Gust Front John Ringo



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Author's Afterword


On September 10, 1998, my father died of a stroke while watching a rerun of Seinfeld.

It was the first cool day of the fall after an awful, sticky summer of blazing heat, repeated heart attacks and kidney failures. The day had been his first good one in six months and fall was his favorite time of year, so it was doubly auspicious.

There is no such thing as "a good day to die." But there are better and worse. Taking the alternative of D-Day or the Battle of the Bulge or the Hurtgen Forest or Iwo Jima, where so many of his fellow age-mates died, an apparently fast stroke while laughing at Jerry's antics is fair.

I mention my father for two reasons. The first is that I keep his generation in mind while writing my books. The societal conditions that provided the soldiers for the American Army in WWII were unprecedented in history. It was a society that was as technologically adept as any in the world, but that had fallen upon hard times so that there was a great need for work. Also those hard times had hammered out some of the impurities in the metal already. What was left was pretty good iron that was turned to steel by 1944.

Which, if a similar situation were to occur today, would not be the case. Personally, I like the present day. This is, unless anyone is confused, a golden age. With all the ills of a golden age. (Read The Decameron and tell me that there is a new ill under the sun.) But, given the choice between a decadent golden age and a stoic time of privation and war . . . give me the golden age.

But—there is always a but, isn't there? But, if a situation were to occur today which called for a national will to survival, it would be difficult to replicate that "Greatest Generation." First we would have to go through the sort of pre-tempering that occurred with the Great Depression, getting out all the "lesser" impurities. Only then would we as a nation be prepared for the greater tests.

And I personally don't think we would have the time. So, I always keep my father, and his generation, in the forefront of my mind.

The second reason that I mention my father is that he turned me on to Kipling. I spent about a day of my week's leave after Airborne school at home (hey, there were girls and bottles out there pining for me). And just before I left, my dad handed me this really beat-up old book. He told me that his dad had given it to him before he went to England in 1944 and that it was time to pass it on. I didn't really think anything of it at the time (girls and bottles) but later, after I settled in at my permanent party, I pulled it out and gave it a look.

The Mandalay Edition of the Works of Rudyard Kipling, Departmental Ditties, Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses/Five Nations and the Seven Seas by Rudyard Kipling. Doubleday, Page & Company, Garden City, NY, 1925. Note the last poem is "To Wolcott Balestier," the dedication to Barrack-Room Ballads.

For the longest time I thought I was the only person in the world who still read Kipling. Then an old Vietnam Vet first sergeant (a guy I didn't even know could read) dropped a quote. Then I heard a general "kipple." A battalion commander. A sergeant. A visiting SAS sergeant major presented a bound collection to our battalion CSM. And I found out a little secret; there are damn few warriors in the world who don't like Kipling. There are some who don't know about him, but the ones who do are fanatics. It's almost a way to separate the sheep from the goats.

For anyone who has never read Kipling, if you like my books get a Kipling collection. Rudyard could say it as no one before or since has been able to say it. He speaks to the heart and soul of the soldier. In the end, we're all Tommies (or M.I. or Sappers or Oont drivers) at heart.

And that is the other reason I bring up my dad.

* * *

William Pryor Ringo,
Captain US Army Corps Of Engineers (ret.) P.E.

Born: July 24, 1924

Died: September 10, 1998



Me that 'ave been what I've been—
Me that 'ave gone where I've gone—
Me that 'ave seen what I've seen—
. . .
Me!


Glossary


Aarnadaha

Posleen Senior Battlemaster (Brigade commander).

abat

A nearly impossible to eradicate small pest on Posleen landers.

Adenast

Federation world on the far side of space from the Posleen invasion.

Aelool

Indowy Master Craftsman.

AFV

Armored Fighting Vehicle. Heavily armed personnel carrier or tank.

Agincourt

Fast Frigate in Earth Defense Region.

a-hoo-wah

Motivational or "battle" cry.

AirCav

Air Cavalry. Helicopter-borne scouts.

AIW

Advanced Infantry Weapon.

Alld'nt

Demons or sky gods of the Posleen pan-theology. Reputed to give great gifts but to also cause great harm.

Alrantath

Posleen battalion commander subordinate to Ardan'aath.

Althanara

Posleen Scoutmaster.

Anarlaralta

Posleen Scoutmaster subordinate to Alrantath (eson'antai).

Andatha

Region on Barwhon where majority of US expeditionary force is engaged.

APC

Armored personnel carrier. Lightly armed, lightly armored metal box on tracks.

Aradan

Posleen name for the star the Federation calls Diess.

Ardan'aath

Posleen brigade commander. Allied with Kenallai.

Arnata'dra

Posleen Scoutmaster, subordinate to Kenallurial.

Ashkabad

City in Turkmenistan.

Atalanara

Posleen company commander, allied with Kenallurial.

AWOL

Absent Without Leave.

Barrett Firearms

Manufacturer of a (really cool) .50-caliber sniper rifle. Based in Murfreesboro, TN.

Barwhon

Tchpth settled planet. Cool and wet with almost continuous swamps, lakes, rivers and bogs.

battlecase

Large ammunition box for feeding a manjack.

BattleDec

Short for Battle dodecahedron. A Posleen conglomerate ship consisting of an inner dodecahedral command ship (C-Dec) and twelve landers.

Battleglobe

A large Posleen conglomerate ship consisting of multiple hundreds of B-Decs.

Battlemaster

Posleen grade. Equivalent to captain-full colonel. Although all Posleen God Kings (Kessentai) are nominally independent, in general junior officers look to senior officers for direction.

Battlenet

Human Command Network for Continental Defense.

B-Dec

See BattleDec.

BDUs

Battle Dress Uniform. The US Ground Force standard camouflage field uniform.

Belvoir, Fort

Headquarters of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Located just outside of Washington, D.C.

Beretta

Standard 9mm sidearm of US Ground Force.

berm

An elongated pile of dirt used for cover.

Blackhawk

Military medium lift helicopter designated UH-60.

bowsers

Military tanker trucks.

Bradleys

Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV). Crew of two, holds eight infantrymen. Armed with a 25mm chaingun and a TOW-2 Missile Launcher.

Bragg, Fort

Home of the Airborne. Located in central North Carolina.

Bullpup

Design of assault rifle. Places the ammunition magazine behind the firing hand thus shortening the overall length of the weapon.

Bushmaster

25mm chaingun mounted on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

caltrop

Four-pointed spike device designed so that one point always faces up.

castellaine

The manager of a Posleen estate.

cav

Cavalry.

C-Dec

Command Dodecahedron. Holds the senior God King of a Posleen "B-Dec" conglomerate and its most heavily armed normals. Is usually the center ship of a B-Dec. Has interstellar drive. Holds 1400–1800 Normals and 3–6 God Kings along with some light, simple armor.

chai

British Navy word for tea.

circumvallated

Surrounded by fortifications.

clacker

Detonation device for a claymore directional mine. So called because when compressed it makes a distinctive "clack" sound.

claymore

Directional mine. Consists of a convexly curved box with two ports for detonators on the top. The rear is a thin metal plate, then a sheet of explosive, then 750 ball bearings.

CONARC

Continental Army Command.

COS

Chief of Staff.

cratering

Detonating explosives so as to cause a large crater. This is primarily used as an obstacle.

CSP

Combat Space Patrol.

Cyberpunk

Elite information warfare unit. Extremely secretive.

Dantren

Indowy Megascraper Deushi Megalopolis. Refuge for mobile forces.

Darhel

Galactic Federation race.

DataNet

Posleen information network. Very similar to the internet except without any indexing tools.

defilade

Maneuvering to obtain cover from terrain

detcord

Explosive cord. Similar to fusecord, but explodes instead of burning.

didee-mao

Vietnamese: Retreat.

Diess

Indowy Planet. Under assault by the Posleen.

DivArty

Division Artillery.

Dunkirked

Evacuated by water.

edan

Posleen: Battle madness.

edas'antai

Posleen: Primary genetic sponsor. Father.

emphysemic

A person who has emphysema.

enfilading

Fire from the flank.

esonal

Posleen: Ovipositor.

eson'antai

Posleen: Primary genetic derivative. Son.

Farbase

Primary military base on the moon. Hidden on the backside in a crater to reduce ehance of detection by the Posleen.

Fars

Primary plateau of the country of Iran.

FedCreds

Federation Credits.

firebase

Heavily defended base where artillery is concentrated.

FireTac

Artillery Coordination Network.

Fistnal

Posleen: Damned. (Lit. "Eaten" reduced from "Eaten by sky demons.")

flechette

Finned metal dart.

flikker

To turn in the air like a hummingbird.

Fredericksburg

Town in central Virginia.

Fort A.P. Hill

Military base in central Virginia.

fuscirt

Posleen: Demons.

fuscirto

Posleen: Demons. Part of a wordy curse that translates more or less as "Demon Feces."

Galil

Name of an Israeli assault rifle.

GalMed

Galactic Medications. General name for a wide variety of medications the Federation has supplied to Earth.

GalTech

Galactic Technologies. General name for a wide variety of technologies the Federation has supplied to Earth.

Gamalada

Clan of the Po'oslenar.

Gatling

Type of automatic weapon that has multiple barrels.

ghillie

Type of camouflage suit used to break up the outline of an infantryman or sniper. Introduced by Scottish gamekeepers (or poachers alternately) during WWI.

Ghurka

Elite Nepalese Mercenary Infantry.

Glock

Type of pistol.

grat

Rare but extremely unpleasant pest of the Posleen. Resembles a very large ant and forms colonies.

Hiberzine

Galactic drug that causes almost instantaneous unconsciousness and places the user in a state of virtual suspended animation for up to 180 days. Combines pharmacological substances with nannites. Dosage is managed internally to the substance so that there is no chance of an over- or underdose.

Himmit

Federation race. Racial cowards and long-ranging

scouts.

Hummelstown

Town outside of Fort Indiantown Gap.

Humvee

High Mobility Multi-Use Vehicle (HMMV).

HVM

Hypervelocity Missiles.

Indiantown Gap, Fort

Military post in Pennsylvania near Harrisburg.

Indowy

Galactic race. Short bipeds with apparently innate ability with technology and tools.

Irmansul

Galactic planet under threat of invasion by the Posleen.

Isfahan

Town in central Iran. Famous for its rugs.

Kasserine

Town in Morocco where the US Army suffered an early defeat in WWII at the hands of the German Afrikacorps.

Kenallai

Posleen: Senior battlemaster. Equivalent to a colonel or brigadier general.

Kenallurial

Gene derivative of Kenallai. Equivalent to a lieutenant or captain.

Kenstain

Posleen: Term for a castellaine. Castellaines are a lower "caste" God King and are formed from God Kings that have either voluntarily stopped fighting or were incompetent or cowardly.

Kessanalt

Posleen: Battle honor.

Kessentai

Posleen: God King (translates literally as "Philosopher" or "Thinker").

Kevlar

Aramide fiber used in body armor. Also used to refer to the helmets made of it that are worn by US Ground Force personnel.

Kiowa

Scout helicopter.

klicks

Short for "kilometer."

laager

Grouping of tanks or other fighting vehicles.

lidar

Laser detection system.

Maglite

Type of flashlight often preferred by police and special operations personnel.

Manassas

Town in north-central Virginia.

manjack

Automated machine gun.

Mashad

Major city in northeastern Iran.

Mayport

City and naval base in northeastern Florida near Jacksonville.

McCall, Camp

Small military base near the much larger Fort Bragg.

Milnet

Military internet interface and analogue.

Milspecs

Galactic Technology glasses. In appearance simple "wrap-around" sunglasses. Provide full light enhancement ability.

Minié

Type of bullet used by both sides during the Civil War.

monomolecular

Single very large molecule. A substance that is not only incredibly strong but also almost infinitely thin and therefore sharp.

Montrose Heights

Large hill overlooking Richmond, VA.

Mosby Hill

Large hill overlooking Richmond, VA.

MRE

Meals-Ready-To-Eat. Military combat rations. Come in plastic packaging.

Myer, Fort

Military base near Washington, D.C.

nannites

Very small mechano-electric machines that are used for a wide variety of purposes by the Galactic Federation.

NCO

Noncommissioned Officer.

Nomex

Fireproof fabric.

Occoquan

River, town and reservoir in northern Virginia.

oolt

Posleen: Group or company. (Lit. "Pack")

Oolton

Posleen: Battalion or brigade. Used interchangeably. (Lit. "Big Pack")

oolt'ondai

Posleen: Battalion or brigade commander. (Lit. "Big pack leader")

oolt'ondar

Posleen: Battalion or brigade.

oolt'os

Posleen: Posleen normal. (Lit. "Pack member")

Oolt'pos

Posleen: Command Dodecahedron. Holds 1400– 1800 Normals and 3–6 God Kings along with some light, simple armor.

orna'adar

Posleen: Final battle or Ragnarok. A scramble for dwindling resources that leads to destruction of the world and extinction of all the Posleen on it.

Panatellas

Long, thin cigars.

Panzergrenadier

German Mechanized Infantry.

PDC

Planetary Defense Center.

plasteel

Galactic armor material.

Po'oslena'ar

Posleen: "The People of the Ships."

Po'osol

Posleen: Lander. Holds 400–600 normals and one God King.

Posleen

Enemy aliens. Yellow-grey centauroids. Thirteen to fifteen hands high at the shoulder. Arms jut from a combination shoulder. Sauroid head with multiple teeth is mounted on a long, snake-like neck. "Hands" are four-fingered talons with an opposable talon, similar to a fish-eating bird of prey. Feet are foreshortened talons adapted for running and slashing.

Proteans

Term for current generation of manjacks.

Provigil

Anti-sleep drug.

Pyronics

Manufacturer of the world's leading detonators, preferred by professional demolition personnel and terrorists the world over.

Qualtren

Megascraper on Diess.

Quantico

Military base in central Virginia.

Quarles Gas

Petroleum supply company outside of Fredericksburg, VA.

Rabun Gap

Low pass in the Appalachians in northern Georgia.

radome

Radar Dome.

Ragnarok

The end of the world in Norse mythology.

railguns

Rifle that accelerates its projectiles magnetically.

Rappahanock

River in central Virginia.

Reaver

155mm wheeled mobile artillery.

REMF

Military acronym that starts with "Rear" and "Echelon" and goes downhill from there.

Reticulan

"Like a net." Military plan that called for distributed forces so that no single force would be landed upon and destroyed by the Posleen. Referred to as "victory in detail" by its proponents and "Ridicuplan" by its opponents.

Richbrau

Microbrewery in Richmond, VA.

Robertson, Frank,

Commander of the 229th Engineering Battalion,

Lieutenant Colonel

Light. Fredericksburg, VA.

Rockledge Manor

Restored home in Occoquan.

rubbling

Destroying structures to produce rubble for defenses.

Sammadar

Posleen Battalion commander.

Schockoe Bottom

An area of late 19th-century factories in Richmond,

VA.

SecDef

Secretary of Defense.

Simosin, Arkady

10th Corps Commander.

SpecOps

Special Operations.

Spotsylvania

County in Virginia.

Stenarnatta

Posleen Battalion commander.

Sten'lonoral

Posleen Command ship/battalion commander.

TacCO

Tactical Actions Officer for Continental Defense Command.

TacSO

Tactical Systems Officer for Continental Defense Command.

Tamerlane

Name often used for Timur, a Mongol invader of Iran who destroyed the last remnants of the Persian Empire.

tanglefoot

Barbed wire stretched taut at knee height designed to catch and "tangle" assaulting enemy troops.

Tchpth

Galactic race. Pseudoarthropods with a remarkable resemblance, other than being blue and red, to a Dungeness crab. Renowned scientists and philosophers.

Tel'enaa

Battle Demons. Part of a wordy curse. (Demons of battle eat and defecate their souls!)

te'naal

Berserk charge.

Tenal'ont

Posleen company commander.

tenar

Posleen God King's saucer vehicle. Has a heavy weapon mounted on it and a suite of sensors.

terawatt

One trillion watts.

Thermopylae

A famous defense in ancient Greece. Also, a primarily automatic close defense system for battleships.

thresh

Posleen: Food.

Threshkreen

Posleen: Enemy. (Translates literally as "food with a bite.")

Thunderchiefs

Air Force aerobatics demonstration team.

Tindar

Clan of the Darhel.

Tir

Intermediate rank Darhel.

Tir Dol Ron

Darhel senior executive.

uut

Posleen: Fecal matter.

Zoroaster

Primary god of the religion that preceded Islam in Persia.


Maps











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