Out Of The Dark – Snippet 19

Out Of The Dark – Snippet 19

But who had done it? And how? There was no way it had been the Iranians,
no matter what the rumor mill had said! So who –?

The door to what had been the Direct Air pi lots’ lounge flew open. The racket as it slammed abruptly into the doorstop brought Torino’s head up, and he frowned as he recognized the man standing in the open doorway. He couldn’t remember the fellow’s name, but he was the senior man from the local Homeland Security office located here at the airport.

“Major Torino!” the newcomer half shouted.

“What?”

“Here!” The man was holding out a cell phone. “He needs to talk to you!”

Torino accepted the phone and raised it to his ear.

“Who is this?” he asked suspiciously.

“Torino? Major Torino, U.S. Air Force?” a hoarse voice replied.

“Yes. Who the hell are you?”

“Thank God.” The voice paused for a moment, as if its owner were drawing a deep breath, then resumed. “This is Rear Admiral James Robinson, Naval Network and Space Operations Command. I’ve been hunting for someone — anyone — who’s still got some air defense capability for the last three hours, and so far you’re all I’ve been able to find.”

Torino’s eyes narrowed. These days, NAVSPACECOM was primarily a centralized data processing node for USSTRATCOM’s Joint Functional Command Component for Space, which had been stood up in 2006 to bring all United States space surveillance systems together under one roof. But JFCC SPACE was — or had been, at least — headquartered at Vandenberg. He knew that was gone, but until 2004, NAVSPACECOM had been the primary headquarters for what had originally been the Navy’s Naval Space Command Surveillance, and it continued to function as the backup Space Command Center. If he remembered correctly, it was located at Dahlgren, Virginia, a hundred miles north of Norfolk, and he supposed that whoever had smashed the American military might have overlooked it. There wasn’t much to attract the eye, aside from the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s airstrip.

“I don’t suppose there’s any point trying to authenticate to each other, is there, Sir?” Torino’s biting irony could have evaporated Lake Champlain, and the man at the other end of the cell phone gave a harsh, ugly bark of laughter.

“No, there isn’t. We’ve still got some comms, but the entire system’s been shot full of holes. I don’t know why we didn’t get hit — everybody else in our line of business sure as hell did! But I’ve been going down the list, trying to find somebody with shooters who’s still online. As far as I can tell, you’re it for CONUS air defense, although there’s supposed to be a couple of other detachments scattered around bases in the Carolinas. I’m trying to get hold of them, too, but as bad as communications are, I don’t think I’m going to reach anyone else in time to do any good.”

“Forgive me, Admiral, but just how is talking to me supposed to do any good?” Torino demanded bitterly. “We’re fucked, Sir. That’s the short and ugly truth.”

“Yes, we are, Major,” Robinson said. “But National Command Authority hasn’t told us to stand down yet.”

“No,” Torino admitted. “On the other hand, what the hell can we do?”

“Listen to me, Major. Whoever did this didn’t — I repeat, did not — use nukes. These were kinetic strikes, delivered from space. In fact, they were delivered from a point approximately thirty thousand miles out. Are you following me? This was not an attack by any other nation. It was an attack from someone else — someone from completely outside our solar system!”

“Aliens?” Torino heard the incredulity in his own voice. “You’re telling me aliens did this? Like some bad outtake from Independence Day?”

“I know it sounds crazy, but the tracking data’s solid. They were launched in sequenced waves, Major, emanating from seven distinct point sources. They started moving east across North America while simultaneously laying another pattern across the Med, headed west. They took out all of our major bases, and as nearly as I can tell, they’ve killed every surface unit the Navy had. I imagine they hit our bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well, though I don’t have any way to confirm that yet — I’m still looking for a comm link to anybody over there. But think about it. It makes sense out of that cyber attack, doesn’t it? They were pulling out information for targeting purposes.”

Torino wanted to throw the phone away, sit down, and bury his face in his hands. It was ridiculous. Preposterous. Yet if Robinson was who he said he was — and Torino had no reason to doubt him — he was in a better position than almost anyone else on the entire planet to know if aliens were dropping rocks on them.

“Say you’re right, Sir,” he said after a moment. “Why tell me? Not even a Raptor can intercept meteorites!”

“No, you can’t,” Robinson agreed grimly. “But I’ve still got optical tracking and detection available, and the bastards who did this are sending in what look like shuttles.”

“Shuttles?” Torino said sharply, gray- green eyes suddenly narrow.

“That’s what it looks like. You may not realize the optical resolution we can get, but we’re getting good detail, and I’m having it set up to dump to the Internet as it comes in. Hopefully enough of the Net’s still up for people to see it and realize what we’re up against, but what matters right now is that these things have to be way too small to be any kind of interstellar craft. Our people make them to be maybe three times the size of a C-5, and they’ve got an air breathing planeform. They’ve got to be landing vehicles of some sort, and it looks like we’ve got at least two or three dozen of them heading for someplace in western Pennsylvania or central Virginia.”

***

Don Torino’s Raptor bored through the thin, frigid air fifty thousand feet above the state of Pennsylvania at just over twelve hundred miles per hour. He tried not to think about the roaring infernos sweeping out from the impact sites he and his detachment had overflown to get here. He tried not to think about the fact that, one way or the other, this was going to be his final combat sortie. And he especially tried not to think about the fact that with the United States of America facing its first foreign invasion in three centuries, all she had to defend herself were four lonely fighter planes.

I wonder how outclassed we’re really going to be? He wondered. As a sixteen-year-old, he’d loved the movie Independence Day, although he’d realized even then that he was watching the most gloriously overdone, cliché-ridden Grade-B movie in history. As an older and (arguably) more mature fighter pilot and commissioned officer of the United States Air Force, rewatching the movie with his kids on video had caused him a certain degree of physical pain, not to mention leaving him to explain to his offspring where the Air Force had been while the Marine Corps single-handedly defended the world. Still, he couldn’t forget the force field which had protected all of the alien vessels in that movie.

Look, stop sweating it, he told himself sternly. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen, and you sure as hell aren’t Will Smith. Hell, you’re not even Bruce Willis, and at least he’s the right color! Even if his hair is even worse than yours.

To his amazement, that actually startled a laugh out of him.

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44 Responses to Out Of The Dark – Snippet 19

  1. Elim Garak says:

    Can it be Monday now?

  2. Scott says:

    This book can’t come out fast enough!
    Oh well, only a week or so more.

  3. Robert H. Woodman says:

    If the F-22 is fully outfitted for air-to-air operations, then each plane has 6 medium-range AMRAAMs and 2 Sidewinders (AIM-9), with shorter range than the AMRAAMs. Four planes, 8 missiles, versus “two dozen or three dozen” landing craft. Unless the landing craft pilots are not expecting opposition (which would be stupid of them; you ALWAYS expect opposition, even if you’re pretty sure you’ve destroyed the other side), then they either have some air defense capability or they are being accompanied (or should be accompanied) by some fighter craft.

    I wonder how “dumb” DW is making the Shongairi out to be?

    Another question: assuming that anybody from our side survives this fight, can they go back and land at Plattsburgh? Wouldn’t that invite a KEW strike?

  4. Ken says:

    I don’t see the Shongairi as dumb but have never faced competent enemies, just stupid or more primitive pacifistic races that they conquered easily. If they are wolf like pack beings. You kill the leaders and the rest of the pack will run or surrender. They may not be expecting more than minimal resistance. It has been mentioned that they never took on a level two warrior race before.

  5. B. B. Wolf 359 says:

    OK, a lot of assumptions here.

    If the ‘shuttles’ are ‘an air breathing planeform’ & ‘three times the size of a C-5’.
    If the ‘shuttles’ are not built to defend/penetrate against class one civilizations.
    If the ‘shuttles’ are not escorted by aerospace superiority fighters.
    If the F-22s can get close enough, without detection.
    Shields are unlikely, for at least two reasons, heat dissipation & air breathing engines.

    Given the above, we ‘may’ assume that they will be coming in fat & dumb. They may not even have electronic countermeasures turned on, altho this should be SOP.

    This will not unfortunately make it easy to take out ‘at least two or three dozen’ targets. Four F-22s with a full combat load of missiles & 20 mm rotary cannon rounds seem inadequate to the task, even if the ‘shuttles’ have no defense at all.

  6. Daryl says:

    The crucial term is “air breathing planeform”. Thus the shuttles use aerofoil lift with engines that combust a fuel (hydrogen, petrochemical, alcohol?) with the oxygen in air. No antigravity, inertialess drive, Rho field, Imakitup, or fusion. Thereby it is technology of the same order as ours and defeatable with skill. Now do they have beam weapons (that are virtually instantaneous in line of sight), missiles or guns for defence? Next point is three times the size of a C-5, so how redundant are their systems and how much damage can they soak up?

  7. They are expecting some opposition, like Italian-style fortresses and round shot that you should not land next to, and unlike the lizards in the other set of novels they did not necessarily bring along something of everything.

    Do the fighter aircraft also carry machine guns or the like, or is that asking a bit much? I seem to recall the record for an ace pilot is a confirmed kill with five rounds of 50 caliber, confirmed because the weapon jammed at round six and was loaded at landing.

    On the other hand, the landers may be armed to the teeth, in which case the Major and his family may soon be reunited.

    One might wonder how the aircraft and our visitors are going to be targeted into each other, air defense being largely down. The fellow at the far end might have been a little less enthusiastic with his name rank geographic location data.

  8. B. B. Wolf 359 says:

    Just updated, & will have to take Ken’s comment as a given.

    Still, with good tactics, it seems to be a big job.

  9. Scott says:

    What’s the chance that one of the shuttles the f22’s are able to down is carrying the Ground Force Commander? Sure, we wouldn’t do something as stupid as having a senior officer going down in the first drop but as has been said before they haven’t engaged a level two species before. Any sane species would surrender once it was shown how outclassed they were. But humans will punch on come what may if only for revenge.

  10. Guy-Francis says:

    @3 There is always the F-22 themselves. These guys have had their families killed, millions of their fellow citizens killed, and probably don’t have reloads back at Plattsburg even if they survived.

  11. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @6 — Besides the missiles, each F-22 carries the M61A2 20mm cannon. It’s a lighter version of the M61A1 20mm cannon. The cannon fires 100 rounds per second, and fully armed, the F-22 carries 480 rounds of ammunition. One hundred rounds of 20mm cannon fire coming at you in one second is a serious wall of lead. But it’s only five shots and then you’re done, so you better make every shot count.

  12. 4th Dimension says:

    I’m going to be seriously surprised if these laser wielding aliens lack active missile defenses on their armored shuttles (which they expect to be shot at). And those will make them tough nuts to crack.

  13. Guy-Francis says:

    @10 But do they expect to be shot at? The Hegemony don’t colonise advanced races and the Shongari formed a world government well before they had reached even Earth’s current level of technology. Why would they hve heavily armed shuttles for pacifying the natives? Westerners didn’t use top of the line warships when dealing with natives, they kept those at home to deal with each other. Why would the Shongari have sent their latest and greatest to bully the inferior planetary natives?

    Moreover if their military procurement is anything like ours they built the shuttles for the cheapest price to meet all conceivable threats, which given they expected musket wielding natives at best, won’t include active missile defenses.

  14. Joel says:

    Considering how many times DW has re-used different tropes between his books, I think it’s fairly certain that these F22s are going to get some licks in before being destroyed. (cf Armageddon Troll) I’m not even going to say it’s completely unreasonable, given how things are set up.

  15. Adam says:

    These shuttles probably do have either a fission or fusion power plant. Remember how the aliens laughed at the humans use of fossil fuels. My guess is fission. Fusion got to be more dangerous to operate at it requires a very hot plasma contained in a magnetic bottle. If the fusion plant gets even a little power interruption or out of alignment from battle damage it is either scrammed or it will blow up. I see the fission plant much more able to withstand minor damage and still keep on running. Fusion power is probably reserved for the interstellar spaceships where the need for a lot of power trumps the safety concerns of a fission plant. The shuttles have a airfoil so their main method for atmospheric flight will be a electric impeller fan of some sort. For space they undoubtedly use ion engine or plasma rocket unless they have a reactionless drive. This propulsion would be a waste of mass and space to continue its use in atmosphere. This all means that the shuttles main weakness will be damage to the fan blades for when damaged could fail catastrophically resulting in an out of control decent killing all on board. The rest of the shuttle could well be only lightly damaged depending on how high David Weber wants to make their technology. Here’s hoping to at least one shuttle taking to much damage and crashing mostly intact away from all the other shuttles so we can rifle through it for any tech :)

  16. Randall says:

    They almost certainly won’t take out the entire flight, but given the size of these transports, even taking out 1 each could cause the loss of a couple battalions!

  17. @9 Failure to land senior officers immediately was one of the reasons the UK WW1 invasions of Turkey at the straits of Marmora faced challenges. Also, canines lead from the front.

    These shuttles are undoubtedly superb against Class 4 civilizations. Their antitrebuchet defenses are perfect.

    I am modestly surprised if no reloads were supplied, especially for the cannon. Do the shells even come in crates as small as 2000 rounds?

    The possibility that the Shongairi are incompetent should also be noted.

  18. Johnny Davis says:

    @17- 20 mm rounds are huge. They’re about an inch in diameter and 6-8 inches tall.

    Here’s a picture:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:50BMG_size_comparison.JPG

  19. 4th Dimension says:

    I do wonder what the Russians are doing now? I don’t think their information integration was as big as American’s one. Plus the usual Kremlin paranoia, and it wouldn’t be impossible for them to have few surprises tucked away somewhere in Siberia.
    Plus good part of land based Missile forces is highly mobile. I doubt their precise locations were anywhere in databases.

  20. Elim Garak says:

    @19 – good point, I’ve been thinking the same thing. Since Russian planes can take off from tiny and crappy air fields, I suspect they will have much more flying hardware lying around. Most of it will be obsolete compared to F22, but here the Russian idea of quantity over quality will kick in. Also, because the Russian military is very badly computerized and is full of bureaucracy, the aliens most likely missed a lot more assets. You can’t hack a paper form.

    Plus the Russian central command doesn’t know half of what is going on and where it is happening. Remember when a Russian general decided to enter Kosovo during the war there? Nobody had any idea what was going on, and both Clinton and the soviet dude at the time found out about this on CNN.

  21. Randy says:

    Admiral Robinson said all US surface units were taken out, but what about the submarine force? How many Tridents are at sea at any one time and what is the basic load for the attack boats? I thought they now carry some Tomahawks, but I think they are only conventional ones. Do the weasels even have the ability to detect submerged subs from space? One Trident can do a lot of damage and if the range is short enough their missles could reach their targets before the weasels could detect and destroy them (given the time it seems they need for their retalitoryn KEW strikes) I belief complete surprise would achieved for the first (and only?) launch.

  22. Michael says:

    We’ll all find out for sure soon anyway, but my speculation would also tend toward these shuttles being much easier targets than might be anticipated. This situation as presented is unprecedented from the standpoint of the galactics. You don’t attack class 2 civs. You wait for them to self destruct or grow up and join the community. That the Shongarii stand ready to lose a few soldiers seems more a nod to their desire to wade in and bash heads against the more recalcitrant members of the very primitive societies they’ve conquered. You’re going to occasionally take an axe to the head when you do that. The thought that they’d have to build in effective technical defenses against class 2 / borderline class 1 civ sounds like it would have been considered utterly absurd prior to encountering humanity.

    Time to check B&N. They may not have strict street date stickers on the boxes.

  23. Dreadnaught says:

    Yes, the comment on the navy’s surface fleet spoke volumes of the USN’s submarines coming through, and perhaps in some numbers.
    And if the Shongarii were so unwise as to target ONLY the US and perhaps US bases in allied territory then there will be time for quite a few nations, some with atomic weapons, to spread their units out.
    Meanwhile a single nuke waiting at the landing could put paid to this invasion.

  24. Rosinante says:

    You are all forgetting something. The greatest weapon of all is surprise. It doesn’t matter how well armed you are if I can sneak up on you and hit you in the back of the head with a rock.

    Beside, they don’t have to kill them all. Only in Hollywood do military units fight to the last man. Even in the Great Patriotic War, Units on both sides would try to flee or surrender after a certain level of casualities were taken. If the victors were taking surrenders that day.
    The F-22 uses a IR-TV system that is passive and very accurate out to about 100Km’s. Or rumor has it. Just how much range is involved is a secret, so the 100Km’s might be disinformation.
    There is also a general misunderstanding over just what “stealth ” is. A better term is ‘low observability’ but the Media found ‘stealth’ more sexy so that is what we are stuck with.
    Low Observability applies across the EM spectrum. Radar. UV, IR, even sound and visual.
    So if our aliens find out the Air Farce is there by seeing their shuttles going down in flames, 2 or 3 kills per Raptor IS possible. It has happened before. IIRC Hartman shot down 12 Soviet fighters in less then 4 minutes one day. He worked his way up the formation, shooting the pilots. Black Cross, Red Star has a lot of things about the air war between the Soviets and Nazi’s.The Soviets had a pilot that destroyed 6 Nazi bombers by ramming. His luck ran out on #7.
    I’m not sure it is logistically possible to actually invade and conquer a plant with 6 billion inhabitants. Not without killing 5.9 billion first. And that would screw up the planet to the point where It wouldn’t be worth conquering.
    No, you do what the English did and set up locals as the rulers. Put a human face on it, sort of. You would still have to deal with several centuries of guerrillas.

    Of course, the plot requires that there be boots on the ground obviously. Since there are hundreds of historical examples of putting boots on the ground when it was a real stooooooopid thing to do it fits right in with a slightly better technologically advanced alien that isn’t the sharpest blade in the drawer. Some not so historical also.

  25. Tim says:

    That would leave nothing for our vampire allies to munch on.

  26. evilauthor says:

    I’m beginning to think that these vampires don’t exist…

  27. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Oh they exist.

    Unfortunately, none will show up before the snippets end.

    By the way, we’ll met one a few more chapters in but we’ll not learn that the individual is a vampire until close to the end of the book. [Evil Grin]

  28. Joe B says:

    Drak… looks like David needs to change the batteries in your snerk collar.

  29. Randy says:

    go to google books and read the preview, they have a lot more of the book than any other place

  30. 4th Dimension says:

    20@ I don’t exactly know about lower tech. Russians sure do build them to be tougher, at some expense of sophistication. But most of their fighter fleet by then should be advanced variants of Su-27, which have the arguably best maneuvering, and by this point they should have modernized much of their electronics. Also depending how far into the future this is, PAK-FA MIGHT be entering serial production.
    But all those airplanes are basically useless, unless they have an industry supporting them. Because once you exhaust all those missiles, and basic parts in local warehouse, that’s all you will be getting for foreseeable future.

  31. Ken says:

    From the book. Humans are different than the standard Alien Race. We are much more agressive (the agressive races exterminate themselves once they get level 2 tech). We are not herd or pack animals so we don’t just all surender when our leaders get killed. We are very individualistic with lots of family loyalties and some nationalistic loyalties thrown in. The aliens are going to be hit by small groups again and again. The ground units are going to take huge casualties over time. How many soldiers have they brought, perhaps 100,000 or so troops plus the colonists coming in later? Can they replace their destroyed shuttles, tanks or ammo? Without setting up factories on Earth they have to make due with what they have. It would take years to get back to homeworld and get reinforcements.

  32. Elim Garak says:

    @30 – Yup, that’s what I mean. The Russians are not going to have anything as advanced as the F22 for the next 5-10 years, at least. The Su-27 were designed mainly to compete with F-15’s. They are around 30 years old by now. While their avionics can be upgraded, it is a difficult and complex proposition.

    OTOH, since Russian hardware is made from the ground up to be as rugged as possible, I think they will be up in the air much longer than F-22’s and most other western planes. Russian systems are as rugged as they come, and thus will require far fewer parts and repairs. They can take off of tiny and dirty airfields, and function with minimal supply chains. Missile supply could be a problem, although given how much crap is lying around in Russia, I wouldn’t be surprised if most or a lot of it was missed by the bombardment.

  33. walt says:

    The Shonagiri should be preparing for war with the rest of the galaxy, all the stinking herbivs and omnivs, so their assault shuttles should be designed for Class-1 or Class-0 (or whatever they call themselves) civilizations. In fact, they should be designed to be able to assault one of their own worlds.

    I don’t think Weber will give them that much intelligence or forethought, and will probably make the shuttles super easy to shoot down, and make the F-22’s totally invisible to the alien invaders because the aliens need to be stupid, otherwise, the unit that survived wouldn’t be F-22’s, they’d be some National Guard unit riding F-4’s in a practice deployment to a Kansas cornfield or something, or some people running out of Area 51 to the boneyard and trying to get the A-7s into the air. ~~~~

  34. walt says:

    ~~~~

    I wonder what’s happening in Ukraine, what with all that left over Soviet stuff… or China, where local military commands try to have their own forces… so might be having lots of MiG-19s etc…

  35. B. B. Wolf 359 says:

    Some thoughts on the ’shuttles’/landers.

    This has little or nothing to do with the outcome of the coming air battle. This may be a better post for the Baen Bar, but here it is.

    The Shongairi, having used fission/fusion power generation for at least 1K years, therefore, would most likely use it for the power source on their ’shuttles’. Given the reported size, ‘three times the size of a C-5′, this would seem doable.

    Design specs for a shuttle to be used on planets with class/level 4 or less civilizations:

    Single Stage to Orbit + short deep space ferrying; required by the lack of target planet infrastructure.

    Power Plant(s); if they lack a small fusion reactor. my next choice would be a small core thorium-fueled fission reactor, for the fast shutdown, restart, throttling, & higher thermodynamic efficiency.

    Propulsion Engines; baring any fanciful antigravity, inertialess drive, a combo air & space engine using a heat exchanger & working fluid (atmospheric gases &/or water) would do the trick. They would lose some efficiency with a combo engine, but regain more than that by less mass & complexity.

    VTOL/STOL capable; the plans most likely called for water landings to begin with, no natural land LZ could be trusted till the engineers had OKed it. Also the working fluid for the engines would be rite there. Fortunately for the Shongairi, we have built airports all over the place for our own use that they can trust.

    The more I think about this, the more I think of the shuttles as depicted in James Cameron’s Avatar.

    Well this is all speculation. I’ll have to read the book to see if there is any hint about the workings of the ’shuttles’.

  36. B. B. Wolf 359 says:

    Some thoughts on the ’shuttles’/landers.

    This has little or nothing to do with the outcome of the coming air battle. This may be a better post for the Baen Bar, but here it is.

    The Shongairi, having used fission/fusion power generation for at least 1K years, therefore, would most likely use it for the power source on their ’shuttles’. Given the reported size, ‘three times the size of a C-5′, this would seem doable.

    Design specs for a shuttle to be used on planets with class/level 4 or less civilizations:

    Single Stage to Orbit + short deep space ferrying; required by the lack of target planet infrastructure.

    Power Plant(s); if they lack a small fusion reactor. my next choice would be a small core thorium-fueled fission reactor, for the fast shutdown, restart, throttling, & higher thermodynamic efficiency.

    Propulsion Engines; baring any fanciful antigravity, inertialess drive, a combo air & space engine using a heat exchanger & working fluid (atmospheric gases &/or water) would do the trick. They would lose some efficiency with a combo engine, but regain more than that by less mass & complexity.

    VTOL/STOL capable; the plans most likely called for water landings to begin with, no natural land LZ could be trusted till the engineers had OKed it. Also the working fluid for the engines would be rite there. Fortunately for the Shongairi, we have built airports all over the place for our own use that they can trust.

    The more I think about this, the more I think of the shuttles as depicted in James Cameron’s Avatar.

    Well this is all speculation. I’ll have to read the book to see if there is any hint about the workings of the ’shuttles’.

  37. B. B. Wolf 359 says:

    oops! Whin I submitted #33 it didn’t show up rite away. The server may have been updating. I hit submit again & it still didn’t show. So I hit reload & it came up over 40 min. later, with two of them.

  38. 4th Dimension says:

    @32 While I agree it’s less advanced than a modern 5th generation jet. Modern Su-27 variants are a completely different beast than their original forefathers from the ’80s. There is nothing on those planes that hasn’t been modernized. Hell they even streamlined their bodies. A modern one has 3D vectoring, phased array radar, glass cockpit, and more.
    But that all depends on what year this is supposed to be.

    The biggest problem they’ll face is that Russia is so huge, survivors will have problem linking up.

  39. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Walt, the Shonagiri don’t need assault shuttles when going against the “rest of the galaxy”.

    There is some interstellar warfare at their tech level and nobody continues the fight after one side takes control of the orbital space of the planet.

    Only humans would be insane enough to keep on fighting in that situation. [Wink]

    OF course, even if they had assault shuttles, they had no idea that they would need them when attacking Earth.

  40. @29

    …what he suggested…

    And mentioning recycling tropes, we have yet to hear the question asked ‘do they fry up right good with nuclear habanero sauce, just like sushi, or do you need to use Ghost Chili?’ But you know it is coming. [No it is not in the previews].

  41. 33

    I believe the Shongairi have worked out that they should not advertise what they are doing, and there is no rational reason to build landers that need more than class 4 defenses.

  42. However, it is in other parts of the world that people eat dog meat, so perhaps there will be a memo to the misfortunate alien commander about shongairi szechuan style.

  43. Michael says:

    Reading the book now, BTW. Barns & Nobles has it on the shelf.

  44. TimC says:

    @43
    Unfortunately not the B&N where I am, and I am off back to the UK on Wednesday!

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