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5 Small Stars

Back again with Commodore Tyler Barron and the Confederation. They are now and have been in a long, drawn-out war with the Union. But, now it appears the tide may be changing and the Union could break the stalemate with an ancient weapon. This weapon can destroy most any Confed starship with one shot. And now, plans are in the works by the Union to make the one and only weapon of this kind, mobile. If they can manage to somehow bring this weapon forward, they could clear out all Confed assets all the way to the Confed capital. So, Fleet Admiral Striker knows that the only way to prevent that from happening is to attack. Somehow they must destroy that weapon without destroying the entire Confederation fleet. He, himself, doesn’t have a plan, but Commodore Barron comes up with one that is about as insane as they come.

Through Captain Andi Lafarge’s efforts and her ship, Pegasus, the Confederation has an ancient weapon of their own. Only it’s not an offensive weapon and they don’t exactly know how it works. But, it’s believed to be a cloaking device. Once turned on and operating, the ship that it’s in pretty much disappears from all sensors know to man. This ancient weapon will play a significant role in Commodore Barron’s plan. He also wants to carry out this mission using the Dauntless, his old ship. Things have changed since the last book and now Captain Atara Travis in now in command of the Dauntless, with just about everyone from the old crew under Tyler Barron promoted and transferred to other assignments. Still, Commodore Barron wants to command this mission from the Dauntless using his old crew. Doing something like that is highly unlikely especially during a war. But, since this is science fiction, anything can happen and does.

So, with the entire crew back aboard the Dauntless and with Tyler Barron again the Captain, the happy little battleship is ready to go back to the fight! Only this appears to be a suicide mission, for the entire crew and the ship! Captain Barron intents to sneak his ship into the “Bottleneck” where the Union weapon is located and destroy it. He’ll be facing just about every starship the Union has and his ship won’t be able to fire while cloaked, if the cloak device actually works like it’s supposed to.

So, the mission is set. Commander Fritz, his former Chief Engineer promoted to Captain is now back aboard and in charge of the ancient cloaking device. She’s got it working for now, but she doesn’t know why or how it’s working, just that it is, for now. That’s a pretty bad plan to have to rely on a piece of equipment that might or might work when you need it most. And, it does fail!

The Union is not in very good condition. The war is costing them terribly. The Union has not ever been a place for happy people and they have had to suffer even more shortages and harder working conditions since the war started. They really don’t have much choice in the matter until they start revolting. Several Union planets are doing just that and Sector Nine is called in to quell the rebels. But, these people are tired of being treated like slaves by their own government. One of the story lines in this book covers the conditions in the Union and we learn that the Union my fall from within at any time.

Then there’s the Alliance, now an Ally of the Confederation. They have sent ships and crews to fight with the Confederation against the Union, but they may have sent too many and now face a challenge by one of their supposedly weak neighbors. Help won’t be coming back from the fight with the Union so Imperator Vennius has to rally all those left behind to put up a defense to stop this invasion and save his empire. It won’t be easy and will be very costly.

As I mentioned, there are several story lines in this book. A lot of personal interaction is also going on with people reacting to their feelings while still trying to stay professional and get the job done. Andi Lafarage is still in the picture even though Tyler Barron tries to send her off to safety. She also has a loyal crew that won’t take no for an answer which is a good thing because they wind up saving Tyler Barron’s life.

While this book has a significant ending, there could still be more stories to come. I think I’ll enjoy reading those since most, but not all, of the original characters will be in these books also.

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