Beyond The Sprues

Current and Finished Projects => Stories => : Silver Fox June 18, 2014, 07:35:43 AM

: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 18, 2014, 07:35:43 AM
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
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 18, 2014, 11:24:16 AM
*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.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 18, 2014, 11:01:48 PM
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.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 19, 2014, 12:58:28 AM
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.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 19, 2014, 07:06:05 AM
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.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 19, 2014, 11:22:54 AM
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 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".
No, I doubt the SLN will appreciate HMS Enterprise at all, given her capabilities for independent action and the standard of initiative that the RMN seems to instill in its officers.  Given all that's going down in and around the Talbot cluster, I daresay he's going to see plenty of "interesting times", even without the "attractor" phenomena that the combination of ship and captain's name are likely to produce.

Is Admiral Gold Peak Thomas' distant cousin or Davis'?  The first installment seemed to suggest the later.

Yeah, I've been a Honor Harrington fan since On Basilisk Station first came out and look forward to seeing where you take this.  Installments II and III were most enjoyable and I look forward to more.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 19, 2014, 12:02:28 PM
Commodore Davis Henke is a distant cousin of Admiral Gold Peak.

I mis-wrote when I said Thomas will meet his cousin. Thomas is of yeoman stock, unrelated to the Manticoran aristocracy. Original post edited to correct the error.

Nice catch. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 19, 2014, 12:25:52 PM
I should warn readers that this is likely to be a very long story. There are at least two installments prior to Enterprise seeing independent action, and probably three or four after that before things really heat up. The climactic battle will be worth it... As will the return of Enterprise to Manticoran space. That scene I already have written, it's the true payoff for everything that comes before.

But you will just have to wait. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: deathjester June 20, 2014, 04:25:44 AM
I haven't read any Honor Harrington...yet!  But I like this story - looking forward to the next installments!!
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 20, 2014, 05:21:01 AM
Almost impossible to write this without spoilers of things in the series.

Having said that... If my feeble efforts introduce you to Honor Harrington, then I am truly honoured. I have spent many an enjoyable hour riding along with Honor Harrington and her crews. Great reads, all of the books.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 20, 2014, 06:34:55 AM
Part IV: First Impressions

The assumption of command of a Queen’s ship was a formality well-understood by all participants. The new Captain-designate would come aboard, essentially a guest until such time as his, or her, orders had been read into the ship’s log. Even the simple courtesy of not sitting in the command chair on the bridge until those orders had been read was a long time tradition. Aboard Enterprise this was observed with stiff formality, some members of the ship’s company had heard that their new commander had not wanted the appointment. Thomas had followed his assumption of command with interviews with all senior officers, including the command pilot of his assigned Ferret LAC. Reading the resentment of some of those officers had been easy, they had heard the stories and wondered what was wrong with their ship that the Captain had not wanted them. Far worse, from Thomas’s point of view were the officers who stifled amusement. Those officers, he had no doubt, were fans of the ancient 2D cubes that had caused Thomas so much angst. Worst of that batch was the Ferret’s command pilot; Thomas had asked the name of the Ferret and had been told, with a grin, “Galileo Seven Sir!”

Orders for Enterprise to deploy to Talbot space arrived shortly after the assumption of command, but with an unusual provision. Enterprise was to rendezvous with Eight Fleet, and once there “Commanding Officer, HMS Enterprise is invited to repair on board the flagship for dinner with the Flag and Senior Officers.” Thomas thought this was no doubt a glorified mail run, the various senior officers would have vital messages or packages to be delivered to the Talbot Cluster. Undoubtedly many of those packages would be expensive liquors or other delicacies unavailable in the Talbot Cluster, and vital to the successful annexation of that area’s planets into the Manticoran Star Empire.

Enterprise made rendezvous with HMS Imperator, flagship of Eighth Fleet and made the normal courtesy of flashing her running lights to the senior vessel. Enterprise was nearly half a million tons of powerful warship, yet she was dwarfed by the nearly 9 million tons of an Invictus-class SD (P). Lt. Charles Cormier, the Communications Officer turned to Thomas and announced “Sir, the Fleet Flag Captain is one the comm for you.” Thomas nodded to the comm officer and said, “Thank you Charles, on screen please.” The viewscreen shifted to show the bridge of the massive superdreadnaught and Imperator’s Captain, a man barely older than Thomas himself. Barely older, but already Flag Captain to one of the senior officers in the Manticoran Alliance. “Captain Kirk? I’m Rafe Cardones, Admiral Alexander-Harrington’s Flag Captain. The Admiral has asked me to invite you to repair on board for dinner. Would seven be convenient?” Thomas suppressed the chuckle he always felt at moments like this and saw Captain Cardones’ eyes twinkle. Of course it was ‘convenient’ for a Captain to arrive whenever an Admiral suggested, at least if that Captain knew what he was doing. Apparently Captain Cardones also found the whole formality humorous as well. “Of course Captain Cardones, that would be most convenient. Shall I call away my own cutter, or would the Flag prefer to send its own?” Thomas cocked one eyebrow in inquiry. Rafe considered for one moment then said, “Your own please Captain, the Flag has a tendency to move quickly. I would prefer to not have to wait to recover a cutter if we need to move suddenly. The Admiral can be rather insistent about such things.” Thomas sympathized, “I understand Sir, my own cutter it is.” Rafe smiled, “Thank you Captain Kirk. Please allow me to extend my own welcome as well. You have an unusual ship there, I’m rather interested to hear how you might plan to employ her.”  With that Imperator cut the connection and left Thomas to consider what dinner aboard the Fleet Flagship might be like.

He had dined with Honor Harrington before of course. During his time at “The Crusher” it had been Admiral Harrington’s practice to invite command candidates to dinner at her house where they would take part in a training exercise for both senior officers and youngsters from the early form Tactics classes. The experience had been… unusual. The younger students actually competed to receive invitations beyond the one guaranteed place every student. Each invitation would mean extra assignments for the students, assignments that would generally bring forth far greater efforts than a simple classroom assignment ever could. Thomas couldn’t help but wonder if tonight would be more of a learning experience, did someone like Honor Harrington ever stop teaching?
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 20, 2014, 10:31:54 AM
*laughs* Quite the delightful installment here and I doubt Dame Harrington ever stops teaching, including the finer aspects of the art of war to her enemies.

For those interested, the Baen Free Library has the first book in this series, On Basilisk Station available for free, in multiple ebook formats, at http://www.baenebooks.com/p-304-on-basilisk-station.aspx (http://www.baenebooks.com/p-304-on-basilisk-station.aspx) .

His dinner with Admiral Harrington should prove interesting, she always brings out the best in folks.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 21, 2014, 12:25:48 AM
Part V: Part of “The Test”

Twenty minutes before his scheduled departure Thomas was in his cabin getting dressed, or rather, being dressed by his Steward, Petty Officer Regina Strong. Thomas wasn’t quite sure how PO Strong had become his Steward. To be sure, PO Strong had been his Steward during his first command, but somehow he had always rather expected the woman to stay with the ship when Thomas was transferred. It hadn’t worked that way. PO Strong had simply packed her belongings up as well as her Captain’s and made the move alongside her chosen charge. Thomas had once asked a senior officer if this was normal. The answer was as confusing as it was informative, he was told “They pick us son, not the other way around.” Four postings now since PO Strong had come into his life, and somehow Strong was always there.  Thomas had no complaint, to be sure, life was easier with the steward around… but how had the attachment formed?

Strong finished fussing at her Captain’s uniform, flicking an imaginary piece of lint from one sleeve before pronouncing the Captain fit to be seen in public. “There you go Sir, ready for the Flagship.” She pronounced with a certain satisfaction. Thomas had thought himself ready almost ten minutes before, but a quick check in the mirror confirmed that he looked… better than he had then. PO Strong picked up a small duffel, “What was that for” he thought, and guided him out of the cabin. The Marine Sentry snapped to attention and was acknowledged with an almost absent “As you were.” To Thomas’ surprise, Regina guided him aft past the boat bays toward the stern launch cradle for the Ferret. “Petty Officer Strong? Where are we going, we just passed the boat bay access?” he asked. “Sorry Sir, I should have informed you. The First Officer is conducting evacuation drills. The cutter aboard Galileo was assigned for your trip. That’s why I had you dress early.” Thomas reflected that the First Officer seemed to pushing hard on the drills, but he could hardly be faulted for that! The ship did still have some rough edges that needed working out. Even the decision to use the Ferret’s cutter was a sound one, that cutter would be used during an evacuation for the Ferret’s hangar crew. They could practice evacuation drills while the ship was underway without impacting efficiency. So why did Thomas feel he was being maneuvered?

“Very well PO Strong, but my compliments to the First Officer, and would he please seek to inform me of drills?” Thomas said, “Even when I am not scheduled to be aboard.” Regina sounded contrite, but in that unapologetic ‘Steward’ way, when she said “Of course Sir! I’m sure he simply didn’t want to disturb you prior to your meeting with the Flag.” Thomas wasn’t mollified, but long experience told him he would get nowhere with the steward. He was about to ask about the duffel Regina was carrying when they arrived at the LAC hangar and Regina handed it off to the crew chief of Galileo Seven. The crew chief would be the pilot for the short trip to HMS Imperator. The duffel out of her grasp, and her Captain delivered to his craft, PO Strong strode quickly away to do… whatever stewards do when the Captain was absent. Thomas was ushered aboard Galileo and further aft to her small cutter bay and the waiting cutter. The cutter couldn’t launch within regulation while the LAC was fully docked, but the LAC deck crew was prepared for this. Galileo backed out of the bay to the extent of her docking arms, which allowed her aft clamshell doors to open and the cutter to launch.

Once the cutter was in space Thomas removed his white beret and curled it up before tucking it under his left shoulder board. It wouldn’t do to board another officer’s ship while wearing a Captain’s Beret. He had heard stories of officers who had worn their white beret aboard another’s command, but he was sure those were just stories. The insult offered by such an act would require the highest level of provocation, and surely, no Queen’s Officer would offer such provocation in the first place! To be sure, there were stories about Pavel Young and Admiral Harrington… but if anything had been between them it had ended on the dueling grounds of Landing City. Thomas’ musing occupied him until just before docking aboard the flag, and he had still forgotten to ask about that damned duffel!

The docking itself was smooth, with only the slight flutter as gravity aboard the cutter adapted to the slightly different field strength aboard Imperator. Thomas mused that the cutter pilot was a true master of the craft, “Perhaps I should make this arrangement permanent?” he thought. Exiting the cutter he made the ritual salute to the Queen, then to the Junior Officer of the Deck. He completed the formalities with a crisp “Permission to come aboard Sir?” The JOOD returned the salute with an equally crisp, “Granted Sir!” before both officers dropped their salutes and Thomas stepped over the line separating docking bay from Imperator proper. Captain Rafe Cardones stepped forward and after an exchange of salutes extended his hand to Thomas, “Pleased to have you aboard Captain Kirk, your duffel is being taken care of by my steward. If you will accompany me to the Flag Bridge, I can introduce you to Her Grace and both her senior officers and my own. Her Grace wishes to have a brief moment of your time before dinner.” Thomas must have looked alarmed because Captain Cardones went on, “Don’t worry Captain, it will be brief. Her Grace’s appetite being what it is, she’ll not long delay dinner.” The last was said with a smile, but tinged with some darker memory. Captain Cardones seemed to be remembering some period in which his Admiral had not been able to get enough to eat. Enroute to the Flag Bridge, Thomas reflected that he seemed to be the only one who didn’t know about that damned duffel!

The trip to the Flag Bridge was filled with the type of small talk two naval professionals will make when they find time alone. The two Captain’s discussed ship issues, the difficulty in getting trained personnel from BuPers these days, and the inevitable problems of getting the right stores and support from various other offices within the RMN. Thomas remarked, somewhat sarcastically, “Enterprise just received a complete nav update for Silesia, 6 hours after the message posting the ship to Talbot was received!” Rafe laughed, “Well Captain, the Flag has updated Talbot files that you can download. I’ll have my astrogator contact your ship.”

Upon arrival at the hallway containing both the Flag Bridge and the Admiral’s quarters Thomas hesitated for a moment. Guarding the Admiral’s quarters was the expected Marine guard, but also another person, obviously armed, in a green-on-green uniform. Captain Cardones was about to explain when Thomas snapped his fingers and said, “Of course! Harrington Steading Armsman, the Steadholders Own.” Rafe nodded his assent and approached the Marine Guard, “Captains Cardones and Kirk for Her Grace.”

The pair were obviously expected, as the Marine made no move to the intercom, instead merely passing both men with a curt “Please enter Sirs. Her Grace will be with you shortly.” The Admiral’s quarters seemed palatial compared to those of Enterprise’s Captain. The cabin showed that it’s occupant was a woman of simple, yet refined tastes. The only jarring element was the old-fashioned sword displayed on one bulkhead, and an almost-equally ancient chemical powered firearm beside it.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 21, 2014, 06:20:00 AM
Part VI: Thomas is ‘Honored’

The Admiral’s quarters were unoccupied, except for the Grayson Armsman standing behind the Admiral’s desk. Any thought that the man might have a purely ceremonial function was immediately dispelled by the hard, appraising look he gave both men. Uniformed Manticoran officers, aboard a Fleet Flagship and already passed by the Marine sentry outside the cabin, and still this man would make his own judgements about whether they were to be permitted into his Steadholder’s presence.

 There was little doubt possible, after seeing his eyes, that should he choose the men would leave. Peacefully, and of their own accord, or… otherwise. No threat would be left in his Steadholder’s presence while this man lived. Having assessed the man and his purpose, and considering the security concerns that had been raised recently, Thomas approved whole-heartedly. He gave the man a slight nod and was rewarded with an even more slight tilt of the head in return. Two professionals understood each other’s role, and space was a dangerous place at the best of times.

The Admiral’s steward appeared, as if by magic and announced “Gentlemen, Her Grace!” Then the steward disappeared as if teleported. Thomas mused that somewhere in the RMN there must be a school that taught advanced invisibility to stewards. The entrance of a tall, dark-haired woman interrupted his musing. She wasn’t attractive in the conventional sense, but she did possess a certain grace that spoke of years of martial arts training and a heavy-grav upbringing. Self assured, this was a woman who needed to justify herself to no one but her Queen. 

Both Captains braced to attention and Rafe announced “Your Grace, allow me to present Captain James Thomas Kirk, Commanding Her Majesty’s Starship Enterprise.” Face to face with Honor Harrington, The Salamander, Thomas was struck by the power of her presence. It had been noticeable at Saganami Island, but here in space the effect was magnified. It was as if Honor Harrington belonged among the stars, and only grudgingly accepted her visits to a gravity well.

Honor Harrington extended a hand to Thomas, “Welcome aboard Eighth Fleet Captain. I believe you prefer to be known as Thomas these days?” Thomas shook the offered hand, “Thank you Ma’am, and yes, I do prefer to go by Thomas.” Thomas then looked to Honor Harrington’s shoulder and the treecat perched there. “Extending his hand again he said, “You must be Nimitz, pleased to meet you as well.” Nimitz accepted the hand with a grave solemnity that showed he understood this was an ‘official’ function of his person. ‘Cats may not understand all of human society, but those around humans long enough to learn that there are rules to be followed. Nimitz had spent many years in his person’s company, those lessons he had learned well.

Thomas never noticed the softening in Honor Harrington’s eyes, or the more relaxed posture of her Grayson Armsman, but in the moment after Nimitz shook his hand he felt that he was fully welcome here. A member of the family, distant perhaps, but family none the less.

Honor began, “Captain, excuse me for not offering refreshments. Dinner will actually be served quite soon, but I wanted a moment of your time first. You see, it was I who ensured Commodore Henke made the appointment giving you command of Enterprise. You two are obviously close, he didn’t want to deprive you of the opportunity, or saddle you with the legacy of those old cubes.”

“I… see, Ma’am. Thank you for telling me.” Thomas was obviously confused, and perhaps overly sensitive to the issue. Admiral Harrington obviously read his mood, “Understand Captain, this is not an apology. I simply thought it best that you knew your friend was conflicted between his duty and his friendship to you. I cleared that conflict up for him is all.”

“Thomas?” Admiral Harrington offered a slight tilt of the head as if asking if first names would be alright. Thomas nodded and she continued, “I was unaware of the old cubes at the time. It wouldn’t have changed my decision in the slightest. Three Captains, Senior Grade, were available. You were the only candidate who had sat on the Tactics Board while LAC’s were discussed. I also recalled that you had presented a paper while attending The Crusher on independent operations of Heavy Cruisers in contested space.”

Now Thomas looked thoughtful and perhaps slightly chagrined. The woman known as ‘The Salamander’ was not one to give up any tactical advantage and she pressed home her point. “Thomas, you’ve been thinking of yourself and the pain this will bring you. That’s human nature, but you have to put it aside.” She softened then, recalling the pain notoriety had brought her, “I can tell you it won’t be easy. But, if being ‘Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise’ can bring you any advantage, you need to embrace it and use it. Your crew deserves no less.”

Now Thomas was openly embarrassed, he had been remiss in his duties and responsibilities as a Queen’s Officer. The Admiral was right, there may be advantages to the name and fame… and any tool that could be used in furthering his star nation’s interests deserved to be explored. He straightened, then looked the Admiral straight in the eyes, “Thank you Ma’am. You’ve put things into perspective for me.”


“You’re welcome Captain, and now it is time for us to meet the staff and then eat. Besides, I find myself oddly curious about the gift you brought with you.” When Thomas faltered Honor laughed, “Relax Captain, our stewards remember to do the incredibly thoughtful things we would have though of, if our minds weren’t so completely full of minor things like command.”

Admiral and Captain then left the Admiral’s quarters, and the Captain felt like a massive weight had lifted from his shoulders. He wasn’t himself, yet, but he would be.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 21, 2014, 06:31:06 AM
10 Pages, 5282 words so far. :)

I'm not trying to make it long... but it's Honor Harrington. Avid readers will understand.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 21, 2014, 11:21:17 PM
yes, I understand completely.  Anything revolving around Honor Harrington and the universe that contains her is not going to be short, not even the shorter works Mr. Weber wrote for the various anthologies.

*chuckle* He probably should get Adm. Harrington to expand on her views and knowledge of how Captains and Stewards come together and stay together, given her experiences.  She is doing a good job of helping him adjust to the full realities of his situation and an outside perspective should definitely help him see the positives and strengths of his situation; then, again, her own experiences have to have given her plenty of material to work from.  It should be most educational to see what further perspectives she gives him.

BTW, I will definitely go through the profiles in House of Steel to get a feel for what HMS Enterprise looks like.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 22, 2014, 01:07:28 AM
Author's Note:

Reference to the Medusa-class BC (P) has been corrected to Agamemnon-class BC (P) for accuracy.

HMS Enterprise would look identical to a Saganami-C in profile. An aft view would reveal the Ferret hangar replacing the after chase armament. Other significant changes will be discussed over, or after, dinner. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 22, 2014, 02:19:58 AM
Part VII: Designs within Designs

Honor and Thomas crossed the passageway to the Flag Bridge, where Thomas was duly introduced to the various members of both the Admiral’s staff, and Captain Cardones’. As was typical of many Allied units, there was a variety of uniforms on display, but predominantly the space-black of Manticore or the blue-on-blue of Grayson. Noticeable was the absence of Erehwonese uniforms, so long allies. Of course, the Erehwon Navy was neutral these days, pending the final outcome of the negotiations now going on between the Republic of Haven and the Star Empire of Manticore.

One stumbling block came when Thomas was introduced to a rather portly officer in Grayson uniform, the Fleet Chaplain. Thomas had thought himself prepared intellectually, but when faced with the reality he was still taken aback. Fleet Chaplain Winston Sullivan was understanding, “My son, part of my Test, as I understand it, is to bear the momentary lapses of good people such as yourself who forget the Grayson has a Chaplain Corps. It speaks well of you that the lapse upsets you, and you worry that I or other Graysons might be offended. Have no worries on that score, we Graysons are a hardy people, who have been Tested in far harder circumstances than a mere oversight.”

Thomas was grateful for the understanding, but more grateful still when he could move on to greet Imperator’s Weapons Officer and a safer discussion involving nuclear warheads and lasing rods. The ‘Meet and Greet’ was short-lived, soon enough the Admiral’s steward miraculously appeared to announce the dinner was served in the Flag Wardroom. Those invited to dinner filed out, lead by the most junior officers present. A few of those on the combined staffs were remaining on duty, most of those looked wistfully at the hatch door as the last dinner guests filed out.

Several of the assembled officers were senior to Captain Kirk, but Thomas found Rafe Cardones had taken hold of his arm to lead him to the Flag Wardroom early. The reason became clear when Captain Cardones showed him to the seat on what would be the Admiral’s right, while Rafe took the seat directly opposite. Thomas felt out of place with several Commodores and two Rear Admirals seated further down the table. Beside Thomas was Rear Admiral Sir Robert of Selleck, that officer leaned over and whispered in Thomas’ ear “Relax Captain, you are the guest of honour, or ‘Honor’ so to speak. You’re seated just where you belong.” In a louder voice he continued, “I’m rather anxious to hear your impressions on how a ship such as your might be used in control of space lanes or denial operations.” Thomas recalled that Sir Robert commanded the support fleet, anything that would protect or threaten the essential support element was of immense interest to this man.

Chatter stopped as the steward announced the arrival of their host. The gathered officers rose and remained standing while Honor took her place at the head of the table. She sat and waited as Nimitz climbed down from her shoulder and took his place in the high chair set beside her. There were no fewer than four treecats in similar chairs beside their persons arrayed around the table. The ever-present Grayson Armsman had followed Honor into the wardroom and as she sat, he took station against the wall behind her.

Honor offered an, “As you were” to the assembled officers as soon as Nimitz was settled. Side chatter started almost immediately and Honor turned to Thomas. “Thomas, I think you will find the dinner conversation both invigorating and instructional. I’ll admit that I loaded the guest list with officers who would benefit most from what you have to say about your ship and how you plan to use her.”

Thomas noted that with the exception of two very young midshipmen, one Grayson and the other Manticoran, the assembled officers represented the lighter units in Eighth Fleet. In addition to the Support Fleet, there were officers from the Battlecruiser and Cruiser screening units, as well as representatives of the fleet’s LAC carrier wings. The heavier superdreadnaughts were notable by their absence.

Thomas was addressed from down-table by the Commodore commanding the various cruiser squadrons, “Captain Kirk? I’m curious, why fit your ship for carriage of an LAC? I don’t see that it confers any practical advantage.” Thomas half-turned to better see the Commodore and explained, “Well Sir. In fleet operations, I would agree. In independent operations though, there the LAC can make a critical difference. The Ferret allows me to stand off at multi-drive missile ranges while using the Ferret for a close-in intercept of a vessel under investigation. The Ferret aboard Enterprise is as unique as Enterprise herself, Galileo Seven carries her own cutter. She can carry a naval boarding party to that vessel I’m investigating.”

This last comment caught the attention of the commander of one of the LAC Carrier wings, “A cutter aboard a Ferret? I had thought that only the original Shrike-A class had cutter bays. The bays were removed to allow for better aft defence were they not?” Leaning forward to better see down his side of the table Thomas agreed, “Yes Captain they were. This particular Ferret blew it’s aft end off during a power test on her drives. During the rebuilding it was decided to fit that ship for experimental tactics, such as I just outlined. I’m not sure myself if a Shrike-A might not be a better fit for the role. Missile and Electronic Warfare have their uses, but most pirates would think twice before giving anything that carries a capital ship grade graser a reason to demonstrate at close range.”

Appreciative chuckles sounded around the table, many officers knowing just how tempting it would be for the LAC crew to simply blow a pirate or slaver out of space. A few officers looked thoughtful and showed feral grins at what they were thinking, but it was the Grayson midshipman who put it into words. “Sir, aren’t pirates or slavers more likely to think the cruiser out of range and try to fight the LAC?”

“Why yes they are,” Thomas mused aloud, “and wouldn’t it be a shame if they died for their mistake?” The sound around the table was predatory now, most of these officers had witnessed the depredations of piracy and slavery first hand. There was no sympathy for either type of garbage if they made a ‘final’ mistake.

Conversation around the table faltered and stopped as dinner was served and mugs of beer or glasses of wine were re-filled. Several of the humans present noted that ALL of the ‘cats present had turned to the serving trays with a hungry expectation that couldn’t be mistaken.

12 Pages, 6412 words.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 22, 2014, 07:30:31 AM
Very interesting, and it's definitely a fascinating read.  I look forward to seeing what all he does on independent command, especially given the initiative that the RMN seems to instill in its officers (at least the ones who make command).  I wonder if he'll be one of those left guarding the fleet's back when Adm. Gold Peak makes her strike on the real enemy.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 23, 2014, 11:23:40 AM
Part VIII: The ‘Cats Meow

Dinner was served, and it was apparent that the ‘cats present were on the edge of simply climbing on the table and wallowing on their plates. Honor was in the process of turning to her steward to ask what the ‘cats were being served, it was obviously not the same as what the humans present were receiving. Thomas suddenly exclaimed, “Of course, the duffel!” Honor turned back to Thomas with and arched eyebrow and a quizzical expression. “Ma’am, I shipped a quantity of Sphinxian rabbit and chipmunk in my personal stores. My steward must have remembered to send some over for the ‘cats even though I forgot.”  Honor’s expression changed to one of assessment now and she simply asked, “Why the rabbit and chipmunk Captain?”

Thomas looked abashed, like a small boy caught doing something thoughtful, but not sure himself if it’s ‘manly’. “Well Ma’am, it’s like this. We spend a great deal of time, both official and otherwise, on ensuring our crews have small delicacies or luxuries from home. No one does it for the ‘cats Ma’am, unless their individual person does. I thought ‘cats deserved the same consideration.”

Honor looked completely stunned. She was used to the ‘adopted’ being caring and considerate to the ‘cats in their company, and other ‘cats in general. It was a rare thing to see someone not regularly exposed to ‘cats share the same concern, and never in such a demonstrative way. She caught the eyes of every one of her guest who were ‘adopted’ and saw the very same emotion in the eyes of each.

In the eyes of her logistics’ officer though, she saw despair. That officer, looked like she was going to be physically ill. She started, “Ma’am, this is a failure on my part, I should have…” Honor interrupter her, “No Louise, we ALL should have thought of it and never did. General order for Eighth Fleet, entertainment stores for ‘cats to be stocked in relation to ‘cat population percentage. Funding from the normal sources, we’ll not short the ‘cats at human expense any longer. Please see to it.” The logistics’ officer gave a small nod, and a tight “Yes Ma’am!” as her only response.

Honor turned back to Thomas and asked “Captain, have you shorted your own supplies to do this?” Thomas gave a small grin, “Well, not really Ma’am. My personal vice is foreign beers. I’ll be in the Talbot Cluster with thousands to explore. It’s why I thought to use my allowance to benefit others.” “Be that as it may Captain, you have my sincere personal thanks, and I’m sure the thanks of all my officers and crew who have been adopted. It was a wonderful thing for you to do.” Those officers murmured their agreements, and all at the table watched Nimitz rise from his highchair beside his person.

Nimitz picked his way daintily across the table to stand on the corner of the table beside Thomas. Once there he turned to his person and signed a short message before turning back to face Thomas once again. “Captain, Nimitz has asked me to translate a message to you, “Nimitz and his fellow ‘cats in Eighth Fleet are honored to have met you. They say ‘Heart of the Stars’ will be welcome in any ‘cat range on Sphinx, any time you should choose to visit.” Nimitz made a deep bow to Thomas and then extended his true-hand to shake Thomas’.” Giving Thomas’ hand a small pat with his free true-hand, Nimitz then turned and carefully made his way back to his place at the table.

Honor turned back to Thomas with a genuine smile, “Apparently Captain, the ‘cats have chosen to name you. A rare honor for one not yet adopted.”
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 23, 2014, 03:34:40 PM
Part IX: I would like to propose…

Dinner proceeded with a flurry of side commentary; questions about Enterprise, her Captain, old friends that various guests knew from previous postings… and turned to the old entertainment cubes. Numerous guests had seen the cubes, and several were fans. Notable amongst the fans was the young Manticoran midshipman. The midshipman was young enough to have watched the cubes as a child, and rather timidly admitted that it was the real-life exploits of Admiral Harrington, and the fictional exploits of Captain James T. Kirk that had inspired her to try for the Academy. Now she found herself dining with both.

Honor gave Thomas a meaningful glance and noted that, although he was not completely comfortable, the evidence that his name and ship might affect junior officers was striking home. She worried that it might go to his head, but that worry was alleviated when he addressed the midshipman, “Well Midshipman, the Admiral has more than earned the respect of all of us… and paid the price of earning that respect. I may have a famous name, attached to a famous ship, but only the name. We have a lot to live up to.”

The midshipman gave a shy smile and agreed, stating that “I’m sure you will Sir. History will never forget the name Enterprise.” Several guests, all fans of the cubes, seemed to swallow laughter. Thomas chose to ignore the idea that the midshipman might have slipped something by him and replied, “Thank you Midshipman, we will do our best.”

Dessert was served, or in Admiral Harrington’s case, served, and served… and served! No fewer than 3 servings of a rich chocolate cake that must have totalled nearly 4000 calories, and yet she ate it all with a gusto that suggested she might even snack later given the chance. Thomas was confused; the woman could not possibly eat like this on a regular basis, no matter how much time she spent in the sale practicing coup de vitesse.

Dinner and dessert done with, the young Manticoran midshipman stood and raised her glass, the assembled guests quieted. The midshipman nervously, but firmly intoned “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Queen." The assembled guest repeated the toast and drank. Now it was the Grayson midshipman’s turn to stand and offer, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Grayson, the Keys, the Sword, and the Tester!" Again the guests repeated the toast, and the midshipman gratefully regained his seat. More than a few of the assembled officers remembered when it was their turn to offer the loyalty toast, and how nerve racking it had seemed at the time.

Honor noted that Thomas had not stumbled over the Grayson Toast, she reflected that this was a sign of the new reality in the Alliance. Most Manticoran officers had served alongside Grayson long enough that it was now second nature to have both toasts at any formal dinner.

A few minutes of idle conversation followed as everyone enjoyed coffee, or in the case of Admiral Harrington, hot chocolate. Captain Kirk, honoured guest, I would like to propose we adjourn to the tactics simulator so that we can examine Enterprise, and her Captain in a little more ‘rigorous’ manner. I am anxious to see what they can do.” She smiled,  “Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s be about it.”
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 24, 2014, 02:07:11 AM
Part X: ‘The Crusher', redux

The time spent in the large Flag Bridge using ‘The Tank” as a tactics simulator was about as ‘enjoyable’ as Thomas expected it would be. Admiral Harrington was a teacher of some skill and she never passed on an opportunity to pass along lessons to those officers under her command, or apparently, those she encountered. Several encounters between Enterprise and elements of Eighth Fleet were gamed out, all on the basis that the LAC capability of Enterprise was unknown to Eighth Fleet’s units. The officers Honor had gathered for dinner were excited at the independent possibilities offered by Enterprise and offered many suggestions.

The most interesting of these suggestions was the possibility of using the Ferret itself to act as chase armament. A lively discussion on possibilities followed, but none of those gathered could overcome the various difficulties offered, such as how to reload the Ferret’s missiles. A reload would require the Ferret to be nosed into its bay, whereas firing the missiles would require it to be nose-out. The various yeomen present took notes, perhaps the Admiralty could find a suggestion that would work in later classes of CA.

Soon enough the time available for examination of Enterprise and her Captain came to an end. Thomas was proud of how his ship, and himself had fared. The officers of Eighth Fleet were among the best in the Manticoran Alliance and he was sure that he had held his own fairly well. That impression was solidified when Admiral Harrington called a halt to the games by saying “Enough! Thomas, you’re too good, I can’t have you ruining the confidence of my officers. Go bother someone else.”

Honor’s comment was said with a smile, and all assembled chuckled appreciatively. A few of those chuckles were somewhat rueful though, Enterprise and her Captain had clearly got the best of Eighth Fleet’s screen on several occasions.

Rafe Cardones escorted Thomas back to the boat bay and his waiting cutter. They took their parting in a brief, but heartfelt, way. The two officers had much in common. They hadn’t met before, and it might be years before they met again in Queen’s service, but the start of a solid friendship was formed.

The cutter trip back to Enterprise was short, and Thomas found himself met by his steward. Regina collected the mysterious duffel, and Thomas noted that it was once again full. Surely whatever was in it was not the same as the meats which had gone to the Flagship. Undoubtedly the stewards had conspired to aid their CO’s, and Thomas was frankly just too tired to be concerned.

Upon reaching his quarters Thomas found the ‘Message Waiting’ light on his terminal blinking. Touching the control connected Thomas with the Bridge and Lt. Cormier, who was currently Officer of the Watch. “Good evening Charles, there was something you needed to tell me?” Charles nodded, “Yes Sir. We’ve received clearance to depart from the Flag.” Thomas considered for only a moment before passing on orders, “Thank you, I assume we have a course plotted for the Junction?” Charles grinned, “Oh yes sir, I’ve actually had one of our midshipmen updating the course by hand for several hours. We are updated and ready to go. By the way Sir, we received a complete and updated Talbot Cluster nav set from the Flag about two hours ago.”

Thomas grinned, “I assume Miss Davis has second seat on Astrogation then?” Midshipman Davis had acceptable, but weak Astrogation scores in the Academy. The extra practice was well warranted. The image of Charles grinned back “Good guess Sir, it is indeed Miss Davis.”

Thomas suppressed a yawn and decided that for a standard evolution he wasn’t needed on the Bridge. His crew was capable, time to demonstrate his confidence. “Thank you Charles, please get us underway for the Junction. Standard courtesies to the Flagship as we depart.” Charles’ response was crisp, “Of course Sir! ETA at the Junction now stands at”, Charles consulted the display in the command seat, “10 hours, 27 minutes.”

“Thanks you Charles. I’ll be asleep, but wake me for anything unusual. I will be on the bridge before we reach the Junction. Captain out.” Thomas closed the channel and drifted off to his sleeping cabin. He fell fast asleep and never noticed when his steward entered the cabin to gather the various uniform items strewn about. By morning, the uniform, like the man, would be ready to resume their duties.

16 pages, 8348 words
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 24, 2014, 02:20:39 AM
My earlier estimates may have been off just a bit... fortunately the next installment will see Enterprise leave Manticoran space and arrive in Talbot.

I had calculated that arrival in Talbot was about 1/3 of the way into the story. That would place the story at around 50 pages total and perhaps 25,000 words.

Fun, but... ugh! :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 24, 2014, 06:38:49 AM
Part XI: On Talbott Station

Transit to the Manticoran Wormhole Junction was uneventful, and for Thomas, restful. Waking two hours before arrival at the Junction he found himself refreshed. He was eager to get to Talbott and to find out what duties Admiral Gold Peak would have waiting for him. Traffic at the Junction was, as always, considerable. Discovery of the Lynx terminus had increased traffic considerably in the area of the Junction, not unexpected, as that leg of travel would allow vastly shorter transit times to the far side of the Solarian League.

Thomas noted the large number of Solarian hulls in the various transit queues. Some were outbound, heading off to Lynx and the Rim of explored space. Others were inbound, heading off to Beowulf and the remainder of the Old League. The sheer numbers of ships in transit was staggering and it explained the wealth of the Manticore System. No other Star Nation had a wormhole terminus with so many connections. The advantages it conferred on the possessor were obvious. The Junction was both Manticore’s greatest asset and its greatest weakness.

Thomas had Enterprise placed in the outbound lane for the Lynx terminus. Almost immediately there was an incoming message from Manticore Astro Control asking if Enterprise wished to exercise ‘military right of passage’. There was no great hurry in getting to Lynx, so Thomas had a response sent to Manticore Astro Control that Enterprise was willing to wait her turn. The relief in felt by Astro Control was obvious, expedited passage by a warship could throw the carefully plotted transit schedule into chaos.

Thomas looked at his Astrogation repeater and noted the Enterprise was number 9 for transit. He touched the communications stud on the armrest of his command chair, “Engineering, Captain.” The response was almost instantaneous “Engineering, Commander Jennings. How can we help you Captain?” “Samuel, we’re in the lane for transit to Lynx.” Thomas stated, “We’ll need the sails soon.” “Aye Captain!” Commander Jennings grinned, “I’ve been keeping the Astro plot on one of the repeaters down here, figured you would be calling right about now.”

Thomas grinned back, the chief engineer was an old hand who knew what to expect. “Thanks Chief, good to know you're watching my back.” The chief engineer said, “We’ll be ready when you are sir, can’t make the ship look bad after all.”

During the brief conversation with engineering Enterprise had dropped to sixth on the queue for transit. Thomas made a quick scan of the Bridge and saw all was in readiness. Senior officers or ratings manned the stations, and as always, the Bosun herself was on the helm. Midshipman Davis was on the number two console in Astrogation, figuring a course intently. Undoubtedly Davis was figuring a course from the Lynx Terminus to the Spindle system. Thomas allowed himself a small smile, the Astrogator would want the course ready before transit, but there was no reason to do the work himself after all.

The queue indicator slid down to two and Thomas locked open the channel to Engineering. “Rig foresail on my mark.” Thomas was barely aware of the response, as long as it fit the pattern he expected he would remain oblivious to anything but the demands of a smooth transit. The indicator dropped to one and Thomas commanded “Rig foresail!” Immediately the forward propulsion nodes converted from the normal stress bands of impeller drive to the  immaterial sail required for transit through a wormhole.

Enterprise crept forward under power of her after nodes only, and Thomas kept a close watch on the display which showed him how much power the foresail was drawing. As soon as the display showed that the foresail was receiving enough power to keep Enterprise in the lane he commanded “Rig after sail.” Enterprise slid forward, powered now only by the forces of the wormhole.

Transit was, as always, a jarring experience as human sense tried to decipher things that were not part of their normal experience. Most of the crew was used to it though, and the response was crisp as Thomas commanded “Rig for impeller drive” once Enterprise was clear of the Lynx terminus of the junction.

Thomas turned to the Astrogation station, “Miss Davis, can I safely assume that all your figuring was to provide a course for Spindle?” The midshipman reddened, but firmly stated “Yes Sir, course 315 mark 21 at 475 gravities.” Thomas turned toward the helm station, “Bosun, did you get that?” “315 mark 21 at 475 gravities. Aye Sir!” the Bosun respond instantly. Thomas allowed himself a small grin at the look on Midshipman Davis’ face when she realized no one was double-checking, “Very well Bosun, take us to Spindle.”
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 24, 2014, 12:00:57 PM
*wry chuckle* I've noticed the Honorverse tends to do that to stories, they always seem to grow.  I've noticed that between rough drafts that Weber's posted and the final version (heck, the final sometimes grows a tad from the ARC).  Definitely an enjoyable flag visit and it's clear that Thomas kirk knows his stuff as Adm. Harrington is not overly generous with praise; she doesn't stint but she's not over generous.  It should be most interesting to see what awaits them in the Talbot cluster.

BTW, if you've not read it, the latest Honorverse story collection, Beginnings, has both the story of how Honor and Nimitz met and the story of how Honor's parents met.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 24, 2014, 12:41:44 PM
I think I am going to take a brief pause in writing at this point... my head hurts from so much writing so fast.

I also have over-run my plan by writing so much so soon. :) I know what happens in the Talbott Cluster, and back in Manticore... I'm not sure what happens at Spindle. LOL!

Don't fear, a day or two break at the most. I parallel to the segments here I am re-formatting the story more conventionally. I might make that version available in epub format, freely of course. Don't want to step on any copyright toes. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 25, 2014, 05:52:12 AM
Part XII: The Stage is Set

The Lynx Terminus was not well positioned to serve the Talbott cluster. Even for a warship as fast as Enterprise, the trip still took almost a week before Enterprise made planetfall at Spindle. Thomas reminded himself that from this point forward he must refer to the Star Empire of Manticore. San Martin, Lynx and Medusa had joined the original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon in the old Kingdom of Manticore. The planets of the Talbott Cluster had joined later, and the combination was now the Empire. It seemed strange to Thomas, who had grown up with only the original three systems.

Still, it was hard to argue that San Martin, Lynx and Medusa as Terminus systems didn’t belong. Once you allowed Lynx and San Martin to vote themselves into the Kingdom, the door was opened to allow the Talbott Cluster to join a larger union. Still it seemed strange to an old timer. No doubt future generations would think the original three system polity was ‘quaint’.

Arrival at Spindle brought with it the need to report to Tenth Fleet that Enterprise was on station. No sooner was that report made than Enterprise was contacted by Captain Cynthia Lecter, Chief of Staff to Admiral Gold Peak, Tenth Fleet’s Commander, “Captain Kirk, please to have you here. The Admiral has asked me to inquire if it would be convenient for you to repair on board in two hours?”

Thomas didn’t bother to hide his smile, “Of course Captain. I’ll call away my own cutter if that is acceptable?” Captain Lecter smiled back at the shared joke, “Thank you Captain, that would be fine. You’ll be receiving a full situation brief at that time and meeting with Admiral Gold Peak as well as the Governor General and several local government officials. You can consider this your courtesy call on all officials present.” Thomas considered that this would amount to quite a time saver, courtesy calls were necessary, but time consuming on a major change of station. “Captain Lecter, thank you very much.” Thomas began “I’ll see you in two hours.” Captain Lecter gave another smile, “I’ll be looking forward to it Captain Kirk.”

Thomas reflected that Captain Lecter had a very nice smile; foreign beers might not be the only thing worth exploring in Talbott space.

Thomas arrived on board HMS Artemis precisely on schedule, as was to be expected. He had elected to use the cutter from Galileo 7 once again; he had been impressed by the small craft skills of the pilot. The ritual for boarding a Queen’s ship complete he was met by Captain Lecter. “Captain Kirk, Cynthia Lecter. Pleased to meet you.” Captain Lecter offered her hand, and Thomas noted that she was an attractive woman. Trim, somewhat shorter than himself and with a smile that made her look younger than she must be. “Pleased to meet you as well Captain Lecter. Please call me Thomas, I’m afraid there are quite probably far too many ‘Captains’ about for clarity.” Thomas offered with a smile of his own.

Cynthia smiled, but with just a touch of confusion, “Thomas? I had thought it would be Jim. You really don’t look much like a Thomas.” Thomas was taken aback, “I used to go by Jim, I’ve only recently changed to using Thomas.” Cynthia frowned slightly, “Well Thomas it is. You should really consider changing back though. Jim suits you better.” Thomas decided he didn’t much like seeing a frown on Cynthia Lecter’s face, “I’ll consider it Cynthia, it may be something I have to grow into again.”

The meeting with Admiral Gold Peak and assembled local dignitaries was very business like. It was clear that 10th Fleet, indeed the entire Talbott Sector, was on a war footing. Present at the meeting were the Admiral an Imperial Governor General, as well as the Talbott Cluster Prime Minister, it’s Minister of War and several lower level ministers.

Admiral Gold Peak made introductions around the conference table and Thomas acknowledged all present in turn. “Captain, I wish we had more time to acclimate you to the Talbott Cluster. In truth we don’t. Tenth Fleet has to be prepared to defend the Lynx Terminus and the Cluster. Known threats include the Solarian League Navy, proxies of Manpower Incorporated seeking to destabilize the Cluster and the average problems any Verge area will encounter with pirates and slavers.” Admiral Gold Peak’s assessment was grim, despite the generous success that she had already accumulated against the SLN.

Admiral Gold Peak was about to continue when two new arrivals showed up. One was a Captain (Senior Grade), the other a grizzled Chief Petty Officer. Thomas recognized them immediately, and was unsurprised when Admiral Gold Peak named them as Captain Prescott (Scotty) Tremaine and Chief Warrant Officer Sir Horace Harkness. “Scotty, Sir Horace, I’ve just been explaining the Talbott situation to Captain Kirk” the Admiral began before turning to Thomas, “Captain, I’ll be attaching you administratively to Captain Tremaine’s Cruiser Division. I expect you will be acting independently most of your time here though.”

Scotty Tremaine nodded, “Yes Ma’am. I currently have deployed one CA and a DD as escort in the piracy suppression role in the north of the Cluster. Enterprise has her attached LAC, which gives her the same scouting ability as the two detached ships. Enterprise will have slightly less combat power, but it should be more than enough for piracy suppression. I’ll be tasking Enterprise to carry out that duty while the CA and DD rejoin the remainder of the Fleet.”

The remainder of the meeting went quickly, most of it was administrative matters dealing with getting the Talbott Cluster up to Manticoran standards as quick as possible. The Cluster needed to be able to aid in it’s own defence.

Once the meeting broke up, Thomas was stopped in the passageway by Captain Tremaine. “Captain Kirk. A moment please.” Thomas had been walking with Cynthia Lecter, who moved aside to allow the two Captain’s to speak with some privacy. “Of course sir.” Thomas replied, “How can I help you?” Scotty looked embarrassed. “Do you mind if I call you Thomas and you call me Scotty?” Thomas nodded and Scotty pressed on. “Normally you would be my second in command. I need your ship deployed though, which makes that normal appointment impractical.” Thomas smiled, “Of course Sir. Not many Cruiser Captains would complain of independent action vs. a staff appointment anyway.” Scotty smiled at the other Captain’s spirit he liked this man. Then Scotty sobered, “There is one other matter. I know you brought a full external load of pods equipped with Mk 23 missiles, including Apollo. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to offload half of them to go to the rest of the Division. We will replace them with Mk 16 pods, but the Fleet is extremely short of the Mk 23’s.”

Now it was Thomas’ turn to sober. He could hardly refuse the order, but offloading that many of the longer-range Mk 23’s would remove a significant amount of his long-range punch. After a moment’s consideration Thomas replied, “Of course Sir. I should have anticipated the requirement. I’ll see to the swap immediately.”

Scotty brightened at the response and then grinned, “I do have some good news. Admiral Harrington sent a dispatch boat which included her tactical assessment of Enterprise. The engineers here have already assessed the requirements for your Ferret to be able to be used to strengthen your aft armament. The change isn’t that hard, well within the capabilities of the local shipyards with our support ships to assist. One of the local shipyards is already started design work on a prototype. We can use one of the local LAC’s for proof of concept trials.”

Thomas wasn’t sure he wanted the locals tampering with his ship, and it must have showed. “Don’t worry Thomas. Admiral Gold Peak would never let you get saddled with an unsuitable ship. It will work or stay on the drawing board, you have my word.” Scotty seemed completely assured, so Thomas relented. “As you say Sir. It would be a nice thing to have.”

Scotty took his leave and Cynthia Lecter collected Thomas to escort him back to his waiting cutter. Arriving at the boat bay containing his cutter, she told Thomas “Good Luck and Good Hunting Sir. You’ll have to tell me all about your ship over dinner some time.” With a smile she was gone.

Thomas thought the Talbott Cluster could definitely hold promise.

20 pages 10,567 words.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 25, 2014, 09:22:25 AM
Part XIII: To Pequod

The formal orders for HMS Enterprise assigned her to patrol the Pequod, Prairie and Nuncio systems in the ‘north’ of the Talbott Cluster. The amount of merchant shipping had climbed rapidly in the area since the Annexation by Manticore. Along with an increase in the amount of shipping had come a massive increase in the value of the cargos. Manticore was committed to bringing the new territories up to a better standard of living as fast as possible, this meant that vast amounts of modern equipment and training materials were almost always in transit.

Nuncio in particular saw quite heavy traffic. With a planetary population of only 350 million people, and two habitable planets in the system, Nuncio was an attractive system for investment. That investment had brought pirates out of the woodwork. Local detachments of LACs had helped, but the pirates were crafty, the LACs couldn’t be everywhere and the pirates only struck when it looked like they had a chance to raid and escape.

If traffic in Nuncio was heavy, Pequod was the most varied. In Pequod ships from the various planets of The Verge, New Tuscany, Manticore and the Solarian League were almost always present. The start of hostilities with the Solarian League meant that their shipping was to be excluded from Manticoran space, but there was no way of knowing what might still be enroute. The problem was made worse by the fact that ships arrived from all bearings, there was no accounting for where a ships last stop might have been.

Thomas spent the time enroute to Pequod formulating a plan. The ‘Frontier Mentality’ of The Verge meant that there were no established shipping routes. His first priority then would be to establish such routes. Once shipping started to arrive and depart on predictable bearings, the LACs could better manage the local pirate issue.

Examining the map of Cluster space Thomas noted that, in general terms, the Cluster was comprised of two concentric rings. This simplified his plan, each system in the outer ‘ring’ would have approach and departure vectors aligned with its nearest ‘same-ring’ neighbours. It would also have a similar approach/departure point that was common to all shipping coming from the other ‘ring’. In this way each system would have three arrival/departure points, rather than the entire plane of the ecliptic. Ships arriving at the outer ring would be expected to arrive at one of the two ‘neighbour’ arrival points.

The shipping concerns were likely to grumble, but if it reduced piracy losses they would put up with any minor inconvenience. Ships from outside of Manticoran space would be harder to convince, but here Thomas had a bigger hammer to use, comply or be excluded from the whole cluster. The Verge systems needed Manticoran goods far more than Manticore needed to sell them to them. He was sure that once it was explained, they would comply.

His plan complete, he ordered a change in course to the Rembrandt system. He knew from his brief that Rembrandt was a major shipping nexus and that several dispatch boats would be available. He planned to send one boat back to Spindle so that his plan could be vetted by the political leadership of the Cluster, and hopefully formally enacted. Having made his decision on how to proceed he asked for Midshipman Davis to meet him in the wardroom. A large number of hyperspace course needed to be calculated and she seemed like a good person to put in charge of the project. He didn’t expect her to do it all herself, but his seemed a good mix of practical exercise and a lesson in command. Davis would need to learn to trust those who were better at some tasks than she was, even as she was responsible for their work.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 25, 2014, 10:42:02 AM
Yes, it's coming along quite nicely.  I daresay Nuncio's seen quite a traffic increase since HMS Hexapuma first visited there and I wonder just what will show up.

I did catch one typo, "...original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon Medusa..." should be "...original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon...".

Incidentally, I see from Baen's publishing schedule that a new sub-series, Manticore Ascendant, is premiering in October with, A Call to Duty, a novel length development of the story Timothy Zahn had in Beginnings.  The sub-series would seem to cover the growth of Manticore from a small polity in the middle of nowhere to a major interstellar power.  Going by the story in Beginnings, this looks quite promising.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 25, 2014, 11:11:59 AM
I caught the error as well, already fixed by the time you posted. :)

Is anyone else reading this still? I don't mind at this point... But I am curious. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 26, 2014, 04:51:23 AM
Part XIV: Here there be Pirates!

The course change to Rembrandt caused Enterprise to drop out of hyperspace well outside of the normal approach vectors. Strangely, the gravitic sensors picked up a contact soon after the entered normal space. The tactical officer, Lt. Commander Cumberland, reported the contact, “Sir, I have a frigate-sized contact that just lit off its drives. Bearing 214 mark 29. Current range is 9.6 light seconds, range opening slowly.”

“Just lit off its drives you say?” Thomas questioned, “Does the contact match anything in the database?” Rembrandt had a system defence fleet; it was possible that the contact was a member of that force. “Nothing in the database sir, contact now turning to pursue, accelerating at 375 gravities.”

Thomas brightened, “We may have a pirate that was lying doggo. I want our acceleration held to 320 G, and mask our emissions to make us look like a merchie. Not some local merchie though, I want us to look like a nice fat Manticoran merchantman. Switch our transponder to read as Sphynx Servitor. Also, try and keep our wedge facing the contact so he can’t see our hull.” Sphynx Servitor was one of the smaller Hauptman Shipping Cartel’s ships serving the Talbott Cluster. Right now, she was back in Manticore, but a pirate wouldn’t know that. Several of the bridge crew grinned; a Manticoran merchantman loaded with modern goods would be hard for a pirate to pass up.

Lt. Cormier’s head jerked up, “Sir receiving a message from the contact. They identify themselves as Manticoran Customs Vessel Prince Roger. We are ordered to heave to for customs inspection.” Several of the bridge crew chuckled, there were no Manticoran Customs Vessels in the Cluster as yet… and nothing that small would bear the name Prince Roger.

Thomas chuckle himself, the range to the contact had opened to almost 11 light seconds at this point, but already shrinking again. With it's superior acceleration the contact was overhauling them, just another few minutes and the contact would have them in beam range. Unfortunately for the ‘Prince Roger’, Enterprise held the contact in beam range now.

“Helm! Slew turn 65 degrees to port. Sidewall and defences active! Tactical, one graser shot across their bow!” Thomas was barking orders as fast as possible, “Comm, record message. Attention Prince Roger, this is Her Majesty’s Cruiser Enterprise. You are ordered to strike your wedge and surrender!”

Lt. Cormier responded, “On the chip Sir!” Thomas called “Transmit!”

‘Prince Roger’ didn’t respond via comm, but 10 seconds after Enterprise’s message went out the pirate’s wedge dropped and the ship went ballistic.

Thomas ordered the helm to “Open the range to 15 light seconds and hold us there.” To tactical he commanded, “Launch Galileo with a Marine boarding party. Let’s see what we’ve caught.”

‘Prince Roger’ turned out to be an ex-Monican frigate that had been sold for ‘scrap’ when the Technodyne Corporation had upgraded that system’s Navy. Apparently the scrap dealer, like so many others, had found it more profitable to sell the ship to ‘other interests’.

Those other interests had then turned to piracy as a way to fund the purchase of the ship.

Contact was made with Rembrandt, and despite the time lag involved in conversation over a range of nearly 40 light minutes, Enterprise found that there were no reported incidents of piracy in Rembrandt space.

Enterprise escorted the ex-Monican frigate to Rembrandt orbit and once there the crew of the pirate was handed over to Rembrandt authorities. Under questioning it was discovered that Enterprise had been the very first ship the pirates had intercepted. These pirates were out of the business for good, before they ever started. They wouldn’t be tried for piracy, they had never succeeded in that crime. At most they could be tried for impersonation of Queen’s officers. In any event, their ship would be seized, and the pirates imprisoned.
: Re: Let's be about it
: deathjester June 26, 2014, 04:58:27 AM
Of course we're still reading - this is bloody brilliant!!  You've really captured the feel of this book series...KEEP IT UP!1  MORE...MORE!!
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 26, 2014, 10:19:24 AM
I just formatted my stories Malignant Mustelids, Canadian Cobras... Redux, Transport to Tactical and Jam It!/Old Crows into a single document covering Canada's Persian Excursion. That collection spans 24,085 words on 60 pages.

Encouraging... I'm obviously quite able to write things in this size bracket. I wasn't really conscious that I had done so already.

Now I can get back to Enterprise without worrying that I've bit off more than I can chew.

That I will leave to the SLN... soon enough :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 26, 2014, 11:24:58 AM
Part XV: Landfall

While Enterprise was in Rembrandt orbit Thomas used the opportunity to fill her fusion reaction mass tanks from the orbital tank farms. He also consulted with the Rembrandt Trade Union about his plan to establish shipping corridors. Instead of resistance, he found enthusiastic cooperation. The Trade Union offered to implement the plan even without official approval of the government. The Trade Union would see about getting a dispatch boat sent to Spindle, and would include the new measures in messages to all its offices in other Cluster Systems.

Thomas had heard that there was some controversy about whether the RTU had been acting in the best interests of the Cluster, or its investors, in the period prior to Annexation. He couldn’t comment on that period, but it was clear the RTU was completely on side now. Their cooperation would be invaluable.

Sadly, the captured ex-Monican frigate turned out to be no prize. Thomas’ survey of the ship proved that it was far too small and poorly equipped to be bought into service. He lamented that his crew would be deprived of the prize money that a functional ship would have brought in.

Here again, the RTU surprised him. When Rembrandt naval architects surveyed the ship, they pronounced it sound and suitable for service. When he objected it was pointed out that Manticoran service had spoiled him, most Cluster systems had had no defensive vessels until the RMN had deployed its LAC’s. Suitably re-fitted, the little frigate would be the most powerful unit in many systems until such time as Manticoran fleet strength could be built up in the Cluster. Sensors, weapons and acceleration compensators would need to be replaced, but that was actually the work of a normal refit. The work shouldn’t take more than a few months. Based on the survey, Rembrandt decided to buy the frigate into service. The prize money wasn’t huge, but Thomas was extremely pleased to be able to announce it to his crew.

Enterprise
took its leave from Rembrandt in style. Instead of simply slewing the bow of the ship onto its new heading, the Bosun actually banked through a turn. Thomas asked about the banked turn and the Bosun told him “It just felt right. Enterprise is a fine ship, we might as well let people know it.” Thomas could hardly argue with ship’s pride. By now though, he had watched the old entertainment cubes, and thought about another Enterprise that banked through turns. Surprising himself, he found he really didn’t care. Instead of a reprimand he just said, “That’s fine Bosun, Enterprise should show some flair.”

Leaning back in his command chair he considered for a moment. “Bosun, you were right about Enterprise, she is a fine ship. Let’s show off some. Bring us to 560 gravities, let’s show Rembrandt what a starship can really do.” Enterprise charged across the Rembrandt system heading toward the hyperspace limit. Thomas mused that he couldn’t maintain this acceleration all the way to the wall, Enterprise would be going far too fast. Still, showing off a little couldn’t hurt.

Behind Enterprise on Rembrandt, they had never heard of the old entertainment cubes. Most of the Rembrandt System Navy saw Enterprise break orbit though, to them Captain Kirk and Enterprise exuded style… it was how a starship and her Captain should behave.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 26, 2014, 11:00:58 PM
For those interested in the Honorverse, most of the books are available freely from the old Baen Free Library CD images at Fifth Imperium.

You'll need to download an unzip the various packages to find the books, and there are duplications... but you can find them here: http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/ (http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/)

There is a lot of other Science Fiction included in those collections, well worth the time it takes to download and sort out.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 27, 2014, 03:31:19 AM
Part XVI: ZULU!

Enterprise spent the next two months in uneventful patrols of the Pequod, Prairie and Nuncio “Northern Flank’. The only remarkable thing about the whole period was the level of traffic around Nuncio. A system population of only 350 million couldn’t begin to explain why so many vessels were calling there. Certainly Manticoran vessels were involved in the education and infrastructure rebuilding program in Nuncio in earnest… but why were all the independents from neighbouring systems coming to Nuncio?

After the third visit to Nuncio, Enterprise made a side-trip to Rembrandt. Rembrandt was well positioned to serve as a logistics centre for the ‘Northern Flank’ and Enterprise met there with a Fleet Support ship to restock food and other consumable stores. Thomas also met with representatives of the RTU and found that reports of piracy reports were down across the area. Apparently the shipping corridors were working, but Thomas realized he had never heard back from Cluster officials on the idea. The RTU official cleared up his confusion instantly, “We forwarded the plan Captain. The only response we got was ‘shipping plan enacted as requested’; it seems that the government is rather busy.

Enterprise was scheduled to remain at Rembrandt for a week, but three days into her stay Captain Kirk found himself summoned from dinner at a local restaurant for an urgent comm message. He took the call at the restaurant’s terminal and was shocked at what he heard. On the line was Lt. Cormier, “Sir, a fleet dispatch boat dropped into Rembrandt space 6 minutes ago. We issued the standard challenge via grav-pulse. Sir, the dispatch boat responded by fluttering her wedge. Three cycles then repeated!” Thomas stiffened, dispatch boats were too small to accommodate the grav-pulse transmitters that would allow communication, but they could use their wedges to send messages slowly.

The dispatch boat hadn’t sent a message though, it had just fluttered its wedge. That message was clear enough. The dispatch boat had something to say, but it wasn’t allowed to send the message in the clear.

“Lt. Cormier, what is that boat doing now?” Thomas needed to know just what the boat was up to. “Sir the boat has accelerated to 675g, direct course for Rembrandt orbit.” Lt Cormier’s image looked concerned, as well he might be. 675 g was high, even for a small, overpowered vessel like a dispatch boat. That crew was pushing hard.

“Lieutenant, send Galileo to pick me up. In addition, start a complete crew recall and make preparations to get underway. I have a feeling that our shore leave has just come to an end.” Thomas was already running through the state of his command in his mind. Enterprise was ready for just about anything, or so he thought. “Yes sir, I’ll get on it right away.” Lt. Cormier looked relieved that his Captain was making the decisions.

Thomas and Enterprise had less time than he thought. Immediately after recognizing that an RMN vessels was in orbit the crew of the dispatch boat had transmitted its message using fleet security protocols. The dispatch boat was still 16 hours from orbit when Lt Cormier sat bolt upright in his seat aboard Enterprise, “Captain! The dispatch boat is sending, ZULU! ZULU! ZULU!” Thomas, and the rest of the bridge, crew sat bolt upright. Code ZULU was the code for ‘Invasion Imminent’.

Lt. Cormier continued, “Sir, there is an embedded message from the Flag, and a specific message for Enterprise.” Thomas shook himself then turned to the Comm station, “Samuel, play the message for us first and then the general message from the Flag.”

The screen lit up with the image of Admiral Gold Peak, “Captain Kirk, I am anticipating incursion of Spindle space by major units of the Solarian League Navy. They have badly underestimated just how far outclassed they are, but I doubt they will go away just because I tell them to. I anticipate that 10th Fleet will be required to engage and destroy the SLN units. You are to consider that a de facto state of War exists between the Solarian League and the Star Empire. I wish there were time for you to join the Fleet, but there isn’t. Enterprise is to hold the Northern Flank. I am placing you in command of all forces not attached to the Fleet. May God have mercy on us all Jim.”

Thomas didn’t even flinch when the Admiral had called him Jim instead of Thomas, she was obviously just a little bit preoccupied. “Samuel, let’s have the other message please.”

The fleet-general message was little more than a recap of what they already knew. The Star Empire of Manticore was in a shooting war with Solarian League, a star nation larger than all others combined and possessing a Navy sized to match. The RMN held a decisive qualitative advantage, but could they kill SLN ships fast enough for it to matter?
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle June 27, 2014, 09:35:33 AM
Yes,  indeed, the SLN will quite surely bite off rather more than they can chew.  I loved that touch with the erstwhile pirate (really, they couldn't do anything right nor catch a break).  It should be rather interesting to see what eventuates in Thomas Kirk's area of responsibility now that Adm. Gold Peak has  rather other fish to fry.  It should be fascinating to see who tries something.

Is the anticipated attack the one commanded by SLN Adm. Crandall?  That could have some very interesting repurcussions in the area of responsibility Captaint Kirk now has.

BTW, if someone's really desperate, I have most of the Honorverse Baen CD's and while they don't have the very latest entries in the series, they have most of them and I'll be glad to transfer the files if asked (as long as I do it at no profit, Baen has already given permission for that).  *wry chuckle* It's amusing, really, Baen's ebooks originally started out as advertising and grew from there.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 27, 2014, 10:20:15 AM
Yes, I couldn't help but smile while writing the bit about the pirate... their very first try and the intercept an RMN heavy cruiser. The only thing that did go right for them is that they aren't actually pirates. They go to jail, not the gallows.

Can you imagine the look on the pirate Captain's face when the grazer opens up and the message is received? If it hadn't been a shot across the bow, he'd never have known what the message said. No Verge frigate is going to take an RMN cruiser on and live. :)

And yes... Admiral Crandall is about to get to learn what it is to stick one's generative organs into a meat grinder. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 27, 2014, 12:06:55 PM
My work schedule has been adjusted for the coming week.. and it's ugly. I'm going to be working 12/12 for 5 consecutive days.

Apologies, but updates will be thin. I will try and get the current section I'm working on finished. It's a better cliff hanger. ;)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 28, 2014, 02:18:14 AM
Part XVII: A Mystery

Captain and crew of Enterprise couldn’t help but feel that they were going in the wrong direction. The Fleet was in a fight for its life at Spindle, perhaps even a fight for the very life of the Star Empire… and Enterprise was cruising back out to the Northern Flank of the Cluster.

Thomas tried to distract himself with the mystery of all the traffic at Nuncio, but he lacked important facts and he knew it. The crew had no such distraction and crew morale was suffering as a result. Thomas considered everything he could think of, including a dedicated drill schedule, but that seemed like punishment for a crew that had done well and come together in the last few months.

Thomas called his First Officer, Commander Harbin Durling, to his cabin to discuss the morale issue. “Harbin, I’ve been thinking of crew morale. It seems to be slipping with us heading out to the Rim.” “I know Sir. I’m sorry you noticed it, I’ve tried what I can. I was hoping to correct the issue before it came to your attention.” Commander Harbin sounded hurt, as if the Captain was admonishing him for some failure.

“Harbin, it’s not your fault that the crew feels the way they do, or that you haven’t been able to fix it. We all feel like we are running while the Fleet is in a desperate battle.” Thomas realized, belatedly, that even his First Officer was on edge. “We need something to pull the crew together, some way to dispel this feeling of helplessness that has all of us in its grasp.”

The two officers tossed ideas around for over an hour, and came up with nothing that even seemed remotely likely to work. Mugs of Old Tillman had been brought, drunk and refilled. The steward had brought sandwiches, and Thomas found he couldn’t even recall how long ago that was. Captain and Exec were getting frustrated at their failure to come up with anything to help crew morale when the steward timidly made her presence known, “Sir? I have a suggestion, if it would acceptable?” Regina actually sounded contrite, something unusual in a steward.

“Go ahead Regina, what do you have in mind?” Thomas was frustrated enough at the issue that any council would have been welcome.

“Well Sir. It occurs to me that we are HMS Enterprise, commanded by James T. Kirk. But, we aren’t the Enterprise under command of James T. Kirk. Respectively, Sir.” Thomas was stunned, and must have looked it, “Regina, are you suggesting that we actually adopt the manner of that ship and crew from the old 2D cubes?”

Regina looked abashed, as well she might, “Sir, about 2/3’s of the crew are fans at this point. It can’t hurt, can it?” Thomas considered the suggestion for a few seconds while Regina actually fidgeted. Then he decided and turned to his First Officer with a grin… “Opinions, ‘Mr. Spock?’”

Commander Durling grinned back at his Commanding Officer, “I can take it if you can Sir. I’m just the trusty sidekick. It should be…. Fascinating.”

The Bosun was called into the conference, for the concept to work the crew would have to be fully involved. When the idea was explained to the Bosun, he reacted with relief, “Well Sir, I think it would be a good thing. So many of the crew are fans, and up until now, they’ve felt that they have to hide the little parallels they find or create. Adopting them openly would certainly make the crew happier.”

The three men worked for two more hours, with occasional contributions from Regina. Sometimes those contributions were snacks or beer, sometimes an actual suggestion on how to implement their plan. Finally Thomas was satisfied and pronounced, “OK Gentlemen, we have a plan. This is how we will proceed…”

Over the next several days a number of small changes were introduced into ship’s routine or systems. None of the changes were substantive, and all were within the normal purview of a Commanding Officer to change or adjust. The first change noticeable by the crew was the replacement of the soft ‘gong’ sound made by the communication system. The new sound was the electronic ‘chirp’ familiar to the fans of the entertainment cubes.

The crew assumed the Communications Officer, or one of his ratings, was having fun while the Captain was not around. The first time it sounded, with the Captain on the bridge, several crew members looked around in horror. Thomas hid his grin, selected the comm panel on his command chair and merely responded, “Kirk here.”

By the time Enterprise arrived back at Nuncio a half-dozen small changes had been made in ship’s operation. Crew morale had rebounded handily and Thomas was certain that Enterprise, and her crew, could handle anything that was thrown at them.

The LAC detachment at Nuncio was operating without a support vessel and spares for the LAC’s was one of the priority items Enterprise had loaded at Rembrandt. Many of the Nuncio LAC’s were operating well below optimal when Enterprise returned, in fact only three were fully operational.

Thomas deployed Galileo 7 to assist in securing local space while Enterprise would use it’s LAC bay to conduct repairs on the local LAC detachment. Thomas reflected that this mode of operation had never even been considered, but had obvious applications in system defence roles. He could easily imagine cruisers such as Enterprise playing ‘mothership’ to small fleets of LAC’s for defence of forward operating bases. LAC Carriers could do a better job, but those were always in short supply.

Eighteen hours into the repair cycle Galileo 7 reported a strange contact on its electronic warfare system. The command pilot reported, “Enterprise, we’ve picked up a whisker laser transmission from Basilica. The laser was not aligned with Pontifex; it was heading out-system. Our systems are trying to break the coding now.”

The report was concerning for two reasons. First, Basilica had been abandoned early in the colony’s history and was supposed to be uninhabited. Second, there wasn’t anyone else to talk to in the system except the inhabited planet of Pontifex. Thomas ordered Galileo 7 to proceed along the laser’s direction to attempt to determine who was listening. Enterprise would investigate the ‘uninhabited’ planet of Basilica. Both missions were to proceed using a maximum of stealth, someone was trying to keep the communication secret. There was no point in advertising that they had been discovered.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 28, 2014, 10:22:20 PM
Part XVIII: A Threat Emerges

Enterprise arrived in the vicinity of Basilica and launched a stealthed recon drone to survey the planet. It discovered that the ‘uninhabited’ planet housed over 200,000 inhabitants. Careful analysis of the signals emanating from Basilica discovered a large amount of short-range radio chatter that indicated the planet was being used as, of all things, a prison planet.

An unauthorized prison planet would be bad enough, but the analysis also showed that the signals were of Solarian League origin. It appeared that the Sollies had been dumpling people on the planet for at least a decade. Nuncio had a rather weak system navy, and even for the SLN, or Frontier Security, it would have been no great difficulty to slip vessels into the system unnoticed.

The arrival of the RMN in the area had forced the Sollies to become more circumspect. They now appeared to be masking the various comings and goings of their ships as Verge transports looking to pick up stray cargoes. Undoubtedly, the empty transports arriving at Pontifex had just finished offloading their real cargo of supplies at Basilica.

Thomas reflected that the laser transmission that Galileo 7 had intercepted was probably a result of his shipping lane policy. The designated arrival and departure points would have made it much harder to slip an unexpected ship into the system unnoticed. It was very possible the prison was running short of supplies.

Thomas lamented that modern RMN ships carried only a handful of Marines, 200,000 prisoners in the prison would mean a fair number of guards, and he wasn’t sure his Marine detachment could handle that many. He called his Marine detachment commander to his quarters to plan how taking the prison could be accomplished. One thing he was sure of was that without taking the prison, he would never be able to find out just why the Sollies had built a prison here.

The MarDet commander, a “Major’ by courtesy since there could be only one Captain aboard ship, arrived and Thomas explained the problem. The MarDet commander was confused, explaining his difficulty he asked a basic question, “Sir? Why don’t we just call for troops from Pontifex?”

Thomas almost slapped himself with the enormous blunder he had made. He was used to thinking in terms of the assets aboard his vessel, and he almost forgot that he had a planetary population to call on. Thanking the Major, he composed a message to Nuncio System Command, asking what troops were available and how soon they could arrive. He also explained that stealth was of the utmost importance, he didn’t want the inhabitants to know what was happening until it was too late.

Nuncio System Command responded within two hours, the delay resulting from determining available lift rather than being imposed by distance. Nuncio had an available grav-pulse communication system and message transmission was slow, but receipt was instantaneous. When Nuncio responded, Thomas found he had 14 hours before Nuncian forces arrived. He used that time having his recon drones make detailed maps of the inhabited area of Basilica. He enlisted his MarDet commander to ensure that any feature of tactical significance was included in the maps.

Nuncio didn’t send just any troops, nor did they rely on numbers rather than quality. The Nuncian contingent consisted of only two reinforced companies of their Army… but both were Special Forces, skilled in urban pacification operations. Sadly, Nuncian history had provided many opportunities for such skills to be retained. As big a contribution as the Nuncian Special Forces could make, it was how they arrived that almost guaranteed success.

The Nuncians had seized a Solarian designed freighter 6 months ago. The freighter was crewed by a group of smugglers who also appeared to not shy away from the occasional slave trading. Examination of the ship had found the crew in violation of the ‘equipment clause’ of the Chertwell Convention. Ship, and lives of the crew, had both been forfeit.

Nuncio had no need for a slaver, nor a cargo vessel. When the Nuncio System Defence force had examined the ship though, they were struck at how closely it resembled a smaller example of a naval assault vessel. The ship had a generous life support capacity (shipping slaves who didn’t live to be sold was not profitable) and was equipped with four rough-field capable heavy lift shuttles. Refitting had taken three months, and now the ship was in service as NNS Redeemer. Redeemer had the landing capacity to land the entire assault force, leaving the two assault shuttles from Enterprise to fly ground support.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 29, 2014, 09:55:36 PM
Part XIX: The Plot

The assault on Basilica turned out to be almost anti-climactic. There wasn’t a large force of guards on the planet at all, just a rather modest sized constabulary. The combined Nuncian/Manticoran forces swept across the settlement with ease… and were frequently welcomed as saviours. That welcome was offered not only by the ‘prisoners’, but also by the Frontier Security Forces that formed the constabulary. The whole situation was becoming more confusing as more information became available.

Once the situation on the ground had stabilized, and a message sent to Pontifex to request police forces rather than combat troops, it became possible to conduct a thorough investigation. The investigation revealed that the settlement was desperately short of food. Examination of the computer records revealed that, unknown to the settlers, the food shortage was actually planned.

It had long been rumoured that Frontier Security had staged ‘civilian uprisings’ on planets desired as ‘protectorates’. In this case the Sollies had planned to seize an entire system by planting a colony on one planet, having it descend into anarchy through lack of food… and then blame the other planet in the system for a situation they had no hand in. Essentially, one planet would be held responsible for the failure of an illegal colony it had had no knowledge of.

The plan to seize Nuncio through this method had apparently been far along when the Manticorans discovered the Lynx Wormhole Junction. Frontier Security had immediately accelerated its plan, but reducing a planet to starvation levels takes time. The anti-piracy measures enacted by Thomas had actually helped the Sollies, at least insofar as shifting the blame to the Manticorans was concerned.

The plan had started to come apart for Frontier Security when the Nuncian standard of living had started to rise. The Nuncian had happily broadcast their new-found circumstance planet wide… and the signals had been received on Basilica. Initial reports had been dismissed as propaganda, but the first reports of demonstration against the slow pace of improvement started to convince the unwilling colonists.

Reports brought in by the few truly independent tramp freighters confirmed the broadcast reports… as did the few pieces of Manticoran goods the freighters managed to bring in. Before long, most of the transported colonists believed in Manticoran largesse. The  Frontier Security forces on the planet were harder to convince. Those forces though had traditionally been conscripted from the poorest of Frontier Security hellholes. They had first-hand experience with how the Solarian League went about ‘assimilating’ new planets. Signs that the Manticorans were truly as good as their words convinced all but a few holdouts.

The investigation eventually turned to the most secure Frontier Security databases. What was discovered there was disturbing, a ‘suitably large’ Frontier Security force was to be sent to put down the food riots and ‘general disturbance’ in the Nuncio system. How large a force was being sent was not revealed, nor was an exact arrival time. There was an assessment of how large a force of Royal Manticoran Navy vessels might be encountered in the system. Frontier Security anticipated that two ‘neo-barb’ battlecruisers, with attached suitable screen’, might be assigned to hold the system. The ‘suitably large’ force was anticipated to be able to sweep aside the battlecruisers.

Thomas had Enterprise,  a single heavy cruiser, instead of a pair of battlecruisers… and he still had the responsibility to hold the system against whatever the Sollies might be sending.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox June 29, 2014, 09:58:29 PM
Smaller chunks, but what I can write in the free time I have.

Hopefully it keeps folks interested. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: deathjester June 30, 2014, 04:43:03 AM
Oh yes -  starting (and continuing) to sound GOOD!!
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 01, 2014, 10:04:02 PM
Part XX: Opening Gambit

Thomas set course for the listening post that had been receiving signals from Basilica. A 'suitably large force' from Frontier Fleet could mean almost anything, but Thomas was willing to bet it would arrive in the form of a light Task Group. Enterprise would take position near the listening post and deploy a shell of recon drones, backed by Galileo, to keep the area under surveillance. Several of the drones would be deployed outside the hyper limit in case the Sollie commander was smarter, or more subtle, than average. It wasn't likely, but guarding against all probabilities kept one alive in space.

Thomas had two other measures he could take. First, he had the Pontifex dispatch boat take a Code Zulu message to Rembrandt. From there it could be spread to the remainder of the Cluster. Second, Enterprise, like all heavy cruisers, carried a small number of mines. The traditional use of the mines was to interdict planets which harboured pirates. The mines could keep ships from departing a planet while the parent cruiser dealt with any pirate vessel in space.

The RMN had always planned to win the war against Haven, so even wartime cruiser classes maintained the mines. The Saganami-C class carried 60 mines. Enterprise' redesigned after hammerhead had cost her the starboard mine magazine space, it now served as a magazine for weapons used by the cutter attached to Galileo 7.

Thomas had the mines offloaded so that Galileo could position them in a loose shell around the Sollie listening post. Chances were low that any Frontier Fleet ship would stray close enough for the mines to do any good, but the possibility did exist. So out went Enterprise' meagre supply of mines.

Preparations made, Enterprise and her crew settled in to await the Solarians. They had no idea how long the wait might be, or what was coming. They did know, from Admiral Gold Peak's message, that Enterprise was on her own.

Eight days later, Enterprise was just over one light-hour from the listening post when Galileo reported the hyperspace emergence of multiple Solarian units. What Galileo reported could hardly be called good news.

Frontier Fleet hadn't sent a Light Task Group, it was closer to a Light Task Force. Galileo reported an Indefatigable-class battlecruiser escorted by two Mikasa-class heavy cruisers, a single Bridgeport-class light cruiser and four Rampart-class destroyers.

What Enterprise faced was bad enough, but it seemed to be half-strength; half a BC division, half a CA division and half a DD squadron, albeit with its CL command ship present. Enterprise would be in real trouble should the other half of these forces show up!

Fortunately, Enterprise had been operating under stealth, there was no chance the Sollies even knew Enterprise was even here.

"Second emergence detected! Designating as Force Beta. Looks like a second BC, another pair of CA's and a single contact, approx. 6 million tons. Designating first group as Force Alpha" The tactical officer's report caused very head on the bridge to snap around. That 'single' contact could very well be a dreadnaught or a smaller superdreadnaught.


Reason For Edit: Readability, Form and small Grammatical Errors.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 02, 2014, 12:40:49 AM
I'd hazard a guess, based on known SLN operational modes, that the single large contact is probably a transport with occupation troops for both Basilica and Nuncio; it should be interesting to learn the truth.  It won't be a fair fight, but it's nowhere near as lop-sided as Frontier Fleet will expect since they still haven't realized that they aren't the most advanced or powerful navy in the known galaxy; the Mark 16 DDMs, even the basic ones available at this time, are going to be a rude surprise.  I just re-read the description of the Saganami-C class in House of Steel and I reckon this situation bodes to thoroughly test out the results of BuShips simulations; it's likely going to be a close-run battle but I suspect that, even if this Frontier Fleet task force has a competent commander and captains (I know, even on the sharp edge, that's questionable for the SLN), quality and training of personnel is going to matter and, here, the RMN definitely has the edge.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 02, 2014, 07:44:35 AM
Enterprise has one trick up her sleeve, called Galileo 7.

Unfortunately, she's also missing 1/2 her normal external pod load.

It will be fun, more so for some than others.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 04, 2014, 02:58:46 AM
Part XXI: Message Received

Rear Admiral Pontraine, commanding Frontier Fleet’s Task Group 1307.1, was annoyed. Instead of having his Task Group as a unified force he was required to escort a superdreadnaught-sized ‘Mythos-class’ assault transport. Having the transport arrive a the same time as the naval force might be standard procedure, but Frontier Fleet had never tried to take a planet from under the nose of someone as annoyingly capable as the Royal Manticoran Navy before.

Pontraine had contacts inside the SLN’s Office of Naval Intelligence. He couldn’t credit most of what he had heard from there, either it was obviously self-serving and under-rated… or scare-mongering that made out the Manticorans as three-headed monsters. Obviously, neo-barbs like the RMN weren’t going to be as capable as the Solarian League, but some of the ‘intelligence’ community were obviously forgetting that Manticore was a developed, relatively rich star-nation. Manticore was going to be a tougher nut to crack than these folks thought. No doubt Manticore had ships that might almost be considered ‘modern’, even by the standards of the SLN.

Far worse from his perspective were the reports of RMN ships that had incredible acceleration rates, were almost immune to missile fire, threw massive salvos and capable of missile ranges that were, quite frankly, absurd. Oh, he didn’t doubt that the RMN may have developed some superiority in one tactical area or another, they were somewhat educated after all. Across the board quantum superiority was ridiculous though. If such developments were even possible, the SLN would be using them.

Still, having to assign one of his battlecruisers and a pair of heavy cruisers to escort that damned Mythos split his main combat power up in ways he didn’t like. If the Manties had hit his force on arrival, they might have caused significant damage before they were destroyed. He wouldn’t have lost the Mythos, sadly, or either of his two Indefatigables, but his light forces might have taken a beating from a pair of Manty battlecruisers. Losing any ships to the Manties would make him look bad, and even in Frontier Fleet an officer had to be aware of his image if he wanted continued advancement.

The good news was that, having arrived in Nuncio space unchallenged, he could now alter his escort plan to something more tactically sound. Turning to his chief of staff he commanded “Execute Escort Plan Alpha”. That would have Destroyer Squadron 2307 fall back on the Mythos and restore his BC and CA elements to full strength. Now all he had to do was download the reports from Basilica. That would tell him if the ‘spontaneous’ rioting had started yet and, hopefully, what Manticoran forces he was facing. He considered breaking out one of his destroyers to rendezvous with the listening post, but that would slow the re-integration of his forces.

He’d been dithering over this decision for the last two days, but now in Nuncio space he needed to be decisive. Looking at the status display to see which of his two forward heavy cruisers was closer, he decided. SLNS Fujimi was the closer of the two cruisers and he almost decided to send SLNS Tanaka instead. Commodore Prescott commanded the cruiser element from aboard Fujimi and would undoubtedly use his ‘forward’ deployment and ‘first to advance into hostile space’ for all it was worth in the political battles to come. Well, he was welcome to try. The Admiral who slapped down the Manticorans and took a system right out from under them would have more than enough fame to slap down a little upstart like Prescott. He ordered Prescott ahead personally, that should shift some of the credit back where it belonged… to the Flag. Let him think about that!

Aboard Fujimi, Prescott was fuming. He knew what that clown Pontraine had in mind. Prescott’s advance was now ‘subject to orders from the Flag’ rather than on his own authority. Was a Rear Admiral actually so petty that he would try to steal every bit of glory from this mission? Of course he was! Political in-fighting in Frontier Fleet might not be the blood sport it was in Battle Fleet, but it was intense. Pontraine wanted every bit of glory he could grab so that he could climb the ladder to Vice Admiral. There was nothing to do about it now though, nothing but carry out the orders efficiently and try to hitch his flag, literally, to Pontraine’s. Be a good little subordinate and hope for some scraps in the after-action reports. Turning to the comm screen that displayed the Captain of Fujimi he said, “Bob take us to the listening post. Smartly please, the Flag will undoubtedly want us back in position as soon as possible.”

On board Enterprise Thomas watched as the destroyers and their CL commander fell away from Force Alpha. When the BC and the two CA’s started their advance, he figured, correctly, that an exchange of escorts was taking place. For a few minutes he thought that nobody would download the output from the listening station, then one of the forward Mikasa’s advanced… and rapidly. Apparently, someone had lit a fire under the backside of that cruiser’s commander. Thomas smiled a predatory smile. Based on the course that CA was taking, displeasure from the Flag wasn’t going to be a concern for much longer.

SLNS Fujimi crept the final distance to the listening post under low power. The area was part of the Oort cloud of cometary bodies that surround any star system and some idiot had placed the listening post in the middle of a cluster of proto-comets. They had probably figured that nobody would notice one more minor planetoid in the middle of the other trash, but who would be looking in the first place?

The current Mark 47, Mod 6 mine deployed by the RMN was more than just a simple mine. Unlike earlier mines, which would detonate as soon as a target came into range, the Mark 47 waited. As long as a target was closing, the mine would hold fire unless certain conditions were met, such as sidewalls coming up or a radical change in perspective. Such a change in perspective could mean a target was ‘rolling ship’ or turning a vulnerable aspect away from the mine. Multiple mines in a field could also communicate, albeit in a rather limited way. Each mine would forward an acquisition signal to others in its deployed minefield. They would also forward a ‘detonation’ signal if their own engagement requirements were met. These gave the Mark 47 the capability of engaging multiple targets in a minefield simultaneously.

In the case of SLNS Fujimi, seven Mark 47 mines could see her as she approached the listening post. Five of those were in target acquisition when something caused the sidewall generators aboard Fujimi to start to spin up. The most likely reason was that someone had recognized the minefield. There would never be a way to know, five Mark 47’s detonated as one and SLNS Fujimi simply… vanished. The Mark 47 mine carried lasing rods capable of generating forces that could punch through the sidewalls of a modern Havenite superdreadnaught, and through the armour underneath.

Fujimi didn’t have sidewalls, modern or not, when the X-ray lasers sleeted through her hull. Nor did she have armour of any appreciable value. Aboard Enterprise the tactical section estimated that no less than thirty laser rods had scored hits. Thirty hits would have gutted a superdreadnaught, the effect on a heavy cruiser was unimaginable. Forces she couldn’t withstand pummelled Fujimi and her hull broke in two pieces. Both pieces then expanded into glowing fireballs as her fusion generators lost containment. 400,000 tons of starship were reduced to glowing plasma in less than 2 seconds. The were no lifepods deployed.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 04, 2014, 03:04:30 AM
34 pages, 17,484 words.
: Re: Let's be about it
: deathjester July 04, 2014, 03:30:22 AM
Again, Brilliant.  Perhaps you should think about seeing a publisher?  Maybe see if anyone is doing collections of short stories?
: Re: Let's be about it
: deathjester July 04, 2014, 03:31:13 AM
In fact, why not try Baen Books!
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 04, 2014, 12:29:56 PM
Part XXII: Don’t be ridiculous!

On the Flag Bridge of SLNS Inexhaustible Rear Admiral Pontraine was stunned. A heavy cruiser simply gone… to mines! How had that fool Prescott managed to do something so stupid as to not notice a minefield that dense? Pontraine knew it had to be a dense minefield, at least 5 detonations had been detected. If it hadn’t cost Prescott his life Pontraine would have assumed that stupid bastard had done it simply to make Pontraine look bad. How was he going to explain the loss of a heavy cruiser before even meeting the enemy in his after action reports? There had to be some way to transfer responsibility to the on-site commander, he would just have to think of something. In the meantime, he had to try to find the Manticorans, determine their strength and then kill them. No other course was open. Blood had been drawn and the Solarian League had to show strength and resolve.

He ordered the Task Group to advance on Pontifex. The original plan had been to investigate Basilica first as ‘justification’ for the conquest of Pontifex. It was always possible to adjust facts later to reflect what Frontier Security wanted, for now the defending Manticorans had to be drawn out. The Manties might have ignored an advance on Basilica, they had no citizens there to defend after all. Pontifex was another story, it was a member of the Talbott Cluster and the Manties had a responsibility. By all accounts Manticoran officers were driven by ideas such as ‘duty’ and ‘honour’. Foolish concepts in a professional naval officer to be sure, but what could be expected of neo-barbs? The Manties would surely honour the threat to Pontifex and offer combat. Once they did he would crush them like bugs under his heel.

Aboard Enterprise Thomas watched the Sollies change course. It was just as he had guessed, the loss of one ship had enraged whoever commanded over there and he had reacted like the Frontier Security thug he actually was. Enterprise was positioned to take advantage of such a course change, but it galled Thomas that even a Solly would be so easily predictable. Did they know nothing of professionalism? Thomas turned to the Tactical section, “Bob, are they on a least-time course for Pontifex?”

Lt. Commander Cumberland didn’t even need to consult his display, “Yes Sir. They have firmed up on track now. They are a little off the predicted course, but not by much.” Thomas turned a questioning eye on Midshipman Davis and the astrogator, Lt. David Bolingshire. Miss Davis blanched at the idea her course might have been off, but the astrogator answered the unspoken question, “Sir, whoever is plotting courses over there isn’t as careful as Miss Davis. They’ve failed to account for the asteroid belt. Our computer made the same mistake, Miss Davis caught the error and entered the correction.” Thomas smiled at the relieved Midshipman, “Well done Miss Davis. It seems even our most junior officers are made of better stuff than the Sollies!”

Thomas’ comment relieved some of the pressure that had been building on the Bridge. Even Midshipman Samantha Davis smiled. It would be some time before she realized it, but she had just been given an important lesson in command. Things can’t be as bad as they seem if our least is superior to their best. It would be a lesson worth remembering after, if there was an after.

Thomas examined the tactical repeater on his command chair. Things were shaping up much as he had guessed, and it was time to set the next stage in motion. Turning to the communications section he ordered, “Pass Lazarus Alpha to Galileo please.” Lazarus Alpha was the code name for a Solarian advance on the least-time course for Pontifex. It would instruct Galileo on what was expected of them in the hours to come. Turning to Tactical, he asked “How long for them to reach designated Mark 23 range?” Technically a Mark 23 could hit the Sollies even now, but better results would be had if the range were much closer. Lt. Commander Cumberland consulted his displays for a moment before answering, “Sir, they will enter the envelope in 47.8 minutes at a range of 55.46 light seconds. Designating that position as Point Able.” The chosen range would allow the Mark 23’s to maintain powered flight right up until impact. Powered flight would make the Mark 23’s that much harder to evade.

Thomas turned to Lt. Cormier on the Communications station, “Charles, record a message for transmission to the Solarian commander if you please.” It took no time before Lt. Cormier responded, “Ready Sir.”

“This is Captain James T. Kirk of HMS Enterprise. Solarian Commander, you have invaded Manticoran space with military forces in the absence of a declared state of hostilities. If your forces strike your wedges and surrender now I will commute the sentence of death due any pirate to life imprisonment. You have one minute to comply. Kirk out.”

“Good recording Sir. On the chip and ready for transmission on your mark.” Lt Cormier couldn’t help but grin at his captain’s audacity. “Thank you Charles. Transmit the message one minute before we cross Point Able if you don’t mind. And now, perhaps the galley can send snacks to all duty stations? It appears we have time for lunch before our guests arrive.” Thomas earned a chuckle from the entire bridge crew. Good people, he thought, I wonder how many will pay for my mistakes in the next few hours?

Enterprise and Task Group 1307.1 seemed to creep toward each other on the tactical display in front of Thomas. Visible on the display was the countdown timer until the Solarian units were in his designated range. When that counter hit 10 minutes, he ordered his Mark 23-loaded pods deployed. He had only 24 of them after giving half up to Tenth Fleet. Still, that would put 192 missiles into space in a salvo the Solarians wouldn’t be expecting. The capabilities of the Mark 23, and Apollo would come as a rude awakening to the Sollies no doubt.

Sixty seconds on the counter and “Message transmitted Sir” from Communications. Three, two… one, “Engage as per Fire Plan Thunderchild Mr. Cumberland.” Turning to Communications, “Message to Nuncio System Command please Charles, ‘We are engaging the Solarians.’”

On the Flag Bridge of SLNS Inexhaustible the message from Enterprise was met with scorn. Threaten the Solarian League with hanging as pirates would he, this James T. Kirk? Well Frontier Fleet would show him who would hang! Rear Admiral Pontraine was in the process of recording a response when the cry of “MISSILE! MISSILE! MISSILE! Two Hundred Sixteen inbound, accelerating at 96,000g. Range 55 light seconds.” caught everyone by surprise. Pontraine stared at the tactical display for several seconds trying to make sense of what he saw. Those missiles would be ballistic long before they ever entered attack range… they posed no threat. They did pose no threat, didn’t they? Doubt started to creep into the surety of superiority of Rear Admiral Pontraine. He had heard the stories, and doubted them. Now he faced reality, and if the Manticoran commander could hit him from this far away, he was in for a very tough time of things.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 04, 2014, 02:13:24 PM
In fact, why not try Baen Books!
Agreed!  You definitely should talk with Toni Weiskopf (sp) about trying to get into the next collection of Honorverse stores.  I know Baen is always big on encouraging and helping new talent.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 04, 2014, 04:53:03 PM
Part XXIII: Evening the odds

Rear Admiral Pontraine stood frozen for what seemed like an eternity, but was barely ten seconds. He shook himself alert and glanced surreptitiously around the Flag Bridge to see if his momentary shock had been noticed. Satisfied that it had gone unobserved, he ordered the task group to General Quarters and set ‘Defensive Plan Archer’. Plan Archer would place his lighter CA’s out in front of the far more valuable BC’s. Undoubtedly the Manticoran commander would seek to use his range advantage to eliminate the BC’s as soon as possible. Plan Archer would allow the heavy cruisers to interpose themselves between the missiles streaming in and the BC’s. Two hundred and sixteen missiles was a far larger salvo than one BC could throw, maybe even bigger than two could. It still wasn’t enough to get through the combined defensive firepower of two BC's and three CA's.

It took one hundred and seventy eight seconds for the Manticoran missiles to cross the distance between Enterprise and Task Group 1307.1. To the horror of the watching Frontier Fleet officers the missiles accelerated all the way to target, building up a massive velocity and complicating counter-missile solutions. There would be time for only a single CM salvo before the missiles streaked across CM range and entered final attack range.

The incoming missiles had broken into two clear streams, each heading for a BC. Pontraine congratulated himself on his foresight and ordered CM batteries into centrally controlled Fleet defence. Defence was prioritized on protecting the two battlecruisers, with lesser priority given to the protecting the cruisers.

The missile stream were just about to enter CM range when they suddenly slewed and two stream broke up into three. Pontraine heard an anguished cry, “They’re going for the cruisers!” The tactical display showed the developing situation for just a moment and then dissolved. Hundreds, thousands of missiles appeared on the display and then themselves disappeared. The screen broke up into patterns of light that bore no relationship to a tactical display.

Of the two hundred sixteen missiles fired from the pods Enterprise launched, 24 were Apollo missiles, a further 24 were Dragon’s Teeth and 36 were Dazzlers. The Apollo missile allowed near-real-time command of the missile salvos. Dragon’s Teeth were deception jammers designed to lure counter missile fire, while the Dazzlers were pure jammers that simply blocked enemy fire control. One hundred and thirty two attack missiles remained, and they were targeted on only three targets.

Aboard the ships of Task Group 1307.1, crews and systems fought feverishly to build some semblance of order. The incoming missiles were too fast though, and not enough time had been given to sort out the mess. Missiles started to reach attack range, and when they did ships started to buck and die.

First to die was SLNS Tanaka. Tanaka’s Captain had reacted instantly to the changing tactical situation. Snapping an order to ‘Roll Ship” he actually managed to interpose his wedge between forty of the incoming missiles and his vulnerable command. Four Mark 23 missiles slid just past the forward edge of Tanaka’s wedge and rolled on internal gyros. Three of the missiles targeted the forward hammerhead of the cruiser and shattered it like so much tissue paper in a hurricane. The fourth missile was somewhat higher than the others, looking past the hammerhead it saw the unarmoured upper hull and fired. Battlesteel shredded, atmosphere vented and the ship heaved under the titanic forces. Then the acceleration compensator let go and Tanaka accelerated at over 600g. That the crew was dead was a foregone conclusion, the event simply wasn’t survivable. SLNS Tanaka slewed out of formation and twenty seconds later her fusion reactors lost containment. An expanding ball of plasma marked the grave of her crew.

Next to face the fury of the Manticoran missiles was SLNS Sensei. Sensei had barely even started to react to the change in defence priorities. Counter missiles fired, mostly at ghosts thrown out by the Dragon’s Teeth. Lasers spat beams of coherent light in a desperate last-ditch effort to save the ship, none of it worked. Lifepods started to stream from Sensei even before the missiles warheads fired. The last act of a doomed Captain was to save his crew, or as many as he could get off. Two pods of Mark 23 missiles swerved aside when their sensors showed lifepod beacons in their line of fire. That left twenty eight missiles for Sensei to deal with. Miraculously Sensei survived the first ten missiles. The ship heaved and bucked as X-ray lasers clawed at her hull, but lifepods continued to stream from the ship even as it fought to stay alive long enough for the crew to abandon. The death knell sounded for Sensei when a Mark 23-E Apollo missile smashed directly into her hull.  The Apollo weighed over 120 tons and was travelling at .95c at impact. Mass converted into energy with catastrophic result. Everything of Sensei between fore and aft hammerheads vanished in a titanic explosion.

Next to be hit was SLNS Inexhaustible. The missiles which had bypassed SLNS Sensei’s lifepods sought a new target and saw the battlecruiser. Sixteen missiles targeted the BC, and four reached attack range. Two spent themselves harmlessly against the upper wedge; one had its beams blocked by the tough sidewalls of the battlecruiser, the last fired an penetration aids worked as they were supposed to. Inexhaustible heaved and damage reports started to stream into the bridge.

Rear Admiral Pontraine saw the flashing icons of damage on his flagship and blanched. He still didn’t know how many Manties he faced, or even where they were. The report from his Chief of Staff only made things worse, “Forward chase armament is gone, except for one CM tube. Forward LIDAR and Gravitics are also gone. Damage control isn’t even sure if they are still attached to the hull. Two nodes in the forward ring are offline, but Engineering says they are repairable in less than half an hour. They seem sure its only the control runs. Port sidewall is down to 80%, but again it appears to be control runs. Sir, what the hell did they hit us with?” Pontraine acknowledged the report with only a nod and stared dumbly at the tactical repeater. The Manticoran missiles were entering attack range on SLNS Kata, the last of his heavy cruisers.

SLNS Kata had had more time to adapt to the attack. Her Captain had rolled ship, and using sensor data passed from the flagship his defences had scored heavily on the incoming missiles. At least twenty had been destroyed by the CM fire, and sixteen more had been picked off by point defence lasers. It was an outstanding performance that even a Manticoran crew would have been hard-pressed to equal. It wasn’t enough. The remaining missiles flew past the open forward and aft aspects of Kata’s wedge. Slewing on their internal gyros they fired and carved the helpless ship with power no mere cruiser could withstand. Kata was a bleeding, riddled hulk as a handful of lifepods spewed from the wreckage. The ruined hull snapped in half and the aft section tumbled away from the forward hull.

Twenty seven seconds after they entered attack range the Mark 23 missiles had done their job. Frontier Fleet Task Group 1307.1 no longer counted heavy cruisers amongst it’s order of battle.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 04, 2014, 04:59:01 PM
Guys, thanks for the kind words... but you are making me feel like I have a 1/48 scale head on a 1/72 scale figure. :)

I'm really not sure it's good enough to be considered for publication. Entertaining, yes... published, well that's another matter.

Much thanks for the kind words though.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Volkodav July 04, 2014, 09:10:46 PM
 :)

Loving it!
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 05, 2014, 03:07:26 AM
Part XXIII is a great example of why the SLN faces so many problems, the RMN, of necessity, has been forced into the forefront of war-tech development (see House of Steel for a good look at how Roger III fostered that in preparation for dealing with the aggressive tendencies of Haven even before they hit Manticore directly).  It won't be a walk in the park for HMS Enterprise but it's going to be most challenging for the SLN.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 05, 2014, 04:16:28 AM
RMN equipment is better, so is tactical judgement. Enterprise used her one large salvo to kill launchers and narrow the CM envelope. She might have killed both BC's with that salvo, she could almost certainly kill all remaining CA's. Even a CA which survived would likely be a drifting hulk, not a serviceable warship.

Enterprise has a range advantage still, but her long range punch is gone, as are the heavy warheads. Life won't be easy, but it never is for a Queen's Ship in such circumstances. Cruiser Captain's get all the fun jobs. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 05, 2014, 04:39:41 AM
I just realized that I named five heavy cruisers, not four. I will edit things once I have a chance. :(
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 05, 2014, 06:13:11 AM
Enterprise has a range advantage still, but her long range punch is gone, as are the heavy warheads. Life won't be easy, but it never is for a Queen's Ship in such circumstances. Cruiser Captain's get all the fun jobs. :)
*drolly* Yes, indeed.  HMS Fearless at First Basilisk and HMS Hexapuma, and company, at Monica for example.  Fortunately, the RMN, for the most part, seems to train up officers to rise to meet the task.  I say "for the most part" because I also remember idiots like Pavel Young and Elvis Santino who survived in peacetime only because of their political connections and didn't survive in the RMN in wartime.
: Re: Let's be about it
: deathjester July 07, 2014, 05:25:11 AM
Guys, thanks for the kind words... but you are making me feel like I have a 1/48 scale head on a 1/72 scale figure. :)

I'm really not sure it's good enough to be considered for publication. Entertaining, yes... published, well that's another matter.

Much thanks for the kind words though.
Credit where credit is due!  Besides, if something is Entertaining to a sufficient amount of people, then does it not deserve to be published?  I've seen plenty of dross get made that would only entertain the most feeble of minds, so go for it !  The worst they can say is no...but I don't think they will...!
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 09, 2014, 09:57:08 AM
Part XXIV: Closing the range

Thomas studied the wreckage of the Solarian formation with grim satisfaction. Thousands of men and women had just died, at his hand, but they were the aggressors and had been lead to their deaths by a corrupt Government. He took no satisfaction in their deaths, but the ships they had crewed had needed to be destroyed. More would die before this was over, and Thomas steeled himself to the idea that it would be Solarians who paid the blood-price.

Thomas examined the tactical display for a few moments before turning to his Tactical Officer, “Guns, how long until they close enough that we can stay just outside their range” Lt. Commander Cumberland ran a short calculation on this terminal before answering, “Sir. At present accelerations to remain under full stealth we would need to turn over in 6.3 minutes. Assuming the Sollies will see us when we start lobbing multiple salvos after them, we make turnover in 19.3 minutes and accelerate to match vectors at 560 gravities.”

Thomas grinned at his Tactical Officer, “Guns, I think we can safely assume that even the Sollies will notice something, after we start throwing double broadsides after them.” The bridge erupted in laughter before Thomas reeled it in, “OK folks, let’s not get overconfident. We’ve bloodied their nose, but they still hold the weight advantage. We have a tough nut to crack still.” He was answered by several comments of, “We’ll do it Sir!” before the crew settled.

“OK Guns, pass your data onto Helm. We’ll go for turnover and then I want to hit them with a triple broadside and the Mark 16 pods. Targeting priorities will be as follows…” Thomas continued with his brief and target assignments refined. The crew was in good spirits, but Thomas knew that before this ended Enterprise would probably see return fire. If he couldn’t eliminate enough hostile launchers before that happened, Enterprise was likely to suffer damage… and casualties.

Rear Admiral Pontraine was livid. The damned Manties were going to ruin everything! All his carefully plotted plans for advancement, gone in this fiasco. Who would ever believe that his force had suffered such casualties to neo-barbs? He would be a laughing stock, and his career would lie in ruins.

Forcing his mind back to the present situation, he ordered the Mythos and escorting destroyers to join on his two BC’s. The force needed to be unified or it risked defeat in detail. He passed the orders and noted that it would take twenty-five minutes for the second element to join up. Once they were in place, he would start to hunt for the Manty battlecruisers in earnest.

Enterprise reached the turnover point and abandoned stealth. The wedge came to full power and Enterprise started to match velocities with the advancing Solarian force. A small change in the Solarian course had forced Thomas to accelerate at 562g in the effort to match velocities at a range that would place her just outside of the Solarians reach, while still allowing Enterprise to use her longer-ranged missiles. Everything was proceeding according to plan, until Enterprise shuddered and acceleration dropped to 200g.

From the Tactical station Bob Cumberland called. ”Sir! We are going to fall inside range of the BC’s and the big bogey in 173 seconds, the light units will be able to range on us 115 seconds later.” Thomas glanced a the tactical repeater for only a moment, his eyes being drawn back to the status display that showed Enterprise had lost her after beta-ring and much of her propulsion power. “Thank you Guns. Roll pods, we are going to engage with Beta-Three, stack a triple broadside if you would.” Thomas turned to his communication panel and contacted Engineering. “Chief? Captain here. What happened?”

Sam Jennings looked harried, “Sir, the beta-squared node that required re-tuning during trials failed. It’s taken the whole after beta-ring with it. I suspect there was a flaw in the crystalline structure that slipped past the quality control inspectors. I’ve got a crew cutting it out of the circuit, but it’s going to take time. I estimate fifteen minutes before they get the after ring back.” Thomas didn’t like what he was hearing, fifteen minutes would place Enterprise well inside range of the Solarian force. “Sam, as fast as possible please, we’re going to need your damage control teams before too much longer. What will the damage to the beta-ring do to our acceleration?” Thomas was trying to determine how much tactical flexibility he had left.

“Sir, we’ll lose about 2.5% acceleration.” Samuel began, “We are also going to lose perhaps 15% of our data rate on the FTL comm.” Thomas started, he had almost overlooked how the lost beta-squared node would affect his ability to generate the grav pulses the FTL comm relied on. “Understood Sam, please keep me informed.” Whatever answer the chief engineer offered was lost as the Captain cut the connection. The enemy battlecruisers had the range now, and they were launching missiles.

Rear Admiral Pontraine had been stunned when the Manticoran ship had suddenly appeared on the gravitic sensors. Tactical had reported it as either a very large cruiser, or a small battlecruiser. Pontraine had known instantly that the reports of upward size creep in warship sizes reported from the Haven/Manticore war were true. This was a Manty cruiser they were facing. Not even a battlecruiser! A damned heavy cruiser had caused so much damage! Something had gone wrong aboard the Manty cruiser though; it had been aiming to hold the range just outside his reach, and now was falling into his grasp. Acceleration had dropped suddenly as had the strength of its wedge. Pontraine turned to his Chief of Staff, “Order maximum rate fire on that cruiser as soon as our units range. Swamp it with fire and kill the damned thing!”

Thomas watched first one, then the second, Sollie BC spew missiles. If the missiles had not been aimed at Enterprise, Thomas would have laughed. The salvos were uncoordinated, each BC firing independently with no attempt to have all missiles arrive on target at once. Neither had the Sollies rolled ship to fire a double-broadside. Enterprise faced only 58 missiles, 29 from each BC. He turned to Tactical, “Guns, I’m betting they think they have us overmatched. Explain it to them please.” Bob Cumberland grinned despite the tension, “Explain it AYE! AYE!”

Enterprise had twenty-four pods deployed, each with fourteen Mark 16 missiles. Those spewed three hundred and thirty six missiles, which were joined by a further one hundred twenty missiles fired from the triple-broadside Thomas had ordered. Enterprise howled defiance at her larger attackers with four hundred and fifty six missiles, eight times what they had thrown at her. Eighteen seconds later another forty missiles launched, and forty more would follow every eighteen seconds as Enterprise’s launchers went to maximum rate. Nine minutes at this rate would see Enterprise shoot herself dry.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 09, 2014, 11:08:35 AM
Ah, now things get really "sporting".  'Twill be most interesting to see effect the difference in command and crew quality has now.  As to losing the aft beta-squared ring, well, "s--- happens!".  It's going to be most interesting to see what goes through the SLN admiral's thoughts with this broadside from such a range.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 10, 2014, 05:42:09 AM
Part XXV: Butcher's Bill

Rear Admiral Pontraine watched the tactical display in satisfaction. His BC’s had the range now and were firing at the Manty cruiser, let’s see how they like that! His reverie was catastrophically interrupted by the call from his tactical officer, “MISSILE! MISSILE! MISSILE! Four hundred, fifty six inbound at ninety six thousand gees. Target appears to be Incomparable.” The Admiral stood frozen in shock, 456 missiles inbound. How was that even possible? That damned Manty was going to be the death of him with shocks like this! He sobered as he realized what had just passed through his mind. The death of me… yes, quite possibly. He shook off his shock, again, and ordered fleet anti-missile defence to protect the battlecruisers. Remembering how he had been caught by the long-range destruction of his cruisers, he amended his order to allow for ships to defend themselves at need.

Admiral Pontraine wasn’t even shocked when Tactical announced another launch from the Manty and less than 20 seconds later a third. There were only forty missiles in each of the later launches, but the Manties now had over five hundred missiles bearing down on his ships, and his second launch was still loading. He watched the Manty missile stream pass his own missiles while they were only one-third of the way to target. His own second salvo was just launching when the Manty missiles entered attack range.

Perfectly synchronized fire from the pods and the triple broadside wasn’t possible at maximum accelerations. For that reason, the ‘first’ of the triple broadside would arrive a few seconds ahead of the mass of missiles, while the ‘third’ would arrive a few seconds late. The delay wasn’t enough to disrupt the effect of a mass launch, but it could be put to tactical use. Bob Cumberland had programmed the first missiles to execute a tight turn just as they entered counter-missile range. The missiles all peeled off to head after secondary targets, but hitting those targets wasn’t the point. The turn forced tactical officers aboard the Solarian ships to re-evaluate counter-missile fire, and they didn’t finish before the main body of missiles bored in.

SLNS Incomparable was the sole ‘real’ target of the massive salvo Enterprise had fired. Task Group defences had killed sixty-five missiles and Incomparable’s point defence had killed another twenty-three. Task Group 1307.1 had turned 90 degrees and ‘formed wall’ to aid in defensive efforts, but now a single battlecruiser faced 328 missiles. Dozens of missiles slammed into the wedge of Incomparable or one of her consorts. Dozens more fired and had their beams bent off target by the tough sidewalls of the battlecruiser. Only fifty-three Manticoran missiles got clean shots at Incomparable, it would prove more than enough.

An Indefatigable-class battlecruiser was a tough opponent, to anyone not raised by the standards of the Haven-Manticore war. In truth, it was an older example of a warship from a former power that was ‘third rate’, at best. Sheer inertia kept the image of Solarian invincibility intact, nothing could save Incomparable from the truth. X-ray lasers smashed through armour and destroyed systems. Point defences went down, as did the links to the missiles Incomparable had fired at Enterprise. Incomparable was hit too many times to estimate. Her back broke and the two separate halves of her hull spiralled off in different directions. Amazingly, the emergency containment systems for her fusion reactors worked. There was no ball of expanding plasma to mark the death of a once-proud warship. An all-too-small cloud of escape pods started to form around the broken halves of the ship.

Incomparable had aided in Task Group defence for the second of Enterprise’s launches and her efforts bought the Task Group some time. The second salvo was stopped short of reaching it’s target by point defence lasers aboard the destroyer squadron. The third salvo had more success. The Solarian crews had relied on their ‘superiority’ to the point that neither battlecruiser crew had backed up the other vessel on counter-missile assignments. When Incomparable dropped out of the ‘net, her missile targets went unassigned for almost four seconds. It was the type of mistake no Manticoran crew would ever make, unthinking reliance on the presence of another ship in combat was simple arrogance.

Simple arrogance was a hallmark of all Solarian naval officers, and none more so than Frontier Fleet. They never imagined that they would lose a battlecruiser to a neo-barb cruiser. That arrogance would cost them two. Incomparable had been responsible for counter-missile fire on twenty-two of the forty inbound missiles, none were engaged by counter-missiles as they raced in on SLNS Inexhaustible. Point defence laser spat coherent light and eight missiles died, but fourteen reached attack range. Three detonated early and wasted their fury on the impenetrable wedge. Four had their beams bent off target by the battlecruiser’s sidewalls. Seven raked their target with warheads only a capitol ship of the Solarian fleets could throw. The first hits were three missiles attacking through the open after-aspect of the wedge. The aft hammerhead was crushed, sensors, weapons… and crews, mangled beyond recognition. Four missiles attacked the forward hammerhead. Three crushed it, as had their brethren to the rear.

The last missile ended whatever concern Rear Admiral Pontraine might have for his career. Penetrating through damage caused by the earlier hit, one X-ray laser gouged deep. That beam spent itself on the forward bulkhead of the Flag Bridge, sending shrapnel sawing across all inhabitants. Inexhaustible lurched out of formation, dead in space. Atmosphere vented through the numerous holes rent in her armour. Aboard the ship crews fought desperate battles against the final enemy all spacers face, space itself. Some fought for their own lives, some for the lives of trapped crewmates. Two hundred and thirty nine crewman aboard Inexhaustible died, but only two hundred and thirty nine. The butcher’s bill should have been much higher, but the crew rose to the challenge. Necessity forced professionalism that tradition never had.

Enterprise faced her own challenges now, fifty-eight missiles bearing down on the solo cruiser. To the horror of the survivors of Frontier Fleet Task Group 1307.1, Enterprise seemed to bristle with CM launchers. Of fifty-eight incoming missiles, thirty-four failed to cross Enterprise’s CM envelope. Point defence lasers accounted for another twenty-two. One missile smashed physically into the cruiser’s sidewall, unable to turn aside. The last missile found the open after wedge and detonated, sending X-ray lasers sleeting through the aft hammerhead.

As the glaring crimson icons of damage flickered across Thomas’s repeaters, acceleration soared. The damage control crew sent to cut the damaged beta-squared node had run their bypass and had been working on cutting the damage node out of the circuit. The crew died instantly, never knowing that the Solarian missile that killed them also destroyed the damaged node. Enterprise came to 565g, with their launching ships dead; none of the battlecruiser-launched missiles could follow.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 10, 2014, 05:44:11 AM
I'm unsure of the last thing to go through Admiral Pontraine's thoughts... the last thing to go through his head was a type J-96-Bravo display assembly from the tactical tank I believe. :)

For those keeping score at home:

22,258 Words on 43 Pages.
: Re: Let's be about it
: apophenia July 10, 2014, 08:50:37 AM
Wow! This is turning into an epic  :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 10, 2014, 10:52:33 AM
I suspect the remainder of the SLN task force is going to be just as horribly surprised by the defensive capabilities of HMS Enterprise as they already have been by her offensive capabilities.  It would have been even worse if this had happened some six months later when the Mark 16E missiles get into general service with much more potent warheads.

As for length, you're starting to approach David Weber's short story length and you're doing it well.  I could easily see this appearing in the next Honorverse story collection.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 10, 2014, 06:14:25 PM
Part XXVI: Penultimate Moves

When Enterprise surged forward Thomas ordered a cease fire. All of his pods, and a full two-thirds of the internal magazines had been expended. Thomas needed a brief respite to re-evaluate options. He still faced four destroyers and a light cruiser as escorts for what tactical called an assault transport. The dreadnaught-sized target had not joined in the missile exchange, and had not even been a significant factor in defense of the Solarian Task Group. Thomas was willing to let that ship be for now, but he still had five warships to kill.

The situation facing Captain Stoddard of the light cruiser SLNS Hartford was more vexing. Two battlecruisers and four cruisers dead, and he was left in tactical command of a shattered Task Group. He knew that he faced only a single Manticoran heavy cruiser, but so far it had killed anything that challenged it. He estimated his surviving force could, maybe, survive eight more of those forty-missile broadsides the cruiser seemed able to throw.

Despite that, the Task Group was under orders. As senior officer he had little choice but to attempt to carry out those orders. He knew precisely how the ‘investigation’ into his conduct would proceed if he failed to act aggressively. The destruction of the heavy cruisers and battlecruisers would be blamed on ‘incompetence in the face of inferior forces’. Any failure on his part to carry out the assigned mission would lead to charges of cowardice in the face of the enemy. Frontier Fleet wouldn’t execute him, but he would be given ample opportunity to die in combat. Death would undoubtedly be quick, and a relief when it came.

Aboard the assault transport a completely different problem existed. The captain of the transport thought he should have tactical command, even though the ship was only an attachment to the Task Group and not permanently assigned. Confusing the issue further, the transport carried a flag officer, General Bernard Smithson. General Smithson commanded the Frontier Fleet reaction brigade assigned to the transport and while he was not a naval officer, he was now the senior officer in space.

Enterprise had extended the range unmolested and now settled into a range where it was immune to return fire, but could use its decisive range advantage to engage the Solarians. Thomas didn’t know it, but he shared the Solarian estimation of how many salvos the remaining Frontier Fleet ships would take to kill. What he did know, and they didn’t, was that Enterprise had only four hundred missiles, ten salvos, left before here magazines were empty. There was almost no margin of error.

Thomas considered his options carefully and then decided, it was time to put “Sucker Punch” into operation. Turning to the communications station he passed his commands, “Charles, a message to Galileo please, this is what I need them to do…” The stage was set for the final act in the battle.

Enterprise fired a triple-broadside, one-hundred and twenty missiles. Unlike earlier salvos, this one was spread across multiple targets. Twenty missiles headed for each destroyer and a full forty roared down on the light cruiser. There was no following salvo and Captain Stoddard felt hope for the first time, it looked like the Manties had shot themselves dry. It was the only explanation for their failure to launch follow up salvos. If he could just survive this launch, he could complete the mission. He couldn’t catch the Manty cruiser, but if it lacked missiles he could at least run it off and allow the transport to land the Frontier Security reaction brigade. That would be enough.

The barrage from Enterprise was eighteen seconds from engagement range when the unthinkable happened. Missiles erupted from empty space only 2.3 light seconds from the Solarian forces. The broadside from Enterprise already taxed the capabilities of the Solarian ships, the new missiles made it unmanageable. Galileo joined the fight, and all of the missiles fired by her were Dragon’s Teeth. Thousands of missiles appeared on the screens of missile defense officers, and in some cases computer targeting failed completely.

SLNS Moat was the first destroyer to die.  The point defense and CM systems on Moat were among those that failed under the onslaught of real and simulated missiles. Only two of the missiles aimed at her were killed enroute, and both of those by the light cruiser. Eighteen other missiles roared down on the hapless destroyer and detonations lit space in actinic flashes. Scores of X-ray lasers punctured the thin hull of the destroyer and when the fusion reactor finally blew it merely lit up the expanding cloud of wreckage.

SLNS Portcullis lasted no longer. Like Moat, the systems aboard Portcullis had frozen under the load. Unlike her sister, Portcullis was not targeted exclusively by laser heads. In an effort to save the more valuable laser heads, Bob Cumberland had mixed in a number of contact nukes. One of these slipped through the sidewall of the destroyer and gutted her in a single instant. The bright flare of a fusion reactor escaping confinement added to the glare of the nuclear warhead.

The light cruiser SLNS Hartford fought to the end. Of forty missiles targeting her, Hartford killed eight. First to reach her were three contact nukes spread across the length of the light cruiser’s hull. They detonated just outside the sidewall and blast stripped the passive defense away. The hull rang with the tortured screams of the overloaded sidewall generators, but only for an instant. With no sidewall in place, Hartford was naked to the laser heads that followed. Six missiles fired as one and Hartford’s light armour was insufficient to the task. Numerous lasers shot completely through the hapless vessel, piercing both sides of her hull. When her fusion bottle let go, it was a mercy to her stricken crew.

SLN ships Battlement and Turret died as one. Sidewalls battered by the explosions engulfing their sisters, systems overloaded by the overwhelming fire, the crews panicked. Aboard Battlement, the Captain ordered a course reversal and a full power flight from the battle. Panicked flight was not the problem aboard Turret, there Captain and crew froze. Ten seconds after Battlement tried to flee, wedges touched and power rooms vaporized. The missiles that attacked each vessel were superfluous, both ships were already dead.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 10, 2014, 06:25:58 PM
Just imagine if the Sollies had faced a pair of RMN BC's and 'suitable escort'.  :)

A pair of Agamemnon-class BC(P)'s would have ended the battle in a single salvo. They could have put two thousand Mark 23's in space at once... and simply crushed the Sollies without concern. Waste of ammo actually, they could do the job with Mark 16's.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 11, 2014, 05:39:34 AM
Part XXVII: Shall we Dance?

The following excerpt from the Political Studies syllabus at the University of Landing, Manticore is offered to provide background information necessary to understand certain events critical to the final movements of Second Nuncio. As Naval Officers we must understand political movements, even as we must also strive to distance ourselves from involvement in such matters.

The ancient Earth General Carl von Clausewitz (19th Century CE) once wrote, "War is merely the continuation of politics by other means." The wisdom of this statement can be seen in how domestic political motivations pushed the People's Republic of Haven into an expansionist era that forced it to consume other star systems in order to feed it's own population's hungers.

At the far end of armed political discourse is the terrorist movement. It is not uncommon that such movements have been fronts. One side in a struggle for power using "true belief" in a cause to stir up emotion and support in order to gain power. This too we can see in the history of Haven. Indeed, the Aprilist Movement was widely respected for the dedication, honesty and integrity it brought to a ferocious fight against the Republic's Legislaturalist masters. The eventual betrayal of such 'true believers" can be seen in how quickly the Committee of Public Safety hunted the Aprilists to near extinction. Of the high-ranking Aprilists, only current Republican President Eloise Pritchard survived, and then only through assuming the protective coloration of a convert to the cause of the victors.

"Pure" terrorist movements have been rare in human history. Few causes elicit such true belief that no swerving from the cause can be tolerated, and no false belief be feigned. Of these, The Audubon Ballroom stands out. Marked by a ferocity in their attacks, and an utter disregard for political costs, the Ballroom would strike who and where it must. The cause of genetic slavery is too open a wound to be salved by any half measures.

Largely disbanded, the Ballroom now exists only in tattered fragments of it's former self. Even the notorious leader of the Ballroom, Jeremy X, has renounced terrorism in the interests of state politics. Jeremy X now serves as Minister of War in the Court of Queen Berry of Torch.

The innocuous hallmark of Jeremy X in numerous anti-slavery attacks was the phrase, "Shall we Dance".


Entry in the Saganami Island Advanced Tactics Course training material.


Thomas was growing more frustrated by the moment. It should have been obvious to anything smarter than a Sphynxian rabbit that the situation facing the Solarian assault transport was untenable. Her escorts were gone and she was facing a heavy cruiser she could neither out-run, nor out-fight. None of which explained why her captain was being so obstinate.

Thomas took a deep breath and began again, “Captain, let me make this simple. You have three choices, one you strike your wedge and surrender your vessel now. If you do so, I will guarantee your treatment as prisoners of war rather than treating you as pirates. We both know that your force was legally engaged in an act of piracy by invading Manticoran space. Two, I disable your vessel and execute you and your crew as slavers. Under the Chertwell Convention there is no way an Assault Transport can fail to qualify under the equipment clause. You know the history of Manticoran warships when we capture slavers. Your third choice is that we resume hostilities and I will destroy your vessel in short order. So Captain, do you surrender… or shall we dance?”

The image of the Solarian Captain on the viewscreen blanched. He mumbled meaningless phrases for a moment or two before stuttering, “I have to consult with the commanding General of the Reaction Brigade. I will contact you shortly.” The Solarian cut the connection without further comment. Thomas looked around the bridge in confusion, “Does anyone have any idea what that was all about?” Only Midshipman Davis, at Astrogation, looked thoughtful. The remainder of the crew looked as confused as their Captain.

Onboard the Frontier Fleet vessel the Captain had cut the connection and hurried from the Bridge. The Executive Officer had wanted to ask if the Captain required assistance, the Captain had suddenly looked deathly ill. Once free from the Bridge the Captain had proceeded with unseemly haste to his quarters. Once there, he had gathered his service pulser, placed it in his mouth and squeezed the trigger. The sound of his body slumping to the floor had alerted the Marine Sentry. Confusion now reigned onboard as the Executive Officer found himself in command of an Assault Transport, in hostile territory, unsupported and with a Captain who had just committed suicide. The Exec decided he had no choice but to consult with General Smithson.

The General was on the Flag Bridge, or Assault Operations Center as it was known on an assault ship, the XO decided that a report in person wasn’t required. It would be better if he remained on the bridge to steady the crew. He commed the General and reported the situation, “General? I respectfully report that the Captain appears to have committed suicide in his quarters. There was no evidence of foul play and he was alone when he succumbed to a close range pulser shot. Commander, Enterprise, has given us only a few minutes to decide if we surrender or attempt to fight. I must advise Sir, that fighting is not an option. The Manties have crushed the Task Group and we simply are not equipped to offer more than token resistance before being overwhelmed.”

General Smithson was confused, he was no naval officer and these matters were far outside his expertise. He stumbled for words, trying to buy time for his thoughts to settle, “Commander Enterprise? What type of name is that?” The XO was patient, explaining to a ground-pounder was always frustrating, “Sorry Sir. It’s a naval expression. I should have said Captain James Kirk of HMS Enterprise has issued an ultimatum. It boils down to surrender or die. Sir.” The XO wasn’t sure what he said that caused to General to sit bolt upright, but the General suddenly barked, “What was his name? What ship?”

The XO knew he was on shaky ground but had no idea why, it was easy to decide that simple honesty was the safest course. That wasn’t always a given in Frontier Fleet service. “Sir, the officer is Captain James T. Kirk of HMS Enterprise.” If the General had looked alarmed before, he looked terrified now. The General screamed into the pickup, “Send to Enterprise, we surrender. WE SURRENDER!” The XO was shaken now himself, he had no idea what had driven the General into panic. As the General reached slowly to close the comm channel the XO thought he could hear the man muttering “We never had a chance”.

The XO ordered the wedge struck, the acknowledged symbol of surrender between starships. To be safe he turned to the communication section, “Send to Enterprise, we surrender.”

The Second Battle of Nuncio ended with a second defeat for the Solarian League. Aboard the Mythos-class transport the General sat staring at the ship’s wallpaper on an unused terminal. There in all its glory was the coat of arms of the ship and her name arched above.

The General scarcely noticed the formalities as SLNS Romulus surrendered to Captain James T. Kirk of Enterprise.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 11, 2014, 11:54:14 AM
*snort!* Damn, that last bit was priceless.  Captain Kirk is most definitely living up to the legend of his 2-D namesake.  *wry chuckle* I can just imagine how news of this little encounter will play to the Solarian public.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 11, 2014, 04:41:16 PM
If one considers how Frontier Security recruits it's cannon fodder, we can assume certain things about how the Mythos-class is equipped. It will be a large ship equipped to move large quantities of live cargo. It will be equipped to rapidly load/unload said cargo. As FS troops are often not the most 'willing' of volunteers, it will feature measures to prevent the cargo from taking the ship.

In short, she is equipped as a slaver. Given how her Captain chose to eat his pistol after hearing an innocuous phrase, said Captain may not be as snowy-white as one would hope of a naval officer.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 11, 2014, 06:21:51 PM
I should point out...

I have been somewhat impatient to get to the point where SLNS Romulus surrendered to Enterprise. I didn't short anything getting there, but it did seem I couldn't type fast enough. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 12, 2014, 12:27:55 PM
I quite enjoyed this so far, especially Second Nuncio (first Nuncio being when HMS Hexapuma dealt with the "pirate" invasion).  It should be fascinating to see where Capt. Kirk and HMS Enterprise go from here; I could see them being one of the main guards of the Talbot Cluster when Tenth Fleet moves to invest Mesa.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 12, 2014, 05:27:28 PM
Part XVIII: Relief, Repair and Refit

Enterprise
made her way back to Pontifex in company with the captured SLNS Romulus. The surrender agreement had specifically stated that Romulus’ crew was not to wipe the computer cores, this left Romulus in all respects immediately suitable for service. The Nuncio Systems Defence Force had little use for such a behemoth as a naval vessel, but perhaps it might see service as a replacement for the disable battlecruiser that currently served in the role of a stationary orbital fortress. That decision could wait for the future, for now Thomas had more pressing concerns on his mind.

The battle for Nuncio had left Enterprise damaged. The damage was not severe, but Enterprise would require her aft beta-ring be rebalanced before Thomas was fully confident of taking the ship through hyperspace. In an emergency, it could be done now, but prudence declared that it would make more sense to call one of the RMN’s repair ships forward and be sure of safety. The damage to Enterprise meant that the docking bay for Galileo Seven was unusable, so Thomas sent the LAC ahead to Pontifex carrying reports to be sent by dispatch vessel to Rembrandt. From Rembrandt the reports could be forwarded to 10th Fleet Headquarters on Spindle.

The relief of Enterprise in the Nuncio System began four days after the capture of SLNS Romulus. Tactical reported a hyperspace emergence detected directly on the arrival point designated for ships coming from the ‘inner ring’ of the cluster. Thomas was about to order a standard challenge via gravitics, when Enterprise herself was challenged by the new arrival. The new arrival announced herself as the frigate NNS Princelet. Nuncian officials were vague as to the identity of the ship, acknowledging that it was a Nuncian vessel, indeed the new flagship, but providing no other details. The frigate headed in-system at 540 gravities, all but ensuring that it had received Manticoran technology, but Tactical was having a tough time figuring out just what the ship was.

The answer, when it came, was both shock and relief. NNS Princelet was the former pirate ‘Prince Roger’. The vessel had completed its Rembrandt refit, but not started its trials when the dispatch boat from Nuncio had arrived bearing the Code Zulu message. Princelet had provisioned immediately and taken on board a full store of missiles before making a rapid transit to Nuncio. It was not even known if the little vessel could fire its weapons when it departed for its new home system. It had been hoped, if nothing else, that Princelet would be able to transfer its missiles to Enterprise and allow the cruiser to employ them to best effect.

The refit of Princelet had followed a decidedly current Manticoran philosophy. Princelet carried few beam or missile weapons in her broadsides, but they were far larger than any normal frigate would mount. She had only three missile tubes in each broadside, but they were of the exact same type as Enterprise’s own. The off-bore capability meant all six missiles could be fired at any target, and the range afforded by the RMN’s Mark 16 missile meant the little ship could outrange almost anything she faced short of modern capitol ships. Her broadside grazer and laser mounts were older designs, but older designs from RMN heavy cruisers. Most importantly for Enterprise, she was capable of carrying six missile pods tractored to her hull. She carried those pods now, and all were full of Mark 23 missiles. The frigate would never be able to effectively use the Mark 23, lacking the sensor capacity, but Thomas gratefully accepted their transfer to Enterprise.

Thomas was impressed, both with the speed of the refit, and what had been accomplished. Few pirates would enjoy meeting the little warship, and even a Solarian destroyer would find her a tough opponent. Most importantly, for the Talbot Cluster, was the fact the vessel was well within the capability of current local yards to build and support. Currently only the Rembrandt yards could support the modern Manticoran weapons, but that was rapidly changing. Very soon, the Cluster would become an active participant in its own defence.

Ten days after Princelet arrived, a more substantial relief force showed up. Captain Tremaine arrived with CruDiv 96.1. Scotty was relieved to see Enterprise intact and in possession of the system. Scotty announced that a Fleet repair ship and destroyer escort were waiting nearby in hyperspace; repairs to Enterprise would begin as soon as the waiting vessels were summoned. The Captain of Princelet offered to collect the support force, but this was turned down, as the escorting destroyers would have no record of the frigate as a friendly vessel. Scotty sent one of his own heavy cruisers to collect the support force.

Twenty-eight hours in the hands of the repair ship saw Enterprise declared ready for the trip to Rembrandt. She would be accompanied to Rembrandt by Princelet, which needed to complete its trials. A heavy cruiser from CruDiv 96.1 assumed responsibility for the safety of Nuncio. Captain Tremaine announced that after the relief of Nuncio, his orders were to ‘rejoin 10th Fleet as soon as practicable’. CruDiv 96.1, short one heavy cruiser, would be departing for Spindle as soon as possible. The repair ship and destroyer escort stayed in Nuncio for the time being, taking advantage of the opportunity to conduct more extensive repairs to the local LAC force than Enterprise had been able to accomplish herself. They would proceed independently to Rembrandt once the work was accomplished.

As Enterprise broke orbit, Thomas couldn’t shake the belief that Captain Tremaine and other officers had been holding something back.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 12, 2014, 07:42:04 PM
Part XIX: A Change of Image

Arrival at Rembrandt would see both Princelet and Enterprise turned over to yard hands. Princelet would complete her trials. Enterprise would have more extensive repairs done, including her aft hammerhead and the replacement of the destroyed beta-squared node. Thomas would also discover just what Captain Tremaine hadn’t told him at Nuncio. Hearing of the Battle of Spindle from Henri Kreitzman, the Talbot Quadrant’s Minister of War shocked Thomas and he remarked, “We should have been there”. Kreitzman’s response was blunt, “Don’t be silly Captain! Do you think one cruiser at Spindle would have made any difference? More difference than your ship and crew did at Nuncio? Nonsense! I’ll wager that any cruiser Captain at Spindle would tell you he would rather have been with you at Nuncio. I know that both Commodore Oversteegen and Captain Tremaine feel that way.”

Kreitzman continued, “Captain, I understand your impulse to be with the Fleet when something like this happens. But Thank God you weren’t! We needed you at Nuncio. You protected Imperial citizens and the integrity of Imperial space. There is no higher duty of a naval officer Captain, I will thank you to remember that!” Thomas was shocked at the vehemence in the Minister’s rebuke and it showed. Kreitzman softened and explained, “Captain Kirk, may I call you Thomas?” Thomas hesitated for a moment before nodding, he wasn’t quite sure. Kreitzman noticed only the nod, “Thomas, think of what the people of the Quadrant see of the two actions. At Spindle, it’s Manticorans fighting for their lives. Sure, Spindle and the Quadrant will be affected, but it is a major Manticoran operation. At Nuncio, it’s Enterprise fighting alone for a whole planet of Quadrant citizens, and by extension, the whole Quadrant. Nuncio is smaller, more personal, people will relate better. Get used to it Captain, as word spreads you will be a hero to many here.”

Thomas reflected that Admiral Harrington had warned him about things like this, and yet this had nothing to do with the old entertainments. Kreitzman seemed to read his mind, “Captain, I know of the old cubes. I’ve actually seen some of them; one of my staff is a fan.” Thomas winced, still not completely comfortable with the idea of the comparison. Kreitzman chuckled, “Thomas, you know what she told me when she handed them over? She told me ‘Our Enterprise is better, and our Captain Kirk is better looking anyway’. Our Enterprise, our Captain Kirk. The people of the Quadrant have claimed you Captain. Like it or not you are now a symbol to the people here.” Thomas groaned now, decidedly unhappy at what he was hearing, “Sir I’m not a symbol. I’m a serving Officer of Her Majesty.” Kreitzman smiled, “Yes you are Captain, and right now one of your biggest services is to be a symbol of what a Naval Officer can be.”

To Thomas’ relief the conversation turned to the repairs to Enterprise, and then Henri Kreitzman wanted a full recounting of the Second Battle of Nuncio. There were some advantages to being Minister of War after all.

Thomas was more than a little dismayed that the aft hammerhead repairs would actually involve the modifications that would allow Galileo to use her weapons while still technically aboard Enterprise. He wasn’t completely mollified to hear that both BuShips and BuWeaps had signed off on the work, they wouldn’t be serving aboard Enterprise after the work was done. The good news was that the work could be done concurrently with the beta node replacement and that the modification was actually modular. A section of the aft hammerhead would be cut away and the new section would be attached in its place. The whole job was no more than a job of two weeks work for the Rembrandt shipyards.

The crew enjoyed a two-week shore leave while work was completed. There was always a duty crew aboard, but off-duty the Captain and crew were feted as heroes of the Quadrant. The story of the Battle of Nuncio seemed to grow day by day until Thomas was sure that someone would soon claim Enterprise had destroyed the entire Solarian Navy while most of her crew was at lunch.

Fourteen days later Enterprise was released by the yard. Thomas had seen the computer imagery and thought himself prepared for the changes to his ship, but he was wrong. Enterprise looked… odd. The upper half of her aft hammerhead no longer showed the straight lines of a proper warship, a curved clamshell hangar for the LAC now filled that space. When the clamshell opened Galileo would be fully exposed, yet still in her docking cradle. Even the docking cradle was new, it was now fitted to a turntable that would allow Galileo to be rotated into firing position, or rotated back to mate up with the reloading and personnel tubes that normally serviced the LAC.

Thomas had been concerned that the modification would cost CM tubes or PD laser clusters. BuShips had solved the problem neatly by pushing clamshell and platform slightly aft. That made room for the CM tubes, the laser clusters were actually installed on angled supports to either side of the LAC turntable. In combat, simply opening the clamshell would allow the laser clusters a clear field of fire. This is going to draw even more comparison to the cubes Thomas thought; I wonder why it seems to bother me less each day?

Enterprise left dock and began a series of trials of the new fit. The crew of Galileo 7 wasn’t very happy, they had arrived only a few days earlier aboard the repair ship returning from Nuncio. They had largely missed out on the celebrations and the invitations to parties that the rest of Enterprise’s crew had enjoyed. The remainder of the crew was more than willing to recount the various celebrations so that their long delayed crewmates would know just what they had missed.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Volkodav July 12, 2014, 11:14:07 PM
Really enjoying this.

I must be honest, I had never heard of Honour Harrington before reading your work here but now am definitely going to get into it especially as I expect to have plenty of reading time coming up.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 13, 2014, 01:52:27 AM
Part XXX: The Way Home

The refit trials of Enterprise took 18 days, in part because Enterprise crewmembers were frequently seconded to assist in the weapons trials and tuning of NNS Princelet. Three crew members in particular were in high demand, Sam Jennings from Engineering, Bob Cumberland from Tactical and the Bosun, Amanda Carling. The Chief Engineer and Tactical Officer had specific knowledge of the modern equipment fitted to the frigate, the Bosun’s long years of service meant that she remembered the older beam weapons installed in the broadside. Of course, all three were also vital to the trials of Enterprise which caused frequent interruptions in the trials of one ship or another.

There were unanticipated advantages to the new configuration. For one, Enterprise had needed to be at a virtual standstill to recover Galileo before the damage. The LAC bay had provided room for the lighter craft, but only barely. Trying to thread the needle while both ships were under weigh was just too tight. The more open platform allowed for greater tolerances and a more useful docking envelope.

The second advantage was equally unanticipated. Shortly after leaving the repair dock a large cargo shuttle was sent to Enterprise. Thomas objected that Enterprise couldn’t handle a shuttle that large, the shuttle pilot had brusquely asked “What’s wrong with the bloody great bay we installed in the ass end of your ship?” Galileo hadn’t been aboard just yet so the shuttle pilot had landed sideways across the platform. This allowed the LAC access tubes to reach rearward and mate with the locks on the shuttle.

As always, there was a few minor corrections or adjustments that needed to be attended to after a major modification. Thomas had a few minor modifications he wanted made to Enterprise as well and he enquired at the Yard how much the work would cost, none of his minor mods were operational requirements and would have to come out of ship’s funds. The Yard Master listened to Thomas’s requirements and then said he and his boys would throw in their time for free. There was nothing in Thomas’ requirements that was more than a few minutes work for the robots individually and Thomas’ design sketches were easily converted to the data the robots needed to fabricate the new parts. “Besides,” he said, “Me and the boys will be able to dine out for weeks if we can say we did Captain Kirk and Enterprise a favour.” Both men shared a laugh, the fame of Enterprise and her Captain was actually growing, not receding, as time went by. The Yard Master was undoubtedly more than right.

Two days saw adjustments and modifications done and Enterprise ready for space and the trip to Spindle where she was ordered to proceed “Once ready in all respects for normal duties.” The departure of Enterprise was considered news-worthy so hundred of recorders had been set up to capture everything from the moment she transferred to internal power in the Yard docks, to finally breaking orbit. Thomas wondered what they would make of the show he had arranged with the Chief Engineer, turning to his communications panel he set the wheels in motion. “Chief, it’s time. Make ready to get under weigh if you would.” The image of the Chief smiled, he had been waiting for this moment, “Aye Sir, systems coming live… Now!”

For a moment nothing happened, then a carefully scripted set of actions took place. First, the running lights snapped on in the flashing pattern of a ship getting under weigh. Seconds later Thomas’ modifications kicked in. A series of floodlights lit the gleaming white hull of Enterprise, highlighting certain markings. First to light up was the top section of the forward hammerhead where the light splashed across the marking “CA-458” in bold black lettering and the equally bold, but curved “HMS ENTERPRISE” written below. Similar lights then illuminated the legend “STAR EMPIRE OF MANTICORE” on both hulls sides, with the lettering immediately aft of the blazon of the Royal Manticoran Navy. Floodlights played across the name “ENTERPRISE” just below the LAC bay, and then a faint blue light lit the forward lower radar array. As a final touch, red lights played across both impeller rings in a rotating pattern. The lights on the alpha and beta nodes in each ring rotated in opposite directions.

Enterprise advanced slowly out of the dock, as if feeling her way into space again. Once she was a thousand kilometres clear of obstructions, Thomas had the wedge brought up and Enterprise leapt to 570 gravities, sprinting for the hyper-limit. Behind her on Rembrandt, the people knew it had all been show. The lights would be turned off soon enough, and the smart paint re-programmed to a more normal pattern. They didn’t care, the show had been for them, people of the Talbot Quadrant, and their Enterprise had delivered.

: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 13, 2014, 02:00:59 AM
Volkodav, glad you are enjoying!

You will find that Honor Harrington can consume a great deal of time. Last time I calculated, there was something in the area of 20,000 pages in the paperback books. Should keep you busy for a while. :)

I am truly humbled if my writing will act to introduce you to an author who has brought me so much enjoyment in the twenty-plus years since "On Basilisk Station" was first published.

Current stats: 27,315 words on Page 53.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 13, 2014, 06:14:40 AM
Part XXXI: Spindle, redux

Arrival at Spindle made Thomas feel as if several years had passed, even though it had only been a few months. 10th Fleet had faced down the Solarian League and crushed SLN Task Force 496 under Fleet Admiral Crandall. Despite the dressing down he had received from Henri Kreitzman, Thomas still felt he had let the Fleet down my not being present. Any such feeling was short-lived however when Enterprise rendezvoused with HMS Artemis, Admiral Gold Peak’s flagship. Thomas was just about to order the running lights of Enterprise ‘flashed’ in the standard salute to a superior vessel, much to his surprise Artemis flashed her running lights instead, accompanied by a comm message from Admiral Gold Peak, “Yours is the honour Enterprise.”

The rendezvous had occurred well short of Spindle orbit, and after relinquishing the position of honour to HMS Enterprise, Artemis was on the comm again. Thomas found himself in contact once more with Cynthia Lecter, “Hello J… Thomas. I have a ‘request’ from both the Admiral and Governor General Medusa. A dispatch boat left Rembrandt four hours after you did, it carried the news reports of your departure. In the words of the GG, ‘Light her up dammit!’ The Admiral was less explicit, but the basic content is the same.” Thomas once again faced that… interesting smile; he was also beginning to regret the impulse that had lead to the show at Rembrandt. He smiled back at Cynthia, “Of course. I will have the Chief Engineer make the required adjustments as soon as is possible.” Turning to the comm panel in the command chair he contacted Engineering, “Chief? How long would it take to set up the light show and markings we used at Rembrandt? We are requested to make that sort of appearance as we make planetfall.”

The Chief had a street-urchin’s grin as he touched one control before announcing, “Done Sir!” From the main comm screen Cynthia gasped, then squealed with delight and gushed, “It’s simply wonderful Jim, simply wonderful!” In the Flag Quarters of Artemis Vice Admiral Gold Peak sat sharing a companionable mug of Old Tillman. Governor General Medusa looked at her companion and noted the approval in the eyes of Michelle Henke, Admiral Gold Peak. “Michelle, you seem to approve of this display. I mean, beyond the obvious public relations windfall it represents” Michelle Henke to a brief sip of her beer to give herself time to properly form an answer, “I do Ma’am. Sorry Estelle. I know you said first names in private. Cruiser Captains need a certain, panache. You can’t teach it, but the good ones have it. Our Captain Kirk is one of the good ones.” Estelle Matsuko grinned at her friend, “Oh, I understand that Michelle. The ‘good ones’ as you call them can get a crew and ship to work miracles. You think James Kirk and Enterprise fit that category?”

Estelle Matsuko had her own opinion, but she wanted to hear why an experienced naval officer shared it. “Yes Estelle, I think they do. You already start to hear things on the streets or in restaurants ‘The actor they got to play Captain Kirk looks nothing like him, why couldn’t they cast the part better?’ or ‘Why didn’t they make Enterprise look more like a real starship?’” Michelle Henke grinned, “He doesn’t know it, but he has already subverted those old cubes and made them, and their legend, his own. His crew will do the impossible, and he will weep in his soul for their losses. But they can’t fail, it’s unthinkable. He is Captain James T. Kirk of Enterprise. That combination never fails.” Michelle Henke looked sad now, “We’ll punish him for his ability, and that of his crew, you know. We always do. We will give him impossible tasks, and expect success. In part we will do it because we too believe.” Estelle looked grim now too. “Just like they did to Honor,” she said softly. Her companion nodded, “Yes, just as they did to Honor. The costs will be similar as well. They always are.”

Enterprise made planetfall and Thomas found himself celebrated once again as a hero of the Quadrant. It made him uncomfortable, but the Governor General had been adamant, “You’ll take it Captain, because the Quadrant needs it. It’s not you they are celebrating, it’s life. As far as burden’s of command go Captain, this one is lighter than most.” “Besides,” and the Governor General had looked sly now, “you will need a companion for most of these social engagements. I do believe that Captain Lecter happens to be available.” Thomas had seen Cynthia Lecter several times since and it had been, enjoyable. He wasn’t sure though about how she kept ‘slipping’ and calling him Jim. Then again, he wasn’t sure if he actually objected. It was all getting rather confused.

Three weeks after planetfall at Spindle a dispatch boat arrived from Manticore. The message it had for Enterprise was simple, “Her Imperial Majesty requests and requires the presence of Captain (S.G.) James Thomas Kirk aboard Her Majesty’s Cruiser Enterprise as soon as is practicable. HMS Enterprise is hereby detached from other duties in order to comply. Signed, Hamish Alexander. First Lord of the Admiralty.”

Enterprise took her leave from Spindle in much the same way she had Rembrandt. Thomas found it was actually becoming easier.

He wondered if that was a good thing.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 13, 2014, 07:21:40 AM
Damn, you're having a lot of fun with this and it's great fun for an established Honor-verse fan (yes, I was hooked from the start, but I already knew David Weber was good from his earlier works).  It will be most interesting to see where you take this story from here.

BTW, I can also recommend David Weber's fantasy series, too, and not just for good, solid story-telling.  Chapter 20 (IIRC) of the third book in the series, Windrider's Oath contains the best discussion of free-will and omniscience I've seen. 
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 13, 2014, 11:47:59 AM
I'm not much of a reader of fantasy, but I have enjoyed other works of David Weber. Lucky for the Star Empire that Dahak is not a unit of the SLN.

Anything that can carry SD's as parasites should be left alone. :)

Not much left in this particular story.  I wonder if HMS Enterprise will reappear?
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 14, 2014, 01:23:15 AM
Part XXXII: Homecoming?

Enterprise had priority transit through the Lynx Terminus, and yet nobody complained. Thomas was starting to understand what people had been telling him, people could relate on a personal level to the victory of Enterprise in Nuncio. 10th Fleet had won a larger victory, but there were dozens of ships and even more commanding officers. Only Admiral Gold Peak was recognizable, but her proximity to the throne made her unapproachable as well. Thomas was a commoner, and if it the action was smaller, it was no less desperate. It was more on the scale that people could understand.

The arrival in Manticoran space seemed anti-climatic; there was no welcoming committee. Thomas wasn’t disappointed, but after the welcome at Rembrandt and Spindle it did seem as if something was missing. Then it struck him. Everything was missing, there was no picket, no civilian ships transiting the Junction…. nothing. Enterprise was as alone as any starship can be in a heavily travelled sector of space. Thomas was about to query Tactical when the icons of a dozen stupendous SD’s sprang into existence. It was the signal for dozen’s, hundreds of other ships to bring up their drives as well.

The main viewscreen lit up with the image of Fleet Admiral Alexander-Harrington, “Enterprise, yours is the honour. Home Fleet has been charged by Her Majesty to ensure your safe arrival at Manticore. The Fleet will conform to your movements.” Thomas was dumbfounded, surely Her Majesty hadn’t meant this! An honour guard perhaps, but all of Home Fleet? Thomas noticed the Andermani and Grayson icons in the Fleet, this wasn’t even Home Fleet, it was Eighth Fleet… the most powerful naval force in the known galaxy. Apparently, today it felt its job was to escort a single cruiser through friendly space.

Thomas turned to his Astrogation station and queried Midshipman Davis, “Samantha, do we have a Fleet course for Manticore?” Samantha Davis didn’t hesitate, “Aye Sir! Course is 316, Mark 29 at 425 gravities.” Thomas was pleased, apparently the young Midshipman had adjusted to the presence of Home Fleet quite quickly. Either that or she had run an alternate course to include the possibility. Both were signs of a young officer taking responsibility for her position on the bridge.

Nearing Manticore the Fleet broke away to resume their normal station. HMS Enterprise and HMS Imperator both continued toward orbit. Rafe Cardones came on the comm for Thomas, “Captain Kirk, Her Grace has asked me to update you. You both will be attending the meeting at Mount Royal Palace with Her Majesty. Her Grace has separate business on the planet as well, so she will be taking a shuttle to her residence and arriving at the Palace via aircar. Your shuttle should proceed directly to the Admiralty shuttle port where a car will be waiting for you. Hopefully Captain we will have a chance to catch up after your audience.” The data package included with the message listed a full itinerary and all details that Thomas would be required to know to make things run more smoothly.

Thomas was grateful that no one had asked for yet another light show from Enterprise, or at least he was until he noticed in the ‘Dress and Uniform” details section that Enterprise herself was listed, an unusual inclusion. He checked the details on that section, and there it was, “HMS Enterprise is directed to display full colours, markings and lighting as per pattern established in Talbott Quadrant.” So, that was that, Enterprise was to put on a display again. Thomas had a sneaking suspicion that this would become the normal pattern rather than the more mundane markings of other vessels. Thomas commed the Chief Engineer, “Samuel, light her up. We’ve been ordered to put on another show.” Samuel grinned, “There we go Sir. All prettied up for the cameras.”

After settling Enterprise into orbit Thomas left the ship in the capable hands of his Exec and proceeded to his quarters. Undoubtedly, Regina would fuss over him for some time. It was not every day that an officer was summoned to an audience with Her Majesty and his steward was unlikely to stint in any way on the preparations of her Captain. Thomas wasn’t disappointed, it was over 90 minutes before Regina pronounced him fit to be seen.

Regina would be making the trip down to Manticore with her Captain, just in case there were any last minute adjustments required to her charge. Once again Regina lead Thomas past the boat bay and headed aft to the LAC bay and the cutter. Thomas stopped in the passageway, “Regina, we are taking a shuttle to the surface not a cutter. We need to go to the Boat Bay.” Regina looked apologetic, “Actually Sir, Galileo has been launched and one of the shuttles has been moved aft. Commander Durling cleared the movements with Traffic Control.” Thomas started to explain that things like this needed to cleared through him, and then he stopped. In certain circumstances the crew would do what they thought best to project the right image of Enterprise or her Captain. The Captain of Enterprise departed via the aft bay, that was now a ship’s tradition. It was not Thomas’s place to argue with that.

As the shuttle plummeted into the atmosphere, Thomas couldn’t help but wonder what the future, both immediate and longer term, would bring.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 14, 2014, 05:05:05 AM
I'm not much of a reader of fantasy, but I have enjoyed other works of David Weber. Lucky for the Star Empire that Dahak is not a unit of the SLN.

Anything that can carry SD's as parasites should be left alone. :)
Though I somehow cannot see Dahak putting up with the corrupt mess that the Solarian League has become; he would've straightened things out rather earlier.  People tend listen when someone like that makes comments and suggestions.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 14, 2014, 05:21:16 AM
True that Dahak would not have appreciated what became of Humanity. And yes, when a sentient being the size of a planetary body makes a suggestion, it is a good idea to listen. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 14, 2014, 07:40:06 AM
Part XXXIII: To Boldly Go…

Thomas was increasingly numb as his trip to Mount Royal Palace progressed. Thomas had virtually no contact with the aristocracy prior to The Academy, and only limited experience with them since. No Captain could be completely isolated from the highest levels of Manticoran society to be sure, but it wasn’t as if he regularly attended the same functions they did.

Now, he would leap right past several levels of that same aristocracy and meet Her Majesty herself. The whole idea seemed ludicrous to Thomas, as if he was going to be found out at any moment and decried as an imposter. Of course that didn’t happen, and in short order his aircar landed on the Palace platform. Thomas found himself under the scrutiny of Palace Security, The Steadholder’s Guard and element’s of the Monarch’s Own Regiment. Stingships weaved intricate patterns in the air above the Palace and more treecats than Thomas had ever seen in one place seemed to have free run of the grounds.

Treecats had emerged as a major security feature in the wake of several assassinations, so Thomas had expected them to be present… but so many?

One ‘cat in particular seemed to take a peculiar interest in Thomas and followed him at a distance of approximately 2 metres. This ‘cat apparently didn’t know how, or chose not, to sign. When the attention it was paying Thomas was noticed by Palace Security one of the officers asked his ‘cat if there was any problem with the newcomer. Thomas stopped cold, hands away from his sides. He wanted to appear as unthreatening as possible while Palace Security asked any questions they wanted. The officer with the ‘cat reported that ‘Dreams of Questions’ found the newcomer interesting, but not threatening in any way. Dreams was going to follow for a while, the ‘mind glow’ of the newcomer was something Dreams wished to taste for a little while longer.

Palace Security relaxed when it was obvious there was no threat, but several of the officers who had been adopted watched Thomas and Dreams as they walked away. This wasn’t normal behaviour in a ‘cat, and anything out of the ordinary was worth watching. Professional paranoia was a hallmark of a good Security Officer, and the merely good had no place in Palace Security.

Thomas had expected to be lead to The Blue Hall, the Throne Room of the Palace, or perhaps Queen Caitrin’s Hall. Instead, he was lead to King Michael’s Tower, the private retreat of Her Majesty and her family. Dreams of Questions continued to follow and nobody seemed to notice, or care if they did. At the entrance to King Michael’s Tower there was a further security checkpoint to be passed, and both the nearby sentries and the imposing figure at the door itself were accompanied by ‘cats. Six sets of eyes assessed Thomas, his assigned escort… and Dreams of Questions. Not a word was said, but Thomas apparently passed muster. The door guardian saluted and said, “You are expected Sir. Please enter.” The man then froze back into complete immobility, a statue would have shown more emotion.

Thomas stepped through the open door and was announced by the major-domo, “Captain James Thomas Kirk of Her Majesty’s Cruiser Enterprise and his companion, Dreams of Questions.” Thomas momentarily started, he wasn’t even aware that the ‘cat had followed him though the door. He was about to explain when he saw Her Majesty rising to approach him, hand extended. In Thomas, the impulse to salute warred with the simple courtesy of responding to the extended hand. Courtesy won out and Thomas shook hands with his monarch, Empress Elizabeth I.

 “Welcome Captain Kirk, I wasn’t aware you had been adopted. Please introduce your friend.” Elizabeth smiled, but she looked a bit confused. Thomas turned slightly to the ‘cat, “Apologies Your Highness, I haven’t been adopted. This little fellow starting following me at the landing platform and has stayed with me ever since.”

From Elizabeth’s shoulder, her treecat Ariel observed the unadopted ‘cat. Thomas hadn’t noticed anyone else was in the room with him and the Empress, but now he saw Nimitz and Samantha, Nimitz’s mate. The two ‘cats padded over to sit near the feet of Elizabeth. Thomas was vaguely aware that the ‘cats were communicating on a level no human could fully understand. When he looked up he noticed Earl White Haven, First Lord of the Admiralty and his wife, Fleet Admiral Honor Alexander-Harrington approaching. Thomas offered a respectful “Sir, Ma’am” and a nod of the head to the two others and joined them in watching the ‘cats.

Nimitz signed something to his person, and all the other humans seemed to understand. No one offered to translate for Thomas though, and given such august personages there seemed to be no way to sate his curiosity. Thomas contented himself with introducing himself to Ariel and Samantha and greeting Nimitz. He offered each cat a hand to shake, but only a nod of the head to Dreams of Questions. Dreams was a ‘wild’ ‘cat and human conventions were not observed by wild ‘cats.

Honor studied Thomas as he greeted each ‘cat. The message from Dreams was simple, Thomas Kirk was no danger, but he was not whole. Dreams sensed that Thomas was denying his true nature, something that any ‘cat would find almost impossible to accomplish. Dreams found the experience... fascinating. It was an aspect of the two-legs that ‘cats rarely saw, and it almost always drew their attention. Honor wondered how she might help Thomas, or if help was not possible whether it was safe to leave him in command of a cruiser.

She liked Thomas, but command had higher responsibilities that could not be ignored.
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 14, 2014, 08:04:16 AM
And now the treecats make an appearance; I daresay they are going to effect a few more changes in Thomas' life, likely ones he'd never expect.  They excel at that (as David Weber's stories of both Stephanie Harrington's and Honor Harrington's impressing have made clear - and let us not forget the first treecat to impress a princess and what that lead to).
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 14, 2014, 09:59:21 AM
Part XXXIV: Where no ‘cat has gone before

Elizabeth lead her guests to a small sitting area where refreshments had been laid out. There were various small food items, including a small bowl of celery for the ‘cats. As the bowl was not empty, Thomas surmised that it had just arrived, but he would have bet that no one had entered or left the room. Apparently at this level, the stewards had mastered the skills of teleportation. Nimitz let out a small “bleek!” and signed a message to his person. Honor chuckled and turned to Thomas, “The coming and goings of stewards apparently perplexes you Thomas. Nimitz sensed your confusion over how the refreshments had arrived without anyone entering the room.”

Hamish Alexander turned to his wife, “He’s of sufficient rank. Please put the poor man out of his misery and explain it to him.” Honor laughed heartily, “I will Hamish, I will! It’s just that it’s always so much fun to see the reaction to something that should have been obvious. I know I was dumbfounded when it was first explained to me.” Turning back to Thomas she explained, “You see Thomas, all stewards attend certain Foreign Service training courses. We don’t advertise it, but the last line of defence for our senior officers or dignitaries have always been the stewards. These people are so often overlooked, or completely ignored, people just don’t observe them. Most stewards never serve in any capacity other than stewards, but the ability to pass through a room full of people and just not be seen has certain advantages.”

Thomas sank back in his chair. Yes, it was obvious that it should have caught his attention. The way the stewards moved, the silence when they opened a hatch by hand, these were the skills of an infiltration team member. Even the way they cared for their charge, utmost concern for the safety and well-being of their chosen officer. Given time, Thomas was sure that he would figure out just how stewards selected who they would serve. However, that was for another time. Turning back to the Fleet Admiral, “I see Ma’am. It should have been obvious. I suppose that even those of us who are served tend to not look too close. Thank you for telling me.” Honor smiled at him, “Please keep it under your beret Thomas. As I said, it isn’t something for public consumption.” Thomas nodded, “Of course Ma’am. Besides, who would believe me?” Thomas grinned at his superior officer.

Elizabeth decided it was time to move the conversation back to the point of this visit, “Captain, in recent years I have made it my practice to personally thank those officers who have served in such exemplary fashion. There have been times I was unable to publicly acknowledge such contributions to the Star Kingdom, but I have always tried to ensure that my feelings were known. Even when I couldn’t show that thanks publicly.” She smiled a sad smile at memories of another time, “There will be no problem with public acknowledgement in your case. Nevertheless, the private expression of thanks has become a sort of tradition, one I wish to uphold. After all, Monarchies run on tradition.”

Thomas hesitated then stuttered, “You Majesty. Thanks aren’t necessary, I was only carrying out my orders and doing my duty!” Elizabeth gave a wry smile to Honor, “Nonsense Captain! Yes, it was your duty, and yes, you were following your orders. It’s how you did your duty and how you followed your orders that is the question.” Elizabeth grinned, “Let me tell you something Captain. I have grown quite used to certain of my officers trying to deny me the privilege of showing my appreciation. You Captain have my thanks, but be warned. You are not yet of sufficient rank to get away with what certain of your elders have!” Despite the stern words, there was a whimsical gleam in the Empresses eyes, it was met with open laughter from Hamish and Honor.

Honor turned to Thomas, “Take the warning seriously Captain. The longer you deny her the little pleasures, the more likely Your Queen will find some way of making you pay in the end. Better to take your lumps now and get it over with.” All the treecats in the room let out a ringing “BLEEK!” and all the humans except Thomas laughed. He was more than a little perplexed at how easily these people got along. Somehow, he too was being drawn into the web.

Elizabeth interjected again, “Honor is right Captain. In the end, I will have my way. Best to just put up with my little quirks now.” Elizabeth smiled, “Captain, it has been decided that you will receive The Manticore Cross. There will be a formal presentation ceremony later, but congratulations. I have decided on a more personal honour.” The Empress turned to Honor, “Dame Honor would you care to assist?” Honor sobered, “Of course, Your Majesty”

Honor rose and walked a short distance where she collected a small red pillow and a sword, “Thomas would you stand please, then kneel on the pillow?” Thomas stood, and then kneeled as requested. Elizabeth took the sword from Honor and approached Thomas. She turned to Thomas, “Captain, you go by Thomas now? Is that how you choose to be known for the future?”

Kirk thought for only a moment, “Actually Ma’am. I think I have outgrown the need for ‘Thomas’. Please call me James, or just Jim.”

A loud buzzing purr filled the room; Jim Kirk turned his head and locked eyes with Dreams of Questions. The ‘cat wasted no time in leaping onto his outstretched arms.

Ceremonies would have to wait. Jim Kirk was whole again.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 14, 2014, 09:59:51 AM
The End.

At least for the time being. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 14, 2014, 12:18:00 PM
Ah, yes, between treecats and her majesty, yet another officer's life and career are majorly altered.  *wry chuckle* I do reckon Honor is quite speaking from experience in her advice to the good captain; she does, after all, have experience with the "whim of iron" of two different planetary heads of state.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox July 14, 2014, 06:10:07 PM
If you delay Her Majesty, she will just do something bigger later. :)
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 15, 2014, 08:28:53 PM
If you delay Her Majesty, she will just do something bigger later. :)
And she has such a large box of "toys" to work with.  I suspect Jim Kirk is going to become rather better acquainted with Adm. Gold Peak and her academy roomie, Dame Honor, than he previously has been.
: Re: Let's be about it
: Silver Fox August 04, 2014, 11:20:06 AM
OK!

Damned near everyone who know Honor Harrington and has read this has told me to submit it to Baen Books... so I will.

The story needs to be edited to fit the timeline that has been established a bit better, and some plot points will have to change slightly.

The main part of the story will now be set between Jul 24, 1921 PD – Battle of Manticore and Feb, 1922 PD - Battle of Spindle, pretty much as it had done. That does force some minor changes though, like how Enterprise got left needing a Captain. My original is kind of screwed up on that point. I also need to do some fact checking. :)

I hope you people are happy! LOL!
: Re: Let's be about it
: deathjester August 05, 2014, 05:35:41 AM
Brilliant!  Good luck Sir, and remember that you have a cadre of fans right here!!
: Re: Let's be about it
: elmayerle July 11, 2018, 06:51:39 AM
For those who care, David Weber's novel concluding the war with the Solar League, Uncompromising Honor is due out in October of 2018.  I've read the eARC and it does wrap up that set of plot threads most thoroughly, though there are plenty more left open and a new one started with a unexpected budding romance between a couple of the younger characters (talk about the "Princess and the Pauper"!  It will be a Test!).

I won't spoil it, save to say that an increasingly desperate Solar League finds the "comes around" portion of "what goes around, comes around" to be most painful, indeed.