One thing. you can certainly say about Peacemaker Van Tudor II is that he sticks to a case until it’s solved, or so far, that is. He and his band of characters, including Torina, Perry (a AI bird), Icky (a huge gorilla-like alien girl) and Netty (his spaceship) and still pursuing an unknown band of very, very bad guys who are kidnapping people and installing their essence/intelligence/soul into computer chips. How they are doing this isn’t really known, but it seems that the people that are treated this way find themselves locked into doing what their computer chip is programmed to do. They have no free will, but they make excellent Artificial Intelligence machines. Van Tudor has been finding these chips and turning them over to Steve at Anvil Dark (HQ for the Peacemakers) and he has been able to free these kidnapped minds and place them in re-grown bodies. Most are obviously very grateful for this including an entire species that was almost wiped out until Peacemaker Tudor got involved. Still, there are more of these chips around and Tudor intends to find out who’s masterminding this horrible crime.
While the starship Fafnir (where did the author dig that name up?) has been very capable and still is, they just acquired a much larger starship called the Iowa. It had to be extensively overhauled and refurbished, but it would serve as a new base of operations for Van Tudor and his crew. Anvil Dark was getting a little to uncomfortable for Tudor due to all the changes taking place in the Peacemaker Guild. There were several Master positions open and lots of politicking going on to get those positions. One Master, Master Yotov, was subtly attempting to influence the filling of these Master vacancies with people she hand-picked. This would pretty much give her complete control of the Guild. That wasn’t something unusual in that other Masters had joined together to influence past directions of the Guild, but Tudor and his mentor Lunzy suspected that Master Yotov was deeply involved in a lot of the criminal activity in the galaxy and specifically in this human kidnapping case. So, Van Tudor was following leads that kept him pretty much away from Anvil Dark since he didn’t want any part of the politicks.
But he had to return this one time because someone, some how had kidnapped his Cousin, Carter Yost, and was demanding a ransom. As much as Van wanted to say, “So what!”, he couldn’t bring himself to do so because Yost was still another Peacemaker, some how. So off they went to find where Yost was being held and attempt to deliver said ransom. Only they walked into a trap. Everyone knew it was a trap, but they still walked or rather flew right into it. Fortunately, for everyone involved, the kidnappers weren’t very smart. In fact they were down right stupid. So much so that it didn’t take the crew of the Fafnir much effort to free Yost and arrest the kidnappers. It took them away from their current investigation.
Then, as if it was a surprise, not! They got another urgent mission for the Peacemaker Guild, one that couldn’t be ignored. Someone had stolen a mothballed warship from the Seven Stars League. It was a heavy cruiser to be exact and while not fully armed, it was a very dangerous mission, but the pay-out for returning the ship intact to the Seven Stars League was four hundred thousand bonds. That would go a long way towards upgrading the Fafnir and repairs to the Iowa. So the Fafnir headed out to see if they could track down this potential big payday. Bad move!
This job went well until it didn’t. While greatly out-gunned, it wasn’t too bad until the Fafnir got hit square on the nose by one of the gigantic lasers. Everything turned white after that until Van Tudor recovered his senses. It seems that at the same time as the Fafnir got hit, one of her missiles also hit the cruiser and she was now dead in space. So with that mission successfully accomplished, it only took about half the bonds to repair the Fafnir! But, they could now go back on to their original investigation.
As they finally realized, they were going to have to travel to Rigel which was a long, long ways away. The Fafnir couldn’t make that kind of trip because of the fuel requirements, but the Iowa could provided they could finish repairs on its engines. This is where they get into a big discussion about the time differences when traveling faster than light or making slip-stream trips. What might seem like only a few hours or days to the traveler could be months or years to those not with them. Tudor was now finding out that while he was galavanting around space, Earth was moving along at its normal pace even though he was moving faster a few times as he traveled. This trip to Rigel would cost him a few hours, but on Earth a least a year would have passed. Not sure why all this was brought up in the book, but it did seem to take up a lot of writing for something that was just going to happen. I never thought Van Tudor was going to stop being a Peacemaker just because he was missing a lot of time back on Earth.
Any way, the Iowa with the Fafnir stowed aboard made the trip there and back. Without a problem. They didn’t find the osmium mines they hoped to find, but if they did find the source of this mineral, they could determine who was making the computer chip blanks used to house the human/alien intelligences they were kidnapping. Turns out, the whole trip was a waste and the osmium was being mined on Pluto. Their investigation is heating up and they need to get to the ring-leaders, but it’s going to require something very strange. Van Tudor is going to have to ask Carter Yost for help! You got to read the rest of the story to find out why and what happens!
This story certainly doesn’t end here. Book 5, “Blue Shift” is currently on Amazon and is the next book I’m reading. This is a very entertaining series.