No special guest this month, and not really much of a set agenda, which is why I’m calling it the September Peanut Gallery. We might talk war, worldbuilding, writing, or just go off on tangents brought on by audience questions. Bring what ya got.
Setting the Stage – The T’ai Kung
King Wu inquired of the T’ai Kung: “I want to attain our aim [of overthrowing the Shang], but I have three doubts. I am afraid that our strength will be inadequate to attack the strong, to estrange his close supporters within the court, and disperse his people. What shall I do?” The T’ai Kung replied: “Accord with the situation, be very cautious in making plans, and employ your material resources. Now in order to attack the strong, you must nurture them to make them even stronger, and increase them to make them even more extensive. What is too strong will certainly break; what is too extensive must have deficiencies. Attack the strong through his strength. Cause the estrangement of his favored officials by using his favorites, and disperse his people by means of the people. “Now in the Tao of planning, thoroughness and secrecy are treasured. You should become involved with him in numerous affairs and ply him with temptations of profit. Conflict will then surely arise. “If you want to cause his close supporters to become estranged from him, you must do it by using what they love–making gifts to those he favors, giving them what they want. Tempt
Monthly Livestream with Wargate
At 6PM Pacific/9Pm Eastern, we’ll be going live with The Emperors of Galaxy’s Edge and Wargate Books, Nick Cole and Jason Anspach. A little over a year ago, Nick hit me up with a proposal for a new project. The end result has been The Lost, with more to come. So, tonight, we’ll be sitting down to talk about what Wargate is, how it came to be, where it’s going, and anything else that comes to mind. (If you’ve watched any of these livestreams before, you know that we can get off topic and get on tangents sometimes.) It will be live on Facebook, and also here on Youtube:
Setting the Stage – Pallas Group Solutions
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Swords Against the Night
I didn’t have time to think that through before the keel scraped on what felt like solid ground. If we hadn’t been backing water, slowing precipitously already even before the mist had engulfed us, everyone aboard the ship would have been thrown to the deck by the abrupt halt. We had just run aground, in the middle of deep water, miles out to sea. After a moment, as I regained my equilibrium after the shock of that impact, I realized it felt like we were rising, being lifted above the water level. When I lurched to the rail and peered over the side, I saw only wet rock and silt beneath us. An island was rising out of the ocean, stranding the entire ship high and dry. It was still emerging, too, as the ground beneath us shuddered and shook like an earthquake. The shuddering stopped. The mist seemed to thin, but only to reveal more flat, slimy rock, strewn with some seaweed and what looked like the flopping bodies of fish or eels. Strangely, the mist only appeared to be thinner off to starboard, where it had first appeared. The port side was still engulfed in gray. The wind
Terror and Corruption: Marque and Reprisal is Out!
Surface To Air “Kev! Up!” Wade had pivoted, bringing his MCX up as the second helo made a pass at the stern. Bullets smacked into steel and fiberglass around them, and both Blackhearts ducked, Curtis throwing himself flat just below the lip of the helipad. He rolled over onto his back as the bird went by, wrenching the EVOLYS around and sending a burst at the receding aircraft’s tail. He couldn’t tell whether he’d hit it or not. Levering himself to his feet, he hauled the EVOLYS up and searched for the helo. It was nose down, making tracks fast, banking off to the west, far astern of the yacht. I still might be able to hit it. He shifted to the aft rail, bracing the machinegun and tracking in on the fleeing helicopter. He squeezed off a burst, but his range was off. Red tracers arced just beneath the bird, which jinked hard to avoid the fire and dove even closer to the water, turning away from the Dream Empire and banking violently from side to side to avoid the gunfire. He fired one more burst, but between the helicopter’s motion, the widening range, and the yacht’s own rolling
Marque and Reprisal Chapter 3
Joe Flanagan scanned the water carefully, considering the angles. There was a good spot just upstream, where a sizeable boulder lay just beneath the surface, visible only as a slightly more noticeable stirring of the water. He saw another spot closer to the bank, though, where a fallen tree and a partially collapsed overhang had formed a sheltered pool. He stayed where he was, motionless, quiet, set back from the bank so that he wouldn’t cast a shadow on the water, and watched for a while. After a few minutes, he circled around toward the pool formed by the fallen tree. Crouching down by a pine, he watched the water carefully for a few more minutes, before finally casting into the end of the pool. It took a couple of casts, but finally the line tautened and the tip of the rod bent. He flicked upward, setting the hook, and then started to work the fish in toward the bank. Even as he reeled in his catch, he heard the crunch of gravel under tires, the sound of a motor stopping, and then a door being shut. Despite the battering his hearing had taken over years of gunfire and helicopters,
Marque and Reprisal Chapter 2
“Dad? Looks like Uncle Hector’s here.” John Brannigan looked up from the table. Hank, leaner and shorter than his father by several inches, was peering out the door at the driveway, noticeably staying out of the light, off to one side, where a newcomer shouldn’t be able to see him. The boy had been an officer, but he’d learned. He should have, given the fact that his old man had been something of an infantry legend. Still. He’d learned even more since he’d left the Marine Corps and become a member of the secretive mercenary team that called itself Brannigan’s Blackhearts. Brannigan shut the ledger in front of him with a faint frown and got up to step around the table and move to the other window. Sure enough, that was Hector Chavez’s car pulling up the driveway. “That’s weird. Usually he calls ahead.” “Maybe the cell signal’s not working up here again.” “Wouldn’t that be a shame,” Brannigan growled. The only reason he had the infernal device in the first place was because of the Blackhearts. Otherwise, he would have been perfectly happy to go completely off grid up here. Thrusting his .45 into the back of his waistband,
Marque and Reprisal Chapter 1
The attack was swift and completely unexpected. Carl Hild hardly noticed the roll of the deck beneath his feet as he headed below, toward his cabin. He was still miserable. I never should have taken this gig. The money wasn’t bad. The job itself, though… Hild had been to just about every port in the world over the last twenty years. He’d sailed with all kinds of crews, from the good, to the bad, to the incompetent and depraved. None of them quite matched this nightmare. Not that the crew itself was bad. Even the captain, drunk though he was, knew his business and generally treated his subordinates fairly. Even the route wasn’t bad. No, it was the client. The Tonka Canyon wasn’t the biggest oceangoing cargo ship out there, and her cargoes often only just about broke even. This time, though, the container at the forefront of the hold was supposed to pay for the whole voyage by itself, and that was leaving aside the other stuff they’d taken on to fill the rest of the hold. It just didn’t feel worth it. The container had come with its own security detail and supervisor. And that was where the
The Guns of Marque and Reprisal
Returning to the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series once more, it’s time for the traditional guns post. There’s slightly less variety this time around, but it’s a more contained sort of story, too. Once the Blackhearts get aboard the ship they’ve been hired to protect from an advanced group of pirates, they get issued weapons by the client. That means all the same primaries, namely SIG MCX Virtus carbines in 5.56×45. The sidearms are all issued, as well. The client’s security coordinator goes for the basics, with Glock 19s. Initially, that’s all they get, to Kevin Curtis’s fury. However, once things start to get kinetic, it turns out that the client was slightly more prepared for the well-equipped, well-trained pirates than it appeared. With money to burn, too. Curtis and Bianco both end up wielding FN EVOLYS ultralight machineguns, also in 5.56. The pirates are a little more black market. Their primary weapons are South African Vektor R4s in 5.56. For machineguns, they have a few Vektor Mini-SS 5.56 belt-feds, presumably from the same shipment the R4s came from. Pistols are a little bit more eclectic among the pirates. We don’t necessarily get to see many of them, but the pirate chief, Cain,