We’re back with Captain Jonathan Dallas, Commanding the starship Callaway of the United Systems. They have just finished off destroying the homeworld of the Elk faction of the alien race call Raakarr. They had done this deed at the behest of the other Raakarr faction, the Zarafe, believing that this was just a small colony world that was dangerous to the United Systems and the Zarafe. What was done was unbelievably horrible, but it was done and there was no going back. In fact, the Callaway and the small Task Force under Captain Dallas’ command needed to get back to Earth and enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation. The one builder ship in the Task Force was just about ready to finish building the Slipstream Gate that would allow them to finally leave Raakarr-2 and move back to the Vega 951 system and then to home.
Only, there appears to be something wrong in Vega 951. While the Raakarr Zarafe faction is now allied to the Callaway, their ships have to ability to move through Slipstreams without the need for a gate. They have sent small scouting parties ahead and have found nothing but devastation in the Vega 951 system. It appears that the United Systems and Raakarr have made a terrible enemy of the Elder, a very ancient race that is distantly related to the Raakarr. The Elder seem to be measuring humanity to see if they are worthy of existing. The Callaway’s action against the Elk homeworld has turned the Elders against humanity and they appear to be ready to eliminate all humanity all the way back to Earth itself.
So, with a crew that is pretty exhausted and an ally that is questionable as to their loyalty, Task Force 72.5 head back through the new gate and into Vega 951 to await whatever destiny they have if any. Their trip homeward is not easy. The Elders have left small, but highly advanced scavenger ships in each of the systems they must pass through. These scavenger ships are made from the remains of recently destroyed vessels, orbital stations and crews. One scavenger ship, with it’s disintegration weapon, can easily destroy an entire fleet of United Systems and Raakarr ships. So, how are they to get home and what will they find once they get there?
This story seems fairly long and I guess it is. The remaining human and Raakarr combined fleet has to pass through several star systems before getting to Earth. It would have been helpful if there had been a star map illustration somewhere in the book, but if you read closely, you can figure out the path towards the Solar System. There is some good starship battles along the way and they are not that hard to follow. The author does a good job of describing the action, at least from the perspective of Captain Dallas. It’s seems that Captain Dallas is meant to lead the remaining human forces because every time something happens, his command Admiral gets killed leaving him to take over the fleet. Seems like he should have been promoted a long time ago. There is also this strange part in the book where it appears that Captain Dallas lusts for his Executive Officer’s wife, Bridgette. I don’t know why that’s part of the book, but it keeps coming up at the most idiotic times. I think that could have been left out.
Still, these are very good military science fiction books although a little short on character building for anyone other than Captain Jonathan Dallas. We do get to read about Chief Rade Galaal. a MOTH, who has his own set of adventures telling how he became a MOTH. Those Atlas books are great and a recommended read. I hope then next book in this series, Flag Ship, means that Captain Dallas gets advanced to Admiral and we still get to read about some of the same crewmen.