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Silver Fox:
Let`s be about it, an Honor Harrington Story
Part One: Conundrum

Commodore Davis Henke sat at his desk and stared at the flashing input cursor on his data terminal. Davis was torn between his desire to play “The Game” for his good friend and Academy-mate Thomas, and his duty to Her Imperial Majesty’s Navy. The truth was, Thomas was the best candidate for the as yet unfilled Captaincy of the Royal Manticoran Navy’s newest heavy cruiser. The fact that Thomas was of common upbringing, and had no known Fleet sponsor was ample proof of his capabilities. Thomas had just been promoted to Captain Senior Grade, or Captain of the List as it was sometimes known, barely a year after Davis has received his Flag upon promotion to Commodore. Davis was a member of the cadet branch of the Henke family though, and by extension a distant relative of Her Majesty Herself. Davis had had ample senior sponsorship.

No, the problem wasn’t Thomas’ capability, nor was it a lack of his desire to command a vessel such as the one on offer. The problem was the name of the ship in question. First of her class, and probably due to be a pure one-off design, she was a unique and powerful vessel that would see many independent actions. Davis was more than sure though that his friend James Thomas Kirk would rather command a garbage scow cleaning up Manticoran space than the command he was being offered. The problem was, the new cruiser needed the best commander available, and James Thomas Kirk was the right officer, in oh so many ways, to command HMS Enterprise.

Reason for edit, better titling/removed preamble

*snicker* Oh, that's so wrong and yet so right.  So, when in the Honorverse does this fall, before or after Mesa's attack on the Manticore and Grayson systems?  Given that BuShips and the ADB do produce, or convert, one-off ships on occasion (HMS Fearless from the first book in the series being a case in point), this is not implausible.  On the other hand, a Captain James Kirk on an Enterprise?   You know that's going to attract all sorts of "nonsense" to him.  Still, I'd love to read more of this story.

BTW, the title works so beautifully, since it's Dame Honor's favorite line.

Silver Fox:
It takes place after Oyster Bay and before Second Manticore, and it will soon be clear why a ship ready for commissioning is without a CO. The action will take place in the Talbot cluster, where I am reasonably sure the SLN will NOT appreciate HMS Enterprise.

Thomas will meet his friend's distant cousin, the Honorable Michelle, there. He will also have two very different encounters with 'The Salamander' in Manticoran space.

Well, Nimitz would tell me that if it feels right to go ahead and continue. As there is another Honor Harrington fan in the house... "Let's be about it".

Reason for Edit, incorrect timline.

Silver Fox:
Part II: Into the Fire

Davis was lost in thought, attempting to decide if he should help his friend avoid a ‘fate worse than death’. He was so lost in fact that he never heard the outer office door open or his assistant saying “Go right in Ma’am, I’m sure the Commodore would always be pleased to see you.” His first warning was actually the happy, welcoming “BLEEK!” of his treecat Claudius. Davis looked up and saw Fleet Admiral Honor Alexander-Harrington striding into his office. He started to rise, a process complicated by Claudius trying to uncurl from his lap. “Relax Commodore, this is a social call. I intend to resolve a problem you are undoubtedly suffering from”, The Fleet Admiral’s rich contralto was friendly. “Ma’am! Ah… Please, make yourself comfortable. Would you like a refreshment? Perhaps a hot chocolate or a an Old Tilman?”, Davis stuttered, his face reddening. Admiral Harrington’s own treecat, Nimitz, regarded him with grass-green eyes and gave the ear-flick that indicated amusement. “Perhaps Nimitz would like some celery?” The answer to the last question came from his own Claudius and Nimitz in a powerful “BLEEK!” that over-rode whatever the Fleet Admiral had to say. Admiral Harrington giggled, and reddened herself. Behind her, her Grayson Armsman struggled to hide a grin. It was clear that he was completely comfortable in the presence of his charge.

 “Old Tilman would be fine Commodore, and I believe we can safely assume those two,” she pointed at the two treecats who were busy signing to each other, “would perhaps like some celery.” Nimitz responded to this by looking at his person with a haughty disregard and a loud ‘sniff’ before pointedly turning his attention back to Claudius. Claudius bleeked in amusement and Davis found himself relaxing. These two, he thought, make a formidable team. Davis was about to ask his assistant to bring the beers and celery when he felt Claudius’ true hands on his leg. Looking down he met Claudius’ eyes and saw the ‘cat signing to him. Turning back to the Admiral he said “Perhaps the Admiral would like something to eat?” It was clear she was about to decline… but a subtle clearing of the throat by her Armsman and a scolding chitter from Nimitz stopped her. “It appears I am outnumbered by my keepers Commodore, some sandwiches would be fine.” Davis passed the request to his assistant and he found himself in small talk with the Admiral while they waited on the food and drink to arrive.

“Commodore, can I safely assume the Nimitz and your Claudius conspired to have you suggest I eat?” Admiral Harrington’s tone suggested she already knew the answer. “Actually Ma’am, Claudius did remind me. I should have remembered myself though. Michelle told me shortly after I was promoted that should I ever find myself hosting you I had to remember three things. First, hot chocolate instead of coffee. Second, celery for Nimitz, but in small quantities. That I would have done myself, ‘cats love celery but it isn’t good for them as you know.” At this both ‘cats pointedly gave a loud sniff and turned their backs on the Commodore. Admiral Harrington laughed and said “Ignore them Commodore, they all react that way if we suggest they limit the celery intake. Please go on, what was the third thing Michele said?” Davis gave a timid smile and responded, “Well Ma’am, she said to offer you food. She wasn’t clear why, but she was adamant that I always offer you something to eat.”

At this Honor Harrington did laugh out loud, answered by a loud, amused “BLEEK!” from both ‘cats. “Well Commodore, I seem to find myself trapped with four keepers and a fifth here in spirit!” The food and drink arrived just then, and for a few minutes all parties were busy. For the humans it was sandwiches and frosty mugs of Old Tilman, for the ‘cats the loud crunch of celery and contented purring. The quiet social moment ended though, and Commodore Henke saw the woman known as “The Salamander” for the first time. “Perhaps Commodore you can explain just why James Kirk seems to want to avoid the heavy cruiser he is to be offered, and why you seem to agree that he doesn’t really want this opportunity?”

Davis swallowed reflexively, “Yes Ma’am, I’ll try. You see it started in those 2D entertainment cubes you brought back from Grayson. The ones about ‘Deep Space Nine’?” “I recall them Commodore, Grayson actually considered building a station similar to DS 9. It is an interesting design philosophy.” She regarded him coolly, “I fail to see what that has to do with James Kirk or HMS Enterprise though.”

Davis swallowed nervously again and continued, “Well Ma’am, those cubes were part of a series of similar entertainments. Once they had achieved a following here on Manticore a search of the old libraries was conducted on Earth. They found the other parts, including the earliest. It’s that earliest part that Thomas objects to.” Admiral Harrington’s gaze was distinctly cold now. “Let me get this straight Commodore. A RMN officer, a Captain no less, wishes not to be assigned a specific heavy cruiser in Queen’s Service because of ancient 2D entertainment cubes?” Davis hurriedly explained, “Ma’am, that earliest part? It’s about the adventures of a rather flamboyant starship Captain. The Captain is a womanizer of some reknown and known for flagrantly breaking rules, then getting away with it. That Captain Ma’am is James T. Kirk, of the starship Enterprise.”

Now Honor Harrington blinked, clearly taken aback. She recalled James Thomas Kirk from her time commanding “The Crusher,” the RMN’s command school. He had proved popular with the female students and staff to be sure, and she recalled that he was also the one who… “Oh dear! Your friend, Thomas he now prefers to be called? He was the officer who altered the Fleet simulation to allow his battlecruiser to use Apollo at full capacity in the Tank?” Davis nodded and Honor continued, “Surely he can’t have been named after the old fictional character? Those cubes can only have surfaced in the last 15 years or so!”

“Ma’m. He went by Jim in those days, until the comparisons started to be made. It was then that he changed to Thomas. Now we propose to give him Enterprise. He’ll never live it down, and he knows it.” Davis looked crestfallen. His friend Thomas was obviously close to him and the problem was very real. The confidence of a commanding officer was not a matter to be taken lightly. Honor considered the matter for no more than a few seconds. “Well Commodore, perhaps he doesn’t need to live it down. Perhaps he needs to live up to it, a certain panache is required of a cruiser commander. He seems to have it, he needs to use it.”

Davis was resigned, The Salamander more than anyone else would understand the pressures something like this could place on an officer. If she was in favour of the assignment, that was that. “I’ll make the posting right now Ma’am.” He made the required entries on his desktop terminal and announced “Done Ma’am.” Honor Harrington rose from here chair and Nimitz leapt into her arms before scrambling to her shoulder. “We both have other serious duties Commodore, let’s be about it.” She then left his office and went to put out whatever other fire had attracted the attention of the Fleet Admiral. In a way Davis was very glad she had come. Honor Harrington, The Salamander, had a way of bringing out the best in people. Now he would see if it would work at one remove.

Silver Fox:
Part III: Kirk to Enterprise

Enterprise was designed originally as an experimental Saganami-class CA (P). A heavy cruiser hull fitted to fire shoals of missiles from pods she could release from a hollow core. Long before building had started the RMN had decided that only the super dreadnaught “Ships of the Wall” would be pod armed. A limited number of Agamemnon-class BC (P)’s had already been completed, and these were valuable assets, but the follow on class was more conventional. In the newer battlecruisers, the change made them capable of firing the latest Marks of heavy capital missiles and provided the space for fire control systems required to make best use of those missiles. In the cruiser hulls though, the pods actually prevented the firing of the heaviest missiles a cruiser could normally carry, in favour of more volume of smaller missiles. The events leading up to the first Battle of Manticore had made it obvious that such a design philosophy was unworkable.

Enterprise had then been redesigned for the space-control mission that had been the pre-war stock in trade of an RMN cruiser. Enterprise was essentially a Saganami C-class and was fitted with that type’s conventional broadside (although it bore more resemblance to a Grayson design than Manticoran) featuring heavy missile launcher tubes and beam weapons. Enterprise lacked a normal after chase armament though; in its place was a single large launch bay… suitable for the launch, recovery and re-arming of a Ferret-class Light Attack Craft. The mission of the Ferret was simple; a cruiser could not launch the sophisticated Apollo targeting missiles that would let her use multi-drive missiles to best effect from her internal launchers. The LAC could act as a persistent replacement for the Apollo though. A Ferret could creep close to its target and provide fire control for following missiles. The only disadvantage was that the Ferret had nowhere near the acceleration of a modern MDM. The Ferret would launch early and recover late, which might make life difficult for it’s crew if the parent cruiser had to run from an opponent. Of course, many pirates would regret catching a Ferret, considering that types missile armament and electronic warfare capability.

Enterprise had run through her trials, including exercise in the use of the Ferret, without a major incident. There were no engineering casualties except for a single beta-squared node, which had required re-tuning. Personnel had started to settle in, although there was the normal period of adjustment with so many of the ratings new to the Navy. All in all, she was a well-found ship off to a good start. The ‘good start’ ended with the attack on Manticore, which found her Captain having a anniversary dinner with his wife at the Dempsey’s location aboard Her Majesty’s Space Station Hephaestus. During that dinner, the missiles had struck the space station and the Dempsey’s location had been destroyed. Enterprise had been under command of her First Officer, who had taken the ship a short distance from Manticore; there to give the LAC decks crews some needed practice on LAC operations.

Now Enterprise awaited her new Captain. Filling a dead man’s shoes was nothing unusual in the RMN after so many years of war with the People’s Republic of Haven/Republic of Haven. Still it did cause one to reflect on destiny and one’s own mortality to a certain extent. James Thomas Kirk did reflect on destiny, especially the destiny that saw James T. Kirk being given command of HMS Enterprise. A heavy cruiser was nothing for a Captain of yeoman birth to sneeze at. Indeed, a heavy cruiser would likely be the last truly independent starship command an officer in Queen’s service was likely to see. The next step would be a battlecruiser, and solo operations in battlecruisers were rare. After that would come the ships of the wall, and probably the last chance to wear the white beret that an officer would get.

So, James Thomas Kirk now sat on a shuttle awaiting his arrival aboard his new command. If nothing else, the experience should prove… fascinating.


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