A Desert Called Peace - If I Did It: War on Terror Edition

Techpriest

Praise the Machine Spirits
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While Caliphate wasn't terrible, Kratman's Carrera series is just... wonky. The colonized 'New Terra' seems to have undergone the exact same goddamn rough arc of history that the original Earth did -- down to a quasi-WW2 where the Japanese colony got nuked by the USA colony. And then the UN nuked the USA colony, which pissed them off so bad they instituted a black project that culminated in developing good enough surface-to-space weapons that they could threaten the UN spaceships around the planet.

I don't blame people for pirating the books. But Michael Z. Williamson's stuff is a bit better.
Caliphate is a book that is silly, with dumb stuff in it and is your typical baen thriller. Hot chick, evil dudes, race against time etc etc. Its not a very good book, but it has its charm and fridge logic. It’s self contained.

The Carerra stuff is... kind of disturbing. It’s Tom’s self insert doing terrible terrible things. The politics isn’t something you can filter out of it; Tom one hundred percent believes every word he puts in this series. Gays, Muslims, and anyone even slightly left of center or doesn’t share his views is evil and must be destroyed. Tom goes one hundred percent bugfuck crazy in writing this. I didn’t want to fully touch on the lazy as fuck world building or some of Tom’s really out there views until later as they start to come up, but let’s talk about this now so you understand half of why I’m reviewing/let’s reading this.

Tom is an ideological fanatic, plain and simple. He’s a person willing to white wash a whole organization that committed horrific war crimes on every front and not only on opposing soldiers but also on civilian populations, just because they fought communists. Tom’s world building in many ways reflects this kind of ideological fanaticism. The science fiction element of A Desert Called Peace are slapped on to provide his sandbox/soapbox to express his views and justify them to the reader and to himself. The history of Terra Nova reads as such - hell, the US analog fought alongside the German analog in their world war.

The other factor is that Tom Kratman feels slighted and disappointed by the army, and has never gotten over this. He was in Panama during the invasion to depose Noriega, and never saw combat. I fully believe he partly joined the army because he wanted to kill someone, become the action hero he views himself as, and be lauded for it. Tom Kratman never got a command over a large unit, probably because people above him noticed his sociopathic tendencies and realized he’d either get killed by his men or get them killed by ignoring risks in training. This whole series is his way of taking vengeance upon those he dislikes.

Tom’s purpose in writing this book is to push his view of what a military should be like. Dangerous live action exercises during training, emphasis on small unit actions and aggression (which is understandable and somewhat needed for an infantry officer) and a focus almost exclusively on the tactical level. He writes a TOE for every single engagement in his books, down to shit like “motorized pleasure girls” and has the enemy constantly foiled by basic tactical thinking, or just digging in and fighting from fixed positions. His ideal form of warfare is the only form of warfare that works and by god he’s going to show you that form and how it is the only way to win while the hide bound army with things like “operational concerns” and “rules of engagement” bumbles around and is out maneuvered by his legion.

I’m no military genius, and I’m totally willing to admit I might be totally reading this entire thing wrong. But this book and series is I think critical in understanding how Kratman thinks. He wants to be a warrior philosopher like Marcus Aurelius or Musashi, or that hard man making hard decisions while hard. He views any critique of his work as an attack on him because consciously or not this is him, with no pretense of civility or any kind of restraint.

The other half of the reason to review it is the absurdity of it. He puts people he doesn’t like in the books and gets them killed, horribly, he writes nonsensical bullshit like the restaurant scene that is so cheesy you can taste it, everything from the names of the country and the world building itself to the forces he creates is so barely hidden in a way that is so stupid you can’t help but enjoy how dumb he thinks his audience is. Every character is a card board cut out and even the offensive stereotypes are so over the top one dimensional and the casual racism/xenophobia so ludicrously over blown. There’s a checklist of silly dumb bullshit he has and it’s so formulaic it’s fun to look at the absolute dumpster fire here and try to figure out if he’s doing it if he genuinely thinks this is good writing or if it’s this intentionally boilerplate so he can crank them out David Weber style. I can’t help but imagine some poor editor in the basement of Baen publishing finding this whole thing in an even less coherent ramble, written by hand with little doodles of angry faces, dicks, and explosions in the margines, then having to piece together everything over several bottles of Jack Daniels a week before the deadline. Tom I think genuinely tries to write something entertaining and like Ringo’s paladins but without the tongue in cheek sort of feeling I pick up from some of Ringo’s work. It’s almost endearing.

TL;DR Tom’s probably a sociopath and his attempts to communicate with normal humans are unintentionally funny and horrifying all at the same time
 

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Caliphate is a book that is silly, with dumb stuff in it and is your typical baen thriller. Hot chick, evil dudes, race against time etc etc. Its not a very good book, but it has its charm and fridge logic. It’s self contained.

The Carerra stuff is... kind of disturbing. It’s Tom’s self insert doing terrible terrible things. The politics isn’t something you can filter out of it; Tom one hundred percent believes every word he puts in this series. Gays, Muslims, and anyone even slightly left of center or doesn’t share his views is evil and must be destroyed. Tom goes one hundred percent bugfuck crazy in writing this. I didn’t want to fully touch on the lazy as fuck world building or some of Tom’s really out there views until later as they start to come up, but let’s talk about this now so you understand half of why I’m reviewing/let’s reading this.
Then again, considering how much trouble leftism has been causing sane people of late, sometimes I wonder...

(Insert 'Kratman did nothing wrong' memes here. Lulz.)

Tom is an ideological fanatic, plain and simple. He’s a person willing to white wash a whole organization that committed horrific war crimes on every front and not only on opposing soldiers but also on civilian populations, just because they fought communists. Tom’s world building in many ways reflects this kind of ideological fanaticism. The science fiction element of A Desert Called Peace are slapped on to provide his sandbox/soapbox to express his views and justify them to the reader and to himself. The history of Terra Nova reads as such - hell, the US analog fought alongside the German analog in their world war.

The other factor is that Tom Kratman feels slighted and disappointed by the army, and has never gotten over this. He was in Panama during the invasion to depose Noriega, and never saw combat. I fully believe he partly joined the army because he wanted to kill someone, become the action hero he views himself as, and be lauded for it. Tom Kratman never got a command over a large unit, probably because people above him noticed his sociopathic tendencies and realized he’d either get killed by his men or get them killed by ignoring risks in training. This whole series is his way of taking vengeance upon those he dislikes.
Where are you getting this from? I can buy the sociopathy (because to be blunt, most successful military men need at least a little of that), but I've never heard some of this.

Tom’s purpose in writing this book is to push his view of what a military should be like. Dangerous live action exercises during training, emphasis on small unit actions and aggression (which is understandable and somewhat needed for an infantry officer) and a focus almost exclusively on the tactical level. He writes a TOE for every single engagement in his books, down to shit like “motorized pleasure girls” and has the enemy constantly foiled by basic tactical thinking, or just digging in and fighting from fixed positions. His ideal form of warfare is the only form of warfare that works and by god he’s going to show you that form and how it is the only way to win while the hide bound army with things like “operational concerns” and “rules of engagement” bumbles around and is out maneuvered by his legion.

I’m no military genius, and I’m totally willing to admit I might be totally reading this entire thing wrong. But this book and series is I think critical in understanding how Kratman thinks. He wants to be a warrior philosopher like Marcus Aurelius or Musashi, or that hard man making hard decisions while hard. He views any critique of his work as an attack on him because consciously or not this is him, with no pretense of civility or any kind of restraint.
Yeah, his stuff is laden with Boring Invincible Hero aspects. I was scratching my head at the last book, trying to figure out how he writes his way out of this corner considering he has the equivalent of Belize about to go nose to nose with China after thrashing the EU.

The other half of the reason to review it is the absurdity of it. He puts people he doesn’t like in the books and gets them killed, horribly, he writes nonsensical bullshit like the restaurant scene that is so cheesy you can taste it, everything from the names of the country and the world building itself to the forces he creates is so barely hidden in a way that is so stupid you can’t help but enjoy how dumb he thinks his audience is. Every character is a card board cut out and even the offensive stereotypes are so over the top one dimensional and the casual racism/xenophobia so ludicrously over blown. There’s a checklist of silly dumb bullshit he has and it’s so formulaic it’s fun to look at the absolute dumpster fire here and try to figure out if he’s doing it if he genuinely thinks this is good writing or if it’s this intentionally boilerplate so he can crank them out David Weber style. I can’t help but imagine some poor editor in the basement of Baen publishing finding this whole thing in an even less coherent ramble, written by hand with little doodles of angry faces, dicks, and explosions in the margines, then having to piece together everything over several bottles of Jack Daniels a week before the deadline. Tom I think genuinely tries to write something entertaining and like Ringo’s paladins but without the tongue in cheek sort of feeling I pick up from some of Ringo’s work. It’s almost endearing.

TL;DR Tom’s probably a sociopath and his attempts to communicate with normal humans are unintentionally funny and horrifying all at the same time
Putting people you don't like into books so you can abuse them is as old as Galileo, friend. Seriously.

But yeah. He makes John Ringo look sensitive and intellectual by comparison. At least Ringo's protagonist in Paladin of Shadows is specifically shown to be seriously fucked in the head.
 
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Techpriest

Praise the Machine Spirits
kiwifarms.net
Where are you getting this from? I can buy the sociopathy (because to be blunt, most successful military men need at least a little of that), but I've never heard some of this.
His service records. He was never given a command at the battalion level - which while not unusual for a LtC, becomes more suspicious when you consider the era he served in and his branch. Something like 70 to 80 percent of infantry service officers of that rank get a battalion command at some point. The thread on Kratman has the post that specifies it in a bit more detail. Instead, he was shuffled off to desk jobs way out of the way of direct command of a combat unit. My guess is that during an evaluation exercise where he was given command he fucked up to the point they sidelined him into being an administrative desk jockey and recruiter. Given the sort of tactical thinking he shows in the books, it’s probably because he either wasn’t flexible in his responses or failed to seize the initiative. Combine that with his thoughts on training (which I’m 100% sure he couldn’t keep to himself) and someone marked him as unfit for frontline command service but still useful. Kratman of course, resents this.

Also while having controlled sociopathic behavior or being able to psychologically accept ordering men to do things that will result in their deaths is important for an officer and a soldier, actual sociopaths do not do well in the military with rare exceptions. After the 70’s, the army started to pay way more attention to the mental state of commanders, mostly to avoid incidents like the Tiger Force and other units that committed war crimes at the prompting and leadership of their officers. Command culture and it’s trickle down effects in the units they lead is a fascinating thing from an outsider perspective.

EDIT: For clarification, he held a few company command level positions, before being sidelined into administrative roles. Including one horrifyingly enough, where he had input on training. Notably it's after that command (and it's never said how long he held that, I can't assume more than a couple months) when he was put into being in charge of recruiting, and then a stint in Saudi Arabia during the run up to desert storm where he was a staff guy for a Civil Affairs battalion, and then a staff guy again during Desert Storm. I have nothing against staff guys, personally, it's a pretty thankless task I'd assume and I can understand why Kratman's so bitter about not getting a shot at actual command due to a medical discharge before OIF.

CHAPTER 3: WHERE KRATMAN HENNESSY HAS FLASHBACKS TO HIS TIME IN PANAMA BALBOA

To start with, Kratman Hennessey is writing a book on the intervention by the United States of America Federated States of Columbia to depose a military dictator in Panama Balboa. This was in the last chapter but I omitted it because I thought it'd be a throw away line with no relevance. It has some relevance now, but it's more a way to work character exposition and backstory in. It's not a bad idea, but the execution is... well, it's not very good. Bolded sections are my emphasis.

Hennessey remembered, too, the mix of excitement and eagerness, on the one hand, and regret that his company's target for the attack was also the responsibility of his best friend, on the other, to defend. Although it hadn't been his first action (it had been his first official action . . . but there was that letter of reprimand over his taking "leave" in San Vincente, after all), he remembered being nervous.

When he'd first been told, he had asked to be given a different mission, any different mission. The battalion commander, however, had very reasonably pointed out that the Federated States wished to keep even enemy casualties low.

"And, Captain Hennessey," the colonel had emphasized, "since Captain Jimenez of the overstuffed and underarmed brigade we call the Balboa Defense Corps is your friend, since you command the most powerful ground striking force in the country and since the fall of Jimenez's charge, the Estado Mayor, can reasonably be expected to cause the rest of the BDC to fold, there is a) some chance that you might be able to induce him to surrender and b) no chance that anyone else could."

"No, sir, not a chance, sir," had been Hennessey's answer. "Zip, zilch, zero, none, nada. You don't know him like I do. Jimenez is first rate all the way. His mother could ask and he'd tell her to fuck off, the same as he will me."

"Do it anyway," the colonel insisted.
Yes. He included bullet points in dialog.

Hennessey's reminiscences were suddenly interrupted as the rain promised by the afternoon's darkened skies came down in a deluge. Its heavy pounding on the tiles of the roof and the stones of the courtyard returned him to the present.

Even as it did so, Jimenez remembered, It rained that night, too. . . .
All of the flashbacks from Jimenez are told in italics. Despite the previous flashback being not in italics. I get this was a first work, but holy fuck Tom Kratman, were you too busy masturbating over the idea of your fake wife and future space muslim genocide to try and be consistent? Also, it was a dark and stormy night. This is so fucking creative.

Anyway the whole incident starts out because not Noriega is a drunk, shit's about to go down, and Jimenez of course refers to Kratman Hennessey as the best of the best about to take him down, a Panamanian Balboan corporal shoots up the car of a US FS naval officer, killing him. Said corporal is then part of a group that surrounds a civilian couple proceeds to threaten the wife of the man with gangrape. There's more inconsistencies here, people being referred to as alternately a navy officer or a civilian and they're the same person maybe? Also spying? Probably? It's a bit of a mess. This whole chapter is an inconsistent mess.

Then for some reason, Kratman Hennessey's flashbacks start to go italic as well. It's a pretty standard combat scene which really didn't need to be in there in this form, and sort of drags.

Then there's the interlude where Kratman pretends to go back to writing sci-fi. It's... not terrible?
4 August, 2040, Mission Control,
Houston, Texas, USA, Earth

The budget had been busted with not a damned thing to show for it. Then had come the scandals, the resignations, the heavily publicized trials . . . the obligatory appearances for public flagellation in front of a posturing Congress. Then had come very damned little money, let me tell you, brother. NASA was reduced to minor projects, as flashy as possible, to try to overcome the bad press and re-fire the public's imagination for the potential of space travel.
(Bolding mine)
Imagining Hulk Hogan narrating the audiobook of all the interludes (which are every chapter like seriously why) brings a smile to my face, at least. The rest of the interlude is a thing with a few NASA guys suddenly getting messages from the Cristobal once again.

Overall a short, pretty useless chapter that doesn't have any bug fuck crazy in it.

The next chapter fixes that. Oh boy oh boy does it fix that. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to give you a double feature. May I present to you, insanity.

CHAPTER 4: THERE'S NO BREAKS ON THIS TRAIN.

It starts, as all great, crazy, batshit works of fiction, with an ominous bible quote.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. —Mathew 5:4
It is then followed by this:
Cochea,
11/7/459 AC

She glided through his dream like a goddess on a cloud; glowing with her own inner light. The halo of her hair shone with semi-divine vitality. Her perfume was the lightest fresh mist in his nostrils. Perfect rounded breasts danced—thinly veiled—before his eyes, enflamed aureoles outlined in the fabric that covered them. As ever, his eyes were dazzled.

She came to her husband, pressing herself against him and inclining her head to be kissed. Her lips opened slightly, dreamily, in invitation.

As they kissed, Pat ran his hands over her back, skin so smooth that but for the seam of the pajamas he couldn't tell where silk left off and equally silky skin began. No matter that she had borne him three children, no mark showed anywhere on her body. Hennessey buried his face in the junction of her neck and shoulder, reveling in the richness of long flowing hair the color of midnight; savoring her warmth, her wondrous scent.

She backed up, pulling and leading him towards the bed. At the bedside, goddess-fingers deftly removed his shirt, undid his belt. As she began to kneel, most un-goddess-like, she whispered, "I love you, Patricio. Only you. Ever . . . forever." Her husband groaned, fingers flexing involuntarily in her hair, as sweet soft lips and roving tongue found and teased.

Sensing the right moment, one of Linda's feet replaced a knee. She arose gracefully, kissing her way upward.

How they moved onto the bed he did not know. Where their clothes went he did not know. One moment they were standing, she in pajamas and he half in working clothes. The next, he lay atop her, the two naked together, her back arched, face flushed with desire. A greedy, grasping hand guided him into her. A small gasp escaped her lips as he began to fill her body as he filled her heart.

For his part it was as if he had entered heated honey. He reveled in the wet heat. His hands roved and stroked, caressed, squeezed, fondled with more than fondness.

Together, they began the age old dance; long slow strokes together. Her moans were more than music to his ears. They inflamed him, drove him on and on, faster and faster. With her moans turning to cries of ecstasy, he groaned, shuddered, spent himself inside her.


Patrick Hennessey smiled in his sleep.
Well, that was, uh, uncomfortable. And out of place. And put images in my mind I don't want there. So what's next, more odd sex scenes, descriptions of his waifu, what-

Columbian Airlines LTA Flight 39,
Federated States of Columbia


Uhh...
One of the distinguishing features of Terra Nova, with only its three small moons rather than Old Earth's single large one, and its lesser axial tilt, was that the weather tended less to extremes than had the world of Man's birth. This had made certain technologies that had proven suboptimal and unreliable—even dangerous—on Old Earth rather more competitive on the new. One of these differences was that lighter than air aircraft, blimps and dirigibles, were somewhat more practical and safe.

LTA aircraft still had a number of limitations. They were slow, and so—since the development of large, fast and efficient propeller and jet powered passenger aircraft—not generally used anymore for intercontinental passenger service. Materials for building them both light and strong were either expensive or lacking and so they were not generally used for heavy freight. (Though several companies, notably in the Kingdom of Haarlem, the Republic of Northern Uhuru, and Anglia, were working on this.) For war purposes, though the LTAs had been used extensively early on in the Great Global war, they had been found to be simply too big, too slow, too easily spotted and, because of this, altogether too vulnerable. As helium was relatively expensive, and since the weather was so much less of a threat, Terra Novan airships had stuck with using hydrogen for lift. This, too, made them less suitable for military use.
Uhh...

Instead, LTAs kept a niche in local light freight drayage, regional and infracontinental passenger service, and—naturally—sightseeing. There was nothing quite so good as a mid-size LTA for touring the ice fields of southern Secordia, the Great Ravine that roughly bisected the Federated States of Columbia, the Balboa Transitway, or the First Landing skyline.

The five men sat up in First Class, Yusef playing on his guitar and singing in Arabic . . . much to the annoyance of the other passengers and the flight crew. He played his new song, happily unconcerned that the song referenced airplanes and they were actually on an airship. That was the sort of trivial detail only the infidels worried about.
I'm breaking out the reaction images for this.




"I've been dreamin' fait'f'ly
Dreamin' about the jihad to come
I know deep inside me
The holy war has begun"
The other four men of the team unbuckled themselves and stood in the aisle, clapping their hands, dancing, and singing along:


"War plane getting nearer;
RIDE on the war plane!"
One of the other, business class, passengers rang for a stewardess. "Miss, can't you get those bearded heathens to please shut up and sit down?"

"I'll try, sir," she answered, smiling. She walked up to one of the dancers and asked, politely, "Sir, could you please—"

And then the ceramic knives came out.
View attachment 727335
IT'S HAPPENING.

This whole scene feels extremely surreal. Just... picture it in your head for a second. You're on a blimp. In space. In the future. And that blimp is using hydrogen, because that's safe right? Somehow some guy has gotten a guitar through security (guess the space TSA doesn't give a fuck) and into first class seating. On an airship that's laid out like a modern airliner.

He then starts playing it, and despite airship travel not requiring buckles (the speed and how they ascend make it unnecessary), the seats have seat belts. Four dudes who look like the next hit Iraqi Sumeran Boyband the Achmed's all unbuckle themselves, get up and start a synchronized dance routine. Likely, this routine is choreographed. Then they pull out knives. That they got past the space TSA. You know, despite space scanners. And you're buckled into your seat.

Kratman then smashcuts to himself, rather than continuing this scene. Because he needs to have a whole section on how his life is perfect in every way and he bangs his hot wife all the time and despite killing a bunch of the men under the command of his best friend, Jimenez there's no hard feelings. The last bit isn't too much of a surprise, both were doing their jobs. Then again, Jimenez probably should have surrendered. Then the maid asks both of them to come quickly, there's something on the TV they need to see.

We then smash cut back to Flight 19 Flight 39.

Columbian Airlines Flight 39, 0827 hours, 11/7/459 AC
Legs splayed, the stewardess lay face up with her open eyes staring blankly at the ceiling of the first class cabin. Her throat was raggedly slashed and a great pool of her blood stained the carpet around her. The blood likewise stained the back of a now abandoned guitar.

Forward of the stew's corpse, halfway up the flight of steps that led to the bridge of the airship, was another, smaller, pool of blood. It dripped from the steps down onto its donor, the airship's purser. His throat had been cut at leisure, after he'd been beaten senseless. It was a much neater slash.

At the head of the stairs, there was a bolted door that now sealed off the bridge from the rest of the ship. Inside were eight men, three of them dead and on the deck. Of the five living, all were covered in the blood sprayed from the throats of the crew as they were sliced open. Two of those living sat the pilot's and copilot's seats. Another two guarded the bolted door against some desperate bid on the part of the passengers to regain control.

Yusef, the final member and commander of the team, stood behind the two flight-trained hijackers. He had a mobile phone pressed to one ear on which he received reports from the other teams. With each report the smile in his blood-dripping beard grew wider, more jubilant.

"The Merciful, the Compassionate One smiles upon us in all his glory," Yusef exulted. "The other two airships are also in our hands."

Samadi, at the pilot's controls, pointed and exclaimed, "Brothers, look! There beats the heart of the beast."

Looking out the bridge's forward window, Yusef nodded with anticipatory satisfaction at the immense skyscraper that was their ultimate target.

"If you hanker after Paradise, Brother, then fly us into the base."

Samadi smiled nervously and nodded. He was not nervous over his impending death; that was nothing. But he was only the best pilot among them, not necessarily a good one. Pushing forward on the yoke with one hand, the other pushed the throttle all the way forward. The speed of the ship began to climb up to maximum.

Behind them, in the passenger compartments, the rest of the airship's passengers began to scream at the changing attitude, altitude and speed. The hijackers ignored those screams completely.
Note the date. It's. 11/7. Or 7/11. Is 7/11 the gas station a thing on Terra Nova? I'm genuinely curious.

I want to note that the average speed of a zeppelin is around, oh, 50 miles per hour. Beyond that air resistance kicks in, so the speed for a chunk boy like this would probably be maybe 60mph, at best, along with power to weight issues, ballooning size of the well, balloon. This whole scene is basically happening at around the speed of a city highway, at best. We then smash cut away once again.

Headquarters, Terra Nova Trade Organization,
First Landing,
Hudson, Federated States of Columbia,
0829 hours, 11/7/459 AC
Kratman you crazy motherfucker. You're not even giving a shit about hiding it.

Kratman's Hennessy's wife, Linda, is visiting Kratman's Hennessy's uncle, who happens to work in the TNTO buildings. They chat, there's a whole scene with Linda being perfect waifu, then the uncle, Bob, looks out the window. And sees this.

Columbian Airlines Flight 39, 0849 hrs
The airship hit near the base of the skyscraper. Its structure, even while coming apart, was just strong enough to force its nose through the thin walls and into the main lobby with its toxic dose of international lawyers. As the ship lost speed to the collision, its engines in the rear broke loose and drove forward, smearing passengers and crew alike, before tearing out of the remains of the front and smashing into the shocked barristers. With the engines came a great invisible cloud of hydrogen gas, pouring into the open lobby before igniting from a spark created by the one of the engines tearing through a steel support.

The hydrogen began burning in front, incinerating several score shrieking attorneys. Then the flames raced through the rich oxygen- hydrogen mix present in the tunnels carved through the ship by the flying engines. Flame then burst out of the rear, tearing open the hydrogen cells there. The contents of these, once mixed with oxygen, effectively exploded, driving the remains of the ship, and much of its hydrogen, farther into the lobby of the TNTO. There it burned hot enough to incinerate several thousand more international jurists, as well as to set aflame anything therein remotely flammable.

Yusef and company, however, didn't get to see any of that. They were dead and on their way to wherever and whatever might prove to be their final reward, moments after the ship's nose touched concrete.
View attachment 727356

HOLY FUCK THIS IS exceptional. The airframe would likely either be designed to crumple, in case of an accident, while venting hydrogen from the rear. Blow out panels is like the only way I can see a hydrogen blimp being remotely safe. How the fuck did they hit the base of the tower? Wouldn't there be buildings lower to the ground around it? Wouldn't the engines have gotten scraped off by the ground? Why aren't they secured to the frame, like, you know, makes sense. Most of the weight of this thing would be the gas - which you'd have needed to vent a lot of very fast to descend at any kind of speed beyond like, 50 mph. As soon as it hits concrete, that gas is venting, frame is buckling, and the entire thing collapses under its own weight. Most of the hydrogen is going to vent out the rear as the fire doesn't kick it off, and the buckling frame rips open the gas bags before the fire even gets to it.

Everyone would have had MINUTES to clear the area once they realized the collision was coming too, considering the speed this thing is going. What the fuck am I actually reading.

Also, wait, isn't Kratman a (non practicing) lawyer? And he's making snide remarks about lawyers?

The next few pages are Kratman's attempt to make us feel something for a character we've only known for roughly two chapters, and kids who've only been introduced in this one. It's dumb. Really dumb. The fire rises. Sprinklers stop working because... plot, really. Whoever designed this building made a fire trap par excellence. Uncle Bob changes his will so all his vast oodles of money will be inherited by Kratman Hennessey who he views as his ersatz son for... some reason they never really make clear. More family drama.

Then there's this, just in case you don't understand that ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS.

On the other side of the suite, a man laughed. "Infidels," he cried in a foreign accent, "see the judgment of Allah. See the wages of your iniquities. You will all die here and burn in Hellfire forevermore for your crimes against the will of the Almighty."

Uncle Bob recognized the voice and answered back, with more force than reason, "God will send you and all your kind to Hell, Samir, you miserable, treacherous bastard."
Following this Linda and the kids jump out the window to their deaths rather than burn alive, right on national TV as Kratman Hennessey is watching.

Smash cut again to Sumer, where some guy named Sada (Real clever attempt there Kratman) is in his office going 'Aw fuck' at the news of exceptional Space Blimp 9/11.

And as is tradition, we have our vague attempt at Sci-Fi at the end of the chapter. I'm just going to copy paste only some of it enough in its entirety to justify it being here. SURPRISE THOUGH, ALIENS CREATED A ZOO!
There was no trace of who had done this, no archeological remains, no cities, no settlements, no landing sites. Yet it was clear that at some time between the end of the dinosaurs and the arrival, or at least flourishing, of man, some people or some things had made an effort to preserve life as it was found on Earth at that time. Close estimates, based on the flora and fauna to be found in the new world, suggested a timeline of between three million and five million years, BC. Yet not all the animals and plants found fell into that range. Some seemed newer, still others older. Some were completely alien to both New Earth and Old.

It was then suggested that evolution on the planet itself had continued, creating new species through the same mechanism as on Earth. This, however, failed to solve the riddle of the older animals, thought extinct on Earth well before the presumptive date of the transplanting. Some believed that the fossil record on Earth was by no means complete; scientists and explorers could have missed or misdated any number of species. Moreover, since coelacanth had hung on for some fifty million years longer than scientists had thought before it was rediscovered, why should not have archaeopteryx?

The fossil record of the new world was quite limited. There were no missing links and most of the animals found seem to have suddenly appeared.

It was not—and is not—known if the Noahs who had seeded the planet had also created the rift that allowed instantaneous transport between Earth's solar system and the other or if they had merely used something that was already there. As to whether man could make use of the rift, reliably, that awaited events.

In the event, man being man, extinct species on the old world tended to become extinct species, extinct out of zoos anyway, on the new.
This really doesn't make any sense scientifically speaking. The extinct animals here would still continue to evolve, especially with competition from alien and native life forms. Most of the late ice age mammals I can see being relatively unchanged after half a million years, if there's no new environmental pressures and the ecosystem is kept artificially stable along with limited mutations, but not over 3 million years.

It's a common trope in sci-fi though, and it's kinda fun to imagine settlers having to deal with motherfucking ALIEN MUTANT TERROR BIRDS.

With that though, this chapter comes to an end. Buckle up because the crazy train has no breaks until the last page in this motherfucker.
 
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Fashy Airship

Baron's Aircrew
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CHAPTER 2: IN WHICH WE MEET TOM KRATMAN OUR PROTAGONIST

So just so you can get an idea of the world, I'm going to put the images for it in a spoiler. Technically this should belong in the prologue but fuck you it's been three years since I touched this garbage, so I'm putting it here.


He put as much effort into it as he did into this book.



This chapter starts out with a nice, fun and absolutely pretentious quote like the last one. I'm not going to copy paste it because again, as I've said before, the book is available in its entirety online. I encourage you to read along, because it's about to get crazy from here.


So it's the song based on this poem. And we're listening to this song, in specific. I have to admit that Kratman doesn't have the worst taste in music; even if he inaccurately describes it as 'satanic flavored' latin.

Take a :drink: everyone!
Drink Counter: 5


Gee, who could this dashing, blue eyed military man who feels slighted by the military establishment be, I wonder?

The reference to 'Satanic Latin' shows projection indeed.

Isn't this Kratman a Jew? That explains all I need to know about why the book is such hot pretentious garbage. They love to bash hard and deep on the moslem-types to project their Palestine fetish.

I'm willing to overlook that if there's a viseral component, some vibe and drama etc, but the quoted sections I've seen thus far from you suggest it's just one big ramble of telling us shit and not enough showing us.

I think historically the Hindenburg could do about 80 mph, but not sure if the airship reference in the book as a historical one or not. With high-technology (more than we have now) hundreds of miles an hour would be doable with the right setup.

Another writer I hate (and who has a similar style) is that Harry Turtledove, his books were another numbing chore and tomelike.
 

Techpriest

Praise the Machine Spirits
kiwifarms.net
The reference to 'Satanic Latin' shows projection indeed.

Isn't this Kratman a Jew? That explains all I need to know about why the book is such hot pretentious garbage. They love to bash hard and deep on the moslem-types to project their Palestine fetish.

I'm willing to overlook that if there's a viseral component, some vibe and drama etc, but the quoted sections I've seen thus far from you suggest it's just one big ramble of telling us shit and not enough showing us.

I think historically the Hindenburg could do about 80 mph, but not sure if the airship reference in the book as a historical one or not. With high-technology (more than we have now) hundreds of miles an hour would be doable with the right setup.

Another writer I hate (and who has a similar style) is that Harry Turtledove, his books were another numbing chore and tomelike.
He’s a good Irish Christian boy, not Jewish, at least as far as I know.

The airship is built using modern tech, and it’s implied that the craft is either a regional short lift passenger craft, or some wierd tourist thing to view the city skyline. Even with modern tech, zeppelins top out around 80 miles per hour because power to weight ratios are the biggest issue with LTA craft.

EDIT:

Turtledove is an actual historical academic. His style is kind of dry because that's what he studied in terms of how to do writing, academic papers. He's still more creative with his alternate history than Kratman is in the entirety of his works.
 
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Spooky skeleton heat!
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The reference to 'Satanic Latin' shows projection indeed.

Isn't this Kratman a Jew? That explains all I need to know about why the book is such hot pretentious garbage. They love to bash hard and deep on the moslem-types to project their Palestine fetish.

I'm willing to overlook that if there's a viseral component, some vibe and drama etc, but the quoted sections I've seen thus far from you suggest it's just one big ramble of telling us shit and not enough showing us.

I think historically the Hindenburg could do about 80 mph, but not sure if the airship reference in the book as a historical one or not. With high-technology (more than we have now) hundreds of miles an hour would be doable with the right setup.

Another writer I hate (and who has a similar style) is that Harry Turtledove, his books were another numbing chore and tomelike.
Certain writers NEED editors like a diabetic needs insulin, because otherwise they'll drown their stories in oceans of excessive verbiage.
 
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Fashy Airship

Baron's Aircrew
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He’s a good Irish Christian boy, not Jewish, at least as far as I know.

The airship is built using modern tech, and it’s implied that the craft is either a regional short lift passenger craft, or some wierd tourist thing to view the city skyline. Even with modern tech, zeppelins top out around 80 miles per hour because power to weight ratios are the biggest issue with LTA craft.

EDIT:

Turtledove is an actual historical academic. His style is kind of dry because that's what he studied in terms of how to do writing, academic papers. He's still more creative with his alternate history than Kratman is in the entirety of his works.
Yeah maybe, his prose and style remind me of David Brin in some ways though. Having prose and absract ramblings can be fine if theirs a line to not cross, but it just bogs the story down. Then of course having too few little can cause the opposite effect of it being too story-lite and shallow.

Mastering this can be easier said than done.

One of my favorite writers is Wilbur Smith, he can get the detail down, while making it interesting and advancing the story with it.
 

1Tonka_Truck

Loaded Like A Boxcar Moving Like A Racecar
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Moving on into the work itself, It was first published in 2007, which I'm only stating here so you can get the context of his actual preface.

Oh boy, it's a thinly veiled statement on the Iraq War, and how a former Lieutenant Colonel who never commanded an actual battalion or held an equivalent position thinks it should have been done. The same Lt. Colonel who as a junior officer studied swordfighting because he thought that WWIII would descend into trench warfare, and he'd have to lead trench raids. With a sword.
I read this book 5-6 years ago while stuck in the middle of nowhere and out of good books. I actually read the preface of a book for once and immeditely knew it was going to be bad. The whole book is "If I Did It" for the Afghan and Iraq Wars. Unlike OJ, he didn't actually do it.

I still love Watch on the Rhine. Some of Waffen SS stuff is ham fisted, but the overall concept of literal land cruisers is so cool I can ignore it.
 
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Techpriest

Praise the Machine Spirits
kiwifarms.net
I read this book 5-6 years ago while stuck in the middle of nowhere and out of good books. I actually read the preface of a book for once and immeditely knew it was going to be bad. The whole book is "If I Did It" for the Afghan and Iraq Wars. Unlike, OJ he didn't actually do it.

I still love Watch on the Rhine. Some of Waffen SS stuff is ham fisted, but the overall concept of literal land cruisers is so cool I can ignore it.
"If I Did It: War on Terror Edition" is a pretty good alternate title for this.

CHAPTER 5: IN WHICH KRATMAN HENNESSEY GETS WASTED AND COMMITS A BRUTAL MURDER

Let's just say that Tom Kratman has a sort of taste in pretentious quotes. It's the Herodotus chestnut, 'in war fathers bury sons' for this chapter, and like almost every other quote in this book, it's vaguely related if you really stretch it.


Kratman Hennessey has a nightmare/dream/flashback about his dead wife, and has spent the last day getting absolutely, totally, completely wasted. It's
Ciudad Balboa, 13/7/459 AC

Linda's family had volunteered en masse to drive him to the airport outside Ciudad Balboa so that he could catch the first plane— airships made the run, as well, but were just too slow—to First Landing and, perhaps, push the authorities to find the bodies. Though he'd appreciated the offers, he'd declined. The sympathy of both parents, all twenty-two aunts and uncles—not including those by marriage—and one hundred and four legitimate first cousins had quickly gone from warming to oppressive. They'd meant well, he knew, but seeing every face around him in perpetual tears had come to make things worse, if that were possible.

It had been good to drive, to have to concentrate on something besides his murdered family. Even the mind-diverting task of ducking the larger potholes was welcome. Through the little towns along the highway that led from the San Jose frontier in the east to the Yaviza Gap to the northwest, he drove slowly and carefully. At the larger towns he would stop sometimes, gas here, lunch there. Once he stopped to take in a view of the Mar Furioso that he and Linda had once enjoyed together. That had been painful. Finally he came to the great bridge that led over the bay to the city. He almost smiled at a particular memory of the bridge. Almost, not quite.

The city had changed since he had first seen it. It was still clean, remarkably so for a large metropolis in Colombia Central. But the buildings had grown to the sky over the last fifteen years. He looked up at them briefly, then turned his eyes back to the road as unwelcome thoughts invaded his mind.
I want to say this is the most relatable that the main character will be for the rest of the book. This short segment before he hits the hotel. He's hurting, vulnerable, and obviously not sure what the hell he wants to do at all.

Though much had changed, much was the same. Driving through Ciudad Balboa's streets he was cut off, tailgated, honked at and cursed with friendly abandon. Pretty girls walked the sidewalks and the parks. Young men looked, watched, pursued. Food and flowers wafted on the breeze, competing with the sea.
Authors with massive chips on their shoulders sit in their dingy offices, writing cringey works of fiction.

Emerging along the coastal road, Avenida del Norte, Hennessey almost managed to enjoy the fresh sea breeze off the high tide- covered beach and mud flats. To his left he passed the Restaurante Bella Mar, where Linda had taught him to appreciate sea food for the first time in his life. To his right he smelled the flowers of Parque Prado. He came at length to the Hotel Julio Caesare, arguably the best hotel of any real size in Ciudad Balboa, almost certainly the most ornate.
:drink: everyone, we've got another Roman reference! Take a second one too, and a third if you feel like it. It'll help you with getting through the rest of this damn chapter. It's also an excellent way to get into the mindset of our hero, because hoooolyeee shit, he goes on the mother of all benders, understandably.

He spent his evenings, and evening came early this close to the equator, drinking in the bar cum disco on the ground floor of the hotel. A wretched dancer—Hennessey described himself as the worst dancer in the entire history of human motion—he still enjoyed looking at pretty girls on the dance floor. He enjoyed it, that is, so long as none of them reminded him too much of his wife. This wasn't a problem, generally, since most of the women in the disco were light skinned. Though of a quite prosperous family, Linda had been very mixed-race and rather dark. Since the Julio Caesare was expensive enough to be only for either the well to do (or less moneyed cosmopolitan progressives, or Kosmos, who slurped lavishly at the public and donative troughs), there were few women of plainly mestiza backgrounds. None of these had been quite pretty enough to bring forth painful memories.
Oh yeah, Kratman also comes up with a slur for liberals/anyone left of Rush Limbaugh. It sounds like either a gay bar or a pizza joint.

Even in his drunken, horribly unkempt state, Kratman Hennessey is irresistable. He's beating off women with a stick despite being a middle aged man getting wasted at a bar and ogling women while crying into his drinks occasionally because he misses his wife so much. Understandably, he's also a bit of a dick when he's drunk. Even when people are attempting to be nice, or civil. Mind you one goes in spanish 'Oh he's being arrogant,' and Hennessey goes off on her for calling him a 'dull gringo who's acting arrogant'. He leaves them to feel horrible about the whole thing after telling them 'My family is DEAAAAAAD' and downing a few shots before storming off to get even drunker somewhere else. They are mysteriously attracted to this hurt, drunken, middle aged man. Because this is an author self insert.

Anyway one of the women does manage to get in contact after to try and cheer him up and apologize for being insensitive.
The young woman was fine company, perhaps because she was trying her best to cheer the sad man accompanying her. Over a meal of prawns on rice, her conversation kept up a light mood. Hennessey was surprised to find himself sometimes honestly smiling.

Objectively—and without lust, it was far too soon for that—Hennessey found himself appraising the girl. Looks twenty-one, maybe twenty-two. Nice hair, light brown shading to blond. Good facial structure, high cheekbones. Nose a little prominent but overall a good shape. Slender and tall, her breasts would look better on a shorter woman. Nice posterior. Very beautiful eyes, large and liquid brown. Also a good heart or she wouldn't be here with a broken down, miserable old fart like me.

As the meal neared its close, Lourdes asked the question she had wanted to ask since Hennessey had left the disco the night before. "How did your wife die?"

Hennessey paused before answering. It wasn't easy for him to think about. He returned his fork to the plate and sat back against the chair. "Lourdes, that's some of my problem. I don't know, not exactly anyway. All I do know is that she and the kids were caught in my uncle's office building when the airship hit. That, and that they were not killed right away." Hennessey paused to rub away the beginnings of a tear.

Lourdes likewise didn't respond immediately. After a brief pause of her own she simply said, "Poor man."

The mood chilled, the meal was finished mainly in silence. Assuming that the loss of his family was too painful for him to talk about any more, Lourdes went along. Soon the lunch was ended. Before the two left the restaurant, Lourdes—feeling quite forward and even daring— wrote her home and business phone numbers on a napkin, and pressed it on him. "Pat, when you come back to Balboa, and if I can help you in any way, please call me."

Hennessey nodded as he paid the bill. Then he escorted the woman to his car and drove her to her work. When he returned to his hotel he was informed that he would be able to fly to the Federated States the following morning.
Riveting, emotional dialog. But yeah, as I said earlier, this is Hennessey as a character, at his most relatable and human. Anyone would be a wreck for days after watching their wife and kids jump to their death from a burning building on national TV. I started to have hope that maybe, just maybe, there might be a salvageable book in this trainwreck, or at least a way to relate to the main character.

This is ruined by a smashcut.

First Landing, 17/7/459 AC
"I won't stand for it. I just won't stand for it. That money's mine. I'll sue, I swear I will. I've made promises. There are 'causes' . . ."

Annie, seated in a typical lawyer's client's leather chair turned to her cousin, Eugene Montgomery Schmied, and said, "Oh, shut up, you mincing little fairy."
Enter our gay liberal stereotype for the next few chapters, who like all liberals and gays is evil and secretly/not so secretly aligned with the muslims, who are also all evil. Have I mentioned how evil muslims are yet?

Anyway, welcome to family drama for the next few sections. Understandably, Eugene, the previous guy who'd have gotten the most out of Uncle Bob's will, is a little miffed at the last minute change of plans. A barely sobered up Kratman Hennessey is here at the reading of the will, and doesn't cry. Because real men don't cry. Only women and gay men cry (But as gays are evil they don't really feel emotions and just fake it). Our hero is now the holder of quite a bit of cash as the head of an investment firm.

Kratman Hennessey was carrying a switchblade the whole time by the way. I dunno where he got it or if he took it with him from Panama Balboa, on an airliner after space blimp 9/11 11/7.

Annie grasped at straws. She did not want her cousin to die, nor even to hurt. She did not want to mention, or even let his mind dwell on, what the fireman had told them near the wreck of the TNTO earlier in the day, namely that it was unlikely that much in the way of remains would ever be recovered. She asked, instead, "What about the company? The trust?"

Again, he shrugged. "What do I care? The only good thing about Bob changing the will is that Eugene won't have the money to send to 'Save The Whales,' 'Meat is Murder,' "Fur is Forbidden,' or the World League. For the rest? Eh? Who cares?"

"Actually," Annie said, "he seems to have acquired a taste for swarthy men, of late. I'd expect a lot of the money to go the People's Front for the Liberation of Filistia. And, Pat? It's a lot of money."

He just looked at her, so much as to say "can't buy me love."
Save the Space Whales!

Also a taste in swarthy men means you're a terrorist sympathizer. Who knew. Anyway, Kratman Hennessey returns back home. He's drunk, a mess, woke up screaming on the flight back, all this shit. Again. This is kind of sad.

The two walked without further words to where Hennessey's car waited. At his mother's insistence David had taken a police flight down to the airport to drive Hennessey home. Before turning the keys over to David, Hennessey removed his jacket, opened the trunk, and put on a shoulder holster bearing a high end, compact forty-five caliber pistol in brushed stainless. Then he put his light jacket back on.
Uh, if I were David (who is Linda's brother), I'd be insisting this guy keep the gun in the trunk. He's a pretty obvious suicide risk right now. Kratman, also as you can see, is part of the Cult of the .45. I'm not surprised. He probably also thinks the M14 was superior to the FAL and that 9mm is an inferior cartridge only fit for europeans and homosexuals.

Kratman Hennessey falls asleep and wakes up screaming again, in the car. When he gets back home though, he says something that would CERTAINLY make me go 'OK dude give me the gun first.'

"No," said Hennessey. "Take me into town please. I need to go to the liquor store."

David sighed, nodded, flicked off the turn signal and continued straight ahead into the city.
It's in the next section, where we see this book go irrevocably off the deep end. Space Blimp 9/11 is silly, dumb, and crazy fucking wacky bullshit. But it isn't offensive on it's own. This is where it starts to get to the point of becoming obvious that the author, not the character, the author, wants to be able to kill an entire segment of the population, legally.

While David watched traffic, Hennessey watched people. There, in the middle of the park, around the bandstand, stood a fair mob, certainly several hundred, perhaps even a thousand. Though as swarthy as Balboans, they were not Balboans. Hennessey would have known this from their signs—"Death to the Federated States," "Allah smiles upon the Ikhwan," "Long live the Salafi Jihad," and such—the women's tongues flicking back and forth in a Yithrabi victory cry; and the happy faces of people celebrating as though it had been themselves who had struck against a great and infinitely evil enemy.
Ah yes, the good old 'All Muslims everywhere in the west celebrating 9/11' urban legend. I want to note this is a week after Space 9/11.

"There are a lot of damned wogs here now," David commented. "They call themselves Salafis and are nothing but trouble."
Wait, isn't wogs a slur for Italians?

His finger pointed, "Pull over and park, please, David . . . in behind the car with the green bumper sticker."

Tanned from years in the Balboan sun, with hair naturally dark where it wasn't tinged with gray, only Hennessey's gleaming blue eyes might have given him away for the gringo he was. No matter; he kept his eyes narrowly slitted as he emerged from the car, leaned against its side and watched the local Salafis at their victory celebration. No flicker of emotion betrayed what he was feeling over people celebrating the murder of his wife and children.

Even as the celebration began to break up he did not move from the car on which he leaned, arms folded nonchalantly.

He smiled broadly as a group of six men walked toward the car just ahead of his own; the one with the green bumper sticker that said, in Arabic, "There is no God but God."

The Salafis joked and played amiably among themselves as they came closer. Hennessey's smile broadened even more.

CLICK.
Yep, I think we all know where this is going. I want to again, remind you, this is a week after. Kratman Hennessey has had a cooling off period. If he'd committed violence while drunk, or just after, it still wouldn't be justifiable to do so against people unrelated to the attack, but it's a crime of passion. Still a crime, but you can argue he wasn't thinking right. This is flat out murder. There's no justification for this. Especially when you, like Kratman Hennessey does, ask someone to pull over, sit and wait, and then provoke a fight.

He said, loudly and in adequate, if badly accented, Arabic, "Your Prophet was a sodomite and a liar. Your mothers were whores. Your fathers were their pimps. Your wives specialize in fellating barnyard animals and all your sisters came from sex change operations. You are fools if you think your children are yours."
Those are text book fighting words.

David looked questioningly at Hennessey; the Balboan had not a word of Arabic. He needed none, however, to understand the import of what was said. This was as plain as the wide-eyed rage and hate on the faces of the men who now ran toward them waving signs like clubs and shouting their fury. One young man, in particular, outdistanced the rest.

For a moment David knew fear. He need not have. Lightning-fast, Hennessey's left hand pulled back his light jacket even as his right sought to draw the pistol.

Hennessey's right on the pistol, his left swept up to block and deflect the sign that the nearest of the Salafis sought to brain him with. Whispering, "Bastard," at the same time, he drew the pistol and smashed its muzzle once, twice, three times into the area of his enemy's solar plexus. Every blow felt like the lifting of a burden. The Salafi's breath left his body in an agonized whoosh.

One down, five to go. Before gravity could pull the first one to the ground, Hennessey had brought his focus to the main body of his assailants.

The gang attacking Hennessey could see in his eyes that this one was not going to run. They could also read that their intended victim intended to kill or maim as many as he could before he went down. They could see from the gun that he had the means to do so. Like any street gang, anywhere, these were no heroes. While they all would have advanced confidently on someone who showed the slightest fear, when faced with a target like Hennessey they stopped cold.

Had they run, some might have lived.
So the rest of them are backing off or have at least stopped. Arguably, Kratman Hennessey can't claim self defense anymore. What he does next, is flat out cold blooded murder.

A quick but delicate squeeze of the trigger and the pistol recoiled in Hennessey's hands. His mind provided details his eyes could not possibly have seen; a burst of flame, the spinning half-ounce lump of bronze-jacketed lead, the bursting of shirt and flesh and blood and bone. The first target's back arched as he was impelled to the ground.

A chorus of screams arose from bystanders, Christian and Salafi both, as the crowd ran and sought cover.

The four still standing didn't have time to close on their victim before the next of them went down with a slug that ripped through his arm and one lung. Again, Hennessey smiled slightly at the satisfying recoil. His victim, now fallen to the street, wheezed faint screams, blood bumbling from his mouth and the hole in his chest.

The other three, torn between fight and flight, made the worst possible decision; they did nothing, frozen in fear. Quickly but carefully aligning the barrel, Hennessey shot one through a head that burst under the impact like an overripe melon dropped from a height. Recovering the pistol from its heavy recoil, his smile grew broad now as he squeezed the trigger yet again to ruin the left side of another assailant's chest. Hennessey didn't need X-ray vision to know that he had exploded the man's heart.

The last Salafi standing was like a deer caught in the headlights of a semi-tractor, frozen, helpless . . . already dead.

He did not shoot that last one standing; not immediately. Instead he walked forward calmly, spit in the frozen man's face, and then kicked him in the crotch. The Salafi bent over and melted to the ground.

"Attack MY family will you? Celebrate their murder?" He took a short step forward, bent over at the waist, then calmly placed the hot muzzle against the man's head. Again, he shrieked, "Attack MY family will you?" The Salafi barely registered the pressure and the smell of crisping hair as his brain went scampering like a frightened rabbit. With such a helpless target, Hennessey had leisure to rise and walk around to a better firing position. He didn't want an innocent bystander to take a bullet that passed through his intended target.

Carefully gauging angles, he knelt down and pulled the thug's head up by the hair, jammed the pistol—hard, hard enough to break the skin and the bone beneath—into the man's face. Then he grinned even more widely, withdrew the pistol slightly, and fired. David, standing nearby, was spattered with blood and brain.

Hennessey stood again and turned his attention to the first man, the one who had tried to brain him with a sign. The Salafi began to beg for his life in mixed Spanish and Arabic. Hennessey said, "Fuck you," then shot him through the stomach, savoring the resulting scream.
Yeeeep.

Hmmm . . . one bullet left. He looked over the bodies. One, the one he had lung-shot, was still breathing. Hennessey shot him again, in the head. The slide locked back and Hennessey pushed a button to let it fall forward. Then, from habit, he flicked on the positive safety and turned the pistol in his grip, his index finger passing through the trigger guard. The pistol was now a hammer, not a firearm.

He walked forward, face lit by a glowing smile. Speaking with unnatural calm to the former celebrant, Hennessey explained that shooting was really too good for swine like him.

The pistol swung almost too quickly for the eye to follow. There was a crunch of bone, a spray of crimson, and another scream. Again and small chunks of hair attached to flesh joined the crimson spray. Again and teeth flew.

Again . . . again . . . again . . . again . . .

"Patricio? Patricio, stop. He's dead. Please stop."

Hennessey became conscious of a hand gripping his shoulder. "What?"

"He's dead, Patricio. You don't need to hit him anymore." David shook his brother-in-law's shoulder to pull him back to the present.

Dully, Hennessey asked, "Dead?" He looked down. "Yes, dead. Good."

"We need to get away from here, Cuñado. You know, before the police come. Christ! I am the police. Shit!"

"No," Hennessey answered. "Better to take care of it now."

He calmly wiped the blood- and brain-stained pistol on the shirt of his victim. Then he laid the pistol on the ground, stood, and turned to lean again against his automobile. In the distance a siren shrieked.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, Hennessey realized that he actually felt good for the first time in just over a week. He pulled out and lit a cigarette, enjoying the first puff as he had not enjoyed anything since his family was murdered.
This is some fucking serial killer tier sadistic violence.

"So you see," Lieutenant David Carrera explained to the investigating police corporal, "my brother-in-law here was minding his own business, watching the demonstration, when these foreigners simply attacked him with their signs. I don't know why, though. They were speaking their foreign gibberish. Perhaps they thought to kill another harmless and innocent gringo to add to the tally of those they murdered in First Landing."

The corporal looked skeptical. Hennessey, seeing the skepticism, suggested, "Why don't you call Major Jimenez, Cabo? I'm sure he can set this all straight."

The call was unnecessary, as it turned out. As soon as Jimenez, the local Civil Force commander, had heard the words on the radio, "gringo . . . shooting . . . Salafis" he had put two and two together, come up with the name "Hennessey," and set out for the scene.

Jimenez didn't ask Hennessey anything. He is just too likely to tell me the truth. And I think I don't want the truth. Instead, he asked David, who repeated the story he had told the corporal.

Jimenez looked at the six dead Salafis and the spreading pools of blood. He looked at Hennessey's blood-spattered and bone- and brain-flecked pistol. He looked at the corpse nearest the car and noted that his head was more a misshapen lump of mangled flesh and crushed bone than a human being's. Then he pronounced his learned judgment.

"An obvious case of self-defense, Corporal. Let the gringo go."
I get corruption but this is beyond like, anything morally justifiable. And they're all covering for him. Jesus, I need an actual drink. This is the guy who is supposed to be our hero, and he straight up murdered, in cold blood, five people. He had a bullet in the chamber while beating the last one to death with his fucking gun. And you're going to overlook this?

What the actual fuck.

The chapter ends with the funeral for Hennessey's wife and children, then the standard interlude.

And that's chapter 5.

Drinks: 7.

I'm fucking done for a bit. This shit is psychotic.
 
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Techpriest

Praise the Machine Spirits
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Certain writers NEED editors like a diabetic needs insulin, because otherwise they'll drown their stories in oceans of excessive verbiage.
Reading through this book, I have a feeling either his editor was drunk as fuck, or Baen published this book without giving it to an editor.

Blimp 9/11 :story:
I'm sorry, I can't take a fictional terrorist attack seriously when it's committed with goddamn blimps.
Neither can I really. It's not a fuel air explosive as much as Kratman thinks it is.

Yusef the guitar-playing convert is clearly a reference to Yusuf Islam/the former Cat Stevens

Holy shit, Cat Stevens did 9/11
Yusef Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) is a very interesting figure. He recorded songs with Dolly Parton. Maybe it's his conversion that makes Kratman hate him. I dunno. The man has been very outspoken against terrorism in pretty much every form. Yusuf also has done quite a bit of charity and humanitarian work. He seems like a stand up dude.

CHAPTER 6: THE TEAM BUILDING MONTAGE, PART 1

The chapter starts out with a mindless dumb quote, and then shifts to a nightmare that Kratman Hennessey is having. He does the first sensible thing he's done so far in this book - he decides to go live with the parents of his dead wife instead of staying (almost) alone in an empty house. He's pretty much all alone in the world, and is a sad, broken shell of a man. I'd feel bad for him if he hadn't just brutally murdered five or six people.

Martina, Linda's mother, does feel bad for our hero however, and prods her husband to arrange a meeting with someone that might get Kratman Hennessey's mind off of the horrible horrible violent deaths of his family. Of course, despite Kratman/Hennessey totally not being all about the military and war, it's someone who wants to talk about the military and war.

Linda's father shook Hennessey's shoulder. "Patricio, there is someone who wishes to see you."

At the insistence of his wife, the father had invited distant cousin and old family friend, Raul Parilla, to come to talk with Hennessey. He'd been there when it happened. And Patricio had always spoken of Raul with respect. Perhaps it might do some little good for his son- in-law to talk with the retired general.

Parilla remained one of a very few influential Balboans interested in giving the country an army again. Linda's father was not one of them, though the more politically minded Martina was. The fact that there was such a group was an open secret. As Parilla had told Señor Carrera, they did little more than debate about it. The group had accomplished precisely nothing yet . . . and it had been years.
Parilla commiserates with Kratman Hennessey, talking about his family, and all that.
"Yes. Me, too, Raul. But sorrow doesn't help. Nothing helps. Only that one time have I felt any better, and shooting strangers on the street is not something I can make a hobby of."

Parilla nodded understanding. Jimenez had told him the story. In the same shoes, he could not imagine feeling or acting any differently.

"I came here to ask advice, Patricio."
He's also just as much of a sociopath as Kratman Hennessey is, apparently.

Then we get to the real meat of it.

"I think you can. But tell me . . . you never have, you know . . . why aren't you still with the Federated States Army? And . . . too . . . why don't you go back now? I remember; you were good."

Hennessey nodded quietly, then paused to think about his answer.

"Well," he began, "I can't go back. They don't want me."

"Why not? It makes no sense to me, your leaving. It never has."

Hennessey sighed with pain, an old remembered ache to go along with the fresh agony. "There's nothing I can tell you that won't sound like sniveling, Raul."

"I know you are not a crybaby, Patricio."

Muscles rarely used stretched Hennessey's mouth into something like a grimace. "No. No, I'm not. You really want to know?"

Seeing that Parilla did, he continued. "Raul . . . you know that in the army, nearly any organization I suppose, you will often be forgiven for being wrong. What they never tell anyone is that you are very unlikely to be forgiven for being right."
This my friends, is where the line between Kratman and Hennessey is going full fusion. I'll post the next section in it's entirety.

Another deep sigh from Hennessey. "It had to do with training; my approach to it. I'm not the only one it ever happened to. You remember General Abogado? He got bounced for much the same thing, though he had some other issues, as well. In any case, let me ask a question of you, Raul. In the old Guardia, who trained the privates on a day to day basis?"

"Their sergeants and corporals mostly. Is there a better way?"

"No. None. At least given good sergeants and corporals. But that isn't the way it worked most places in the FS Army. There, oh, since time immemorial, most of the day-to-day training has been closely supervised by officers. Mostly, it doesn't work very well, either."

"No. I can't see how it could," Parilla agreed.

"Well . . . I did something a little different. I had been watching and experimenting with the training of individual soldiers very closely for nearly two decades. In all that time, every time someone mentioned 'individual training,' the stock solution was: "'tighten up the training schedule,' 'waste not a minute' . . . you know, all that rot."

"I decided to try something a little different. I made my subordinates loosen the training schedule, to leave a lot of gaps and holes for the sergeants to use. Then I made them put on the schedule certain things that had to be done by Thursday night . . . or else. Told them I would test for it, too."

"Well, they didn't believe I was serious. It was too different a concept. The first week I tested—had my sergeant major test, actually— the whole damned battalion failed and so I held them over the next night until nearly midnight retesting. Next week it was about five- sixths of the battalion to just after eleven PM. Then about three- fourths until ten or so. By the time six weeks rolled around I had privates going to their squad leaders and saying, 'Forsooth, Sergeant, I am in desperate need of getting laid. The only time to do that is Friday night. The only way to have Friday night off is to pass the muthafuckin colonel's test. So teach me this shit, please.""

"About that time my boss got wind of it; tubby little fart of a dumb- assed tanker. 'Tuffy' was his nickname." Hennessey sneered with contempt. "Don't ask me how he got or why he deserved the nickname 'Tuffy;' the evidence was pretty thin on the ground. He was so fat he couldn't squeeze through the hatch of an armored personnel carrier without greasing his ponderous gut. Anyway, he was a clueless, stupid shit. I explained what I was doing and he told me to stop. I answered, 'No, sir. Relieve me if you want but this is starting to work pretty damned well.' Well, he wouldn't do that. But he hated it. He hated me, too, for defying him."

Parilla likewise didn't understand why Hennessey had done this, and said so.

"The trick," Hennessey answered, "was that the sergeants had for decades been conditioned to being told what to do and had had driven out of them any native initiative they might have had. They were . . . over-supervised, if you will. Worse, they'd grown to like not having to think or use initiative."

"But weren't you over-supervising doing it your way?"

"At first, yes," Hennessey admitted. "Clearly. But the difference between legitimate and illegitimate oversupervision is in the end game. Once I had them in the habit of finding and using time, I let them run with it. It worked . . . oh, quite well. We had an individual training test a few months later. They call it the MIB—Master Infantry Badge—test. The rest of the brigade shut down for three weeks to prepare for it. My battalion rolled to the field, doing any number of things that had nothing to do with the test.

"We came in the day before we had to take it. I told the boys to get a good night's sleep. We'd take the test in the morning and clean equipment the day after.

"When the smoke cleared I had something over seventy percent of my battalion max the test. This had never been done before. Normally it's just a couple of percent of any given unit that maxes. Pissed off my boss to no end."

"I do not understand," Parilla interjected. "You do something that well . . . surely it makes your boss look good."

Listening through an open window Martina heard Patricio laugh and felt a sudden relief that her son in law was still at least capable of mirth.

Hennessey answered, "Uh . . . no. Surely it does not. The rest of the brigade failed miserably by comparison. Made him look bad, in fact."

Parilla's eyes widened. "Ohhh . . ."

"'Ohhh,' indeed. A commander can stand having nothing but mediocre units under his command. What he can't stand is having mostly mediocrity and one very superior unit. Makes him look bad, by comparison, you see.

"But that wasn't the worst of it. A couple of months later the brigade had an organization day. Lots of athletic competitions and trophies, things like that. Well, my boss volunteered my battalion at the last minute to be the duty battalion—picking up trash and such— for the division, for that day. So I went out with about one-sixth as many men as the other battalions, a fair number of mine being people who had been hurt in training."
"Jesus, he really did hate you, didn't he?"
"That was my guess," Hennessey muttered. Then he added, "We beat the rest like we owned them too, cripples and all. Why, for one competition I didn't even have enough people to field a complete team and we won anyway. My brigade commander was so pissed about it he stormed off the parade field just before awards presentation."
"I was kicked out for being TOO GOOD!"

:story:

I don't know if he's recounting a story of his own experiences, or not. Tom, if you're reading this, I'd love for you to comment on that. I'm guessing it's partly true, at least that he and the CO loathed one another. The test is a reference to a real one, I know that. Part of the reason I see his boss being pissed is that he was teaching the test to a degree. Hell, he was running the actual test again and again and again. That's great for rote memorization in certain circumstances, but it's also going to leave them shit out of luck if something new pops up, and might send people for a loop if the stations aren't in the same order.

Then like all Cold War guys, he bitches about Clinton and the shift from an imminent war footing to a peacetime peacekeeping one.
"You've got to remember, this was in the most intensely leftist and pacifist years of the Gage Administration in the FSC. Peacekeeping and Operations Other Than War were the big thing. Everybody had to play along. Not that I think Gage ever really believed in any of it . . . or even cared. But he was beholden to his base and they did believe in it.

"Raul, I couldn't. I just couldn't do it. I looked at my boys, thought about the way the world really was . . . and I could not, not, not train them to pass out multiculturally sensitive, vegetarian rations to starving refugees in the hinterlands in a multiculturally sensitive manner. I kept training them to fight, orders to the contrary or not.

"That was the last straw. The brigade commander fired me. I resigned my commission. And so, here I am. And so, my wife and kids were in First Landing on 11/7." Hennessey's voice broke at that last and it was a long moment before he could look up.
So he decides that "War is all a soldier is good for, FUCK HEARTS AND MINDS AND ATTEMPTING TO MAKE SURE THE CIVILIAN POPULATION DOESN'T WANT US ALL DEAD." Which is really, really stupid. You're going to have to interact with the civilian population at some point, and giving kids candy and food isn't that fucking hard. You're not making the food. The navy does humanitarian stuff all the damn time with hospital ships - it's a great way to spread soft power and influence while keeping a sizable force of soldiers still employed, practicing, and showing the flag across the globe. It looks good for the military too, cuts down on the baby killer image with minimal effort. For fucks sake Tom, war isn't everything.

Parilla leaned forward with an almost conspiratorial air. Speaking softly, he said, "Patricio, you know I am part of a group—we probably don't deserve the name 'conspiracy,' more like a debating club for now—that would like to see Balboa fully sovereign again, which means rearmed. But we haven't the faintest idea of how to go about such a thing, you see. I thought, since you're about the only man in the country outside of the FS Marines who guard the embassy, who has ever even been in a real army, that you might be able to tell us."

Recovered, Hennessey answered, "Go ahead and ask. I may be able to help a little."

The direct approach? Parilla wondered. Yes. "How could we rearm ourselves?"

Hennessey thought about it for just a few seconds. Looking from the same window through which she had seen him before, Linda's mother saw the first sign of any interest in anything since he had returned to Balboa.

Hennessey gripped the lower half of his face in his right hand, thinking hard. "Much would depend on the attitude of the Federated States. If they were hostile, then you're likely screwed . . . although there are a number of techniques you can use to hide an armed force if the legal government will help. For one thing, you can use front organizations: boys' and girls' youth groups, civilian labor groups . . . unions, fraternal organizations, police and fire departments. I'm assuming here that the Morales government wants nothing to do with that."

A sneer crossed Parilla's face. "That is unfortunately correct. The traitors actually had the gall to legislate away our ability to defend ourselves; like San Jose did." Parilla spat with contempt.

Parilla paused, then admitted, "Well, that's not entirely true. The new Civil Force is in most respects a blurry mirror of the old Balboa Defense Corps. But it is a singularly ball-less version of the BDC."

Hennessey nodded. "Then it will be almost impossible unless you can either change the government or change its mind . . . or fool it."

"I see. Well, what can be done without a change of government?"

Hennessey leaned into his left hand and rubbed his temple. After a moment he answered, "Staff work. You can prepare Tables of Organization and Equipment. If you have money, you can buy some equipment and hide it, possibly at sea. You can send people to work with other countries that have armies. You can prepare programs of instruction and plan to set up training facilities even if you can't actually set them up. Perhaps a military high school—another one, I mean—might help."

"How would you prepare for something like that?"

"Me, Raul? I couldn't. Not any more."

Parilla cut him off. "Oh, horseshit, Patricio. You live here. Your roots—new ones to be sure, not as deep as they might be—are still here. Here is where your blood rests. And we need you. We've got 'Progressivist' Santandern guerillas from FARS and the SEL pressing our western border. We'll have the homegrown variety soon enough, too, if we don't do something. We are the trade route for the world. And the same people who killed your family will eventually figure that out and come for us, too. That is, they will if they aren't already here and waiting. I suspect they're just waiting."
Parilla seems like the kind of dude who will then take this new army and coup the government. Just saying.

Hennessey's eyes were pained. There had been a time when . . . ah, but it was too late now. "I still can't. Look . . . Raul. I'm just . . . broken. I'm not good for anything anymore. I just don't have it. And even if I did, without Linda I am . . . not to be trusted. I don't really trust myself."
The only thing Kratman Hennessey has said so far that I 100% agree with.

He then remembers, "Wait, I'm a motherfucking rich dude in a corrupt country, I can totally make a private army and hijack the national forces too!"
Hennessey shrugged. After Parilla left, Hennessey went back to twirling the ice in his drink, occasionally glancing toward Linda's grave.

His blank look was suddenly replaced by a deep and lasting frown. Could it be possible? There is a framework here, the Civil Force. There are some good people, men like Xavier, in it.

He debated within himself. But, no. Twelve years have gone by since they thought of themselves as infantry. Riddled with corruption, Xavier has told me. No recent training in heavier weapons. No experience in combined arms or higher staff work.

But . . . couldn't I give them some of that? Surely I could. And I have friends still, good soldiers, who could help.

Money? It always comes down to money. And even if Uncle Bob's estate does end up in my hands, it's a pittance compared to what's actually needed. I am no Crassus and I'm not going to be, either.

Not enough to maintain an army. Enough for a staff? Yes . . . at least enough for a staff. And then . . . maybe someone else could pay to maintain an army if one were raised.

Ah, no. Forget it. It was true what I told Parilla. My heart and soul are gone from me. They died with Linda and the kids. I just can't.

Can't? Why not? I was a good soldier before I met Linda.

Good? Yes. But she made me a human one. Before I met her? I was near to being a monster.

So be a monster. This is the time for monsters again; monsters have already arisen.


Hennessey's frown cleared. He remembered how very damned good it had felt to shoot men who'd cheered the murder of his family. He wondered, How good might it feel to kill the men actually behind killing my family? Might the nightmares stop then?

His heart began thumping and stomach churning with the excitement of the possibilities. With his left hand he reached over and poured his drink onto the ground outside the porch. Then he walked into the house, hugged his mother-in-law, shook his father-in-law's hand and left.

"I need to do something at the house," he announced as he walked out the door.
Also take another :drink:, there's our obligatory Roman reference for this chapter.

He calls Parilla back a few days later, to talk about things. While listening to classic rock and looking at the statue of his dead wife.
Parilla pointed a finger at Hennessey. "Could you do that kind of preparation for rebuilding a Balboa Defense Corps that really mattered outside of Balboa? Really?"

Hennessey didn't hesitate at all. "Yes. Really. Only . . . let's not call it the BDC. Too politically correct for my tastes. Also too much of an image marred by defeat. As a matter of fact, I think we should partially detach the force from Balboa. Your government is very sensitive to world opinion and very fond of the Tauran Union, the World League, and the UEPF."
After a military dictatorship, the government would want to emphasize both internally and externally that the army isn't the same entity it was before. Politically correct or not, it's an easy way to at least pretend things are different. Self Defense Force is also probably considered too politically correct for Tom, even if it's accurate and acronym friendly.


"La Armada," Parilla suggested.

"Maybe that. But maybe not, either. The people who legislated away the name while leaving a shadow of the reality are plainly people more interested in image than facts. Call it an army openly and they'll be more likely to resist."

Parilla pushed Hennessey's objections aside for the time being. "Patricio tell me, what would you do specifically? Wait. Let me fire up my slate to write with."

"No," Hennessey said. "If it's electronic it can be tapped. At this point let's stick to old fashioned."
This man has no clue about computer security, I'll just say that and come back to it quickly.

Also @Fashy Airship, he confirms here that the world has early 21st century tech.
Terra Nova's levels of technology were approximately those of very early twenty-first century Earth. Like that place and that time, too, the levels were very unevenly distributed across the planet. Uhuru, outside of the Republic of Northern Uhuru, for example, was little advanced in some places above the neolithic level.

Even in those areas—the Federated States and Secordia, Yamato, the Tauran Union—which enjoyed the highest levels of technology available, there were some differences from the world of Man's birth in its twenty-first century after the birth of Christ.
Anyway, where was I on the computer security?

One area where Terra Nova was far ahead of where one might have expected was in hacking. This, perhaps driven by the endemic warfare, was very advanced. Indeed, it was so advanced that no one was safe, ever. It was so advanced that the Globalnet, the equivalent of Old Earth's Internet, was far less well developed. Hacking on Terra Nova could be said to have exceptional every other aspect of information technology.

It was suspected, in some circles, that the UEPF was responsible for much of the hacking.
So the Earth UN is behind the hacking, because all liberals are evil. But also despite having 21st century tech, hacking is super advanced. Well, hate to spoil it for you here Tom, but most hacking is just pretending to be someone else and sending an email, or throwing out spam emails in the hopes some idiot will open an attachment in it. If your internet is less developed, you'd also be seeing far less hacking, because there'd be nothing online worth hacking.

Kratman Hennessey then tells Parilla about his friends, soldiers, real soldiers, not people who cry or do things like give starving kids food, that he thinks he can get involved in the project for a private army.

Hennessey didn't need quick calculations. Those were long since made. "For the first year a fair figure might be about one point eight million FSD"—Federated States Drachma, also legal tender in Balboa and much of the rest of the planet—"not more than two point two million; plus perhaps a lump sum of about four million to start up. The annual figure could go as high as three million or even four but I really don't think it will cost that much, not before we start to recruit and expand."

Parilla took a deep breath before telling Hennessey, "Patricio, I would like you to take charge of this project, to make all possible preparations for Balboa to have its own armed force again, in truth as well as in name. Will you do it?"

"I'm sure I can't afford the whole thing on my own. My uncle's estate is tied up for now. I have an income, and it's comfortable, but it wouldn't pay for anything like this, not even with the insurance from my family." But what I have, this project has.

Parilla answered, "You won't have to. I never thought you should." He shrugged his shoulders and looked heavenward in mock shame. "We do have certain sources of funds...not always aboveboard but also not often traceable." Parilla's hands spread in helplessness at the wickedness of mankind. "Piña wasn't, sad to say, the only ruler of the country ever to have a foreign bank account. I can have a reasonable down payment on the start up amount—say, FSD 450,000—tomorrow. The rest will take a couple of weeks. As for greater amounts for actually recreating a force? Well, Piña took two hundred and seventy- five million a year in unofficial taxes from the Cristobal Free Trade Zone. Most went to line his pockets; his and his cronies. But we could raise probably four hundred million per year now without hurting trade overmuch. And we are not that poor a country. Our gross domestic product runs nearly twelve billion. A couple of hundred million more could be squeezed out of government revenues. That's not small change. That all assumes, of course, that the government can be made to see reason."

Even while thinking, I don't want the government to pay for it. I want to pay for it, to maintain control of it, and to use it to destroy my enemies, Hennessey nodded agreement. "Then I will go back to the Federated States in two days to begin."
Of course, what government wouldn't jump at the chance of handing over a large chunk of their army to a foreign individual who previously fought against them! It's not like mercenaries loyal to their leaders have a history of turning on their hired governments if they feel stiffed on payment. Wait, no, that's happened a fucking load of times.

Anyway we meet our first part of the discount A team, Terry Johnson, who now owns a gun store in a military town, so you know he's on the level and full FREEDOM. Especially because the ATF Firearms and Explosives Bureau wants to inspect him. He and Kratman Hennessey have a big hug up in the store then go to catch up on each other. Terry shares why he left the army.
Johnson raised a quizzical eyebrow. "You really want to hear this? Okay. My team and I were on a deployment to the Yithrab Peninsula, one of those trivial but rich little oil kingdoms. Exactly where doesn't matter; it's secret anyway. I got orders from my motherfucking, son- of-a-bitch battalion commander to do a blank fire attack on a police fort. It was a training mission so I didn't think anything of it at the time. When I went to the police fort to recon it, however, it did not, repeat not, look like a good place for a blank fire raid."

Johnson put up his right hand and raised one finger for each reason he had thought the raid a bad idea. "These guys had serious security out; machine gun bunkers, even a few anti-tank weapons, all live ammunition so far as I could see. They did not look to me like they were planning to take part in any blank exercises. They did look like they were expecting the Army of Zion to roll over the ridge at any moment.

"Anyway, I got on the SATCOM and told my battalion commander that I didn't think this exercise was a good idea and why I thought so. He went ballistic on me over the radio. Insisted that it was all laid on and coordinated, etc., etc, et-fucking-cetera. That, and that he wouldn't come in my mouth. I said I still didn't want to do it. He ordered me to." Again Johnson clenched a fist at a memory that still rankled.

"So we did the raid. I couldn't use live ammo on the cops and I didn't want them to have a chance to use live ball on my guys. So I improvised. We attacked with more pyrotechnics than you have probably ever seen used in one place. We had hundreds and hundreds of grenade and artillery simulators. Smokepots, signals. The works. The attack went just fine. God, it was pretty." Johnson sighed with pleasure, then frowned. "Only thing was . . . the police fort sort of . . . uh . . . burned down. To the ground. Must have been more wood in the place than I'd thought."

Hennessey laughed. He could just see it. "You and Kennison and fire. It just doesn't mix."

"Anyway, it turned into a big international stink. I claimed I was following orders, which is not a bad defense if you haven't committed a war crime. My battalion CO denied ever giving me any orders, the cocksucker. My word against his, and he was an SSG 'good old boy.' I had a choice of resignation or court-martial. I resigned. I should have listened to you," Johnson summed up.
It turned into a big stink because you weren't supposed to BURN DOWN THE POLICE STATION. He never ordered that.

Johnson further complains that the GUBBAMINT is making it too much of a hassle to run his gun store. Because regulations are evil, even ones like "hey bro we want to make sure you're not selling firearms to criminals."

Anyway, Kratman Hennessey dangles the carrot of a return to military life but with LESS BULLSHIT REGS because he's in charge. Terry joins the party.

The next member is a fucking NEEEERRRRD.
In an uncomfortable chair overlooking the airship arrival gate, Dan Kuralski waited impatiently for the stranger who had spoken to him over the telephone two days prior. The stranger had identified himself as Terry Johnson. Johnson had said that he would be arriving today and was carrying with him an employment proposal from a mutual friend, Pat Hennessey. At first, Kuralski had been only mildly interested in the proposal. He was doing well enough financially as a computer programmer. He didn't really need the work. But then the stranger had said that the work would be soldierly. Kuralski was reminded of Kipling's words; the lines that went, "The sound of the men what drill. An' I says to me fluttering heartstrings, I says to 'em Peace! Be still."

Okay, OKAY. I make decent money as a programmer; let's not pretend that I like it, though.

That was why Kuralski was at the airport today to meet a total stranger. He had heard the sound and it had made his heartstrings flutter. Kuralski flat hated being a civilian.
Wanna know how we know he's a NERD? He's a computer programmer, and went to Officers College, instead of starting as an enlisted. What a fucking NERD. He waxes for like two paragraphs about Kratman Hennessey and how he was like, the perfect commander, a bit of a hard ass but he got things done. Terry gives the NERD his letter, and Kratman Hennessey makes him an offer to be 2nd in command for the unit and to start up staff shit in his army. The NERD agrees, because his wife died of cancer. He's salty that his army career was ruined because he had to take care of his wife with cancer, and thus missed a company command, and without a command no chance of advancement. Such deep motivations and backstory for a character we just met. What a fucking NERD.

The interlude this time is Kratman jerking off about how the EU is terrible and bad and europe's population is declining but it's a good thing they got rid of democracy because of all the muslims and brown people there now. It's really shit and irrelevant.

Total :drink: 's so far: 8
 

Capsaicin Addict

Spooky skeleton heat!
kiwifarms.net
I don't know if he's recounting a story of his own experiences, or not. Tom, if you're reading this, I'd love for you to comment on that. I'm guessing it's partly true, at least that he and the CO loathed one another. The test is a reference to a real one, I know that. Part of the reason I see his boss being pissed is that he was teaching the test to a degree. Hell, he was running the actual test again and again and again. That's great for rote memorization in certain circumstances, but it's also going to leave them shit out of luck if something new pops up, and might send people for a loop if the stations aren't in the same order.
Unfortunately, Kratman's not wrong about people getting pissed if you're too good. Tall Poppy Syndrome is a thing, after all. And all it takes is one mediocre officer over you to make your life hell, because (a) you make HIM look bad, and (b) you might just nudge him out of his position.

Anyway, where was I on the computer security?

So the Earth UN is behind the hacking, because all liberals are evil. But also despite having 21st century tech, hacking is super advanced. Well, hate to spoil it for you here Tom, but most hacking is just pretending to be someone else and sending an email, or throwing out spam emails in the hopes some idiot will open an attachment in it. If your internet is less developed, you'd also be seeing far less hacking, because there'd be nothing online worth hacking.
Don't forget the social engineering. I swear to God, one day there will be a movie about hacking in which the hackers collect all their data through dumpster diving, social engineering, and assembling myriad little bits of info together.

I never ever understood that angle in the books.

Of course, what government wouldn't jump at the chance of handing over a large chunk of their army to a foreign individual who previously fought against them! It's not like mercenaries loyal to their leaders have a history of turning on their hired governments if they feel stiffed on payment. Wait, no, that's happened a fucking load of times.
Didn't Machiavelli specifically state mercenary armies were a bad idea? Hell, even in Battletech (which has a lot of mercs), the mercs are more like heavily armed contractors and specialists, and even the smaller Periphery nations usually build up their own in-house militaries.

It turned into a big stink because you weren't supposed to BURN DOWN THE POLICE STATION. He never ordered that.

Johnson further complains that the GUBBAMINT is making it too much of a hassle to run his gun store. Because regulations are evil, even ones like "hey bro we want to make sure you're not selling firearms to criminals."
No offense, @Techpriest, but considering that OIG report on the FBI a while back, I find it entirely plausible that a fictional federal agency is run by phenomenal morons.

And remember, Kratman goes on in this vein for six or seven books.
 

Techpriest

Praise the Machine Spirits
kiwifarms.net
CHAPTER 7: THE TEAM BUILDING MONTAGE, PART 2

The chapter starts out with a pretentious quote counterquote thing that's only clever in Kratman's head because he gives the counter quote to some person in his fictional alt future earth that isn't earth. We start out with a dream/nightmare sequence again which brings me to the fucking unending pattern this book has. Quotes and nightmares/dreams to start chapters and interludes to end them. Both really add nothing to the story, and just pad out the word and page count of an already dull book. It's really been downhill since space 9/11 in terms of crazy.

We also get something very, very annoying.
Herrera Airport, Ciudad Balboa, 9/8/459 AC

"Ahhh. Smell t'e flowers! T'ere's no place like Balboa!"
Accents transliterated. Not just once and a mention that 'you know he sounds like this' or the occasional word with the accenting, or just saying he has an accent and writing normally, every single one of the lines of this man is like this. It makes me want to pull my hair out.

Hennessey smiled indulgently at the tall, razor-thin, gray-haired black man walking at his left side. They moved quickly through Balboan immigration and into the baggage area. At the Aduana a senior customs agent recognized Hennessey from his previous trip and waved him, the other two whites, and the sole black man forward to the front of the line. With a conspiratorial smile, the Aduana agent fell over himself to make the group's transit through the terminal as trouble free as possible. Within mere minutes Hennessey and his companions, John McNamara, Command Sergeant Major (retired), Matthias Esterhazy, late of the Sachsen Reichswehr's Fallschirmstuermpioniere, or Airborne Assault Engineers, and Her Anglic Majesty's former Royal Sapper, Gary Clean, were standing at the counter to pick up their rental car.

"Where are we goin' first, sir?" asked McNamara in a melodious Maiden Islands accent. Esterhazy and Clean kept silent, looking around with curiosity.

Hennessey answered, loudly enough for all three of his companions to hear, "First, Sergeant Major, we're going to check in at the Julio Caesare. We've got reservations already. An acquaintance of mine—nice girl, 'Lourdes'—has reserved rooms for us. Then we'll need food, I think. This afternoon, after lunch, we'll go look at buying a headquarters. I want you there for that. It may take us a couple of days to find something appropriate."

The CSM nodded. "I've given t'e set up some t'ought. Once we find t'e right place, just leave it to me."

"As always, Sergeant Major."
And here's the rest of the A team. We don't get backstories for them here. The translation is a little off on the german by the way, when it comes to spelling. Fallschirmstuermpioniere is a luxembourgian, not German way to spell it and that translates into "Rather Storm Pioneers" instead of Airborne Assault Engineers, according to google translate. By the way, that phrase is Luftgestützte Angriffsingenieure literally, but if you want to do the para stuff it'd be more like (at least to my understanding of german) fallschirmsturmpionier, or parachute assault pioneer/engineer. You could also (I think) call them fallschirmjaegersturmpioners or Paratrooper assault engineers. It's really close and it's kind a nitpick, but for as wehraboo as Kratman is you'd think he'd get his German right.

Another :drink: for the hotel name, even if we've been here before.

Oh, by the way, remember that one chick that was strangely attracted to Kratman Hennessey in this hotel? She's baaaack.
"I am here to see one of your guests," Lourdes told the man at the registry counter. "Patrick Hennessey."

The man looked her over briefly and came to a rapid conclusion— Hooker. A high-end model, I suspect.

Lourdes' already huge brown eyes widened further still. He can't really think . . . oh, no . . . I don't look . . . I don't dress . . . I hardly even wear any make up . . . he can't really. Dammit I'm a good girl!

She said nothing except to sigh as the man picked up the telephone and announced her, then signaled for a bellhop. The bellhop came up to stand beside her, a wide smirk on his face. He thinks so, too?

Lourdes followed the bellhop to the elevator, embarrassment— and not a little anger—growing inside her with each step. She stewed in simmering juices while waiting for the elevator doors to open. She thought, I should have just asked for the room number and told them I could find it myself. But then . . . no . . . if I knew my way around the hotel they would probably be certain instead of just guessing.

Lourdes and the bellhop rode up past several floors before the bell chimed, the elevator stopped and the doors opened. She let herself be led to Hennessey's room quietly, like a sheep to slaughter.
And she wants to see him and is mistaken for a hooker. Geez.

Kratman Hennessey sees she's got a head for numbers, and she's now the new secretary/accountant for his private army, as her last job kinda got fucked by terror attacks. She gets to work fast.

Chorrera Province, Republic of Balboa, 13/8/459 AC
"Señor, I am certain this will fit your needs," announced the fat, greasy-looking real estate agent. He may have been fat and greasy looking, but Lourdes had checked and he had an enviable reputation for fair dealing.

It had taken four days, and fourteen houses and ranches, before the agent had finally brought them to something appropriate. Lourdes had not understood what was wrong with the others they had seen. Hennessey hadn't bothered to explain. The one in front of which Hennessey, McNamara, the realtor, the two engineers and Lourdes stood seemed close to fitting the bill. It was some eighteen or twenty miles east of Balboa City, on a promontory overlooking the ocean, a mansion of sorts, old and built of stone, with a high stone retaining wall fronting the highway to the south and east. It had the "haunted house" look that said it hadn't been occupied or properly cared for for some years.
They're searching for a good spot for a compound for their private army, and this is the place. We also suffer through more of McNamara's speech. Please, make it stop. MAKE IT STOP. When he leaves with Lourdes, I thought I'd be free of him, but nope, the focus is on Lourdes now.
"Where do you know Patricio from, Sergeant Major?" Lourdes kept her eyes on the road as she and the CSM chatted.

"T'e old man? We go back a few years. Have kind of a mutual admiration society. He t'inks I'm about t'e best sergeant major he ever met." McNamara chuckled and flashed a smile brilliant in his homely black face. "And I am. I know he's about t'e best commander I ever met...at any rank."

"What makes him so special?" Besides that he's cute . . . and I don't think you care about that.

"If you were a soldier it would be easier to explain. I don't know how to explain it to a civvie."

"Try."

"He's a warrior; t'e real article, no fake. He's afraid of absolutely not'ing. A lot of people aren't afraid of deat', and neit'er is he. But it's rare not to fear even disgrace . . . and he don't. Why, when our brigade commander once told him to stop training to fight or get relieved . . . but never mind t'at. Long story. Sad one, too." McNamara sighed despondently.
More 'HE WAS A REAL SOLDIER THAT'S WHY THEY COULDN'T STAND HIM HE DOESN'T CARE ABOUT STATION JUST RESULTS' drivel and egostroking. Also Lourdes is suddenly super attracted to the man with crazy eyes. Remember, she wants to bang this:
737041

I don't see it. He looks like he's going to kill you then rape the body.

Hennessey and the Discount A Team start drinking together after getting the property for a cool million spacebucks... drachmas... whatever. They discuss renovations, ze german speaks like zis, ja, and discusses how they're going to handle housing, because while the mansion will work for officers, they'll have enlisted around. So they'll have to build their own barracks. It makes sense but that still doesn't handle housing immediately. You're gonna need tents at least, and plans, and other logistics. Also they're naming the fort after his dead wife. Because, you know, pain.

There's also a cut to this.
Hennessey asked, "Do you have the list?"

David nodded, "Yes, Patricio. Seven hundred and thirty-eight names and addresses of the parents, wives and children of the soldiers who were killed in the invasion twelve years ago, and those reserve troops of the Sovereignty Battalions who fought and were killed, too. I also have the list of the two hundred and fifteen soldiers and SB troops who were permanently disabled. It has taken me almost all this time to finish compiling it. Why did you need it?"

Hennessey didn't answer directly. "Has the government started paying support to any of them yet?"

"No. Did you expect they would? Crippled and unsupported, those men and their families are walking advertisements for antimilitarism. Much more likely they'd throw the disabled troops in jail than give them money."

"I suppose I didn't expect them to help, not really. Never mind, we'll take care of them for a while, thanks to my Uncle Bob. I want you to find a lawyer here in Cervantes. Your family keeps one on retainer, don't they?" Seeing David nod, Hennessey continued, "Good. Set up a trust fund. I'll give you a check to start it off. Then I want every wife and set of parents on that list to get two hundred drachma per month. Send an additional hundred for each kid. If there is a particularly needy case let me know. We'll try to cover that too."

"There is one case I'm aware of, over in Las Mesas Province. One of our mid-rank NCOs who was killed, a Sergeant Cordoba, had a very young daughter named Marqueli. His parents are dead. His wife just died." David saw that Hennessey flinched.

"The mother was working to send the girl to school. I'm afraid a hundred drachma won't cover that. Two-fifty might, if she's very careful and can work, too."

"Fine. Put her down for two hundred and fifty a month. Any others?"

"I'll have to check. It would have been easier if you had told me why you needed to know."

"I know. Sorry. I wasn't sure myself until about a week ago. Let's just say that I'm buying good public relations. Do you have my domestic staff?"
He's doing this out of desire to look good first, not completely help everyone. Speaking of which...

Hennessey sighed. "And I've had worse news. I'm afraid my pussy cousin in First Landing is going to tie up my uncle's estate for some years, too, so I don't have all that much to help with; just my personal bequest. Less now, really, what with the market down. I've sent one of my people, Matthias Esterhazy, to First Landing to see what he can do."

"But I thought you said that your Uncle's will would cut—what was his name? Eugene?—cut him out of the will if he contested it."

"Yes, so my uncle's lawyer told me. But apparently, from Eugene's point of view it's a good bet. He gets a lifetime income, a comfortable one, if he keeps quiet, true. But he's filthy fucking rich if he sues and wins. And, apparently, an 'in terrorem' clause, with a videotaped codicil to a will, under unusually stressful circumstances, is just weak enough that he might win. So says the lawyer now, anyway. He's advising that I settle."

"Are you willing to settle?" Parilla asked.

"Willing? Up to a point. If I could keep enough to fund our little enterprise, I would settle. Problem is, Eugene hates my guts. Can't say I blame him, either. We've loathed each other since we were kids. He would never settle on any terms that were acceptable to me, anyway. Besides, even though the Salafis would chop Eugene's head off in a heartbeat, he still supports them. I don't want to see that much money going into the other side's coffers. Even if he gave it to charity, that only frees up a different pile of money for war and terrorism."

"So. I see," answered Parilla. "Well, in any case, I just can't deliver the votes, Patricio. Not enough; not at a price we can afford."

Hennessey scowled. "Hmmm. More than one way to skin a cat. Raul, do you know any good propagandists?"
Our gay stereotype friend from chapter 5 is back. Also, yeah, Kratman's turning to propaganda.
Drama Department, University of Balboa,
18/8/459 AC

The campus really should have been moved. Sitting, really sprawling, as it did between the financial district, the high-end shopping district, and the hotel and casino district, the land on which the university sat was not only too valuable for its current use, it wasn't even convenient any longer to the bulk of its students.

Leaving Soult to guard the Phaeton, Hennessey walked to the drama department. Rather, he searched for it on foot. It was only with difficulty that he finally managed to find it. When he did find it, a secretary showed him to the office of Professor Ruiz, with whom he had an appointment. Hennessey had gotten Ruiz's name from Parilla along with an introduction. The professor had a reputation of being a nationalist to a degree even greater than the university norm. When Hennessey had made the appointment, he had given his name as Patricio Carrera. Under Balboan law, he'd become Hennessey de Carrera at the same time Linda had become Carrera de Hennessey.
I can feel it again. The crazy is coming back. That quote at the start, that wasn't just some fictional character. That was Kratman himself telling Archimedes to shove it, make your own lever you filthy commie! For the second, he's going to a college drama professor to do propaganda. I've met college drama professors. You've probably met college drama professors. They're usually pretty mediocre.

"Frankly, I want a propaganda movie. I want—"

Hennessey stopped speaking when Ruiz's secretary brought in two cups of coffee. Ruiz passed over the sugar and waited for Hennessey to continue.

"As I was saying, I want to make a propaganda movie . . . about the 447 invasion. I am told you might be able to make such a movie, given funding."

Ruiz brightened immediately. He began to wax about the terrible atrocities—largely fictional—committed by the Federated States, the suffering of the people, the destruction of the economy. Ruiz paused. "But aren't you a gringo, yourself?" he asked, doubtfully.

"I am. And I am not remotely interested in an anti-FSC movie. Oh, don't misunderstand; the Federated States is going to have to be the enemy. But I need them to be an honorable enemy. As for atrocities; that's not the message I wish this movie to send. Perhaps later we'll do another . . . on a different kind of atrocity." Hennessey smiled before continuing, "The kind of film you are thinking of tells about the evil of the Federated States. What good would that do, even if true? We have bigger enemies. Worse ones, too, now. Enemies of our entire civilization. So, really, Professor, what good?"

"It would help rally the people against this puppet government. That is quite a bit, don't you think?"

Hennessey shrugged. "Up to a point. But I don't want to demoralize the people. I have a different idea. Let's not spend our effort showing the Federated States as bad. Anyone here in Balboa who believes that already doesn't need further convincing. Instead, let's work on showing Balboa and Balboans as good. With, and I cannot emphasize this enough, the glaring exception of General Piña, of course."

Ruiz looked confused and uncertain. "But everyone in the country would agree even more on that. What's the point?"

Hennessey thought that Ruiz was perhaps overoptimistic. Few in Colombia Latina, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Columbia had any real faith in their own governments and societies.

He answered, "That depends on how we go about it. I want a film about Balboan soldiers doing their duty unto death. I want you to write a script, or have one written, about the last stand of the BDC in the Estado Mayor. I want the film to give three main messages. First, I want the movie to show that the BDC troops in the Estado Mayor fought as well as any troops ever have, as well as the gringos did . . . or better. Since I was there at the time, I can assure you that this is the truth. This will tell the people that they are not inferior, not helpless. Second, and without going to the level of the ridiculous, I want the movie to show that the only reason the BDC lost was because they were outnumbered and outgunned, not outfought. Third, and this will probably require the greatest artistry on your part, I want the message sent that while the battle was physically lost, morally it must be seen as a victory."

"There were so few survivors—at the Estado Mayor, I mean—that it will be difficult to be accurate."

Hennessey smiled grimly. "So much the better. Without witnesses there will be few to criticize what the story shows if we're broadly and generally realistic. Get copies of some of the movies made by all sides during the Great Global War, The Fighting O'Rourkes, maybe. Maybe Kohlstadt, too. You'll see what I mean."

Ruiz hesitated. "I would like to do the script myself, but I don't know anything about soldiers or fighting."

"Don't worry about that, Professor. I have several first-class technical experts coming who can assist you. In addition," Hennessey handed over the draft of the history he had been working on with Jimenez, "here's an accurate version of the truth as seen by both sides."

Ruiz flipped through the draft quickly. His English was acceptable for the purpose. "How quickly do you need this done, Mr. Carrera?"

"In the GGW films like this were turned out in as little as three months. I'll give a little more time than that; five months, say. At the end of that time I want to see a rough cut. Can you do the job on five hundred thousand?"

"If I start today, and can keep costs low, which is a very big if, then yes."

"Then start today, Professor Ruiz. I'll be in touch."
Yes, you can make a war movie on half a million in five months. That doesn't mean it's going to be any good, especially with the deep and varied messages you're trying to portray which is going to rely very, VERY heavily on acting quality. Propaganda movies aren't exactly the best at that. Chekov's history book draft is finally used too, as something other than a flashback machine. Which is kind of clever. Pat yourself on the back Tom, you've done a writer thing well, yay!

So aside from the crazy low budget war movie, there's also the real peak crazy shit. Kratman Hennessey wants more. He wants... propaganda telanovellas about the evils of Islam.

I'm serious.
"Well, for the first use as a working title El Rasul—the Prophet. I want it to be on the oppression and betrayal of Christians under Mohammed when Islam first reared its head on Old Earth. Historical accuracy is unimportant. I want to plant the thought in Balboa that Islam is evil and false in its very roots. For the second, Los Esclabos, a romance of Christian lovers torn apart by Moslem slavers. He goes to a galley, she to a harem, to rape, and then to a brothel. For the third, El Martillo, I want the turning back of the Moslem tide of conquest at Tours, on Old Earth. Also a romance . . ."

"Why so many romances?" asked the professor.

"Because I want the women of Balboa enraged at the very thought of sharing a planet with Salafis. For the fourth, Lepanto . . ."
Yeah, Tom's obsessed with Lepanto. I should have mentioned that earlier.

Also a good chunk of this here is semi-bullshit. Tours was a battle in a series of skirmishes from the Umayyads probing into Gaul, not a massive invasion. Tours also isn't the end of muslim expansion and conquest, it's just a battle people like to point to and say was the turning point and was a propaganda piece by Charles the Hammer to support his descendents claims to the throne of the Franks. From the works of people much more knowledgeable than I, there's this passage from The Reader's Companion to Military History:
The study of military history has undergone drastic changes in recent years. The old drums-and-bugles approach will no longer do. Factors such as economics, logistics, intelligence, and technology receive the attention once accorded solely to battles and campaigns and casualty counts. Words like "strategy" and "operations" have acquired meanings that might not have been recognizable a generation ago. Changing attitudes and new research have altered our views of what once seemed to matter most. For example, several of the battles that Edward Shepherd Creasy listed in his famous 1851 book The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World rate hardly a mention here, and the confrontation between Muslims and Christians at Poitiers-Tours in 732, once considered a watershed event, has been downgraded to a raid in force.
That's not to say it isn't an important battle, just for different reasons than you might think.

We move onto a detailed schedule told by McNamara to a bunch of new NCO's, which makes my brain hurt so I just skipped through most of it, Lourdes being... I don't know. I've never met a woman that acted like this.

"Our weapons are limited to two pistols, mine and t'e CO's, and a couple of Samsonov rifles. We'll be gettin' more in a few days. Among other t'ings, we will all be goin' to town tomorrow to apply for permits to carry a weapon concealed. T'e CO is payin'. His brot'er in law will . . . facilitate. T'e CO will also be payin' for your personal sidearms. T'ey will all be forty-fives."

That elicited smiles from everyone. There wasn't a man present who didn't believe that most any pistol was good enough . . . as long as its caliber began with a "four."
CULT OF THE FOURTY FIVE STRIKES AGAIN. There's more Lourdes fawning over Kratman Hennessey, and a run down over the staff officers, one of whom is a likely serial killer.

Then there's Carl. Carl's just a bit heavy.

However pudgy he looked, Carl could bench press almost three times his body weight. He had also run Hennessey into the dirt on more than a few occasions. Carl had not been picked for either his appearance or his physical strength. Hennessey remembered that in Carl's unusually long time as a second lieutenant he had had the distinction of having received a letter of reprimand once a week for a three-month period from a full colonel or higher—without even once repeating reprimanders. Little things: kicking his company commander in the groin (he had argued "accident" but no one believed it had been anything other than perfectly deliberate), burning down a Federated States Militia brigade headquarters ("Hey, who thought that tent would be so flammable?"), loading forty-six men on a single (stolen) quarter-ton vehicle with trailer and taking them for a drive (two letters from that one).

I like a man who can break the rules.
There's breaking the rules, then there's endangering others while breaking the rules, like the trailer and pickup incident. That he also stole.

After the staff rundown we get Lourdes doing more fawning and not understanding military lingo because she's a silly woman. There's a discussion on what they're eating (Megaladon steak), and some stuff about future plans. It's semi-dull stuff, but not overly so.

"The mission: We are going to recreate a real army for Balboa, to plan the foundation of something that can be of use to the Federated States at need. The first part of that will be pretty dull. Later, it should get a lot more exciting . . . when we actually can start building and training; better still, when we can deploy and fight. Still, don't expect too much right off. Don't worry about who's paying the bills.

"Organization. We are a staff. I intend for us to set up under something close to the old Sachsen model, not the one the Federated States inherited, if you dig deep enough, from the Frogs of Old Earth. That means that personnel administration, instead of being the 'One,' is the 'Two,' Roman numeral two. The Roman numeral 'One' shop is the Operations, Logistics, and Intelligence office—Ia, Ib, and Ic, respectively.
Ayy, another rome thing, and more German fellating, let's take a :drink:! All of this is (naturally) recorded on pen and paper. We then start to really get into the number crunching. It shows Tom did staff work and he's using that experience here to some degree to at least attempt to make the creation of a private army make some sense. Again, credit where credit is due, he's got a point that it's not easy.

"Terrence, you are tasked to help with the making of a propaganda cum recruiting film. We'll discuss that in more detail later.

"So much for ourselves, for now."

Hennessey began to pace around the room as he spoke to the group as a whole. "The major task, however, is to design an army for Balboa for the future. That is what will consume most of our efforts for the next few months. Dan, as chief of staff I want you to direct that. Start with the assumption Balboa could, were the funding available, raise and sustain a force of about thirty thousand regulars, maybe ninety thousand reservists and perhaps three times that in militia. Assume that between Balboa and the rest of Colombia del Norte we can find as many as thirty thousand volunteers a year. The reservists and militia are critical because you just can't politically trust professional Latin soldiers. Eventually, given the fantastic degree of governmental corruption, they will overthrow their governments. The reservists and militia are to counter that.

"That size force is the illogical and unreasonable extreme," Hennessey continued. "Start there anyway. Once you have done that, shrink it to what is possible; a single corps of about fifty or sixty thousand that is capable of deploying one division of eleven to fourteen thousand in support of the Federated States in the war now ongoing. Match the huge force to the smaller corps so that if it ever did become necessary the corps could be expanded with minimal confusion, battalions expanding to regiments, regiments becoming divisions, and so on. Again, that's just in case the illogical and unreasonable come to pass."

Everyone present, with the exception of McNamara, Esterhazy and Clean who had heard Hennessey thinking out loud for some time, was a little shocked. Not a few wondered if their boss had flipped. He had, of course, but not in the way they were thinking.

"The corps is the important thing," Hennessey said. "Note carefully, however, that I can't pay for it now and neither can Balboa."

Okay, so he hasn't quite flipped completely . . . in the way they had been thinking.

"What I want you to do, Dan and the I-Shop, with a big assist from the II, is design it carefully and completely. Then further shrink that. I don't know what I can pay for, not yet anyway. So shrink it in four forms: to a division of about eleven to fourteen thousand, to a large brigade of about eight thousand, to a regular sized brigade of about four or five thousand, and to a combat team of around two thousand. Which we decide to go with will depend on funding."
When your subordinates think you're pretty fucking crazy, you need to chill. There's a bit more number crunching after this and discussions about the not war in not space afganistan.

Esterhazy interjected, "You are right about zat, Pat. But have you considered just vhat a fair price would be for the FS to pay for a . . . oh, say . . . a full division of Balboan troops?"

Hennessey pulled out a cigarette and lit it. McNamara, and not for the first time, thought that his chief would kill himself young if he didn't cut down.

"I've thought about it and made a few inquiries, Matthias, yes. For the FS to maintain one full division overseas in action, even low intensity action, requires them to keep three divisions on the books. So one division deployed costs three divisions worth of normal pay and operating expenses. That's about fourteen billion drachma a year. The cost of one division at war at low intensity is maybe— frankly no one I spoke to was quite sure—sixteen or seventeen billion a year more. Annuitized retirements, long-term medical care, disability payments to the badly wounded, etcetera, would probably add another four billion to that. I think the total cost is about thirty-five billion per committed division, per year. And that says nothing about the political costs of combat casualties or the benefit, propaganda- wise, that comes from having a strong ally in the fight."

"We won't have to charge them anything like their own cost," Hennessey said as he flicked an ash onto his plate. "We can pay the Balboans maybe forty percent of what a soldier from the FS gets and they would still consider it princely. Lourdes?"
Yes. Tom Kratman is going to outsource the army to Panamanians Balboans because they'll work for cheaper.

"I know. So, gentlemen, we can pay a lot less and still be considered generous. Food is cheap here, too," Hennessey added, pointing to the remains of the bird. "That turkey you just massacred cost about a third of what it would have in the FS. Moreover, our troops will not have the expectation of the best, most cutting edge, equipment. In all, I think we can pay for a corps of fifty or sixty thousand, with a division deployed and fighting, for about four to four and a half billion a year."

"If that's true, Pat," observed Esterhazy, "then you could charge the FS nothing more than the cost of one of their divisions deployed, say sixty percent of their total cost, and still make a fortune."

"Even at half," Hennessey corrected, "we can make a fortune."
He's going to build a wall army and make the Americans Columbians pay for it!

"Anyway, enough about fuzzy finances. Back to the concrete. Dan, do the whole Table of Organization: numbers, equipment, ranks, individual gear, training base, et cetera. Maximize ground combat forces. Design, to the extent that is possible, for things the FS Army is either not good at or lacks the capability for. For example, they are always short infantry, so design for primarily infantry missions: counterinsurgency, city fighting, reduction of complex fortifications. Plan for a very austere logistic and admin tail. I have a preference for Volgan equipment, where it will do. With them having gone about half belly up I think there will be a lot of useful military equipment for sale in the near future for cheaps. Nonetheless, consider a mix of Volgan, FS and Tauran Union equipment. Zion may have some useful stuff, too."

Kuralski looked up from note taking and asked: "What kind of fire support? What kind of control system? ATADS?" This, the Advanced Tactical Artillery Data System, was a digitalized system for controlling and massing artillery fire. No one entirely trusted it.

"No, Dan," Hennessey answered. "How's the quote go: 'Real soldiers don't trust ATADS'? Number of guns and throw weight are the semi-developed world's solution to the artillery battle. Now that you mention it, though, put the forward observers in the combat support/ weapons company of the maneuver battalions. I've never liked the idea of people who have to fight together being strangers to one another."

Hennessey continued. "Assume that we will never be able to afford a high tech battlefield communications system. No microwaves, few or no frequency hopping radios. Regular radios and wire are what they need."
"YOU SHOULD USE JUST GOOD OLD FASHIONED STUFF, NONE OF THIS COMPUTER BULLSHIT, BACK IN MY DAY WE USED RANGE TABLES AND LIKED IT!"
"But sir, with an artillery computer we can be more accurate and our salvos better timed -"
"I DON'T CARE, NERDS GET OUT OF MY MILITARY REEEEEEEEE"
"Nauseating as the thought is, I half expect to have to call whatever force we build 'Military Police.' Don't let the name fool you. It's to be a combat organization, having within it all arms and services. And it has to be ready to deploy and to fight by early 461."

Everybody looked doubtful about that. A mere year and a half to go from a standing start to something resembling an army in battle? Ridiculous! Absurd! Impossible!

Except they'd seen Hennessey do impossible things before.

Hennessey paused briefly, then added, "In the back of your minds, I want you to keep the concept of a 'nation in arms' . . . just in case.

"A last word before we adjourn for the evening. For various reasons I have found it useful to go by my wife's maiden name, 'Carrera.' It's a name of some local importance. It also became one of mine— here, at least—the day I married her. Mostly it may help to allay suspicions about our obviously gringo origin. Force yourselves to think of me that way from now on: Carrera."

Hennessey tossed off the dregs of his drink, then grinned evilly. "The fucking wogs are going to remember it, I promise you."
This is followed by more boring shit wanking Kratman Carrera and another exceptional interlude I'm not going to bother with. It's not even funny bad, or sci-fi. I wish it was the science fiction.

Total :drink:'s Counter: 10

Unfortunately, Kratman's not wrong about people getting pissed if you're too good. Tall Poppy Syndrome is a thing, after all. And all it takes is one mediocre officer over you to make your life hell, because (a) you make HIM look bad, and (b) you might just nudge him out of his position.
He's not, but remember that Tom's kind of a narcissist. He used to have google alerts for whenever his name was mentioned somewhere. Tom Kratman loves Tom Kratman like nobody else ever will. He can't be wrong, and people who don't agree with him are therefore evil.

Don't forget the social engineering. I swear to God, one day there will be a movie about hacking in which the hackers collect all their data through dumpster diving, social engineering, and assembling myriad little bits of info together.

I never ever understood that angle in the books.
Because boomers suck at tech. Computer stuff is like wizardry to them.

Didn't Machiavelli specifically state mercenary armies were a bad idea? Hell, even in Battletech (which has a lot of mercs), the mercs are more like heavily armed contractors and specialists, and even the smaller Periphery nations usually build up their own in-house militaries.
This private army is being pitched as the new model for a not panamanian army, not a private army (which it's going to be)

No offense, @Techpriest, but considering that OIG report on the FBI a while back, I find it entirely plausible that a fictional federal agency is run by phenomenal morons.

And remember, Kratman goes on in this vein for six or seven books.
Oh he goes in this vein forever and ever and ever. I partly skipped the last bits of chapter 8 for this because it was becoming routine, boring bullshit, and the post was dragging on and on and on.
 

Capsaicin Addict

Spooky skeleton heat!
kiwifarms.net
He's not, but remember that Tom's kind of a narcissist. He used to have google alerts for whenever his name was mentioned somewhere. Tom Kratman loves Tom Kratman like nobody else ever will. He can't be wrong, and people who don't agree with him are therefore evil.
And that's why his book's getting featured here, and he's damned lucky he doesn't have a thread like Vox Day.

This private army is being pitched as the new model for a not panamanian army, not a private army (which it's going to be)
About the only part that to me ever made sense was how Balboa was practically conscripting EVERYONE. They had to -- they didn't have the numbers otherwise.
 

Techpriest

Praise the Machine Spirits
kiwifarms.net
And that's why his book's getting featured here, and he's damned lucky he doesn't have a thread like Vox Day.


About the only part that to me ever made sense was how Balboa was practically conscripting EVERYONE. They had to -- they didn't have the numbers otherwise.
He does have a thread, it's just pretty dead because his kind of right wing wackadoo spergery isn't popular to mock around here. He's also less funny than actually mentally fucked people. Tom's crazy, but not mentally insane, if you understand the difference.

Also yeah, the world building isn't the best around here. The population of Balboa is something like what, 3 or 4 million?
 

Capsaicin Addict

Spooky skeleton heat!
kiwifarms.net
Tom's crazy, but not mentally insane, if you understand the difference.
Yeah, but aren't we all crazy?

Also yeah, the world building isn't the best around here. The population of Balboa is something like what, 3 or 4 million?
Seen worse, I suppose -- I still giggle at the Calexit comic book, which has freedom fighters mysteriously able to use assault rifles despite such weapons being insanely verboten in Cali. But yeah.
 

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