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In the battle for the ring space in Leviathan Falls, Duarte's ships enter the ring space in multiple waves of synchronized transits. For example, one wave is indicated by the Rocinante's sensor screen as follows:

Five more red dots transiting through different ring gates in the same moment.

Leviathan Falls, p. 444 (emphasis added)

This makes sense tactically, as it introduces an element of surprise for Duarte's forces -- especially when the synchronized transits occur through widely-spaced ring gates. However, this is also a nearly perfect strategy to cause the transiting ships to go dutchman since the risk of going dutchman is a function of

The safety curve [that is] based on the amount of matter and energy making transits though the gate network.

Tiamat's Wrath, p. 213

Furthermore, many of Duarte's ships transited while traveling extremely fast despite the fact that earlier in the same book Holden had expressed concern about traveling too fast while transiting:

We also don’t want to go through so fast we dutchman ourselves.

Jim Holden, Leviathan Falls, p. 246

The transiting ships seem to be a mix of vessels of various sizes and purposes, so it's possible that some of them are fairly small and therefore pose relatively low risk of going dutchman even if traveling fast and transiting at the same time as other ships. However, some of the transiting ships are described as "freighters" (which could be quite large) and one of the transiting ships was definitely the massive Magnetar-class battlecruiser the Voice of the Whirlwind, which is also known to have transited while traveling very fast.

Why didn't any of these ships, especially the Magnetar-class battlecruiser, go dutchman?

The best explanation I can come up with is that

Duarte prevented them from going dutchman just like he saved the Preiss.

However, I'm skeptical about this explanation because

1. The ring gate acted oddly enough when the Preiss was saved from going dutchman that Aliana Tanaka thought the Preiss was about to go dutchman, yet I didn't catch any similar description of the ring gates acting differently when Duarte's ships transited through them.
2. I find it hard to believe that Duarte would be able to save multiple ships, in repeated waves, while controlling his hive mind, and in the middle of a battle against both the Goths and the forces led by the Rocinante. Holden had a hard enough time fighting just the Goths when he took over control of the Ring Station, so I would think Duarte would have had an even harder time doing all that and preventing the ships under his control from going dutchman.

Did I miss a subtle explanation for how Duarte's ships avoided going dutchman during this battle?

3 Answers 3

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It's not absolutely explicit, but there are indications that Duarte is able to prevent the ships going Dutchman through a combination of learning and power from the 'hive mind'.

Consider the description of the Barkeith going Dutchman in Nemesis Games:

Sauveterre held up his hands. He could see them so perfectly: the ridges of his fingertips, the spaces between the molecules, the swirl and flow of his blood beneath them. He could see the molecules in the air – nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide all bouncing madly against each other, obscuring some more profound space between them. A vacuum that penetrated them all.

Which is remarkably similar to what starts to happen to the Roci within the ring space after

Duarte is killed

in Leviathan Falls:

She raised her hand, and the skin on her knuckles was a range of crags and valleys as complex as anything that stone and erosion had ever managed. When she cried out, the air fluttered with her breath, compression waves bouncing and curving, enhancing and annihilating. She tried to find the clasp on the crash couch straps, but she couldn’t make out the surface where one thing began and another ended. And streaking through the emptiness of things, the vacuum that still lived in the heart of matter, threads of living blackness, more solid and real than anything she’d ever seen.

Once he takes over, Holden is able to sense the effect:

And awkward as a child taking its first steps, his awareness broadened. It wasn’t quite like seeing, and it wasn’t quite like knowing something intellectually, but a mix of both. He felt Naomi at her place on the flight deck, recognized her distress. And as it bore down on her, scattering the molecules and atoms of his ship like a wind scattering dust, Jim saw the enemy clearly for the first time.

Miller lets him know that the ring station is now able to stop the process, with the appropriate 'hard wired' supervision - otherwise Duarte would not have been able to stop the Preiss disappearing:

“Whatever he did, he did before,” Miller said, beside him now. “If there was any setup or arrangements that needed to be made, Duarte already put them in place before the Preiss did its not-vanishing trick. We’ll have to navigate it a little.”

Holden, using the shared power of the minds he could reach, and the function of the station, was able to hold off the attack, in the same way that Duarte was able to save the Preiss:

He felt the candlelight minds on a dozen ships starting to go out. Jim started to panic, flailing. Another few flickering lights went out. One of the ships changed from a single thing with a bright core of energy at its heart to a thousand tiny things, to nothing, as the enemy shattered it and the flow of the attack carried it outside the bubble of space. “How do I stop this?” “You know,” Miller said. “I told you. You stop it the same way he did.” Jim reached out to the candle-flame minds, pushing into them, and with each one he touched, he felt himself growing wider.

[...]

Jim pressed out, and this time he was able to push everywhere at once. The pressure was terrible. The enemy was stronger than he was—than they were—but the structure of the rings and the space and the lines of subtle force were like a construction mech, amplifying his strength, protecting him. Slowly, achingly, he moved back.

Overall, the Dutchman process is an attack, similar in mechanism to that used on all of the ships in the ring space in the climax of the novel. Duarte learns how to defeat it using techniques accessible from the ring station, and with power supported by the mind merge process. As more people come into the merge, he gains the power to prevent the ships going Dutchman even when transiting the rings in a pattern that previously would have been unsafe.

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  • How is it not absolutely explicit? When they find him in the station, Duarte directly states that the hive mind is what allows him to fight off the others. Miller also tells Holden that the hive mind is what allows them to wield the tools of the gate builders more effectively.
    – Harabeck
    Feb 4, 2022 at 13:56
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I think that Nagata's "curve" is not precisely defined enough in the texts, for us to have a sense of:

  1. precisely how much mass/energy trips the threshold when the curve is flat/reset,
  2. the relative scale of that quantity to any given ship's mass/energy, and
  3. the decay of the curve as a function of time.

Unless these quantities have been formally specified somewhere by the authors, I don't see how any answer can be more than speculative.

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  • I don't recall the safety curve being precisely defined, either, but there are nonetheless several ways to answer definitively. For example, (1) by comparing the masses and speeds of ships during known dutchman events with masses and speeds of Duarte's ships when they transited (the Magnetar is the easiest to compare and probably the one most seriously at risk of going dutchman), (2) a statement I missed in the text which states something to the effect that "Duarte saved the ships" or "the ships were careful to stay just under the safety curve", (3) author statement, etc.
    – Null
    Jan 13, 2022 at 22:24
  • @Null Pretty sure that your (1) is a condensation of my answer's numbered bullets, and your numbers (2) and (3) are my answer's last sentence. :)
    – Lexible
    Jan 14, 2022 at 20:45
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You are treating Duarte's various activities as if they are fully unrelated events.

Ships go Dutchman because the Goths attack them. It's not an unrelated feature of the ringsgates, it's a direct reaction by the Goths against the matter transfer they hate so much. As soon as Duarte turns on the Ring Gates fully (causing them to continiously send out both energy and matter) the old rules go out the window. The gates provoke the Goths continiously, the Goths retaliate continiously, and Duarte defends continiously. Nagata's algorithm is at that point about as useful and relevant as a pre-approved visa during a Soviet-US nuclear exchange.

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  • I agree it's quite possible that the old rules go out the window, but it seems to me just as likely that ships would be even more likely to go dutchman than Naomi's algorithm suggests as a result of the ongoing struggle against the Goths.
    – Null
    Jan 14, 2022 at 17:04
  • They would be, were it not for Duarte turning on the defenses. That's what the battle against the Goths, keeping them from interfering with the operation of the gates and ensuring they do not destroy the Slow Zone.
    – 10ebbor10
    Jan 14, 2022 at 22:26
  • I'm willing to believe that Duarte prevented them from going dutchman (that is the "best explanation" I present in my question, but does the text say that? Or are you just speculating like I am?
    – Null
    Jan 14, 2022 at 22:36

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