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David Weber is the creator of the internationally best-selling Honor Harrington science fiction series, in which this story is set. The latest entry in the Honor Harrington series, Uncompromising Honor, is out in October. In a huge climax to many storylines, Honor and the RMN take on the ancient Solarian League in a fight for survival and freedom.



•I•


Hear now my song and weep.


Hear of the blackness of Dark Fall,

Of death, dust, destruction of all.

Hear now of terror on night-black wings,

Of heartbreak and horror—the end of all things,

Of destruction below and death from the sky

On the day human history died.

The Dark Fall Saga

* * * * * * * * * *

Navigation Deck
Generation Ship Calvin’s Hope
March 552 Post Diaspora

“It’s confirmed,” the leaden voice said in Vincent Anderson’s headphones. “No way. The damage at ground level is even worse than we expected. We’d need three times the resources we’ve got to establish even a temporary foothold down here. And it’s still getting worse.”

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Jim Beall (BS-Math, MBA, PE) has been a nuclear engineer for over forty years, a war gamer for over fifty, and an avid reader of science fiction for even longer. His experience in nuclear engineering and power systems began as a naval officer. Experience after the USN includes design, construction, inspection, enforcement, and assessment with a nuclear utility, an architect engineering firm, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC).


"Atomic" was the big pre-WWII science fiction "handwavium," with atomic drives powering spaceships, atomic weapons fighting wars, and atomic energy fueling empires. When WWII ended, however, atomic was real.

It had not come easy, nor had it come cheap. The Manhattan Project had consumed resources on an unprecedented scale but, as expensive as it had been, the "a-bombs" it produced led Japan to surrender before the Allies were forced to invade. Given the estimated invasion casualties for Allied and Japanese alike, the Manhattan Project was probably a bargain.

No one knew what would or even could be done with the new handwavium-become-real technology, least of all government bureaucrats who promulgated federal regulations to control it with almost surreal celerity. The public's fascination with anything atomic quickly reached astounding heights.

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Brendan DuBois is the award-winning author of sixteen novels and more than 120 short stories. This story is set in the world of his science fiction Dark Victory series for Baen, which includes novels Dark Victory, Red Vengeance, and Black Triumph. His short stories have twice won him the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and have also earned him three Edgar Award nominations. DuBois is the author of the long-running Lewis Cole mystery action adventure series, and he has recently collaborated with New York Times best-selling author James Patterson on several novellas for Patterson's Bookshots. DuBois lives in New Hampshire. A former Jeopardy! champion, he also appeared on—and won—the game show The Chase.


I was late getting into the NCO staff meeting at the Mitchel Joint Navy-Army station that morning and when I started getting ragged on by the other three NCOs, I took my cane and rapped it against my right leg—the metal and wooden one—and I said, “Give it a rest, guys, okay? One of the K-9 units dragged my leg out last night for a chew toy.”

That got some laughs but my Ell Tee—Antonia Juarez, a regular Army officer who was sent down to this unit once her spine got broke during a Creeper attack—moved her wheelchair a bit next to her desk and said, “Very good, Hart. Have a seat. And then come up with a better excuse. That’s the third time you’ve used it in the past six months.”

I sat down with a thin folder in my hand, joining the other NCOs who were part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the New York National Guard unit tasked to keeping peace and order on Long Island.

I was the unit’s intelligence officer, which should have been assigned to a lieutenant or captain, but since the Creepers invaded a decade ago, the thinned out armed forces of the United States had to adjust to doing a lot more with a lot less.

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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