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This story is set in the world of John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series. The latest entry is November’s The Valley of Shadows by John Ringo and Mike Massa. Mike Massa has lived a diverse and adventurous life, including stints as Navy SEAL officer, an international investment banker and an Internet technologist. He counts his greatest adventures as marriage and parenthood. Mike is currently a university cyber security researcher, consulted by governments, Fortune 500 companies and high net worth families on issues of privacy, resilience and disaster recovery. He lived outside the U.S. for several years (plus military deployments!) and has traveled to over eighty countries. Mike is pleased to call Virginia home, where he passionately follows the ongoing commercial space race, looks forward to family holidays, and enjoys reading the latest new books by his favorite SF&F authors.

"I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff and his legitimate successors, and dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing, if necessary, my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the Apostolic See is vacant. Furthermore, I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity and obedience. I swear to observe all that the honor of my position demands of me."

Pontifical Swiss Guard Oath administered to graduating recruits

The day that we locked the doors on the Sistine Chapel, the conventional wisdom inside the College of Cardinals was that His Holiness had died in his sleep from the flu stage of the devil-spawned plague. That wasn't, strictly speaking, true.

I should know.

I shot him myself.

If anyone's listening to this, then you know all about the zombie virus that the scientists called H7D3. It raced around the Earth, killing off hundreds of millions, and eventually billions. Some people appeared to be either naturally immune or capable of fighting through the first stage of the flu. That still didn't leave enough to deal with either the mounds of decaying bodies or the living, perpetually hungry afflicted, which outnumbered the sane by hundreds to one.

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Tom Kratman’s latest entry in the Carerra series is November’s A Pillar of Fire by Night. Tom Kratman was a Regular Army infantryman much of his adult life. After the Gulf War, and with the bottom dropping completely out of the anti-communist market, Tom decided to become a lawyer. Every now and again, when the frustrations of legal life and having to deal with other lawyers got to be too much, Tom would rejoin the Army (or a somewhat similar group, say) for fun and frolic in other climes. He no longer practices law, but instead writes full time. His novels for Baen include A State of Disobedience, Caliphate, and the series consisting of A Desert Called Peace, Carnifex, The Lotus Eaters, The Amazon Legion, Come and Take Them, The Rods and the Axe, and A Pillar of Fire by Night, as well as three collaborations with John Ringo, Watch on the Rhine, Yellow Eyes, and The Tuloriad. Also for Baen, he has written the first three volumes of the modern-day military fiction Countdown series.

Part I


In the “history” of the Carreraverse and of what eventually became the Timocratic Republic of Balboa, there are six models of organization seen. The first of these was the creation model, by which Patricio Carrera built out of the previously defeated and disbanded scraps of the Balboan armed forces the second model, a brigade of auxiliaries to wage conventional war, in order to begin to avenge the murders of his wife and children, as well as to earn money to continue that program of revenge.

The second model was flux, and little but, wherein the Legio del Cid, expanded from that single brigade-sized organization to the third model, a corps-sized force, able to keep one legion, their name for a division, in action, in counter-insurgency, continuously.

The third model was the rapid, ad hoc reorganization of the corps to once again fight a more or less conventional war, this time to re-invade Pashtia and retrieve the waning fortunes of the alliance there, before reverting back to the third model.

The fourth model was a still expanding reversion to the third.

The fifth, following the taking over of the nation, was the expansion of the corps to a national defense organization, the size of a large, multi-corps army, capable of waging total war in defense of the nation, against the likely enemies, the Tauran Union and the Zhong, predictably aided by the United Earth Peace Fleet, as well as waging war in Balboa’s “near abroad,” along with a very limited ability to wage both kinetic and propaganda/memetic war anywhere on the planet of Terra Nova.

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Baen Begins Selling Challenge Coins Through Baen.com

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When in the course of human events, in this case the passage of twelve years, it becomes necessary to change the look and feel of the company website . . . well, we do. We’ve tried to keep things Baenish and familiar to frequent users, and even more intuitive and helpful to new ones.

We’ve combined the ebooks and print books pages, so everyone can find everything they want in one place. (We will still be selling mostly ebooks here, our own Baen Books and those of other distinguished science fiction publishers, but we are also starting to dip our toe into swag merchandising as well! About which more later.) We added several filtering tools to make sorting through and searching for books more slick, and we’ve kept the ever popular “My Books” and “Not My Books” function.

We hope you’ll find the account interface more user friendly, and we’ve added a sidebar to the homepage we also hope you’ll find helpful in accessing the rest of the site.

Of course we’ve kept all the free stuff—the monthly stories and nonfiction, the extensive Teacher’s Guides, and the Baen Free Library. We hope you enjoy it, and we always welcome feedback. Feel free to stop by Toni’s Table at Baen’s Bar or for technical problems Administrivia or simply email us directly at baensupport@principledtechnologies.com.

And finally, a big shout-out to our Barfly beta testers! Love you guys. . . .

Good reading!

Toni Weisskopf
Publisher, Baen Books