Last night I put Exodus: Empires at War: Book 16: The Shield, up on Amazon. Book 16 continues the story about Beata Bednarczyk on the Klavarta Front. The Klavarta are actually genetically engineered humans who used a cover name so the Ca’cadasans wouldn’t know what they really were. The name has kind of stuck, and they use it as often as the term Human. The front is in turmoil, the New Earth fleet having been beaten by one of the more intelligent and thoughtful Caca admirals. And he is on the move again. Bednarczyk is burdened by the political concerns of the front, a real problem with diplomacy not being her strong suit. Great Admiral Mrastaran Hlrata is burdened as well by the constant oversight of an immature male Emperor whose every command seems destined to weaken his empire. And enter some unproven new tech that could win the fight, or lead to total disaster if it fails.
These last two books have reenergized me and my writing, and I am looking forward to doing at least five more Exodus books. In fact, I have already started on book 17, and hope to have it out by the end of December. In other news, I am now sleeping well most nights, no longer in the brain fog I endured for five months with severe insomnia. The meds I was given work, and I sleep between six and eight hours every night, enough to keep me functioning. I took a financial hit during those five months, and have my work cut out for me to get out of the financial hole, but I’m thinking it will happen. After book 17 I will sidetrack for a bit and get the final books of Theocracy and Refuge out. Final, for Refuge? I’m just not sure. I love the series, and really want it to go on, so maybe.
And now for the excerpt.
Captain (Brevet) Henri Francois-Ramirez held in the stomach contents that threatened to spill onto the deck as the destroyer Zulu entered normal space. The captain, whose permanent rank was still commander, had never been an easy translator. He normally took medication to calm his stomach before a translation, which also made him somewhat drowsy. That couldn’t happen when translating in so close to the enemy, so he had gone without.
Zulu was a brand new destroyer, given to him since it had a better com suite than any of the other ships in the squadron. Named after a proud warrior people, who had used superior tactics to carve out an Empire in Iron Age Africa, he really didn’t want to dishonor its name by puking.
“Sir,” called out the tactical officer, Lt. Senior Marsha McTaggart, looking over from her station and not showing the least sign of translation sickness. “Everything appears to be as expected.”
“Jarvis is transmitting their data dump to us, sir,” said Lt. JG Tangana Kenyata, looking up from his com board. “We’re forwarding it back to command.”
“What about our other ships?”
There were eleven other destroyers in the squadron, replacing a like number of ships that would set a course through hyper as if they were leaving the vicinity. Every ship had a Klassekian aboard, though in their cases as backup. Main com was through the deployed wormhole they all carried, unusual for a squadron of such small ships.
“All are reporting that they translated in without incident, sir. Nothing to report.”
Henri let out a breath of relief. He, of course, didn’t want to lose any of his ships, or the very important cargo that all carried. To him the ships and crews were more important than any cargo they might have carried. Command wouldn’t have thought that way.
And I wonder how Gloria is doing? He thought, the image of his new bride coming to mind. Gloria Francois-Ramirez was the captain of another destroyer. She had been serving on this front, but regulations called for any married couple to be deployed to separate commands. Not just because they might make decisions based on saving their spouse, but because hesitation might bring on a disaster during a battle. So Gloria had been transferred to the main front.
It was a good rule, one that also applied to non-married personnel who were involved in a sexual relation. Of course some high ranking officers kept their affairs hidden, but couples that were married had their records immediately forwarded to Bureau of Personnel on Jewel. There was no hiding it, so now they were separated except for the infrequent times they might be able to get leave together.
I’ll think about you later, my dear, thought the squadron commander, opening his eyes and taking in the system plot. It was all well and good that his people were reporting that all was well and good. He needed to see that for himself, since the responsibility for the squadron rested on his narrow shoulders.
All appeared to be well. Twelve destroyers spaced out in their intervals around the system. They were groups along one side of the system, close enough to move through normal space at a low acceleration and gather into their assigned groups. There were several score concentrations of enemy ships within the system. At first glance they appeared to be patrolling. Computer studies showed those apparent patrols to be too random and lackluster. Intelligence thought they were using the same devices they had deployed to fool the Klavarta before the rout of their main fleet. Something to make Admiral Bednarczyk think they were setting a trap.
Also on the plot were the dozen stealth/attack ships still in the system. The Cacas would know they were there, but not where they were located., since they were giving off no graviton emissions. They were transmitting their locations through their wormholes, and the captain was seeing them through that. When the time came those ships would be firing streams of wormhole launched missiles, still not giving themselves away. The Cacas would be able to draw a line back from the trajectory of those missiles, but would not know where upon that line their enemy sat.
His ships could also fire streams of missiles, but only when the command came down. Until then it was important that the enemy not realize they had wormholes aboard their ships.
“Orders, sir?” asked his exec, Lt. Commander Crystal Ngursky over the com from the combat information center.
“We sit and we monitor, Crys,” he told her, looking into her ice blue eyes. “I’ll take first watch, so you and Daphne,” he continued, naming Lt. Commander Daphne Suarez, the chief engineer of the ship and third in command, “go ahead and get some rest.”
We might as well get it while we can, thought the squadron commander. Because when the balloon went up, they were unlikely to be getting much rest until the fight ended. If they made it that far.
“Iroquois reports enemy contact, sir,” called out one of the com techs, near panic on her face.
“What?” blurted out Henri, shocked.
“They’re taking fire, sir. They’re…We’ve lost contact.”
They had always considered the possibility that an enemy might be lurking nearby, despite the constant surveillance the scouts had given this system. But no one really believed that such an unlikely occurrence, dropping out of hyper close enough to an enemy ship that they would be hit with energy fire, would occur. Yet it had happened.
Almost three hundred crew, and the precious cargo that would concern command more than the loss of some spacers. They didn’t even have a chance to fight back.
“Enemy vessel is grav pulsing, sir,” called out the sensor tech on duty.
Reporting back to their command. Well, he could talk to his ships too, without giving away positions by graviton emissions. Except they already know exactly where we are, he thought. Were more ships about to be hit?
The next hour was filled with tension, as the captain waited for more reports of short, sharp battles to come in. Or for something to come out of the darkness and hit his ship, blasting it to plasma. Ending his life and his plans for the future.