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

"The Alien Legion has a new mission, and this time, they are working for the enemy. Also against the enemy. Like every operation that Emily Perkins plans, it’s complicated. But plans require good intel, and when the plan falls apart, the Mavericks are in Freefall...."

Plot Summary

The section(s) below SCHMAYBE includes Spoilers.

After the triumph of the Alien Legion at Feznako (Fresno), the Mavericks were deployed with the Alien Legion to a remote Kristang planet, Jellaxico, as Lieutenant Colonel Emily Perkins and the Legion sought to prove that they could be trusted to complete missions independently. The Legion was tasked with monitoring the evacuation of Kristang after their planet was transferred to the Ruhar, and when one local Kristang Yellow Fang subclan leader, Grand Warrior Ashkallah, tried to force the Legion to withdraw by promising to torture human Keepers, Perkins destroyed his village with a railgun strike, demonstrating that humans would not show weakness as part of the Legion.

Perkins' actions impressed the Ruhar and caused UNEF HQ to grudgingly work with Perkins on a bold new plan: contracting the Legion to the Kristang Achakai mercenary warriors to help conquer and acquire the Wurgalan-occupied world, Stiglord (Squidworld). The Achakai accepted both the Legion contract to work with Perkins and two Kristang contracts to assassinate Perkins, with one Achakai house having accepted their contract before hearing about Perkins' proposal and the other house accepting their contract to avoid raising suspicions. The house leaders decided that Perkins could be killed after she had outlived her usefulness to the Achakai.

Former Kristang Admiral Jet-au-Bes Kekrando was awaiting his execution after being made a scapegoat for Kristang failures at Pradassis (Paradise) and Fresno. However, he was rescued by the Achakai to support Perkins' plan for the Legion. Perkins and the Achakai needed him to build and command a new Achakai fleet as part of a plan to capture Squidworld for a future Achakai clan, and Kekrando took up Perkins on her proposal.

Perkins got the Jeraptha to agree to covertly help the Achakai acquire some decommissioned Wurgalan ships. The Jeraptha Ethics and Compliance Office (ECO) conned a corrupt Wurgalan officer into transferring ships from a boneyard to the command of Admiral Kekrando. The hired Jeraptha star carrier the Sure Thing then dropped off the Mavericks at a former Kristang system where they retrieved the Elder Power Tap they had discovered and hidden on their last mission.

The Mavericks met up with the salvaged Achakai fleet in a Ruhar staging system before they and the Ruhar 7th Fleet launched an attack on the target Wurgalan planet. The 7th Fleet crushed the Squidworld planetary defenses and cleared the way for the Legion first wave to assault the planet. However, strategic defense satellites that were hidden in reserve activated and started destroying the Ruhar assault carriers in orbit while they were deploying dropships.

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Perkins' dropship was briefly stuck in its dying assault carrier, before pilots Derek Bonsu and Irene Striebich tore it free from its launch rail. However, it was damaged by its escape and caught by debris when its assault carrier was destroyed. The other Mavericks dropship was unable to launch before the carrier was torn apart, killing most of the dropship's occupants.

Dave Czajka, Shauna Jarrett, Surgun Krok-aus-tal Jates, and two other survivors escaped their wrecked dropship and rode down to the surface in a cargo pod with Nert Dandurff, while Perkins and her team bailed out of her damaged dropship when it was shot down and a dropship of Verd-kris troops crash landed in the Wurgalan capital. Czajka and Jates were separated from their teammates and survived a tsunami caused by a remnant of their carrier crashing into the ocean.

Perkins and the rest of her platoon assaulted a Wurgalan outpost to capture a dropship but found only a beat-up helicopter. After narrowly avoiding a crash, they searched for communications gear to contact the Legion. Czajka and Jates met up with Jarrett's team and proceeded in the vague direction of Legion forces, encountering Wurgalan along the way. Meanwhile, the under-strength Verd-kris platoon in the capital rescued the survivors of another platoon, defeating or evading enemy opposition along the way.

Perkins' helicopter stumbled upon a plasma cannon cluster hidden by a stealth field. Colter had the idea to infiltrate the cluster and take it over to get data on other positions, so they did so. Jarrett's team was rescued by a Ruhar dropship that stumbled across them while looking for Perkins' dropship. Perkins got in touch with Legion command using the Wurgalan control network and told them about suspected cannon clusters across the continent, while the 7th Fleet debated whether to land the second wave. Perkins' team was able to get the network to identify locations of clusters around Squidworld when an Achakai destroyer volunteered to act as bait in orbit.

After the 7th Fleet destroyed the remaining cannon clusters, it started sending in the remaining Ruhar assault carriers one by one to reinforce the Legion, with protection from Ruhar and Achakai ships. However, after the first carrier deployed its dropships, a Bosphuraq light cruiser and two Bosphuraq destroyers jumped in after having shadowed the 7th Fleet during operations. The cruiser targeted the assault carrier and the dropships while the destroyers targeted three Ruhar battleships, including the 7th Fleet's flagship. Admiral Kekrando sent ships to protect the dropships and four destroyers on suicide runs against the Bosphuraq destroyers. One Bosphuraq ship was immediately destroyed when an Achakai ship jumped directly into it, and the other was disabled by the debris of another Achakai ship that was destroyed after jumping in. The cruiser was destroyed by the plasma cannon cluster's AI before it could destroy the assault carrier.

With the Ruhar spooked by the Bosphuraq and reluctant to land reinforcements, the Legion was temporarily left to fend for itself. Perkins' team, now reinforced with the rest of the Mavericks, devised a plan to rescue the Verd-kris troops in the capital using a stealth glider. After linking up with the surviving Verd-kris team, Perkins and her team got trapped by Wurgalan tanks and reinforcing troops. The tanks resisted missile strikes from Ruhar gunships, so Legion command authorized Admiral Kekrando's ships to target the tanks with masers. Czajka and Jates destroyed a tank by dropping it into a subway, then an Achakai frigate jumped into the atmosphere to provide close air support. The seven remaining tanks were destroyed by the frigate's crew and AI, and the frigate survived Wurgalan surface-to-air missiles thanks to the AI and Achakai supporting frigates.

Perkins' team regrouped and evacuated from the city, but Perkins found out that there would be no second landing wave due to the presence of more Bosphuraq ships in the system. Desperate, Perkins decided to use her ace in the hole: the Elder Power Tap the Mavericks found on their last mission. The Sure Thing unknowingly landed the Elder Power Tap on the planet where it activated after a programmed delay. The Wurgalan briefly fought their Bosphuraq patrons over the Elder Power Tap, then Thuranin ships jumped in to attack the Bosphuraq ships extracting it. Finally, Jeraptha ships from the Ethics and Compliance Office jumped in to mop up enemy resistance and secured the Elder Power Tap, having been in system to monitor the invasion and find an excuse to intervene.

With the enemy presence in space eliminated, the second and third waves were free to jump into orbit and land on Squidworld. While the leader of the ECO Task Force was highly suspicious of an Elder Power Tap conveniently showing up when Perkins needed it most, he was unable to get her to tell him anything about it. At night, she survived two assassination attempts when an Achakai broke the contracts in gratitude for what Perkins had done for his people.

Legion command got word of the unknown Bosphuraq ship terrorizing the Maxolhx, and Perkins suspected that the official story was not completely true. However, that took secondary importance when the Fire Dragon clan came to ask the Legion to fight for them against the former Achakai and their new Kristang allies. Desperate to counter the threat of the newly-formed Shining Dagger clan, they asked Perkins to name her price for the Legion's assistance.