After almost a century of peaceful exploration and colonization of space, the United Earth Space Force stumbles across a shockingly xenophobic alien race that has more and better armed ships and refuses all attempts at contact. As the outgunned Space Force is driven back in battle after battle in what appears to be a war of extermination, one officer experiences precognitive visions that help him blunt the enemy onslaught but he can't control or predict when they occur.
With the Senior Brass convinced that he's a tactical genius, he's given more and more responsibility and is terrified by the belief that Humanity's Fate will be determined by a battle with himself in overall command. This is Volume 1 of a military SF series about desperate space battles and the men, women and Artificial Intelligences, who fight and die in them. The paperback version is now also available.
The tactical situation was not good. SFE144 was heading away from the main body of the Task Force as were Jessica Cabrera’s 051, Raphael Dejanus’ 077, and Hiram LaRoche’s 153. Mbutu’s 098 and Bettencourt’s 102 squadrons were still close enough to the tanker squadron that they could be considered part of the main body of ships. Shiloh could tell that when ships from those two squadrons started actively scanning, a cluster of red triangles appeared at the Task Force’s 8 o’clock position at a surprisingly close range! Shiloh counted the red triangles. Twenty-eight! The hair on the back of his neck stood up. How did 28 enemy ships get this close this quickly? Something wasn’t right. He tried to find out where the Command Ship was in the cluster of green hexagons that represented friendly ships. The Command Ship’s hexagon should have been a brighter green. Shiloh couldn’t find it and suddenly realized that the reason he couldn’t find it was because it wasn’t there! He also realized that some of his squadron’s COs were trying to talk to him.
“144 ships standby! I’m going to try to reestablish communications with the Task Force Leader!” Turning to the Comm Tech, he said. “See if you can raise the Valley Forge again!” While he was waiting for the results of that effort, Chenko rushed onto the Bridge. Shiloh saw her, nodded and pointed to the Helm Station saying.
“XO, take the Con. Lt. Verlander, the XO will be conning the ship from your station! Remain on the Bridge in case I need you! I’ll retain squadron command!” Turning back to the Comm Tech, he said. “Any word from Task Force Leader?” The answer surprised him.
“Sir! I have Yellowjacket’s CO on the line.” Shiloh nodded to him and heard the com channel switch over to a static filled line.
“Shiloh! Valley Forge has been shot to pieces! We were close enough to see it visually on our screens! Who’s in command of the Task Force now?” Shiloh thought fast.
“It’s Mbutu! Does he know about Yakamura?”
“Don’t know! Hanson! Contact Mbutu’s frigate. Notify him that Yakamura’s gone and he’s in command now! Victor, you still there?” Shiloh nodded even though Frank Rolen couldn’t see him.
“Yes, Frank. I’m still here. My squadron is still shaking down to Battle Stations! What’s your squadron’s status?”
“Not good. Dragonfly’s lost all power! Firefly’s not maneuvering anymore either and we can’t raise her! My ship’s suffered a glancing hit! We’re losing fuel and atmosphere but we’re still underway! I want to jump my ships outta here but I also don’t want to jump the gun if Yaka…Mbutu has other plans! Jesus, Victor, where did these bastards come from?”
“I don’t know, Frank, but you can’t afford to wait for Mbutu to give you permission to jump. If your tankers are taken out, NONE of us will get back home!