Tuesday, December 22, 2015

There Will Be War X

TOF has a story in Jerry Pournelle's revivified series There Will Be War - Vol.X. The story in question is "Rules of Engagement," which ran initially in Analog (Mar. 1998) The anthology is currently available in Kindle format, but other formats will be available later.

Also in the anthology are stories, essays, and poems by Gregory Benford, Larry Niven, Ben Bova, Poul Anderson, Doug Beason, Alan Steele, et al.

Reportedly, the anthology has already earned out its advance, which is pretty good initial sales! Woo-hoo.

Teaser as follows:

Rules of Engagement
by Michael F. Flynn

Winter having locked the passes with snow and ice, the brass parceled out long-deferred leaves and junior officers scattered across the country.  Some descended on their hometowns to rest in the bosoms of their families.  Some came to the City to rest in other sorts of bosoms.  That was the last winter before the big offensive, when I still had the flat in Chelsea.  Jimmy Topeka dropped in to see me, all somber as always.  He seemed to have something on his mind, but he talked around it six ways from Sunday the way he always does and hadn’t gotten to the nub of it before Angel Osborne clumped his way up the stairs.  I hadn’t seen Angel in almost three years, though he and Jimmy had crossed paths during the Red River campaign.  I went how we lacked only Lyle “the Style” Guzman to make the old gang complete; and the Angel ups and beeps him over the Lynx and, wouldn’t you know it, Lyle was in the City, too.  So before long we were all together, just like old times, drinking and shooting the shit and waiting for the sun to come up.  Those were wild years, and we were still young enough to be immortal.

I hadn’t much in the way of furniture; and once Angel had occupied two-thirds of the sofa, there was less of it to go around.  Lyle, being slightly built, perched himself on the table, while Jimmy raided my kitchen and passed out bottles of Skull Mountain before squatting cross-legged on the floor.  We all said what a coincidence and long time no see and what’ve you been up to. 

It wasn’t quite like old times.  A few years had gone by between us.  They were long years; it didn’t seem possible they’d held only three-hundred-odd days each.  The four of us had been different places, seen different sights; and so we had become different men than the ones who had known each other at camp.  But also there was a curtain between me and the three of them.  Every now and then, in the midst of some tale or other, they would share a look; or they would fall silent and they’d say, well, you had to be there.  You see, they’d been Inside and I hadn’t, and that marks a man. 

Angel had served with the 82nd against the Snakes; and Lyle had seen action against both the Crips and the Yoopers.  Jimmy allowed as he’d tangoed in the high country, where the bandits had secret refuges among the twisting canyons; but he said very little else.  Only he drank two beers for every one the others put down, and Jimmy had never been a drinking man. 



  1. "I went how we lacked only Lyle “the Style” Guzman" - using "went" as lingo for "said" reminds me of Firestar. And my memory may be faulty, but I am thinking that Skull Mountain beer featured in that series as well...

    1. It's a favorite brand I made up. Alas, its presence in two stories doesn't mean the stories are linked. :-(