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Lord of the Rings as written by David Weber

I found a thread on the Straight Dope forums (via TVTropes) of The Lord of the Rings as written in other styles or by other authors. Seeing as I have been reading the Honor Harrington series by David Weber, this is my contribution to that body of literature.

Lord Sir Admiral Frodo Baggins of the Star Shire of Manticore’s embarrassingly named Frodo stared moodily down at the tac repeater at his knee. It wasn’t as detailed as the main plot, but it didn’t need to be. Even on his smaller screen he could see how hopelessly outnumbered they were.

The display was a rash of angry red dots, the impeller signatures of countless small Orbital Raiding Craft interspersed with the imposing wedges of Nazgul-class superdreadnoughts stationed protectively around Sauron. The massive fortress itself, the base from which the entire Empire operated, was several hundred million tons larger than even the fortresses guarding the wormhole junction back home, and it was guarding nothing more than a single man, the lord and general behind the armies of ORCs systematically plundering every inhabited system between here and the Quendian League. With no charges to protect, it simply orbited the unstable and previously uninhabited red dwarf formally labeled Orodruin but commonly known as Mount Doom, bristling with enough lasers, grasers, and missile tubes to take out a large planet unassisted, but constrained by its own overwhelming mass.

And in response to the tide of hostile signatures, and the moon-sized enemy base nestled in their midst, he had only two green dots on the plot.

Of the nine ships his understrength task force had started with, only his flagship and the faithful Samwise were left. They were both limping along with less than 40 hours of reactor mass left and nonessential systems shut down, even life support reduced to the bare minimum. With no fuel and stranded deep in the heart of enemy territory, getting them home wasn’t going to be an option… But then again, he admitted to himself, he hadn’t really expected it to be for some time. His eyes traveled over the bridge, and his subordinates quietly and calmly manning their stations, forcing himself to look at the people he had condemned to death along with him. Even knowing that they had all signed up for this mission knowing they might very well die couldn’t completely assuage his guilt.

But they had known, and they had come along anyway. It wasn’t his job to save their lives when it wasn’t an option, it was his job to make their sacrifice count for something. And as long as they completed their mission, they could all die knowing that they had done the universe a service.

His eyes were drawn back to the plot again, and he stared at it as his fingers absently caressed a button set into the arm of his chair. They were five minutes away from range; they might as well have still been at home if they couldn’t close it. No, worse – they might as well have walked up to Sauron and handed project One Ring back to him.

One Ring was a weapon too terrible to be contemplated, developed in secret in this very system, lost in battle to Manticore’s navy… and now he was back here to destroy it In four minutes he would eject the greatest weapon mankind had ever seen back into the star of its birth.

He looked at the oceans of red on the plot, considering them as he waited. Important as their primary mission was, they had a secondary goal… to cripple the Empire. Theoretically, the destruction of the One Ring would accomplish that, but there was no guarantee. If it didn’t, they would be blasted out of space probably with minutes of ejecting it. Not that the destruction of the weapon wouldn’t be worth if on its own… but it offended his every instinct as an officer to see so marry vulnerable enemy ships and not press his advantage.

“Coming into range now, sir,” his helmsman reported, and looked up when he didn’t respond. “Sir?”

He didn’t answer. His fingers caressed the button again, then quickly sent data on its way to a special targeting system that should never have been connected to his ship and pressed the button.

Frodo‘s stealth was immediately neutralized, and he shone like a beacon to the enemy ships and base. Radar and lidar rebounded from his hull and wedge, and for the first time, far too late to do any good, Sauron saw him. ORCs turned en masse from their missions and laid in intercept courses for him; even the Nazguls abandoned their posts to come for him.

“Priority message from Samwise, sir,” his com officer reported.

“Let me hear it.” He leaned back in his chair, projecting more calm than he felt.

“Frodo, what are you doing?” The voice through the speakers was more frightened than angry, and he didn’t blame him. Frodo was terrified himself.

But he was also determined. This was the only way they would rid the universe of this menace, and, dangerous or not, One Ring was a tool. They could control it. He could control it.

“I’m using it.” he said firmly, almost absently, watching the swarming ORCs on his display. They wouldn’t reach him in time. Nothing they or Sauron could do now would save them from him. He could feel the ship around him thrumming as the Ring charged, preparing to strike.

“You can’t!” Sam‘s voice sounded desperate. “Think about what you’ve doing! Eject it, please!”

“I have thought about it.” He raised his eyes to the viewscreen and watched the angry red sun at the heart of the system as the timer reached zero. There was no visible change, but he was sure he could feel the laser reaching out across the void, hungry for that energy.

Lasers are light-speed weapons, even lasers as terrible as the Ring. It took almost five minutes for it to reach the star, and five more minutes for the signal to come back in the sun’s light. During those ten minutes, the ORCs and Nazguls continued their futile, desperate charge toward him. The eyes and ears of Sauron, awakened far too late to the danger, could only watch and wait in horror and rage as his own doomsday weapon was turned on him.

As the sun’s altered light raced through the system, he could see the changes he had wrought on the viewscreen. Great flares of gas and plasma arced into space from its surface, reaching toward them in a fury of radiation that strained even his shields. And as the signal carried in the new light reached the targets he had instructed it to find, it took effect, taking over the computers of every ship it was aimed at. None escaped, and few resisted for long. One by one the ORCs and SDs succumbed to the Ring and went crazy, abandoning the pursuit of his ships to turn and fire on their brothers, or charge off in a random direction. One Nazgul started firing broadsides at the clouds of orbital raiders, cutting a swath of destruction through the comparatively tiny craft as it swatted them like flies. Several ORCs escaped that fate by plunging into the star, carrying their helpless crews with them. He suppressed a wince as his instruments showed him scattered ships attempting to go into hyper regardless of the fact that they were deep within the hyper limit of the star and were instantly turned into rapidly dispersing clouds of stray molecules.

“Oh, god…” he heard someone moan.

Then a new voice interrupted. “New signature, bearing one-eight-zero!” He looked sharply at his tactical officer, but the man was absorbed in manipulating his instruments. “Sir… It’s the Gollum!”


He visibly swallowed. “Three thousand kilometers, sir.”

“Evasive pattern delta!” he snapped, and helm acknowledged. He didn’t waste his time asking how it had happened. While they were stealthed and creeping in-system their active sensors had been shut down, and it would have been easy enough for a ship to sneak up on them under stealth of its own, undetected by the passives. Gollum must have seen them and followed… and now he was in energy range.

The ship around him shuddered in pain as massive grasers tore through the sidewall like it was nonexistent, despite all the evasion his helmsman could pull. The vicious coherent light ripped through armored hull, and weapons platforms and sensor arrays, and the men and women who manned them. Frodo‘s desperate twisting only drew the wound longer and spewed ejecta, atmosphere, and bodies into space.

Damage reports rolled in, but he didn’t need to see them to know the wound was crippling. Nor did he care. His fingers were busy trying to nail down the signature of the Gollum so that he could feed it to the Ring. The range to the star was closing as they continued to hurtle toward the angry sun. Three light minutes now. If he could get in, and they could survive six more minutes…

The ship shuddered again, almost throwing him from the chair despite the shock frame. Another graser strike…

“Sir, he’s trying to grab us with his tractors!”

“What?” this head jerked up. That was unheard of… nonsensical. Tractors were too weak to grab a battlecruiser, or any ship in the middle of a battle. This simply made no sense.

“He’s trying to get the Ring, Frodo!” Sam was too far away to help against Gollum, but they hadn’t shut the com channel. “Eject it!”


His ship lurched again, and this time there were no damage reports. There was nothing. The lights and gravity both failed, and for a moment there was nothing at all.

Emergency power was slowly restored, and dim lights came back; followed by the master tac plot and finally the viewscreen. He dragged himself from his chair and to the tactical station instead, pushing the dead lieutenant out of his way. From what the sensors could tell, his ship was gutted. Gollum was breaking off, though, without finishing them, and that could mean only one thing – he held a chunk of his ship clutched in his tractor, and the Ring was in it.

Frodo, come in!”

“I’m here, Sam,” he said aloud, not taking his eyes from the patchy sensor data that showed Gollum running in-system, on a course to take it post the roiling star and directly away from him. “Any chance you can intercept?”

“Negative… I’m sorry, sir.”

“It’s all right, Sam.” He watched the display impassively.

A swear word came from the other end of the link, and then the Frodo bucked in agony. The radiation shields screamed and failed, plating rippled and twisted, and one system failed after another.

“The star’s destabilizing,” Frodo heard from the bridge of his lifeless hulk, where he lay on the deck with his consciousness trying to abandon him. “The flares… It got Gollum.”

So the Ring was a star-killer after all. He stared at the ceiling and tried to be surprised. Instead, all he felt was empty, distant acceptance. Over the next twenty hours the star would flare out further and further, taking out anything luckless enough to be trapped in the system, including Sauron and Frodo… Maybe Sam could get away… but what would be the point? To escape the death of the star only to drift forever and die alone when the reactor mass ran out. Better to have this quick, merciful end, maybe…

“Hyper footprint!” someone at the other end of the link reported.

“Hold on, Admiral Frodo!” He could hear Sam‘s skipper through the still open com link, but something was wrong; he struggled to grasp it through the steadily thickening fog. The emotion in his voice, he decided: it wasn’t close enough to acceptance of their fate, or even terror of the death that was coming for them. No… it sounded more like elation.

“Hold on!” he continued, even though he hadn’t received an answer. “The Graysons are coming – the Graysons are coming!”

That phrase carried Frodo into darkness.

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