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Legion Rising (Legionnaire Series, Book 2)

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Engelsk
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Accolades for the Legionnaire Series:

“Knocked it out of the park.” Trapper
“What do you get if you mix Starship Troopers and the French Foreign Legion? You get a book like this.” Leif E. Dolan

The war continues.

Ethan Wang was born on the first day of the alien invasion. Now he has become a legionnaire, one of just a handful to survive the battle that devastated the Ghost Legion.

Having licked its wounds and recovered, the Legion is now preparing to chase the invaders out of the Solar System, once and for all.

Ethan and the rest of the legionnaires must fight all the way. They are well trained and ready to take the fight to the enemy. But one thing they all begin to realize is that not all of them will make it through alive.

The alien invasion brought humanity together against a common foe – or so it seems. But there are more than immediately meets the eye, and while Ethan firmly believes the enemy must be overcome, he begins to wonder if he´s being used as a pawn in another fight. A fight to control the destiny of the human race.

”For a long time, there was Heinlein, Drake, Weber, and some of Ringo’s stuff. Add Andreas Christensen.” James R. Kratzer
“Andreas keeps getting better and better with each book he writes!” Traci Maynard

Leseutdrag

1.

Ethan enjoyed staying at home with his mother. Elsie doted on him, cleaning his clothes, and cooking for him whatever he´d like. Every time he met her eyes, she smiled. Yes, it was obvious she enjoyed having him around as well. After almost a year gone it felt good to be home, although as soon as he set foot outside the apartment it just didn´t feel quite like home anymore. He´d met up with some of his old friends, but they seemed so different now, and even the streets of his old neighborhood looked different. The same, but different too.

He didn´t know how long he had before the Legion recalled him, so he tried to spend each day as if it was the last day before leaving. One day, as he walked by Captain Groves High School, a familiar voice called his name. He turned and saw Dr. Lange, his old history teacher. Ethan waited as the older man walked up to him.

“So, Ethan, I hear you´re a military man now. I´m proud of you, son,” Dr. Lange said, and gave him an approving look. A veteran of the Lumin War himself, the teacher had always spoken warmly of things like honor, duty, and the obligation to serve humanity. Although he might have certain ideas that weren´t altogether sanctioned by the authorities, like calling the Unification a coup, the old man commanded respect and got away with speaking more freely than most would have.

“Tell me, in which branch do you serve?”

“Sir, I… I was rejected by the Defense Forces. In fact, we all were. Seems someone had other plans for us. I serve in the Ghost Legion now.” Ethan was surprised at how difficult he found it to tell his old teacher that he´d been rejected by every service from Toilet Cleaners to the Aerospace Corps, but even more surprising was the pride that filled his chest when he told him he was a legionnaire.

“The Ghost Legion… Can´t say I´ve heard of them. Is it a new outfit?” Dr. Lange asked. Ethan nodded.

“Formed up by veterans after the war, it´s sort of a semi-official unit,” he replied.

“Hmm.” The teacher squinted. “Is it any good?”

Ethan puffed out his chest.

“The best, Sir. The very best.”

The teacher didn´t reply, he just smiled at him.

“Well, I guess you won´t be coming in anytime soon to get your high school diploma in order then.” Ethan shook his head.

“No sir. I still have more than four years left of my contract. And who knows, many legionnaires choose to stay on, making a career out of it.”

“Well, I wish you all the best, Ethan. By the way, do you know where Ariel and Julian ended up? You guys left the same day, didn´t you?”

Ethan smiled then, thinking of how they had skipped the last few weeks of high school, and how green they´d all been when they set foot inside the Recruitment Office.

“Well sir, actually, we´re all legionnaires now. Me and Ariel, we´re heavy infantry, and Julian´s a tech specialist. We went through much of our basic training together.”

“I see. Well, I´m glad you´re all okay.” The older man extended his hand and gave Ethan a firm grip, holding his hand for a few seconds before letting go.

“Ethan, just remember what you´re fighting for. Never forget that.” Ethan smiled long after his old teacher had gone. He remembered when the recruiter, Senior Decurion Ford was his name, had taken the three friends to where they departed for basic training. Curiously, he´d said something similar. Ethan wondered if it was just coincidence, or if it was something to do with fighting that over the years changed you, that made you forget what you fought for, and begin to live for the fight itself. He shook his head. Only time would tell. He didn´t feel like he´d ever forget his purpose. Looking around, breathing the crisp air of a city that was seeing signs of true spring returning after years of extremely short growth seasons and cold summers due to the after effects of the destruction of the Lumin War, he marveled at the beauty of small things. Kids playing, people talking and laughing, a ray of light shining through the cloudy overcast. He vowed to himself that he´d remember, no matter what happened out there in the cold vastness of Space.

 

 

2

The text had told him to be at the Boatman, a joint just outside Spoke Corners, in an hour. Ariel hadn´t said anything more, except that she and Julian were already well into their third beer, and he´d have to catch up. It was a couple of weeks since he´d seen them, and he was beginning to tire of watching mindless TV in the evening or playing shootem up games in his room. His old friends seemed increasingly distant, living lives that were so different from his that it was beginning to get hard to find mutual topics of conversation. Ethan figured getting together with a few fellow legionnaires was just what he needed.

Walking took him half an hour, and he enjoyed the evening quiet of the streets. He entered through the main door, and found the room filled with a symphonic heavy metal variety he hadn´t heard in a while. The bar was just what he´d expected; dimmed lights, loud music and a mixed crowd of military and locals.

He caught Ariel waving at him, shouting something he couldn´t hear. He walked over and saw the table was filled with a couple of military types he didn´t recognize, a small group of locals in fancy clothes; friends of Ariel and Julian from Highland Parks, most likely. Julian scooted over to give him room, and Ethan sat down.

“Here, take this one,” he said, handing Ethan a draft beer. Ethan took a swig and swallowed the chilled brew.

“Ahh, just what I needed. Thanks!”

They sat for an hour, trading stories and discussing tactics and weapons and ammo and whether nuclear shelling or conventional smart bombs would have been more effective against the Lumins at Titan. The locals disappeared after a while, probably bored with all the military talk, which suited Ethan just fine. He was increasingly feeling the itch to return to duty. He enjoyed the time off, and to be home for a while, but he found that he didn´t quite fit in anymore. Spending time with other legionnaires made the feeling disappear instantly, and he enjoyed their company.

“I met Dr. Lange the other day,” Ethan told the others. Then he told them about his meeting with their old teacher, and how strange it felt to meet this person that they´d all seen as a step above them. Everything had changed now that they were combat veterans as well, having survived Titan. Ariel suddenly nodded toward the door, and stood up. Ethan turned and saw a legionnaire by the door, scanning the crowd. As soon as the man saw them, he strode across the room straight toward them. Ethan noticed the black D on his lapel, and stood at attention.

“Optios Wang, Chambers, and Brooke, I figured I´d find you here,” the decurion said. “You have new orders.” He handed them each a piece of sealed paper. Ethan ripped off the seal and opened it. The decurion spoke again.

“The Legion is mustering all off-duty personnel. You are to make your way to the nearest spaceport and report for duty no later than 12 hours from now.”

“That´s not a lot of time…” Julian said, frowning.

“It´s not. So I suggest you all get moving.”

“Yes sir.”

The decurion left, probably on his way to the next watering hole to pick up more legionnaires.

“Well guys, that sort of ruined the evening,” Ariel said. Julian grinned back at her.

“I guess it did… On the other hand, I think I´m just about ready to get out of here.” Ethan didn´t say anything. He felt ready as well, but guilty because he did. He knew Elsie would be heartbroken again, and he didn´t look forward to it. There would definitely be tears tonight. He took one last swig from his beer before saying goodbye to the others. Then he stepped out and began walking home.

 

3

The spaceport was crowded as ever, and Ethan, Ariel and Julian pushed their way through toward gate 38, where their LEO plane would be waiting. As soon as they saw the gate, Ethan noticed a redheaded legionnaire standing with her back toward them, talking to a group of others. His heart beat faster and he felt a familiar tingle, and at the same time he dreaded meeting this particular redhead. He had hoped to see Malika once he returned to Earth, but she was apparently still stationed at Mars. Instead here was the other woman in his life, Eileen. Remembering their passionate encounters during basic training made him flush.

The first to notice their approach, however, was another familiar face.

“Hey guys! Long time!” Antonio Avila, the Brazilian navy veteran become legionnaire smiled at them. After basic he´d been sent off to cavalry training, as had Eileen. He was wearing the big O signifying his new rank of Optio.

“So, they´re mixing heavy infantry and cavalry for this one,” Ariel said.

“Well, I think it´s more like mixing all kinds. We´re supposed to be the experienced troops by now,” Antonio replied, indicating a group of legionnaires that had to be completely green. Like basic training green.

“Seriously?” Ethan said and trailed off. Antonio nodded, and filled them in on the latest news.

“The entire Legion is being reorganized. With the fresh meat we´ll be ten full cohorts like before, but instead of being specialized like before, they will all be a mix of light and heavy infantry, cavalry, artillery and all kinds of auxiliaries. I guess Titan revealed that the old organization didn´t work as well as it should have. I don´t think they´re done yet though.”

“Yeah, Titan was…” Ariel never finished. No one spoke for a moment and Antonio´s eyes grew wide.

“What, you were there?” He exclaimed. Ethan and the others kept silent. Ariel´s face grew red; she obviously knew she had slipped.

“But, I thought no one survived… That the Lumins wiped out two full cohorts…” That was the official story, the one relayed through the official channels.

“Well, we survived.” Ariel said in a low voice.

“A handful of us survived, that´s all we can tell you,” Ethan filled in, “and yeah, it was hell. Now, please, it´s all classified, so if you wouldn´t mind…”

Eileen, up until now quiet and distant, threw her arms around him, and hugged him tightly.

“We never knew… I´m glad you made it,” she said as she loosed her grip on him. Ethan sighed.

“Too many good men and women died that day. I´m just hoping they´ll let us pay the Lumins back, one way or another.”

They continued catching up for a while, until the time came to board the LEO plane. Ethan found a seat, and Eileen quickly found one next to him, snuggling up to him.

“Maybe we´ll find some time to ourselves, once we get wherever we´re going,” she whispered huskily into his ear. Ethan considered telling her about Malika, since she obviously didn´t know, but he just couldn´t find the words. Besides, who knew if Malika was even interested anymore. Not to mention the fact that they might be going into combat anytime. And besides, Eileen could be very persuasive.

The LEO plane took them straight to the edge of the atmosphere, shaking and shuddering all the way except for a few short minutes of weightlessness. It was all familiar to Ethan now, but as he craned over to see behind him, he saw Ariel, mouth tight and face white. How curious, that his friend, one of the bravest people he´d ever known, was so uncomfortable with flying.

Soon they were approaching the runway of another spaceport. They still didn´t know where they were, but as soon as the hatch opened Ethan felt the hot, humid air of the tropics. He looked around. It was a different place from the one where he´d flown the last time around. He could see the ocean to the west and south, while jungle covered the east and north, except for a few large buildings that were obviously part of the spaceport itself. A senior decurion stepped up to them.

“Listen up. You won´t be staying here for long, so I want you to remain in the closest building, or just outside it if you want. Your shuttle should arrive within the hour, and your departure is scheduled in three hours. As there are no officers present I want all NCOs to report to me if there´s anything you need, or if you have any questions.”

They settled in and Ethan kept wondering where they would be sent next. But no matter where they ended up, it couldn´t be worse than Titan.

 

 

4

Less than three hours later they were in the air again, this time pushing upward fast. Ethan felt like he was permanently stuck into his seat, and could barely move his arms. He slowly moved his head to the side. Eileen had grabbed a seat next to him once more, and smiled as their eyes met.

“Shit, I hate this part,” he forced out. Eileen just stared back at him, but she didn´t say anything. She looked as white as he felt. Even her flirtation had ceased, which Ethan thought spoke volumes.

Then, a few minutes later, they exited Earth´s gravity well, and everything became easier, even breathing. The shuttle had an artificial gravity engine, but it only produced about fifty percent of Earth gravity, enough to feel familiar, but not enough to emulate what they were used to. Ethan was happy enough though.

Half an hour of Eileen´s flirting later they docked with the starship.

The Excelsior was big enough to hold three full cohorts, but from what they had been told only one would occupy it. As soon as they entered through the airlock, they were led to a great staging area, and assigned to groups. Julian, a tech specialist, was singled out and left with another group, while the rest remained together. A huge screen showed a Tribune, a dark woman of perhaps fifty, with a stern look on her scarred face, wearing a simple olive legionnaire uniform. Contrary to the few higher ranking officers Ethan had seen before, she wore no distinctions other than her rank. She looked like a seasoned officer though; she just didn´t flaunt it.

“Legionnaires!” She said, her loud voice amplified and echoing through the hold.

“You are to form the First Cohort of the Ghost Legion. I am your commander, Tribune Falck, and I expect nothing but the best from you.” She paused as she looked out at the troops assembled before her.

“Now, you will be assigned to your units in a minute. Your orders will appear on your wrist pads, and you are to proceed and report to your units immediately. Training will commence shortly.” She paused again.

“She looks like a tough one,” Ariel whispered. Ethan couldn´t agree more. He only hoped she was also smart, and that her subordinate officers were of the same quality.

“Our mission is to secure our mining operation on a rock called Ceres. Located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, this is an important source of certain minerals, vital to our weapons manufacturing and, as such, a vital part of the war against the Lumins. The Lumins have established a foothold on the far side of the asteroid, but so far the mining operation has managed to continue, because of the heroic effort of the local defense force. However, intel informs us that an attack is imminent and that reinforcements may arrive at the enemy´s base at any time. Our mission then, is two-fold. First, we are to secure the running operation of the mining facility, and make sure the enemy doesn´t overrun it. Second, once we have a good defensive position, we are to take the initiative, and force the enemy to withdraw. If they don´t, our final objective is to eliminate their presence. That means we´ll slaughter them all.” That last part was followed by a grin that told Ethan everything he needed to know about what his commander really wanted.

His wrist pad buzzed and he looked down. Beside him every legionnaire did the same. He parted from his friends and quickly made his way to the assigned area, where he presented himself to a centurion.

“Sir, Optio Wang reporting for duty.” The centurion, a gray bearded man with ice blue eyes looked him up and down.

“Optio Wang, yes… Centurion Farrow here. I read your file. You´re one of the survivors from Titan. Good, now report to Decurion Carr over there for further details.”…

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