Band of Brothers: Revisited...


Hey, haven't been around here in a while!

Anyway, I found this ancient synopsis for BoB I wrote about a year ago and wanted to share with you guys.

Some of you may have read the first nine chapters I posted last year. I thought they were okay (but I'm biased :)), but the story was way too ambitious, so it sort of fizzled out around chapter ten.

I know there are probably some mistakes and such, so feel free to point 'em out to me.

WING COMMANDER: Band of Brothers- - What happens next?
By Wesley "Dralthi5" Ferguson

Chapter Nine: First Impressions. The TCS Antietam arrives in the Dyson System per the orders of 5th Fleet Admiral Theodore Halsey, a brash, gun toting flag officer similar in style to American General George S. Patton, Jr. Captain Donald Ruth, C.O. of the Antietam, proclaims that the Flight Wing is short a number of pilots and Halsey assures him that replacements will be provided at Dyson Station. The Antietam takes on the pilots and three go to the VF-104 “Battling Bastards” squadron, under Major John Eric “Cougar” Noble: 1st Lieutenant Magda “Diamond” Schlieffen (an attractive German pilot who has strong feelings for our hero), 2nd Lieutenant Alfred “Joker” Curry (an English pilot who can match Boyar barb-for-barb), and 2nd Lieutenant Mustafa “Sultan” Kemal (an extremely young Turkish pilot who has a penchant for the arts). Justin “MadDog” Overstreet, newly promoted to Executive Officer of the Battling Bastards with the rank of Captain, debriefs the new recruits. Each new pilots fits in well with the squadron.
Commodore Francis Brand, C.O. of Dyson Station, informs Captain Ruth of the troubles facing the system: A Kilrathi Ralari destroyer and a Kamekh corvette are lurking at the edges of Dyson, taking out patrols and launching long-range torpedoes at the station. The Flight Wing is briefed by the Antietam’s Wing Commander, Colonel Casper Drake, who informs them that they will delay a strike at the Kilrathi vessels in order to garner more information regarding their tactical and defensive capabilities, as the enemy’s frequent movements are difficult to track. 2nd Lieutenant Nikita “Boyar” Gorbunov, the Battling Bastards’ hot-headed Russian, is enraged by this, who seeks revenge against the Kilrathi for the death of friends and family alike. Justin, as commander of Echo Wing, tries to calm his pilot down, but Boyar explodes and steals a Sabre, ready to destroy the Ralari and its corvette escort at all costs.
Ignoring strict orders to remain on the Antietam, Justin hops into his own Sabre and follows the suicidal Boyar, refusing assistance from Lieutenant Kemal. Justin fears that Gorbunov will perform a kamikaze tactic, plowing his F-57 into the Kilrathi destroyer. Justin attempts to wrangle his friend back to the carrier, but it is futile. The Ralari responds by launching a squadron of Krant medium fighters as well as saturating the area with heavy flak. MadDog radios Colonel Drake and he scrambles the squadron to come to his people’s aid. He and Boyar put up a valiant fight, but it seems just about over when the Antietam’s Flight Wing, flying Broadsword bombers, arrives on the scene and torpedoes the Ralari. Plowing through the enemy fighter screen, Justin locks onto the Kamekh’s engines and takes the corvette out of the picture with a torpedo salvo. Boyar is furious that Justin has taken his kill and fires on him. The Captain has no choice but to launch an Im-Rec missile at his subordinate, forcing the Russian to eject.
The pilots return to the Antietam and Justin carries Boyar’s eject pod home. Blinded by rage, Justin threatens to blow Gorbunov’s head off for disobeying orders and threatening lives. The tension on the flight deck is thick enough to cut before Captain Ruth arrives on the scene and MPs take Boyar to the brig. The three new pilots watch while the debacle unfolds, prompting Joker to comment, “ So much for first impressions.” Major Noble takes Justin into his office and scolds him for disobeying orders himself by going after Boyar. Captain Overstreet apologizes and volunteers for the next patrol, concerned that his rebellious tactics could ultimately result in his demotion.
Chapter Ten: The First Mission. Meanwhile, in the Crichton System, Private Jeremy Overstreet, soldier of the Terran Confederation Marine Corps and Justin’s 19-year old brother, adjusts to life on the TCS Nathan Hale. He no longer feels awkward around Gloria Harmon, a girl he has had a crush on since high school, and Lance Corporal Oliver “Rampage” Davies no longer torments him after his defeat in the Judo contest of Chapter 8. During Jeremy’s sixth day on board, Sergeant Brandon Barcalow, the “Wild Animals” squad’s second-in-command, interrupts morning mess. He informs them that they are to report to the briefing room for their next mission, but for young Jeremy it his first real combat assignment as a Terran Marine. He is scared and apprehensive, but also excited by the prospect at the same time.
1st Lieutenant Charles “Lil’ Chuckie” Stallworth, the Animals’ grizzled commander, informs the squad that the Kilrathi have commandeered a fortified Confed space station in the asteroid belt of the Crichton System. The base is obstructing supply shipments throughout the Enigma Sector and it must be captured. Stallworth emphasizes that the brass wants the station intact, due to the fact that it could be an invaluable source of information on the Kilrathi’s war effort. Gloria assures Jeremy that he will be fine and reiterates this with a kiss on the cheek. Private Overstreet lets out his frustrations in the Hale’s gymnasium and has a talk with his best friend, Private, First Class, Jesus Velez.
The Nathan Hale’s Commanding Officer, Captain Irene O’Brian, rendezvous with the TCS Dewey and the TCS Paul Bunyan, a Confederation Gilgamesh-class destroyer and a Venture-class corvette respectively. The three Terran vessels maneuver within range of the station and her two Fralthra guardians. The Kilrathi space station launches Dralthi medium fighters and the cruisers launch torpedoes at the Confed capital ships. The Dewey and the Bunyan fire off their own warheads, but the Hale, possessing none, moves within the shadow of the Gilgamesh’s guns and fires from its flak cannons. Meanwhile, the Nathan Hale launches its landing crafts and Jeremy feels honored that he is on the same LC as Lieutenant Stallworth, although it is merely a matter of chance than anything else.
The Hale Marines board the space station and face heavy Kilrathi resistance. Jeremy is horrified as he realizes the carnage the Kilrathi had wrought on the Confed personnel formally stationed there. Jesus Velez, assigned to the same section as Jeremy, tries to talk Jeremy though the slaughter, but they soon get separated. Jeremy finds it hard to take the life of a living being and freezes, caught between the crosshairs of a Kilrathi Dor’chak laser rifle. Lieutenant Stallworth, seeing his soldier’s plight, knocks Overstreet to the deck and nails the Kilrathi trooper. Eventually, the Marines converge on the station’s control center and, after a fierce firefight, round up the Kilrathi crew and take them back to the LCs in chains. Captain O’Brian informs Stallworth that the Bunyan had been destroyed and the Dewey was suffering heavy damage. The Lieutenant sends several Marines, including Jeremy, to man the station’s guns and assist the big ships. Jeremy finds that using the heavy guns to kill what he perceived as mere machines was not as hard as slaughtering them with his rifle.
One of the Fralthra cruisers is obliterated and the other bugs out, pulling in what remains of the station’s fighter complement. All seems to be well when Private Walter “Wall” Eisen, the Animals’ resident computer genius, accidentally trips the station’s self-destruct program while attempting to access its primary computer. As the thermium reactor heats up, the Marines scramble to fall back to their LCs and return to the Hale. At the airlock, Jeremy witnesses a dying Kilrathi, valiantly struggling to hold on to his life. He feels the need to go back and save the mortally wounded alien, but Gloria and Jesus pull him into the shuttle and seal the hatch. The Marine shuttles frantically detach from the station as the countdown reaches zero. A massive fireball engulfs the space station, but fortunately the landing crafts safely return to the Hale. Unfortunately, however, the Animals’ were not able to access the Kilrathi’s computer files. Captain O’Brian hands over their POWs to the Dewey and the Hale awaits its next orders.
Still in the Dyson System, the Antietam awaits it own orders. Captain Justin Overstreet, still fuming over Nikita Gorbunov’s stunt, confronts the hot-blooded Russian officer in the brig, again exchanging barbs with Johnson. Justin firmly states that he has had it with Boyar’s actions and that he will not tolerate it any longer. Unfortunately, it is Colonel Drake’s decision, however, and the carrier’s Wing Commander declares that they need every able pilot they could get and so will not take legal action against Gorbunov. He does agree, on the other hand, with Justin and Major Noble that the Russian should be grounded indefinitely. Boyar will remain in the brig for as long as the Commanding Officer of the Antietam sees fit. Suddenly serious, Justin reminds Boyar of their previous conversation in the brig, after he had stabbed the Kilrathi renegade named Tak’Kar in the rec room. Gorbunov shoots back that he agrees with Benito Vanzetti’s views of, “ Every man for himself” and that brotherhood is a crock. Saddened, Justin is forced to leave his friend in confinement.
Chapter Eleven: Choices. Still in the Dyson System, Justin lets out his pent-up anger by taking his Ferret out for a joyride in the system’s hazardous asteroid belt. Upon returning to the Antietam, he overhears an angry conversation between lovers “Cougar” Noble and Captain Mallory Napier. Apparently, as squadron C.O., Noble was attempting to keep Napier off the flight roster in order to protect her from the horrors of war. Mallory responds harshly and the two walk away from each other, angry. After making a snide, anger-induced comment to Mallory, Justin speaks to 2nd Lieutenant Karl “Spyder” Bowen about Noble and Napier’s rocky relationship. They retreat to the rec room where “Diamond” Schlieffen’s advances toward Justin are increasing. He talks with his friends Luke “Frosty” Frost and Pete “Babyface” Decker about Magda’s one-way attraction to him. Pete complains of an upset stomach and MadDog orders him to report to the Flight Surgeon, Dr. Niles Nagurski. Justin finally comes to the conclusion that a relationship with Magda would be unacceptable and he informs her of this. Lieutenant Schlieffen acts cold and aloof to him from then on.
Informed by Admiral Halsey to report to the Card System, Captain Ruth learns that they are to take on a Kilrathi space station there. The Flight Wing is briefed by Colonel Drake that they are to eliminate any trace of the enemy base in the system. The Antietam joins forces with the TCS Horatio Nelson, a Waterloo-class cruiser under Commander Yancy “Big Yank” Harcourt (a gruff, seasoned fighting man). The Wing Commander of the Nelson’s compliment of F-54C Epee light attack fighters is Major Gavin “Bolt” Magnus. A Kilrathi Snakeir and a Ralatha destroyer meet them halfway and Captain Ruth launches the Antietam’s Flight Wing, while “Bolt” Magnus’s wing flies CAP. Pete Decker is not flying, however, due to an illness (foreshadowed in Chapter 6 and mentioned earlier in this one) and remains in his bunk on board the carrier. The Antietam’s pilots plow through the Snakeir’s screen of Jalkehi and Drakhri fighters and lock onto the Kilrathi station. It is revealed that the station is precariously close to the Card System’s secondary star and a ship construction facility is well underway to being fully operational.
The Flight Wing is met with even more Kilrathi resistance at the station and several pilots are forced to eject, but Justin, despite taking minor damage, manages to hold together. With his gunner, Sergeant Naomi Akwende, keeping Kilrathi bandits off his tail, Justin and the rest of the Battling Bastards move in toward the station. Dodging flak and anti-spacecraft missiles, the Antietam pilots move in, lock on, and fire their torpedoes. The multiple warheads blow a great chunk of the space station away and soon Majors Heinrich and Tomura’s squadrons swoop in and finish the Kilrathi base off. Meanwhile, Ruth and Harcourt engage in intense ship-to-ship action against the Snakeir and Ralatha. The Nelson takes damage, as does the Antietam, but Big Yank and his courageous crew fly between the two Kilrathi vessels, raking the Snakeir with a fierce broadside, annihilating that ship. The Ralatha strikes back, however, and enemy torpedoes blow out one of the Nelson’s engines, grinding it to a halt.
As the Kilrathi station’s debris cloud disperses, Colonel Drake comes over the comm and orders the Antietam’s Flight Wing to destroy the half-completed ship construction yard, as well. Major Noble objects that the facility is too close to the Cardian sun and that the solar radiation could damage their fighters, but Drake dismisses Cougar’s protestations. The dock, hosting three incomplete Ralathas and a Fralthra, is defended only by an automated weapons platform (similar to the one in the Heinlein System seen in Chapter 2), but it had been controlled from the station and no longer functions. However, adhering to the order to remove any trace of the Kilrathi in the Card System, the useless gun is destroyed. Solar flares threatening their fighter craft, the Wing swoops in to obliterate the shipyard. Several pilots from the Nelson are killed and Major Heinrich is destroyed, as well. Captain Napier is threatened, as well, but Justin manages to destroy the hunk of twisted metal spiraling her way, allowing her damaged craft to escape. Tearing apart the dock piece by piece, the Flight Wing eventually blows the facility away.
As the Horatio Nelson acts as a sitting duck and Big Yank Harcourt tries to get his ship working again, the Ralatha moves in for the kill. Captain Ruth and the Antietam follows, arming its torpedoes for a full salvo at the Kilrathi destroyer’s bridge. Chief Warrant Officer Mordechai Kabrowski, the carrier’s Chief Weapons Technician, informs Ruth that the Antietam’s torpedo launch system had been damaged in the battle and they cannot fire the warheads. Meanwhile, the Ralatha gets ever closer and prepares to fire. Suddenly, the combined fighter wings of the Antietam and the Nelson arrive on the scene and blow the Ralatha away. The Nelson is caught in the blast, but fortunately by this time Captain Harcourt has gotten his cruiser’s drive systems operational again and his helmsman quickly banks to port in order to avoid the shockwave.
In the Blake System, en route to the Defiance jump point, Lieutenant Charles Stallworth calls Private Jeremy Overstreet into his office on the Nathan Hale and speaks to him about his performance in the Crichton System. Jeremy admits that he was terrified and just froze, and the image of the dying Kilrathi trooper had traumatized him. He respectfully requests that he be allowed to remain on board the Hale to man one of the flak cannons on the next mission. After telling him the story of his first mission, Charles informs Jeremy that, although he wishes he would reconsider, he reluctantly agrees.
Chapter Twelve: Situation Critical. Returning to the Antietam, which has pulled back with the Horatio Nelson to a safe distance away from the Card’s secondary star, Justin attempts to talk to Magda, but she angrily brushes him off. Petty Officer Rachael Coriolis, MadDog’s crew chief, informs him that he just doesn’t get women. Justin glumly finds a place on the deck to sit and sulk. Captain Ruth sends out a patrol to locate any other Kilrathi presence in the Card System, if there were any. Major Magnus agrees to go along, as well. Justin, still sitting and brooding on the edge of the flight deck, is concerned by Mallory Napier’s shaky landing. Still angry, Major Noble approaches her Sabre to berate her, but MadDog notices something startling: Napier’s Sabre is leaking a dangerous amount of fuel, which is spreading to an ordnance rack nearby. A petty officer lights a cigar and a fire erupts and deck crews rush to put it out. Noble yells for Mallory to get out of her Sabre and rushes to the side of the flight deck with Justin. She is halfway out of her fighter-bomber when Justin spots the flaming pool of fuel beneath the F-57 reach the ordnance rack! He shouts a warning, but it is too late.
The Im-Recs and Pilum FFs cook off and explode, taking the deck crew and Mallory Napier with it. John Noble screams out in terror and wrath and races towards the raging fire. The flight deck is now in chaos. Justin reaches out and restrains his C.O. before he does anything drastic and gets himself killed. More and more deck hands attempt to put out the spreading fire, but it is much too fierce. Flight Boss Tesh sounds red alert and Overstreet watches in horror as the fire sets off the ordnance in Captain Napier’s Sabre. Violent death seizes the Antietam and dozens of enlisted deck crewman are killed instantly. John Noble, it seems, has gone insane, screaming and thrashing about. But Justin can hardly blame him. Advising a pair of MPs to restrain the grief-filled Major, Overstreet lends a hand in fighting the fire, which is totally out of control at this point, threatening to destroy Lieutenant Kemal’s Sabre and, as a result, half the ship, as well.
While working in his office, Captain Ruth feels the tremors of the explosions on the flight deck and subsequently his Executive Officer, Lt. Commander Warren Jerome, reports that multiple explosions have racked the Antietam’s flight deck, instantly killing dozens and injuring others. Ruth puts the carrier’s crew at general quarters and radios Captain Harcourt on the Nelson for assistance. He races to the bridge where Colonel Drake informs him that their patrol had ran into a squadron of Kilrathi fighters that had been on its own patrol when its carrier had been destroyed. They were headed toward the stricken TCS Antietam! Meanwhile, belowdecks, the explosions have imperiled Pete Decker and several other pilots that had been resting in the berths. Along with Joseph Flannery, they try to make it to the flight deck, but run into many hazards, such as randomly sealing bulkheads that had automatically slammed shut in order to keep fires from spreading to other parts of the ship. Hunkering in the corners of a sealed-off chamber, wet rags pressed to their mouths, the men hope for the best.
Mustafa Kemal’s Sabre explodes, taking a large chunk of the Antietam’s hull with it. Dozens are killed when they are swept into space, but Sultan himself is not on the flight deck, so survives. Justin is sent flying toward the gaping tear in the hull as space-suited deck crew attempt to patch the hole. He slams painfully down the sloping flight deck (for the Antietam has listed dangerously to port; the Nelson attempts to keep her steady by applying several tractor beams, as well as sending over its own supplies and personnel), but manages to grab onto a piece of torn deck plating, severely tearing apart the tender flesh of his hand in the process. He does not care about that small discomfort, however, for he will not let go of the jagged metal handhold. The searing vacuum of space nearly threatens to pull him into its gaping maw, but the combined teams of the Antietam and the Nelson seal the tear in the hull and Justin is sent careening toward the deck, his hand leaking blood.
Ironically, the flight deck’s exposure to vacuum had squelched the fire, as it robbed the inferno of its most vital ingredient: oxygen. But the Antietam is nowhere in the clear. The fires still rage belowdecks and Pete Decker and his friends risk smashing open the door with a heavy metal desk and making way toward the flight deck above. Still wanting to help get the carrier under control, Justin is stubborn when ordered by Colonel Drake, who had come down to the deck in order to oversee the operation, to report to Sickbay to get his hand fixed. Reluctantly, MadDog gets medical attention, but is overwhelmed by the sheer terror of the death around him. He is not afraid to break down crying when one of his fighter crewmembers dies in his arms. Chief Max Hornby attempts to repair the engines, which were damaged in the second explosion, but it is not easy. A puncture in one of the antimatter storage tanks has resulted in the flooding of the engine room with a noxious gas and Hornby and his team are forced to work in bulky isolation suits. To complicate matters, the Kilrathi fighters arrive on the scene to attack the highly vulnerable Antietam.
Big Yank Harcourt wishes disparately to add the Nelson’s firepower in defense of the Antietam, which is now under attack by the squadron of Drakhri fighters. But he cannot, because that would force him to divert power from the tractor beam, causing the Antietam to dangerously list to port. As well, the Antietam’s launch system is damaged and no fighters could launch from the carrier. It is up to the seriously outnumbered Bolt and his patrol to keep the Kilrathi off the carrier’s back. Captain Ruth, meanwhile, sends out an S.O.S. to any Confed ship on burst transmission. Suited crewman venture belowdecks to fight the blaze down there and encounter Pete Decker and company, who are nearing the flight deck. The blaze gets out of control, however, and several firefighters die. In the engine room, Max Hornby cannot get the engine problem under control and the Antietam now begins to wobble. Thanks to the Nelson’s tractor beam, she only lists to starboard. Both she and the Nelson are still under attack by the Drakhri, though, and taking damage. Magnus has already lost three pilots to the Kilrathi, though not without scoring a few kills of his own.
Just when everything seems to be lost, however, a probable miracle occurs. The jump gate writhing open behind them, the TCS Bonham Richard, a Gilgamesh destroyer, and the TCS John Henry, a Venture-class corvette, appear heroically, stabbing out with flak fire and obliterating the Kilrathi light fighters. The Richard is captained by none other than Admiral Theodore Halsey, who had been with the 5th Fleet at Lucas when they received Captain Ruth’s S.O.S. Locking tractor beams onto the stricken ship, the Nelson, the Henry, and the Richard began to tow the Antietam toward the jump point, hoping to catch it in a “jump pocket.” Meanwhile, Magnus and his surviving pilots land on the Richard. On the damaged, but salvaged, flight deck, Justin and Pete find that each other are all right and engage in a brotherly embrace. Over the P.A. system, we hear Captain Ruth announce, “ All is well.”
Chapter Thirteen: Dark Emotions. Jeremy writes his brother another letter before the Nathan Hale arrives in the Defiance System with the newly repaired TCS Dewey to oversee the evacuation of refugees from a civilian space station on the edge of the system. Sticking with their former agreement, Lieutenant Stallworth leads the Marines as they board the station to stave off the encroaching Kilrathi hordes (comprised of a Ralatha and a pair of Kamekhs) and successfully bring the imperiled refugees to the Dewey. Jeremy, however, mans a flak cannon against the Kilrathi Grikath bombers circling the Terran station and ships, obliterating several of the heavy fighters. The Dewey and the Ralatha square off, resulting in the ultimate destruction of the Kilrathi destroyer, although the Terran vessel is beyond salvage and her captain is dead. The Hale, meanwhile, attempts to stave off the Kamekhs and Grikaths. One corvette is destroyed, but another seriously damages the Terran Marine troop carrier.
The Animals rescue most of the refugees from the station and beat it back to the Hale. Captain O’Brian orders an immediate bug out, for conquest of the entire system is definitely out of the picture. Jeremy, at first relieved that he did not have to board the station, finds himself horrified to see Gloria Harmon unconscious on a stretcher. Angry with himself for being a coward, he takes his aggressions out in the Hale’s gymnasium while the troop carrier makes its way through the Adams System. Jesus Velez joins him and Jeremy says that he should have gone with the Animals and watched Gloria’s back. Velez assures his friend that it was not his fault and that he could not have done anything to prevent it from happening. But Jeremy says that he’ll be going out on every mission from here on out. Jesus tells Overstreet that he doesn’t have to if he doesn’t want to, because Stallworth would be content in letting him continue to man the guns, but Jeremy is adamant. He next goes to Lieutenant Stallworth’s office to tell him that he will go with the rest of the squad on the next mission and “Lil’ Chuckie”, despite some confusion on the private’s sudden change of mind, happily agrees. Jeremy then goes to Sickbay, where he admits to Gloria that he should have been with the Animals at Defiance, watching her back. In her semi-conscious state, she tells him that it’s okay and reveals her strong feelings for him, feelings that had been hidden since high school.
Next, the Hale is sent back to the Blake System where the TCS Mulciber, a Waterloo-class cruiser, has been taken over by mutineers, supposed members of the Society of Mandarins. Commander Andreas Dixon, the Mulciber’s Executive Officer, is leading the revolt. He is holding the ship’s captain, Neil Park, and the crewmembers that would not join him in the hangar bay, threatening to lower the magnetic airlock and kill them all. He demands weapons. What’s more, Dixon claims to have a bomb somewhere in the ship and will detonate it if anyone not carrying out his wishes tries to interfere. Nevertheless, Confed needs to stop Dixon and his terrorists. Once again fighting alongside Jesus Velez, Jeremy and the rest of the Animals slip stealthily onto the cruiser in a weapons transport, which is filled with more Marines who trap Dixon’s men inside when they go to get the weapons. One team rescues Captain Park and the rest of the Mulciber crew, while the others converge on the bridge, where Dixon is hiding with his twisted followers. The Marines storm the bridge, but Dixon reveals a detonator. Cautiously, Stallworth tries to talk the Mandarin out of blowing up the bomb, but Jeremy believes the bomb to be fictitious, all part of Dixon’s bluff. Ignoring Velez’s warning, Private Overstreet charges toward Dixon.
The Mandarin operative detonates the bomb, killing him and his followers present on the bridge. The Terran Marines are far enough back so the low-force bomb does not hurt them badly, although Jeremy is flung through the air by the shockwave. Sergeant Barcalow radios in that the other Mandarin operatives on the Mulciber have been apprehended and are being sent to the Hale, where Captain O’Brian orders them confined to the hold. Once back on the ship, Lieutenant Stallworth drags Jeremy into his office and gives him an earful about his reckless actions. He says that they were stupid, arrogant, and “… perhaps just a little brave.” Giving Jeremy a month’s KP duties, Stallworth dismisses the private from his office. Overstreet speaks to Gloria again, who is at full consciousness and is unaware that she expressed her romantic feelings to Jeremy. Taking a risk, he leans in and kisses her, and she does not pull away.
At Lucas and Nimitz Naval Base, the TCS Antietam is undergoing repairs and Major John Eric Noble is traumatized by Mallory Napier’s death, and the fact his last words to her were in anger. He speaks to the psychiatrist on Lucas. Meanwhile, Captain Justin Overstreet and 2nd Lieutenant Pete Decker are given some shore leave and they explore the various taverns around the base. One in particular: The Tail Spin, an old-fashioned pub which features various fighter pilot paraphernalia, including models of the F-14 and other old atmospheric jets and ancient photographs of Jimmy Doolittle and the like. They meet Herbert, the old barkeep there, who had fought in the war until his retirement in ’57. He gives them some advice about being a pilot, as well as a few drinks.
Chapter Fourteen: Losing Faith. Still slicing potatoes with Rampage in the mess hall, Jeremy and the Nathan Hale will jump into the Vonnegut System, where they will again see to the evacuation of civilian refugees on the second planet. Overstreet is confused, however, because it seems to him that Vonnegut 2 holds no military significance and expresses this to Jesus and Gloria, who has returned to duty. Brandon Barcalow warns him to stop worrying about it and Jeremy can only happily oblige, not wanting to suffer Lieutenant Stallworth’s wrath. There seems to be a problem, however, with the operation, for the jump point leading from the Dyson System is directly at Vonnegut 2, so any in-jumping ship will be instantaneously detected by the Kilrathi forces orbiting the planet. At Dyson Station, Commodore Brand, commanding the TCS Bonham Richard, and Commander Yancy “Big Yank” Harcourt, in charge of the TCS Horatio Nelson, join forces with the Hale for the assault.
The small task force jumps in and find five vessels orbiting Vonnegut 2: A Fralthra, a Ralari, a Snakeir, and two troop shuttles, which are descending rapidly toward the surface of the planet. Kilrathi Grikath bombers also strafe the villages, dropping bombs and shattering buildings, killing hundreds instantly. The Wild Animals squad is the first of the Terran Marines to go down to the surface. Jeremy finds Vonnegut an interesting world, with golden plains of grass, two heavy suns, and a blistering red sky. The grunts from the Richard and the Nelson land on the surface of the planet, as well, responding to the other distress signals emanating from across the single small continent. In orbit, the capital ships begin to duke it out, firing torpedoes and sending fighters after each other. Major Gavin “Bolt” Magnus leads the combined fighter forces against the Kilrathi forces. Captain O’Brian takes the Hale in the shadow of Big Yank’s guns.
The Animals find their target: A small village on the foothills of a tall, non-descript mountain. The plains surrounding the village, which had been settled by various peoples of Russian descent centuries before, are packed with injured or dead refugees, but Gregory Romanov, the village’s Chief Administrator, says that there are still frightened people within the walls. The Kilrathi have landed on the other side of the village and are swiftly advancing on the civilians. Lieutenant Stallworth breaks his squad into three groups: One, led by Brandon Barcalow, will watch over the already evacuated refugees and get them into the shuttles and to safety when O’Brian gives the signal to the Hale. The second team, led by Charles Stallworth himself, will converge on the village from the west, across the bridge over a river that slices its way through the plain. Finally, Sergeant John “The Tank” Mill’s team will come in from the east in an attempt to pin the Kilrathi in the center. A deadly firefight ensues, while Stallworth’s team, including Jeremy, are trapped on the bridge, under artillery fire of a tank. Stallworth sends one of his sharpshooters into a high tower, hoping to blow away the tank’s commander when he opens up the cupola to take a look around. The streets begin to clog with rubble as the tank blasts building after building, placing the trapped refugees in severe danger. The Kilrathi soldiers marching alongside the tank kill many Marines, but the Terrans get their own fair share of kills in, as well.
Finally, the Kilrathi tank commander lifts his head out of the cupola and Stallworth gives the signal, and the Animals’ resident sharpshooter takes aim and fires, blowing the Cat’s head apart. The Kilrathi soldiers began to turn their Dor’chaks toward the tower and the tank’s gun swivels to fire upon it. The tower is blown apart and collapses into a heap of rubble, but it provides a perfect distraction for the Animals to charge, guns firing. The Imperial storm troopers fall and Rampage Davies, howling a war cry, leaps onto the tank and lobs a grenade through the open cupola, leaping off just in time as it blows up. Grim-looking civilians pick their way through the rubble and request help for their injured. Stallworth sends Lieutenant, J.G., Harland Terwilliger, the Hale’s chief surgeon, to oversee a number of Terran grunts as they begin to escort the refugees toward the LCs. The remaining teams cover their retreat, but Sergeant Mill and his men, severely depleted in numbers, race through the central plaza, Kilrathi troops hot on their heels.
In orbit, the ship-to-ship combat is severe. Fighter forces led by Major Magnus take dizzying losses, but Bolt and a few wingmen manage to sneak past the Kilrathi fighter screen and engage the Ralatha, which is pelting the Richard with torpedoes. The fighters take out its engines, then the bridge, causing a chain-reaction, which destroys the Kilrathi destroyer. But it is too late, for the Bonham Richard succumbs to her battle damage and vanishes in a massive cloud of fire, metal, and gasses. Big Yank Harcourt increases his rate of fire at the Fralthra, but the enemy cruiser holds together. Meanwhile, the Hale’s flak fire keep the Kilrathi fighters at bay. On the surface, the refugees are evacuated to the shuttles and await Captain O’Brian’s word. The Animals, trapped on all sides by Kilrathi Marines (some of which have flown in from another village after destroying the Nelson’s Marine forces there), hide wherever they can and provide the Kilrathi with strong defilade fire, taking a great deal of their numbers.
Tragedy occurs, however, when Jesus Velez gets shot in the chest! He is alive, but Terwilliger says that he must operate or he may not survive after all. There is no way to operate on him, however, not in the field. The terrible gun wound wrapped in a crude field dressing, Private Velez hangs on for dear life. A new tank rumbles in then, reducing more of the intricate Russian-style village to rubble. In the gutted out ruins of a house, its façade crumbled to the ground in a heap of rubble, is a small girl, clutching a teddy bear and wailing her head off. Stallworth tells them to stay put, because it might be a Kilrathi trap, but Jeremy cannot take it and breaks orders yet again, rushing out into the open to save the kid. Despite yelled protestations, Jeremy dodges laser fire and artillery shells and makes it to the girl. Checking her for injuries, and finding none, he clutches her to his chest and races back toward his own lines. He is just handing off the kid to Corporal Sims when a laser shot to the leg sends him to his knees. Stallworth grabs him and pulls him back to safety, just as he is radioing the Hale for assistance. O’Brian says they are imperiled in orbit and can do nothing. After rescuing their own refugees, the Marines from the Richard were killed in atmosphere, as they were en route to assisting the Animals. The Battle of Vonnegut 2 becomes a stalemate.
Chapter Fifteen: Saving Grace. The Animals, as the twin suns settle behind the mountains, take up shelter in a half-collapsed church. The Kilrathi hunker in a burned-out warehouse across the street, the tank having been destroyed by the rocket crews (arriving just in time as the tank’s guns swiveled to their exact position), but the two enemies guns never waver from each other. Jeremy’s wound on his upper right thigh hurts like hell and he fears it’s becoming infected. In orbit, Major Magnus’s wing is all but destroyed and he and his few surviving wingmen fight against their Kilrathi counterparts and lock onto the Fralthra. The flak and fighter resistance is too heavy, however, and they are obliterated, although Magnus manages to eject and drifts helplessly through space. The Fralthra and the Snakeir launch even more torpedoes (and not to mention the fighters launching even more missiles) and half of the Nelson is crushed, but Big Yank Harcourt does not give up and continues to fight. The Hale, damaged, is ordered by Captain O’Brian to make a landing on the surface of the planet, although kilometers from where her shuttles are landed. The Horatio Nelson, brutally pounded by enemy warheads, moves in toward the Kilrathi vessels and manages to disable the Snakeir, although they do not destroy it. The opposing vessels continue to duke it out, but to no real effect. Harcourt sends out an S.O.S.
The suns rise again on Vonnegut 2 and the fighting between the Terrans and the Kilrathi intensify. Jeremy is traumatized as he watches Jesus Velez shudder and die before him. Consumed by anger, he wants nothing but to murder the Kilrathi, but Gloria attempts to reason with him. He doesn’t want to listen to reason. Allying himself with Rampage, they ascend to the church’s roof and begin to lob grenades at the Kilrathi warehouse. Stallworth orders them to stop, but they continue to unleash chaos on the Kilrathi. The enemy responds in kind, launching a rocket at the church’s roof. Jeremy and Rampage leap off just in time as the building crumbles around them. Most of the Animals, however, make it out alive and the two sides converge in the street and engage in fierce hand-to-hand combat. In orbit, successive volleys of deadly fire slam into the Nelson, but the stubborn Yancy Harcourt will not give up, despite the deaths of nearly all his crew. Just then, his radar officer announces three new Kilrathi vessels approaching from the far side of Vonnegut 2: Two Fralthis and a Ralatha. Coming to a decision, Big Yank orders his helmsmen to set a collision course with the closest of the enemy ships.
Suddenly, the jump point writhes open behind them and Big Yank fears more Kilrathi reinforcements, but they are Confed ships! Harcourt has his helmsman call off the kamikaze mission and the Nelson limps out of the way as the Kilrathi vessels launch torpedoes at the new ships: A Confederation-class dreadnought, with an escort of two Waterloos and a Gilgamesh! The TCS Confederation, flagship of Admiral Theodore Halsey himself, is not damaged as its heavy shields soak up the torpedoes’ force. The Confederation’s Phase Transit Cannon (PTC) fires, taking the Kilrathi ships apart. The Confed escorts add their fire as well, taking out even more enemy ships. On the surface, the Kilrathi fighters from the enemy reinforcements above begin to strafe the smashed village around the combatants. Suddenly, a great chunk of the mountain above explodes and a squad of advanced Rapiers races out of a hidden hangar, blasting apart the enemy fighters. Marine forces from the Confederation and her escorts land on the edges of the village and the Kilrathi, hopelessly outnumbered, surrender. Captain O’Brian, having lost contact with her Marines, leads a search party and eventually stumbles upon the shuttles and the frightened refugees.
The refugees, no longer safe in the Kilrathi war corridor, are evacuated on the TCS Churchill, a Waterloo-class cruiser, and Jeremy speaks to his dead friend Jesus Velez on Vonnegut 2, assuring him that he had indeed avenged Maria and Juanito, and boards the shuttle back to the Hale. The Horatio Nelson is adrift, but salvageable, and the Merrimack and the Mahatma Gandhi, the Gilgamesh and the remaining Waterloo respectively, launch tractor beams on her and tow her back to Lucas. Admiral Halsey watches the final shuttle carrying Jeremy and a number of other Marines land on the Hale. He expresses to his X.O., Commodore Belinda Jung, that he greatly admires the Wild Animals as a fighting unit and says to his Communications Officer, “ Get me Colonel Taggart…”
Chapter Sixteen: A Taste of Things to Come. Newly repaired, the TCS Antietam jumps into the McCaffrey System, where a new case of Watson’s Fever has broken out. The Kilrathi, however, are threatening the supply of vital medicines and the TCS Caduceus, a Diligent-class transport, needs an escort. Colonel Drake orders Echo Wing to escort the Caduceus to McCaffrey 6, the most stricken planet in the system. With Ted Butler, Pete Decker, and Mustafa Kemal on his wing, Justin meets heavy resistance and Drakhri medium fighters overwhelm them and destroy the Caduceus. Drake, over the comm, declares that Echo Wing’s mission is fubar and that they should report back to the Antietam at once. Justin is crushed and disillusioned that he lost the transport and can’t stop beating himself up over it. While nursing a whisky in the rec room, Captain Ruth makes a rare visit and talks to Justin, telling him he could not have saved the transport, that the Kilrathi were just too well prepared. It is some solace to Justin, but not much. Commander Jerome, who says that Admiral Halsey has recalled them to Lucas, interrupts Ruth, however.
The Hale is sent to the Rigel System, where Colonel James “Paladin” Taggart briefs the Wild Animals. Taggart, a big, blonde Scots man, was once a fighter pilot but is now an Intelligence agent. According to Taggart, a Kilrathi planet in the Racene System is Confed’s prime target at that moment. It serves as a jump nexus to the Kilrathi Enigma Sector HQ in the K’tithrak Mang System and so Confed needs to capture the so-called “Luna Mortis” (Moon of Death). However, all previous attempts to capture Kalla’Kar, as the Kilrathi call it, had resulted in failure due to the massive ring of gun platforms ringing the world. According to information gathered from the TCS Harbin, an Intelligence ship captained by Jonah Rutger, the weapons are operated from a bunker on the surface of Luna Mortis. That bunker needs to be stealthily infiltrated and the guns powered down in order for a massive Confederation strike at the world. Impressed by their skills at Vonnegut 2, Admiral Halsey volunteered the Wild Animals for the job. Jeremy is apprehensive at the prospect of infiltrating a Kilrathi base, for he fears something will go wrong.
In the Khar-Sa System, the KIS Hha’ifra detects a blip on its radar and Crown Prince Thrakhath orders his cousin Khasra’s Slaughter Wing to investigate. They discover a Diligent-class transport, the TCS Harbin, valiantly trying to make it back to Enigma Sector. Khasra orders Slaughter Wing to destroy it, but suddenly changes his mind and orders it disabled, believing something vital to be hidden within the vessel. Plowing through the light fighter screen, Slaughter Wing disables the Harbin and Khasra radios the Hha’ifra and tells Thrakhath to send over a boarding party. Leading the squad, the Crown Prince discovers the plans for Operation: Luna Mortis and reports to K’tithrak Mang to inform the Emperor. The Emperor first asks Thrakhath about their secret facility in the Card System, but the Prince informs the old Kilrathi that the Terrans had destroyed it. He also tells his grandson to build a fleet to combat the Confederation armada. Thrakhath happily does just that.
In the Lucas System, many admirals and ship captains gather aboard the TCS Confederation, where a briefing on a special mission is given by the C-in-C: Admiral Wayne Spencer Banbridge. Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn, Captain Ruth, and Admiral Halsey participate in the briefing, where they learn that elements from the 14th and 5th Fleets will mass in the Telamon System for a jump into the Kilrathi-held Racene System, which could be used as a staging point into K’tithrak Mang. Admiral Banbridge gives a specific date for the assault, and the strike team from the Hale must beat the clock and shut down the guns before the Confed armada jumps into Kalla’Kar.
In the Telamon System, the Hale deception unfolds. Using a captured Lumbari tanker as a mask, two Confederation landing shuttles carrying Lt. Stallworth’s Wild Animals Marine squad will broadcast a phony message given to Confed by POWs captured in the Trk’Harna System a few weeks before. Hopefully, the Kilrathi at Racene will buy the message and the Lumbari will descend toward the surface, where its façade will erupt, gorging forth the shuttles, which will land and allow the Marines to storm the weapons platforms’ control bunker. Stallworth gives the squad a pep talk and Jeremy is still nervous, but Gloria and Rampage, who is now a good friend, assure him that if they stick together, all will be well and the Kilrathi will be defeated. Feeling somewhat better, Jeremy and the rest of the Animals board the shuttles secreted away in the hollow belly of the Lumbari.
The Lumbari is not manned by a crew, but controlled by a sophisticated computer system, which responds to electrical impulses broadcast to it by the TCS Horak’Nar, a Ralari-class destroyer that belongs to the Ghorah Khar rebels. The Horak’Nar, under the command of Try’Ark nar Kabla Meth, must accompany the Lumbari into Racene in order to control it. Try’Ark and his crew know that when the Lumbari’s shell blows up, it will reveal the Horak’Nar as a fraud and they will be destroyed, but they accept their duty and feel honored to die for Nak’Tara (Terra). In the Telamon System, the shuttles are secreted in the Lumbari and the Hale jumps to safety in the Speradon System. At the Racene jump point, the Animals, tractored there by a flight of Broadswords, rendezvous with Try’Ark and the Horak’Nar. Huddled in the darkened, silent hold of one of the Marine landing craft, Private Jeremy Overstreet seeks the guidance of Master Sergeant Richard Fremont, the squad’s Christian chaplain. Fremont blesses the soldiers and the two Confederation vessels jump into enemy territory.
Chapter Seventeen: Stealth and Guile. The SS Jolly Roger, a privateer ship captained by former Confed officer Quinn Fergus and currently working for the Confederation, identifies a sizable Kilrathi naval force massing at the edge of the Trafalgar System. Captain Fergus powers down the Roger’s running lights and all other non-essential electronic systems that would be detected by the Kilrathi. He orders his helm to move closer to the enemy fleet within the safety of the Trafalgar asteroid belt, which stretches across the Kilrathi’s port flank. The Roger records several images of the amassed ships, but is soon spotted by a squadron of Drakhri medium fighters, flying in from behind the privateer. Captain Fergus is caught off guard and orders his helm to fall back to the secret mercenary base on the opposite edge of the system, but the Kilrathi fighters surround them and pelt their shields with missiles. One hitting the Roger’s engines and threatening an explosion, Fergus downloads the ship’s new recordings to a Scimitar medium fighter waiting in the hold.
Becky Neal, the Jolly Roger’s First Mate, volunteers to fly the Scimitar to Confed forces and deliver the information regarding the Kilrathi fleet in Trafalgar. Becky hastily tells Fergus that it had been a pleasure working for him and that she will fight for his honor and she races toward the hold as the Roger breaks up around her. As the privateer ship is finally consumed in an expanding cloud of metal and gases, the Scimitar hits afterburners and hurtles away from the wreckage, but instantly is surrounded by Drakhris. Becky, whose father was a decorated pilot shot down shortly after the Vega Campaign, is a natural combat pilot and plows through the Kilrathi medium fighters, exchanging mass driver rounds for laser blasts. She pushes her fighter almost beyond its limits in order to get to the Telamon jump point, and when she finally arrives, a Kamekh corvette moves within range in an attempt to acquire a target lock on her. Ignoring the Scimitar’s warbling AI, Becky fires her jump drive and leaps into Telamon. Her power drained, she drifts, losing oxygen and losing consciousness, before a Waterloo-class cruiser, the TCS Horatio Nelson, picks up her S.O.S. and tractors her on board.
In the Lucas System, Admirals Banbridge and Halsey are distressed over the mysterious disappearance of the TCS Harbin when Captain Harcourt arrives on the Confederation with apparently vital news. He tells the flag officers of the Jolly Roger’s brave final action in the Trafalgar System. Communicating with Admiral Tolwyn on the Concordia, the trio comes to the conclusion that the Kilrathi must have gotten the plans for Operation: Luna Mortis after capturing the Harbin. But Tolwyn points out that the force gathering in Trafalgar is far too small to successfully ward off a Confederation assault on the Racene System. Additional elements from K’tithrak Mang would be sent to Racene to provide a strong front against the eminent Confed attack. Also, if indeed the Kilrathi had learned of Operation: Luna Mortis, then they must be sending a force into Telamon to preempt any jump into Racene. Admiral Halsey proposes to shift the bulk of the attacking Confed fleet from Telamon to the Harrison System, but Banbridge points out that the Kilrathi, having expected the staging point to be located in Telamon, would be suspicious. Captain Harcourt suggests a decoy to jump into that system and volunteers the Nelson for the job. Reluctantly, Banbridge agrees. Before he returns to his cruiser, Harcourt informs the admirals of Becky Neal, whom he says should be given a commission in the Space Force.
The Horak’Nar and the Lumbari containing the Wild Animals arrive in orbit around Kalla’Kar and a pre-recorded message featuring a Kilrathi captain hails the primary space station and asks for permission to land on the surface of the tropical moon in order to resupply the ground troops. So far, the plan works and the Horak’Nar guides the robot Lumbari toward Racene’s surface. The rebel destroyer, meanwhile, is ordered by the space station to move into the shadow of the KIS Caxtar, a Snakeir-class carrier commanded by Quar’kek nar Hhallas. Apprehensively, Try’Ark, not wanting to make the Imperials suspicious, complies. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Stallworth gives his troops a brief pep talk as the Lumbari slices through the atmosphere, escorted by two Sartha light fighters from the Horak’Nar. Suddenly, the façade breaks away and the two Marine LCs are set loose. A pair of Dralthi IIs from the surface scramble up to investigate, but are dealt with by the Sarthas. One Dralthi is destroyed, but the remaining Imperial pilot, far superior to the rebels, destroys them both and concentrates on the LCs.
In orbit, the Horak’Nar is found out to be a fraud and the Caxtar opens fire on her. The rebel destroyer responds in kind, firing torpedoes on the carrier while attempting to make it back to the Telamon jump point. But it is outgunned. Racene’s Fralthra and Ralatha add its firepower, as well as the orbiting weapons platforms, the space station, and countless fighters, resulting in gross overkill that tears the Horak’Nar apart. Defiant till the end, Try’Ark roars triumphantly as his ship explodes around him. In atmosphere, the assault shuttles dodge flak fire and fighters as they make their way to the surface. The shuttles are unarmed and take some damage to their shields, but they land on a sprawling beach, albeit a tad shakily. Stallworth takes charge, commanding his men to fall out, weapons at the ready. The shuttles disgorge the Animals, but Grikath bombers, patrolling the skies, drop bombs on the vessels, destroying them. Stallworth’s shuttle, on which Jeremy had flown, had been empty, save for the pilot, but the other shuttle had taken more than half of the Marine squad with it.
The Hale Marines clash with a squad of Kilrathi storm troopers, meeting in deadly hand-to-hand combat. Jeremy surprises himself when successfully killing a Cat up close, but is also vaguely horrified, not yet used to the killing, despite his experiences in the Vonnegut System. As well, a Kilrathi plasma cannon is giving the Terrans grief and Stallworth orders Sergeant Mill’s section, of which Jeremy is a part, to climb the dune and destroy the emplacement that is perched atop it. Firing grenades from their rifles from afar, the soldiers clear the dune and reach the top of the hill, fighting the cannon crew and eventually triumphing, although losing Kiljan Laxness in the process. The clear hill, Lieutenant Stallworth orders the bulk of the squad to climb the dune in order to drop in behind the Kilrathi. Sergeants Dale and Crowe volunteer to stay behind in order to distract the enemy while Stallworth hits them from the rear. Dale’s section is brutally slaughtered and Crowe’s is barely standing when the bulk of the Animals catch the Kilrathi by surprise and destroy them. Grikaths continue to bomb them from above and the Lieutenant moves them forward at the double-time, into a small thicket overlooking a bunker, which, according to Intelligence, is the orbital weapons’ control facility.
A small squad of Cat warriors moves in on them from their left flank and security forces from the bunker respond to the Terran presence. More Terran Marines are killed, but, hunkering behind any cover they can find, the Animals pour defilade fire into the Kilrathi lines, as well as a heavy salvo of grenades, and the aliens on the squad’s left pull back. Stallworth orders a charge toward the bunker and the enemy security forces are cut down. Lieutenant Stallworth orders Brandon Barcalow to join Sergeant Mill’s section as it blows apart the bunker’s heavy doors and venture into its innards. Meanwhile, Stallworth himself leads the remaining Animals to form a defensive perimeter around the enemy facility and tells Private, First Class, Moira McDaniel to “… uncase the colors!” More Kilrathi lurk within the bunker, and Corporal Sims falls, but they eventually make it to the command center where, after a tense shoot out, Barcalow orders Private Eisen to disable the guns. But there is a problem. A big problem. Their Intelligence had been wrong and this was not the orbital gun platforms’ control bunker at all! In fact, the Animals had landed on the wrong side of the planet! What’s worse, Eisen reports that one of the command center’s consoles was showing a massive enemy force coming up from the beach, deposited there from the space station in orbit of Racene!
Barcalow, Jeremy, and gang race out to find Stallworth and a number of other Marines raising the Confederation flag atop a high hill (ala the famous image at Iwo Jima). Stallworth is ecstatic, but his second-in-command races forward, informing the Lieutenant of the bad news. Before he can respond, however, a sniper’s laser blast sears out from among the trees, cutting through Stallworth’s chest and killing him instantly. Jeremy watches in horror as a powerful shell bursts through the tree and shatters an entire section! Barcalow orders what’s remaining of the Animals (which isn’t much at this point) to fall back to a large clearing where he orders them to dig in, much to the objections of many. Jeremy quickly helps dig the trenches with his entrenchment tool, but the job is barely done and lines formed when an entire platoon of Kilrathi storm troopers burst from the trees. And coming up right behind them? A tank! Barcalow, now in command of the Wild Animals, gives the command to fire. The Battle of Racene has begun.
Chapter Eighteen: Happenstances. A task force comprised of the TCS Horatio Nelson and several other destroyers, cruisers, corvettes, and the TCS Moskva, a fleet carrier, mass in the Callimachus System and jump into the Telamon System, where a small flotilla of Kilrathi vessels await them. Lt. Col. Gavin “Bolt” Magnus’ squadron launches from the Nelson as well as other fighters from the other vessels. His Alpha Wing is comprised of 2nd Lieutenant Rebecca “Sprite” Neal, 2nd Lieutenant Winston “Vagabond” Chang, and Captain Ian “Hunter” St. John. They fly Rapier medium fighters against the Kilrathi Grikath heavy fighters. Torpedoes and heavy flak dance through the void and several vessels, on both sides, are destroyed. The seasoned veteran, Magnus is greatly impressed by young Sprite’s prowess in the cockpit as she swoops in and destroys a Kamekh corvette with a smartly-placed Javelin HS missile into its engines. The battle continues and eventually, after the Moskva is seriously damaged and two-thirds of the Terran flotilla destroyed, the last of the Kilrathi vessels are eliminated and several jump-capable Kilrathi fighters race to the safety of the Racene jump point. But Big Yank does not give Magnus permission to pursue, for Confed was anticipating this action.
In the Harrison System, the Confederation armada masses for the final jump into the Racene System. There are hundreds of vessels, thousands of fighters. Admiral Halsey commands his 5th Fleet forces from the TCS Confederation; while Admiral Tolwyn commands his own 14th Fleet forces from the TCS Concordia. Admiral Banbridge oversees the entire operation from the deck of the TCS Wolfhound, a 700-meter long Bengal-class strike carrier. Justin, Pete, and Frosty sit in the rec room, discussing the course of the war as well as Major Noble’s condition—slumped over the bar and perpetually nursing a beer. They wonder if he’ll shape it up by the time they jump into Kalla’Kar. Justin also must speak to Boyar, for Colonel Drake told him they needed every pilot on board for the upcoming operation. Captain Overstreet lays out strict guidelines for the pilot and tells him he’ll need a Marine guard at all hours. Corporal Sherman Potter is assigned to him. Boyar reluctantly agrees to this, if only he can fly and murder some Cats. Justin retreats to his bunk, where he contents himself with staring at the ceiling and thinking about all that had transpired in the last few weeks; Major Edison’s death, his brother’s disappearance, frequent Mandarin attacks, and so on. He also speaks to Diamond, who stills feels hurt by Justin’s rejection of her.
First Fang Sha’ark nar Caxki, commander of Brutal Wing, limps his Grikath bomber home to Kalla’Kar, where he informs Prince Thrakhath that the Terran forces have destroyed the Kilrathi defensive perimeter around the Racene jump point. Fuming, Thrakhath orders his fleet to jump, which had just arrived in orbit from Trafalgar and K’tithrak Mang, into Telamon to deal with the Confed flotilla, leaving Luna Mortis lightly defended. When Thrakhath arrives in-system, however, he finds no evidence of any Terran forces. The captain of the Hha’ifra announces that Kalla’Kar is sending out a distress signal, for apparently a massive Terran armada had jumped into Racene and was quickly making its way toward Kalla’Kar. Thrakhath orders Sha’ark disintegrated and the fleet to turn back, that the flotilla in Telamon was a distraction. Upon returning to Luna Mortis, they discover the Terrans have not yet arrived and begin to get apprehensive. Thrakhath asks about the Confederation soldiers that had landed on the surface of the planet in an attempt to shut down the orbital guns so the enemy forces could seize Kalla’Kar unimpeded. Melek tells him that the Terran Marines are all but destroyed.
Chapter Nineteen: Unusual Allies. On the surface of Racene, the remaining Wild Animals put up a hell of a fight against the Kilrathi platoon pouring intense enfilade fire into the Terran ranks. More humans die, however, and Jeremy feels that their mission is fubar and that he, as well, will soon die a horrible death. The enemy tank fires a shell directly in front of Private Overstreet, blowing dirt and shrapnel into his face, severely damaging it. But it does not faze him. He continues to fire, taking down Kilrathi after Kilrathi until his energy clip was run down and he was forced to use his pistol. But no matter what the Animals do, they cannot hold back the tide of Kilrathi storm troopers and so Sergeant Barcalow orders a retreat. They push back to the thick Racenian jungle, only to be impeded by a large chasm cut through the surface. If one should fall in, it would mean certain death. Knowing that they cannot cross it in time, Barcalow orders a suicidal charge. Jeremy, realizing that this is most likely the end of his life, kisses Gloria and they express their love for one another. They can see the Kilrathi coming over the rise, ready to slaughter them, but suddenly a miracle occurs. From above, several bombs are dropped, blowing apart the Kilrathi platoon. The Animals watch in amazement, but have no clue what is dropping the bombs, for the thick jungle canopy prevents one from seeing past the treetops. Realizing that God had bought them time, Barcalow orders the squad to work together in order to make a bridge to cross the chasm. Jeremy wishes to help, but the Sergeant orders him to take it easy, that he had done enough. He calls over Lieutenant Terwilliger, who has survived the debacle, to work on Overstreet’s torn face and tells Jeremy that he is giving a field promotion of Corporal. He will take over his section, for Sergeant Mill had died in the clearing. Jeremy is honored and says he will do his best.
The red sun of Kalla’Kar begins to settle behind the jungle. The Animals have crossed the chasm and tramped through the forest in search of a transport to the other side of the planet, where the control bunker is located. Private Eisen tells them that the armada would arrive by late afternoon the next day and be obliterated if they do not shut down the guns. As it gets dark, Sergeant Barcalow orders, who has taken on the de facto rank of Lieutenant, the Marines to set up camp and get some rest. Some object to this, saying that they should not stop, but Barcalow retorts that he’ll not order anyone to fight until they are properly rested. After a harsh dinner of field rations, Jeremy settles down to get some sleep. He has a horrible dream of a fire-filled plain, where death reigns. He dreams that Gloria is horribly killed and he could not save her. He jerks awake to find Kilrathi bombers swooping overhead. He remains deathly still until the Grikaths swoop away, but he hears some strange noises emanating from the deeper into the jungle. He awakens Sergeant Barcalow and the two men, weapons drawn, investigate. What do they find? Two Firekkans! The avian creatures are startled and begin to take flight, but Barcalow fires a warning shot past them and tells them to land. Frightened, the bird aliens do so.
The two Terrans take the Firekkans back to their camp, where the entire squad gathers around while Barcalow interrogates the aliens around a field lantern. One speaks, but the other appears mute. The Firekkan identifies himself as Larrat and his partner as Ghedri. Jeremy comes to the conclusion that it was the Firekkans that had come to their rescue earlier in the day. Larrat confirms this. He says that he and his fellow Firekkans had colonizes Racene years before, when their first of their kind and left the flock, but when the Tiger’s Claw had used the system as a staging point into K’tithrak Mang in 2655, the Kilrathi had set up a military force there, raping the land and forcing the Firekkans to leave their homes. Using the simple weapons they had taken from Firekka, the avian aliens had fought back, eventually raiding a Kilrathi weapons bunker, where they had acquired the bombs they had dropped. Barcalow asks the aliens if they can take them to a transport, and Larrat tells him that not only will he tell the Terrans where a transport is, but also he and his fellows will take them there and assist them in their endeavors.
When morning comes, the Terrans and the Firekkans join forces and tramp through the jungle toward the nearest Kilrathi air base. Larrat, after flying recon with Ghedri, informs Sergeant Barcalow that there are several patrols between the Terrans’ camp and the air base, as well as a heavy field gun. The Confederation forces attempt to slip past the Kilrathi patrols by taking shortcuts through the jungle and through a massive river. Still, they are spotted by a few patrols and must fight their way through, but, fortunately, there are no casualties. By noon, they reach the field gun. The armada is less than five hours away, and if they attempt to move out into the open, the gun will spot them and blow them into hamburger meat. Jeremy comes up with a plan. He proposes the Firekkans take to the air, dropping grenades and firing laser rifles down on the gun crew. The twelve aliens do just that, although two of the Firekkans are shot down, including the mute Ghedri. Larrat is crushed over his friend’s death and swoops dangerously close to the gun, gripping the lead Kilrathi soldier in his fierce talons and dropping him from a dizzying height, killing him. The Kilrathi distracted by the Firekkans’ attack, the Terrans rush forward, guns blazing and they quickly overwhelm the gun crew. Rampage wonders if they can’t take the gun with them in order to help them commandeer a transport, but Barcalow says it’s too heavy and rules it out. The dwindling Terran numbers continue their trek toward the air base.
Chapter Twenty: Favor the Bold. The Terran armada is two hours away. The Kilrathi air base is visible to the Wild Animals and their Firekkan allies, but is swarming with enemy soldiers. Rampage insists that they should go back and drag the field gun to the hill where they currently perch, but Barcalow tells Lance Corporal Davies to shut up. But they must capture a transport before it is too late. Jeremy suggests they surround the base and pelt it with grenades until the Kilrathi surrender. By this time, Barcalow is game to just about any feasible plan. Overstreet’s section moves to the east, while Sergeant Jake Morgan’s section is sent to the west. Barcalow remains in the south, and the Firekkans are circle above, ready to drop Terran grenades on the Kilrathi below. The air base is bombarded with grenades, but the soldiers are careful to avoid the transports. With the Kilrathi confused, the Marines rush down the hill, guns blazing, but an entire squad of enemy troops rush forth from a hidden, underground bunker and Sergeant Barcalow’s section must take quick cover. Jeremy’s section faces heavy resistance from the remaining security squads and engages in hand-to-hand combat. If they can get past the security, forces, they could surround the Kilrathi Marine squad and commandeer a transport. Several more Firekkans are killed and Larrat takes charge, flying away from the battle. Barcalow misunderstands and curses the aliens for their cowardice. The fight continues, and it seems the squad will overrun Barcalow’s troops, but suddenly the Firekkans return, clutching the field gun in their talons. Rampage howls in approvement and Larrat lands on the roof of a nearby hangar and opens fire. The Terran Marines take cover and the enemy squad is blown apart. Overstreet’s section defeats the security team and the rest of the air base’s crew surrenders. Barcalow orders them to surrender their sidearms and take a thousand paces into the jungle. They do as they are told and the Terrans and their Firekkan allies board a Kilrathi transport and Eisen, who is nearly fluent in Kilrathi, pilots them across Kalla’Kar, with only thirty minutes before the Confed armada arrives in orbit.
In the TCS Antietam’s briefing room, Colonel Drake goes over the plan for the operation. The carrier’s in the middle of the 5th Fleet formation and the Flight Wing will fly escort for the Antietam, until the order is given by the Admiral to attack. Justin is concerned that the Wing will be doing nothing while other pilots and spaceman are slaughtered before them. Drake, however, says that their mission is too important for trivial concerns for that. He says that they will all see action sooner than later and announces that he, too, will fly, personally leading the Wing into battle. Drake will fly under the callsign of Tigershark, to the objection of Colonel Butler, who tells his commander that he hasn’t flown a combat mission since the Vega Campaign. The grand Confederation naval force arrives in orbit above Racene, and Admiral Banbridge takes for granted that the Animals have shut down the orbital batteries, unaware of their dizzying losses. Thrakhath, on the bridge of the Hha’ifra, order the forward ships of the Kilrathi fleet to open fire. Admiral Halsey on the Confederation communicates with Tolwyn and Banbridge on the Concordia and Wolfhound respectively. Banbridge order the forward Confed ships to open fire and the forward fighter wings to engage. Torpedoes streak across open space, striking shields and destroying smaller ships, such as corvettes. Fighters dance through the maelstrom, exchanging fire and splitting apart in massive conflagrations. What Halsey doesn’t know is that Thrakhath has given the order for the guns to fire, but as the armada gets closer, the Prince realizes the guns aren’t firing. He contacts the control bunker, and finds the crew dying a slow, agonizing death. Furious, Thrakhath orders a team to descend to the surface of Racene and operate the guns.
The Antietam fighters wait as Confed ships blow up around them. Justin watches as the debris cloud of the TCS El Alamein disperses to reveal a wall of Kilrathi fighters. Tigershark gives the order to break and attack, reminding them of the old saying, “ Fortune favors the bold…” They engage, exchanging intense fire with the Kilrathi. Enemy ships fire torpedoes and missiles at the Antietam, and Captain Ruth orders return fire, destroying a Ralari-class destroyer and several more Kilrathi ships. On the Confederation, Admiral Halsey tells Tolwyn that they need the 14th’s 10th Destroyer Squadron on the armada’s left flank to provide a more thorough defense of the carriers. Tolwyn concurs and sends Commodore Peel’s squadron immediately. Halsey’s dreadnought shudders under intense enemy fire and he order torpedoes launches, destroying a Fralthra and a Kamekh. Halsey is still worried about the Caxtar, which sits behind the bulk of the Kilrathi fleet, destroying quite a number of the Confederation’s craft. On the Hha’ifra, Melek informs Thrakhath that the drop team has arrived at the control bunker. Garahk nar Kiranka, the squad’s leader, informs them that the bunker looks like an abattoir, that a canister of “the substance” had ruptured, killing the entire crew. Garahk and his men wear gas masks. However, the squad leader powers up the orbital guns and fires.
Justin watches in horror as the orbital weapons platforms open fire, shredding apart dozens of ships in an instant. The battle at this point has reached a fever pitch, and Justin begins to take serious damage before Frosty swoops in a saves him. But the weapons platforms are still a problem and Echo and Charlie Wings attempt to get up close and destroy the guns, to the objections of Colonel Drake. Boyar is shot up and forced to eject when defense turrets focus on him. Justin gets in close enough to fire off a pair of missiles, but they are useless against the guns’ shields. Justin calls off the attack, watching again as the batteries open fire, destroying yet more Terran ships. A wing of Grikaths descends on them then, Khasra’s Slaughter Wing, and Diamond is killed, expressing her feelings for Justin again just before her ship explodes. Justin is traumatized, having looked into her eye on the VDU before she went up.
Private Eisen dodges flak and fighter patrols as he settles the transport down in a wide clearing next to the control bunker. Jeremy can see the armada being destroyed above and urges the Animals to hurry. Barcalow orders Sergeant Morgan to stay behind and be on the lookout for any Kilrathi patrols. The other Marines and the Firekkans rush into the bunker and fight off the Kilrathi team inside, curious that they are wearing gas masks. The reach the control center and find the reason for the gas masks. The original crew is slumped against the consoles, their skins boiled and their eyes bugged out in agony. Gloria finds strange looking canisters in a supply room nearby and Private Eisen identifies them as containing Dichlorodiethylsulphide—mustard gas. Barcalow is sickened that the Kilrathi would stoop to such levels, but Jeremy says that they should shut the guns down quickly and get out before they, too, are affected. Eisen shuts down the guns successfully and all begin to cheer, when the bunker suddenly shakes with a blast and Jake Morgan radios in, saying something’s coming up from the horizon. The Animals race out and crouch on a hill to see a massive wall of Kilrathi troops and a squadron of tanks coming their way. Barcalow sends Jeremy to the transport to radio the fleet for help. He then orders the animals to dig in and prepare for the fight of their lives.
Chapter Twenty-One: Fateful Lightning. Justin and crew suddenly realize the guns have been shut down and cheer, but a new wave of Kilrathi fighters kills the ebullience. The fight is intense and Ted Butler’s Saber is damaged, the turret blown out. Justin orders him back to the Antietam. Things get hellish, and the cries of the dead echo grimly across the comm, before Pete Decker starts to sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Before they know it, perhaps the entire fleet is singing along and Justin has never felt more united in any cause in his entire life. On the bridge of the TCS Confederation, Admiral Halsey’s comm officer announces that the weapons platforms have been shut down and Halsey says he knew the Animals could do it, but he has no idea of the troubles they now face until he receives the pleas of Jeremy. He assures Private Overstreet that reinforcements will arrive as soon as possible. The Caxtar subsequently destroys several of the Confederation’s allies and Halsey tells Tolwyn that they need to eliminate that carrier, which is now the biggest threat to the depleted armada. Tolwyn says he’ll send his fighter wing in and Halsey says he’ll also send in the Antietam’s wing.
Justin receives a message over his comm from a Major Edmond, telling him that the Antietam’s wing has been given clearance to land on the Concordia for refueling and rearming. They land and Justin’s Sabre is taken care of by Petty Officer Janet McCullough, who tells him to call her Sparks. When the entire Antietam wing has landed, Colonel Jeanette “Angel” Devereaux approaches them, informing them that they are to attack the Caxtar and destroy her. Lieutenant Curry objects, saying that it would be suicide, but Cougar shuts his pilot up and tells Angel that they won’t let her down.
The Wild Animals have dug in, watching as Terran LCs are being blown apart above them. They need the help, for hundreds of enemy troops and tanks are coming their way. Kilrathi fighters attempt to shoot apart the Terran lines, but Confed fighters swoop in and keep them at bay. Even the surviving Firekkans are taking to the sky, dropping whatever they can get into the Cat lines. Nevertheless, the situation is critical. Even mustard gas in being hurled into their lines! The skies are now red with fires, but six Marines LCs, each carrying approx. 50 troops, get through and Lt. Colonel Gus Markham of the 5th battalion, stationed aboard the TCS Antietam provides much needed assistance. The Terrans are not so hopelessly outnumbered now, but the situation is still pretty bad. The Kilrathi are advancing and the tanks are tearing huge gaps in the line. Markham orders several of his M-77 ground assault vehicles out to combat the Kilrathi tanks. Several of the enemy vehicles are destroyed, but quite a few of the Terran ones, too. The human tank operators retreat to the jungle, leaving only Kilrathi ones left on the field.
As the human line continues to fall (despite more reinforcements from the Confederation), a thick poison gas bombardment forces Jeremy’s section to take cover, shoving their gas masks over their faces. Gloria, however, cannot get her mask on in time and begins to choke and sputter, slowly dying. Jeremy, horrified, tries to give his mask to her, but Sergeant Barcalow holds him back. Gloria dies and Private Overstreet, furious, attacks Brandon, attempting to shoot him before a Kilrathi nails him in the shoulder, dropping him. He is consumed with grief, and soon after, Colonel Markham orders a retreat as the Kilrathi forces swarm the Terran Marines.
The battle over Racene still rages, and Admiral Halsey and Captain Ruth face yet more Kilrathi hordes. Meanwhile, the combined forces of the Concordia’s and Antietam’s wings get closer to the Caxtar, taking a few casualties. But soon they are near and launch their payloads, pulling out and watching in delight as the Kilrathi carrier explodes. The Terran forces cheer across the comm as the Kilrathi flagship is destroyed and the Cats thrown into confusion. After dogfighting some more, Captain Ruth breaks in and informs Justin that the Marines on the surface and taking a hell of a pounding and he learns that his brother’s on the surface, as well. He takes Echo and Charlie Wings down through the atmosphere, battling the alien Krants and Dralthis and cutting up the Kilrathi lines, which is threatening to overtake the Terran Marines again.
On the Hha’ifra, Price Thrakhath broods over the sudden turn of events. His Imperial legions on the surface were drawing back under the fire from the Terran fighters, the Caxtar was destroyed. Just then, Melek arrives with a captured Terran pilot, claiming that the human knows who accomplished both feats. It is Nikita Gorbunov, bloodied, but alive. Thrakhath demands the name, and Boyar proudly reveals the name of his commander, claiming that Justin and noble pilots like him will cause the Empire to fall. Thrakhath orders Boyar disintegrated. The Prince recognizes the true warrior spirit in Justin and asks for his Bloodfang to be prepped. He wants to go out and settle the score with Overstreet. Permanently.
1st Lieutenant Ryan “Dragon” Yan is flying with the Antietam’s wing, which has been teamed with Colonel Devereaux’s wing off the Concordia. Their objective is the Kilrathi space station in orbit of Racene, which has launched more fighters against the Terran command ships. The station picks pilots off one by one, even blowing apart Colonel Drake! With their commander gone and the wing in confusion, Angel tries to get the team into some sort of formation for the bombing run on the station, but a new wing of fighters forces to them break off the attack. They dogfight with the Cats for a while, before Natalie Maximus’ fighter is severely damaged. Ryan, who realizes he’s in love with her, finds out that her Sabre will slam into the station, killing her. He discovers he won’t be able to live without her and, together, they plunge their fighter-bombers into the station, dying together.
Chapter Twenty-Two: The Last Full Measure. Private Jeremy Overstreet, injured and slumped in his trench, watches as the Kilrathi overrun the Terran position again, forcing the humans to fight hand-to-hand with the Cats. Sergeant Barcalow is mortally wounded by a Kilrathi knife in combat and dies. Jeremy, unable to stand, pulls out his pistol and shoots down the Cats coming at him at point-blank range. The charge on his gun soon dies and a Kilrathi warrior stands over him, ready for the kill. Jeremy prepares to die, but Rampage Davies, sneaking up behind the Kilrathi, shoots him in the back of the head, saving him. Justin and the pilots from the Antietam pass over again, shooting up the Kilrathi line. The Cats retreat and Colonel Markham says the Terrans need to regroup for the final push. He knows that the Cats will kill them if they don’t go on the offensive.
From above, Justin watches the human soldiers leap out of their trenches, racing toward the retreating Kilrathi. Justin provides cover. He cheers out in triumph, but soon a new Kilrathi flight drop behind him from the blood-red clouds, guns blazing. But these are not ordinary Imperial pilots. These are warriors of the Drakhai, the Kilrathi Imperial Guard. And leading them into battle? Prince Thrakhath, in his Bloodfang fighter. The Guard pilots are tough as hell and Frosty is forced to eject. Justin orders his battered wing to pull back into space, in the hopes that the cap ships could provide cover for them. The rest of the Antietam and Concordia pilots are coming to the rescue, but are ambushed by Khasra’s Slaughter Wing. Pete ends up fighting Khasra, who runs in cowardice as Decker tears up his Grikath. Thrakhath curses his cousin, but is currently fighting Justin, who, with some help from Doomsday and Jazz from the Concordia, manages to destroy the Prince’s Bloodfang. Praise for Justin echoes across the radio, and it seems as if the Cats are to be truly defeated. But the battle is not over yet, not by a long shot.
As their cover is forced back into space, the Kilrathi troops and their tanks force the Terrans back to the trenches, leaving a blanket of dead humans across the pockmarked surface.
Captain Ruth, adamant to force the Kilrathi to retreat, takes his damaged carrier into the fray, every battery firing, attempting to knock out a heavily armed Ralari that is the last remaining heavy ship in the Empire’s arsenal. The Cat destroyer opens fire, taking out the Antietam’s phase shields and eating through armor. The carrier takes heavy damage, and many are killed, including Commander Jerome. The Confederation moves in to assist, adding its firepower to that of Antietam’s. The Ralari is destroyed and a great cheer goes up for Donald Ruth and Theodore Halsey.
On the hellish surface of Racene, Jeremy knows it is just about over. The enemy fleet above is in disarray and preparing to retreat, but the Marines will be destroyed, nonetheless. He figures they should go out taking as many as they can. He gives the troops of his platoon (which he has taken over by this time) a rousing speech (the band of brothers thing I got going here) and the men surge over the trench line, diving into the Kilrathi lines with no fear of death. Jeremy watches comrades fall around him, including Rampage. Colonel Markham sees Overstreet’s platoon charge into the enemy position and, inspired, orders a charge. The remaining Terran soldiers rush forward, no longer cautious, realizing that they are dead anyhow. Jeremy, despite the pain in his arm, throws himself right on a tank, shoving a grenade into the cupola and diving off as the machine explodes. More shooting. More death. Confed’s remaining tanks, which have been reserviced in the jungle behind the lines, lumber forward, adding their firepower. Jeremy, still running forward, gets shot repeatedly, but still he trudges forward, leaking blood and losing strength. Things become blurry, but he can clearly see the Kilrathi dropping their weapons and moving forward with their hands raised. They’ve surrendered! But Jeremy can’t enjoy it. As a wing of Confed fighters, led by Captain Justin Overstreet, streak past overhead, Jeremy falls to the ground in a pool of blood.
Thrakhath floats in the middle of space, watching in horror as his defense crumbles around him. He knows the Confederation have triumphed at Kalla’Kar. And it makes him sick. He curses the humans as the Hha’ifra tractors his ejection seat in. On the bridge of his battered command ship, he orders a full retreat from the system, despite objections from his ship commanders. The Kilrathi retreat to the jump point into Imperial-held space. The Battle of Racene is over.
Nearly 3/4ths of the Confed armada that had jumped into Racene mere days ago had been destroyed. The heavily damaged TCS Antietam, the Confederation, and the Concordia, along with several smaller frigates and corvettes are the only survivors. The Antietam’s fighter wing is diminished to only twelve pilots. Justin lands and is greeted with rousing cheers. All military discipline is lost. The Kilrathi had been defeated. Long live the Confederation. The party is interrupted, however, when several Marine LCs land on the carrier, carrying many wounded. Justin is shocked to see his kid brother, barely alive, as one of the wounded. Colonel Markham tells him that he fought bravely and he’s recommending him for the Confederation Medal of Honor. Justin knows that the Confederation had won a great victory this day, but the price was perhaps too high.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Terminus. Confed forces have moved into occupy the planet of Racene. A new strike at K’tithrak Mang is in the works. In the Lucas System, Admirals Theodore Halsey, Geoffrey Tolwyn, and Wayne Spencer Banbridge share a drink and commend the Terran forces on a job well done, but know the war is far from over. On the TCS Horatio Nelson, Rear-Admiral Yancy Harcourt and Colonel Gavin Magnus prepare for another mission against the Kilrathi. On Earth, 1st Lieutenant Jeremy Overstreet, recovered from his wounds, returns home to Missouri, where his father apologizes for all he’s said and done and warmly embraces his son. On the TCS Antietam, still in dry-dock at Lucas, Major Justin “MadDog” Overstreet bids farewell to his friends, announcing that he has been given squadron command aboard the TCS Concordia, having impressed Admiral Tolwyn and Colonel Devereux with his flying skills. He leaves the Antietam, home of so many memories, and boards the shuttle bound for the Concordia. He watches through tear-filled eyes as the carrier he once called home vanishes into a speck of light.
The End.

I'll definitely take a look at that (since you put so much work into it).

Post the link to your stories or send them to me @

(I am being sarcastic, peoples. It's a joke!);)
Well, 'tis about time you posted something... anything... D5 :). It was a damned good story, and if we're not getting proper chapters, I guess we'll have to be content with the outline.
Ok, I definitely see why you think you were too ambitious ;). And, umm... you would actually name a warship after Mahatma Gandhi? Whatever happened to peaceful resistance? :D
Yes, I would. But it would've probably been changed if I had written the chapter that way, 'cause I know you would've commented on it, Quarto. :)

Arcadian: I'll post links in a little while after I track all the chapters down. You might want to check out my... questionable first WC story, Tooth and Claw, too.

Anywho, I've recently finished an original story that I started working on in April. It's called The Mandate, and it's a fantasy story about a war between humans and these ugly monsters called the Gionese who worship this devil-like creature. And my hero is a half-human, half-god messiah. It's an idea I've been tinkering with for about three and a half years. Ever since I read The Hobbit in 7th Grade, I've wanted to write a fantasy story, as opposed to hard sci-fi. I'm also prepping my next story, a WC-ish tale set in the 25th Century about a civil war and an ultimate alien invasion. This one has been in the works for a few years as well. I go through many different versions and ideas before finally writing my ideas down. I have bunches of ideas for future original stories, all sci-fi of course. I even have a sci-fi take on Heart of Darkness (I read the book and enjoyed it and Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite movies).

Anyway, just wanted to share.

I also have an idea for a WC story about the Yan war with a female ancestor of Tolwyn's as the hero. It'd be neat to create what the Yan would be like, since, frankly, we'll probably never find out about them. But this, of course, is on the back burner.

All right, I've rambled enough! :D