Valerie J. Long - Time of War - The Forgotten People 1
Released: June 12, 2020
Syreen takes daring to a new level†”all alone against a galaxy full of enemies†”or is she? “I will do what needs to be done to protect my shipmates, complete my mission, fulfill my duties as the Duchy†™s Fleet Commander in Charge, and navigate this ship in battle.†
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Lieutenant Syreen thinks of herself as a skilled spaceship pilot in the Duchy Fleet. When another stellar nation invades her home system, her skills are put to the ultimate test. Before long, all her wingmates are shot dead, all their other spaceships are destroyed, and she soon she finds herself as Fleet†™s only survivor on active duty. How is she supposed to fight the already victorious enemy battleships all alone?
Giving up is not an option, at least not for her. Forced to withdraw and find new answers, she must also keep control of her own body that begins to demand warm blood.
After her escape, she starts looking for support for her cause. However, no other nation wants to become the invaders†™ next target. Instead of support, she only finds a few lucky survivors, and a researcher who will at least fund her while following his own goals. His mention of the remnants of an ancient race triggers her curiosity†”because the invaders were also looking for a relic of an ancient race. Could these two goals be related?
A red light flashed over the door. Syreen jumped up and grabbed her bag and was out of her bunk before the klaxons went off. Not this time, no more disciplinary penalties for being late.
Half a centicycle later she met her wingmates on the flight deck.
“Get in your gear,† Cap barked, “this is not an exercise!†
Not? Aw shit. Syreen dashed toward her skirmisher†”basically a seat, a power plant, an engine and one light pulse cannon wrapped in a thin, spindle-shaped metal sheet†”and let herself drop into her cockpit. Okay, let†™s give †˜em raiders a good time, shall we?
She ran through her routine. Buckles, headgear, data glove, flight stick, stimulator. She waited for the short prick of the syringe in her right thigh. Ouch. I so hate needles. Her status went green.
“Silver Seven?† she heard her wingleader on the private line.
“Don†™t worry. I†™ll be there, I won†™t chicken out.† Not while we†™re doing real business. That†™s not me.
“I didn†™t want to imply that.†
Oh yes, you did. “Trust me, Cap. Now where†™s the target?†
“You†™ll get your fun soon enough. Silver Wing, prepare for launch in five.†
A little wave of heat shot through her right leg, and the psyjuice started its work. The colors around her looked brighter, the fine hissing sound of the oxybox became a rhythmical melody. There was a brief moment of dizziness before her body adapted to the drug. She began to enjoy the warm presence of the stimulator and adjusted herself in her seat. Not for the first time she wondered what it would feel like for the males, but obviously she lacked some imagination.
Like a gush of sperm, her wing†™s slender skirmishers were shot out of Base Four†™s launching tubes. Her tac came to life with a scatterplot of purple icons. Oh heck! At least five dreadnaughts, the obligatory wake of cruisers, and a cloud of stingships. Who had ever seen dreadnaughts, the largest warships ever built, in operation? This was not the expected raid they had been preparing for, this was full-scale invasion.
“Silver Wing, here†™s our order. We†™ll engage Daddy Five†™s escort and make room for the tanks. Score well!†
Daddy Five†™s icon turned yellow together with its escorts.
This is madness. You think I have issues with discipline? Nope. I have issues with stupidity, and to think our three outdated destroyers plus eight wings of skirmishers could stop this armada is outright stupid. But Fleet won†™t retreat, that†™s a given. She sighed. So be it. At least we†™ll die on the crest of ecstasy today.
She didn†™t need much of her concentration to stay in formation. Cap†”Silver Leader†”wasn†™t very creative. He flew by the Books, fought by the Books, and he would die by the Books, as their enemy quite certainly knew the rules just as well.
Unless I can do something about it. No, she wouldn†™t be able to win this battle. But a few unconventional maneuvers†”which she was infamous for†”might buy her wing some time, perhaps even enough time for someone with brains to stop this massacre.
“Combat config,† Cap commanded.
“Check.† Her headgear picked up the spot her glance was focusing on and triggered the reconfiguration. Delicate antennae reached out of the main hull to weave the protective shield, which could deflect stray shots and thus might let them live a few centicycles longer. No way a skirmisher could survive a direct hit from one of the tanks†”be it a destroyer, a cruiser or a dreadnaught.
As if to prove her thoughts, behind her Base Four silently melted away. Poor bastards†”they had been a sitting duck for the dreadnaughts†™ long-range missiles. The other bases followed within millicycles. They might have had a chance to launch their own score of missiles, but those would be wiped out by the enemy cruisers†™ tight mesh of countermeasures.
“Bandits†”outer seven,† Cap noticed. “Keep positions.†
Sure. Give †˜em easy prey. You know you†™ll be the last†”your wingmates†™ shields will amplify yours. Bandits will start shooting the tips†”that is, me†”and work inward. Meanwhile you get your chance to return fire.
A slight pull on the flight stick, and her skirmisher pranced around the almost invisible beams of energy which crossed in the position she had assumed until a blink before. Fuck yourself, bastards. And take this. She triggered her own pulse cannon and struck home. “Score!†
Her tac acknowledged the kill. Her stimulator pulsated joyously inside her crotch. Ah! More of that! She aimed and fired again. “Score!† Now dodge, gal, it†™s never good to stay in one place too long. Her shield flickered. That was too close. How dare you, bastard? Take this! “Score!†
Cap yelled something about formation and discipline and rules. Meanwhile she plucked another hostile stingship from space. “Score!†
In all simulations, she had been the best. Now she could show her talent. If Cap wouldn†™t get so busy quoting the rules, he†™d score as well. “Score!†
Sadly, this had been the last bandit. A few wingmates had scored as well. She felt the stimulator slow down. No! I want more!
More kills, more stimulation. So simple. To get more kills, she†™d have to engage more enemies. With one swift move, she reassumed her position next to Silver Six.
“You†™ve left formation,† Cap accused her over the private line. “You†™ve weakened Basil†™s defense.†
“True. I†™ve dodged three hostile beams. If I was hit, I†™d have weakened Basil, too†”but permanently. I†™ve promised to cover your ass, so I†™d better survive.†
“We†™re at war, Syreen. This is no game.†
“I know. I don†™t play games. And that†™s what†™s in the Books. Games.†
“You can†™t whip me now. Let†™s make a deal†”if you score better than me, you†™ll chastise me. If I score better, I get away with it. If it matters at the end of this tencycle, that is.†
“I can†™t teach you better now.†
“Good that you understand, Cap.†
Valerie J. Long: The Forgotten People (English e-books)
Geschrieben 11 Juni 2020 - 12:18
Valerie J. Long - Time of War - The Forgotten People 1
Geschrieben 10 Juli 2020 - 15:39
Valerie J. Long - Time of Worries - The Forgotten People 2
Released: July 10, 2020
She†™s a Navigator. Impossible odds are her favorite pastime.
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Syreen can travel for free†”but she will also be the youngest, prettiest thing aboard. Aboard merchant ships, this usually implies the role of ship†™s cat, playgirl for the crew. As part of her covert mission, she must deal with this inconvenience.
She should also remain inconspicuous and invisible to the authorities, but without experience in covert missions, she†™s bound to fail. Can she achieve her goals anyway? What will happen to her if her enemies spot her?
When the first drop hit Syreen†™s face, she flinched and looked up for the leak.
However, she saw no broken tube, no air conditioner grid, no condenser†”only a vast open space with a puffy lavender cover.
While she contemplated her next action, the ground around her filled with dark spots. She gazed about her. One-story buildings, side by side, with dark hollows where doors should be, with broken wires and empty mounts where once holo projectors had probably announced their venue†™s attractions, here and there with narrow elevated platforms to both sides of the door. They were sad witnesses of better times, when this backwater planet had attracted prospectors, traders, thugs, and the usual mix of entertainers, either addicted to their profession or desperate enough to ignore its drawbacks, like abuse, humiliation, and the loss of decency.
The condensation†”rain, it†™s called, she corrected herself†”intensified. The water mixed with the dust on the once even surface and formed a slippery grease that her worn-out boots struggled to cope with.
That†™s why it†™s called dirtside, she mused. No way to walk more than a few steps without staining your clothes. Add broken plumbing and poor air conditioning. Many good reasons to feel unwelcome.
Still, there was no point in speeding up. She†™d be soaking wet at the end of her walk anyway, and slipping and falling in the mud wouldn†™t improve her looks.
At least she could already sense the intense emotions of a small crowd of people†”booze-induced drowsiness, lecherous happiness, greed, and fear. There were more people, radiating hunger, affection, or disgust, but those remained in the background.
A few tencycles ago, I wouldn†™t have noticed. Not across such distance, at least. But now the beast is hungry, and it assists me in finding prey in every possible way.
The major advantage of this star system was its negligible space traffic control†”at least, the local sensors were unable to detect a living ship pussyfooting into the system with its camouflage up, sneaking into the atmosphere and submerging in one of the many remote lakes.
There were no space stations nor any other orbital installations apart from a few sturdy long-life weather and communication satellites, so a stranger wouldn†™t attract attention just by appearing on the surface. There was no immigration or customs control, no ID check, no questions asked.
There was a spaceport for ships capable of going dirtside or for their shuttles, there was a small local force maintaining the pretense of law and order, and there was a merchant guild†™s office. That was what the database said, yet to be put to the test.
Geschrieben 15 August 2020 - 09:25
Valerie J. Long - Time of Wonders - The Forgotten People 3
Released: August 14, 2020
She†™s a Navigator. There†™s no path in space she can†™t travel.
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Syreen escaped from her prison, but she†™s still deep in enemy territory. Her enemies are countless, and their master turned out to be one of her own people. Shaken by her findings, she must find a way back to her ship and her few allies, with an entire hostile navy searching for her. Will she be able to cover her tracks better this time?
But the enemy master has a few more tricks up his sleeve.
I am a Navigator. As far as I know, I†™m the last surviving female of my People, the only one capable of controlling a living ship. I know, because I found one.
When I listen, I hear the songs the stars are singing to their planets. I hear their lonesome, never answered lament. Their songs guide me through space, let me find the smoothest way through hyperspace.
My enemies are score, and their master is of my People, too. He is searching for an ancient relic to give him power over a living ship. He is a male, though, and thus will never command. The relic he needs is a female Navigator†”that†™s me, only he doesn†™t know that yet.
When he caught me, he regarded me as nothing more than a defiant obstacle, a minor hindrance to his plans. He didn†™t recognize the reason for my mental resilience. He had me tortured in order to break me. He failed.
I control the minds of the lesser races. I make them ignore me or follow my orders. By feeding on their blood, I gain power or heal my injuries. Such are the ways of my People, and such I did to my torturer, before I left my enemy master†™s lair.
That†™s me, Captain Ishtar Gryf. That†™s the name and role I adopted in order to escape Nysa, the Association†™s home system. The Association, commanded by their master, sent out ships in search for the relic. They came to my home world, the Duchy, and wiped out our fleet, our orbital stations, our planetary defenses, and every civilian in their way without declaring war. In my eyes, such action counts as piracy, and thus every single member of their forces is fair game for me.
“Yes, Flag Captain?†
“Would you like to assist Ensign Torres with his jump calculations?†
This is a request I can never reject. I†™m a Navigator, and navigating is what I do.
Syreen had to be careful not to give herself away. So she walked over to the navigation dashboard on the battle cruiser†™s spacious bridge and silently watched the ensign entering his parameters. When he was ready and looked up, she gave him an approving nod. There was no flaw in his setup for this easy jump.
However, when he reached for the button to release his five-sigma solution, she said, “Wait.†
He turned to her again with a puzzled face. “Captain?†
“There is no flaw in your solution, Ensign. But why didn†™t you look for possible refinements? There†™s no pressing need to jump, as we haven†™t even reached jump speed yet.†
“Uh, what refinements, Captain?†
Syreen had to fight with herself not to roll her eyes. What did the Association teach these young officer candidates?
She wouldn†™t teach her tricks to the enemy, but she couldn†™t let such an outrageous lack of knowledge about the most elementary procedures stand. “Recall your parameters.†
“Good. Now call up the trims.†
“That scales symbol, top right.†
He tapped it, and a new set of controls appeared.
“See? Now you can adjust your solution. The colors tell you where you can expect improvements. Note that there may be good reasons not to change certain parameters too much, depending on where you want to go, but you can try and compare several settings. Go ahead.†
The candidate started to change settings.
“Note how the colors on the other controls change. Some of your changes will offer you more options, others may narrow down good choices†”which means it†™s an overall tighter solution.†
Torres nodded and moved a few sliders, shook his head, reset them, and tried others. Only once did she cough slightly, which quickly made him reset his last change.
Syreen patiently watched him pick three variations, compare them, and arrive at one new solution.
“This is better, I†™d say.†
This time Syreen nodded. “How much better?†
The ensign checked again and blushed. “Oh. Almost a sigma level.†
“Captain Gryf?† Flag Captain Munoz†™ demanding voice saved the young man from his embarrassment.
Syreen turned around. “Yes, Sir.†
“Are you dissatisfied with Torres†™ solution?†
“No, Sir. We just arrived at a very good result.†
“Submit it. I need to check it myself.†
“Yes, Sir.† She nudged her pupil, and Torres released the refined solution. “You have it, Sir.†
The commandant made a grim face and tapped his panel. His eyebrows rose, his lips opened to a silent “oh,† and then he smiled.
“Six-sigma, indeed? Who taught you that, Torres?†
The ensign rose. “Captain Gryf did, Sir.†
“In just the past five centicycles?†
“Yes, she did, Sir.†
“Remarkable. Ensign, you did an excellent job on this. Captain Gryf, I†™m grateful for your lesson. Would you assume command for this transit?†
Syreen smiled. “Yes, Sir.†
Munoz returned the smile and rose. “I thought so. Take my seat.†
Geschrieben 11 September 2020 - 11:33
Valerie J. Long - Time of Wisdom - The Forgotten People 4
Released: September 11th, 2020
She†™s a Navigator. Protecting intelligent life is her job.
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Cornered and severely outnumbered by the Association†™s navy, Syreen tries to reunite with her living ship. While her enemies blackmail her with an asteroid tossed down on an inhabited planet, the real danger hasn†™t even shown up yet†”the fabric of space itself is torn apart, and within the ruptures, not only does space travel fail, but stars will die†¦together with their planets.
On her own, she can†™t win. But where can she find help?
Mo stared at the green-golden U-shape on his board.
“This is Assiduous, a living ship†”my living ship.† Syreen†™s last line was on replay in his mind.
He hadn†™t heard of Forgotten People, or if he had, he didn†™t remember. He†™d accepted her claim to the title Navigator as a quirk†”although she indeed was the best navigator ever†”but he had heard of living ships†¦in fairytales.
“How did you know it†™s here?†
Klondike certainly wasn†™t the first place he†™d expect to find materialized old lore†”a remote place, at the outskirts of known space, but still a place with regular traffic.
“I brought Assiduous here. He needed time to recover†”in a safe place, where the AP wouldn†™t find him.†
“He. Okay. And how did you know how to fly such a ship?†
“He taught me what I didn†™t know already, but I†™m a Navigator, remember?†
“You mentioned that often enough, but what does it really mean?†
“It means I†™m born to fly living ships. Only females of the People can integrate with them and take control.†
“I don†™t get it.† His mind stubbornly refused to draw conclusions from her statements. It can†™t be.
“Mo, I†™m not human. I†™m a descendant of an ancient race few of your people remember, and those who do call us the Forgotten People. Sadly, Assiduous is one of the only two connections to my past I have. I was raised by Duchy Navy as an orphan†”a foundling, dropped on a busy orbital station. I never met my parents. I have no one to ask about my legacy.†
“What is the other connection?†
“The head of the Associated Planets Navy. He†™s of the People, too. He wants me†”he needs me to control Assiduous, because he could never do it himself.†
“He couldn†™t? Why?†
“Assiduous won†™t accept a male. It†™s impossible. You†™ll see.†
* * * *
Yusef listened. Everything she said sounded odd†”but in an odd way, it made sense. It explained what she did†”finding new routes, calculating seven-sigma jumps, dodging pulse shots, shooting more precisely than anyone else, or going dirtside with a spaceship†”and left room for even more miracles.
He just couldn†™t imagine what kind of miracle they†™d need to fend off those three battle groups with a total of three battle cruisers, nine light cruisers, nineteen destroyers, and a yet unknown number of stingships and missiles, that had arrived shortly after Bumblebee.
He†™d grown fond of the ship they†™d arrived with. Bumblebee was a swift and tough little warship, everything a solo pilot could ask for, but in the upcoming battle she was outclassed and outnumbered. There was no way for a single frigate to survive.
Their enemy had surely come to the same assessment. While his flagship was trying to catch up and his smaller units were cutting off their potential escape routes, the enemy signaled again.
“APS Bumblebee, this is Admiral Cortez of APS Vindicator. You failed to follow my instructions. Unless you surrender instantly, I†™m no longer in a position to give you quarter.†
This time, Syreen decided to answer. “Admiral Cortez, unfortunately I can†™t give you what you want. However, should you at least be willing to formally declare war, I†™ll be ready to accept your capitulation any time. Just don†™t wait too long.†
Yusef raised his eyebrows. No way. They didn†™t come in numbers to say hi and bye. Too bad for them†”they didn†™t see her fight. Or†”wait.
“What is it, Yusef?†
“What if they got data from our convoy, and know you can dodge pulse shots?†
“That won†™t help them.†
* * * *
Syreen kept her attention on the board. Until we reach Assiduous, we†™re vulnerable. They won†™t be able to catch up, but I†™d credit them for trying anything else. Like†¦
She quickly entered a few parameters, rechecked them, and hit the button.
Bumblebee†™s two aft lasers fired, three times each, with reduced power. Six explosions indicated the successful elimination of six long-range missiles that had almost reached their frigate.
“Nice try,† she said. “Okay, Admiral Cortez, you†™re playing your game well. Let†™s see how you deal with my next move.†
“What are you up to?† Yusef asked. “You think you can hit him across this distance?†
“I could, but it would only be a tickle†”or I could ruin our guns and burn a hole through his armor. Surely his repair crews would appreciate the drill. No. I didn†™t want to show him my tricks, but we need time for boarding Assiduous, and if he†™s willing to spend some more of his missiles, he might get at us at the very worst moment. No, I†™ll have to do something unconventional.† The parameters for which she was entering right this moment.
“More unconventional than scoring impossible hits? I†™m curious.†
“In that case, check this out.† She pushed her new solution over to his board.
Yusef glanced at it. “Seriously? No, of course you are. Again, you make the impossible possible. I wouldn†™t have thought of that.†
“Neither did Cortez.† She frowned and pulled her stick. Bumblebee changed course. “But he†™s learning fast†”too fast for my taste.†
“What was that?†
“Pulse shots from his destroyers. They must have used a kind of triangulation algorithm, or whatever it†™s called for nineteen instead of three angles, to shoot at us. Not precise enough to hit, and in any case, their shots couldn†™t have killed us, but†”crap!†
She pulled again and dodged another bouquet of nineteen well-aimed shots. “Yes, he knows†”Crew, prepare for jump now.†
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