New York Times bestselling author Jack Cambell's space saga hits lightspeed with an action-packed story of interstellar war.
Admiral John "Black Jack" Geary earned his rank after being revived from cryogenic sleep to lead the Alliance to victory against the Syndicate Worlds. But his superiors question his loyalty to the regime. Now in command of the First Fleet, Geary is tasked with exploring the frontier beyond Syndic space, a mission he fears deliberately puts the fleet--and himself--in harm's way.
An encounter with the alien Enigmas confirms Gear'y fears. Attacked without warning, he orders the fleet to jump star systems--only to enter the crosshairs of another hostile alien armada. Ignoring all of the First Fleet's attempts to communicate peaceful intentions, this system's species send their ships into battle on suicde runs, while guarding the exiting jump point with a fortress of incalculable power.
Now, with a faction of his officers determined to eliminate this new threat despite the cost, Geary must figure out how to breech the enemy's defenses so the fleet can reach the jump point without massive casualties--and knowing that the Enigmas are most likely waiting on the other side...
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May 01, 2012
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Excerpt from The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell
"When you find yourself going through hell, keep going."
Admiral John Geary didn't shift his gaze from the display, which showed his fleet in chaos as it tried to re-form in the wake of an attack by whatever creatures lived in this star system. "Did you just make that up?"
"No," Captain Tanya Desjani replied. "Some ancient philosopher said it. My father likes to quote him."
Geary nodded, only half of his attention on her words. Desjani's meaning was clear enough, if you defined hell in terms of a fleet far from human-controlled space on a mission to discover the strength and size of a newly discovered intelligent alien species, a fleet that had fought its way out this far only to face another alien species, which seemed even more hostile than the first. Or maybe hell could be defined as getting into a damaged survival pod as your stricken cruiser counted down the last moments before it self-destructed, to be frozen into survival sleep and lost for a century, only to be eventually found with death imminent and revived to discover that in your long absence and apparent death, you had been elevated to the status of legend. For an instant, Geary's mind flashed back to those moments, recalling how it had felt to learn that everyone he had once known was dead, that the war that had started as he froze into sleep was still going a century later, and that the people who had awakened him expected the great Black Jack Geary to save them from what seemed certain defeat.
He had managed to save them then though he saw no connection between the legend of Black Jack and who he actually was. He had managed to win the war with the Syndicate Worlds. And now he had to manage somehow to save this fleet from this trap in an alien-controlled star system very distant from any human help.
But he had done none of that alone. Without the support of this fleet, and of people like Tanya Desjani, he could have done nothing. And those who hadn't died in battle were still with this fleet, still with him.
"Your concern is noted, Captain," Geary said, banishing thoughts of the past to concentrate on the present. "We won't hang around here any longer than we have to." The fleet wasn't at rest right now in any event. They had been accelerating outward as the aliens tried to overtake the fleet, and now that the immediate threats had been destroyed, many ships had altered trajectories and velocities, but both the fleet and the wreckage of the alien attackers were still racing away from the massive alien fortress guarding the jump point at which the human fleet had arrived. Orbiting the distant star and slaved to the jump point, the fortress was almost large enough to qualify as an artificial minor planet.
A squadron of destroyers tore past beneath and to one side of Dauntless, close enough to the battle cruiser to trigger collision warning alarms. Desjani's jaw tightened. "Tell those tin cans to keep their distance," she ordered her communications watch. "Admiral, request permission to assist you in getting this fleet back into order."
Well aware that his fleet more closely resembled a swarm of agitated insects than any kind of military force, Geary gave her a sour look. "The maneuvering systems have already produced solutions. It's taking a while to untangle everything and avoid wreckage." Fortunately, the great majority of that wreckage came from the alien attackers. There wasn't anything left of the destroyer Zaghnal, though, which had only taken one hit. The warheads on the alien ships were so large they had blown the destroyer into little pieces. Invincible had also taken at least one direct hit, inflicting massive damage on the lightly armored battle cruiser. That was the worst news, fortunately. Orion had been struck twice by the blasts from near misses while knocking out two alien craft on final approaches against Titan and Tanuki, but though battered, Orion was still reporting combat-ready status. Numerous other warships had suffered lesser degrees of damage from near misses, even the vacuum of space no protection against explosions that massive and that close. "We got off very easy," Geary marveled. "Did you see what Orion did during the last part of the fighting?"
"I didn't catch that," Desjani admitted. "I was busy watching Dreadnaught almost ram my ship."
"I'll have another talk with my grandniece when time permits." Jane Geary had been reliably steady and dependable, not flashy or prone to high-risk actions. Had been. Now she was flinging her battleship Dreadnaught around as if Dreadnaught were a battle cruiser. Wishing that new problems didn't develop as fast as he dealt with old problems, Geary called Commander Shen of Orion.
Shen's expression never varied all that much, so Geary wasn't surprised to see Shen looking ill-tempered. "How is your ship doing, Captain?" Geary asked. He could call up the information about damage to individual ships on the fleet net as quickly as the damage was assessed and entered, and usually he did so since that was fast and simple. But sometimes he needed information from the people on the scene, information that always contained important impressions and details that couldn't be found in the automated reporting.
"Orion can still fight." Shen seemed ready for Geary to challenge that assertion. "Seventy-one casualties; of those, thirty dead and the rest injured, five seriously. Two of those may have to be transferred to one of the assault transports for treatment. Orion's sick bay can handle the rest. Main propulsion unit one is off-line, but repairable. Most of the damage is on the port forward upper quarter. Armor breach, compartment damage ranging from total to minor. We're sealing that area off pending major repair actions. All weapons and sensors in that area are nonoperational, reducing Orion's combat capability by twenty percent for the long term. Numerous systems elsewhere in the ship require repair because of shock transmitted through the hull and structure, but we can handle that."