John Ringo: Claws That Catch

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John Ringo Claws That Catch
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Claws That Catch: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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It's Not Over Til The Skinny Lady Sings… Working off of a piece of intelligence from the alien Hexosehr, the is dispatched to investigate rumors of an ancient and powerful civilization that may have been the creators of the “black box” that drives humanity's only space ship. Any remnant technology would be nice but what the finds is much more than they bargained for. Worse, the ship is infested by an alien species of scorpion-like arachnoids that has the potential to wipe out a world. Worst of all, instead of being Astrogator, Captain William Weaver is now the XO and he is getting along with the new commander. And the new commander does not get along with Weaver, the ship's female savant-linguist or most of the rest of the original crew. And what that weird noise the ship makes every time it's in hard maneuvers? Leave it to the oddball geniuses of the to sort it all out. And the Dreen are going to like the answers.

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Claws That Catch

by John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor


Dedicated to E.E. “Doc” Smith and (cue music) The Solar Beam!

And as always:

For Captain Tamara Long, USAF

Born: 12 May 1979

Died: 23 March 2003, Afghanistan

You fly with the angels now.


Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


“So… what’s with the different uniform?” Josh asked. “The Marines got a special one for making the worst mistake of your life?”

Second Lieutenant Eric Bergstresser fiddled with his tight collar and looked in the mirror over his shoulder at his brother.

“I’m an officer, now, you moron. Officers don’t wear enlisted uniforms.”

“Shiny,” Josh said, tugging at the unaccustomed tuxedo jacket. “But you get to, like, rent them, right? Because, don’t get me wrong, they look expensive.”

Eric had once upon a time been promoted directly from private first class to sergeant. Winning the Navy Cross might have had something to do with it. Assuming that his next promotion, to staff sergeant, would be a long time coming, he’d invested in a set of the Marine Dress Uniform, just about the prettiest uniform the U.S. military services had to offer. And assuredly the most expensive that were made for junior enlisted.

He’d subsequently been promoted to staff sergeant rather quicker than he’d expected and then more or less ordered, by the President no less, to attend Officer’s Candidate School. So the Enlisted Dress Uniform now resided in his closet until he could figure out what to do with it and he was fiddling with the “field scarf” of his new officer’s dress blues while trying to ignore the fact that he was about to get married.

“No, you don’t rent them,” Eric replied. “And, yes, they’re expensive. But with the visitors that we’ve got, I couldn’t just turn up in greens.”

Eric winced when he reminded himself of the guest list. Brooke’s dad, thank God, was prior service. So when a few people made it known that they’d like to attend, and he’d seen who they were, he’d made it plain to Brooke’s mom that, no, they could not be turned away.

Eric had been up to his hips in alligators when the additional guests were invited and hadn’t found out for a couple of weeks. In a way he was glad. And even more glad that his tactical officer hadn’t found out.

OCS had been a pain in the ass. It wasn’t the chickenshit that had gotten him. He understood that. Marines were expected to maintain a high state of readiness at all times. Inspections were a part of daily life. Attention to detail was important in combat and to an extent even more so in space. Whether the Marine Officer Candidates knew it or not, and while it was still Top Secret, the rumors were starting to go around, the Navy, and thus the Marine Corps, was about to transition from a “wet” service to a “space” service. Learning to fold your socks perfectly, first time, every time, was a way to develop the habit of doing the job right, first time, every time. Whether your socks were folded, in the end, really didn’t matter. Whether you’d sealed your space suit did.

So Eric could handle the chickenshit and had. He’d been neat as a kid; Marine Corps boot camp had just put polish on. He knew the drills, which was why he rapidly made platoon guide. He could fire his weapon already, so he acted as a mentor to some of the candidates who, alas, could not hit the broad side of a Dreen dreadnought. He didn’t even find the coursework hard. Most of the candidates were college graduates whereas he only had a high school education. But sometimes it seemed like college had made them stupider or something. And the new stuff, on particles and planetary environments, well, that was meat and drink to the job he’d been doing for two years.

What had been a pain in the ass was the instructors. He’d entered OCS with the absolute personal commitment to stand out as little as possible, glide through as easily as he could, get his bar and get back to work. The OCS instructors, however, had of course read his file. And while it didn’t say where he got the Navy Cross, they weren’t handed out in boxes of Cracker Jacks. And his file did note that he had two years in Force Recon.

The instructors did have a certain gate-keeper duty. Their job was to ensure that everyone passing through their course graduated as the finest example of Marine Officer possible. So whether it was that sense of duty, a dislike of “mustangs,” officers who had come up from the enlisted ranks, or just bloody-mindedness, the instructors seemed to pick him out from day one as one of the candidates they were going to make quit.

So it had been a pain. Not as much of a pain as Force Recon qual or Operator Combat Training, but a pain nonetheless. And in his opinion, an unnecessary one. He’d proven from day one that he was as good as any of the other candidates, better really. But nothing he did seemed to be good enough.

On the other hand, maybe it was time to quit mentally bitching. He’d been Distinguished Honor Grad so maybe the riding had a purpose.

But to suddenly get a message from home, right after the Crucible, that several guests had been added to what he’d hoped was going to be a very small and unnoticed wedding…

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