An interplanetary crime syndicate.
A debt, long overdue.
An assassin gone rogue.
Love. Revenge. Betrayal.
Although he knows it will mean the end of his relationship with both the Crime Syndicate and his long-time lover, Captain Victoria Maruska, Damian can’t let sleeping dogs lie. After overcoming his captain’s well-intended efforts to hold him back, Damian sets off to exact his revenge on the man who had once left him to die on the barren wastelands of Earth. . . .
Victoria may not know where to look, but she knows she has to find him. Following Damian’s disappearance and the not-so-mysterious murder of one of his superiors, the Syndicate has called Captain Maruska’s loyalty into question. As a result, she has been assigned the unenviable job of leading a task force to hunt him down. . . .
On the outs with his lover and on the run from trained killers, Damian DuFonte is . . .
an Assassin Marked.
Captain Zachary Crowe, owner of Planet Janitor, is in love with his busted down Russian ore freighter Shenandoah, and fancies himself an entrepreneur. He’s only been in business for four years, trying to wrangle planetary job assignments that deal with cleaning up the environment and making close solar system jumps to pick up precious ores and space trash. His crew consists of seven less than stellar professionals. Their problem is they’ve destroyed biological ecosystems and habitats through neglect, and incompetence. They’ve had bad press, bad luck, and bad breath…
That’s until the slick vice president of Orion Industries Real Estate Development hires Planet Janitor for a clandestine operation that entails a 26-light-year trip out to a newly found habitable planet in the Tau Ceti system.
Planet Janitor finds out too late that they’ve been suckered into a job that entails disposing of millions of skeletons—a genocidal graveyard. They soon discover what killed this indigenous species and, being ill prepared and unarmed, are caught up in a fever-pitched battle for their lives. They must contend with genetically engineered marsupial lions, drop-shipped on the planet by an alien species. These crew members, who’ve been failures and outcasts all of their lives, transform into a fighting unit that refuses to go quietly into the night. When it appears that they have vanquished the vicious creatures, they are faced with the arrival of the aliens who created these pet animal soldiers…then the real fight begins.
I think this story combines some of the elements of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, with a breathless fight to the finish, along with the inconceivable measures used to survive on a hostile planet that can be likened to the perils of Robinson Crusoe on Mars. The action is gritty and visual, while the characters discover that heroism and self-esteem is a trait that is best achieved via cooperative teamwork, self-worth, sacrifice and love for each other. One reader told me I had another Firefly; I didn’t know what that meant.
“Love is like a wormhole. You stumble on to it blindly, it sucks you in and takes you somewhere completely unexpected. You can’t fight it, because that would tear your ship apart. You can’t control it, either. All you can do is set your thrusters on glide and let it take you where it’s going to take you.”
Going against the rules of her Vesparian Sisterhood, which seeks to keep its entire existence a secret, Orynn is thrown into the open by a request for help that she could not refuse. Seeking to reconcile past mistakes and gain a forgiveness she feels she does not deserve, the control over her empathic abilities is put to the test when the darkness that lives within her spirit threatens to once again destroy any piece of happiness that she allows herself to find.
As a Mechatronic Automaton, Ethan defines his world through a set of logically defined values and understandings. Encountering Orynn throws his system out of balance as he tries to decide if he should trust the feelings he is developing, or if he should follow the logic telling him that she is trying to control him for some unknown purpose. Should he keep her at a distance despite his want to bring her near, or should he follow the heart he swears he does not have? As his understanding of her develops, he begins to question all of his preconceived notions about both himself and the universe around him.
In his attempts to capture the Vesparian prey he has been hunting after for two decades, the First Commander of the Xen’dari fleet will stop at nothing and track Orynn to the ends of the universe. On a path of vengeance for a past he can’t let go of, he will do everything in his power to burn her world down around her feet until nothing is left but ash and the bitter taste of regret.
Ghosts of the past clash with hopes for the future in this first book of the series, set in a universe where nothing is as it seems at first glance and trust is a highly priced commodity.
Detective Sam Benson, a native New Yorker, is brash, opinionated and candid. Transplanted to work on Earth’s first colonized planet, he envisions a relatively peaceful job. But Benson’s ruthless nature might bring it to the brink of annihilation when a series of murders begins. He suspects a non-human is responsible-an android who once shared engrams with a psychopathic human. However, the detective doesn’t know other non-humans once called his new world-theirs. And as Benson obsesses with making a case against the android, he is oblivious to their return and the reason why they consider machines to be their gods.