When Corporal Ian “Irish” Shannon is assigned to the Confederation’s Long Range Scouts (LRS), he joins in the struggle against forces from the Alliance Hegemony. He and his team battle to drive the enemy from star systems under protection of the Confederation. His courage and fighting abilities are tested to their utmost, as he rises through the ranks of the LRS and beyond. Small unit skirmishes build to full-scale combat on planet surfaces, and serve as a counterpoint to violent conflict in space.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
During my time in the U.S. Army, several of us were involved in the testing of new weapons systems. Several weapons were similar to what are mentioned in the novel, but never saw the light of day due to not having the technical capabilities to develop and support them at the present time. Also, I truly had fun when using the "sneak'n peek" skills they taught us.
How is writing Science Fiction different from other genres?
It is a wondrous thing to be able to stretch the imagination and fit a story into it! This particular story stayed close to real life, but mixed in elements of the "what if" to spice it up.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Several of them are based on real-life people, and others were a montage of several mixed together. I also drew upon my past readings of military Science Fiction to embellish them.
“Eagle five. Mission is a go.”
Ian Shannon’s eyes opened, and he noted the time display on the inside of his helmet’s face shield.
“Roger,” he whispered. Time to move into position.
He paused long enough to wipe sweat from his face before removing the cover from his spider hole and set up his sniper rifle, movements slow and deliberate. Once the sun came up four hours ago, heat became as much an enemy as the hostile forces surrounding him. He’d dug in near the middle of a large meadow, hopefully one of the last places they’d think to look. Five hundred meters to his front, the command center of the target snuggled against the base of the only hill over fifty meters high within twenty kilometers.
The trees around the clearing were palm like, until closer inspection showed the leaves to be large puff balls, with dozens of kinky string-like pieces. Their blue-green tinge distracted the eye for the first few weeks on planet. The grass was a matching color, with a long flat stem.
“Eagle four, what’s your location?” he murmured.
“Thirty meters from the bunker. Ready to move when you delete the target,” came the quiet answer from Phil “Pointy” Winters, his partner on this mission. The target was the enemy’s Commander.
His and Pointy’s arrival on site took longer than anticipated. Ian’s active camouflage, nicknamed ghillies, began to act up after they inserted for this mission. It was a baggy overgarment loose enough to fit over his backpack. He’d been puzzled by the nickname ghillie. No one was sure where the term came from. Probably one of those ancient earth words.
Pointy’s ghillies worked fine. He was by far the best at sneakin’ and peekin’. He would infiltrate the bunker during the confusion when Ian attempted to place a round in the boss man who should be coming out any time now, like he had the last two mornings. With everything prepped to his satisfaction, he ‘scoped the perimeter, looking for security measures. Two sentry posts had the meadow under observation. His helmet ‘tronics picked up movement and sound sensors within two hundred meters of the bunker. Sloppy. Should be at least three fifty out in this terrain.
Four soldiers walked from the bunker. The one on the right was the objective. Ian gave a last scan of his helmet ‘tronics, scrolling the information across the lower portion of the faceplate. Wind negligible. Range four hundred fifty meters with a ten meter rise in altitude. Ian put the scope’s cross hairs on the off-colored patch over his chest.
The sound of the rifle’s quiet burp wasn’t detectable more than fifty meters away. The target pitched forward. Ian slid back into the spider hole, pulling the lid shut.
“Deleted,” he murmured, a pleasurable tingle turning into a smile.
“No shitty da,” Pointy whispered.
A tickle of satisfaction ran up Ian’s spine. It wasn’t every day a soldier got to whack his own Regimental Commander. Ian’s sniper rifle sported a training laser that carried an electronic pulse which, when it painted one of the special target patches all the players had on their uniform, gave an unpleasant shock to the recipient.
The ground vibrated when several vehicles rolled through the meadow. A bare place to hide, but indirection was the best way to survive this situation. Pointy should get his chance to sneak in the bunker soon. The actual mission would be accomplished by placement of a locator beacon, which also scrambled any commo within five meters. His side could then launch a bunker buster rocket with total accuracy.
Over the past three months, training and exercises had increased two-fold. This was the biggest so far and involved all combat elements of the Regiment. Scuttlebutt said it was in preparation for a show of force against the Alliance, who’d been beating their chest more loudly over the past year or so. Good as any other reason.
A jaw-popping yawn escaped. He settled in, ignoring the stifling heat. With nothing else to do, he dozed.
A double click on his helmet commo roused him. “Hey, Irish.”
“Get it planted?” Ian asked.
“Didn’t function. Go to Plan B.”
Ian forced tense muscles to relax. He needed to create a diversion so Pointy could get out. But first he would wait for the intensive man hunt to die down. Sweat dripped from his chin.
The next two hours were boring, dirty and hot. He constantly felt the vibrations of passing feet or wheels. He’d considered leaving a passive sensor on the surface, but nixed the idea. Didn’t feel justified in extra risks at this point.
His spider hole had been a pain to dig, since he had to remove all signs of dirt and not leave a beaten path to the hole. Most of the night was spent accomplishing this, and gave him time to think. Maybe he should’ve gotten word to his squad leader about this trek. Probably get a strip torn off his ass when they arrived back in barracks. He shrugged. Couldn’t do anything about that now. Just as well get some sleep.
Ian was in limbo between zoned out and real sleep when a double-click on his helmet’s commo brought him to full alert. “You’re clear. Come on out.”
Thank God! He started to ease the cover off his hole, and paused. That wasn’t the password. He keyed one of his pets, a booby trap, and detonated it by remote. Right rear of his location and fifty meters into the tree line, a mild chuff and a wisp of smoke marked its location.
A thuttering roar passed over as a flitter zeroed in. Other sounds of pursuit headed that way. He carefully pushed the cover aside and scanned for activity. Not at the action inside the tree line, but toward the bunker. Two officers viewed the action through binoculars. He set up the Webley again and zeroed in on the bunker entrance.
“Get set, Eagle four. I’m taking out the next target exiting the bunker,” Ian whispered. This might give Pointy his chance.
Two more targets exited. He stroked the trigger four times, a second between each shot. Four more down. He disappeared into the hide, planning to stay till dark if necessary.
Within ten minutes the call came: “Allee Allee in free.”
He crawled into the open, and managed to stand without falling on his face. Stiffened muscles from hours spent in the same position had him hobbling the first few steps. Quite a crowd by the bunker. Didn’t seem inclined to come out and give him a lift, either. Ian trotted toward them. He stopped and faced the group of officers, most whom he’d just killed, and came to port arms.
Pointy shut off his active camos, walked through the startled group and did an about face next to Ian. His overly large nose which gave him his monicker drew everyone’s eyes when he came to attention.
The Regimental commander, Colonel “Mad” Mike Grayson, stepped in front of them with a scowl. “What do you think you’re doing in my area of operations?”
Ian kept his eyes focused past the Colonel, stiffly at attention. “Killing the enemy’s chain of command, Sir!” He hadn’t realized until now that the Colonel was a good four centimeters shorter than his 1.7 meters. Not that it mattered, especially at times like this. Hopefully he wasn’t trembling on the outside like his innards were.
“Was this part of the exercise?” The Colonel’s head swiveled left. “Ops! Where are you! Did you authorize this?”
Major Teague flinched. “Uhh, no, sir. The Long Range Scouts were supposed to be security for the enemy’s CP.”
“Hmph!” the Colonel snorted. “I suppose this is another one of those cutsey tricks from Recon platoon.” He turned and stumped toward the bunker, looking more like a fire plug than ever. “Get these bastards out of here. I’ve got an exercise to run.”
“Actually, sir, you and your staff are dead,” Pointy drawled.
The Colonel about faced. “What’d you just say, soldier?”
Ian tried to sink into the ground. Damn! Now they’d be in for it.Pointy’s eyes remained fixed straight ahead. “Irish, here, nailed you and four of your staff when you came out rubbernecking, sir. And I put a scrambler on your commo gear. Shoulda’ gone off ‘bout thirty seconds ago, sir.”
Colonel Grayson’s face turned from red to puce. “Report to your Platoon Leader, you goddamned assholes! I’ll make you wish you’d joined the Boy Scouts instead of the LRS before I’m done with you.”
He began to march off and paused. “But first I want you both to take two days liberty. All the beer you can drink at the Pelican Pub–on me.” He turned away, muttering obscenities.
Ian released an explosive sigh. He’d held his breath since Pointy opened his yap. Glad he wasn’t in charge of the security forces around here today. They’d all be bloody once the Colonel got his teeth into them. Ian suspected he and Pointy would soon suffer the same fate. His idea of taking a hand in the exercise, without specific orders, didn’t look so great now.
They began their trek to the opposing forces’ lines. Pointy rubbed his nose as he gave a nervous glance back at the bunker. “The Colonel was really pissed. You think Staff Sergeant Smith is gonna be, maybe, a little upset with us?”
Ian gave a strained smile. “Now that you mention it, he might. Especially since he thinks we’re with Sergeant Weiss, and Weiss thinks we’re back in barracks.”
“I thought you said this mission was authorized, man!”
About the Author:
Danny was born and raised in Oregon, and was always an avid reader of Science Fiction. He served in the U.S. Army, spending time in the Infantry as well as the Chemical Corps. After that, he spend 25 years as a health physicist conducting training to first responders and those interested in things radiological. This sharpened his interest in the "What If" side of science, since he also spend a good bit of time on anti-terrorist activities as they related to hazardous materials, to include nuclear.
Over thirty years of his career involved writing technical and training material. Besides this, he found time to write travel articles for magazines, and a humor column for a newspaper. Scouts Out Three, Scouts Out Four, Rookie and Veteran military Science Fiction novels also were published by him.
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