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Authors: Harvey G. Phillips,H. Paul Honsinger

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For Honor We Stand

FOR HONOR WE STAND

 

A Novel of Interstellar War

 

Book Two of the “Man of War” Trilogy

 

by

H. Paul Honsinger

and

Harvey G. Phillips

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2013 by H.Paul Honsinger

 

Cover art/design Copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Honsinger

 

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

 

 

 

To our dear wives, Kathleen and Laura Jo.  You are our inspiration and our joy, our companion and our friend, our safe harbor and our love.  You bring light to every day, blessings to every hour, and happiness to every moment.  If our creativity is a flame, you are the spark that set it alight.  But for you, all would be darkness. 

 

 

 

“I am your own
way of looking at things,” she said.  “When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation.”  And I took her hand.

 

 

 

“When I Met My Muse,” William Edgar Stafford (1914 – 1993).

 

Books by H. Paul Honsinger and Harvey G. Phillips

 

The
Man of War
Trilogy, Space-Naval Adventure/Military Science Fiction set in the year 2315 during the war between the Terran Union and the Krag Hegemony.

To Honor You Call Us
(Released November 2012)

For Honor We Stand
(Released February 2013)

Brothers in Valor
(Mid 2013)

 

and, coming soon . . . .

 

The adventures of Captain Max Robichaux and Doctor Ibrahim Sahin, begun in the
Man of War
Trilogy will continue in the
Sting of Battle
Trilogy (titles and dates tentative)

Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat
(Winter 2013-14)

At All Costs
(Spring 2014)

Our United Strength
(Fall 2014)

 

By H. Paul Honsinger and Kathleen Honsinger

 

How to Save Your Marriage from 12 Top Marriage Killers
(nonfiction, self-help)

 

Explore these other exciting worlds from the Honsinger Publications universe (future dates and titles are tentative):

The Soul-Linked Saga
, adult-erotic fantasy/romances by Laura Jo Phillips set during the 26
th
Century in “The Thousand Worlds.”

 

The Dracons’ Woman

The Lobos’ Heartsong

The Katres’ Summer

The Bearens’ Hope

The Gryphons’ Dream

Berta’s Choice
(a novella)

The Vulpirans’ Honor

The Falcorans’ Faith
(March 2013)

Final Soul-Linked Novel, Title To be Announced (November-December 2013)

The Orbs of Rathira
Trilogy, adult-erotic fantasy/romances by Laura Jo Phillips set during the 26
th
Century in “The Thousand Worlds.”

Quest for the Moon Orb

Quest for the Sun Orb
(February 2013)

Quest for the Orb of the Heart of Rathira
(August 2013)

The
Mixed Blood
Trilogy, Young Adult fantasy/romances by Kathleen Honsinger set during the present day on Earth.

Secrets Kept

Volume II:  Title to be Announced (June 2013)

Volume III:  Title to be Announced (January 2014)

 

Stay up to date on future “Robichaux/Sahin Novels” as well as other developments in the Honsinger Publications universe by visiting Paul Honsinger’s blog at:  http://paulhonsinger.blogspot.com/.  Follow us on Facebook as well:  just type H. Paul Honsinger and Harvey G. Phillips into your search line.

 

Contact the authors at:  [email protected].

 

For the benefit of lubbers, squeakers, and others unfamiliar with Union Space Navy terminology and slang, there is at the end of this volume a Glossary and Guide to Abbreviations, which defines many of the abbreviations, terms, and references used in these pages. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I believe that mankind will not merely endure:  he will prevail.” 

 

William Faulkner, on receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, Stockholm, Sweden, December 10, 1950.

 

 

 

***

 

 

 

“You ask, what is our aim?  I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” 

 

Winston Churchill, First Speech to the House of Commons after being named Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, London, England, May 13, 1940.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

05:27Z Hours, 15 March 2315

Lieutenant Commander Max Robichaux, Captain of the Union Space Navy Destroyer USS
Cumberland
, was in trouble.  Not the kind of trouble that could get his ass chewed out by Vice Admiral “Hit-‘em Hard” Hornmeyer, whose ass chewings were a thing of legend.  And not the kind of trouble that could get him hauled before a Court Martial and sentenced to life at hard labor at the deuterium separation plant on Europa, Jupiter’s icy and desolate sixth moon.  No, not even that.  This was the kind of trouble that could get him killed.  And not just him, but his shipmates.  The lives of the 215 men and boys on board the
Cumberland
were in the twenty-eight year old skipper’s hands and, if he couldn’t pull a rabbit out of the hat sometime in the next thirty minutes or so, Max and his crew
would all meet eternity together, in the cold, black battleground of space, a thousand light years from home.

The tactical overview display at Max’s console in the
Cumberland
’s
Combat Information Center (CIC) made the situation plain enough.  It showed three ships, forming a long, narrow isosceles triangle, accelerating through the Mengis system, all three right now at about half the speed of light.  At the apex of the triangle was Max’s own ship, the
Cumberland
, a
Khyber
Class Destroyer in the service of the Union Space Navy. 
Cumberland
was fast, smart, stealthy, and—for her size—powerful.  And she was running for her life.  The other two, slightly less than 50,000 kilometers behind and about 7,000 away from each other, were Hotels.  Not “hotels,” as in nice, comfortable places to sleep and take a shower and go downstairs for a medium rare ribeye with a baked potato and green salad capped off by a double Jim Beam on the rocks, but Hotels for “H,” meaning “Hostile warships.”  These Hotels were crewed by Krag, aliens descended from Earth rodents that an alien race transplanted, along with other Earth plants and animals, to a distant world for purposes unknown about eleven million years ago.  The Krag had been waging a brutal war of extermination against mankind for more than thirty years--a war that, unknown to most of the public and even to most of the men in the Navy, the Krag Hegemony was slowly but surely winning.

After the labels “H1” AND “H2,” each icon representing an enemy ship on the display bore the computer-generated label “KRAG CRSR CRUSTACEAN” which meant that, not only were the Hotels enemy Cruisers, which in general were much larger than Destroyers like the
Cumberland
and
much
more heavily armed, they were the kind of Cruiser to which Naval Intelligence had affixed the only moderately ridiculous reporting name
Crustacean
Class—big, powerful and fresh from the Krag yards with the newest and most effective engines, deflectors, point defense systems, sensors, countermeasures, and weapons that the advanced Krag civilization could produce.  The
Cumberland
would have been badly outmatched against just one such ship, but against two the computer’s Tactical Scenario Evaluation Algorithm (T-SEA, pronounced “tee see”) determined that “the correlation of forces very heavily favors H1 and H2.”

No shit.

How heavily?  T-SEA rated the odds of survival as being stacked against the
Cumberland
to the tune of “approximately 7,824.7 to 1.”  

At least they had a chance. 

“Hotels are still on our six and closing the range,” Lieutenant (JG) Bartoli announced from Tactical a little more than twenty minutes later, his Mobile, Alabama drawl becoming more noticeable as the tension increased--“still” came out “stee yul.”  Max didn’t want to think about what the man might do to a tactical term like “truncated paraboloidal echelon.”  “Now at thirty-four thousand kills.  Closure rate is 773 kills per minute.” 

More important than what Bartoli said was what he did not say, what everyone in CIC knew:  that the closure rate was a death sentence.  Pounced upon and damaged by the Cruisers when she jumped into the system,
Cumberland
was no longer faster at sublight than the Krag vessels, which now had a slight speed advantage over the nominally faster Destroyer.  As a result, the two enemy ships would close until they reached a range of 27,253 kilometers (a nice, round number in the Krag measuring system) and each fired a salvo of six “Foxhound” missiles.  While the
Cumberland
’s
excellent point defense systems plus some fancy maneuvering might manage to destroy, deflect, decoy, intercept, or evade eight or nine Foxhounds at a time,
twelve
would be just too many.  At least one would get through, detonate its 102.8 kiloton thermonuclear warhead, and the
Cumberland
, along with the 215 souls aboard her--the closest thing to a family that Max had in the universe--would silently and instantaneously die in a brilliant flash of fusing hydrogen, leaving behind not so much as a single particle of solid matter to mark that they had ever existed.

Max shook his head.  Not today.  Today was not a good day to die.

Unconsciously squaring his shoulders and jutting out his jaw, Max pulled his seat closer to his console and accessed the controls for the tactical display.  He adjusted the scale to show everything within 1 AU, or about 150 million kilometers of the ship.  Nothing.  Then 5 AU.  Nothing.  Then 10 AU.  He smiled.  Max punched up a voice channel and stabbed the comm button. 

“Engineering.  Brown here.”  Max always found the Engineer’s cultured English accent reassuring.

“Werner! I know you said that the compression drive was out, but when you said ‘out’ did you mean ‘out’ out or just ‘not available for high c factors over long distances’?” 

A chuckle came over the comm circuit.  “You want to know whether the compression drive is ‘out out’?  I never cease to be amazed by the subtle nuance you bring to the English language, sir.  Winston Churchill could take lessons from you.”  He allowed himself a few more seconds of mirth.  “Notwithstanding the inartful phrasing, I do take your meaning, sir.  You want to know whether there is
any
capability for superluminal propulsion at all, no matter how limited it may be.  Pray tell, oh silver-tongued leader, what did you have in mind?”

“I’d like to get to that gas giant, Mengis VI.”  Max said.  “It’s only about seven AU away.”  Seven times the distance from the Earth to the Sun.  Only about a billion kilometers.  Just a biscuit toss.  Come on, Werner. 

“Thinking about ducking into the upper layer of its atmosphere and hiding the ship in the electrical discharges from all those storms?”

“Exactly.” 

“But, sir, the way that plays out tactically, that maneuver buys us only another . . . four hours or so.  What does that get you?”

“Another four hours or so.”

“Oh.”  Five seconds of silence.  He was probably pulling up the tactical display on his console.  “I see.”

Yes, Werner, it really is
that
bad.  “Well?”

More silence.  The Engineer was thinking.  “Sir, I don’t need to tell you the compression drive was heavily damaged when we took that last hit to the aft section.”  Pause.  Please, let there be a “but” coming.  “But, I believe I could manage to provide very
low-order
superluminal propulsion for a
highly limited
period of time.  I would have to bypass the automatic compression density feedback compensators with a cobbled together manual regulator interface and ride that control personally, but it could be done.  I expect that by violating something like a hundred and fifty Safety and Equipment Utilization Regulations, I could give you ten c for something like six minutes, which should get us where you want us to go.”

“Outstanding.”  Life.  Four more hours of it, anyway.  “I’ll sign half a million SEUR waivers and have them plated in pure gold if you’ll just get me to that planet.  Oh, Werner, since we’re going to go on the compression drive already . . . .”

“I’m afraid not, Captain.  I could probably get you to the jump point but we’d be all dressed up with no place to go.  The main jump drive power junction is demolished and there’s no auxiliary or replacement unit on a ship this small.  And, before you ask, yes, my lads can build another from spares, but the unit is very intricate.  It’s a twenty-four hour job, if not a thirty-six.”

“Understood.  Then just get me to that gas giant.  Do what you have to do and let me know when you’re ready.”

“Aye, sir.  Give me about five minutes.”

“I’d give you all the time in the world, Werner.  The Krag, on the other hand, give you no more than five minutes and” he glanced at the tactical display, “forty-seven seconds.  Your tea will have to wait.”

“Understood.  No matter, the scones are still cooling.  Brown out.”

“Well, XO,” said Max, turning to the man seated at his right, “what do we do when we get to the gas giant, other than join our Chief Engineer for some scones and Earl Grey with lemon?”

The man to Max’s right, a die-hard coffee man born in Brazil on Earth who had never tasted a scone, was Lieutenant Eduardo DeCosta, age 23, the
Cumberland
’s
new Executive Officer.  DeCosta filled the berth of the oh-so-promising Texan, Robert Garcia, who had perished at the Battle of Pfelung a few weeks before.  Until a week ago, DeCosta had been a hot shot whiz kid in the Tactical section of the Battleship
Hidalgo
.  Now he was Max’s XO.  Newly promoted, the young man was just discovering that the galaxy as viewed from the perspective of the Tactical Staff Support Room of an enormous Battleship and the galaxy as viewed from the XO’s station right in the middle of the action in the CIC of a Destroyer were vastly different places.

As soon as he had discerned what the skipper’s plan was, DeCosta pulled up a tactical plot and the main database entry for the destination planet on his console and, by the time Max asked the question, was already working through the situation.  “Planet Mengis VI, number six in a twelve planet system, 1.85 Jupiter masses, eight major moons, none inhabited, uncounted dozens of minor ones that are mostly captured asteroids, sketchy ring system, huge and very powerful magnetic field, hydrogen-helium composition with the standard trace elements and compounds for a gas giant, typical atmospheric dynamics with distinct cloud bands, extreme turbulence, violent electrical storms, multiple decks of ammonia and ammonia hydrosulfide clouds.  It’s pretty much a standard naval issue gas giant.  Jupiter or Epsilon Eridani V on steroids.”

“They don’t vary much from system to system, do they?”

 “No, sir.”

“So, what does that give us to work with?”

“Well, sir, I suppose that, at least in the short term, we hide out in the cloud deck in an area of higher than average electrical activity to conceal our mass and EM signature, and engage our thermal stealth systems to keep from showing up as a hot spot against the cold of the planet’s atmosphere.  It’s about a hundred and sixty Kelvin in there, not as cold as the interstellar background, but still only twenty-five degrees or so warmer than liquid nitrogen.  A bit on the nippy side.” 

“That’s right.  Now, think from the Krag perspective.  When they pull into orbit at sublight about two hours after we get there, what’ll they know?  What’ll they do?”

He considered for a few seconds.  But only a few.  “There’s no way to avoid leaving an easy to follow trail through all those particles and fields, so they’ll know approximately where we are.  Not enough to target their weapons, but enough to know where they want to sit and wait us out.”  Pause.  “In their shoes, I would set up a standard high/low interdiction.  They do it the same way we do:  park one ship in low orbit right on top of their best guess as to our location and park the other one in a higher orbit to cut off our escape if we try to slip out from underneath.”

“Right.  That’s my read on it, too.  Now once we’ve ducked under the clouds and are out of sight, why don’t we just crawl out from under the Krag and then run for it when we get far enough.”

“Won’t work, skipper.  The main sublight drive’s thermal signature suppression systems will keep the Krag from seeing the heat from the drive itself.  That’s great in space but, in a planetary atmosphere, running the drive will heat the surrounding atmospheric gases and leave a hot trail for the Krag to spot on infrared.”

“What about creeping away on maneuvering thrusters?”

“Way too slow, sir.  Down where we’ll have to be, we’ll be plowing through that thick atmosphere.  We won’t be able to get much speed going on those dinky little thrusters.  We’ve only got four hours and we won’t get far enough.  We’d gain about . . . twelve degrees in the intercept vector which translates into seven additional seconds before they vaporize us.  Maybe eight.”

“And, if we hide and do nothing more?”

“About two hours after we go on thermal stealth, our heat sink reaches capacity and we have to do a thermal dump.  Of course, if we dump, we give away our location.  Even if we extend only the radiator fins shielded from their view by our ship, we’ll create a hot spot in the planetary atmosphere that will stand out from orbit like a snowball in a coal bin.  If we don’t dump, then the heat sink fails, which will do the dump for us and damage half the systems in the ship as a bonus.  In either event, they lock on their pulse cannons and blow us to hell.”

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