Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

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Mr Bean
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Mr Bean » 2014-11-26 12:36pm

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

Odd, to me it's a 1.5 meg map 3000x2000 map.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby andrewgpaul » 2014-11-26 01:22pm

Are you sure you've not linked a thumbnail (or is Chrome doing something silly)? to me it's 200 x 160.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-26 02:01pm

I too, get the thumbnail version.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-26 03:47pm

Hey, Ahriman, would you like me to write up some isolated scenes involving case Laocoön? I did that; they're located in A Rising Thunder but would arguably have fit just as well into this book.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-26 04:02pm

And here we go, Oyster Bay/Yawata Crossing. Depending on if you're a Mesan or a Manty.

The ships which had mounted Oyster Bay, however, represented a radical departure from anything the galaxy had previously seen which was just as impressive, in its own way, as anything Manticore had accomplished. They weren't a particularly graceful departure, of course. In fact, compared to any impeller-drive ship, they were squat, stumpy, and downright peculiar looking because, unlike the gravitic drives everyone else used, the spider generated no impeller wedge. Instead of using two inclined planes of focused gravity to create bands of stressed space around the pocket of normal-space which surrounded a ship, the spider used literally dozens of nodes to project spurs or spikes of intensely focused gravity. For all intents and purposes, each of those spurs was almost like generating a tractor or a presser beam, except that no one in his right mind had ever imagined tractors or pressers that powerful. In fact, at a sufficiently short range, they would have made quite serviceable energy weapons, because these focused, directional beams were powerful enough to create their own tiny foci—effectively, holes in the "real" universe—in which space itself was so highly stressed that the beams punched clear through to the alpha wall, the interface between normal-space and hyper-space.

No single beam would have been of any particular use. Powerful as it might be, it was less than a shadow compared to the output of even a single one of any starship's beta nodes, far less an alpha node. It wasn't even enough to produce the "ripple" along the hyper-space wall which Manticore used for its FTL communications technology. But it did lock onto the wall, and that provided the ship which mounted it a purchase point in deep space—one which was always available, anywhere, in any direction. And when dozens of those beams were combined, reaching out, locking onto the alpha wall and pulling in micro-spaced bursts, they produced something that was very useful, indeed.


Mechanics of the spider drive.


Without a wedge, it also produced no convenient "sump" for an inertial compensator, and that meant the maximum survivable normal-space acceleration for a spider drive-equipped ship was limited by the ability of currently available grav plate technology to offset the consequences of acceleration. Unfortunately, grav plates were far less capable in that respect than inertial compensators, which had an inevitable effect on the maximum accleration a spider-drive ship could attain. It also meant that unlike impeller-drive vessels, a spider-drive ship's decks had to be aligned perpendicular to its axis of movement rather than parallel, which was a large part of what produced its shorter, "squatter" hull form, not to mention requiring some significant rethinks about the way spacecraft designers had been arranging ship interiors literally for centuries.

Although the Alignment's physicists had been inspired to push grav plate technology harder than anyone else, there were still limits. Up to an actual acceleration of one hundred and fifty gravities, it could achieve an efficiency of over ninety-nine percent, producing a "felt" acceleration of only one gravity. Above that level, however, the plates' efficiency fell off dramatically. The physical plant itself grew larger and more massive on a steeply climbing curve, which cut into internal volume, and even then, each additional gravity of actual acceleration produced a "felt" increase of approximately .05 g. That didn't sound too terrible, but what it meant was that fifty additional gravities produced an apparent increase of two and a half gravities, which raised the ship's internal gravity to 3.5 g, at which point the crew's ability to move about and perform even routine duties began to become . . . impaired. And it also meant that grav plates powerful enough to produce that effect required almost twice the volume required to produce the 150:1 ratio.

After considering the situation carefully, the architects had designed and stressed the ship structures and control stations to permit effective maneuvering and combat at up to four gravities, but combat efficiency began to decline noticeably at that rate of acceleration due to the physiological limitations of the crew. Moreover, that still equated to an actual acceleration of only two hundred and ten gravities, which was pathetic by the standards of any impeller-drive warship. Actual acceleration could be pushed—in emergencies, and briefly, at least—to almost three hundred and ten gravities, but that produced a "felt" gravity of 9 g. Crew acceleration couches were provided for just that contingency, yet three hundred and ten gravities was still barely half of the acceleration which the RMN's biggest superdreadnought could currently attain, and even with the best acceleration couches in the universe, no one could stand nine gravities for long.


Tl:dr, the spider ships can't use traditional inertial dampening, restricting them to 150 Gs normal accel, 210 in combat and 310 for short emergency bursts. And that with accel couches. Also, the direction they're moving is always "up" since they use accel to provide gravity, like the rocket ships of old.


Worse, smaller spider-drive ships had no acceleration advantage over larger ones.


Why is that a problem, and why is it a worse one than the low accel in the first place?


And the need to stabilize the ship relative to the hyper wall required at least three sets of "spider legs," which led directly to the "triple skeg" hull form which had been adopted. Which, in turn, meant that instead of two broadsides, a spider-drive ship had three . . . none of which could be protected by the impenetrable barrier of an impeller wedge. That meant both that areas no impeller-drive ship had to armor did require massive armor protection aboard a spider-drive warship and that there was no wedge floor and roof for a side wall to stitch together. And just to make matters even more interesting, the spider drive could not be used through a spherical sidewall like the ones fortresses generated.


No wedge, no sidewall. Not even a bubble one. Which makes it a poor straight-up combatant, but then, it was never meant to fight openly. If it's taking fire, you're doing something wrong.


But the spider also had one overwhelming advantage: it was effectively undetectable by any sensor system deployed by any navy (including the MAN itself) at any range much beyond a single light-second. Even for the MAN, it was damnably hard to detect; for someone who didn't even know what to look for, the task was about as close to outright impossible as challenges came. For all intents and purposes, a spider-drive ship's drive field was invisible, and it was actually the drive signature of a ship for which virtually all long-range passive sensors searched.


Again, the Mesans can sort of detect their own ships at one light-second, well within energy range.


There were actually six separate attacks on the Manticore Binary System itself, one for each inhabited planet's infrastructure and each divided into two separate waves, although they'd been carefully synchronized to form a single, devastating sledgehammer of a blow.


Here we go, two strikes at each station, Hephaestus, Vulcan and Weyland.


The first wave of each attack consisted of a weapon which was as much a fundamental breakthrough, in its own way, as the Manticoran introduction of the multidrive missile: a graser torpedo which used its own variant of the spider drive. It was a large and cumbersome weapon, with the same trilateral symmetry as the Shark-class ships which had launched it, and for the same reasons.

-snip-

For all its size, it was also a slow weapon. It was simply impossible to fit a spider drive capable of more than a few hundred gravities' acceleration into something small enough to make a practical weapon. As compensation, however, its drive had almost as much endurance as most of the galaxy's recon drones, which gave it an impressive absolute range. And a large percentage of the torpedo's volume had been reserved for systems which had nothing at all to do with propulsion. Whereas the Royal Manticoran Navy had concentrated on improving the efficiency of its standard laser heads, Daniel Detweiler's R&D staff had taken another approach. They'd figured out how to squeeze what amounted to a cruiser-grade graser projector into something small enough to deploy independently.

The power of the torpedo's graser wasn't remotely comparable to that of the weapon mounted by current-generation Shrikes, yet it was more powerful than any single bomb-pumped laser head. Of course, there was only one of it in each torpedo, but R&D had decided the new weapon could sacrifice the laser head's multi-shot capability, because it offered three highly significant advantages of its own. First, it was just as hard to pick up as a spider-drive ship, and the best anti-missile defense in the universe couldn't hit something it didn't know was coming. Second, the torpedo carried extraordinarily capable sensors and targeting systems and an AI which approached the capability of the one Sonja Hemphill's people had fitted into the Apollo control missile. As a consequence, its long-range hit probability was significantly higher on a per-beam basis than anything short of Apollo itself. And, third, a bomb-pulsed laser had a burst endurance of barely five thousandths of a second; a laser torpedo's graser's endurance was a full three seconds . . . and it had a burn-through range against most sidewalls of over fifty thousand kilometers.


Their new weapon, the graser torpedo isn't terribly faster than a ship and may be slower than some (few hundred gs) but has impressive endurance and AI, and carries a one-shot, three-second burst cruiser graser. That delivers a lot more hurt than even the newest generation of Manty missiles from one bird.


Fitting all that into something the size of a torpedo had required some drastic engineering compromises, and there'd never been any possibility of squeezing in the power supply for more than a single shot. Even if there had been, no one could build a graser that small and that powerful which could survive the power bleed and waste heat of actually firing. But that was fine with the MAN's designers and tacticians. In fact, they were just as happy every graser torpedo would irrevocably and totally destroy itself in the moment it fired, since they weren't looking forward to the day one of their enemies finally captured one intact and figured out how to duplicate it.


The graser burns out and becomes usless from the perspective of recovery and reverse-engineering.


There wasn't much to see. Star Witch's division of obsolescent Star Knight-class heavy cruisers were conducting routine training exercises in preparation for deployment to Silesia. They'd been listed for disposal when the Battle of Manticore burst upon the RMN, at which point they'd been pulled back out of reserve and refitted for service, so they had more training to worry about than most. It might be argued that, since they were headed for what had become an admittedly important but still strategically secondary assignment—and weren't even scheduled to leave for another two and a half weeks—there was no tearing urgency to the process, but Commodore James Tanner, CruDiv 114.1's commanding officer, didn't believe in letting last-minute details pile up. He'd gotten permission fto conduct formation exercises in a conveniently empty area well inside the hyper limit but above the ecliptic, which was what it had been doing for the last three days.


A division of heavy cruisers on exercises just happens to be in position to catch some last minute data/instructions to the torpedoes and missile pods. Oh, and it seems the massive casualties of Manticore, in men and equipment, have saved the Star Knights from the breakers for the moment, and these ones are bound for Silesia.


"More to the point, though, we don't even recognize the encryption."

"Internal Andermani or something, Ma'am?" Sands sounded puzzled, but not yet really concerned, and Dombroski shook her head grimly.

"Even if it's Andermani, whoever sent it wouldn't have used that encryption unless they wanted to keep anyone who happened to detect it from understanding it. And like you say, it's a big packet. And one coming from somewhere none of our people are supposed to be."


So they do the right thing, abort the exercise, call it in and investigate.


Special caps fitted to protect their sensors from particle erosion and micrometeorites during their long ballistic run in to attack range were blown free while onboard artificial intelligences considered the updated targeting information and concluded that none of it required significant modification of their pre-launch instructions. Their targets were rather large, after all, and they'd already known exactly where to find them.


The Mesans are also using disposable sensor-head covers to protect the sensors on long trips. Makes me wonder what they do for the sensor heads on warships, or do you think it's just regular maintenance?


The tricky part had been synchronizing the attack waves. Manticore-A and Manticore-B were far enough apart that even if the Manticorans' FTL station's range was great enough for transmissions between them (which seemed, to say the least, unlikely), it would take the better part of thirteen minutes for word of what happened around one component of the binary system to reach the other. Because of that, Oyster Bay's planners had been willing to settle for only approximate coordination between those separate parts of the operation.

Within the Manticore-A subsystem, however, timing was far more critical. Although the planets Manticore and Sphinx were well over twenty-five light-minutes apart at the moment, it was imperative that all the attacks be executed in a time window too narrow to allow for any effective reaction by the system's defenders. And unlike certain members of the Solarian League Navy, the MAN had a very powerful respect for the Royal Manticoran Navy. Not only that, but as they'd studied and updated Oyster Bay's planning requirements, they'd become painfully aware that the Manticorans' reaction was going to be even faster and better coordinated than they'd originally allowed for, given the existence of their grav-pulse communicators and how they'd undoubtedly upgraded their routine readiness postures in the wake of the Battle of Manticore.


Basically, it was very important that the strikes be coordinated closely enough together that no one station could warn another in time.


One moment, the Manticore Binary System was going about its routine business, peacefully and calmly. The next moment, eighteen powerful grasers ripped through Her Majesty's Space Station Hephaestus like demons. There was absolutely no warning. No time to bring up the station's spherical sidewall, or to evacuate, or don skinsuits, or set internal pressure security. There was no time at all as that devastating wave of destruction struck like a chainsaw hitting an egg.


Oyster Bay initiates.


At the instant it fired, the torpedo which struck the control section was moving at the next best thing to 70,000 KPS and deliberately yawing on its axis, sweeping its graser in a spiraling cone to traverse the entire volume of the station. The beam itself moved away from GM-HF/1-17-13, but the lethal overpressure of the explosion's shock front—followed by equally explosive decompression—killed the sixteen techs working directly in the twenty thousand-ton fabrication module almost as quickly as the control room techs had died.


The fact that the firing platforms are still moving at tens of thousands of KPS during a three-second burst would give them tremendous sweep, even without deliberately twisting.


As it happened, the blast doors made no difference at all, however. Even as the graser which had ripped HF/1-17-1336-T-1219 moved away, cutting deeper towards the station's central spine, another graser moved towards HF/1-17 and HF/1-16. It sliced across both shipyards in a searing eyeblink, and if it was less powerful than a Shrike's weapon, its power was more than ample for the minor task of cutting an unarmored destroyer, unprotected by impeller wedge or sidewalls, cleanly in half.

It did precisely that to HMS Saladin . . . whose fusion plant abruptly lost containment with absolutely no warning to the engineering safety systems. Not even cybernetic reflexes were equal to that sort of cataclysmic failure, and the resulting fireball made whatever other damage the torpedoes might have done to that section of HMSS Hephaestus totally superfluous.


The RMN has a Saladin too now, a Roland. Sorry, had.


One of the Mesan torpedoes scored a direct hit on the station's spine, slashing outward and across successive secondary axes in a horrendous bow wave of secondary blasts and explosive decompressions. It reached the outer edge of the station and kept right on going until it ripped lengthwise across Jessica Rice's unarmored topsides, shattering the big, powerful ship. And then she, like Saladin, blew up. The explosion disabled Longshoreman's after impeller ring, sending her wedge into automatic shutdown . . . and leaving her unprotected as a chunk of what had once been HMSS Hephaestus which out-massed the tug by at least fifty percent slammed into her and destroyed her completely.


Boy, if you hit them right, these ships without wedges blow right up. There goes a Saganami and a tug.


Truman's display went abruptly blank.

Her eyebrows were still only beginning to rise in surprise when another torpedo's graser sawed directly through her quarters . . . and her.


There goes Hephaestus' CO, followed by vignettes of a small family and a Solly news crew getting killed.


The Mesan graser which incinerated Passenger Concourse Green-317 terminated Jennifer Rivera's reflections upon her career prospects along with her, Manfred O'Neill, and four hundred and nineteen other arriving passengers from the Hauptman Lines starship Starlight.

Approximately three-hundredths of a second later, Starlight, her crew of twenty-eight, and the two hundred through-passengers to Sphinx who hadn't disembarked, followed them into destruction.


Passenger liner docked with Vulcan.


"Is Aikawa back aboard yet, Ben?" Ansten FitzGerald asked as his steward poured him a second cup of coffee.

"No, sir," Steward 1/c Benjamin Frankel replied with a smile. "He's not due back until this afternoon, I believe."

"Um." FitzGerald frowned thoughtfully. Hexapuma would be in the yard dogs' hands for at least another three or four weeks, but she'd just been assigned a trio of bright, shiny new midshipmen. Frightening as the concept seemed in some ways, he'd decided to ask Aikawa Kagiyama to take them under his wing. He was confident Aikawa would rise to his responsibilities and set them a good example.

Of course he was.

He snorted in amusement at his own thoughts, but he couldn't really deny that a part of him was actually a little relieved at having at least another few hours before he found out whether or not his "confidence" was justified.

"Well, in that case—"

HMS Hexapuma blew up with all hands as the Mesan graser ripped across her fusion plant.


They killed the Nasty Kitty.

They killed the Kitty.

They KILLED the KITTY!!

That ship gave us the most fun since book three of the series, it was still half-full of interesting characters, and now it's just gone.

They DIE!!!


The destruction of HMSS Hephaestus was for all intents and purposes total in the first three seconds of the Mesan attack.

Some of the surviving fragments of the station were large enough and sufficiently intact to hold pressure, and a handful of the ships which had been docked survived more or less in one piece. Three of them—the destroyer Horatius, the Grayson freighter Foxglove, and the tug Bollard—actually came through the holocaust virtually undamaged. Horatius' paint wasn't even scratched.

But they were the exception to the rule, tiny pockets of survival in a hurricane of devastation . . . and the attack on HMSS Vulcan was equally successful.

-snip-

Between the two space stations, alone, the first ten seconds of Oyster Bay had already cost the Old Star Kingdom over four million dead.


Casualties so far, and only three ships docked with Hephaestus survived.


Allen Higgins' face was parchment-pale as he stared at the FTL platform-driven flag bridge master plot. It was only chance he'd been on flag bridge at all, but that coincidence wasn't much help as CIC's computers emotionlessly updated the plot. Home Fleet was much too far away from either space station to have offered any sort of protection even if it had realized the attack was coming . . . or been able to see it when it did. Because it was, it was also too far away to be attacked, and in some ways, that made it far worse. The people who were supposed to protect the Star Empire—who were supposed to die to prevent something like this from ever happening—were perfectly placed to see exactly how totally they'd failed in that purpose, and the fact that it wasn't even remotely their fault meant nothing at all beside that terrible sense of failure.

And for Allen Higgins, their CO, it was even worse than it was for the rest of them.


Poor guy, he was just thinking how hard it is to step into Honor's shoes, and a couple of months into the job this happens.


A version of the new weapon had been used with lethal effectiveness against Luis Rozsak's ships at the Second Battle of Congo. Unfortunately, the full report on that wasn't available to the RMN. They knew something had improved the range of the missiles which had been provided to the "People's Navy in Exile," and they'd managed to deduce approximately how it had been done, but that was about it. And even if they'd had access to Rozsak's report, it wouldn't have fully prepared them for this. Rozsak had faced the Cataphract-A, based on the SLN's new cruiser/destroyer Spatha shipkiller; the pod-launched missiles of Oyster Bay were Cataphract-Cs, based on the capital-ship Trebucht, with much heavier and more powerful laserheads. The combined package had a powered range from rest of over sixteen million kilometers and a terminal velocity of better than .49 c.


The Mesan's Cataphract half-assed DDMs, where the second drive is a counter missiles'. The pod-based Cataphract-C is a lot more gun than the BC-launched A model from the Battle of Torch, and I believe longer ranged too with a 16 million k range from rest.


That attack envelope would have made it formidable enough by itself, but installing the high-speed drive as the last stage also gave it far more agility when it came to penetrating the target's defenses during its terminal maneuvers.


Possibly, though couldn't you still get more range by habing the higher initial accel?


There was time for their targets—or some of them, at least—to realize they were under attack. To see the impossible impeller signatures of missile drives swarming away from the pods' ballistic tracks. Some of those missiles were effectively wasted because of targeting decisions made by officers who hadn't felt justified in relying solely upon the efficacy of the as yet untested torpedoes. Those laser heads either never fired at all or else used themselves up picking off chunks of wreckage large enough to satisfy their targeting criteria.

But the vast majority of them had other concerns. There really weren't many of them, given the number of targets they had to cover, but it didn't take very many to kill targets as naked as these. They roared in on the carefully plotted positions of the totally unprotected orbital shipyards floating around Manticore and Sphinx with devastating effectiveness.


And there are other, more dispersed shipyards, which are what most of the MDMs are hitting.


Bomb-pumped lasers ripped deep, mangling and shattering, spewing bits and pieces of the Star Empire of Manticore's industrial might across the heavens. And behind them came the old-fashioned nuclear warheads—warheads which detonated only if they were unable to obtain a hard kinetic kill. Fireballs glared like brief-lived, intolerably bright stars, flashing in stroboscopic spikes of devastation, and more thousands of highly skilled workers and highly trained naval personal died in those cataclysmic bubbles of plasma and radiation.


And some are nukes, though the nukes are only going off when they can't physically slam into things, KE from a multi-ton object doing just shy half-lightspeed being a lot more damaging than any nuke.


"Get ready with the tractors," Sugimatsu told her. "No way can we catch all this crap with the wedge, so we're going to have to roll back down and grab the bigger pieces that get past us before they hit atmosphere."

"We've only got six tractors," Verstappen pointed out quietly.

"Then we're just going to have to hope there are only six pieces big enough to survive reentry," Sugimatsu said grimly.

Even as he said it, he knew they would never be that lucky. Not after something like this.

Quay drove sideways, accelerating hard to put herself directly between the wreckage of HMSS Vulcan and the planet Sphinx. As Sugimatsu had observed, she was the only ship in a position to intercept the avalanche about to come crashing down on the planet. Most of the station's wreckage might be small enough to be completely destroyed when it hit atmosphere, but some of it definitely wasn't going to be. In fact, some of it was going to be solid hunks of battle steel armor, specifically designed and manufactured to resist direct hits by capital ship-range energy weapons.


The tug Quay trying to stop debris raining down on Sphinx. Manty tugs have six tractor beams.


"I can use all the help I can get," Wingate said grimly. Then he paused for a moment. "Should I try emergency overpower?" he asked.

Sugimatsu started to reply, then paused. He knew what Wingate was asking. The tug's tractors were powerful enough that they had to be handled with great care under normal circumstances. Too much power, too much torque, and they could rip chunks right out of the ship they were supposed to be towing. In fact, under the wrong circumstances, they could destroy a ship outright. So what Wingate was really asking was whether or not he should deliberately red-line the tractors and try to shred the wreckage into pieces too small to survive atmospheric entry. He might or might not succeed in any given case—a lot depended on the exact composition and structural strength of any piece of debris. But if he did succeed, that could just be one more piece of wreckage, one more kinetic projectile, Quay could try to stop.

And if he pushes the tractors that hard, there's a damn good chance he'll burn them out and we'll lose something we might have stopped.

Andrew Sugimatsu's jaw muscles clenched. He'd seen combat. He'd expected to see it again. But he'd never expected to find himself having to make this kind of call in the very skies of one of his star nation's inhabited planets.

He thought for an eternity all of three or four seconds long. Then—

"Crank the bastards to max," he said harshly.


May as well take a chance, when you're already this screwed.


The people who'd planned Oyster Bay had carefully arranged their attack to avoid anything that could be construed as a direct attack on the planetary populations of Manticore or Sphinx. Given the nature of the war they were planning to fight, it wasn't because the MAN had any particular objection to killing as many Manticorans as possible. But there was that bothersome little matter of the Eridani Edict, and while it was probably going to take a while for anyone to figure out who'd carried out the attack, and how, that anonymity wasn't going to last forever. Eventually, the fact that the MAN and its allies were the only people who'd had the technical capability to do it was going to become obvious. There were plans in place to prevent the Manticorans from returning the compliment once they figured out who was to blame, but the Mesan Alignment's diplomatic strategies could be very seriously damaged if anyone figured out too soon how little the Eridani Edict truly meant to it.

-snip-

But however careful they'd been to avoid direct attacks on the planets, none of them had lost any sleep over the possibility of indirect damage from the bits and pieces of wreckage raining down into the planets' gravity wells. That was something totally beyond any attacker's ability to control, and no one could possibly question the fact that the space stations had been legitimate military targets. Under those circumstances, the Eridani Edict's prohibition against deliberate attacks on planetary populations had no bearing. So if a few thousand—or a few hundred thousand—Manties were unfortunate enough to get vaporized when a fifty-thousand-ton chunk of wreckage landed on top of their town, well, making omelettes was always hard on a few eggs.


Mesa is just as happy with major impact events, as long as it's an indirect result of their attack on legitimate military targets and not direct fire from their weapons.


Had anyone been in a position to actually watch, they would have seen HMS Quay slash into the heart of the wreckage. Despite the impenetrability of the wedge itself, it was still a high risk move. Sugimatsu had to get deep enough into the stream to intercept the most dangerous chunks of it, and that meant intersecting its path late enough that quite a few major pieces of debris were actually swept into the open throat of Quay's wedge. He'd counted on that, since he couldn't avoid it anyway. And it didn't matter whether a piece of wreckage hit an impeller wedge on its way in or on its way out. What did matter was the distinct possibility that Quay might strike one of those pieces on its way through. The odds were against it—on the scale of the tug's overpowered wedge, both she and even a very large piece of wreckage were actually rather small objects in a relatively large volume—but the odds weren't as much against it as he could have wished, and he realized he was holding his breath.

Something large, jagged, and broken—it looked, in the fleeting glimpse he had, as if it were probably at least half of a heavy fabrication module, which must have massed the better part of thirty-five thousand tons—went screaming past Quay's prow and impacted on the inner surface of her wedge's roof. Or, rather, was ripped into very, very, very tiny bits and pieces in the instant it entered the zone in which local gravity went from effectively zero to several hundred thousand gravities in a space of barely five meters.

The ship shuddered and bucked as other multiton chunks of Vulcan's shattered bones slammed into her wedge. Not even her inertial compensator could completely damp the consequences of that much transferred momentum without shaking her crew like a terrier with a rat. But she'd been built with generous stress margins for a moment just like this one, and she came out the other side intact, already turning to bring tracking systems and tractors to bear on whatever had gotten past her.

Verstappen's hands flew over her console. If she'd only had more time, time to really evaluate the wreckage before they physically intercepted it, she would have been far better placed to prioritize threats. As it was, she had to do it on the fly, and perspiration beaded her forehead. At their velocity, even with the range of a tug's tractors, they had only seconds—no more than a minute or two, maximum—before their velocity would carry them too far from the debris to do any good.

"Take the queue, Harland!" she barked, pressing the key that locked in her best estimate of threat potentials, and down in Engineering, Harland Wingate and his two assistants went frantically to work.

Quay's tractors stabbed out, no longer powerful, carefully modulated hands making gentle contact with other ships but deliberately overpowered demons, ripping and rending, striking with so much transfer energy that even enormous pieces of debris shattered.

In the one hundred and three seconds they had to work, those tractors destroyed eighteen potentially deadly shards of Her Majesty's Space Station Vulcan. Four more looming projectiles were dragged bodily after Quay as she went streaking away from her intercept. There would have been more, but two of her tractors had burned out under the abuse.


This was just a really cool sequence of emergency efforts to prevent a greater disaster, making the most of everything available.


The first impactor struck the planetary surface twenty seconds later. Even closing at a paltry eight kilometers per second—barely twenty-five times the speed of sound at local sealevel—the fragments were wrapped in a sheath of plasma as they shrieked downward. Not all the debris Quay had missed reached the surface, of course, but even those chunks that never struck the ground transferred their kinetic energy to the atmosphere, creating bow waves of plasma, and then a sequence of air bursts along the entire length of their descent paths, sparking forest fires and flattening anything beneath them.

-snip-

Multiple fragments, two of them massing between two hundred and three hundred thousand tons each, slammed into the icy waters of the Tannerman Ocean. The resulting impact surge would kill over ten thousand people in dozens of small coastal towns and inflict billions of dollars worth of damage.

But that was the good news.

Twenty seconds was far too little warning to do any good, too little time for anyone to react. Alarms were only beginning to sound in the city of Yawata Crossing, emergency messages only starting to hit the public information channels, when an even larger impactor—three hundred thousand tons of wreckage, the size of one of the old Star Knight-class heavy cruisers—struck approximately five and a half kilometers from the exact center of the city of one and a quarter million people . . . with an effective yield of better than two megatons.

The three follow-on strikes by fragments in the forty thousand-ton range were barely even noticeable.


Rain of debris on Sphinx. Including the total destruction of the major city of Yawata Crossing, the city nearest Honor's family homestead in the Copper Wall mountains.


Allison had been staring out the limo's window, her brain whirling as she tried to process the impossible information. She wasn't even looking in LaFollet's direction—in fact, her attention had been drawn by a brilliant flash to the east, somewhere out to sea, ahead of the limo—and so she was taken completely by surprise when he snatched Raoul out of her arms.

She started to turn her head, but LaFollet hadn't even paused. Raoul began a howl of protest, but it was cut off abruptly as LaFollet shoved the baby into the special carrier affixed to the mounting pedestal of Allison's chair—the one which would normally have been Honor's, if Honor had been present. The internal tractor net locked down around the infant instantly, gentle and yet implacably powerful, and LaFollet slammed the lid.

That carrier had been designed and built by the same firm that built and designed life support modules for treecats, and every safety feature human ingenuity could come up with had been designed into it. Allison was just starting to come upright in her own chair, her eyes wide, when LaFollet stepped back and hit a button.

Allison's shoulder harness yanked tight with brutal, bruising force, and battle steel panels snapped out of the limo's bulkheads and overhead, sealing her and the baby in a heavily armored shell. A fraction of a second later, the blast panel blew out, and the shell went spinning away from the limo under its built-in emergency counter-grav.


Near the impact site, Andrew LaFollet hits the emergency eject for Allison and Raoul Harrington. We later learn that LaFollet did not make it out. :(


Black Rock Clan was one of the older treecat clans. Not so old as Bright Water Clan from whence it had originally sprung, perhaps, but certainly of respectable antiquity. It was a large clan, too—one which had been growing steadily over the last double-hand of turnings. The hunting was good, here in the western picket-wood of the mountains the two-legs called the Copper Walls. The "gardening" tricks the two-legs had taught the People helped, as well, and Black Rock had learned to look forward to the regular visits of the Forestry Service's doctors, which had kept so many of their young from dying in kittenhood.

But for all that, Black Rock Clan, like most treecat clans, kept largely to itself. There were no two-legs living in Black Rock's immediate vicinity, and so there was no one to tell the People what had happened in the black emptiness so far beyond their sky.

And perhaps that was just as well. At least none of the People realized what was about to happen.


And the Black Rock Clan of treecats are wiped out to a kitten.


Well that was depressing, how about aftermath and counting the costs?


"Hephaestus, Vulcan, and Weyland are gone, Your Majesty. There's been some talk about recovering some of the modules and repairing them, but my staff's current estimate, based on input from both BuShips and BuWeaps, as well as from Construction and Repair, is that it would be faster and more efficient to start over from scratch.

"That means we've just lost every 'hard yard' we had. I don't as yet have a complete count of the numbers and classes of ships lost with them, but I already know it represents a significant loss of combat power. In addition, we've lost better than ninety-nine percent of the labor force of all three stations. For all intents and purposes, the only real survivors we have are people who, for one reason or another, were off-station when the attack hit. Most of them," he added heavily, "also lived aboard the stations, which means virtually all of them have lost their entire immediate families. That means it's going to be quite some time—and rightly so—before their morale recovers to a point at which they can really be considered part of the labor force again."

-snip-

"The damage to the dispersed orbital yards is almost as bad. At this moment, my best figures are that fifteen of them—none of which had units under construction—are undamaged, and another eight are probably repairable, although the ships under construction have been so badly damaged we're probably going to have to break them up and start over rather than trying to repair and complete them.

"In effect, we've lost every ship under construction, the labor force which was building them, and the physical plant in which they were being built—and which was fabricating almost all the components the dispersed yards were assembling. That means that what we have in commission and working up at Trevor's Star now is all we're going to have for at least two T-years. For any capital ships, the delay will be more like four T-years. Minimum."


So for the moment they have fifteen of the dispersed yards, but have lost 99% of their spacegoing workforce for building ships, and every ship in for construction or repair, like the Kitty. Minimum two years to get any new construction out, twice that for wallers.


"What about the repair facilities in Trevor's Star, Ham?" Prime Minister Grantville asked quietly, and White Haven looked at his brother.

"That's still intact," he admitted, "and it's going to play a huge part in regenerating yard capacity within the timeframe I just mentioned, Willie. But it's primarily repair capacity. It was never intended for sustained, high-volume component production, so it's going to require a lot of modification before it can really make its presence felt. And, more inportantly, we're going to have to divert a hell of a lot of its potential capacity to something we're going to need even worse."


Trevor's star has some repair facilities they'll be using a lot of.


"Whoever planned this operation, obviously knew exactly how to hurt us. Not only did they take out our building capacity, but when they destroyed Hephaestus and Vulcan, they also destroyed our missile production lines. I remain confident that the missiles we have deployed are superior to those of any probable enemy, but the ones we already have aboard ship, or aboard ammunition ships assigned to our fleet formations, are all the missiles we have. All we're going to have until we can rebuild our production facilities . . . which is why I said we'd need the Trevor's Star facilities for something else even more than for rebuilding our Manticoran yards. At this time, I have no firm estimate for how long it's going to take to get Trevor's Star up for missile production—we're still inventorying our mobile repair and construction capabilities, and I'm sure some of them will help—but I'll be extraordinarily surprised if we can get new missile lines into production in less than ten T-months. And even then, it's going to take us a long time to ramp back up to anywhere near the production levels we had yesterday. Given the fact that our tactical advantages are so hugely bound up with our missile superiority, and given the numbers of missiles required to destroy or mission-kill even a Solarian ship-of-the-wall, that means our ability to take the war to the League has just evaporated. In fact, while it's likely we have enough Apollos already in inventory to finish off the Republic if it comes to that, doing so would leave us with essentially none for use against the League for almost an entire T-year."


They've lost all production of MDMs and Apollo, and it's going to take most of a year, optimistically to get production of new missiles up and running.


"The solitary bright spot I've so far been able to find—aside from the fact that Trevor's Star is still intact—is that Weyland was virtually empty when the attack went in." Several people blinked in surprise, and White Haven's lips twitched in something which might one day become a smile once more. "Vice Admiral Faraday had scheduled a surprise emergency evacuation exercise. Given the interruption in the station's operations—not to mention the expense and the disruption of government services on Gryphon when all those life pods dropped in so unexpectedly—I imagine Faraday probably anticipated taking more than a little flak over his exercise." The ghost of a smile disappeared. "As it happens, he doesn't have to worry about that anymore. He and his staff were aboard when the station was destroyed. All of them were lost, as was almost all of the station's senior command crew and a quarter of its engineering staff. But because of his exercise, the entire R&D staff and over ninety-five percent of the station's manufacturing workforce—and, thank God, their families—were on the planet and survived. That workforce will be literally invaluable when we start trying to rebuild."


And because all their research data is regularly backed up, they still have all of that. So the surprise drill turned out to be remarkably fortunate for Manticore.


"The loss of life aboard the space stations themselves is currently estimated at five-point-four million," the home secretary said levelly, looking back down at the pad. "That number includes only those we know were onboard at the time. It does not include arriving transients who hadn't yet passed through immigration or those who were still in the concourses waiting to transship without ever entering customs in the first place because they weren't entering Manticoran sovereignty. We don't think that latter number's going to be very high, since most interstellar through passengers make—made—their connections at the Junction, not Hephaestus or Vulcan. It also doesn't include military personnel aboard the vessels docked at the stations at the time of the attack.

"Additional loss of life from the attacks on the orbital shipyards amounts so far to three hundred and ninety-six thousand. We estimate that another thousand or so were probably killed aboard small craft and private vessels that found themselves caught in the crossfire."


Lowball estimates for loss of life, in space only and discounting military personnel on the ships.


"In the case of Gryphon, we were extraordinarily lucky. Weyland was less than half the size of Vulcan, so there was less debris to begin with. In addition, Gryphon's population is still much sparser than that of our other planets, and it's concentrated closer to the equatorial zone. There were several major debris strikes on the planetary surface, but they were concentrated in the high northern latitudes. The most serious consequences would appear to be the damage to the local ecosystems and the consequences of one major ocean strike. Human casualties, however, were nil, so far as we now know, and the estimates from my biosciences people are that the ecological damage is all well within recoverable ranges.


No casualties so far reported on Gryphon, they'll have some problems with damaged ecosystem and maybe atmospheric dust, but it all looks recoverable.


"In the case of Manticore itself, we were once again fortunate—in this case, in that there were a larger than usual number of tugs moving vessels and freight in and around the volume of Hephaestus. Two of them were destroyed along with the station, but the others survived, and we were also fortunate that Lieutenant Commander Strickland, the captain of one of those surviving tugs—Stevedore, I believe—reacted quickly enough to organize her fellow skippers. Between them, they managed to intercept all but a half dozen significant pieces of wreckage. The Mount Royal Palace defenses destroyed the two of those pieces which might have threatened Landing, and the other four struck either uninhabited or only sparsely inhabited areas of the planet. None struck water, either. We don't have anything like definitive numbers yet, but I doubt the total casualty count from debris strikes on the planet will exceed two hundred.


Maybe a couple hundred dead on Manticore. The Palace has some serious firepower if it can shoot down city-killing debris.


"There was only a single tug in position to intervene. My impression is that its crew performed far better than anyone could possibly have expected. Nonetheless, the city of Yawata Crossing was effectively destroyed by a major debris strike. The city of Tanners Port wasn't directly impacted, but there was a major ocean strike. It would almost certainly have destroyed Yawata Crossing even without the direct hit on that city, and it did destroy at least three-quarters of Tanners Port, and three other, smaller cities, were very severely damaged. There was too little time for significant evacuation before the first impact waves came ashore, and loss of life was heavy, especially in Tanners Port. Local authorities had more warning, further away from the actual strikes, and emergency evacuation efforts thankfully reduced human losses, although property damage is certainly going to run into the high billions of dollars. The town of Evans Mountain was also badly damaged—by a cascade of smaller pieces of debris in its case—although the casualty count there seems to have been much lighter. And according to the Sphinx Forestry Service"—Abercrombie's eyes flitted to the treecats on the backs of Elizabeth and Justin's chairs—"it would appear at least one treecat clan was completely destroyed."

A soft sound came from all three of the treecats in the room. White Haven opened his arms as Samantha flowed down from his chair back and buried her muzzle against him, and Ariel and Monroe joined their voices to her own soft lament.

"Counting the known casualties on the planetary surfaces," Abercrombie concluded softly, "the civilian human death toll so far is approximately seven million, four hundred and forty-eight thousand."


By my count we're over 13 million dead now.


I've asked the Forestry Service to give us a definitive figure for treecat fatalities as soon as possible." The home secretary met Ariel's eyes, not the queen's. "They're working on that. At the moment, the best estimate from their search and rescue teams is approximately eighty-five hundred."

-snip-

Against all that, less than nine thousand treecats might not seem so terrible. But there were many planets occupied by human beings, while by the Sphinx Forestry Service's best estimate, the total treecat population was probably less than twelve million, which meant those nine thousand lives represented almost a full percent of them. Not one percent of the treecats living on the planet Sphinx; one percent—one out of every hundred—of every treecat in the entire universe.

And the 'cats were telempaths.

Elizabeth had reached up to gather Ariel back into her arms, and Munro had leaned forward, pressing his wedge-shaped chin into the top of Justin's shoulder while the prince consort caressed his ears. They sat that way for several seconds, then Elizabeth bent and kissed the top of Ariel's head gently, straightened once more, and cleared her throat.


Treecats are not terribly populous, less so now. But treecats also have long memories, passed down generationally.


"We've already begun an emergency mobilization of all civilian repair and service ships assigned to both the Junction's central nexus and Basilisk. We're also making plans to tow the Junction industrial platforms back into the inner system, but, to be honest, like the Trevor's Star platforms, they're really designed for repair and routine service work, not heavy fabrication. We can increase their construction capacity, but what they have now is too small to have any immediate effect. My people are working on their own inventories of capabilities, and we've already arranged to coordinate as closely as possible with the Navy."


They're not without resources.


"Our three biggest advantages, the ones that have kept us intact for the last twenty or thirty T-years, have been our R&D, the quality of our educational system and workforce, and the strength of our economy. As Hamish just pointed out, we still have the research capability, and we still have the educational system. But we no longer have the workforce, and with our industrial capacity this brutally cut back, the strength of our economy has to be doubtful, at best."


Manticore's major advantages, and how they've been cut down by Oyster Bay. How about that economy?


"Our carrying trade isn't going to be directly affected, and our Junction fees probably aren't going to fall too significantly—not immediately, at least. The indirect effect on our carrying trade is going to make itself felt pretty quickly, though. As Charlotte's just pointed out, for all intents and purposes we've lost our industrial sector completely. That means an awful lot of manufactured goods we used to be exporting aren't going to be available now. That accounts for a significant percentage of our total carrying trade—not to mention an enormous chunk of the Old Star Kingdom's Gross System Product. And as our industrial exports drop, the resultant drop in shipping's also going to have at least some effect on our Junction fees.

"Most of the rest of our GSP comes out of the financial sector, and I can't even begin to predict how the markets are going to react. There hasn't been an example of something like this happening to a major economic power since Old Earth's Final War, and even that's not really comparable, given how interstellar trade's increased since then. On the one hand, a huge percentage of our financial transactions have always consisted of servicing and brokering interstellar transactions between other parties, and the wormholes and shipping routes which made that possible are still there. What isn't there, and won't be for quite some time, is the dynamo of our own economy. People who were invested in the Star Kingdom—foreigners, as well as our own people—have just taken a devastating hit. How well anyone's going to recover from it, how quickly that's going to happen, and what's going to happen to investor confidence in the meanwhile is more than anyone except Nostradamus would even try to predict."


I predict that it will not be good. Manticore depends a lot on their own industry, selling advanced technology and luxury goods to places like Silesia and the League, and their merchant empire depends on outside investors.


"At the moment, we've suspended the markets," she continued. "We can probably get away with that for a few more days, but we can't just freeze them forever, so we're going to have to respond with some sort of coherent policy quickly. And as the first stage in doing that, I think the most important thing is for us to stop and take a deep breath. As Charlotte says, we still have our educational system, and as Bruce just pointed out, shipping routes aren't going to magically change. We have the ability to recover from this . . . assuming we can survive long enough. How bad things are going to get economically before they start getting better is more than I'm prepared to predict, and the price tag's going to be enormous, but I'm confident of our ultimate capacity to rebuild everything we've lost . . . if whoever did this to us gives us the time."


Can they really do that? Just suspend trade?


"Am I correct in assuming you and Sir Thomas believe Manpower—or whatever the hell we should start calling these people—wouldn't have hit us and left our allies alone?"

"I doubt very much that they would have," White Haven said heavily. "I suppose it's possible they left the Andermani out. They have to be aware the Emperor's more than a little unhappy about this confrontation of ours with the League, and the Andermani have always had that reputation for . . . pragmatism, let's say. And there's got to be a limit on their current capabilities—how far they could stretch their attack when they started planning it—as well. So they may well have figured Gustav would recognize a sinking ship when he saw one. For that matter, they may have figured he's smart enough and cautious enough to figure there's no reason they couldn't do the same thing to him later if he didn't decide to step aside.

"But anyone smart enough to put all of this together is going to understand Benjamin Mayhew better than that, Your Majesty. They're going to've had a page or two in their plans for him. I'm very much afraid our dispatch boat telling him about what's happened here is going to cross one from him telling us the same thing already happened at Yeltsin's Star."


And precisely right, they hit Grayson too but leave the Andies alone. Proof the Andies are unhappy about maybe getting dragged into a shooting war with the Solarian League. Hey, we haven't seen an Andy at any of these policy meetings, ever.


"So, so far, the only fundamentally destabilizing thing we've seen—or, rather, not seen—is the drive technology itself. That's scary enough, but I suspect it's an advantage that's going to be considerably less valuable the second time it's used against someone who knows it's out there, even if he doesn't know how it's done. And whatever it may let them do in sublight maneuvering, unless the laws of physics have been repealed, they still have to radiate a hyper footprint when they leave hyper-space. Admiral Hemphill tells me she feels quite confident she'll eventually be able to identify whatever trace footprint or hyper ghost we failed to spot or identify properly at the time the ships which deployed this attack's weapons dropped in on us.


And if you thought they were paranoid about possible hyper-footprints far away before....
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-26 04:06pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Hey, Ahriman, would you like me to write up some isolated scenes involving case Laocoön? I did that; they're located in A Rising Thunder but would arguably have fit just as well into this book.


Knock yourself out, it's always more fun when more people contribute.


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


Let me try. Here.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Mr Bean » 2014-11-26 04:59pm

Ahriman238 wrote:

Worse, smaller spider-drive ships had no acceleration advantage over larger ones.


Why is that a problem, and why is it a worse one than the low accel in the first place?

Simple if small ships can't outrun big ships either you standerids ship ships or you end up with lots of big ships. How would WW1 Naval combat change if Destroyers and Battleships could both do 15 knots top speed.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-26 07:01pm

Ahriman238 wrote:Tl:dr, the spider ships can't use traditional inertial dampening, restricting them to 150 Gs normal accel, 210 in combat and 310 for short emergency bursts. And that with accel couches. Also, the direction they're moving is always "up" since they use accel to provide gravity, like the rocket ships of old.
Hm. One caveat- you'd think the Alignment could figure out genetic modification to create people with exceptional g-tolerance. Then again, this might actually not help much with tolerance for instantaneous g-loading, because the limit on that is mostly about having the blood be too heavy to flow through your body.

Worse, smaller spider-drive ships had no acceleration advantage over larger ones.
Why is that a problem, and why is it a worse one than the low accel in the first place?
Because a small spider drive ship (say, the size of a cruiser) is even more hopelessly outmaneuvered by impeller warships of equal tonnage than a large one is.

Being restricted to 200 gravities is bad enough for a big capital ship that can punch hard in battle. Especially since, theoretically, there's no reason you couldn't build a really big spider drive ship, bigger than impeller drive allows for an efficient mobile platform.

Being restricted to 200 gravities is disastrous for a cruiser.

No wedge, no sidewall. Not even a bubble one. Which makes it a poor straight-up combatant, but then, it was never meant to fight openly. If it's taking fire, you're doing something wrong.
You could give it a bubble sidewall, but it couldn't accelerate while the sidewall was raised. There are circumstances under which that's an acceptable tradeoff, I bet.

Their new weapon, the graser torpedo isn't terribly faster than a ship and may be slower than some (few hundred gs) but has impressive endurance and AI, and carries a one-shot, three-second burst cruiser graser. That delivers a lot more hurt than even the newest generation of Manty missiles from one bird.
Although actually, against a maneuvering target underway you couldn't even hit it...

The Mesans are also using disposable sensor-head covers to protect the sensors on long trips. Makes me wonder what they do for the sensor heads on warships, or do you think it's just regular maintenance?
Regular maintenance (why do you think they go EVA so much?), plus magical 'radiation shielding' protecting the hull, I bet.

The fact that the firing platforms are still moving at tens of thousands of KPS during a three-second burst would give them tremendous sweep, even without deliberately twisting.
Without (quite rapid) deliberate twisting they wouldn't even be able to keep the beam on the target...

Poor guy, he was just thinking how hard it is to step into Honor's shoes, and a couple of months into the job this happens.
Plus, it's not like exactly the same thing wouldn't have happened on Honor's watch, too, which has to make it hurt even more.

Possibly, though couldn't you still get more range by habing the higher initial accel?
We went over this. Yes, you could, but it may not be possible to decide which drive fires first. For example, you might have an actual physical countermissile (with a huge warhead) strapped onto a conventional missile drive... in which case firing the high-acceleration countermissile stage first would shred the conventional drive stage.

And some are nukes, though the nukes are only going off when they can't physically slam into things, KE from a multi-ton object doing just shy half-lightspeed being a lot more damaging than any nuke.
Several orders of magnitude more so.

Maybe a couple hundred dead on Manticore. The Palace has some serious firepower if it can shoot down city-killing debris.
Nuclear-tipped ABM systems would probably do the trick; we could build defenses capable of that performance.

Can they really do that? Just suspend trade?
What, on a stock exchange? Sure they can. For example, the New York Stock Exchange closed for four whole days after 9/11.

And precisely right, they hit Grayson too but leave the Andies alone. Proof the Andies are unhappy about maybe getting dragged into a shooting war with the Solarian League. Hey, we haven't seen an Andy at any of these policy meetings, ever.
The Andies themselves are a bit ticky about that and are going to work on it.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ultonius » 2014-11-27 06:31am

I've asked the Forestry Service to give us a definitive figure for treecat fatalities as soon as possible." The home secretary met Ariel's eyes, not the queen's. "They're working on that. At the moment, the best estimate from their search and rescue teams is approximately eighty-five hundred."

-snip-

Against all that, less than nine thousand treecats might not seem so terrible. But there were many planets occupied by human beings, while by the Sphinx Forestry Service's best estimate, the total treecat population was probably less than twelve million, which meant those nine thousand lives represented almost a full percent of them. Not one percent of the treecats living on the planet Sphinx; one percent—one out of every hundred—of every treecat in the entire universe.

And the 'cats were telempaths.

Elizabeth had reached up to gather Ariel back into her arms, and Munro had leaned forward, pressing his wedge-shaped chin into the top of Justin's shoulder while the prince consort caressed his ears. They sat that way for several seconds, then Elizabeth bent and kissed the top of Ariel's head gently, straightened once more, and cleared her throat.


I think Weber made a maths error here. Nine thousand is almost twelve thousand, which would be a tenth of a percent of twelve million, not 'a full percent'. For the one percent figure to make sense, either the casualty figures would have to be an order of magnitude greater or the total population would have to be an order of magnitude smaller, i.e. either 85,000 out of 12,000,000 or 8500 out of 1,200,000.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Crazedwraith » 2014-11-27 06:34am

The later seems more likely to me.

---

Just on a writing note. Has one noticed the strange ubiquitousness of the expression 'I didn't think, I knew' in the series? Usually for something that turned out to be wrong. Or some not thinking but knowing they were about to die on one of Honour's death rides.

---

And on an analysis note. Where are boat bays located? I was at my HH-enthusiast friend's house recently and happen to be flipping through the Jayne's guide. For the picture of one of the troopship it showed them having lots of bays for launching assault shuttles etc. on the underside. And I was wonder how that worked considering the impassable wedges and so forth. I guess you could cut power to your wedges when launching but then I doubt you want to be in orbit of a planet you need to drop troops on to without your main means of defence.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Nephtys » 2014-11-27 06:56am

There's still thousands of kilometers down before you hit a wedge. And you can go out the mouth just fine, the ship probably just needs to maintain a very constant accel. Alternatively, as they've shown fine control with tractors, you tow the pinnace out until it's clear of the wedge. Same with recovery, when under accel.

My two 'favorite' weberisms, are when someone uses a 'throwing away gesture', as a strange sort of shrug I suppose, or when groups of friends to way too elaborate and lamely sarcastic exchanges of 'Oh you wicked person, I will slay you' sorts of stuff, like when the royal family jokes with Elizabeth of being a dictatorial tyrant, or when Harrington suggests vaguely that their successes may be due to a teeny bit of skill... ugh.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-27 08:28am

As Nephtys says, even a pinnace has multiple cubic kilometers within it's wedge, thousands for any true starship. For myself, I always pictured the boat bays on the sides with space for doors on the downcurve, since we know they keep the airlocks for station access via the 'jetways' in the boat bay. Which makes sense since the whole bay regularly depressurizes, so if pressure is lost for whatever reason, emergency bulkheads slam and you only lose what/whomever was in the boat bay.


Howls of (emotion), or "such as it is and what there is of it" sometimes substituting 'was' for 'is,' that one in particular has gotten a lot more common in the last few books.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Darth Nostril » 2014-11-27 08:52am

Ahriman238 wrote:Let me try. Here.


Still just a thumbnail.

Try this.

Or this.
So I stare wistfully at the Lightning for a couple of minutes. Two missiles, sharply raked razor-thin wings, a huge, pregnant belly full of fuel, and the two screamingly powerful engines that once rammed it from a cold start to a thousand miles per hour in under a minute. Life would be so much easier if our adverseries could be dealt with by supersonic death on wings - but alas, Human resources aren't so easily defeated.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-27 08:54am

Thumbnail, but the second link, to DeviantArt, works alright.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-27 09:02am

Crazedwraith wrote:And on an analysis note. Where are boat bays located? I was at my HH-enthusiast friend's house recently and happen to be flipping through the Jayne's guide. For the picture of one of the troopship it showed them having lots of bays for launching assault shuttles etc. on the underside. And I was wonder how that worked considering the impassable wedges and so forth. I guess you could cut power to your wedges when launching but then I doubt you want to be in orbit of a planet you need to drop troops on to without your main means of defence.
There are hundreds of kilometers of maneuvering room between the ship and the actual impeller bands. A small craft could easily 'swim out' from the bay at speeds of no more than, oh, tens of meters per second, then fire its reaction thrusters to get out of the ship's aft wedge.

What's problematic is firing missiles, because missiles launch at high velocity and you have to aim them carefully so they don't smack into the wedge or sidewalls. At least, assuming you don't just dump them out the back in pods.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Laguna » 2014-11-27 01:43pm

"Never-to-be-sufficiently-damned" is another phrase that keeps popping up. It seems to be the MALign's favorite for treecats, but it's been used by various other characters as well.

I think missiles, like the broadside energy weapons, go through "gunports" in the sidewalls. I don't think they've ever been described in detail (unlike just about everything else :D ), but they seem to be a temporary or permament hole made in the sidewall for weapons to go through. Age Of Sail analog, remember.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-27 05:39pm

Well, it's not really an Age of Sail reference that you need to have a hole in the wall for your weapons fire to go out. Common sense; if your wall is between you and the enemy's weapons, it is also between the enemy and your weapons.

As I said, that's not an Age of Sail reference. That's an 'entire history of warfare' reference.

The main point I was trying to make is that because the missiles are ejected from the ship at high speed, it requires special arrangements to launch them through the ship's impeller fields. Things that don't have to be ejected at high speed don't need such arrangements, so it really doesn't matter in what direction they're launched. Indeed, going out through the roof or floor might actually be preferred. Because there's more vertical clearance between the ship and the impeller bands than there is lateral clearance between the ship and the sidewalls.

Also, putting boat bays along the centerline of the ship's dorsal or ventral surfaces means the big empty voids aren't weak spots that allow enemy fire to penetrate deep into the hull. And it makes repairs and refits easier because any systems located along the ship's centerline can (if they're placed correctly) be accessed via the boat bays. Which reduces the amount of cutting through bulkheads and decks you have to do.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Crazedwraith » 2014-11-27 05:44pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Well, it's not really an Age of Sail reference that you need to have a hole in the wall for your weapons fire to go out. Common sense; if your wall is between you and the enemy's weapons, it is also between the enemy and your weapons.

As I said, that's not an Age of Sail reference. That's an 'entire history of warfare' reference.


To be fair most other science fiction I am aware off, I'm mainly thinking Star Trek and Star Wars here, doesn't have any reference to needing gun ports. They just assume deflector shields only affect incoming fire and not out going weapons.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Vejut » 2014-11-27 06:00pm

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.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Darth Nostril » 2014-11-27 06:06pm

All the large maps are fan made, pieced together from the smaller maps in the books.
Apparently Weber has a full map but is keeping it close to his chest, so as to prevent spoilers for future books.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Laguna » 2014-11-27 06:36pm

Crazedwraith wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:Well, it's not really an Age of Sail reference that you need to have a hole in the wall for your weapons fire to go out. Common sense; if your wall is between you and the enemy's weapons, it is also between the enemy and your weapons.

As I said, that's not an Age of Sail reference. That's an 'entire history of warfare' reference.


To be fair most other science fiction I am aware off, I'm mainly thinking Star Trek and Star Wars here, doesn't have any reference to needing gun ports. They just assume deflector shields only affect incoming fire and not out going weapons.


Gunports in the sidewalls were stated in On Basilisk Station, so presumably missiles are fired through them as well as energy weapons, otherwise a ship's broadside grav launchers wouldn't need to be powerful enough to make missiles quickly clear the the sides of the wedge, they could simply be soft-ejected from the ship, then let them clear the rear of the wedge as the ship moves forward before lighting off their own wedges. So yes, it is in keeping with the whole intentional Age Of Sail analog of Honorverse naval tech--they're even called "gunports", just like sailing ships had.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Ahriman238 » 2014-11-27 09:45pm

She held out the red-bordered folio of a high-security message chip, and Kolokoltsov gazed at it for a moment, his lips puckering slightly, like a man sucking on an underripe persimmon. What was it about Rajampet, he wondered, that had produced this mania for hand-delivered, officer-couriered memos rather than old-fashioned e-mail or a simple com conference over one of the innumerable secure channels available to the people who ran the Solarian League? Whatever it was, it was getting worse pretty much in tandem with the situation.


I'm thinking this is a military thing, even in the League. And like when we talked about it back in OBS, I'm thinking it's half security, half forlorn hope that people will actually read a message you took the trouble to have hand-delivered.


"Which brainstorm would that be?" The sourness in Wodoslawski's smile had nothing to do with the excellent wine which had accompanied supper.

"The one about redeploying every single Frontier Fleet battlecruiser to raid Manticoran infrastructure," Kolokoltsov said dryly.

"Actually, compared to some of the other ideas he's come up, that one sounds almost reasonable."


Assuming you hate Frontier Fleet, absolutely.


The citizens of the Solarian League had been told so often, and so firmly, that their navy was the largest and most powerful not simply currently but in the entire history of mankind that they'd believed it. Which was fair enough—Kolokoltsov had believed it, too, hadn't he? But now that navy had been defeated. It wasn't a case of a single light unit somewhere, one whose loss might never even have been noted by the League's news establishment. It wasn't even a case of a Frontier Fleet squadron surrendering to avoid additional loss of life. Not anymore, anyway.

No. It was a case of an entire fleet of ships-of-the-wall—of Battle Fleet's most powerful and modern units—being not simply defeated but crushed. Humiliated. Dispatched with such offhand ease that its survivors were forced to surrender to mere cruisers of a "neobarb" navy from the backside of nowhere.

The newsies who'd charged off to the Talbott Cluster to cover the New Tuscany incidents had gotten far more than they'd bargained for, he thought grimly. They'd come flooding home in their dispatch boats, racing to beat the Royal Manticoran Navy dispatches bearing word of the battle—and of Admiral O'Cleary's surrender—back to Manticore. The first rumors of the catastrophe had actually reached the Old Earth media even before the latest Manticoran diplomatic note—this one accompanied by Admiral Keeley O'Cleary in person—reached Old Chicago.


Seems O'Cleary got repatriated, along with sensor records of Spindle she accompanied the diplomatic note. And just a little of the PR situation, I really ought to expand on.


There was an edge of fear, almost of hysteria, in some of the commentary. And not just on the public bulletin boards, either. Theoretically well-informed and levelheaded military and political analysts were climbing up on the "the universe is ending" wagon, as well. After all, if the Manties could do that, then who knew what they couldn't do? Indeed, some of the most panic-stricken seemed to expect Manticore to dispatch an unstoppable armada directly through the Beowulf terminus of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction to attack Old Earth.

To be honest, there'd been moments, especially immediately after the news broke, when Kolokoltsov had worried about the same thing. But that was nonsense, of course. For a lot of reasons—not least because he figured the Manties had to be at least a little brighter than he and his colleagues had proven themselves. Which meant he very much doubted anyone in the Star Empire of Manticore was stupid enough to attack the home world of humanity and provide the League with such a wonderfully evocative emotional rallying point.


And here's the explanation I referenced earlier for why Manticore's taking Earth would be a terrible idea.


But if there was an undeniable element of fear, there was an even more undeniable—and overwhelming—feeling of outrage. Things like this weren't supposed to happen to the Solarian League. The League's invincibility was a physical law, like the law of gravity, and just as inevitable. Which meant that if it had happened, someone was to blame.

At the moment, much of that outraged anger was directed at the Manties. The way Abruzzi's propagandists had milked Mesa's Green Pines allegations had helped there, since they'd managed to get public opinion aimed at the Ballroom "baby killers" and their "Manticoran paymasters." Personally, Kolokoltzov figured there might have been as much as one actual fact in the Mesan reports, There sure as hell hadn't been two of them, as far as he could tell, but the spectacular charges had been useful grist for Abruzzi's mill.

Except, as MacArtney had suggested, inasmuch as they'd whipped up too much heat. The public anger against Manticore—here on Old Earth, at least—was attained near hysterical levels, and the fear bound up in it in the wake of New Tuscany only fanned its heat still higher. Yet there were already at least a few voices whose owners were looking for someone to blame closer to home than the Manticore Binary System. The ones who wondered how the people in charge of the League's security could have been so soundly asleep at the switch that they hadn't even seen this coming. And other voices which wanted to know just what those same people in charge had been doing to let a loose warhead like Sandra Crandall plunge the SLN into such a disastrous fiasco.


Looks like Manticore won't be winning any popularity contests on the streets of Chicago anytime soon.


He'd actually considered calling for an inquiry himself, anyway. There'd been enough blue-ribbon panels and "impartial investigatory boards" which had obediently produced the necessary conclusions to hand-wave away other embarrassing little problems over the years. This time, though, in the wake of such anger and such stunning and public disclosure of disaster, he wasn't at all confident any inquiry could be properly controlled. And one that couldn't be controlled would be even more catastrophic than what had happened at Spindle.

Like it or not, there was no political structure to replace the bureaucratic one which had evolved over so many years. The very language of the League's Constitution foreclosed the possibility of such a structure, especially in light of the centuries of unwritten constitutional law and traditions which had settled into place. Kolokoltsov strongly doubted that any political structure could ever be created, under any circumstances, to truly govern something the size of the League. But even if he were wrong about that, even if it had been possible to create such a structure under ideal circumstances and conditions, it most definitely would not be possible under the ones which actually obtained.


So Kolokoltsov and the other Mandarins simply must remain in power! Purely out of civic responsibility and high-minded statesmanship, of course.


"In the meantime," Kolokoltsov went on, "we point out that everything that's happened in the Talbott Cluster is the result of Manticoran imperialism. We've had our concerns over their actions and intentions for some time, and what they did at New Tuscany, and their attack on Admiral Byng, have made us even more concerned. After all, the mere fact that they've changed their name officially to the Star Empire of Manticore is surely an indication of their expansionism and ambitions! And the reports of their backing for outright acts of terrorism and mass murder by the Audobon Ballroom—the fact that they're clearly using the Ballroom as a weapon against someone they've unilaterally decided is their enemy—only underscores the kind of lunatic excesses their territorial ambitions and arrogance produce.


You're going to have to work a bit harder than that. Haven kind of used up a lot of credit with the "republic good, kingdom bad" thing before, at least among those paying some semblance of attention.


"We're doing it because, in the end, we're going to have to go to war with Manticore, no matter what we want," Kolokoltsov said flatly. "And under the circumstances, given the fact that we can't go to war right now, the groundwork has to be set up carefully. We have to explain why the war is their fault and why we can't just go smack the hell out of them the way they deserve right this minute."

"Sounds like a tall order to me," she said dubiously, and he nodded.

"It is. But I think we've got at least a decent shot at it, if we handle things right. First, we go ahead and admit that, however many ships of whatever classes they deployed at Spindle, they've clearly demonstrated that at least some of their weaponry is, in fact, superior to anything we have currently deployed. Obviously, the Navy's been pursuing similar weapons developments for some time, but has declined to put them into service because the League was unwilling to take responsibility for such a dramatic escalation in the lethality of weapons of war. Which, by the way, also helps buy us a little time. Because of that unwillingness to pursue such an escalation, we didn't press the R&D on it, and there's going to be an inevitable delay before we can bring our own systems fully up to operational status and start getting them deployed.

"In the meantime, however, the Manties have become aware both of their current superiority and also of the fact that it's a fleeting one, and they've decided to push their imperialist agenda while they still have a decided edge in combat. Clearly, the way in which they've distorted what happened in both incidents at New Tuscany—and probably what happened at Monica, as well—is all part of an elaborate deception plan. It's intended to erect a façade of Solarian aggression in order to create a peace lobby here in the League which will agitate in favor of allowing their new 'Empire' to retain its ill-gotten gains rather than risk a lengthy, expensive war to force them to surrender those gains. That's probably why they're insisting on this nonsense about Manpower being behind it all, too."


Okay, that's a lot better. Were I a Solly, I'd feel pretty strongly tempted by this narrative.


"So you don't think there's anything to that?" Abruzzi asked.

"To the idea that a single corporation, no matter how rich and well-connected, could arrange to throw entire battle fleets around the galaxy? Please!" Kolokoltsov rolled his eyes. "Oh, I don't doubt for a minute that Manpower is involved in this thing up to its eyebrows, and everybody knows how all the Mesan transtellars scratch each other's backs. For that matter, all that nonsense about the Manties being involved in what happened in Green Pines is an obvious crock . . . thar came out of the official Mesan 'system government.' So, sure, Manpower's involved, and we all know how much Manpower's hated Manticore—and vice-versa—for centuries. But there's no way a single corporation could be pulling the sorts of strings the Manties are insisting it is! On the other hand, Manpower is the poster child for corrupt transstellars, and thanks to people like O'Hanrahan, 'everybody knows' the transstellars are involved in corruption and sweetheart deals all over the Shell and the Verge. The Manties are tryint to take advantage of that."


Manticore has been screaming the truth out to the galaxy, and not even the rather jaded Mandarins believe them.


"All right. The most important thing is that we don't even try to seek a formal declaration of war. Especially with this bogus Manpower issue running around, someone would be certain to veto the declaration even if we asked for one, and any debate in the Assembly would have too much chance of triggering the sort of witch hunt the League can't afford. Besides, we don't want to find ourselves pushed into conducting some sort of offensive operations, and that could happen if we somehow managed to get a formal declaration after all. So instead, we go right on activating the Reserve while we push—hard—on R&D to figure out what the hell they've done with their missiles and how to duplicate it. Rajani isn't going to like it, but we settle into a defensive military posture while we work on the tech problems and take the offensive diplomatically and in the media. We take the position that despite the horrible provocation Manticore has offered us, we aren't going to charge forward into a bloodbath—ours or anyone else's. Instead, we make it clear we're pursuing the diplomatic option, trying to find a negotiated solution that will get Manticore back out of the Talbott Cluster, where it belongs and, ultimately, hold it responsible for its provocative actions at New Tuscany and Monica and, probably, Green Pines, too."

"Sort of an offensive short of war, you mean?" Wodoslawski asked.

"Exactly. What we're really doing is playing for time while we find a way to compensate for these new missiles of theirs. We keep up a barrage of diplomatic missions, news releases, that sort of thing, to keep things simmering along below the level of outright combat, until we've managed to equalize the hardware equation. We don't need to have weapons as good as theirs; we just need to have weapons close enough to theirs to make our quantitative advantage decisive again. Once we reach that point, we regretfully conclude that diplomacy isn't going to work and we have no choice but to pursue the military option after all. Which we then do under Article Seven, without seeking a formal declaration."


This plan is going to go up in smoke in just a couple pages when they hear of Oyster Bay and decide to gamble on a quick knockout, but for a while there they had a plan, and it was a good plan. It was exactly the same plan Honor mused would be a worst-case scenario for Manticore earlier.


Unfortunately for that line of logic (if it could be dignified by that description), the Manties appeared to have anticipated such a response. They'd sent Admiral O'Cleary herself home along with their diplomatic note, and they'd allowed her to bring along tactical recordings of the engagement.

At the moment, O'Cleary was a pariah, tainted with the same contamination as Evelyn Sigbee. Unlike Sigbee, of course, O'Cleary was home on Old Earth, where she could have her disgrace rubbed firmly in her face, and even though she was Battle Fleet, not Frontier Fleet, Teague found herself feeling a powerful sense of sympathy for the older woman. It was hardly O'Cleary's fault she'd found herself under the orders of a certifiable moron and then been left to do the surrendering after Crandall sailed her entire task force straight into the jaws of catastrophe.


Probably not fun to be O'Cleary right now, one of two SLN officers to ever surrender. I wonder if she was brave enough to add descriptions of super-LACs she saw demonstrate their firepower?


Nonetheless, the fact that al-Fanudahi had been right all along couldn't be completely ignored. Not any longer. And so the despised prophet of doom and gloom had suddenly found himself presenting briefings flag officers actually listened to. Not only that, but the Office of Operational Analysis was finally being asked to do what it should have been doing all along. Of course, its efforts were a little handicapped by the fact that it had been systematically starved of funds for so long and that ninety percent of its efforts had gone into feel-good analyses of Battle Fleet's simulations and fleet problems instead of learning to actually think about possible external threats to the League. Of which, after all, there had been none. Which meant, preposterous and pathetic though it undoubtedly was, that the only two people it had who were actually familiar with those threats happened to be in Teague's office at that very moment.


Operational Analysis is starting to (very slowly) shake the rust off and trying to do genuine threat analysis rather than whitewashing problems and holding arrogant flag officer's hands.


If there'd truly been such a thing as justice, Cheng Hai-shwun and Admiral Karl-Heinz Thimár would have been out of uniform and begging for handouts on a corner somewhere, Teague thought bitterly. In fact, if there'd been any such thing as real justice, they'd have been in prison! Unfortunately, both of them were far too well connected. In fact, it seemed unlikely either of them would even be relieved of his present assignment, despite the catastrophic intelligence failure represented by the Battle of Spindle. And, given the fact that al-Fanudahi had been the bearer of uniformly bad tidings in the briefings people were finally listening to, Teague had an unpleasant feeling that she knew exactly who would end up scapegoated to save Cheng and Thimár's well protected posteriors.


The senior commanders of the SLN are, of course, too well-connected to suffer for their own mistakes, that's why they're the top dogs in the first place.


Teague's stomach muscles tightened. Admiral Willis Jennings was Seth Kingsford's chief of staff, and Fleet Admiral Evangeline Bernard was the commanding officer of the Office of Strategy and Planning. Under most circumstances, the notion of the commanding officer of Battle Fleet meeting with his chief of staff and the Navy's chief strategic planner to consider the implications of combat reports might have been considered a good thing. Under the present circumstances, and given al-Fanudahi's near despair, she suspected that hadn't been the case this time around. Maybe it was his use of the word "brainstorm," she thought mordantly.


Two more senior Solly staff officers, Admiral Jenning's is Kingsford's (Battle Fleet Admiral) chief of staff, Admiral Bernard is the strategic planning department.


"And just what is this Admiral Filareta doing out in the Shell?" she asked.

"By the oddest coincidence, he, too, is conducting a training exercise." Al-Fanudahi smiled without any humor at all. "You might be interested to know—I checked myself, out of idle curiosity, you understand—that in the last thirty T-years Battle Fleet has conducted only three exercises which deployed more than fifty of the wall as far out as the Shell. But this year, for some reason, Crandall was authorized to conduct her training exercise in the Madras Sector and Fleet Admiral Massimo Filareta was simultaneously authorized to conduct 'wargames' in the Tasmania Sector. And, unlike Crandall, Filareta's exercise constitutes—and I quote—'a major fleet exercise'. Which is how he comes to be parked out in Tasmania with three hundred wallers, plus screen. Rajampet wants to reinforce him with another seventy or eighty of the wall which 'just happen' to have been deployed to various sector bases within a couple of weeks' hyper time from Tasmania, then send him off to attack Manticore directly."


The new plan after Oyster Bay. Hit the Manticore Binary System with almost 400 SDs, and hope it goes better than the last time someone threw 300+ SDs at that system. Yeah, they are so dead. And the only real benefit I can see to the League is they'll probably severely deplete Manticore's missile stockpile, opening them up to a follow-up attack before they can get production of MDMs restarted.


"It does tie in with existing strategic planning," he pointed out. "And, apparently, the theory is that getting hammered that way, completely out of the blue, is bound to have had a devastating effect on the Manties' morale and confidence, completely disregarding whatever effect it's had on their actual, physical capabilities. In fact, Jennings suggested that the psychological impact was probably even greater because it came so close on the heels of what happened at Spindle. And, of course, they can't be certain we weren't the ones who did it. So when a fresh Solarian fleet turns up on their doorstep in about half the time they can have expected anyone to take getting there, and when they realize we're willing to go at them again, this time on their home ground, despite Spindle, they'll realize they're screwed and throw in the towel. Especially if they do think we're the ones who just hit them and they're looking over their shoulder, waiting for us to do it t again at the moment they're engaged against our conventional wallers."


You know, I think ONI is pretty confident that it wasn't the Sollies behind Oyster Bay, and I've never known the Manties to be very good at giving up.


"Well, I did point out—diffidently, you understand—that even allowing for the fact that Filareta is a lot closer to Manticore than anyone would have expected, it's going to take around a month to get him reinforced the way they're talking about, and then another month and a half to get him to Manticore, by which point at least some of the shock effect should have dissipated. Bernard agreed that was a possibility, but her staff psychologists"—his eyes met Teague's and rolled—"estimate that would actually work in our behalf. Apparently they feel three months or so would be about right for the anesthetizing effect of the shock to wear off and give way to despair as 'a more sober evaluation of their situation' sinks in fully."


Timeframe to Second Manticore, about three months. As for despairing when they realize what they're up against, a great way to stop that will be to let them see a massive Solarian fleet blow up like a fireworks display. You know, remind them that they're still the meanest kid on the block, even if they aren't the biggest. That'll put some starch into their upper lips.


"After that concern of mine had been suitably allayed," al-Fanudahi continued, "I pointed out that our reports indicate the Manties probably have at least a hundred or so wallers of their own left in Home Fleet. Given the outcome of the Battle of Spindle, it seemed to me that perhaps a greater numerical advantage on our part would be in order. Admiral Jennings, however, informed me that Admiral Thimár's reports indicate the Manties took heavier losses than we'd originally assumed when Haven attacked their home system. You'll be interested to know that ONI's best estimate is that the Manties have no more than sixty or seventy of the wall left."

"I thought we were the Office of Naval Intelligence," Teague observed.

"No, we're the Office of Operational Analysis," al-Fanudahi corrected in a chiding tone of voice. "Admiral Kingsford was kind enough to point that out to me. Apparently, additional human intelligence reports you and I haven't had access to strongly support Admiral Thimár's conclusions about Manticoran losses."


Nothing suspicious here. No need for wire-cutters, it's all been taken care of. We'll shell that beach so hard, your biggest worry will be falling into a crater.

And frankly, even though I know Jennings is talking out his ass, I'd still bet on 60-70 Apollo-equipped podnoughts over the force he proposes to send. Particularly with the sheer number of systems-defense Apollo pods they have.


"Admiral Bernard agreed that that was certainly a reasonable cause for concern, but it's apparently the joint view of Admiral Rajampet and Admiral Kingsford that no one could have gotten in to hammer the Manties' shipyards and space stations that hard without blowing his way through the fixed defenses first. In other words, whoever it was must have already taken out a lot of the combat capability they might have used against us. And with the damage to their industrial sector, not to mention their losses in trained military manpower, they won't have been able to do very much to replace lost capability."


....

Good luck with that. It's not a super-unreasonable assumption to make, like positing a super-stealth technology far beyond what anyone has ever achieved, but when you assume you make an ass of you and corpses of millions of servicemen.


"Haven't they even considered the implications of what happened to the Manties?" she demanded.

"The only implications they're interested in are the ones that have left Manticore vulnerable," al-Fanudahi replied flatly. "I pointed out to them that we don't have a clue how whoever it was did whatever the hell he did. All we have so far are news reports, for God's sake! It's obvious someone got in and blew the crap out of Manticore's infrastructure, but that's all we know."

"Bullshit it's all we know!" Teague snapped. "We know damned well that nothing we have could've done it! What happened to Crandall at Spindle's proof enough of that. I guarantee you that there's no way Spindle had anything like the depth of sensor coverage their home system has, and their Home Fleet is a hell of a lot more powerful than a handful of cruisers and battlecruisers. So if somebody got through all of that and got in close enough to do the kind of damage the newsies are reporting—or anything remotely like the damage they're reporting—they had to do it with some kind of hardware we've never even heard of. Another kind of hardware we've never even heard of!"


Daub and Teague come up with Manpower, but no one else in SLN uniform seems to have thought about or cared who blew the crap out of Manticore's industry, how or why.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-28 03:23pm

Ahriman238 wrote:
"Which brainstorm would that be?" The sourness in Wodoslawski's smile had nothing to do with the excellent wine which had accompanied supper.

"The one about redeploying every single Frontier Fleet battlecruiser to raid Manticoran infrastructure," Kolokoltsov said dryly.

"Actually, compared to some of the other ideas he's come up, that one sounds almost reasonable."
Assuming you hate Frontier Fleet, absolutely.
Yeah. It might sort of work but the casualties would be immense. And it's based on the same kind of systematic underestimate of what RMN long range missiles are capable of that Crandall made.

So Kolokoltsov and the other Mandarins simply must remain in power! Purely out of civic responsibility and high-minded statesmanship, of course.
Well, to me it has more of a flavor of "Someone's got to be in charge, why not me, I'm obviously better than the other scheming idiots competing for this position."

I mean, they're not entirely wrong; someone has to govern the League and its constitution makes it ungovernable. The problem isn't so much that having Mandarins is bad. It's that having no mechanism to hold them accountable has caused them to become stupidly, unbelievably corrupt and incompetent at managing actual crises.

Manticore has been screaming the truth out to the galaxy, and not even the rather jaded Mandarins believe them.
Hey, if the readers who are actually privy to Alignment planning sessions think the Alignment sounds like a bizarre and hackneyed conspiracy theory... Just imagine how actual people living in that universe feel about it. :D

Also, the Mandarins are probably in deep denial about how far Mesan corporations have gotten into their bureaucracy. They are the great beneficiaries of a very corrupt system and almost have to be kidding themselves into thinking they're doing an adequate job running it. Which means they can't admit, egotistical power-tripping bureaucrats that they are, that someone else can actually predict and manipulate them.

I mean, most of the American congressmen that take massive campaign donations from special interest groups probably kid themselves that they're not controlled by these interest groups.

Yeah, right.

Probably not fun to be O'Cleary right now, one of two SLN officers to ever surrender. I wonder if she was brave enough to add descriptions of super-LACs she saw demonstrate their firepower?
She might have just said as a footnote "Uh yeah, the Manticorans used large numbers of LACs with unexpectedly powerful beam weapons, check my sensor logs."

I mean, even Commodore (not admiral yet? HA!) McMuttonchops acknowledged that if you spammed hundreds of LACs they might pose a threat to capital ships. Heck, that would be just about the only way to get a good missile massacre going in the prewar threat environment, even if you can only do it once.

And honestly, Super LACs are a footnote compared to the deadly extreme range missile threat. It's not that hard to counter such a threat by keeping your ships alert, posting picket vessels far enough out from the wall that they can see the LACs incoming, and generating multiple firing angles on them.

The new plan after Oyster Bay. Hit the Manticore Binary System with almost 400 SDs, and hope it goes better than the last time someone threw 300+ SDs at that system. Yeah, they are so dead. And the only real benefit I can see to the League is they'll probably severely deplete Manticore's missile stockpile, opening them up to a follow-up attack before they can get production of MDMs restarted.
They're assuming that the Manticore system defenses must have been heavily depleted fighting an actual battle against whoever attacked them. They apparently don't quite grasp that the attack was performed by a handful of stealth ships that never even presented the RMN with a target to fire on.

In other words, they're assuming that an unknown enemy just hit Manticore with the equivalent of a reprise of the First Battle of Manticore. An attack like that would have pretty much had to totally exhaust their system defenses in order to do the kind of damage that Oyster Bay did.

You know, I think ONI is pretty confident that it wasn't the Sollies behind Oyster Bay, and I've never known the Manties to be very good at giving up.
The League is used to deal with very easily bullied opponents that have no choice but to make some kind of accomodation with the League, because they're too big to ignore and too powerful to fight. Dealing with someone that has both the muscle and the inclination to resist being casually bullied is an outside-context problem for them.

And since the defeats up to this point (i.e. before Laocoön and Second Manticore) have no material impact on the League's ability to make war, they still feel powerful enough to bully people.

And frankly, even though I know Jennings is talking out his ass, I'd still bet on 60-70 Apollo-equipped podnoughts over the force he proposes to send. Particularly with the sheer number of systems-defense Apollo pods they have.
Me, I disagree. I'd say twenty or thirty. And that's only because a smaller force would run out of ammunition before it got done killing all the Solarian ships; it'd take about 80000 to 120000 missile hits to kill them all, plus some because the massed defenses of such a big fleet would shoot down at least some of the incoming. Crandall did, and these guys have five or six times more defensive weapons). On the other hand, a full-up Apollo-capable fleet would be able to use the FTL telemetry more effectively, so the SLN shootdown rate would probably... hm.

Seventy SLN capital ships can engage twelve thousand (no-Keyhole-II-backed) incoming missiles and knock down about a thousand of them. Straight linear scaling suggests that Filareta's fleet would handle about half of a salvo that size. Improved fire control would cut that further back, though- they might only get 2000-3000 missiles.

So to actually saturate their defenses reliably without wasting an unduly large fraction of your missiles... you need salvoes of, oh, at least twenty thousand missiles targeted on about 40-50 individual ships at a time. That's already more missiles than one podnought can carry, and you will need to plan in order to fire several such salvoes. So bring a couple of squadrons.

If you want to deliver the killing blow fast you need more ships, of course.

Daub and Teague come up with Manpower, but no one else in SLN uniform seems to have thought about or cared who blew the crap out of Manticore's industry, how or why.
At least, no viewpoint characters. If you're an unheard junior officer, you may honestly not know about unheard junior officers who say the same thing.
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Terralthra
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Terralthra » 2014-11-28 03:39pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
And frankly, even though I know Jennings is talking out his ass, I'd still bet on 60-70 Apollo-equipped podnoughts over the force he proposes to send. Particularly with the sheer number of systems-defense Apollo pods they have.
Me, I disagree. I'd say twenty or thirty. And that's only because a smaller force would run out of ammunition before it got done killing all the Solarian ships; it'd take about 80000 to 120000 missile hits to kill them all, plus some because the massed defenses of such a big fleet would shoot down at least some of the incoming. Crandall did, and these guys have five or six times more defensive weapons). On the other hand, a full-up Apollo-capable fleet would be able to use the FTL telemetry more effectively, so the SLN shootdown rate would probably... hm.

Seventy SLN capital ships can engage twelve thousand (no-Keyhole-II-backed) incoming missiles and knock down about a thousand of them. Straight linear scaling suggests that Filareta's fleet would handle about half of a salvo that size. Improved fire control would cut that further back, though- they might only get 2000-3000 missiles.

So to actually saturate their defenses reliably without wasting an unduly large fraction of your missiles... you need salvoes of, oh, at least twenty thousand missiles targeted on about 40-50 individual ships at a time. That's already more missiles than one podnought can carry, and you will need to plan in order to fire several such salvoes. So bring a couple of squadrons.

If you want to deliver the killing blow fast you need more ships, of course.

That assumes that every one of the SDs can get an effective firing solution on missiles attacking every other SD. In reality, they probably can't.

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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington III

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-28 03:52pm

Given the physical separation between ships in a traditional wall, they probably can come close. Certainly they can keep the entire fleet concentrated within range to cover each other with countermissiles, if not with lasers.
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