Three Chapters from Zombie Killers Book 10

Chapter 300
They started dropping out around mile twenty. The hills were short, but steep, and once the sun had come up, the humidity set in with a vengeance.
The first to go was a civilian, a tough looking young man who started sweating profusely; as he marched, he got redder and redder. O’Neill walked next to him, and several times asked him if he wanted to drop. He ignored he, just kept up with the grueling pace that Yasser was setting in the lead. When they reached the top of a tall hill, he was so out of it, leaning into the slope, that he continued bending down when they crested the rise, and crashed forward onto the ground. Rolling over, he struggled to get up with the pack on his back, but fell again, and lay there prostrate on the melting pavement.
“MEDIC!” was shouted up the line, and Doc Swan came jogging back. Together, she and the reporter dragged the man into the shade, and the medic called over the radio for the pickup HUMVEE. The line of men and women kept marching on, dwindling into the distance, disappearing around a bend.
“Hey Colonel,” said the civilian, Jonas. “You said that we were going north of Glens Falls, We kinda seem to be moving a bit east, up into these hills.”
“We’re avoiding a known concentration of undead,” answered Agostine, with a grin in his face.
“My ass, but OK. I guess we just keep walking.” By this time, most of the marchers had figured out that they were on little more than a gut check. Cahill, especially, occasionally looked back at Agostine with a scowl, but he kept on walking at the front of the group.
Around mile twenty three, another two had dropped out, one leaving bloody footprints on the road before he called it quits, the other just sitting down on a log and chugging what little water he had left. At this point, they had all just about drained their camel backs and canteens, and most had wolfed down the one MRE they had been given on their ten minute break at noon.
Rounding a bend, down to sixteen now, they came to a place where a bridge had once stood. It had obviously been demolished by explosives in the initial fight against the undead. The river, rushing down from the Green Mountains of Vermont, looked like a good trout stream, and packed up against the bank, milling around, were several dozen undead.
It had been ten years since the first plague, and three years since the second. How they survived, no one knew; it was just accepted. Research wasn’t exactly a priority anymore; survival was. Still, these were in pretty rough shape. Muscles rotted, eyes abraded, clothing falling off.
Their ears worked, though. As the marchers crested the hill towards the bridge, the undead turned as one, and they howled that bone chilling, screeching, piercing wail, launching themselves at the patrol.
“FIRE!” yelled Zivcovic, and most of them did, taking a knee and opening up. The undead started to drop, one, two, three, a half dozen, coming closer and closer, the howl getting louder. The gunfire also grew louder, as well as the curses, then tapered off as magazines were changed; the curses and yells didn’t. At twenty meters, two people turned and fled; one soldier and one civilian. There were still about dozen of the undead left, and still none of the regular scouts had fired, though some of the group risked a quick glance backward at them. O’Neill stood with her arms crossed, and Agostine was digging at some dirt under his nails.
“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, HELP US!” yelled Master Sergeant Cahill, but to his credit, he never stopped firing. Then he stood up and ordered, “SMASHERS!”
The soldiers instantly obeyed, drilled by long habit, and dropped their weapons in sling, pulling out whatever blunt object they had armed themselves with. Most carried an aluminum handled, steel headed mace, designated the M-13 Personal Combat Weapon. They instinctively formed a line, side by side, but the civilians milled about behind them, unsure what to do. That’s when another broke and ran.
The undead got within ten meters, and then a steel cable lifted up off the ground in front of them, spilling the foremost onto the ground. Cagle and Johnson appeared on either side of the road, firing into the struggling mass with their modified M-4’s, and the veteran soldiers slung their maces, picked up their rifles, and joined them. It was over in less than a minute.
“How many ran, Brit?” asked Agostine.
“Um, one military and two civilians.”
“YOU HAVE FIVE MINUTES TO DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO!” yelled Zivcovic, and he flipped his ruck over his shoulders and onto his back, waiting impatiently.
Sergeant Yasser spoke quietly in his reserved way, but in protest. “Colonel, I do not think that was a fair test of the civilians. Their instinct is to run, to hide.”
Before Agostine could answer, O’Neill spoke. “That may be, but when I first joined the team, I had to break that habit too. Matter of fact, Jonesy dragged my ass back over his shoulder when I walked off a range. It took me a long time to get past the lone survivor bullshit, but we don’t HAVE that time.”
The reporter was furiously taking notes, and O’Neill leaned over, whispered “J-O-N-E-S-Y.”
“She’s right,” said Agostine. “With the war finally winding down against the Mountain Republic, there are going to be a lot of areas of the world to explore, and they’re going to need the teams more than ever.”
Hildeband was intrigued, and asked, “Where, exactly?”
“Anywhere. Bringing civilians back to the settled states, recovering National Assets, probing for military action, whatever some General or politician gets a hair up his ass about.”
“You seem a bit bitter, Colonel,” said the reporter. In answer, Agostine just hiked up his pack and walked away.
“Wouldn’t you be,” answered O’Neill for him, “if you walked through the valley of death, and left almost everyone and everything you ever loved there, emerging unscathed?”
The reporter jogged forward to catch up with the line of marchers, asking several of them questions about the action they had just participated in. Were they scared? Why hadn’t they run? Did they fear the undead?
“Shit yeah, I fear them,” answered one young man with an 82nd Airborne patch on his shoulder. He also had another scroll velcroed over the “AIRBORNE”, a simple number written out, “THE TEN THOUSAND”.
“You’re one of them, aren’t you?” asked Hildebrand, “one of the ones who marched back from the Mexican oil fields?”
“Damn straight, and if that crazy sumbitch Zivcovic thinks he’s going to walk me into the ground, he’s got another thing coming,” answered the soldier, and spit a long stream of tobacco juice on the ground. “Wouldn’t want to go fight him, though.”
“I’d love to interview sometime about the march, Sergeant … Badger.”
Another stream of juice, and he said, “Johnny Badger.”
“Liar! His name is Honey Badger, and he don’t give a shit!” said Velasquez.
“Hey Velasquez,” shot back Badger, “you ever been mistaken for a man?”
“Nope, have you?” she said, scraping undead blood and goo off her boots with a stick.
“QUIT BULLSHITTING, YOU STUPID AMERICAN FAT ASSES, WE MARCH!” barked Zivcovic, but he actually sort of smiled.

Chapter 301
Night took forever to fall, like it always did that far north in the summer. Fireflies, unconcerned with undead or apocalypses, started flashing, calling for mates, when Zivcovic called a stop. By his pace count, they had done thirty one miles through the hills, and were down to ten recruits, seven soldiers and three civilians. The mountain they had just walked over had been the final straw for the last three.
Agostine was glad to see that both Jonas and the woman who called herself Sister Jane were still with them. He loved the quiet determination that civilian survivors showed, having spent months by himself in the wild. To his irritation, though, Master Sergeant Cahill still stood, if not at the front of the line, certainly not at the back.
“I thought,” he told Zivcovic as the Serb lit a cigarette, “I told you to break him.”
Ziv snorted and said nothing, just gazed up at the stars.
Brit laughed quietly, and said, “Cahill’s just like you, you know. A stubborn ass who is going to accomplish his mission if it kills him.”
“Well,” her husband answered, “there’s more to being a scout than walking.” He moved over to the group and called them around in a circle. Most took a knee to support the heavy packs; all were obviously exhausted.
“Listen up!” he started, “over the next rise is the town of Dorset. It has about a hundred survivors, and is the local trading hub around here. They are VERY leery of outsiders, but that’s where you’re going to spend the night. Or not. It all depends on how YOU act when you get to their gates.”
One man raised his hand, and Agostine said, “Yes, Sergeant Badger?”
“The Seventh Amendment was suspended nine years ago. Why can’t we just walk in? And aren’t you friends with these people?”
“Good questions,” the Colonel answered, glad it wasn’t Cahill who had asked. “Yes, we do know these people, but they don’t know you’re coming, and we’re not going in there. My team will be spending the night out in the woods. Try not to get yourselves shot, and if you kill any civilians, don’t bother coming back.”
Zivcovic flashed his light, and they started to get up. “One thing, before you move out. Mister Jonas is in charge. You OK with that, Dale?” he asked the man.
“As long as everyone follows-“ the farmer started to say, but was cut off by an angry Master Sergeant Cahill.
“This is BULLSHIT!” he bellowed. “We’re on a military op, and you’re putting a civilian in charge? Those survivors should be goddamned happy to see Federal Troops, and we have the right to commandeer housing!”
O’Neill answered before Agostine could lash out at the man. “Master Sergeant, we’re just giving the right man the right job. I admire your discipline in the face of battle, and fortitude, but let’s just say that diplomacy isn’t your forte.”
To Agostine’s surprise, the NCO shut up. What was it about Brit that everyone listened to? He shook his head and took up a position at the rear of the column as they made their way down the cracked pavement.
As they walked, the scout stepped carefully around objects glistening in the moonlight. Occasionally, he moved one aside with his boot, but Agostine tried hard to respect the dead. As the moon rose, he saw that a path had been cleared through the thousands of bones that lined the road.
“What the hell is this shit?” asked Hildebrand, the reporter snapping pictures with a low light camera.
“You don’t get out much, do you?” answered Brit.
“It’s the dead, Steve,” said Agostine. “Haven’t you ever seen a pile at a barricade?”
The reporter hesitated, then said, “No. I report on wars and combat, never the aftermath. Is it like this everywhere?”
“Well,” said Brit, “Yes and no. I’ll explain what happened here. When the apocalypse started, people’s instincts were to run for the hills. Right up this way is pretty much how far a lot of NYC civilians got to before they ran out of gas.”
“More like how far they could walk AFTER they ran out of gas,” interjected Agostine.
“Like I was saying,” said Brit, and her husband could almost hear her doing an eye roll, “how far they could get before they ran out of supplies. Then a bunch of unarmed New York urban dwellers came up against some very determined, and well-armed, Vermont farmers. No SAFE Act here in Vermont.”
She paused, as if remembering the things she had seen over the years, then continued, “It was a scene repeated all over the country. Disarmed city dwellers, unable to fight the undead, made their own hordes and, where they could, picked the countryside clean. More often than not, rural people defending their towns exhausted their ammo on the civilians, and were helpless against the undead. You were lucky in Seattle.”
“I was, and I’m the first to admit it,” answered the reporter. “Though I do know how shitty the world can be.”
All three walked in silence for a while as the lights grew closer, thinking about the immediate aftermath of the plague. Agostine trying to defend the bridges, O’Neill watching as her classmates died, Hilderband catching the last flight out of Afghanistan.
They were brought up short when there was a cry of “HALT!” from up on the walls surrounding the village. Bright spotlights replaced the soft torch light that had glowed inside, shining directly in their faces.
“Get that damned light out of our faces!” shouted Cahill. “UNITED STATES ARMY! OPEN YOUR GATES!”
“Uh oh,” said Brit, as she and Nick ran forward, “I want to see this one!”

Chapter 302
They got with fifty feet, but hung back to watch. Cahill again shouted at the wall, and violently shrugged off Jonas when he tried to put a calming hand on him. The rest of the group sat back and took the opportunity to rest sore feet, sitting on their packs.
“HEY! OPEN THE EFFING GATE! FEDERAL TROOPS!” yelled Cahill again, and Jonas shook his head in disgust.
He was answered by a woman with a bullhorn, her New England accent played up. “We don’t recognize federal authority in the Kingdom of Vermont!” Her pronouncement was accompanied by laughter from others behind the lights. There was also a suppressed round of laughs from the resting troops.
Brit said, “Fifty bucks he takes a shot!” and Doc Swan took her bet.
“You have too much faith in human nature, Bella,” said Brit to the older woman.
She smiled and answered, “Nature of my job.”
They could see the Master Sergeant pacing back and forth, obviously frustrated with the situation. Agostine could almost sympathize with him; the urge to solve a problem with violence came natural to a combat veteran.
Cahill stopped his pacing and turned to face the lights again. “THE SEVENTH AMENDMENT WAS SUSPENDED BY –“ and he was interrupted again by the woman on the wall.
“TAKES A TWO THIRDS MAJORITY OF STATES TO REPEAL AN AMENDMENT!” she shouted back. There was more laughter from behind the lights.
“Why you, goddamnit!” and he raised his rifle, stopping when he saw a red laser dot dancing across his chest.
“Colonel Agostine,” said the civilian Jonas, “can you stop this before it gets out of hand?”
“Nope.”
Jonas sighed, and went over to where Cahill stood, undecided what to do next. This was way outside his experience zone. “Sarge,” said the farmer, “You gave it a shot, let me try. We got nothing to lose except a night out in the woods, and I’m kinda tired.”
Cahill stormed off in frustration, and Jonas ignored the red dot on his own chest. “Hey, new negotiator here!” he said loudly, but not harshly.
“Speak your piece, stranger!” said the woman.
Jonas paused, and said, “My names’ Jonas, and what’s yours, Ma’am? I’m a civilian, not a soldier.”
He answer came back much more lighthearted, “Doctor Jane McCall, mayor of the fine town of Dorset. Now put up or shut up, Mr. Jonas!”
What followed was ten minutes of negotiations. In return for two hundred rounds of .223 ammo, the group would be allowed to sleep in the town hall and use shower facilities, and all long arms must be stacked under guard in the town hall, though they could keep pistols.
“And you tell Colonel Agostine that he and his wife have to come have breakfast with me in the morning. YES, YOU, I SEE YOU STANDING BACK THERE, GIMP!” she said, raising her voice at the end as the gate creaked open. The lights were flicked off, and they could see an armored tractor sitting behind it, diesel engine slowly ticking over. Sergeant Cahill stood back as the group filed into the town, and asked Agostine to give him a minute before he left.
He hesitated before speaking, then said, “That tractor would have eaten our lunch if I kept things up.” His voice was subdued, as if he was having a hard time getting the words out.
“Not your lunch. You would have been dead long before the gate opened to let it out; that laser pointer was just to scare you. I’m pretty sure there’s a snipers’ post about five hundred meters up that hill, with a really good shot looking at the side of your head through a night vision scope.”
Cahill glanced upward towards the darkness, finally realizing how exposed he had been. “I guess … I guess I’m a bit out of my element.”
“Bet your stuck up Regular Army ass you are!” exclaimed O’Neill.
“Ah, can you give us a minute, Brit?” asked Agostine. She raised her right hand and the mechanical middle finger slowly raised itself in Cahills’ direction, then laughed and headed for their truck. “Gotta settle up my bet with Doc,” she called over her shoulder.
“I can’t imagine if I really pissed her off,” said Cahill.
“Trust me, you don’t want to see it. She actually almost likes you, believe it or not. She thinks we’re very alike, stubborn asses.”
They both laughed at that, then Cahill said, “Listen, I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong. This,” and he made a waving motion with his hand, indicating everything around them, “this scouting stuff is a lot different than what I’m used to. In fact, I think that Badger or Velasquez would probably make better team leaders than me.”
“Those two are shooters. You point them in the right direction, take their leash off, and let them go.”
“Like Zivcovic?”
“Um, no,” said Agostine, “Ziv is his own man. There’s no leash on him, except his crush on Brit.”
“I’m not going to ask,” said the younger man.
“Good, don’t. Point is, you’re a leader, and you wouldn’t have those stripes if you weren’t. You just have to understand there’s a way to do one thing, and another way to do another thing.”
Cahill let out a deep breath, seeming to let some of the tension out of his body. “I’ll be on the next barge out of here, though I’ve never quit anything in my life.”
“Good, saves me from writing your transfer orders to command IST-13,” answered Agostine. “I hate paperwork.”
It took a minute for that to sink into Cahill’s mind, and then he grinned in the torch light. “Guess I better see to my people, Colonel!”
“Don’t thank me, up until two minutes ago I was trying to decide whether to send you home or have you shot before you got anyone killed. If you hadn’t done some self-reflection, you would have been on that barge.”
Cahill stuck out his hand, and Agostine shook it, hard. “I’ll let you pick your team from whomever is left. Seven is the best number, and I’d recommend Velasquez, Badger, Jonas and Sister Jane as a minimum.”
“She’s a weirdo,” answered Cahill.
“She’s a survivor. You can learn a lot from her. From both of them.”

Irregular Scout Team One, Book Ten, Chapter 301

Chapter 301

Night took forever to fall, like it always did that far north in the summer. Fireflies, unconcerned with undead or apocalypses, started flashing, calling for mates, when Zivcovic called a stop. By his pace count, they had done thirty one miles through the hills, and were down to ten recruits, seven soldiers and three civilians. The mountain they had just walked over had been the final straw for the last three.

Agostine was glad to see that both Jonas and the woman who called herself Sister Jane were still with them. He loved the quiet determination that civilian survivors showed, having spent months by himself in the wild. To his irritation, though, Master Sergeant Cahill still stood, if not at the front of the line, certainly not at the back.

“I thought,” he told Zivcovic as the Serb lit a cigarette, “I told you to break him.” Ziv snorted and said nothing, just gazed up at the stars.

Brit laughed quietly, and said, “Cahill’s just like you, you know. A stubborn ass who is going to accomplish his mission if it kills him.”

“Well,” her husband answered, “there’s more to being a scout than walking.” He moved over to the group and called them around in a circle. Most took a knee to support the heavy packs; all were obviously exhausted.

“Listen up!” he started, “over the next rise is the town of Dorset. It has about a hundred survivors, and is the local trading hub around here. They are VERY leery of outsiders, but that’s where you’re going to spend the night. Or not. It all depends on how YOU act when you get to their gates.”

One man raised his hand, and Agostine said, “Yes, Sergeant Badger?”

“The Seventh Amendment was suspended nine years ago. Why can’t we just walk in? And aren’t you friends with these people?”

“Good questions,” the Colonel answered, glad it wasn’t Cahill who had asked. “Yes, we do know these people, but they don’t know you’re coming, and we’re not going in there. My team will be spending the night out in the woods. Try not to get yourselves shot, and if you kill any civilians, don’t bother coming back.”

Zivcovic flashed his light, and they started to get up. “One thing, before you move out. Mister Jonas is in charge. You OK with that, Dale?” he asked the man.

“As long as everyone follows-“ the farmer started to say, but was cut off by an angry Master Sergeant Cahill.

“This is BULLSHIT!” he bellowed. “We’re on a military op, and you’re putting a civilian in charge? Those survivors should be goddamned happy to see Federal Troops, and we have the right to commandeer housing!”

O’Neill answered before Agostine could lash out at the man. “Master Sergeant, we’re just giving the right man the right job. I admire your discipline in the face of battle, and fortitude, but let’s just say that diplomacy isn’t your forte.”

To Agostine’s surprise, the NCO shut up. What was it about Brit that everyone listened to? He shook his head and took up a position at the rear of the column as they made their way down the cracked pavement.

As they walked, the scout stepped carefully around objects glistening in the moonlight. Occasionally, he moved one aside with his boot, but Agostine tried hard to respect the dead. As the moon rose, he saw that a path had been cleared through the thousands of bones that lined the road.

“What the hell is this shit?” asked Hildebrand, the reporter snapping pictures with a low light camera.

“You don’t get out much, do you?” answered Brit.

“It’s the dead, Steve,” said Agostine. “Haven’t you ever seen a pile at a barricade?”

The reporter hesitated, then said, “No. I report on wars and combat, never the aftermath. Is it like this everywhere?”

“Well,” said Brit, “Yes and no. I’ll explain what happened here. When the apocalypse started, people’s instincts were to run for the hills. Right up this way is pretty much how far a lot of NYC civilians got to before they ran out of gas.”

“More like how far they could walk AFTER they ran out of gas,” interjected Agostine.

“Like I was saying,” said Brit, and her husband could almost hear her doing an eye roll, “how far they could get before they ran out of supplies. Then a bunch of unarmed New York urban dwellers came up against some very determined, and well-armed, Vermont farmers. No SAFE Act here in Vermont.”

She paused, as if remembering the things she had seen over the years, then continued, “It was a scene repeated all over the country. Disarmed city dwellers, unable to fight the undead, made their own hordes and, where they could, picked the countryside clean. More often than not, rural people defending their towns exhausted their ammo on the civilians, and were helpless against the undead. You were lucky in Seattle.”

“I was, and I’m the first to admit it,” answered the reporter. “Though I do know how shitty the world can be.”

All three walked in silence for a while as the lights grew closer, thinking about the immediate aftermath of the plague. Agostine trying to defend the bridges, O’Neill watching as her classmates died, Hilderband catching the last flight out of Afghanistan.
They were brought up short when there was a cry of “HALT!” from up on the walls surrounding the village. Bright spotlights replaced the soft torch light that had glowed inside, shining directly at them, hiding whoever had called out from the wall.

“Get that damned light out of our faces!” shouted Cahill. “UNITED STATES ARMY TROOPS! OPEN YOUR GATES!”

“Uh oh,” said Brit, and she and Nick ran forward, just as a shot rang out.

The cost of an E-book

I recently got into a discussion with a fan over the cost of an E-book. He was objecting to the price cost $2.99 book that was “only 160 pages long”.

This is part of my response, but I’d like to go into more detail:

“It’s the way things are often done now. Due to the nature of the market place / internet, books by indie authors tend to be shorter and serialized. We don’t have the backing to sit on a book for a year and produce a 600 page tome. Also, a lot of it has to do with Amazon prices structure. Anything BELOW $2.99 gives a 30% royalty rate, above gives 70%. So for a $2.99 book I get $2.09, for a $2.98 book I get $0.88, so my royalty drops by more than half. A $2.00 book nets me $0.60.”

So, in essence, Amazon is almost forcing authors to charge $2.99, at a minimum. Yes, it’s possible to make the same profit by going the $0.99 cents route, but then I would have to sell seven times as many books, which I don’t think is going to happen. Also, that price number carries a bit of a stigma, in that they seem to be more of a “throwaway book” or promotion.

Now, let’s look at things we’re willing to pay far much more for:

Burger King Quarter-Pounder Meal: About $8.00, depending on where you live. And you’re hungry again in a few hours. (As well as not eating very healthily!) Maybe not a fair comparison, because, hey, you have to eat, but feeding your imagination is often just as important as eating!

Or instead, consider a movie ticket: Anywhere from $12 to $20. A movie which, once watched, you have to pay to see again, unless you buy it on DVD or watch online, which you pay for. Sure, movies are great entertainment, but as I said, once seen, they are gone, unless you purchase at, say, $14 for the DVD.

Now let’s look at how much work I, the author, puts into a book that I’m selling to you. It’s an individual relationship between you and I, as seller to purchaser. I’m selling you something that I’ve put probably hundreds of hours of work into. Even for “only 162 pages”. Those 162 pages, roughly fifty thousand words, are a work that took months of plot planning, typing, revisions, edits,, reedits, etc. Of course, I’m also selling it to many more people, (millions, hopefully!) but I’m just asking you to look at the value of what you, the individual, are getting.

A book is yours. You own it. You read it. You use your imagination to build a world in your mind as I’ve described it. Sure, I wrote it, but really 90% of what it looks like is in your head. With a movie or a burger, you’re consuming what you’re being fed. With a book, you’re joining me in creating a work of art in your mind. That alone is invaluable, immeasurable, priceless. Show me another medium (besides maybe an open world video game ) that brings you the same opportunity.

And here’s the kicker: You can go back to that world again and again. I have favorite books that I have read possibly twenty or thirty times over the years. So for that $2.99, you’re getting a lifetime investment that will ALWAYS be there to satisfy your hunger, as opposed to that movie or burger, which is gone once you consume it.

An e-book that you enjoy for several hours, maybe time and again, is half the price of a Starbucks Latte. The e-book took dozens, maybe hundreds of hours, to create and write, and a whole lot of mental exhaustion. The Latte costs Starbucks maybe two minutes of a workers’s time (sum total for the corporation, from bean to foamy drink) and probably $0.15 worth of ingredients, if that. One is gone in 15 minutes, leaving you wanting more. The other is with you the rest of your life.

I’ll leave you to decide which is the greater value.

Top Ten Reasons Stranger Things has to be set in the 80’s.

1. Cigarettes
2. Chief Hooper is a Real Man.
3. The four heroes would just sit in their houses every day and play X-box. Their entire emotional development and character development would happen through a series of texts and foul language exchanges with other 12 year old gamers online.
4. Steve and Nancy would have hooked up through Tinder. Nancy would have swiped left on Jonathan and never given him a second thought.
5. Barb would be too busy going through gender reassignement surgery to give a crap about Nancy.
6. Jonathan would be labeled a sex offender for the pictures he took with his cell phone / camera, and forced to register as such.
7. Instead of painting disparaging graffiti on a wall, Steve and his friends would have shared all the “private” nude shoots Nancy sent Steve all over Hawkins. No scrubbing that paint off.
8. Half the kids on the show would be medicated.
9. None of the kids would have been able to go anywhere without being texted and constantly monitored by their parents every fifteen minutes.
10. We don’t have music like that anymore.

And the war begins

My whole premise for this book series came to me, like so many do, while I was trying to fall asleep. Kind of like counting sheep, I run various plots through my mind, and I was thinking, for some reason, about Ender. What if he actually lost? What would the military do?

Almost a hundred thousand words and two books later, a war is raging for control of the Earth. I’m not sure what happens next, but suffice to say, it will be bloody and devastating, and final victory isn’t guaranteed. Whatever way it goes, the Empress will fly again, General Warren will risk all, and the Scouts will be in the thick of the fighting.

Five Stars!
Like the previous book
ByMikeon November 16, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Like the previous book, this one has you on the edge of your seat the whole time. It is a very detailed description of how regular soldiers would handle an alien invasion from the viewpoint of an experienced soldier.

Unlike most other authors the tension is very real as no character, no matter how well established is safe. You find yourself connecting with the characters and experiencing along with them their exuberance of defeating an occupying enemy and the grief of lost comrades in the violence of ultra-modern combat.

Piss Poor Parenting

In news out of Nashville, a 26 year old woman has shot (twice) a homeless man whom she got into an argument with.

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/nashville-woman-shot-homeless-man-who-asked-her-move-her-porsch

I’m going to delve into this for a little bit, after researching her background. Katie Quackenbush is 26, parent of a five year old, who was out at 3 AM with a friend of hers, when she got into an argument with a homeless man, and shot him twice.

I’m not going to comment on HER parenting, but her parent’s. Ms. Quakenbush is 26, and by all measures is an adult, legally. However, she has twice been arrested for assault. The first time was dismissed, the second is in the court system.

AS I’m not going to comment on HER parenting. I’m going to look at her life, though. Pregnant at twenty, single, two arrests for assault, and apparently completely unqualified and untrained to carry a gun, yet feels the needs to be armed. Driving an SUV with a base model price that costs what some houses do for an average American. She characterizes herself as an “outlaw country singer”, with semi-nude pictures on twitter, but has no visible means of income, that I’ve found.

And yet … her father made the following statement:

“She didn’t try and kill this guy,” he said. “She had no intention of killing him. She didn’t know that she hit him… She did say she closed her eyes when she shot both times, but they were warnings, and she thought she pointed away from him.”

Now, I love my kids. Every decent parent does, and we would all do anything for them. However, sometimes that means doing things that hurt US, by letting them fail. If you continuously prevent them from feeling the consequences of their decisions, you eventually wind up with a kid, who is now an adult, in jail. And a man who, no matter his circumstances, didn’t deserve to be shot.

The pattern I’m seeing is that, when his daughter gets in trouble, dad, the wealthy attorney, bails her out. Arrested for assault in Texas? Successful defense attorney dad gets her out of it. Need a nice car? Here, I’m buying you an SUV that costs tens of thousands of dollars. There’s probably many other instances of such behavior.

What that teaches you is that there is no consequences, and then you bring a firearm into the equation.

1. You don’t carry a gun unless you are trained to use it.
2. There is no such thing as warning shots. You fire a gun to kill someone.

Now, a man’s life has been irreparably damaged. Her life is ruined, though I suspect that her daddy will try to get her off, and I also suspect that, at aged 26, she is too far gone to learn anything from what she did. It’s something you have to learn continuously from early childhood. Maybe there’s hope for her daughter, but I don’t know.

So parents, let your kids fail. It may save their lives.

FREE BOOK!!!!!

Starting today, (Sept 11th thru Sept 15th) 2017 Dragon Award Finalist for best Military Science Fiction will be FREE for Kindle!

If you’re already a fan, please share!

In space, when you lose the high ground, you lose the war.
Eleven years before, General David Warren was the best and brightest, in charge of defending the Earth from an attacking fleet. Overmatched in battle, the Earth forces were devastated, and the enemy moved into the high ground and proceeded with orbital bombardment. Civilization fell, and then two years later, the enemy landed and the occupation began.

Now Warren lives with his sister and nephew, trying to farm the land while avoiding detection by the occupiers, the Invy. When two travelers show up at his doorstep, his carefully constructed life starts to unravel. Earth, and humanity, may be down, but not out.

In the grand tradition of Ender’s Game, Footfall, and War of the Worlds comes a tale of human struggle against immense odds.

Invy Book 2 Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Johanna Sanchez had lived for this moment. All the cat calls, the muttered word “whore” under women’s breaths, spending nights with men she despised. All that was coming to a head.

“Hey, Chu,” she laughed as they approached the first house, “it’s all coming to a head! Get it?”

“Yeah,” said the fifth generation Asian American, “I get it. Way too much, cholo.” Even before the war, she had endured her own tormentors, and when ODA 352 had been assigned to this town, it had gotten worse. Both she and Sanchez had been outsiders in this mostly white community, but for a while, refugees hadn’t cared. When things had settled down, and some had begun to become fat and happy under Invy rule, the subtle discrimination had started again. Maybe it would have been different, but by their own planning, Staff Sergeant Gina Chu and Lieutenant Sanchez had become, for all intents and purposes, the town whores.

What it had allowed them to do was develop actionable intelligence, granting them access to floor plans of houses, and even get escorted through the Invy buildings. Along the way they had identified those who held hatred of the Invy, all military veterans. Most were just trying to survive, but some had indicated they would fight, if only someone would organize it. They had said nothing, but made careful note. A week before, ten of them had been brought, individually to a deserted warehouse, by other team members and been told to each reach out to a list of ten more, to be ready for action. The following weeks had been tense, and one had sought to gain favor with the Invy by going to the Greenies. He had never gotten there, courtesy of a knife in the kidney by Chu while she was in bed with him.

They and their two other soldiers split up, going to opposite doors on the street, and, when they opened to hammering fists, told the men who answered one word. “FREEDOM!” they each said, and hurried down the street. Behind them, the doors closed, and then quickly opened again, the notified men hurrying out into the night. They had just reached the ninth house when the night erupted with a CRUMP, the explosion taking down the power lines, and the street went dark.

“Good enough!” said Sanchez, and they both broke into a dead run to their safe house. Charging through the unlocked door, followed by Sergeants Jimmie Patton and Dave Cofer. The four of them pushed hard at a wall, and on well oiled hinges, it rotate slightly, to reveal a narrow room, perhaps four feet wide. Enough room for the olive drab military hardware cases lined up in rows. They started breaking them out as gun fire echoed up and down the village, and the first volunteers showed up a minute later, staring at the four in their CEF uniforms. Sanchez stood on top of one box as even more showed up, and held up her arms for quiet, just as the antimatter containment bottle let go on the APC.

“Listen up! My name is Lieutenant Johanna Sanchez, Confederated Earth Forces, Special Operations Detachment A 352. The time has come, and we’re striking back all over the world.”

They all stared at her in amazement. For the last decade, almost, they had known her as a high priced prostitute. Hell, some of them had even had her themselves. This was a little much.

“Dave,” said one, talking to Sergeant Cofer, who was his neighbor, “what is all this about?”

“Like the LT says, Joe. It’s time to hit back.”

“And y’all …”

“We don’t have time for this,” interrupted Sanchez. “Do you hear that gun and plamsa fire? If we don’t beat them tonight, what do you think is going to happen? They’re going to flatten this town, and every other one.”

“What about the orbitals?” asked an older man.

“We’re hitting them tonight. Don’t ask me, I don’t know the details. We’re only concerned with here and now. Captain Ellison, isn’t it?”

“You know damn well it is, Johannna,” he grinned, thinking of a few nights her had had with her.

“You’re in charge of the town defense forces, now, Sir. Major Cliff has overall command. We need to get our shit together and hit those Invy bastards. It’s do or die time, gentlemen. You’re all restored to your last rank, get an armband and sort yours hit out. You have five minutes, and then we’re moving out to hit the Green Militia Barracks.” She jumped down and started opening cases. The rest of the Special Operations team joined her, and started handing out M-6 carbines. Each was accompanied by a bandolier of pre-packaged forty round magazines, and a blue arm band with the CEF flag under the American flag.

The explosions and gunfire continued, and they worked feverishly. When several dozen men had received weapons, She had them count off by numbers, forming three squads. The veterans quickly fell in, remembering their training and fueled by hatred, each led by one of the CEF operators.

“OK, Captain Ellison, can you stay here, Sir, and organize the rest of the men into a QRF?” She handed him a squad radio, and turned it on. “There’s anti-armor weapons in there, we’re going to need an ambush on the main road to the next town. There’s no ODA there, and the Dragosn wil be screaming for help.”

“Can do, LT. It’s great to be back in the saddle again. Take care, and kick their ass!”

“I’m all outta bubble gum, Sir!” said Sanchez with a grin, saluted, and motioned to each of the Sergeants leading a squad. “Alright, let’s move out! First squad on point, second follow, third set up a blocking position for against anyone who might be coming to help the Greens. If they’re adults, kill them. If they’re kids, taser ‘em.”
They headed out into the darkness, lit by flashes of plasma from behind the village buildings.

It was time to kill, and time to die.

FREE SEPT 11th thru SEPT 15th!

WIP Snippet Invy Book 2 Chapter 51

Chapter 51

“Is this going to work?”

Cliff looked at her NCOIC, grinning broadly in the darkness. “Well, it’s not what we had planned, but the missing Wolverines will just add to it. You ready, Carl?”

“I’ve been ready for eleven years, Lauren. Is it time?”

She looked at her watch, counting down to H-Hour. Five thousand miles to the west, the first of the surface to space missiles broached the Pacific Ocean, and Kiyomi Ichijou slammed backwards in her seat as her F-22 broke the speed of sound. A thousand miles to the East, David Warren prepared to fight a war a million miles away. Three thousand miles further, Scout Team One took out a patrol on a runway, and Nick Agostine started to run. On the other side of the world, Tommy Atkins fired his .50 caliber, the stock of the rifle slamming into his shoulder.

She could feel the tension of the men and women around her. Soldiers who knew that they might not, probably wouldn’t, live to see the end of this. But, she thought, at least we’ll see the beginning. “I just want to tell you all, you’re the best people I’ve ever know,” she said out loud, “Four, three, two…”

At ‘one’, there was a flash of light, followed by a muffled CRUMP as the power lines from the antimatter reactor to the town were blown. There were no words said, no motivational “hooah’s”, just professionals going to work.

The machine gun team hustled to the right, moving to a position to enfilade the front gate, while three men worked feverishly to set up the tripod mounted heavy plasma cannon, just around the corner on the main road leading out toward the power plant. Their job was to trip the ambush by firing point blank into the APC ,and assaulting forward to kill any Wolverine survivors. Then they would move to complete the cross fire on the killing ground.

When the gate opened, and the APC had turned left and moved out, an MK-19 automatic grenade launcher would be maneuvered to fire right back into the compound. Sergeant Sean Dodson cradled the eighty pound weapon in his arms, leaning back against the brick wall, heart racing with anticipation. Beside him, Rob Booth had the tripod slung over his shoulder, and two boxes of grenades at his feet as he knelt on the cracked pavement. “You ready, Sean?” asked the Staff Sergeant.

Dodson patted the heavy weapon, and whispered the grenadier’s motto, “Because fuck you, and fuck you, and fuck everyone around you!” His shotgun was leaning up against the wall, safety off and in easy reach. He had fought Wolverines before.

The gate opened; no slack on the Invy reaction time. The APC moved out, kicking up a cloud of dust, obscuring the dozen troops assembling in the court yard for a foot patrol. Swiveling on its fans, the tank sized vehicle turned and headed southward, disappearing around the building to the left.

Everything seemed to slow down for Dodson and Booth. Their fellow soldiers faded into the background as they executed the maneuver that they had practiced a hundred times. Although Booth was a higher rank, he knew Dodson had the weight to handle the big gun easily, and was content to feed him and call corrections.
He opened the tripod and pushed it out around the corner, even as Dodson swung the launcher down and seated it home, and flipped open the feed tray. A belt of grenades were slapped in, and the gunner sat down on the ground, weapon between his legs, racking the slide back. He took a second to check his aim; the distance had already been carefully measured out.

One breath later, he heard and felt the SIZZLE CRACK of the plasma cannon, and all the hair on his arms stood up, even two blocks away. Pulling the trigger, he watched as the firs tthree rounds lef the tube, and kicked it slightly right even as they detonated. THUMP THUMP THUMP was felt more than heard.
The antimatter containment unit on the APC let go in a thunderous roar that shattered every window around them, but neither Dodson or Booth deviated from their task, walking the grenades in a continuous stream into the charging Wolverines.

“I don’t think that was supposed to happen!” grunted the gunner, heaving the weapon around. A half dozen of the Invy troops spilled from the gate, and beside the grenade team Raj Havner let fly with his sniper rifle, working the bolt furiously. From the side, the machine gun team started cutting them down with enfilading fire, but the aliens moved too quickly for the gun to follow them.

Behind the three men, Major Cliff shouldered her own rifle and placed the red dot site on the closest creature, breathed out, and fired. Discarding the sabot, a three millimeter depleted uranium dart hammered into the chest armor of the Wolverine, knocking it backwards.

One stopped to turn and engage the machine gun team, while three more charged forward, firing their plasma rifles on automatic from the hip. One bolt hit Havner in the head, exploding with a CRACK and sending a cloud of superheated blood and brains over the grenadiers, who had shifted their fire into the windows of the Greens barracks.

Cliff fired again, missed, trying to hold steady in the face of the incoming fire, breathing violently as adrenaline coursed through her. It had been a decade since she had been able to properly train, and she cursed at herself to settle down. “Come on, you bastards!” she yelled, firing and missing as her target swerved from side to side, moving incredibly fast. Her next shot took the leg out of one, but the other two were almost on them.

She screamed as a plasma bolt hammered into her own armor, and it started to burn as she struggled to unlatch it and pull it off. The first Wolverine to reach them dropped his rifle in its sling and extended its ripping claw, stabbing downward into Booths’ back as he continued to feed the grenade launcher, and he screamed loudly as the claw drove into the concrete, then pulled back out. The wounded soldier grabbed the alien around its legs and rolled over on top of it, struggling furiously.

A shout from behind her as the second one crashed into the ODA leader, slashing furiously at her, even as she slipped her arms out of the superheated armor. She fell to the concrete, smashing her face as the ripping claw glanced off her helmet. The return stroke slashed across her leg, even as a shotgun boomed. She felt the creature knocked off her, and struggled to her feet, drew her pistol, and fire half the magazine into the one stabbing at Booth. It was knocked backwards, and fell to the ground twitching. The Staff Sergeant lay still, a half a dozen stab wounds draining his life out onto the ground. Dodson sat back down behind the grenade launcher, reached over the body of his friend, and fed in another belt, hammering the Green barracks.

Make sure you read the Dragon Nominated Invasion: Resistance!

On preparedness

Multiple people have already written over and over, “Have a plan!” Great idea, highly recommended, but here’s a few things I’d like to add.

1. Don’t wait for the government to tell you when to execute your plan. You’re not stupid (if you’re planning). Do your research. Make decisions. Prepare early, like in August, when hurricane season starts. Buy your gas and store it. Get the generator at the Labor Day sale. Get ready to leave when a hurricane comes when the warnings come out, and leave, if you can, three days or more ahead of predicted arrival. Have an alternate route picked out. These disasters are GOING to happen. Just assume.

2. Count other people into your plan. Do you have enough gas for you AND the woman with three kids who is stranded on the side of the road? What about your elderly neighbor next door? You’re not an asshole, and neither am I, and I think we’d both do our best to help. The way human beings survive through catastrophes is by banding together and fixing the problem, not by playing lone survivor. Lone survivors eventually get picked off by the wolves. Work to build a network, within your own community, that rallies and bands together to help each other. That old guy who can’t fend for himself anymore? Maybe he was an electrician and can tell you how to get power back. The woman with three kids stuck on the side of the road? Maybe not so smart on planning, but she might be a hell of a pick up cook who can stretch your supplies. Point is, be prepared to be a good person and help others, because your neighbors will be your biggest asset in a crisis.

3. If, like many urban Americans, you don’t have the wherewithal to relocate or flee, be proactive in your community and work with your local government. Find out where shelters are. Help stock them. Build community ties so no one gets left outside. Build a neighborhood plan. Start a watch. Organize supplies and S & R teams. For the first few days, no one is going to come help you; you’re going to have to do it yourselves. Although you may have had it beaten into you that you’re helpless and that someone from the government will always be there to take care of you, fight that. You CAN do it, and the lives you save may be your families and your own.

Together, as a united people helping each other, there is no trial we, as Americans, cannot overcome. Good luck, and I hope to see you all safely next week.