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Eagleeye

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  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

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Freitag, 15. September 2017, 14:27

Snippets zum nächsten Roman "Uncompromising Honor"

Da David offensichtlich entschieden hat, uns mehr oder weniger regelmäßig (etwa 1x pro Woche) mit Nachschub zum nächsten Roman zu versorgen, werde ich die regulären Snippets an dieser Stelle zusammenführen. Die übrigen Snippets bleiben aber im "Neues von David"-Thread.
Snippet 1, Teil 1

Zitat von »David Weber«

JULY 1922 POST DIASPORA

Unicorn Belt
Manticore B
Star Empire of Manticore

The shuttle drifted through starlight and emptiness, a minnow threading through a pod of dead leviathans.

If there was a sadder sight in the entire universe, Captain Philip Clayton couldn’t imagine what it might be. He sat in the pilot’s couch, his copilot silent beside him, gazing out through the cockpit’s armorplast at a Sargasso Sea of starships, and wondered yet again what he truly felt.

It shouldn’t be that hard to figure out, really. He’d fought hard enough to create this mass of murdered ships, after all. Yet it had been an act of murder, not war. Not really. Not when the Solarian League Navy had been so utterly outclassed.

And not when it had been offered the opportunity to survive . . . and rejected it.

“I never get tired of seeing it, Sir,” Lieutenant Kalet said. Clayton looked at his copilot, and the tall, broad shouldered Manticoran shrugged. “It’s . . . it’s like nothing else in the galaxy,” he murmured, looking back out from his own side of the cockpit. “I mean, look at it.”

“I know,” Clayton said quietly.

Two hundred and forty-two warships – or what had been warships a T-month ago — floated in their lonely parking orbit, keeping deathwatch station on Manticore-B’s Unicorn Belt. A hundred and eighty-nine superdreadnoughts, eleven battlecruisers, twenty-three light cruisers, and nineteen destroyers. The superdreadnoughts alone massed over 1.3 billion tons. Compared to that, the battlecruisers and lighter units were a mere nothing, less than seventeen million tons. And here they lay, abandoned — aside from caretaker crews on half a dozen of the undamaged SDs — waiting.

Waiting, as it happened, for Phil Clayton, and he wondered again how he’d drawn the duty. Oh, he had the engineering background for it, but so did a lot of other officers, and he hated his new assignment. Maybe they had been enemy vessels, but they’d been ships, and he’d loved the inner magic of ships for as long as he could recall.

His earliest memories were of standing with his nose pressed to the window on the south side of his parents’ modest house, watching the atmospheric counter-grav freighters drive across the heavens, splashed in sunlight and cloud shadow, gleaming like the Tester’s own promise of beauty. Pygmies compared to the doomed ships outside his shuttle at the moment, of course, but enormous for pre-Alliance Grayson.

And even more so for the imagination of a little boy who’d realized even then that ships had souls. That anything that lovely, that graceful — anything that many men had given so much of themselves to — had to be alive itself. He’d watched them summer and winter, in sunlight, in driving rain, in snow. He’d watched them at night, roaring low overhead in a bellow of turbines, flanks gleaming with their own private constellations of running lights. By the time he was ten, he’d been able to identify every major class by sight. And when he’d climbed up into the attic (which he’d been able to do only when all of his moms assumed one of the others had him in sight), he could actually get an angle down onto Burdette Port’s docks, where those massive constructs landed.

Oh, the cargoes he’d summoned from dreams of other steadings! The pallets and boxes, the containerized cargo, the nets of fruit and vegetables. He’d watched stevedores unload the cavernous holds — there’d been far more muscle power and far less automation at the time — and wished he was one of them. And he’d devoured everything he could find in print and on vid about not just the atmospheric ships, but about the freighters that called on Grayson, however rarely, from far beyond his own horizons. He’d ingested anything and everything, from the ballad of the Wreck of the Steadholder Fitzgerald to the mystery of the colony ship Agnes Celeste and her vanished crew, and he’d known what he wanted.

Not that there’d ever be much chance he could have it.

His parents had been relatively well-off, by Grayson standards, but certainly not wealthy, and like all too many Grayson families, he’d been the only boy. Besides, Grayson was the backside of nowhere. The atmospheric freighters that fascinated him so spent their time hauling purely Grayson products and produce, because there was none from anywhere else. What chance did a boy from Burdette Steading have of ever seeing another star, smelling the air of a planet that didn’t try to poison him every day of his life?

That had been his father’s opinion, at any rate, and all of his mothers had loyally shared it, although Mom Joan had seemed just a little less convinced than the others. She always had appreciated that stubborn streak of his.

He never had gotten aboard one of the atmo-freighters. For that matter, he’d never gotten aboard a space freighter. But he’d gotten into space, anyway, and now, as he gazed at that endless vista of captive warships, looked at the torn and shredded armor — at the ink-black holes punched deep into core hulls and the blown out scabs of armor where life pods had erupted into space — he remembered another ship, in other battles. He remembered GMS Covington and the Battle of Yeltsin, the Battle of Blackbird. He remembered the stench of smoke and burning flesh through the ventilators, the scream of damage alarms, the incoming missiles and the indescribable shockwave of hits lashing through her hull.

He remembered a young lieutenant, who’d known he was going to die defending his planet.

But that lieutenant had lived, instead, because a foreign-born woman, already wounded from the battle which had saved his Protector’s life, had flung her ship and her crew between someone else’s world and those who would have killed every human being on it without her. Which was how a considerably older captain of the Grayson Space Navy, serving in the Protector’s Own, found himself here, playing sorter of the slain to the Solarian League Navy.

“What’s the latest from Seven, David?” he asked Lieutenant Kalet.

“They’re about ready for the first tranche,” Kalet replied, keying up the report on his uni-link, and grimaced. “They’re due to finish the last of the Yawata Strike wreckage by Tuesday.”

“I don’t know which is worse — that, or this.” Clayton waved at the silently waiting starships.

“Believe me, Sir, it’s the Yawata wreckage.” Kalet’s expression was grim. “These people,” he twitched his head at the same starships, “got hammered because they frigging well deserved it. We didn’t go looking for them; they came looking for us. I’m sorry it got so many of them killed, but that’s what happens when you attack somebody without bothering to declare war first. And at least every damned one of those ships was at battle stations, with everybody aboard in skinsuits. Not so much for the Yawata Strike.”

The lieutenant turned to stare out at the barely visible cluster of working lights that marked the enormous Unicorn Seven asteroid refinery. Unicorn Seven had been repurposed as one of the Manticore-B reclamation centers, processing the wreckage from the orbital infrastructure which had been torn to pieces in the Yawata Strike less than five T-months ago.

“The reclamation crews are still finding bodies Search and Rescue missed,” he said. “Last week, one of the Seven crews found their own forewoman’s cousin.” His nostrils flared. “I’m sure we’ll find a few bodies when we start scrapping these, too, but at least they won’t be our damned relatives!”

Clayton nodded. He was grateful he’d been spared from the cleanup after the Blackbird Strike, but he knew enough men — and women, now — in the GSN who hadn’t been.

“There was a curse back on Old Earth,” he said. “I don’t know if you Manties have it, but we still have it back on Grayson. It goes ‘May you live in interesting times.’”

“‘Interesting times,’ is it?” Kalet snorted. “Well, that’s one way to put it, Sir. More ‘interesting’ for some than for others, though.”

“Look at it this way,” Clayton turned back to the flight controls, “one day we’ll all be in the history books and some idiot child — just like the idiot children you and I were, once upon a time — will dream about how exciting and glorious it all must have been. Maybe they’ll be luckier than we are and not find out how wrong they are.”

DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Dieser Beitrag wurde bereits 4 mal editiert, zuletzt von »Eagleeye« (15. September 2017, 14:38)


Eagleeye

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Freitag, 15. September 2017, 14:32

Snippet 1, Teil 2

Zitat von »David Weber«

HMS Imperator
Manticore A
Star Empire of Manticore

“Excuse me, My Lady, but that report you asked for is here.”

“Don’t you mean that other report I asked for?” Admiral Lady Dame Honor Alexander-Harrington, Steadholder and Duchess Harrington, asked wryly, looking up from the readiness report on her desk display.

“Well, yes,” Commander Angela Clayton acknowledged. She wore the blue-on-blue of the Grayson Space Navy with the salamander flash of the Protector’s Own, but her accent was Manticoran. In fact, it was pure Gryphon Highlands. “You did ask for it, though,” she pointed out with something close to a twinkle.

Commander Clayton was a new addition to Honor’s staff, serving both as a liaison with High Admiral Judah Yanakov and as Grand Fleet’s logistics officer. A sturdy, no-nonsense sort, Commander Clayton. Although she’d been born in Rearson, the same barony as Anton Zilwiki, she’d become a citizen of Harrington Steading following five years of “loaner” service with the GSN, which explained why she habitually addressed Honor as “My Lady” rather than “Your Grace.”

“And what does Phil have to report?” Honor asked now.

“His survey crews are finished with the first half-dozen superdreadnoughts, My Lady,” the commander replied. The almost-twinkle in her eye had faded and she sighed. “He purely hates the assignment. Says it makes him feel like a swamp grubber.”

Honor grimaced at the simile. She knew Captain Clayton, just as she’d made it her business to know all of the Protector’s Own captains, so she understood what Angela was saying, but he was being grossly unfair to himself. The Grayson swamp grubber was one of the more loathsome carrion eaters in the explored galaxy, and it was none too picky about how its meal turned into carrion.

“That aside, his report’s about what we expected, except that his techs are a bit more impressed by the Sollies’ current graser mount than anyone anticipated.” Clayton shook her head. “I glanced at the specs, and he’s right; that is an impressive piece of hardware, My Lady.”

“Nobody ever said the Solarian League doesn’t have good tech,” Honor pointed out. “Their problem is they don’t always have the right tech when they need it.”

“Coupled with the fact that they think they do,” Clayton agreed.

“Point,” Honor conceded. She tipped back in her chair. “So, Phil’s impressed by it?”

“Yes, My Lady. He did point out that he can’t imagine what we’ll do with all of them, though.”

Honor nodded. No doubt quite a few people were wondering the same sorts of things, but they had to do something with the wreckage of Massimo Filareta’s Eleventh Fleet. That was why its surviving units had been moved to Manticore-B after the Second Battle of Manticore. The Massacre of Manticore, really, she thought, eyes darkening in memory.

Under normal circumstances, they might have been parked somewhere as a potential bargaining chip to be returned to the other side following successful peace negotiations. Nobody seemed likely to be doing any negotiating anytime soon, however, and even if they’d been inclined to, no one would want Filareta’s orphans back. In an era of pod-launched missiles, they were deathtraps, hopelessly obsolete both tactically and conceptually, however good the technology with which they’d been built.

Failing the possibility of repatriation, they’d normally have been sent to the ship breakers to be sawn up into chunks and run through the smelters and refineries for reclamation and separation. No one would have worried too much about the technology; all they would have wanted were the raw materials from which Manticore’s voracious orbital industry would have built the newer and far more useful technology the Star Empire needed.

But that orbital industry had been hammered into ruin by the Yawata Strike in February. Five months later, it remained less than a shadow of a memory of what it once had been. The fabricating plants to use the raw materials were only beginning to be rebuilt, and even with every gram of assistance Beowulf and the Star Empire’s new Havenite allies could provide, it would be at least six months before the fabricators and nano farms were back online once again. Even then, they’d possess only a fraction of their pre-Yawata capacity for a long time to come. Which was why Phil Clayton and his combined Manticoran-Grayson-Havenite salvage crews were crawling all over the captured Solarian ships. Their internal systems might be of Solarian manufacture, with all the compatibility headaches that promised, but they already existed. Under the circumstances, it made sense to see what could be removed for reuse — from fusion plants to reconfigurable mollycircs to point defense lasers — before the gutted hulks were consigned to the reclamation platforms.

For that matter, Sandra Crandall’s surviving units were Manticore-bound with minimal passage crews to share exactly the same fate. Hopefully they could find someone besides Captain Clayton to deal with them when they arrived.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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Freitag, 15. September 2017, 14:34

Snippet 1, Teil 3

Zitat von »David Weber"«

“Well,” she said now, “if nothing else, we could probably use the grasers for hellacious wormhole ‘minefields.’ Have you seen the design Admiral Foraker came up with for that?”

“No, I haven’t, My Lady. I’ll bet it was . . . interesting, though.”

“Admiral Foraker does have a tendency to think outside the box,” Honor acknowledged with a smile. “In this case, though, what she’s suggested is basically an array of remotely deployed energy weapons. Capital ship-sized weapons, as a matter of fact. She’s thinking something like Moriarty, not Mycroft. In fact, she’s already worked out the quickest way to run up a remote platform tied into the central fire control system of a standard terminus fort.”

“I thought that was what the minefields we already have were for, My Lady.”

“Oh, they are! But those are basically one-shot, bomb-pumped platforms. She’s talking about feeding these things with broadcast power for the plasma capacitors. If her numbers hold up, they’d be good for at least five or six full-power shots each before the platforms had to shut down until the maintenance crews could recharge the capacitor reservoirs. So if these Solly grasers are as good as Phil seems to be suggesting, and given the fact that a Joseph Buckley-class SD mounts — what? sixty-four? sixty-five? — grasers, stripping a couple of hundred of them could let us build a really nasty defensive array, don’t you think?”

“Yeah, I think you could call it that,” Commander Clayton said, her expression suddenly very thoughtful indeed. The thought of what nine or ten thousand ship-of-the-wall-sized grasers could do to any target emerging from a wormhole terminus — when it could have neither wedge nor sidewalls for protection — was . . . sobering.

“I’m not sure how well it’ll work out in the end,” Honor said, “but I’ve observed that Admiral Foraker tends to get what she goes after. And now that Admiral Hemphill’s finally taken the Weyland R&D staff out to Bolthole . . . .”

Clayton nodded. The notion of sharing the Star Empire’s latest technology and research projects with a star nation with which it had been at war — cold or hot — for the better part of a T-century had . . . sat poorly with quite a lot of the RMN. In fact, there’d been enough passive resistance and foot-dragging to provoke a display of the famous Winton temper. Clayton hadn’t been present for the meeting at which Empress Elizabeth had made her feelings on the subject abundantly, one might almost have said super-abundantly, clear, but Duchess Harrington had. And it was remarkable how quickly things had begun moving after that little interview.

On the other hand, the commander thought with a mental smile, it would appear there’d been just as much foot-dragging on the Havenite side when it came to telling their erstwhile enemies and present allies exactly where Bolthole itself lay. Not surprisingly, since it was so much closer to the Manticore System than to the Haven System. In fact, it was the next best thing to six hundred light-years from Nouveau Paris . . . and less than three hundred and fifty from Landing City.

No wonder ONI never found it, she thought. We were busy looking for something in the Republic. It never even occurred to us to look on the far side of Manticore for it. And even if it had, a ‘lost colony’ would’ve been the last thing we looked for!

Still, Bolthole’s location did explain why the Legislaturalists had selected it as a site for their secret naval base once the system more or less fell into the People’s Republic’s lap. And as a Gryphon Highlander — not to mention someone who’d married a Grayson — Angela Clayton had a better idea than most of what it had taken for the people of the planet Sanctuary to survive until Haven’s survey crew rediscovered their existence at the end of the J-156-18(L)-KCR-126-06 warp bridge.

And how they found the place is a lot less important than what they’ve done with it since, she reminded herself. After the Yawata Strike’s devastation here in Manticore, Bolthole had become easily the largest single shipbuilding facility of the entire Grand Alliance, not to mention the site of the redoubtable Shannon Foraker’s R&D command.

So if there’s one place in the galaxy none of us want the people behind the Yawata Strike to find, it’s damned well Bolthole!

“Do we know how Bolthole’s coming on Mycroft, My Lady?” she asked, and Honor smiled as she followed the commander’s obvious chain of thought.

“It’s going to be a while before they get the system fully up and running,” she said, “but Admiral Hemphill’s taking along an entire squadron of Invictuses to provide Apollo and Keyhole-Two coverage in the meantime. And I understand Admiral Foraker’s already rung in some new variations on her sensor platforms. Once she and Hemphill sit down and put their heads together, the rest of the galaxy better hang onto its socks!”

“A thought that doesn’t break my heart at all, My Lady,” Clayton said. “Not one little bit.”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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Freitag, 15. September 2017, 14:40

Snippet 2

Zitat von »David Weber«

SLNS Québec
Dzung System
Solarian League

“Well, Sir, all I can say is that it’s about frigging time,” Captain Gabriella Timberlake growled, standing at Admiral Vincent Capriotti’s shoulder as they gazed at the latest dispatch on Capriotti’s display. The fact that the Dzung System was just under seventy light-years from Sol meant Task Force 783 had gotten the new general order sooner than most of the rest of the Solarian League Navy, and Capriotti wondered how the Navy’s other flag officers were going to react to them.

For that matter, he wasn’t entirely certain how he felt about them.

“I can’t say I disagree, Gabby,” he said finally. “On the other hand, if the stories about what happened to Eleventh Fleet and Admiral Crandall are anything to go by, this could get . . . interesting.”

“One way to put it, Sir,” Timberlake agreed. “On the other hand, I think I like the thinking behind this. The bastards can’t have those killer missile pods and their damned superdreadnoughts everywhere!”

“They don’t need to have them ‘everywhere’ to ruin our whole day,” Capriotti pointed out dryly. “They only have to have them wherever we turn up.”

“I know, Sir.” The admiral’s flag captain shrugged. “Sooner or later, though, we’ve got to take it to them. And given what they did to Admiral Filareta, it looks like fleet engagements are going to be a really bad idea until our tech people can figure out how to match their damned missiles.”

Capriotti nodded soberly. The Solarian League did need to “take it to” the Manties after the series of massive black eyes the Star Empire and its allies had handed the SLN. Despite any misgivings he might feel, he agreed with the captain about that. He just wished to hell he was more confident those in charge of the taking in question had at least a vague notion of what they were doing.

He wasn’t prepared to wholeheartedly accept the Solarian news reports’ version of what had happened to Massimo Filareta. According to the Manties, Eleventh Fleet had opened fire after being summoned to surrender. According to the “usually reliable sources” talking to the newsies “speaking off the record” because they weren’t “authorized to disclose classified information,” Filareta had accepted their surrender terms, then been blown out of space in an act of cold-blooded mass murder. And according to any official ONI analyses, no one in Old Chicago could find his arse with both hands and approach radar well enough to give one Vincent Capriotti a single damned clue which of those diametrically opposed analyses the Navy shared.

Not a good sign, he thought again. Of course, Intelligence has been caught with its trousers around its ankles every step of the way this far. Maybe the real bad sign would be for the idiots to actually think they did know what happened!

Vincent Capriotti was Battle Fleet from the ground up, and he’d known dozens – scores — of men and women in the ships Crandall and Filareta had lost. Like Timberlake, he wanted payback, and not just out of bloody-minded vengeance, although he was honest enough to admit that was a great deal of his motivation. In addition to that, however, Capriotti had a rather better idea than many of his Battle Fleet compatriots of just how critical the Office of Frontier Security’s unofficial empire of “client star systems” truly was. And along with that, he recognized that OFS’s arrangements were far more fragile than they might appear. The Solarian League literally couldn’t afford what would happen to the federal government’s cash flow if Frontier Security started shedding clients, and unless they demonstrated that they could stand up to the Manties, that was precisely what was going to happen.

On the other hand, the one thing of which Capriotti was certain was that if the Battle — or massacre, or whatever — of Manticore had been as short as both sets of reports suggested, he did not want to tangle with the sort of defenses Manties seemed to think were appropriate for major star systems.

Fortunately, judging from the synopsis of “Operation Buccaneer,” that wasn’t what Admiral Kingsford had in mind. So maybe someone in Old Chicago did have a clue what he was doing.

Maybe.

“All right,” he said finally, turning away from the dispatch to gaze at SLNS Québec’s main astrogation plot. “I need to get Admiral Helland and Admiral Rutgers up to speed on this. I’m sure they’ll both have useful input. Once Rutgers stops warning us not to be overly optimistic, of course.”

His lips twitched and Timberlake actually chuckled. Rear Admiral Lyang-tau Rutgers, Task Force 783’s operations officer, had started out in Frontier Fleet and transferred to Battle Fleet barely twenty years ago. That hadn’t been long enough to completely free him of the basic Frontier Fleet attitude that Battle Fleet would have made an excellent paperweight, especially if that got it out of the way of the people doing the Navy’s real work. Along the way, he’d been known to offer pithy analyses of just how out of date Battle Fleet’s strategic and tactical thinking might have become and he’d argued strenuously that training simulations and fleet problems should be restructured to match the Navy against true peer competitors, despite the fact that “everyone knew” there were none in real life. When confronted with that fact, he’d suggested that it might be better to train against an opponent better than anyone one might actually have to fight. At least that error was unlikely to get anyone killed. Not, as his attitude had made evident, that he’d expected anyone in Battle Fleet to give much thought to that possibility.

The flag captain was pretty sure that attitude explained why an officer of Rutgers’s obvious competence and with the Rutgers family’s military and political connections was still only a rear admiral. But it was rather refreshing in a lot of ways, and she knew Capriotti both respected and genuinely appreciated his contrarian viewpoint.

Vice Admiral Angelica Helland, TF 783’s chief of staff, on the other hand, reminded a lot of people of a smarter Sandra Crandall. Of course, she could hardly have been a stupider Sandra Crandall, now that Timberlake thought about it. The contrast between her aggressive near-arrogance and Rutgers’s voice of caution made for occasionally fractious staff meetings, but it also offered Capriotti a robust debate between differing viewpoints. That was something he’d valued even before anyone started shooting at the SLN, which had been rare, to say the least, among Battle Fleet four-star admirals.

At the moment, Helland and Rutgers were in transit back to Québec from observing a training simulation aboard the battlecruiser Bavaria, the flagship of TG 783.12. Thanks to the classification level of the dispatch, they had no idea why they’d been summoned home so abruptly.

Be interesting to watch their reactions, the flag captain thought.

“Just between you and me, I’m all in favor of our not being ‘overly optimistic,’ Sir,” she said aloud, and Capriotti nodded.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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5

Freitag, 15. September 2017, 14:43

Snippet 3

Zitat von »David Weber«

“You and me both,” he agreed. “Please have me informed as soon as they come back aboard. In the meantime, I’m going to the flag briefing room. I want to go through this ammunition manifest. And I especially want to review ONI’s most recent estimate of Manty missile capabilities.”

He shook his head, his expression turning grimmer.

“I’ve only skimmed it so far, but I’m inclined to think it’s still . . . overoptimistic, let’s say.”

Timberlake raised an eyebrow at him. She, too, had skimmed the new estimate. There’d been no time to go through the analysis itself, but the conclusions section had been depressing. Intelligence’s current metric gave the Manties and their allies a three-to-one advantage in throw weight, a thirty percent advantage in penetration aids, and a maximum powered envelope of thirty million kilometers. That was more than enough to be going on with, in her opinion.

“I’m not saying Manties are ten meters tall, Gabby,” Capriotti said wryly. “And the new Cataphracts can match any range they’ve got . . . if we incorporate a ballistic phase. But you and I both know Lyang-tau is right on the money when he says we totally underestimated what the Manties could do to us. Shouldn’t have taken a genius — or so damned long — for ONI to realize that, either, which says some pretty unfortunate things about our prewar analysts. Since the shooting started, though, the Manties’ve made Lyang-tau’s point for him painfully enough not even our brilliant masters can miss it. I’m delighted they’ve sent us these new missiles, and I understand that Technodyne’s tweaked their performance again. But until I’ve got something just a little more solid than ‘our best guess’ about enemy capabilities from the same idiots who brought us Sandra Crandal and Eleventh Fleet, I’m not going to make any rash assumptions about miraculously level playing fields.”

“Works for me, Sir.” Timberlake shook her head. “Better we overestimate them than underestimate them!”

“Fortunately it sounds like someone back in Old Chicago’s figured that out, too.” Capriotti twitched his head at the dispatch they’d just finished viewing. “I can’t say I’m delighted at the notion of blowing up anyone’s star systems. That’s not what I joined the Navy to do, and I have friends living in Cachalot, for that mattter. But whoever came up with this idea, whether it was Admiral Bernard or Admiral Kingsford himself, I think it’s the best one available to us at the moment. If we can cause enough pain to their peripheral star systems or the independent star nations trading with them, they’ll have to disperse at least some of their forces to commerce and infrastructure protection. And the more we can keep them dispersed, the more likely we are to encourage a certain . . . circumspection on their part until Technodyne finally figures out how to build a genuine multidrive missile of our own.”

Timberlake nodded, although both of them understood the additional point Capriotti had chosen not to make. Operation Buccaneer wasn’t just about forcing the Manties and their allies to spread themselves thinner. In fact, that wasn’t even what it was primarily about. Its real purpose was to warn anyone who might even think about signing up with the Manties, whether as ally or simple trading partner, that the decision would be . . . unwise. That the SLN would consider that anyone who sided with Manticore had just sided against the Solarian League, and that the consequences would be dire enough to discourage anyone else from following her example.

In fact, it was a terror campaign, directed against those unable to defend themselves. And if anyone might have missed that little point, TF 783’s assigned target would make it abundantly clear.

The Cachalot System, 50.6 LY from Dzung and only 49.6 LY from Beowulf, was an independent system which had opted against joining the Solarian League when it was initially founded. It was also a prosperous, heavily populated system which had been a Beowulf trading partner for the better part of a thousand years . . . and depended on the Beowulf System Defense Force to provide its rapid response security force. Its organic “military forces” consisted of no more than a couple of dozen frigates and LACs, because no one would be insane enough to attack someone so closely associated with one of the League’s founding and most powerful star systems.

Until now, at least.

She wondered just how explicitly Kingsford or Brenner, the CO of Strategy and Planning, had admitted Buccaneer’s true objectives in the detailed operational orders. And, while she was wondering, she wondered how many of those independent and nominally independent star systems would recognize that the League was choosing to target them because it dared not attack the members of the “Grand Alliance” directly.

Bit of a potential downside, there, Gabby my girl, she reflected, then shrugged mentally. Maybe that’s another reason to pick Cachalot. It’s close enough to Beowulf that systems farther out in the Fringe may not realize how lightly defended it is. Even if they do, we’ve got to do something, though, and thank God no one is planning on sending us after one of the Manties’ primary star systems! Given how quick they smashed up Filareta . . . .

Her thought trailed off, and she nodded again, more firmly.

“I just hope Technodyne – or somebody — gets its thumb out and moves right along with that multidrive missile of yours, Sir!”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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6

Freitag, 22. September 2017, 21:48

Snippet 4

Zitat von »David Weber«

GSNS Protector Oliver I
Manticore Binary System
Star Empire of Mantiocre

“Honor!”

Michael Mayhew turned with a smile as Honor and Mercedes Brigham followed the earnest-faced young ensign who’d been their escort from Protector Oliver I’s boat bay. Soft music played in the background, stewards circulated with trays of finger food and wine glasses, and conversation hummed in the background as he held out his hand. Honor gripped it firmly, smiling back at him, and Nimitz chittered a greeting of his own from her shoulder. Mayhew laughed and extended his hand to the treecat, in turn, and Honor chuckled. Even as she did, though, she couldn’t avoid the reflection that Mayhew, who was twenty years her junior, looked at least ten years her senior. That was the difference between the third-generation prolong she’d received as a child and the first-generation prolong he’d received when he was already adult. And even so, he looked far younger than his older brother, Benjamin.

“It’s good to see you,” Mayhew continued, then grimaced. “I know — I know! We see each other a lot, either on the com or in person, but that’s always official business. I suppose this is, too, in a way, but at least the two of us don’t have to talk shop tonight!”

“That will be something of a relief,” she acknowledged. “There are times I find myself forgetting I’m an honest spacer, given all the time I spend in conferences, discussions, planning sessions, worry sessions . . . .”

She shrugged and Mayhew nodded.

“I know. And it’ll get even worse after the Beowulf referendum is certified. Getting them integrated into the Alliance is going to take some doing.”

“With all due respect, My Lord, not as much as you might be thinking,” another voice said, and Honor turned with a smile as a blue-eyed man in the uniform of a Grayson rear admiral joined the conversation.

“Michal!” she said. “I was wondering where you were?”

“Well, I wouldn’t want to say anything about the heirs of a planetary ruler short-circuiting proper military etiquette or anything like that,” Rear Admiral Michal Lukáč, commanding officer of First Battle Division, Sixth Battle Squadron, GSN said dryly. “But as I’m sure you and Commodore Brigham understand perfectly, the correct procedure is for you to be greeted by Captain White first.”

Honor looked around quickly, then back at Lukáč.

“At least you waited until that poor ensign wasn’t around to hear you,” she said severely. “It wasn’t his fault Michael here short stopped me!”

“Excuse me,” Mayhew said with a smile, “but unless I’m mistaken, I’m the brother of a planetary despot. That means I get to jump the queue when I feel like it.”

“The fact that you’re in a position to abuse your authority doesn’t make it right,” Honor told him. “And Michal is completely correct.” She craned her neck, looking for Captain Zachary White, Protector Oliver’s commanding officer and Lukáč’s flag captain. Since White was easily six centimeters taller than she was, he was seldom hard to spot. This time, though —

“Where is Zach?”

“Actually,” Lukáč said, “at this particular moment, he’s helping Misty deal with a slight emergency. Edward and a tray of canapés were in a head-on collision.”

“Oh, my!” Honor shook her head. “I am so not looking forward to Raoul turning eight!”

“Young Edward is actually very well behaved, especially by the standards of Grayson males,” Michael Mayhew told her.

“Yes, and this wasn’t his fault,” Lukáč said. “Despite Zach’s centimeters, Edward’s still not very tall, you know. The steward just didn’t see him. In fact, the real reason Zach’s helping deal with it is that Edward’s upset. He thinks he ruined his dad’s party, so I told Zach to nip off to reassure him and that I’d hold the fort until he got back. I think I remember reading somewhere that a good flag officer always has his flag captain’s back.”

“That’s what I’d heard, at any rate,” Honor said. “But what was this about ‘not as much as you might be thinking’? From where I sit, getting Beowulf fully integrated’s going to be something like Hercules and the stables.”

“I don’t think so,” Lukáč disagreed respectfully. “Oh, it’s going to take a lot of work, and a lot of details will need hammering out, but the truth is that Beowulf’s already effectively part of the Alliance. I mean, who’s ships do you think are out there helping rebuild after Yawata? And unless I miss my guess, Beowulf’s also who’s building the Mark 23s in our magazines. So what we’re really going to be doing is regularizing something that’s been going on on a de facto basis for months now.”

“That’s actually true, in a way,” Michael Mayhew acknowledged. “It’s the regularizing and the hammering out I’m not looking forward to.”

“No reason you should, My Lord,” Lukáč told him. “And, in fairness, it’ll be a lot easier for us ‘honest spacers’ who only have to worry about shooting at the enemy. Besides —”

“Is Michal already bending your ear, My Lady?” another voice asked, and Honor turned as Captain Lenka Lukáčová joined the conversation. Lukáčová was about four centimeters shorter than her husband. She wore GSN uniform with the four golden cuff bands of a captain, but she also wore the Chaplains Corps’ crosses on her collar, not the sword insignia of a line officer.

“He promised he wouldn’t do that,” she continued, gold-flecked green eyes dancing.

“And he isn’t, Lenka, as you know perfectly well!” Honor told her. “In fact, he’s hardly started making his points forcefully at all yet.”

“Give him time,” Lukáčová suggested.

“I’m sure. And how are you? Any problems adjusting?”

She’d tried to stay in the loop as Task Force Three, the Grayson component of Grand Fleet, settled into place. It helped that Manticorans and Graysons had been serving — and dying — together for two T-decades. But there were still differences between them and a much larger percentage of the entire Grayson Space Navy had been permanently stationed here in Manticore following the Yawata Strike and the emergence of the Grand Alliance. Despite the enormous strides Honor’s adoptive homeworld had made, Grayson remained a highly religious, theocratic society. The Manticore Binary System as a whole had less experience than the RMN’s officer corps with Graysons, and quite a few thousand Grayson civilians and dependents had arrived in Manticore to help support TF 3. Sliding them comfortably into a society whose basic constraints were sharply at odds with those of the society which had produced them was a nontrivial challenge. Lukáčová, as the senior officer of the Chaplains Corps assigned to TF 3 had a ringside seat for that sliding.

“Quite well, actually,” the captain said now. “Archbishop Telmachi couldn’t have been more helpful, although I think that most of your fellow Manties are still a little . . . bemused by the entire notion of official shipboard chaplains. Fair’s fair, though. Most of our people are still having problems with the notion that the Archbishop is only the senior prelate in a society which specifically rejects the notion of a state church. Some of my chaplains seem to have a little trouble understanding that he can’t simply wave his crucifix and make all of our stumbling blocks go away. You really are a deplorably secular bunch, aren’t you?”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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7

Donnerstag, 28. September 2017, 16:22

Snippet 5, Teil 1 von 2

Zitat von »David Weber«

“We stumble along as best we can,” Honor said dryly. “And let’s not forget that it was the example of our ‘deplorably secular bunch’ that got Father Church to reconsider his position on priests who didn’t have Y chromosomes.”

Michal Lukáč flung up his hand in the gesture of a Grayson judge at a fencing match, and his wife laughed.

“I’ve missed you, My Lady,” she said. “But you’re right, of course.” She rolled her eyes. “I can still remember all the apoplexy when Reverend Sullivan ordained me. I thought at least three of the Elders would be carried off to glory that afternoon.” She smiled in fond memory. “And the way they waffled about titles!” She shook her head. “Do you know how close I came to being Brother Lenka? The Sacristy had actually written a learned dissertation about the ‘sanctity’ of the title. Thank the Tester the Reverend cut them off at the ankles!”

“For some reason,” Michael Mayhew said to no one in particular, “for the last twenty years or so Grayson seems to have been producing an unconscionable number of uppity females. Can’t imagine how that happened.”

“Well, it’s certainly not my fault,” Honor said austerity. “In fact, it’s probably more Mercedes’ fault. Or hers and —” Honor looked over Lukáč’s shoulder as two more officers approached “— Captain Davis’s.”

“Whatever it was, I didn’t do it,” the dark-haired captain — one of the two dark-haired captains — approaching the small conversational group said.

“Her Grace was just explaining that it’s not her fault Grayson females are getting out of hand,” Brigham said dryly, holding out her hand.

“Oh, no!” Captain Elizabeth Davis, Lukáč’s operations officer said. “How could anyone possibly think that?!”

“Not enough we have to produce them in a homegrown variety, but we go around importing them,” Mayhew observed, still to no one in particular, and Davis laughed.

Her own accent marked her as a native of the Star Kingdom’s capital planet, but like quite a few of the officers who’d been “loaned” to the modern Grayson Space Navy in its infancy, she’d decided she liked Grayson. In fact, she’d become a Grayson citizen almost ten T-years ago. Lord Mayhew rolled his eyes at her laugh, but he also held out his hand.

“And we’ve been damned lucky to get them — all of them,” he said in a quieter tone. “Homegrown or imported.”

“I have to agree,” Honor said. “But you know, the really remarkable thing to me, even after all these years, is how well Grayson’s grappled with all the changes.”

“Part of that’s the example we’ve been given,” Lukáčová said. “And Reverend Hanks’s input at the very beginning was huge.” Her eyes darkened, and so did Honor’s as she recalled how the gentle Reverend had given his life for hers. “And Reverend Sullivan’s been just as strong in his own way, of course. But the bottom line is that unlike those lunatics on Masada, we haven’t forgotten the Book is never closed. They not only refused to stop listening to God, they started lecturing Him on the way things were supposed to be.” She shook her head. “We’ve had our own iterations of the Faithful to deal with, of course, but by and large, they did us a huge favor. All we had to do was look at them to see exactly what God didn’t want us doing.” She shrugged. “With that example, how could we not get it right . . . mostly, anyway.”

“I think you’re probably right,” the officer who’d accompanied Davis said. He was a good twenty centimeters taller, stocky and very squarely built, with a ship’s prow of a nose and a ponytail that reminded Honor’s Paul Tankersley’s. Unlike Davis, he spoke with a pronounced Grayson accent.

“It’s good to see you, James,” Honor said.

“And you, My Lady.” Captain James Senna, BatDiv 1’s chief of staff said. “Actually, though, I’m even happier to see Commodore Brigham. I was wondering if —”

“Stop right there,” Rear Admiral Lukáč said, raising an index finger.

“But, Sir, after that exercise yesterday, we’ve got to figure out —”

“You’re on dangerous ground, James,” Lukáč said solemnly.

“Sir?” Captain Senna regarded his superior with a suspicious eye, and Honor’s lips twitched.

James Senna was one of the GSN’s outstanding administrators. Although he was an excellent combat officer — one of the best — he was far more valuable in his current position. He didn’t like it, because he would far rather have been on a battlecruiser’s command deck somewhere, but he wasn’t the sort who complained. He was a no-nonsense, focused, very much to the point individual, however, and there were times when he found his admiral’s puckish sense of humor more than a little trying.

“Lord Mayhew just informed us, immediately before your arrival, that we are not to talk shop tonight,” Lukáč said firmly, blue eyes twinkling. “And as obedient subjects, it behooves us to obey him.”

“It’s a good thing it’s my brother who’s the despot — and owns all the headsmen — and not me,” Mayhew observed.

“Oh, I’m sure!” Honor said.

In fact, everyone in the GSN knew Michael Mayhew had been “navy mad” since childhood. Only the fact that it had taken his older brother so long to produce the male heir the Grayson constitution required had kept him out of uniform before Grayson had joined the Manticoran Alliance. And only the fact that Benjamin had needed him so desperately as his personal envoy had prevented him from seeking a naval career afterward. That was the real reason officers like Lukáč and Senna were prepared to be so informal with him. He was one of their own, and he’d always had a very special, very personal relationship with the GSN and its personnel. They knew how deeply he loved the Navy, and they loved him right back.

“Ah!” Mayhew said now as an extraordinarily tall officer approached them. “Captain White!”

“My Lord.” Zachary White bowed to Mayhew, and then to Honor. “My Lady.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here to greet you, Lady Harrington. My son —”

“Admiral Lukáč told us about it, Zach,” Honor said, shaking her head as she held out her hand to the much shorter woman who had accompanied White across the crowded compartment. She was one of the relatively small number of civilians present, and on her, the traditional Grayson gown looked good. Although her particular version of it wasn’t quite as “traditional” as many. Honor doubted she was wearing more than three petticoats.

“Is he all right, Misty?” she asked, and Madam White smiled.

“I think he’s pretty much indestructible,” she said. “He was just so upset over ‘messing up Dad’s party.’”

“He really was,” Captain White agreed, and looked at Lukáč. “I really appreciate your taking over the host’s duties, Sir. His mom could tell him I wasn’t mad at him, but he was upset enough with himself that I think he needed the paternal reassurance.”

“Lenka and I may not have any of our own, Captain, but I’ve got five siblings,” Lukáč said dryly. “And thanks to Skydomes and our little population explosion, the last time I looked, I’ve got somewhere around — the number is subject to change without warning, you understand — thirty-seven nieces and nephews, at least four of whom have started producing children of their own!”

White chuckled, and nodded greetings to the other officers clustered around Mayhew.

DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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8

Donnerstag, 28. September 2017, 16:23

Snippet 5, Teil 2 von 2

Zitat von »David Weber«

“How’s he doing overall — here in Manticore, I mean?” Honor asked Misty, and she shrugged.

“He misses his friends and his classmates, My Lady,” she said, “but it’s not like he’s not making new ones, and he’s actually ahead of his age-mates academically.” Her smile might have held a slight edge. “I don’t think those new classmates of his expected that. And the experience of actually living somewhere besides Grayson is going to be really, really good for him.” She shrugged. “Besides, the truth is that everyone here in Manticore is bending over backward to make all of us Graysons welcome. It shows, believe me.”

Honored nodded. As a steadholder — and, aside from Mayhew, the only steadholder in the Manticore Binary System — she’d felt a personal responsibility to represent the Grayson dependents who’d accompanied the GSN. Unfortunately, she couldn’t. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day, and so she was enormously relieved by how well things seemed to be going. And one reason they were going so well was the smiling woman standing beside her towering husband.

In many ways, Misty White was Lenka Lukáčová’s civilian counterpart. While Lukáčová dealt with the Chaplains Corps’s issues, Madame White was attached to the Grayson Family Support Command. Technically, that was a military organization, headed by Captain Leonard Fitzhugh and she was only a “civilian advisor.” Fortunately, Fitzhugh was smart enough to stay out of the way when Misty White rolled up her sleeves and went to work.

“I’m glad it’s going well,” Honor said now. “I’d heard reports that it was, but I’m behind the curve on a lot of things.”

“I can’t imagine how that could possibly be the case My Lady,” Misty said dryly.

“I’m sure you can’t,” Honor said warmly, slipping her left arm through Misty’s right. “But unless my eyes deceive me, it looks like Michal’s flag lieutenant is headed this way to tell us that now that the two of you have rejoined us, it’s time for dinner. And as you may have heard, I’m from Sphinx.” She smiled at the others. “Which is to say, I’m hungry . . . again.”

“My Lady,” Lukáčová said frankly, “I would kill for your metabolism. I really would.”

“Oh, yes?” Honor gave Misty a conspiratorial smile. “Well, if you think three o’clock feedings are bad for most children, you should think about trying to keep somebody with the Meyerdahl mods fed! My mom’s made a few . . . pithy comments on that task over the years. They include references to somebody named Sisyphus.”

“Oh, my!” Misty laughed. “I hadn’t even thought of that, My Lady!”

“Trust me, Raoul’s going to be repaying my karmic debt to my parents for the next — oh, seventeen or eighteen T-years. There are some aspects of parenting I look forward to less than others.”

“Maybe, My Lady,” Misty said, smiling as a petty officer came forging through the press of senior officers, towing a small, spotlessly clad boy child towards them. “But trust me, when the dust settles, it will have been worth every minute of it. Every single minute.”

“Oh, I believe you,” Honor said softly as she and Misty moved to greet young Master Edward White. “I believe you.”



Hillary Indrakashi Enkateshwara Tower
City of Old Chicago
Sol System
Solarian League

“Either there are an awful lot of these moles, or our search algorithms need some serious tweaking.”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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9

Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2018, 19:46

HonorCon-Video-Snippet, Teil 1

Das folgende Snippet stellt die Transkription eines Videomitschnitts einer Lesung aus "Uncompromising Honor" dar, die David während des letztjährigen HonorCons abhielt. Ein User aus David Webers Forum namens CTHIA hat sich dankenswerterweise die Mühe gemacht, den Text - der teilweise auch für Muttersprachler recht schwer zu verstehen ist - zu transkribieren.


Zitat von »David Weber«

Damien Harahap. You remember him. There were people wondering why I spent so much time with him, in Shadow of Victory. Well, the reason I spent so much time with him is that he ends up on Manticore having a conversation with Honor Harrington. Who is there to evaluate. He was like "I was told I would be talking to a highly trained interrogator." She says "No, just me."

AUDIENCE ERUPTS WITH LAUGHTER

And afterwards, she is evaluating him. For Elizabeth and whatnot. And she comes to the conclusion, that he's an honest craftsman, okay. He didn't really want to go to work for the Alignment. If you go back and look how he wound up working for the Alignment, it was like "Okay, people are trying to kill me and you can keep me alive. Let me think."

AUDIENCE LAUGHTER

He found out he was like eight, or nine when Frontier Security came to his home system. And he got off the planet when he was nineteen, by joining the Gendarmerie. And he's done what he's done ever since because, that's what you do. In a lot of ways he was like Thandi Palane was, before she got hooked up with the Torchese. If you think about it. And Honor is like "You know, we really need to turn him around and get him on our side." So there's this guy, who's interrogating him. With the aid of a treecat. Who's kind of, you know, listening.

"So what can you tell me about this," the orange-haired man consulted his notes, "Colin Detweiler?" He looked up, his peculiar purple eyes with their vertical pupils showing only mild curiosity. "We're trying to fill in the gaps about the Alignment."

'Fill in the gaps,' Damien Harahap thought sardonically. "What you mean is, you people don't have a clue who Detweiler is and little red ants are eating you alive while you try to figure out what the hell the Alignment is really up to." He leaned back in his own chair pursing his lips with a thoughtful air. He was still far from certain why he hadn't conveniently dropped dead. Conveniently, for his most recent employers, that was. However, the most likely answer remains the Gamma Center's destruction. It seems, assuming there was any truth to the Mesan's claims that he owed Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat (fyi: pronounced Ka-sha -cthia) a vote of thanks.

Author goes off script and addresses the audience...

Actually he does, because everybody assumed he'd gotten the nanotech. Which he never did.

Back on track...

Actually he'd like to discuss a few things with Zilwicki and Cachat. He admired professionalism, whoever happened to have it. And the two of them have ripped a lot of scabs off things Isabel Bardasano and Colin Detweiler among others had very much (once stated.)? Besides, he'd like to compare notes with them about Green Pines, given his post terror attacks visit to Mendel. Unfortunately, they weren't available. For that matter, he hadn't able to figure out what their true relationship to their respective star nation's intelligence services really was. It sounded like Zilwicki was essentially a free agent whose primary loyalty was split between the Kingdom of the Torch and the Star Kingdom now Star Empire, in which he'd been born. And it sounded like Cachat was essentially a loose warhead. Officially in the employee of the Republic of Haven's (sworn?) intelligence service whose directives he followed on the infrequent occasions when they made sense to him.

"I'm afraid I actually only met Detweiler twice, Mr. Joubert," he said, after a moment to his current interrogator.

"So you said earlier." Antwoine Joubert tapped the memo pad on the table between them and smiled. When he did he showed very pointy teeth, the product of the same genetic manipulation which had given his genetic slave grandfather his dark complexion, bright orange—orange, not red, or auburn—hair and catlike pupils. "It would seem like both these meetings were rather significant in terms of your employment, though."

"That's a fair assessment," Harahap nodded and glanced at the treecat stretched comfortably across one end of the table. Beside from the angle of their pupils and the fact that they were green not purple, its eyes reminded him a great deal of Joubert's. (BTW, Joubert's treecat name is People's Eyes.) Not least because of how unwaveringly they were focused upon one Damien Harahap. Unless he was mistaken there was more, a lot more, intelligence behind them than he previously assumed.

"There is not a lot I can tell you about him that's what I call concrete," he said. "I never saw any organizational charts, much less one with his name on it. And once I passed muster with him, I never saw him again either. So please understand that anything I tell you can only be conjectural, based on my one time impression of him." He paused, eyebrows raised and Joubert nodded.

"Understood," he said. In the tone of one professional speaking to another one.

"With that proviso then," Harahap continued. "He's smart. Very smart. He's also ruthless and he comes equipped with a lot of focus and I think genuine commitment, to whatever these people are really after. Physically, the cyber sketch your people produced from my description is pretty accurate, but it doesn't capture how much...call it command presence he has. Or the fact that he has command mentality as well." Harahap shrugged, "I'd say he was a man who makes decisions, not one who takes directions."

Joubert glanced at the treecat [slowy ? gloating] yawn, showing teeth. (offscript-That was another point of similarity between them.) "That's an interesting distinction," the Manticoran observed after a moment.

"Well, I guess I should admit it's based at least in part, on Cherneychev's attitude towards him.

"That would be Rufino Cherneyshev. The fellow that wound up with Bardasano's job?" Joubert asked and Harahap nodded.

He felt a twinge. A tiny one, of regret at having ID'ed Rufino for the Manties, but the Mesan was a fellow professional, he'd understand. That wouldn't prevent him from shooting Harahap right in the head, if opportunity arose but he would understand.

"Yes," he said. "Neither he nor Bardasano ever used the term Mesan Alignment to me, or in my presence. But assuming your people are right about its existence, and if you are that might explain some of the things I find puzzling about their strategies. I'm pretty sure Bardasano was in charge of its covert operations. I don't know anything about its intelligence gathering activities except that from the raw take I studied on the systems they assigned to me, they are tapped into official lead sources that are very high levels. The intel they provided me was better than the Gendarmerie usually comes up with and they obviously had sources outside the official ones as well. How those contacts were established (for management?) was never part of the intel package so as I can't say if she was involved in that side of it. Or if she was only their Director of Operations. From her attitude, from some of the things she said, I'm inclined to think she had executive responsibilities from both sides of their shop. Intelligence and Covert Ops. But, there is no way I could confirm that. The important thing though," he leaned forward "is that whatever her role may have been,, Detweiler was her boss. So if you're right about the existence of the Alignment and it really isn't the Consortium of Interstellar Transsellars he and Bardasano tried to sell me, I think he's very probably the shadow government's Minister of Intelligence."

"Interesting possibility," Joubert said "I want to come back to that in a bit, but for now tell me what you can about the shift in Cherneyshev's responsibilities after Green Pines. For example—"

DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Dieser Beitrag wurde bereits 1 mal editiert, zuletzt von »Eagleeye« (1. Februar 2018, 19:53)


Eagleeye

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10

Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2018, 19:49

HonorCon-Video-Snippet, Teil 2

Zitat von »David Weber«

"I wish I thought we really could turn that man into an asset," Patricia Givens said. Almost wistfully. She sat in the secure conference room between Hamish Alexander Harrington and his brother William, who happen to be Baron Grantiville, not to mention Prime Minister of Manticore. At the moment all of them were watching another installment of Damien Harahap's ongoing debrief by (name unintelligible) special intelligence service. Initially, Givens thought O-N-I ought to have the lead role given that it was a naval officer who scooped him up in the first place. OTOH she had more than enough on her own plate, especially in the wake of Hypatia and the reports beginning to come in from the other systems who had been visited by the Solly's goddamn Buccanners. (I guess they don't like Operation Buccaneer).

"He's a trained, skilled intelligence operative, not a scientist sequestered in a think tank or even doing applied research. That means he's already given us at least three or four times more on the operational side than Dr. Simoes was able to. Assuming we can rely on it."

The dappled treecat on White Haven's shoulder produced something that sounded remarkably like a human sigh. And the cat on the back of Given's chair laughed. The admiral looked over her shoulder at her furry bodyguard with a frown, then turned back to the two-legged participants of the conversation in the conference.

"Despite Samantha's and Thought Chasers reactions," she said a bit tartly, "I am not suggesting he's getting any intentional deceptions past Pounces on Leaves." She twitched her head at the treecat participating in the recorded interrogation. "My problem is that I still can't quite convince myself, not fully, that he isn't some kind of a plant. Even if he doesn't know it."

"Oh Pat," the Prime Minister sighed, "I swear you are the most paranoid person I've ever met." He considered a moment. "Well. The most paranoid otherwise sane person, I've ever met."

"Part of my job." She pointed out. "Besides," her expression darkened. "Don't forget how long these bastards have played every intelligence agency in the galaxy. They got away with it because none of us paranoid insane people were paranoid enough, to believe in tooth fairies, Easter Bunnies, honest politicians, no offense Mr. Prime Minister sir, or secret societies of genetic supermen hell bent on galactic domination." She shook her head. "Honestly, most mornings I wake up and have to convince myself all over again that this Alignment really exists. But even though a lot of their successes to date stems from the fact that the entire concept, is so patently absurd, no serious analyst ever thought of looking for it. Nobody keeps anything this broad, this ambitious, hidden for as long as Simoes and McBryde's information suggests these people have been around. Without being very very good. Crazy, megalomaniacal, fanatics who buttfucked crazy couldn't get out of the snow maybe. But good at concealment, misdirection and misinformation. The fact that I can't see any way they could have deliberately planted him on us, doesn't mean they couldn't do it. More to the point it doesn't mean they couldn't deliberately mislead him as a security measure just in case he fell into our hands and decided to get talkative.

"You don't buy Honor's theory about that?" White Haven asked mildly.

"I didn't say that," Givens shook her head. Actually, I think she well may be right why he's alive. I'm just saying these people believe in defense in-depth. Everything we've seen tells me the Alignment is like one of those Matryoshka dolls Charlie O'Daly gave (Myra ? Moira) last year for her tenth birthday. Every time we take one of them apart there's something else hiding inside it. I don't see any reason to assume they didn't hide something else inside whatever Harahap (Ha-ra-hap) knows about.

"Clearly they did," White Haven said. "Or tried to anyway. Nobody ever said anything to him about genetically enhanced conspirators out to overthrow the League. He figured out on his own that they were really after a lot more than they were telling him about. But they were damn careful he didn't find out what they hadn't told him. In fact, I think the Matryoshka dolls actually are a very good metaphor for their entire operation. That's why I also think Honor's right about how useful he can be. He's at least two or three dolls in from the edge. That gives us a lot better starting point for the next stop. Assuming she's also right about whether or not we can genuinely turn him.

"Turn him again you mean." Givens tone was rather pointed and she snorted when the Earl shrugged. The man's probably getting vertigo by now. "Maybe, but I come back to Pounces on Leaves. He and Nimitz both agree with Honor's evaluation of Harahap's basic personality.

"I know, but, Pat, the decision's been made." Prime Minister Grantville pointed out.

She looked at him and he shrugged. "Her Majesty signs off on it, so does Tom Theisman for Eloise Pritchart, so does Michael Mayhew for Protector Benjamin." He reminded her in a reasonable tone. All of them understand and respect your reservations. But he's way too potentially valuable for us to just park in a holding cell and trot out for occasional interrogations.

"That wasn't precisely all I intended to do with him." Givens said tartly. It was her turn to shrug. On the other hand, you're right, I know it, I just would really really like some way to be sure he doesn't get a somewhat better offer from someone else down the road, flip again and sell us out, the same way he's selling out the Alignment.

"I wouldn't say that's exactly what he's doing," White Haven observed then chuckled. "Mind you I can see where an, established pattern of behaviour on his part might seem like the grounds for a certain degree of concern to a professionally paranoid woman such as yourself."

"I cannot tell you how relieved I am that you find that amusing. My Lord." Vice Admiral Patricia Givens told the civilian head of her service.

"Oh, I don't find your suspicion or your awareness of the potential risk amusing at all." White Have assured her. "What I find amazing is the thought of Mr. Harahap's response to the...prohylactic measure Honor suggested to prevent anything like that from happening.

"Prophylactic."

"That's how I think of it anyway." He smiled at her. Then his expression turned slightly more serious. "You've met Dame Lisa, Lisa Llorens haven't you?" Givens frowned as she rummaged through her memory, then she nodded. Although, from her expression she wondered where he could possibly be going.

"I wouldn't say I really know Dame Lisa," she said. "I saw her dance before she retired Several times really but to be honest, Simon and [Myra ? Moira] both loved ballet more than I did. I know she and Honor are close too and you're right I did meet her a couple of months ago when Thought Chaser and I were on Sphinx. I'm not really clear what she can contribite to our little problem here though."

Dame Lisa Llorens had risen to the rank of second principal dancer in the World Ballet's company of Sphinx. A position she held to close to twenty five T-years. That quarter T-century is one of the best ballet dancers in the entire Star Kingdom. There was no company of (? 16:08) was that all manner of snarky jokes, had ended with the Yawata Strike, however. She'd been headed toward retirement well before that. Despite the fact, that she remained in high demand as a performer and artist. She and her treecat Grace had been deeply involved in Adelina Arif's quest to teach treecats how to communicate with humans, however. And that had been claiming more and more of her time. She made the two careers work somehow. Yet the strain had mounted as her heart pulled her in opposing directions. It was probable she would have followed her heart into full time with with Dr. Arif under any circumstances. But the Yawata Strike had tipped the balance. The Sphinx company had been scheduled to perform in Yawata Crossing. A third of the company had already arrived to begin rehearsals as the shuttle to deliver Dame Lisa and the rest of the company had been less than thirty minutes out when the tsunami struck and killed every member of the company already on the ground. She and Grace had left the world of dance after the deaths of so many People, human and treecat alike. And not just the members of her company, they've known so well and loved so much. In order to dedicate themselves fully to the rapidly evolving relationship between the cats and their two-legged neighbors.

"But, Honor's put quite a bit of thought into your little problem." Hamish said now. "And I think she's come up with a workable solution. She asked Dr. Arif and her team for a nominee and Dame Lisa and the Memory Singers came up with one. Well they came up with one that I think will work very well. His name is Clean Killer."

Givens stared at him for a moment. Then burst out laughing. "His very own treecat bodyguard?" She demanded

"Well if he's on the up and up, he's definitely somebody the Alignment would move heaven and earth to shut up assuming they figure out he's alive and we got him." White Haven pointed out. "It would make sense to give him a nanotech detector to make that as difficult as possible wouldn't it?"

"Oh of course it would," Givens agreed. Still snickering as she turned back to the recording. "My oh my, remind me to complement your wife the next time I see her." She shook her head. "I do like a woman with a devious mind."

<I do not fully understand why our two-legs are so confused about how to deal with this person.> Clean Killer told Thought Chaser. <Surely if he is a friend to the evil-doers who murdered Black Rock and so many two-legs there is only one thing to do with him>
threatened
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

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Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2018, 19:50

HonorCon-Video-Snippet, Teil 3

Zitat von »David Weber«

<True.> Thought Chaser replied, looking across from his place from the back of Crafty Mind's sitting place. (Crafty Mind's. His ah, Givens.) <I have observed two-legs do many things People find hard to understand. And I've also discovered that most often they have good reasons. (next line somewhat unintelligible 19:16) Not always of course. and they are two-legs. If the People have learned anything about two-legs over the last hands of hands of turnings, is that we will never fully understand how their mind works just because we can tate their mindglows.

Clean Killer mindlaughed in agreement. <No one would fully understand two-legs. That was a given.> But he didn't need to understand them to know that just like the People there were good two-legs and there were evil two-legs. And he knew where his own allegiance lay. His laughter faded as he considered that, thought about why he was here in a huge two-leg nesting place. 'A city they called it,' he thought, forming the mouth noise carefully in his mind.

The strength of so many hands of mindglows pressed in upon him like some powerful invisible wind or perhaps like the heat of the sun in mid summer. It to crush him. But he had tasted the memory songs of others of the People who had gone among the two-legs. That had prepared him for it, although not so well as he had believed it had before he experienced the reality. And so that first day, he had seriously considered fleeing like a kitten newly escaped from its nesting place, but he had overcome the temptation by remembering why he was here.

His older sister, Silver Claw, had made it into the Black Rock clan. She had also died with her mate, her kittens and her entire new clan family when the fire fell from the heavens. Clean Killer had been near the boundary between Black Rock's range and Mossy Tree Climb's. Indeed, he had been mind speaking with her when it happened. And he would never forget that day. Never forget her scream of terror, brief as the time between two breaths, before that beloved mind voice vanished into cold eternal silence. Cut away from him forever, with the sharpness of one of the singing blades the two-leg hunters and scouts used. And then, even as he turned to speed madly through the netwood towards Black Rock's range, the dreadful ball of sun bright fury had roared up before him and the terrible thunder rumble and howling wind had raced over him like a howling storm. The shock had splintered branches all about him, flung him from the netwood like one more broken twig. Indeed, so far as any of the memory singers knew, no one closer to Black Rock's nesting place, as he, had survived. And it had taken him many hands of days to heal from the bones which had been broken, even with the two-leg healer's assistance. It had taken far longer for his mindglow to heal.

Heart Singer, Mossy Tree's mindhealer, had told him he could survive the deep inner wounds of that day. At first Clean Killer had shut his own mind refusing to believe the older person. In the end though, Heart Singer had been right. He had survived it. But he would never be the same again. None of the people would ever be the same. Clean Killer was not the only person who had directly shared that single mindscream from all of Black Rock's people. And by now all of the people, aside from the endless kittens, had tasted the memory songs of that day. The day Black Rock died, murdered by the evil doers from beyond the sky who had killed so many more of the People's two-legs, on that same dreadful day. The Memory Singers had mercifully dimmed the worst of the terror of the agony in their songs, but it was important that all of the People taste them. Know the darkness at their core. Know we have enemies at work and never forget their hatred for the ones who had done it.

Clean Killer needed no memory songs. He carried that darkness with him, everywhere. Thanks to Heart Singer it had not devoured him as it did so many of the other People. Yet he had discovered he could not go back to his everyday life as one of Mossy Tree's scouts. He could no longer roam the netwood and golden leaf, hunting and warding, guarding the clan from Death Fangs and snow hunters. Not when he knew that other far greater threats hid beyond the stars. And so, when the Memory Singers sent forth a summons—seeking volunteers to venture among the two-legs and guard them against the threat they could not taste themselves, the other two-legs, who had evil-doers somehow compelled to slay even their closest friends—Clean Killer, scout of Mossy Tree clan, was among the first to volunteer. And not just because of his need to protect the two-legs as he fought to protect all the People. People and two-legs alike, of his world. No, he volunteered because he hoped that some day, some way, he could come within claws reach of at least one of the evil-doers responsible for such slaughters, so many deaths. And on the day that he did...

He supposed that was why Spinless for Joys(?), Speaks from Silence and Dances on Clouds had considered him as the Protector, for this once upon a time evil-doer who claimed now, to be a friend. Well, Clean Killer would see about that. He had tasted Pounces on Leaves memories of People's Eye's conversations with captured evil-doer. And he knew the evil-doer had never said anything that was not true. But that did not fully reassure Clean Killer. The People had never considered saying a thing which was not so, before having encountered the two-legs and learned to understand their mouth noises. There had been no point since any person knew whether or not the person mindspeaking with him was doing such an outlandish thing. The two-legs were mindblind. All of them except Dances on Clouds and Cloud Dancer's Joy, her kitten. And just a tiny bit, Deep Roots and Laugh Dancer, her parents. Not only could they say things which were not so, they could not always tell when someone else said such things to them, poor creatures. People could deceive or trick other People. Indeed some, like Laugh's Brightly was notorious amongst all the clan for their ability to do that. But they could not do it that easily, not by simply saying false things. They had to find other ways, more creative ways. It's not unreasonable to assume that two-legs have more than one way to deceive their own kind, as well. Clean Killer had observed that some of the most effective deceptions lay not in the saying of untrue things but in saying things that were entirely true and did not mean what the other person believed they meant. He did not expect to enjoy this time protecting the evil-doer. Although the memory song of the two-leg's mindglow Sorrow Singer had relayed to him from Pounces on Leaves was much less distasteful than he had initially expected. Pounces on Leaves had a powerful mindglow for a male. Admittedly, he had been more focused on tasting the truth of the evil-doer's responses to People's Eye's questions than on delving deep into the two-leg's mindglow itself. But the memory he had shared with Sorrow Singer (and through her) with Clean Killer had carried none of the dark, cold evil Clean Killer had always assumed must mark an evil-doer capable of destroying Black Rock clan and so many two-legs. 'Perhaps it was not,' he thought now, grimly as the two-leg flying thing swooped downward towards its destination. But, unlike Pounces on Leaves, I will be a hunter stalking that mindglow, and the evil-doer who now says he is prepared to aid our two-legs will not like what happens if I find treachery within him.

Damien Harahap felt more unsettled than he would have admitted as he followed his escort (The Manties were too polite to call her a guard) down the hall. He supposed it was a good thing they wanted to keep him alive, at least until they decided differently. Had he doubted they were lying about the nanotech assassins. He had no more idea than they did how Bardasano's people made that work. But it sounded exactly like the sort of thing they would make work. So if this treecat they meant to pair him with to keep that sort of unpleasant encounter from claiming the scalp of one Damien Harahap, that was a good thing. He was less comfortable with why his new protector, Clean Killer, a name which suggested a few unpleasant possibilities, would be able to detect a programmed assassin in time to do something about it. There had been rumors about Sphinxian treecat's supposed esoteric abilities for a long time. Although he had never been interested enough to chase them down himself. One thing he had heard about them however, is that they had learned to communicate with humans. If, as Joubert claimed, they were telepaths able to detect lies and assassins, their ability to tell someone about it explained why Joubert had been accompanied by his own treecat partner for every session with Harahap. (And there goes?) the corollary. A treecat that knew someone was lying would make the most effective control over any asset of dubious reliability in the long and murky history of espionage. Harahap might not have minded that, since he entertained no current plans. He felt more confident in treecats' sense of self restraint in the case of any little misunderstanding, or for that matter if he believed treecats were the adorable, silken pets they appeared to be. Unfortunately, he believed nothing of the sort. He might not have made a special study of them, but Honor Alexander Harrington's companion Nimitz, was the most famous teeecat in history, no small part because of how conclusively he demonstrated that, however adorable and silken he might be, he was anything but a harmless pet, when his human was threatened. And then there was that name, Clean Killer.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

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Donnerstag, 1. Februar 2018, 19:51

HonorCon-Video-Snippet, Teil 4 (letzter Teil)

Zitat von »David Weber«

Patricia Givens tipped back in her chair, rubbing the ears of the treecat spilled warmly across her lap, while the two of them watched the smart wall display showing the interior of their interrogation room just down the hall from where she sat. At the moment, its only occupants were Antwoine Joubert, Pounces on Leaves and Clean Killer and she frowned as she thought about why they were here this morning. It wasn't that she really thought it was a bad idea but Thought Chaser turned his head to look at her and a true hand smacked the fingers which had paused in their rubbing. She twitched slightly, looked down at him, and he smacked her hand again narrowing his eyes. "Sorry." Her frown turned into a smile and she started stroking his ears again. His smile grew into a grin as he closed his eyes and buzzed a contented purr. He and she had formed nothing like the soul deep adoption bond between Honor Alexander Harrington or her husband and their treecats. There were times she wished she had. But she envied those that had been adopted. Other times she hadn't. She knew Nimitz had represented a very real hurdle. Not one that could have derailed Honor Harrington's naval career before it ever began, despite Queen Adrian's rules about treecats and their people. And she wouldn't have liked knowing if something fatal had happened to her, Thought Chaser would almost certainly follow her into death. But if they didn't have that bond he'd still become what was probably the closest, most reliable friend she ever had. And she'd learned to trust his judgement implicitly. At least in most ways. There were human conventions, relationships, societal mechanisms no cat truly understood or probably ever would know. And she (did ? didn't @32:24) have concerns about how the species' intrinsic honesty might affect the judgement of someone navigating the murky, moral waters of the intelligence community. If telempaths couldn't lie to one another then how deep of an appreciation of human style, dishonesty and deceit did they truly possess? And Thought Chaser sat up in her chair as she brought her chair upright.

Harahap followed his keeper into the now familiar interrogation room, then paused just inside the doors and saw the pair of treecats parked right on the table like matching bookends. They weren't identical although they had exactly the same coloring and exactly the same grass green eyes. His was a brain which had been trained to record and file away as much data, even perhaps especially trivial data, as possible in a single glance. So even though it would have been difficult for him to consciously catalog all the differences between the two creatures, he was reasonably confident he'd be able to tell them apart if he ever saw them side by side again, the one on the right, Joubert's partner, Pounces on Leaves he called himself. He found treecat names a bit odd but he supposed a telepathic species' naming conventions would have to be a little strange.

Unsure about following passage inasmuch as when Harahap's musing had stopped, if it had stopped, and Joubert's speaking began...

"So that's Clean Killer on the left. Look at those swirls in his fur are from scars underneath it. It was an interesting question," says Joubert. But at some pains to explain that Clean Killer had survived a treecat mass casualty event during what the Manties called the Yawata strike. It'd also explain how badly the cat had been injured by it. Since Manticore held the Alignment responsible for the attack, Joubert had suggested. Not at all delicately. It might be unwise for Harahap to do, say or even think anything which might lead Clean Killer to associate him with the attack. Sounder advice was never given, Harahap decided. He reminded himself that reading an alien species' body language was likely to yield less than reliable results, but Clean Killer, now that he thought about it, looked to be about twenty percent bigger than Pounces on Leaves, didn't look very happy. 'Hadn't realized that treecats coat could actually bristle,' he thought. Alien species are not...I doubt that he's just overjoyed to see me.

<So this is the evil-doer> Clean Killer said.

<It is the one who used to be an evil doer.> Pounces on Leaves replied. <And you should not allow your fur to stand on end, younger brother. It is discourteous.>

Clean Killer flicked his ears and mingled embarrassment, humor, as he tasted the dry amusement in the older person's mindvoice. Not that Clean Killer was all that concerned about courtesy at the moment. Still, he was supposed to be protecting this two-leg. Not killing it himself. He pulled his claws back into their sheath. The bristling of his coat however, was not a conscious response. He could not make it go away so easily. So instead of trying, he switched his attention to the two-leg. He was not as tall as some of the other male two-legs Clean Killer had seen, since volunteering to help guard the People's two-legs. But Clean Killer saw with his scout's eyes, recognized the way the two-leg moved. The one had escorted him here was armed, yet he was not, yet Clean Killer sensed that he was actually far more dangerous than she. He was poised, balanced in a way that she was not, much as a scout on duty was perpetually attuned to all about him while he flowed through the netwood, every sense alert to any sign of danger. But that was only the two-leg's outer shell. It was not which truly mattered that Clean Killer's eyes narrowed as he reached out to delve deep to test the two-leg's mindglow fully and completely.

"Mr. Harahap," Joubert began, "this is Clean—"

Harahap heard the Manticoran, but his eyes were on the treecat as focused as he ever been on anything in his life. He saw the furry arboreal treecats reminded him of—the fusion between a (Startan Pinterian? and a schimpanzee), or possibly an older bobcat and a lemur—crouch ever so slightly staring at him, closely. He could almost feel the intensity behind those bright green eyes. Clean Killer heard People's eyes mouth noises, but he ignored them for the moment as he dived into the other two-leg's mindglow. There wasn't time enough as he twitched, his eyes went suddenly wide, for an instant the entire world stood still and then he launched himself like a long sensuous projectile straight at the two-leg.

"Oh shit!" Patricia Givens gasped. As Clean Killer hurtled himself at Harahap, both sets of arms open wide. Long deadly fingers crooked.

"Dammit, if he's been lying to us all along we need to know, but even so he's too valuable to let Clean Killer just—"

Damien Harahap saw Clean Killer coming and his arms opened automatically. There was no conscious thought at that moment. There was only awareness and his arms closed again and folded that long, slender, impossibly strong body and cradled him against his chest like the most precious thing in the entire universe.

"Oh shit!" Patricia Givens started all over as she realized what had actually happened. Thought Chaser's obviously decided blinking laughter didn't, help, one, bit.

"So what do you think we should do about it. As I recall this was all your brilliant idea in the first place." The first the Earl of White Haven said from his wife's common. What might not unreasonably be described as a snippy tone.

MUCH LAUGHTER AND CHEERS FROM THE CROWD.

And Honor says to him... ("That's improbable.")?

And he says "Is Samantha ever shy about telling you when she disapproves of something you're doing?

"Well nooo. We got him!"


THE END
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

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Freitag, 2. Februar 2018, 13:52

sorry, hier stand versehentlich ein Doppelposting ... :(
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

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Dienstag, 27. März 2018, 16:46

Neues Snippet, Teil 1 von 6

Wie im "Neues von David"-Thread versprochen, hier kommt das Maxi-Snippet, Teil 1:

Zitat von »David Weber«

Lieutenant Colonel Weng Zhing-hwan sat back from the terminal, rubbing tired eyes with her left hand, and her tone was as sour as her expression. Then she inhaled deeply and reached for her cup of tea. She sipped, grimaced at the way it had cooled, and refreshed it from the pot at her elbow.

That pot had come from her own apartment. The dingy little office buried in the bowels of a building the Commerce Department used primarily for storage had been sealed and unused for over thirty T-years before Major Bryce Tarkovsky discovered it a couple of years ago. At the time, he’d planned to put it to use as a spot for friendly interservice games of chance at which he and his fellow spooks could talk shop without any inconvenient superiors catching them at it. Under the circumstances, he’d decided she and her co-conspirators needed it rather more badly, and she supposed she was grateful. It would have been nice if it had come with at least some amenities, though.

And the dust had been pretty bad, too.

“The interesting thing,” Captain Daud al-Fanudahi replied in a more philosophical voice, tipping back in his chair and resting his heels on one end of the desk between them, “is how long how many of our potential moles have been in position. Or working their way into it, at any rate.”

“Assuming they really are bad guys,” Weng pointed out. “Even if they are, getting into some of these slots —” she waved her teacup at the neat columns of names on her display “— was bound to take a while. And if they aren’t — bad guys, I mean — then what looks like ‘working their way into position’ is simply the normal pursuit of an open and aboveboard career.”

“Which is exactly how any defense counsel would present it.” It was al-Fanudahi’s turn to look sour.

“It has occurred to you, I trust, that we may all be suffering from paranoia?” Weng asked.

“Upon occasion.” He snorted. “On the other hand, I’m not in favor of finding out whether or not we’re paranoid by going public. What about you?”

“Not just yet, thank you,” she said dryly.

“Pretty much what I thought.” He shrugged. “And apropos of that point, and bearing in mind your comment about search algorithms, I’m a little nervous about our potential exposure. I really appreciate Brigadier Gaddis’s support, but if anybody happens to look over his shoulder at the computer runs involved in all this . . . .”

He let his voice trail away, and Weng nodded. Her expression seemed rather less concerned than his, though.

“He’s been playing this game — well, this sort of game — for a long time, Daud,” she said. “He got the Criminal Investigation Division because he’s damned good at his job and because he’s interested in really catching bad guys, and no one gives him any crap because he knows where way too many bodies are buried. Metaphorically speaking, of course.”

“Oh, of course!” al-Fanudahi agreed.

“Well, I thought it was an important distinction.”

She sipped more tea while he chuckled, then lowered the cup once again.

“My point is that people — especially people with something to hide — tend to stay far, far away from anything that might draw his attention. Given the . . . summary fashion in which he’s dealt with anyone poking into one of his investigations in the past, snooping around in one of his data searches is what I believe you military types call ‘contraindicated.’”

“Under normal circumstances, I’d feel reassured by that,” al-Fanudahi said soberly. “But if we’re anywhere close to right about what’s going on, the people we’re looking for this time around are the sort who’ve never seen a problem they weren’t willing to kill. I don’t see any reason they wouldn’t be willing to apply the same prescription to him. In fact, I’m pretty sure they’d be perfectly happy to kill him and however many other people it took if they got even a hint of what he’s looking for.”

“CID is the last place anyone would expect to find a counterintelligence op. That’s Noritoshi Väinöla’s bailiwick . . . and exactly the reason neither Lupe Blanton nor I went anywhere near him with this. And it’s a pain in the arse, too, because I’m pretty damn sure Väinöla’s as straight as they come in the Gendarmerie.” She grimaced in obvious frustration. “The problem is —”

“That if he is straight, and if this is the kind of operation he’d normally be in charge of, then he’s the one our bad guys are going to keep the closest eye on,” al-Fanudahi finished for her, and she nodded.

“Exactly. Simeon, on the other hand, always has at least a dozen sensitive investigations underway at any given moment. Adding one more’s a lot less likely to trigger any alarms than sudden activity on Väinöla’s part would.”

“I can see that.” Al-Fanudahi nodded, and he sounded a bit less worried, although his expression still wasn’t what anyone would have called happy.

“The other thing he’s got going for him,” Weng continued, setting her cup back on the saucer and paging ahead through the file on her display, “is that he’s spent the last twenty or thirty years assembling a team whose primary loyalty is to him. He calls them his ‘Outcasts’ because the only thing they give a solitary damn about is catching the bad guys, whoever they are and whatever the consequences to their careers might be.”

“Like Okiku?”

“Not so much, really.” Weng frowned for a moment, obviously looking for exactly the right way to explain. “Okiku’s got exactly the same attitude, but he’s kept her outside the Outcasts. Pissed her off a time or two, too.”

“Why?” Al-Fanudahi’s eyebrows arched. “I’d think she’d be a perfect fit!”

“Oh, in so many ways, she would,” Weng agreed, and smiled. She’d come to know Lieutenant Colonel Natsuko Okiku rather better in the past few weeks, and in the process, she’d come to appreciate exactly why Simeon Gaddis had kept her away from his ‘Outcasts.’ In fact —

“Why did you tell Irene to keep her mouth shut and let you take the heat for being right about the Manties’ capabilities?” she asked.

Al-Fanudahi looked at her, then nodded.

“Point taken,” he said. “He thinks she’s too valuable down the road for him to burn her career at this point.”

“Which makes it sort of ironic that she was so busy sneaking around behind his back when Bryce brought her into your little conspiracy.” Weng chuckled. “She didn’t want to risk any of it splashing on her boss, and now her boss is keeping her outside his circle of analysts to keep anyone from linking her with them.”

“I don’t have any problem with that,” al-Fanudahi told her. “Especially if anyone’s noticed that she’s been talking to me and Irene — or you and Lupe, for that matter. The last thing we’d need would be for someone to connect her to us and then connect her to some supersecret research project over at CID.”

“Exactly.” Weng said again. “But my point is that unless one of his Outcasts is working for the bad guys, nobody’s going to get a look inside his data searches. If someone’s keeping a really close eye on him, they may be able to figure out what kind of information the Outcasts are looking at, but none of it’s really all that unusual for a CID investigation, and there’s a complete air break between their computers and the rest of the universe. That’s pretty much standard, too.”

It was al-Fanudahi’s turn to nod again. The computer upon which he and Weng worked in their sessions here in their dingy little office was a portable unit completely isolated from Commerce’s — or anyone else’s — central core and processors. Nor was any of their data stored on it. All actual work was done on external memory chips, and he, Weng, Lupe Blanton, and Natsuko Okiku each had custody of a single chip biometrically coded to their personal DNA. That meant at least one of them was usually out of date, but it also meant no one could compromise their data without their knowing about it.

Of course, it also means that if it does get compromised, it’ll probably be because at least one of us is dead, he reflected. Still, if it was easy, anyone could play!

“Well, like I say, either there are more of these people than we’d hoped there were, or else these ‘Outcasts’ of his are pretty bad shots,” he observed.

“One way to look at it.” Weng tipped back her own chair and rotated it to face al-Fanudahi fully. “But let’s not get too carried away just yet. What the Outcasts are telling us is that the names on this list all appear to be associated with at least one of the people we’ve already concluded is probably working for the bad guys. It’s still way too early for us to conclude any of them are working directly for the bad guys. Or, for that matter, that they even realize the bad guys are out there!”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

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15

Dienstag, 27. März 2018, 16:48

Maxi-Snippet, Teil 2

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Maybe it is, but we’ve got to get off the centicredit, Zhing-hwan. After what happened to Eleventh Fleet, I don’t even want to think about what these people’s next production’s going to be like!” Al-Fanudahi shook his head, his dark brown eyes haunted by the thought of the hundreds of thousands of Solarian League Navy spacers who’d already died.

“Agreed. But until we have at least some idea of just what the hell is going on, nobody’s going to take us seriously, and especially not if somebody they trust is telling them we’re a bunch of lunatics.”

“I know. That’s why we’ve got to really drill into this. We think we know what they’re doing, but until we’ve got that idea about why they’re doing it we can’t expect to convince anyone else we aren’t lunatics. I’m beginning to think Bryce may have a point!”

“Major Tarkovsky is a very fine Marine,” Weng said with a crooked smile, “and a superior analyst. He is, unfortunately, still a Marine. And there are occasions — difficult though I know he finds that to accept — when something moderately more subtle than a pulser dart or a KEW is called for. Especially since Simeon’s probably right about just how bright our pool of suspects actually is. Like our friend Rajmund, for example. I know it pained Lupe when Simeon suggested Rajmund might not really be the unimaginative, corruptible clod she — and I, to be fair — always figured he was. For that matter, I’m still not thoroughly convinced he isn’t. But it’s a lot smarter for us to assume he isn’t stupid than it is for us to assume he is. Because as successfully as these people seem to have set up their networks, the one thing they aren’t is dumb. So while the notion of grabbing one of them and sweating her in a quiet little room somewhere possesses a certain appeal, I suggest we hold off on it at least a little longer.”

“I know,” al-Fanudahi repeated, then puffed his cheeks and exhaled noisily. “I know! But we’re not going to get any official warrants on the basis of any ‘probable cause’ we can share with anyone higher up the food chain. That means the time’s likely to come when we have to do it Bryce’s way.”

“Of course we are. I’m not looking forward to it, for a lot of reasons, but you’re probably right about where we’re going to end up. But if we’ve got to go entirely off the reservation and grab someone without benefit of due process, then I want to make sure we grab the right someone. Someone who really is the link we need between people like Rajmund and whoever the hell he’s working for. Which is exactly what this —” she jabbed a finger at the columns of names “— is going to give us. Somewhere in all these names, Daoud, there’s a handler. Somebody has to be managing their communications and coordinating their operations, and that probably means that whoever’s doing it is in contact with more than one of their agents in place. That’s who Simeon’s Outcasts and their numbercrunching is going to find for us. And once we’ve found her, I’m likely to be just a little more inclined to give Bryce his head.





Office of Frontier Security HQ
Interior Department Tower
City of Old Chicago
Sol System
Solarian League

“Yes, Marianne?” Adão Ukhtomskoy tried not to sound impatient as Marianne Haavikko’s image appeared in a window in the notes he’d been reviewing before his scheduled meeting with Nathan MacArtney, the Permanent Senior Undersecretary of the Interior.

Haavikko had been his secretary for a long, long time, and he knew she wouldn’t have interrupted him on a whim. At the same time, she knew his schedule better than anyone else in the universe . . . including him. That meant she knew how important his review and preparation for this meeting was. As the CO of Frontier Security Intelligence Branch, Ukhtomskoy was MacArtney’s senior “spook,” and as the confrontation with the Star Empire of Manticore and its allies went further and further into the crapper, his meetings with his superior had become less than pleasant affairs. The permanent senior undersecretary had always had a tendency to take out his frustrations on his subordinates. He was also a micromanager, the sort who demanded detailed reports. Worse, he knew what he wanted — and expected — to hear before the reports were ever written. He could be counted upon to break the kneecaps of any subordinate who gave him the “wrong” details, but was equally vindictive with people who told him what he expected to hear . . . and were wrong about it. That made working for him challenging at the best of times, and with so many wheels coming off in the Fringe and Verge, there was no way to get reports right no matter how hard someone tried.

“I’m very sorry to disturb you, Sir,” Haavikko said, and he realized she wasn’t speaking into her hush phone. “I’m afraid Mister Nyhus is here. I told him you’re reviewing for an important meeting, but he insists on speaking to you.”

He must really have pissed Marianne off for her to be making certain he can hear her. That was Ukhtomskoy’s first thought. The second was: And he’d better have a damn good reason for pissing her off, too. The bastard knows I’m meeting with MacArtney in less than an hour!

“Did he say what he needs to speak to me about?”

“No, Sir. Just that it was urgent.”

“I see.” Ukhtomskoy frowned. Then he shrugged. If Nyhus was wasting his time, he was just likely to get his head ripped off this time. But if he wasn’t . . . .

“Send him in,” he said.

“Yes, Sir.”

His office door opened, and Rajmund Nyhus came through it. He was tall, with very fair hair and a dark complexion, and his expression was far from cheerful.

“I apologize for barging in this way,” he said quickly, before Ukhtomskoy could speak. “I wouldn’t have, except that I know you’re supposed to be talking to MacArtney this afternoon. Under the circumstances, I thought I’d better bring you this immediately. And, frankly, it’s sensitive enough I wanted to brief you on it personally.”

Ukhtomskoy’s eyebrows rose, despite himself. As the head of OFS Intelligence Branch’s Section Two, Nyhus was responsible for analysis of internal threats to Frontier Security’s operations. He was also deeply in bed with several of the Solarian League’s more corrupt transstellars, and in most star nations, that would have been considered a conflict of interests. The Solarian League wasn’t “most star nations,” however.

“Brief me about what?” he said, waving the other man into one of the comfortable chairs in front of his desk.

“I got a pair of very disturbing reports this morning.” Nyhus sank into the indicated chair. “One’s about a problem we’ve been keeping an eye on for some time, but it’s not really our responsibility, thank God. In fact, it was copied to me ‘for information’ from the Gendarmerie, not because anyone expects us to take any sort of action about it. According to the Gendarmes’ sources, though, all indications are that the Hypatia referendum’s going to come out with a clear majority for secession and political association with Beowulf. That’s going to have some nasty implications for us — for the entire League — down the road, I think. But scary as it is, it’s not nearly so worrisome, from our perspective, as the one I’ve received from the Maya Sector.”

Ukhtomskoy frowned. He didn’t like the sound of that at all, especially not if Nyhus thought whatever was happening in Maya was worse than the notion of a member system of the League deciding to follow Beowulf’s example, kick the League to the curb, and sign on with the Manties. True, Hypatia was only modestly prosperous by Core World standards, but like its interstellar neighbor Beowulf, it had been a member of the League since the day it was founded. Its defection would have major implications for the League’s cohesion, and Nyhus thought the Maya report was worse?

I really don’t want to hear about this if he’s actually onto something and not just seeing shadows in the corners. I know I need to hear it, but Vishnu! Now we’ve got problems in Maya?!

The Maya Sector had been one of Frontier Security’s success stories for well over a T-century. In fact, in most ways, Maya was the crown jewel of the Protectorates: a highly prosperous, nine-star system sector, which had actually petitioned for Solarian “protection” a hundred and fifty T-years earlier. That was . . . unusual, to say the least, but the Mayans had seen Frontier Security coming for some time. Recognizing that OFS clienthood was clearly in their future, they’d begun preparing well ahead of time to make clienthood as tolerable as they could.

They’d understood they needed bargaining chips, so they’d actively courted investment by Solarian transstellars. But they’d simultaneously put local protections and controls into place — the sort of protections and controls Frontier Security clients were seldom in a position to hold out for. They’d wanted their investors to make a healthy profit, and they’d been willing to cooperate to make that happen, but they’d also wanted to be sure they retained a powerful voice in how those profits got made.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

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16

Dienstag, 27. März 2018, 16:50

Maxi-Snippet, Teil 3

Zitat von »David Weber«

Their object had been to make the sector even more attractive to the League but in a way which would give them a certain leverage when the moment came. They’d made themselves into a golden goose, with such valuable pre-existing relationships with so many transstellars that no one really wanted to destabilize them. In fact, they’d succeeded in turning the transtellars in question into their champions, ready and able to protect their existing relationships against interlopers when OFS started looking their way. At the same time, they’d made quiet contact with many of the bureaucrats who really ran the Solarian League. They’d understood discreet gifts could buy a lot of friendship, and they’d been careful to get on the career bureaucrats’ good side.

And then they’d offered OFS a deal. They would accept Frontier Security protectorate status and an OFS-appointed sector governor, but they would retain local self-government and the appointee would have to be confirmed by a majority of the sector’s voters. If he was rejected, OFS could always select another one, until a mutually acceptable candidate was reached, but whoever it was would have to be mutually acceptable. They would cough up the usual OFS “administrative fees,” their transstellar “friends” would restrain the slash-and-burn rapaciousness which had devastated so many Fringe economies, and in return, they’d continue to manage their local affairs without infusions of Solarian Gendarmes or intervention battalions.

The arrangement had worked well for the last T-century and a half, although signs of increasing restiveness had begun to emerge among younger Mayans. For that matter, the Mayan business community was none too pleased by the way OFS had increased its fee schedules steadily for the last sixty or so T-years. Maya might not have been bitten as badly as many of the other Protectorates, but those “administrative fees” were taking a steadily bigger chunk of its revenues. Besides, whatever else they might be, Mayans were Fringers. They didn’t much care for OFS’s progressively uglier exploitation of other Fringe star systems.

Fortunately, Governor Oravil Barregos had proved capable of gentling a restive mount. He’d barely squeaked through the Mayan Assembly when he was first appointed as governor in 1912, probably because of the mounting local unhappiness with OFS’s fee demands. But five years later, he’d been reconfirmed for a second term with sixty-eight percent of the vote. And in 1920, he’d won yet a third term — this time with a seventy-six-percent majority. In an era in which OFS governors considered themselves popular if no one was actively trying to blow up their air cars, Barregos genuinely was popular. Not only that, he seemed to be in the process of wooing Erewhon — and its wormhole — back into the Solarian fold from its alliances with first Manticore and then Haven.

At a time when the entire galaxy seemed to be catching fire, Maya represented a welcome corner of tranquility.

For the moment, at least.

“What sort of report are we talking about?” Ukhtomskoy asked unhappily. If he had to tell MacArtney Barregos’s popularity was starting to wane and the days of Maya’s tranquility might be numbered . . . .

“I have two separate sources who each tell me Barregos has met directly with representatives of Manticore,” Nyhus said flatly.

For a moment, Ukhtomskoy was certain he’d misunderstood. Then he straightened in his chair.

“What did you say?”

“I said I have two separate reports that Barregos is meeting with the Manties.” Nyhus shook his head, blue eyes worried. “Separate reports from two different sources, Adão. And neither one of the sources knows about the other.”

Ukhtomskoy’s jaw tightened at the implication.

“I wouldn’t have been in such a rush to tell you about it if it was only one report,” Nyhus continued. “But when I’ve got two separate channels confirming each other, I’ve got to take it seriously.”

“Are you suggesting Oravil Barregos is contemplating treason?”

“I don’t know what he’s contemplating,” Nyhus shot back with an unusual note of frustration. “All I know is that I have usually reliable sources telling me he’s talking to Manties. And, frankly, it worries me a lot more than it might have otherwise because of all the other reports I’ve been getting — and sharing with you — about Manticoran involvement in stirring up the Fringe.”

Ukhtomskoy glared at him, but Nyhus looked back steadily. And, Ukhtomskoy was forced to admit, he had a point. Almost a year ago, Brigadier Noritoshi Väinöla, Ukhtomskoy’s counterpart with the Gendarmerie, had kicked across a report of what appeared to be orchestrated restiveness across wide stretches of the Fringe. Ukhtomskoy hadbeen inclined to write it off as a case of too much imagination, until Nyhus had come to him six or seven months ago with a report of his own. One that suggested not only that Väinöla’s analysts might be onto something but that the Star Empire of Manticore might be behind it.

To date, any corroborating evidence had been thin, to say the least, and entirely too much of Nyhus’s information came from “confidential sources.” At Ukhtomskoy’s insistence, he’d sent urgent queries back to his agents in place, demanding IDs on those sources in hopes of gaining some insight into their reliability. Field agents were always reluctant to reveal sources’ names to higher authority, for a lot of reasons, however, and sheer distance complicated the situation because of the built-in data transmission delays. So far, only a tiny handful of those sources had been positively identified and the process of evaluating their trustworthiness was only beginning.

“And would it happen that this time we at least know who those ‘reliable sources’ are?” he asked tartly.

“As a matter of fact, I do know who one of them is,” Nyhus said. “I know both agents — one of them personally, and one only by reputation — pretty well. Keiran MacQuilkin, the senior agent in our Landing office in Sprague, is the one I know personally. I sent her out to keep an eye on things when the Havenites and Manties started shooting at each other again. One of her stringers on Smoking Frog is a security guard on Barregos’s staff in Shuttlesport. And he got this.”

Nyhus tapped his uni-link, and a holo of a dark-skinned, strong jawed face appeared in Ukhtomskoy’s display. He glanced at it, then looked back at Nyhus.

“And ‘this’ is who, exactly?” he asked.

“We’re not entirely positive,” Nyhus conceded. “Whoever he is, though, he’s met very privately with Barregos in his office well after normal hours. That struck me as ominous, given all the recent . . . agitation in the Fringe, so I had that —” he twitched his head in the direction of the holo “— put through a full facial recognition pass.”

Ukhtomskoy arched an eyebrow. Given the sheer, staggering quantity of imagery, a “full facial recognition pass” could take weeks, sometimes months, even at modern data processing speeds.

“I got a hit . . . sort of.” Nyhus tapped his uni-link again and a second holo appeared beside the first one. This one was much poorer quality, although it was obvious it had been digitally enhanced. “I’m sorry it’s no sharper,” he said, “but it’s only a part of the original imagery. The newsy who took it was using a concealed camera and trying to get pictures of Baron High Ridge.”

“The Manty prime minister?” Ukhtomskoy looked up sharply, and Nyhus nodded.

“The newsy was doing an undercover piece on High Ridge’s meetings with some of his more camera-shy donors. He shot this outside the Manties’ Parliament and just caught the fellow we’re interested in in one corner of the frame.”

A flashing cursor appeared in the image, above the head of a tall, broad shouldered, deep chested individual. The camera had caught him in three quarters profile, his head turned as he spoke to a much shorter uniformed man beside him.

“We’re not sure who the shorter guy is,” Nyhus said. “Whoever he is, he’s wearing a Manty commodore’s uniform, though. And the computers call it a ninety-three percent probability that the taller one is the man in MacQuilkin’s holo of Barregos’s midnight visitor.”


SLNS Québec
Dzung System
Solarian League

Admiral Capriotti tipped back his chair, holding his coffee cup in both hands, and looked around the briefing room table aboard SLNS Québec at the senior members of his staff.

“All right,” he said. “Now that we’ve covered the bare essentials, does anyone have any immediate brilliant observations?”

The expected chuckle ran around the table, and he smiled. Then he sipped coffee, lowered the cup, and allowed his expression to sober.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

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  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

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17

Dienstag, 27. März 2018, 16:52

Maxi-Snippet, Teil 4

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Seriously,” he said, “this whole thing is coming at us pretty damned fast. I know all of you have a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross — and, if I haven’t mentioned this, I’m very happy with all of you for the way you’ve already dug in on that — but we all know perfectly well that the people who planned this must’ve missed something. Hopefully, it’s something minor, but it might not be. So I want each of you to spend the next twelve hours or so going over your individual parts of the ops plans. If there’s anything — anything at all — you think could, should, or might be tweaked to our advantage, I want to hear about it before we leave Dzung. The one thing we know for certain about what happened to Eleventh Fleet is that it got the holy living hell kicked out of it. I have no intention of allowing that to happen to my task force. Is that understood?”

He let his eyes circle the table again in a brief bubble of silence, and then Vice Admiral Helland replied.

“Yes, Sir,” she said. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say we have no more intention than you do to put on a repeat performance of that disaster. I believe you can safely conclude we’ll be thinking very hard about ways to make sure we don’t.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear, Angelica.” Capriotti smiled. Then he nodded at the briefing room hatch. “So that’s about it for now, people. Go see about finding some supper. Angelica, I’d like you, Lyang-tau, and Jason to stay behind for a moment.”

“Of course, Sir,” Helland replied as the remainder of the staff stood, came respectfully to attention, and saluted. Capriotti, with his customary deplorable lack of formality, waved his coffee cup in general acknowledgment and the staffers filed out of the compartment. The hatch slid shut behind them, and he let his chair come back upright and set the coffee cup back down on it saucer.

“The truth is,” he said, “I’m not entirely happy about this entire operation. I don’t expect that to go beyond the four of us and Gabby, but I want to be sure we’re all on the same page.”

“May I ask in what way you’re unhappy, Sir?” Helland asked in a careful tone.

“From a purely military perspective, I have two concerns, only one of which our orders explicitly approach. The first is that Cachalot is only fifty-seven light-years from Beowulf. Strategy and Planning are busy assuming, on the basis of intelligence data they haven’t seen fit to share with us, that neither Beowulf nor the Manties have seen any reason to station a naval picket there, and I’m a little less confident on that head than Admiral Bernard. As nearly as I can follow the logic, Cachalot is seen as safely in their column, so there’s no need for the ‘imperialists’ to coerce the system, on the one hand. On the other hand, especially with the Beowulf plebiscite still up in the air, they don’t want to look like they’re strong-arming Cachalot. I’m inclined to think Strategy and Planning’s probably right about the absence of a major Manty picket, for whatever combination of reasons, but I’m a long way from certain of it.”

“Sir,” Commodore Jason Schlegel said, “you know I’m not a big fan of the analyses we’ve seen coming out of Old Chicago. Having said that, I think the odds are good S&P is right about this one.” He shrugged. “There aren’t many things I’d put past Beowulf at the moment, but they do seem to be bending over backward to present themselves in the most favorable light. And the Manties are generating enough bad press in the League by this wormhole offensive of theirs that they’re unlikely to up the ante by effectively occupying a neutral system as populous and wealthy as Cachalot.”

Capriotti considered the younger man thoughtfully. Schlegel was TF 783’s intelligence officer. He was also an extremely bright officer and, at only fifty-six T-years old, young for his rank, even in the gold braid-heavy SLN. Unlike altogether too many of his ilk, he brought a skeptic’s eye to any intelligence report that crossed his desk, and Capriotti normally valued his input. He did in this case, as well, actually, but he also remembered that Schlegel considered Beowulf guilty of treason. The commodore fully accepted the argument that Imogene Tsang’s prong of Eleventh Fleet’s disastrous attack would have suffered an even worse slaughter than Massimo Filareta if Beowulf hadn’t stopped her ships from transiting the Beowulf Terminus. However, he also believed — probably with reason, in Capriotti’s opinion — that Beowulf was the source of Manticore’s original intelligence about Operation Raging Justice. And he also believed Beowulf’s “complicity” in Manticore’s obvious swing to a rawly imperialist foreign policy and its evident intention of seceding posed an existential threat to the Solarian League.

“I said I was inclined to think Bernard’s people are right, Jason,” he pointed out mildly. “Since we don’t have any actual pre-attack reconnaissance to confirm that, however, I’m certainly not going to operate on the assumption that they have to be.”

“Of course not, Sir.”

“However, the possibility that they aren’t brings me to my second military concern— the one where we have clear direction: what we do if it turns out there is a Manty picket.”

His tone was considerably grimmer, and his three staffers glanced at one another.

“Sir, I know you won’t like what I’m about to say,” Admiral Helland said after a moment, “but Strategy and Planning have a point. We can’t afford to look . . . ineffectual, especially after what happened at Spindle and Manticore.” She did not, Capriotti noticed, mention other events at places with names like Zunker and Saltash. “Under the circumstances, pulling back at what we all know the newsies would label ‘the first sign of resistance’ would undercut Buccaneer’s entire strategic premise.”

Lyang-tau Rutgers stirred but said nothing.

“I’m fully aware of that, Angelica.” Capriotti’s voice was a bit frostier than the one in which he normally spoke to his chief of staff. “I’m also aware of the reported loss of life in that mysterious attack on the Manties’ home system. I know there are some who believe their officially released casualty numbers are inflated. Given what obviously happened to their industrial base, though, I doubt they were. And if it hadn’t been for Spindle, how do you think League public opinion would have reacted to them?”

Helland started to reply, then paused. After a moment, she nodded slightly. One thing about her, Capriotti thought. She’d subscribed fully to Battle Fleet hubris — at least before the Battle of Spindle — and she still considered both Manticore and the Republic of Haven “uppity neobarbs” who needed to be taught their manners. Despite that, her brain actually worked.

“Point taken, Sir,” she said. “If it hadn’t come so close on Spindle’s heels, the ‘Yawata Strike’ would’ve gotten an enormous amount of sympathetic play on the boards.”

“And with damned good cause.” Capriotti leaned forward, planting his forearms on the briefing room table. “That was a sheer, wanton slaughter, with no attempt at all to minimize civilian loss of life. Leave the kinetic impact damage on Sphinx completely out of the equation, and it was still unconscionable.”

“Sir,” Rutgers said cautiously, “should we gather from where you’re going with this that you’re . . . not in favor of Parthian?”

“I believe that would be a safe assumption on your part, Lyang-tau.” Capriotti smiled thinly. “I always was a transparent, easily-read sort.”

“Sir, I understand your concerns — and your repugnance. I really do,” Helland said. “But as I just said, if Parthian’s taken off the table, then Buccaneer’s fundamental strategic premise is compromised.”

“It may be compromised,” Capriotti corrected her. “A lot would depend on how it was taken off the table. If there is a Manty — or Beowulfan — naval presence in Cachalot, and if I choose to avoid Parthian on the basis that it would result in unnecessary and avoidable civilian deaths and make it clear that that’s the only reason I’m not executing Parthian, we come off looking restrained, not ineffectual. Especially in the aftermath of all the contradictory stories about what happened to Eleventh Fleet.”

Helland looked less than convinced, but she clearly recognized that this wasn’t a good place to push. Capriotti gave what he’d just said a few seconds to sink in, then sat back once more.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

Rear Admiral

  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

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18

Dienstag, 27. März 2018, 16:53

Maxi-Snippet, Teil 5

Zitat von »David Weber«

“I don’t see any need to discuss this particular concern with the rest of the staff,” he said. “If S&P’s right and there’s no picket to get in our way, it will never arise. If there is, then the final decision on Parthian will be mine, anyway. I want all three of you, though, to be thinking about the possibility that S&P isn’t right and considering what I suppose you might call a partial Parthian. The outer system’s infrastructure, especially in the Snapper Belt, has a much lower population, and the people in it are much more lavishly equipped with life pods and small craft. Given even a few hours’ warning, they should be able to evacuate almost totally. Going after Snapper would make Buccaneer’s point, I think, and if I emphasized to the system government that we were deliberately avoiding heavier casualties, we should get credit for showing restraint, as well.”

Helland nodded with what might have been a bit more enthusiasm. If so, it was a very small bit, Capriotti reflected. But he’d settle for it.

“All right,” he stood. “I think we could all use some supper of our own. Why don’t the three of you join me in my dining cabin?”

“Of course, Sir. Thank you,” Helland said, and the three staffers followed him from the briefing room.

Angelica has a point about Buccaneer’s premise s, Capriotti thought, as they headed for the lift shaft. She’s not the only person who’s going to make it, either. For that matter, it’s a virtual certainty that sooner or later somebody is going to execute Parthian, whatever I do.

He hid a mental grimace. Parthian was the one part of the detailed ops plan with which he’d totally disagreed from the instant he read it.

The new, improved Cataphracts in the pods which had been delivered along with TF 783’s instructions, had effectively unlimited range. Well, all missiles had effectively unlimited range, really, but the Cataphract’s second stage meant it was capable of terminal maneuvers at the end of its run as opposed to a purely ballistic weapon coasting helplessly through space after its impellers burned out. That meant, in theory, that missiles launched from well outside the 15.84 LM hyper-limit of the Cachalot System’s K4 primary were fully capable of hitting targets in the vicinity of Orca, the system’s inhabited planet, despite the fact that Orca’s orbital radius was less than three light-minutes. For that matter, Orca’s orbital infrastructure wasn’t what one might call an elusive target. Capriotti had no doubt that Lyang-tau Rutgers and his tactical officers would be capable of taking out every bit of it without ever crossing the limit inbound.

But there were two things no tac officer could possibly guarantee if Capriotti ordered them to do that. First, they couldn’t guarantee Orca wouldn’t suffer exactly the same sort of collateral catastrophe which had destroyed the Manticoran city of Yawata Crossing. And, second, and even worse, if he executed Parthian — essentially a hit-and-run strike from extreme range to avoid entering the Manties’ missile envelope — there would be no time for an orderly evacuation. They’d probably save more lives than the Manties had managed to save in the Yawata Strike, but almost a billion of the Cachalot System’s 6.9 billion citizens lived and worked in that infrastructure.

In the course of his career, Vincent Capriotti had done more things he hadn’t liked than he cared to contemplate. Committing mass murder wasn’t going to be one of them, whateve r Operation Buccaneer called for.

But sooner or later, someone will, Vincent, he thought. It’s the next best damned thing to an Eridani violation, but someone will. And what the hell do we do when th e Solarian League starts violating the Edict?

He didn’t like that thought.

He didn’t like it at all.



SLNS Leonhard Euler
Unicorn Belt
Manticore B
Star Empire of Manticore

“Sir, I think I’ve got something here you need to look at,” Midshipman Dimas said.

“That would make a nice change.”

Commander Bill Knight sounded more than a little sour, although that was scarcely Dimas’s fault. In fact, Knight liked Dimas quite a bit more than an evaluating officer was supposed to admit to a midshipman on his snotty cruise. Dimas was smart and competent . . . and so bouncy he reminded Knight irresistibly of a labradour retriever he’d had when he was a kid himself. That dog had been smart, too . . . and despite what some people might think was possible, he’d definitely had a sense of humor. One that had gotten both him and his youthful master into what his mom had always referred to as “a heap of trouble” more than once. Dimas’s humor never got him into trouble — or not, at least, with his superiors; his fellow snotties might have disputed that value judgment — but he loved practical jokes and he was an accomplished amateur ventriloquist. His ability to mimic sounds and throw his voice into unlikely places had kept Midshipman Styles running around the compartment looking for his “lost” unilink for almost fifteen minutes a couple of days ago.

Young Dimas had also won the Lester Allen Kovalenko Prize as the top math graduate in his senior class, however. He’d been the starting goalie on the Saganami lacrosse team during his junior and senior forms, as well, and he took the team’s motto — “Live life fearlessly!” — to heart. In short, he was an outstanding young man who was going to be an outstanding officer.

None of which made Bill Knight any happier about their current duty.

There were a lot of things he’d rather be doing than sitting on the command deck of yet another hulked Solly superdreadnought. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be doing any of them for the immediately foreseeable future.

He grimaced at the thought and shoved up out of the captain’s chair at the center of Leonhard Euler’s bridge. He wasn’t certain who Euler had been — a mathematician, he thought — but his namesake had seen better days. Less damaged than a lot of her consorts, she’d still suffered over four hundred casualties, and lucky it hadn’t been worse. Not that anyone looking around her pristine bridge and smelling its cool, fresh air, would have imagined how severely damaged she was.

He crossed to the communications officer’s station, where Dimas was ensconced. Knight had been forced to concede that young Dimas had a better touch with Solly computers than he did. He hoped that didn’t say anything about unfortunate, hidden character flaws on the young man’s part. But what had started with Dimas “riding shotgun,” shadowing the older and more experienced Knight while he learned his way around, had segued into something a lot more like a partnership, and the boy had more than held up his end. Along the way, they’d discovered that the com system actually had the best reach into the ship’s computer net, although no one was quite certain why the com officer had needed more access than, say, the tactical officer or the astrogator.

Probably because there’s a right way, a wrong way, and the Solly way to do just about anything, he reflected as he came to a halt at Dimas’s shoulder. Although, come to think of it, “wrong way” and “Solly way” is probably redundant.

“So, what’ve you got, Elijah?” he asked.

“I’ve got the standalones running the deep core analysis, Sir,” the middy said, looking back and up at him, and Knight nodded.

The reason he and Dimas were currently parked aboard Leonhard Euler was that — for their sins — they were among the better of the Royal Manticoran Navy’s cyberneticists. In fact, both of them had been assigned to HMSS Weyland prior to the Yawata Strike. Knight had been aboard the spacestation for almost two T-years before the strike, assigned to the R&D side of its complement because of his expertise. Dimas had been sent aboard for his snotty cruise deployment to give him the hands-on, real world experience his Academy instructors had been unable to provide, and he’d ended up under Knight’s mentorship. They were alive today only because Vice Admiral Faraday, Weyland’s CO, had called an emergency evacuation drill which had left the entire R&D staff planet-side when the deadly sneak attack tore the spacestation apart.

Technically, Dimas’s snotty cruise had ended five days ago, but things were still badly unsettled following what had been dubbed the Second Battle of Manticore. The lad had been left where he was, assigned to Knight’s team, for the forensic examination of the wreckage. The commander hadn’t told him he’d specifically asked to be allowed to keep “his” midshipman a little longer because he was so good at his job. Nor did young Elijah know about the glowing efficiency report Knight had already composed. But the same gift for computers and — especially — for deep-diving into the cyber depths which had made Dimas so useful aboard Weyland made him even more valuable aboard a hulk like Euler.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

Rear Admiral

  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

Beiträge: 495

Wohnort: Halle/Saale

Beruf: Bibliothekar

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19

Dienstag, 27. März 2018, 16:54

Maxi-Snippet, Teil 6

Zitat von »David Weber«


One of the conditions upon which Massimo Filareta’s survivors had been allowed to surrender had been the preservation of their computer cores. Several commanding officers had scrubbed their computers anyway, which was why those particular COs were spending their current confinement in somewhat less than palatial conditions. Most, however, had honored their promise. A lot of them had figured — quite reasonably, in Knight’s opinion — that after what the RMN had done to Sandra Crandall it already had plenty of classified computer banks to play with. There were unlikely to be any shattering new intelligence landfalls in Eleventh Fleet’s memory.

At the moment, Knight and Dimas were busy probing the memory of their twelfth superdreadnought, and they weren’t the only team involved in the effort. And, so far, no shattering new intelligence had come to light, which tended to suggest those captains had had a point.

Dimas’s “standalones” were designed to carry out a point by point comparison between Leonhard Euler’s memory and the computers they’d already stripped., There was far too much data for any mere human to sort through, and — in theory, at least — the standalones would make sure anything that wasn’t already in the database would be added.

The communications logs were another matter, however. Even there there was far too much information for organic brains to keep track of, but it also tended to be more chaotic than the other data. Computers did a wonderful job of searching for things they were told to look for, and they were doing just that with all of the com traffic. But in something that tended to be as . . . free-form as inter-human communication, telling them where to look could sometimes be a nontrivial challenge. That was why he and Dimas had made it a point to at least skim the traffic for the last couple of hours before the Solarian surrender. The computers were looking at the same timeframe, but it was entirely possible they’d miss something.

“Should I take it the standalones have found something earthshattering?” Knight asked now, with a smile.

“Actually, Sir,” the middy said seriously, “I think I really may have found something.”

“Like what?”

“A fragment of a com conversation between Leonhard Euler and Philip Oppenheimer from about the time the Sollies opened fire. From her flag bridge.” Knight’s eyebrows rose, and Dimas nodded.

“You’re kidding,” the commander said.

“No, Sir.” Dimas shook his head, and Knight’s eyebrpws arched.

They’d been searching for some window into whatever insanity had led Filareta to open fire in an absolutely hopeless situation. Unfortunately, none of Eleventh Fleet’s surviving units had been in direct communication with Admiral Filareta or his staff at the critical moment, and Philip Oppenheimer herself was not among the survivors. They’d found a few megs of recorded com traffic between Oppenheimer’s CO and other units of the fleet from that time window, but nothing that came from her flag bridge . . . or that shed any light on his decisions. So if his middy —

“Somebody on this ship was actually in communication with Filareta when everything went to hell?” he demanded.

“Not quite, Sir.” Dimas shrugged. “What I’ve got here is part of a conversation between Leonhard Euler’s com officer and one of her cousins, Captain Sedgewick.”

Knight’s eyes narrowed. Captain Reuben Sedgewick had been Filareta’s staff com officer.

“It’s from the com officer’s private files, not part of the official logs,” Dimas continued. “Maybe that’s because there wasn’t time to worry about anything like that before everything hit the fan. Or it might be because they were violating regs tying up bandwidth on personal matters at a moment like that.”

“I could see that.” Knight nodded, trying to imagine what would have happened to a Manticoran communications officer who’d been gabbing away with her cousin at “a moment like that.”

“It’s not quite as bad as you may be thinking, Sir,” Dimas said. “They weren’t on any of the active command net channels; they were talking on one of the redundancy sidebands.”

“Marginally better, I suppose,” Knight allowed grudgingly. “But if this wasn’t part of the official fleet traffic, why do you think anyone’s going to want to see it?”

“Well, I sort of doubt that Captain Clarence — she was Leonhard Euler’s com officer — has any idea there was anything significant in what she had here, Sir. For that matter, I’m not even certain she realized she’d recorded it in the first place. If she did, though, I can see why she’s kept her mouth shut since we started beating the bushes trying to figure out why Filareta opened fire.”

“What are you talking about?” Knight demanded a bit more impatiently, and Dimas gave him a crooked smile.

“Let me show you, Sir,” he said, and hit the playback button.



HMS Imperator
Manticore A
Star Empire of Manticore

“— and after that, Your Grace, you’re scheduled for the state dinner at Mount Royal,” Lieutenant Luca Tomei said. “Under the circumstances, I think it might be better if you attended as Steadholder Harrington rather than Duchess Harrington.”

Honor Alexander-Harrington tried very hard — and almost successfully — not to roll her eyes. It wasn’t Tomei’s fault, but she’d managed her entire career without a dedicated public information officer. Partly, she acknowledged, that was because she’d avoided the limelight as much as possible. More of it was that she’d held primarily combat commands, where providing public information had not been high on her list of priorities. And still more of it was the fact that, unlike some officers she could have named, she vastly preferred to get on with whatever the current job in hand might be and let other people worry about who got public credit for it.

And not just because I’m such a naturally modest and self-effacing typ e, either, she thought, remembering the bitter political infighting after the Battle of Hancock and following Paul Tankersley’s death and her own duel with Pavel Young. Then there’d been all the vicious innuendo about her and Hamish during the High Ridge premiership. And that didn’t even count the Meuller dome collapse back on Grayson!

If there was anyone in the entire Star Empire of Manticore who wanted the spotlight less than she did, she’d never met her.

Unfortunately, she’d had to accept years ago that she couldn’t avoid it, and she had to admit Tomei made it a less excruciating experience. A year and a half younger than Waldemar Tümmel, he was far more comfortable than the flag lieutenant when it came to social events, like tonight’s state dinner to bid Benjamin Mayhew an official farewell. He was less adroit than Tümmel on the purely military side, but between the two of them — with prodigious assistance from James MacGuiness — they got her most everywhere she needed to be almost on schedule.

And in between dinners, meetings, interviews, baby-kissings, ribbon cuttings, and photo sessions, I actually get to spend a little time thinking about how to fight the Solarian League! she thought wryly.

“I think you’re probably right about that, Luca,” she said now. “Of course,” she gave him an amused look, “there’s still the question of whether I go in uniform or civilian dress, isn’t there?”

“I suppose there is, Your Grace, but —”

A soft chime interrupted him, and Honor touched the stud on her desk.

“Yes?” she said.

“I hate to interrupt you when I know you’re so deeply involved in something you enjoy so much, My Lady,” Major Spencer Hawke, Honor’s senior armsman, said over the intercom, “but Captain Reynolds would appreciate a moment of your time.”

“Gosh,” she said, giving Tomei a wicked look, “I really hate to break this off, but if Captain Reynolds needs to talk to me, by all means send him in!”

“You do realize I’ll be back as soon as the Captain leaves, Your Grace?”

“But if I’m quick enough, I can sneak out the back way before you get here!” she said, and Nimitz bleeked a laugh from his bulkhead perch.

“There isn’t a back way, Your Grace.” Tomei’s lips twitched, but his tone was admirably grave.

“You just think there isn’t,” she told him, then looked up as the cabin door opened and George Reynolds, her staff intelligence officer, stepped through it.

“George! Just the man I wanted to see!” she said enthusiastically.

Reynolds smiled, but it was a brief and fleeting expression, and her own eyes narrowed.

“What is it?” she asked in a rather different tone.

“Your Grace, I’ve got something you need to hear.”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)

Eagleeye

Rear Admiral

  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

Beiträge: 495

Wohnort: Halle/Saale

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20

Sonntag, 1. April 2018, 08:16

Um die Wartezeit auf das e-ARC zu verkürzen ... ;)

Teil 1 von 3

Zitat von »David Weber«

Office of the Second Space Lord
Admiralty House
City of Landing
Manticore
Star Empire of Manticore

“Sorry it took me so long, Pat,” Hamish Alexander-Harrington, Earl White Haven and First Lord of Admiralty, said, as he followed Commander Terry Lassaline Admiral Patricia Givens's new chief of staff, through Givens’s office door. Tobias Stimson, his personal armsman peeled off outside the door. “We were in transit when your message came in. So what’s this all about? I assume there’s a reason I’m here instead of talking to the Select Committee, where I’m supposed to be?”

“Actually, Hamish,” a familiar soprano said from the office’s smart wall, “I’m the one who’s messed up your schedule. Sorry about that. I’m sure you’re looking forward to talking to the Committee almost as enthusiastically as I’m looking forward to that state dinner tonight.”

“Honor!” White Haven’s incipient frown disappeared as he turned to face the smart wall. “If you needed to talk to me, there are simpler ways to do it.”

“I’m aware.” His wife shook her head with a certain resignation as Lassaline touched White Haven’s elbow and pointed at one of the armchairs facing the smart wall. “Unfortunately, this call isn’t a social occasion. There’s something you need to see.”

“Me as in First Space Lord, I presume?” he asked, settling into the indicated chair with a nod of thanks to the commander. Lassaline smiled, then raised an eyebrow at Givens.

“We’re good, Terry,” the second space lord said. “But grab a seat. You should hear this, too.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Lassaline took a seat of her own, and White Haven turned his attention back to the smart wall.

Honor stood at one end of her desk aboard Imperator, and he recognized Mercedes Brigham, her chief of staff; Andrea Jaruwalski, her ops officer; and George Reynolds, her intelligence officer, behind her. Captain Rafe Cardones, Imperator’s CO stood with them, and White Haven’s eyebrows twitched slightly. That quartet represented the most trusted core of Honor’s staff, and their expressions were a strange mix of eagerness and . . . trepidation? No, that wasn’t quite the right word, but it was headed in the right direction.

“Absolutely. One of our forensic teams pulled something very interesting out of a Solly superdreadnought’s com records. It may shed a little light on Filareta’s actions. Of course,” she grimaced, “I think it probably poses as many new questions as it answers.”

“Wonderful.” He shook his head, then glanced at Givens. “Seems to work that way more often than not in intelligence matters, doesn’t it?”

Givens, who commanded the Office of Naval Intelligence in addition to her other duties, snorted, and he looked back at Honor.

“Show me,” he said simply, and Honor looked at Reynolds.

“George?”

“Yes, Your Grace.” The newly promoted captain faced White Haven from the smart wall. “My Lord, what you’re about to see was pulled out of a personal com exchange between Admiral Filareta’s communications officer and the com officer aboard Leonhard Euler. We’ve abstracted the relevant material, stripped away the rest of the message, and enhanced what we kept. I’d like to recommend Midshipman — I’m sorry, it’s Ensign now; Her Grace’s authority — Elijah Dimas for some well-deserved recognition for spotting it, too. I’m not sure it would have popped the filters before we scrubbed and enhanced it.”

White Haven nodded his understanding.

“We don’t have any visual of the critical speakers,” Reynolds continued. “They were outside the pickup’s field of view, but the voice recognition software is ninety-nine-point-nine percent confident in its IDs.”

“That could be a problem down the road, Hamish,” Givens put in, then shrugged when he looked at her. “If we go public with this, there are going to be plenty of Sollies ready to point out how ‘convenient’ for us it is that all we have are disembodied voices.”

“Maybe yes, and maybe no, Pat.” Honor’s voice drew Givens and White Haven’s eyes back to her. “We’ve got all the rest of the message with this embedded in it. Anybody who wants to can do her own forensics on it. Not,” she grimaced, “that anyone in Old Chicago’s likely to be interested in determining whether or not it’s genuine.”

“You’re probably right,” White Haven said. “So why don’t you go ahead and show it to me?”

“George?” Honor said again, and Reynolds nodded. Then he pressed a button, and another voice spoke against a background the admiral in Hamish Alexander-Harrington recognized only too well: the clipped, disciplined voices of a flag bridge at battle stations.

“Very well,” it said. It sounded flat, wooden, and a caption on the smart wall identified it as Fleet Admiral Massimo Filareta. “Strike our wedges and send the pod self-destruct command, Bill.”

White Haven’s eyebrows shot up and he turned to dart an astonished glance at Givens. The admiral only shook her head and held up an index finger.

“Yes, Sir,” another voice said, and the caption identified this one as that of Admiral William Daniels, Eleventh Fleet’s operations officer.

“I suppose you should go ahead and get Harrington back, Reuben,” Filareta’s voice continued. “She’ll want —”

There was another sound, one White Haven couldn’t quite make out. It sounded almost like a muffled cry of protest. Then —

“What the fuck d’you think you’re do —?!” Filareta’s voice shouted.

It cut off in mid-syllable, and White Haven’s gaze moved from Givens back to Honor.

“That’s all we’ve got,” she said softly, “but the time chop’s a perfect match. Filareta’s last words synchronize exactly with Eleventh Fleet’s pod launch. We’ve always known the launch order came from Filareta’s flag bridge —the launch codes and sequence confirmed that — but nobody on his staff said a word to anyone outside Oppenheimer afterward. Oppenheimer was destroyed in our first-wave launch, of course, but time of flight was a hundred and sixty seconds, so there was ample time for them to have talked to somebody outside the flagship. And I’m particularly struck by how it breaks off so suddenly. Leonhard Euler’s com officer is the only person we know of who was in contact with Filareta’s flag bridge at that moment, and she tried for almost three minutes to reestablish contact while her captain tried to find out what the heck was going on when those missiles launched. She couldn’t, and that matches with everything we’ve heard from all of Eleventh Fleet’s survivors. No one could raise Filareta’s flag bridge. I’m inclined to wonder if that’s because something happened to it right after they launched.”

“But, if that’s really Filareta, it sounds like he did decide to surrender!” White Haven said.

“I think that’s exactly what he did,” Honor said, and her voice was grim, her dark brown eyes cold. “I think he understood precisely what we wanted him to understand: that his only option was to surrender. And I think the bastards on the other side of this took precautions to prevent him from doing anything of the sort.”

“You’re saying this was another example of that killer nanotech of theirs?” It was technically a question, but it didn’t sound like one.

“I’m saying that’s exactly what it was, and that the people who planted it on him used me and my people to kill another quarter million Solarian spacers,” his wife said harshly. “Nobody on Old Terra who wasn’t already prepared to believe us will believe a word of it, but we know now, and these people — whoever they are — are running up quite a bill with me.”

She smiled a hexapuma smile.

“I’m looking forward to presenting it.”


******************************************
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint; http://www.baens-universe.com/articles/principle
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (jiltanith.thefifthimperium.com)