Once again, I was lucky enough to get offered an excerpt of a new book to share with you all. This time, it’s an exclusive excerpt, so this is the only place, short of buying the book, that you’ll read this bit. Chains of Command is a book in Kloos’s Frontline series. It’s military sci-fi. Oh, and you likely will figure it out, but a “Lanky” is the alien race that’s attacking Earth. Without further ado, an excerpt from Chains of Command by Marko Kloos:
Excerpted from CHAINS OF COMMAND by Marko Kloos
Copyright 2016 Marko Kloos, Published by 47 North, Seattle
Excerpt 2 (pages 18-10):
“All squads, on my mark,” Sergeant Fisher shouts. “Center mass shots. Don’t waste ammo. Three, two, one, fire!”
The platoon’s rifles all bark more or less as one, a stuttering drumroll of thundering reports. The new M-90s are shorter, lighter, fire faster, and are more effective than the old M-80 double rifles. They’re also much, much louder. At the last fraction of a second before the sergeant gives the fire command, I cheat a little and make the Lanky lower its head and cover most of its upper body with the large, bony, shield-like protuberance on its head. Thirty-three simulated explosive gas rounds fly out from the rooftop. Most of them shatter and ricochet off the Lanky’s cranial shield like pebbles thrown against a concrete wall. The Lanky bellows a wail, shakes its head, and keeps coming, undeterred. They have monstrously long strides when they’re in a hurry, easily ten meters to a step, and the three hundred meters between the terraforming building and the Lanky turn into two hundred before the platoon fires the next salvo.
This time, I let the Lanky walk into the defensive fire. At two hundred meters, the rifles’ ballistic computers can put the rounds into a sheet of paper that’s been folded over twice. The better part of three dozen rounds pepper the center of the Lanky’s mass, and the creature’s chest heaves out and explodes with a wet and muffled thump. The Lanky’s stride falters, and the thing collapses midstep, its body crashing to the ground in an ungraceful tangle of limbs. The platoon’s troopers send up a satisfied cheer.
The new rifles have new ammunition, developed by the R&D section at Aberdeen Proving Grounds. With dozens of Lanky bodies at our disposal after the Battle of Earth last year, R&D has had no shortage of ballistic testing material. Lanky skins are thick and almost impossibly tough—even the old armor-piercing shells from our auto-cannons bounced off half the time—but they’re not impenetrable. It turns out that shooting grenades or fléchettes at a Lanky is mostly pointless. The new ammo is truly evil stuff, saboted subcaliber penetrators that work like hypodermic needles. They hit the Lanky, pierce the skin, release a hundred centiliters of explosive gas, and then ignite the mess. The Lanky on the field in front of the terraformer rolls to one side and lies still, its chest blown out from the inside by a few liters of aerosolized explosive. I’ve never seen what a round like that would do to a human being, and I really hope I never do, because this ammo can take a hundred-ton Lanky down with just a few well-placed hits.
In theory, I remind myself. We’ve tested the new rounds on Lanky corpses, but we haven’t had a chance to use them in combat yet. It’s all conjecture based on dead-meat terminal ballistics, but the gas rounds make an unholy mess out of a dead Lanky, and I have no reason to believe they won’t ruin the day of a live one.
The troops on the roof are still in the middle of their self-congratulatory cheer when I send in the next wave. The cheering ebbs when they hear the thundering footsteps in the fog in the distance. Again, I am cheating a little. When I lived through this scenario in real life over six years ago, the second wave was made up of three more Lankies. We had just a squad then, with fléchette rifles, and no hope of stopping three of those things from tearing up the terraformer. Because these troops are a full platoon with much better rifles, I send in not three, but six more Lankies. Let them have a little challenge.
The squad leaders bellow orders again, and the platoon engages the newcomers. I study the camera feeds and the tactical display as they re-form their line and assign fire teams to individual Lankies, just like they should. Two fire teams per squad, three squads per platoon, four rifles per Lanky, five rounds in each rifle between reloads. I’m having the Lankies cross the distance as fast as we know they can move, a kilometer per minute. That doesn’t leave much room for errors on the part of the platoon. Alerted and ready for trouble, the Lankies advance with their cranial shields in front of them, and they bob and weave as if they are walking into a hailstorm and the platoon unloads on them. Their head shields are too tough for anything man-portable in our arsenal—even armor-piercing MARS rockets will just chip off bits—and most of the rifle rounds expend themselves harmlessly in small puffs of aerosolizing gas.
“Aim for the joints,” Sergeant Fisher yells into his squad channel. The recruits shift their fire, but many of the shots miss the relatively much smaller limb joints of the Lanky bodies.
Not as easy as a static target that doesn’t come charging for you, is it? I think and smile to myself. Every last one of these recruits can pot a target the size of a helmet at five hundred meters with those computerized rifles, but it’s much harder to aim true when you’re scared to death and out of breath
Seems like a good start to a military sci-fi, if I do say so myself. It’s available now, so go ahead and check it out.