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"The Best Laid Plans", written by David Weber, is the fourth short story in the sixth Honorverse anthology, Beginnings, published in July 2013. It tells the story of how Honor Harrington was adopted by her treecat, Nimitz.
Timeframe: 1871 PD
Twelve-year-old Honor Harrington has worked out an elaborate plan for her mother Allison's birthday, which involves a bouquet of mountain tulips she decides to get from the woods near Rock Aspen Creek. She gets permission to go from her parents, but only because she does not really tell them how far she is heading.
Meanwhile, two treecats of the Bright Water Clan are on their way to the same area: Laughs Brightly is taking his younger brother, Sharp Nose, to gather some provisions for the coming winter, but is also on a mission from the elders to inspect the health of the trees in the area. They recognize Honor (or "Dances on Clouds", as she is known among them) and read in her mind-glow that she is doing something forbidden. They also discuss the fact that her glow is growing incredibly strong, comparable to that of her ancestor, Stephanie Harrington (or "Death Fang's Bane"), but when his brother asks if he ever considered bonding with a "two-leg", Laughs Brightly explains that their lives are too short and that he has a lot more to see.
Honor notices the 'cats at last, and contemplates what it would be like to be adopted by one of them. She realizes, however, that this would make her joining the Royal Navy a lot more complicated.
Both the young human and the treecats continue on their way, but then the 'cats notice the presence of a pair of peak bears with offspring nearby, whom Honor is approaching unknowingly. Sharp Nose goes to meet her, but steps on a picketwood branch that has been eaten hollow by borer beetles, causing him to drop to the ground with the broken branch on top of him. The noise alerts the peak bears, who attack the wounded treecat, but his brother comes to his defense.
Honor arrives to witness the creatures' deadly duel, and quickly shoots one of the peak bears dead with her rifle just as Laughs Brightly is wounded. The other one charges at her, but she manages to kill it too.
Laughs Brightly awakens in Honor's arms; as the girl calls an SFS ranger for help, she looks at the wounded treecat, and they bond. Just like Honor, Laughs Brightly realizes instantly that all his carefully laid plans mean nothing anymore. He jokingly blames his brother, who predicts that the two of them, direct descendants of Stephanie Harrington and Lionheart, united for life by an unbreakable bond, are destined for greatness.
Bark Master | Jacques Benton-Ramirez y Chou | Climbs Quickly | Crooked Tail | Dzau Syung-kai | Alfred Harrington | Allison Chou Harrington | Honor Harrington | Stephanie Harrington | Laughs Brightly | McIntyre | Sharp Nose | Songstress | Wind of Memory | Adrienne Winton | Karl Zivonik
bark beetle | Baxter Goose | Biological Survey Corps | Bright Water Clan | Brownfield Holographics | flat case borer | golden ear | hang gliding | hill swallow | Manticore Binary System | Manticore Wormhole Junction | mountain tulip | near-beaver | Osterman Cross | picketwood | Prolong | rock martin | Royal Manticoran Marine Corps | Royal Manticoran Navy | Shelton Cup | Simpson & Wong | Sphinx Forestry Service | treecat