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Rear Admiral

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Sonntag, 1. April 2018, 08:18

Teil 2 von 3

Zitat von »David Weber«

Forge One
Refuge System

“I’m impressed, Admiral,” Sonja Hemphill said as she and Admiral Shannon Foraker stepped out of the lift car and walked down a short passageway. Foraker’s yeoman popped to attention as they entered the admiral’s outer office. She waved a casual hand at him, but he held the position and cut his eyes briefly sideways to his superior’s guest.

The pause in Foraker’s stride was barely perceptible, but then she cleared her throat.

“At ease, Jean-Louis,” she said.

He dropped into something rather more like parade rest, and Hemphill stifled an inappropriate urge to giggle.

Her own career was checkered with . . . occasional lapses in military punctilio. In her own case, she acknowledged, they usually had something to do with losing her temper with someone who seemed to have become part of the problem instead of the solution. She’d been forced to admit — indeed, she’d recognized at the time — that tantrums were often counterproductive, and she’d worked on her temper for decades. Really she had! And it helped that so many — not all, but many — of the causes she’d championed since King Roger had instituted Project Gram had paid off handsomely in the war against the People’s Republic. Partly, that was because people tended to argue with her less, which she’d discovered wasn’t always a good thing. More of it, though, she’d come to realize, was because she no longer had to prove herself to herself. The truth, she’d discovered, was that quite a lot of her more youthful anger had been directed at the fact that she hadn’t been certain she was on the right track, herself. She’d known exactly how badly the Star Kingdom needed some sort of technological equalizer against the stupendous People’s Republic. It had been her job to find one, and her anger had been directed as much at her own never-admitted uncertainty as it had been at the obstinacy of those arguing with her.

The treecat on her shoulder made a soft sound and patted her right cheek with a gentle true-hand, and her eyes softened.

Hunts Silently had assigned himself as her bodyguard when Sphinx’s treecat population decided it was time to provide the “two-legs” fighting to protect Sphinx and all the rest of the Star Empire’s planets against the enemies behind the Yawata Strike. That attack had massacred an entire treecat clan, and as the ’cats themselves had put it, they knew how to deal with “evildoers.” The telempathic treecats also knew about the way in which humans had been turned into programmed assassins, and their ability to sense the unwilling killers’ horror and panic when the programming took control made them the only defense against them anyone had yet discovered.

Quite a lot of the Grand Alliance’s leadership, Sonja Hemphill among them, had acquired furry, adorable, highly intelligent, and very, very deadly protectors as a consequence of the ’cats decision. What she hadn’t fully appreciated was the speed with which Hunts Silently would become perhaps the closest friend she’d ever had. And she was pretty sure he’d had more than a little to do with her ability to understand the roots of the anger which had been so much a part of her for so long, too.

Shannon Foraker’s lapses in military formality, on the other hand, stemmed from very different causes. In certain key aspects of her life, Admiral Foraker was the most focused, intense individual Hemphill had ever met, herself included. Outside those key aspects, however, she often seemed to inhabit a different universe. Despite that — or because of it, perhaps — her staff and subordinates were utterly devoted to her. It was rather touching to see the determination of people like Senior Chief Jean-Louis Jackson to protect her against the sort of lapses in formality which might embarrass her in front of her no doubt supercilious, judgmental Manticoran guests.

Hemphill’s thoughts carried her through the hatch into Foraker’s inner office aboard Forge One, the oldest — and largest — of the four major spacestations orbiting the planet of Sanctuary. They’d just completed a guided tour of the enormous platform, and she’d been deeply impressed by what the Republic of Haven and the Sanctuarians had accomplished. Individually, Forge One and its three consorts were little more than a quarter as large as Manticore’s Hephaestus or Vulcan had once been, but the four of them together exceeded even Hephaestus’s solo output. In many ways, that was what Hemphill found most impressive about Project Bolthole, because Haven had managed to build that capacity — from scratch — with a substantially less capable tech base . . . and in only four decades.

Of course, the woman whose office they’d just entered had spent the last several T-years working to make that tech base one hell of a lot more capable than she’d found it.

Foraker waved at the comfortable conversational area in one corner of the spacious compartment. The chairs, coffee table, and couch were arranged in a semicircle, facing a waterfall that poured down across a cascade of natural stone into an oval 3.5-meter pool. A flash of color caught Hemphill’s eye as a spectacularly striped and banded fish with long, feather-like fins — she wondered if the species was native to Haven or to Sanctuary — leapt briefly above the pool’s rippling surface.

“Sit down, please . . . Baroness,” Foraker almost managed to conceal her grimace at having almost forgotten to add Hemphill’s aristocratic title, and the Manticoran chuckled. Foraker looked at her as they sat, and she shook her head.

“Don’t worry about any ‘Baronesses’ or ‘Miladies,’ Admiral Foraker,” she said as Hunts Silently flowed down to curl in her lap. “They’re not necessary, and I don’t usually use my title back home, anyway.”

“You don’t?” Foraker sounded a bit relieved, and Hemphill chuckled again.

“I suppose I really should, but I’ve been plain old ‘Sonja Hemphill’ for a lot of years. I don’t have time for much of a social life and I’m not that interested in politics, so I’ve never taken my seat in the Lords. I let one of my cousins sit there with my proxy.” She shrugged. “Besides, Low Delhi’s basically just a one percent arc of the Gorgon Belt in Manticore-B. That comes to about three-point-one quadrillion cubic kilometers, but those kilometers contain an awful lot of empty space. Mind you, some of the rocks floating around in it are pretty valuable, but I think its total population was nine hundred and twenty — or maybe it was twenty-one — the last time I looked. And most of my ‘subjects’ are asteroid miners who could give treecats stubborn lessons.” She gave another shrug, then smiled. “Besides, I think the two of us will be working closely enough it should probably be ‘Sonja’ and ‘Shannon,’ at least in private.”

“Oh, good!” Foraker sighed, then looked contrite. “Sorry! That didn’t come out just the way I wanted. I suppose they warned you I’m not real good about the social stuff?”

“I think you can assume the odd word or two of . . . caution was dropped into my ear,” Hemphill said wryly. “Should I assume the same sort of words were dropped into your ear about me?”

“Actually, the word Admiral Lewis used in your case was ‘touchy,’ I think.” Foraker’s tone was even drier than Hemphill’s had been, and Hunts Silently laughed as the two of them sat back and smiled broadly at one another.

“To quote a line from one of Duchess Harrington’s favorite ancient entertainment holovids, Shannon, ‘I think this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship,’” the Manticoran said.

* * * * * * * * * *
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


Rear Admiral

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Sonntag, 1. April 2018, 08:19

Teil 3 von 3

Zitat von »David Weber«

“— so from our analysts’ perspective, it looks to me like we’re in pretty good shape right now,” Sonja Hemphill said much later that night, sitting across the supper table from Foraker with an after-dinner glass of brandy in hand. “I doubt the Sollies fully appreciate the powered ranges our MDMs can reach — we’ve tried hard enough to keep them from figuring it out, at any rate — and I’m almost positive they can’t really appreciate the accuracy Apollo makes possible at those ranges. That doesn’t mean they don’t feel a desperate need to increase their own ranges, but until they can figure out how to build multiple impeller rings into the same missile body, they won’t be able to match our performance. And as far as we can tell — and we’ve had a really good look inside their current tech, thanks to Filareta — they’re only a little ahead of where we were twenty years ago, at First Yeltsin, on the grav-pulse coms.”

Foraker sipped from the cup of coffee in her own hand and nodded slowly. The two of them had spent the last several hours bringing one another up to speed — in general terms, at least — on Bolthole’s actual capacity and their separate R&D programs’ current projects.

“That’s probably true,” she said now. “And given how long it took us to reverse-engineer the splitter technology even after we ‘acquired’ a few specimens to work from, I doubt they’ll figure it out next week. But I think everyone needs to remember the Solarian League has plenty of really capable scientists and engineers. And the fact that they already know we can do it will give their researchers an enormous leg up.”

“Agreed. Agreed!” Hemphill nodded back, much more vigorously. “Our current estimate is that it ought to take them at least a couple of years — more probably three or four, bearing in mind that we’re pretty sure they haven’t ‘acquired’ any samples — but we’re well aware that it’s only a guesstimate. And that it might be overly optimistic. I think it’s going to take them a lot longer to match Apollo, though.”

“Probably,” Foraker said again. “But I hope you won’t take this wrong way, but it’s always seemed to me that you Manticorans have a tendency to build in what one of my staffers calls ‘all the bells and whistles.’” She smiled wryly. “Mind you, if I had as many whistles and bells as you people do, I’d damned well build them in myself! But that hasn’t been the case for us, which is why Five gave me that a couple of years ago.”

She waved her cup at an old-fashioned frame on the bulkhead. It contained a quotation from “Anonymous,” and Hemphill had smiled as she read it earlier.

“Perfect is the mortal enemy of good enough,” it said.

“That’s what we had to bear in mind for years after the head start you people got on us,” Foraker said very seriously. “If we’d waited until we’d figured out how to duplicate everything you were doing to us, we’d never have gotten anything done. Not in time to do us any good, anyway.”

“We haven’t exactly waited until we were convinced everything was ‘perfect’ before we committed it to action ourselves,” Hemphill pointed out.

“No, I’m sure you haven’t. But my point is really looking from the perspective of the . . . technological underdog, let’s say. We couldn’t do the things you were doing the way you did them, so we had to figure out how to do what was ‘good enough’ to let us at least stay in shouting range. And I’d like to think that, every so often, we handed you a surprise or two of our own.”

“Oh, you certainly did that!” Hemphill shook her head. “There were quite a few surprises along the way, like Moriarty and those ‘donkey’ missile pods of yours!”

“Exactly.” Foraker set her cup down, folded her hands on the edge of the table, and leaned forward over them, her expression intent. “Exactly,” she repeated. “You had the technological edge, both in weapons already in the pipeline and in terms of your basic infrastructure. We had the edge in sheer numbers and size of infrastructure, but we were well behind you in terms of deployed technology and even further in terms of the educational system which might have let us recoup our disadvantage.

“But the Solarian League is huge, even bigger in relative terms compared to the entire Grand Alliance than the People’s Republic was compared to the original Star Kingdom. It’s got the biggest, most broadly dispersed manufacturing infrastructure in the entire galaxy. Despite the situation on many of the Fringe and Verge planets — and a couple of the Core Worlds; let’s be honest here — it has a first-rate educational system. And outside its warfighting hardware, its applied tech is about as good as it gets. I think you people clearly have the edge in several critical areas, but outside FTL bandwidth, that edge is pretty damned thin, and I’m willing to bet there are areas in which they have the edge, if they just sit down, take a deep breath, and think about it. And when they do that, if they decide to settle for ‘good enough’ instead of holding out for ‘perfect’ . . . .”

“If they do, God only knows what they’ll come up with as an equalizer,” Hemphill finished for her when she allowed her voice to trail away. The Manticoran admiral’s expression was grim as she recalled the Janacek Admiralty’s hubris . . . and what that had cost the Royal Manticoran Navy in dead ships and personnel.

“That’s exactly what I’m worried about,” Shannon Foraker said quietly. “Given their performance to date, it’s tempting to think every Solly’s an idiot. But they aren’t, and if some of those not-idiots convince the Mandarins to listen to them, our current technological edge could disappear a lot sooner than anyone wants to think it could."


The Golden Olive Restaurant
City of Old Chicago
Sol System
Solarian League

“So what do you think of Rajmund’s latest revelation?” Lupe Blanton asked as she and Weng Zhing-hwan finished punching their orders into the privacy-screened booth’s terminal. “From where I sit, if there’s really anything to it, we may need to rethink our position on who the Other Guys really are. Or if they exist at all, for that matter!”

“First, let’s remember we’re talking about Rajmund,” Weng observed, pouring tea into her cup from the self-warming pot which had been waiting in their booth when they arrived. “That automatically means there’s an agenda behind it. You know that even better than I do, since you, unfortunately, have to work with him — or around him — on an ongoing basis. Second, we know damned well that all of his patrons — or the ones we’ve been able to identify, at least — have strong vested interests in ‘proving’ the Manties are behind anything that goes south in the Fringe. And, third, I don’t believe for one second that Oravil Barregos would be careless or stupid enough to be caught talking to the Manties — or anyone else — if he seriously contemplates anything of which your esteemed superiors might disapprove.”

“A masterly summation.” Blanton smiled thinly. She sat back on her side of the table, playing with a fork, and, despite the smile, her eyes were dark. “What really worries me is that Adão doesn’t have any option but to take his reports seriously. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t trust the . . . disinterested impartiality of what Rajmund’s reporting any farther than I do, but there’s so much of it.”

“And he’s upping the ante if he’s handing over genuine photos of Manticoran naval officers,” Weng agreed. “Especially if they turn out to be genuine Manticoran officers. And I’m assuming from Ukhtomskoy’s reaction that they did?”

“Of course they did,” Blanton said. “Frankly, though, that worries me less than some other aspects of it. Imagery — especially bad imagery that has to be digitally enhanced as much as this did — is easy enough to fake. And there’s no telling who may have slipped file imagery of completely nonexistent Manticorans into Frontier Security’s databases for it to be compared to. I doubt Rajmund did it, because there’d be too much risk of that blowing up in his face if anyone starts fact-checking his reports. He’s been around the block way too many times to leave a trail of breadcrumbs that might lead back to him. But do either of us really think he’s the only mole someone like the Other Guys have in place? Assuming they exist, that is,” she added piously.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


Rear Admiral

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Sonntag, 8. April 2018, 08:06

Für diejenigen, die sich das e-ARC nicht leisten können oder wollen, aber trotzdem wissen möchten, wie es weitergeht - David hat ein neues reguläres Snippet veröffentlicht. Das ist wieder ziemlich lang (~30.800 Zeichen) - so, dass ich es in 4 Teilen posten werde. Aber genug der Vorrede ... hier kommt Teil 1 von 4

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Of course not. Doesn’t make me any happier contemplating what we’re up against, though. Assuming they exist.”

Weng’s smile was even thinner than Blanton’s had been.

“Actually, I’m more intrigued by your third point,” Blanton said after a moment. “The bit about Barregos not being careless or stupid if he does ‘seriously contemplate’ anything that might piss off MacArtney. Or Kolokoltsov and the rest of the Mandarins, for that matter. Do you think he really could be contemplating something?”

Weng gazed down into her teacup for several seconds, lips pursed while she considered her response. Then she looked back up to meet Blanton’s gaze.

“Last year,” she began, “Noritoshi had me send one of my most trusted people — Jerzy Scarlatti; he’s a major, I don’t think you know him — out to Maya.”

She arched an eyebrow at Blanton, who nodded. Brigadier Noritoshi Väinöla, CO of the Solarian Gendarmerie Intelligence Command, was Weng’s immediate superior, Adão Ukhtomskoy’s Gendarmerie counterpart.

“Officially, Jerzy was there to conduct an inspection of the local Gendarmerie Intelligence operations because he’d heard reports that the . . . complex relationship between Erewhon, Haven, and Manticore was spilling over onto Maya. Actually, we’d had reports that Barregos and/or Roszak were skimming — skimming more than usual, I mean — off all the contracts they’d been placing with Erewhon. And the reason I chose him was that he and Philip Allfrey, Barregos senior Gendarme, go back a long way. I figured Allfrey would be more likely to cooperate with a friend. And if he didn’t —if there was something going on and Allfrey was part of it —Jerzy knew him well enough he’d probably pick up on it.”

Blanton nodded again. It was a given that any sector governor, and the vast majority of Frontier Fleet sector commanders, would find . . . extracurricular ways to line their pockets. In fact, that had been going on for so long the systematic graft was factored into their salaries. There were, however, limits to how blatant their superiors could permit them to be.

“Anyway, Allfrey assured Jerzy there was no significant peculation going on. In fact, there was less than usual, and he showed Jerzy his own internal documentation to prove it. I’m pretty sure from what Jerzy said in his off-the-record report to me that he thinks Allfrey has a very comfortable relationship with Barregos, but his documentation checked out after the best analysis we could give it.

“On the other hand, he was there during the Congo Incident.”

“He was?” Blanton’s fingers stopped turning her fork over and over and her eyes narrowed.

The Congo Incident was the label the newsies had pinned on Admiral Luis Rozsak defense of the planet of Verdant Vista.

The League was officially ambivalent about Verdant Vista, known to its current occupants as Torch. The Congo System had never been claimed by the League, nor had it been an OFS protectorate system, so its original Mesan claimants had possessed no official League recourse to reclaim it when its population, backed by an astonishing united Manticoran-Havenite front, rebelled against their ownership in August 1919. Even if they’d tried to call on their many friendly Solarian bribe-takers, the fact that ninety-plus percent of the Verdant Vistans had been genetic slaves would have . . . complicated Solarian public opinion. Genetic slavery was something of which all “right-thinking” Solarians disapproved, even if only a tiny percentage were willing to get off their comfortable posteriors and do anything about it, so even Solarian bureaucrats had to be careful about anything that smacked of collusion with Manpower, Inc. On the other side of the ledger, the strong ties between the rebels, the new Torch government, and the Audubon Ballroom had allowed its detractors to suggest it would inevitably become a haven for terrorists. But that had been offset in turn by the Antislavery League’s vociferous agitation in favor of officially recognizing Torch as a haven and homeworld for any liberated genetic slave.

Overall, it had seemed a situation tailor-made for the Solarian League to stay well clear of. Which had made Oravil Barregos’s decision, as the Maya Sector’s governor, to enter into a defensive agreement with Torch the cherry on top for some of Frontier Security’s policymakers here in Old Chicago.

But Barregos had strenuously, plausibly — and successfully — argued in favor of the agreement as a way to minimize Manticoran and Havenite influence in the system. Nothing could completely freeze them out, he’d acknowledged, especially since the Queen of Torch was the adopted daughter of the infamous Anton Zilwicki and even more infamous Catherine Montaigne. But given the fundamental tension between Manticore and Haven, the united front they’d presented at the time of the rebellion couldn’t last, and drawing the newly independent star system into the relationship he was currently cultivating with Erewhon would position the Maya Sector to step into the gap when it inevitably occurred. His prediction about the Manty-Havenite relationship’s stability had been proven correct barely two T-months later, when Haven resumed hostilities against Manticore, and judging by the Torches’ scrupulous official disavowal of the Ballroom’s terrorist tactics, his accompanying argument that he’d be better able to moderate Torch’s behavior through a policy of constructive engagement had seemed to make a lot of sense.

But then, the preceding October, after less than two T-years, Frontier Fleet had been forced to make good on that defensive agreement. Luis Roszak and his men and women had paid a heavy price to protect Torch against what certainly looked like an intended Eridani Edict violation financed by “parties unknown.” The actual culprits had been renegade members of the People’s Republic of Haven’s State Security, although no one had been prepared to explain exactly what their motives might have been and it was obvious that only a very well heeled patron could have provided the logistical support the attack had required. Their survivors had been handed over to Eloise Pritchart’s Republic for trial, so the League’s courts had taken no official cognizance of exactly who might have backed their effort, but there wasn’t much question in anyone’s mind, and public opinion had shed very few tears over anything that happened to Mesan proxies.

“I wondered about the official accounts,” Blanton said now, her voice ending on a questioning note, and Weng snorted.

“You’re not alone in that,” she said, “and I’ve actually discussed that a little bit with Daud in light of Jerzy’s reports. He — Daud, I mean, not Jerzy — was pretty bitter about the fact that no one higher up the chain of command had paid any attention to the reports he and Irene put together after it on the basis of Roszak’s after-action report.

“He says Roszak’s been telling people for years that the Manties and Havenites were outstripping the Navy in terms of both weapons and technique, and nobody’s paid any damned attention. In fact, it turns out that for at least three T-years, Roszak’s reports were being suppressed before they ever got to Daud, much less went farther up the tree, and it looks like, in the absence of any direction from Old Chicago, the people on the ground have been trying to do something about it.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Sonntag, 8. April 2018, 08:08

Teil 2 von 4

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Officially, Barregos has been buying locally produced warships from Erewhon as a way to inveigle the Erewhonese back into our sphere of influence, and that seems to have been working. But it’s painfully evident that another reason Barregos’s done it is to get some kind of window into the new technologies. Erewhon’s only a minor power compared to Manticore or Haven, and its navy is outside the loop on these latest, god-awful weapons the Manties are deploying against us. But it’s pretty clear the investment in new hardware is the only reason Roszak was able to defend Torch, although his losses were still pretty damned brutal. More brutal, I think, then was ever officially announced, although Jerzy didn’t have any confirmation of that at the time and Daud hasn’t found any since. But what pisses Daud off is that he worked up an analysis that strongly recommended Vice Admiral Hoover and the Office of Technical Analysis go through Roszak’s reports with a fine-toothed comb. If they had, even they would probably have figured out the Haven Sector was producing exactly the sort of innovations Hoover’s analysts had systematically dismissed for decades. Nothing in them hinted at the missiles they used against Crandall and Filareta, but at least we might not have gone into this with such total complacency.”

Blanton made a harsh sound of agreement, and Weng shrugged.

“At any rate,” she went on, “Jerzy’s report officially cleared Barregos of any financial wrongdoing. After reading it and discussing it with him, I think it raised some fresh questions about just how tight he’s gotten with Erewhon, but not financially.”

“Are you suggesting you're worried Maya might be . . . fertile ground for someone to plant seeds of disunity, whether it’s the Manties or the Other Guys?” Blanton asked in a careful tone, and Weng shrugged again.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve been worrying about that,” she said. “Obviously, with the entire galaxy hell-bent on coming unglued, I’m not prepared to categorically rule it out, but Jerzy didn’t come home with anything that set off any alarms in that respect. My impression of Barregos — and I hasten to add that this is only my impression; he’s one of your people, not ours, and I don’t think anyone else in the Gendarmerie’s really thought about it that much — is that he’s the sort of fellow who considers all possibilities. He’s living in a dangerous neck of the woods, on the periphery of the longest lasting, most destructive war in galactic history — so far, at least — and I think he’s a historian. I think he saw the possibility of something like our confrontation with Manticore coming a long time ago, and I think his relationship with Erewhon’s designed to provide as close to a pocket of stability as he can create if all the rest of the galaxy goes to hell in a hand basket. How far he’s prepared to go to make that happen is an entirely different question, and I don’t have anything like enough information to offer an informed opinion on that.”

“But it’s the sort of situation, assuming you’re right, that could make someone else regard him as either potentially susceptible to seduction or as someone who could be credibly passed off as being susceptible to seduction.”

“Exactly. But if I am right, then he’s been doing this tap dance of his for a long time without anyone figuring it out. I admit Maya’s a long way from Sol, but that’s still an impressive accomplishment. From everything Jerzy had to say, he has a genuine knack for attracting personal loyalty, too. So does Admiral Roszak, apparently, and that can be a dangerous capability. Leaving that aside, though, someone able to keep so many balls in the air without anyone back home noticing would never be clumsy enough to let anyone, far less one of Rajmund’s people’s paid stringers, discover that he was meeting secretly with Manty representatives.”

“You’re right about that,” Blanton said thoughtfully, beginning to play with her fork again. “Especially since he’d take particular precautions against anyone in Frontier Security finding out about it. I imagine he’d be a lot more worried about in-house leaks than about your people.”

“You probably have a point.”

Weng sipped tea. They sat in silence for twenty or thirty seconds, then she set the cup down and sat back.

“I think we’d better find out about this,” she said. “And I can only think of one way to do that.”

“Assuming there’s time,” Blanton pointed out, and Weng nodded. The travel time to Maya was fifty-one days, one way.

“I know,” she said. “But I don’t see another option.”

“Neither do I. Can’t be one of my people, though. Even at the best of times, I’d be poaching in Rajmund’s preserve. And these are hardly ‘the best of times.’ If we’re right about him, the last thing we need is to warn him anyone — especially me — might be looking in his direction. Send your Scarlatti back again?”

“I don’t know,” Weng replied, answering Blanton’s professionally thoughtful tone. “On the one hand, I trust him and he was the one who first suggested Barregos’s relationship with Erewhon was closer than most people here in Old Chicago thought it was. He wouldn’t have done that if he’d been in Barregos’s pocket. On the other, he is Allfrey’s friend, and if Barregos is up to something, Jerzy didn’t get a clear sniff of it — or report it, anyway — the last time he was there. And,” she added, “coming up with a plausible reason to send him back again so soon without making someone as smooth as Barregos suspicious could be a nontrivial exercise.”

Blanton’s expression showed her agreement with Weng’s thought train.

“I’ve got at least a half-dozen other people I could send if I don’t send Jerzy back,” the colonel said with a shrug. “And if I need to, I’ll go to Noritoshi and get him to let me pick one of Simeon’s people from CID. Either way, I can get someone off to Smoking Frog within a couple of days, outside.”

“The sooner the better,” Blanton said. “Even if she leaves tomorrow, it’s going to be mid-September by the time she gets there.”

“And the soonest she could get back would be the end of November,” Weng agreed. “And that’s assuming someone’s stupid enough to leave that ‘smoking gun’ lying around for her to stumble over the instant she steps off the landing shuttle! Not going to happen.”

“So we’re probably really looking at not hearing back before the new year.” Blanton’s expression was sour, and Weng snorted.

“Any dinosaur’s nervous system has a certain amount of built-in delay,” she pointed out, and Blanton grimaced.

“Under the circumstances, I wish you’d picked a different metaphor,” she said.


“Because the dinosaurs are extinct,” Blanton replied grimly.


SLNS Québec
Cachalot System

“You can’t be serious!”

The woman on Vincent Capriotti’s com display was platinum-haired and dark-skinned. It was a striking combination, and she was so photogenic he suspected she’d been the recipient of quite a lot of biosculpt. Politicians, as a rule, found physical attractiveness a valuable asset — far more valuable, in fact, in Capriotti’s opinion, than simple competence. On the other hand, Cachalot System President Miriam Jahnke had amply demonstrated her own competence over a forty-T-year political career.

And, at the moment, the fury blazing in her brown eyes honed her attractiveness in much the same way lightning honed a thunderstorm’s.

Or a hurricane’s, perhaps.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Sonntag, 8. April 2018, 08:10

Teil 3 von 4

Zitat von »David Weber«

“I’m afraid I’m quite serious, Madame President,” he said in reply, then sat back to wait out the six-minute communications lag.

At the moment, TF 783 was almost 56,000,000 kilometers from the planet Orca, just over ten light-minutes inside the Cachalot System hyper-limit, closing with the planet at 18,119 KPS and decelerating at a steady 300 G. Given that geometry, they would reach Orca orbit in another hour and forty minutes, and their recon platforms had been swarming around the inner system for the last couple of hours. ONI had grudgingly admitted that stealth systems were another area in which the Manties had somehow acquired a commanding lead, but nobody’s stealth was good enough to hide warships — even completely shut down warships — from the horde of drones he’d sent speeding ahead of his ships.

Which means there’s absolutely no reason I can’t carry out Buccaneer . . . damn it, he thought grimly. The odds are we’ll be the first task force to execute it, too, which means I’m the one going down in the frigging history books. I don’t think I’m going to like that.

At least it also meant there’d be no need — or any possible excuse — for Parthian. There’d be ample time for an orderly evacuation, and thank God for it!

He’d waited until he was positive that would be the case — and until the com lag was at least semi-manageable — before contacting Jahnke’s office and telling her why he was here. Her response had been pretty much what he’d anticipated.

“You have no conceivable justification for this!” she snapped now from his display. “It’s a blatantly illegal action against an independent and neutral star system! It violates at least a half dozen interstellar treaties — treaties the Solarian League both negotiated and guaranteed — and every conceivable canon of interstellar law!”

All of which was absolutely true . . . and had nothing at all to do with his orders, Capriotti thought.

“I’m very sorry you feel that way, Madame President,” he said. “And, speaking as an individual and not as an officer of the Solarian League Navy, I understand why you do. I deeply regret the orders I’ve been given, but I have no option but to carry them out, and I intend to do so. At the same time, my orders emphasize the vital importance of minimizing any possible avoidable loss of life.” Which was also true, as long as Parthian wasn’t on the table. “That’s why I’m speaking to you now to inform you that you have seventy-two hours to complete your evacuation of the infrastructure in question.”

He waited for his words to reach her, and saw her expression when they did. If she could have reached him in that moment, she would have ripped out his throat with her bare hands, he thought.

“This system has maintained cordial and cooperative relations with the Solarian League since the year the League was created,” she told him flatly. “We have never, in all those centuries, been anything but your star nation’s friendly neighbor. And we certainly aren’t participants in any aggression against the League! We’re not Solarians, we aren’t Manticorans, and we’ve been scrupulously neutral. We don’t even have a navy, only a system police force! What you propose is not only blatantly illegal but an atrocity carried out against the life’s blood of my star system!”

She had an excellent point, he reflected. Not that he intended to admit that Cachalot’s lack of a navy was one of the main reasons he’d been sent here.

“Madame President, I’m prepared to grant that you haven’t been military participants in the so-called Grand Alliance’s aggression against the Solarian League,” he said.

He knew he was speaking for the record, that this entire com exchange was probably going to wind up on the public boards throughout the League, and he forced himself to sound calm, measured, and — above all — reasonable. It was hard when what he actually felt was bitter shame. But he was a senior officer of the SLN and he had his orders.

“Even though you may not have aided the Manticorans and their allies militarily, however,” he continued, “you’ve certainly aided and abetted them in other ways. As your government is well aware, Manticore began its campaign against the Solarian League by way of its blatantly illegal interference with freedom of astrogation and the Solarian economy. In effect, Manticore has weaponized interstellar commerce and directed it against the Solarian League because of my government’s refusal to simply stand aside and enable its raw, unbridled imperialism through our passivity. And, Madame President, your star system has transferred virtually the entirety of its own trade to Manticore and the other star nations who, by their own declaration, are now actively at war with the League. That’s hardly the action of an even-handed neutral, and my government has no option but to consider active collaboration with outlaw regimes which have killed hundreds of thousands of Solarian military personnel and citizens an act of aggression.”

He met Jahnke’s eyes steadily, even though both of them knew just how tenuous the connection between reality and what he’d just said truly was.

“The Solarian League takes no pleasure in the destruction of property, and my government is well aware of the economic hardship this will create for the people of your star nation,” he went on in a tone of implacable regret, filling the transmission lag with the rest of the “talking points” with which the Navy and Foreign Affairs had seen fit to provide him. If he gave her the opportunity to respond, she’d probably point out that Manticore’s version of commerce warfare meant the Star Empire and its allies were the only people with whom Cachalot could trade at the moment, and his lords and masters could never have that as part of the official record, now could they?

“However, it’s clear Manticore has embraced an imperialism which is as much economic as territorial. Not content with the commanding position it already enjoyed, it’s now set out to secure dictatorial control of the entire inhabited galaxy’s economic life. The Solarian League cannot — and will not — allow any star nation to acquire that sort of power, of control and coercion, over its star systems and their citizens. And, since it’s evident that raw aggression and economic domination are the only languages the ‘Star Empire’ understands, the League has no option but to respond to it in its own terms. Much as I may regret the mission which has brought me to your star system, your complicity in Manticore’s assault upon the Solarian League has left my government with no other alternative.

“Again, I inform you that you have seventy-two hours in which to organize an evacuation of your orbital infrastructure. Obviously, I must also insist on the surrender of the armed units of your System Patrol. Vice Admiral Angelica Helland, my chief of staff, will be in contact with the System Patrol’s commanding officer to arrange that surrender in as peaceful and orderly a fashion as possible. I’m sure I’ve presented you with a great many unpleasant decisions and actions. Again, I regret the necessity of doing so, but I will leave you to deal with them. I will contact you again when my flagship enters Orca orbit. Capriotti, clear.”

He pressed the stud to kill his com and swiveled his chair to face Commodore Anthony, his staff communications officer.

“Until I contact her again, I’m unavailable, Roger,” he said. Anthony’s eyebrows rose ever so slightly and it was obvious from his expression that he didn’t look forward to fending off Jahnke’s inevitable fiery demands to speak to Capriotti. But the commodore only nodded.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Sonntag, 8. April 2018, 08:12

Und der Schluß dieses Snippets ...

Zitat von »David Weber«

Capriotti returned the nod, then turned back to the master plot as Québec and the rest of the task force decelerated toward Orca. He watched the moving icons and wondered how much of his unavailability stemmed from the PR requirements and psychological warfare aspects of Buccaneer . . . and how much of it stemmed from shame. He remembered his words to Captain Timberlake in their first discussion of the ops order, and they were bitter on his tongue. This wasn’t the reason he’d joined the Navy, but if he had it to do, then he’d damned well do it.

* * * * * * * * * *

“We’re ready, Sir,” Lyang-tau Rutgers said quietly.

Capriotti nodded without speaking. He stood with his hands clasped behind him, gazing into the flag bridge plot. It had been reconfigured for visual display, showing him a needle sharp vista of the planet Orca and the massive orbital infrastructure about it.

Cachalot had been settled for a long time, but it wasn’t the best real estate in the known galaxy. Despite the relative dimness of the system primary, whose luminosity was less than fourteen percent that of Sol, Orca’s close orbit — the planetary year was less than three T-months long — produced a mean temperature significantly higher than Old Terra’s. Its tropical zone was virtually uninhabited, and its axial inclination was only nine degrees, which meant it had minimal seasonal variation even outside the all but unendurable tropics. There were, however, almost five billion human beings in its temperate zones . . . and another three billion in its orbital habitats.

That was a lot of people to turn into implacable haters, he thought.

At least the Cachalotians had opted for a sharper segregation between their industrial platforms and their habitats than happened in most star systems. That had probably started, initially, because so many of them had opted for the habitats’ controlled climates in preference to the planet’s from the very beginning. That meant the inhabited neighborhood had grown up even before its industrial base really developed, and separating them had protected their orbital population from the sorts of industrial accidents that could have unfortunate consequences. It had to create commuting problems for a lot of their labor force, but they clearly thought it was worth it, and their building codes had officially enshrined the separation for several centuries now.

Of course, they’d never seen an “industrial accident" like Buccaneer coming.

They were still going to lose one orbital habitat — and the homes of over five million of their citizens — anyway. There simply wasn’t any way to demolish the Siesta Three platform’s industrial capability without taking out the entire habitat. Three more major habitats were going to take significant damage, but Rutgers’s demolition crews were confident the housing sections would survive unhurt.

Not so confident that Jahnke — or me — was going to leave those people aboard when the charges go off. Capriotti snorted mentally. It’s a lot easier to be “confident” about somebody else’s homes, he thought harshly.

Even without minor considerations like that, destroying the platforms in Orca orbit without creating catastrophic debris strikes on both the planet and the remaining habitats was a nontrivial exercise in its own right. The Snapper Belt platforms, better than fifty light-minutes from the primary, were a much simpler proposition. Snapper’s 644,000 inhabitants had simply been moved en masse to Orca’s surface and a dozen of Capriotti’s destroyers would take out the belt’s entire infrastructure with targeted missile launches. Closer to the planet, that was a nonstarter, however, and he considered the battlecruisers positioned around the first of Rutgers’s targets.

“Very well, Lyang-tau,” he sighed finally. “Proceed.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Capriotti stayed where he was, watching the visual, as the battlecruisers brought up their impeller wedges. The three major platforms — two fabrication centers and one of Orca’s six primary freight platforms — remained clearly visible from Québec’s more distant orbit. The activated wedges completely enclosed them on three sides, however, cutting off direct visual observation from the planetary surface or any of Orca’s other near-planet habitats or spacestations.

“Detonation in fifteen seconds . . . mark,” Rutgers said clearly behind him. “Fifteen . . . ten . . . five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one —”

The nuclear charges detonated simultaneously, in bursts of brilliance which hurt the eye. That had to be purely psychosomatic, Capriotti thought, even as he blinked against the brightness. The display automatically filtered their intensity more rapidly than mere organic nerves could respond to it, after all. Maybe it was just that he knew what they must have looked like to the unshielded eye.

Not even a nuclear blast could completely vaporize several billion tons of spacestation. That was why he’d placed his battlecruisers’ impeller wedges to intercept any debris. They’d hold their stations until he was positive nothing could get through to Orca or any of the other platforms. Then they’d move on to the next targets on their list.

He stood for another fifteen seconds, gazing at the spot where the next best thing to two millennia of investment — and the livelihoods of 1.7 million people — had just been wiped from the cosmos. Then he drew a deep breath and looked over his shoulder at his staff.

“Keep me informed, especially about any debris fields,” he said. “I’ll be in my quarters.”

“Of course, Sir,” Vice Admiral Helland responded for the entire staff.

He nodded to them and walked from the flag bridge in silence.

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

“This is the reason Irene and I needed someone like you, Natsuko,” Daud al-Fanudahi said in a tone of profound satisfaction. “We wouldn’t have had a clue how to find something like this!”

“Well, don’t go assuming we’ve really found what we all think we’ve found,” Lieutenant Colonel Okiku replied. Al-Fanudahi stood looking over her shoulder as she sat at one of the desks in the office which had become their private HQ. Now she waved one hand at the display in front of her. “We’ve got plenty of evidence of corruption on all these people, but God knows there’s always corruption — tons of it — here in Sol. So it’s still entirely possible we’re seeing connections that don’t exist. Or connections that do exist but aren’t the ones we think they are, at any rate.”

“Understood. “Al-Fanudahi nodded. “Same thing happens on our side of the shop. One of the things that’s hardest to avoid — and one of the things that’s biting the Navy on the butt right now, for that matter – is mirror-imaging. Interpreting what the other fellow’s doing through the lens of how you’d do it. If their operating assumptions are different, their decisions and actions are going to be different, too, and it’s hard to check your own fundamental concepts at the door.”

“There are some similarities with that,” Okiku acknowledged. “It’s a little bit different, from a cop’s perspective, though. It’s not so much our fundamental ‘operational concepts’ as it is our effort to assess someone else’s motivations when we can’t just open a window and peek inside their heads. We know a lot about what these people are doing now; what we have to be careful about is assuming we know why they’re doing it.”

“And who they’re doing it for,” Bryce Tarkovsky put in sourly. Al-Fanudahi looked at him, and the tall Marine, another charter member of the group Okiku had dubbed the Ghost Hunters, shrugged. “Like Natsuko says, there’s so much normal garden-variety corruption that demonstrating exactly who’s paying off whom and for what is the kind of challenge that would make Sisyphus weep.”

Al-Fanudahi grinned and shook his head. Tarkovsky delighted in dredging up obscure references to ancient Old Earth legends. Partly that was because he genuinely loved them and had spent years studying them. But al-Fanudahi suspected his interest had begun as a deliberate response to the stereotypical view of Marines.

Personally, al-Fanudahi had never believed the stereotype. He knew at least a dozen Marines who could so read. Why, some of them could even write!
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Freitag, 13. April 2018, 04:41

Es geht weiter. David hat übrigens gesagt, dass diese letzten Snippets von einer Buchversion stammen, die neuer ist als die, welche als eARC verkauft wird.
Wie auch immer - das Snippet ist wieder sehr umfangreich (26.500 Zeichen) -ich werde es also wieder in 3 Teilen posten.

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Bryce is right,” Okiku said. “That’s why this is like chasing ghosts. And don’t forget we have to be able to demonstrate whatever we finally do find well enough to convince him someone else, not just to our own satisfaction. Someone who won’t want to be convinced the way we do.”

“And someone who’ll quite possibly have his own reasons to not want any rocks turned over even if he thinks we may be onto something. Or especially because he thinks we may,” al-Fanudahi agreed. He sat back in his own chair and puffed his cheeks, less cheerful than he’d been a moment before, but that didn’t mean they haven’t made a lot of progress.

Simeon Gaddis’s “Outcasts” had crunched their way through exabytes of reports, contacts, security camera video, social media, travel patterns, bank accounts, cash transactions, and intercepted and decrypted personal conversations and correspondence. They still didn’t know exactly what he had them looking for, although there was no way to keep his personal cybernauts from speculating — probably with a high degree of accuracy — about what he was after.

As the correlations began to pile up, Gaddis had opened an official investigation into corruption within the Gendarmerie and wherever it might lead in the federal government generally. It wasn’t the first time he’d gone a round or two with that Goliath, so no one was especially surprised by it. Cynically amused by its futility, perhaps, but not surprised.

Under cover of that investigation, however, he’d directed a small army of Gendarmes into the investigation without giving them the slightest hint of what they were really looking for, and the Outcasts had tapped into the flood of information that army had turned up. Armed with all that data, their accomplishments dwarfed anything al-Fanudahi and Irene Teague might have conceivably achieved on their own.

To date, the Ghost Hunters had identified almost a dozen individuals — exclusive of Rajmund Nyhus — who they strongly suspected were tools of what Lupe Blanton had christened “the Other Guys.” They were certain Nyhus belonged on the list, but so far, they’d been unable to tie him to anyone else. Which had led both Blanton and Weng Zhing-hwan to fundamentally reassess their estimate of Nyhus’s intelligence. Or, more specifically, their estimate of his lack thereof.

They’d had better luck in a few other cases, however, and he reached over Okiku’s shoulder to indicate one of the names on her list.

“I think we need to be taking an even closer look at this one,” he said, and she tapped the name to open the database associated with it.

“Ms. Bolton,” she murmured. “I can see why you’re interested in her, Daud. What did you have in mind?”

“Well,” he said, “we’ve linked her to two of the other people on our list. If there’s anything to the Outcasts’ suggestion that she’s also linked to Laughton, we need to nail that down. For more than one reason.”

Tarkovsky had straightened in his chair at the sound of Bolton’s name. Now he stood and walked around to join al-Fanudahi, and his expression was unhappy.

“I don’t disagree with you,” he said. “I wish I could, but I don’t.”

Al-Fanudahi rested one hand lightly on the Marine’s shoulder, but Okiku only shook her head. Probably because she was a cop at heart, the captain thought. She drew a sharp line between good guys and bad guys, and anyone who found himself on the wrong side of that line was a target to be taken down as expeditiously and completely as possible. The way she saw it, if someone she’d thought was a friend turned out to be a bad guy, then he’d never been quite as much a friend as the colonel had thought he was.

Intellectually, al-Fanudahi agreed with her, and he knew Tarkovsky did, too, but Colonel Timothy Laughton had been Bryce Tarkovsky’s colleague and personal friend for over fifteen T-years. In fact, he’d been on Tarkovsky’s short list of potential recruits to the cause . . . until the Outcasts turned up his connection — his possible connection — to Shafiqa Bolton. There was no doubt that Laughton was “in a relationship” with Bolton, although the precise nature of that relationship had yet to be defined. It appeared to be purely social and not terribly close, but the number of peripheral and “coincidental” contacts between them was . . . statistically improbable.

And the Outcasts’ algorithms insisted that Shafiqa Bolton was definitely linked to two other individuals — a Navy captain and a diplomat — they were almost certain were working for the Other Guys.

“I have to say she’s got the classic earmarks of a handler,” Okiku said after a moment as she scrolled through the database. “I might be less suspicious if her contacts with both Nye and Salazar hadn’t spiked the way they have. There’s no social or business reason for her to be 'running into’ the two of them as much as she has, and the frequency of contacts is still trending upward.”

“That’s a little thin, Natsuko.” Tarkovsky wasn’t arguing so much as playing devil’s advocate, al-Fanudahi thought.

“That’s how these things work, Bryce,” she said. “You pick at it until you find a thread you can unravel, and it’s usually something small that starts the process. But look at this.” She highlighted a section of the data. “Over the last two T-years, the frequency of her contacts with Nye’s gone up almost eighteen percent, and most of that increase’s occurred since Byng got himself blown away at New Tuscany last October. In fact, over half of it’s occurred in the last six months. But his transactions are actually down seven percent over that same time period.”

Tarkovsky nodded. Bolton, one of the senior partners of Nuñez, Poldak, Bolton, and Hwang, was a financial advisor, and a very good one, judging by her client list and their success rates. Stephanos Nye, a senior policy analyst in Innokentiy Kolokoltsov’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was one of those clients, but he’d never been a heavy investor. He had lucrative arrangements with several well-heeled lobbyists, and his bank balance was more than comfortable, but he’d always tended to splash around in the shallows of the waters Bolton routinely navigated. Statistically, she spent a disproportionate amount of her time with such a relatively modest player. She always had, actually, although the disproportion had been far smaller up until about the time Haven resumed hostilities with Manticore. If there’d been some sort of personal relationship between them, the uptick probably wouldn’t have been noticeable at all, but outside their meetings to discuss possible financial opportunities, they had no relationship the Outcasts could discover.

Only the closest scrutiny could have picked that discrepancy out of the hundreds of clients with whom Bolton met on a regular or semiregular basis, but it was definitely there. Whether it was truly significant was another matter, but the fact that Nye’s policy positions had steadily hardened against Manticore almost in tandem with Rajmund Nyhus’s reports to Ukhtomskoy suggested that it was.

Then there was Captain Mardyola Salazar, one of Fleet Admiral Evangeline Bernard’s staffers in the Office of Strategy and Planning. She had no business relationship with Bolton at all and her work schedule at S&P had become steeply more demanding as the confrontation with Manticore progressed from simply adversarial to disastrous. Despite the way that cut into her personal free time, however, she and Bolton kept ‘running into’ one another in social settings. The uptick there was almost twenty-three percent in just the past two months, and al-Fanudahi’s sources indicated Salazar had been one of the lead planners for Operation Buccaneer. Of course, he wasn’t supposed to know Buccaneer even existed, far less who’d been tasked with putting it together, but he was in intelligence, and recent events had pretty thoroughly validated warnings he’d issued over the years about events in the Haven Sector. As a result, the people at Strategy and Planning were actually talking to him these days. How much attention they paid him was debatable, but at least they were asking questions. The nature of those questions had enabled him to piece together a depressingly good picture of the thinking — such as it was — behind Buccaneer, and it was evident Salazar’s contributions had strongly shaped the operations plan. In fact, she’d been an early — if not simply the earliest — proponent of the Parthian Option.

And then there was Timothy Laughton, the question mark of the moment.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Freitag, 13. April 2018, 04:43

Teil 2 von 3

Zitat von »David Weber«

Like Bryce Tarkovsky, he worked for Brigadier Meindert Osterhaut, the CO of Marine Intelligence under Admiral Karl-Heinz Thimár’s nominal command as part of the Office of Naval Intelligence. He’d spent twelve T-years seconded to Frontier Security, during which he’d acquired a deep familiarity with the complexities of the Protectorates and the Fringe in general, and Osterhaut had come to rely on that familiarity. He was smart, hard-working, and insightful. He also played one hell of a poker game, as Tarkovsky had learned the hard way. Aside from an occasional — and profitable — foray at the poker table, however, he’d always been a bit . . . standoffish. He and Tarkovsky liked one another and had considered each other friends for a long time, but they’d never built the sort of close relationship Tarkovsky and al-Fanudahi enjoyed.

Which might turn out to have been fortunate, under the circumstances. Because, like Salazar, Laughton had been “bumping into” Bolton quite a bit recently. And unlike Salazar, he’d had no contact at all with her prior to about ten T-months ago . . . which was about the time his analysis of events in the Fringe — not simply in the Talbott Quadrant but much more broadly — had begun suggesting an increasingly militant and expansionist attitude on Manticore’s part.

Under the circumstances, inviting him to become another Ghost Hunter might have had negative consequences for all concerned.

“The Outcasts can’t get a lot closer to Bolton, Daud,” Okiku said now. “They’re still digging into her financials, and they’re bird dogging all of her electronic communications to us. Anybody as smart as these people isn’t going to do a lot electronically, though. If she’s what we think she is, that’s the reason she’s meeting with people personally. So unless we want to go hands-on, we’re not likely to get beyond the suggestive stage. Mind you, Simeon and I would both be confident enough to ask for warrants on the basis of what we’ve already got, except that we can’t ask for warrants without going public with what we suspect.”

“What do you mean by ‘hands-on’?” Al-Fanudahi asked.

“One possibility’s to feed at least one of these people something we figure the Other Guys are going to want or that they think they could use. Then we see if they go running to Bolton. If they do, and if the Other Guys act on whatever we gave them, then I think we’ve proved there’s a direct link.”

“If we’re talking about some kind of vast interstellar conspiracy, that’d take a lot of time we may not have,” al-Fanudahi pointed out. “Our suspect would have to get the information to Bolton, and then Bolton would have to get it to her superiors — through whatever chain of communications they use — and her superiors would have to act on it and then send their new orders back down the same chain. I don’t think we’ve got that kind of time. And even if we did, God only knows how many more people would get killed while we waited!”

“Okiku said that was ‘one possibility,’ Daud,” Tarkovsky pointed out. “I’m not sure it’s the one she actually had in mind, though.”

Something about his tone made al-Fanudahi look at him sharply, and the Marine gave him a crooked smile. Then he looked down as Okiku looked up over her shoulder.

“You were thinking about something a little more . . . proactive, weren’t you?” he asked.

“Well,” she replied, “you’re right about how badly time constraints would work against the planted information approach, Daud. If the Navy’s really going ahead with Buccaneer, it’s the kind of escalation that’s likely to provoke a painful response from the Manties. The kind of response that gets a lot of people killed. And even if that weren’t the case, just think about how much damage Buccaneer’s going to do — physical damage, I mean, much less the way it’s likely to poison public opinion in the Verge and Fringe against the League for decades to come.

“If we’re going to accomplish anything inside that time loop, it may be time for some of that proactiveness Bryce is talking about.”


“One possibility is to take his original suggestion, grab one of these people — like Bolton, maybe — and sweat them. It has the drawback that without a warrant, it’s strictly illegal and morally questionable. And if it turns out we’re wrong about whoever we grab, we end up facing what you might call a quandary. Do we assume we’re wrong about everything and turn her loose with apologies, or do we assume we were wrong about her — not about the Other Guys in general — in which case we can’t turn her loose. Which means we have to do . . . something else with her.”

Al-Fanudahi’s jaw tightened, but he had to respect her willingness to face the implications, and he nodded in unhappy understanding.

“And another possibility is for us to present a threat they have to honor. Something to make them react in a short timeframe. Something we can see and track.”

Al-Fanudahi’s nostrils flared.

“You mean present them with someone they’d see as a threat,” he said, his tone flat.

“That may be our only option, Daud,” Tarkovsky said. “There’s only so far we can go without either directly questioning a suspect or trying to manipulate one of them into giving himself away. If you can think of another way to do that, I’m all ears. But if you can’t . . . .”

His voice trailed off and he shrugged.

Harrington House
City of Landing
Planet of Manticore
Manticore Binary System System


Doctor Allison Harrington’s smile was huge as Duchess and Steadholder Harrington entered the Harrington House foyer with Spencer Hawke and Clifford McGraw at her heels. Corporal Anastasia Yanakov, Allison’s personal armswoman, nodded respectfully to Major Hawke and then smiled as she watched Allison throw her arms about her daughter. Honor Alexander-Harrington hugged her back, fighting the reflex urge to bend at the knees so she didn’t tower over her diminutive mother quite so badly. She’d managed to break that habit about the time she turned sixteen, but the reflex still asserted itself from time to time.

Especially when her mother was pregnant.

“Mother,” she replied a bit more sedately, then stood back with her hands on Allison’s shoulders. “There have been some changes I see,” she added, looking down at her mother’s abdomen. “You could have mentioned something about this, oh, a month or so ago.”

“I suppose I could have.” Allison smiled up at her. “On the other hand, dear, while I wouldn’t want to call you unobservant, or anything of the sort, it did seem to me that giving you the opportunity to . . . improve the acuity with which you view the universe might not be out of order.”

“I see.” Honor shook her head as Corporal Yanakov smiled and Major Hawke and Sargent McGraw found somewhere else to look. “We do seem to have these little moments without proper warning, though, don’t we?”

“At least in my case I knew I could get pregnant,” Allison observed with a devilish smile, watching Hawke and McGraw from the corner of one eye. Then her expression sobered. “Although, to be honest, I had to think long and hard about deactivating my implant.” Her lips trembled ever so slightly. “It was hard for your father. For me, too, I guess. But losing that many people we loved . . . .” She shook her head, the eyes which matched Honor’s dark. “It was almost like we couldn’t decide whether we were reaffirming that life went on, creating the additional child we’d discovered we wanted — especially after Faith and James were born — or trying to replace the ones we loved. It was that last bit that made it hard. It felt almost disloyal somehow. In the end, though, we just said the hell with any philosophical questions.”

“And I’m glad you did.” Honor hugged her close again. “To be honest, if I had the time, I think Hamish, Emily, and I would be doing exactly the same thing. For all the reasons you just listed, really. And why shouldn’t we?” Her embrace tightened for a moment. “Life does go on, we do want more kids, and we are creating more people to put into the holes in our hearts. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see an uptick in births all across the system, but especially on Sphinx.” She released her mother and smiled sadly. “It’s one of the things that happen in wars.”

“Well, on that topic,” Allison said in a brighter tone, “I happen to think it’s time you provided me with additional grandchildren. Not that Raoul and Katherine aren’t perfectly satisfactory, you understand. There’s a certain security in numbers, though. And while I realize you’re busy at the moment, Emily’s available.”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Freitag, 13. April 2018, 04:45

Und der letzte Teil

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Mother, you’re incorrigible!” Honor laughed and shook her head. “And, to be honest, I think Emily may be thinking in that direction, too.” Her smile turned warm. “Hamish and I will never be able to thank you enough for getting her past that particular block.”

“Even if I was pushy, insufferable, and meddlesome?”

“No! Were you really?” Honor gazed at her in astonishment. “I didn’t realize. I thought you were just being your normal self.” She paused a beat. “Oh! That’s what you meant, wasn’t it?”

“It’s really a pity I never believed in corporal punishment,” Allison observed, then grinned as her daughter giggled.

“Mother, I wouldn’t change you even if I could,” Honor said then. “Which, thank God, nobody in the universe would be capable of, in the first place.”

Nimitz bleeked in amusement and nodded his head in emphatic agreement with that statement.

“Well, I certainly hope not,” Allison said serenely, tucking her daughter’s hand into her elbow and leading the way towards the private family section of Harrington House. Their bodyguards fell in astern, like escorting destroyers.

“And thank you for letting us use the house tonight,” Allison continued as they started up the magnificent winding staircase. “We really appreciate it.”

“Mother, this is your and Dad’s house now, a lot more than it’s mine. I believe I’ve told you that no more than, oh, five or six thousand times. It’s got more rooms than most hotels, and as long as Hamish, Emily, and I have a modest little six or seven-room suite in which to hang our berets, I think we can consider our housing needs adequately met whenever two or three of us happen to be in Landing at the same time. Which, unfortunately, isn’t happening all that often just now.”

“I understand that. No, really — I do!” Allison waved her free hand as Honor bent a skeptical eye upon her. “But it’s also Steadholder Harrington’s official residence and Harrington Steading’s embassy in the Star Empire. Under the circumstances, I don’t think we should be throwing any drunken orgies without clearing it with you first.”

“Your very own drunken orgy? How exciting! Are Hamish and I invited?”

Something very like a smothered chuckle escaped one of the Graysons behind her.

“No, dear.” Allison patted her hand. “The drunken orgy is private, after the party. I was only using it as an example.”

“Darn. And I was so looking forward to it.”

“I see Hamish and Emily have been good for the Beowulf side of you,” Allison said, and Nimitz laughed again, then raised his right hand — middle fingers closed to spell the letter “S” — and nodded it up and down in agreement.

“I’ll admit they’ve helped me face my inner Beowulf,” Honor acknowledged. “It’s even possible the rest of the universe will forgive them for that . . . someday.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Music drifted from the quintet of live musicians in the corner of the ballroom. The night was warm and clear, so the crystoplast wall had been retracted, extending the ballroom out across the terrace and increasing its normal six hundred square meters of floor space by a third. For the present, that additional floorspace was unavailable for dancing, however. Instead, spotless white table cloths fluttered on the land breeze blowing outward across Jason Bay while the Harrington House staff, augmented for the evening, prepared to serve supper.

Nor was anyone dancing in the ballroom itself, despite its size, the splendor of its brilliantly polished marble floor, and the invitation of the music. Possibly because the music in question was a bit odd by Manticoran standards. Allison and Alfred Harrington had fallen in love with classical Grayson music during their time on Grayson, but the planet’s ancient dancing traditions, which centered on something called the “square dance,” weren’t familiar to most Manticorans. The lack of dancers was subject to change, however, and Honor suspected that it would after dinner.

At the moment, she stood between Hamish and Emily Alexander-Harrington’s life support chair, gazing out across the bay.

“Honor, I’d like you to meet someone,” a voice said, and she turned as her father — one of the few people present who was actually taller than she was — walked up behind her.

Since Harrington House was technically Grayson soil, and Honor tended to dress in her persona as Steadholder Harrington whenever she was officially “home,” she wasn’t in uniform tonight. But her father, for the first time since her childhood, was. Rather than the four golden pips of his pre-retirement rank, however, his collar bore two gold planets. A single broad gold band had been added to the three bands of a commander, and the unit patch on his left shoulder showed the Rod of Asclepius under the word “Bassingford.” In the newly reactivated Commodore Harrington’s case, both the staff itself and the single serpent were embroidered in gold rather than the silver of other Bassingford Medical Center shoulder flashes.

Which was rather the point of this evening’s festivities, she reflected. Her father hadn’t simply gone back onto active duty. Effective tomorrow, he was Bassingford’s one hundred and third commanding officer. Officially, that was because he’d been recalled by the Navy, and that was fair enough, because the Navy had wanted him back at Bassingford virtually from the day he retired and resigned his post as Head of Neurosurgery. In reality, though, it was the Yawata Strike which had returned him to active duty. He’d needed a few months to make up his mind. The process had begun shortly after the strike, but it had taken the Battle of Spindle and — especially — “Operation Raging Justice” to complete it. One thing was sadly obvious; if the Mandarins persisted in their current policies, Bassingford would need far more beds . . . most of which would be filled by Solarians. Alfred Harrington needed to be part of dealing with all those broken bodies and lives. That was what had finally pushed him back into uniform.

That and the need to do something healing rather than succumb to the part of him which had once been Sergeant Harrington, Royal Manticoran Marine Corps.

Now he smiled at his daughter, indicating the much shorter woman —no more than fifteen or sixteen centimeters taller than Allison Harrington — at his side. She had dark hair, ten or twelve centimeters longer than Honor had once worn her own, dark eyes, and a lively, mobile face. She, too, was in uniform with the Bassingford shoulder flash, although in her case, only the staff of the rod was in gold.

“Honor, this is Captain Sara Kate Lessem,” Alfred said. “Sara Kate, my daughter, Duchess Harrington. She’s —”

“Sara Kate!” Honor smiled broadly and enveloped the shorter woman in a hug.

“Ah, should I assume my introduction was a bit . . . superfluous?” her father asked after a moment while Hamish and Emily chuckled.

“Daddy, I’ve known Sara Kate for — what? Thirty T-years, Sara Kate?”

“I’m afraid it really has been about that long,” Captain Lessem replied with a smile. “It’s good to see you again, though. It’s been too long!”

“I’m sorry I missed the wedding,” Honor said, shaking her head. “I was . . . occupied at the time.”

“You mean you were off blowing things up again,” Captain Lessem observed.

“Well, yes, I suppose.” Honor smiled. “And how do you like being a respectable married woman?”

“Honor, it’s been three T-years now. How do you expect me to remember what it was like before? And speaking of respectable married women —?” Captain Lessem raised her eyebrows in Hamish and Emily’s direction, and Honor chuckled.

“Mom and Dad really did teach me better manners than that,” she said. “Sara Kate, this is my husband, Hamish Alexander-Harrington, and this is my wife, Emily Alexander-Harrington. Both of them have long, tiresome lists of titles we’ll leave to one side right now. Hamish, Emily, this is Sara Kate Lessem. I first met her when she was Sara Kate Tillman.”

“They have long tiresome lists of titles?” Captain Lessem shook her head, then shook hands with both of Honor’s spouses.

“At least half of which come from our association with her,” Emily told her with a smile. “May I ask how you and Honor come to know one another?”

“Uncle Jacques introduced us,” Honor replied before Lessem could, and it was her father’s eyebrows turn to rise.

“Jacques introduced you?” he said. “Wait a minute. Would this have anything to do with those anachronisms of his?”

“Of course it does. Sara Kate’s another member of the Society. Her particular interest is in what they called ballroom dancing from the last couple of centuries Ante Diaspora. It’s not what most people do today. Actually, I like it a lot better. So, Sara Kate, you’re at Bassingford these days?”

“I am,” Lessem confirmed.

“She means she’s the Assistant Director and Head of Nursing and Physical Therapy,” Commodore Harrington put in.

“And I’ve had a lot more patients than I’d like since that business with Filareta.” Lessem’s expression was much less cheerful than it had been. “They may all be Sollies, but a broken body’s still a broken body.”

“I know,” Honor sighed. “And I hate it. If I could’ve avoided it —”

“If you could have avoided it, we’d be calling you God and lighting candles to you,” Lessem interrupted. “And if it had occurred to me that you were going to go off on a guilt trip, I never would’ve opened my mouth about it, either.”

“Oh, I like you, Captain Lessem!” Emily said enthusiastically. “Please! Kick her again!”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Dienstag, 17. April 2018, 04:28

Es geht weiter - wieder ein 3-teiliges Snippet. Hier kommt Teil 1

Zitat von »David Weber«

Lessem gave her a startled glance, then snorted in sudden understanding.

“Been brooding about it, has she?”

“Only sometimes,” Emily replied in the judicious tone of someone trying to be scrupulously fair. “Not more than every other time I see her.”

“Then consider her kicked,” Lessem promised.

“Oh, thank you both so much.” Honor rolled her eyes while Hamish and her father chuckled. “And you two aren’t helping this, you know,” she told the male component of the conversation severely.

“Not my responsibility to help when Captain Lessem and Emily are doing such a splendid job,” Hamish informed her. “Not that either of them’s likely to tell you anything I haven’t.”

“Acknowledged.” Honor nodded. “And I’ll try.”

“Good.” Lessem reached out to squeeze her upper arm gently. “That’s good, Honor.”

“I see Mistress Thorn’s minions are about ready to serve,” Hamish observed, looking back towards the ballroom. “Will you join us, Captain?”

“I’d be honored, My Lord.”

“On social occasions, it’s ‘Hamish,’ Captain.”

“Only if it’s also Sara Kate, My Lord is Mesa ,” Lessem replied a bit pointedly.

“Then would you join us . . . Sara Kate?”

“Thank you . . . Hamish.”

He smiled and offered her his arm while Honor took Emily’s hand and the four of them headed for the head table. Alfred looked around until he located Allison. As usual, she was at the center of a cluster of admirers — most of them male — and he headed across to rescue her and escort her to the same table.

She smiled happily as he swooped down upon her, ruthlessly exploiting his position as both husband and guest of honor, since the evening was the official announcement of his return to duty, and she tucked her hand into his elbow and squeezed gratefully as he led her away.

“I don’t know what you were thinking to leave me exposed that way.” Her tone was teasing, but there was an edge of seriousness to it. “My God, Alfred! You didn’t tell me we were inviting George Brockman!” She shuddered. “That man doesn’t have the faintest concept of what ‘monogamy’ means.”

“And if I’d thought for a moment that you weren’t perfectly capable of cutting him off at the knees — or at any other appropriate point on his anatomy —I’d have been there in an instant,” her husband assured her, and looked down at her with a faint twinkle. “Tell me with a straight face that you didn’t enjoy doing exactly that when — as I’m sure happened — he gave you the chance?”

“You may be able to throw me heartlessly to the wolves, but you can’t make me lie!” She lifted her nose with an audible sniff, then smiled wickedly. “I’m pretty sure the bleeding will stop in another hour or so.”

“Good for you!” Alfred laughed. “And while we’re talking about social lapses, were you aware Honor and Sara Kate Lessem — and Jacques, now that I think about it — all know one another?”

“Of course I was.” She looked up at him again with a devilish smile. “Dear me. Did I forget to mention that to you?”

“Out of consideration for your delicate condition, I will defer the proper response to that.”

“Oh, no, you won’t!” she told him pertly. “I’ve already had the peach preserves sent to our room.”

“You’re incorrigible,” he said, smothering a laugh.

“I don’t know why you and Honor keep saying that. I’m the most encouragable person I know!”

* * * * * * * * * *

“It’s good to see him laughing again,” Emily Alexander-Harrington said quietly as her mother and father-in-law headed towards the table.

“Agreed,” Honor said, equally quietly. “And I think —“

She paused for a moment, then shook her head.

“You think what?” Emily pressed.

“Oh, it was just a passing thought.” Honor shook her head again, her expression sobering. “We’re all having a few of those at the moment, I think.”

“Yes, we are,” Emily agreed, but she gazed at Honor speculatively, and Honor made herself look back with tranquil eyes as she tasted the curiosity in Emily’s mind-glow. She also didn’t mention what had spawned that “passing thought.”

“Tell me, have you given any more thought to a brother or sister for Katherine and Raoul?” she asked instead.

“I have.” Emily nodded, although the question seemed to have sharpened the focus of that speculation Honor had tasted. “In fact, I have an appointment to discuss it with Dr. Illescue at Briarwood tomorrow afternoon, before I go back to White Haven.”

“Oh, good!” Honor beamed at her, bending over her chair to envelop her in a gentle hug. “I’m thinking about doing the same thing. Maybe this time we can time it even closer!”

“There’s only a month or so between the two we have, dear,” Emily pointed out drily. “What? You want to synchronise the deliveries to the same minute?”

“Well, if neither one of us is going to be in a position to do it the old fashioned way, we might as well take advantage of the opportunities we do have. Besides —” she straightened with a devilish smile “— twins do is Mesa run in Mom’s family, you know!”

Emily laughed, and Honor’s smile turned more gentle. But then she straightened and looked at Hamish across Emily’s head. She swivelled her eyes to one side, to where Sandra Thurston, Emily’s nurse and constant companion, stood chatting with James MacGuiness while he kept an eagle eye on the evening’s festivities. Her gaze came back to Hamish, and he shrugged ever so slightly, letting an edge of worry show in his own blue eyes.

Her mouth tightened as she put that together with the undertone she’d tasted in Emily’s mind-glow, but then she drew a deep breath. She wasn’t going to borrow any trouble, she told herself firmly. Not tonight. And not when all three of them had so much to be grateful for, including —

“You’re right about how good it is to see Daddy laughing again,” she said, looking back down at Emily and squeezing her good hand gently, then looked at Captain Lessem. “I think it’s going to be good for him to get back to work, too.”

“Well, I can tell you the entire staff’s damned glad we’ve gotten him back to work,” Lessem said frankly. “Lord knows we need him as a surgeon, but we need him even more on the administrative side.” She shook her head. “I wasn’t joking about how many patients we’re going to have, Honor. It’s bad already, and if those idiots in Old Chicago don’t get their heads out of —” She paused, then grimaced. “Out of the sand, it’s going to get a lot worse.”

“I know. And we’re trying to hold it to a minimum,” Honor said, easing Nimitz off her shoulder to join Samantha in the double highchair between her and Hamish. “And speaking of trying to keep things to minimums, where’s Martin right now?”

“I suppose, given your august connections I can tell you,” Lessem said, smiling crookedly at Hamish. “At the moment, he’s got a task group with Vice Admiral Correia. I don’t know exactly where they were headed, but I know it’s part of Lacoön Two.”

“If he’s with Correia, he’s probably in Ajay or Prime about now,” Hamish said.

“And just between you and me, I’m a lot happier with the thought of his facing off with Sollies instead of Havenites,” the captain observed.

“So am I, for now, at least,” Honor. “I just wish we had a clue about some way to convince the Mandarins to at least pretend they have a single functional brain amongst them.”

“I seem to sense just a little acerbity?” Lessem teased.

“Just a bit, perhaps,” Honor admitted.

“Tell me, Doctor — Sara Kate, I mean,” Emily said. “Honor mentioned something about ‘ancient’ ballroom dancing. How did you ever get involved with that?”

“Blame it on my misspent youth,” Lessem replied with a chuckle. “That and the fact that my mother knew Honor’s Uncle Jacques when they were college students. He got her involved with the Society for Creative Anachronisms, and she’s a physical therapist, too. Dance is sort of a natural connection for therapists. Or it can be, anyway.”

“Fascinating.” Emily shook her head. “I’ve had quite a bit of experience with therapists myself, over the years, but for fairly obvious reasons, no one ever suggested dance to me. I can see its applicability, though, now that you’ve mentioned it.”
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Dienstag, 17. April 2018, 04:30

Weiter geht es mit Teil 2

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Oh, I do it much more for pleasure than professionally,” Lessem said. “I even got Martin to take it up, and he’s remarkably good at it. To be honest, I’m looking for a new challenge for him.”

“You are, are you?” Honor smiled. “Well, in that case, you’ve come to the right place.”

“I have?” Lessem’s eyebrows arched, and Honor’s smile grew broader.

“Oh, yes. Tell me, are you familiar with the phrase ‘dosey doe’?”

George Benton Tower
City of Old Chicago
Old Earth
Sol System

“Sorry I’m late,” Permanent Senior Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Innokentiy Kolokoltsov told his colleagues as he stepped through the conference room’s doors and they slid silently shut behind him. “I was ready to walk out of my office when one of my analysts — Stephanos Nye, I think I’ve mentioned him to you before — asked for an urgent appointment.”

“You could’ve screened to let us know you’d be delayed.” There was an unpleasant edge in Nathan MacArtney’s reply. Then again, they’d expected him almost an hour earlier.

“It’s not like we don’t all have plenty of ‘urgent appointments’ of our own we could be using our time on instead of sitting twiddling our thumbs,” MacArtney added.

Kolokoltsov frowned at him, his eyes cold. Of all the people in this room, MacArtney, as Permanent Senior Undersecretary of the Interior, bore the most direct responsibility for the unholy mess they faced. Kolokoltsov was prepared to admit he’d contributed his own fair share to the making of that mess, but none of the others could rival the string of disasters MacArtney and his ally, the late, unlamented Fleet Admiral Rajampet, had brewed up before Rajampet’s overdue suicide.

“I decided it wasn’t a very good idea to discuss highly sensitive matters over the com, Nathan,” he said after a moment. “We’ve got enough alligators biting us on the arse without letting anything . . . unfortunate get leaked.”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Innokentiy!” Malachai Abruzzi, the Permanent Senior Undersecretary of Information, shook his head. “Our coms are the most secure in the entire galaxy!”

“Really?” Kolokoltsov crossed to the table, settled into the chair at its head, and turned it to face the others. “You’re confident of that, are you?”

“Of course I am!”

“Then perhaps you’d care to explain how the conversation you and Nathan had last month about how to handle the Hypatian situation happened to hit the public boards in Hypatia last week?”

The silence in the deeply buried, heavily shielded conference room was as total as it was sudden, and he looked around his colleagues’ faces.

“What conversation was that?” Omosupe Quartermain asked after a long, still moment. MacArtney, in particular, had been on the Permanent Senior Undersecretary of Commerce’s personal shit list ever since the situation in the Fringe began deteriorating, since she and her colleague Agatha Wodoslawski, the Permanent Senior Undersecretary of the Treasury, were the ones trying desperately — and unsuccessfully — to cope with the catastrophic fiscal consequences.

“The one in which they considered how much simpler things would get if we dropped an intervention battalion or two into Hypatia to ‘encourage’ President Vangelis to call off the referendum. Something about shooting every tenth senator until they got it right, I believe.” Kolokoltsov’s voice was even colder than his eyes, and Wodoslawski joined him and Quartermain in glowering at Abruzzi and MacArtney.

“Oh, come on, Innokentiy!” Abruzzi protested. “That was never a serious policy suggestion!” He shook his head, expression disgusted. “For God’s sake, there are over two billion people on Hypatia, and another million-point-two in the Alexandria Belt! Someone really thinks a couple of intervention battalions are going to turn something like that around?! Give me a break!”

“Of course I don’t think that. That doesn’t mean someone else might not. And let’s be honest here, it wouldn’t be all that different from quite a few interventions OFS has pulled off out in the Protectorates, now would it? Did it ever occur to either of you that with feelings running as high as they are — and enough people on the other side primed to jump on any opening we give them — finding out that two of the ‘Mandarins’ are even talking about what would amount to a coup against a legally elected system president would play right into the hysteria mongers’ hands?”

“First, we were on a secure government com. Who the hell was going to hear about it?” Abruzzi demanded. “And, secondly, it should’ve been totally clear from the context of our entire conversation that we were venting our frustration, not recommending some kind of serious policy!”

“Malachai, you’re the Permanent Undersecretary of information! You know, better than anyone else in this room, how easy it is to strip something out of its context and turn it into a soundbite that says exactly the opposite of what whoever said it actually meant. And that’s just what some bastard in Hypatia’s done with your and Nathan’s little conversational . . . faux pas.”

Abruzzi had opened his mouth to respond. Now he shut it again, his expression thunderous, because Kolokoltsov was right. The Ministry of Information spent far more of its resources on “shaping the narrative” — what an earlier and more honest age might have called “producing propaganda” — than it ever did on straight news releases.

“How the hell did anybody get their hands on it in the first place?” MacArtney demanded, glaring at Abruzzi with a certain self-righteousness. He is Ms. wasn’t the one who’d just proclaimed the inviolability of their communications channels, after all.

“If I knew that, whoever’s responsible for it would be roasting on a slow spit,” Kolokoltsov replied grimly. “All I know is that the latest courier boat from Hypatia came in about three hours ago, and your conversation — shorn of anything that could conceivably suggest it wasn’t a serious policy suggestion, or at least a serious consideration — had been on the boards for two days before it left. In those two days, according to Stephanos, it logged over nine hundred and seventy-two million hits. I’ve done the math, by the way. That works out to forty-nine percent of the total population of the star system, including every babe in arms. And for your information, that’s seventy-five percent of the adult population. To say it isn’t playing well with the voters would be something of an understatement, Nathan.”

“Oh my God.” Quartermain’s tone couldn’t seem to decide between disgust, anger, and resignation. “So how bad is the damage, Innokentiy?” she sighed.

“Well it isn’t good.” Kolokoltsov popped a data chip into the terminal in front of him and the header of a report appeared on his colleagues’ displays. “This is Nye’s initial take on it. He’s doing a more deliberate analysis, and the numbers may get a little better, but I doubt it’ll make much difference in the end. And the conclusion he’s reached is that what was going to be a squeaker that would probably go against us is in the process of turning into something just a bit more . . . emphatic. The word he used was ‘tsunami,’ actually.”

“All over what couldn’t be more than three or four seconds of a com conversation?” Wodoslawski looked as if she would have liked to be incredulous.

“Oh, it’s more than three or four seconds.” Kolokoltsov spared MacArtney and Abruzzi a fulminating glare, then looked at Wodoslawski. “It would seem there was quite a bit of ‘frustration venting’ in the conversation, and whoever handed it over to the Hypatian newsies must have edited all the choicer bits together, because the actual soundbite runs almost six minutes. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying this is the only thing driving Hypatian public opinion. There were already a lot of negative factors in the mix, and we all know it. But it looks as if this could be the emotional trigger that turns a vote that already looked dicey into an outright disaster."
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


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Dienstag, 17. April 2018, 04:32

Und der Schluß dieses Snippets

Zitat von »David Weber«

“Shit.” Omosupe Quartermain seldom used colorful language, but she’d clearly decided to make an exception, and Kolokoltsov didn’t blame her.

With less than a third of Beowulf System’s population, and perhaps a fifth of its gross system product, Hypatia was on the small size for what was technically a Core System of the League. For that matter, as a full member system, Hypatia’s contribution to the Solarian League’s federal budget was limited, aside from the relatively modest duties levied on its interstellar shipping. It was a useful bit of cash flow, but there were probably a dozen Protectorate systems which contributed at least as much. So from that perspective, Hypatia’s potential defection was unlikely to make an already grim situation much worse.

But Hypatia, like Beowulf, had been a founding member of the Solarian League when the League Constitution was proclaimed right here in Old Chicago seven hundred fifty-seven T-years ago last month. Not only that, the system was only forty-four light-years — less than six days, for a dispatch boat — from Beowulf and the Beowulf Terminus of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction. If Hypatia opted to secede and, even more disastrously, to throw in its lot with its longtime neighbors, trading partners, and friends, it would expand the “Grand Alliance’s” bridgehead at the very heart of the Solarian League dangerously. Worse, a successful secession — another successful secession, since Beowulf’s was a foregone conclusion as soon as the Beowulfers got around to holding their own vote — would go a disastrously long way toward validating the right to secede in the court of public opinion.

And that could not be allowed.

“Perhaps you can see now why I didn’t screen you about this,” Kolokoltsov observed. “In fact, I know it’s going to be an incredible pain, but in addition to assuming anything we say on our nice, secure com system is likely to be overheard and watching our tongues accordingly, I think any sensitive information will need to be couriered back and forth between us, at least for the next few days. For that matter, it’d probably be smart of us to handle really sensitive information that way for the foreseeable future.”

“That’d make it almost impossible to coordinate properly,” Wodoslawski objected.

“No, it won’t.” Kolokoltsov shook his head. “It’ll make it difficult, granted, but all of us — except you — have our offices here in George Benton. I don’t know how they got to Nathan and Malachai’s com conversation, but this conference room is only a lift shaft away from our private offices, and it’s shielded against every form of eavesdropping known to man. For that matter, so are our offices. I’ve already found you twenty-four thousand square meters of floor space here in the tower, and if you need it, we can free up twice that much in seventy-two hours. I know moving your entire staff over would be a pain in the arse, but I don’t really see an option if we’re going to keep you in the loop.”

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Dead serious,” he said flatly. “Look, maybe this is an exercise in paranoia on my part, but we’re about to get handed our heads in Hypatia, people. We can’t — we just can’t — go on with this kind of crap hitting us in the face every other week. I’ve talked to my tech people, and they say that if we’re all here in the tower, they can run secure, shielded, hardwired com lines that could only be tapped with direct physical access to the cables. I know it sounds like Dark Ages technology, but if it’ll work, I don’t really give a damn how ‘antiquated’ it is. And if all the cable involved is here in the same tower, it’ll be a lot easier for us to make sure nobody’s getting that physical access to it.”

Wodoslawski sat back, shaking her head, and Kolokoltsov couldn’t blame her. In truth, he wasn’t certain himself how much of his proposal was rational and how much was the product of his own increasing desperation. The worst thing about it, he thought, was that he proposed to turn Benton Tower into a fortress, and people living inside fortresses developed fortress mentalities. If he and his colleagues retreated into a bunker, even one as splendidly equipped as this one, it might encourage them to retreat into a deeper and deeper disconnect with the galaxy about them, as well.

But where’s the option? he asked himself. Whether we like it or not, somebody hacked our coms, and none of our techs have found any fingerprints pointing at who it might’ve been or how the hell they did it. And I don’t have to explain all the implications to the others. They know as well as I do that if someone can hack our coms, God only knows what else they can break into! And really, the only one who’d be physically moving would be Agatá. The rest of us’re already in George Bentoon! For that matter, most of the ministries have been here since the day it was built, so it’s not even like the rest of the League will realize we’re forting up in the first place!

No, they wouldn’t. George Benton Tower was indelibly associated in the public’s mind with the might and majesty of the League’s Federal Government. Moving the other ministries out of George Benton would have generated far more speculation than moving Treasury into it. But he and his colleagues would know, and so would their most senior and trusted subordinates. And from there, the awareness would seep downward with the inevitability of a winter freeze in Tarko-Sale, his hometown in ancient Siberia.

He looked around the shielded, guarded conference room and wondered how often his fellows reflected upon the name of the two-kilometer tall tower which housed the Solarian League’s heart and brain. Thought about the fact that it had been named for one of the dozen or so most famous human beings in history, the man most responsible, in many ways, for the League’s creation. The co-leader of the medical teams — the teams from Beowulf — which had preserved human life on Old Earth itself after the Final War. The man who’d seen the need for a coordinating authority that could span hundreds of light-years, recognized its necessity in the wake of the catastrophic damage he’d done so much to repair, and spent the last thirty-five T-years of his life bringing that authority into existence.

The man whose distant descendent headed the Beowulf System government which was about to stab the Solarian League in the heart. Of course, he must have lirterally billions of “distant descendents” after the next best thing to eight hundred years, and it was only logical for them to be concentrated in Beowulf and its closest galactic neighbors. Yet it was bitterly ironic that even as Chyang Benton-Ramirez prepared to oversee the referendum which would supply the dagger, yet another of those descendents commanded the “Grand Fleet” which might well drive it home.

It was, perhaps, fortunate so few Solarians were sufficiently aware of their own history to ask why that man’s descendents had chosen to destroy all he’d built.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (


Rear Admiral

  • »Eagleeye« ist der Autor dieses Themas

Beiträge: 499

Wohnort: Halle/Saale

Beruf: Bibliothekar

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Freitag, 15. Juni 2018, 04:38

Da David durch andere Projekte nicht zum regelmäßigen Snippetverteilen kommt, hat er einen "Clean Sweep" gemacht - und das komplette erste Drittel des Buches (mehr gibt er grundsätzlich nicht mehr als Snippets frei) in der final Edition zum Download als docx-Datei online gestellt. Hier ist der Link - für alle Interessierten.

Er hat übrigens explizit darauf hingewiesen, dass das eARC auf Basis einer früheren Fasssung entstanden ist - so, dass es auch für diejenigen, die diese Edition gekauft haben, von Interesse sein dürfte.
DRM (...) represent(s) an exercise in mindless stupidity that would shame any self-respecting dinosaur
Eric Flint;
Random pithy quote: Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.. (

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