Yesterday, January 27th, 2020, a day which will hopefully not live in infamy, I released the 17th book of the Exodus: Empires at War main series. I can be found here on Amazon.US, and here on Amazon.UK. And of course it can be found on Amazon sites around the world. This book took a little longer than my last, which was finished in less than a month. Just over two months is still better than the five it took for book 15. If you have read the last two books, you know that something has changed for the Ca’cadasan empire. The immature Emperor who thought with his glands is no longer in charge, and the thinking admiral, Mrastaran, is in his place. And everything has changed. The Caca fleet is no longer tasked with impossible mission that were leading to their destruction. They are into hit and run, using tactics from Earth’s past and new technologies to set up ambushes in furthering their new objectives.
This sets up a new story arc that will continue into several more books, setting up the finale’ for the series. Or maybe not. Things change when I am writing, and the Cacas may be around longer than I figured.
And now for the excerpt:
“I don’t see what all the fuss is about this new Emperor,” said Grand Fleet Admiral Gabriel Len Lenkowski. “So he’s smarter than the average Caca. That isn’t saying much.”
Admiral Lenkowski,” said the Countess Grand Fleet Admiral Beata Bednarczyk, attending the conference from over nine thousand light years away, in the Nation of New Earth. “I have the utmost respect for you. So please take this the right way when I say that you are letting your own arrogance get in the way of a thoughtful approach to the problem.”
Sean smiled. Beata had a reputation of saying what she meant, no matter how much it hurt the feelings of the one she was talking too. She was actually developing some diplomatic acumen. She was developing the diplomacy to fit in with her elevation to Countess.
“They’re all dumb as rocks,” continued Len. “Sure, they sometimes get lucky, but they always seem to make the same mistakes, over and over.”
“This one is different,” said Beata. “He actually thinks before he acts. I counsel caution where he is concerned.”
Sean could tell from her expression that she was trying to hold back some comments. He happened to agree with her as far as this new Emperor was concerned. After studying the battle extensively, he could see that any human commander would have had trouble dealing with him. His respect for Bednarczyk had gone up several notches after going over her records from the battles. He still wasn’t sure if she was on the level of Lenkowski or Mgonda, but she was damned close.
“A secondary campaign on a secondary front,” scoffed Len, his eyes boring into the image of Bednarczyk. “I’m sure he won’t give an experienced fleet commander the same level of difficulty.”
Here it comes, thought Sean, preparing himself for the backlash.
“Why you trumped up, arrogant little child,” said Beata in a low voice. “How dare you. I doubt if you would have done any better against Mrastaran. In fact, I know it.”
“Enough,” yelled Sean, looking from holographic face to face, taking in the smiling visage of Mgonda and the scowling expression of Sondra McCullom as well. “I don’t expect that all of my admirals will like each other. I do expect that they will get along and work with each other. So, there will be no personal insults in these conferences. Understood?”
“Yes, your Majesty,” said Beata, looking down. “And I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
Len was silent, like he was refusing to admit to any wrong.
“Do you understand me, Grand Fleet Admiral Lenkowski? Answer me.”
“I understand, your Majesty. And I will work on my, arrogance.”
Sean could tell that Len was still steaming. Well, he would just have to get used to it. Beata, by her actions and through her leadership, had joined the ranks of his senior commanders. If they didn’t want to welcome her into their exclusive club that was their prerogative. But, as he said, they would have to work with her. Even if she was on the other side of their enemy’s empire.
In fact, Beata was now the most decorated of his admirals, having earned not only the Imperial Medal of Heroism, but the President’s Medal of Honor from New Earth. Add to that her patent of nobility, and the only thing she lacked over the other grand fleet admirals was time in service.
“And so, Admiral Bednarczyk, what can you tell us about this new Emperor, the male you have faced in battle twice?” asked Mgonda, himself seeming much more welcoming of another opinion than Len.
“Well, one thing I can say,” said Beata after releasing a calming breath. “Don’t expect the normal Caca behavior from him. He thinks before he acts, and his decisions seem to be sound. He won’t sacrifice his ships or his people without good cause, though he will if he thinks it will give him an advantage.”
“You beat him, twice,” said Len, his tone indicating that he was discounting the intelligence of that Caca admiral, one beat by a newly promoted six star.
“And I almost lost my ass to him, twice,” said Beata, puffing up in anger once again. “I had so many tech advantages over him both times that a standard Caca admiral would have lost, badly. I only beat the Caca fleet so badly because the male that took over on his recall did something really stupid. Given time, Mrastaran would have pounded me until I had nothing left.”
“I agree with Admiral Bednarczyk,” said Ekaterina Sergiov, attending in person, sitting a chair close to the Emperor. “Our intelligence sources in their Empire, such as they are, have indicated that he is an unusual male. Most likely an atheist, he still adheres to the principles of their old religion. Said to be a philosopher, a thinker, he has managed to maneuver every male who has challenged him into an unwinnable situation. He studies history, including ours. Remember, the Cacas took whole libraries of book files from New Moscow. I expect he is going to make some decisions that the rest of his people won’t like, but in the long run we won’t like them either.”
“Any chance he offends enough people that they take him down?” asked Sondra McCollum, leaning forward in her chair.
“I doubt it,” answered Sergiov. “This is an intelligent and thoughtful male. He will only push as far as he thinks he can get away with it, then back off. He will let the people become accustomed to the changes he has made before he makes more of them. And he will make damned sure he is never alone with Cacas he doesn’t trust, insuring that he has sufficient security to take care of any attempted coup.”
“The bottom line, ladies and gentlemen,” said Sean, looking over steepled fingers, “is to expect the unexpected. Be ready for anything. If that means moving more cautiously than is the norm for yourselves, then do so.”
“That will give them more time to prepare, your Majesty,” said Mgonda, one eyebrow raised to show his questioning of that suggestion.
“Then it takes more time to get to their capital,” said Sean, nodding. “And we get there with more of our people alive. And just because he adheres to their old religion, don’t discount the possibility of the Cacas setting off more novas, with or without Mrastaran’s permission.”
“Anything else, your Majesty?” asked Mgonda, clearly impatient to get back to organizing for the coming campaign.
“No. Get your organizations ready. We move in one week.” Sean turned toward his newest countess and grand fleet admiral. “You had something you wanted to ask me, Countess.”