Beskrivelse av boka
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 Lumins are beaten, but new tensions are rising.
Tensions are rising between the united Earth government and the legions. Having served faithfully during the war against the Lumins and even chased the alien invaders out of the Solar system, the legionnaires are dismayed when their service is not recognized. Instead, Ethan and the other legionnaires find themselves targeted by the authorities, and their only option is to flee the planet.
The Ghost Legion rallies at the infamous battlegrounds of Titan, along with their allies. But their enemies are coming, and the legionnaires will have to make a decision; Will they make a last stand and fight untill the end, or will they find a way to escape the overwhelming forces that are coming for them?
”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
Ethan started awake. It wasn´t just a dream. He had heard something. He looked around at his old bedroom. Light streamed in through a crack in the curtains, and he squinted against the sunlight. Then he heard it again. A scratching sound somewhere near. He lay back on the pillow and exhaled. He closed his eyes. Once Elsie got back home from the night shift he would ask her if she knew if they had mice, or worse, rats. If so, he could put up some traps and catch the little rascals before they did any more damage. He opened his eyes again and turned his head. Helena was gone. She must have got up sometime during the night. Ethan smiled. That girl knew how to sneak off in style. It was as if he should have done it himself.
There was that sound again, the scratching, and then shuffling. An insistent whisper.
Ethan shot to his feet, naked, and reached for the drawer where he kept his sidearm.
Someone broke open the door, and shoved it aside. Soldiers, no, military police, streamed into the room as Ethan got a hold of his gun.
“Don´t point that thing at us, or we might be tempted to shoot,” a loud voice said. Ethan knew he was outgunned. He carefully put the gun back, and held his hands out so everyone could see them.
“Palms out, on your knees,” another voice said, as two police officers shoved him down. Ethan noticed there was a mix of MP and regular police. Unusual, he thought.
“What the hell is this?” he growled.
“I said palms out,” the officer repeated. Ethan complied.
“Good, he knows how to follow orders. Now, hands behind your back.”
He felt the cold of handcuffs tightening around his wrists, too tightly to be comfortable, and then he was hoisted back on his feet. The officer in charge stood before him, grinning.
“We were warned about you,” he said. “The brass said you´d be a difficult one. They said you were one of those tough guys, the kind that always has to put up a fight. I guess they were wrong.” Then he leaned forward and punched Ethan in the gut. Ethan doubled over and heaved for air.
“Take this piece of shit down to the station. And for God´s sake, put some clothes on him.”
The police station was crowded, with ordinary police, military police and civilians. A cacophony of shouting, screaming, and background noise, with everyone vying for attention, trying to be louder than the others. Two MPs cleared a path through the crowd, while two others shoved Ethan along, with the officer in command coming last. Ethan remembered the chevrons on the man´s shoulders, three of them and some kind of insignia on top, and knew this was some kind of sergeant. Equivalent to decurion or senior decurion. He realized the irony in the fact that he might actually outrank the officer in charge, depending on what kind of sergeant this was. Not that it mattered; MPs held power beyond their rank.
“In here,” one of the MPs said, opening a thick, reinforced door. Inside there was nothing but two chairs and a table. One of the walls was actually a huge black screen, most likely one way, where people could observe from the outside without being seen. Ethan was guided to one of the chairs, and sat down. One of the MPs chained his hands to the chair. Then the MPs left him sitting there alone.
Ethan couldn´t tell how long he sat there. It could have been thirty minutes or it could have been three hours. Either way, he was beginning to get thirsty, and he was angry. He had done nothing wrong, well, nothing illegal at least. So why was he here, and why was he being treated like a criminal? The only thing he could think of was his escape from imprisonment on Mars, but Legate Camus himself had sanctioned that. Could that be it?
The door opened and a woman stepped in. Ethan didn´t know who she was, but she was fine; tall, with just the right amount of fat in just the right places, dyed blonde hair, almost platinum and a walk that said she knew exactly what effect she had on men. The uniform was tight, and seemed to fit better than most uniforms he had seen. Most likely it was one of those new, smart uniforms, which would tighten and expand automatically. Nano suits, he remembered them being called. Not something a grunt like him would get their hands on anytime soon. Then again, what would he need such a thing for? Better to let someone like this lady put it to good use. He almost grinned, and he would have if not for the handcuffs cutting into his wrists. He gave her uniform a closer look. Military, regular forces obviously, but no patches except her rank. Colonel. Wasn´t she a bit young for her rank?
“Ethan Wang,” the woman began as she swiped on her infopad. Even her swiping motion was elegant. “Enlisted in the Ghost Legion, heavy infantry specialist, gained the rank of senior decurion in less than two years, saw action on Titan when…” She looked up at him sharply. “Out of two cohorts, only you and four others survived. Impressive.” The woman pulled out a chair and sat down, still reading from his file. “Distinguished himself in combat on Ceres, again on Mars, thwarted attempted assassination of envoy from Blue Sector Confederacy, declined offer to serve on envoy´s personal bodyguard.” She looked up again and cocked her head slightly.
“Why?” she asked. Ethan shrugged.
“I will need an answer, please,” she insisted.
“I didn´t like the creature, that´s all. Damn stick talked about humans as if we were inferior or something.” That brought forth a smile, which disappeared as fast as it had appeared.
“Then you pulled a real stunt, in order to save a group of criminals. What was the deal there?”
“They were about to be murdered. Look, did any of them go free? Didn´t we deliver them directly into custody at Camp Elysium?” Ethan growled.
“True. And then, when you were held in custody while the matter was being investigated, you escaped.”
“I was released on orders from Legate Camus, the commanding officer of the Ghost Legion. You know as well as I do that the Legion takes care of its own disciplinary matters.”
“And were you… disciplined?”
Ethan had no answer.
“Who are you?” he said instead. “I have a right to know.”
The young colonel laughed.
“No, you don´t. Nevertheless, my name is Colonel Natasha Romanova. I believe that is equal to your… tribune or maybe prefect, isn´t it?”
“I suppose it is.”
Colonel Romanova nodded to a guard, who came over and released the restraints holding Ethan. He rubbed his sore wrists.
“Thank you,” he said.
“So… Senior decurion Wang, will you tell me what you were doing here on Earth?”
“What I was doing? Well, I was visiting my mom, seeing old friends…” Then he added, “hooking up with a beautiful girl,” just to see if he could get a reaction. He didn´t.
“You do know the legions are about to be disbanded, don´t you? Any association with them will be illegal. Any agents working for the legions will be treated as a traitor. Are you such an agent, Ethan Wang?”
“Ma´ am, I have absolutely no idea what you´re talking about,” Ethan replied honestly.
“We shall see,” Colonel Romanova said, and rose from her chair. Ethan admired her butt as she stepped toward the door. Then she turned and he withdrew his eyes. Not quick enough, judging from her chuckle.
“You will be thoroughly questioned, Ethan Wang. I suspect you will resist longer than most though. If you ever find that you wish to talk, just say my name, and I shall see to it that you will be rewarded for your cooperation. I promise you, that´s far better than what my… less sophisticated colleagues can offer.” Then she walked out and closed the door behind her.
As soon as Colonel Romanova left, one of the guards put the chains back on, effectively forcing Ethan to remain seated. The guard pushed a plastic cup with a lid and straw in front of him. It looked like it contained something that resembled strawberry milkshake.
“Drink this. It´s your meal for today. Got everything you need, vitamins and all. You´ll need your strength.”
Ethan bent forward and managed to catch the straw. Then he sucked, and a bland tasting, viscous liquid filled his mouth. He forced it down and grimaced. The guard chuckled as he left the room.
Ethan managed to keep it down. He knew the guard was right, he needed his strength. If they were poisoning him, well, so be it. He just had to take his chances. Besides, nothing he´d seen so far made him believe they wanted him dead. At least, not immediately. No, they wanted him subdued and imprisoned, either because they truly believed he was some kind of agent working against the government or because something else was happening, something way over his pay grade.
Colonel Romanova had mentioned disbanding of the legions. Ethan didn´t think she had lied about that, but it still struck him as a crazy thing to do. Earth needed the legions. The Ghost Legion had taken out the Lumin presence on Titan, and the other legions had, as far as Ethan knew, played an important role in the mopping up of Lumin positions throughout the Solar system. There was no way the regulars could have done it without the legions. Or had the regular forces grown and built up their strength while the legions were used to chase off the Lumins?
Ethan sighed. There was no way he´d learn the truth while sitting here, in what was for all practical purposes a jail cell. He looked around. The room was bare except for the two chairs and the table, to which he was chained. There was a single window, but it looked thick. Probably bulletproof. He looked toward the door, while he yanked at his chains. If only he could get rid of the chains, he might stand a chance against the guards… He yanked one more time, to no avail. He was stuck here, for as long as his captors chose to keep him. There was nothing he could do about it.
Hours passed by, only broken once by the same guard coming to pick up his empty cup.
“Hey, I´d like to make a phone call,” Ethan demanded. The guard just laughed. Ethan figured there still had to be some kind of rules for keeping people imprisoned. The law, though giving the authorities great leeway, would still grant him at least certain rights.
“You can´t keep me here indefinitely. What are you charging me with? I demand to speak to a lawyer.” That last comment made the guard turn.
“You´re funny, real funny,” he said, grinning, before he walked out, slamming the door shut behind him.
Ethan caught raised voices outside, but once the door shut there was only silence. Ethan lowered his head. He had a growing feeling he might end up like the political prisoners he´d met on Mars; denied legal process and kept detained forever.
He tried to think of ways to escape, arguments for his case, ways to stay sane for however long it took. Sooner or later an opportunity to escape would turn up. Sooner or later…
The door opened and a familiar face entered.
“Tribune Tanner!” Ethan exclaimed. The tribune had set him free once before. Could it be he was back to rescue Ethan again? And if so, how was that even possible? On Earth!
“Wang, are you chained?” he asked. Ethan nodded. Someone pushed past the tribune, prodding the guard holding a key. Helena Neuwijnkel smiled at him once their eyes met, before she lowered her eyes.
The guard fumbled with the keys but managed to open the shackles around his wrists, even with shaking hands. Helena pushed him aside, and Ethan rubbed his hands and stood up.
“Sir, I take it we´re leaving Atlanta?” he said. Tribune Tanner nodded, and turned toward the door.
“Optio Samson, are we still okay?” he said. Ethan saw Gavin´s head in the doorway.
“We´re fine, Tribune, but we only have a few minutes before the alarm goes off. The adjunct says he´ll manage to direct the reinforcements to another floor, but we´re talking minutes if not seconds here. Better get going.”
“Alright then.” The tribune gave Helena a nod and she pushed a syringe into the neck of the poor guard, who slumped to the floor.
“Did you just kill him,” Ethan asked incredulously. Breaking out was one thing; killing a guard in the process was quite another.
“Of course not. He´ll just take a nap, just like the ones outside,” Helena replied. “Now come on, we don´t have all day.”
Tanner, Gavin, Helena and Rico Shaw, one of the fresh legionnaires Ethan had commanded on Titan, escorted Ethan out through hallways, elevators and stairs, all the while guided by Adjunct Miles, who apparently sat outside in a car, scanning every movement inside the building and opening locked doors remotely. Not once did they encounter resistance on their way out, and soon they were standing outside in a side alley.
A car backed into the alley, and the doors swung open. A head popped out, and Ethan recognized him instantly, even though he hadn´t seen him in what seemed forever.
“Decurion Schwartz!” he exclaimed.
“Senior Decurion, thank you. You don´t outrank me quite yet, Ethan, though I have no doubt you will one day.” Ethan grinned at his former instructor, and jumped into the car. The others followed and as soon as everyone were inside, Schwartz drove the car out and blended smoothly with the traffic.
Senior Decurion Schwartz had put the car in automatic mode, which would make the car stand out as little as possible, and turned to face Ethan.
“Well, it seems you have a knack for pissing off the wrong people,” he said. Ethan shook his head.
“I don´t think that´s what happened at all.” He noticed Tribune Tanner didn´t say anything, which told him he was on the right track. Then he noticed Adjunct Miles, who sat in the passenger seat beside Schwartz, while keeping his eyes on his infopad, and guessed he was keeping an eye out for pursuers.
“They seemed to believe I was some kind of Legion agent. Mentioned something about the legions being disbanded. Have you heard anything about this?” All eyes turned toward the tribune. Jeremy Tanner would be just the man to know more than anyone else, and from his curt nod this was no exception.
“There is going to be an announcement. All legions will be disbanded, and I have reason to believe your capture was just one of several to be carried out in the coming days. All legionnaires are targets, and if we haven´t learned of your capture from Helena here, we all might have been caught.” Ethan looked over at Helena, who shrugged.
“I just went out to grab some coffee. I´m not a late sleeper, like you…” Ethan blushed, as did Helena. Schwartz chuckled.
“I see,” he said, and gave Ethan a wink. Helena coughed, and continued.
“When I came back I saw there were military police outside the building, so I waited. Then I saw them drag you outside and put you in a car. That´s when I contacted Tribune Tanner, who was on the same flight as me to Earth. He rounded up the team, and we went to work.”
Ethan smiled at her and mouthed a “thank you”.
“There´s a road block near the airport, massive troop concentration,” Adjunct Miles said, and everyone´s heads turned toward him. The adjunct grinned.
“That´s a good thing. Means they think we´re coming there, which we´re not, of course,” he said and nodded toward Tribune Tanner. “Legion Intel has a stealth plane standing by on the far side of town, flown in from its regular hideout in orbit just a few hours ago. The regulars are still one step behind all the way, much like they prefer when it comes to combat.” That comment brought a few chuckles, and Ethan grinned. He remembered the adjunct´s brother, who had died in the first attack on Titan, and he had shown none of the humor his little brother possessed.
As soon as they all were onboard, the stealth plane took off. Take-off was vertical, and a lot smoother and quieter than Ethan was used to.
“A hundred times better; a hundred times as expensive too,” the tribune said, when Ethan mentioned the difference from normal LEO planes. Once the plane reached a certain altitude its rockets kicked in, and brought them quickly to Low Earth Orbit…