I put Exodus: Machine War: Book 4: Retribution, up on Amazon last night, so it should be out on all the Amazon sites around the world. In fact, it has already sold some copies in the US without any notifications by me. And someone in the UK must have stayed up all night reading, then gave it a five star review. It can be found on Amazon UK here. This is, as titled, the fourth book in the series, Machine Wars, which takes place outside of the Empire. Humanity had developed autonomous war machines centuries before, and, as they always seem to do, they revolted. The Empire thought they had destroyed all of them, but one got away, and reestablished itself outside the Empire. Its mission, to kill all life, paying particular attention to the intelligent variety. I originally started this series so I could have another bunch of stories to play with when I was at a dead end in Empires at War. Anyway, I have a trip to prepare for, and will be blogging about when I get back. The new Website will be up next month, and I’ll post my panels at DragonCon as soon as I know them. And here’s an excerpt.
“I’m still not really sure what they’re up to, ma’am,” said the fleet tactical officer, Captain Lyndsey Quan, looking up from her board.
The plot was showing the thousands of enemy ships, twice as many as they had picked up when they first entered the system, moving out to meet them. The ships were boosting at various rates, and it seemed the Machines were trying to get their forces into close engagement range en mass. Bednarczyk wasn’t sure if that was the smart play, since a lot of those ships would be taking a longer time reaching her, which meant she could bring them under long range fire for a much greater period of time.
“Send orders to Admiral Hahn,” said Beata to the fleet com officer. “I want him to move his ships around in hyper and set up to take the antimatter production satellites under fire from that point. He is to continue firing at his prerogative.”
Tiberius Hahn had been her battle fleet commander, in charge of the bulk of the combat ships, since the Battle of Bolthole. His ships were all hyper VI, lea by a brand new superbattleship, one of the last to come off the building slips. He had one half of her capital ships, but most importantly forty percent of the wormholes. As long as they were out here beyond the barrier they could maneuver around the system before the enemy could get to any of them.
“And what the hell is that?” she asked, pointing to the very large icon on the plot, moving out of the orbit of one of the closer gas giants at twenty gravities. “Is it what I think it is?”
“If you think it’s a planet killer, then yes ma’am, that’s what it is.”
“So this is where the last one is,” said Captain James Rodriguez, her chief of staff.
“If you assume that’s the last one,” said Beata, looking back at the old captain. “That’s an assumption I’m not willing to make. And I definitely don’t want that thing closing with us.”
The planet killer was a hundred kilometers in diameter, with armor over five kilometers thick. It had lasers that could vaporize any ship in her fleet at under a light minute’s distance, and particle beam generators more powerful than her wormhole weapons. Its major weaknesses were its acceleration and its terminal velocity for entering hyper. It could only accelerate at twenty gravities, making it a scow compared to any of her ships. And it could jump to hyper at a maximum of point one light, verses the point three of her ships. It was a devastating offensive weapon, since, if it was coming into a system and heading toward something that needed defending, it had to be stopped, which could mean coming into close range. As a defensive weapon it was not quite as powerful. It could be avoided, and if in orbit around something important, it could be bypassed by moving launching platforms to different vectors. If she had been in charge of the thing, it would have remained hidden near one of the most important assets of the system, ready to use its lasers wide beam to take out incoming missiles. Or possibly catch one of her task groups unawares.
“Shall we launch on it, ma’am?”
“Not yet. We have missiles with warheads in the tubes, and they can destroy those with wide angle lasers. Which, if they are using their computer brains, that thing will be putting out continuously within the next couple of hours, well before our weapons can reach them. We’ll wait for those shots.”
“We should be getting visual on the supermetal planetoid at any minute ma’am.”
They had picked up the graviton signals of missiles engaging at three of the other five planetoids, and the fifth and sixth would be registering soon. They had assumed they were doing damage to those planetoids, but they really didn’t know. Now would come confirmation of at least one strike.
The view, brought in clear through gravity lens telescope, showed the planetoid with its defensive ships in orbit. There were also some orbital defense platforms, lasers and missile batteries. The surface was a maze of machinery. Accelerator tubes, fusion reactors, millions of square kilometers of cooling systems. What they couldn’t tell was if any of that machinery was weaponry, though Beata had to assume it was there.
Something flared on the view, one of the incoming missiles engaged and destroyed, followed by more. The orbital weapons and ships could take them out quickly, if there weren’t too many. And there were eight hundred missiles coming in at point nine light, in an interval of less than a second. Followed by two more after that. Almost a hundred missiles had flared in space before the first hit was generated, one weapon striking a destroyer class robot warship, converting it to vapor. Two more destroyers followed, then the prize, a battleship. Close detonations took out groupings of orbital platforms, some more damaged smaller warships. The first wave passed with no hits on the planetoid, though the defenses were degraded. And they still knew nothing about surface defenses.
The second wave came in and destroyed more of the orbital assets, ships and platforms. Now the weapons on the planet opened up as a greater mass of weapons made it through the outer defenses. Lasers, particle beams and close in projectile weapons took out over two hundred weapons, most of those that made it past the outer defenses. And the first two hits were generated on that surface. Bright flashes spread out over tens of thousands of square kilometers, digging deep into the surface, gouging large craters. All machinery in those areas was totally vaporized, while the thermal wave radiating out destroyed a much larger area, and the seismic waves toppled structures and ripped connecting infrastructure apart further out.
The third wave came in, also losing most of its number while taking out more of the outer defenses, including a second battleship. Surface installations again hit them, but almost forty made it through. The result was almost total devastation on the surface, entire supermetal factories, thousands of reactors, millions of square kilometers of heat exchangers, blotted out of existence. The thermal wave rolled around the surface, meeting on the other side, leaving no working facilities their wake.
“Yes,” said the tactical officer, pumping a fist in the air.
Bednarczyk was satisfied with the result. Assuming the enemy didn’t lose this system at this time, it would take months to build the machinery for new production plants, and more months to put them in place and get them running. On planetoids that might take even longer to get down to an efficient temperature for making the metals.
Now, if only the other strikes go so well, thought the admiral. There was no reason to think they wouldn’t. This strike had been overkill. The planetoid could have been swept clean with half the hits they had achieved.
“Admiral Hahn’s force has jumped into hyper and are starting to work their way around, ma’am.”
Yes, everything was working out well. Too well. And that was worrisome. And the clock was still ticking.