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Book Two of The Legacy Trilogy

Battlespace by Ian Douglas
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When called to do battle many light years from home, the 1st Marine Interstellar Expeditionary Unit rose to the challenge -- and now thousands of enslaved humans have been freed from the alien yoke. But Earth is twenty-one years older than the home planet they originally left, and the Marines need time to retrain and readjust -- time they do not have, due to the bizzare disappearance of a detachment of their brothers- and sisters-in-arms. It is a mystery, but there is a starting point: an ancient wormhole threading through the Sirius system. Whatever waits on the other side must be confronted, with stealth, with force, and without fear -- be it an ancient enemy or a devastating new threat.

The Marines are heading into the perilous unknown . . . and what transpires there could reshape the universe for millennia to come.

HarperCollins; October 2009
416 pages; ISBN 9780061979644
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Title: Battlespace
Author: Ian Douglas

Chapter One

27 october 2159

The NNN Interactive World Report

WorldNet NewsFeed

0705 hours, PST

Visual: A heavy Trans-Atmospheric Transport slowly descends through a night sky on shrieking plasma thrusters, its blocky, massive outline wreathed in swirling clouds of steam and illuminated by searchlights from the ground.

". . . and in other news today, UFR/US Marines of the First Marine Interstellar Expeditionary Unit returned to Earth early this morning, touching down at the Marine Spaceport Facility at Twentynine Palms, California, at just past midnight, Pacific Time. The First MIEU departed Earth twenty-one years ago in order to safeguard human interests on the planet Ishtar, in the star system designated Lalande 21185."

[Thought-click on highlighted links for further information.]

Visual: Enormous cargo containers, each twenty meters long and massing a hundred tons, are lowered on hydraulic arms from the grounded TAT's belly and onto ground-effect cargo carriers. Marines in full battle armor stand guard around the perimeter.

"The unit's marines, numbering over a thousand men and women, were brought down while still in cybernetic hibernation from the EU stellar transport Jules Verne, the vessel which brought them back from Ishtar on a voyage lasting ten years. They were taken at once to a hibernation receiving facility at Twentynine Palms for revival."

[Thought-click on highlighted links for further information.]

Visual: A succession of scenes of Marines in battle armor on the planet Ishtar -- beneath a sullen, green-tinted sky and the swollen orb of the gas giant, Marduk, about which Ishtar orbits. In the distance, a stepped pyramid rises above purple and black vegetation. Other buildings, crude things of mud brick, are visible in the foreground.

Scenes of battle, the Marines firing their weapons at unseen enemies.

More scenes of battle, Marines holding off an oncoming wave of humanoid creatures waving spears and banners. Marine Wasp fighters twist through the green sky.

"Fighting on Ishtar was, reportedly, savage, and the First MIEU suffered heavy casualties. According to reports, the alien Ahannu inhabiting Ishtar were holding a number of humans as slaves, the descendents of humans taken from Earth when the Ahannu, or An, possessed a starfaring empire ten thousand years ago.

[Thought-click on highlighted links for further information.]

Visual: Images of Ahannu -- primitive, carrying spears and wearing crude armor. They are humanoid, with elongated, crested heads, finely scaled green or brown skin, and enormous, golden eyes bearing horizontally slit pupils.

A scene shows several richly dressed Ahannu apparently in conversation with a number of Marines, one identified by a floating ID label as Colonel Ramsey. The Marines tower over the diminutive aliens, who appear submissive and afraid. A caption reads "Formalization of peace accord between the UFR and Ahannu leaders, June 30, 2148."

"The Ahannu, primitives who no longer possess the advanced, starfaring technology of their ancestors, surrendered to the Marines after two days of hard fighting. The commanding officer of the First MIEU, Colonel T. J. Ramsey, reportedly established a treaty with the Ahannu guaranteeing the freedom of Ishtar's human population."

[Thought-click on highlighted links for further information.]

Visual: The scene shifts to Earth and an angry crowd numbering in the thousands, filling a street, shaking fists and hand-lettered signs, chanting slogans. A woman in an elegant green cloak speaks passionately into the NetCam. "The Ahannu are gods! As the An, they came to our world thousands of years ago and brought with them the seeds of civilization -- agriculture, medicine, writing! The Ahannu are the An's descendents. We should be worshipping them, not killing them!" A caption reads: "Live: Demonstration in Portland, Maine, by members of the Anist Church of the Returning Gods."

"Reaction to the return of the Marines has been mixed. Many groups protest UFR involvement in the Lalande system, which has now fallen under joint EU–Brazilian–UFR control. Numerous religious groups here on Earth protest what many are calling heavy-handed interference in Ahannu affairs. And there are nations which disagree with UFR policies on Ishtar as well."

[Thought-click on highlighted links for further information.]

Visual: Another mob, this one obviously Islamic, with a mosque visible in the background. An imam speaks to the NetCam in Arabic, which is translated by the broadcast's AI. "These so-called ancient gods are demons and upset the order of God, may his name be blessed forever! It is a sin to have any traffic with them whatsoever!" A caption reads: "Imam Selim ibn Ali Zayid, speaking in Cairo, the Kingdom of Allah, earlier today."

Visual: Another mob, many waving American flags. A prominent sign in the foreground reads humanity unite! A wild-eyed man shouts into the NetCam, "The An enslaved people! They set up a colony on our planet and took away people to be slaves on other planets! They should be nuked. What the hell are we doing signing treaties with these monsters, for God's sake? They're demons! Kill them! Kill them all!" A caption reads: "Fr. Ronaldo Carrera, Church of Humankind, La Paz, Baja, earlier today."

"Meanwhile, tensions continue to mount between the UFR and the EU–Mexican–Brazilian Accord over the question of Aztlan independence. President DeChancey announced that . . ."

Cybernetic Hibernation Receiving Facility

Star Marine Force Center

Twentynine Palms, California

0920 hours, PST

Lance Corporal John Garroway, UFR/US Marine Corps, struggled upward toward light and consciousness. Tattered shreds of dreams clung to his awareness, already slipping away into emptiness. There were dreams of falling, of flame and battle and death in the night, and of an endless, empty gulf between the stars. . . .

He drew a breath and felt that terrifying no-air feeling you got when the wind was knocked out of you. He tried to inhale, harder, and a flash of white-hot pain stabbed at both sides of his chest.

He was drowning.

Garroway tried to breathe through the blockage and felt his body convulse in paroxysms of coughing and retching. A viscous jelly clogged his nose, mouth, and windpipe. A giant's hand pressed down on his chest; another closed about his throat. Damn it, he couldn't breathe. . . .

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