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We’re picking up after the last screwed up mission to stop the pirates/rebels led by Sanya Baretto, a former Commonwealth fighter pilot. That mission didn’t go anywhere like they had planned it to go since the Commonwealth vasty underestimated Baretto capabilities. They thought they could send a sizable ship and that would be the end of this little uprising. Didn’t turn out that way because the guy they put in-charge of the mission was very incompetent and almost got everyone killed. He lost his ship and several others which Barrett’s people took for their own and are now reading them for another fight.

This time the Commonwealth isn’t going to do any underestimating and is going to send enough combat power to stop anyone from doing anything. Yet, before they do that, they need to find out where Baretto’s people are getting their hardware. They seem to be fielding some modern, state-of-the-art weapons and lots of them in the most recent battle. It’s also a little discerning that mixed in with the Commonwealth gear is a collection of Tahni captured material. How in the world Baretto’s people got hold of that is even more of a mystery.

So, our intrepid Range, Antonin Murdock is assigned this mission because it’s really an investigation that should be the domain of the Rangers. What he didn’t expect at the inquest on the last mission was that his brother, Henry Murdock, would be the chair of that review board. Now we found out that Murdock’s brother is not only the head of Murdock Industries, a major military hardware supplier, but also has a seat on the Corporate Council. That Council runs the Commonwealth although there are a few that don’t want to accept that fact. But with Henry Murdock obviously sitting as chair of the inquest board with flag officers deferring to him it was clear that he was an important figure in the governing of the Commonwealth. After the board meeting, Antonin Murdock was invited to visit with his brother at the previous home/estate. When Antonin arrived, he was surprised that also invited were a number of the military that had been involved in the last effort to corral Baretto.

This is where he gets the assignment to investigate how Baretto is getting all this military equipment. He comes up with a plan to infiltrate the larges arms dealers the Commonwealth knows of and that is the Diaspora or as it’s otherwise known as the Russian fleet. This fleet isn’t like a normal fleet in that it’s the entire Russian civilization or what’s left of it after they were wiped off the Earth by the Western powers. Now, they supply arms to those who need them at a cost so that’s who Ranger Murdock needs to talk to. He doesn’t think that they would be supplying the amount of arms he’s seen thrown at the Commonwealth, but it’s a starting point. He’s going along with a Marine Sergeant Covington. Their plan to act as colonist looking to arm their colony works as well as you’d figure, it lasted only a few minutes.

Once he woke up from the bashing to his head he received by on of Petrov’s body guards, Petrov asked him to start telling the truth because he knew they were Commonwealth spies and not merely colonist. So, Ranger Murdock told him they were and surprisingly, Petrov said he’d help Murdock figure this stuff out. See, whomever was suppling Baretto with the weapons was Petrov and the Diaspora, so that meant he was losing profit. He then told Murdock of a program the Commonwealth had put together not long after the last Tahni war. This was known as Pandora’s Box. All the excess/surplus gear and weapons were collected and placed in strategic locations around the galaxy just incase the Tahni ever decided to come back. These boxes contained not only Commonwealth weapons, but also captured Tahni weapons, all of which were aging, but not exactly old. Most was still very serviceable as shown in the second of two attempts to fight Baretto’s rebels.

So, that’s one mission in this book that Murdock undertakes. This will lead to some more important information like where Baretto is now hold up. As mentioned, the Commonwealth is ready to end this little rebellion and they are sending enough of the Naval fleet to make sure it is ended. Murdock will be part of this effort and he intends to be the one to capture Baretto alive. It seems that the Marines he’s going with are all about killing anyone and everyone that even looks like a rebel. There are times when you wonder just who the Marines are fighting for.

Ok, so this book was exciting although I didn’t really like the ending. It was done so that a third book could follow so maybe things turn out the right way in book 3, “Isolation”, available on Amazon now.

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