Copyright 2016 Serenity Valley Publishing
Written by: John M. Davis
Editing: Daniél Lecoq
Cover Art: Martinemes
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Shakespir.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Other books by John M. Davis
Terminus (Terminus, an Introduction)
Gunship (Gunship, book 1)
Glimmeria (Gunship, book 2)
Reflections (Gunship, book 3)
Gears and Spears (Gunship, book 4)
Legendary (Gunship, book 5)
Space Rebels (Gunship, book 6)
The Fleet (Fleet, book 1)
The Blood War (Fleet, book 2)
Chaotic Worlds (Fleet, book 3)
The Afterworlds (Fleet, book 4)
The Run (Fleet, book 5)
The Great War (Fleet, book 6)
Vampire Hunters (Fleet, book 7)
One Last Hero
One Last Hero (One Last Hero, book 1)
House of Wolves (One Last Hero, book 2) (Working Title)
Guardian Angel (Guardian Angel, book 1)
The Berlin War (Guardian Angel, book 2)
Days of Ruin (Guardian Angel, book 3)
Hammer (The Final War)
Rain of the Dead
Book 1: The Fleet
Book 2: Blood War
Book 3: Chaotic Worlds
About the Author
During the final assault between the Hunters and colonials, Ortega had been gunned down.
Something that did not fade, however, was his commander’s log. Mandatory entries, though the last was anything but. He has spoken of both the grit and compassion of Dalton James; even going far enough to name him the man in charge should he ever perish.
His entry was logged less than twenty-minutes before the Hunters began their final push, and those who survived looked to Ortega as an honorable man. His wishes for succession to go unchallenged.
As with colonial law, when a commander departed by resignation or death, the government would swear in a successor exactly twenty-three days following. Each day representing a major civilization under the colonial banner.
Though Dalton secretly admitted he knew nothing about leading such a proud people, he also believed that many commanders before him knew less than that, and they were able to pull it off. In fact, he was guilty of slugging one and bedding down the daughter of a second, though her looks fell way-short of her political standing.
Blame the whiskey.
Either way, he was about to lead the colonial people. At least from a military perspective. A civilian was to be sworn in as well, the wishes of Commander Ortega, and they would share power while working together.
So it was to be.
Dalton expected a pretty big ceremony – though he knew there would be a shortage of man-drink, but he was not prepared for the coming inauguration.
At least two-thousand people, all seated and awaiting the ceremony. A large podium, with several ranking officers sitting close by, both civilian and military. Everyone awaiting a man who was minutes late for his own swearing in.
Ah shit. He thought, knowing it wasn’t possible to slip in unseen to the witness of thousands who sat quietly.
The sound of his boots seemed to echo throughout the landing bay as they clicked to the cement floor. He would have cursed the floor and the people for listening so damn hard, if the military branch of their government hadn’t stood up in salute.
It brought a smile to the man’s face, continuing his walk proudly. Though he noticed something odd. A harsh look from the politician in which he would share power. Even a whisper by the man to another high-ranking politician.
“Doctor Arness has delivered his speech,” a man said, his role of organizing the event pretty obvious. “Everyone awaits yours.”
Speech? You’ve got to be shitting me! Nobody mentioned a speech!
Stepping to the podium, Dalton cleared his throat a bit, looking onto the crowd and trying to imagine them naked. Quickly realizing a majority of them were male, however, he began to think of his lover naked instead.
“The truth is,” Dalton said, adjusting the microphone a bit as the crowd remained silent. “I don’t have a prepared speech.” he admitted.
The crowd began to whisper a bit, in disbelief of his statement.
“Anyone who knows me, knows it wouldn’t be my style,” he said. “I speak from the heart unless cheap whiskey is involved.”
His statement brought laughs and cheers from most of the military branch, while the civilian branch seemed mixed in their reaction.
“Please, I appreciate it, but don’t cheer me. I’m just a man. No different than the millions who perished during this war,” Dalton said, hushing the crowd in an instant. “I’m being honest when I say I’ve worked beneath a variety of men in power. Some that I respected, some that I scratched my head in wondering how they even got into power to begin with,” he added. “What I’ve learned is that I want, more than anything else, the respect of those who work for me. I plan to do anything I ask someone else to do and lead by example.”
Heavy cheers began to roll in from the crowd, bringing the new commander a moment unlike any he’d ever experienced.
“So with that, let me just say this,” Dalton said, giving the crowd a moment to settle down. “I’m not a commander that believes in delegating my job. You ever have a problem, any of you,” he added, speaking to them with truth. “You come and see me personally.”
The entire group began to erupt with cheering, although his political equals wanted none of it.
“Just because you were Ortega’s lapdog, doesn’t mean you belong here. Just play your part and stay out of my way.” Doctor Arness whispered as the roar of cheers continued.
As Dalton looked onto the man, fresh-cut hair of solid black and the face of a young buck, Dalton raised his hand to acknowledge the crowd’s growing cheer.
Lead by example. Fuck it. Commander James thought.
Moments later, he decked Doctor Arness in front of thousands of eyes which turned cheers into shock. With it, the military began to scuffle with the political – on stage and in front of those who represented the entire fleet.
“In fact,” Dalton said loudly into the microphone. “As you can see, anyone who speaks for his own benefit and not that of the innocent voices of this fleet,” he added. “Really pisses me off.”
Knowing someone would most likely be killed if he didn’t, Dalton exited the podium area and began a walk from the ceremony. This time under guard for his own protection.
“Sir, that was one hell of a shot.” one of the marines boasted.
“Think so?” Dalton asked. “I think I knocked two of the son of a bitch’s teeth out.”
“He has plenty more.” the marine replied.
“Hated to put you guys in this position son, I just…” Dalton began to explain.
“It’s alright sir, several of us heard his words toward you. I’ve been wanting to deck the bastard for nearly a year now.”
“Either way, it will most-likely cause tension within the fleet.” Dalton admitted.
“Within the ranks of the political parties’ maybe, but not to those who matter. I think that shot to his chin earned you the respect of a lot of civilians, sir.”
“I’m hoping with the military as well. If it comes down to a battle of books and guns, I’d love to know you guys have my back.” Dalton said with a grin.
“Sir, you had that before you decked him. You’ve proven yourself time and time again on the battlefield.”
At that moment, Dalton James – in this case Commander James, realized that the marine’s statement rang true. All of the shit he’d been through as a military grunt; a glorified fetch boy, had finally paid off.
As Commander James entered the ship’s CIC for the very first time, its staff stood to their feet, clapping loudly and even whistling. They had heard his speech over the com system, as well as the report of him loosening the teeth of a certain politician. Making him a hero in their eyes.
“Thank you, thank you,” Dalton said with a grin, calming the CIC crowd down a bit. “Now, can someone please walk me through what the hell I’m supposed to be doing exactly?”
His words erupted laughter as most went back to their workstations.
“I can help you with that, if you promise not to slug me?” a well-dressed soldier replied.
“Alright son, you have my word.” Dalton said with a grin.
“Com Officer Paul Anthony, sir,” the man stated. “A privilege to have someone like you leading our CIC.”
Dalton nodded his appreciation to the man, who was clean shaven and not a day over twenty-five years of age. Several medals pinned snugly to his chest.
“Sir, we’ve mapped out several locations that our fleet may able to survive a journey. I’ve marked a couple of routes into deep space that our scouts have confirmed may be rich in resources.” the com officer said.
“Don’t need a map. I know where we’re going.” Dalton replied.
“Um,” Anthony replied with confusion. “Alright sir. Where would that be?”
“To get my best friend’s son back.”
“Sir, with all due respect, we don’t even know where the Hunters are?”
“No resource ships in their fleet. Means they have to be somewhere in the Skyla System, and I can promise you,” Dalton said with stern truth. “There’s not a rock in this entire system that the bastards are going to be able to hide under when I’m finished.” he promised.
“Alright sir.” Anthony replied, though he seemed reluctant to do so.
“So you send our scout ships back out and you have ‘em comb the system. When they find the Hunters’ fleet, you have ‘em float over a message in a bottle,” Dalton said, choosing his words proudly. “That we’re coming – and I’m bringing motherfucking revenge with me.”
“Will do sir.”
“Who in here served on Glimmeria the first time around?” Dalton asked loudly.
Three hands were raised. Two of them deck officers, while a third was a colonial soldier stationed on the door of the CIC.
“How many friends did each of you lose?” Dalton asked.
A strange question, though each respected his command enough to offer their answer. Seven. Four. Eighteen.
“Congratulations, you’re my new XO. Now get your ass up here.” Dalton demanded of the soldier stationed on the door.
“Sir?” the soldier asked.
“Commander, you should consider this decision wisely.” Anthony pleaded in a soft voice.
“Who’s a better candidate to lead a group of people that have lost so much – then a man who has also lost, and done so while fighting for the right side since day one?”
“Sir, I just think…” Anthony began to plead.
“I don’t want you to think,” Dalton replied sharply, staring the man down. “I want you to execute my damn order. Every minute the vampires are out there is a minute that filthy bitch has her hands on my godson.”
“Come on private, carry your ass up here.” Dalton insisted of the guard by the door.
“Yes sir, I’m just taken back by the promotion. I think very highly of you and appreciate you thinking so much of me. Hope I don’t let you down when I admit I know nothing about these computer systems?” the soldier asked.
“Well,” Dalton replied, reaching over to read the soldier’s name tag. “Sergeant Cohen, it can’t be too damn hard,” he added, leaning over to whisper into his new XO’s ear. “Everyone in here has soft hands. How hard can it be?”
Smiling to his new XO, Cohen eventually smiled back – understanding that he and Dalton were cut from the same cloth. Hell-raisers for the same cause. Defense of the defenseless.
“Maybe you’re thinking on it a little too much.” Cambria suggested.
“Maybe,” Dalton replied, sitting at a large desk of polished wood as he studied the papers carefully.
“You should rest,” she said with concern. “Particularly your slugging hand.” Cambria added with a chuckle.
“That sumbitch had it coming.” Dalton replied in his own defense.
“Alright, if you say so,” Cambria replied, placing her hands in the air. “Just don’t hit me.” she added with a grin.
“Oh, you’re a wise-ass.” he commented, offering her a wide grin in return.
“Speaking of,” Cambria said, placing her palm to her head as though she were suffering. “You owe me cowboy.”
“I reckon I do.” Dalton replied, cutting his full-attention to the woman who awaited his embrace.
“I would hate to think that our mighty leader was no good on his word.” she said playfully.
“I’m good for my word alright,” he answered, standing to his feet as Cambria now lay there, half-nude and teasing him. “Or, as so many women have called it,” he added, drawing a disapproving look from his lover. “Just plain good.”
“Really?” she asked.
“Just get over here and love on this old hound dog. That’s an order.” Dalton said – technically his first command as the man in charge.
“What?” one of the two stationed guards asked as the other stared to him.
Answering his question with a continued stare, it was evident that the thickened-steel walls weren’t thick enough.
“Block it out.” the guard added, Cambria and Dalton growing louder – as if wild animals were mating on the other side of the door.
A smug look came across the face of the quiet marine. His way of saying impossible.
“Try.” the first marine added, escaping into deep thought for a moment.
It’s gonna be a long damn night.
The first of many, I suspect, as life seems to have thrown a curveball right into my lap. Still, as commander of this fleet, I’m tasked with providing hope. A task I welcome.
Seeing the pain in the eyes of my best friend has been indescribably hard. He is a brother. The closest thing to family I’ve known since I was a child. So, as I look into the eyes of those around me among the fleet, I understand their loss.
The good news is that we’ve confirmed across the fleet that no infected made the exodus. The bad news, of course, is that we have no real idea of direction. We simply do not know what perils or wealth of resources await us beyond the line we consider uncharted space.
We’ve deployed probes that have relayed information back to us, but only the basics. We’ve no idea if life exists out there. No real number of days we can actually survive based on our food storage and fuel counts.
We have literally become a race that is chained to our ships. Bringing with us only what we could stock in rush, which doesn’t amount to much in terms of comfort.
Some among the fleet think we need to revisit the planets throughout the Skyla System once more. Perhaps salvage more of what we need before setting sail into the stars beyond.
Not revisiting the planets among our former system seems to be the only thing Doctor Arness and myself agree on. The sumbitch. I can already see that he plans to be a constant thorn in my side, though he will do so with a few teeth missing.
They say that assuming power changes a man. I don’t know about that. I’ve changed, that’s for sure, but I do not credit my new position of power for it. I credit loss.
As I look back on all of the memories gone by. The bars. The bar-fights. The jail time. The bedding of women. Well, to be frank, this list could go on for quite some time. Being an official entry and all, I’ll cut to the chase.
The loss of so many who I cared for has changed me. Many of my good friends. My crew…hell, even my dog. They’ve all been taken from me, each one taking a piece of me with them to the grave.
The moment I held true love in my arms – I became a man. So I accept the challenge of leading these people to a new home. I’m ready.
I’ll lead these people as the man they need me to be. The man that life has molded me to be.
The whiskey though, I’m not giving that up. I’ve grown into a man, but I ain’t dead.
-Commander Dalton James
Holding his fist up firmly, Lieutenant Gregory brought a halt to the entire group of eight strong. Colonial military, by the look of them. Combat blue patched with the silver seal of the colonies.
Easing down, the lieutenant grabbed a bit of mud into his fingers, rubbing through it. Doing everything he could to scout the area ahead.
Seconds later, a horde of undead sprang from the nearby tree line, approximately twenty of them.
As the group began to fire silenced rifles into the pack of wild infected, the bodies of dead started dropping like panties on a poker night Friday. This time becoming eternally dead.
All but one. Its teeth shaved to a sheen and sprinting wildly at the man in charge. No doubt the leader of their pack. The alpha male.
A single pistol shot would end all of that. Snapping from a standard issue pistol, though doing its deed silenced. The pistol was fitted with a suppressor, as were the group’s rifles.
Hitting the infected leader at point blank range, Lieutenant Gregory watched the bastard drop backwards like a stone. Just out of reach as it pummeled the rain-drenched ground. Finding its final resting place.
“Scout up ahead. They seem to be thinning out. Could be a sign of Hunters in the area.” the lieutenant said.
“Sir, I don’t understand the need to continue tracking them. We could just let them die down here with the infected.” one of the soldiers remarked.
“Understanding the purpose is not your job, executing my orders is.”
“Understood sir.” the soldier replied, turning to order their scout ahead. All in hopes of tracking down the location of Hunters on what remained of Ronica.
Lieutenant Gregory understood his soldier’s reservation. He too wondered why they continued to track down a race that had caused them so much pain. It would be much easier to leave them be. But he was also the ideal soldier, executing his orders without question. Something he expected from the men as well.As Commander Dalton James sat quietly, with a small glass of brown whiskey in one hand, his other hand flipping a single revolver bullet through its fingers; Dalton looked across the stars. Watching the lights of dozens of smaller ships enter and depart from his own.
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Following a massive plague, humanity is forced to retreat into orbit and begin searching for a new home. Quickly discovering that they are not alone, Commander Dalton James and his crew will have to lean on their extensive military experience in order to confront an enemy unlike anything we've ever seen before. Both blood and whiskey will be spilled as the fleet struggles to survive. The Fleet is a best-selling series with over 100K downloads to its credit. Continue your adventure today with the second trilogy of books.