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Authors: Travis S. Taylor

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One Good Soldier

BOOK: One Good Soldier
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One Good Soldier
by
Travis S. Taylor

Table of Contents

 

ONE GOOD SOLDIER
Travis S. Taylor

  

 

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2009 by Travis S. Taylor
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
A Baen Books Original
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403
Riverdale, NY 10471
www.baen.com
ISBN: 978-1-4391-3316-3
Cover art by Kurt Miller
First printing, December 2009
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Taylor, Travis S.
One good soldier / Travis S. Taylor.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-1-4391-3316-3
I. Title.
PS3620.A98O55 2009
813'.6—dc22
2009037591
Pages by Joy Freeman (www.pagesbyjoy.com)
Printed in the United States of America

 

   

 
This work is dedicated to my personal hero and big brother, who has been deployed to Iraq twice, Afghanistan, Africa, and elsewhere around the world to defend my freedom to write science fiction books (among other things). Aim high, Chief Master Sergeant Greg Taylor, aim high!

  

 
BAEN BOOKS by TRAVIS S. TAYLOR

One Day on Mars
The Tau Ceti Agenda
One Good Soldier
Warp Speed
The Quantum Connection
The Science Behind the Secret*
with John Ringo:

 

Vorpal Blade
Manxome Foe
Claws That Catch
*forthcoming

 

 

 

 

 
PROLOGUE
October 31, 2388 AD
Earthspace, 100,000 kilometers above Orlando
Monday, 7:40 AM, Earth Eastern Standard Time
The Separatist Terrorist Attack on Luna City

"Goddamn, what was that?" General Elle Ahmi was tired of asking that question. The Separatist battle cruiser
Phlegra
rang with secondary explosions, and warning klaxons sounded throughout the ship.

 

"I think we were hit by the moon's mass driver," Captain Sterling Maximillian answered. The mass driver of the Oort Cloud facility's moon had fired on them just before they had entered the quantum membrane transport to Earthspace.

 

"Damage report?" Elle said impatiently. Still, Sterling was a competent captain and the terrorist general had every confidence that he would get them to their target.

 

"I'm still checking. The teleport is operating as planned." The buzzing and popping from the Quantum Membrane Technology (QMT) projection stopped, and the Moon filled the view of the bridge. Luna City twinkled brightly beneath them as the shining metropolis that it was. Glints from Earth and Sol glared off the Luna City domes, through the portals, and onto the viewscreens. The tens of millions of inhabitants of the domes had no idea what disaster was about to rain down on them from space.

 

"Well, shut those damned alarms off. We're here." Elle sat back at the empty station behind the captain's seat. She drummed her fingers against the console, waiting for Maximillian's report.

 

"Sublight engines are down. We're venting like mad from every seal."

 

"Tell me some good news."

 

"Uh, yes, General. The auxiliary drive is unharmed, and we can reroute to that one. I'm working it. Propulsion will be up in five, four, three, two . . . there." Maximillian smiled triumphantly.

 

"Good. If Aux is all that is left, she'll be going there. All security personnel are to report to that section of the ship and stop that bitch." Elle slammed her fist into the screen of her console, cracking the cover. The CIA agent who had managed to infiltrate the
Phlegra
had been captured and tied up down in sickbay, but somehow she had managed to escape and was causing all sorts of problems for the terrorist's plans. She had already managed to knock out several key power systems somehow. "Stop her! Is that understood?"

 

"Yes, ma'am."

 

"Full forward to Luna City. Ramming vector!" Elle ordered. The plan was to slam the ship into Luna City, killing millions of American citizens with one attack. Elle Ahmi's sole purpose for the attack was to kill off a voting district and thereby sway an election—an election for president of the United States of America.

 

 

 

"Damnit, Jack, I'm cut off. I don't think I can get around to you. That last blast closed off several sections between us," Nancy Penzington warned Commander Jack "DeathRay" Boland. He and his mecha wingman had followed the
Phlegra
through the QMT transport from the Oort Cloud combat in an attempt to stop the ship and rescue the CIA agent. The hallway Nancy had been going down was completely destroyed, and air was beginning to vent out of it. She had been lucky that whatever had just hit them hadn't crushed her in the process. So instead of being killed instantly, she was probably going to die slowly of hypothermia or from lack of oxygen.

 

"Roger that, Penzington. Can you get out of the ship?" Jack pushed his bot-mode Ares-T Navy mecha back up to its feet and looked out of the gaping tear in the ship's hull above him. The Moon loomed overhead, maybe a hundred thousand kilometers or so away. They were running out of time, and Jack had no real, good idea of how to stop the battle cruiser.

 

"I don't think so. I think I'm trapped in here." Nancy looked in every direction but could see nothing but crunched metal. The hull of the ship had collapsed all around her, and it would take hours to cut her out with a laser cutter. There was no way that one mecha was going to dig her out in a few seconds.

 

"Hold on, we're coming to you. I'll blast you out if I have to."

 

"Don't, Boland. I'm too deep in the ship. I did my job. I got some good info on the Separatists' plan. I'm downloading it to you now. I haven't even had the chance to read all of it. You read it and then figure out what to do with it. And don't share this with anyone that you don't trust completely, and be wary even of them. I mean it." Nancy sat down in the corridor, listening to the air hissing through the cracks in the wreckage. She had done her job.

 

"That's defeatist talk," Jack said. "Now get your ass up and find a way out of there."

 

"Sorry, Jack. I'm stuck here, and my air is running out." She paused for a brief moment in thought. "If you can't stop this ship, you have to get out with the data I just gave you. Now, go. That data is more important than I am."

 

   

 

"Come on, Jack." Fish pulled her mecha through the gash in the ship to the exterior hull. The Moon continued to loom closer. At their present rate of acceleration, they would hit Luna City in less than a minute. Fish rolled her bot over into fighter mode and throttled toward Earth. Then her blue-force system dinged at her. There were two supercarriers not far from their location. "Jack, I've got two supercarriers Earthward.

 

"I see." Jack thrusted his mecha up through the ship and outward into open space, where he toggled his bot back to fighter mode. He paused during the maneuver, only briefly but long enough to look back at the
Phlegra
solemnly. "Godspeed, Penzington, or whoever you are."

 

Jack?
DeathRay's artificial intelligence counterpart (AIC) spoke into his mindvoice. The implant in his brain translated the computer's communication direct-to-mind, or DTM, through a quantum neural interface between the AIC and the user.

 

Yes, Candis.

 

Blue-force tracker identifies the nearest ship as the USS
John Tyler
. Perhaps it can stop the battle cruiser.

 

Right.

 

* * *

 

"Captain! We've got a major electromagnetic disturbance Moonward, and a Seppy battle cruiser just appeared out of nowhere!" the CDC officer of the
Tyler
warned the captain over the command net.

 

"What the hell?" Captain Westerfeld looked confused.

 

"Sir, we're being hailed by the CAG of the
Sienna Madira
."

 

"Can't be. Wally's ship is way out in the Oort somewhere."

 

"Well, sir, his security codes validate."

 

"Patch him through."

 

"CO
Tyler
, this is Commander Jack Boland of the USS
Sienna Madira."

 

"Commander, this is Captain Westerfeld. What can I do for you?"

 

"Sir, this battle cruiser is on a ramming vector for Luna City, and we can't seem to stop it! I thought you might be able to help us out."

 

"Captain," Alexander Moore interrupted. "I have an idea." He shoved the
Sienna Madira
robot onto the teleport pad. The corrupted AI inside the robot likeness of the great president from Disney World had been under the Separatists' control. But for now it was being jammed by President Moore's AIC temporarily, but that would only hold a few more seconds. When the robot AI broke through the jamming signal, it would most certainly detonate the multiple megaton gluonium bomb hidden within it. Gluonium bombs used the actual quantum mechanical force that held quarks together and were the most powerful weapons developed by man.

 

"Agreed." Westerfeld nodded. "Commander Boland. I recommend that you get out of there as quickly as you can. We'll take care of it."

 

"Trick or treat, bitch!" Moore said to the AI-driven Sienna Madira robot look-alike.

 

 

 

"General, the propulsion system is locked on. Even if it was knocked out, at this point our trajectory will still take us to Luna City," Maximillian said, nodding toward the bright silver and blue dome of the great metropolis in the Sea of Tranquility. The captain of the
Phlegra
tapped a few keys on his chairarm and moved several virtual icons around in his DTM mindview. Then he turned to Ahmi and said, "We should go now, ma'am."

 

"All right. Very good. Activate the QMT projector snap-back routine," Elle ordered.

 

"Yes, ma'am. Recalling all personnel to original Tau Ceti QMT projection in three, two, one . . ."

 

 

 

Nancy Penzington, or Kira Shavi, or . . . well, her real first name had been Nancy, at least . . . sat with her back against the collapsed bulkhead of the
Phlegra
, hugging her knees and waiting for the end. The air hissed by her, and it was getting very cold in the corridor, and she was shivering uncontrollably. None of that really mattered at this point since the ship she was trapped in was about to crash and explode in seconds. She didn't want to die, but she was making her peace with it.

 

Nancy, we did our job,
her AIC consoled her.

 

Yes, we did. And hopefully it will save some lives or do some good.

 

It will. Boland will figure out what to do with it.
Allison had had the time to read the data when she had finally decrypted it. There was some very interesting information in there, and some contacts that went all the way up to the White House. The data was more important than Nancy or Allison themselves.
The data was worth the sacrifice.

 

I hope it isn't too big for him.

 

He'll figure it out.

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