Here’s a short tease from Battle Wounds, the next short story in the Honor & Duty Series. It is the rough draft, so there very well may be errors and, by the time publication comes around, there may be changes made. In the meantime, enjoy!
“Ready. . . Aim . . . Fire!”
Three times the order was given. Three times the sound of gunfire filled the air as uniformed Marines shouldered bolt-action rifles no longer carried by any member of the military. Even now, centuries after the last such rifle had been carried into battle, tradition required the rifles, lovingly recreated from plans long since declared obsolete, be brought out to honor the fallen. Much like the ceremony surrounding such funerals, the rifles harkened back to a different place and time.
This wasn’t the first military funeral Captain Ashlyn Shaw had attended and she knew it would not be the last. They were at war with an enemy determined to destroy Fuercon and its allies. That meant deaths were inevitable, possibly even her own. But that would not stop her from honoring the fallen.
Unlike those other funerals, each time a volley sounded, Shaw could almost feel the bullets ripping through her. Tears burned her eyes as the honor guard carefully folded the Fuerconese flag draping the casket. Then, with a precision part of her could only envy, Sgt. M. J. Adamson presented the flag to Major Paul Pawlak, their commanding officer. Expression grim, he accepted the flag and executed a precise about face before he took a step toward the four people sitting in front of those gathered to pay their respects one last time.
In the week the Wolf’s Bane had been back in-system, three other members of First Division Second Battalion Delta Company of the Fuerconese Marine Corps had been laid to rest. Each Marine had lost his or her life, not fighting dirtside as planned, not even fighting to secure the Wolf’s Bane from boarders or in boarding an enemy vessel. They had died because the ship’s commander had led Task Force Talon into a trap. Then he failed to order their withdrawal before the proverbial shit hit the fan.
Shaw remained ramrod straight as Pawlak knelt in front of Corporal Camilla Lahti’s parents and younger brothers. He spoke softly for a few moments. She didn’t need to hear what he said to know he was assuring them Lahti had been a valued member of the Devil Dogs and had died a hero. He wouldn’t tell them the truth about how she died, not here and maybe not ever. Knowing the circumstances of Lahti’s death would not help them cope with the knowledge their much loved Milla would never again return home.
“Mr. and Mrs. Lahti, the Devil Dogs are your family now. If you need anything, all you need do is ask,” he said, raising his voice enough for the rest of them to hear.
As one, the members of First Division Second Battalion Fuerconese Marine Corps responded, their voices ringing out on the wind. “Ooh-rah!”
Pawlak handed Lahti’s mother the now-folded flag. The moment he stood, Shaw called all Devil Dogs present, which meant every member not currently confined to the hospital, to attention. As one, their right hands slowly raised to salute their fallen comrade. Then, one by one, every other Marine unit represented followed suit. The Corps would honor its dead and then take care of the living.
Battle Wounds is the third short story in the Honor & Duty Series.
Duty, honor, sacrifice. That motto meant everything to newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Ashlyn Shaw. She thought she understood the meaning of those simple words. Little did she know.
Challenged by those who believed she made it through the Academy on her family’s coattails, a roommate who just wants to see “some action” and a gunnery sergeant determined to make a real Marine out of her, Ash soon realizes what it means to be a Marine. As the signs point to war on the horizon, she is determined to do everything she can to serve Fuercon and do the Corps proud.
Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.
Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.
The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.
(Book 1, Honor and Duty)
First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.
Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.
But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.