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(STICKY) A Call To Vengeance - Snippets

This is the place where we will be posting snippets of soon-to-be published works!
(STICKY) A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:55 pm

DrakBibliophile
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A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 01
A Call To Vengeance
Book III of Manticore Ascendant
DAVID WEBER & TIMOTHY ZAHN with THOMAS POPE
BOOK ONE
1543 PD
CHAPTER ONE
The Spanish Inquisition hadn't been the first political and religious witch-hunt in Old Earth's violent history. Nor had it been the last, or even been the bloodiest. But for some reason, the memory of its long and persistent reign of terror had lingered in common human memory up to the Diaspora and throughout the long centuries since.
Lieutenant Travis Uriah Long, late of the cruiser HMS Casey, didn't know why that was. Perhaps it was the faintly exotic name that continued to catch the human ear and imagination. Perhaps it was the cautionary proverb of a long-forgotten pre-Diaspora philosopher, who had warned that nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. But whatever the reason, he was familiar with the history of that particular malevolence, and had always wondered how the victims felt as they faced their stone-eyed accusers.
It was, he suspected, probably a lot like he was feeling right now.
"…I do so solemnly affirm," the clerk prompted.
"I do so solemnly affirm," Travis repeated.
The clerk gave a brisk nod and raised his voice. "Long life to the King."
"Long life to the King," Travis repeated. This time he was joined by the rest of the men and women seated across from him in the hearing room.
All of whom, he had no doubt, grimly recognized the irony of the sentiment.
Long life to the King…
At the center of the long, curved table, Prime Minister Davis Harper, Duke Burgundy, cleared his throat. "We are assembled today," he intoned, "to examine the events of 33rd Twelfth, and the events and decisions leading up to the loss of His Majesty's corvette Hercules -- " he paused, just noticeably " -- and the resulting death of Crown Prince Richard Winton. Do you understand, Lieutenant Long?"
"Yes, Your Grace," Travis said. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Only in this case, it was not only expected but virtually guaranteed.
Never mind that four other ships of the Royal Manticoran Navy had been destroyed, with the loss of their entire crews. Never mind that half a dozen others had suffered damage, with some of their crew members also dead or injured. Certainly the Battle of Manticore had brought with it more than enough death and trauma to go around.
But those deaths were relatively anonymous except to the families and friends who had lost their loved ones. Richard's name and face, in contrast, were known to everyone in the Star Kingdom of Manticore. He was the symbol of the Navy's desperate defense, and as such had become the center of the swirling questions of How and Who and Why.
The Star Kingdom was solidly focused on Richard. That went double for the members of Parliament. It went triple for the Committee of Naval Affairs.
And Travis had no doubt that half the members of the latter group were determined to find Travis's commander, Commodore Rudolph Heissman, personally responsible for the Crown Prince's death.
Which was both ridiculous and a complete waste of time. The Navy's Board of Inquiry had already cleared Heissman of any wrongdoing. The rest of the long, official hearings had ended a week ago. What was going on in here today was nothing but political posturing.
Travis hated political posturing.
Burgundy was running through the standard welcome routine, thanking Travis for his service to the Crown and emphasizing the importance of the testimony he was about to give. Listening with half an ear, Travis let his gaze drift over the line of men and women arrayed against him, his eyes and brain automatically running threat assessments.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anderson L'Estrange, Earl Breakwater, was clearly out for blood. Not specifically because it was Commodore Heissman on the hot seat -- Travis doubted the Chancellor even knew Heissman -- but because anything that besmirched the Navy's reputation could only put his own Manticoran Patrol and Rescue Service in a better light. MPARS' contribution to the battle had been minimal, mainly because only two of its ships had been in position to help. Still, those two ships had acquitted themselves well.
But Breakwater was never satisfied with the simple gathering of laurels. He much preferred gathering his laurels with one hand and wilting those of his political opponents with the other.
The embodiment of that opposition, Minister of Defense James Mantegna, Earl Dapplelake, would of course be pulling the opposite direction, for similar but reverse reasons. The Navy had suffered huge losses in the battle, and Dapplelake had no intention of letting any more of the Star Kingdom's limited shipyard and manpower resources be siphoned off to MPARS than was absolutely necessary.
The two men's political, economic, and philosophic rivalry had been going on for a long time -- the entire fourteen T-years that Travis had been in the Navy, at least, and probably longer. Most of the Committee members had also been in various positions of power for much of that time, and they'd long since sorted out which team they preferred to kick for. Secretary of Bioscience Lisa Tufele, Baroness Coldwater, and Shipyard Supervisor John Garner, Baron Low Delhi, typically lined up behind Dapplelake: Low Delhi because his family and Dapplelake's were friends, Coldwater because boosts to Navy funding often meant more money for her budget, as well. First Lord of Law Deborah Scannabecchi, Duchess New Bern, and Director of Belt Mining Carolynne Jhomper tended to vote with Breakwater: New Bern because she was a big believer in legal balance and thought the Navy threw its weight around too much, Jhomper because the more patrol ships MPARS put into her area of responsibility, the better. Secretary of Industry Julian Mulholland, Baron Harwich, and Foreign Secretary Susan Tarleton didn't favor either side: Harwich because all ship-building projects made him happy, Tarleton because Foreign Secretary was largely an honorary position and no one ever paid much attention to her anyway.
As for Prime Minister Burgundy himself, who had assumed chair of the Committee, he would be trying hard to stay neutral. But as a close ally and personal friend of King Edward, Travis had no doubt that his judgment would be at least somewhat skewed.
Which direction that bias might run, though, was a question all its own. In public, the King had studiously avoided saying anything beyond the simple acknowledgment of his son's death, with no judgment or recriminations. What he said in private was something Travis doubted more than a handful of people knew.
"Let's start with the basics, Lieutenant," Burgundy said. "Where were you when it first became apparent that the distress call you were responding to was, in fact, an invasion?"
"That recognition was more an ongoing process than the result of a single bit of data or insight, Your Grace," Travis said. "But to answer your question: I was on Casey's bridge during the entire time in question."
"I see," Burgundy said, and Travis thought he could see a flicker of approval in the Prime Minister's eyes. It was all too easy to second-guess decisions and actions after the fact, but matters were seldom obvious to those in the middle of a given situation. Travis's reshaping of the question should help to underscore that reality for the rest of the Committee. "When it did become evident -- or at least likely -- that an invasion was underway, what was Commodore Heissman's response?"
"We're particularly interested in his deployment of his four Janus Force ships," Breakwater put in. "Why was Gorgon put into aft-relay position instead of the Crown Prince's ship, Hercules?"
For a moment Travis was sorely tempted to play out a little rope in the hope that Breakwater would manage to hang himself somewhere down the line. But he resisted the urge. Breakwater was a master manipulator and politician, and if Travis tried to play any games the Chancellor would have him for breakfast. The truth, as straightforward and open as possible, was his best bet. "Hercules was a corvette, My Lord," he said. "Gorgon was a destroyer. As such, Gorgon had aft weaponry -- specifically, autocannon -- which Hercules didn't. Since Gorgon was already farthest from the enemy when it was time to flip and decelerate, and was therefore most likely to survive the opening salvo, Commodore Heissman elected to leave her there as our best chance of getting full sensor data back to Aegis Force."
"Really," Breakwater said with clearly feigned surprise. "I'd have thought that Casey herself, with aft autocannon and an aft laser, would be the best suited for such survival. So why didn't Commodore Heissman put his own ship in that position?" He glanced both ways down the table, as if inviting agreement. "After, perhaps, bringing the Crown Prince aboard?"
Dapplelake stirred. "That kind of personnel transfer requires the entire force to cease deceleration while a shuttle makes the run. They had little enough time to prepare as it was. The loss of that hour would have -- "
"Would have what?" Breakwater interrupted. "Commodore Heissman lost three quarters of his force as it is. Three hundred and fifty good men and women. Including the Crown Prince."
Travis squared his shoulders. Enough was enough. "If I may, My Lord?" he spoke up as Dapplelake opened his mouth to launch another verbal salvo.
Breakwater turned to him, and for a second Travis thought the Chancellor was going to lay into him for daring to interrupt a private conversation. Then he seemed to remember where he was, and the reason they were all there, and the surprised outrage smoothed away from his face. "Of course, Lieutenant," he said. "You were about to say…?"
"I was about to expand on the reasoning behind Commodore Heissman's decision, My Lord," Travis said. "First of all, as Earl Dapplelake has said, it would have cost us an hour to transport Prince Richard to Casey, with our wedge down much of that time. Our mission at that point was to stay between the invaders and Manticore as long as possible. As it was, we unavoidably sped through missile range very quickly. Shortening that time would have meant even less time for us to inflict damage on the enemy."
"Exactly," Dapplelake muttered, and out of the corner of his eye Travis thought he could again see a glint of approval from the Prime Minister.
"More important, though, were the tactical realities of the situation," Travis continued. "Casey had counter-missiles in addition to her autocannon. Gorgon, Hercules, and Gemini each had only autocannon. Putting Casey at the rear of the formation would have meant our countermissiles couldn't help in the defense of the other ships."
He held his breath, fully expecting Breakwater or one of the others to call bogus. In theory, he was correct: Casey's countermissile spread could indeed help protect the other ships. But as a practical matter, that kind of screening formation was seldom used unless a battlecruiser or other high-value ship was in play. With Casey the biggest and most powerful ship of her small task force, her countermissiles were mostly useful for her own defense.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by isaac_newton   » Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:53 am

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DrakBibliophile wrote:A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 01
A Call To Vengeance
Book III of Manticore Ascendant
DAVID WEBER & TIMOTHY ZAHN with THOMAS POPE
BOOK ONE
1543 PD
CHAPTER ONE
The Spanish Inquisition hadn't been the first political and religious witch-hunt in Old Earth's violent history. Nor had it been the last, or even been the bloodiest. But for some reason, the memory of its long and persistent reign of terror had lingered in common human memory up to the Diaspora and throughout the long centuries since.
Lieutenant Travis Uriah Long, late of the cruiser HMS Casey, didn't know why that was. Perhaps it was the faintly exotic name that continued to catch the human ear and imagination. Perhaps it was the cautionary proverb of a long-forgotten pre-Diaspora philosopher, who had warned that nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. rSNIP.



YES, YES - "NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION" - HAHAHHAHA
:lol: :lol:
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Re: A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Jan 16, 2018 10:43 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2145
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm
Location: East Central Illinois

A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 02
But no one spoke up. Those who weren't familiar with such military minutiae -- which was probably the majority of them -- were apparently willing to accept Travis's logic at face value. Dapplelake, who did know how it worked, would certainly not do anything to undercut Travis's testimony that way.
"So what you're saying," Breakwater said after a moment, "is that Commodore Heissman's entire focus was on the upcoming battle. And that the life of the Crown Prince was never even a factor in his strategy."
"The lives of all his officers and crew were a factor, My Lord," Travis said. "But more important even than that was the Star Kingdom and her citizens. Offering our lives in their protection was the oath we all took when we accepted the RMN uniform." He focused on Burgundy. "All of us. Including the Crown Prince."
He hadn't expected a round of applause for his little speech. But he wasn't prepared for Breakwater's thinly veiled sarcasm, either. "Yes, I'm sure Prince Richard would invoke such sentiments, too, were he here," the Chancellor said. "Which, of course, he's not. It seems to me that Commodore Heissman was also rather caught off-guard by the appearance of the -- what were they called? Oh, yes: you tagged them early on as Bogey Two. The two enemy destroyers that the MPARS corvettes Aries and Taurus took care of for you."
Travis clenched his teeth. That was not how it had gone down. Not exactly, anyway. "Those ships came in coasting with their wedges down, My Lord," he said stiffly. "Effective sensor range under those conditions is extremely short."
"Yet Commodore Heissman knew they were out there," Breakwater said. "Shouldn't he have been more alert?"
"We already had our hands full with the ships of the main attack force."
"You can't focus your attention on two directions at once?"
"It's not a matter of focus, but of firepower," Travis said. "We knew where the main force was, and turning toward a potential flanking force would simply have left us open to the main force's attack." He hesitated. "To be perfectly honest, My Lord, Commodore Heissman probably didn't expect any of us to survive the engagement. His goal at that point was to do as much damage to the enemy, and get as much data back to Aegis, as possible."
Breakwater gave a snort. "So RMN officers now go into battle expecting to get their entire crews killed?"
"Sometimes Navy personnel have to do just that," Travis said, feeling anger rising inside him. "Especially when our ships are undermanned, underequipped, and -- by some -- underappreciated."
There was a small stir around the table. Travis winced, realizing too late that he'd probably gone too far. "My apologies, My Lords and Ladies; Your Graces," he said. "I didn't mean to sound unappreciative."
"Yet you did," Breakwater pointed out stiffly. "Perhaps we should allow you a few moments to collect yourself before we continue." He turned to Burgundy and inclined his head. "With your permission, of course, Your Grace."
"I think we could postpone the rest of Lieutenant Long's testimony until tomorrow morning," Burgundy said, peering at his tablet. "We're approaching the noon recess anyway." He looked at Travis. "Tomorrow at oh-nine-hundred, Lieutenant. You're dismissed."
"Yes, Your Grace," Travis said. Silently berating himself for once again sticking his foot in it, he picked up his tablet and pushed back his chair.
"Oh, I'm sorry -- one last question," Breakwater spoke up suddenly. "The technique you used to destroy that enemy battlecruiser. Very clever, that. Whose idea was it, exactly?"
Travis felt his stomach tense. Breakwater knew perfectly well whose idea that had been. "It was mine, My Lord."
"Not Commodore Heissman's?" Breakwater asked. "Or Commander Belokas', or Tactical Officer Woodburn's? Yours?"
"Yes, My Lord."
"I see." Breakwater inclined his head. "Thank you, Lieutenant. You may go now."
"Yes, My Lord."
Ninety seconds later, Travis was walking down the wide corridor toward the exit nearest the visitor parking lot. Wondering what the hell that last bit had been all about.
Wondering perhaps a little too strenuously. Vaguely, he became aware that someone was calling his name --
"So are you ignoring the whole world? Or is it just me?"
Travis twitched with surprise, guilt, and embarrassment. "No, of course not," he said hastily. "I mean -- "
"Apology accepted, Travis," Lieutenant Commander Lisa Donnelly said, the warm impishness of her smile erasing any lingering suggestion that she was actually mad at him. "I'm surprised you have any brainpower left at all after that." She nodded back behind them. "Let me guess: Chancellor Breakwater was playing his usual games?"
"Yes -- Ma'am," Travis belatedly remembered to add. Lisa had been his best and closest friend for four years now, probably the only person he'd ever truly been able to relax with. As near as he could tell, she was just as comfortable in his presence as he was in hers.
But she also outranked him, and here in public the correct forms of military etiquette had to be strictly adhered to. "And I'm pretty sure he won."
"Only pretty sure?"
"Yes. Mostly because I have no idea what the game was."
"Ah." Lisa glanced around and gestured to a set of empty chairs grouped around a small table in a conversation alcove at one side of their corridor. "Let's sit down and you can tell me all about it. If you've got time."
"Yes, Ma'am, absolutely," Travis said, already feeling the tension melting away. He hadn't had a chance to see Lisa for several weeks before the battle, and the thought of spending even just an hour with her was definitely something to look forward to. "They don't want me again until tomorrow."
"Good." She glanced conspiratorially to both sides as they headed toward the alcove. "And you know, if we keep our voices down, you won't even have to call me Ma'am."
Travis felt his face warming. Lisa didn't call him on his strict adherence to rules very often, but when she did she was painfully efficient at making her point. "Yes, Ma -- I mean, yes."
"So tomorrow, you say," Lisa said thoughtfully. "Sounds like Breakwater got what he was looking for. Okay, let's see if we can figure this out. Was there any point where he seemed happier than he was the rest of the time?"
"Well, he threw in a last-second question as I was being dismissed," Travis said as they both sat down. "And he went out of his way earlier to remind everyone how his two MPARS ships took out one of Tamerlane's destroyers."
"He's not going to let anyone forget that," Lisa agreed. "Especially since Cazenestro had ordered the MPARS ships to stand down. If Hardasty and Kostava hadn't ignored him and moved in anyway, things would have gone a lot worse." Her eyes shifted over Travis's shoulder. "Speaking of which." She lifted a hand and raised her voice. "Townsend? Over here!"
Travis felt a sudden jolt of tension as he twisted around in his chair to look. Sure enough, the big Sphinxian lumbering toward them was Petty Officer Charles Townsend. Chomps Townsend, to his friends.
A long time ago, Travis had been one of those friends. Not anymore.
But Chomps was smart enough not to show animosity toward a senior officer in public. He smiled at Lisa as he came up, gave the exact same smile to Travis, then came to a smart halt and executed an equally smart salute. "Commander Donnelly; Lieutenant Long," he greeted them. "What heinous crime have you committed, may I ask, to have been hauled into this den of political machination and chaos?"
"And what would you know about Parliament?" Lisa asked dryly.
"Oh, I've sailed these waters myself of late, Ma'am," Chomps said. "Two days ago, in fact. Possibly later today, too, if they really want to put themselves through a repeat performance." He glanced at the wall chrono. "Though probably not until after lunch."
"At least you get to go in on a full stomach," Lisa said. "I'm guessing we're all here for the same reason."
"Which is?"
"Lieutenant Long and I were just trying to figure that out," Lisa said. "Care to join us?"
"Thank you, Ma'am," Chomps said. "If I may suggest: as I say, it's lunchtime. Would the two of you care to join me for a small repast? My treat, of course."
"Hmm," Lisa said, her face wrinkled with feigned uncertainty. "I don't know. Enlisted and MPARS. What do you think, Travis? Can we legally accept such an invitation?"
"If it helps," Chomps offered, "we could consider it my apology for calling you by your first name in front of your fellow officers."
Travis sat up a little straighter. "What?" he asked carefully.
"It's okay," Lisa soothed him, her eyes twinkling with amusement. "It was on Casca, and the Cascans don't care so much about proper etiquette."
"I was also trying to save my skin, Sir," Chomps added to Travis. "Which for a while looked like they also didn't care much about."
"But as you see, we made it through," Lisa said, standing up. "Very well, Townsend, we accept. To the cafeteria?"
"Or to a little place just around the corner, Ma'am." Chomps raised his eyebrows at Travis. "It's Italian, Sir. I seem to remember that you like Italian."
"Yes," Travis confirmed warily, searching the man's face for some hint of the resentment or hatred he was surely still feeling for Travis and the damage to his career that had been a result of Travis's damning report about Chomps's computer hacking.
But if there were any such emotions there, Travis could see no evidence of them. Chomps seemed genuinely cheerful and relaxed, friendly to both him and Lisa, and not at all ashamed of the MPARS uniform he was wearing.
But then, Travis had never been good at reading people. For all he knew, Chomps could be planning right now exactly how and where he was going to slip the knife between Travis's ribs.
"Travis?"
He looked at Lisa. She was eyeing him, a questioning expression on her face. As if the lunch thing was his decision and not hers.
Squaring his shoulders, Travis looked back at Chomps. If the other was planning some revenge, they might as well get it over with. "Sounds good," he said. "Please; lead the way."
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:06 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

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A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 03
CHAPTER TWO
Captain Trina Clegg tapped the release, and the hatch into Vanguard's bridge slid open in front of her. She grabbed a handhold, noting as always the misaligned pair of plates on the inside of the pocket that had yet to be fixed. A lot of these older ships had been slowly warped and twisted over the years from missile launches, high accelerations, and simple age.
Also as always, she turned her eyes resolutely away as she pulled herself through the hatchway. Vanguard still needed a lot of work to bring her to full fighting strength. Nonvital internal plate assemblies were way down on the priority list.
The ensign at the tracking station glanced up, stiffened.
"Captain on the bridge!" she called.
At the front of the compartment, Commander Bertinelli swiveled around. His lips compressed, just noticeably, before he smoothed them out.
"Welcome, Captain," he greeted her gravely.
The words were correct, and delivered in the correct tone. But Clegg wasn't fooled. As far as Bertinelli was concerned, Clegg was an interloper, a Johnny-come-lately who had no business being on this ship.
And who certainly had no business being flag captain of the newly restructured Aegis Force.
On one level, Clegg could sympathize. Bertinelli wanted to command a battlecruiser. Wanted it so badly he probably had fever dreams about it. A few years ago he'd been offered the cruiser Gryphon, but he'd turned it down, preferring to stay on as Vanguard's XO. His theory, as far as Clegg could tell, had been that he'd somehow thought staying where he was would put him first in line once the position of Vanguard's captain was finally vacated.
If so, he'd been sorely disappointed. Six months ago, a slightly doddering Captain Davison had announced his retirement. Bertinelli had probably gone out the next day and ordered the champagne to celebrate his imminent promotion to Vanguard's captain, and he was probably the only person who'd been surprised when it wasn't offered.
Personally, Clegg was surprised his career had survived turning down the cruiser command at all. In fact, she suspected that only connections in high places had prevented his relief and reassignment to the kind of slop duties normally given someone who declined to sit the first time they pulled out the captain's chair for him.
Not surprisingly, at least for anyone who knew him, Bertinelli didn't see it that way. Instead, he blamed Clegg.
"Nothing to report, Captain," Bertinelli continued, unfastened his straps. Again, his words and tone were correct, but Clegg couldn't shake the feeling that he believed the universe's highly unmilitary state of serenity was also somehow her fault. "Very quiet out there."
"Quiet is good, XO," Clegg told him, giving each of the displays a quick but careful look as she floated past them. "I think our recent exercise demonstrates that, don't you? Speaking of which, what's happening with Bellerophon's sidewall snafu?"
"Last I heard, they were still working on it, Ma'am."
"Which was when?"
She looked at Bertinelli in time to see another quick twitch of his lip.
"About three hours ago, Ma'am."
Three hours. Clegg managed to not roll her eyes, but she pitched her voice quite a bit crisper as she turned to the com section.
"Com, signal Bellerophon. I want an update on their sidewall situation."
"Yes, Ma'am." Quickly -- maybe a little too quickly -- the petty officer turned to his board.
Bertinelli's face had gone stony.
"You have a comment, XO?" Clegg asked.
The commander took a deep breath.
"No, Ma'am," he said stiffly. "Except that I already instructed Bellerophon to report if there was any change. I doubt they've forgotten."
Clegg regarded him thoughtfully, wondering just how stupid he really was. Aegis Force had returned from its most recent underway exercise to its overwatch position in Manticore orbit ten hours ago. There were many arguments in favor of simply staying in orbit and carrying out simulated exercises, but Clegg agreed with Admiral Kyle Eigen that the only way to be confident of a warship's systems was to actually use them, not just pretend to use them. That was particularly true when the ships in question were as long in the tooth and short of spares as the Royal Manticoran Navy. That consideration had been given an extremely sharp and painful point just three weeks earlier, when too much of the RMN had been reduced to wreckage.
And that when Bellerophon's captain was forced to report that his Number Two sidewall generator was down for maintenance, Commander Bertinelli had missed the minor fact that Captain Stillman should have reported that before the exercise, not in the middle of it.
Nor was that the only system failure the exercise had turned up. The ancient art still known as gundecking reports, the practice of somehow failing to note any embarrassing items which might reflect poorly upon ship or officer, was alive and well.
In the shrinking, underfunded, peacetime RMN, that had been merely contemptable. Three weeks ago, it had also become criminal dereliction of duty.
But not everyone seemed to have gotten that particular memo, which was why Clegg had requested end-of-the-watch updates from Bellerophon -- and every other ship in the squadron -- on the status of any major equipment casualties, including state of repair, estimated time of completion, and actual time of completion. Since the watch had changed over an hour ago, Captain Stillman's report should have been waiting in her message queue when she entered the bridge. And an XO who could find his rear end with both hands and approach radar should already have asked Stillman -- respectfully, of course -- where it was.
And should then have referred the matter to the squadron's flag captain. Who could be just a bit less respectful when she asked for it.
"There's probably been no change," she acknowledged. "But it never hurts to make sure of that.
In your long and illustrious naval career? Bertinelli didn't actually voice the comment, but the sentiment was plastered all over his face.
"Understood, Ma'am," he said, again managing to keep his tone sufficiently north of insubordinate. "May I point out -- ?"
"Bridge, CIC," Lieutenant McKenzie's terse voice came from the bridge speaker, interrupting Bertinelli. "Commander, we've got a hyper footprint at zero-eight-nine by zero-zero-two, relative to the planet. Range is ten-point-six-two LM -- call it one-niner-zero million kilometers."
"Acknowledged, Lieutenant," Clegg replied. "Commander Bertinelli, I have the ship," she added formally, grabbing the handhold on the back of the Missiles station and turning her casual drift into a human missile vector. Bertinelli had just enough time to get himself clear of the command station before she hit the back of it, did a stop-and-corkscrew maneuver that she'd developed back when she was a lieutenant, and shoved herself into place. "Astro, plot me an intercept course. Engineering, bring impellers to immediate readiness, but do not bring up the wedge. Com, alert Bellerophon and Gryphon of the situation. Order them to Readiness Two, but inform both of them that they are not -- repeat, not -- to bring up their wedges or transponders."
"Aye, aye, Captain."
Taking a deep breath, Clegg flipped up the protective cover. She touched the Alert key, blasting the earsplitting klaxon onto the ship's intercom system. She gave it three seconds, then turned it down to a background buzz.
"General Quarters, General Quarters," she announced. "Set Condition Two throughout the ship. Repeat: set Condition Two throughout the ship. Admiral Eigen, please report to the bridge."
She keyed her mic back to the dedicated Combat Information Center channel.
"Talk to me, Lieutenant."
"Yes, Ma'am," McKenzie's voice replied. "We don't have a firm count, but it's definitely five-plus. I can't say how many more there are until they get closer or spread out enough for us to see past the leading wedges to the trailers."
"But your minimum number is solid?"
"Yes, Ma'am," McKenzie said firmly "Tracking is confident of at least five impeller signatures."
Clegg's earbug pinged. "Bridge, Eigen," the admiral's voice came. "What do we have, Captain?"
"Unknown ships have entered Manticoran space, Sir. They're approximately thirty thousand kilometers outside the hyper-limit and about two degrees above the ecliptic. That's all we've got right now."
"Have you alerted System Command?"
"No, Sir, not yet."
"Well, they probably already have as much information as we do, but go ahead and give them a heads-up anyway. You've informed Gryphon and Bellerophon?"
"Yes, Sir, and moved them to Readiness Two."
"Good. Plot us a running intercept and have CIC start squeezing the ether for everything they can get. I'll be there in five."
"Yes, Sir."
The admiral keyed off, and Clegg looked over at Bertinelli, hovering stiffly in the cramped space between her and the helm.
"You were about to say something, XO?"
His eyes flicked to the display above her head as it changed from engineering status data to full-on tactical.
"No, Captain," he said. "Nothing at all."
Clegg nodded and shifted her attention to the maneuvering plot, a hollow sensation in the pit of her stomach. She'd been aboard Vanguard three weeks ago, supervising the battlecruiser's recent work, when Admiral Tamerlane blew into the system, demolished Janus Force, and came within an ace of doing the same to Admiral Carlton Locatelli's big, fancy Aegis Force. Vanguard's meticulous reconstruction work had instantly shifted to an insane scramble to get the wedge up so that Clegg could take the unarmed, undermanned, paper tiger of a ship out to face the attackers. Pure bluff; but combined with the unexpectedly brilliant defense thrown together on the fly by the Navy and MPARS, it had done the trick.
At the time, Clegg had been enormously frustrated that she and her ship hadn't been able to actually do anything to help. Now it looked like the universe was offering her another chance.
Because there was no reason for this many ships to come into the Manticore System all at once. No reason at all.
Unless they were Round Two of the invasion.
"System Command has transmitted Code Zulu to all commands and units, Ma'am," Com announced.
"Very good," Clegg acknowledged.
"All departments reporting Condition Two," Tactical reported.
"Acknowledged," Clegg said, and felt a cold smile at the corners of her lips. Vanguard was still undermanned, and still very much underarmed.
But she was no longer just a paper tiger. She could fight.
And she damn well would.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Jan 21, 2018 10:04 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2145
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm
Location: East Central Illinois

A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 04
* * *
"…and so he got away," Lisa finished her story. "With our nodes down, there was nothing we could do about it."
"Mm," Travis said, taking a bite of his ravioli.
A fairly tasteless bite, actually. Not the ravioli's fault, but his. There was just too much uncomfortable camaraderie going on around the rest of the table for him to concentrate on his lunch.
The clever maneuver Lisa and Chomps had cooked up during the Battle of Manticore was bad enough. It gave them a connection and a personal history together that Travis would never be a part of.
But this Casca thing was even worse. Lisa had given him a summary of the murders and the following events years ago, right after she and Damocles returned. But until now he hadn't realized just how closely she and Chomps had worked together to bring it to its conclusion.
And it bothered him. He was embarrassed to admit it even in the secret depths of his own mind, but it bothered him.
He was glad Lisa was alive, of course. He was equally glad that her cleverness had kept Chomps from getting killed, too, both on Casca and in the recent battle.
But why did they have to be so happy and cheerful and friendly about it?
It was a childish reaction. He knew that. But that knowledge just made it worse.
He'd worked so hard to try to make himself someone who was unique in Lisa's life. Yet here she was, laughing over mutual private jokes with someone else.
"Travis?"
With an effort, he blinked away his silent brooding. Lisa and Chomps were both staring at him, puzzled expressions on their faces.
The same puzzled expression, probably.
"What?" he demanded.
"You're a million light years away," Lisa said. "Everything okay?"
"Of course," he said. "Ma'am."
Lisa's frown deepened a couple of degrees. Chomps's actually lessened, by the same amount. Was he amused at Travis's sudden awkwardness? Probably.
"Because if we're boring you -- " Lisa began, then broke off abruptly, raising her wrist and keying her uni-link. "Donnelly," she said, her frown deepening.
Travis watched her face closely. The stiffness, the slightly narrowed eyes…
"Understood, Sir," she said, her voice taut and formal. "I'm on my way." She keyed off and pushed back her chair. "I have to go, Travis."
"What is it?" Travis asked as he and Chomps also stood.
"Hyper footprint," Chomps said, lowering his own arm to his side. Travis blinked with mild surprise; with his full attention on Lisa, he hadn't even noticed that Chomps had also received a screening. "Aegis Force picked it up, right on the hyper-limit. I expect Excellent's got them by now, too."
"We're being recalled to our ships," Lisa said, already heading toward the restaurant door. "Cazenestro wants everything that can move out of orbit thirty minutes ago."
Travis cursed under his breath. Casey was in space dock with her starboard sidewall generators disassembled and a third of her nodes undergoing maintenance. Whatever was about to happen, he and his ship were out of it.
"Oh, wait -- the check," Chomps said, stopping abruptly. "I need to -- "
"I've got it," Travis cut them off. "Go."
"Thanks, Sir," Chomps said, already halfway to the door, Lisa right behind him. "I'll pay you back."
If you live through whatever's about to happen. Travis winced, even more ashamed of his uncharitable thoughts a few minutes ago. He'd seen the reports on the Navy's combat status, and it wasn't good. Nearly every ship that had been in the battle had taken damage, either from enemy weapons or self-inflicted by aging or improperly maintained systems that had been strained beyond anyone's shortsighted expectations.
The waiter was already on his way with his tablet. Travis pulled out his fob, squeezing his thumb against the reader as he tapped the tablet to transfer the funds. He and the waiter exchanged nods, and Travis hurried for the door --
And nearly collided with Lisa as she came charging back in.
"Come on," she said, beckoning sharply. "Townsend's getting his air car."
"Me?" Travis shuffled to a confused halt. "I haven't been -- "
"Haven't been called up," Lisa said, grabbing his arm and pulling him toward the door. "I know. But I just remembered that our ATO was reassigned to Vanguard and we don't have a replacement yet. Maybe you can take his place."
Three seconds later, they were outside.
"But I'd need orders," Travis protested as she steered him toward an aircar just settling to the street in front of them. "I can't go aboard without orders."
"She can screen on the way, Sir," Chomps called to the open side window. "If it doesn't work, you can at least enjoy the ride."
"Okay," Travis said.
This was happening way too fast and way too far outside normal procedures. But too many people had died in the battle three weeks ago. If this was going to be a replay of that invasion, the Navy would need every man and woman it had. Including Travis Uriah Long.
A week ago, Travis had been reminded of his stated willingness to die for the Star Kingdom and warned that he might well get the chance to do so.
This might just be that chance.
* * *
The translation nausea faded away, and Jeremiah Llyn keyed on the repeater displays in Pacemaker's private command center. If everyone had made the translation according to his orders…
They had. Mostly. The six ships of the Royal Starforce of the Free Duchy of Barca -- an absurdly pretentious title for such a tiny navy, but Barca was like that -- were a little out of position, but not too badly, given the vagaries of hyper astrogation. At least the two troop carriers were positioned behind the cruisers and corsair as Llyn had ordered, and all of them were a few thousand kilometers in front of Llyn's compact courier ship.
And behind Pacemaker, lurking far to the rear, were the two modest-sized freighters.
They were puny things, as freighters went: just under five hundred thousand tons each. They weren't nearly as efficient as the usual one- to two-million-ton ships, and they were often a source of amusement for the crews of bigger freighters when they arrived at a port. Many people considered them a sort of "starter" ship for people whose ambitions were way larger than their credit ratings.
Still, smaller ships could make a decent living if they focused on exotic -- and pricy -- luxury goods. Those who considered them a joke usually had a quiet laugh and then forgot them and turned their attention to more important matters.
Which was the main reason Llyn liked the ships so much. Warships in port were never ignored. Small freighters -- even small freighters secretly packing the firepower of a top-of-the-line destroyer or cruiser -- were.
"Signals from Shrike and Banshee," Captain Lionel Katura's voice came from Pacemaker's intercom. "They report half a dozen civilian transponders within range, but nothing military."
"Thank you, Captain," Llyn said as the transponders' positions popped up on his repeater display. Pacemaker's own sensors hadn't yet picked them up, but that was no surprise -- the freighters' sensor suites were as sophisticated as their weapons, smart-skins, and ECM equipment.
There were members of the Axelrod Corporation board, he'd once heard, who had objected strenuously to spending the huge stacks of money required to design and build ships like Shrike and Banshee. Personally, Llyn couldn't think of a better use of money than the corporation's Black Ops division.
Diplomacy, bribery, cajolery, leverage, manipulation, and sheer purchasing power had their place in business negotiations. But sometimes, it just came down to force. And when it did, the wise negotiator made sure he had plenty of it in reserve.
Besides, there were even times when a freighter out here in the back-of-beyond had a legitimate need for defensive armament. Which made a nice cover if any pointed questions about armed ships happened to float to the surface of the Axelrod pond.
Not that there should be all that much force needed today. Three weeks ago, the Volsung Mercenaries had hit the system with more than enough ships, missiles, and proficiency to make quick work of the obsolescent Royal Manticoran Navy. A few of the Manties' smaller ships might have escaped destruction, and there were probably one or two still cowering over at Gryphon and Manticore-B, but they weren't likely to make trouble. As long as Landing City and the Star Kingdom's precious king were under the Volsungs' guns, Llyn should have no trouble delivering Barca's formal demand for the surrender of Manticore to the Free Duchy.
After that, he would withdraw and let Major General Sigismund Haus and his Axelrod advisory team take over. Once the Barcan occupation troops had been landed and Haus was settled into the Royal Palace, Llyn and the two Black Ops ships would take a leisurely tour of the system and make sure there was no significant danger. Then Llyn would head back to Barca, assemble the permanent occupation force and civilian administrative corps, and escort them back here. The Star Kingdom of Manticore would cease to exist, and Manticore would become a permanent part of the freshly-expanded Free Duchy.
Haven might raise a stink, of course. The Solarian League would probably at least notice, though Llyn didn't expect anything more than a few raised eyebrows from that quarter. But the disapproval would blow over quickly enough. This kind of conquest wasn't exactly commonplace, especially this far from the conquering system. But it was hardly unique, either. Eventually Manticore's neighbors would adjust to the new reality, and life would go on.
Somewhere in there, the Free Duchy would quietly make an official deal with Axelrod for certain exclusive rights and trade privileges, an arrangement that no one was likely to notice. Then, when Barca "discovered" the Manticoran wormhole junction, Axelrod would be in perfect position to "manage" and "administer" the junction for them.
And Axelrod, which was already hugely rich and successful, would become a great deal more so.
He leaned back in his chair, watching the repeater plot as his squadron began accelerating in-system.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: (STICKY) A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:53 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2145
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A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 05
CHAPTER THREE
"We've managed to refine the original data now that they're moving in-system," First Lord of the Admiralty Admiral (ret) Thomas P. Cazenestro said as king Edward settled himself into his chair in the underground War Room. "No identification yet, but they've been in n-space for about eleven and a half minutes. They're definitely headed for Manticore and there are definitely nine of them, but they're only up to about five hundred and forty KPS and they're still over a hundred and ninety million klicks out. Everything we've got is scrambling to get underway, but for the moment, Admiral Locatelli has approved Rear Admiral Eigen's decision to hold Aegis Force in orbit until he's reinforced with whatever can get underway."
"Locatelli's still on his inspection tour of Thorson, I assume?" Edward asked.
Cazenestro nodded. "And he's not happy about being stuck there," he said. "But there's no way to get him out to join Eigen, and at least Excellent gives him good communications facilities."
"Yes," Edward said. And with everything spread to hell and gone around the system, that might be critical.
"Whoever these people are," Cazenestro continued, "they're holding their acceleration down to about eighty gravities, so we've got some time. Assuming they want a zero-zero intercept with the planet and maintain that accel, it'll take them over four hours just to reach turnover."
Edward nodded, feeling an unpleasant tingle as his hands gripped the chair's armrests. He'd held those same armrests barely three weeks ago as he watched the Manticoran forces fight their desperate battle for the Star Kingdom's survival.
As he'd watched his only son die.
He'd managed to mostly shove his feelings into the back corners of his mind since then. There'd been so much death and destruction that it almost seemed that everyone on Manticore had lost at least one friend or family member. They hadn't, of course; the Navy was too small, too understrength, for that depth of personal loss to touch all of his subjects. But in a sense, all of Manticore's dead belonged to all of her people, and Edward, as King, needed to keep his grief at the national level and not allow his private sorrow to take precedence.
His advisers had assured him that the people would understand if he took some time away for private mourning. But while Edward appreciated that, he also appreciated his duty.
A king's life is not his own. Edward's father Michael had reminded him of that four years ago, on the day he'd abdicated in Edward's favor.
Michael could mourn his grandson. Edward's daughter Sophie could mourn her brother, Queen Consort Cynthia could mourn her son, and Edward's half-sister Elizabeth could likewise mourn her nephew. But Edward couldn't mourn his son. Not as deeply as he wanted to. Not yet.
And now, maybe not ever.
* * *
"The irony is that Clegg wasn't supposed to be in Vanguard in the first place," Lisa said as Chomps blazed their air car through Landing traffic.
Well above the speed limit, of course, and with complete disregard for normal traffic flow regulations. Travis winced with each veering pass; but for once, of course, there was good reason for it.
"She wasn't?" he asked, to take his mind off Chomps's driving.
"No, she was actually in line to be Locatelli's flag captain aboard Invincible," Lisa said. Maybe she was trying to keep her mind off Chomps's driving, too. "Only she didn't get it."
"Why not? What happened?"
"Secour happened," Lisa said. "After Metzger's performance there, Locatelli pulled strings to push her up the list and give her the gold star for Invincible."
"I imagine Clegg was annoyed."
"I believe the word is pissed, Sir," Chomps called over his shoulder.
"Officers don't get pissed, Townsend," Lisa admonished him. "Women don't sweat, either -- we glow."
"I stand corrected, Ma'am."
"Actually, I don't know that she was annoyed," Lisa continued. "From what I've heard, she was more frustrated that she was supervising Vanguard's refit during the battle and didn't get to join the fight."
"She may be about to get a chance," Travis said grimly.
"My point exactly," Lisa agreed. "Hence, the irony. Hold on." She raised her uni-link. "Donnelly." She listened a few seconds -- "Acknowledged, Sir," she said. "He's right here -- I'll bring him on my shuttle…Yes, Sir."
She keyed off.
"You're in," she said. "Your orders will be waiting at the shuttle."
Travis nodded. I wanted this, he reminded himself. I didn't want to just sit on the ground and watch. So instead of watching from the sidelines he was going to head back into battle.
But then, that was what he'd signed up for when he put on the uniform.
"Thank you, Ma'am."
"Don't thank me yet," Lisa warned. "With only one functional launch tube, we'll be going into whatever's about to happen with one hand tied behind our backs." She reached over and squeezed his hand. "But whatever we've got, I'm sure you'll come up with some clever way to use it."
Travis swallowed.
"Yes, Ma'am. I'll do my best."
* * *
Llyn's tactical repeater remained singularly barren of useful information and he frowned thoughtfully.
There were a lot of civilian transponders in detection range -- well, a lot for a star system this far out in the back of beyond, anyway. But not a single military ID.
Which wasn't necessarily worrisome. Admiral Cutler Gensonne, who should be the current master of this system, couldn't be certain who any newcomers might be. He knew the schedule, but schedules were prone to slippage over interstellar distances, and it probably made sense for him to be wary, at least until the newcomers' identities could be confirmed. Llyn understood that.
In fact, if he was surprised by anything, it was the fact that Gensonne was taking sensible precautions. That wasn't something he normally associated with the Volsungs' commanding officer.
* * *
"Still no ID, Sir," Commander Bertinelli's voice rumbled over the speaker from CIC. "May I remind the Admiral that Bogey One has now been accelerating in-system for over fifteen minutes? That's more than sufficient time to bring his transponders online."
Seated at her station, Captain Clegg winced. As usual, Bertinelli's tone was correct enough, but she was pretty sure Admiral Eigen could hear the impatience under the words.
That was a problem, and not one that seemed likely to go away any time soon. Eigen needed to be publicly oblivious to tensions within his flagship's internal chain of command, Clegg knew, but he'd made it subtly clear to her that he wished she handled people a little better.
He probably had a point. Clegg had never had a high tolerance for fools, and seldom bothered to go out of her way to hide that fact.
Though after just three weeks commanding Aegis Force, it was likely that Eigen had independently come to the conclusion that Bertinelli did indeed fit that category. The man clearly believed Vanguard's bridge was his rightful domain, and just as clearly resented having been banished to the Combat Information Center.
Clegg couldn't decide whether that was because Bertinelli opposed change simply on general principles or because it deprived him of his opportunity to shine directly under his new squadron CO's eye. Neither one spoke very well for him, though.
"Thank you, Commander," Admiral Eigen said calmly. "I was aware of the time."
"Yes, Sir."
Clegg winced again. Set up, smack down, and Bertinelli probably hadn't even noticed.
Still, she couldn't help wondering if she might have short-circuited some of this if she'd explained her thinking to her senior officers when she overhauled the arrangement of their battle stations. The unexpected test of the recent attack had demonstrated that the RMN's practice of concentrating all the senior officers on the bridge was potentially a disaster waiting to happen. The carnage of actual combat had demonstrated the need to separate a ship's senior officers as widely as possible to ensure that someone survived to exercise command if the bridge was hit.
Eigen had expressed his own approval of her analysis and solution, and had assured her that the rest of the Navy would eventually come to the same conclusion. So far, it hadn't. Even more unfortunately, neither had Bertinelli.
The man was overdue for a little career counseling. But now was neither the time nor the place for that.
"Force readiness, Captain?" Eigen asked.
"The Squadron is closed up at battle stations, Sir," Clegg reported formally, turning to face him. "Impellers are at full readiness."
"Good." Eigen smiled bleakly. "I'm sure our visitors will be suitably surprised when we bring up our wedges and turn on our transponders."
For a moment Clegg wondered if his last four words were an implied criticism of her decision to keep Aegis Force's transponders locked down when they went to Readiness Two instead of bringing them up, as the Book mandated. She opened her mouth to explain --
"Surprise is always a wonderful thing to have," the admiral added. "What's the flagship's status?"
So he did understand. Good. "As ready as we can be, Sir," she said. "We only have eleven missiles, and Laser One has some intermittent faults that the techs are still chasing down. On the plus side, the energy torpedo launchers seem to be functioning perfectly."
"Should we ever find ourselves close enough to use them."
"Yes, Sir. There's that," Clegg conceded.
"Still, it does happen, doesn't it?" Eigen continued, with another, less bleak smile.
"Yes, Sir. It does," Clegg said, and smiled back.
During her slow rise up the ladder, she'd had more than one discussion with her fellow junior officers about the relative value of missiles, lasers, and energy torpedoes. Most of those fellows had endorsed the received wisdom of "best practice" navies like the Solarian League that the missile was the decisive weapon. Not even a capital ship, like Vanguard, was likely to survive a single direct missile hit, and even a close near miss could result in a mission-kill. Of course, missiles could at least theoretically be intercepted or evaded, but it still took only a single hit, which could be achieved well before the opponents entered energy range.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: (STICKY) A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:20 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2145
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A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 06
Peacetime exercises had only confirmed that view on the part of most of her peers. But Clegg had always taken those exercises with a kilo-sized grain of salt. Missiles were far too expensive to waste in live-fire exercises, and she'd suspected that both accuracy and terminal effect -- and the inefficacy of defensive fire -- were overstated in the simulations' assumptions. That was why she'd always argued that those exercises badly understated the importance of close-range, direct-fire weapons.
Three weeks ago, missiles had, indeed, wreaked carnage in the opening phase of the engagement. But it had been HMS Casey's energy torpedoes which had utterly demolished the first battlecruiser ever destroyed in combat by the Royal Manticoran Navy. Lasers, too, had played a critical role in the final slugfest before the enemy's withdrawal from the system.
The decisive impact of the despised short ranged weapons she'd championed for years only made her frustration at missing the battle even more acute.
* * *
His Majesty's Space Station Orpheus was a madhouse.
Travis felt his head trying to swivel in continuous 360° motion as he and Lisa swam briskly across the micro-gravity section of the platform towards Damocles' boarding tube, and not just because he couldn't look away from the chaos. He was afraid that if he did look away, the consequences might be fatal.
For three weeks, everyone had worried that the Star Kingdom's attackers might return. For that same three weeks, everyone had hoped desperately that they wouldn't, because the severely mauled Royal Manticoran Navy was in no state to resist a follow-on assault. Two battlecruisers, a heavy cruiser, and Casey were all down for major repairs, and half the ships that weren't currently in yard hands should have been. They were in line behind more important units, but that didn't make them remotely combat-capable.
And of those that were theoretically combat-capable, too many, in Travis's opinion, were scattered around the Manticore Binary System. Every combat-ready unit assigned to the capital planet's defense -- which was a grand total of three of them -- were in Aegis Force. Whether or not any of the other ships in Manticore orbit -- many of them at least lightly damaged -- might be available to support them was an open question. He wasn't positive about Damocles' condition, but in theory, she, the heavy cruiser Perseus, the destroyer Eriyne, and the corvettes Aries and Taurus, constituted the entire System Reserve Force.
The first three on that list had suffered at least moderate damage in the battle. The two corvettes had escaped unscathed, but they'd exhausted their supply of missiles, and the RMN had never really had enough of those to go around in the first place. MPARS' attempt to get the Navy to hand over some of its precious remaining birds, unfortunately, had fallen on deaf ears.
Now, someone had apparently realized missiles would be more useful aboard ships that could move, even wretched little corvettes, than they would sitting in stowage or in the magazines of lordly cruisers and destroyers that were dead in the water.
Unfortunately, transferring an impeller drive missile was a nontrivial task at the best of times.
Travis winced as one of the station's bright yellow cold-thruster tractors drove across the crowded docking bay gallery at at least twice the maximum speed regulations allowed and well outside the normal cleared lane. The pilot never slowed down, but merely leaned on the horn button while pedestrians scattered out of his path like fish surprised by a plunging shark. The two trailers behind the tractor carried power shunts for someone's sidewall generators, and Travis wondered which ship they were headed for.
He hoped it wasn't Damocles.
The demented tractor pilot wasn't the only lunatic on the loose. Everywhere Travis looked, parties of yard dogs ignored every conceivable safety reg as they worked frantically to get the warships ready to fly. Crews were frantically ripping away repair scaffolding, and even the nearest of the moored ships floated at least eight hundred meters from Orpheus at the end of individual boarding tubes and service umbilicals. The yellow hardsuits of the ordnance personnel threading through the whirlpool of frenetic movement were designed to be clearly visible, and Travis's jaw tightened as one of them took a glancing hit from a discarded scaffold structural member and went tumbling away from the missile its owner had been moving. That was probably a broken bone, or worse.
Travis knew he followed regulations and SOP more than most, and usually disapproved of those who didn't. But even though the mad chaos underscored exactly why those regs had been written, he found himself for once mentally urging on the violators.
They reached Damocles' thousand-meter boarding tube and swam madly up it. It seemed a lot more than a kilometer long and there was plenty of traffic, but a hole opened magically before them as Lisa bawled for the right of way. They reached the shipboard end at last, and she waved a salute at the ensign standing post as boat bay officer of the deck without even slowing down.
* * *
"Status on Aries and Taurus?" Admiral Eigen asked quietly, never looking away from the main plot. Bogey One had made its translation into n-space half an hour ago, during which time it had traveled almost two million kilometers towards Manticore. Its velocity was now 1,412 KPS, continuing to build at the same leisurely eighty gravities' acceleration.
"Aries has three birds aboard and two loading now, Sir," Bertinelli replied from CIC. "Taurus has two stowed and two loading."
"Casualties in the transfer crews?"
"Unknown, Admiral." Bertinelli's tone sounded faintly surprised.
Eigen clenched his teeth. Of course the question would never have occurred to him. "Then I suggest you find out," he bit out.
"Yes, Sir," Bertinelli replied.
Eigen inhaled deeply. He shouldn't have lost his temper that way. Not as he prepared to lead his force into combat. His officers and crews needed to know he was fully and coolly in control.
"Orpheus reports three injuries so far, Admiral," Bertinelli's voice came, sounding subdued. "One of them is considered serious."
* * *
Damocles' bridge was a hive of quietly tense voices and flickering displays as Lisa and Travis slipped in through the hatchway.
"Tactical Officer reporting for duty, Sir," Lisa called as she maneuvered her way through the tight maze of stations, displays, and other people towards the CO's station.
The man and woman floating together at the station turned around. Travis recognized the man as Captain Hari Marcello; the woman wasn't familiar, but from her insignia she was obviously the XO, Commander Susan Shiflett.
"Welcome back, Commander," Marcello greeted Lisa. His eyes flicked to Travis. "You must be Lieutenant Long. Welcome aboard."
"Thank you, Sir," Travis said, giving his best salute. "I was given orders to come aboard -- "
"Yes, I know," Marcello cut him off. "I was the one who approved them. I presume you remember how destroyers are laid out?"
"Yes, Sir," Travis said, his mind flashing back to his assignments aboard Guardian and Phoenix.
"Good." Marcello nodded behind him toward the double TO/ATO station at the forward end of the bridge. "Strap in and start running your pre-checks. And remember, Tacco," he held up a warning finger to Lisa, "that you've only got the ventral launcher to work with."
"Yes, Sir."
Lisa pushed off the Missiles Station handhold and slipped past the captain to the Tactical Station. Travis was right behind her.
He had indeed served aboard two other destroyers. But back on Guardian, he'd been a mere gravitics tech third class, while on Phoenix he'd been he'd been a forward weapons officer. Neither post had given him much time on the bridge, and certainly hadn't allowed him any time at the ATO's station.
Fortunately, the control layout was very similar to the setup aboard Casey, where he had spent considerable time. He strapped himself in and gave everything a quick look, making quick mental notes about the handful of mostly minor differences.
"What do you want me to do first, Ma'am?" he asked Lisa.
"Double-check the auto cannon," she said. "Fore first and then aft. The weapons crew is shorthanded, and we've been having serious trust issues with the status board feed. Chief Wrenner is working on the laser plasma feed -- stay on the intercom with him until he's finished, then run a remote diagnostic on the laser. I'll do the missiles and launcher."
"Yes, Ma'am," Travis said. A quick look at the tactical -- "Three hours yet to begin raising impellers?"
"Engineering's still spinning up the reactors," Lisa told him. He looked at her, and she shrugged. "Regs," she said with a wry smile.
"Yes, Ma'am," he said. Yet another eminently sensible peacetime regulation that had now come back to bite them. From both safety and reactor efficiency perspectives it made sense to require ships to use shore power when moored to a space station.
In peacetime.
He looked at a side display, a hollow feeling settling into his stomach as he examined the icons of the ships theoretically prepared to sortie in Aegis Force's support. Damocles, Eriyne, and Perseus, and none of them able to move for at least another three hours. By then, the intruders would be barely twenty minutes from their turnover point for a zero-zero intercept with Manticore.
And if the invaders got past Aegis and its theoretical supports, there'd be nothing between them and the capital planet.
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: (STICKY) A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:06 pm

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2145
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:54 pm
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A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 07
CHAPTER FOUR
"-- about the size of it, Your Majesty," Cazenestro said, looking up from the display recessed into the tabletop before him. "We've got better data on them, but I still wouldn't call it good. And our ships…"
"Yes," Edward murmured, gazing at the screen. He'd seen plenty of tactical displays when he was Captain His Royal Highness six years ago, but none of them had painted a bleaker picture. There were a lot of numbers involved: positions, accelerations, times until wedges could be raised, times to arrival at Manticore.
But the bottom line was that too many of the Navy's ships were off at Sphinx and Gryphon, and none of them could get here ahead of the intruders. "Well, this is what we have to work with. Let's focus on what this better data tells us."
"Yes, Your Majesty." Cazenestro said. "I'll just mention in passing that Admiral Locatelli's observations from Excellent track very closely with the ones we're getting from Eigen and Aegis Force."
"I assume Excellent's launchers are also ready?" Edward asked, turning to the com screen where Admiral Locatelli sat in the Thorson command room.
"As ready as they can be," Locatelli said, his image on the com screen tight-lipped. He'd been pushing for years to upgrade the missile launchers on Manticore's single lunar base, Edward knew, but as always there was never enough money to go around.
Still, the missiles that were there offered at least a theoretical last-ditch defensive shield.
"We've IDed four warships with a high degree of confidence," Cazenestro continued. "Vanguard's CIC calls it at seventy-five percent; Commodore Osgood's people on Excellent call it eighty-five. We still haven't been able to get anything I'd call a good look at them, but we've picked up active radar emissions from at least two sources that look an awful lot like HighLink Sevens or Eights. Coupled with the formation they're maintaining, it looks like at least four warships -- probably nothing bigger than a cruiser, judging from the wedges -- screening four or five ships pulling civilian-grade accelerations."
Edward pursed his lips. The Solarian-made HighLink radar systems were ubiquitous among naval vessels, including the RMN's own, but their cost and maintenance issues meant they were seldom found on merchant vessels. "Four or five transports, you think?"
"Hard to see what else they could be, Your Majesty," Cazenestro said grimly. "I'm not sure why they've turned up three weeks after the attack, but it has all the hallmarks of an occupation force coming in to tidy up."
"Maybe." Edward planted his forearms on the tabletop. "But as you say, why wait three weeks? Why not come in with the attack force and wait outside the limit until the shooting had stopped? Or at least take up station a few light-hours out and wait for a courier to come get them?"
"We don't have an explanation," Locatelli said. "My best guess is that they simply screwed up their intended coordination. We don't know where the attack originated, and we don't know what their own logistic and timing constraints may have been. Maybe there was a delay loading the ground troops, or maybe one of the transports had an engineering issue and they were delayed repairing it." He gestured somewhere off-screen. "But the fact that they've been in-system for over half an hour and still haven't said a word suggests they aren't exactly here to make friends. I think we have to operate under the worst-case assumption that this is exactly what it looks like."
"Agreed," Edward said. "The question is how we want to respond. I'm inclined to go with the argument that this is a chance to get some of the intel we desperately need. Drawing them deeper in-system may give us an opportunity to take some prisoners and, if we're very lucky, perhaps even capture a computer system more or less intact."
"But if we let them too far in-system, it makes a battle significantly more likely," Cazenestro warned. "At their current profile they'll reach turnover in three and a half hours. At that point, it's fight or surrender."
"Or blow straight through the system and hope we can't hit them," Locatelli added. "It seems to me they're putting in way too much time and effort just to surrender or run. I agree that we need to learn more about them, Your Majesty, but at this point I think keeping them away from Manticore is the more important goal."
"As do I," Cazenestro said.
"Very well," Edward said. As King, he could still override them, but much as he wanted to know who the hell this was who was threatening his people, keeping those same people safe had to be his first priority. "I just wish we had a better idea what we're facing. If the biggest thing they have is a cruiser, then a battlecruiser with a cruiser and destroyer in support ought to be more than they'd care to tangle with. But if this is Tamerlane's backup, it's probably got a heavy tech advantage, and that could even things out considerably."
"We'll see what we can do about getting you that information, Your Majesty," Locatelli promised.
Edward nodded silently. He just hoped they could get it while they could still use it.
* * *
"Excuse me, Mr. Llyn."
Jeremiah Llyn looked up as the Pacemaker's captain appeared on the intercom display. "Yes, Captain?"
"Signal from Hamilcar, Sir," Katura said. "General Haus is asking -- again -- if he should go ahead and initiate contact."
"Getting a little anxious, is he?" Llyn suggested.
"I'm sure he wouldn't put it that way, Sir.
"No, I'm sure he wouldn't," Llyn said, frowning at the chrono. The Axelrod/Barcan force had been headed in-system for almost forty minutes, and still nothing from Gensonne.
Llyn could think of some reasons the Volsung commander would take his sweet time about checking in. Not good ones, perhaps, but Gensonne always enjoyed proving his own cleverness.
Still, Llyn had always held to the rule to never ascribe to malice that which could be explained by incompetence. Especially when the individual in question had such an abundant store of incompetence to draw upon.
General Haus had been something of a pain throughout the voyage to Manticore. Still, on this one he had a point. His four ships represented a significant chunk of the Royal Starforce of the Free Duchy of Barca, with an equally significant percentage of Barca's troops aboard those transports. Under the circumstances, it wasn't unreasonable for him to be nervous about the ongoing silence.
"Very well," he said to Katura. "Put me through."
"Yes, Sir."
Katura's image disappeared, replaced a moment later by the distinguished, square-jawed, silver-haired Haus.
"General," Llyn greeted him courteously. "How can I help you?"
"I've been going over Admiral Gensonne's timetable, Mr. Ichabod," Haus said. As always, he leaned just a bit on the name, his not-so-subtle way of saying that he didn't believe for a minute that was the operation organizer's real name. "It seems to me that he should already have hailed us. Since he hasn't, I suggest we go ahead and com the planet directly."
"I think we should probably wait on that, Sir," Llyn said "Admiral Gensonne's firepower was more than sufficient to deal with the Manticoran Navy, but it's possible that he took some damage, or that he's still dealing with Manticoran fugitives dodging around the system. If he's had to go farther in-system for some reason, he might not yet have detected our wedges."
"In that case, shouldn't he have left one of his lighter units orbiting the planet?"
"I'm sure you'd have done exactly that," Llyn agreed. "So would I. But again, the Manticorans may have decided to be pesky."
"Perhaps," Haus said with an impatient wave of his hand. "The Admiral had best notice us sometime in the next two or three hours, though. Otherwise, you and I will be having another conversation."
"I'm sure there's nothing to worry about, Sir," Llyn soothed him. "Nothing at all."
* * *
"Ready to proceed, My Lady," Captain Ermolai Beckett said.
"Thank you, Ermolai," Admiral White Haven replied, never taking her eyes from the icons in HMS Nike's main display. So far, their information on Bogey One's composition was one hell of a lot vaguer than she could have wished, but she was confident additional information was en route. Twenty-eight light-minutes was a long way for a message transmission to come.
And even longer for a pair of warships to cross.
"My Lady," Beckett said quietly, "I really think --"
"I know what you think, Captain," White Haven interrupted. "But micro jumps are too risky. You know how easy it is to be off by as much as four or five million kilometers even on a longer jump. On a micro jump, that margin of error goes up catastrophically."
"I realize that, My Lady. But --"
"The last thing Locatelli and Eigen need is for us to wind up somewhere the hell and gone away from where they expect us. And the last thing we need is to find these people -- whoever they are -- far enough inside us that they can finish Eigen off in detail before we can join forces with him."
Beckett was silent for a long moment. White Haven turned her eyes from the display and met his gaze coldly. For a moment they held that pose, and then Beckett looked away.
"With all due respect, My Lady, I intend to log my formal disagreement with your decision."
"Do whatever you think right," White Haven said, letting her tone frost over. "In the meantime, you will get the squadron underway."
"Yes, My Lady," Beckett replied. He looked at Nike's helmsman and astrogator, both of whom had been studiously deaf during the conversation. "Proceed as directed," he ordered.
"Aye, aye, Captain."
A moment later Nike was on the move, accelerating away from Sphinx at 1.57 KPS² -- twice Bogey One's reported acceleration, but of course she had a lot farther to go. The plain, ugly fact was that there was no way in hell they could reach Manticore in time to make any difference at all to the upcoming battle.
We never should have been stationed here to begin with, the admiral thought bitterly. The fact that she'd said so at the time was of little consolation now that she and the rest of the Star Kingdom were looking the consequences of that disastrous decision squarely in the eye.
Her mind ran the relentless calculations yet again. Nike was ten hours from Manticore orbit; Bogey One would enter planetary orbit in only three hours and forty minutes.
She might be there in time to pick up any remaining pieces. But nothing more.
* * *
"I understand, Sir," Eigen said, studying Locatelli's expression on the com display. As always, there was no way to tell which side of the prisoners-and-intel versus keep-them-at-arm's-length argument he'd come down on. Locatelli definitely knew how to play the political game.
"I'm sure you do, Kyle," Admiral Locatelli replied. "And let me underscore that no one disagrees that we still need all the intel you can squeeze out of this."
"We just have do it from farther away."
"Exactly," Locatelli said. "How soon can you break orbit?"
"Vanguard, Gryphon, and Bellerophon are ready to go now, Sir. Aries and Taurus are still loading missiles, though, and the rest of the Reserve is still over an hour from bringing its impellers online. I want those corvettes as close to fully rearmed as I can before we head out, and I want the Reserve close enough to be another factor in their thinking."
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
*
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Re: (STICKY) A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:10 am

DrakBibliophile
Admiral

Posts: 2145
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Location: East Central Illinois

A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 08
Locatelli frowned. Probably considering the implications of where Vanguard was headed, Eigen guessed, and the negligible contribution a corvette was likely to make in any confrontation.
At least on paper. Because Eigen also knew that Locatelli couldn't help but remember how, three weeks ago, the corvette HMS Phoenix had made a contribution to that battle that was far beyond anyone's expectations.
Though at a cost. A terrible cost.
Locatelli stirred, and Eigen could see him pushing back the memories. "Bit of a judgment call about the corvettes," he observed out loud, his voice remarkably toneless.
"I know, Sir," Eigen said. "But if the object is to make a show of force and convince these people to go elsewhere, the more platforms I have with me the better. And if I'm going to be taking them into harm's way, I'd really like them to actually be able to shoot at the bad guys if they have to."
"Can't argue with that," Locatelli said, his expression grim. Again, pushing back memories. "When do you want to leave orbit?"
"As late as I can and still be sure they see me coming well before turnover," Eigen said. "The longer I can wait, the better prepared our people are going to be. And the better picture I'll have of the Reserve's actual readiness, for that matter. I understand that we want a cushion, though. Call it another fifty minutes for the corvettes to load birds, and another thirty or forty, maybe forty-five, if I wait for the Reserve."
"That'll put them less than an hour from turnover," Locatelli pointed out.
"I know, Sir." Eigen looked across his bridge to meet Clegg's gaze for a moment. "That would be my best-case timing. If Admiral White Haven and Nike were in Sphinx orbit when the alert message got there, they'll still be at least five and a half hours from Manticore orbit even on a least-time time profile at that point. Unless our visitors really take their time, that means all they'll likely be able to do is pick up whatever pieces are left."
"True," Locatelli said grimly. "On the other hand, if you can stall them off that long, White Haven might still have a chance to get in on the fight."
"Not if Bogey One's paying attention. Regardless, it would be nice to know going in whether I'll have the Reserve to work with. And, to be honest, it's probably even more important to know if I don't have the Reserve to work with."
"A point," Locatelli conceded. "I'll give you until the corvettes' launchers are all loaded or there are no more birds to load, but that's it. If we wait too long to show our faces, our visitors may figure out that we're less than totally confident in the state of our shipboard systems. And, as you say, we want them to have as much time as possible to think things over short of their turnover point."
"Yes, Sir," Eigen said. "In that case, though, I intend to make my initial acceleration only a hundred and twenty gravities. That will get us underway as soon as the missile loadout allows, which will tell Bogey One we're on our way. But our acceleration will be low enough that the Reserve can overtake us before we reach combat range, even if Bogey One keeps on coming. Also, seeing a second echelon coming up behind Victory, Gryphon, Bellerophon and the corvettes may give them additional pause to think."
"Seems reasonable," Locatelli said. "And of course, how you handle your squadron's up to you. I'll endorse your decision, and I don't expect anyone planet-side to overrule you." He looked at something off-screen, and Eigen saw his lip twitch. "And just when we needed it most, some more bad news. It seems Admiral White Haven has decided that returning with all due speed means running straight through n-space. And to the planet itself."
Eigen exchanged startled looks with Clegg. "She's what?" he demanded.
"Running to Manticore," Locatelli confirmed bitterly. "Straight through n-space."
Eigen stifled a curse. He'd known for years that Karina Alexander was an idiot who'd essentially achieved her rank via money and political clout. But he hadn't realized until now just how much of an idiot she truly was. "Any chance of countermanding her orders?" he asked, running a quick calculation. If White Haven headed to the hyper limit and did a microjump, she could come in behind Bogey One. Still way out of position to affect whatever was happening here, but that would at least throw in an extra intimidation factor.
"I can countermand all I want," Locatelli said. "But it wouldn't help. By the time the orders could get to her, and she could decelerate and reverse course, she'd be even more behind the curve. No point, really."
Eigen nodded heavily as he ran his eye over at the numbers. Locatelli was right. "So she's effectively taken Nike completely out of the tactical equation."
"Pretty much," Locatelli said. "And with Flannery and Victory at Sphinx…"
Eigen nodded again. And sitting in the Manticore-B system, Admiral Thomas Flannery and Red Force were completely unaware that anything was happening. "So this really is all we've got to work with."
"Looks like it," Locatelli said. "You still want to hold to your timetable?"
Eigen looked at Clegg. The flag captain's face was grim, but she nodded her agreement. "Yes, sir," he told Locatelli.
"Right." Locatelli pursed his lips. "I'd be just as happy if no one else got killed today, Admiral. If anyone has to, though, do your damnedest to make sure it's their people, not ours."
"I'll do that, Sir. Eigen, clear."
The display blanked, and Eigen looked at Clegg.
"Pass the word to the rest of the Squadron, Trina, and then check in with Captain Timberlake. Tell him I need a running update on Eriyne's estimated completion time."
* * *
"I think we've got the laser plasma feed issue resolved, Ma'am," Travis said, looking up at Lisa. "Chief Wrenner gives it an eighty percent probability it'll hold."
Lisa punched a key, dropping a summary of Travis' work onto her display. He watched tensely as her eyes went back and forth in quick study.
"Looks good," she said. "No worse than the skyhooks everyone else is running on right now. And we've still got the secondary for at least partial backup."
"Sort of," Travis agreed, looking back at the readout of Wrenner's jury-rigs. He wasn't any happier with it than Lisa was, but it was the best anyone was likely to get right now.
"Going to be a lot of sort-of going around, I'm afraid," Lisa told him. "Beats the stuffing out of God-I-hope-this-works, though. Okay, go ahead and run a full diagnostic."
"Yes, Ma'am."
Travis called up the laser readouts on his multifunction display, glancing at the master status board while they loaded. Seventy minutes before Aegis brought its impellers fully online and broke orbit, and Damocles and the rest of the Reserve were still seventy-five minutes from initial impeller activation.
Forty minutes behind Aegis, which was better than he'd initially dared hope. Not great, but at least they'd be close enough behind Admiral Eigen that he could slow or even reverse his accel long enough for them to join forces before anyone reached weapons range.
Assuming nothing else went wrong, of course, and he winced as he read the casualty board. Only one dead, thank God, but they had over thirty injured.
So far.
His earbug pinged as the laser readouts appeared. Putting his concerns about the status board out of his mind, he got back to work.
* * *
"Captain Timberlake reports Eriyne is almost ready to go, Sir," Clegg reported, running her eyes down the status reports. "Just chasing down that sidewall glitch."
"Acknowledged," Eigen said. He lowered his voice. "Don't let it get to you," he added quietly.
Clegg frowned at him. "Sir?"
"White Haven's bonehead maneuver," he said. "You're still seething over it."
For a second Clegg wondered if protocol demanded she deny it. Bad-mouthing a superior officer, especially to another superior officer, was generally frowned on.
The hell with protocol. "Yes, Sir, I am," she said. "I've never been impressed by the Admiral, but I would have expected better of Captain Beckett."
"Oh, I have no doubt Beckett tried to dissuade her," Eigen said. "But she's the admiral, he's her captain, and those decisions are hers."
"Yes, Sir." And if there was any justice in the galaxy, Clegg thought bitterly, it would be the last decision White Haven ever made as a flag officer in command.
She glared at the master display, as much for something to distract her from her fury as anything else. But she couldn't stop thinking about it. White Haven and her squadron were at least close enough they could have responded in some kind of useful time frame. And if Sphinx had been Thomas Flannery's station, that's exactly what would have happened.
But Flannery was at Gryphon, thirteen light-hours away. Even if it had been possible to transmit a message that far, everything would be over long before he even knew anything was happening.
Her eyes narrowed. Unless…
She keyed her mic.
"CIC, this is the Captain," she said. "Tell me more about -- " she craned her neck at the plot " -- contact Sierra-Three."
"Sierra-Three…Ma'am?" Commander Bertinelli repeated in a tone of obvious surprise.
"Do you need me to repeat the order, Commander?" Clegg demanded icily.
"No, Ma'am." There was a moment of silence. "Sierra-Three is listed as RMS Hyderabad, Ma'am," he responded rather stiffly. "Eight hundred thousand tons, registered to Samuel Tilliotson, under charter as a Navy transport."
"Thank you." Clegg turned to Eigen. "Sir, I've just had a thought."
* * *
Captain Estelle O'Higgins, CO of RMS Hyderabad watched her plot, a numb feeling in the pit of her stomach. Not again, she thought. God, please not again!
There was a flicker as the plot updated the projected vector of the glaring icon that indicated the intruders' position. Eight ships, maybe more, heading toward Manticore.
Once again, the Star Kingdom was being invaded.
"Signal from MPARS, Ma'am," Lieutenant Slocum spoke up. He was trying to hide his own dread, O'Higgins could tell, and not doing a very good job of it. "Basically the same Code Zulu that System Command sent an hour ago."
O'Higgins nodded. At the moment, Hyderabad was less than three minutes from the Manticore-A hyper-limit en route to Manticore-B on the freighter route between the companion stars. Usually, traffic between the Manticore System's two stellar components was handled by the far cheaper sublight freighters, running a sublight trip of three days instead of the half hour it would take in hyper. Given how few hyper-capable freighters Manticore owned, most of the time it was considered wasteful to use one of them merely to shave a week or so off the round-trip voyage.
But that had changed three weeks ago. In the wake of the attack on Manticore, and with quick transport time now of vital concern, Hyderabad had been commandeered to transport priority Navy spares, personnel, and missiles to the squadron detailed to protect the planet Gryphon in the event of another attack.
The squadron, O'Higgins reflected, which was in exactly the wrong place to defend the planet Manticore.
To defend Manticore…and O'Higgins's son Brian.
Because while Hyderabad was well out of any danger out here at the hyper limit, Brian and his ship, HMS Taurus, were squarely in the middle of it.
And there was nothing O'Higgins could to do help him. Nothing.
"Ma'am?" Lieutenant Slocum's voice broke into her reflections. "I've just receipted a message from System Command."
*
Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
*
Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: (STICKY) A Call To Vengeance - Snippets
Post by Dilandu   » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:55 am

Dilandu
Rear Admiral

Posts: 1228
Joined: Sat May 07, 2011 12:44 pm
Location: Russia

DrakBibliophile wrote:A Call To Vengeance - Snippet 01
A Call To Vengeance
Book III of Manticore Ascendant
DAVID WEBER & TIMOTHY ZAHN with THOMAS POPE
BOOK ONE
1543 PD
CHAPTER ONE
The Spanish Inquisition hadn't been the first political and religious witch-hunt in Old Earth's violent history. Nor had it been the last, or even been the bloodiest. But for some reason, the memory of its long and persistent reign of terror had lingered in common human memory up to the Diaspora and throughout the long centuries since.


"Witch-hunt" seems to be a slightly wrong therm, considering that Spanish Inquisition was pretty skeptical about the existence of witches, and it was Spanish Inquisitor-General who forbade the witch-hunt in early 1600s.
------------------------
If power's on your shopping list
Then use the elbow and the fist,
Pummel 'em until they get the gist
Just make an example of
Representative sample of
And most of them will not be missed! (c)
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