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Cally's War (Human-Posleen War Series #6)

Cally's War (Human-Posleen War Series #6)

3.7 17
by John Ringo, Julie Cochrane

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Cally O'Neal was trained from childhood as a premier killer. Officially listed as dead, for the past forty years she has lived a life of aliases, random lovers and targeted assassinations. This has led her to become the top in her profession, undefeatable, invulnerable. And in the process, she has lost her soul. Now she, and the man she loves, must battle to


Cally O'Neal was trained from childhood as a premier killer. Officially listed as dead, for the past forty years she has lived a life of aliases, random lovers and targeted assassinations. This has led her to become the top in her profession, undefeatable, invulnerable. And in the process, she has lost her soul. Now she, and the man she loves, must battle to reclaim it. But Cally will find that leaving her dark world of shadow identities, murder-for-hire, and deadly secrets will be more difficult than any of the many lethal operations she carried out in the past. Her employers think she knows too much to live, and the scores of enemies she has made still have her at the top of their hit lists. The real question is, will she win her soul only to lose her life?

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Fans of John Ringo's bestselling Legacy of the Aldenata series (A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, When the Devil Dances, et al.) who were sad to see the sequence end can rejoice once again! Cally's War, which takes place approximately 40 years after the events in Hell's Faire, begins a new saga featuring Cally O'Neal, a little girl in the previous novels who is now the world's deadliest -- and sexiest! -- assassin.

On a post–Posleen War Earth ruled by the Galactic Federation, a sense of normalcy has finally returned to everyday life -- cities are rebuilding, businesses are prospering, people are beginning to forget about the nightmarish war against the reptilian invaders. But while much has changed, many things have stayed the same: like the scheming Darhel, an alien race of elfin beings that has covertly been puppet master to the Galactic Confederacy for decades.

As part of an elite group of warriors known as the Bane Sidhe -- an organization dedicated to breaking the stranglehold of the Darhel -- Cally has become a master assassin who can change personas like she's changing clothes. But after so much bloodshed and so many killings, Cally is losing her humanity. In desperate need of a vacation -- and a loving relationship -- Cally finds her soul mate at the worst possible time: in the middle of her most dangerous assignment yet.

While Cally's War doesn't have the hard-core military science fiction feel of Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata saga, fans of his previous works will undoubtedly enjoy this dark and sensual tale of post-apocalyptic intrigue. Paul Goat Allen

Product Details

Publication date:
Human-Posleen War Series , #6
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Cally's War

By John Ringo Julie Cochrane

Baen Books

ISBN: 0-7434-8845-8

Chapter One

Chicago, Friday, May 10, 2047

His favorite sports bar in Chicago had taken an old prewar rectangular middle-of-the-room bar and replaced the central island of glassware, bartender, and drinks with a large holotank. Unusually for a bar, smoking was absolutely forbidden, as the wafting smoke tended to interfere with the image display. The surround sound was practically perfect, and the waiters and waitresses who delivered the drinks from a traditional bar retrofitted next to the kitchen took extra care to take patrons' orders discreetly so as not to interfere with the game. Instead of the more usual stale smoke, this bar smelled of a mixture of beer, fried food, and the lemon oil the staff used to keep the bar top polished to a high gloss. He seldom came here, because a man in his business needed to avoid patterns. Nevertheless, it was his favorite watering hole, to the point that he probably came here slightly more often than he ought.

Charles Worth liked hockey. It wasn't so much the violence when a fight broke out. Primal violence was old hat in his line of work. What he liked was the fast pace, the sheer competitive artistry of it. Hockey was a real guy's game with real music to back it up, not some tin-horned pep bands. No cheerleaders, but he considered himself something of a connoisseur of women, and he definitely preferred his women close enough to touch. He preferred the original, the genuine, the unusual, provided she was also beautiful. The blonde over to his left had caught his attention. He could spot a bottle blonde a mile off and made a point of never, well almost never, settling for the artificial. This one was clearly a natural blonde. Even a good hairdresser still had difficulty getting all the highlights of a natural hair color into a dye job-as he knew from his own frequent appearance changes. Her other assets looked natural to the extent that he could tell with her clothes in the way.

She was almost enough to take his attention off the game, even though Zurich was really pummeling Montreal. As a Toronto fan, there were few things he enjoyed more than watching Montreal take it in the teeth. She had the creamy fair skin that went with her hair color, and her eyes were a warm brown. Odd combination, that. Either her skin was bare of makeup or she was a better expert than any he'd seen. She noticed him watching her and smiled, her lips parting slightly.

She had excellent taste. That blouse was real silk and impeccably tailored, the top two buttons left open to reveal just a hint of cleavage. The deep forest green was perfect for her and he felt heat clench in his gut as she picked up her drink and walked around the bar to take the seat next to him, looking into the tank as she slid onto the barstool.

"You picked a good spot. Better view of the Zurich bench from here. Okay if I join you?"

"Be my guest." He gestured to her almost empty glass. "Guinness?" Definitely natural skin. The soft musk of her perfume was almost painful.

She smiled and nodded absently, eyes glued to the tank.

He caught a waiter's attention and gestured at her glass. A moment later a fresh Guinness arrived. He pressed the price of the drink and a healthy tip into the waiter's hand immediately, leaving the boy no excuse to linger over the woman Worth hoped he would be taking home.

"Thanks." She took a sip of the fresh glass of stout and licked the foam off her upper lip.

"So are you a big Zurich fan?" he asked.

"Nah. Toronto." She grinned. "Well, okay, and whoever's playing Montreal."

A slightly sick twinge bit into the pit of his stomach. Same team as mine. Too convenient? Or is it just the warning from the Tir's office making me paranoid?

The broadcast broke for a commercial. Some things even technology couldn't change. A pair of small, black-and-white still holos in one corner of the tank depicted a sixtyish man with a cane and a slightly older woman in a wheelchair. The main section of the tank showed the same pair, in full color and motion, healthy and fit and looking about twenty, in tailored BDU's and each sporting a brand-new grav-gun, walking through a waving field of wheat hand in hand.

"Tired of being old?" A cool but somehow friendly female voice asked, "Dead-end jobs taking the romance out of your relationship? The Epetar Group is looking for aggressively minded human colonists to join a multirace world reclamation expedition. Age and health no barrier, standard contract...."

"Damn juvs." One of the other patrons threw a beer nut through the holo-projection.

"Hi, I'm Sarah Johnson." The blonde had turned to Worth and was offering her hand. Her grip was warm and firm.

"Jude Harris. Nice to meet another Toronto fan." He smiled, fighting the urge to linger over her hand.

"Oh? Well then you've got excellent taste in teams. What do you do?" she asked.

"I'm a corporate troubleshooter. Basically, I travel a lot," he said.

"That sounds like an interesting job. Trouble ever shoot back?" she teased.

"Not if I do it right." His grin tightened. "So, what do you do, Sarah?"

"I'm a legal secretary." She grimaced. "Not very exciting, but it pays the bills. You said you travel? It's got to be great to, you know, get to go places." She looked up at him and took another sip of her stout.

"Just one hotel after another. Whups, game's back." His eyes focused on one soft hand wrapped around her pint glass. "Nice nails for a secretary."

"What?" She looked down at her immaculately manicured hand as if trying to figure out what he meant. "Oh yeah, the typing thing. Nobody has to type much anymore. They mostly want you to talk clearly. And you've gotta organize stuff and be good with details. That kind of thing."

"But still, there has to be some?" He took her hand in one of his own, meeting her eyes and holding them as he gently kissed her fingers.

"Well, a little." She smiled. "There's kind of a knack to hitting the keys just right so that your nails go in the spaces between the keys." She suddenly pulled her hand clear and pointed into the tank. "Did you see that? Shinsecki just sticked Schmidt right in the face! God, look at his nose, ohmigosh, the refs are going to have trouble breaking that one up." She clapped her hands over her mouth and her eyes were wide at the spatters of blood on the ice between the two combatants.

"Yeah, looks like he broke his nose. That's gotta hurt," he said. They watched the fight, the other players circling like sharks while the referees waded in trying to pull the two apart, one getting a probably inadvertent elbow in the face for his troubles.

"My God, the things we do for a little excitement, right?" She shuddered and gulped her drink.

"I dunno," Worth shrugged, turning towards her. "I enjoy the game, but I really watch it more for the strategy and the competition. The fights, I guess that's part of the darker side of human nature that's in all of us, really."

"You think so?" She tilted her head up at him, taking another drink. "I think that's more of a guy thing, the aggression thing. I think-" She flushed a bit, taking another fast gulp. "I think there's something just a little bit submissive, deep down, in almost every woman. I mean, I don't want some guy to drag me around by the hair or to spend the rest of my life washing his socks and underwear, but I think most women prefer a guy who can, you know, kinda take charge. And I think that men are, well, like that." She shrugged. "Like I said, a guy thing."

"That's very ... perceptive of you." He looked at her intently, holding her eyes. "I'll bet you're very good with people." He could see the pulse at her throat beating rapidly. She licked her lips and was oddly still, as if frozen by the tension between them. He leaned over and claimed a slow, tantalizing kiss, pulling back when he realized his hand was tangled in her hair at the nape of her neck, his jeans were awkwardly tight, and they were still in a very public place. For his preferred games, public wouldn't do at all. Besides, there was the warning from his control. She could be a very pretty piece of bait. Either way, if he had anything to say about it he was going to have one hell of a time making sure.

In the tank, the game had restarted after the referees finally got Schmidt and Shinsecki separated and sent Shinsecki to the penalty box. Zurich was clearly in a mood to take out their indignation on the ice. Montreal was now down by six and beginning to show signs of being rattled by the humiliation.

He noticed her glass was getting low and ordered her another drink, and spent most of the rest of the game teasing her thigh with one hand under the bar. By the time Montreal was down by nine he was starting to get bored with the slaughter and interested in more personal pleasures.

"Got a question." He leaned over and breathed against her ear. "You said you liked a man to take charge? I'm going out the front door. Don't follow. There's a back exit between the restrooms. It says an alarm will go off, but it won't. If you really meant what you said, wait five minutes and then leave the bar, come out the back door and I'll be waiting. You want me to take charge?"

She nodded rapidly. "Yeah, I think I'd like that."

"Okay, then that's what you do. You do that, and I will." He walked out of the bar without looking back, hoping she was tipsy enough and horny enough to do as he'd asked. He wanted her, bad, but he hadn't lived this long by being seen leaving bars with his victims. The night air smelled crisp as he walked past a couple of other bars to the parking lot, the crispness underlain by the almost imperceptibly faint tinges of stale urine, vomit, and sex that always linger in the streets outside popular establishments dedicated to the nightlife. The adrenaline rush was hitting his system and he wondered, as he always did, whether he had set the hook and played the line in just right. Would she come to him, or would she get away?

The timing was perfect. Just as he got the car pulled up to the curb in back, hidden from view on one side by the bar, on another by the large dumpster out back, she came tottering out the small back door. Another plus for him, the light was burned out back here, and he only saw her by the scattered illumination from his own headlights as she stumbled slightly, on a bit of loose gravel maybe, and opened the passenger side door.

She lowered herself with exaggerated care into the passenger seat of his low-slung Detroit Raver, while he pretended to be searching for a music cube. His nerve endings were sizzling with a mixture of triumph and anticipation that sent a chill down his spine as the door to his car clicked shut behind her. The beat of Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" shuddered through the frame as he pulled out into Chicago's Friday night traffic.

Worth disentangled the blonde from around his neck long enough to get them from the elevator to his warehouse loft apartment. He pushed open the door and paused a minute to let her get the full effect. It had taken large chunks of even his generous salary to outfit the room in the vintage '70s "contemporary" style he preferred. Still, he was proud that he had managed to obtain every necessary item of furniture in black leather, glass, and chrome, set off nicely by flawlessly white shag carpeting that he'd had to order custom-made. Three walls were covered in faux-oak paneling-even for him, real oak was scarce. The fourth was covered in floor-to-ceiling black velvet drapes. The free-standing wet bar that ran parallel to one of the oak walls was topped with poured black marble and had faux-oak cabinetry that exactly matched the walls.

Matching red lava lamps-original, not reproduction-illuminated the room and provided a necessary hint of color. Track lighting emphasized the Dali and Escher originals on the walls. The scent of pine air fresheners mingled with but did not quite mask a faint odor of stale sweat, sex, rust, and leather.

She stopped still for a moment and looked around the room, blinking rapidly. She favored him with another of those blindingly perfect smiles of hers and quickly buried her face in his neck, shuddering softly against him. God, she must be really hot to trot....

"You want a drink? I'm having a martini." He smirked. "Shaken, not stirred, of course." He walked over to the wet bar and began pulling down various bottles off the glass shelves at the back.

"Why not?" She laughed, dropping her purse on the couch.

He poured her drink and handed it to her. "Cheers."

She took a sip and set the glass down on the chrome and glass end table, slinking up to him and sliding her hands up his chest. He wrapped his arms around her again and trailed his lips up her jaw to nibble lightly on her ear. He felt her knees buckle slightly and shifted his weight to support her as her hips seemingly involuntarily thrust against his. He felt the heat tighten in his groin as he buried his face in her hair and inhaled the clean, fresh scent of it mingled with her own soft musk.

His fingers trembled slightly as he unbuttoned the silk blouse, carefully, tenderly, savoring the opening strains of this overture that would end in so much sound and fury. Gently, now, building the trust that led them willingly into the trap-the purest and most exquisite test of his art. His hands slid inside and teased along the line of her spine and the soft, perfect skin of her back. He rubbed her jaw with his own, glad that he'd had an afternoon shave, and took her mouth, delving deep into the moist and the heat. God, he could drown in this woman.

Her slender fingers with those exquisitely feminine nails were playing with the hair at the nape of his neck and he felt himself breathing faster, impatient with the need to restrain himself and tease her into the next move. He drew one finger very lightly right up her spine before cupping his hands under her butt and pulling her, hard, against him as she shivered.

"So where's your room?" She nuzzled up to his neck and bit his shoulder softly.

He slid one hand up from her ass and tangled it in her hair, pulling her head back gently, nibbling the tip of her nose and shaking his head.

"Nah-ah. Bedroom is plain vanilla. C'mere." He took her hand and led her over to the velvet-draped wall, pressing a switch at the side and grinning as the drapes parted to reveal a wall set with four steel rings and a three-inch seat of obviously adjustable height.

"Once you try this, you'll never want to do it in a bed again. It's incredible." You won't be around to want anything, but that's not my problem, he thought.

"You're not gonna hurt me, are you?" She looked at him nervously.

"Never. Cross my heart." He cupped her face gently, his eyes holding hers. "That would just be no fun for me. My pleasure comes from pleasing you."


Excerpted from Cally's War by John Ringo Julie Cochrane Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

John Ringo is author of the New York Times best-selling series so far comprising A Hymn Before Battle, Gust Front, When the Devil Dances, and Hell's Faire, and co-author with David Weber of March Upcountry and March to the Sea, the first three books in the popular Prince Roger series. He had visited 23 countries by the time he graduated high school. A veteran of the 82nd Airborne, he brings first-hand knowledge of military operations to his fiction. His latest solo novel is Emerald Sea, the sequel to There will be Dragons.

Julie Cochrane was born in Ohio and and made her first attempts at novels in junior high and high school. Initially studying Chemistry at Georgia Tech, she got her bachelors in psychology and promptly decided that computer science was a better way to earn a living. She lives in the Atlanta Metro area with her husband, their daughter, one very enthusiastic German Shepherd, and the gerbil custodian of the secrets of the universe. Her hobbies include pistol markmanship, history, criminology, Irish language, and folk music.

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Cally's War 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
TheGreatSnook More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the earlier books in the series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It took me two months to trudge through this book.  Too much mindless, superfluous non-essential detail.  There is only three scenes in the whole book where some confrontations take place.  The rest of the book is about Cally shopping, selecting outfits, picking up men, thinking about picking up men, etc.  Nothing like the first three books.  Boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As normal, Ringo delivers a good read. The story is good and continues what came before. The series with this book reaches a point that anyone can read and enjoy it, but there is so much that has happened before this, that new readers will want to start earlier in the series (I'd start with the 1st book!). If you've never read any of these books, let me say that Ringo has created a logical chain of events that result in great action, characters, and a huge number of untold story opportunities. If you enjoy action, good storytelling, and a great escape--the Aldenata series by John Ringo is worth your time and money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea behind the story had some promise to begin with but fell flat in execution. It was my first exposure to the Human-Posleen War Series which is quite foolish on my part as it is one of the newest in a large number of volumes. As a result, I was kind of lost halfway through the book by being unfamiliar with the numerous types of alien life forms. So, I figured I would stop reading the third volume done by Ringo and Cochrane and buy the first 2 books. I should not have bothered. It did make the story easier to follow but instead of one disappointing book I now had three. Some of the characters are interesting and the story keeps hinting that some action is coming but it never really gets there. I expected a bit more action out of the story line (sexy assasin and her resistance group take on the alien oppressors) but it never really heats up. I have a feeling that Cochrane was the main driving force behind the book and Ringo's name is on it in order to sell more copies (it worked for me!!) I'd be surpised if he wrote more than 100 pages out of all 3 books. This makes 17 Ringo books I have read so far and these 3 are definitely at the bottom of the list. Not terrible books by any means but not what I was expecting. I'm hoping this is the last of this series but the ending seemed to leave room open for several more volumes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having not read any of the Posleen War series, I came into this book not knowing the characters or the background as well as someone who had read the war history. Also, Ringo writes his military fiction using a lot of insider jargon that I have no clue about, as he sometimes forgets to explain it to us outsiders. Notwithstanding the above, I loved every page of it. The characters are real and sympathetic (at least the good guys are) and the universe of the book is well grounded and believable. Anybody who loves military SciFi should read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had been attempting to read every one of Ringo's books as soon as it came out. The Lagacy of Adalante series was great! I was particularly thrilled to see a follow-up on the Cally characer. Ugh! It was vile stuff and nothing like the earlier books. I only got through one full chapter. That makes it one of only two books I've ever bought that I haven't finished. Even knowing that there was a co-author, it's hard to believe that this is the same Ringo that wrote the others. And it's hard to believe that people who enjoyed his other books will enjoy this one. It completely spoiled the great affection that had been built up for the characters in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up Cally's War after finishing the Posleen conflict stories. Ringo had really put together a story the was exciting and fast paced and unfortunately Cally's War is anything but. It seems that his coauthor had not read the previous story of Cally and decided that the resourceful young girl and son of Iron Mike needed to be a disallusioned tramp as an adult. The crosscountry trip was boring and the love story developed so late in the book that I just didn't care. Maybe my dislike of this Cally colored my view but I was very disappointed with this story and feel Ringo would have done the fans of his Posleen conflict stories a favor to just let Cally fade away like her father and grandfather.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't usually like books that are co-written. Unlike most professions, cooperation can be a negative instead of a positive in writing. Authors tend to lose their voice when working in partnership. Not so Ringo and Conchrane. They work together seemlessly, and their unified voice is brilliant. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Cally O¿Neal virtually grew up on the front lines of the galaxy war with weapons being her prime toys. Five billion are now dead and her father was never home leading the fight against the reptilian invaders. Now an adult, Cally has become a master assassin of the Bane Sidhe warriors while the Galactic Empire rebuilds civilization under the Machiavellian control of the elf like Darhel........................ After four decades of killing human supporters and puppets of the Darhel, Cally is tired of war and death, but has her new assignment to complete. On Titan Base, Cally is to masquerade as the recently assassinated by her teammates Captain Sinda Makepeace. However, this time the impossible occurs; Cally falls in love with the enemy............................. Though there is plenty of John Ringo¿s trademark military action, CALLY¿S WAR contains a lot more dark romance than typical of the author (the Cochrane effect?). The story line is action-packed with the terrific Cally serving as the core of the tale as this competent assassin, who learned to cache whatever she needed by the time she was eight, struggles between the beliefs she was nurtured on and falling in love. Fans will appreciate this character driven return to the ¿Legacy of the Aldenata¿ universe where the war years are over yet trouble remains................... Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cally O'Neal had always lived in danger. By the age of eight she'd killed her first person. While her father, Iron Mike, was off fighting the invading Posleen she had been raised by her grandfather, practically on the front-lines of a war that had erased five billion humans from the face of the earth. .................................. By the end of the war she had been listed as dead. In truth, she'd been recruited into the elite ranks of the Bane Sidhe, a group of underground warriors dedicated to breaking the strangle-hold of the elf-like Darhel. For forty years Cally has gone on mission after mission. She completely changed her appearance and personality more often than others changed their socks ... and seemingly much easier. ................................ Now, in the year 2047, Cally goes to Titan Base, hunting a mole. The team take out the real Captain Sinda Makepeace and inserts Cally. But she never expects to fall in love with one of the enemy. ................................. ***** Cally is one of the best assassins I have read in Sci-Fi thus far. She reminded me at times, especially while being tortured, of Robert A. Heinlein's main character in the book titled 'Friday'. She does whatever it takes to get the job done. Killing comes as naturally to Cally as breathing. Authors John Ringo and Julie Cochrane did an excellent job in teaming up to create a story for the little girl I recall from previous books. This is not the first of the series and you do not HAVE to read the others to thoroughly understand all that is going on. Outstanding! *****
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Ringo and Julie Cochrane are the best writer team-up ever from Baen Publishing. Cally's War draws you in and doesn't let you go. I started reading this book at 9:30pm and finished it by 4:30am. One of the best examples of why John Ringo's (and soon to be Julie Cochrane's) works are known as 'Reader Crack'. There are moments were you're laughing so hard tears come to your eyes, yet underneath a grim reality of a battle to find your soul. Buy it you won't be dissappointed. I've bought two more to donate to the library.