and deliberately leaving them "exposed to the elements," she thought glumly. But all we can do is the best we can do, and hope the Admiralty can find someplace back home to keep them . . . not to mention the shipping to get them "someplace back home!"


I think marooning people has just become the de facto standard for housing prisoners. It's at least very secure while tying up a minimal number of guards. I do have to wonder why these tropical islands haven't been developed. Mention of both POW camps for Havenite prisoners and the probably Solly reaction to the marooning plan. "The beaches went on and on.... it was horrible!"


At the moment, Terekhov's cruisers and Khumalo's superdreadnought flagship maintained their positions in orbit around Flax, just over eight hundred thousand kilometers from what remained of Crandall's wall of battle. The undamaged Solarian ships, plus their lighter consorts, were motionless relative to the planet, sidewalls and impeller wedges down in obedience to Michelle's orders, and all of her battlecruisers lay seven hundred and fifty thousand kilometers outside their current positions. That geometry put every hyper-capable Manticoran combatant beyond effective energy range of the Solarian SDs—a not so minor consideration, given the fact that any one of those superdreadnoughts could have annihilated Michelle's entire fleet if she'd been foolish enough to stray into the effective envelope of their massive energy batteries.


But they're not going to try anything surrounded by ships and pods covering them.


But even as she held her starships at a discreet distance, her LACs had maneuvered into position "above" and "below" the surviving Solarian warships. Since it had seemed likely the Sollies would have underestimated the capabilities of new-generation Manticoran light attack craft at least as badly as they'd underestimated those of current-generation Manticoran missiles, she'd arranged demonstration firings of the Shrike-Bs' massive grasers. She wanted no misconceptions about what those capital ship-weight energy weapons could do to the unarmored topsides and bottoms of the Solarian ships-of-the-wall.


I guess the BC graser has been upgunned to 'capital ship-weight.' LACs providing close coverage on the ships' unarmored sides, after a couple test firings so the Sollies understand just how big the gun held on them is.


And while all that was being arranged, her destroyers—all five of them—had accelerated off in pursuit of the nine hulked SDs. Five old-style destroyers could easily have found the boarding parties for search-and-rescue operations aboard nine superdreadnoughts. Whether or not her five Rolands were up to the task was another question.


I don't know, an SD has a tremendous internal volume honey-combed with corridors and access spaces. I'm a lot less sanguine about even old-style destroyers each effectively providing personnel to search two SDs apiece in a timely manner.


"My boarding parties are now prepared to take possession of your superdreadnoughts, Admiral," Michelle said levelly, "and I fully realize emotions are going to be running high among your personnel. My personnel have been instructed to exercise as much restraint as possible, but they've also been instructed to remember that their own security and the discharge of their orders takes precedence over all other considerations. I sincerely hope no one on either side will cause any avoidable incidents, but I remind you formally, for the record, that under the Deneb Accords, the legal responsibility to avoid such incidents by prompt compliance with my instructions and those of my designated prize crews rests with your personnel, as the ones who have been permitted to surrender."


More on the Deneb Accords, prisoners are expected to comply promptly with their captors, at least as far as the "actually being taken prisoner" part goes.


"I'm sure you realize, Admiral O'Cleary, that no one here in the Quadrant has made any provision for quartering such a large number of prisoners of war."

Michelle saw O'Cleary's eyes flash at the term "prisoners of war," but she didn't especially care. In point of fact, she was conceding them a status she wasn't required to under interstellar law, and O'Cleary knew it. There'd been no formal declaration of war when Crandall attacked the sovereign territory of another star nation. Technically, her actions amounted to piracy on the grand scale, and Michelle was under no legal obligation to accord her officers and crews the courtesies normally due regular POWs. The fact that she'd allowed them to surrender under the provisions of the Deneb Accords meant she'd chosen to extend that status to them, but whether or not she was legally required to continue to extend it was what the lawyers like to call "a gray area."


Well if Manticore treated everyone who attacked them without a formal declaration of war a pirate, they'd have been shooting and hanging Havenites out of hand for decades.


"Governor Medusa is currently making arrangements to provide food, shelter, and any necessary medical attention," she continued levelly. "We'll do everything in our power to ensure that no one suffers any hardship. Despite that, however, it's very likely—inevitable, to be honest—that housing and services are going to be jury-rigged, at best, at least initially. As I say, we'll try to avoid imposing hardship conditions, but, again, I remind you that the Deneb Accords specifically recognize the right of any belligerent to use whatever means are necessary, up to and including lethal force, to maintain order among POWs. We have no intention of attempting to pressure any of your personnel into collaborating, and we recognize the Deneb Accords' stipulation that it's the duty of captured personnel to attempt to escape. However, it would be well for you to remind your personnel that that stipulation does not grant immunity from the use of force to stop them from escaping or to maintain order among them."


So the Deneb Accords, like the Geneva Convention, allow that every prisoner has the duty to escape and rejoin their forces. Much harder on a hostile world hundreds of light-years from a friendly base. But it also allows "whatever means necessary" to maintain order among prisoners. There's some ominous phrasing right there.


"That poses some obvious difficulties for my boarding parties—difficulties which might well provoke the sort of incident we've both just agreed should be avoided—and I've been giving some thought to ways those difficulties might be alleviated. By my staff's calculations, the combined small craft and escape pod capacity of your superdreadnoughts should suffice to remove approximately five thousand of your personnel from each ship."

O'Cleary's face stiffened, and she began to open her mouth indignantly, but Michelle continued coldly.

"Before you say a word, Admiral. I advise you to consider your position carefully. As you've just acknowledged, interstellar law requires you to obey my lawful commands. I, on the other hand, am obligated to provide for the reasonable safety of your personnel as long as you and they do obey my lawful commands. The planet Flax is less than one million kilometers from your present position. That's well within the powered range of your life pods, even allowing a two hundred percent reserve for an unassisted landing. In short, removing your personnel from your vessels in the manner I've indicated poses no threat to life or limb, assuming you've properly maintained the equipment in question. As a consequence, I'm formally informing you that failure to comply with this instruction will be interpreted as a decision on your part to resume hostilities."


All but a skeleton crew aboard O'Cleary's ships are to hit the life pods and pinnaces and evacuate before the first Manticoran boarding parties arrive. It seems Solly SDs only maintain small craft and escape pods enough to evacuate ~85% of their personnel, which probably makes sense, if they have to bail during battle, they've probably taken at least that many casualties and so far we haven't seen an engineering failure bad enough to justify evacuation most of the crew that wasn't pretty much instantly lethal.


The Deneb Accords and interstellar law were very clear on the mutual responsibilities of victor and vanquished. When O'Cleary dropped her impeller wedges in the universal FTL signal that she surrendered, Tenth Fleet had been legally obligated to grant quarter rather than continuing the attack while it waited for her formal, light-speed surrender offer to arrive. (Assuming, of course, that Michelle Henke had chosen to regard them as anything besides pirates.) By the same token, O'Cleary's ships were legally required to stay surrendered, with their crews obedient to the lawful orders of any boarding party, if they didn't want the other side to renew the action. There was, however, a bit of a gray area in that the crew of any captured ship had a legal right to attempt to retake their vessel, and one could argue that ambushing a boarding party when it first came onboard constituted a sort of preemptive retaking. Whether or not the argument held up in court would depend upon whose court it was, but that would be cold comfort to anyone—on either side—who got killed in the course of the attempt.


Crew on a captive ship have the right to try and retake it, just as their captors have the right to shoot them for trying.


The good news was that a Nike-class battlecruiser carried a three hundred-man Marine detachment, twice the size of a Saganami-C's. The bad news was that that still gave HMS Rigel only two companies. And the even worse news, as far as he was concerned, was that he'd been tasked to provide Marine support for two separate naval boarding parties.


Nikes have 300 Marines.


The boat bay aboard SLNS Anton von Leeuwenhoek, Admiral Keeley O'Cleary's flagship, was larger than it would have been the aboard a Manticoran superdreadnought. Partly that was because Solarian ships carried greater numbers of small craft. That had been true even before Manticoran crews had been downsized, although the difference was even more marked these days. For another thing, Solarian small craft tended to be larger than their Manticoran counterparts. According to his briefing, they didn't carry any more personnel or cargo—in fact, they carried slightly less—but they had a longer designed operating radius, and their basic designs were much older and hadn't profited from the RMN's wartime emphasis on greater operational efficiency and component reduction.


Solly pinnaces are bigger than Manticoran ones, with similar performance and capacity but more endurance. They also carry more of them.


"Aye, aye, Ma'am." Jackson saluted her and Markiewicz, then turned to his own platoon sergeant and passed through Lindsay's people into the central shaft of each bank of lifts. They did not enter the lift cars, however. Instead, they sent the cars upward, overriding the automatic command to close the shaft doors behind them, and, as per their pre-mission orders, followed the cars up the shaft in their armor. Markiewicz didn't really expect anyone aboard Leeuwenhoek to be stupid enough to try anything, but if anyone was so suicidally inclined, he had no intention of offering his people up in neatly packaged, easily bushwhacked lots.


Climbing the elevator shafts. That takes me back.


Unfortunately, the wreck's velocity of almost eighteen thousand kilometers per second had already carried it past Flax. It was now hurtling across the inner system at roughly six percent of light-speed, bound for a fatal encounter with the gas giant Everest in just under twenty hours. It was extraordinarily unlikely, given Tenth Fleet's limited manpower, that the SAR parties would be able to completely search ships as mangled and torn as Babbage and her consorts in that time. Which meant they had to be slowed down somehow.

Tristram looked like a guppy tethered to a whale as she worked to decelerate Babbage's wreckage, but there wouldn't have been any point using a larger, more powerful vessel. Tristram could brake them at the current rate indefinitely, and they dared not apply any greater deceleration, for a lot of reasons. At this rate, it would take over fifteen T-days (and the next best thing to twelve light-hours) to actually stop them relative to the system primary, but it would also divert them well clear of any collisions with odds and ends of system real estate, which would be a very good thing from the SAR perspective.


Tristram a little Roland is fully capable of towing an SD, at least this fast which isn't very. With no active wedge on the hsip and for fear that grav plates are damaged or won't automatically react, they're holding decel to 1.2 G.


Assuming anyone who maintained their internal systems as poorly as these people appeared to have had managed to survive to be rescued in the first place, of course.

Don't rush to conclusions, Abby, she reminded herself. This is strictly an emergency access way, and the lock's the only thing it leads to. Let's not decide all of their maintenance is as half-assed as it looks right here until we've actually seen it.

She told herself that rather firmly, and she knew she had a point. But she couldn't help reflecting on how any Manticoran or Grayson executive officer would react to something like this, even if it was "only" an emergency access way. In fact, especially if it was "only" an emergency access way. There was a reason things like that were provided when a ship was designed, after all, and when an emergency finally came along and bit your posterior, it was a little late to think about catching up on that overdue maintenance you'd really been meaning to get to sometime real soon now.


Emergency airlock. They got a good seal which is great, because the inner door doesn't close. I'm also trying to not rush to judgement about the maintenance and readiness of the SLN based on this, so I'll comment only that a malfunctioning airlock on a starship is not a minor problem.


Abigail heard someone snort contemptuously and shook her own head. They were inside the superdreadnought's outer armor but still well outside the big ship's core hull. Passages like this one were specifically designed and intended to be depressurized when the ship went to action stations as a means of limiting blast damage when the armor was breached. The fact that Charles Babbage hadn't bothered to do that said an enormous amount about the Solarian League Navy's readiness states. Or about Task Force 496's pre-battle appreciation of the threat levels it faced, at least.


Unused passages directly beneath the hull get depressurized in battle to limit blast damage. At least on the capital ships that have lots of space unused in combat.


Wilkie engaged the manual unlocking system and gripped the old-fashioned wheel. It took her a second longer—and a lot more effort—than it ought to have to get it moving, and the squealing sound it made set Abigail's teeth on edge. Not just because of the fingernails on a blackboard effect, either. There was no excuse at all for not properly maintaining the manual override mechanism on an emergency escape hatch!


Okay, well this ship is kind of a shambles, but I doubt that applies to all or even most SLN vessels.


She straightened and consulted the schematic which had been loaded into her electronic memo board. Theoretically, at least, she had the deck plans for the entire ship—or for the Scientist class as originally designed, at least—supplied specifically for SAR by Admiral O'Cleary. She hoped the schematics really were complete, without any surprises, intentional or unintentional, but she wasn't prepared to trust them fully. Still, they offered at least general guidance, and she'd marked them with the damage Tristram's sensors had been able to map before she download them to the board.


And O'Cleary provided them with schematics for SAR.


According to the schematic in his battle armor's memory, he was approximately sixty meters aft of Leeuwenhoek's command deck, and one hundred meters forward of her flag bridge. The 00 Deck corresponded to the Royal Manticoran Navy's Axial-One, the central—and best protected—deck of a warship's core hull, and Leeuwenhoek's was both broader and higher than the other decks stacked above and below it. The passage before Markiewicz was well lit, yet he felt uneasily aware of its vastness, as if he couldn't quite make out details.

Don't be stupid, Evgeny. You can see just fine. It's just that you shouldn't be seeing this much empty space aboard any warship.


Commentary on Solly design. Actually Axial One also used to be broader than other corridors and kept on lower gravity, to facilitate the rapid movement of men and equipment in an emergency, until they decided it was a waste of space and weakened the ship unnecessarily. The main and flag bridges of a Solarian SD are on the same deck, 160 meters (525 ft.) apart.


Like the passageway outside it, Leeuwenhoek's flag deck was considerably more spacious than a Manticoran flag deck would have been. That was interesting, Markiewicz thought, given the far larger number of people crammed aboard the Solarian ship. A Manticoran designer, with considerably more volume to play with, would have fitted the command stations into no more than two thirds of the volume Leeuwenhoek's architect had assigned to them.


Solarian flag bridges 50% larger than their Manty equivalents, while they have far more people and comparable mass/volume to a Manty SD.


The various displays and consoles had a sleek, aesthetically pleasant grace to them. Their shapes and spacing seemed to flow into one another, almost as if they'd been designed to do just that, although, he thought as he glanced over them, they didn't seem to be arranged quite as well from the viewpoint of information flow. The ops officer on a Manticoran admiral's staff, for example, was placed so that he could see the astrogator's display by looking in one direction and the master tactical plot by looking in the other, all without moving out of his bridge chair. The way Leeuwenhoek's command stations were arranged, however, the ops officer would have to stand up, take at least two steps, and crane his neck awkwardly to see the astro display. And one of the reasons he'd have to was that he had at least twice as many assistants as a Manticoran ops officer would have required, and he would have had to walk around one of them to see it.

Obviously, they figure the guy who does the shooting doesn't have to see where the guy who's steering is headed, he thought dryly. Not to mention the minor fact that they're way over-manned.


That'll be Fleet 2000 at work. And of course they're over-manned. Virtually every officer on a flag officer's staff is himself a flag officer, in need of a slightly less prestigious staff. In fact, this is the part I was thinking of earlier, seem to have gotten the details wrong.


"Vice Admiral Hansen Chamberlain, my chief of staff," O'Cleary continued, indicating a short, squared-off officer to her right. "My operations officer, Rear Admiral Tang Dzung-ming. My staff intelligence officer, Rear Admiral Lavinia Fairfax. And my staff communications officer, Captain Kalidasa Omprakash."


That's a Vice Admiral and two Rear Admirals on the staff of one full Admiral. Who, incidentally, was only third in command when this task force left Meyers.


"I suppose I should be handing you a sword or something, Major," she said tartly. "Unfortunately, I'm afraid the Solarian League Navy isn't very practiced at this sort of thing."

It could have come out with an edge of humor, but it didn't. Nor was there any humor in the cold smile which accompanied it.

"If I've discovered one thing over the last twenty years or so, Admiral," Markiewicz replied, meeting her eyes steadily, "it's that we don't get much of a chance to practice a lot of the more important things until it's too late."


True that. Well, what is he supposed to say to that?


"Ma'am, as soon as I have formally received your surrender, and that of Captain Lister, I will so notify Admiral Gold Peak's staff. At that time, I will place one of my squads on the command deck, one in Central Engineering, and another in each of your boat bays to provide traffic control and security. As soon as that's been accomplished, a naval boarding party will come come aboard Leeuwenhoek and complete the task of securing the vessel. I am to extend Admiral Gold Peak's compliments to you, and invite you to return aboard Rigel, Admiral Oversteegen's flagship with Lieutenant Fariñas. My understanding is that Admiral Gold Peak will be arriving aboard Rigel shortly herself."


How this is going to work.


"Iwasaki," Lindsay said over the platoon net, and Corporal Dunston Iwasaki and his section of three stepped forward, arranging themselves as an honor guard around O'Cleary, Chamberlain, and Fariñas.

Well, the kid got that right, Markiewicz decided after glancing at Ingebrigtsen. From the captain's expression, it was obvious she hadn't set that up ahead of time. And that she was as as pleased to see it as Markiewicz was.

O'Cleary cocked her head, smiling slightly, as if she were trying to decide whether it was an honor guard or a security detail to keep her for making some kind of break for it. Then she snorted quietly, a bit less bitterly, somehow, and nodded to Markiewicz.

"If I don't see you again, Major," she said, "allow me to thank you for your courtesy in a difficult situation."


Well, O'Cleary is capable of some grace. Far more, I imagine, than Sandra Crandall could have mustered.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-24 10:14am

"—afraid it's not quite so simple as all that, Admiral. The consensus of my House committee is quite firm on this point. Before the Administration could possibly get Congress to sign off on any formal treaty, especially one in which the Republic accepts some sort of 'war guilt' clause, the futures of these star systems have to be settled. That, after all, was the reason we voted to support the resumption of hostilities in the first place."


Six weeks into negotiations, and they're wrangling over whether the planets Manticore seized in the last war, and which Haven has since reclaimed, should be Havenite, independent or vote on their fate.


It wasn't so much that she was unwilling to believe his committee members felt—or could be brought to feel—exactly as he'd just said they did, although she doubted they were nearly so adamant (or united) as he was suggesting. No, the problem was that she could taste the real emotions behind his argument, which meant she knew he personally didn't give a single solitary damn about the future of the disputed star systems and never had. He'd been harping on this point for a full half-day now, but what he really wanted was something else entirely. It was unfortunate that she couldn't pluck exactly what that "something else" was out of his mind, but she'd come to the conclusion that he was probably after one of two things.

Either he intended to give in eventually on the unstated understanding that his concession on this point would earn a matching concession from her on another point—probably the amount of reparations the Republic was going to ante up eventually, given the way he kept harping on linking the issue to "war guilt"—or else he didn't want anything out of her at all. In fact, the way he kept referring to the reasons the Havenite Congress had voted to support the Pritchart Administration's resumption of hostilities suggested to Honor that the latter possibility was more probably the correct one. He'd been just a little bit too careful, just a tad too obvious, about not saying explicitly that the real reason the Republic was in its current dire predicament was due to missteps by that same administration. Which strongly suggested that the real target of his extortion was Eloise Pritchart. Honor had no idea what sort of domestic concession he might want to squeeze out of the Pritchart Administration, but it was at least equally probable that there was one and that he knew Pritchart would eventually promise it to him if he'd only shut up.


Honor using her brain at the table, and not just her social hacks, though they certainly helped her along.


"At the moment, however, if it's escaped your attention, none of those star systems are currently in Manticoran possession at all. Given that fact, and the past history I've just summarized, I fail to see precisely why you expect Her Majesty's Government to countersign some sort of blank check for the Republic to determine their futures at this conference table instead of consulting with them after the cessation of hostilities."

"I'm not asking you to 'countersign' anything, Admiral," Younger replied. "I'm asking you, as Queen Elizabeth's representative, to acknowledge the validity of the results of the plebiscites conducted in those 'strategic' star systems following their liberation from Manticorian occupation by Republican armed forces. And to pledge to abide by plebiscites to be conducted on any other planet which was previously part of the Peoples Republic of Haven and which is currently occupied by Republican forces."

"And I'm telling you, Sir," Honor replied in a tone whose patience would have made anyone who knew her well extremely nervous, "that Her Majesty is not prepared to acknowledge anything, anywhere, in any star system, without first having had the opportunity to examine the evidence and the results to be sure the processes were free, open, and legitimate."

"Are you suggesting the results of the plebiscites the Republic has already conducted might not represent the true desires of the systems' inhabitants?"

-snip-

"Mr. Younger," she said calmly, "you and I are both perfectly well aware I'm suggesting nothing of the sort."


It sounded to me sort of like she was, but then it only makes sense for Manticore to make sure.


"I haven't said Manticore won't acknowledge the validity of the plebiscite results. What I've said is that Manticore won't acknowledge their validity without the opportunity to evaluate their reliability, accuracy, openness, and honesty for ourselves. You're as aware as I am of the distinction between those two positions, and you're also as aware as I am that this is a point on which I, as the Star Empire's representative to these talks, am not going to make the concession you're demanding. I can only assume, therefore, that your purpose in demanding it is to use up time. Which, I observe, you are doing despite the fact that I informed you perfectly straightforwardly at the beginning of these negotiations that there was a limit to how long I was authorized to continue talking before the Star Empire resumes active operations against the Republic."

He started to open his mouth, his expression indignant, but she raised her right hand between them, index finger extended vertically in an unspoken command to be silent, and continued in the same measured tone.

"There could be many reasons for your desire to 'run out the clock,' including the belief—mistaken, I assure you—that Manticore is so desperate for a settlement with the Republic, in light of the potential for conflict with the Solarian League, that if these talks can simply be strung out long enough, we'll accept revisions to our more substantive demands, such as the . . . clarification of our differences over our prewar diplomatic correspondence. If that is what you're hoping for, I'm quite certain President Pritchart doesn't share your belief."


Good so far....


"I suspect you're well aware that the President believes—accurately, as it happens—that my instructions are to return to Manticore with no treaty rather than with a bad treaty, time limit or not. Which suggests to me, Sir, that you're bringing a domestic agenda to this table in the belief the President will give you whatever it is you want from her here in the Republic in order to convince you to stop wasting time. Whether or not that belief of yours is accurate is, of course, more than I could say. I would suggest, however, that signing up for fiddle lessons when the house is already on fire is scarcely the most profitable use of your time. Bearing that in mind, I think that rather than sitting here wasting valuable time, we should take a short recess, during which you may discuss with President Pritchart just what it is you want and stop trying to get it out of her by using my mission as your prybar."

-snip-

"I believe, under the circumstances, that a recess probably is in order," Pritchart said after taking a moment to be certain she had her own voice under control. "I see it's very nearly lunchtime, anyway. If I may, Admiral, I'd suggest we take a couple of hours for lunch, during which Representative Younger can contact the members of his committee and canvas their response to your. . . forthright statement of the Star Empire's position on this point."

She smiled pleasantly at Honor, then turned to Younger.

"If you desire, Gerald," she continued pleasantly, "I'm sure Leslie and Walter and I could also make the time available before our next session with Admiral Alexander-Harrington and her delegation to discuss the Administration's view on this point. I'm always happy to hear Congress' views and advice, as you're well aware, and if the members of your committee have pronounced reservations on this point, I'd like to be made aware of them. I would never seek to dictate to the consciences of the Republic's elected representatives, but I must confess that at this moment, I'm unaware of any general groundswell of opinion on this point. If it's going to present serious difficulties, I'd appreciate a briefing on it."


And served.


Finally, his fingers began to move again, and her eyes widened.

<The real reason you want to tell her is you like her,> he told her.

"I—" she began, then stopped as she realized that, as usual, Nimitz had come unerringly to the point.

"You're right," she admitted out loud. "Which may not be a good thing." She smiled ruefully. "I don't think hard-nosed, professional diplomats are supposed to like the people they're trying to beat a treaty out of."

<So?> Nimitz signed. <Not what Soul of Steel sent you to be. She sent you to get agreement, not just talk and argue. Besides, I like Truth Seeker, too.>

"'Truth Seeker'?" Honor repeated, leaning back and looking deep into his eyes. "Is that what you've decided her treecat name should be?"

Nimitz nodded, and Honor's eyes narrowed. As a general rule, the names treecats assigned to humans usually turned out to be extraordinarily accurate. Some of them were more evocative than truly descriptive—her own, for example, "Dances on Clouds"—but even those were insightful encapsulations of the humans involved. And now that she thought about it, "Truth Seeker" summed up her own feel for Pritchart's personality.


Prichart and Honor have been getting along better and better, and Nimitz gave her (Prichart) a sign name.


"And have you come up with a name for Thomas Theisman, too?" she asked.

-snip-

"'Dreams of Peace'?" she said, speaking very carefully, as if she couldn't quite believe what she heard herself saying. "That's his treecat name?"


What's wrong with that? Sure, he's killed tons of people, but that doesn't preclude him from wanting peace. Look at yourself.

Snipped Honor's reaction to, and sharing with Prichart, her learning about the vast Solly fleet at Meyers. You know, the one that's already surrendered to Mike. That communications lag is great for killing drama.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Batman » 2014-11-24 07:41pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Batman wrote:So...ignoring Apollo and pods, seventy-three solarian superdreadnoughts would have very likely been able to intercept the internal-tubes missile fire of...12 Manticoran heavy cruisers. Call me paranoid but as a Solarian, I'd be a tad worried about needing a 6 to one numerical and 86 to 1 tonnage advantage to achieve that.
The Saganami-C's dual drive missiles would be easier to intercept coming in because they'd come in slower. Pod-launched three stage missiles come in ridiculously fast; they also come in smarter courtesy of the Apollo control missiles.

True enough I suppose, though I think dual-drive missiles would still come in a lot faster than anything the SLN is used to dealing with, and you're certainly right that Apollo made them come in smarter. Also, DDM ECM birds may be noticeably less effective than all up capital MDM ones. Let's increase the SLN intercept rate by a factor of four. That means that...18 SDs with a 1.5 numerical and 21 to 1 tonnage advantage can intercept the fire of 12 heavy cruisers. Somehow, my inner Solarian is still not happy.
And my basic point here was that if Terekhov were restricted to the same weapons that would have been available to him only, say, one T-year ago... he would not have been able to do this with such tiny forces. The combined force of a dozen or so Nikes still might, which speaks badly enough of the tonnage disparity. But it would have been a lot less easy, is the point I'm making.

Depends on how you define 'weapons available'. Exclusively with onboard launchers? No, probably not. He could probably have taken quite a chunk out of Crandall's forces thanks to the range and acceleration advantage meaning he would never have to stray close enough for her to fire back, but he likely would have had to surrender the system. 'With' pre-Apollo MDM pods (which 'were' available a year (and more) earlier)? He would still have eaten them, it would just have taken longer.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-24 09:07pm

Ahriman238 wrote:Extent of the problem securing their prisoners. Then again, I seem to recall a tale from WWII about a single soldier taking a full company prisoner, so it's not the most lopsided captor-captive ratio there's ever been.
It was World War One, Alvin York. The German company basically assumed he was a whole platoon of guys due to how fast he was killing them. Not being the most educated of men, York was unable to provide a precise count of his prisoners other than "a-plenty."

I think marooning people has just become the de facto standard for housing prisoners. It's at least very secure while tying up a minimal number of guards. I do have to wonder why these tropical islands haven't been developed. Mention of both POW camps for Havenite prisoners and the probably Solly reaction to the marooning plan. "The beaches went on and on.... it was horrible!"
Probably because these colony planets often don't actually have populations of more than a few hundred million, and the fraction of the population rich enough to indulge in tourism was, until recently, not very high. So there's not much advantage to living on an isolated island a thousand miles from anywhere.

I guess the BC graser has been upgunned to 'capital ship-weight.' LACs providing close coverage on the ships' unarmored sides, after a couple test firings so the Sollies understand just how big the gun held on them is.
Hmp. I am really dubious of the LAC grasers being able to match the firepower of a superdreadnought graser. Then again, even battleship-class beams would be very nasty to a superdreadnought with no wedge, fired into from an angle the armor belt doesn't cover.

All but a skeleton crew aboard O'Cleary's ships are to hit the life pods and pinnaces and evacuate before the first Manticoran boarding parties arrive. It seems Solly SDs only maintain small craft and escape pods enough to evacuate ~85% of their personnel, which probably makes sense, if they have to bail during battle, they've probably taken at least that many casualties and so far we haven't seen an engineering failure bad enough to justify evacuation most of the crew that wasn't pretty much instantly lethal.
Well, you could have, say, a radiation leak that is spreading through the life support system. Or a catastrophic engine failure that doesn't blow up the ship but leaves it stranded in some way.

I'd have a few more escape pods, if it was me.

Solly pinnaces are bigger than Manticoran ones, with similar performance and capacity but more endurance. They also carry more of them.
Since Solarian warships spend most of their time engaged in "operations short of war" for which having lots of small craft is handy. Like, say, the situation in On Basilisk Station where Honor had to detach pinnaces or cutters or whatever to do customs patrol.

Also, you need more pinnaces to shuttle around all those numerous admirals. :D

Tristram a little Roland is fully capable of towing an SD, at least this fast which isn't very. With no active wedge on the hsip and for fear that grav plates are damaged or won't automatically react, they're holding decel to 1.2 G.
Well, basically, there's no reason you can't lock a tractor beam onto a stupidly massive object and start pulling it. If this happened while the Solarian ship's engines were working, of course, it would result in the Roland getting comically dragged along for the ride like a man holding an elephant on a leash.

But while the Roland is outmassed about, oh, forty or fifty to one... it can accelerate itself at about 600 gravities. So there's no reason its drive can't exert enough force to accelerate the massively heavier ship at 12-15 gravities. F equals m times a.

Emergency airlock. They got a good seal which is great, because the inner door doesn't close. I'm also trying to not rush to judgement about the maintenance and readiness of the SLN based on this, so I'll comment only that a malfunctioning airlock on a starship is not a minor problem.
Battle Fleet in particular is freaking complacent and dumb about things like this, I suspect, as befits an armed force that hasn't lost a man to poor maintenance after taking battle damage in centuries.

Batman wrote:True enough I suppose, though I think dual-drive missiles would still come in a lot faster than anything the SLN is used to dealing with, and you're certainly right that Apollo made them come in smarter. Also, DDM ECM birds may be noticeably less effective than all up capital MDM ones. Let's increase the SLN intercept rate by a factor of four. That means that...18 SDs with a 1.5 numerical and 21 to 1 tonnage advantage can intercept the fire of 12 heavy cruisers. Somehow, my inner Solarian is still not happy.
To be sure, you are fully right. I'm just... trying to point out that while the technical disparity here is really very sharp, it's not like the Solarians don't have missile defenses at all. They'd probably have handled themselves quite well against anything short of Ghost Rider and the MDM.

Depends on how you define 'weapons available'. Exclusively with onboard launchers? No, probably not. He could probably have taken quite a chunk out of Crandall's forces thanks to the range and acceleration advantage meaning he would never have to stray close enough for her to fire back, but he likely would have had to surrender the system. 'With' pre-Apollo MDM pods (which 'were' available a year (and more) earlier)? He would still have eaten them, it would just have taken longer.
His maximum controllable salvoes wouldn't have been big enough to reliably inflict serious damage on Crandall's ships, at least not on more than one or two of them at a time. It would have taken a loooot of pod salvoes, and Crandall might actually have been able to do what she expected to do and bull through the fire and get into range of the planet after all.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-24 09:54pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Actually, it looks like commerce-raiding will be part of Manticore's strategy going forward. Though yours is a valid objection. True I think a Nike or an Agamemnon could make short work of any number of Solly BCs they're likely to find as escorts, but those are the ships most needed besides wallers for major fleet stuff.
Right.

The most effective 'commerce raiding' strategy the RMN could pursue would be that of infrastructure-killing raids similar to the Cutworm raids, because then you don't need huge numbers of individually tiny ships (i.e. too tiny to carry weapons qualitatively superior to their SLN counterparts). Things that, against a first-rate enemy navy in the prewar era, would require the commitment of a solid core of capital ships, but which can now be handled by the RMN's superheavy 'battlecruisers.'

Of course, this is also the strategy most likely to result in Manticoran DDM-armed ships encountering the first generation of Sollie extreme range missiles fired from stationary system defense pods... :D


Well, every strategy has it's flaws, you can't run scared because of what the enemy might do or develop.


Simon_Jester wrote:
Ahriman238 wrote:Manty stealth and sensors versus Solly ones.
Notably, Manticoran sensors are localizing and engaging Solarian drones at ranges at which the Solarians think they could feasibly have done the same, hopefully. Whereas Manticoran drones are invisible to Solarian sensors, even at basically point blank range.

So it looks like the major RMN advantage in the drone-war category is stealth, not (vastly) superior sensor capability. Of course, that superior stealth lets them sneak very close for a better look, but still.


Agreed, and the Sollies aren't nearly as close to penetrating recon drone stealth as Haven is, and I seriously think at this point they only still try out of frustrated professionalism.

The more general idea of hiding part of your fleet from the enemy is not new. Variations on the theme exist in, for example, prewar Havenite doctrine (see the Battle of Nightingale, which almost has to have been the product of a Legislaturalist admiral, or a non-Legislaturalist officer highly senior in the pre-Pierre PN.


Far older than that, since Earth naval history is part of everyone's history.

On the other hand, Battle Fleet may not have much knowledge of them, because their only experience is training exercises. And as I discussed, Solarian training exercises seem too devoted to making the commanding admirals look good for anyone to really pull out all the stops and get tricky. This has the effect of making Solarian admirals very predictable, because they do the logical thing in response to the situation they think they see. If any important information is concealed from them, they will fail to make allowance for it... and get hammered.

Bad officer training can be almost as bad a handicap as being this hideously outgunned.


Yeah, their training and readiness are kind of a mess. I suspect being engaged in a massive war will sandblast the rough edges off in a hurry, either as they kick up to a war footing or later as they keep losing ships.

they weren't that bad a design, although the first of the Scientists had been built long enough ago that they'd still been equipped with projectile-firing point defense systems. At least all of these ships seemed to have been upgraded to laser clusters since, judging from the detailed passive scans Augustus Khumalo's Ghost Rider platforms had pulled in. And it was painfully obvious that even now the Sollies didn't begin to grasp just how capable—and stealthy—the Ghost Rider recon drones actually were. To be sure, the really close passes had been purely ballistic, with no active emissions to betray their presence, but even so they shouldn't have been able to get in close enough to literally read ships' names off their hulls without someone noticing something.
To be fair, with even today's optics you could probably read five-meter-tall letters on the goddamn moon with a big enough orbital telescope... although the Hubble, by contrast, only has about fifty-meter resolution at that distance.


Now do you think that's because of superior future optics, or did they actually get that close.


Scientist-class SDs have a broadside of: 32 missile tubes, 26 grasers, 24 lasers, 16 countermissile tubes and 32 PD.

Thats's almost as many missiles as a circa-1900 Manty or Peep SD, almost twice the energy weapons with about half the countermissile tubes of a pre-war Gryphon class. And the follow up Vegas are "basically only repeat Scientists with a couple of additional missile tubes in each broadside."
The heavy emphasis on laser point defense also indicates a missile defense doctrine that hasn't changed much since the laser head was new, probably because they've never seen missile barrages dense enough to saturate the defenses they do have. A Scientist-class could probably handle one of its own broadside salvos while taking few or no missile hits, because most of the countermissiles would hit, the lasers would pick off several more, and (especially with Halo) the tethered decoys would draw off several of the rest.

We know this because that's more or less what happened to early-series salvos of single-stage missiles fired from a ship's own missile tubes. Unless there was a truly gross technical mismatch between the missiles and the defense, a few would get through sometimes, but not enough to cause rapid degradation of a ship's combat capability.


I do wonder how often they run into limits in their ability to upgrade the old ships, because there are new components that can't simply be downsized to fit the space filled by the old system, or a system with no equivalent in old ships. Something like the few CMs, many laser clusters where even swapping out systems won't help because you need more CMs these days.


Basically, while you could design an SD-sized platform to counter the MDM threat, it would look very different from a Scientist-class, or its RMN and PN contemporaries.


The ships the RMN and RHN use already have the best ECM they can get make, some very good decoys and tons of CMs and laser clusters. I'm not sure what else you could reasonably add to increase survivability, unless perhaps you could layer sidewalls inside each other.

Apparently LACs have gotten at least some upgrades, the new Shrikes have a more potent graser and stronger bow walls. Though it should properly be a Shrike-C, the B variant became the standard after Second Hancock, with rear missile defense and stern wall in place of the pinnace the original carried. Oh, and ability to do real damage against an SD does not, in any sense, equal the ability to survive engaging a wall of battle with LACs. Not against a Haven Quadrant power, anyways.
To be fair, the sheer volume of beam fire that any SD could put out would be devastating to the LACs... assuming anything like adequate sensor locks on them, and assuming a doctrine that is remotely prepared for their existence.


Oh yes, it's always been a bad idea to try against SDs that know you're coming. And even without that, in a fleet this big. I personally suspect with the time granted the defenders, and a good idea of where Crandall's ships are going, they could slip the LACs into beam range unnoticed. They've done it before. But even so, they'd probably kill 4-8 SDs, the others freak out some and sooner rather than later the LACs get trashed. Still, I'd love to see the LACs used for something more than missile defense again.


No mention of Ferrets, which may or may not be in the process of being phased out. A Katana can do anything a Ferret could, except poke at big ships with relatively ineffectual destroyer-weight missiles.
Honestly yes, although they might still be desirable and effective for countering SLN 'destroyer-weight' combatants (destroyers and CLs that are basically upscaled destroyers). Whereas getting into beam range of an SLN combatant is always risky; no matter how good your ECM is and how strong your missile defense is, in beam range you just don't have that level of tactical edge over the enemy.


Point, and the Shrikes still have the anti-ship missiles in any case.


And yet really, much of the challenge here is just reprogramming the hardware you already have to not make stupid mistakes that are actively counterproductive in combat against the new weapon systems. That takes a year or two to fix, tops, if your coders are any good.


Which is how we get the arms race where everyone is putting out the best defensive and offensive EW tricks they can think of, and countering those tricks as soon as they get decent data. This is how they went through seven generations of EW upgrades in the first five years of the war, and just one more area where the Sollies are hilariously behind the learning curve.

Crandall both acknowledges the FTL comm's existence, and dismisses it's relevance. And you should really be worrying about the large volume of space you can't see into. Particularly since that zone comes from all your recon sats getting killed short of it.
To be fair, yes. On the other hand:

If you think that the actual threat comes from battleship-sized "battlecruisers" that fire really big dual-drive missiles as big as or larger than normal capital ship missiles, and which tow pods that fire the same, and you know that the enemy has fourteen in the entire sector and you outnumber them five to one with ships that can easily soak up thirty-missile broadsides each for a long, long time...

Well, frankly it doesn't matter. This is just one of those training exercises you've gone through where the opposing staff is careful to not humiliate you. Sure, it would be nice to be able to get your drones into that area, but the disparity in firepower and missile defense capability is so great that it won't matter. So you press the attack anyway, much as a Havenite commander circa 1905 PD might have done, not fully grasping the nature of the threat, prepared to believe that there is a threat, but confident that your quantitative edge lets you deal with it.


The difference being one of information. By 1905, the Peeps had pretty much accepted their technological inferiority and the ability of RMN commanders to pull rabbits out their hats. One likely would still approach with confidence, but with a bit more caution nonetheless.

They came so very close, but no comprehension of what they're walking into. The Peeps could have told them all about Manticoran Missile Massacres, but they don't care to know.
Thing is, so much of it relies on Manticoran superweapons- the ability of the Apollo control missiles to multiplex those command telemetry channels and downlink to eight attack missiles apiece being chief among them.

Without that last eightfold increase in firepower, this ambush probably wouldn't work nearly so well even with the other major Manticoran advantages.


Granted.


Apparently 80% acceleration as most navies restrict to in nonemergencies is over cautious. And Manty/Grayson compensators are even safer, I can't recall one ship lost to compensator failure without battle damage in two wars.
Well, it's not like that was actually a common outcome before that, either. It's just that during peacetime, routinely running ships close to the limit of their performance puts undue stress on the compensators and increases maintenance costs.

Plus, think about it like this. A typical Honorverse warship (prior to the revolution in military affairs created by the Manticoran innovations in 1905-1920 PD) lasts about 50-100 years before becoming too antiquated to be worth keeping around.

Now, we know that running at maximum military power, Honor's SDs at Fourth Yeltsin had a 0.5% chance of compensator failure during one runup to high speed as they charged out to meet Thurston's battleships.

Suppose you regularly run your compensators at a very high power level and that this results in a 0.01% chance (20 times less than the risk Honor ran) of compensator failure during each day of operation.

Do that every day for a year and there is a 3.6% chance (roughly) of the ship being lost to compensator failure. Do it every day for twenty years and the ship has roughly a 50/50 chance of survival.

Whereas during an actual day-long pitched battle, accepting a 0.01% chance of losing a ship in order to get it somewhere in 15% or so less time is often a very good idea. And even if you do this every day, you still only have about a 3.6% chance of losing the ship every year. If the ship losses you take to enemy action aren't higher than 3.6% a year, you're probably doing pretty damn well for yourself.

Now, losing 3.6% of your ships every year to random engineering failures is still bad, so you'd normally NOT run at such a 'risky' power level as to give your ships a 0.01% chance of being lost each day. But during a battle that's still acceptable. And even during routine operations, something like a 0.001% chance would be acceptable... because then the risk declines to about .36% chance a year, which is pocket change compared to all the other stuff threatening to wreck ships.

But during peacetime operations, that .36% chance a year is probably the greatest single risk your ships face at all. For a fleet the size of the SLN that is probably several ships a year, perhaps dozens, lost to compensator failures every year, with thousands of resulting casualties. Which means that you will be under immense pressure to stop overclocking your ships' engines to reduce absolute losses, even if the relative losses are tiny.

Whereas, as I noted above, at war it's the relative losses that matter, not the absolute ones, so higher, riskier power settings are more appropriate.


Fair enough, and very well reasoned.


Apparently the recon platforms can get really close even moving under power and matching accel with the SDs.
Note that their acceleration to match an SD is only about 10% or so of the acceleration they're capable of, which helps to explain how they can conceal their impeller wedges so well. It's equivalent to an Honorverse starship running at, oh, 25-50 gravities, which we get several cases of being pretty sure they can do.


Right, really low power wedges can be hidden, I think the threshold for most starships is something like 150 G. And it seems like a relative rather than absolute limit, though an absolute one would make more sense.


After all, 23-Es aren't just FTL relays, they're packing far more AI than your average missile and let ships control all 9 with a single missile's control link.
In light of this it beggars my imagination why Foraker didn't do the same thing. After all, the entire doctrinal focus of post-Theisman-coup RHN missile doctrine is overwhelming mass, even at the expense of precision control. Something like an Apollo control missile acting as central processing node for eight conventional missiles to improve their reliability and coordination would make perfect sense.

It's even, in a real sense, a logical descendant of something Theisman himself did at Barnett by having his orbital forts upgraded to slave multiple pods' worth of missiles to a single pod's fire control channels.


That's a really good question I hadn't considered, and I'm sure she's kicking herself for it.

"Less than 2,000" CMs from 71 SDs, translates to 28 birds per ship. Subtract 16 for internal counter-missile tubes and we get a dozen (or less) CMs from Aegis. So very much "too little, too late."
And yet, without the Apollo control missiles, that would be... probably a little more than one countermissile per attack missile.


Yeah, Apollo is really unfair even without the control platform it was meant for.


The moral of this story, Saganami-Cs with large pods are overkill against Solly SDs.
Well, really it's the pods. Anything with decent fire control could have done this; Saganami-Cs are just what happened to be available.


Yeah but "A dozen Manty cruisers waxed twice their number in superdreadnoughts like it was nothing" is a clue stick big enough to make even Solly flag officers realize something is up. And that's definitely how the press on both sides plays it.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Batman » 2014-11-24 10:01pm

Given the range and acceleration advantage? One or two at a time would've sufficed given the ridiculous number of pods the Haven sector powers are willing to play with. Fire the pod MDMs you actually can control, back off, fire the 'next' pod salvo you can actually control, back off...Sorry, no. With access to MDM pods Therenkov could have eaten Crandall's force without Apollo and without taking losses, it would just have taken longer.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-25 12:53am

Ahriman238 wrote:Well, every strategy has it's flaws, you can't run scared because of what the enemy might do or develop.
Sure; I was mainly observing this because it might actually lead to an interesting fight. The Sollies could probably rig up something like Moriarty and coordinate salvoes of system defense pods that actually stand a reasonable chance of effectiveness within a year or two.

Agreed, and the Sollies aren't nearly as close to penetrating recon drone stealth as Haven is, and I seriously think at this point they only still try out of frustrated professionalism.


Far older than that, since Earth naval history is part of everyone's history.
Well, the 'stealth in space' aspect may have made doing this kind of hiding nigh-impossible for a while, is what I was thinking.

The ships the RMN and RHN use already have the best ECM they can get make, some very good decoys and tons of CMs and laser clusters. I'm not sure what else you could reasonably add to increase survivability, unless perhaps you could layer sidewalls inside each other.
The main thing you'd do would be to even more thoroughly emphasize countermissile capability. The SLN's first step in this direction would be to basically load all their shipboard tubes with Aegis countermissile canisters and adopt a Haven-like doctrine of just lobbing so many countermissiles that Manticoran EW advantages matter less.

Oh yes, it's always been a bad idea to try against SDs that know you're coming. And even without that, in a fleet this big. I personally suspect with the time granted the defenders, and a good idea of where Crandall's ships are going, they could slip the LACs into beam range unnoticed. They've done it before. But even so, they'd probably kill 4-8 SDs, the others freak out some and sooner rather than later the LACs get trashed. Still, I'd love to see the LACs used for something more than missile defense again.
More likely to happen against lighter League ships, I think.

That's a really good question I hadn't considered, and I'm sure she's kicking herself for it.
In my headcanon Foraker IS working on Havenite!Apollo. It's just that the weapon system is of doubtful utility because it involves sacrificing attack missile throw weight in exchange for subprocessing nodes that can't coordinate with the launching ship in any event. Such that the system is still being toyed with and the RHN was never fully convinced that it'd be worth it. They have enough problems with their MDMs being too damn big and not being able to fit enough of them on their ships anyway.

Batman wrote:Given the range and acceleration advantage? One or two at a time would've sufficed given the ridiculous number of pods the Haven sector powers are willing to play with. Fire the pod MDMs you actually can control, back off, fire the 'next' pod salvo you can actually control, back off...Sorry, no. With access to MDM pods Therenkov could have eaten Crandall's force without Apollo and without taking losses, it would just have taken longer.
How many of those 1500-missile MDM salvoes can Terekhov's command control at once? The designed circumstance under which all of a Saganami-C's control telemetry is in play would be when firing stacked double broadsides at, oh, 20-30 second intervals at best. The missiles have a flight time of at most six minutes so at most you might be able to control about fifteen salvoes simultaneously... but honestly I doubt it's anywhere near that high.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Terralthra » 2014-11-25 02:24am

Ahriman238 wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
they weren't that bad a design, although the first of the Scientists had been built long enough ago that they'd still been equipped with projectile-firing point defense systems. At least all of these ships seemed to have been upgraded to laser clusters since, judging from the detailed passive scans Augustus Khumalo's Ghost Rider platforms had pulled in. And it was painfully obvious that even now the Sollies didn't begin to grasp just how capable—and stealthy—the Ghost Rider recon drones actually were. To be sure, the really close passes had been purely ballistic, with no active emissions to betray their presence, but even so they shouldn't have been able to get in close enough to literally read ships' names off their hulls without someone noticing something.
To be fair, with even today's optics you could probably read five-meter-tall letters on the goddamn moon with a big enough orbital telescope... although the Hubble, by contrast, only has about fifty-meter resolution at that distance.


Now do you think that's because of superior future optics, or did they actually get that close.
Well, if you can control gravity to the degree they can, pretty sure "grav lensing" works just as well for visible light as it does for grasers. Say hello to zero chromatic aberration lenses with a reflectivity of zero.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-25 05:35am

That's actually a good point; making a telescope with an effective lens aperture of... big... would be child's play by comparison with a lot of what they already do with strategically shaped gravity.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Batman » 2014-11-25 07:30pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
Batman wrote:Given the range and acceleration advantage? One or two at a time would've sufficed given the ridiculous number of pods the Haven sector powers are willing to play with. Fire the pod MDMs you actually can control, back off, fire the 'next' pod salvo you can actually control, back off...Sorry, no. With access to MDM pods Therenkov could have eaten Crandall's force without Apollo and without taking losses, it would just have taken longer.
How many of those 1500-missile MDM salvoes can Terekhov's command control at once? The designed circumstance under which all of a Saganami-C's control telemetry is in play would be when firing stacked double broadsides at, oh, 20-30 second intervals at best. The missiles have a flight time of at most six minutes so at most you might be able to control about fifteen salvoes simultaneously... but honestly I doubt it's anywhere near that high.

You don't need to control all of them simultaneously. Thanks to the ridiculous range advantage of MDMs over single (or stage and a half) solarian missiles and the fact that missiles have massively faster acceleration than even the fastest spaceships, you can just throw them towards the target area and tell them 'I'll be back later' for a goodly portion of the trip. The only salvoes the ships would need to directly control are the ones that are close enough to have to worry about the enemy having wandered out of their fields of acquisition, ECM, or countermissiles.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-26 10:20am

"All right," the earl continued when no one accepted his invitation. "Since the Sollies're going to decide, as the Queen put it before Crandall actually showed up, that the Star Empire's a nail and the thing for them to do is reach for the biggest damned hammer they've got, there's not much point kowtowing to that jackass Kolokoltsov and his pain-in-the-ass, equally arrogant buddies. The way they've been viewing that Green Pines crap with alarm and calling for 'an impartial interstellar investigation'—by Frontier Security, of all people!—into 'the Star Empire's apparent involvement in terroristic actions' is a pretty fair indicator of where their brains—such as they have, and what there is of them—were headed even before Mike kicked Crandall's arse! So I think our best option is to tell them flat out that the entire mess is the result of the way their people have fu—ah, screwed up by the numbers, and that we're all done putting up with it. Send them the tac recordings from Spindle and ask them how many more superdreadnoughts they want our cruisers to kill before we even bring up our battlecruisers—much less our own wallers—and get down to the main event. And while we're doing that, we go ahead and activate Case Lacoön, too."


Response to Spindle. There is effectively no way of escaping a war at this point, declared or no.


Faces tightened around the table with his last sentence. Case Lacoön was the Royal Manticoran Navy's plan to close all wormhole nexii under its control to Solarian traffic. Or, rather, that was the first phase of Lacoön. The second phase included active commerce raiding and the extension of de facto Manticoran control to every wormhole nexus within its reach, regardless of who that nexus nominally belonged to.


One of Manticore's plan for fighting the League, close the wormholes to Solly shipping, then engage in commerce raiding and seize every wormhole they can lay their hands on which is what, Phoenix, Erewhon and Torch? They may want to think twice about those last two at least.


"I don't really like saying it," Langtry said finally, "but I think Hamish has a point. Nobody's ever captured a Solarian ship-of-the-wall before, far less blown twenty-three of them out of space. And unless I'm mistaken, no one's ever killed anyone's superdreadnought using nothing but heavy cruisers. Talk about rubbing salt into the wound!"

He shook his head, contemplating the way Solarian arrogance was likely to react to the insult of being that casually—and totally—trounced by someone who hadn't even used a capital ship in the process.

"We're in uncharted territory," he continued, "and, unfortunately, the one thing I think we can all agree on is that the League isn't going to . . . take the news well, shall we say? That being so, the only modest change to Hamish's proposal I'd suggest would be to include a diplomatic note which basically tells Kolokoltsov we consider Crandall's actions at Spindle yet another act of war and that if they're not repudiated—publicly, and in the strongest possible terms—within two standard T-days of the receipt of our note, Her Majesty's Government will assume it represents the Solarian League' chosen policy vis-à-vis the Star Empire. In that case, given the existence of a state of war of the League's choosing between it and us, we will immediately close all nexii under our control to all Solarian traffic and inform all our station commanders that we're at war with the League and that they're to act accordingly."


The slightly modified plan, which I still don't see going over that well. As he said, no one's ever gotten a backhand like this before, and the Sollies aren't used to the idea of losing in general. But how likely are they to believe in the tactical data, anyway?


"Your Majesty, there's always a temptation, for any analyst, to choose the hypothesis she knows her superiors, or her government, or the people responsible for shaping policy want to hear. Telling them something else isn't the way to make herself popular, after all. But it's not necessarily even a matter of a self-serving refusal to rock the boat, either. Sometimes it's even a case of recognizing what their superiors are willing to hear—of avoiding truths that will simply get them disregarded or fired, because they know that if they go, they'll only be replaced by someone even less willing to risk flouting the party line. Of course, it can be a case of simple mental laziness, too. In fact, that happens a lot more frequently than most of us in the intelligence community like to admit. But even more often than that, probably, perfectly honest, hard-working analysts screw up by the numbers simply because they've gotten into a habit of thought. Because someone's allowed herself to become so firmly wedded to one view of the evidence—often without even realizing she's done so—that her own internal filters screen out anything that would challenge the existing interpretation.

"Frankly, that's a huge part of what's happened to the League, and it's happened because the League's been able to survive anyway. It hasn't bitten them on the butt the way Jurgensen's failures at ONI bit us when Theisman launched Thunderbolt. The League is so big and so powerful that to some extent, at least, the Sollies really have been able to make reality be what they wanted it to be. After all, who was big or nasty enough to pound them if they were wrong? So they've gone happily along, seeing themselves as the lords of all creation, literally for centuries. Of course it's going to be hard for any doomsayers to get through to the real decision-makers!"

"Even with the tactical records from Spindle in front of them?"

"Assuming the analysts themselves believe the records in question are genuine, they'd still have to get them past their own superiors, Your Majesty, and that's not likely to be as simple as it would be in an ideal galaxy. I'd say it's possible—even probable—someone higher than them in the food chain's going to be suppressing any unfortunate little evidence that she helped create the current fubar. I mean, the current situation. And even if that isn't the case, those superiors are going to have preconception filters of their own. And I'd estimate it's at least equally probable that someone's going to tone down the analysts' reports in the interests of cool reason and avoiding 'hysterical alarmism'."


Which is exactly the dynamic we've seen with Thimar, Dowd and his friend.

I will say this much for the interminable meeting scenes, they do show off how similar these groups think and function, the decision trees they use. Also how familiar they are with the other parties' reasoning and options, or how much their understanding of the other side is filtered through their own preconceptions.


"I'd have to say that if I were a Solarian admiral who'd managed to make the absolutely wrong call on every single decision and gotten twenty-plus ships-of-the-wall destroyed as an obvious consequence of my own abject stupidity, the temptation to just go on and shoot myself in the head would definitely be there. On the other hand, most people who decide to shoot themselves in the head, don't shoot themselves in the back of the head. For that matter, she could've used the overrides of her skinsuit's med panel to administer a lethal dose that would have put her painlessly to sleep. We don't like to talk about it, but every spacer knows how to do that, given all the nasty, lingering ends we can wind up facing."

"That sounds to me like you don't think it was suicide."

"Well, there's no question it was her pulser, Your Majesty, and it was in her hand when Admiral Gold Peak's Marines recovered her body. Judging from the Admiral's report, there's no forensic evidence to suggest anyone else fired the fatal dart, for that matter. Unfortunately, there aren't any witnesses who actually saw her do it, either, which is pretty suspicious in its own right. And given the fact that everyone on her flag bridge was skinsuited, there probably wouldn't be any forensic evidence, even under ideal conditions."


Sandra Crandall apparently shot herself in the back of the head. Unless one of her staff was overcome with some compulsion to remove her, but that'd be crazy talk.

Oh, and skinsuits have "med panels" that can inject a variety of drugs presumably for shock, pain and trauma. And you can override the safety to suicide painlessly rather than wait for the air to run out or radiation poisoning or what-have-you.


"The problem, though, is that our perspective isn't the important one at the moment. The important one is the one from Old Chicago, and it's likely to occur to someone back on Old Earth that Admiral Crandall's demise was arranged by some nefarious Manty."

"But . . . why?" the prime minister asked almost plaintively.

"Why, in order to make sure O'Cleary wrote the official dispatch, Mr. Prime Minister! Obviously, she's either turned her coat in return for some bribe on our part, or else we delicately informed her that the same thing that happened to Crandall could happen to her if her report didn't say what we wanted it to say. The fact that despite all the damage the Buckley took, Crandall was the only fatality on her flag bridge would be suspicious enough for some people, even without the possible irregularities of her 'self-inflicted wound' or the mysterious lack of witnesses."


Yeah, "the Admiral attacking us suicides in a very suspicious way with no witnesses whatsoever before even entering our custody" sounds all sorts of sketchy.


And the elephant in the room, they know Mesa and Manpower were behind Monica, they know they were behind New Tuscany. It's clear the slavers mean them ill and have far more pull with the League than Manty intelligence envisioned in their worst nightmares. Direct military action is raised, and tabled for the moment on the theory that Mesa's not going anywhere, and it really wouldn't play well in public relations to attack the people accusing Manticore of nuclear terrorism against them.

A lot of fans I know have questioned why Manticore doesn't launch a decapitation strike against Old Earth, since for the time being the RMN is virtually unstoppable and with the wormhole Sol is a week's flight. The reasoning is similar (and provided just a bit later this book) taking out the Solly leadership gains them little (and in fact, would likely increase the SLN's effectiveness as new more cautious leaders rise) while providing a heinous act for the entire League to rally against, a strike against the motherworld itself.


"And in the meantime," the queen continued more grimly, "you and Hamish are formally instructed that the Crown has determined that an effective state of war exists between the Star Empire and the Solarian League. You are authorized and directed to transmit the appropriate activation orders for Lacoön One and to make any military movements you deem appropriate in its support. I want to avoid any additional provocations, if at all possible, but that desire takes secondary priority. The security of our ships, personnel, and citizens, and the accomplishment of Lacoön's objectives are to be your primary consideration. And you are also instructed to take all necessary and prudent steps to prepare for the execution of Lacoön Two, as well. Is that clearly understood?"


And out goes the war warning, to all stations. The Junction locks out all Solly traffic.


Allen Higgins had been one of the flag officers Edward Janacek had appointed to a major fleet command. Not only that, he was connected by marriage to the Janacek family. Under the circumstances, he was amazed he'd been retained on active duty at all, and he supposed the fact that he still had a flag bridge to call his own said interesting things about Earl White Haven, since one of Janacek's very first moves on re-assuming the post of First Lord of Admiralty had been to purge the Navy of every single White Haven protégé and ally. He hadn't even pretended the purge had been largely inspired by his personal hatred for the earl, either. Frankly, Higgins had expected White Haven—with whom he himself had never gotten along very well, having once fallen afoul of the infamous Alexander temper—to wield an equally thorough retaliatory broom. And if he were going to be honest about it, he also had to admit that, based on the Navy's performance in the face of the Havenites' Operation Thunderbolt, White Haven would have been completely justified.

Yet the White Haven Admiralty had shown a surprising degree of tolerance. Possibly because it didn't have much choice. It could hardly have fired every serving (and surviving) flag officer, after all, given the frantic need to expand the Navy once more and the demand for experienced admirals that entailed. Higgins didn't think that was the real explanation, though. Instead, to his considerable surprise, the new Admiralty had contented itself with removing the more outrageously political Janacek appointees and those whose demonstrated performance had proven conclusively that they weren't suitable material for combat commands.


Cleaning house, the Janacek versus White Haven versions. Oh, and it's Higgins! You know, the guy from Grendelsbane who blew up his own mostly-finished ships rather than let Haven capture them. And now he's the one and only Fleet Admiral of the RMN, the commander of Home Fleet now that Honor's away.


Although Higgins respected Alexander-Harrington's accomplishments, he was also one of those officers who was well aware of the role the media had played in creating the legend of "the Salamander." To her credit, she seemed to genuinely attempt to avoid that sort of media adulation, but coupled with her stature on Grayson and her political status as one of the main leaders of the Opposition to the High Ridge Government, it had turned her into the next best thing to a physical avatar of the goddess of war as far as the Manticoran public was concerned. And, for that matter, as far as most of the Navy was concerned. Which had made stepping into her shoes an interesting experience.


Someone who respects Honor but isn't overawed by her public stature. I'm liking Higgins more and more.


HMS Inconceivable. He wasn't sure what he thought of "inconceivable" as the name for one of Her Majesty's starships, but it was certainly a fitting appellation for his flagship, under the circumstances.


And his flagship, most definitely an Invictus.


"Well, I'm undoubtedly the most unpopular officer in Weyland," Claudio Faraday said with an air of satisfaction. "For that matter, I might well be the most unpopular officer in the entire Beta subsystem!"

"I think that might be going just a bit far, Sir," Marcus Howell replied. "At least as far as the entire subsystem's concerned. Although, now that I think about it, they probably aren't too fond of you down on Gryphon at the moment, either."

"Nope. And I imagine I may be hearing a little something from the bean-counters back at Admiralty House, too." Faraday sounded a bit more serious, but his air of contentment was unabated. "We've probably just written off—what? ten percent?—of the station's life pods, after all."


Faraday (CO of Weyland) just ran his real-life evac drill, firing off the escape pods once people had boarded, and let the folks on Gryphon scramble whatever recovery efforts they could, on no warning.


. "While we're re-docking Fabrication's pods and recertifying Research's pods, you and I, and Admiral Yeager, and a security team from ONI which just happens to've been in-system when I called this little exercise, are going to do a walk-through. We'll be sending an updated backup down to Gryphon for storage just in case. And we're also going to see just how many of Yeager's worker bees remembered to secure their classified data properly before heading for their pods."


You never get to practice the really important things until it's too late. Like when it might save you an epic chewing out and potential dismissal.
"Any plan which requires the direct intervention of any deity to work can be assumed to be a very poor one."- Newbiespud

VhenRa
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby VhenRa » 2014-11-26 10:50am

One of Manticore's plan for fighting the League, close the wormholes to Solly shipping, then engage in commerce raiding and seize every wormhole they can lay their hands on which is what, Phoenix, Erewhon and Torch? They may want to think twice about those last two at least.


There is more Wormholes then just those. One haven't been brought up yet or focused on. For that matter, Visigoth-Mesa Wormhole would likely be on the seize orders.

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Mr Bean
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Mr Bean » 2014-11-26 11:03am

VhenRa wrote:
One of Manticore's plan for fighting the League, close the wormholes to Solly shipping, then engage in commerce raiding and seize every wormhole they can lay their hands on which is what, Phoenix, Erewhon and Torch? They may want to think twice about those last two at least.


There is more Wormholes then just those. One haven't been brought up yet or focused on. For that matter, Visigoth-Mesa Wormhole would likely be on the seize orders.

One of the several interesting things to come out of this book was the fact of exactly how many wormholes there were in Solarian space and the shear scale of Solly space. There was that old comparison about Bahrain fighting back against a North Korean invasion to give an idea of the scale of the conflict between Haven and Manticore. There was this map Indicating the leagues size which is not perfect since it's a 2d form of a 3d structure. It just drives home than even Manticore and Haven together are up against something fifteen times their size in raw population alone.

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gigabytelord
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby gigabytelord » 2014-11-26 12:13pm

Mr Bean wrote:
VhenRa wrote:
One of Manticore's plan for fighting the League, close the wormholes to Solly shipping, then engage in commerce raiding and seize every wormhole they can lay their hands on which is what, Phoenix, Erewhon and Torch? They may want to think twice about those last two at least.


There is more Wormholes then just those. One haven't been brought up yet or focused on. For that matter, Visigoth-Mesa Wormhole would likely be on the seize orders.

One of the several interesting things to come out of this book was the fact of exactly how many wormholes there were in Solarian space and the shear scale of Solly space. There was that old comparison about Bahrain fighting back against a North Korean invasion to give an idea of the scale of the conflict between Haven and Manticore. There was this map Indicating the leagues size which is not perfect since it's a 2d form of a 3d structure. It just drives home than even Manticore and Haven together are up against something fifteen times their size in raw population alone.


That is just possibly one of the tinniest maps I've ever tried to read.


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