Resolute Strike (The War for Terra Book 7), страница 1
James R. Prosser, Jr.
Copyright: James R. Prosser, Jr.
First Published: March 5, 2015
Cover Illustration by: James R. Prosser, Jr.
Publisher: James Prosser
This book is entirely a work of fiction created by the author. Any resemblance to any person or character, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
The right of James R. Prosser, Jr. to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any form.
The War for Terra Series
You may want to read these first. Just a suggestion. No pressure.
The Adventures of Connor Jakes
Sol System – Sedna
Alliance Carrier Zeus
Alliance Assault Frigate Kongo
Orbit of Sedna – Empty Space
Alliance Carrier Zeus
Theta Site Mining Colony 16
Outside the orbit of Jupiter
Sol System – Asteroid Belt
The War for Terra Series
My name is Lee Benjamin Pearce. I am captain of the battleship Resolute. I was asked to write the forward of this chronicle of the war with the Gizzeen. I agreed to do this partially as a way to set a few things straight and partially from loyalty to the man who asked the favor. Let me apologize now for the prose which follows. I am not a writer, I am a battleship commander. Although there are some who would like to include all the paperwork and reports with my job and say I have written plenty, I simply cannot take the mantle of writer for these few paragraphs. Having written that, I do read these books and enjoy them for what they are. The author has informed me his next book is going to be called Resolute Assault and I hope he has it done before I need to leave for my next mission. As far as I can tell, he has already written the book before I have even done the deeds. I suppose this is the purview of peddlers of fantasy, and if so, then so be it.
The author has attempted to fill in blanks of information with colorful stories of heroism and death defying hubris. I can assure you that battle is much more dangerous and the level of arrogance the author has shown me exhibiting would be suicidal on a field of battle. The losses I have suffered have been greater than shown in any of the previous books. Like any commander of men, I bear the weight of responsibility towards those I have lost, as well as the battles I have won. Their names are etched into my memories. I have tried to convince the author to write a more concise account of the war, both with and against the Ch’Tauk and now the Gizzeen, but he refuses to abandon the florid language and flashy descriptions. He says it’s what his readers want. I would disagree, but then again I am, as I have stated, not much of a writer.
The war against the Gizzeen has been hard. Resolute has been in so many skirmishes along the fringes of Alliance space I have lost count. She has suffered for it and is now in dry dock having her hull plating upgraded and her systems reinstalled. I watch the ship as she is torn apart and put back together like a parent watching a child undergoing surgery. We have bled together. War is not romantic. If you want to know war, watch as one of your own crewmen, your own friends, is pulled into space during battle and sliced to pieces by the blast of an enemy cannon before their lungs can explode. That is war. My ship and my crew are more than officers to me, they are family, and I suffer for each one of them lost. Again, I take responsibility for my actions which cause each death as if I had fired the cannon myself. It wears me down.
There are characters in this book who are an amalgam of several people and some who are very much as written. Henry Moore is a real person, as you may have seen on the news broadcasts, but the character as described is more an amalgam of several people. I don’t want to take away from Henry or his accomplishments, but he did not single-handedly win the war on Earth. Sorry, Henry. Emma is also a real person and she is ten thousand times tougher than shown in these books. Wellick, my dear friend and security chief, was real. I miss him every day. The story of his death is heroic and I hope it’s how he died, but since none who were on Victory survived to tell, the author has made a fitting end.
My beloved Alice is real and even more of everything she is described as than in the books. She gives me strength when I am weak and lets me comfort her when she falls. The love story is more passionate than the author would have you believe, but apparently he is no good at love scenes. Her capture by the Ch’Tauk was one of the hardest periods of my life, but the forge we came through made both of us stronger and left her with an inner ability that proved invaluable against the Gizzeen.
The Demon squadron were some of the best pilots I had ever flown with. Being a pilot and the first of their number has been an honor. The members of the squadron changed more than the author has told you, but he says it adds consistency to the story. In any case, Jackal has been with me since nearly the beginning. I miss my friends and their bold piloting. There will never be another group of pilots more deserving of medals and awards than those few who wore the stylized demon on their flight suits. As the author has stated many times, I do say a pilot’s prayer during battle and I have added the long list of names to the prayer. If anyone deserves mercy, it is my Demons.
I will say this once and for all for those who doubt. Connor Jakes is real and most of what you read about him is true. I wouldn’t trust that man with my wallet but I do trust him with my life. Yes, I know who the author has stated who he is. I am not sure I believe that story any more than I believe the man is one of the richest in the galaxy, but I have seen him do things which would make anyone else cringe in the pursuit of the mission. Connor Jakes is real. And if you ever meet him and he shakes your hand, check to see if your comm is still attached afterwards.
Then there is Ronald Chang. He is an entirely different story and one whose story is not over. I am indebted to him for my ship and command, but I am not sure I am the one to tell the tale. Friends can inflict the deepest wounds and Admiral Chang has cut me and the Alliance deeply. I am not sure he is worth trusting. I am sure when this account is given this line will be removed, so I am not afraid to say Ronald Chang is the biggest
A vast field of blue energy covered the center of Proxima Centauri’s small native system. A main system star, the flare star should have been spitting x-ray energy from its core across the system, blasting any orbital bodies with radiation and weak light. Instead the energy of the star was being absorbed by exotic particles leaking from another reality. Small planetoids tumbled in their orbits, seemingly unconcerned with the tendrils of energy leaping out and fingering their satellites. Among these, a small moon of one of these bodies sheltered twelve ships speeding close to its radiated surface.
The squadron of fighters raced low over the horizon, four banded Ch’Tauk fighters to the left and four to the right flanking the new Eagle class Alliance fighters flying point. As the recon patrol crested the edge of a crater, the first tendrils of exotic blue energy finally became visible above the rim. The ships dipped into the deep crater, the Ch’Tauk ships breaking off and moving away in opposite directions while the Eagles continued on target. The flight leader slowed the fighters as they approached the lip of the crater, halting to hover just inside the rim.
“Hive to hornets, are you in position?”
A crackle of static answered the Alliance squad leader. She hated working with the bugs. They refused to follow Alliance protocols and forced everyone on edge during missions. The Ch’Tauk were good fighters and made an effective wing on recon flights, but when not in battle they were difficult and ill-mannered. Command refused to listen to the complaints. Pilots were told the way of things and sent out to deal with it on their own.
“Hive acknowledged,” replied the hissing translation of the Ch’Tauk. “Hornets One and Two in position. We await your command.”
The only redeeming quality the creatures had shown lately was a willingness to follow orders from a woman. Their regent Empress had commanded obedience from her drones and they willingly obeyed. Some of the command structure had transferred to the pilot ranks and allowed some of the female human pilots to hold a greater command over the aliens.
“Execute Alpha,” the commander ordered her team. “Hornets, just sit still until you’re needed.”
The flight leaders acknowledged the order and the commander switched to low power mode. The cockpit projection dimmed, limiting her field of vision, but also lowering her energy profile in space. The lights indicating her fellow recon patrol also blinked out, becoming too low for the sensors to track efficiently. She gently pressed the altitude bar on her panel and raised the ship above the lip of the crater. As the view expanded she scanned for their target, first visually and then with the passive sensor array.
The splash of energy was the first thing her eyes registered as the rocky crater edge disappeared below her horizon. It looked as if the black canvas of space had been splashed with vivid blues and oranges. The exotic energy covered her display almost to the edge of her cockpit projection, blotting out stars and other celestial bodies alike. A quick check of her sensors, however, showed nothing. It was a strange consequence of the cataracts—the name given to the energy intrusions from the Gizzeen home system—the inability of sensors to register anything but the surface perturbations of their intrusions. Beyond the visual light show, no further data could be gleaned from the area inside. It was frightening to think whole star systems had been swallowed up by the invaders and no sign of what had been lost could get out. As far as the Alliance was concerned, places like Earth which had been swallowed up by the intrusions were gone forever.
Silhouetted against the blue backdrop was a dark form. The target of the recon patrol was floating against the blue energy like a deep sea creature from Earth’s depths. Bands of armor plating covered a thick, vacuum-resistant hide. The ship, a small example of the Gizzeen menace, appeared lifeless and made no move towards the Alliance ships as they rose above the moon. Long projections hung from the underside, swaying to the invisible currents of the exotic energy.
To Commander Cruz, it was a threat they couldn’t avoid. Her every instinct told her to rush in and attack the motionless ship. Her orders, however, were to survey it and deduce if it was active or dormant. A captured Gizzeen ship would be one of the most valuable tools in the war against the invaders, and it was her task to determine the safety and security of the plan. Her personal desire to blast the creature from the blue space around it was tempered with the knowledge of the ineffectiveness of her own weapons. Alliance technology had proven useless against the ships in battle. As long as they stayed within the blue energy field they could fire into our space and Alliance weapons were powerless against them. It was only the limitations of the exotic energy which had stayed the expansion of the Gizzeen throughout the galaxy. The only ships which had shown any effectiveness against them were the Ch’Tauk fleet. Reasons why had eluded the Alliance’s top minds since the first cataract opened.
“Proceed to position Beta,” Cruz ordered her flight.
The four ships began to move slowly towards the alien vessel. The magnetic drive systems were only marginally useful inside the energy field, but they would not be there for long. Cruz felt the shudder as her Eagle entered the field. She gripped the control yoke tight as they moved closer to the ship. She felt a shimmy in the reactionless drive which threatened to slide her ship out of the diamond formation the Hive flight had chosen. Her heads-up showed the other ships drifting in and out of formation as they approached, staying just outside the energy field in a wide formation. Ch’Tauk sensors were weaker than the Alliance’s inside the field. The logic of the formation had been tested in simulation after simulation and found sound, but Cruz didn’t trust the creatures at her back.
Activating her active sensors at a low power, the Hive flight split into two teams and moved off in different directions. Perturbations in the exotic energy by the active sensors showed as shimmering beams which connected the fighters with the Gizzeen scout ship. Cruz could feel the ripples in the space around them, making navigation even more difficult as they moved on. Her projection display began to receive the detailed scans and save the data. Most of what she saw was incomprehensible to her. It didn’t matter; the scientists back home would interpret it all when they returned. After that, bigger and better ships would come and attempt the capture. If it worked, the ship would be taken apart, and whatever weaknesses it held would be revealed. If it didn’t, they were no worse off than when they started.
“Commander…” The voice of her wingman, Lieutenant Yen, broke through her concentration. “I’m reading movement from below. The legs are twitching.”
Cruz checked her scanner. The Vadne pilot was tasked with monitoring the vessel as she performed the scans. The limitations imposed by the blue energy field kept them watching each other’s backs. She saw the motion he was talking about. The legs were the slang term for the long projections hanging from the underside. Each was banded with cables of metallic armor. The Alliance had determined a thousand possible uses for the long structures but so far had not come up with anything solid. The front set of legs was moving further than before. The movement was not the effect of the gentle energy currents, but something else.
“Re-tune for our ripples, Hive Two,” Cruz called back. “Coordinate with Four.”
“Aye,” Yen called back. “I see it. It’s us.”
Cruz had watched the scan just long enough to see the ripple produced by their own scans was moving the legs. She saw the next set begin to move as well, swaying in time with the energy ripples. As the motion travelled around, more of the legs began to sway to the perturbations. The feeling of watching some kind of oceanic creature intensified as Cruz readjusted her scans back toward the main vessel. So far, she had not seen much evidence of life from the ship. As she came around the bow of the vessel, she saw a gaping wound along the far side. The armor from that side appeared bubbled and cracked; the cavity underneath looked
“Two, open up on that hole and get the eggheads back home some good pictures,” Cruz ordered her wingman. “I don’t want to change these scan settings again.”
Yen, flying just behind and outside the scan perimeter from Cruz, slowed his movement and tuned his sensors towards the hole. Fine scans would give the scientists a chance to examine the interior of the ships. After months of war, they still had no idea what the Gizzeen actually looked like. All of their encounters had been in space, with no communications between the races. If the deck heights were a true indication of the interior, then the Gizzeen might not be that much different in size from humans.
“Hive Four to Hive Commander,” called one of the other pilots in the flight. “I’m reading movement from the Hornets. They’re entering the cataract.”
“Hive Leader to Hornets, pull back. Your assistance is not required.”
“We monitored aggressive behavior from the ship,” replied the Hornet commander. “Our orders are to defend the leader from the ship and destroy if necessary to keep the leader alive.”
“Negative on aggressive behavior, Hornet. Stand down immediately.”
“Humans make no sense,” replied the Ch’Tauk translator. “We will help you whether you request it or not. We have orders too.”
Cruz heard the connection break as the Ch’Tauk moved into the energy field. A quick curse and she pulled her ship up and over the Gizzeen ship. If the Ch’Tauk were planning an attack on the vessel, it might damage the ship beyond their ability to capture it. She called to the other Hive flight pilots to join her and moved over the ship and into the line of fire. The eight Ch’Tauk ships were speeding in comparison to Cruz’s velocity. She checked her shields in vain, knowing the exotic energy sapped the power from the system as fast as it could regenerate. The other members of her flight joined her, spread out between the Gizzeen ship and the oncoming Ch’Tauk. Cruz had a strange sense of déjà vu as she watched the Ch’Tauk approach. She had fought against the creatures during the war. This time, however, the Ch’Tauk gods were not going to stop the fighting. This time, they were on their own.