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The Short Victorious War consists of a prologue, 33 chapters, and a short appendix about Post Diaspora naval doctrine.
Sidney Harris, Hereditary President of the People's Republic of Haven, watches the funeral procession of Secretary of the Economy Walter Frankel, who has been assassinated by the Citizens' Rights Union. His cabinet discusses the radical groups rising influence, and the fact that powerful Dolist manager Robert Stanton Pierre seems to consider an alliance with it.
The leadership considers increasing the Basic Living Stipend to apeace the common people, but this would mean cutting the defense budget, which many believe to be unwise light of the Republic's ongoing cold war with the technically superior Manticoran Alliance. The President is also presented with plans for Operation Perseus, a series of provocations to lure the Star Kingdom of Manticore into an open conflict, a short, victorious war to distract Haven's own population and force Manticore into a costly peace treaty.
Chapter One Edit
Captain Dame Honor Harrington of the Royal Manticoran Navy is on shore leave at her family home on the planet Sphinx. Reconstructive surgery and therapy have restored her body after the torture it suffered during her deployment to the Yeltsin's Star System, and the artificially replaced parts of her nervous system still do not feel entirely right to her. Still haunted by dreams of the hundreds who died under her command, she tries to relax by hang gliding in the Copperwall Mountains with her treecat companion, Nimitz.
Her steward, James MacGuiness, informs her that a letter from the Admiralty has arrived. Honor is delighted to learn that the Bureau of Medicine has cleared her for active duty, and that she is to assume command of newest, most powerful battlecruiser in the RMN, HMS Nike.
Chapter Two Edit
On the following Wednesday, Honor, MacGuiness, and Nimitz arrive at the space station Hephaestus, where she takes a first look at her brand new command. Nike is in the final stages of outfitting, only two weeks from launch. Honor is welcomed aboard by her new executive officer, Commander Michelle Henke, who is not only her oldest friend from the Academy, but also a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth III. They continue to the bridge, where Honor officially assumes command of the ship and is introduced to her senior officers.
In a private meeting afterwards, Honor and Michelle Henke catch up on old times, and toast to absent friends. Henke also points out to see the same advance in her career that Honor's previous first officers have enjoyed.
Chapter Three Edit
At his family's seat on Manticore, Admiral Hamish Alexander, Earl of White Haven, meets with outgoing First Space Lord James Webster, who informs him that Admiral Thomas Caparelli will be his replacement. White Haven and Caparelli are not exactly on good terms, something Webster jokingly attributes to their soccer rivalry back at the Academy.
Webster also explains that he wants to make some last-minute reassignments for important duty stations before the transition time begins. One of them is the Hancock System, a lifeless red dwarf to the galactic north that serves as an important picket outpost for the Alliance. Webster wants Vice Admiral Yancey Parks to take command of Hancock Station, and White Haven urges him to also put Honor Harrington back in space. Webster reveals that she has been given Nike, and they soon agree to make her Rear Admiral Mark Sarnow's flag captain at Hancock.
Chapter Four Edit
Honor and her crew take the Nike out for her first full-power trial flight. Chief engineer Ivan Ravicz notices a minor fluctuation in one of the fusion bottles, but considers it harmless. Later, the captain meets with Commander Henke and congratulates her because it is her birthday. Also, they have received orders to deploy to Hancock Station. When Honor mentions that Rear Admiral Sarnow's communications officer, Samuel Webster, served under her on Basilisk Station, Henke counters that Hancock Station's executive officer is someone they both know, her fourth cousin, Captain Paul Tankersley. They then discuss Tankersley's former CO, Captain Lord Pavel Young, and how Honor beat him up back at the Academy. Honor admits that it was a mistake not to report the attempted rape, and Henke mentions that it was in fact Tankersley who made sure that HMS Warlock did not return to Basilisk in time for Young to take back control.
Chapter Five Edit
Admiral Parks discusses the strategic and political situation in Haven with his senior staff when a report comes in that HMS Nike has arrived at Hancock Station. However, the fluctuation in the fusion reactor has turned out to have been fatal, and the entire unit needs to be replaced for the ship to be fully operational.
Parks is also surprised that Honor is in command of the ship, and notices that the fact that the chief of staff for Sarnow's heavy cruiser screen is a cousin of Reginald Houseman, whom Honor hit and threatened during her mission on Grayson.
Chapter Six Edit
Honor and Commander Ravicz inspect the damage on the fusion bottle when Captain Tankersley arrives and explains that they will have to open the hull in order to take the unit out. He estimates fourteen weeks for the entire reapair operation.
When Samuel Webster reports this news to Rear Admiral Sarnow, the admiral asks him to tell him a little bit about Honor Harrington. Webster responds that she is pretty much the best officer he ever served under, and that she can make a crew follow her anywhere.
While preparing the paperwork for the repairs, Honor is contacted by Sarnow, who wants to shift his flag to Nike as soon as possible. They decide to have his staff come aboard the following day.
Chapter Seven Edit
During the inspection of his new flagship, Sarnow explains to Honor that they basically have to build up a new battlecruiser squadron from scratch, and that as his flaf captain, she will have to play a senior role in it. However, at the following meeting of squadron commanders, she is the only flag captain not asked to attend.
When Honor works out in Nike's gym, Captain Tankersley arrives, surprised by her presence. They talk about their respective time at the Academy, and she learns that he too is trained in the martial art of coup de vitesse. She asks him to be his sparring partner, and he accepts, and also mentions that he still feels uncomfortable about supporting Captain Young's decision to abandon her on Basilisk Station.
Chapter Eight Edit
Honor observes a series of war games aboard HMS Invincible. During the debriefing, Admiral Sarnow makes it clear that the squadron still has a lot of work to do, and that everyone better improve their performance.
At a dinner party held by Admiral Parks, Honor meets Commander Arthur Houseman, who tries to goad her into a reaction concerning her history with his cousin Reginald, but she sternly tells him that he will better show all due courtesy to her and her crew or face the consequences.
Chapter Nine Edit
Captain Mark Brentworth is on the bridge of the heavy cruiser GNS Jason Alvarez, the most powerful warship ever built by the Grayson Space Navy until this point. He and his crew are on picket duty after hunting pirates for a couple of months. Suddenly a ship comes out of hyperspace, identfying itself as the Manticoran freighter Queensland, and asking for assistance against pirates hunting it, but is destroyed before anyone can come to its aid.
In the Zanzibar System, a member of the Manticoran Alliance, Lieutenant Commander Mudhafer Ben-Fazal ponders his star nations ongoing fight against the Zanzibar Liberation Front when his ship is suddenly destroyed by a light cruiser hidden in a nearby asteroid field.
Chapter Ten Edit
After several weeks in her new position as BatCruRon 5's flag captain, Honor is pleased with how things are working out. After playing around with Nimitz in the swimming pool, Captain Tankersley arrives and explains that Commander Ravicz's suggestion to extract the damaged fusion bottle from below will cut weeks of Nike's total repair time. Honor and Tankersley have become rather close in the last few weeks, and she is surprised about her changing feelings. When he invites her to supper, she quickly realizes his romantic intentions, but accepts anyway.
Chapter Eleven Edit
First Space Lord Admiral Sir Thomas Caparelli and his senior officers meet with Prime Minister Allen Summervale, Duke of Cromarty, and his cabinet, as well as Admiral White Haven. Second Space Lord Patricia Givens sums up the numerous small Havenite incursions and attacks all along the Alliance's borders, and is convinced that they are deliberate provocations, intended to make Manticore fire the first official shot.
Caparelli wants to reinforce the border, but White Haven points out that this will weaken the central fleet nodes like Hancock Station, which may be exactly what the Havenites want. They decide to take a further look at all available data before making a formal recommendation. At the same time, a formal war warning is to be sent to all duty station commanders.
Chapter Twelve Edit
With Nike a week away from being space ready again, Honor has dinner with Mike Henke, discussing the fact that Honor is the only flag captain never to be invited to Admiral Parks' dinner table or even flagship conferences. Honor also askes Henke's advise in some womanly matters, afraid that her extremely limited experience in romantic matters might ruin her blooming relationship with Paul Tankerley.
After another conference aboard the superdreadnought HMS Gryphon, Rear Admiral Sarnow confronts Admiral Parks about his flag captain never being invited. Parks explains that he considered her "hotheaded and impulsive", citing her past clashes with Klaus Hauptman on Basilisk Station and with Reginald Houseman at Yeltsin's Star, as well as the way she addressed the Weapons Development Board concerning the grav lance technology, and the fact that she almost shot a Masadan prisoner of war on Blackbird Base. Sarnow counters each of these arguments, and voices his opinion that the admiral has failed to show Harrington the professional respect she deserves. Parks reluctantly concurrs.
Chapter Thirteen Edit
Hereditary President Harris arrives at the Octagon, the military headquarters of the People's Republic of Haven, to discuss the Navy's future strategy with Fleet Admiral Amos Parnell, the Chief of Naval Operations. The Manticorans are not reacting as planned, even though the media seem to be realizing that something is going on. Harris authorizes the final stage of Operation Perseus, and also considers dealing with Rob S. Pierre through his son, Edward Pierre, who is a Navy Rear Admiral currently on deployment with a battlecruiser squadron. Parnell advises against it, and the President concurrs.
Chapter Fourteen Edit
At Yeltsin's Star, Captain Brentworth ponders the recent deployment of heavy alliance units Grayson space, and the fact that thanks to their new grav-pulse transmitters, they might just be able to annihilate any Havenite force that shows up in the system.
Rear Admiral Edward Pierre is on his way to harass the Talbot System with another group of battlecruisers. However, the Manticoran dreadnought HMS Bellerophon, on its way back to home base, is just reaching the hyper limit when Pierre's force arrives. The Havenite panic and attack, and the much larger Manticoran ship returns fire with an energy weapon broadside that destroys the entire enemy force.
Chapter Fifteen Edit
Honor lies awake in bed, watching the sleeping Paul Tankerley and thinking about her disappointing past encounters with the opposite sex. Confident that she has finally found someone special, the holds his hand close and goes to sleep. When Mike Henke coms him to ask about her, she quickly leaves and makes her way back to Nike. Henke and MacGuiness quickly get her ready for a summons to Admiral Parks' flagship. Even Rear Admiral Sarnow seems to be aware of where she was when taking her aboard his pinnace.
Chapter Sixteen Edit
Once aboard Gryphon, Sarnow and Honor join Admiral Parks and the other senior officers for an emergency briefing; the station has received a dispatch with an official war warning from the Admiralty. As part of the new state of readiness, Battle Squadron 18 under Admiral Danislav is deployed to Hancock Station, to arrive in about three weeks.
Sarnow suggests a concentration of forces near Seaford Nine, but Rear Admiral Christa Konstanzakis fears that this move might further escalate the situation. Admiral Parks eventually decides against it, deploying two squadrons to the Yorik System instead, and another one to Zanzibar. Sarnow's squadron is to remain in Hancock as the core of a light task group. Honor considers this a mistake, and even wonders wether he just wants Sarnow and her out of his mind.
Chapter Seventeen Edit
Back aboard Nike, Sarnow and his officers discuss the formation of the new Task Group Hancock 001, and the edge they have over any enemy because several of their ships are equipped with FTL communication systems. Honor suggests disguising their Erebus-class minelayers as battlecruisers and using them to drop mines in the enemy's way during a potential battle.
On the following day, the task group observes the departure of the heavier squadrons. Honor's suggestion about the minelayers has been refused, and Rear Admiral Sarnow is not at all happy with the way Admiral Parks has treated them.
Admiral Parks is just as uncertain if he is making the right call, and ponders his decision as his forces dissappear into hyperspace.
Chapter Eightteen Edit
At DuQuesne Base, the PRH's heavy fleet station in the Barnett System, Fleet Admiral Parnell discusses the current situation with his staff. Following the loss of HMS Star Knight, the Star Kingdom has closed the Manticore Wormhole Junction for Havenite shipping, and started harassing Havenite convoys all over Alliance territory. What happened to Rear Admiral Pierre remains a mystery.
Captain Thomas Theisman is leading a raid against a Manticoran convoy in hyperspace. The convoy's escort, under the overall command of Captain Helen Zilwicki, goes off to intercept the attackers, leaving Zilwicki's husband Anton and their four-year-old daughter Helen behind. They have to watch as the escorts are destroyed, and Anton has to explain to his little girl that her mother saved them all at the cost of her own life.
Chapter Nineteen Edit
Nike returns from a series of exercises, having performed quite well, and Honor celebrates with Commander Henke. Later, a lone heavy cruiser arrives in the Hancock System. Tankersley informs Honor that it is HMS Warlock, still under the command of her old enemy, Pavel Young.
The Havenite cruiser PNS Napoleon, en route to collecting Argus sensor data, notices the disappearance of the Manticoran capital ship squadrons from Hancock, and Commander Jean-Pierre Ogilve orders his crew to return to Seaford Nine to inform Admiral Yuri Rollins about it.
Chapter Twenty Edit
Honor is angered by Young's arrival, fearing that he will once again ruin her happiness, but Nimitz helps her to calm down using their empathic bond. When Rear Admiral Sarnow asks her to invite Young aboard, she complies without showing any emotions.
Captain Young comes aboard Nike, pondering his troubled history with Honor Harrington, which he considers entirely her fault. He remembers how she beat him up in the Academy showers when he tried to rape her, and how he was reprimanded afterwards. How his "failure to assess the danger" to Basilisk Station resulted in him being shuffled of to convoy duty in Silesia.
Honor coldly welcomes Young aboard and takes him to see Sarnow, who lets her leave before starting to interview Young.
Chapter Twenty-One Edit
Robert Stanton Pierre arrives at Hoskins Tower in Nouveau Paris for a meeting with Wallace Canning, the disgraced former Havenite consul on the planet Medusa, as well as a number of other disgruntled politicians. He holds a speech about the corruption of the modern People's Republic, and how the time has come to take action against the Legislaturalists who are driving the entire star nation into the abyss. He also informs those present about Operation Perseus and the fact that the current government is seeking a confrontation with Manticore. He then reveals that Canning is a spy planted in the Citizens' Rights Party by Internal Security, and later became a double agent working for Pierre. He is now telling the government exactly what the CRP wants them to hear.
Pierre then makes everyone in the room sign an oath to pledge them to their conspiracy.
Chapter Twenty-Two Edit
After spending some quality time with Paul Tankersley, Honor takes part in a com briefing with Sarnow and the other senior officers to discuss the latest exercises. At the end of it, Sarnow informs her that Captain Young is the new second in command of Commodore Stephen Van Slyke's Heavy Cruiser Squadron 17, which requires them to work closely with him.
Meanwhile, Captain Young meets with Commander Houseman, and the two quickly bond over their shared dislike for Honor Harrington.
Chapter Twenty-Three Edit
In the Admiralty's Central War Room the First and Second Space Lord discuss the ongoing Havenite provocations. Admiral Givens suggests that they might be coordinated from a central command node, like the fleet base in the Barnett System, in preparation for a larger assault. She also has an idea how to throw the enemy off balance.
Admiral Caparelli takes Givens' plan to the Prime Minister: the Navy wants to deliberately entice the Havenites into attacking Yeltsin's Star, setting a trap for them there. A double agent is to pass information to the People's Republic that part of the Manticoran fleet will leave the system, when the actual orders will tell Admiral Sebastian D'Orville to stay and await the enemy. Prime Minister Cromarty promises to consider the idea, and calls Admiral White Haven for his input. The latter is not pleased about being consulted behind the First Space Lord's back, but suggests to go with the plan and even reinforce Yeltsin further with units from the Home Fleet. He also advises to involve Michael Mayhew, the younger brother of Protector Benjamin IX of Grayson, in the discussion, as he is on Manticore at the moment. Lord Mayhew agrees with the plan and specifically requests Cromarty to go ahead with it.
Happy with the quick approval of his plan, Lord Caparelli decides to put Admiral White Haven in command of the reinforcements they will send to Yeltsin.
Chapter Twenty-Four Edit
At DuQuesne Base, Fleet Admiral Parnell gets the news that large parts of the Manticoran force are about to leave Yeltsin's Star, and orders his own fleet to prepare to move out within forty-eight hours.
Chapter Twenty-Five Edit
Rob S. Pierre meets with First Undersecretary for Internal Security Oscar Saint-Just, and they discuss their preparations for the overthrow of the Legislaturalist regime. They hope to convince one of their most powerful allies, Cordelia Ransom, to take over the Office of Public Information.
Chapter Twenty-Six Edit
Napoleon arrives at Seaford Nine and delivers the news that the Manticoran capital ships have left Hancock Station. Admiral Rollins decides to take almost his entire force and attack the system, without confirming with Admiral Parnell as this would take weeks of travel time.
Chapter Twenty-Seven Edit
Admiral Parks is feeling more and uncomfortable with his decision to leave Hancock, unaware that the Havenite cruiser PNS Alexander is observing his forces from the outskirts of the Yorik System.
The crew of the destroyer HMS Arrowhead, enganged in an exercise with other ships, detects the com lasers used by the Havenite Argus surveillance network. Commander Tribeca orders his ship to battle stations, alerting the Alexander to their presence. The Havenite vessel escapes into hyperspace, but Tribeca has realized what it was doing at its position, and soon finds the Argus platforms.
Shocked by the existence of the Havenite surveillance net, Admiral Parks realizes that this changes the entire situation, and sends couriers to Hancock, Zanzibar, and Manticore with this new information. He then orders his chief of staff to prepare the bulge of his fleet to return to Hancock.
Chapter Twenty-Eight Edit
A day after HMS Anubis has brought the newest findings of the Admiralty concerning the imminent outbreak of war to Hancock, Honor relaxes with Nimitz, and thinks about Pavel Young and his family. Having researched about the North Hollows, she has realized that they have abused their power and social standing for generations, and Lord Pavel's hatred of her actually stems from the fact that he is afraid of her. Later, Honor and Mike Henke go through some personnel decisions when a large hyper footprint is reported -- Admiral Rollins has arrived to take Hancock Station.
Admiral Sarnow prepares his units to defend the station, and orders his minelayers to evacuate as much service personnel as possible once they are finished laying out their minefield.
Chapter Twenty-Nine Edit
Aboard his flagship, PNS Barnett, Admiral Rollins observes as Rear Admiral Genevieve Chin's task force makes her way in-system to handle the Manticorans. His own superdreadnoughts are waiting at the hyper limit.
Honor and her crew prepare for battle as Mike Henke mans the auxiliary bridge on the opposite end of the ship. As Rear Admiral Chin approaches the enemy, the Argus network notices the fleeing minelayers, and Admiral Rollins relays the information to Chin.
Five minutes later, Nike and her consorts shut down their engines, serving as invisible shields to the missile pods they are towing along.
At a range to base of 101 million kilometers, Admiral Sarnow orders Honor to "execute".
Chapter Thirty Edit
Task Group Hancock 001 fires hundreds of missiles at the Havenites with the help of the missile pods, outright destroying a dreadnought and three battlecruisers, and damaging several other ships. The Havenites return fire, but at this point Hancock Station activates numerous preprogrammed electronic warfare drones who which masquerade as superdreadnoughts. Chin orders her task force to turn around, but soon begins to doubt their identity.
Three Havenite missiles hit and destroy HMS Crusader, killing Commodore Van Slyke and leaving Pavel Young in Command of CruRon 17. Moments later, Admiral Chin decides to turn around and attack again.
As the Manticoran force races for the minefield, the Havenites fire on HMS Defiant and HMS Achilles, damaging both. Both forces eventually come in range of the mines, and several more of Admiral Chin's ships are destroyed. However, Defiant and Achilles are also taken out. Admiral Sarnow orders a course change, making the temptation to pursue them almost irresistible.
Chapter Thirty-One Edit
Admiral Chin takes the bait as Admiral Rollins' superdreadnoughts start heading towards Hancock Station. HMS Agamemnon is destroyed by a Havenite missile, and Sarnow considers surrendering when, suddenly, Admiral Danislav arrives with his backup. Sarnow wants to tell Honor, but at this moment, the flag bridge is hit and the admiral is incapacitated by a piece of shrapnel. He gives the order not to scatter, but nobody hears him.
Realizing that there are no flag officers left, Honor assumes command of the task group and gives the order to hold formation. Captain Young, however, panicks and orders all ships to scatter. Honor orders them to return to formation as the Havenites fire into the sudden opening, but Young refuses to comply even when she contacts him directly. The other ships, however, return to formation.
Admiral Rollins tries to turn around and flee as Admiral Danislav approaches.
Minutes later, Nike and Cassandra drop a number of EW drones to confuse Admiral Chin' sensors, and flee to safety.
Chapter Thirty-Two Edit
Some time later, Hereditary President Harris celebrates his birthday with his family and the Legislaturalist elite, and considers recent events. After Admiral Chin's surrender, Admiral Rollins fled back to Seaford Nine, but Admiral Parks quickly followed him and annihilated the Havenite presence, destroying all but three capital ships and killing Rollins. Word about how the attack on Yeltsin's Star went has yet to arrive.
A security guard approaches the President, telling him that several Navy shuttles have entered the city's airspace. Seconds later, the Presidential Palace is destroyed by four precision guided warheads, killing everyone inside.
Rob S. Pierre addresses the People's Quorum, speaking of the unbelievable treachery of the Navy's assassination of the Republic's leadership. He suggests that until order can be restored, the Quorum must establish a special committee as caretaker of the People's Republic of Haven.
Chapter Thirty-Three Edit
Fleet Admiral Parnell is back in Barnett after his forces were massacred in the Battle of Yeltsin, and has just learned that most of his family was killed along with the Hereditary President. At this point, Cordelia Ransom arrives and puts him under arrest for treason against the people on the orders of Rob S. Pierre, chairman of the Committee of Public Safety.
Honor is summoned by Admiral Parks to discuss the aftermath of the Battle of Hancock. While Rear Admiral Sarnow is recovering, Captain Young has been relieved from command and placed under arrest, to be tried by court-martial for cowardice and desertion in the face of the enemy. Honor herself is to return him to Manticore aboard Nike.
She also is to take the recently promoted Captain (SG) Paul Tankersley with her.
Naval Design and Doctrine
The Balance of Naval Power