Chapter 1: Notes From Hephaestus
I’ve finally done it! I’ve finally gotten a real command.
Okay yes, Hawkwing was a real command. But this? This is so much better. She’s the HMS Fearless. And while she’s not the newest ship in the fleet, she’s mine. I know that I shouldn’t but every once in awhile I can’t help looking at the commission papers again, just to make sure its real.
We’ve put in to Hephaestus for a series of refits ordered by Admiral Hemphill in preparation for the upcoming tactical exercises. I was furious when I saw what they were doing to her, to my ship. But then, its not like I get much of a say in the matter, do I? Now I just have to figure out what strategies are going to work with the armaments we’re being given. A grav lance is all well and good but to gut my sidewalls for it? It’s going to be like Don Quixote tilting at windmills. I just have to keep thinking; what would Raoul do? I know I could ask him, but it feels like that’d be cheating.
So what about you? Is your mother making you wish you’d been assigned to a ship immediately? How’s your cousin? And her ‘cat? I know you weren’t given much choice about being posted to Manticore but still, I wish you were out here too.
His Nibs sends you his best. He’s missing you and your secret stash of celery.
Chapter 2: A measure of stability
"“So much of what is best in us is bound up in our love of family, that it remains the measure of our stability because it measures our sense of loyalty.” " - Haniel Long
You’ve only the barest glimmer of an idea of how much I envy you being out there right now with your own command. I know my family needs me right now but really, I hate having to play politics. Its a trap, stifling me. The tactics and astrogation courses were easier than making it through one formal dinner with the delegations from the Talbott system.
The good news is that there’s talk of me finally shaking free of the ground again. My cousin is doing well. Far better than anyone expected her to do. But then, I think they underestimate her. She’s always been a keen observer. And I get the sense that having Ariel makes that particular skill all the more acute. The House of Lords is finally beginning to accept her and her judgement. The fact that she handled keeping the truth about Uncle’s death out of the hands of the newsies has only raised their opinion of her. While I’m not entirely thrilled to be using the newsies as a metric for political acumen, I’ll give her this; my cousin is growing into her position far faster than anyone could possibly have hoped.
Its a good thing too. There’s rumors passing through the lower House. Rumors about Havenite incursions in the outer systems. Look, just … just be careful out there, okay? At least, be careful until I make it out to join you. Then we’ll give them hell together, won’t we?
Tell his Nibs to make sure you haven’t been shirking on your coup practice. You know I’m going to have to come kick your ass the next time we’re within distance of each other.
Keep a lid on the Hemphill situation. I’ve heard that she’s a monster if you make her into your enemy.
Chapter 3: Is This Freedom?
“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” - Gloria Steinem
I …. I think I’ve stuck my foot in it, Mike. I don’t know whether you’ve heard about the outcome of the war games but Her Ladyship Admiral of the Red Dame Sonja Hemphill is well and truly furious at me.
But what did she expect?!?! She gutted my damned ship. Crippled my smaller armaments. Gave me a one-eyed monster of an offensive weapon and then she expected me to play defense?
I know, I know, her and the jeune ecole. Even I can see that the tactical concept is sound in theory. But that’s IN THEORY. Any moron with a pulsar and the basic nav school classes under their belt can see that the concept doesn’t hold up under fire. And damnit, I wanted so very badly to be able to prove that here. But Hemphill, curse her, she had be boxed into a corner from the very start. It was either prove her tactics right in theory or just offer them a clean shot and hope for a mercifully short death. Yes, even if I know it would have led to me having an even more furious Hemphill on my hands.
But honestly, Mike, she makes me so damned furious. Her and her damned theoretical tactics. Really! Wars aren’t fought with theoreticals. Wars are fought rough and dirty and with every last ounce of stupidity and guts you have in your body. Tactics aren’t going to save us if the rumors are true and Haven’s spoiling for a fight. And Hemphill, damn her, Hemphill holds the purse strings. If we’re not careful, she’s going to cripple every ship she can get her hands on so badly that the Havenites are going to just waltz right in and take Manticore without even a single shot fired in our own defense.
Okay okay, so I’m exaggerating but hyperbole aside, the point still stands; she’s raping our Navy of the armaments we need to fight long range battles or multiple engagements. How can that possibly be considered good tactics? Am I missing something?
PS: His Nibs has found himself a new celery slave in the person of my steward. Careful, Mike, you might be about to lose pride of place in his affections!
Chapter 4: Still needs a title
It looks like I’m finally going to be able to break free of dirtside duty. Oh you’ve no idea how much of a relief it is, even if I’m only just now beginning to believe my mother’s finally going to let me leave. I love my family dearly but there are times when I’d like to space the entire lot of them.
Its frustrating, being stuck here while you’re off in Yeltsin with Raoul. I know you dislike politics even more than I do but still, this is one hell of an assignment. Just promise me you’ll be careful.
I’ve heard stories about the Masadans and the Graysons. Are they really as backward as I’ve been told? To be expected to be coddled and sheltered just for being born female? Why haven’t they fought against it? How is it that the women of Grayson accept being caged so easily? It’s so easy, living as we do, to forget that other people could view the world so differently. I know making a life on a planet as inhospitable as theirs has to have been hard but still, I can’t imagine living the way they do. To say nothing of the idea of sharing your spouse!
No, thanks, if I ever marry it will have to be someone I can respect. Someone who can respect me. Someone who will sort through the compromises with me to make whatever we have together truly work. That’s what my parents had. That’s what I want someday. And if I can’t have that? Once I finally get out to the stars nothing they could possibly do will bring me back. Maybe that means I’ll never have someone. Because whomever it is will always have to be sharing me. I suppose that’s not unlike Graysons and their multiple wives after all, is it?
Yours as always,
PS: Please tell me since you’ve finally got a steward that he’s making sure you stay properly fed? It hasn’t been so long yet that I don’t remember you and how readily you forget to stay on top of that metabolism of yours!