The IX Series Book 1
by Andrew P. Weston
Genre: SciFi Fantasy
Soldiers from varying eras and vastly different backgrounds, including the IX Legion of Rome, are snatched away from Earth at the moment of their passing, and transported to the far side of the galaxy. Thinking they have been granted a reprieve, their relief turns to horror when they discover they face a stark ultimatum:
Against all odds, this group of misfits manages to turn the tide against a relentless foe, only to discover the true cost of victory might exact a price they are unwilling to pay.
How far would you be willing to go to stay alive?
Sometimes, death is only the beginning of the adventure.
**The IX is Perseid Press’ featured book for August and is on sale for Only $2.99 on Kindle!!**
By Strength and Guile
(May 4, 2052)
“Gold command, emergency hatchway has been breached and preliminary seal established. We now have access to pylon three. Repeat, pylon three is secured. Beginning final appraisal.”
“Roger that, Sunray,” a muted, metallic voice acknowledged, “You are go for tactical ingress, on your mark.”
Lieutenant Alan–Mac–McDonald, officer commanding SBS Four Troop, UK Special Forces Anti-Terrorist Wing, remained a shadow in the dark. His night optics brought the scene about him to life in lurid, silver-green detail. As he began his final assessment, he could clearly see the seven other members of his team, bobbing about in the swell beneath the Husker-Trent oil and gas platform. Each of them was silent, alert, and professional. Highly trained killers. But skill and training weren’t the only things on their side tonight. Thanks to their reactive micro-com network and chameleon armor, they were also invisible from prying eyes, eavesdropping and covert surveillance. Scanning their arcs, each specialist waited patiently for their leader to complete his evaluation and give his final affirmation.
From their briefing of only two hours ago, Mac knew this gravity-base derrick, situated nearly a hundred miles out into the North Sea, was the very latest in platform design. A floating, self-sustained city in one of the harshest environments known to man, she was also the apple of the Corroco Corporation’s eye. And the Corroco Oil and Technologies Corporation were not happy at being the latest targets of White Dawn, a group of eco-terrorists who had kept a number of security agencies around the world busy over the past thirteen months.
No one knew who the leaders of this faction were, or indeed how they were funded. The only facts available tended to support the theory that White Dawn operatives were highly trained, incredibly motivated, and skilled in a wide variety of scientific disciplines. Their goal appeared to focus on public embarrassment, rather than financial gain. More worryingly, if cornered and unable to achieve their objectives, they weren’t reticent about making the ultimate gesture for their cause. Suicide!
The group was also very thorough when it came to researching possible targets, and this evening’s venture was no exception. Husker-Trent was fitted with the very latest in AI camera-motion detector recognition technology. If unidentified persons approached, they could either be blown out of the water by .50 rail mounted cannons, or the rig would go into safe mode. Security bulkheads would lower to seal off the strategic centers of operations, emergency valves would cut off oil and gas pressure, and automated distress signals would be sent via com-sat and wireless. Additionally, the platform had been constructed in such a manner that the drilling module was entirely separate from the run off vents, and the combined work-cum-habitat ring. The only way on or off, was via the central helipad, accessed by any one of three retractable gantries. These safety features should have made it very hard for anyone to breach her security measures. The fact that White Dawn had done so, this easily, smacked of exceptional planning and execution, or an inside job. As such, Gold Command were hedging their bets and treading cautiously.
Mac zoomed in on a number of the defensive systems as he made his assessment. The thermal and electronic heads-up display emblazoned across the left side of his visor, showed they were primed, tracking, and ready to deploy.
Difficult to get past, but not impossible. Not for my team…especially with what’s at stake.
He glanced at his radiological detector. The glowing red patches confirmed the presence of the real reason why Special Forces had become involved so quickly.
When it was realized Husker-Trent had been taken by an unknown number of assailants, contact between the derrick and the outside world had been suspended. Negotiators and law enforcement agencies had been put on alert, and, as a precaution, the Special Forces Directorate notified. Standard procedure, especially where oilrigs were involved. However, when an opening dialogue had been offered by trained mediators, they had been resolutely ignored. In fact, each subsequent attempt at communication had been met by a similar wall of silence. No ensuing ransom demands or political statements were made, and neither was a release of hostages offered. That had made the prime minister very worried.
When a high altitude fly-by had been ordered, the drone had quickly picked up the telltale signs of suspicious activity and the unmistakable signatures of a scattered number of nuclear devices. Odd, especially when White Dawn purported to be ecologically sympathetic. Needless to say, the discovery of such ordnance had guaranteed a swift response. One with an aggressive focus.
As the lead team on the duty roster, Four Troop had been deployed to gather intelligence, ascertain the reason for the attack, secure all radiological materials, and bring the standoff to an end. And we’ll do that alright! Mac thought, as he completed his assessment, by strength and guile.
Smiling to himself over his reference to the SBS motto, Mac gave a thumbs-up to his team, and depressed his throat mike to deliver his decision. “Gold command, this is Sunray, do you copy?”
“Go ahead, Sunray.” The reply was almost instantaneous.
“Traffic lights are at green. Repeat, traffic lights are at green. Waiting for final authentication.”
“That’s a go, team four. Use of lethal force authorized. Gold command authentication…Alpha, six, six, six, omega.”
“Alpha, six, six, six, omega, confirmed. From Sunray, we are now going dark. See you when this is all over.”
“Roger that, team four. See you on the other side. Good hunting.”
The radio went dead. Turning to face his section, Mac motioned with his hands for radio silence. As one, each team member moved to adjust their equipment to ensure they were cut off from all forms of outside communication. Once done, they switched to covert internals, before checking back in again.
Facing his second-in-command, Mac said, “Mark, take bravo squad and tag the location of each radiological device. Let me know if they’ll be suitable for tactical removal or deactivation. Secondary protocol, ascertain strength and deployment of the enemy.”
Throughout the entire process, Mac didn’t have to raise his voice once. The covert set enhanced his vocals until the whispers rang loud and clear in his teammate’s ear.
Sergeant Mark Stevens, a nine year veteran of special operations, raised his left index finger and tapped the side of his head twice, replying, “Roger that. I am Bravo-one. Primary objective, locate and tag radiological devices. Secondary, ascertain strength and deployment of the enemy.” Addressing his squad members in particular, he added, “Bravo confirm?”
Specialists Sean Masters, Richard–Fonzy–Cunningham, and Andy Webb all replied in the affirmative, each going through their call-signs and orders in turn, to confirm they fully understood their operating procedures.
Twisting slightly, Mac continued with his own squad, “Alpha, we will be concentrating on the hostages. Preliminary sat-recon shows almost the entire compliment of ninety-seven rig personnel are gathered together within the dining and kitchen areas. At least half a dozen managers have been relocated to the operations and radio rooms. Verification of their wellbeing is our priority. Secondary objective is intelligence, namely, rescue and casualty viability. I am Alpha-one. Alpha confirm?”
Specialists Stu Duggan, Sam Pell and Den–Jumper–Collins sounded off in turn.
Once they had done so, Mac addressed them all again. “During the first stage, we will not engage the enemy unless forced to do so. Only then, in order to save life. If we do go hot before phase two, take them down. No quarter…understood?”
Seven thumbs were raised into the air as confirmation.
Moving his own hand in a circular motion twice, Mac then clenched his fist and opened his fingers wide. Immediately, each of them moved to their designated points for insertion through the lining of the gravity base pylon.
Forming an outward facing fan about the hatchway, each specialist paired off. They then made sure to cover the movement of their teammate as they gained access. Having entered, the respective partner likewise kept on the watch for his buddy.
Mac was quietly complimentary of his men. Moving covertly was a time consuming process. However, they were so well rehearsed that the maneuver was over in less than two minutes. Fast going, considering the change in conditions.
As last man in, Mac had remained in the water the longest. When they had started to breech, the area was relatively calm, exhibiting a mild chop that had them bobbing up and down through six or seven foot swells. Nothing unusual. However, in the time that had elapsed since then, the sea had begun to heave alarmingly, as if suddenly agitated by a leviathan stirring in the depths beneath them. Mac was also sure he could hear the distant roll of thunder.
That’s odd? He thought. How did it move in so quickly? It wasn’t on satellite.
Adjusting his optics to get a better look, Mac let out a gasp of astonishment. A solid wall of cloud and rain was moving toward them. Darker than the surrounding star filled night, it was still a few miles out. But even so, he could see it seethed with a powering menace that gave him Goosebumps. Mac couldn’t shake the impression that the approaching tempest was a missile, with the rig as the bulls-eye on its target.
“Alpha-one? What is it boss?” Being the first in, Mark was higher up inside the platform’s structure and had totally missed the change in weather.
Mac paused to check he was seeing things right.
A seething maelstrom of midnight black, punctuated by bursts of lurid brightness charged toward them. Where it touched the sea, the water churned and frothed as if being distressed by a thousand propellers. Even at this distance, Mac was sure he could see the entire storm front rotating, both above and below the surface.
“Oh for Christ’s sake!”
“Alpha-one? What is it?” Mark repeated.
“Trouble.” Mac replied bluntly. “I think we’d better crack on, gentlemen. Our evening might get complicated…real soon.”
Andrew P. Weston is Royal Marine and Police veteran from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m resistant to opiates. And while I’ve highlighted this before, I feel it’s worth mentioning again as it’s such a humdinger, that it gives people pause, and gets them asking questions. You can pump as much of the stuff into me as you want: Morphine; fentanyl; methadone, etc. Tablet form, liquid and patches. Besides giving me bathmat tongue and an itchy rash, I won’t get high, addicted, or really benefit from its pain-killing quantities. And how do I know? Ah, that’s another story J
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m a former Royal Marine and police officer who led something of a charmed life until the fateful day I was injured on duty and was forced to give up work well before I originally intended. Fortunately, I’d completed well over thirty years of service, so was able to retire to warmer climes to help speed my recovery. Obviously, I needed something to do. So, with all that extra times on my hands, I began putting down in writing all the ideas I’d been playing with over the years. And that’s how I became an author.
Which of your novels can you imagine being made into a movie?
A television production company did express some interest in the IX, so I would say that book in particular. And though I’m the author, I can appreciate why. When you look at what’s popular today, you can see viewers want something that’s visually appealing and mentally stimulating. Something that isn’t afraid to mix genres and cultural beliefs. Something that’s a good old-fashioned mash up of high technology and olde-world head-thumping. The IX has all that. Roman Legionaries against savage Picts; Cowboys and Indians; modern-day special forces versus eco-terrorists. All of them, thrown together in the forge of battle against soul-sucking aliens. Can you imagine the fun?
What inspired you to write the IX?
I was inspired to write the IX following a military reunion dinner some years back, where a number of us were discussing what might have happened to the legendary “lost” ninth legion of Rome, who marched into the mists of Caledonia – now Scotland – cira 100 A.D. and were never seen again. I mean, if you know how big those ancient legions were, you can’t imagine how five thousand men and all their armor and equipment and support structure could simply disappear. A legion was a vast entity. No wonder, then, the lost legion’s story has inspired films and research papers alike.
A few weeks after I got home, I watched a film on TV, Millenium, where time-travelers use super-advanced technology to snatch people away from major disasters, (usually air crashes), at the moment of their deaths. The bodies are replaced with clones, and the travelers are then taken into the far future to repopulate a world recovering from a devastating eco-disaster.
That got me thinking. What if. . .
What if the IX Legion of Rome – and others – were snatched away at the moment of their deaths, and taken to another world where their skills and courage were needed to combat an – as yet – invincible foe?
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read?
Because as is hinted above, The IX has the epic scale of Dune and Game of Thrones; the visionary scope of The Expanse and Babylon 5; the sheer thrill of Mission Impossible and Extraction, and the gritty punch of such movies as Once Upon a Time in the West and the Magnificent Seven. There’s something there for everyone, and all of it delivered from the mind of a combat veteran who knows exactly what it’s like to experience the forge of battle.
What is your advice to new authors?
That’s simple. Learn your craft. Write every day. Adapt. Evolve. And get a darn good agent to look after your future development.
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