This is a kind of young adult book in that the main character has the typical chip on their shoulder put there by themselves. Callan O’Neil is a young man going through the Terran Fleet Academy. He’s training to be a drone pilot, only he’s not going to settle for just a pilot, he wants to be the best. He’s trying to graduate at the top of his class and he’s close. Yet, he carries the weight of his Father’s past on his shoulders only because he believes he has something to prove. He really doesn’t but it’s hard to convince a young man to think otherwise.
Callan, who goes by the call sign, “Coda”, is burdened by the fact his Father was a traitor to the human race having killed his wingman and others from his ship for reasons not yet explained. He was found guilty of treason and summarily tossed out an airlock to die. Coda strongly believes that he must do something to restore his family name. Yet, no one at the Academy has ever tied Coda’s actions with his Father. They all know he’s good and they have accepted him for who he is and not due to his Father’s transgressions. Well, everyone except Andrei Krylov, a.k.a. “Moscow”.
Moscow has a big grudge against Coda and Coda doesn’t know why, at first. Both he and Coda are the leaders of their academy class and destined to be big assets for the Fleet if they can get past graduation. It seems that every time the two meet, Moscow has to bring up Coda’s Father. This pretty much enrages Coda and fist start flying. Nether of these guys can afford to get kicked out of the Academy, but they are getting seriously close because of their constant anger towards each other.
Both have dreams of moving on to the Fleet and becoming Fleet Drone pilots fighting against the Baranyk, the enemy of all humanity. The Baranyk were highly intelligent insects most resembling Earth’s praying mantis. They had better technology than the humans and were fearless in space combat. Baranyk pilots were very good and they had great tactics. Humans, on the other hand, had turned to using drones instead of a human in a starfighter cockpit. Safely cocooned in the depths for the carrier, the human drone pilots could swarm the Baranky, but still the fights were close. If the humans could continue to train and send more drone pilots to the fleet, they felt their numbers would eventually overwhelm anything the Baranyk could throw at them.
Then the Baranyk developed an new weapon. It stopped cold the comms between the drone carriers and their drones! Once the drones were launched, they instantly went dead in space and there was nothing the humans could do. Without the drones for coverage, the carriers and fleet capital ships were open to attack! The resulting battles were devastating for the human fleet. They were losing battle after battle and the Baranyk were destroying human colonies with impunity.
So, back at the Academy, Coda and Moscow had just been in another altercation because Coda couldn’t control his anger. He was brought to the Commandants office and, of course, read the riot act. His dreams of going to a premier drone fighter squadron were just about gone due to his fighting and lack of control of his anger. The Commandant had almost decided to send Coda to a reserve unit that probably wouldn’t see much action. That was the plan until Commander Chadwick Coleman appeared at the Academy. He made Coda an offer that was hard to refuse although it would change everything Coda had ever thought about how his part of this war would be fought. It was going to be a challenge, one that Coda was going to find out would be almost impossible for him to overcome.
This book read well, but the story is kind of everything good and nothing bad happening to the main character. That’s OK, but not very likely. I understand why this book was written because the author tells this story after the end of the book, but I still think it’s more of a young adult book than anything else. The second book, “Wings of Mourning” sounds ominous and is available on Amazon now. I’ll probably add it to my reading list.