Title: The IX
Author: Andrew P. Weston
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Roman legionaries, far from home, lost in the mists of Caledonia. A US cavalry company, engaged on a special mission, vital to the peace treaty proposed by Presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln. A twenty-first century Special Forces unit, desperate to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. From vastly different backgrounds, these soldiers are united when they are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing. Thinking they may have been granted a reprieve, imagine their horror when they discover they have been transported to a failing planet on the far side of the galaxy, where they are given a simple ultimatum. Fight or die. Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay. How far would you be willing to go to stay alive? The IX. Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.
Mac and Sam entered the Ark control room, only to find Saul Cameron still fussing over the controls of a large computer console.
“C’mon Commander,” Mac advised, “It’s time to leave.”
Saul didn’t appear to hear the request and continued working.
Okay. Have it your way. “Please don’t make me angry,” Mac warned, “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
Saul turned toward him. Maintaining eye contact, Mac unclipped his weapon and placed it on the table. Cocking his head to one side, he began to crack the knuckle of each finger, and added, “Because I tend to get rather aggressive.”
“You wouldn’t dare!” Saul gasped, not quite believing what he was hearing.
“That’s the other lot.” Mac retorted.
In response to the confused look on the commander’s face, Mac continued, “The SAS. They dare. And they win most of the time too. Our lot gets things done by strength and guile. And just so we’re clear, Commander. My job is to haul your ass upstairs and get you safely aboard the Arch of Winter. If you put your own safety in jeopardy, I’ll get very...hands on. I’ll give you one minute before I demonstrate what I mean.”
Saul glanced toward Sam Pell. Mac did too, and could see his partner was grinning from ear to ear. But nothing about the smile was friendly.
“Oh very well,” Saul conceded, “I suppose I was being overly cautious anyway. The seal is ready to go, and I can trigger the lockdown from orbit.”
“Good to hear. Now let’s get a move on. By all account, things are getting pretty volatile topside.”
Mac retrieved his machinegun, and they all headed for the exit. As the control room doors opened, they discovered a sentinel waiting outside, along with two of the .50 cannons.
“Greetings, Lieutenant McDonald. As requested, I have prepared the weapons for transport. Just enter the appropriate codes, and the localized translocators will activate, and deposit them at the site of your choice.”
“Excellent. Have the emplacements in the exterior corridor also been prepped?”
“Of course. The entire array has been linked into one circuit as you requested.”
“Thank you, custodian. That will be all.”
“Why are you moving the sentry posts?” Saul queried, “I would have thought you’d want them to remain here as insurance?”
“If I’d have left them where they were, it would have been a terrible waste of limited resources. Especially once the rip-space tear is sealed. We still have over a thousand people in the city awaiting evacuation, and these guns will make a huge difference once they’re in the right place.”
“So where are you sending them?”
“This pair is going to the chokepoint above the inner wall,” Mac explained, “they’re fighting a losing battle up there, so ten thousand rounds and an entire rack of mini micro-mines will give them an edge they’ve been lacking.”
He paused to activate the locator beacons, and typed a code into his wrist pad. “The ones outside will help to form a last line of defense around the emergency pad itself. Fortunately, there are only two ways into the Magister’s Courtyard from the battlements, so we’ll have things well covered.”
A brief hum preceded the moment each of the cannons disappeared, and a strange prickling sensation crawled across Mac’s skin. Hmmh. Must be a side effect of the transporter?
Dismissing the sensation as of no consequence, he started to lead the small group from the Archive. As they marched swiftly along, he eavesdropped on the continual chatter on the local network. It made painful listening.
Those blasted monsters have rallied their troops in a way we’ve never encountered. They’ll be through the arc before the last of the stragglers make it to the pad...Unless we do something about it.
Tapping his earpiece, he said, “Andy, are you there?”
There was a short interval before Andy Webb replied, “Sorry Boss, I had to concentrate for a moment or two. Some of our soul-sucking friends were getting a bit too close for comfort. They’re out of the picture now. How can I help?”
“Is the Horde advance still snowballing?”
“That’s an unfortunate yes. They’ve organized themselves into one huge, diamond-tip formation. The Masters are augmenting their minions’ resistance to the iron in some way that slows the destructive process. They still explode, but it takes longer. When they do, it vaporizes everything in the blast radius, defenses included. As soon as the dust settles, their eager buddies slip in from behind to take their place. They’ll be at the wall in five minutes. Six tops!”
Where are the damned flyers?”
“On the way. ETA, three minutes. Talk about the cavalry, eh? Oh, and just to let you know, Stu, Fonzy and Marcus said, “thank you” for the guns.”
“Are they making a difference?”
“Not yet, Boss. Sean’s in the middle of adjusting the parameters on one of the cannons as we speak. Those shields around the ogres are quite effective, so he’s going to coordinate the firing sequence to activate, following the detonation of a mine. We’ll save some in reserve, just in case the Masters decide to get brave. In any event, it should spoil their parade quite nicely.”
“Good thinking. Get Mark and Sean to liaise with Stu and Fonzy at the choke point. Once the flyers and cannons take over, have them orchestrate a structured withdrawal. We’re on the way to the surface with the commander. Expect the second set of sentries at your location any minute now.”
“Roger that. Safe journey.”
Breaking the link, Mac discovered they had reached the perimeter doors to the Archive. Activating the bio-scanner, he waited for the exit to manifest, and nodded to Sam to make ready.
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Share a holiday family tradition:
When I was small, my father used to put up the decorations during the evening of November 30th, so that the festive mood was ready to go from the moment we woke up the following day. Yes, it was way earlier than all of my other friends, but his reasoning was rather sound. He used to say, “The advent calendars countdown to Christmas from the first of the month, so we might as well have everything else ready as well.”
I loved it, handing the pins to him as he arranged the chains in place. And then later, I’d pass the baubles to my mother as she decorated the tree. I know I’ve mentioned this tradition before in previous interviews, but I particularly loved it, as it made the whole month special, and it’s something I’ve continued to do ever since for my own family. J
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
The IX is perfect for putting readers – especially those with a military connection– in a holiday mood, as it reminds us of family and friends who may be serving in the armed forces who can’t be with us at Christmas. Those men and woman make huge sacrifices to keep us safe, and a story like the IX reminds us that, though they might end up far, far away, they don’t forget us, and can’t wait to be back with us as soon as they can.
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Runs December 1 – 31