The light is finally apearing at the end of the tunnel for Exodus 3. Many people have asked me when the next in the series is coming out, and now I can say it will be out by either next weekend or the weekend after. A fan graciously proofread it for me, and didn’t find that much to be corrected. There was some, and it still surprises me how many things escape my eyes. I will be going over the document one more time, and will be adding quotes at the beginning of each chapter, as well as date/time stamps for each major section, at least at the chapter level. The novel is twice as long as either of the previous books, as recommended by several of my readers. The main storyline continues, with all of the characters introduced in the first two books. Not everyone makes it out alive. This is a story of a drag out no holds bared winner takes all war. Even the really cool people sometimes die. Sometimes innocent people die as well. Children, babies, people who just want to be left alone. Others find themselves in the war, discovering that they are natural born killers who just needed to opportunity to express their talents.
If you like the first two books I am sure that you will like this one. So far over eighteen thousand copies of Books 1 & 2 have been sold, over ten thousand of Book 1 alone. I have hopes that it will catch on even more. If you like books that have lots of characters and cover a great scope of territory, this is probably one you will like. If that style is confusing, then you might want to pass. It’s not for everyone, but about sixty-five percent of the reviews have been five stars, while almost ninety percent have been four or five. Some reviewers have compared the books to those written by David Weber and John Ringo. Don’t know about that, but I love the work of those authors and feel flattered by the comparison. I try to produce the kind of book that I would want to read. And for my critics who thought the battles were too detailed, that detail was expressed to set the ground rules of the combat. The need is no longer there, so some of the detail has been toned back. Not completely, but somewhat. An now for the excerpt:
The earth had stopped rumbling under foot for almost fifteen minutes. Cornelius Walborski lifted his head above the edge of the trench he was dug into and looked out over the smoke and dust filled terrain. No rumbling meant no kinetic weapons dropped for a while, no sympathetic tremors, no balls of fire reaching into the air.
“There they are,” came a voice over the com circuit.
Cornelius looked up to see a trio of assault shuttles moving across the sky. Shuttles of an alien design, still under the constraints of the laws of physics and aerodynamics. Cornelius felt the sick center of fear in his guts as he watched them heading for the main landing field in the city of Frederick, not twenty kilometers from his position. Fear for himself, having to face whatever those shuttles contained with outdated equipment. Fear for his wife and unborn child, hiding out in the shelter under his house. Shelter that seemed very inadequate while facing an invasion of who knew what.
An autocannon opened up nearby, its swift burping sound cutting through the air. A moment later a couple of missiles swooshed from the antiaircraft vehicle that was hidden from the eye. The missiles climbed toward the shuttles while the cannon continued to fire.
The shuttles juked and jinked in the sky. The missiles exploded as they ran into the defensive fire from the shuttles, the craft unloading a wave of spreading steel. Most of the cannon rounds also exploded in that field, though the explosions on the nose of the nearest aircraft showed that not all were intercepted. That shuttle nosed down, trailing smoke, to pull up at the last moment and slam in a skidding landing into the ground. The other two shuttles moved away, getting out of range of the antiaircraft vehicle.
A wooshing sound filled the air and that vehicle, well camouflaged as it was, exploded into an incandescent ball, targeted by the ships in orbit for a kinetic barrage. Cornelius ducked low, hoping that his position wouldn’t be next. They hadn’t given the enemy any reason to target them yet, but spotting them would be enough.
There was another bright flare. Walborski shielded his eyes as he stood up in the trench, looking for the source. A small hill a couple of kilometers away had shed some of its hardened foam covering, revealing the turret of a multi thousand ton mobile shore defense gun. A bright beam of light rose from the long laser barrel, highlighted through the dust and smoke. Twin barrels alongside the laser recoiled back at three second intervals, sending kinetic rounds at the target. Over the horizon another beam lanced into the sky, another unit of the mobile battery firing on the ships in orbit.
Something flashed in the sky. Cornelius looked up, his visor polarizing against the glare. Something had exploded well above the atmosphere, a bright pin point of light. Then came the dread wooshing sounds of kinetic projectiles, coming down on the now revealed battery. The private looked over at the closest gun, still blazing away with laser and rail guns. Something struck the earth nearby, sending up a cloud of dust as the earth rumbled underfoot. The four turrets of the close in defense system on the huge track opened up, each with several multiple barrel weapons putting up a cloud of metal, while metal storm barrels along the turret added their fire.
Several objects exploded above the track, maybe a kilometer high. As soon as they flashed smaller objects hit the turret and hull of the massive vehicle, pieces of the projectiles that had been shattered higher up. The turret clanged like a struck bell, but the weapons continued to track and fire into space. Hundreds of small particles raised spurts of dirt around the vehicle.
“I just wish they weren’t so close to us,” said Jacob Bennett, Walborski’s only friend in the platoon, standing next to him in the trench.
Walborski looked over and gave his friend a quick grin. “I agree. And you know another thing I wish?” His friend shook his head negative and Cornelius’ smile widened. “I wish we had a lot more of them.”
“Hell,” said Jacob. “I wish we had a battle fleet in system that could have kept these assholes away from us. That’s what I wish.”
Walborski nodded his head, then turned back to watch the slugging match between shore defenses and invading ships. A deafening blast filled the air, and a flash of fire followed by a mushroom cloud came over the horizon. They must have gotten one through, thought Walborski as he looked at where the other gun had been stationed. Beams of light came down on the nearest gun, splashing and widening as they hit the massive weapon’s electromag field. Another kinetic struck nearby, sending a mushroom into the air as the ground groaned underneath.
“Look at that,” yelled another squad member. Walborski looked up to see several distant objects smoking through the sky. They were coming down at an angle and looked to hit dozens of kilometers from where the militiamen covered, if not further.
“I guess that will teach them,” said one of the other men. A loud clanging sound brought them all back to reality, and Cornelius looked back at the nearest mobile gun. Something had struck the turret hard, and one of the kinetic cannon was out of action. The rest of the hill shook for a second, then crumbled as the huge vehicle pulled forward and started to move away. Its laser rotated down and it was obviously running for another position. Kinetic rounds continued to come down but were knocked from the sky by the vehicle’s defensive systems. The air shimmered over the mobile gun. Cornelius had talked with the crew of one of the machines, so he understood that the weapon was using most of its generated energy to produce a distortion field over it. One that the enemy would have trouble seeing through with visual, radar or any other spectrums. To them the gun would always appear to be shimmering from place to place, displacing by hundreds of meters, never giving a firm target. “What about a nuke or AM warhead,” he had asked the crew chief of that gun, while the smiling officer looked on. “I guess we’re fried then,” said the chief. “We can just hope they don’t think we’re worth the effort.” Obviously the enemy didn’t think they were worth the effort, or just weren’t thinking, because only kinetic rounds and light amp weapons continued to fall, and the vehicle lumbered away.
As soon as the mobile gun was over the horizon booming sounds started coming from the distant city. Walborski looked at his fellow troopers, then back at the city, where new clouds of smoke and dust were rising.
“It will be our turn soon,” he said to himself. “May heaven help us.”
* * *
“Crap,” yelled Captain Glen McKinnon, zooming in on the landing field with his suit systems. “As if we didn’t have enough problems.” A trio of large landing shuttles were on approach to the field, a strip near the edge of Frederick that was already swarming with Ca’cadasan troops, huge figures in battle armor that looked formidable as hell. Colonel Baggett had set him the mission of interdicting the shuttle field, but it didn’t look too promising with all those big bodies down there, some setting a perimeter to keep the field, others starting to form up and move off the tarmac and into the city. One of the shuttles slowed to a stop and lowered itself to the field. Moments later a vehicle began to disembark, something that looked much like a light tank. The other two came down on either side and started to disembark their own vehicles.
But then again that’s the enemy’s job, to make things difficult for us. I wonder why they tend to cluster so close together, thought the Captain, a plan coming to mind. He linked into the tactical net, looking at what assets were available. That looks like something I can use, he thought, sending his request up the line, then sending orders to his own company while waiting for acknowledgement. When it came the three shuttles had unloaded and were getting ready to take off, while another trio came through the clouds and started on their approach.
Approval came back from command, and McKinnon quickly set his plan in motion. Within moments the roar of incoming rounds filled the air, and the Imperial Marines moved forward.