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On Rereading HELL'S GATE

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by saintonge   » Sat Dec 19, 2015 4:25 am

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I’m rereading Hell’s Gate and Hell Hath No Fury before starting The Road to Hell, and something popped out at me.

Aside from the initial meeting of Falsan chan Salgmun and Osmuna, where we don’t know what happened, everything that goes wrong is the fault of the Arcanans. Not because they’re evil, but because of their mindset. Why does Arcana have a branch of its military exploring the portals? They have standing orders to make First Contact peaceful if possible, but there basic attitude is ‘These people might be enemies, so get into a position of military superiority at once, and at the first sign of trouble, start shooting.’

At Fallen Timbers, Jasak’s mistake wasn’t just failing to relieve Fifty Garlath. It was sending the troops in to root out the Sharonans, in a way certain to increase tensions. Once the survey team was surrounded, he could have just waited for a few hours, till they made a move. Or had his men surround the place in plain sight, then unload their arbelests, and put them on the ground, followed by him walking in unarmed and alone to look for the survey team.

Similarly, Five Hundred Klian determined to hold the portal, because the other side might be hostile, but never told Hundred Thalmayr ‘Don’t start shooting under any circumstances. Until they’ve killed or captured an Arcanan, you don’t fire on them.’

And Two Thousand Harshu never thinks ‘So what if the Sharonans attack? Their transport is all unenhanced animals, they come out in the middle of a swamp, they have thousands of miles to go till they reach the next portal. Let’s wait and see if they attack. Pull most of our forces back to encampments far from Fort Rycharn, and see if they try to hurt us.’

In the end, the Arcanans aren’t really trying to find a peaceful resolution.
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by brnicholas   » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:33 am

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You are right about that Arcana's actions sharply increased tensions and made fighting much more likely and that Arcana acted as it did because it was expecting anyone it met to be hostile. There is a simple and clear reason for that.

The Arcanan Army has made first contact before, with Mythal!

The Arcnan Army's institutional memory is that of the Andaran Army and as a consequence in planning for first contact the assumption was that the most likely first contact was with someone like the Mythalans (armies always plan for the last war) and their actions were completely correct if they had encountered Mythalans. Mythalans would take all the suggestions made for making peaceful contact as signs of weakness and try and exploit them. That is why the Arcanan Army's orders put such a strong emphasis on not looking weak.

Is that stupid yes, but I don't see it as any stupider then the fact that the Sharonans had no first contact procedures at all! Both sides screwed up but it was the Arcanans screw ups that led to violence.

Nicholas
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by boballab   » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:36 am

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Posts: 394
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Location: Ocean City MD

saintonge wrote:I’m rereading Hell’s Gate and Hell Hath No Fury before starting The Road to Hell, and something popped out at me.

Aside from the initial meeting of Falsan chan Salgmun and Osmuna, where we don’t know what happened, everything that goes wrong is the fault of the Arcanans. Not because they’re evil, but because of their mindset. Why does Arcana have a branch of its military exploring the portals? They have standing orders to make First Contact peaceful if possible, but there basic attitude is ‘These people might be enemies, so get into a position of military superiority at once, and at the first sign of trouble, start shooting.’

At Fallen Timbers, Jasak’s mistake wasn’t just failing to relieve Fifty Garlath. It was sending the troops in to root out the Sharonans, in a way certain to increase tensions. Once the survey team was surrounded, he could have just waited for a few hours, till they made a move. Or had his men surround the place in plain sight, then unload their arbelests, and put them on the ground, followed by him walking in unarmed and alone to look for the survey team.

Similarly, Five Hundred Klian determined to hold the portal, because the other side might be hostile, but never told Hundred Thalmayr ‘Don’t start shooting under any circumstances. Until they’ve killed or captured an Arcanan, you don’t fire on them.’

And Two Thousand Harshu never thinks ‘So what if the Sharonans attack? Their transport is all unenhanced animals, they come out in the middle of a swamp, they have thousands of miles to go till they reach the next portal. Let’s wait and see if they attack. Pull most of our forces back to encampments far from Fort Rycharn, and see if they try to hurt us.’

In the end, the Arcanans aren’t really trying to find a peaceful resolution.


Actually it does tell you what set off the whole mess if you read the meeting scene closely: It was the Sharonian civilian's mistake of releasing his safety and trying to sneakily point his weapon at the highly trained soldier. Osmuna noticed this as the first step in a hostile act and it led to a logical chain of events once the civilian screwed up:
His thumb moved, very carefully disengaging the safety on his Model 9 rifle.

Osmuna saw the not-arbalest move slowly, stealthily, and the level of adrenaline flooding his system rocketed upward. Doctrine was clear on this point. In the inconceivable event that another human civilization was encountered, contact was to be made peacefully, if at all possible. But the overriding responsibility was to ensure that news of the encounter got home. Which meant the people who had that news had to be alive—and free—to deliver it.

And if Osmuna intended to stay alive and uncaptured, it probably wouldn't be a very good idea to let this stranger point an unknown weapon at him.

He moved his left hand to the forearm of his arbalest and tipped it upward slightly.

Chapter 1 Hell's Gate.

If the Sharonian hadn't have disengaged his safety and tried to line up on a highly trained Soldier what happened wouldn't have happened. What the civilian did was comparable to a criminal trying to line up on a cop or an insurgent on a soldier and not expect the cop or soldier to respond according to their training. To boil it down, from what is shown the fault lies with Sharona for starting this by sending someone out not properly trained and then having them screw up by the numbers.

As to why use the military? Don't be dense not even the Utopian Gene Roddenbury thought it was smart to go out exploring the unknown with untrained civilians. If two trained soldiers had met in that scene both would have known not to try and line up with the other if they want peaceful contact and that both would need to contact higher authority. It was the stupid civilian that was the one that assumed the other was possibly hostile not the soldier:
Here we both stand, armed, and scared as shit, he thought. All we need is for one of us to fuck up. And that damned crossbow of his is cocked and ready to go. I know I don't intend to do anything stupid . . . but what about him?

His thumb moved, very carefully disengaging the safety on his Model 9 rifle.

He didn't intend to do something stupid but he did because he didn't have the training the Soldier did.
Last edited by boballab on Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
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"I'd like to think that someone in the Navy somewhere has at least the IQ of a gerbil!" Rear Admiral Rozsak on the officers in the SLN
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by boballab   » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:44 am

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brnicholas wrote:You are right about that Arcana's actions sharply increased tensions and made fighting much more likely and that Arcana acted as it did because it was expecting anyone it met to be hostile. There is a simple and clear reason for that.

The Arcanan Army has made first contact before, with Mythal!

The Arcnan Army's institutional memory is that of the Andaran Army and as a consequence in planning for first contact the assumption was that the most likely first contact was with someone like the Mythalans (armies always plan for the last war) and their actions were completely correct if they had encountered Mythalans. Mythalans would take all the suggestions made for making peaceful contact as signs of weakness and try and exploit them. That is why the Arcanan Army's orders put such a strong emphasis on not looking weak.

Is that stupid yes, but I don't see it as any stupider then the fact that the Sharonans had no first contact procedures at all! Both sides screwed up but it was the Arcanans screw ups that led to violence.

Nicholas


No the Arcanan Army did not expect that anyone they met would be hostile, but they also wasn't as stupid as Sharona in that the possibility of someone they met could be hostile and sending out improperly trained people. Go back and read what the instructions to the Scouts were, because Osmuna helpfully gave them for you:
Doctrine was clear on this point. In the inconceivable event that another human civilization was encountered, contact was to be made peacefully, if at all possible. But the overriding responsibility was to ensure that news of the encounter got home. Which meant the people who had that news had to be alive—and free—to deliver it.


Falsan started to point his weapon at a Soldier which is a hostile act and made peaceful contact impossible. If you don't believe me grab a gun, walk out into a street and point it at a cop and see what happens. If you live from the gunshot wounds you will find that peaceful contact with the cops was not possible after you pointed your gun at them.
............................................................................

"I'd like to think that someone in the Navy somewhere has at least the IQ of a gerbil!" Rear Admiral Rozsak on the officers in the SLN
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by n7axw   » Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:01 pm

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Then the whole mess could still have been averted if Gul Myrthak hadn't found the situation an opportunity to advance the agenda of his conspiracy.

What happened with first contact and at Fallen Timbers could have been worked out, but with our favorite gul throwing sand in the works, the opportunity to work out the misunderstandings soon vanished.

Don

-
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by Keith_w   » Sat Dec 19, 2015 8:14 pm

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boballab wrote:
brnicholas wrote:You are right about that Arcana's actions sharply increased tensions and made fighting much more likely and that Arcana acted as it did because it was expecting anyone it met to be hostile. There is a simple and clear reason for that.

The Arcanan Army has made first contact before, with Mythal!

The Arcnan Army's institutional memory is that of the Andaran Army and as a consequence in planning for first contact the assumption was that the most likely first contact was with someone like the Mythalans (armies always plan for the last war) and their actions were completely correct if they had encountered Mythalans. Mythalans would take all the suggestions made for making peaceful contact as signs of weakness and try and exploit them. That is why the Arcanan Army's orders put such a strong emphasis on not looking weak.

Is that stupid yes, but I don't see it as any stupider then the fact that the Sharonans had no first contact procedures at all! Both sides screwed up but it was the Arcanans screw ups that led to violence.

Nicholas


No the Arcanan Army did not expect that anyone they met would be hostile, but they also wasn't as stupid as Sharona in that the possibility of someone they met could be hostile and sending out improperly trained people. Go back and read what the instructions to the Scouts were, because Osmuna helpfully gave them for you:
Doctrine was clear on this point. In the inconceivable event that another human civilization was encountered, contact was to be made peacefully, if at all possible. But the overriding responsibility was to ensure that news of the encounter got home. Which meant the people who had that news had to be alive—and free—to deliver it.


Falsan started to point his weapon at a Soldier which is a hostile act and made peaceful contact impossible. If you don't believe me grab a gun, walk out into a street and point it at a cop and see what happens. If you live from the gunshot wounds you will find that peaceful contact with the cops was not possible after you pointed your gun at them.


I would like to point out to you that Falsan was matching the readiness of the Arcanan soldier:

Here we both stand, armed, and scared as shit, he thought. All we need is for one of us to fuck up. And that damned crossbow of his is cocked and ready to go. I know I don't intend to do anything stupid . . . but what about him?

His thumb moved, very carefully disengaging the safety on his Model 9 rifle.


So you see a guy with a loaded weapon pointed at you, what do you do? In your analogy, from Falsan's point of view, Falsan was the cop and the other guy walked out into the street with a loaded gun and challenged him and did not make any effort to defuse the situation.
--
A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:08 am

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boballab wrote:
brnicholas wrote:You are right about that Arcana's actions sharply increased tensions and made fighting much more likely and that Arcana acted as it did because it was expecting anyone it met to be hostile. There is a simple and clear reason for that.

The Arcanan Army has made first contact before, with Mythal!

The Arcnan Army's institutional memory is that of the Andaran Army and as a consequence in planning for first contact the assumption was that the most likely first contact was with someone like the Mythalans (armies always plan for the last war) and their actions were completely correct if they had encountered Mythalans. Mythalans would take all the suggestions made for making peaceful contact as signs of weakness and try and exploit them. That is why the Arcanan Army's orders put such a strong emphasis on not looking weak.

Is that stupid yes, but I don't see it as any stupider then the fact that the Sharonans had no first contact procedures at all! Both sides screwed up but it was the Arcanans screw ups that led to violence.

Nicholas


No the Arcanan Army did not expect that anyone they met would be hostile, but they also wasn't as stupid as Sharona in that the possibility of someone they met could be hostile and sending out improperly trained people. Go back and read what the instructions to the Scouts were, because Osmuna helpfully gave them for you:
Doctrine was clear on this point. In the inconceivable event that another human civilization was encountered, contact was to be made peacefully, if at all possible. But the overriding responsibility was to ensure that news of the encounter got home. Which meant the people who had that news had to be alive—and free—to deliver it.


Falsan started to point his weapon at a Soldier which is a hostile act and made peaceful contact impossible. If you don't believe me grab a gun, walk out into a street and point it at a cop and see what happens. If you live from the gunshot wounds you will find that peaceful contact with the cops was not possible after you pointed your gun at them.


Its not that clear cut. Falsan had a .40 caliber rifle and hit the Osmuna in the chest. Had Falsan shot first, Osmuna would not have been able to hit Falsan. The bullet hitting his body would have made holding the crossbow on target nearly impossible. It follows that the most likely sequence was that Falsan fired after Osmuna.

I agree that Falsan's motion might have triggered Osmuna's decision to fire. That decision was primed by the Arcanan directive to get the information to higher authority first and to control the encounter peacefully. Osmuna could not let Falsan go. His standing orders per the first encounter protocol was to either survive a hostile encounter or to ensure his superiors got the information before the "Other" got word out to his.

Given that directive, Falsan was about to be surrounded and captured as soon as Jasak's remaining troops caught up. Falsan could not have known this, but if he had suspected that there were others nearby as he did his primary responsibility was to warn his group. If he was captured by Jasak, his friends could be taken by surprise. Had Osmuna not been directed to control the encounter and simply begun backing up, Falsan would not have fired. They both would have left to meet with their group.

It was the Arcanan directive to ensure the other side did not get information about the encounter first that ensured any first encounter would escalate unless Arcana could apply overwhelming force to prevent it. That's what Jasak tried to accomplish at Fallen Timbers.
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:23 pm

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Stephen,
these ideas are what we have been discussing here
during the past few years in great detail.
For example, I have suggested that, once the Chalgyns
had been surrounded at Fallen Timbers, Jasek's group
might have stopped for a meal, and then offered to
share it with the strangers.
You might find some of the early threads of interest.

Howard
edited 12/22/15 6:15 EST from thread to threads-plural.
typos typos everywhere :o

saintonge wrote:I’m rereading Hell’s Gate and Hell Hath No Fury before starting The Road to Hell, and something popped out at me.

Aside from the initial meeting of Falsan chan Salgmun and Osmuna, where we don’t know what happened, everything that goes wrong is the fault of the Arcanans. Not because they’re evil, but because of their mindset. Why does Arcana have a branch of its military exploring the portals? They have standing orders to make First Contact peaceful if possible, but there basic attitude is ‘These people might be enemies, so get into a position of military superiority at once, and at the first sign of trouble, start shooting.’

At Fallen Timbers, Jasak’s mistake wasn’t just failing to relieve Fifty Garlath. It was sending the troops in to root out the Sharonans, in a way certain to increase tensions. Once the survey team was surrounded, he could have just waited for a few hours, till they made a move. Or had his men surround the place in plain sight, then unload their arbelests, and put them on the ground, followed by him walking in unarmed and alone to look for the survey team.

Similarly, Five Hundred Klian determined to hold the portal, because the other side might be hostile, but never told Hundred Thalmayr ‘Don’t start shooting under any circumstances. Until they’ve killed or captured an Arcanan, you don’t fire on them.’

And Two Thousand Harshu never thinks ‘So what if the Sharonans attack? Their transport is all unenhanced animals, they come out in the middle of a swamp, they have thousands of miles to go till they reach the next portal. Let’s wait and see if they attack. Pull most of our forces back to encampments far from Fort Rycharn, and see if they try to hurt us.’

In the end, the Arcanans aren’t really trying to find a peaceful resolution.
Last edited by Howard T. Map-addict on Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:31 pm

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Nicholas,
for people with no First Contact procedures, or training,
at all, with not even a thought of strangers,
the Sharonans did very well, except for Falsam chan
Salgmun who ought not to have acted threatening.

HTM

brnicholas wrote:You are right about that Arcana's actions sharply increased tensions and made fighting much more likely and that Arcana acted as it did because it was expecting anyone it met to be hostile. There is a simple and clear reason for that.

The Arcanan Army has made first contact before, with Mythal!

The Arcnan Army's institutional memory is that of the Andaran Army and as a consequence in planning for first contact the assumption was that the most likely first contact was with someone like the Mythalans (armies always plan for the last war) and their actions were completely correct if they had encountered Mythalans. Mythalans would take all the suggestions made for making peaceful contact as signs of weakness and try and exploit them. That is why the Arcanan Army's orders put such a strong emphasis on not looking weak.

Is that stupid yes, but I don't see it as any stupider then the fact that the Sharonans had no first contact procedures at all! Both sides screwed up but it was the Arcanans screw ups that led to violence.

Nicholas
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Re: On Rereading HELL'S GATE
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Mon Dec 21, 2015 2:44 pm

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Posts: 1392
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Location: Philadelphia, PA

Boballab,

First, the answer to "who shot first?"
might have been: both shot at the same time.

Second, Osmuna had an alternative way of ensuring that
his warning got out to his commander:
He could have called out so that his cohorts (who were
in earshot) would hear him.
He need not even have turned towards them (and thus
away from the Other. He might have faced the Other and
yelled "Hello! Who are you?" at him. His fellows were
close enough to overhear that shout, and at the same
time he was attempting to establish communications in a
way that was (or might have been) obvious to the Other.

Therefore, I say that both screwed up.
But from then on, all mistakes were made by Arcanians,
until Jasak ordered "cease fire" at Fallen Timbers.

HTM

boballab wrote:

Actually it does tell you what set off the whole mess if you read the meeting scene closely: It was the Sharonian civilian's mistake of releasing his safety and trying to sneakily point his weapon at the highly trained soldier. Osmuna noticed this as the first step in a hostile act and it led to a logical chain of events once the civilian screwed up:
His thumb moved, very carefully disengaging the safety on his Model 9 rifle.

Osmuna saw the not-arbalest move slowly, stealthily, and the level of adrenaline flooding his system rocketed upward. Doctrine was clear on this point. In the inconceivable event that another human civilization was encountered, contact was to be made peacefully, if at all possible. But the overriding responsibility was to ensure that news of the encounter got home. Which meant the people who had that news had to be alive—and free—to deliver it.

And if Osmuna intended to stay alive and uncaptured, it probably wouldn't be a very good idea to let this stranger point an unknown weapon at him.

He moved his left hand to the forearm of his arbalest and tipped it upward slightly.



If the Sharonian hadn't have disengaged his safety and tried to line up on a highly trained Soldier what happened wouldn't have happened. What the civilian did was comparable to a criminal trying to line up on a cop or an insurgent on a soldier and not expect the cop or soldier to respond according to their training. To boil it down, from what is shown the fault lies with Sharona for starting this by sending someone out not properly trained and then having them screw up by the numbers.
{snip - htm}
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