Home > Chains of Command

Chains of Command
Author: Marko Kloos


BY MARKO KLOOS


Frontlines

Terms of Enlistment

Lines of Departure

Angles of Attack

Measures of Absolution (A Frontlines Kindle novella)

“Lucky Thirteen” (A Frontlines Kindle short story)

 

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Text   2016 Marko Kloos

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by 47North, Seattle

apub

Amazon, the Amazon logo, and 47North are trademarks of Amazon, Inc., or its affiliates.

-13: 9781503950320

-10: 1503950328

Cover design by Megan Haggerty

Illustrated by Maciej Rebisz

 

 

For Robin: What lucky bastards we are.

 

 

PROLOGUE

CHAPTER 1 BOOT

CHAPTER 2 38, SIMULATED

CHAPTER 3 GRADUATION DAY

CHAPTER 4 ABOVE AND BEYOND

CHAPTER 5 FAMILY MATTERS

CHAPTER 6 RANGE IS HOT

CHAPTER 7 INCURSION

CHAPTER 8 GREENLAND

CHAPTER 9 THE FEW THAT REMAIN

CHAPTER 10 CONCESSIONS

CHAPTER 11 RANK BEGINNINGS

CHAPTER 12 TOLEDO TERMINUS

CHAPTER 13 BREAD AND CIRCUSES

CHAPTER 14 ON OUR TERMS

CHAPTER 15 TAKING COMMAND

CHAPTER 16 SPECIAL ASSETS

CHAPTER 17 LEONIDAS

CHAPTER 18 RAID ON THE RELAY STATION

CHAPTER 19 ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES

CHAPTER 20 THE WEIGHT THAT TIPS THE SCALE

CHAPTER 21 INTO THE BLACK

CHAPTER 22 VISUAL CONTACT

CHAPTER 23 SUCKER PUNCH

CHAPTER 24 KICKING OVER THE HORNET’S NEST

CHAPTER 25 FOX AND HOUNDS

CHAPTER 26 GOOD COP, BAD COP

CHAPTER 27 MORE BALLS THAN BRAINS

CHAPTER 28 THE BATTLE OF ARCADIA CITY

CHAPTER 29 AFTERMATH

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

SEMPER FI FUND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

 

We now call it the Exodus.

One year ago, a Lanky seed ship appeared in Earth’s orbit, humanity’s worst nightmare manifesting in the night sky above the North American continent: immovable object and irresistible force all rolled into a glistening black torpedo shape three kilometers long.

The world’s fleets were down to the dregs then. We lost half the NAC Fleet in the unsuccessful defense of Mars, which the Lankies took a few months before they showed up at Earth for the first time. Most of the rest is still scattered across the settled galaxy, unable to return home because of the Lanky blockade of our Alcubierre nodes. We had very little left on the board, but we stopped the Lanky seed ship and blew it out of space, only the second time in our half-decade war with them we ever managed to kill one of their ships.

But our victory came with a huge bill.

The last-ditch multinational screening force above Earth lost four ships in the battle. Twelve hundred soldiers and sailors, gone in a few moments of furious and mostly one-sided combat. Five of those sailors were on the NACS Indianapolis, which won us the battle by ramming the Lanky at fractional c velocity and damaging the seed ship enough for us to take it apart with nukes. The Lanky ship lived long enough to spew out its seedpods all over North America—each with a dozen settler-scouts in it, twenty-five meters tall and as hard to kill as a building. We followed them down to Earth, and we killed the ones that survived their descent, and we lost even more people. Hundreds of soldiers and thousands of civilians died in one night of heavy, desperate fighting, and we reduced entire city blocks to smoking rubble.

But we beat them, and we survived. Earth won a reprieve.

And now we had something new: Lanky bodies, hundreds of them, and dozens of crashed seedpods. Lots of stuff for our scientists to study and dissect. To figure out how they work, how they can be killed. How their ships can be broken.

Just before the Lankies came to Earth last year, the government of the North American Commonwealth evacuated the Solar System in secret. They took with them a dozen first-rate warships, almost twenty bulk freighters, and the Commonwealth’s political and social elite and their families. Nobody knows yet where they went. Fleet rumors say that the Exodus fleet had a secret Alcubierre node to a refuge system prepared long in advance, in anticipation of Earth falling to the Lankies sooner or later. We have electronic intelligence from a cluster of recon buoys Colonel Campbell and Indianapolis left when we discovered the secret Exodus staging area just before their hasty departure a year ago. I suppose we need to thank the Lankies for rushing their departure ahead of plan, because they had to leave behind two unfinished warships that are unlike anything any fleet has ever put into space: two heavy battleships, purpose-built for only one job—to close with Lanky seed ships and destroy them.

We spent the last year finishing those battleships and pressing them into service with the hull paint still wet. The Sino-Russians, pragmatic sons of bitches, came up with their own Lanky hammer—orbitally launched antiship missiles, monstrous things with ten-thousand-ton warheads made from a mixture of ice and wood pulp, driven to fractional c velocities in mere minutes via nuclear pulse propulsion. After making new friends on the other side of the fence last year, I am deeply convinced that it must have been a Russian who cooked up the idea of making a pointy block of ice the weight of a heavy cruiser, and then using nukes to propel the thing. It’s crude, dirty, and ugly, but, by God, it works. Two more Lanky ships showed up in the Earth-Luna space in one-month intervals a few months after the Battle of Earth, and the Russians blew both of them out of space with their new Orion missiles without any human losses. The Lankies stopped scouting out Earth then.

Of course, using nuke-propulsion kinetic weaponry capable of wiping out half a continent from Earth orbit was a massive Svalbard Treaty violation, but that sort of thing was really low on everyone’s priority lists when the Lankies showed up again.

The Orion missiles, as effective as they are, have one major operational drawback. They’re too big and heavy to be launched from a starship, so we can’t take them through an Alcubierre node. They share that drawback with the new battleships, which don’t have Alcubierre drives installed yet. So we finally have viable antiship weapons to use against Lanky seed ships, but they’re good only for orbital defense. Mars is still in Lanky hands, and our colonies are still cut off by the Lanky blockade. But we are working around the clock to find a way to take the fight to them for a change. To get revenge for our dead, to reclaim what’s ours, and to kick them out of the Solar System for good. And if we can chase them to whatever system they call home and wipe them out altogether, I wouldn’t lose any sleep at night.

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