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
That’s right. There’s going to be an anthology of stories set in the Maelstrom Rising series. And it’s going to have some pretty big names in it. I got the idea the first night at LTUE. Like I said, the interesting stuff there came from the discussions between panels. So, though it won’t be a numbered volume in the series, SPOTREPS – A Maelstrom Rising Anthology will be coming out on Kindle and in paperback. I will have at least one story in it, along with contributions from: Larry Correia Mike Kupari JL Curtis LawDog Brad Torgersen James Rosone Mike Massa Steven Hildreth, Jr. David Reeder Chris Hernandez and Jonathan LaForce It’s a fairly eclectic group: Larry’s a civvie gun guy and a hell of a storyteller; Mike’s been a security contractor and an AF EOD tech (and he and I have already written a story together); Jim Curtis is a retired Naval Aviator; Lawdog is a sheriff’s deputy who grew up in Africa; Brad is a National Guard WO; James Rosone is an Army veteran and a former contractor; Mike Massa was a SEAL (nobody’s perfect); Steven Hildreth is a former Army and NG infantryman; David Reeder is a former AF
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.
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
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.
If it hadn’t been for the earpiece, I never would have heard the radio over the snarl of the four-wheeler’s engine. “Hillbilly, this is Plug,” Hank called. I eased off the throttle and took one hand off the handlebars to key the radio. “Send it, Plug.” “Can you push up to the top of that ridgeline just to the east of you and take a look to the south?” he asked. “Tell me what you see.” “Sure thing,” I answered. It wasn’t like we had a set patrol route, or even any particular need to be anywhere. So far, this job had consisted of little more than long hours just hot-wheeling around the hills of southern Arizona on four-wheelers and the occasional pickup truck. I gunned the engine and sent the sturdy little ATV surging up between the mesquites and the creosote bushes toward the ridge that Hank had indicated. It wasn’t a long climb, but it was steep and rocky, with plenty more sagebrush and creosote bushes that I had to weave around. But it still only took a couple of minutes to reach the top. Halting my ATV, I stood on the running boards and pulled my binos
The Canyon of the Lost is out today! Check it out for a short adventure with Jed Horn and Dan Weatherby, about a year after Nightmares and some time before A Silver Cross and a Winchester.