The Explosive Conclusion – Option Zulu

The Explosive Conclusion – Option Zulu

  The lead elements of the PLA assault took their time approaching the university. Hank was up on the top floor, all too aware that he was a lot higher up than he wanted to be if the shelling started in earnest, watching as the first armored vehicles edged out of the trees and began spreading out across the fields to the north of the campus. Mostly painted in the weird blue, green, and gray PLAN marine camouflage, the first ZBD-2000 light tanks and ZBD-05 amphibious assault vehicles crept out onto the open ground, PLAN marines using the vehicles for cover as they advanced. They were moving more slowly and cautiously than Hank had expected. Maybe they’d taken more losses on landing than they’d anticipated. That slow, cautious advance wasn’t going to help them as much as they might have hoped. A tank’s main gun thundered off to his left as one of the dug-in M60A3s opened fire at what amounted to point-blank range for a tank. The Taiwanese had been upgrading their aging M60 and M48 tanks over the last few years. That particular M60A3 down there was covered in reactive armor and sported a 120mm main gun, instead

Option Zulu Chapter 1

Option Zulu Chapter 1

Approximately 13 hours before Grex Luporum Team X, assigned PSD duties for Wenzeslaus Gorman, takes contact on the bridge over the Ochtum.   The Jacqueline Q might have changed her digital identifier so that she now appeared to any nautical tracking programs as the Maureen, but there hadn’t been the time nor the available equipment to change the lettering on her bow. They didn’t know that the PLAN had fingered her as the privateer she was, but as things stood, it wasn’t a great idea to take chances. So, she was well out at sea, south of Taiwan, while Hank Foss and his section rode the Zodiacs toward their target. Hank had essentially pulled rank as the section leader and had appointed himself coxswain. That was normal, but there was an added benefit on a long transit like this. He was still taking a beating, and he’d been soaked to the bone for the last two hours, but he wasn’t getting knocked around nearly as badly as Brule and Carrington up in the bow. Riding the bow in a Zodiac Combat Rubber Raiding Craft for a three-hour over the horizon transit to target was beyond miserable. The ocean around them

Going Live for Darkness and Stone

Going Live for Darkness and Stone

For those who’d like to ask questions or just listen in, I’ll be going live at 9PM EST tonight, April 19th, on YouTube and Facebook: Be sure to tune in. This is the first of what will probably become a monthly thing. I might be winging it a bit this time. I’ll talk some about The Lost, but questions about my other stuff is also welcome. I’ll just try to keep out of too much spoiler territory, so plan your questions accordingly. Hope to see you soon.

Into Shadow – Darkness and Stone is Out

Into Shadow – Darkness and Stone is Out

The coast had just come into sight, a faint, dark line to the north beneath the lowering gray clouds, when the sea serpent hit us. I looked up at Eoghain’s cry and saw him standing in the high, swan-carved prow, pointing off to the starboard side. I hadn’t caught the words over the wind, but the tone of alarm was unmistakable. I snatched up my M110 from the sea chest at my feet and started working my way across the deck to join him. If it had been the marksman rifle that I’d left behind on the USS Makin Island, I probably would have had it in a waterproof bag, slathered with silicone spray. But King Caedmon’s Coira Ansec, the mystical cauldron that could produce ammo, weapons—whatever you asked for, really—produced some fine firearms. That thing was practically impervious to salt water. The deck of Nachdainn’s ship was neat, every line, chest, and tool in its place, but that didn’t make it clear. It took me a minute to cross to the prow, where I joined Eoghain, Bearrac, and Gunny Taylor at the gunwale. Gunny was already up on his rifle, peering through the scope. The whole platoon had switched

Shadows and Crows is Here

Shadows and Crows is Here

Weird, sonorous chanting rose from the beach. As I got behind a massive, ancient oak and got on my rifle, I saw that the corsairs had formed a shield wall in a great crescent around the largest of the beached ships. The ships themselves were high-prowed, black-painted and carved with snarling beasts. They looked a bit more Mediterranean to my admittedly unpracticed eye than Viking. But neither name had any meaning here, anyway. The shield wall surrounded a knot of raiders, kneeling and swaying around an emaciated, hunchbacked figure draped in black rags. I couldn’t make out his face, as it was hidden beneath a deep, black cowl. But pale, crooked arms reached out from the rags wrapped around the figure’s shoulders, fingers like claws grasping at the sky as the figure twitched and spasmed, as it continued that droning, buzzing chant. I might not have been the best-versed in the magic and monsters stuff, but I knew a threat when I saw one. And we’d all seen enough in the north to know that sorcery was a very real threat. I put my crosshairs on the twitching figure in rags and took up the slack on the trigger. Two

The War’s Not Over – Power Vacuum is Out!

The War’s Not Over – Power Vacuum is Out!

A large part of the Maelstrom Rising series has been aiming at how a next world war wouldn’t necessarily look like most people think. Power Vacuum drives that home, as it becomes clearer that Thunder Run was far from the end in Europe. The European Defense Council Has Fallen… …But Peace Has Not Come to Europe Will the Chaos Only Spread from Here? The thunder run into Germany has left Matt’s team battered and borderline combat ineffective. The Triarii don’t have the reinforcements for them to stand down, however. Commitments in the US and the Western Pacific have stretched them thin. And with Europe in chaos, there is no rest to be had. Jihadis have struck repeatedly, sowing bloodshed and confusion where possible, and it appears the Turks are involved. The Russians are pushing in the east, and they may have operatives in the heart of Western Europe as well. The European Defense Corps hasn’t stood down, either. And a new NGO that’s arrived to help might be the most dangerous enemy of all… *** Hybrid Warfare. It’s become something of a buzzword. There are books written about how it became a buzzword (One in particular, that proved to be a massive waste

Power Vacuum Chapter 2

Power Vacuum Chapter 2

Almost cut off. Chris stomped on the brake and slewed the wheel over, throwing Gorman and David against me as I was crushed against the inside of the door. A moment later, he stomped on the gas again, struggling slightly against the sluggish weight of the armored vehicle, roaring up Am Pumpwerk, around the back of the “Autohaus” at the intersection. The other vehicles followed, chased by bullets and at least one rocket, which skipped off the pavement, as the idiot shooting it apparently tried to compensate for recoil that wasn’t there. We didn’t get far, though. A black UAZ Hunter roared out into the middle of the road in front of us, the doors flying wide and an HK21 sticking out through the “V” of the door on the right. The machinegun opened up with a ripping, staccato thunder. The gunner wasn’t very good, fortunately, and rounds sailed over our vehicle with a snarling crackle, but this wasn’t going to end well. We might be able to push past that Hunter, but then a moment later, two more shooters with LAWs came around the back. We weren’t going to dodge those rockets, even if they flinched. “Get out, get

Power Vacuum Chapter 1

Power Vacuum Chapter 1

I hate PSD work. One of the benefits of being in the Grex Luporum teams is that we can be mobile and unpredictable, moving quickly and often invisibly through the AO to get the mission done. When the mission is to act as a Personal Security Detachment, escorting a public figure, though, especially one who might end up becoming the next Prime Minister of Germany, it gets harder to stay unpredictable. Which was why I wasn’t all that surprised when the lead vehicle blew up just short of the bridge over the Ochtum. The armored Land Rover disappeared into a boiling black cloud that slammed out of the trees on the side of the road, the heavy thud of the detonation traveling through the ground toward us. I caught a glimpse of the vehicle a moment later, slewed halfway around with its back wheels against the median, the armored glass starred and a few hundred frag holes punched into the doors, as I keyed my radio. “Contact, right.” The Land Rover that had been hit cracked its doors, the Germans who formed the bulk of Wenzeslaus Gorman’s official PSD sticking their MP7s out through the “V” and covering down on

Badass or Buffoon? INFOSEC and Going Gray

The Europe of Power Vacuum has changed considerably. So has the war. The Triarii’s operational constraints have changed with the situation, and Matt and his Grex Luporum team have to adjust and reset to many of the tactics and techniques they had to use Stateside, before the war kicked off in earnest. There’s a lot more gray man stuff in Power Vacuum, so I’m happy to bring a guest post from Steve Tarani about how INFOSEC and physicality are a part of truly going gray. In today’s world of open-source accessible information, perception is reality. People look at your physical and digital footprint and may think ‘Hey what’s this person all about.’ Whether you are aware of it or not, how you are perceived by potential predators, opportunists, co-workers, family members, passers-by, social media monitors and others, is what contributes to their subjective evaluation.  Badass or Buffoon? Steve Tarani Ranging from the bumper stickers on your pickup truck to what you post throughout all your social media platforms, all kinds of data are readily accessible to the entire planet rendering them plainly observable. To the outside observer, these all paint a picture of who and what you’re all about. You can be