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 of the 105mm gun that it had originally been built with, decades before. At that range, it was more than enough punch for the lightly-armored ZBD-2000 trundling across the muddy fields to the front.

The angular light tank blew up with a spectacular fireball as the penetrator round slammed into it just at the turret ring. The turret itself tumbled skyward on a column of flame and smoke as the tank’s magazine brewed up.


The War Reaches a Fever Pitch…

…Desperation Reigns On All Sides

Can it End Short of Annihilation?

From the beginning, the People’s Republic of China has been working behind the scenes, sponsoring the EDC’s cyber attack on the US and taking full advantage once the lights went out.

They’re not in the shadows anymore.

Hank Foss has fought them on American soil and in the South China Sea. Matt Bowen has fought them in Europe. Now, the war gets closer and closer to the Chinese mainland, as the final offensive against Taiwan is launched. Hank and his section go to work to head off the invasion.

The South China Sea is no longer their lifeline.

And they’re getting desperate.

Desperate enough to do the unthinkable?


So it comes to an end. Three years, nine books. The Maelstrom Rising series has concluded, perhaps not quite the way that I had initially anticipated when I started back in early 2019. A lot has happened to alter the geopolitical landscape since then. Yet some things have stayed the same in essentials, if not details. And while I’ve just about avoided being overtaken by events, it seems to be a bit of a near thing. Even as I write this, the war in Ukraine rages, and China rattles the saber at Taiwan even harder.

The idea for Option Zulu came from a conversation around a helicopter landing zone in Iraq in early 2006, as several of us talked about the possibilities by which small teams of dedicated, highly-trained light infantry could effectively paralyze a country. The name came from a John Ringo essay written shortly after 9/11 (though he called it Option Zero). The logistics turned out to be rather hairier than I’d anticipated, but desperate times can call for desperate measures.

Most of my military fiction takes the form of cautionary tales written as action thrillers. This one is no different. Let’s hope that the events of Option Zulu don’t end up coming to pass in the real world.

Option Zulu is out today on Kindle and in paperback.

The Explosive Conclusion – Option Zulu

Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Since he got out, he's been writing, authoring many articles and 24 books, mostly Action/Adventure and Military Thrillers, with some excursions into Paranormal Fantasy and Science Fiction.

7 thoughts on “The Explosive Conclusion – Option Zulu

  • May 4, 2022 at 8:51 am

    I really liked the book, but the ending was a little rushed. A lot happened right at the end/in the epilogue.

  • May 5, 2022 at 7:21 am

    Excellent ending to the series. Any plans for another Spotreps book? I really enjoyed other writers takes on the universe.

  • May 7, 2022 at 12:37 am

    Isn’t the PLAN marine tank called the ZTD-05, not the ZDB-2000?

    • May 7, 2022 at 3:01 pm

      There is an amphibious infantry fighting vehicle designated the ZBD-05. There is also an amphibious light tank designated the ZBD-2000.

  • July 26, 2023 at 8:14 am

    Just finished _Option Zulu_.

    Yikes, what a stunning ending to an epic series… I hope it never happens.

    Great job!


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