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Ghost Legion (Legionnaire Series – Book 1)

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Engelsk
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Legio Patria Nostra (Lat.) The Legion is our Fatherland.

18 years ago they came to destroy us…

A race of conquerors from deep space had set their eyes on Earth´s riches. Their invasion slaughtered billions…
But humanity united under a common leadership and fought back. We chased them off Earth and most of the Solar System.

The war still rages on, and every year young people are sent out to die, far away from Earth.

Ethan Wang was born on the day of the invasion, during the chaos and turmoil of war, and now he´s ready to join the fight. But first he has to become a soldier, and survive his initiation into one of the toughest military units Earth ever mustered, the Ghost Legion.

“Andreas Christensen is a master storyteller!” –SteadyRollingMan, Amazon reviewer

With Ghost Legion, Andreas Christensen kicks off the Legionnaire Series, a military science fiction set in the near future. Suit up, and get ready for a roller coaster ride into space!

Leseutdrag

Eighteen years ago.

 

“Hurry!” the woman cried. “The baby is coming.”

The man swore between his teeth, while sweat ran down his forehead and into his eyes. He swerved just in time to avoid a car that crashed down onto the road in front of them. Then he continued on, slowing down only for a family that raced across the street without looking. He met the eyes of a father and sensed his fear for a moment, before the family ran on. He wiped the sweat away from his face. Onward.

The woman had become quiet, and the man turned halfway to see if she was okay. She looked pale, but she was still breathing. She didn´t say a word, but she was hanging in there. God, he loved her more than ever! If they could only reach the All Saints Hospital, they would take care of them for sure, even in the midst of this.

The car bumped into something, but in the chaos outside, it was impossible to see what it was. He hoped he hadn´t hurt anyone. He stepped on the gas, wishing they had gotten the new car they had been talking about for almost a year now — they needed a safer car for when the baby arrived. But with everything that had to be fixed around the house and all the baby equipment — he had never known babies needed so much stuff — they had put it off. And here they were now, driving an ancient fossil fuel Chevy, when most gas stations were being converted to charging platforms and gas was more expensive than ever.

The hospital should’ve been only be a block away, but traffic ground to a halt. He threw open the door.

“We have to get out of the car,” he said, and stepped out, leaving the keys in the ignition. He opened the back door, and was horrified by what he saw. His wife lay pale and unmoving, eyes staring at nothing and her dress was soaked in blood.

“Oh no…” he mumbled. He shook her. There was no reaction. Then he checked her pulse and breathing. Nothing.

“No, no, no, no,” he said to himself, over and over again. The world was spinning. Suddenly he heard a faint sound. Even in the cacophony of people screaming, shots and explosions, sirens and that wail that came from wherever the … things were, the sound penetrated everything and claimed his attention. He lifted the woman´s blood soaked dress, and saw his new born son for the first time. He carefully lifted the shivering baby and held him up, wrapping his mother´s coat around him. Then, blinking away the tears, he saw the umbilical cord was still intact. He steeled himself. He got the first aid kit he always kept in a pocket beside the driver´s seat and got out a pair of scissors. Then, hands shaking, going by instinct alone, he cut the cord, and tied it off as neatly as his shaking hands managed. He covered up his newborn son again and ran off, away from the car.

He weaved his way through the crowd and debris and a few minutes later, he was standing in front of the All Saints Hospital with his son held tightly to his chest. The doors to the hospital were closed and armed police had taken up hastily assembled positions, protected by sandbags. A large crowd surrounded them, desperate people, some wounded and others just seemingly following the crowd.

“Stay back! We´ll fire if we have to,” one of the officers, a young black female, said.

“I have a baby! Please, help my baby!” he shouted as he approached them. One of the older officers ushered him through and he stepped forward while somebody opened the door ajar from the inside.

Something slammed into him from behind and the father fell. He coughed and the metallic taste of blood filled his mouth. He immediately knew he´d been shot. The world span and lights flashed before his eyes. A nurse with black tussled hair and slanted eyes kneeled in front of him and gently took the baby from his arms.

“Please,” he said, as life ebbed out of him. “Ethan…” The nurse stroked his cheek, and forced a smile.

“Don´t worry, I´ll take care of little Ethan for you.”

 

 

 

Eighteen years later

 

1.

“Please open your books to page 356,” Dr. Lange said. He didn´t wait for his students to comply; everyone always did. Ethan opened his book and realized this wasn´t the part their homework had been about. Typical. Dr. Lange always asked questions outside the curriculum, always tested if they really understood the subject, instead of just memorizing words from a book. He hoped someone else would be asked this time. Yesterday he had made a fool of himself, when they discussed the nature of the Confederacy.

“Julian, what´s the main reason we were able to strike back at the Lumins?” Dr. Lange said. The freckled teenager stood and muttered his response.

“Sir, the Blue Sector Confederacy came to our aid and offered assistance.” The teacher nodded slowly and Julian sat down, obviously relieved.

“Yes, that certainly happened. Anyone else?”

Several hands shoot up and Dr. Lange pointed at a girl — one of the regular back-benchers.

“Ariel, would you enlighten us, please?” The girl with scruffy hair, a mix of blonde and black stripes with purple highlights stood up.

“Well, sir, we kicked their butts in the Battle of the Rockies and then we were able to strike a better deal with the Confederacy. Only once we joined the Confederacy did we really begin to win some.” This time Dr. Lange actually smiled.

“Excellent, Ariel. I don´t know if you actually read this, but you got most of it right. But…” he began pointing his finger at nothing in particular and let it run through the course of students. Ethan knew it was his turn. Lucky twice, but the third…

“Ethan. Why did we win the Battle of the Rockies in the first place?” Dr Lange said as his finger stopped, pointing straight at him. Ethan coughed, searching his mind for possible answers. He knew this! He just couldn´t recall, as long as he had twenty-five pairs of eyes on him. So he opted, as usual, for the easiest way out.

“Sir, we had bigger guns,” he said as loud as he dared. Several of the students laughed softly, and Dr. Lange´s smile vanished.

“You know that´s not true. Young man, if the size of our guns had been the decisive factor, we wouldn´t be sitting here. I should know. I was there.”

The room fell silent.

Dr. Lange shook his head slowly, and sat down on the edge of his desk.

“Kids, the Rockies was a decisive battle, perhaps the decisive battle. But it could have gone either way. The Lumins outgunned us in every way, they were five times as many and they had been virtually unstoppable on every front up until that point. So something was different this time around. Any ideas?”

“We nuked them!” someone offered. Dr. Lange sighed, before he spoke.

“We did, but it wasn´t the decisive factor. At the time, we had already spent far too much of our nuclear arsenal, to no avail. Yes, we nuked them at the Rockies, but we had already done so enough times to render Australia and most of East Asia uninhabitable for decades and to spur this nuclear winter we´re still recovering from.”

“All the nations contributed. Even the Chinese,” another said.

“Yes, now we´re getting somewhere. At last, every nation did what they should have done in the first place; put the needs of the human race before the needs of their nation´s population. So, instead of the Chinese manning their holdouts in Western China, they sent everything they had to fight alongside Americans, British, Europeans, Russians. The Russians and the Chinese cooperated, instead of trading shots over what was left of Siberia. The British went all in, instead of committing half their force to holding the home islands. The European Union accepted American command and the Americans accepted a French general as supreme commander of the alliance.” Dr. Lange stood and walked over to the window. He stood for a few moments and stared out at the late April snow that still covered the ruins of what had been the old skyline of Atlanta. Then he turned around again.

“Ethan. You´re not as stupid as you may think. Now, forget the book. Forget all these smartasses,” he said, indicating the rest of the class. “How come we were able to come together, as humans, instead of Americans, Russians and Chinese. How come Jews and Muslims, Christians and Atheists, blacks and whites, all united in one single purpose, to save the human race from extinction? What was the one single event that made us able to lay aside all these issues that had divided humanity for centuries? For a millennia?”

Ethan stood again and focused on forgetting the whispers and stares. He hated the attention, but he knew this. He knew the answer. It was so obvious, even if it was something taken so for granted that most couldn´t even come up with it to answer such an easy, direct question.

“The Unification,” he said. Dr. Lange nodded somberly.

“The Unification. What we may today, although quietly, refer to as a coup d´etat, where Earth´s governments all fell, one by one, within the space of a month. Sometimes quiet and peaceful, like the European Union. Other places, like here, in a bloodbath. The Unification, followed by the Consolidation, where Earth´s government solidified its position, wiping out the remnants of resistance, the last vestiges of the old world order. Then we could prepare for Lumins. Then we could begin to fight back.”

“And we won!” Ariel exclaimed. Dr. Lange waved her off.

“We won a battle. And we won several more after that, enough to expel the Lumins from Earth and much of the solar system. But make no mistake, they are out there.” He paused and looked at them each and every one, meeting their gaze. Ethan swallowed.

“Kids, don´t you for a second think the war is over. They are out there, plotting, scheming, waiting for us to grow soft or for them to find a weak spot. And one day they will return.”

 

 

 

2.

They burst out of the double doors, like wild horses finally able to run freely. It was Friday afternoon and they had a whole weekend of freedom before them, which the seniors of Captain Groves High School were eager to put the time to good use. Ethan let a pack of them pass him by as he walked out. He didn´t have far to go, just a couple of blocks, and it wasn´t like anyone would be standing on the curb waiting to pick him up anyway. He saw Ariel running off to meet her mother in her shiny new car. Most people couldn´t afford new cars, but Ariel´s parents were wealthy, at least by new Atlanta standards. Julian was hopping into the car with her, since they lived next door, in the affluent Highlands Park district. Ethan turned away and began walking. His home lay in the Spoke Corner district, home to teachers, nurses and accountants; a middle class neighborhood where one was expected to do well in school, do sports and get a good, steady job that could support a family.

His home, a three bedroom apartment with enough space to not feel crowded, was on the second floor, and he took the stairs, two steps at a time. He opened the door and hung his bag on one peg and his jacket on another.

“Ethan,” his mother said, “shoes.” He stopped and kicked off his shoes. Then he put them together in a corner, before he stepped into the kitchen.

Elsie Wang wasn´t his biological mother, of course. Her half Chinese looks and his blond hair and blue eyes would have given that one away instantly. His parents had died in the war and Elsie had taken care of him after promising his dying father that she would. Later, when the Lumins were chased off and a degree of normalcy returned, she had adopted him properly, and she had always been open about his origins. He loved her just as much anyway.

Ethan often wondered what his biological parents had been like. Elsie had told him everything she knew, although it wasn´t much. She had never met his mother, but she had learned that she had given birth to him in a car during the first day of the invasion. His father had carried the new born boy to the nearest hospital, only to be killed by a stray bullet before they were able to get inside.

Elsie always said his father must have loved him a lot, to get him to safety, and that he had used his last breath to say his son´s name. Ethan never learned the names of his biological parents, but it didn´t matter. Elsie had cared for him through almost eighteen years, and he was happy to be a Wang.

“What´s for dinner, Mom?” he asked. Elsie pointed to the oven and Ethan looked inside.

“Mmm, lasagna! My favorite.”

“I know. I´ll just fix us some salad. Could you take out the trash and wash your hands afterwards? We´re eating as soon as you´re done,” she said. And when Ethan went to get the trash, in the corner of his eye, he saw her following him with her eyes. He took the bag and stopped.

“What´s up? That look.” Elsie just smiled back at him.

“Nothing. Ethan, just go get ready and we´ll talk over dinner.”

Ethan shrugged, and walked out.

An hour later, he sat back and patted his belly.

“I´m stuffed,” he said. “That´s got to be the best meal I´ve had in weeks.” His mother smiled, that half-smile she had when there was something she hesitated to say, or she wasn´t sure how to begin.

“Ethan,” she began. “There is something I have to tell you.” Ethan leaned forward. Something about the way she spoke made him suddenly fear the worst. Was she sick?

“I received a letter today, from Freemont,” she said. Ethan knew he didn´t have the grades to get into the top universities once he graduated, but Freemont was a decent local college and most kids from Captain Groves who weren´t in the top ten percent on their ACT ended up there.

“It was addressed to me since you´re still underage. Ethan, they won´t take you.” She paused, letting the message sink in. Ethan shook his head.

“There must be some mistake. I´m not that bad, seriously. Hell, even Julian´s sister got in two years ago, and all she did was chase boys and smoke weed.”

“Language, Ethan!” Elsie admonished. “Look, plenty of kids have to serve instead. Not everyone can go to college, you know. I hoped you wouldn´t have to…”

Ethan nodded slowly. He hadn´t been sure of what he wanted to become, only that he wanted to get an education. He had looked forward to it.

“I know the military sometimes pay for education after service. Or even while serving, depending on what degree you pursue,” he said. “Carl Perkins got his robotics degree that way. And Jenna Marks is studying to become a doctor — the military pays her way. I´m going to check it out on Monday.”

Elsie got up and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“That´s one good thing about you, Ethan, you always seem find the solutions. You never let anything stop you dead in your tracks. I think you got that from your father.” Then she walked off with remains of the lasagna, leaving him to clear the rest of the table.

 

 

 

3.

The Recruitment Office wasn´t an office at all — rather, it was a huge concrete compound set on the far side of town, right next to the Veteran´s Wall, the memorial where the names of soldiers from Atlanta who died fighting the Lumins were engraved. As Ethan walked along the Wall, he noticed there were a few more inscriptions than the last time he had seen it. Every year, more men and women serving died out there on the fringes of Earth´s sphere of influence, or in raids on the smaller colonies. Many of them were just kids, fresh out of high school, their futures snatched away from them, like candle lights flickering out by a sudden gust of wind. He shuddered.

“Ethan, I didn´t expect you to be here,” said a familiar voice behind him. He turned and saw Ariel and Julian from school. He grinned.

“I didn´t expect to see you guys here either. Julian, didn´t you ace your ACT?”

“Yup. But I´m going anyway.” He said.

“I can´t wait to get out of Highlands Park”, Ariel said. “I swear it´s got to be the dullest place on Earth.” Ethan looked at Julian and heaved his eyebrows slightly.

“What´s your excuse?”…

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