The Defense of Provenia Chapter 1

The Defense of Provenia Chapter 1

The halftrack grumbled to a halt with a lurch; the driver was clearly new, and hadn’t yet gotten used to the slightly different handling. In the turret above, Mertens was knocked against the double coilgun and swore. “Who let that fumble-fingered nuyak drive?” Mertens demanded, his voice muffled by armor plating. “He needs the road time,” Corporal Gaumarus Pell replied. “I remember your first few musters, Mertens. Don’t make me start telling stories.” There was a general chuckle through the halftrack’s troop compartment at that. Gaumarus looked around at his section. Well, not his section. Sergeant Verlot was the section leader. Gaumarus was just a fireteam leader. He was glad he’d gotten a chuckle though. It had broken some of the tension, and he’d actually managed to relax a little bit himself. On most days, he was responsible for two thousand acres of tillage on the Pell Family farm, both supervising the human workers and the remote tractors. The humans were easy; it was the bots that made him want to tear his hair out. Even after centuries of computer development, they were still frustratingly glitchy, overly literal mechanisms, that could plow up two months’ worth of crops in an

Valdek Falls. The Unity Wars Have Begun

Valdek Falls. The Unity Wars Have Begun

Today is the day. The Fall of Valdek is live once again. Starships plunge through a powerful blockade… …Below them, a world burns. Is the galaxy soon to follow? Centurion Scalas and his brothers ride the thundering ships toward the surface. Some of the finest and most respected warriors in the galaxy. Their code is strict: If you target the innocent…You will fall. But the horrific foe descending from deep space isn’t like anything they’ve faced before. Can they hope to stand against the rising new power in the galaxy? The Fall of Valdek is now available on Kindle and Paperback.

The Unity Wars – Caractacan Honor

The Unity Wars – Caractacan Honor

The dropship came to rest with a barely noticeable thump.  It wasn’t so much a landing as a docking; the anchor cables had just been reeled all the way back in. The hatches folded away silently; the dropship’s troop compartment had been depressurized all the way in, the twenty-man squad of Caractacan Brothers sealed in their armor and plugged into the dropship’s life support to spare the air supplies in their sustainment packs.  As the hatches opened, all twenty men unplugged their packs from the hoses attached to their acceleration couches. They had landed on the dark side, the asteroid’s bulk masking sun and planets alike.  The stars were brilliant pinpoints of light against an otherwise pitch-black emptiness, shining bright and hard with the crisp clarity of total vacuum.  With the dropship’s drives pointed at it, the asteroid appeared to be “down,” as much as that direction had any meaning in microgravity. Gripping his VK-40 assault shotgun in one hand, Squad Sergeant Erekan Scalas found the control arm for his maneuvering unit with the other.  “Keep close to the surface, combat dispersion,” he told his squad, as he jetted out of the hatch.  The asteroid designated Akela-Z84 was far too

The Unity Wars – Incident at Trakan

The Unity Wars – Incident at Trakan

Trakan System Tyrus Cluster 4,400 hours since the fall of Oram Prime Seventy-five starships hung in the black, only the faint starlight reflecting off their hulls.  Ahead, the star designated Trakan on most starmaps was little more than a slightly brighter pinpoint of light amid dazzling myriads. The largest formation of ships was made up of angular, chisel-nosed battlecruisers, painted a bright blue, with the wreathed Sigma emblem of the Sparatan Space Force only dimly visible in the star glow. Nearby floated two dozen broad, dumbbell-shaped star cruisers, their hulls a deep red that almost looked black in the dimness of deep space.  The characters etched on their flanks were alien; tehud symbols spelled out each ship’s name and its place in the Vergsegeilith Task Fleet, out of Bilbissari. Two ships didn’t fit with either group.  The three-sided, coppery arrowhead bore no markings whatsoever, but was immediately identifiable as belonging to the Order of Shufa, one of the most secretive and rarely seen of the galaxy’s Military Brotherhoods.  The silvery spindle-shape of the Reliant bore the four-pointed star and crossed beam rifles on a blue shield of the Caractacan Brotherhood. Aboard the largest of the Sparatan battlecruisers, the Ollianus, the

The Unity Wars Returns

The Unity Wars Returns

So, about three years ago, I tried something new. Entitled The Unity Wars, it was my first published bit of science fiction (though I’d been writing SF in my free time since high school). While it was generally well-received by those who read it, it didn’t sell well enough to keep going. That was largely my fault. I used a pen name, kept it separate from my primary author brand, and made a few other marketing mistakes. I had regular readers telling me that they didn’t even know it existed. So, last year, I decided to try relaunching it, with new covers, under my primary brand. I was working on this when an opportunity popped up. Aethon Books put out a call for a military SF series for this year’s release schedule. I answered, they liked it, and now The Fall of Valdek is about to come out again, this month. The series got its start in June 2015, as “Alternate Star Wars Prequels.”  (This was about six months before The Force Awakens was released, so the dumpster fire that is the Disney/Lucasfilm sequel trilogy had yet to begin.)  I had been dissatisfied with the prequels (and the direction they led Star Wars as

Red Vengeance – SOBs 14

Red Vengeance – SOBs 14

When a counter-piracy mission goes bad, the SOBs find themselves hunting a secret society of pirates–the Red Vengeance. This was probably one of the best of the SOBs books I’ve read recently. While it has some connection with the real world (mainly through the Vietnamese Boat People), it’s a pretty self-contained adventure, with the SOBs going toe-to-toe with some of the most evil antagonists they’ve faced yet. Published in 1986, this book touches on a rarely-mentioned part of the aftermath of the Vietnam War–the boat people. Between 1975 and 1992, almost two million Vietnamese fled what had been the Republic of Vietnam, braving the South China Sea in rickety, overloaded boats rather than endure the new Communist regime. And where there are refugees, there are those who would prey on them. Red Vengeance sees the SOBs go after some of those predators–just turned up to 11. The book starts with a mission for the Thai Royal Navy going bad. It’s not the SOBs’ fault–it had already gone bad before they went in. But it puts them in a rough spot. They failed, whether it’s their fault or not. And that puts them off contract and pissed off. But one of their

Welcome to the Jungle – War to the Knife is Live

Welcome to the Jungle – War to the Knife is Live

The Brannigan’s Blackhearts series drives on, with War to the Knife, the 9th book in the series, going live today. I’d had this book in mind for quite some time, now. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to writing it from the series’ very inception. Some of the inspiration came from playing Jagged Alliance 2, and its remake, Jagged Alliance: Back in Action (which isn’t nearly as bad as some old-school JA purists would say). Furthermore, the premise of a small team of mercenaries going in to liberate a city or a nation under a tyrannical government is something that all of us who have carried a gun in hostile climes has probably dreamed of, at least once or twice. It’s kind of like every red-blooded American boy quietly wishing that something like Red Dawn would happen for real, so that he could be a Wolverine (the American guerrillas from the movie, not the comic book character). Well, there’s a reason I call some of my stuff–especially the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series–“Shooter Wish Fulfillment.” I really enjoyed writing this one, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. *** A border city is in the grip of a ruthless criminal… …And he might be working for even more sinister

War to the Knife Chapter 2

War to the Knife Chapter 2

The Rocking K Diner was quiet, but it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Most people in that neck of the woods had to work. John Brannigan had plenty of chores to do around his cabin up the mountain, but his situation was a little different. And the message he’d gotten from Mark Van Zandt had been more than a little intriguing. Brannigan threaded his way between the tables toward the back, trading a friendly wave with Ginger, Mama Taft’s granddaughter and permanent waitress, who would probably inherit the diner whenever Mama passed away. Granted, Mama Taft was hard as nails, and probably wouldn’t die until Death himself came and dragged her away, cussing and punching him in the face. It would be a long time before Ginger inherited, but the cheerful, bouncy young redhead was fine with that. Van Zandt was sitting in the corner booth, all the way in the back, nursing a cup of coffee. He’d dressed down a bit since the first time he’d come to the Rocking K, wearing jeans and a flannel shirt. The first time, he’d been in slacks and a corporate polo shirt. Brannigan and Van Zandt had a

War to the Knife Chapter 1

War to the Knife Chapter 1

There was no warning. Miguel Jurado was a heavy sleeper, especially when he’d eaten well and had downed about half a bottle of aguardiente. So, he didn’t hear the door open, despite the noise outside. He was dead to the world until he found himself shaken roughly. “Mayor Jurado! Mayor Jurado, you need to wake up, Señor!” He cracked one eye, his head already starting to pound. He couldn’t handle the aguardiente as well as he had when he was younger. It took a moment to register that it was Sebastian Casas, his chief of security, who was shaking him. That can’t be good. He sat up in bed with a groan, squinting against the light that spilled through the open door. He wasn’t really fat, not yet, but his body was going soft as he got older and balder, and for some reason, that meant that he always hurt when he got up, despite the alcohol. Maria, his third wife, twenty years his junior, didn’t have that problem. She was sitting up in bed, covering herself with the sheet, staring at Casas with large, dark, frightened eyes. “What is it?” Jurado peered blearily at the clock beside the massive

The Guns of “War to the Knife”

The Guns of “War to the Knife”

One of the fun aspects to writing the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series is the gun porn. It’s always been a staple of the Action/Adventure genre. I do try for a bit more authenticity than some of the older works in the genre (which will remain nameless), while at the same time avoiding the multi-page descriptions, so as not to bog down the story. Featuring a wide variety of weaponry is still cool, though, which is why I’ve been running this series of posts since the series started. Most of the time, the Blackhearts use a common service weapon in the Area of Operations where they’re working. War to the Knife is no different. Their local contact gets them IWI Galil SARs, which have been an issue service rifle in the National Army of Colombia. There are also a couple of the 5.56 version of the IWI Negev light machinegun. And Flanagan gets a chance to use a Galatz sniper rifle. The Green Shirts, the narco-communists who have taken over San Tabal, carry a mix of weapons based on many carried by the FARC. That means a mix of mostly M16s and AK-47s for rifles (mostly either captured from the Colombians or trafficked in by