“Rare earth minerals, several fortunes in heavy metals, and more M’tait artifacts than anyone has ever seen, let alone had a chance to get their hands on without them turning explosive,” Troop Captain Nikoilo said. “No wonder they tried fighting us over it.” “It was still stupid,” Vakolo growled. They were standing in the entry chamber that the Caractacans had cleared. It was now the Sparatan groundside command post, with Sparatan troops on security at the various openings, some descending into the pits to explore the nether regions of the base. Vakolo himself was in combat armor, standing next to the troop commander at their hasty command and control station where a portable holo tank had been set up, updating the base layout and troop dispositions as reports came in. “They were vastly outnumbered and outgunned. They should have had the wit to surrender immediately.” “I have yet to meet a pirate who would qualify as a great thinker, Strategos,” Nikoilo said dryly. Vakolo just looked at him, but the Troop Captain’s helmet was as faceless as his own. He just shook his head. He should take the man to task for the remark, but if any of his men
Squad Sergeant Jules Ncube crossed himself as the dropship began its final braking maneuver, gee forces pressing his armored form deeper into his acceleration couch. He had not yet faced the M’tait in combat, and while the initial scans of the planetoid below had led Centurion Waylander to believe that there were no actual M’tait present, he had seen enough combat to know that the initial orbital reconnaissance was rarely to be relied upon entirely. There were always things below that the radar, lidar, and thermal and optic telescopes couldn’t quite see. The dropship began to shudder a little, and in the visual feed on the flatscreen in front of his face, Ncube could see the faintest trace of an orange nimbus start to flicker around the truncated, conical hull. It was nowhere near some of the fiery displays he’d seen on hot drops; the nameless planetoid known only as Trakan Target One had only barely enough of a trace atmosphere to warm the hull a little. Almost as soon as it had formed, the nimbus was gone, as the dropship’s drive accomplished more to slow its descent than any aerobraking could hope to. The horizon was a golden line
I originally wrote this as a newsletter draw for the separate The Unity Wars newsletter. Since I’m folding the series into my main author “brand,” I’m going to serialize it here. 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
Just got home from Life, The Universe, and Everything in Provo, Utah on Sunday. It was a great weekend; got to hang out with Larry Correia, Jim Curtis, and quite a few others. The panels might not have been that useful; it was the conversations around the panels that were enlightening. Several new projects came out of it, including a Maelstrom Rising project that I’ll keep under wraps for the moment, but it’s going to be cool. For today, this is a bit of a blast from the past. Since I mentioned in last week’s post that I’m delving into some Fantasy and Science Fiction again, I thought I’d put some of my short work up. This story appeared in an anthology by Superversive Press entitled Tales of the Once and Future King. Since Superversive folded recently, and the book is out of print, the story rights reverted to me, so here it is. Taliesin’s Riddle The spring rains had cleared away, and the morning of the tenth day after Pentecost was bright and green when Ercwlff, son of Cadwgan, rode out from his father’s holdings astride the horse he had received when he had taken arms at the Feast of the Resurrection.
I’ve had people asking about getting my books on audio for several years now. I’ve given it a shot a couple of times, but things haven’t worked out to continue with the ACX Royalty Share arrangement. However, a couple of months ago, I was contacted by Tantor Media, asking if the audio rights to the Maelstrom Rising series were available. Tantor’s not a small company; they’ve got thousands of audiobooks in their catalog. So, I signed on. Escalation is out today. Holding Action is in production, and will be out on the 10th of December. Steve Marvel is narrating, and while I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, I’ve communicated with him some, and his attention to detail is admirable, and his rendition of the news stories in the Prologue (in the Sample) is spot on. Meanwhile, I’m hammering away at Crimson Star. It’s being a bit of a bear, but I’m getting a handle on it. Taking the scene back to CONUS presents a whole new set of complications. Preorder and release date are still yet to be determined; I’ve got to get closer to finishing first. Kill or Capture‘s been out for a bit now.
Hopefully everybody had a good Christmas. I posted earlier that I was working on facelifting the American Praetorians series. That project is now complete, with new front and back matter, some edits, new covers for Task Force Desperate and Hunting in the Shadows, and standardized formatting through all paperbacks. In honor of it, and for those of you who might be new, for a limited time, here’s a chapter from the final book, Lex Talionis. Bullets and blood aplenty for the holidays. (I’m working on possibly coming out with a couple of boxed sets for the series in the next couple of months. Possibly with some previously-untold short stories.)
They hadn’t gone far when Lewis was tugging on Brannigan’s sleeve. “Sir, we just got a message from Team Two,” he yelled in the Colonel’s ear. “They are mission complete, but are pinned down under fire, and cut off from the beach.” Brannigan glanced forward, where the wounded Lance Corporal Clark was lying on the deck. Time was short, but he had a responsibility to those boys down on the ground, too. He started working his way forward, stepping over and past knees, boots, M27s, and two LSATs, carefully moving around Clark’s supine form, until he got to the cockpit. “We need to divert to Shilka Position Two,” he shouted to the pilot. “Some of my boys are in trouble, and need some support.” “This ain’t a gunship, sir, and we’ve got a casualty aboard,” the copilot protested. “Don’t try to bullshit me, son,” Brannigan replied. “We’ve got a minigun and a 240 mounted for a reason, and it’s more than that team on the ground has. Take us in.” He stayed where he was, but motioned for Lewis to hand him the handset, cursing the multiple tac frequencies that went along with combined arms warfare. The recon teams were
“Sir? We just got a message from Team One. ‘Macallan.’” Corporal Jamie Lewis stopped and listened. It had to be rough, trying to hear the radio over the noise of the Osprey’s idling props. “Wait,” he said. “There’s Team Three. ‘Buffalo Trace.’” Brannigan resisted the urge to grin. Leave it to Marines to make all of their brevity codes the names of either alcohol, sports teams, or porn stars. “Any word from Team Two?” “No, sir,” Lewis replied, the handset pressed against his ear. “Still nothing.” Brannigan nodded, and thought for a moment. Staff Sergeant Holmes would do the job if he could. But the enemy was also undoubtedly alerted now, with two of the Shilkas having gone up in smoke. “Screw it,” he decided. He reached forward, tapped the pilot on the shoulder, and gave him a thumbs-up. Then he keyed his own radio, which was on the Battalion Tac channel. “All Kodiak units, this is Kodiak Six,” he called. “Crazy Horse. I say again, Crazy Horse.” The odds of anyone listening in on a SINCGARS channel, out in the middle of the Red Sea, were minimal, but Brannigan hadn’t gotten to where he was by being sloppy. He’d
Staff Sergeant Elias Martinez had just checked the quick release affixed to the bow of the partially-deflated Zodiac for the third time when something made him look up. There was a towering figure standing at the base of the CH-53’s ramp. Martinez instinctively straightened, then yelled for the rest of his team. There might be plenty of big Marines aboard the USS Boxer, but there was no mistaking the silhouette of the MEU Commander. Colonel John Brannigan cut an altogether different figure. There was something about the way he carried himself that set him apart and made him immediately recognizable. What was surprising was the fact that the Colonel, with the squat form of Sergeant Major Santelli beside him, was in full kit. Helmet, NVGs, plate carrier, mags, radio, blowout kit, rifle, the works. He looked like he was ready to climb right on the bird and insert alongside Martinez’ Force Recon Team. Which was unheard of, and something that Martinez suddenly found he more than vaguely dreaded. No team leader wants an officer looking over his shoulder on an op, let alone the Colonel. “Bring it in a minute, gents!” Brannigan boomed, managing to make himself heard over the
Starting tomorrow, I will be serializing the prelude story to Brannigan’s Bastards here on the blog. Brannigan’s Bastards #0 – The Colonel Has A Plan will be released in three parts over the next three weeks, then put on its own page, accessible from the home page. Stay tuned.