Expeditionary Force by Craig Alanson Wiki
Expeditionary Force by Craig Alanson Wiki
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Authors Summary

"The elite crew of the pirate ship UNS Flying Dutchman had a simple mission: determining whether the Thuranin are sending another starship to Earth. Along the way, they became sidetracked by securing a future for the UNEF troops on the planet Paradise. When asked whether Earth was now safe, their ancient alien AI responded 'Not so much'... now they have to deal with the consequences."

Plot Summary

The section(s) below SCHMAYBE includes Spoilers.

Skippy the Magnificent told the Merry Band of Pirates that despite the Thuranin not sending another surveyor ship to Earth, humanity was still in danger because the Kristang Fire Dragon clan was going to pay the Ruhar to give them a ride to Earth and back to collect leaders of the White Wind clan. The crew of the Flying Dutchman had to figure out a way to stop this trip without raising suspicion with another attack on an Earth-bound ship or without closing wormholes.

While visiting the captured Thuranin relay station to do some training, the Dutchman was surprised by a Thuranin cruiser jumping in at the relay station while away parties were near the station, but Skippy destroyed the cruiser with a close jump. After picking up the relay station to use as a lifeboat, Skippy disclosed that the communications sub-mind he installed to manage the station had developed a personality and self-awareness, and this sub-mind (called Nagatha Christie by Skippy) started talking with the crew.

The crew had the idea to fake an attack on the Ruhar negotiating team to discourage them from trusting the Kristang clan they were dealing with. Since the attack had to seem like it came from another clan, the Dutchman picked up abandoned Kristang frigates to use in the assault. While preparing the ships, Skippy picked up intelligence about an impending Thuranin fleet action against the Jeraptha and the crew decided to pass it on to Jeraptha Fleet Intelligence.

On the way to the system where they were going to turn their salvaged frigates into 1 Q-ship, Skippy went offline after investigating the canister that contained the dead Elder AI the Dutchman picked up on its previous mission. After coming back about a day later, he told Colonel Joseph Bishop that he had disappeared due to an AI-destroying worm inside the canister, a threat that likely killed the original AI and would have killed Skippy except for past experience he had with worms.

The crew of the Dutchman visited the Paradise system and captured the mothballed Kristang frigate "To Seek Glory in Battle is Glorious". Meanwhile, the intelligence Skippy provided led to a crushing victory by the Jeraptha against the Thuranin. The Jeraptha then launched an investigation to determine how someone had managed to obtain the intel on the Thuranin and fake high-level authentication codes.

The Dutchman's mock attack on the Ruhar was successful, however the overwhelming defeat of the Thuranin after Skippy's secret intervention drove them to make a very generous offer to the Ruhar in exchange for giving the Kristang Fire Dragon clan a ride to Earth and staving off a civil war. The Ruhar accepted the deal, so the Pirates had to figure out how to start a civil war immediately.

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The crew developed a plan to spark a conflict between the three-largest Kristang clans on the planet Kobamik by launching a ground attack with SpecOps teams. By infiltrating Kristang sensor networks, they were able to launch multiple coordinated attacks on clan leaders and valuable targets with the Dutchman destroying clan leaders being evacuated off-world, eliminating any possibility of a deal with the Ruhar.

While on the planet, Skippy revealed that the worm he encountered was far more dangerous than he anticipated, and may have been designed to kill sentient Elder AIs like himself. He ended up being taken offline again by the worm and the not-so Merry Band of Pirates was forced to deal without him for many weeks. In desperation, Joe told Nagatha he needed her help in a dangerous way if the Dutchman was to have any hope of recovering.