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Authors: Ralph Peters

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The War After Armageddon

BOOK: The War After Armageddon
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THE WAR AFTER
ARMAGEDDON

 

 

 

THE WAR AFTER
ARMAGEDDON

RALPH PETERS

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK
NEW YORK

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

THE WAR AFTER ARMAGEDDON

 

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Peters

 

All rights reserved.

 

Map by Jackie Aher

 

A Forge Book

Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

175 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10010

 

www.tor-forge.com

 

Forge® is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

 

Peters, Ralph, 1952–

The war after armageddon / Ralph Peters. — 1st hardcover ed.

      p. cm.

“A Tom Doherty Associates Book.”

ISBN 978-0-7653-2355-2

 1. Soldiers—Fiction. 2. Religious fiction. 3. Political fiction.

I. Title.

PS3566.E7559W36 2009

813'.54—dc22

 

2009016628

 

First Edition: September 2009

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

0  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2  1

 

 

To those who solemnly swear
to support and defend the Constitution of the United States
against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

 

 

 

 

The fury of zealots, intestine bitterness and division were the greatest occasion of the last fatal destruction of Jerusalem.

—ATTRIBUTED TO KING CHARLES I

BY DR. JOHNSON

 

 

THE WAR AFTER
ARMAGEDDON

PROLOGUE

 

 

 

I could be jailed for writing this. But I am old and must set down the truth. I do not fear for myself. I shall soon pass, and the Lord will dispose of my soul as He deems just. But were the Elders to find these pages during a Helpful Visit, my family would suffer. Unto my children’s children.

I am a fool for doing this, I know. But I have been a greater fool before. I see that now. And some sins belong to this world. Telling this tale is my penance.

“And a child shall lead them.” I long had sparred with thoughts about our errors but kept things to myself, as wise men do. My brethren in these United Godfearing States of America might disagree, but silence, too, can be a dreadful sin.

My grandson held up my sin and made me see it.

He is a lovely boy, much like his mother. One autumn day as sweet as the Lord’s caress, he came home full of lies. Or, if I would be honest, filled with more lies than usual.

“Grandfather?” he asked. “Were you
really
in the Holy War?”

I nodded. His innocence made me wary.

“Did you kill lots of Mussies?”

“Don’t say ‘Mussies.’ The word is ‘Muslims,’ Noah.”

“But
did
you kill any?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Not even
one
?”

“Not one.”

His face displayed a child’s unshielded grief. I had been severe. Worse, I was disappointing.

“I helped, though,” I told him. Shamelessly and shamefully. “I helped kill a great many of them.”

The cloud passed, and his features shone with pride. “That’s what I told Gabriel. That you were in the war. I told him you took Jerusalem.”

I had not been at Jerusalem. Thanks be to God. But I let his bragging pass. I had been close enough to the Holy City. Close enough to smell the blood and corpses.

“Is that what you were taught today? About the Holy War?”

“Yes, sir.” His eyes burned pyres of imaginary corpses, the enemy’s dead, atop which he imposed himself in triumph. Isn’t it strange how sweet war smells to boys? At times I fear we are born of the Book of Joshua, not of the Gospels.

I wondered, briefly, if I should tell the truth. But the young want heroes, not old men’s remorse.

“I’m glad there are no more Muslims,” he said. Then he added, “General Harris was a traitor. I hope he burns in Hell!”

“Noah!”

I caught myself. In time. He had unlocked the darkness in my heart. The nagging sorrow.

“A good Christian boy would pray for the soul of General Harris,” I told him. My words rose from an empty barrel hammered with a stone. “It’s our duty to pray for all sinners.”

My grandson took on a devilish look. No doubt, he sensed my falsity. The pure of heart do that.

“That’s not what Blessed Teacher says,” he told me. And he ran off, the victor of the argument. In the good order of our system, no
family member contradicts a Blessed Teacher. Faltering Christians have been jailed for less.

When the boy disappeared, I slumped. I felt as if Noah had struck me. As if the world had knocked me to the ground. As if the past had hit me from behind.

Lieutenant General Gary “Flintlock” Harris was no traitor. That is a lie. There. I have written it. In black ink. And I will say more: He was not only a magnificent soldier, but a better Christian than those who brought him down.

Of course, not all of us could see it then. Even fewer see it now, since the Cleansing of the Books.

I do not recall the past the Scribes approve. But I remember other things. I still see Flintlock Harris on a deck, a dozen miles offshore, with Mt. Carmel ablaze in the land of Israel.

His fate was a tragedy. For all of us.

That is heresy. And my task is to chronicle, not judge. Should any reader ever see these pages, the privilege of judgment shall be his.

ONE

 

 

 

OFF THE COAST OF THE FORMER STATE OF ISRAEL,
NOW THE EMIRATE OF AL-QUDS AND DAMASKUS

 

He stood on the deck in the darkness, stealing a moment to discipline his thoughts. A few blind missiles streaked across the sky, desperate shots that fell between the waiting ships. A killer drone exploded in orange fireworks, stopped short by antiaircraft guns. Ashore, on the horizon, artillery fire lifted the night’s skirt. The Marines were pushing inland, beyond the crest of Mt. Carmel. But Lieutenant General Gary “Flintlock” Harris remained intrigued by the war he couldn’t see.

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