Last time we left Gunnery Sergeant Eli Vanhorn he was in enemy territory with very little support including the support one would expect from his platoon leader. Lieutenant Zeke Masterson had gone off the deep end by taking some new experimental drug that was supposed to enhance the TAC (Terrestrial Advanced Combat) Marines combat capabilities. Only all it did was drive the Marines crazy, upped their metabolism, and made them dangerous to anyone around. First Squad had taken the drug during a previous op and gotten themselves quickly captured. GSG Vanhorn was able to rescue them and get the platoon back together, but the Lt. resented Vanhorn’s combat capabilities even more.
Lt. Masterson was resentful of Vanhorn’s abilities right from the very start. He had some wild idea that Eli was there to usurp his command authority although Eli had told him even prior to leaving their ship that he wasn’t in any way going to do that. Still, the Lt. began to treat Vanhorn worse and worse. He had banished him from the platoon on the home planet of the Orrkasi called Orrakron. In fact, he had taken away most of Eli’s needed equipment which would have been a death sentence for any other Marine. But, through the loyalty of his squad, he had been able to recover most of his equipment; enough to at least allow him to survive.
Now, he had returned to the platoon, but the Lt. was still not happy with him. They had a larger contingent of slaves that they had freed from the Orcs and were supposed to be awaiting rescue from the fleet. Only know one was sure when the fleet would actually arrive except the Lt. and he wasn’t telling anyone anything. He did tell GSG Vanhorn that, once again, he didn’t want him with the platoon so he was ordering him to got back and harass the Orcs while he took the rest of the platoon and the freed slaves to a better hiding place to await pickup.
So, GSG Vanhorn follows his orders. He went about the country side creating havoc with the Orcs. He and Sgt. Trix Finnegan were doing what they could to disrupt the Orcs at every opportunity until they got captured! Being captured by the Orcs isn’t something you ever want to experience. These things are just a step above animals. They eat other aliens species and are believed to even eat their own kind. No one knows how they communicate among each other and this particular home planet seems to be sacred to them. Vanhorn had been destroying a lot of their religious temples so they were definitely out to get him and then treat him in the most despicable way possible.
Meanwhile, Vanhorn, when he was not captured, had found the long-range commo equipment that the Lt. had told his platoon to abandon for some unknown reason. Vanhorn used it to communicate with the Der Spitzel, the fleet cruiser that had delivered them to the planet. It was still in orbit although highly camouflaged which made it invisible to the Orrkasi starships that also were in orbit. The Der Spitzel said that the number of Orrkasi ships had grown to thirty since they had dropped the platoon on the planet and they didn’t know how the fleet could even approach the planet until that number had decreased significantly. So, it didn’t look like GSG Vanhorn and his TAC Marines would be picked up anytime soon or if ever!
I like these stories about a very capable, although previously injured, TAC Marine. He seems to know his business very well, but he’s now at the point where he also should know when a Lieutenant is nuts and a threat to the entire platoon. For a Gunnery Sergeant to blindly follow this guys orders which definitely puts him in danger for no good reason is plain stupid! They have accomplished their mission on the planet over and above what the original orders asked. Now is the time to secure the platoon, consolidate everyone into a defensible position and await pickup by the fleet. To do anything more would unnecessarily jeopardize the lives of his fellow Marines. So, I don’t like the part where a Gunnery Sergeant blindly follows this Lieutenant’s orders. It’s not a reasonable situation.
At the end of this book, the platoon is still not picked up. Now it looks like the Orrkasi have had enough of GSG Vanhorn’s terrorizing and they have just sent down a starship full of troops. This could mean that a thousand or more Orcs could be flooding the planet right where GSG Vanhorn and his people are situated. Not good. We’ll have to find out what happens now in book 3, “Assault” now available on Amazon.