because he thought they were stupid.
* * *
“He doesn’t seem very impressed by my warning, does he?” Hiram Ivanov observed as the icons of the Solarian formation continued their remorseless, silent advance on the terminus.
“Typical pain-in-the-ass Solly response, Sir, if you don’t mind my saying so,” Lieutenant Commander Brian Brockhurst, Sloan Tompkins ’ tactical officer, replied, his voice harsh. “Or maybe I should say lack of response!”
“I don’t mind your saying it, BB,” Ivanov said in a rather milder tone. “On the other hand, let’s not jump to any conclusions. We’re a long way from Spindle, and there’s no way this fellow could’ve gotten any detailed information from Old Terra yet. All he’s got is whatever’s come through from Idaho and trickled into his information net. So it’s entirely possible he’s basing his assessment of the opposing force levels on…flawed data, let’s say.” The captain’s expression turned bleak. “He may be almost as ill-informed about our actual capabilities as we were about whoever ripped up the home system last month.”
Brockhurst’s own mouth tightened. His older brother, his sister, and their families had lived on a space station called Hephaestus prior to the attack on the Manticore Binary System, and a part of him wanted vengeance on someone— anyone . If he couldn’t get at the people who’d actually launched “the Yawata Strike,” he’d settle for any legitimate target he could get at. Nor was he inclined to be any more sensitive to the Star Empire’s enemies’ perceptions, or the reasons for them, than he had to be.
“Closing velocity when they get to thirty million klicks?” Ivanov asked after a moment, and Brockhurst punched in the numbers.
“Just a shade under nine thousand KPS when they cross the line, Sir.” He looked back up at his CO. “That’ll add about another three-point-two million klicks to the powered envelope.”
Ivanov nodded. He’d factored that into his calculations when he warned the Sollies not to approach within thirty million kilometers of the terminus. That was actually exceeding the letter of his orders, but the Royal Manticoran Navy’s tradition was that an officer was expected to use his own judgment—and discretion—within the understood intent of his orders. Case Lacoön, the Royal Navy’s long-standing contingency plan to close all termini normally under its control to Solarian shipping, didn’t really apply to blowing Solarian battlecruisers out of space thirty million kilometers short of any of the termini in question. On the other hand, it was obvious the Navy was shortly going to move to full implementation of of Lacoön Two . When that happened, Manticore would begin seizing control of every terminus it could, whoever those termini legally (or nominally, at least) belonged to, and closing all of them to the Sollies, as well.
Whatever that took, and whatever the range at which the Navy found itself opening fire.
The fat is well and truly in the fire, no matter what happens , Hiram Ivanov thought grimly. If those bastards in Old Chicago were going to do the reasonable thing, they’d already’ve done it. Since they haven’t, things are going to get a hell of a lot worse before they get any better, and I think it’s time to begin making that clear to the other side .
“All right, BB,” he told Brockhurst after a moment. “We’ll go with Volley Alpha if our uncommunicative friends do cross the line.”
Brockhurst looked as if he’d like to object. He hadn’t been a huge fan of the Volley Alpha ops plan when Ivanov first trotted it out, and he still wasn’t. But whether or not he wanted to object, what he actually did was nod.
“Volley Alpha, aye, Sir,” he said. “I’ll get it set up now.”
* * *
“Coming up on the thirty million-kilometer mark in one minute, Admiral,” Lieutenant Estelle Marker, Rear Admiral Pyun’s staff astrogator announced.