As Connor secretly searches for the enemy homeworld, he launches clandestine military operations to liberate other worlds in hopes of gaining allies before the enemy can find the last human colony.
The humans cannot hope to compete with the enemy’s vast empire, but with the discovery of a new ally, Connor believes their luck has finally changed.
Instead, when new allies clash with the old, Connor finds himself caught in the middle. Connor will have to choose whether doing what’s necessary to ensure the colony survives is worth compromising his loyalty to allies close to home, but the price could ultimately tear the colony apart.
Surviving a war with the enemy isn’t always a numbers game, but in choosing one ally, will Connor lose it all?
Insurgent is the tenth book in the bestselling military science fiction series, First Colony. Read the tenth book of this epic today!
First Colony Series
Book 1 - Genesis
Book 2 - Nemesis
Book 3 - Legacy
Book 4 - Sanctuary
Book 5 - Discovery
Book 6 - Emergence
Book 7 - Vigilance
Book 8 - Fracture
Book 9 - Harbinger
Release date: April 17, 2020
Publisher: Acoustical Books LLC
Print pages: 322
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Listen to a sample
Connor entered the command center where soldiers were actively working at their stations, their holoscreens gleaming with an amber outline in the dim light. They were comlinked to the teams out in the field, and the energy had ratcheted up with all the anticipation of a major operation about to go off the rails. He strode past the phalanx of workstations and headed directly for the holotank.
Captain O’Brien saluted him. “General Gates.”
“The 7th Ranger Company has taken up support positions near the planetary arch,” O’Brien said.
In the center of the holotank, an image of a Krake arch was displayed deep in the jungles of Kuret. The New Earth candidate planet, or NEC in this alternate universe, orbited closer to the star, which made for much higher planetary temperatures. The planet was nearly bursting with life—what Connor liked to think of as extreme vegetation. Almost every land surface was covered in some kind of jungle. It was sweltering and humid, and there was no shortage of rainfall. There was also no shortage of concealment on this planet, and the Colonial Defense Force would use every advantage it had.
“Good,” Connor said. “The briefing said that Monin was impatient to begin.”
“Yes, General, that is correct. The Gesora are anxious to take control of the Krake arch to eliminate the chance that reinforcements can be called.”
Connor didn’t doubt it. The CDF had been conducting clandestine operations on this planet for four months. They’d chosen it because the Ovarrow in this universe were prime candidates to rebel against the Krake.
The Krake had hidden their presence here as best they could, choosing to manipulate the Ovarrow by controlling the higher levels of government. It was a tactic that had been reported from other worlds they’d observed. However, one of the things that made moving forward with this partial coup d’état a priority was the lack of a space gate in the star system. Uncharacteristically, the Krake had restricted their activities to the planetary surface. Intelligence analysts theorized that perhaps there were limits to how many simultaneous operations the Krake could conduct across the multiple universes in which they had a presence. Regardless of the Krake reasoning for such a limited presence on this particular planet, Connor planned to exploit it and hopefully gain another ally to fight against the Krake.
The CDF wasn’t limited to the single arch that was displayed in the holotank. They had multiple arches and space gates to traverse between universes, and they’d deployed a stealth satellite system that had been actively monitoring the planet for the past ninety days. The system currently had its minimum of three satellites in use, which was enough to cover the NEC. The satellites were equipped with subspace communication systems, which allowed for transmissions among them, and although line of sight was still a factor in observing the enemy, it no longer impacted their communications capabilities. For some reason, the Krake had chosen to ignore the high ground, and the war doctrine of any human military confirmed that he who controlled the high ground controlled the war.
“What is the status of the Qompiry?”
Captain O’Brien used the holotank controls to switch the view to an Ovarrow city. Dark, towering obelisks, shimmering like obsidian, were sheathed in a bronze metallic alloy at the tips. In the middle of the city were domed edifices similar in architectural design to those built by the Ovarrow they’d encountered on New Earth.
“The Qompiry’s position at the capital is here,” O’Brien said, and a waypoint flashed. These were the insurgency that had been rebelling against the Krake for years, which was an arduous undertaking since the Krake hid their presence on the planet. “Lieutenant Wade’s platoon,” he continued, “is on the north side of the city, and the Warlord’s First has a platoon of Mekaal soldiers with Yerid’s rebels.”
The Mekaal was the military unit of the Ovarrow from New Earth. They’d been partnering with the CDF over the past year, participating in off-world operations in alternate universes.
Connor nodded. “Cerot should be able to keep Yerid in line.”
The Qompiry was a rebellious group of thieves that had resisted the Krake social order almost since the beginning. They were hotheaded and immature but had conducted multiple operations, thwarting the Krake as often as they could. Connor wondered why the Krake had chosen to conceal their identity here while working out in the open on other worlds. He thought it must have something to do with the experiment they’d sanctioned for this world.
The Krake had done an excellent job of dividing the dominant nations of Ovarrow on this planet. They’d utilized virus outbreaks to cripple the Gesora’s economy, and they preyed upon their religious beliefs in a way that had shaped almost all public discourse into shouting matches, fostering a culture of contempt. This had been easy to manipulate and exploit, and had later given rise to skirmish wars.
The CDF had managed to convince critical Gesora leaders from multiple provinces that the major events in their recent history were the result of Krake manipulation. These select few leaders were privy to the knowledge that the Krake were an entirely different species, but their operation today would make this knowledge open to the general public. It was an all-or-nothing effort. They had to take control of the arch, as well as the capital, where the Krake had the most influence. Hopefully, this operation would be the catalyst to free the Gesora from a Krake experiment that had been ongoing for nearly seventy years.
“Captain O’Brien,” Corporal Taylor said, “I have a comlink request from Yerid.”
“Engage encryption protocols and vocalizers,” O’Brien said.
The Ovarrow in this universe weren’t aware of humans, and it was the CDF’s top priority to keep their involvement a secret. To this end, they’d used Ovarrow from New Earth to help convince others of their cause. Connor knew the Krake were hunting for humans, and if they were going to operate in alternate universes, they needed to keep their presence there a secret. As far as the Krake were concerned, this was just another rebellious Ovarrow group operating under the Krake’s radar but causing trouble just the same.
O’Brien glanced at Connor, who bobbed his head once.
“Mekaal COMCENT, this is Yerid. The Qompiry are in position. How long do the Gesora intend for us to wait before they reach their target?”
“Confirm Qompiry are in position, Yerid. Hold tight. We are waiting for confirmation from the Gesora,” O’Brien said.
“We can’t stay here,” Yerid said. “My teams will be compromised if we do. We have to go. Tell the Gesora that we’re beginning our assault on the capital.”
Connor heard both the commitment and the urgency in the Ovarrow’s voice, even though it was coming through a translator. He could hardly blame them, but at the same time, he needed them to wait.
“Yerid,” Connor said, “the only way this operation is going to work is if both you and the Gesora attack at the same time. If the Krake at the capital figure out what’s going on, they’ll alert the soldiers at the arch. If that happens, they’ll bring the defenses online and possibly call in reinforcements.”
There were a few moments of silence before Yerid replied. “Warlord Gates, I know you are aware of what the Krake have done here. Today is a day of reckoning. Today, we take back what’s ours. The Qompiry will attack now. Yerid out.”
The comlink severed, and O’Brien shook his head.
“Sir,” Corporal Taylor said, “Lieutenant Wade has confirmed that the Qompiry are advancing on the capital. Stealth recon drone surveillance shows thousands of Qompiry soldiers infiltrating the tunnel network under the capital.”
O’Brien’s lips pressed into a grim twist, and he looked at Connor. “What are your orders, General?”
Connor stared at the aerial view of the capital city in the holotank. It showed the positions of the CDF platoon, as well as the Qompiry taskforces that were moving into the capital. “Tell Lieutenant Wade that his orders are to observe and advise Yerid and the Qompiry soldiers. They’ll need to assist them by disrupting all communications from the capital.”
The original plan had called for Lieutenant Wade and his platoon to keep their position outside of the capital city, but in order to disable communications from the capital, they’d need to move in.
“Tell him we’re sending air support,” Connor said. So much for sitting this one out.
O’Brien gave Connor a sidelong glance.
“What is it, Captain?” Connor asked.
“Captain Samson said you’d find a way to see some action, General.”
“He did, did he?” Connor replied. Samson had been part of the original Ghost Platoon that Connor had led before being shanghaied onto the colony ship that ended up at New Earth. “What else did he say?”
“He told us not to get too comfortable, sir. We have two Hellcats on standby. I’ll see to it that they’re ready to go,” O’Brien said.
The young captain stepped away from the holotank and began giving orders to several soldiers nearby.
Connor opened a comlink to Samson, and the Spec Ops captain answered almost immediately. “I hear you’re spreading lies about me.”
Samson grinned a little. “What happened?”
“Yerid couldn’t suppress his need to get his gun off, so the Qompiry have started their assault on the capital. I’ve ordered Wade to move in and disable communications from the capital, but it’s going to be a close thing.”
“Understood, General. I’ll let Monin know. To be honest, I’m surprised they’ve worked together as long as they have. They don’t trust each other at all,” Samson said.
Connor took control of the holotank and switched the aerial view back to the arch. “It’s not all their fault. This is what happens when you foster a culture of contempt. It’s hard to trust anyone when you’ve been taught all your life that someone else’s ideas aren’t to even be considered, and anyone who thinks differently is branded a traitor.”
“If you say so, sir.”
“Can you reach the arch in time?”
“We can if I can get your permission to showcase some of our capabilities,” Samson replied.
The CDF soldiers were all in the latest Nexstar combat suits but had slowed down to keep pace with the Gesora soldiers. The Gesora were at home in the jungle and could traverse its terrain with ease, but the Nexstar combat suit leveled the playing field considerably. The onboard combat AI assisted the wearer to efficiently handle any terrain, be it terrestrial or low-gravity situations. What Samson was requesting was permission to remove the restrictions that were in place to help them blend in.
“Understood, and permission granted, but don’t get too far ahead of them. You still need the Gesora. You can’t fight this war without them.”
“Acknowledged, General,” Samson said, and the comlink went dark.
Over the past year, they’d conducted clandestine operations, but this was the biggest. They needed a mission success for this effort; otherwise, the Colonial Security Council would order them to stop. They’d never find the Krake home world if they stopped exploring the alternate universes. And a successful mission would also mean that they didn’t have to fight the Krake alone if they could find allies along the way.
Connor glanced at the holotank and rested his hands on the edge. He heard the high-pitched whine of the Hellcat’s engines powering up and felt a surge of adrenaline course through him in anticipation. Breathing in deeply, he sighed and turned to O’Brien. “Captain, you’re to support Lieutenant Wade with disabling communications in the capital. You’re cleared for weapons-free.”
For half a second, O’Brien’s gaze widened. The CDF captain had expected Connor to join them. They’d all expected it, but Connor had made a promise that he wouldn’t always be the one to take all the risks. The CDF soldiers were the best-trained military he’d ever seen. Connor had made them that way.
“Good hunting, Captain,” Connor said.
Lieutenant Thomas Wade of the 7th Ranger Company, 3rd Platoon Leader, alerted his unit that they’d be moving out. Yerid, the leader of the Qompiry, was moving forward with the attack. Given what the Krake had done to these Ovarrow, Wade couldn’t blame them. He’d want revenge too. The Qompiry had been hunted by the very Ovarrow they hoped to save from the Krake. The group of Ovarrow that had become the Qompiry was composed of multiple factions who were considered noncompliant. They were the outliers and the rebellious few who’d chosen not to bury their heads in the sand. They’d chosen to resist, and Wade had come to respect that. He’d conducted multiple operations in alternate universes over the past year, and the one thing he’d learned about the Krake was that they were ruthlessly efficient in the way they carried out their experiments.
The fifty soldiers in his platoon were outfitted with Nexstar combat suits, with four of them configured for heavy weapons.
Wade gestured for Sergeant Mason to come over to him. “Yerid is pressing on with the attack, and we can’t allow the Krake to send a warning to their base. Looks like the Gesora are running late.”
“Getting into the capital won’t be a problem. It’s getting out that will be,” Mason said.
“We’ve got air support, so they’ll be our evacuation as well,” Wade replied.
Mason grunted. “We’ll need to look for a couple of alternatives in case our air support gets held up.”
“Oh, ye of little faith.”
“Negative, sir. I just have an aversion to getting caught with my pants down.”
Gesora regulars operated security checkpoints throughout the city, and there were strongholds with a significant troop presence at each. They were strategically placed within close proximity to the capitol building, which had its own direct-action force that maintained a presence there. Across many Ovarrow cities, insurgent activity in response to the Gesora’s militaristic regime had prompted the buildup of military forces.
Wade knew they’d be engaging Gesora soldiers who either were unaware or simply didn’t believe their political leaders were Krake infiltrators or were being controlled by the Krake. The Ovarrow in this universe were being manipulated into fighting a civil war. The goal for the CDF was to prevent the civil war by initiating surgical strikes to change regimes and expose the Krake. Presumably, these actions would incur less loss of life than an all-out war. Wade hoped that was true. On New Earth, they’d seen the remnants of the devastation from countless wars the Ovarrow had fought among each other and eventually with the Krake. They had to stop the same from occurring here, as well as possibly gaining a powerful ally to fight the Krake.
The Ovarrow had been on a heightened state of alert for years. Skirmish wars had become the norm, and they were prepared for a frontal assault. Meanwhile, the Qompiry rebels had created a path by linking various tunnels under the city that would bring them close to the capitol building.
“We need a better vantage point,” Mason said. “From there, we can put some sharpshooters up to take out whatever the Krake have on the roof.”
“Agreed,” Wade replied and peered at the city, looking for a good location for his snipers. “Send Dixon and his squad. I’ve marked a few waypoints for them.”
Mason opened a comlink and relayed Wade’s orders. Then he looked at Wade and nodded.
“Let’s move out,” Wade said.
The 3rd Platoon was stationed to the north of the capitol on the outskirts of the city. They couldn’t just waltz down the street, so they’d commandeered a couple of Ovarrow ground transport vehicles, which they loaded up and set off in. They wouldn’t reach the capitol, especially once the Qompiry began their assault, but at least they could penetrate some of the perimeter before they had to stop and fight.
Wade rode in the front, and Mason had control of the vehicle.
“Do we know how many Krake are in there?” Mason asked, jutting his chin up a little.
“Not exactly. Best guess is about forty of them, but they’re not soldiers. They’re administrators, politicians. They probably have some security details, but we need to keep them from warning their base.”
“Understood,” Mason said.
They headed to the interior of the city, making it through one of the security checkpoints. Wade had several reconnaissance drones patrolling and saw where the Qompiry had engaged the Gesora military that was defending the capitol. Those soldiers didn’t know they were fighting for the wrong side. The Qompiry leveraged smaller squads to distract the defenders, and then their main fighting force engaged.
The Gesora regulars reacted quickly.
“We’ve been made,” one of the CDF soldiers said from the back of the vehicle. Wade turned around and saw that the Gesora regulars manning the security checkpoint were emphatically pointing in their direction.
“We’ve got incoming,” Mason said.
Ovarrow howler missiles launched from the capitol and sped off in multiple directions, with several heading right for the CDF soldiers. The howlers’ promise of death and destruction screeched across the sky, and the CDF soldiers abandoned their vehicles only moments before the missiles slammed into them. The platoon of armored CDF soldiers was engulfed in flame for a few moments before the explosion cleared, but they’d gotten far enough away that the Nexstar combat suits had withstood the force of the explosion.
“We’ve got eyes on us,” Mason said.
“Stick close to the buildings,” Wade said.
“It was that damn checkpoint. We should have taken them out.”
Wade accessed the stealth recon drone feeds and saw that the Qompiry soldiers were emerging from the underground sewer access points. They were closer to the capitol than his platoon was.
They made their way closer to the capitol and stopped at a complex of domed buildings. Wade ordered his snipers to the tops of the buildings to survey the area. The Qompiry were now leading the ground assault on a direct path toward the capitol.
“Lieutenant, I have a target. Krake tech on the west side of the roof,” Sergeant Dixon said.
Wade accessed the targeting coordinates and peered at the video feed. A metallic cylinder had emerged from one of the air conditioning units on the roof. There was a flash of purple light as something spun inside.
“Take it out, Sergeant.”
The two sharpshooters opened fire with explosive rounds, and more of the metallic cylinders emerged onto the roof.
“I need heavy ordnance. We need to fire on that capitol now,” Wade said. He knew the Krake would notice this attack because he was using weaponry that wasn’t available to the Ovarrow.
The reconnaissance drone shrieked an alert, which appeared on Wade’s internal heads-up display. He cursed, and Mason looked at him questioningly. “Krake comm signal detected. We need to move, now.”
* * *
Samson informed Monin, a warlord of the Gesora, that the Qompiry were beginning their assault on the capitol. Monin began to bellow orders to his Ovarrow soldiers, and they hastened their approach to the arch complex.
Samson had deployed multiple combat drones. It was easy for them to keep out of sight with so much vegetation in this godforsaken jungle. He couldn’t wait to get back to New Earth. He never thought he’d have a thought like that, given how much he hated humanity’s current home. He missed Earth, and that would never change. He was resigned to the fact that no matter how much time passed, he would always miss the home he’d lost and the people he’d never see again. They were always in the back of his mind. It had been fifteen years since he’d come out of the stasis pod aboard the Ark—the day everything changed—but Samson banished those thoughts. It was ancient history. He had a job to do, and there were Krake to kill.
The Krake didn’t have a large operation on this planet, but they were always well fortified. The arch gateway was only fifty meters from end to end—medium-sized, which was good for transporting small vehicles and as many Krake soldiers as required. The Krake relied on automated defenses that could kill humans and Ovarrow alike. As tough as the Nexstar combat suits were, they couldn’t withstand the high-powered particle beams from heavy defense turrets. Krake soldiers used particle beam rifles, which were precise and lethal. They could penetrate CDF combat suits in seconds; however, Krake armor was actually inferior to the CDF’s, which gave them a bit of an advantage. The CDF employed a combination of kinetic weaponry, but they’d also included plasma rifles that had been reverse engineered from the Vemus weapons.
Lieutenant Layton opened a comlink to Samson. “Their defenses are coming online. I think the jig is up. They know we’re coming, Captain.”
“That’s it,” Samson said. “No more sneaking around. I want you to take out your first-priority targets, then move on to the second. We’ll meet up in the middle.”
He opened a comlink to Monin. “The Krake know we’re here. We need to attack now.”
“We are almost in position,” Monin said.
Samson cut off the comlink, and Cerot came to his side. The young Ovarrow was eager to fight. Samson had been working with Mekaal soldiers in a joint task force to engage the Krake for the past year.
“The Mekaal are ready, Captain,” Cerot said.
The CDF had enhanced the Mekaal’s weapons and armor, which had been over two hundred years old. Even now, they weren’t on the same level as the CDF, but it was much better than what they’d been using. They needed every advantage they could get.
There were several squads of Krake soldiers near the arch, which was coming online. CDF combat drones opened fire, and the Krake soldiers scattered for cover. Krake defensive turrets began firing at them, mainly targeting the Gesora. No doubt the Krake sensors were better at detecting the Ovarrow. They’d detect the CDF soldiers once they were closer.
Over one hundred and forty heavily armed CDF special forces soldiers closed in on the Krake installation from multiple directions. The Krake had chosen this location because of its isolation from the Ovarrow. That meant Samson could fight this battle using all the weapons in his arsenal, and the Krake wouldn’t know what had hit ’em.
* * *
Connor stood in front of the holotank, monitoring the attack on the capitol. A secondary section showed the Krake arch installation where the battle had begun in earnest. The Qompiry had successfully breached the defenses of the capitol, and the attack was proceeding just as he expected. The Hellcats were providing air support, and they were almost inside the capitol. There was a lot of confusion as the Qompiry engaged the Gesora strongholds for the purpose of keeping them distracted and out of the main battle. The CDF had sustained some losses, but so far, they’d accounted for their dead. There would be nothing left for the Ovarrow to find or the Krake to make use of. The Krake couldn’t learn that humans had had a hand in this rebellion.
Connor brought up the drone video feeds of the attack on the arch gateway complex. Krake defensive towers were mainly targeting the Gesora, and Samson had abandoned any pretext of concealing their attack method. They could’ve destroyed the arch, but Connor had given orders that it was to be taken intact. It wasn’t enough to keep the Krake from this planet. They needed the Ovarrow to be able to control that arch so it could be used in the future.
The Krake soldiers adapted quickly, considering that they’d been taken by surprise despite the warning they’d received, and they’d managed to get their defenses online. The Krake had been operating on this planet for nearly seventy years, and they’d had no indication that anyone knew the location of their base. They also hadn’t expected that someone else could open a gateway to this planet. This gave Connor and the CDF a much-needed advantage, and they’d seized the opportunity to oust the Krake from power with minimal loss of life, but Connor knew this was only the beginning. They’d basically sparked civil war among the Gesora and the Qompiry. The fighting in the capital was still going on, but soon they’d call for a cease-fire. Monin had survived, and Samson had his combat engineers disabling the archway. They’d learned a lot about the arch, particularly how to disable it without destroying it. This meant the arch could be used at the behest of the Ovarrow on this planet, which was what Connor wanted. It was also what they needed to accomplish when they found the Krake home world.
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