Though winded from the climb, Lieutenant Mortas still took one last look at the broken lifeboat far below. Its reactive pigmentation had colored the fuselage to match the orange and brown environment, but the break midway along the giant cylinder still showed up clearly. He marveled at his own desire to return to it, and couldn’t decide if that impulse came from a wish to maintain his only link with civilization or simple fear of the unknown.
Turning away, he looked across the rough plateau at the top of the ridge they’d just climbed and decided it was fear of the unknown. There was plenty of that.
Corporal Cranther had been right in saying that the entire planet seemed made of rock. The ridge, and the smaller one next to it, represented the only high ground for many miles and gave them an excellent view of an appalling nothing. A flat plain stretched away on every side, ending on an empty horizon except for two dark elevations so distant that they could have been mountains or clouds. Or maybe a mountain chain with clouds. The rock beneath their boots was alternately red and orange, although it was covered in places by thin topsoil that was either brown or tan. Tiny vegetation in the form of yellow grass or sickly star-shaped creepers clung to it, but in the ravine there had at least been some scrub brush.
“Water. Gotta be water somewhere.” Cranther had whispered, pointing at the bushes before they began the climb.
Starting the walk up the steep ridge, Mortas had felt his concern changing to a feeling of unreality. His companions were so unfamiliar, and their environment so hopeless, that it was easier to believe it wasn’t actually happening. In short, it didn’t fit his idea of war and so he rejected it.
But now, having reached the deserted plateau in the gathering darkness, able to see just enough to know that they were truly marooned and that there might not be another living soul on the planet, Mortas could finally admit the crushing disappointment of it all. He’d come out here to serve humanity, to lead others like himself in combat, and to die if necessary in that effort.
Instead, it was beginning to look like he was going to die very slowly on a planet whose name he didn’t even know. A planet that was so worthless that neither side had even bothered to claim it.
Excerpt from: Glory Main: The Sim War, Book One by Henry V. O’Neil
Vincent H. O’Neil (aka Henry V. O’Neil) graduated from West Point in 1985 and served for several years as an officer in the US Army Infantry. His military science fiction novel Glory Main draws heavily from his experiences in the Army’s grueling two-month Ranger course, where the students are fed little and allowed to sleep even less, carrying heavy loads and performing complex tasks while being harassed by their graders. As one of his classmates said after reading Glory Main: “Your book is Ranger School in outer space.”
He is also the author of the Frank Cole mystery series (Murder in Exile, Reduced Circumstances, Exile Trust, and Contest of Wills) as well as the theater-themed mystery Death Troupe and the horror novel Interlands.
Glory Main is the first book in a new military science fiction series from HarperVoyager. The sequel, Orphan Brigade, will be released in January, 2015.
ISBN 10: 0062359185
Imprint: Harper Voyager Impulse