This is a new author to me and a new, but interesting series. It has a lot of subtle humor which I like. The characters are a little strange but they seem to work together well. We start off by meeting Dirk (Durriken Friedel). He’s in an Imperial prison awaiting a death sentence, I believe. He doesn’t have to wait long because an assassin comes to kill him off, but the assassin isn’t very skilled and Dirk winds up disarming him. Then some Marines that were operating in the prison show up to help him escape which he does successfully. He has to find a way off the planet so he goes to some friends he once had. They welcome him and tell him to go to T&T Exports. That business might have a freighter leaving soon that could hire him on and get him passage off the planet.
So that’s what he does. He gets hired as a pilot since that’s the skills he had while in the Navy. He’s directed to take a ship currently docked to another planet and a shipyard for some repairs. He’s told the ship has been docked for sixty-six days, but must be moved and soon. That’s how Dirk winds up on the *Heart’s Desire*. He finds out that the only crew aboard is a Jovian medic named Lee Mikelson. He later finds out that the rest of the crew had just up and left the ship, including the former Captain. In fact, the ships second officer had sold a lot of the ships parts, those that weren’t permanently attached and had pocketed the money. The Engineer had also left. They wanted nothing to do with it.
Meanwhile, a young man named Gavin (Gavin Crewjack) is sitting quietly in a bar attempting to inconspicuous watching what the other patrons are doing. There’s a group of young people in uniforms apparently having some kind of graduation celebration. It seems they have just graduated from a merchant academy and are awaiting orders. They are drinking heavily and of course a fight breaks out between these students and the rest of the patrons. During the fight, Gavin manages to acquire one of the graduates ship pass, ID and a few credits. He quietly slips out of the bar and heads for the *Heart’s Desire*.
Next we find an elderly man, Anastasios (Ana) who actually is a Senior Customs Inspector. He was in another bar awaiting the proprietor to conduct a business deal that wasn’t necessary legal under current custom laws. Still, Ana had been paid by the bar owner to look the other way which he was dutifully doing until he got a call from his supervisor. It seems some of the senior Customs official had gotten wind of some of the questionable activities of the Custom agents at this location and were starting an investigation. Ana didn’t want any part of that so he chose to head for the nearest tramp freighter that could get him off the planet. He was heading for the *Heart’s Desire!*
By now, Gavin shows up at the Heart’s Desire where Dirk is now finding out that no one but the medic is still around. He needs an Engineer and Gavin says he’s a qualified Engineer Two so he tells him he’s hired, although strictly speaking, Dirk isn’t the Captain. Next up, Ana shows and demands to be let onboard. He says he has important Customs business that requires his immediate departure and directs Dirk to get underway or face a very thorough Customs inspection. About the same time, Dirk sees another person banging on the airlock and notices he’s in the uniform of the local police. Dirk decides that departing right now would be a very good idea.
So, now there are four people aboard the *Heart’s Desire*, none of which are supposed to be there. Dirk tells Gavin, the Engineer to make ready the engines which seems like something an Engineer should be able to easily do, but it’s not so easy for Gavin. He does go to the Engineering section and gets on the engineering display screens. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult with all the information laid out on the screen. So, they eventually depart the station and make it to the jump point. Just before jumping and while Dirk, Lee (the Medic), Ana and Gavin are meeting to discuss who they are and where they are going, another person shows up holding a shotgun. Her name is Scruggs and she’s highjacking the ship. She wants to go to Procyon! Only problem, she’s holding an empty shotgun with the safety on and she doesn’t known it. Ana, who’s also a former Senior Centurion of the Imperial Army, disarms her quickly and tells her to go back and sit down while Pilot Dirk gets them off to some where.
Now is where the real story gets going. Every one of these people are wanted by someone for something. They definitely don’t want to have anything to do with the law or Imperial Justice. They decide to form a crew, for now, and get the ship to some place safe, for them, if it can get anywhere. The supposed Engineer Gavin knows that the ship isn’t in the best of shape and hasn’t recently been refueled. So, they know they have to find a planet where they can get water in order to make the fuel the ship needs. From there they’ll have to decide what to do. It’s going to be very interesting.
The second book, [“Imperial Smuggler”,](https://amzn.to/3uv7vab) is available on Amazon now and I’ll definitely be adding it to my reading list.