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Favorite Moments So Far?

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Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by roseandheather   » Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:55 pm

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With the series winding to a close (or at least a resting point), now seems like a good time to look back over almost a quarter-century of Honorverse awesome and pick out our favorite moments. Whether it's an epic space battle, an alliance that will shake the foundations of the galaxy, or the triumph of democracy over dictatorship after centuries of misrule, this 'verse has been home to a lot of awesome. And heartwarming, and funny, and moments that just stick in your mind and touch your heart.

(Just to keep things tidy, I'm excluding Manticore Ascendant and the Stephanie Harrington novels from this particular thread - but if you're keen, I'm happy to start separate threads for them! Or you can. I just figured I should keep it to the "modern" era, as that's quite enough to be going on with by itself. :D )

Fire away!
~*~


I serve at the pleasure of President Pritchart.

Javier & Eloise
"You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley..."
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by kzt   » Tue Mar 07, 2017 11:03 pm

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"Good-bye, Citizen Chairman."
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by Fireflair   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:27 am

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I'd have to say my favorite moment was when the State Sec SD's all blew up and Shannon said "oops". But I also really enjoyed when they blindsided Honor into marrying Hamish and Emily.
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by Thrandir   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:08 am

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Fireflair wrote:I'd have to say my favorite moment was when the State Sec SD's all blew up and Shannon said "oops". But I also really enjoyed when they blindsided Honor into marrying Hamish and Emily.


Must agree I loved all these plus the come-uppance of the SS Goons and Ransom
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by George J. Smith   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:41 am

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From Field of Dishonor

Castellaño opened his hand. The handkerchief leapt into the air, frisking in the playful breeze, and Denver Summervale's brain glowed with merciless fire as his hand came up. The pistol was an extension of his nerves, rising into the classic duelist's stance with the oiled speed of long practice while his eyes remained fixed on Harrington. His target was graven in his mind, waiting only to merge with his weapon's rising sights, when white flame blossomed from her hand and a spike of Hell slammed into his belly.
He grunted in disbelief, eyes bulging in shock, and the fire flashed again. A second sledgehammer slammed him, centimeters above the agony of the first shot, and astonishment flickered through him. She hadn't raised her hand. She hadn't even raised her hand! She was firing from the hip, and—
A third shot cracked out, and another huge smear of crimson blotted his black tunic. His pistol hand was weighted with iron, and he looked down stupidly at the blood pulsing from his chest.
This couldn't happen. It was impossible for him to—
A fourth shot roared, punching into him less than a centimeter from the third, and he screamed as much in fury as in agony. No! The bitch couldn't kill him! Not before he got even one shot into her!
He looked back up, staring at her, wavering on his feet, and his gun was back at his side. He didn't remember lowering it, and now hers was up in full extension. He stared at her, seeing the wisps of smoke blowing from her muzzle in the breeze, and bared his teeth in hatred. Blood bubbled in his nostrils, his knees began to buckle, but somehow he stayed on his feet and slowly, grimly, fought to bring his gun hand up.
Honor Harrington watched him over the sights of her pistol. She saw the hate on his face, the terrible realization of what had happened, the venomous determination as his pistol wavered up centimeter by agonized centimeter. It was coming up, rising toward firing position while he snarled at her, and there was no emotion at all in her brown eyes as her fifth bullet smashed squarely through the bridge of his nose.
Last edited by George J. Smith on Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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T&R
GJS

A man should live forever, or die in the attempt
Spider Robinson Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (1977) A voice is heard in Ramah
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by George J. Smith   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:43 am

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Also from Field of Dishonor,

Young stared at her, wide-eyed and mad, still clutching his empty weapon, and the automatic bucked in her hand. A crimson rose blossomed on Young's chest, and she rode the recoil up, brought her hand back down, fired again. And again. And then Castellaño's pulser finally snarled. The burst of darts ripped through Pavel Young in a spray of blood and shredded tissue, but he was already dead, with three ten-millimeter rounds, in a group small enough to cover with a child's hand, where once his heart had been.
.
T&R
GJS

A man should live forever, or die in the attempt
Spider Robinson Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (1977) A voice is heard in Ramah
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by cthia   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:52 am

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Everyone knows what my favorite moment is. Oh, I have many but there is one moment which contains the one-liner spoken by Honor in the Manticoran Home System that is so powerful it is heard all the way back to Nouveau Paris. Still gives me goose bumps...

At All Costs Ch. 68 wrote:She glanced at the time display while she did some mental math. Assume they waited until the birds were, say, eighty seconds out and then kicked in the last stage at 46,000 gravities. That would give them eighty seconds of maneuver time, for however much good that would do them at this extended range.

If they let the missiles come all the way in ballistic, flight time from shutdown would be about four and a half minutes. But they won't. So say they do bring the drives back up eighty seconds out—that would put them about three minutes before attack range on a straight ballistic profile—they'd still have about 13,000,000 kilometers to go. So if they kick the remaining drive at 46,000 gees at that point, they'll shave maybe seven seconds off their arrival time, and they'll be coming in somewhere around 200,000 KPS. But their accuracy will still suck. And what the hell do they think they're doing with this other little cluster?

Andrianna was right. It didn't make sense, unless Nicodème was right and they were trying to panic her. But if Third Fleet was what they'd just finished destroying, then these people had to be Eighth Fleet, which meant Honor Harrington. And Harrington didn't do things that didn't make sense. So what—?

Her eyes opened wide in horror.

"General signal all units!" she shouted, spinning towards her com section. "Hyper out immediately! Repeat, hyper out—"

But it had taken Genevieve Chin two minutes too long to realize what was happening.

* * *

"Drives going active . . . now, Your Grace," Andrea Jaruwalski said, and the missiles thirteen million kilometers short of Fifth Fleet suddenly brought their final drive stages on-line. Their icons burned abruptly bright and strong once again as they lit off their impellers . . . and hurled themselves at their targets under full shipboard control.

They blazed in across the remaining distance, tracking with clean, lethal precision, and their ballistic flight had dropped them off of the Republic's sensors. Chin's ships knew approximately where they were, but not exactly, and their supporting EW platforms and penetration aids came up with their impellers. They hurtled in across the Republican SD(P)s' defensive envelope at over half the speed of light, and the sudden eruption of jamming, of Dragon's Teeth spilling false targets, hammered those defenses mercilessly.

The fact that the missile defense crews aboard those ships had known, without question, that the attacking missiles would be clumsy, half-blind, only made a disastrous situation even worse.

Eighth Fleet had deployed almost eight thousand pods. Those pods launched 69,984 missiles. Of that total, 7,776 were Apollo birds. Another 8,000 were electronic warfare platforms. Which meant that 54,208 carried laser heads—laser heads which homed on Genevieve Chin's ships with murderously accurate targeting.

Fifth Fleet's missile defenses did their best.

Their best was not good enough.

* * *

Honor sat hugging Nimitz and watched the tactical download from one of the Apollos. Despite the enormous range between Imperator and that missile, the transmission time was under four and a half seconds, and the clarity of the Apollo's enhanced sensors and data processing capability made the tactical feed crystal clear. It felt unnatural, as if she were right there, on top of the Havenite fleet, not over seventy million kilometers away. She watched the enemy counter-missiles fire late and wide. She watched the attack missiles' accompanying EW platforms beating down the defenses. She watched the missiles themselves sliding through those defenses like assassins' daggers.

Fifth Fleet stopped almost thirty percent of them, which was a truly miraculous total, under the circumstances. But over thirty-seven thousand got through.

It was, she decided coldly, a case of overkill.

* * *

Lester Tourville stared at his plot in horror as the impeller signatures of sixty-eight Republican ships of the wall abruptly vanished. Seventeen continued to burn on the display for another handful of seconds. Then they, too, vanished in what he devoutly hoped was a frantic hyper translation.

There was total silence on Guerriere's flag bridge.

He never knew exactly how long he simply sat there, his mind a great, singing emptiness around a core of ice. It couldn't have been the eternity that it seemed to be, but eventually he forced his shoulders to straighten.

"Well," he said in a voice he couldn't quite recognize, "it would appear our time estimate on the deployment of their new system was slightly in error."

He turned his command chair to face Frazier Adamson.

"Cease fire, Commander."

Adamson blinked twice, then shook himself.

"Yes, Sir," he said hoarsely, and Second Fleet ceased firing at Third Fleet's tattered remnants as Adamson transmitted the order.

* * *

"Dear Lord," Dame Alice Truman murmured feelingly. "Talk about last-second reprieves."

"Did what I think happened really just happen, Ma'am?"

Wraith Goodrick's voice sounded shaky, and Truman didn't blame him a bit. Only seven of Theodosia Kuzak's super-dread-noughts were still in action, and all of them were brutally damaged. Another three had technically survived, but Truman doubted any of the ten would be worth repairing. All four of Kuzak's CLACs had been killed, and of Truman's own eight, three had been destroyed, one was a drifting cripple without impellers, and the other four—including Chimera—were severely damaged. For all intents and purposes, Third Fleet had been as totally destroyed as Home Fleet.

But the merciless hail of missiles had at least stopped pounding its remnants.

And, Truman thought with grim survivor's humor, I don't blame whoever gave that order a bit, either.

* * *

"Missile trace!" Frazier Adamson barked suddenly, and Lester Tourville's belly muscles clenched.

What was left of Third Fleet had stopped firing when he did. Were they insane enough to resume the action? If they did, he'd have no choice but to—

"Sir, they're coming in from outside the zone!" Adamson said.

"What?" Molly DeLaney demanded incredulously. "That's ridiculous! They're a hundred fifty million klicks away!"

"Well, they're coming in on us now anyway," Tourville said sharply as Guerriere's missile defense batteries began to fire once more.

They didn't do much good. He watched sickly as the missiles which had suddenly brought up their impellers, appearing literally out of nowhere, hurtled down on his battered and broken command. They drove straight in, swerving, dancing, and his sick feeling of helplessness frayed around the edges as he realized there were less than sixty of them. Whatever they were, they weren't a serious attack on his surviving ships, so what—?

His jaw tightened as the missiles made their final approach. But they didn't detonate. Instead, they hurtled directly through his formation, straight through the teeth of his blazing laser clusters.

His point defense crews managed to nail two-thirds of them, despite the totality of the tactical surprise they'd acieved. The other twenty pirouetted, swerved to one side, then detonated in a perfectly synchronized, deadly accurate attack . . . on absolutely nothing.

Lester Tourville exhaled the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. He sensed the confusion of his flag bridge crew, and this time, he had no answer at all for them. Then—

"Sir," Lieutenant Eisenberg said in a very small voice, "I have a com request for you."

He turned his command chair to look at her, and she swallowed.

"It's . . . from Duchess Harrington, Sir."

The silence on Guerriere's flag bridge was complete. Then Tourville cleared his throat.

"Throw it on my display, Ace," he said.

"Yes, Sir. Coming up now."

An instant later, a face appeared on Tourville's display. He'd seen that face before, when its owner surrendered to him. And again, when she had been clubbed down by the pulse rifle butts of State Security goons. Now she looked at him, her eyes like two more missile tubes.

"We meet again, Admiral Tourville," she said, and her soprano voice was cold.

"Admiral Harrington," he replied. "This is a surprise. I thought you were about eight light-minutes away."

He gazed at her hard eyes, eyes like leveled missile tubes, and waited. The transmission lag for light-speed communications should have been eight minutes—sixteen minutes, for a two-way exchange—at that range, but she spoke again barely fifteen seconds after he finished.

"I am. I'm speaking to you over what we call a 'Hermes buoy.' It's an FTL relay with standard sub-light communication capability." The expression she produced was technically a smile, but it was one that belonged on something out of deep, dark oceanic depths.

"We have several of them deployed around the system. I simply plugged into the nearest one so that I could speak directly to you," she continued in that same, icy-cold voice. "I'm sure you observed my birds' terminal performance. I'm also sure you understand I have the capability to blow every single one of your remaining ships out of space from my present position. I hope you aren't going to make it necessary for me to do so."

Tourville looked at her, and knew that last statement wasn't really accurate. Knew a part of her—the part behind those frozen eyes, that icy voice—hoped he would make it necessary. But too many people had already died for him to kill still more out of sheer stupidity.

"No, Your Grace," he said quietly. "I won't make it necessary."

Another endless fifteen seconds dragged past. Then—

"I'm glad to hear that," she told him, "however my acceptance of your surrender is contingent upon the surrender of your ships—and their databases—in their present condition. Is that clearly understood, Admiral Tourville?"

He hovered on the brink of refusing, of declaring that he would scrub his databases, as was customary, before surrendering a ship. But then he looked into those icy eyes again, and the temptation vanished.

"It's . . . understood, Your Grace," he made himself say, and sat there tasting the bitter poison of defeat. Defeat made all the more poisonous by how close Beatrice had come to success . . . and how completely it had failed, in the end.

"Good," she said at last, after yet another fifteen-second delay. "Decelerate to zero relative to the system primary. You'll be boarded by prize officers once you do. In the meantime," she smiled again, that same terrifying smile, "my ships will remain here, where we can . . . keep an eye on things."
My bold.

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by cthia   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:11 pm

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Of course Cathy Montaigne is happier than a June bug on a shrub!

War of Honor Ch. 50 wrote:"Good evening, Lady North Hollow. I'm so happy you could come!"

"Why, thank you! I was delighted to be invited," Georgia Young replied as the butler ushered her into the palatial sitting room. It was a very large sitting room, for an apartment, even in the City of Landing, where space was hardly at the premium it was on more populous planets. It might be smaller than, say, the Green Sitting Room in the Landing residence of the Earl of the Tor, but not by all that much. Not surprisingly, perhaps, given that the luxurious "apartment" to which it belonged easily ran to at least three thousand square meters. In, needless to say, one of the most expensive residential towers in the entire capital.

Not bad for a commoner, Georgia thought as she handed her stylish jacket to the butler with a gracious smile. He smiled back at her, and one of her eyebrows tried to quirk in surprise. Mostly because it was unusual for any well-trained, professional servant to return the smile—or frown—of one of his employer's guests. But also because there was something . . . odd about that smile. Something she couldn't quite put a finger on.

The butler bowed slightly, and withdrew from the sitting room, and Georgia gave herself a mental shake. Perhaps there had been something unusual about his smile. But equally perhaps she was imagining things. Not that she was in the habit of doing something that silly, but this afternoon was shaping up to be unusual enough to put any self-respecting troubleshooter for the Conservative Association on edge. She wondered again if she should have mentioned the invitation to High Ridge before she accepted it. And decided once more that she'd been right not to do so. It would be a mistake to let him believe that she felt she required his permission for anything she chose to do, and an even bigger mistake to allow herself to believe it.

"Please," her hostess invited. "Sit down. May I offer you some form of refreshment? Tea, perhaps? Or something a bit stronger?"

"No, thank you," Georgia said as she seated herself in a powered armchair that was almost appallingly comfortable. "While I was delighted when you asked me to stop by this afternoon, My Lady, I was also very surprised. And I'm afraid that my schedule was already pretty fully booked before this unanticipated pleasure presented itself. I can only stay a short time, because the Earl and I are due to join the Prime Minister for a fund-raising dinner tonight." She smiled. "And while I appreciate your having thought to ask me to drop by, I'm sure you'll forgive me if I'm blunt enough to say that I rather doubted it was for a social occasion."

"Of course I'll forgive you." Her hostess chuckled. "In fact, I'm sure you've heard that I tend to be on the blunt side myself. I'm afraid my own social graces are less than polished, which always caused my parents quite a bit of distress. Still, I suppose I should point out that, socially speaking, of course, you really don't have to address me as 'My Lady' any longer, My Lady. I'm afraid I'm just plain Cathy Montaigne these days."

"And before my marriage to Stefan," Georgia responded with another gracious smile, "I was 'just plain' Georgia Sakristos, so perhaps we could simply dispense with any 'My Ladies' from either side?"

"That would be perfectly fine—and so diplomatic!" Montaigne chuckled again, in high good humor, and Georgia wondered what she felt so cheerful about. She also wondered whether or not Montaigne's obvious good cheer was a good sign or a bad one. According to the ex-countess' dossier, she was at her most dangerous when she smiled.

"While I'm being diplomatic," Georgia said, "allow me to congratulate you both on your election to the House of Commons and on the power base you seem to be building there. I trust you'll forgive me if I don't repeat those congratulations in public, since Stefan and the Prime Minister would never speak to me again if they caught me exchanging pleasantries with the enemy. And, of course, Countess New Kiev would probably do something far worse than that."

"I'm sure she would," Montaigne said with a blinding smile. "Indeed, I spend the occasional evening contemplating the degree of irritation I must be causing both of them. Well, all three, I suppose, counting your husband. Of course, I have to wonder if anyone does count him. Including yourself."

"I beg your pardon?" Georgia stiffened, coming upright as abruptly as the luxuriously enfolding chair allowed. Her voice projected both surprise and an edge of anger, but there was another emotion behind those she'd deliberately allowed herself to show. A sudden, abrupt tingle of anxiety. A suspicion that perhaps Montaigne's cheerfulness might turn out to have been a very bad sign indeed.

"Oh, I am sorry!" Montaigne said, with every appearance of sincerity. "I did say my social graces leave something to be desired, didn't I? I certainly didn't mean to denigrate your husband. I simply meant that it's fairly well known in political circles that the Earl depends heavily on your . . . advice, shall we say? I wouldn't want to be tacky enough to go about using phrases like 'the power behind the throne' or anything equally cliché-ish, but surely you know that no one in Landing doubts that Earl North Hollow follows your guidance very closely."

"Stefan does confide in me," Georgia said, her tone stiffly proper. "And I do advise him, from time to time, when he does. Nor do I think it's inappropriate for me to do so, particularly given my position with the Conservative Association."

"Oh, I never meant to suggest that that was improper, in any way!" Montaigne smiled again. "I simply wanted to establish that whatever your official place in the hierarchy of the High Ridge Government, your actual niche is somewhat higher."

"Very well," Georgia agreed, eyeing her hostess narrowly. "I'll concede that I have somewhat more influence behind the scenes than may be apparent to the public eye. I suppose in that regard I'm rather similar to, say, Captain Zilwicki."

"Oh, touché!" Montaigne's green eyes glowed, and she clapped her hands in delight. "That was very well done," she congratulated her guest. "I scarcely felt the knife slipping between my ribs!"

"I hope you'll forgive me for saying this, Ms. Montaigne," Georgia observed, "but the Conservative Association has amassed a fairly extensive file on you. Especially since your election to the Commons. And when you invited me over, I reviewed that file, of course. It said, among other things, that you enjoy being disconcertingly direct. An observation whose accuracy I'm rapidly coming to appreciate."

"Well, it would never do to disappoint all of the astute analysts, yourself included, who labor so diligently on the CA's behalf, now would it?"

"Indeed not. On the other hand, perhaps you and I could agree to put up our foils and get to the real purpose of my visit . . . whatever it is?"

"Certainly. You do have that fund-raiser to attend." Montaigne smiled yet again, and pressed a button on the wrist com disguised as an extremely expensive antique wristwatch. "I'm afraid the jig is up, Anton," she said into it. "Would you care to join us?"

Georgia crooked an elegant eyebrow but said nothing. Then a door concealed behind a tasteful light sculpture slid open, and Anton Zilwicki stepped through the sculpture into the room.

Georgia studied him with carefully concealed interest. She'd been preparing a dossier on him since his and Montaigne's return from Old Terra, and especially since Montaigne had decided to stand for election as an MP. The more she'd discovered, the more impressed she'd become. She strongly suspected that Montaigne's surprising decision to stand for a seat in the Commons had been Zilwicki's inspiration. The man had a positive talent for "thinking outside the box," and it was obvious to Georgia that he and Montaigne made a potent and potentially dangerous team. She was just as happy that her marriage to Stefan placed her firmly in the ranks of the Conservative Association. At least the team of Montaigne–Zilwicki was unlikely to become a direct threat to her own power base . . . unlike what she strongly suspected was going to happen to New Kiev in the next two or three T-years.

This was her first opportunity to see Zilwicki in the flesh, as it were, and she was forced to admit that he was an impressive specimen. No one was ever going to call him handsome, but neither was anyone ever going to call him anything uncomplimentary if they were within arm's reach of him. She felt an almost overwhelming desire to chuckle at the thought of her husband's expression if he should happen to find himself trapped in a small room with an irate Zilwicki, but that didn't keep her instincts from twanging. She was far too experienced not to realize that they were rapidly coming to the true reason Montaigne had invited her to "drop by." Not that they were making any particular effort to pretend otherwise.

"Lady North Hollow, allow me to introduce Captain Anton Zilwicki," Montaigne said cheerfully.

"Captain." Georgia gave him a small, seated half-bow of greeting and allowed the frankly measuring edge of her glance to show clearly. "Your reputation precedes you," she added.

"As does yours," Zilwicki acknowledged in his deep, rumbling voice.

"Well!" Georgia continued, returning her attention to her hostess. "I presume that the Captain's presence indicates that you have some startling bit of political intelligence to bestow upon me? That, after all, would have been the reason that the Prime Minister, for example, might have seen fit to invite me into a similar meeting."

"There are certain advantages to dealing with a fellow professional," Zilwicki observed. "Efficiency and directness, if nothing else."

"I do try not to waste time when there's no tactical advantage in doing so," Georgia conceded.

"In that case," Montaigne put in, "I suppose I owe you five dollars, Anton." Georgia glanced at her questioningly, and the ex-countess shrugged. "He bet me that you wouldn't spend any time beating around the bush." She smiled at Georgia for a moment, then turned back to her towering, slab-sided lover. "Should I ask Isaac to step back in for a moment, Anton?"

"I doubt that will be necessary," Zilwicki told her. He smiled, but the smile, Georgia noticed, never touched his eyes at all. Nor did he look at Montaigne. His attention was completely focused upon their guest, and it was difficult for Georgia not to shiver under its weight.

"The reason we invited you here," he told her after a moment, "was to offer you a certain opportunity. One I think you'd probably be wise to accept."

"Opportunity?" Georgia repeated calmly. "What sort of opportunity?"

"The opportunity," Montaigne replied in a voice which was suddenly calm, almost cold, and very, very focused, "to withdraw from politics and leave the Star Kingdom."

"Excuse me?" Georgia managed not to blink in surprise, but it wasn't easy.

"It's really a very good opportunity," Montaigne told her in that same chill voice. "Especially the bit about leaving the Star Kingdom. I'd recommend that you do it as tracelessly as possible, too. If you agree with us, we're prepared to give you up to three days' headstart . . . Elaine."

Georgia had opened her mouth to snap an angry retort, but it closed with a snap, retort unspoken, as the name "Elaine" sent a sudden icy chill through her. Her eyes clung to Montaigne for perhaps two heartbeats, then snapped to Zilwicki. Deadly as the ex-countess might be in the purely political arena, there was no question in Georgia's mind as to which half of the partnership had turned up the information that name implied.

She considered trying to brazen it out, but only for an instant. Zilwicki's reputation for competence and thoroughness had become very well established in certain rarefied circles over the past four T-years.

"I see," she said instead, forcing her voice to come out sounding calm and collected. "I haven't heard that name in quite a few years. I congratulate you on making the connection between it and me. But I'm afraid I don't quite understand why the fact that you have leads you to believe that you can . . . convince me to leave the Star Kingdom at all, much less 'tracelessly.' "

"My dear Lady Young," Montaigne cooed, "I very much doubt that the Prime Minister would be at all happy to hear about Elaine Komandorski's career before she went to work for the late, unlamented Dmitri Young. Such sordid stuff! And, you know, that little affair of yours with the badger game and the industrial intelligence you extorted from that unfortunate gentleman. You remember—the one who committed suicide?" She shook her head. "I'm positive the Prime Minister's delicate sensibilities and exquisite sense of justice would be completely shocked by that one."

"I see that your reputation is well deserved, Captain," Georgia said, gazing steadily at Zilwicki. "On the other hand, I doubt very much that you have any proof of Ms. Montaigne's . . . accusation. If, and please note that I did say if," she added for the benefit of the inevitable recorders, "I had indeed had anything to do with an affair such as she's just described, I feel confident that someone in my position would have spent the intervening time making certain there was no proof of the fact that I had."

"I'm sure you would have," Zilwicki rumbled. "Unfortunately, as accomplished as you are, you're also merely mortal. I'm afraid you missed the odd witness along the way. I have three very interesting depositions, actually."

"Depositions which, I feel sure," Georgia said, still much more calmly than she felt, "must amount to no more than hearsay. Partly, of course, because I never had anything to do with the events Ms. Montaigne is describing. But also because if I had had anything to do with them, I would have been certain that I had no accomplices who might have been able to testify against me of their own first-hand knowledge."

"I'm sure you would have," Zilwicki conceded, and in someone else, Georgia might have thought she'd seen a twinkle in his eyes. Of course, the thought of "twinkle" and Anton Zilwicki were two concepts which were mutually contradictory, especially at a moment like this. There was too much Gryphon bedrock in the man. "Of course, as Duchess Harrington and Earl White Haven discovered not so very long ago," he continued, "hearsay testimony can be quite devastating in the court of public opinion."

No, definitely not a twinkle, Georgia thought. At best a gleam . . . and an ugly one, at that.

"But as the Duchess and the Earl also demonstrated," she replied, "false hearsay evidence used in an effort to discredit someone has a tendency to rebound against the accuser. And given the many connections my husband's family has, I feel sure we would be able to weather any such accusation. Why, you might be astonished by the people who would come forward to testify to the uprightness of my character!"

She smiled sweetly, but her confidence took another blow when neither Montaigne nor Zilwicki even flinched at her oblique reference to the power of the North Hollow Files.

"On the contrary, I wouldn't be surprised at all," Zilwicki told her. "No doubt it would be embarrassing for them when a DNA scan demonstrated that you were indeed Elaine Komandorski. You were quite efficient in obliterating Elaine's public record, but you missed at least one copy of your dossier with the Landing City Police." He smiled at the flinch she couldn't quite conceal. "I'll concede that there are no convictions in Elaine's LCPD file, but it's truly amazing how many times she was investigated. And the two times that charges were dropped because the key witness suddenly and mysteriously—and permanently—vanished would make fascinating reading. Under those circumstances, I suppose it would only be natural for your friends and allies to attempt to convince the public that such a sterling and upright individual as yourself could never have been guilty of all the terrible things the police thought you'd done. Unless, of course, the Prime Minister decided that, just as with certain individuals accused of trafficking in genetic slaves, it would be more politically expedient to throw you to the wolves."

"I think," she said, in a flatter, harder voice, "that you may be underestimating my . . . influence with the Prime Minister."

"Ah! So he is in the files," Montaigne observed. "I always suspected he was. Still, Elaine, you'd have to have a very strong hold on him to convince him to stand loyally by you. Especially now, with the diplomatic situation deteriorating the way it is." She shook her head mournfully. "I'm afraid my reading of Baron High Ridge's character suggests that, under the circumstances, he'd be inclined to do the right thing and, however regretfully, disassociate himself from anyone who might once have been involved in such improper acts, however peripherally. After all, whatever you might want to do with the information on him in the files, there'd be any number of powerful people who'd feel compelled to stop you. I mean, think of how many people's careers and political agendas depend on his remaining in power. Unless, of course, you have enough on all of them to convince the entire Government to commit seppuku to save your own neck. Because—just between us—I don't think I'd count on them to do it out of loyalty and the goodness of their hearts."

"Perhaps not. But even if they didn't choose to speak out in my behalf, I'm scarcely without a power base of my own from which to defend myself against such libelous accusations."

"Well, 'libelous' is a very value-laden term," Zilwicki said. "For example, if someone were to go to the LCPD and provide them with evidence that a certain Elaine Komandorski, shortly before she vanished and one Georgia Sakristos appeared on the scene, was involved in the murder of one of the PD's own criminal fraud investigators, I'm sure they wouldn't consider that libel. Not until they'd investigated very thoroughly, at any rate."

"I see." There was nothing at all pleasant about her voice now, but it was warmer than her eyes as she glared at him. "On the other hand, when it turned out that it was impossible to prove those allegations—because, of course, they would be completely false—I'm sure the courts would be inclined to consider it libel, given that the allegations would have originated with a political opponent. The Crown looks with a certain disfavor on people who attempt to use the courts as a political weapon, Captain."

"They certainly do," he agreed. "And while it pains me to admit it, it's entirely possible that there are enough judges in your famous files for you to survive even with the interesting odds and ends of evidence I've already managed to assemble. On the other hand, it doesn't really matter. I don't need to go anywhere near the police. Or the courts."

"Meaning what?" she demanded tautly.

"Meaning that once I discovered Elaine's existence," Zilwicki said, "I found myself wondering where she'd come from? I mean, she just . . . appeared one day, didn't she? And with such a substantial store of initial operating capital."

"What do you mean?" Georgia heard the quaver in her own voice, and cursed herself for it. But there was nothing she could do about it, any more than there was any way to prevent herself from paling.

"Meaning that I found your first biosculpt technician," Zilwicki told her very, very softly. "The one who rekeyed the genetic sequence on your tongue."

Georgia Young sat absolutely still, stunned into a realm far beyond mere disbelief. How? How could even someone with Anton Zilwicki's reputation have dug that deep? She'd buried that. Buried it where it would never see the light of day again. Buried it behind Elaine, willing even for someone to find her original criminal record because they would stop there, without going still deeper into who she'd been before Elaine.

"Of course," Zilwicki went on, "there's no law against having the number removed, is there? Most freed slaves don't have the resources to pay for it, but having it removed certainly isn't a crime. But he kept the record of the original number, Elaine. The number of a slave the Ballroom has been looking for for years. The slave who sold out an entire freighter full of escaped slaves in return for her own freedom and a half-million Solarian credits. Do you know what they intend to do with that slave when they find her?"

Georgia stared at him, her vocal cords frozen, and he smiled thinly.

"I've never been a slave. I don't pretend to understand what someone who has been one would be willing to do to gain her own freedom. And, by the same token, I don't pretend to stand in judgment on those who want to . . . discuss her actions with her. But I think, Elaine, that if I were her, I'd be far more concerned about the Ballroom than about anything the Star Kingdom's courts might want to discuss with her."

"What . . . what are you offering?" she asked hoarsely.

"Seventy-two standard-hours' headstart," he said bluntly. "I won't promise not to hand the evidence I've assembled over to the Ballroom. Cathy's 'butler' would never forgive us if I did. But Isaac will give me those three days, as well. He and Jeremy are reasonable men. They'll be unhappy with me, but they recognize the realities of horse-trading, and they know what sort of political stakes we're playing for here in the Star Kingdom. They'll settle for knowing where to start looking for you again."

"So you want me to just vanish?" She stared at him for a moment, then shook her head. "No. You want something more than that. I'm not important enough for you to risk the possibility that the Ballroom might not be as 'reasonable' as you hope it will. Besides, you'd do much more damage to High Ridge and his government if you just told Jeremy where to find me." She shook her head again. "You want the files for yourself, don't you?"

"No." It wasn't Zilwicki. It was Montaigne, and her level voice was like liquid helium. Georgia looked at her in disbelief, and the ex-countess shrugged. "I won't pretend that a part of me isn't tempted. But those files have done enough damage already. Oh, I could probably convince myself that the real criminals, the bastards who've broken the law and gotten away with it, deserve to be turned in and brought down in public, as spectacularly as possible. But the other temptation . . . the temptation not to turn them in." She shook her head. "It would be too easy to turn into another New Kiev and convince myself that the nobility of my purpose justified whatever tool I chose to use."

"Not to mention," Zilwicki rumbled, "the fact that a good third of the 'evidence' contained in those files was probably manufactured in the first place."

"Not to mention that," Montaigne agreed.

"So what do you want?" Georgia asked flatly.

"We want the files destroyed," Zilwicki told her. "And we want it done in a way which proves they've been destroyed."

"How am I supposed to do that?" she demanded.

"You've already demonstrated that you're a very inventive and capable woman, Elaine," Montaigne told her. "And it's common knowledge that the files are stored in a high-security vault under the Youngs' townhouse here in Landing. I'm sure that you could arrange for that vault—and the house, for that matter—to suffer some spectacular mischief. Without, I hasten to add, any loss of life."

"You expect me to arrange all of that and get off the planet within three standard days?" She shook her head. "Even if I wanted to, I couldn't pull something like that off that quickly. Not, at least, and leave myself enough time to run to make any difference in the end."

"Your three days would begin the day after the files are destroyed," Zilwicki told her. "Unless, of course, you tried to leave the planet before they were destroyed."

"And if I refuse, you'd really hand me over to the Ballroom? Even knowing what they'd do to me?"

"Yes, I would," Zilwicki said flatly.

"I don't think I believe you," she said softly, then looked at Montaigne. "And despite everything I've heard about you and your relationship with the Ballroom, I don't think you'd let him. I don't think you'd care to live with what they'd do."

"Maybe I wouldn't," Montaigne replied. "No. I'll go further than that. I wouldn't like to live with it. But don't you think for one fucking minute that I wouldn't do it anyway. Unlike Anton, I've spent decades working with the Ballroom and with escaped slaves. Like him, I can't really put myself in their places. The living Hell any slave experiences—even you—is something I can only attempt to imagine. But I've seen what slaves have done to gain their freedom. And I've heard them tell about the other slaves—the ones who helped someone else gain her freedom, and what it cost them. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I require any slave to be that heroic, that self-sacrificing. But I have by God known slaves who were that heroic, and I know the tales of the ones who were that self-sacrificing. And I know that you were directly responsible for sending almost five hundred escaped slaves back into that Hell to save yourself . . . and for a tidy little profit, as well. So, yes, 'Elaine.' If Jeremy catches up with you, I'll live with whatever he does."

Georgia felt something shrivel deep within her as she gazed into those implacable green eyes.

"And think about this," Zilwicki told her. Her eyes snapped helplessly back to him, and the smile he gave her would have suited any shark. "Even if I didn't have the stomach in the end to turn you in to the Ballroom, I don't have to. I found the middleman you used to contact Denver Summervale. I have his deposition, too. I doubt very much that it would stand up in a court of law, but it wouldn't have to. I'd simply send it to Duchess Harrington."

What had already begun to shrivel crumpled completely at the icy promise in Anton Zilwicki's eyes. Georgia Young, Lady North Hollow, looked back and forth between those two very different yet equally unyielding faces, and knew both of them had meant every word they'd said.

"So, 'Elaine,' " Montaigne asked softly, "what's it going to be?"

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by saber964   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 12:26 pm

saber964
Vice Admiral

Posts: 1887
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2012 8:41 pm
Location: Spokane WA USA

George J. Smith wrote:From Field of Dishonor

Castellaño opened his hand. The handkerchief leapt into the air, frisking in the playful breeze, and Denver Summervale's brain glowed with merciless fire as his hand came up. The pistol was an extension of his nerves, rising into the classic duelist's stance with the oiled speed of long practice while his eyes remained fixed on Harrington. His target was graven in his mind, waiting only to merge with his weapon's rising sights, when white flame blossomed from her hand and a spike of Hell slammed into his belly.
He grunted in disbelief, eyes bulging in shock, and the fire flashed again. A second sledgehammer slammed him, centimeters above the agony of the first shot, and astonishment flickered through him. She hadn't raised her hand. She hadn't even raised her hand! She was firing from the hip, and—
A third shot cracked out, and another huge smear of crimson blotted his black tunic. His pistol hand was weighted with iron, and he looked down stupidly at the blood pulsing from his chest.
This couldn't happen. It was impossible for him to—
A fourth shot roared, punching into him less than a centimeter from the third, and he screamed as much in fury as in agony. No! The bitch couldn't kill him! Not before he got even one shot into her!
He looked back up, staring at her, wavering on his feet, and his gun was back at his side. He didn't remember lowering it, and now hers was up in full extension. He stared at her, seeing the wisps of smoke blowing from her muzzle in the breeze, and bared his teeth in hatred. Blood bubbled in his nostrils, his knees began to buckle, but somehow he stayed on his feet and slowly, grimly, fought to bring his gun hand up.
Honor Harrington watched him over the sights of her pistol. She saw the hate on his face, the terrible realization of what had happened, the venomous determination as his pistol wavered up centimeter by agonized centimeter. It was coming up, rising toward firing position while he snarled at her, and there was no emotion at all in her brown eyes as her fifth bullet smashed squarely through the bridge of his nose.


One of my favorite scenes, but another is the one right after this when Young realizes he's already a dead man walking.
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Re: Favorite Moments So Far?
Post by cthia   » Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:29 pm

cthia
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Posts: 7154
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:10 pm

The only thing worse than being b*tch-slapped is being a man and a woman is doing the b*tching.
Field of Dishonor Ch. 24 wrote:The doors behind him opened, and Summervale saw a black-and-gold uniform in the mirror. He didn't even twitch, but recognition of his target was instant. She was paler than her pictures, and they hadn't done justice to her beauty, yet she was unmistakable. Anticipation stirred as he watched her scan the midday diners, but another, unexpected element tugged at his attention.

Two men in unfamiliar uniforms flanked her, and their postures sounded a mental alert. They were bodyguards, and good ones. They faced slightly away from one another, dividing the restaurant and its patrons into sectors of responsibility almost by instinct, and the pulsers at their hips were as much a part of them as their hands or feet. He didn't know where she'd gotten them, but they were far more than mere hired muscle, and that bothered him. Who were they, and what were they doing with Harrington? Was more going on here than his patron had seen fit to mention?

The armsmen's presence drew his attention away from his target. They challenged him as he tried to figure out where they fitted into the equation, and he realized how they'd distracted him only when he discovered Harrington was already halfway across the room toward him.

He gave himself a mental shake. Whatever they were, they were a secondary consideration, and he switched his attention to his target. A tiny, anticipatory smile touched his lips, but it faded into something else as he truly focused on her for the first time.

There was no expression on her face. That was the first inconsistent note, for there was none of the fury he'd anticipated, and inner alarms sounded as he watched her reflection cross toward him. People got out of her way—not obviously, not even as if they realized what they were doing, but almost instinctively, as if they recognized something in her he was accustomed to seeing only in himself—and he felt a sudden urge to swallow.

She walked straight up to him, the only sign of emotion a slight twitch at the right corner of her mouth, and it was suddenly hard to keep his back to her. His spine itched, as if she were a weapon trained upon it, and it was all he could do to remind himself that he'd planned for this. That she was doing exactly what he wanted her to do.

"Denver Summervale?" Her soprano voice was an icicle, not the fiery challenge he'd expected. It was leached of all emotion, and it took more effort than he'd expected to put the proper curl into his lip as he turned to her.

"Yes?" Years of experience honed his voice with exactly the right note of insulting dismissal, but her eyes didn't even flicker.

"I'm Honor Harrington," she said

"Should that mean something to me?" he asked haughtily, and she smiled. It wasn't a pleasant smile, and Summervale's palms felt suddenly damp as he began to suspect how terribly he'd underestimated this woman. Her eyes were leveled missile batteries, untouched by any human emotion. He could feel the hate in her, but she was using that hate, not letting it use her, and every instinct shouted that he'd finally met a predator as dangerous as himself.

"Yes, it should," she said. "After all, I'm the woman Earl North Hollow hired you to kill, Mr. Summervale. Just as he hired you to kill Paul Tankersley." Her voice carried clearly, and shocked silence splashed out across the restaurant.

Summervale stared at her. She was insane! There had to be fifty people within earshot, and she was accusing a peer of the realm of paying for murder? He floundered, stunned and unable to believe she'd actually said it. No one—no one!—had ever accused him to his face of taking money to kill someone else's enemies. They'd known what would happen if they did—that he'd have no choice but to challenge and kill them. Not just to silence them, but because he would become an object of contempt whose challenge no man or woman of honor would ever have to accept again if he let their charge pass.

Yet she hadn't stopped there. She'd actually dared to identify the man who'd paid him to kill her! He'd never counted on that, and he cursed himself for his complacency even through his shock at hearing the words. No one had ever before known who'd hired him. The anonymity of his employers had been one of his most valuable wares, the ultimate protection for both of them. But this target did know. Worse, she had his own recorded voice identifying North Hollow, and his mind raced as he tried to sort out the implications.

No prosecutor could use it against him, given the circumstances under which it had been obtained, but private citizens weren't bound by the same constraints as the legal establishment. If he or North Hollow brought charges for slander, they'd have to prove her allegations were untrue. Under those circumstances she could damned well use it in her defense, and where it came from or how it happened to be in her possession wouldn't matter. What would matter was that she had it, and those were only the legal consequences. It didn't even consider what would happen if his other employers realized he'd talked and—

"We're all waiting, Mr. Summervale." That icy soprano cut through his whirling thoughts, and he realized he was staring at her like a rabbit. "Aren't you a man of honor?" There was emotion in her voice now, contempt that cut like a lash. "No, of course you're not. You're a hired killer, aren't you, Mr. Summervale? Scum like you doesn't challenge people unless the odds and money are both right, does it?"

"I—" He shook himself, fighting for control. He'd expected her to challenge him, not for her to goad him, to force him to challenge her, and shock had him off balance. He knew what he had to do, what his only possible response was, but it was as if the stunning speed with which she'd upset all his plans had blocked his motor control. He couldn't—literally could not—get the words out, and her lip curled.

"Very well, Mr. Summervale. Let me help you," she said, and slapped him across the mouth.

His head snapped to one side, and then it snapped back again as the same hand struck on the backswing. She crowded him back against the bar and slapped him again. Again and again and again while every eye watched.

His hand shot up, clutching desperately for her wrist. He got a grip, but it lasted only an instant before she broke it with contemptuous ease and stepped back. Blood drooled down his chin and spotted his shirt and tunic, and his eyes were mad as someone manhandled him yet again. He tensed to attack her with his bare hands, but a tiny fragment of sanity held him back. He couldn't do that. She'd driven him into the same corner he'd driven so many victims into, left him no option but to challenge her. It was the only way he could silence her, and she had to be silenced.

"I—" He coughed and drew a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his bleeding mouth. She only stood and watched him with icy disgust, but at least the gesture gave him a moment to drag his thoughts back together.

"You're insane," he said finally, trying to put conviction into his voice. "I don't know you, and I've never met this Earl North Hollow! How dare you accuse me of being some—some sort of hired assassin! I don't know why you should want to force a quarrel on me, but no one can talk to me this way!"

"I can," she said coldly.

"Then I have no choice but to demand satisfaction!"

"Good." She let an emotion other than contempt into her voice for the first time, and Denver Summervale wasn't the only person who shuddered as he heard it. "Colonel Tomas Ramirez—I believe you know him?—will act as my second. He'll call on your friend—Livitnikov, isn't it? Or were you going to hire someone else this time?"

"I—" Summervale swallowed again. This was a nightmare. It couldn't be happening! His hand clenched in a fist around the bloody handkerchief, and he drew a deep breath. "Mr. Livitnikov is, indeed, a friend of mine. I feel confident he'll act for me."

"I'm sure you do. No doubt you pay him enough." Harrington's smile was like a flaying knife, and her eyes glittered. "Tell him to start studying the Ellington Protocol, Mr. Summervale," she said, and turned on her heel.


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Last edited by cthia on Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Son, your mother says I have to hang you. Personally I don't think this is a capital offense. But if I don't hang you, she's gonna hang me and frankly, I'm not the one in trouble. —cthia's father. Incident in ? Axiom of Common Sense
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