Expeditionary Force by Craig Alanson Wiki
Expeditionary Force by Craig Alanson Wiki
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Author's Summary

"The battle-scarred star carrier Flying Dutchman is finally on her way back to Earth, after an exceptionally successful series of missions that have once again saved the world. The ship needs a serious refit, and her exhausted crew just wants a break from constant clandestine warfare against a vicious and superior enemy. Wishes come true, right?

Not for the Merry Band of Pirates."

Plot Summary

The section(s) below SCHMAYBE includes Spoilers.

After a long mission for the Flying Dutchman that included saving the humans on Paradise, starting a Kristang civil war, rescuing Skippy the Magnificent from a killer worm, and saving the humans on Paradise again, Skippy finds out that the Maxolhx are sending a pair of light cruisers to investigate the Gateway wormhole near Earth, and Colonel Joseph Bishop is doubtful that he can solve the threat to Earth this time.

After returning to Earth, Joe is held responsible for everything that went wrong on the mission. He is freed to return to public life which he tries to enjoy as much as possible while dealing with constant surveillance and Skippy's mischief. Skippy had created a cult the last time the Dutchman was at Earth. He is known to the cult as Skippyasyermuni.

A surprise UN mission was launched using a Delta Force to capture the Dutchman and imprison the Merry Band of Pirates on Earth, with the goal of taking the Dutchman to surrender to the Jeraptha and stop the Maxolhx mission. Lauren Poole, in a Kristang Powered Armor Suit, was able to defeat the Delta Force. Skippy also helped foil the takeover attempt and rescued five Pirates, then Joe and Lt. Col. Jeremy Smythe recruited twenty new volunteers to join the Dutchman's crew before leaving Earth.

Joe's first move was to get the schedule of the recon ships from the Maxolhx, which would require obtaining communication authentication devices called paired quantum state interchangers (PQSIs), nicknamed "pixies" by Joe, from ultra-secure sites. Joe also started thinking about creating a backup colony for humans in a location inaccessible to senior species. Joe and Lt. Col. Jennifer Simms revised the overall mission goal to be causing the Maxolhx to lose interest in investigating Earth by faking an uneventful report from the two Maxolhx ships and then destroying the ships.

The first part of this multi-step plan was assaulting a mothballed Maxolhx site in a Bosphuraq system to get a Maxolhx Panther dropship. The mission had numerous setbacks, but a combination of human ingenuity and assistance from Skippy resulted in the team sneaking into the Bosphuraq military base, capturing it, destroying the enemy, and acquiring the Maxolhx Panther dropship.

To obtain the "pixies", the Pirates infiltrated the factory at a location they called Detroit producing them by using missiles carrying microwormholes to enlarge a cavern and create a stealth field, and then create a jump wormhole within a jump wormhole to get a dropship into the cavern.

After having the "pixies" delivered to them by Skippy-controlled bots, the dropship tried to jump out again but ended up skipping into the future, almost causing the Dutchman to abandon the dropship team as dead. The rendezvous with the automated Maxolhx relay station to validate the "pixies" proceeded much more smoothly.

The Dutchman travels to a remote star system that the Pirates call Nowheresville for an eighteen to twenty-day maintenance period. While the Dutchman was parked for critical maintenance, Skippy located a moon orbiting the first planet that contained a previously-unknown Elder site to loot. Most of the site had been scooped out of the surface, but the ground teams and Skippy found a wrecked Elder dropship and the intact remains of an Elder corpse, and within the dropship they found a working Elder power tap and wormhole controller. After leaving the moon, Skippy and Joe were ambushed by an insane Elder AI, but Skippy was able to save himself and Joe by killing the insane AI.

Joe had the idea to plant a cover story that the Earth wormhole is broken, and that one of the ships was destroyed by the wormhole and the other was so badly damaged that it blew up after diverting to contact an automated relay station. Joe also thought to disrupt other wormholes in the area in a similar way so that the Maxolhx had no reason to investigate Earth.

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After planting the cover story, the Dutchman waited in space to ambush the Maxolhx as they came out of an Elder wormhole. They broadcasted a demand to surrender and raced toward the Maxolhx cruisers, which tried to jump out but had their forming jump wormholes disrupted by micro wormholes that Skippy had planted around the Elder wormhole, annihilating one cruiser and damaging another.

The Dutchman fired every missile it had at the remaining Maxolhx ship, but all the missiles were destroyed by the Maxolhx ship's AI. However, the AI's actions were analyzed by Skippy, which allowed Skippy to predict all future actions by the AI. He then had the monkey-brained idea to fire a maser at an unprotected, unimportant part of the ship's structure, predicting and overcoming the AI's attempts at suppressing resonances and vibrating the cruiser apart.

On the final journey home, Joe thought about how Earth was finally safe and how he would have to find a future for himself away from the Dutchman. Upon arriving at Earth, he was informed that his first task would be to deal with one more of Skippy's acts of mischief.