Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-29 10:36pm

"So Admiral Trenis' analysts are satisfied that the sensor data Duchess Harrington provided us with is genuine?" she asked.

"The missile performance wasn't quite as good as what we've observed against our own units," Theisman said, "but I suspect that's because their heavy cruisers' fire control isn't sophisticated enough to take full advantage of the FTL link. It certainly wasn't because anything the Sollies did knocked them back, at any rate." He grimaced. "I can admire a professional job as much as the next man, but in this instance, those poor Solly bastards were even more outclassed than we were during Operation Buttercup. Which says really depressing things about how bad Solly intelligence must be, when you think about it. We and the Manties have been throwing multidrive missiles at each other for quite a while now, but it's obvious this Crandall didn't have a clue what that was going to mean. You'd think someone would've mentioned those unimportant little details to their Office of Naval Intelligence."


Even Theisman is incredulous that the Sollies simply had no idea what they were walking into, and this man has dealt with every flavor of incompetent, arrogant, stupid and treacherous bosses.


"But unless the Sollies' leadership consists solely of outright lunatics—which, unfortunately, no one over here at the Octagon is prepared to rule out—they're going to realize that for the next several years, any war against Manticore would be a one-sided massacre. It may be they're stupid enough to pull the trigger, anyway, but I seriously question whether even the Solly public would tolerate that sort of bloodbath for any lengthy period."

"So what?" Pritchart asked in her best devil's advocate tone. "Who cares about a little thing like angry voters? It's not as if there's any real political accountability or oversight in the League, you know."

"Not now, there isn't," Theisman said grimly. "But personally, I think the Sollies should be paying attention to more than just the operational aspects of events here in our corner of the galaxy. There's that little matter of what's been going in in the Maya Sector, for example. And then there's us. If you'll recall, Madam President, the citizens of the People's Republic didn't have any real political oversight, either. A situation which changed rather abruptly when the Manties' Eighth Fleet came calling and Saint-Just got distracted dealing with that minor threat."

Pritchart started to reply lightly, then stopped as she realized Theisman was serious. Had it been anyone else, she would have dismissed his suggestion out of hand. Corrupt though it might be, the Solarian League was still the Solarian League, and the notion that the system which had governed it literally for centuries could be changed was ludicrous. But Thomas Theisman had more firsthand experience than most in arranging exactly that sort of change, and although he disliked politics, he understood them well. Not to mention the fact that he was probably the best student of history she knew. So if he thought the League might be that fragile . . . .


The possibility for reform in the League is considered a long shot, sure, but both Honor and Theisman think it ban be done even by Balkanization.


"Duchess Harrington's been remarkably patient about not bringing up that matter of our correspondence—so far, at least—but she's never pretended it's not going to have to be addressed," the president continued after a moment. "Personally, I think that, given the fact that we've already acknowledged we were the ones who started shooting this time around, she's been willing to wait on that point. I think she's been letting us wrangle and argue about things like plebiscites and formulas for computing reparations as a way to clear away the underbrush before she tackles what she knows is going to be the thorniest issue of all. For that matter, she's probably been letting the negotiations build momentum, as well, to help carry us past any potholes farther down the road. Admiral or not, she's got good diplomatic instincts.

"Either way, though, we're going to have to approach that issue pretty damned soon. In one way, it's going to be a lot easier for Alexander-Harrington than she can possibly suspect, given what we think we know about Arnold's shenanigans. But it's going to be a nightmare for us, on the domestic side, and I want every member of our delegation to understand very clearly just how . . . bleak our military prospects would be if this thing goes belly-up on us."


Meaning it's time to lean on the conservatives again. And Honor's addressing the minor issues before tackling the major controversy.


"Madam President, I'm afraid we're going to have to suspend our negotiations, at least briefly."

"I beg your pardon?" Pritchart felt the bottom drop out of her stomach as that long-awaited shoe came crashing down, and an emotion entirely too much like panic surged through her. If the negotiations failed, if Manticore resumed active operations—

"I assure you that it has nothing to do with anything that's occurred over the negotiating table," Alexander-Harrington said, almost as if she'd read Pritchart's mind. "I hope we'll be able to resume the talks sometime soon. In the meantime, however, I'm afraid I've just been recalled."


Word of Oyster Bay reaches Haven, along with orders recalling Honor and Eighth Fleet.


"I'm sure you'll be hearing reports about what's happened soon enough, and when you do, I'm sure people here in the Republic are going to start thinking about how it's changed the diplomatic calculus. At the moment, to be honest, I don't have any idea which way it's going to change things. I hope—even more than I hoped before I had the opportunity to actually meet you, Thomas Theisman, and some of your colleagues—that it won't force Queen Elizabeth to stiffen her position where the Republic is concerned, but I can't promise that."

Pritchart felt an almost overwhelming urge to lick her lips, but she suppressed it sternly and made herself sit motionless, waiting, her expression as tranquil as she could make it.

"I don't have instructions to do this," Alexander-Harrington continued, "but before I leave, I'll have a copy of Elizabeth's official message to me made for you. In the meantime, I'll summarize."


Honor has built enough of a relationship with Prichart at this point that she feels comfortable telling everything to her straight up.


The secretary of technology shrugged. "At the very least, doesn't this put us in a much stronger negotiating position?"

Unlike Hanriot, Pritchett noted, Barloi didn't look a bit regretful. In fact, she couldn't conceal a certain satisfaction at the thought . . . assuming she was trying to in the first place.

"Allow me to point out that changes in negotiating postures are two-edged swords," the president observed. "No one on Admiral Alexander-Harrington's negotiating team ever tried to pretend Elizabeth Winton's magically become one of the Republic's greater admirers. She offered to resume negotiations from a position of strength. In many ways, that was a statement of her confidence—her faith in her ability to control the situation if we chose not to be 'reasonable.' If she sees that margin of strength disappearing, if she finds herself with her back against the wall and faced by multiple threats, I'd say she's likely to ruthlessly destroy those threats in the order she can reach them. And guess who she can reach a lot sooner than she can reach the League or somebody she hasn't even been able to identify yet?"


So, Oyster Bay actually changes very little for Haven.


"Maybe," Stan Gregory said. "On the other hand, don't forget the real reason the Manties and Manpower have been busting each other's chops for so long. They're probably the only people in the galaxy, outside of Beowulf, at least, who're every bit as serious as we are about enforcing the Cherwell Convention. In regard to which, let's all remember what happened in Congo five months ago. And Mesa's Green Pines fantasy. Not to mention who most probably tried to kill Queen Berry, since we know damned well it wasn't us."

"A very good point," Theisman agreed. "Of course, it raises another question. If Manpower has, or even just has access to, the hardware that let them get in and out of the Manticore Binary System without even being detected, why did they use a bunch of ex-StateSec 'mercenaries' against Torch? Why not just blitz the Congo System and then send in a couple of conventional cruisers and a brigade of Marines to sweep up the pieces?"

"To preserve secrecy until they were ready to pull the trigger on Manticore itself?" Nesbitt suggested. "To try to point the Manties' suspicion at us, because of the StateSec connection?


That is a very good question. I'm thinking because their fleet of super-stealthy podlyers wasn't ready, as it still isn't right now, it's just that they saw a once-in-a-lifetime target of opportunity and decided to go forward anyway with just the proof-of-concept ships. Though as twisty as the Alignment's planning is, they might well think of it as misdirection as to Manpower and Mesa's resources.


"I know. And the only thing more dangerous than not seeing conspiracies that are there is seeing ones that aren't," Pritchart acknowledged. "But talking about conspiracies and suicidal assassins, there's that attempt on Alexander-Harrington, too. We know we didn't do it, although I've never blamed the Manties for figuring we were the ones with the best motive. But if Manpower's been moving chess pieces around like this, and if they have the technology—or whatever—they used to control the assassin who killed Webster and that poor patsy who carried out the Torch attack, why shouldn't they have tried to pick off one of the Manties' best military commanders? Especially if the object of the exercise was for us to trash Manticore for them?"


Prichart is concerned that Mesa may have been behind the attempt on Honor's life, and the death of Yves Grosclaude. Both completely true, however paranoid they may sound.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-29 11:13pm

Vejut wrote:I realize thats a fan creation and ignores the 3rd dimension, but that map looks kinda...goofy, mostly because of the density disparity between the Solarian League proper (not filled in in the map, but for there to be that many different internal layers its gotta be pretty dense) and the Haven quadrant powers, versus then just how dispersed the Talbott and possibly Erewhon areas are. Whatever planets count as "the Old League" and "the Shell" are actually packed into about the same space as all of the Talbott cluster. Thinking about it, it kinda makes the whole "worry about the creeping Solarian menace" across the whole cluster more than a bit odd too--only part is inside the verge, and the cluster has a radius about that of the Verge's width. On the other hand, may just be a mapmaker error, given that Maya, very much part of the League, as I recall, isn't even inside the marked Verge at all.


The size of Talbott doesn't bother me so much, since it's explicitly twice the volume of space as Silesia, with far fewer inhabited systems. Also note that nothing to the Galactic "south" of the League, or much to the sides, is shown.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Vejut » 2014-11-30 10:24am

Ahriman238 wrote:The size of Talbott doesn't bother me so much, since it's explicitly twice the volume of space as Silesia, with far fewer inhabited systems. Also note that nothing to the Galactic "south" of the League, or much to the sides, is shown.


I may be being led astray by the fact they fully closed most of the circles indicating the size of the league, except the verge. I'm thinking its just fan maps, as Haven is shown as about the size of the non-verge league, especially when the blue dots like Solway and the like are included. You'd think if the size parity were that close, there would be a lot less worry about the sheer scale of the league. The other option is that the borders are drawn wrong (as the Maya sector is clearly completely outside the league's borders, even the Verge, so are Howard, Meyers and Zale, and a number of Havenite worlds are drawn outside Haven's border.), plus that circle for the Talbott cluster is more like twice the diameter of the Confederacy, not twice the volume...

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-30 04:05pm

Well, neither the author nor the fans is that stellar at geometry.

Also, something like the League is likely to be both lumpy and very dense.

The 'lumpiness' would have to do with expansion along wormhole routes. Human space in the Honorverse isn't spherical.

There are "shot in the dark" colonies that traveled outward 500-1000 light years from Sol in (presumably) all directions, but most of them are poorly supplied and maintained. With a few conspicuous exceptions that were well-financed (Haven, Manticore) or stumbled upon especially valuable concentrations of wealth (Manticore, in spades), they're almost all relatively poor. The region around Manticore is an exception to the rule thanks to the Junction and the various other wormholes in the area, and even it has a lot of systems that are too poor to matter on the interstellar scale (pre-1903 Grayson being the extreme case, with other cases being more like, say, Zanzibar).

Then there's the density issue. The first wave of colonies from Sol were, by this point in history, founded about 1500 years ago and have been in constant hyperspace-capable contact with the homeworld for most of that time. They are, by now, fully populated and industrialized and have been sending out daughter colonies of their own for centuries.

As a result, the region within about 100 light years of Sol is fully exploited; every habitable planet will probably have been colonized by someone, and by someone with enough capital and access to prospective immigrants to make their colony grow quickly. There are, realistically by now, probably colonies that are themselves daughter colonies of worlds that are themselves daughter colonies of world that were colonized from Earth; arguably there's room for a fourth generation in there.

The mean spacing between Earthlike planets in the Honorverse seems to be about 10-20 light years, so there are likely to be hundreds if not thousands of heavily populated and industrialized systems within that sphere of about 100 light years radius. By contrast, a volume of equal size farther from Earth contains far fewer fully developed systems. Because it takes about 300-500 years for a colony to reach full maturity, and most of the far-out colonies have only existed for about that length of time.

So occupying the same physical volume as the League is meaningless. What matter is that the Solarian League has scores of star systems individually as developed as Haven, whereas Haven has... one. Plus several outlying colonies that are, say, half or two thirds as productive. Like Lovat or Danak (or, for military purposes now, Bolthole).

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Vejut » 2014-11-30 07:38pm

That actually makes a good bit of sense, though it does make me wonder if another part of the Mesan plan was cutting off a Havenite or Andermani version of the Soviet five-year-plan starting to generate enough spread industrial development to actually start causing their long term plans issues...

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Mr Bean » 2014-11-30 08:41pm

If you run the numbers and assume the migration was a mass migration (And it seems to have been) within 100 light years of Earth... let me quote wiki for a second
Planets
wiki wrote:The closest star with a confirmed exoplanet is Gliese 674, 14.8 light-years away from our Solar System. Of the other 41 star systems that are closer, the closest, Alpha Centauri (4.1 light-years away), has been suggested to contain a planetary companion that may be similar in size to Earth.[3] Of the 35 planetary systems located within 50 light-years, 20 are located within 40 light-years, 11 are within 30 light-years, and only four are within 20 light-years.

Out of the 65 confirmed planets within 50 light-years, more than half were found to revolve around their star closer and complete an orbit faster than Mercury does around the Sun, and 18 have a more eccentric orbit than that of Mercury. Considering their minimum masses, 46 exoplanets are expected to be gas giants, and only 19 under ten times more massive than Earth. The smallest of these has minimum mass of 2.4 times that of Earth's and revolves around 82 G. Eridani, 20 light-years away. Only three exoplanets have had their radii measured from transit events with their host stars: Gliese 436 b at 0.365 RJ,[4] 55 Cancri e at 0.178 RJ[5] and GJ 1214 b at 0.238 RJ


The current thinking is 20% of every star system with planets is likely to have an earth analog. So assuming that 20% of 65 exoplanet systems... your looking at 13 possible second earth. 13 Haven sized systems with a thousand years of history. Or in other words, thirteen planets as rich and as powerful as Beowulf not counting Beowulf or earth itself.

And that's counting what we can see now within 50 light years of Earth today.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-30 11:29pm

Vejut wrote:That actually makes a good bit of sense, though it does make me wonder if another part of the Mesan plan was cutting off a Havenite or Andermani version of the Soviet five-year-plan starting to generate enough spread industrial development to actually start causing their long term plans issues...
1) In the recent past when the Mesans knew they'd have the spider drive, they might well be counting on their own ability to stealthily destroy that industrial infrastructure in a hurry. Worked on Manticore.

2) They really don't have to do that, is my point. Natural economic forces will tend to ensure that a given region of space outside the core Solarian volume, even a region like the Haven Quadrant, is far less densely populated and far less uniformly developed.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-12-01 03:48pm

The space about the system's two inhabited planets was crowded with shipping, showing far greater numbers of impeller signatures than would have been permitted in such proximity when Eighth Fleet departed for the Haven System. But those ships weren't the evidence her fears might have been too dark—that the damage had actually been less severe than she'd dreaded. No, those ships were the proof it had been even worse, for they were still only sorting through the wreckage, better than two weeks after the actual attack, and warning beacons marked prodigious spills of debris—and bodies—which had once been the heart and bone of the Star Empire of Manticore's industrial might.


A week for word to reach Honor on Haven and a week for her to return, all thanks to the Trevor's Star wormhole. I don't know, it amuses me that now that the old pre-war frontier is unimportant, Manticore's communication loop is so short everywhere crucial except Talbott. A week to get a message to Earth, to Haven and to New Berlin. Four days to pass a message to Grayson, three to Erewhon. I believe a week or two to reach any point in Manty Silesia, if you're not going to be moving at merchantman speeds and stopping at every system. Then roughly six weeks for a given point in Silesia, three weeks to reach Spindle with it's relatively central position, and three weeks for them to pass on orders and news to other Quadrant worlds.

Oh, and two weeks later the cleanup is still ongoing.


There was wreckage after the Battle of Manticore, too, but not like this. Oh, no. Not like this. This time every single warship we lost was caught docked, not destroyed in action. And most of the dead are civilians this time.


The funny (read, depressing) thing is, that may be a good thing. I do believe there are more dead bodies from Oyster Bay than their are uniformed RMN personnel. Even if everyone on Hephaestus had been military, that would have eaten a quarter of the Navy right then and there. As it is, I suspect the naval losses are still tremendous, but Manticore is at least not going to be knocked over by opportunists.


"Thank you, Your Grace." Fargo gave her a small half-bow, then cleared his throat. "The First Lord asked me to screen you. He's actually on Sphinx at this moment. Well, more accurately, he's aboard a shuttle which happens to be headed in your direction at this moment. His ETA is about twelve minutes, and he asked me to tell you he would very much like to join you aboard your flagship when he arrives, if that would be convenient."


Hamish on Sphinx when Honor arrived, and RVing with her now.


She took it in the formal handshake to which they were always careful to restrict themselves on official occasions, and she felt a fresh stab of concern as she realized his fingers were actually trembling slightly with exhaustion and the terrible, midnight-black grief that rode his shoulders like some hunched, ravenous beast. She stood there, looking into his eyes for a heartbeat which seemed to last forever, seeing that beast's shadows in those blue depths, and then she let go of his hand. Before even she realized what she was doing, her arms went about him, instead, and she closed her own eyes, leaning forward to rest her cheek on his shoulder.

For just an instant, he stiffened as she abruptly abandoned formality. But only for an instant, and then his arms tightened around her, hugging her while Samantha and Nimitz crooned to one another.

"Welcome home," he whispered in her ear. "Oh, God—welcome home, Honor."

* * *

"Well," Honor said in a determinedly light tone as the lift carried them towards her quarters, "we've just put naval discipline back a century or so."

"Frankly," Hamish said, one arm still around her, "I'm not too worried about the precedent. After all, how many fleet commanders are going to be married to first lords?"

"Not many, I suppose," she conceded, but she tasted the determination with which he sought to match her own light tone and knew how hard he found it.


Eh, I doubt anyone is really going to have a problem with a husband and wife not being all formal in their first meeting after a major disaster, even if one is a naval officer and one is the Navy's civilian head.


"All three of your aunts," he said, and his voice was soft, now, the voice of her lover and husband, shadowed with his own grief at inflicting this upon her. "Your Uncle Al was away on business, but Jason and Owen were both at home. So"—he inhaled deeply again—"were all the kids. And your cousin Devon, and his wife, and two of the children. Matthias and Frieda. Holly and Eric. Martha." He closed his eyes. "Al is all right—or as close to it as a man can be when his wife and kids are. . . And Devon's daughter Sarah, and your cousin Benedict and cousin Leah, were all away. But the rest were all there. It was your Aunt Claire's birthday, and . . . ."


The number of Honor's aunts, uncles and cousins, nieces and nephews, who are dead. Of the lot we've only met Devon, and then only briefly. Still, Oyster Bay is deeply personal, for Honor because it wiped out her extended family, for us, because they took out the Nasty Kitty.


"Andrew and Miranda were taking Raoul to Claire's party," he said, and her heart seemed to stop. "Your dad and the twins were supposed to be there, too, but there'd been some kind of delay. They were in transit between Manticore and Sphinx when the attack hit. They came through it just fine, and Andrew, Raoul, and Lindsey had swung by your parents' place to pick up your mom. They hadn't gotten to Claire's yet, either, but Miranda—"

-snip-

"Raoul and your mother are fine," he said quickly, then made a harsh, ugly sound deep in his throat. "Well, as fine as they can be. But they were too close to the Yawata strike. Andrew got the two of them—and Lindsey—punched out in time, and they're all fine, although Lindsey came out of it with a badly broken collarbone. But—"

His hands slid down from her face, and his arms went back around her.

"He ran out of time, love," he whispered. "He got the three of them out, but he and Jeremiah were still in the limo when the blast front hit it."


Honor's parents and children are okay, but Andrew and Miranda LaFollet are dead. Farragut too.


Hamish Alexander-Harrington knew his wife as only two humans who had both been adopted by a pair of mated treecats ever could. He'd seen her deal with joy and with sorrow, with happiness and with fury, with fear, and even with despair. Yet in all the years since their very first meeting at Yeltsin's Star, he suddenly realized, he had never actually met the woman the newsies called "the Salamander." It wasn't his fault, a corner of his brain told him, because he'd never been in the right place to meet her. Never at the right time. He'd never had the chance to stand by her side as she took a wounded heavy cruiser on an unflinching deathride into the broadside of the battlecruiser waiting to kill it, sailing to her own death, and her crew's, to protect a planet full of strangers while the rich beauty of Hammerwell's "Salute to Spring" spilled from her ship's com system. He hadn't stood beside her on the dew-soaked grass of the Landing City duelling grounds, with a pistol in her hand and vengeance in her heart as she faced the man who'd bought the murder of her first great love. Just as he hadn't stood on the floor of Steadholders' Hall when she faced a man with thirty times her fencing experience across the razor-edged steel of their swords, with the ghosts of Reverend Julius Hanks, the butchered children of Mueller Steading, and her own murdered steaders at her back.

But now, as he looked into the unyielding flint of his wife's beloved, almond eyes, he knew he'd met the Salamander at last. And he recognized her as only another warrior could. Yet he also knew in that moment that for all his own imposing record of victory in battle, he was not and never had been her equal. As a tactician and a strategist, yes. Even as a fleet commander. But not as the very embodiment of devastation. Not as the Salamander. Because for all the compassion and gentleness which were so much a part of her, there was something else inside Honor Alexander-Harrington, as well. Something he himself had never had. She'd told him, once, that her own temper frightened her. That she sometimes thought she could have been a monster under the wrong set of circumstances.

And now, as he realized he'd finally met the monster, his heart twisted with sympathy and love, for at last he understood what she'd been trying to tell him. Understood why she'd bound it with the chains of duty, and love, of compassion and honor, of pity, because, in a way, she'd been right. Under the wrong circumstances, she could have been the most terrifying person he had ever met.

In fact, at this moment, she was.

It was a merciless something, her "monster"—something that went far beyond military talent, or skills, or even courage. Those things, he knew without conceit, he, too, possessed in plenty. But not that deeply personal something at the core of her, as unstoppable as Juggernaut, merciless and colder than space itself, that no sane human being would ever willingly rouse. In that instant her husband knew, with an icy shiver which somehow, perversely, only made him love her even more deeply, that as he gazed into those agate-hard eyes, he looked into the gates of Hell itself. And whatever anyone else might think, he knew now that there was no fire in Hell. There was only the handmaiden of death, and ice, and purpose, and a determination which would not—could not—relent or rest.

"I'll miss them," she told him again, still with that dreadful softness, "but I won't forget. I'll never forget, and one day—one day, Hamish—we're going to find the people who did this, you and I. And when we do, the only thing I'll ask of God is that He let them live long enough to know who's killing them."


I've read this particular sequence a few times, and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. Obviously important for character insight, but past that? I don't think Honor is a monster, or unstoppable, for all that she can be a very scary person when she gets going. I just can't see Hamish, himself an accomplished commander with a legendary temper, looking into Honor's eyes and being afraid.


The final, official count of fatalities was still far from complete, but she knew only too well what it had been for her own family. Aside from her mother and father, the twins, and Hamish, Emily, Raoul, and Katherine, she had exactly five close surviving relatives in the Star Empire. That number would be reduced to four very soon now, because Allen Duncan—her Aunt Dominique's husband—had decided to return to Beowulf. There were too many memories on Sphinx, too much pain when he thought about his wife and all four of his children. Much as he'd come to love Manticore, he needed the comfort of his birth world and the family he had there.

Beyond him, her immediate family, her cousin Sarah, who'd suddenly become the second Countess Harrington, and Benedict and Leah Harrington, her Aunt Clarissa's surviving children, her closest living Manticoran relative was a fifth cousin. She knew how unspeakably lucky she was to still have her parents, her brother and sister, and her own children, but it was hard—hard—to feel grateful when all the rest of her family had been blotted away as brutally and completely as Black Rock Clan.


Honor's surviving extended family. And there are plenty of people who don't even have a dozen family members left.


Frankly, Honor wouldn't have blamed the 'cats if they'd decided that what had happened to Black Rock Clan was proof their long ago ancestors had been right to have nothing to do with humans. If they'd blamed even their own humans for letting things come to such a pass in a war which was none of the treecats' affair and turned their backs on any future relationship with them.

They hadn't done that. Perhaps it was because they were so much like humans, in some ways. Or perhaps it was because they weren't—because they were such uncomplicated, straightforward people, without humanity's unfailing ability to seek someone close at hand to blame for disasters. Whatever the reason, their response had been not simply grief, not simply shock, but anger. Anger directed not at their own two-legs, but at whoever was really responsible. Cold, focused, lethal anger. Honor had always known, far better than the rest of humanity, just how dangerous a single treecat's anger could be. Now the bitter fury of the entire species was directed to a single end, and if some people might have found the thought that a race of small, furry, flint-knapping arboreals could pose any serious threat to someone who commanded superdreadnoughts was ludicrous, Honor Alexander-Harrington did not. Perhaps that was because she was too much like a 'cat, she thought. She knew, without question or doubt, where her own anger was going to lead in the end, and so she understood the treecats only too well.


The treecats are planning their day of reckoning, once Victor and Anton give them a target. In the meantime, they get more involved with the outside universe, and will eventually be stationed throughout Alliance ships and bases as an anti-Lone Gunmen precaution.


Spencer hadn't been happy about her decision to take Trafalgar out all by herself immediately after she'd finished her face-to-face briefings with Elizabeth at Mount Royal Palace. He'd tried to insist she ake at least one of her armsmen along, but she'd flatly refused. She hadn't been able to prevent him from flying top cover with no less than three sting ships, a tractor-equipped air car, and a standby SAR diver, but at least she'd been able to keep him high enough above her for her to find a shadow of the solitude she and Nimitz had needed so badly.


One of Honor's responses once she had a moment to herself was to take Nimitz and go sailing. Alone, or as close as she ever gets, and her armsmen's version of alone is faintly comical in it's own right. But that too, I think, is a form of running away from an insoluble problem, to just not deal with it for a couple of hours.


Reports of the attack which had hit Yeltsin's Star simultaneously with the one on the Manticore Binary System were still incomplete. Transit time was under four days for a dispatch boat, as compared to the roughly six and a half between the Junction's Trevor's Star terminus and the Haven System, so she'd known for days now that the Graysons had been pounded, as well. What she was short on were details. Which wasn't surprising, really. No doubt Grayson had enough wreckage of its own that needed sorting through before it could issue anything like definitive reports.


Refinement of travel times. One of the new short stories had more details on the devastation of Grayson, but I haven't read it and here it's basically a footnote.


"How bad is it?" she asked quietly.

"Bad," he said flatly. "In fact, it's worse than the original estimates. Blackbird is gone, My Lady and it looks like we lost virtually a hundred percent of the workforce."

-snip-

"They don't seem to have used as many of those graser-armed remote platforms of theirs," Yanakov continued, as if he'd heard her thoughts, "but they used a lot more missiles and kinetic strikes to compensate. According to the Office of Shipbuilding, at least ninety-six percent of the physical plant was destroyed outright or damaged beyond repair. And, as I say, personnel losses were near total."

Honor nodded, and fresh shadows gathered in her eyes. She'd been one of the major investors when Blackbird was built, and the economic loss was going to be a severe blow in a financial sense. That was totally immaterial to her, however, beside the human cost. Almost a third of the total workforce had been from Harrington Steading itself or employed by Skydomes. And over eighteen percent of those employees had been women—a stupendous percentage for patriarchal Grayson, even now.


No graser torpedoes at Blackbird, but the destruction seems to have been even more thorough. Well, it's not like the Graysons haven't rebuilt from nothing before, hells if this is going to keep them down.


"The only good news is that Blackbird was far enough away from the planet that we didn't take any collateral damage to the orbital habitats or farms. Or"—his eyes met hers—"to the planet itself, of course."


That is good news.


"We had even more new construction caught in the yards," he went on, "but we didn't have many ships in for repairs or overhaul, so at least we were spared that."

"And they want you back home to take over the system defenses," Honor said, nodding. But Yanakov shook his head.

"I'm afraid not, My Lady,"

-snip-

Yanakov inhaled deeply—"I wanted to tell you myself that I've been appointed High Admiral."

For a moment, it didn't register. Then Honor's eyes widened, and she felt her head shaking in futile, instinctive rejection.

They sat in silence for several seconds until, finally, it was her turn to draw a breath.

"Wesley was out at Blackbird?" she said softly.

"Yes, My Lady. I'm sorry. He was there for a stupid, routine conference." Yanakov shook his own head, his eyes bright with mingled sorrow and anger. "Just one of those things. But I know how close the two of you were. That's why I wanted to tell you in person. And," he managed an unhappy smile, "to assure you that if you should happen to want the assignment, it's yours. After all, you're senior to me."

"Not on a bet, Judah," she replied almost instantly. "I know how much Hamish hates being tied to the Admiralty, and I know how much Wesley hated having to give up a space-going command. I don't think I'd like it any more than either of them." She shook her head again, much more firmly. "They're not getting me off a flag deck that easily! Not now, especially."


We lost High Admiral Wesley Matthews. It seems Grayson was keeping up that breakneck construction speed they're known for, though two years ago they were wondering how they'd ever pay for it all, I suppose the resumption of the war must have changed things. But the takeaway is that Grayson still has 100+ podnoughts and dozens of carriers in active service, their crews mostly intact. Even if they're going to be hitting a lot of the same logistics shortfalls and bottlenecks Manticore will, the GSN is still a going concern.


"I'm afraid they want me home in a hurry, My Lady. I'm headed back aboard the same dispatch boat and it's scheduled to break Manticore orbit in less than two hours. So I'm afraid I have to say goodbye now."

"Of course."

Honor stood, but instead of taking his hand, she walked around the deck and stood facing him for perhaps two seconds. Then she put her arms around him and hugged him tightly.

She felt him stiffen instinctively, even after all these years. Which, she supposed, showed you could take the boy out of Grayson, but you couldn't take the Grayson out of the boy. But then his automatic response to being touched so intimately by a woman who was neither his wife nor his mother or sister disappeared, and he hugged her back. A bit tentatively, perhaps, but firmly.


Grayson mores, apparently not used to hugging female friends.


"Obviously, all of us are dismayed by what happened to Admiral Crandall's task force at Spindle. And I think it would be fair to say," he continued in a deliberately judicious, soberly thoughtful tone, "that the efficacy of the Manticoran Navy's weapons has come as a most unpleasant surprise to all of us."

He allowed himself to glance—briefly—at Karl-Heinz Thimár and Cheng Hai-shwun. Other eyes followed his, but Thimár and Cheng had obviously realized this, or something like it, had to be coming. They sat there calmly, apparently oblivious to the looks coming their way. The bureacratic infighter's number one rule, ''Never let them see your fear," was well known to everyone around the table, but the two men ostensibly responsible for the SLN's intelligence arms were giving a bravura demonstration of it, and with very little sign of strain. Which, al-Fanudahi reflected, said a great deal about how highly placed their various relatives and patrons actually were.


Do you guys really have time for all these petty power games? What am I saying, there's always time for petty power games and infighting. Until there isn't, in which case you're so thoroughly screwed anyways that it's not like a last-minute show of unity can save you.


"Given that attitude on their part," Rajampet said, "it's unlikely they'll be inclined to respond favorably to the government's diplomatic initiatives. At the same time, however, they have to be reeling from what's happened to them. Let's face it, Ladies and Gentlemen—we got reamed at Spindle. But compared to what's happened to the Manties' home system, what happened to Admiral Crandall's task force was only a minor inconvenience, as far as the Navy and the League are concerned. Even with her entire force off the table, we still have over two thousand of the wall in full commission, another three hundred in refit or overhaul status, and better than eight thousand in reserve. Task Force 496 represented less than half of one percent of our total wall of battle and our support structure is completely unscathed, whereas the Manties have just had their entire industrial base blown out from under them. There's no meaningful comparison between the relative weight of those losses. They represent totally different orders of magnitude, and it has to be psychologically even worse for the Manties because it happened so soon after Spindle. From what had to be an incredible peak of confidence, they've had their feet kicked out from under them. At the moment, no matter how much money they have in the bank, and no matter how big their merchant marine—or even their remaining navy—may be, they're effectively no more than a fourth-rate power in terms of sustained capabilities, and don't think for a moment that they don't know that as well as we do."


So right now the SLN has 2,000 active SDs, 300 in for refit and maintenance, and over 8,000 ancient mothballed ships. Granted the reserves probably aren't good for much more than missile bait without substantial refit.


He wondered if any of those assembled flag officers were thinking about the constitutional implications of what Rajampet had just said. Even the broadest interpretation of Article Seven's "self-defense" clause had never been construed to cover a general mobilization of the Reserve without formal authorization from the civilian government. Kolokoltsov and his cronies, however, clearly doubted they could get that authorization without touching off a political dogfight such as the League had never seen. So at the moment, he and his fellow bureaucrats were simply going to look the other way and carry on with their "diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis" while Rajampet did the dirty work.


Plausible deniability is a hell of a thing, particularly when kicking off constitutional crises.


"At the same time, however, we realize there's no way to be certain of that, and we're prepared for the possibility that the Manties may be insane enough not to surrender. We're even prepared for the possibility that they may have sufficient of their new missiles available from existing stores to beat off Filareta's attack, at least temporarily. Which is why the redeployment of our active wall is designed to concentrate no fewer than an additional five hundred wallers on Tasmania—this time with complete logistical support and a powerful Frontier Fleet screen—within two and a half months. In three months' time, that total will reach six hundred. Which means we'll be able to dispatch a second wave, substantially larger and even more powerfully supported, against Manticore within a maximum of five months—long before they will have been able to restore sufficient industrial capacity to reammunition their own ships."


Already setting up Third Manticore, with 600 SDs with actual screen and support ships this time.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-12-01 10:05pm

She looked better than she had immediately after the disastrous attack, Caparelli thought, but "better" was a purely relative term. The shadows of guilt had retreated in her eyes, yet he was beginning to think they would never completely disappear, and the near hysteria of a certain portion of the Star Empire's news media hadn't helped. He doubted there was anything they could have said that she hadn't already said to herself—he knew that was true in his own case—but the angry, panic-driven sense of betrayal coming from that particular group of newsies and editorials had inspired them to hammer the "blatant intelligence failure" far harder than they'd hammered the rest of the Navy.


Unsurprisingly, the Manticoran press is not being kind to the political and intelligence establishments


"One of my people just brought me something from one of our 'black'—in this case, very black—Beowulf conduits."

Caparelli stiffened very slightly. Beowulf was, by any measure, Manticore's staunchest ally within the Solarian League. It was also the home system's biggest single trading partner, and a lot of Manticorans had married Beowulfers—and vice versa—over the centuries since the Junction had been discovered. The Harrington family was a case in point. Or, he corrected himself grimly, it had been, at least. When there'd been a Harrington family.

Beowulf was also the only League member system which had been kept routinely up to date on Manticoran military developments. The Beowulf System-Defense Force and the Royal Navy had been quietly in agreement that it would be in both services' best interests if Beowulf didn't suddenly began introducing Manticore's new tech goodies into its own ships, where they might find their way into the SLN's less than pristine hands, and the BSDF had somehow mysteriously failed to provide any of those "observers" the SLN had been so busily ignoring for so long. But that didn't mean Beowulf didn't have a very good basic grasp of what Manticore had been up to. Not only that, but Beowulf was the only non-Manticoran star system which had been included from the beginning in planning for Case Lacoön, and there were all sorts of open channels of communication between the Beowulf Planetary Board of Directors and Her Majesty's Government.

Which was all well and good, but one of those little secrets polite people never mentioned was that even allies spied on one another. There were lots of reasons for that, particularly if the allies in question were less than totally confident about their "ally's" long-term intentions. That wasn't the case here, but another reason—and one which had operated in the case of Beowulf more than once—was because "spies" could exchange information that couldn't be exchanged openly. The sort of information that, for one reason or another, one government couldn't risk openly handing to another, no matter how friendly they were. And any "black" Beowulf conduits which reported to Pat Givens and ONI almost certainly came under that heading.


Extent of Beowulf's relationship with Manticore. Interesting that they fear Beowulf would lose control of Manty technology if they started using, lack of security you think, or could Beowulf not refuse if it was demanded? Or possibly it would just be too inconvenient.

Anyways, this explains how and why Manticore knows exactly what's coming for them a discreet warning from Beowulf.


"How much confidence do you have in this source, Admiral Givens?" Elizabeth Winton asked from her place at the head of the table.

"A high level, Your Majesty," Givens replied, and White Haven noticed that she looked more alive, more engaged, than he'd seen her since what everyone had come to think of as The Attack. "We haven't used this particular conduit very often. In fact, this is only the third message—aside from a handful of 'is this channel still open?' sort of exchanges—that's been passed through it, and it's been in existence for the better part of seventy T-years. Both of the other messages that came to us this way proved to be completely accurate, which is significant in its own right. More to the point, in my own mind, at least, that's a long time to maintain a back channel 'just in case.' Someone's invested a lot of effort in making sure it stayed open despite any changes in personnel—at either end. Which, to be honest, is the main reason I'm inclined to put so much trust in it now."


Doesn't a back channel have to be maintained from both sides? So, in effect, you've gone to a lot of trouble to keep this channel open, or at least to receipt the "this channel still open?" messages. On the other hand, someone idiot-proofed this setup enough to survive the Janacek Admiralty and the echo-chamber Jurgensen turned ONI into.


"I suppose that technically it does come under the definition of treason against the Solarian League," Elizabeth agreed.

"That's arguable, Your Majesty," Sir Anthony Langtry said. The queen looked at him, and he shrugged. "First, 'treason' is a particularly elusive term as defined—more or less—in the Solarian Constitution. Secondly, if the warning's accurate, someone could make a good case for Rajampet's plans being the real act of treason. He's bending Article Seven into a pretzel if that's what he's using to justify this."

"Not that anyone's going to call him on it, Tony," Honor Alexander-Harrington observed, and her soprano voice was almost as shadowed as Patricia Givens' eyes. "Or, not in time to do us any good, at any rate."


Remember, League membership is supposed to be entirely voluntary, to the point where a member system can opt out anytime they like. Not that anyone ever has.


"If the numbers are correct—if they're really talking about throwing four hundred or so of the wall at us—then the initial attack is going to be toast, to use Hamish's favorite term. We've got almost that many wallers of our own, all of which are longer-ranged and far better protected in any missile duel than the wallers Admiral Gold Peak took out at Spindle, and that doesn't even include our system-defense pods. So I'm totally confident of our ability to defeat this force decisively. The only question, to be brutally honest, would be whether or not any of them survived long enough to strike their wedges."


Manticore has almost 400 podnoughts themselves, and one thing the Sollies absolutely cannot do is engage Manticore with numerical parity.


"Unfortunately, a lot depends on what the thinking behind this is, and, frankly, we don't know that. One thing I do know is that if we defeat another Solarian task force—although this one, frankly, is going to be big enough no one's going to be able to get away with calling it anything except a 'fleet,' which is going to present its own problems when it comes around to psychological impact time—it's going to have an enormous influence on Solarian public opinion where we're concerned. As I see it, there are two possible extremes to their potential reactions. First, they could be so horrified by the devastating nature of the SLN's defeats that they could turn completely against any future operations. Possibly even completely enough to present Kolokoltsov and the rest of them with a genuine challenge to their control of the League. Second, though, they could be so horrified and infuriated by the devastating nature of their defeats that they basically give Rajampet a blank check. There's room for all sorts of variations between those two extremes, of course, but I think that's what it really comes down to. And in some ways, unfortunately, I think it's a crapshoot which way they'll jump."


Oh the second, bank on it. Otherwise it'd be a short and narratively unfulfilling war.


"Unfortunately, if we end up having to do that, it'll make a huge hole in our supply of missiles, which will present all kinds of potential problems if we can't work something out with Haven after all. Which, of course, doesn't even consider what we might need against Manpower."

Her voice turned harder and flatter on the last word, and the light glittering in her brown eyes for just a moment sent a shiver down Elizabeth Winton's spine. Most of the Star Empire's senior officers and political leaders were careful to emphasize—in public, at least—that they still didn't know exactly who'd attacked the home system. There was no doubt whatsoever in Honor Alexander-Harrington's mind, however.


Target located. Engage the Honor-Terminator.


"If we could count on facing only the League, I think we'd probably be pretty much okay for the first couple of years," Honor continued after a moment. "It's going to take them longer to get substantial numbers of the Reserve refitted, activated, and manned—and trained—than it's going to take us to get our missile production started up again. They've got enough battlecruisers and cruisers in Frontier Fleet to pose a significant threat to our commerce if they resort to a full bore guerre de course and use them as raiders, but thanks to the wormhole network, we actually have the 'interior lines,' so they'd be even more vulnerable to commerce raiding than we are.

"But the one thing we wouldn't be able to do is take the war to them until we got the missile supply back under control, and that means they'd have a lot more time to react to their technological inferiority. Without an adequate, reliable supply of missiles, we can't go after them. If they choose not to go after us while they look for answers to our hardware advantages, then by the time we've got our missile lines back in full production, they'll probably be well on their way to producing new designs that are a lot more survivable and a lot more dangerous. And, even worse, we've lost so much industry that there's no way in the galaxy we could hope to stay in shouting range of their production capability. If they turn out six times as many ships, we lose, even if their ships are individually only half as good as ours."

"And the fact that, as you say, we can't take the war to them means we can't exploit those fracture lines of the League's you pointed out to us,"


Yeah, it took Manticore five years to go from Wayfarer to Operation Buttercup, and five years for Shannon Foraker to blunt the tech advantage. But the League can literally throw a hundred times the people and money at the problem and barely notice. Hell, it would be entirely in keeping with their nature to have a dozen independent projects dedicated to going over all their sensor records with a fine-toothed comb, figuring out what they're looking at and duplicating it. I don't think they've tumbled onto podnoughts or flatpack pods yet, but the real prize is the MDM in any case. Technodyne (which is still around, lots of Soklly megacorps are "too big to fail") was able to produce missile pods for Monica. They can get pods in the game almost right away.


"I'm not one of the Sollies' greater admirers myself," he said, "but deliberately courting that kind of death toll purely as a political maneuver seems a bit too cynically calculating to me, even for a Solly."

"That's because deep down inside you're a straightforward, decent sort of person, Ham," his brother said grimly. White Haven's gaze moved to him, and Grantville shrugged. "You might want to remember Cordelia Ransom and Rob Pierre. The number of casualties Honor's talking about here are actually a lot lower than the casualties Pierre was willing to inflict just by launching his pogroms against the Legislaturalists, much less fighting us. Ransom wouldn't have turned a hair at sacrificing three or four times that many people if it suited her purposes, and let's not even get started on that sociopath Saint-Just!"


Honor was asking if they might not be throwing Filareta's force, and 2.5 million Solly spacers, into certain doom just to provide a rallying point for the whole League, a defeat that must be avenged. Indirectly telling us that "many more" than 2 million died in the purges all those years ago.


Also, Beowulf tells Haven about Filareta's inbound, to prompt Prichart to d the right thing.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby SpottedKitty » 2014-12-01 10:21pm

Mr Bean wrote:The current thinking is 20% of every star system with planets is likely to have an earth analog.

Don't forget the skewing effect of the limits of current technology. For most of the time we've been able to detect possible/probable/almost definite exoplanets, all we've got have been gas giants or even supergiants in Mercury-or-closer orbits — because that's all we could detect, until fairly recently. There could just as easily be an average of more than one Earth-size planet in each system we know about now, but we just can't detect them yet.

Added to this, using current techniques we can only detect a small number of systems anyway; i.e. any system with its planets' orbits pretty much exactly edge-on to our line of sight. Anything and everything else is simply not detectable until we develop better ideas, e.g. telescopes good enough to image a planet directly by reflected light, despite the glare of the star. (Slightly less difficult is detecting that reflected light mixed in with the star's light by looking at its spectrum. Not confirmed yet the last I heard, but we might have spotted a couple using this technique.)
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby VhenRa » 2014-12-01 11:34pm

Wait a second? That source. Is it Honor's uncle?

He is highly placed enough to have it and given how he gets involved in the next few books.. timing sort of fits as well.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-12-02 01:39am

Ahriman238 wrote:
The space about the system's two inhabited planets was crowded with shipping, showing far greater numbers of impeller signatures than would have been permitted in such proximity when Eighth Fleet departed for the Haven System. But those ships weren't the evidence her fears might have been too dark—that the damage had actually been less severe than she'd dreaded. No, those ships were the proof it had been even worse, for they were still only sorting through the wreckage, better than two weeks after the actual attack, and warning beacons marked prodigious spills of debris—and bodies—which had once been the heart and bone of the Star Empire of Manticore's industrial might.


A week for word to reach Honor on Haven and a week for her to return, all thanks to the Trevor's Star wormhole. I don't know, it amuses me that now that the old pre-war frontier is unimportant, Manticore's communication loop is so short everywhere crucial except Talbott. A week to get a message to Earth, to Haven and to New Berlin. Four days to pass a message to Grayson, three to Erewhon. I believe a week or two to reach any point in Manty Silesia, if you're not going to be moving at merchantman speeds and stopping at every system. Then roughly six weeks for a given point in Silesia, three weeks to reach Spindle with it's relatively central position, and three weeks for them to pass on orders and news to other Quadrant worlds.

Oh, and two weeks later the cleanup is still ongoing.


There was wreckage after the Battle of Manticore, too, but not like this. Oh, no. Not like this. This time every single warship we lost was caught docked, not destroyed in action. And most of the dead are civilians this time.


The funny (read, depressing) thing is, that may be a good thing. I do believe there are more dead bodies from Oyster Bay than their are uniformed RMN personnel. Even if everyone on Hephaestus had been military, that would have eaten a quarter of the Navy right then and there. As it is, I suspect the naval losses are still tremendous, but Manticore is at least not going to be knocked over by opportunists.


"Thank you, Your Grace." Fargo gave her a small half-bow, then cleared his throat. "The First Lord asked me to screen you. He's actually on Sphinx at this moment. Well, more accurately, he's aboard a shuttle which happens to be headed in your direction at this moment. His ETA is about twelve minutes, and he asked me to tell you he would very much like to join you aboard your flagship when he arrives, if that would be convenient."


Hamish on Sphinx when Honor arrived, and RVing with her now.


She took it in the formal handshake to which they were always careful to restrict themselves on official occasions, and she felt a fresh stab of concern as she realized his fingers were actually trembling slightly with exhaustion and the terrible, midnight-black grief that rode his shoulders like some hunched, ravenous beast. She stood there, looking into his eyes for a heartbeat which seemed to last forever, seeing that beast's shadows in those blue depths, and then she let go of his hand. Before even she realized what she was doing, her arms went about him, instead, and she closed her own eyes, leaning forward to rest her cheek on his shoulder.

For just an instant, he stiffened as she abruptly abandoned formality. But only for an instant, and then his arms tightened around her, hugging her while Samantha and Nimitz crooned to one another.

"Welcome home," he whispered in her ear. "Oh, God—welcome home, Honor."

* * *

"Well," Honor said in a determinedly light tone as the lift carried them towards her quarters, "we've just put naval discipline back a century or so."

"Frankly," Hamish said, one arm still around her, "I'm not too worried about the precedent. After all, how many fleet commanders are going to be married to first lords?"

"Not many, I suppose," she conceded, but she tasted the determination with which he sought to match her own light tone and knew how hard he found it.


Eh, I doubt anyone is really going to have a problem with a husband and wife not being all formal in their first meeting after a major disaster, even if one is a naval officer and one is the Navy's civilian head.


"All three of your aunts," he said, and his voice was soft, now, the voice of her lover and husband, shadowed with his own grief at inflicting this upon her. "Your Uncle Al was away on business, but Jason and Owen were both at home. So"—he inhaled deeply again—"were all the kids. And your cousin Devon, and his wife, and two of the children. Matthias and Frieda. Holly and Eric. Martha." He closed his eyes. "Al is all right—or as close to it as a man can be when his wife and kids are. . . And Devon's daughter Sarah, and your cousin Benedict and cousin Leah, were all away. But the rest were all there. It was your Aunt Claire's birthday, and . . . ."


The number of Honor's aunts, uncles and cousins, nieces and nephews, who are dead. Of the lot we've only met Devon, and then only briefly. Still, Oyster Bay is deeply personal, for Honor because it wiped out her extended family, for us, because they took out the Nasty Kitty.


"Andrew and Miranda were taking Raoul to Claire's party," he said, and her heart seemed to stop. "Your dad and the twins were supposed to be there, too, but there'd been some kind of delay. They were in transit between Manticore and Sphinx when the attack hit. They came through it just fine, and Andrew, Raoul, and Lindsey had swung by your parents' place to pick up your mom. They hadn't gotten to Claire's yet, either, but Miranda—"

-snip-

"Raoul and your mother are fine," he said quickly, then made a harsh, ugly sound deep in his throat. "Well, as fine as they can be. But they were too close to the Yawata strike. Andrew got the two of them—and Lindsey—punched out in time, and they're all fine, although Lindsey came out of it with a badly broken collarbone. But—"

His hands slid down from her face, and his arms went back around her.

"He ran out of time, love," he whispered. "He got the three of them out, but he and Jeremiah were still in the limo when the blast front hit it."


Honor's parents and children are okay, but Andrew and Miranda LaFollet are dead. Farragut too.


Hamish Alexander-Harrington knew his wife as only two humans who had both been adopted by a pair of mated treecats ever could. He'd seen her deal with joy and with sorrow, with happiness and with fury, with fear, and even with despair. Yet in all the years since their very first meeting at Yeltsin's Star, he suddenly realized, he had never actually met the woman the newsies called "the Salamander." It wasn't his fault, a corner of his brain told him, because he'd never been in the right place to meet her. Never at the right time. He'd never had the chance to stand by her side as she took a wounded heavy cruiser on an unflinching deathride into the broadside of the battlecruiser waiting to kill it, sailing to her own death, and her crew's, to protect a planet full of strangers while the rich beauty of Hammerwell's "Salute to Spring" spilled from her ship's com system. He hadn't stood beside her on the dew-soaked grass of the Landing City duelling grounds, with a pistol in her hand and vengeance in her heart as she faced the man who'd bought the murder of her first great love. Just as he hadn't stood on the floor of Steadholders' Hall when she faced a man with thirty times her fencing experience across the razor-edged steel of their swords, with the ghosts of Reverend Julius Hanks, the butchered children of Mueller Steading, and her own murdered steaders at her back.

But now, as he looked into the unyielding flint of his wife's beloved, almond eyes, he knew he'd met the Salamander at last. And he recognized her as only another warrior could. Yet he also knew in that moment that for all his own imposing record of victory in battle, he was not and never had been her equal. As a tactician and a strategist, yes. Even as a fleet commander. But not as the very embodiment of devastation. Not as the Salamander. Because for all the compassion and gentleness which were so much a part of her, there was something else inside Honor Alexander-Harrington, as well. Something he himself had never had. She'd told him, once, that her own temper frightened her. That she sometimes thought she could have been a monster under the wrong set of circumstances.

And now, as he realized he'd finally met the monster, his heart twisted with sympathy and love, for at last he understood what she'd been trying to tell him. Understood why she'd bound it with the chains of duty, and love, of compassion and honor, of pity, because, in a way, she'd been right. Under the wrong circumstances, she could have been the most terrifying person he had ever met.

In fact, at this moment, she was.

It was a merciless something, her "monster"—something that went far beyond military talent, or skills, or even courage. Those things, he knew without conceit, he, too, possessed in plenty. But not that deeply personal something at the core of her, as unstoppable as Juggernaut, merciless and colder than space itself, that no sane human being would ever willingly rouse. In that instant her husband knew, with an icy shiver which somehow, perversely, only made him love her even more deeply, that as he gazed into those agate-hard eyes, he looked into the gates of Hell itself. And whatever anyone else might think, he knew now that there was no fire in Hell. There was only the handmaiden of death, and ice, and purpose, and a determination which would not—could not—relent or rest.

"I'll miss them," she told him again, still with that dreadful softness, "but I won't forget. I'll never forget, and one day—one day, Hamish—we're going to find the people who did this, you and I. And when we do, the only thing I'll ask of God is that He let them live long enough to know who's killing them."


I've read this particular sequence a few times, and I'm still not quite sure what to make of it. Obviously important for character insight, but past that? I don't think Honor is a monster, or unstoppable, for all that she can be a very scary person when she gets going. I just can't see Hamish, himself an accomplished commander with a legendary temper, looking into Honor's eyes and being afraid.


The final, official count of fatalities was still far from complete, but she knew only too well what it had been for her own family. Aside from her mother and father, the twins, and Hamish, Emily, Raoul, and Katherine, she had exactly five close surviving relatives in the Star Empire. That number would be reduced to four very soon now, because Allen Duncan—her Aunt Dominique's husband—had decided to return to Beowulf. There were too many memories on Sphinx, too much pain when he thought about his wife and all four of his children. Much as he'd come to love Manticore, he needed the comfort of his birth world and the family he had there.

Beyond him, her immediate family, her cousin Sarah, who'd suddenly become the second Countess Harrington, and Benedict and Leah Harrington, her Aunt Clarissa's surviving children, her closest living Manticoran relative was a fifth cousin. She knew how unspeakably lucky she was to still have her parents, her brother and sister, and her own children, but it was hard—hard—to feel grateful when all the rest of her family had been blotted away as brutally and completely as Black Rock Clan.


Honor's surviving extended family. And there are plenty of people who don't even have a dozen family members left.


Frankly, Honor wouldn't have blamed the 'cats if they'd decided that what had happened to Black Rock Clan was proof their long ago ancestors had been right to have nothing to do with humans. If they'd blamed even their own humans for letting things come to such a pass in a war which was none of the treecats' affair and turned their backs on any future relationship with them.

They hadn't done that. Perhaps it was because they were so much like humans, in some ways. Or perhaps it was because they weren't—because they were such uncomplicated, straightforward people, without humanity's unfailing ability to seek someone close at hand to blame for disasters. Whatever the reason, their response had been not simply grief, not simply shock, but anger. Anger directed not at their own two-legs, but at whoever was really responsible. Cold, focused, lethal anger. Honor had always known, far better than the rest of humanity, just how dangerous a single treecat's anger could be. Now the bitter fury of the entire species was directed to a single end, and if some people might have found the thought that a race of small, furry, flint-knapping arboreals could pose any serious threat to someone who commanded superdreadnoughts was ludicrous, Honor Alexander-Harrington did not. Perhaps that was because she was too much like a 'cat, she thought. She knew, without question or doubt, where her own anger was going to lead in the end, and so she understood the treecats only too well.


The treecats are planning their day of reckoning, once Victor and Anton give them a target. In the meantime, they get more involved with the outside universe, and will eventually be stationed throughout Alliance ships and bases as an anti-Lone Gunmen precaution.


Spencer hadn't been happy about her decision to take Trafalgar out all by herself immediately after she'd finished her face-to-face briefings with Elizabeth at Mount Royal Palace. He'd tried to insist she ake at least one of her armsmen along, but she'd flatly refused. She hadn't been able to prevent him from flying top cover with no less than three sting ships, a tractor-equipped air car, and a standby SAR diver, but at least she'd been able to keep him high enough above her for her to find a shadow of the solitude she and Nimitz had needed so badly.


One of Honor's responses once she had a moment to herself was to take Nimitz and go sailing. Alone, or as close as she ever gets, and her armsmen's version of alone is faintly comical in it's own right. But that too, I think, is a form of running away from an insoluble problem, to just not deal with it for a couple of hours.


Reports of the attack which had hit Yeltsin's Star simultaneously with the one on the Manticore Binary System were still incomplete. Transit time was under four days for a dispatch boat, as compared to the roughly six and a half between the Junction's Trevor's Star terminus and the Haven System, so she'd known for days now that the Graysons had been pounded, as well. What she was short on were details. Which wasn't surprising, really. No doubt Grayson had enough wreckage of its own that needed sorting through before it could issue anything like definitive reports.


Refinement of travel times. One of the new short stories had more details on the devastation of Grayson, but I haven't read it and here it's basically a footnote.


"How bad is it?" she asked quietly.

"Bad," he said flatly. "In fact, it's worse than the original estimates. Blackbird is gone, My Lady and it looks like we lost virtually a hundred percent of the workforce."

-snip-

"They don't seem to have used as many of those graser-armed remote platforms of theirs," Yanakov continued, as if he'd heard her thoughts, "but they used a lot more missiles and kinetic strikes to compensate. According to the Office of Shipbuilding, at least ninety-six percent of the physical plant was destroyed outright or damaged beyond repair. And, as I say, personnel losses were near total."

Honor nodded, and fresh shadows gathered in her eyes. She'd been one of the major investors when Blackbird was built, and the economic loss was going to be a severe blow in a financial sense. That was totally immaterial to her, however, beside the human cost. Almost a third of the total workforce had been from Harrington Steading itself or employed by Skydomes. And over eighteen percent of those employees had been women—a stupendous percentage for patriarchal Grayson, even now.


No graser torpedoes at Blackbird, but the destruction seems to have been even more thorough. Well, it's not like the Graysons haven't rebuilt from nothing before, hells if this is going to keep them down.


"The only good news is that Blackbird was far enough away from the planet that we didn't take any collateral damage to the orbital habitats or farms. Or"—his eyes met hers—"to the planet itself, of course."


That is good news.


"We had even more new construction caught in the yards," he went on, "but we didn't have many ships in for repairs or overhaul, so at least we were spared that."

"And they want you back home to take over the system defenses," Honor said, nodding. But Yanakov shook his head.

"I'm afraid not, My Lady,"

-snip-

Yanakov inhaled deeply—"I wanted to tell you myself that I've been appointed High Admiral."

For a moment, it didn't register. Then Honor's eyes widened, and she felt her head shaking in futile, instinctive rejection.

They sat in silence for several seconds until, finally, it was her turn to draw a breath.

"Wesley was out at Blackbird?" she said softly.

"Yes, My Lady. I'm sorry. He was there for a stupid, routine conference." Yanakov shook his own head, his eyes bright with mingled sorrow and anger. "Just one of those things. But I know how close the two of you were. That's why I wanted to tell you in person. And," he managed an unhappy smile, "to assure you that if you should happen to want the assignment, it's yours. After all, you're senior to me."

"Not on a bet, Judah," she replied almost instantly. "I know how much Hamish hates being tied to the Admiralty, and I know how much Wesley hated having to give up a space-going command. I don't think I'd like it any more than either of them." She shook her head again, much more firmly. "They're not getting me off a flag deck that easily! Not now, especially."


We lost High Admiral Wesley Matthews. It seems Grayson was keeping up that breakneck construction speed they're known for, though two years ago they were wondering how they'd ever pay for it all, I suppose the resumption of the war must have changed things. But the takeaway is that Grayson still has 100+ podnoughts and dozens of carriers in active service, their crews mostly intact. Even if they're going to be hitting a lot of the same logistics shortfalls and bottlenecks Manticore will, the GSN is still a going concern.


"I'm afraid they want me home in a hurry, My Lady. I'm headed back aboard the same dispatch boat and it's scheduled to break Manticore orbit in less than two hours. So I'm afraid I have to say goodbye now."

"Of course."

Honor stood, but instead of taking his hand, she walked around the deck and stood facing him for perhaps two seconds. Then she put her arms around him and hugged him tightly.

She felt him stiffen instinctively, even after all these years. Which, she supposed, showed you could take the boy out of Grayson, but you couldn't take the Grayson out of the boy. But then his automatic response to being touched so intimately by a woman who was neither his wife nor his mother or sister disappeared, and he hugged her back. A bit tentatively, perhaps, but firmly.


Grayson mores, apparently not used to hugging female friends.


"Obviously, all of us are dismayed by what happened to Admiral Crandall's task force at Spindle. And I think it would be fair to say," he continued in a deliberately judicious, soberly thoughtful tone, "that the efficacy of the Manticoran Navy's weapons has come as a most unpleasant surprise to all of us."

He allowed himself to glance—briefly—at Karl-Heinz Thimár and Cheng Hai-shwun. Other eyes followed his, but Thimár and Cheng had obviously realized this, or something like it, had to be coming. They sat there calmly, apparently oblivious to the looks coming their way. The bureacratic infighter's number one rule, ''Never let them see your fear," was well known to everyone around the table, but the two men ostensibly responsible for the SLN's intelligence arms were giving a bravura demonstration of it, and with very little sign of strain. Which, al-Fanudahi reflected, said a great deal about how highly placed their various relatives and patrons actually were.


Do you guys really have time for all these petty power games? What am I saying, there's always time for petty power games and infighting. Until there isn't, in which case you're so thoroughly screwed anyways that it's not like a last-minute show of unity can save you.


"Given that attitude on their part," Rajampet said, "it's unlikely they'll be inclined to respond favorably to the government's diplomatic initiatives. At the same time, however, they have to be reeling from what's happened to them. Let's face it, Ladies and Gentlemen—we got reamed at Spindle. But compared to what's happened to the Manties' home system, what happened to Admiral Crandall's task force was only a minor inconvenience, as far as the Navy and the League are concerned. Even with her entire force off the table, we still have over two thousand of the wall in full commission, another three hundred in refit or overhaul status, and better than eight thousand in reserve. Task Force 496 represented less than half of one percent of our total wall of battle and our support structure is completely unscathed, whereas the Manties have just had their entire industrial base blown out from under them. There's no meaningful comparison between the relative weight of those losses. They represent totally different orders of magnitude, and it has to be psychologically even worse for the Manties because it happened so soon after Spindle. From what had to be an incredible peak of confidence, they've had their feet kicked out from under them. At the moment, no matter how much money they have in the bank, and no matter how big their merchant marine—or even their remaining navy—may be, they're effectively no more than a fourth-rate power in terms of sustained capabilities, and don't think for a moment that they don't know that as well as we do."


So right now the SLN has 2,000 active SDs, 300 in for refit and maintenance, and over 8,000 ancient mothballed ships. Granted the reserves probably aren't good for much more than missile bait without substantial refit.


He wondered if any of those assembled flag officers were thinking about the constitutional implications of what Rajampet had just said. Even the broadest interpretation of Article Seven's "self-defense" clause had never been construed to cover a general mobilization of the Reserve without formal authorization from the civilian government. Kolokoltsov and his cronies, however, clearly doubted they could get that authorization without touching off a political dogfight such as the League had never seen. So at the moment, he and his fellow bureaucrats were simply going to look the other way and carry on with their "diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis" while Rajampet did the dirty work.


Plausible deniability is a hell of a thing, particularly when kicking off constitutional crises.


"At the same time, however, we realize there's no way to be certain of that, and we're prepared for the possibility that the Manties may be insane enough not to surrender. We're even prepared for the possibility that they may have sufficient of their new missiles available from existing stores to beat off Filareta's attack, at least temporarily. Which is why the redeployment of our active wall is designed to concentrate no fewer than an additional five hundred wallers on Tasmania—this time with complete logistical support and a powerful Frontier Fleet screen—within two and a half months. In three months' time, that total will reach six hundred. Which means we'll be able to dispatch a second wave, substantially larger and even more powerfully supported, against Manticore within a maximum of five months—long before they will have been able to restore sufficient industrial capacity to reammunition their own ships."


Already setting up Third Manticore, with 600 SDs with actual screen and support ships this time.


Ahriman238 wrote:Remember, League membership is supposed to be entirely voluntary, to the point where a member system can opt out anytime they like. Not that anyone ever has.
Well, why would anyone bother? It's not like anyone's ever had the power to blot out 20% of the SLN's wall of battle in an afternoon. Oh, wait... :D

Target located. Engage the Honor-Terminator.
Fortunately she can delegate, because she's pretty much welded to that stupid conference chair for the duration... :(

To be fair, delegating your horrific vengeance to people like Terekhov and Cachat is a pretty good way of ensuring your vengeance actually goes quite well.

Yeah, it took Manticore five years to go from Wayfarer to Operation Buttercup, and five years for Shannon Foraker to blunt the tech advantage. But the League can literally throw a hundred times the people and money at the problem and barely notice. Hell, it would be entirely in keeping with their nature to have a dozen independent projects dedicated to going over all their sensor records with a fine-toothed comb, figuring out what they're looking at and duplicating it. I don't think they've tumbled onto podnoughts or flatpack pods yet, but the real prize is the MDM in any case. Technodyne (which is still around, lots of Soklly megacorps are "too big to fail") was able to produce missile pods for Monica. They can get pods in the game almost right away.
The real prize is high-density fusion plants. If they hit that, they can produce almost everything else that might be needed in short order.

Otherwise they're restricted to something like second war Havenite technology, which is probably good enough to win but would be a much more difficult fight.

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Ahriman238
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-12-03 12:08am

Fleet Admiral Massimo Filareta was tall, black-haired, and broad- shouldered, with a closely cropped beard and piercing dark eyes. In a service renowned for nepotism and family interest, he took second place to none in terms of his lofty connections. He was also well known for a tendency to party hard when the opportunity came his way, and among those who knew him particularly well there were rumors that he enjoyed certain pleasures even the most jaded Solly might call "esoteric." He was scarcely alone in that among the SLN's senior officers' ranks, however, and he'd also established a reputation for hard work, levelheadedness, and attention to detail that matched both his imposing physical presence and his expensive tastes.


Filareta, who actually seems a decent sort for a Solly flag officer in general. I'm kind of concerned about these decadent and esoteric tastes, or that these are apparently relatively common among senior officers.


"My point is that they were probably system-defense pods—I mean a specialized design specifically optimized for that role. Sure, all they showed us was cruisers, but as you just pointed out, Admiral Crandall never was the sharpest stylus in the box, and Manty stealth systems seem to be better than anyone thought they were. It's entirely possible they managed to get an entire dispersed defensive array emplaced without her spotting it. And the minimum powered envelope estimates I've seen are a hell of a lot higher than the range at which they took out Jean Bart. So I'm inclined to think that what they'd really managed to do was to deploy a specialized area-defense version of their pods, probably with substantially larger missiles to get that extra range. Think of them as . . . oh, old-fashioned mines with three or four normal drives shoved up their asses. It's the only way I can think of that they could've gotten the range, but missiles that big simply wouldn't be practical for shipboard weapons." Burrows shrugged. "Where the hell would you put the magazines?"

Filareta started a quick reply, then paused at Burrows' last question. He thought for a moment or two, then nodded.

"I hadn't really thought about that," he admitted. "If they've gone to missile-dominated combat, then they have to have struck some kind of balance between missile ranges and missile size, don't they? They've got to have enough rounds onboard to do the job."

"Exactly." Burrows grimaced. "I'm willing to concede that even their shipboard weapons will have a substantial range advantage, but it's not going to be as great as the advantage they had over Crandall. And the second point about their being a specialized system-defense variant is that the only 'proof' they polished her off with 'nothing heavier than cruisers' comes from the Manties. If I were they, and what I'd really used was a sophisticated, integrated system-defense weapon—one that probably did have an FTL component—I'd do my best to convince the League I'd done it with a scratch force of light ships, too . . . if I thought I could get away with it. But everything I've seen from our own intelligence and R&D people says that any kind of broadband FTL is going to require humongous platforms. The smallest estimate I've seen suggests that nothing much smaller than a waller could carry the system and a worthwhile weapons load. So since they obviously were using FTL against Crandall, they sure as hell weren't doing it from something as small as a heavy cruiser. To be honest, that—coupled with the size requirements for the missiles themselves—is why I'm convinced it had to be a system-defense set up. Crandall crapped out because they managed to get the dispersed platforms in-system and up and running before she got there."


I don't believe it. They're thinking, actually, seriously using their brains. Sure they're ranging from half-right to totally wrong, but they're also laboring under a tremendous weight of preconceptions about how the universe works, most particularly how big MDMs and FTL comms have to be. If not for the legion of small and gross breakthroughs made by Manticore, this would be totally accurate. And even half-wrong they're getting a lot of things right, because that's exactly how systems defense has been trending.

Mind, they still think Manticore's defenses must have been vastly reduced by whatever and whomever hit them.


"My point, though, was that the Manties have to be aware of the same facts. So when we turn up so unexpectedly, even if they have the physical capability to repel our attack, I actually think the Strategy Board's right about whether or not they'll have the intestinal fortitude to actually try doing it. And if we point out to them that the next wave's already in the pipeline, and is going to be even more powerful, I think it really is likely they'll recognize the writing on the wall and give it up."


I'm really curious here. What precisely do you expect to happen here? What is the goal of this mission outside of 'punishing' Manticore for daring to push against the SLN? I mean, say you demand their surrender and get it. What then? Dismantle their government and try their queen and admiralty for 'warcrimes?' Set Manticore up as an OFS protectorate? Demand reparations?

Leaving aside the idea that they would simply surrender to anyone bringing a massive fleet to their doorstep with ill intent.


The "private yacht" was about the size of most navies' battlecruisers, and almost as heavily armed. Which didn't prevent it from being one of the most luxuriously appointed vessels in the galaxy . . . as well as one of the fastest. It had made the passage from the Mesa System forty percent more rapidly than anyone else's ship could have managed it.


+40% speed for streak drive here. Albrecht Dettweiler has effectively a BC for a yacht, much like Elizabeth of Manticore. And he named it Genesis.


His eyes moved to the ships taking form in the shipyards Darius Prime supported. Eventually, those ships would become the first units of the Leonard Detweiler class, he knew, although it wouldn't happen anywhere near as soon as he wished. The much smaller units of the Shark class in parking orbit beyond Darius Prime were visible evidence of why he wished that. Most of the still far from complete Detweilers were already larger than the Sharks—in many cases, substantially larger. When they were completed, they would be far, far tougher—and far more dangerous—than their smaller predecessors, and he was going to need the capability they represented as quickly as he could get it. Unfortunately, wishing couldn't change anything.


A reminder that the ships we've seen are just a prelude to the real Spider-drive podlayers they're working on. The MAN's secret shipyards in the Darius system.


At the same time, there was no point hiding from the men and women of the MAN. Every one of them knew Benjamin was their commander and that Albrecht stood behind Benjamin, although the fact that the two of the were Detweillers had been carefully concealed even from most of them. They knew Benjamin and Albrecht as their leaders, however.


Such is the onion, secrets within secrets. Even the people trusted to carry out Oyster Bay aren't cleared to know there are still Dettweilers running around.


He smiled and touched her lightly on the cheek. The Long-Range Planning Board had known what it was doing when it paired the two of them, he thought. Sometimes the LRPB's choices resulted in pairings that couldn't stand each other. Officially, that didn't happen, of course, but unofficially everyone knew it did. Fortunately, mistakes like that could usually be fixed, and in the case of an alpha line pairing like any of the Detweilers, the Board's members put special effort into trying to pick compatibles.


The extent of the LRPB's intrusion into reproductive choices.


"The only aspect of the entire operation which can be considered less than a hundred percent success was no one's fault," he said gravely, and the bodies shifted slightly. "We'd hoped to destroy the Manties' entire next generation of capital ships still in the yards. Unfortunately, it appears we'd underestimated their construction speeds. You did, indeed, destroy an entire generation of capital ships, but the one before it had already been launched, and the majority of their new construction was safely at Trevor's Star, working up, at the time of your attack."


Well, I suppose there's that bright spot too. Probably mostly Rolands, Saganami-Cs, and Nikes that made it out.


The Mesan Alignment had established the first colony on Gamma almost two hundred T-centuries ago, and it had grown steadily since, although the really exponential growth had begun only over the last seventy T-years or so.


Either a typo that made it past the editor, virtually certain, or the greatest timeline error ever committed to print. 200,000 years? Apparently Mesa's colony in Darius predates human civilization. By a lot.


By now, the Darius System's total population was in the very near vicinity of 3.9 billion, of whom just under two billion were representatives of one of the alpha, beta, or gamma genomes the Alignment had worked to improve for so long.


Half the population are ubermensch.


The remainder of the system population were genetic slaves, but the conditions of their slavery were very unlike those which obtained elsewhere. For one thing, they were treated far better, without the often savage discipline slaves often received elsewhere. In fact, the Darius System was one of the very few places where the Mesan Constitution's official legal protections theoretically intended to protect slaves from gross mistreatment were actually enforced. For another, they had a much higher standard of living. And for yet another, they formed the backbone of a highly trained, highly skilled labor force which had earned the respect of its supervisors.

Every one of those slaves had been born here in Darius, and not one of them had ever left the system. Their knowledge of what was happening elsewhere in the galaxy, of the history of Mesa, or of their own history had been carefully controlled for generations. They'd been aware for those same generations that they and their parents and grandparents had been laboring to build first the basic industry and then the specialized infrastructure to support a massive navy, but they were convinced it was intended as a defensive fleet.


State of slavery on Darius. Someday, the truth will get out and then there will be trouble.


Benjamin Detweiler didn't like admitting that, but he agreed with his father; the day someone stopped admitting the truth was the day he could kiss any of his hopes for the future goodbye. And the truth was that, despite the accomplishments of the Alignment's R&D, and despite any tactical advantages which might accrue from the streak drive and the spider, very few star nations could have matched the industrial efficiency of the Star Empire of Manticore. Indeed, Benjamin suspected that even Manticore had failed to grasp just how great an advantage it possessed in that regard.

Over the last five or six T-years, he and Daniel had been trying to introduce Manticoran practices here at Darius, only to discover that the task wasn't as simple and forthright as it ought to have been. If they'd really wanted to duplicate Manticore's efficiency, they would've had to duplicate Manticore's entire industrial base—and its society—and they simply couldn't do that. Their labor force was extraordinarily good at following orders, extremely well trained, and highly motivated, but the kind of independence of thought which characterized Manticoran workers wasn't exactly something which had been encouraged among the slave workers of Darius. Even if it had been, their basic techniques and technologies were simply different from Manticore's. Better than the majority of League star systems could have produced, if those other star systems had only realized it, yet still at least a full generation behind the Manties.


Apparently they've been trying to adopt some of Manticore's more successful industrial practices here.


"Well, since we were using them as something besides cushions, it occurred to us to think the same thing you're thinking. If Topolev and Colenso could get into Manticore and Yeltsin's Star undetected, why not do the same thing to Trevor's Star? Pick off the warships we didn't get first time around?"

"That is what I was thinking," Albrecht said. "From your response, I'm assuming the three of you decided it wasn't such a great idea after all?"

"Oh, the idea's just fine, Father. The problem is how likely it is that we wouldn't get away with it. Let's face it, Oyster Bay was in many ways a one-off operation. It succeeded because the Manties didn't have a clue about our capabilities. Well, now they do—have a clue, I mean. They still don't know how we did it, but they damned well know we did do it, and if nothing else, they're going to be pouncing on every 'ghost footprint' their hyper sensors pick up with everything they've got. And, frankly, the fact that we haven't been able to come up with an effective detector for the spider drive doesn't fill me with unbounded confidence that the Manties might not have something we don't even know about that could do the job. I think it's unlikely, but I'm not prepared to assume it's impossible.

-snip-

"Secondly," Benjamin continued then, "the force levels we'd require would actually be higher. Oyster Bay succeeded because we could plan on achieving total surprise and our targets were civilian installations. They weren't armored, they didn't have any active or passive defenses in operation, and they couldn't dodge. After what happened to their home system, I can guarantee you no one as experienced as the Manties is going to let us catch their battle fleet under circumstances like that. At the very minimum, their impellers are going to be permanently hot. Most likely, they'll have minimum station-keeping wedges up, for that matter, and they're going to have their damned FTL recon platforms deployed widely enough to give them plenty of time to get wedges and sidewalls fully up before anything gets close enough to attack. So we'd need a hell of a lot more firepower to achieve decisive results, and, unfortunately, the Sharks are too small—and we don't have enough of them—to provide that level of combat power. Worse, in a lot of ways, they're too fragile to survive the kind of damage Manty laserheads can hand out.

"And that brings me to the third point, which is—and, frankly, Father, I think this is probably the most important consideration—that we literally cannot afford to lose the Sharks. More specifically, we can't afford to lose their crews. The people aboard those ships right now are the seed corn for the crews of the ships we're building here in Darius. We've just blown an enormous hole in the Manties' trained manpower, one that's going to be a huge factor in how long it takes them to recover from Oyster Bay. Given the way things are proceeding, and given our own operational and strategic planning, we can't afford to have the same thing happen to us. We're going to be in the position of having to enormously expand our naval personnel no matter what happens, and we don't have the institutional base the Manties do. We need every single one of the men and women who carried out Oyster Bay. We need their skills and their experience, and we need them here—alive—not vaporized at Trevor's Star."


Why they're not arranging follow-up strikes on major fleet concentrations.


And now it's time to meet the Renaissance Factor, the planned successor state to the Solarian League, all under strict Alignment control.


Stanley Hurskainen, the president of the Republic of Mannerheim, sat to Albrecht's right. He was a reassuringly solid presence, a hundred and ninety centimeters tall, with powerful shoulders, intense brown eyes, and dark, straight hair. No one could have been more cosmopolitan than he, yet he wore his hair in a wrist-thick braid that fell below his shoulders, like a throwback to some barbarian warrior ancestor. It should have struck the eye as anachronistic; instead, it suited him just as much—and just as inevitably, somehow—as his exquisite tailoring and perfect manicure. Which was probably appropriate, given that the Mannerheim System-Defense Force was far and away the most powerful of the Alignment's component navies.


Mannerheim, as we've mentioned, has the largest system defense force of any League member world, and is publicly a bitter enemy of genetic slavery.


Chancellor Walter Ford, who headed the most colorfully named of the alignment's political units—the Second Chance Republic of the Matagorda System—sat on the other side of Hurskanien. Ford was the oldest person in the room, a good twenty-five T-years older than Albrecht himself, and his seniority often made him a sort of unofficial spokesman for the others. He'd allowed his dark brown hair to go silver which, coupled with his warm brown eyes and pleasantly worn-looking face, made him someone any HD director would cheerfully have cast as anyone's favorite uncle, but there was a deadly quick brain behind that comfortable, low-key façade.


The Second Chance Republic, of the star Matagorda.


Clinton Thompson, King Clinton III of the Kingdom of New Madagascar, sat to Ford's right. The king was a dynamic-looking, striking man, with auburn hair, coal-black eyes, and an intense, focused face. He sat with a curiously catlike relaxation which was both total and yet seemed poised for instant motion, and he had the powerful wrists of the champion-grade fencer he'd been before he ascended to the throne.


New Madagascar. Also notice the number named for US Presidents or famous movie directors.


Board Chairman Joan Kubrick, one of the only two women in the current generation of the Alignment's heads of state, sat between the king and Anton Polanski. Kubrick was the smallest person in the room. In fact, at just under a hundred and fifty-five centimeters, she was downright tiny, extraordinarily petite and delicate looking. Which was deceiving. With her chestnut hair, blue eyes, and dark complexion, she looked almost childlike, belying the enhancement of her musculature and skeleton.

Polanski was the system president of the Line System, and if Ford was the oldest person in the room, Polanski was the second-youngest. Only Daniel was younger than he, but Polanski had established himself as a concert-level guitarist before he followed his family tradition and entered politics. He had golden hair, green eyes, a very pale complexion, and fine hands, with long, slender fingers.


Line, and no idea what system Kubrick controls.


Roman Hitchcock, the president of the Visigoth System, was the most rugged looking of the people around the table, at least as far as his features were concerned. He had black hair, dark-gray eyes, and a strong nose, but in comparison to Hurskainen, who could easily have served as an artist's model for a barbarian king, Hitchcock was not only ten centimeters shorter, but built for speed and agility instead of raw power.


Visigoth, duh, the far side of the Mesan wormhole.


Nikomedes Kakadelis, Chief Counsel of the Democratic Republic of Thrace, was the only person there whose appearance really suited the traditional Old Earth ethnicity of his name. He had dark, curly hair, blue eyes, a strong nose and chin, and a slightly olive complexion. He was barely eight centimeters taller than Kubrick, but that was the only physical similarity between them. He had a weight lifter's physique and a wrestler's arms.


Thrace.


Beyond Kakadelis, Director Vincent Stone, who headed the Directorate of New Orkney, was almost too pretty. He had extraordinarily regular features, and a nose just on the masculine side of delicate, liquid brown eyes, a cleft chin, and hair as dark as a raven's wing. In fact, he was so "pretty" people often overlooked his powerful physique. Despite his youthful appearance, he was one of the older people in the room, and he'd also been a highly decorated naval officer before he entered politics . . . which, of course, had been part of the plan for his career from the beginning.


New Orkney.


Coming around the end of the table, back toward the Detweilers, was Rebecca Monticelli, president of the Comstock Republic and the only other woman present. She could have been deliberately designed by the Alignment's geneticists as Kubrick's antithesis, although it had actually just worked out that way. She had black hair, dark eyes, and a skier's tan—not surprisingly, since her favorite recreational pastime was cross-country skiing. She was also a good two centimeters taller than the famous Honor Alexander-Harrington—in fact, she and Hurskanien were the two tallest people in the room—and her genotype included even more musculature enhancement than the Meyerdahl first wave's.


Comstock is evil. I sort of suspected that from the first time I saw the word. Which was now, granted. And Mesa has improved on Honor's centuries-old strength enhancements.


Next was Chancellor Robert Tarantino of the Republic of New Bombay. Personally, Detweiler found Tarantino just a bit on the irritating side. It wasn't really the chancellor's fault, but one of the quirks in the Tarantino genotype had expressed unusually vigorously in his case, with the result that he was one of the most physically restless people Detweiler had ever met. He had platinum hair, brown eyes, and a slightly swarthy complexion, and he was constantly fiddling with something. In fact, Detweiler had once experimented by taking Tarantino's old-fashioned "worry rock" away from him to see what would happen, only to find the chancellor tapping his toes under the table in time with his fingers' drumming on his knees. Despite that, he was an extremely capable political leader, with multiple advanced degrees—in economics and physics—and he enjoyed a League-wide reputation as an economic policymaker.


New Bombay.


And, finally, to Albrecht's left, was Reynaldo Lucas—Marquis Reynaldo IV, of the Marquisate of Denver. He was sandy-haired, with hazel eyes and a neatly trimmed beard. Like Hurskainen, he favored long hair, and the Lucas genome shared some of the Polanski genome's musical talent. In Lucas's case, it expressed as a magnificent baritone singing voice rather than an instrumental ability, however.


And Denver. Which is apparently ruled by a Marquis.


And that's the Renaissance Factor. Manpower's evil scheme is after the SLN has been humiliated some more and the cracks start showing, these worlds shall spontaneously form a state of their own, a grassroots movement to return to the true ideals of the Solarian League. Then expand to embrace all humanity, before revealing who controls everything now, labor camps, forced sterilizations etc.


The Hurskainen genome, for example, had been placed in Visigoth over three T-centuries ago. Stanley Hurskainen represented the fifteenth generation of that alpha line, and the Thompson genome on New Madagascar was even older.


They're really long-term players. Hence inserting people to one day birth leaders centuries later.


The last thing they could afford at this critical juncture was for the rest of the galaxy to decide that the corrupt, outlaw corporations of Mesa were secretly pulling the strings behind these men and women. The very thing that made them so critical to the Alignment's ultimate success was the fact that there had never been a single trace of a connection between one of them and Mesa. All of them came from families which had been part of their native societies for so long their bona fides were beyond question. All had well-earned reputations as capable, farsighted, deeply involved heads of state. Each had expressed his or her own condemnation of genetic slavery, and most had been actively involved in stamping it out in their own societies. And unlike the vast majority of Solarian League politicians, there had never been even a hint of corruption or venality attached to any of them.


The lengths they've gone to for legitimacy, zero connection to manpower, zero graft or corruption.


When the Manties hammered the SLN into wreckage yet again—when the carefully primed "spontaneous rebellions" broke out in a dozen places simultaneously in the Verge as the League Navy's reputation crumbled, and when the score of Frontier Security governors who'd been carefully prepared by their own versions of Aldona Anisimovna followed the example of the Maya Sector and unilaterally assumed emergency powers in order to "protect" the citizens of their sectors—the men and women around this table with Albert Detweiler would emerge as the leaders of a new interstellar power.

The Alignment's strategists had picked the name for that power—the Renaissance Factor—decades ago, and the exquisitely orchestrated crescendo of disasters would "force" them into taking steps to protect their own star systems from the tide of anarchy. They wouldn't call themselves a star nation—not immediately—but that was what they would be. And, in the fullness of time, when it was obvious to the entire galaxy that they were simply responding to the catastrophic, totally unanticipated disintegration of the League, they would finally, regretfully, exercise their constitutional right to secede from the League and formally assume their position as a sovereign star nation.

A star nation which had grown solely out of their emergency association to stave off collapse. On which had nothing at all to do with Mesa . . . and which would painstakingly avoid anything that could be even remotely construed as a eugenics policy.


Apparently they've arranged dozens of rebellions as part of this too. The plan fully laid out.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-12-03 01:15am

Ahriman238 wrote:Filareta, who actually seems a decent sort for a Solly flag officer in general. I'm kind of concerned about these decadent and esoteric tastes, or that these are apparently relatively common among senior officers.
Let us say that he is competent but not decent. It's strongly hinted that his 'decadent' tastes involve, well... in some sense treating people as disposable or expendable. Hence his association with Manpower's slave trading.

However, for all that he's a sex offender, he's a competent naval officer.


I don't believe it. They're thinking, actually, seriously using their brains. Sure they're ranging from half-right to totally wrong, but they're also laboring under a tremendous weight of preconceptions about how the universe works, most particularly how big MDMs and FTL comms have to be. If not for the legion of small and gross breakthroughs made by Manticore, this would be totally accurate. And even half-wrong they're getting a lot of things right, because that's exactly how systems defense has been trending.
They've basically deduced the existence of something like Moriarty.

Mind, they still think Manticore's defenses must have been vastly reduced by whatever and whomever hit them.
It's that, or believe in ships so invisible even the Manticorans can't see them coming, literally into the heart of their defenses. Given that the Manticorans wouldn't have believed that one either until it was raygunning their infrastructure into shrapnel... who can blame Filareta for making the same mistake?

I'm really curious here. What precisely do you expect to happen here? What is the goal of this mission outside of 'punishing' Manticore for daring to push against the SLN? I mean, say you demand their surrender and get it. What then? Dismantle their government and try their queen and admiralty for 'warcrimes?' Set Manticore up as an OFS protectorate? Demand reparations?
It always worked before...

Honestly, just letting OFS get their hands on the Junction would probably be a prize worth expending seventy of the wall on, from the point of view of senior League officials...

Leaving aside the idea that they would simply surrender to anyone bringing a massive fleet to their doorstep with ill intent.
Again, it always worked before. The League's done this more times than can easily be counted- they're just using a bigger hammer this time.

State of slavery on Darius. Someday, the truth will get out and then there will be trouble.
I'm pretty sure the Alignment's plans don't involve Darius becoming known until such time as they've already more or less secured their control of the galaxy.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Kingmaker » 2014-12-03 01:55am

Wait, I thought it was supposed to be fairly obvious that Filareta was a pedophile. Which I felt was a rather cheap ploy on Weber's part. Here's the first half-decent Solarian admiral (both as a commander and a human being) - but wait. He also diddles GEd children. You know, because.

They're really long-term players. Hence inserting people to one day birth leaders centuries later.


The issue with this, which is even brought up in-story (and not given a satisfactory answer, IIRC), is that it seems implausible that they'd be able to reliably ensure the loyalty and secrecy of these multi-generational sleeper agents. Honestly, the Alignment's best defense is that it's so absurd that at this point, few people would believe it if it got blown. The question is how it made it this far in the first place.

The other thing I'm skeptical of is that they will be able to actually control democratic systems once they remove the mask and reveal they've been Nazis all along. It seems rather a stretch to me that people are just going to roll with it. You'd at least expect severe uprisings, even if you've thoroughly subverted the military.

Oh well. At least the futuristic spacee ubermensch will have well-directed movies.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby VhenRa » 2014-12-03 03:12am

Apparently they've arranged dozens of rebellions as part of this too. The plan fully laid out.


Yeah, thats in Shadow of Freedom, the opening act of such begins roughly now.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-12-03 06:40am

Kingmaker wrote:Wait, I thought it was supposed to be fairly obvious that Filareta was a pedophile. Which I felt was a rather cheap ploy on Weber's part. Here's the first half-decent Solarian admiral (both as a commander and a human being) - but wait. He also diddles GEd children. You know, because.
Well, whether he's doing it to children or adults, if he didn't "need" sex partners who can be literally disposed of afterwards, he wouldn't be dealing with Manpower. And I agree, it's cheap.

They're really long-term players. Hence inserting people to one day birth leaders centuries later.
The issue with this, which is even brought up in-story (and not given a satisfactory answer, IIRC), is that it seems implausible that they'd be able to reliably ensure the loyalty and secrecy of these multi-generational sleeper agents. Honestly, the Alignment's best defense is that it's so absurd that at this point, few people would believe it if it got blown. The question is how it made it this far in the first place.
There are hints that the colony worlds where this is going on have been very carefully manipulated by the Mesans on a broader scale. This at least makes things a little more convincing, or less bad anyway. The idea being that they don't really know who's going to be president in 300 years, but they have a short list of families they're covertly aiding to get into power

Regarding the intergenerational sleeper agents... yeah. It's... kind of weird. That would really only work if the Alignment agents are numerous enough that they form their own society within the society of the planet they live on.

The other thing I'm skeptical of is that they will be able to actually control democratic systems once they remove the mask and reveal they've been Nazis all along. It seems rather a stretch to me that people are just going to roll with it. You'd at least expect severe uprisings, even if you've thoroughly subverted the military.
Albrecht muses that he may not live to see the day when the long-term strategy actually succeeds, or at least that it is a LONG time from coming.

So they may be relying on taking even more generations if not centuries to gradually alter the way people think about genetic engineering and such, rather than just putting their Nazi face on 10-20 years after founding the Renaissance Factor.

Thinking for the ultra-long-term is made even more appealing by prolong.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby SpottedKitty » 2014-12-03 11:12am

Simon_Jester wrote:Regarding the intergenerational sleeper agents... yeah. It's... kind of weird. That would really only work if the Alignment agents are numerous enough that they form their own society within the society of the planet they live on.

IIRC there is actually a discussion somewhere in A Rising Thunder where Honor & Co. speculate on exactly this, and the only plausible conclusion they could come up with was that the sleeper system included a lot of redundant parallel family lines.

Which is kind of spooky, if you take that to its logical conclusion. Wouldn't that mean there could be sleeper lines already in place for several generations in Manticore, Haven, New Potsdam, and maybe a few other places of potential interest...?
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-12-03 12:04pm

Kingmaker wrote:The issue with this, which is even brought up in-story (and not given a satisfactory answer, IIRC), is that it seems implausible that they'd be able to reliably ensure the loyalty and secrecy of these multi-generational sleeper agents. Honestly, the Alignment's best defense is that it's so absurd that at this point, few people would believe it if it got blown. The question is how it made it this far in the first place.

The other thing I'm skeptical of is that they will be able to actually control democratic systems once they remove the mask and reveal they've been Nazis all along. It seems rather a stretch to me that people are just going to roll with it. You'd at least expect severe uprisings, even if you've thoroughly subverted the military.

Oh well. At least the futuristic spacee ubermensch will have well-directed movies.


And then there's this. People who grow up on Mesa at least grow up in a culture where eugenics are commonplace and transhumanism casually accepted. Growing up in a normal setting and being told when you're sixteen or whatever that you're secretly a genetic superman and a spy for a power you've maybe never heard of, should probably not go over well.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-12-03 03:17pm

Again, this is why I would think that the intended Renaissance Faction worlds would have to be carefully shaped in ways other than by the conspiracy. They need to be planets where prejudice against genetic engineering is minimized.

It also helps if sleeper family line members are not brought all the way into the Onion. Because it goes over better if you tell your kid:

"Son, I know you've wondered why you're always the last to get tired in gym class, and why most of the kids at the gifted school seem kind of dim. Well, you're almost a grown man now, so it's time to tell you... we're genies. Your father and I, our parents, their parents... We couldn't tell you until now because even though it's illegal to discriminate against genies on this planet, lots of people still are. They'd hate us if they knew, so we waited until we were old enough to tell you.

Now, there's a... support network for genies. Your father and I are members. We'll get you in touch with a friend of ours; she can help you understand what this is all about. You have a lot of potential, dear, and we want you to use it for the best- the best for you, and for everyone."

There you go. Prototypical "welcome to the Alignment Sleeper Cell Corps" speech. By the time any new initiates even find out that they're in a secret interstellar society called the Mesan Alignment, devoted to the genetic uplifting of all humanity, they've been quite thoroughly vetted for their willingness to keep the secret... and indoctrinated into wanting to.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-12-04 12:47am

EDIT: not that either, what is it tonight?
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-12-04 09:53am

"You may remember that we've all been concerned about a certain intelligence operative who'd dropped out of sight?"

He paused, and the eyes which had just narrowed flared wide.

"Yes," she said rather more slowly, "as a matter of fact, I do remember. Why?"

"Because he's just reappeared," LePic said. "And he has a friend with him. And the two of them have a new friend—one I think you're going to want to talk to yourself."


Anton and Victor, along with Herlander Simoes, have resurfaced and made contact with one of their governments! For some reason they went to Haven first even though Manticore is most definitely more accessible from Torch. And have they got a story, about a vast multigenerational conspiracy of eugenics unbermensch that's secretly responsible for everything that's screwy in both Haven and the Solarian League. Let's hope the bosses are feeling really open-minded tonight.


"Welcome home, Officer Cachat. We'd been wondering why you hadn't written."

Somewhat to her surprise, Cachat actually colored with what looked a lot like embarrassment. It probably wasn't, she told herself—that would be too much to hope for, although she couldn't think of anything else it might have been


I don't know about that, Victor gets easily embarrassed about some things, and I don't think he's had much experience at getting mockingly scolded by his boss.


"I agree with Admiral Theisman," Lewis said quietly but firmly. "And, no offense, Linda, but if it's a case of disinformation, I don't see what the hell—pardon me, Madam President—it's supposed to be disinforming us about! Try as I might, I can't think of any conceivable reason for anyone on Mesa to try to convince the Republic of Haven we're on some centuries-long interstellar hit list right along with the Manties. Can anyone else in this office come up with a reason any Mesan would be doing anything that could so radically shake up our relations with the Star Empire? Something which might convince us we actually have an enemy in common and point both of us directly at them?"


Not really no. The response to the natural concern "what if this is a disinformation campaign?"


"Oh, how I wish they'd been able to get McBryde out, too," Pritchard said with soft, terrible passion, then waved both hands contritely when Theisman gave her a speaking glance.

"I know—I know!" she said. "If this is true, we're incredibly lucky to have even a clue of it, much less Simões. I'm sure he's going to turn out to be incredibly valuable—if this is true—in the long run, but he's a tech geek." Theisman's lips twitched at the president's choice of noun, and she shook a finger at him. "Don't you dare smile at that, Tom Theisman! Instead, think of him as Shannon Foraker." Theisman's nascent smile disappeared, and she nodded. "Right. That's exactly the kinds of holes we're going to have in any political or strategic military information he can give us, no matter how good the debrief is."


All things considered, and doubting that McBryde had even a partial list of Renaissance Factor worlds, I'd say getting out a streak drive expert is a hell of a coup.


"And assuming there's any way to verify that what he's telling us is the truth," Trenis observed. They all looked at her, and she shrugged. "All our critical naval personnel are supplied with anti-interrogation protection. It's effective against every drug therapy we know about, but we've always recognized there are likely to be therapies we don't know about. I think we have to assume the Mesans are at least as aware of that as we are—I mean, let's remember where all their traditional expertise is focused. And given anyone as ruthless as McBryde and Simões have described, and anyone whose security's been good enough to keep all of this black literally for centuries, I have to think they've probably included some kind of suicide protocol to keep anyone from pumping someone as critical as Simões sounds like being."


More on that interrogation and drug-resistance program. And why they're not planning on dosing Simoes with those easy and reliable truth drugs they have.


"If McBryde was right about the Alignment having been involved with the Legislaturalists—and especially with DuQuesne—then it may be possible for us to turn up evidence of it," LePic said thoughtfully. "I know we'd be going back a long way," he continued when the others looked at him, "but we never had any reason to suspect outside influence before. That puts a whole new perspective on how we got stuck with the 'People's Republic' in the first place, and if we look at the records from that angle, we may spot something no one even had a reason to look for at the time."


I give him 50/50 odds, but any supporting details at this point will be a huge help.


"To be honest, that was one of the bells and whistles that most strongly suggested disinformation to me. I mean," she turned to Pritchart, "I'm always up for a good conspiracy theory, Madam President—God knows the history of the People's Republic's left all of us ready for that! But managing to overthrow someone else's constitution without leaving a single fingerprint—?"

The admiral waved her own hands in a baffled gesture, but Pritchart shook her head.

"Actually, I'm inclined to see that as a point in McBryde's favor," she replied, and snorted harshly at Trenis' surprised expression. "If there's anything to this at all, these people obviously think in terms of century-long operational frameworks, Admiral. For that matter, think of the chutzpah involved in anyone's thinking they could actually overthrow something as big and powerful as the Solarian League! Anybody willing to take that on would look at destabilizing something as small as the Old Republic as an exercise in light lifting. For that matter, they may even've seen it as a setting up exercise—a chance to practice their technique before the main event!"


Which it likely was, even.


"If they're willing to approach something like this on a generational basis—if their strategists at any given moment have been willing to work towards something that's not going to happen until their grandchildren's or their great-grandchildren's time—think about the kinds of covers they could build for their agents. We could be looking at twenty or thirty generations of sleepers, for God's sake! There could be people right here in Nouveau Paris, people whose families have been solid citizens of the Republic for three or four hundred years, who are actually part of this Alignment. Think about the kind of intelligence penetration that implies. Or about how long and subtly they could work on influencing political trends and policies. Or the media."


Fear of the long-term sleeper agents.


"You're right," Pritchart agreed. "On the other hand, let's not get too carried away. They may think they're superwomen, but I don't see why we should start thinking of them that way. I don't doubt they could do exactly what you're describing, Tom. In fact, that may well be what they did to the Old Republic. But however long they've been planning, they've still got to hold themselves to a manageable level of complexity. They've got to be able to coordinate everything, and we've had enough experience trying to coordinate the Republic to know how tall an order that can be even when we don't have to worry about keeping communications lines covert. Which has particular point in a case like this, I suspect, since I tend to doubt they could bury their sleepers quite as deeply as you've just suggested. There's got to be at least some contact somewhere if they aren't going to lose their assets simply because someone dies before she gets around to telling her son or daughter 'Oh, by the way. We're actually secret agents for the Mesan Alignment. Here's your secret decoder kit. Be ready to be contacted by the Galactic Evil Overlord on Frequency X with orders to betray the society you've been raised all your life to think of as your own.'"

"Granted." Theisman nodded. "But that contact could be damned well hidden, especially when no one's had any reason to look for it in the first place."

"I agree, Sir," Victor Lewis said. "Still, the President just made another excellent point. For them to make this work, they have to have an almost fanatical respect for the KISS principle." LePic laughed harshly, and the admiral smiled—briefly—at him. "I'm not talking about their overall strategy, Sir. Obviously, they haven't been afraid to think big where that's concerned! But if they've genuinely managed to keep all this under wraps for so long, and if they've actually gotten far enough along they're really ready to pull the trigger, then they have got to be some of the best covert operators in the history of humanity. And from our own experience, I can tell you that for them to have managed that, they have to have been pretty damned ruthless about prioritizing and assessing risks. They're probably willing to be as complicated as they have to be to accomplish anything they feel is genuinely critical, and they're probably operating on a huge scale, but they're not going to operate on any huger scale than they think they absolutely have to."


But the sleeper agent network probably isn't any bigger or more complex than the Mesans figure it absolutely has to be. Which could still be pretty damned big, not even getting into Manpower's vast connections wherever there's enough corruption.


The others were staring at her in shock, and she wondered why. From the instant she'd heard about McBryde's description of the new Mesan nanotechnology, she'd realized what had happened to Grosclaude. And if one of this 'Alignment's' critical objectives was the destruction of both the Star Empire of Manticore and the Republic of Haven, what better, more elegant way to go about it than to send them back to war with one another?

"It makes sense, doesn't it?" she pressed. "They played us—me—by having Arnold doctor the diplomatic correspondence. Hell, they may've had someone at the other end doing the same thing for High Ridge! No one's seen hide nor hair of Descroix ever since the wheels came off, now have they? And then, when we figured out what Arnold had done, they played Elizabeth by convincing her we'd killed Webster and tried to kill her niece exactly the same way the Legislaturalists killed her father and Saint-Just tried to kill her! God only knows how many millions of civilians and spacers—ours and the Manties'—these . . . people have gotten killed over the past eighty T-years or so, and Elizabeth—and I—both walked straight into it when it was our turn!"


And the big one. So what's the plan, oh fearless leader?


"At the same time, though, I think we've already got enough, what with the records Cachat and Zilwicki brought home of the Green Pines explosions and how they don't match the Mesa version, what Simões can tell us, what our own scientists can tell us about his new drive claims, to justify very quietly reaching out to Congress."

Theisman looked distinctly alarmed, as did LePic. Trenis and Lewis, on the other hand, were obviously trying very hard not to look alarmed. In fact, they were trying so hard—and failing so completely—that the president chuckled much more naturally.

"I'm not planning on talking to anyone unless Leslie, Kevin Usher, and probably you, Tom, all agree that, whoever it is, she's at least her own woman. And, trust me, I'm thinking in terms of a preliminary security vetting God might not pass! And I'm certainly not going to bring anyone like McGwire or Younger in on this until and unless we feel absolutely certain McBryde's and Simões's information is credible. But if we do come to that conclusion, this is going to change every single one of our foreign policy assumptions. That being the case, I think we need to start doing a little very careful, very circumspect spadework as soon as possible."


Smart woman, that Prichart.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby SpottedKitty » 2014-12-04 10:08am

Ah, there's the quote about possible hordes of Mesan sleeper agents I mentioned upthread. Could've sworn it was Honor & Co. talking about them, but apparently I misremembered.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby VhenRa » 2014-12-04 11:23am

For that matter, think of the chutzpah involved in anyone's thinking they could actually overthrow something as big and powerful as the Solarian League! Anybody willing to take that on would look at destabilizing something as small as the Old Republic as an exercise in light lifting. For that matter, they may even've seen it as a setting up exercise—a chance to practice their technique before the main event!"


Which it likely was, even.


Which (had things not gone their way with the war and the restoration of the Haven constitution), would have also neatly removed their one major post Solarian League rival for prosperity and a banner to rally around.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-12-04 05:49pm

Ahriman238 wrote:Anton and Victor, along with Herlander Simoes, have resurfaced and made contact with one of their governments! For some reason they went to Haven first even though Manticore is most definitely more accessible from Torch.
They knew (based on outdated information) that Honor was there. And that Honor (or Nimitz) would be able to confirm their honesty, while already having been predisposed to trust them to a degree normal humans would deem insane.

In addition, Cachat is far closer to the levers of power in Haven than Zilwicki is in Manticore. Treecats will ensure they're believed in Manticore, but much of their credibility hinges on Cachat personally in Haven. And if they go to Manticore there is a real danger that Cachat's going straight into a prison cell given that the two states are still technically at war.

All things considered, and doubting that McBryde had even a partial list of Renaissance Factor worlds, I'd say getting out a streak drive expert is a hell of a coup.
Yes, but the streak drive isn't going to be a decisive strategic advantage; it grants the Mesans more speed but not that much more. Arguably, knowing, say, how to do a blood test for the assassination nanites would be at least as big an advantage. McBryde might well know how to do that. Or have been able to find that information without ringing alarm bells.

More on that interrogation and drug-resistance program. And why they're not planning on dosing Simoes with those easy and reliable truth drugs they have.
Yeah. Interrogation drugs seem to be one of those areas where the arms race has been going on for a long time. Given the general advancement of Honorverse medical technology, it would be pretty weird if they hadn't gotten a good deal better at manipulating psychology and the brain than we are.

"It makes sense, doesn't it?" she pressed. "They played us—me—by having Arnold doctor the diplomatic correspondence. Hell, they may've had someone at the other end doing the same thing for High Ridge! No one's seen hide nor hair of Descroix ever since the wheels came off, now have they? And then, when we figured out what Arnold had done, they played Elizabeth by convincing her we'd killed Webster and tried to kill her niece exactly the same way the Legislaturalists killed her father and Saint-Just tried to kill her! God only knows how many millions of civilians and spacers—ours and the Manties'—these . . . people have gotten killed over the past eighty T-years or so, and Elizabeth—and I—both walked straight into it when it was our turn!"
And the big one. So what's the plan, oh fearless leader?
On a side note, the Alignment actually had nothing to do with Giancola's doctoring the correspondence. :D Descroix, yes, and that... aide or ambassador or whatever of Giancola's, yes. But not Giancola himself.


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