Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse


Disclaimer – Everything either does belong to Joss or it should. I’m just borrowing his shiny ‘verse for a while.

The 21st Lancers belong to the British Army so I’m borrowing them too. I hope they don’t mind.

* * *

“War is the realm of the unexpected”

B.H. Liddell-Hart 1895 - 1970 ( Soldier and Military Historian)

* * *

Sihnon Defence Fleet – Sihnon Sector – 2522AD

Commodore Shichang of the Alliance Navy watched in horror and astonishment as the leading ships of the units under his command suddenly found themselves directly in the path of a time-on-target railgun bombardment that must have been fired several minutes earlier at a point where they would intersect his chosen rally point. At least two dozen Major Exospheric Combatants of Frigate size and above, including seventeen of his larger Missile and Particle-Beam Destroyers which had been leading the Fleet in, had been pounded to scrap without the opportunity to fire back so much as a single shot.

The problem was how in the nine hells could the invading ships know where the squadron was going to be at that time?

The only rational explanation was that the enemy could intercept and decrypt the latest Navy Codes which he had been using to order his small flotilla. So much for Military Intelligence and their vaunted quantum cryptography he thought gnashing his teeth before informing the Fleet that radio communications were compromised and that all future orders would be by line-of-sight laser array.

It wasn’t as convenient as a method of communication as his flagship, the Heavy Destroyer Harbin, could only signal perhaps five vessels at a time by laser as opposed to all of them simultaneously by radio but it was totally secure because only the ship actually being signalled could receive the message.

The second time-on-target railgun barrage that took out three more destroyers and eight Frigates just before they entered effective Directed-Energy-Weapons range was therefore a real shocker. Once again the invader had somehow known where the ships were heading and had arranged for the destination to be intersected by hypervelocity metal at just the right moment.

Practically screaming in rage the Commodore bought his fist smacking down into his palm. There might be a traitor aboard one of the ships who was advising the enemy of his orders Shichang theorised. The problem was it could be any of them, possibly on even more than one of them.

It was going to be messy and uncoordinated, with higher losses than would be taken if the Fleet was able to undertake a unified attack, he knew but the Defence Fleet still had marked numerical superiority over the approaching vessels and the best option in the circumstances was to give each Captain individual responsibility for his own command and let each of them engage as they saw fit.

‘All units to engage at will. Fire as your guns bare’ Shichang ordered returning to using the radio. ‘Remember that these do appear to be the same classes of ship the Navy met in combat ten years ago which means both their armament and fire-control are inferior to our own, so maintain your distance and do not close to where they can hit back at you more effectively’ he ordered.

Now we’ll see the Alliance Commodore thought ordering the Harbin’s own Captain to engage the closest enemy ship.

Shichang regretted bitterly not having any Capital Ships under his command but at any one time the vast majority of the Navy’s Cruisers were deployed out on the Rim in order to keep the damn Independents in line or else they were around the putatively less defended worlds of the Core. The current situation had simply not been planned for the AODI network should have made short work of any attack but somehow something had slipped through the net and sucker-punched what should have been the most secure Defence Cordon in the Alliance.

There actually were three Cruisers in orbit around Sihnon at the present time. One was combat-ineffective because it’s crew were down on the planet on U-Day leave and it would be many hours until they could all be rounded and sobered up, and the other two were still being completed at the Sihnon Naval Shipyard.

Even the Sihnon home fleet itself was badly under-strength, what with the big annual Parade through the City of Light. The only reason Shichang was in charge of what ships there were, was because the usual Fleet Commander (Sihnon), Admiral Hannay, was down there too in order to attend an Inter-Service Officers Ball due that evening.

We were definitely caught with our pants down Shichang thought as the Harbin moved to intercept the self-declared Independent Navy Taskforce (the arrogant Browncoat bastards had offered Shichang surrender terms just after the first barrage which he had of course rejected with a few coarse phrases in both English and Mandarin), but we’ll see the whole lot of them floating dead in vacuum or hanging from a rope by midnight he vowed.

* * *

Task Force Rubicon – Sihnon Sector – 2522AD

River continued to read the Alliance Admirals mind. He was quite bright and a more than adequate commander but he was way of his league here and she intended to prove it.

It was slightly inconvenient that he was no longer personally giving all orders, it was much easier just to eavesdrop in on one mans mind than several, and the telepath just knew she was going to have a killer of a headache before this was over, but his order to the Alliance Ships not to press the attack was extremely fortunate even if it was a good tactical decision from where Shichang stood.

During the war it had been the case that Alliance Warships had typically mounted more powerful Directed-Energy-Weaponry, and in particular more high-tech and effective fire-control but the gap had not only narrowed, in fact in some ways it went the other way this time.

All of the ships of Taskforce Rubicon had had their weapons upgraded with back-engineered technology and parts from not only one of the latest model Unification Class Cruisers, specifically the IAV Pen Lung which the Charybdis had smashed, but they also had a few new systems based upon technology and ideas from the AI-X Series which were well beyond anything the Alliance Navy was fielding yet. Of course taken as a whole the ships of Taskforce Omega were still predominantly the same vessels they had ever been but they had sharper claws and keener eyes, not to mention much tougher skin.

Underneath the ordinary looking paint covering their hulls the Destroyers and Frigates of Rubicon had a layer of the high-temperature heat-superconductor which had graced the AI-X ships and which gave them the ability to absorb far greater energies of incoming Laser fire than convention hull armour, or even some of the advanced ceramics used in the best Alliance Warships. When a beam struck the armour the heat would be conducted away from the point of impact dramatically increasing the time needed to burn through the hull and allowing the ship receiving the fire to either retaliate or manoeuvre the ship so the effected area was no longer in sight of the weapon.

The Alliance Ships moved into range and began firing. Invisible and silent in the vacuum of space, beams of coherent light that could cut through steel plate with ease fell upon the outnumbered warships of Rubicon which began to change formation.

Much to the surprise of the closest Alliance Warships they weren’t manoeuvring to escape. They were moving to concentrate their lasers and particle-beams on no more than two incoming ships at a time and they proceeded not only to fire back at the Alliance, they were actually firing more powerful Directed-Energy-Weapons of their own with equal accuracy to what the Sihnon defenders could manage.

The first four Alliance ships were soon neutralised and the Independents, operating directly under the command of River Tam engaged four more. The Alliance ships were arriving in larger groups now and sought to retaliate in kind by themselves singling out individual enemy ships for massed fire. The only problem was the Independent Ships under fire just weren’t exploding like they should do, and instead as soon as one had been under fire for a while it simply moved behind another ship which absorbed the Lasers for a while itself until it took its turn hiding behind another ship.

If you could have filmed it from the right distance you could have put the entire thing to music. The warships of Taskforce Rubicon were moving as if they were simply parts of the whole, dancers in the black. They all had a part to play in the dance and they moved beautifully.

Squadrons of Alliance ships tried to coordinate themselves in small groups but every time they did the outnumbered Independent craft were already moving to counter, all the time still targeting two ships at a time overwhelming them with concentrated fire until they exploded or a lucky hit neutralised them.

Three different Alliance Captains individually tried to play possum and pretend they were crippled waiting for a clear shot. As soon as they stopped moving the Browncoats always somehow knew it was a fake out and just used the opportunity for a cheap mass-driver kill shattering their hulls.

And the Rubicon ships still stubbornly refused to explode like they should have been, though on Infra-Red several of them glowed like the sun and the only reason the crews inside weren’t being cooked was that they were all wearing EVA suits.

Whilst the Alliance ships still kept dying two by two.

Two by two again, and again and again.

And the numbers of ships were soon starting to even up.

By the time the IAV Harbin was destroyed Rubicon outnumbered its foe and still they methodically, clinically singled out two ships, shot them to pieces and singled out two more.

A few Alliance ships tried to close up and volley missiles. Somehow again the Independents knew this was happening and each time the missiles were shot down by small calibre anti-missile guns firing proximity fused shells that were somehow pre-targeted at the space the missiles were about to come through. The ships that fired the missiles were then invariably amongst the next two that were about to feel the Task Force’s fury.

Several of Rubicon’s ships were eventually forced to disengage and move off, so hot they were unable to take any more fire for risk of catastrophic systems failure, but by then the Independent Fleet was already triumphant with the remaining Alliance Ships either making a heroic last stand, abandoning ship or simply running for their lives unable to understand how they could have been defeated so easily and for so little cost.

It wasn’t a fair fight. It was never intended to be a fair fight it was simply a result of two revolutions in military affairs coming together on the same day, ConductorClad’s and Telepaths.

Warfare would never be the same again the crews of the Rubicon ships knew as they received orders to peel off into newly assigned squadrons and take out their assigned targets the orbiting factories, shipyards and remaining communications satellites of Sihnon. Already the AI was signalling, with a allusion to “matricide”, that it had effortlessly destroyed the unarmed civilian space-dock where it had been built and was asking to be assigned new targets. Many of Rubicon’s human crews had already had their fill of death today and stomachs turned at the prospect of more but Shadow was made of sterner stuff.

‘Butchery’ Major Brown commented ‘pure butchery’ he continued looking at the scene from the Corvette that was River’s Flagship. ‘Sort of bothers my aesthetic sense too’ he claimed. ‘Their ships are so much prettier than ours, all sleek and shiny looking, even the boats that aren’t intended to break atmo are streamlined to some extent. I suppose that’s the result of a design ethos based as much on style as substance. We never had the resources for anything but the substance’ Brown stated.

The fighting drawing to a close her “programming”, the change in thinking and behaviour bought on by combat, was wearing off and River was trying not to cry. She had to try, not so much because she cared about looking weak but because if she did start with the tears the Intelligence Officer, her superior, would insist on sticking her with a syringe full of mood stabilisers in case she was about to go nuts.

Enough people have felt steel today River thought as the Corvette accelerated past the Railgun broken hulk of an Alliance Destroyer. It didn’t look particularly sleek and shiny any more.

* * *

Independent Army Rangers Team “Valley Wolves” – Toulouse – 2522AD

With Serenity lifting off behind them heading for a safer place to be Mal Reynolds ordered Zoe to reconnoitre the ground and set up the heavy weapons whilst he had a word with the folks in the farmhouse over yonder. It just wasn’t going to be a healthy place to be when the Alliance Regiment twenty miles north came rolling down this road to the Capital.

This point marked the only bridge across the river for ten miles in either direction. It was by far the best choke-point to meet the enemy Regiment that would be coming this way once they got their heads screwed on straight. How long that might take was anybody’s guess but Colonel Taylor and his Marines were certainly going to make things very hot for the Federal Garrison based outside the city and they’d surely be hollering for help from their friends.

‘Keppler’ Mal called back. ‘I expect that bridge to blow sky-high when the first APC goes over it.’

‘No problem Sarge’ the demolitions expert replied. He was already sizing up the structure with a professional eye. A few kilos of Plastique in the right places and the entire thing would fall into the river below.

Mal reached the farmhouse which was just offset from the gravelled road, with its fields on either side of the thoroughfare. Mostly grapes it looked like, wine was a major export item from Toulouse so that weren’t surprising but there were other food crops too and what looked like a big chickenhouse over yonder.

The door opened just as he got there and Mal found himself facing a man in work clothes maybe pushing sixty. He only opened the door half way so you could only see one hand and half his body. Most likely had a shotgun, or maybe a pistol, in the other hand Mal considered.

The man started off in French which soon changed to English when he realised from Reynolds expression he didn’t have a clue what was being said to him.

‘Who are you what are you doing here?’ the farmer demanded to know. ‘Why are those people trespassing on my land?’ he said pointing with his visible hand at several of the Rangers who were looking the area over.

‘Begging your pardon please Sir’ Mal began politely. ‘My name’s Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds and I’m with the Independent Army Rangers. We’ve just been set up’ he explained. ‘You won’t likely have heard this yet but the wars back on and I’m afraid a whole heap of Alliance Troops are going to be heading this way’ Mal told the farmer. ‘My men and I are ordered to delay the advance some until the Capital City is secure and our side can mount a solid defence.’

To be honest Mal didn’t expect the farmer to believe him and he didn’t, even when handed one of the thousands of leaflets that was going to be airdropped over the planets urban centres any time now. To be fair it was a hell of a story to be taken on little more than face value.

‘If you’d like to talk to any of my other people or have a look at our gear you’re welcome to do so’ Mal offered. ‘We’ve got equipment that you can’t get your hands on lessen you are military.’

The farmer narrowed his eyes. ‘You lead on’ he said in one of the stronger Toulouse accents Reynolds had heard. It was often the way with country folk who had less contact with off-worlders.

Mal walked back towards Zoe and his troops with the Farmer a few paces behind. Half turning back to get a look Reynolds was slightly surprised to see a military rifle in the Farmers hands rather than a civilian weapon.

Zoe had her own rifle half raised as did a number of the other Rangers seeing their Sergeant with a gun on him.

‘That’s far enough’ the farmer said and cast his eyes around the group, ‘that’s a Brimstone’ he said in surprise. ‘Ain’t seen one of them since the war. Don’t recognise most of the rifles though’ he went on, ‘a few Independent Issue but most of them are new to me.’

‘You know your guns’ Mal told the Farmer.

The farmer grunted. ‘Volunteered for the Toulouse Militia during the war’ he said. ‘Never got off planet though we were planetary guard battalion and we never got to fight because the Government threw in the towel after Hera fell’ he explained.

‘I was there’ Mal told him. ‘A few of us were.’

‘Serenity Valley?’ the farmer asked quietly.

Mal nodded ‘Yes Sir.’

The farmer sized Reynolds up and eventually pointed his rifle upwards. ‘My eldest was with the Fourth Toulouse Volunteers’ he said, died in the first week of the fighting.’

Mal threw the man a look of sympathy. ‘Sorry to hear about your boy’ he said.

‘My daughter’ the Farmer replied with a hint of emotion in his voice that he soon hid again. ‘You’re not really serious about the war restarting are you?’

‘I am’ Mal replied.

The farmer shook his head. ‘You can’t win you know.’

‘Reckon your wrong about that but even if you were right would it make it wrong to try?’ Mal replied.

‘My little girl wouldn’t have thought so’ the farmer said then reached out his hand. ‘Eugene Dumouriez’ he said shaking hands with Mal. ‘My wife’s inside I’ll get her to fix you all something to eat.’

‘Don’t put yourselves to any trouble’ Mal said. ‘Sorry to say this but you’d be better off hightailing it out of here before the shooting. You’re not directly in the line of fire I’m thinking but bullets can go astray and they might start throwing mortars or such around.’

The Farmer looked back at his home. ‘Merde’ he swore in French. ‘My insurance won’t cover the damage either’ he said. ‘I knew that premium was a waste of money’ he continued with a sigh. ‘I’ll sort out the food for you and put the valuables in the cellar then I’ll be heading south to the village down the road. You’ll be blowing up the bridge I assume Sergeant?’

Mal nodded. ‘Sorry about the access to the fields on the other side’ he apologised. ‘I’m guessing those are yours too?’

Dumouriez sighed again. ‘We should be able to put up a temporary replacement within a few days’ he said. ‘The village ten kilometres north of here relies on the bridge for trade with the city so they’ll probably do the work.’

‘No traffic today though?’ Mal asked. The road had been completely deserted since they arrived.

‘U-Day’ the farmer said spitting on the ground. ‘City is full of Alliance parading through our streets. Nobody comes to town this day.’

‘They won’t be parading today I’m thinking’ Mal responded resulting in a broad grin from the farmer who turned and headed back to the farmhouse with his rifle slung.

‘Any wine in that there cellar you were talking about?’ Jayne called out after him hopefully.

* * *

Toulouse Spaceport – Toulouse – 2522AD

The Federals marching in column towards the spaceport had noted the heavy traffic coming in to land but it wasn’t like anybody kept the Infantry abreast of goings-on generally and they just assumed they were out of the loop again.

The Spaceport was right at the outskirts of town where the noise from lifting transports day and night wouldn’t annoy the populace. Both the town and spaceport were on a broad plain surrounded by fields with one of the cities industrial districts not too far from the port on the other side of some wheat fields.

The Alliance Major leading the column had received word of an accident back at camp but had been told everything was under control and to control on his planned route meeting up with the guys from Foreman Security at the spaceport en-route into town. It was a fair day for a march neither raining nor excessively warm and the Federals had kept up a quick orderly pace during the five miles they’d marched from the garrison.

They were just over a kilometre from the spaceport when without warning they were met by a hail of gunfire which cut down dozens of Federals with the first volley just as they were breaking into a new marching song.

Colonel Taylor had considered mortaring them but mortar rounds were expensive whilst gauss-rifle ammo was just cast pieces of scrap iron. Besides which if they were going to advance in column he might as well use the opportunity to find out whether Ryder was right about a GR-21 on setting 3 going right through both front and back of Federal Body Armour, and the Federal inside, at over a thousand yards.

Watching with binoculars from the top of the Traffic-Control Tower it certainly looked like Ryder was spot-on.

‘This isn’t very sporting you know Sir’ commented the Legionnaire. ‘They were expecting a cold drink when they got here not cold steel.’

‘This is war not a game Mr Jonas’ the Marine officer replied to the man kneeling next to him also watching the Federals getting shot to pieces through binoculars. ‘In any case the air-friction heats up the gauss-rifle rounds so they’re not really cold on impact’ he explained. ‘On setting 4 the slugs glow in flight but you’d only really notice if it was twilight conditions or worse. It would be more correct to say Iron than steel too for that matter at least that’s what the engineers tell me, no idea why.’

The Federals were on the ground seeking cover but there was none to seek with only the occasional hay bail in the fields either side of the road, not exactly something that was going to stop a rifle round. A few were firing back randomly but any that did just made themselves a higher priority target for the two hundred plus Gauss-Rifles still throwing hypersonic metal at them leaving sharp sonic booms, or rather cracks, in the air as they went.

‘Hot iron then Colonel’ Jonas replied. ‘Well much as I envy your new Rifles I think there’s still a place for cold steel of a different sort’ he said.

Taylor took his binoculars from his eyes and gave the Colonial Legionnaire a nod of assent. When all else failed Infantry could always rely on the bayonet.

‘The Gauss-Rifle and the Bayonet Captain Jonas’ the Marine said. ‘That’s how we’ll beat the Alliance, Hot Iron and Cold Steel.’

Hot Iron and Cold Steel Colonel Taylor thought again as he went back to watching his Marines shoot the hapless Federals, now spread across hundreds of yards of open fields, to pieces.

* * *

Task Force Rubicon – Sihnon Sector – 2522AD

With the Defence Fleet shattered River had called her other main asset into the fray. The Light Fleet Carrier INS Salamis was simply a large converted civilian vessel and had no place in a firefight. However her complement of four Squadrons of Aerospace Fighters gave her considerable striking power at range.

The primary target of the Salamis and her fighters was the portion of the old wartime Alliance Fleet that was mothballed at Sihnon. The great Alliance Battlecruisers of the last war, proper warships not the undergunned and underarmoured Cruisers of the present day, plus full size purpose-built Fleet Carriers than dwarfed Salamis orbited Sihnon outside shipping routes where they could be left to hang in the preserving vacuum of space until they were needed again, or they were sent to be scrapped.

Carrying heavy anti-ship torpedoes almost as big as the fighters themselves Salamis sent her Angels to kill the sleeping giants. Half the Alliance warfleet was similarly mothballed safe at Londinium but as a psychological and military blow the instant halving of the number of vessels that could remotely compete with Scylla and Charybdis was another factor that would prevent an effective counter-strike by the Alliance for months, if not years.

With the other ships of Rubicon smashing the great yards that had built the battlecruisers in the first place too it was a crippling blow to the Alliance.

Tora, Tora, Tora’ was the go code River had used to signal Salamis to be about her work. Admiral Yamomoto had used the same code to launch the attack on Pearl Harbour but he was a rank amateur by comparison. River was going to do the job right and knock out the Carriers too.

Rubicon spent the next two hours destroying everything worth destroying around orbit of Sihnon. Alliance Forces launched two counter-attacks, including fifty aerospace fighters taking off from the planets surface itself but they were so outclassed by the crews, machines and most importantly the genius behind Rubicon, the bravery, and they were brave, of the Alliance pilots was for nought.

Before they moved off, leaving untold destruction in their wake heading back to the Rim TaskForce Rubicon left Sihnon a parting gift.

* * *

Independent Army Rangers Team “Valley Wolves” – Toulouse – 2522AD

‘Charges in place Sarge’ Keppler reported. ‘I’ve also rigged the booby traps on the far side that Corporal Washburn requested.’

‘Pity we couldn’t mine the road over there too’ Mal replied.

Keppler shrugged. ‘I could have maybe put something together but I only had so much plastique and I figured it was better to make a show of it with a few smaller charges than use up all the explosives I had left on an anti-tank mine.’

‘Okay Keppler go get in position and don’t blow the bridge until I tell you to’ Mal told the Ranger.

‘Right Sarge’ the demolitions expert responded and started quick-timing it to the small stone wall near this end of the bridge.

Mal took another look around. He had the Brimstone dug in behind some sandbags, actually they were empty chicken-feed sacks filled with dirt, where it had a good field of fire and the machine gunner, a burly guy named Jenkins that hailed from Three Hills, seemed pretty confident. He’d used one of the combination machinegun/grenade launchers back in the war and seemed to know his business well enough.

The Rangers had a single light mortar. Just a 75mm tube and three dozen rounds of assorted ammunition courtesy of the Marines dug in on the small hill behind the farmhouse where they could drop the mortar bombs right down the enemy’s throats. It was being manned by Jayne who would be loading and another Ranger named Heaney who had experience with the weapon. After they’d used up the rest of the mortar rounds the pair were under orders to drop the half dozen smoke rounds they had on the far side of the river and then provide covering fire for the bug-out. Hughes the Sniper was up there too where she could do the most damage.

Most of the riflemen were scattered around in concealed positions. When fired the Gauss-Rifles didn’t produce any flash or smoke like an ordinary rifle so it was a very useful ambush weapon for this situation, the Federals wouldn’t know where the shots were coming from.

This was primarily intended as hit and run, not a pitched battle so one of the most important considerations for the position of each Ranger was the ability to get away in a hurry after Mal gave the word to Bug-Out.

Mal turned on his radio headset and dialled around. There was plenty of radio-chatter to listen to now. News of what was happening back at the Core, or at least the first incomplete and inaccurate version of it, and the ambushing of the parade as they marched towards the Capital was all over the local media and it couldn’t be too long before the Alliance up here got their thumb out of their ass and moved to support the remaining City Garrison troops who would surely be digging in at their camp once they heard the news.

Yup it was going to get darn interesting in these parts real soon Mal thought wandering over to Zoe to finalise the plan.

* * *

INS Battlecruiser Scylla – Burning Hard to Toulouse – 2522AD

‘Admiral we’re getting a wave from Rubicon’ the comms officer reported.

Van der Heijden took a swig of coffee from his mug. ‘Let’s hear it son’ he replied.

‘Sorry Sir it’s not text or voice it’s an image’ the officer replied. ‘Wave is signed of by Major Brown.

‘Send it to my console’ the Admiral ordered taking another swig of coffee which he nearly spat out laughing a few seconds after the image appeared on his monitor.

Captain Raine looked across at the Admiral who wasn’t one to laugh quite that much as a rule ‘Private joke Sir?’ she asked.

The Admiral pressed a button on his console which sent the image to the main screen which sat on the wall behind the holographic projection pit at the front of the bridge.

The screen was completely blank.

Raine looked at the Admiral who told her to keep watching the screen.

After a few seconds text appeared on the blank screen. “Live Feed - City of Light on Sihnon from orbit (tonight’s version of this scene unlikely to make a good picture postcard for the tourist trade)

The bridge erupted into cheering. Rubicon had done it. They’d detonated a nuclear EMP device over Sihnon and really hit the Alliance where it lived.

Shortly afterwards Admiral van der Heijden realised suddenly with a wince that this event would almost certainly earn him a black mark in the Companion Registry too.

* * *

Independent Army Rangers Team “Valley Wolves” – Toulouse – 2522AD

‘Alright Rangers wait until the bridge goes up and then pour it on’ Mal said into his headset microphone as he watched the first vehicle rolling towards the bridge. Like the other lead half dozen vehicles it was just a lightly armoured 4x4 with a machine gun on a pivot mount on back, the bigger stuff was further back in the line and the line went back down the road a long way.

Back at the Capital the Marines were starting to assault the Alliance Garrison Camp outside of town and they expected to secure the position within an hour. Jake Foreman was still likely in there Mal realised and he hoped the poor bastard wouldn’t suffer the ignominy of being killed by his own side. Friendly fire was never really “friendly” but it was sure as hell ironic.

The first vehicle hit the middle of the bridge and Mal ordered it blown.

It wasn’t a spectacular explosion that hurled pieces of bridge for half a mile in all directions, Keppler didn’t have the explosives for that, but it was a darn competent work of demolition and with a simultaneous pair of detonations the central supports gave way and both the bridge and the first two 4x4’s plunged headlong into the river.

The bridge was still collapsing with the sound of screeching metal joining the echo of the explosion when the Rangers opened fire.

Part XIV


Thursday, February 23, 2006 10:26 AM


I still maintain that a lone telepath in an interplanetary war cannot be everywhere coordinating everything at once, but she's doing a fine job so far. And the gauss rifles! All the advantages of sci-fi ray-guns without the tell-tale tracer.

Solid military SF, Hotpoint, at least as engrossing as Davids Drake and Weber.

Friday, February 24, 2006 1:14 PM


It's so nice to see a writer who knows the difference between a gauss rifle and a rail gun, two very different animals which are often confused.

Saturday, November 11, 2006 3:33 PM


Truly enjoyed this segment. Between the quaility of the writing and the descriptions of River commanding the troups it reminded me of "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. :D Thanks for the great story.


You must log in to post comments.



Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XX)
The Independents lift for a return to the Valley

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIX)
As they train for the Campaign to liberate Hera the soldiers of the Independent military continue to go about their daily lives.

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVIII)
Mal faces a worse fate than he ever imagined, Serenity has an image change and Cally adjusts to life back on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVII)
After the initial Independent blitzkreig the Second War of Independence continues with the Alliance still reeling and the Browncoats starting to consolidate their position

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XVI)
Scylla and Charybdis show the Alliance Navy what real warships are made of

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XV)
After the skirmishing the Battle of Toulouse begins

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIV)
Mal Reynolds takes his "Valley Wolves" into action as the fighting on Toulouse escalates

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XIII)
The Independent Navy takes the fight to the Core while Mal Reynolds takes his new troops into action on Toulouse

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XII)
Unification Day 2522 goes not as expected

Horse, Foot and Artillery (Part XI)
Reunions and opening gambits