I really like this series. Staff Sergeant Reverent Pelletier has really grown on me and he keeps getting better although I’m leery that he’s going to become too smart for his own good. He’s now a Platoon Sergeant and a very good one. As this book starts, he’s also heavily engaged in battle. It appears that the Centaurs have broken the peace that has been in effect for quite some time now. He and his Heavy Infantry Battalion are on Brahmaloka to find out where and just how many Centaurs were on the moon. His unit was definitely not supposed to engage with the Centaurs, only find out what kind of force they had fielded and then report back to HQ. That’s all his mission entailed…until it didn’t!
Rev’s forward outpost had spotted a group of five Centaurs coming towards their position. As his outpost wasn’t to engage the enemy, Rev told them to hunker down and just watch this patrol to see where they went. But, that didn’t happen. Some how the Centaurs knew the outpost was watching them so they decided to engage the human Marines. That brought Rev and the rest of the platoon forward into the fight. It seemed like the Centaurs were putting out a lot of fire for only five guys. They were also very hard to find even though it didn’t look like they were much different than any other Centaur unit. Rev actually got into a hand-to-hand battle with one Centaur how strangely brandished a sword! Once Rev looked around he noticed the other Centaurs were also brandishing swords and using them with deadly results, except the Perseus Union Marines had no swords so they fought back by blasting the Centaurs which quickly ended the fight! Rev did notice that these Centaurs seemed different than the ones he had previously fought in hand-to-hand combat. He couldn’t pin it down, but he thought there was something different about these aliens.
After this short skirmish, he reported back to HQ, got chewed out for not maintaining his scouting only mission and then was told the entire human contingent was pulling out. They were turning over the small moon to the Centaurs with no real explanation provided to the rank and file Marines. So, it was back to base which in Rev’s case was Safe Harbor. Once there he wanted to get back to Tomiko, his girl friend and now fiancée. As you read in the previous book, Tomiko was recovering from her resurrection and had a long period of therapy and rehab to undertake. She was staying with Rev’s parents which kept her close to the base. He managed to get time to see when his duty schedule allowed, but she was also busy going through rehab. She and Rev had decided that she wanted to stay in the Marines even though she had agreed to get married. But now, she had to go through rehab and prove she was qualified to stay on active duty.
One usual training day, Rev was told to report to the RAB (Restricted Access Briefing) room. Here he was shown a video clip of what appeared to be inside a building on what he was told was Planet Aurilious, a resupply station. The video showed four civilians sitting against a wall being guarded by Centaurs. While the Centaurs all initially had their backs to the security camera feed, one was nudged by something off camera and it turned around. That drew loud gasps from the assembled Marines for this wasn’t a Centaur nor was it human, there now was a third alien race in the galaxy. So who were these aliens and why were they attacking human planets?
But, who they were didn’t really matter, jus the fact they were attacking human settlements meant the Union was going to war again! ?So the base was locked down tight. Rev’s platoon started getting in replacements real quick and he was in the process of seeing to their training. He knew they would get deployment orders pretty soon, but didn’t know just when. The, again, he was called to the RAB for another classified briefing. In this one he was shown a video of a meeting between a human Lieutenant Commander of a battalion and a Naxli, which is what this new aliens species called themselves. For some reason, a single Naxli had marched forward to between the opposing lines while the Lt. Col., under a white flag, met him face-to-face. The Lt. Col. was surrendering himself and his troops. They had already been pretty much decimated to the point of it being no longer reasonable to fight. Unfortunately, the Naxli didn’t seem to understand the concept of surrender. He asked the human if he intended to fight and the Lt. Col. said no! That seemed to enrage the Naxli who then shot the Lt. Col. while his Naxli troops came forward and shot every human present!
Of course that enraged all the Marines present, but Rev was wondering why it happened the way it did. So, their deployment got turned on full blast. As they were preparing for departure from Safe Harbor, they heard other stories of encounters by other humans and the Naxli. It seems the Naxli were always coming forward as a single soldier seemingly wanting to talk to someone on the human side. If the humans responded, they did so with a leader or officer, but when that officer was asked by the Naxli how many in his unit would fight, he definitely didn’t proved the answer, but he definitely told the Naxli that they were still going to fight. Upon hearing this, the Naxli moved back to his side while allowing the human officer to do the same. Then the fighting started. Rev thought this action strange and wonder just what it meant. Maybe he would have a chance to find out!
This is a very good story well written with an interesting twist. I certainly wouldn’t like to fight under the conditions the Marines will fight in this book, and I don’t know how some of them can continue to fight after they have suffered some pretty bad wounds. Still, fighting in their armor kind of makes them feel invincible. And they medical aspect of this century is really amazing. The fact is the IBHU Marines are actually combat casualties who have amputated limbs. While they have fixed the physical side of these wounds, I don’t know how the individual soldier or Marines in this case, manage the tremendous psychological trauma of losing a limb and then having to go back to war.
Still, I’ll continue reading this series. Book 8, “What Lies Behind”, should be available on Amazon by 8 May 2022.