This one I read a few days ago, but just now getting to writing the review, so I may skip a few details, but I’m getting it done now. Sergeant Pace Nix is our main character and he’s a combat dog handler. His partner and war dog is Riot. They have just been on a special operation that went south quickly. In fact, it turned out so bad that all the other members of his team, which he wasn’t leading, were killed. But, he and Riot managed to get an emergency extraction and left the battle field intact. They then went in to cryogenic stasis for the trip back to home, Alpha Cosmeri. That included the dog Riot.
Eight months later they are revived and getting back into the real world. Nix and Riot were getting towards the end of their tour and Nix wasn’t all that sure he was ready to re-up for the Marines. He and his dog had been fighting the Wong-Hon Empire Ultras. And they were tired of it. Ultras were cybernetically enhanced humans. These were humans who has some kind of technology embedded in their bodies to make they faster, stronger, or smarter than the average human. Most of these types of humans were in the military, but lately the trend had been seen in the civilian sector also. Sergeant Nix wasn’t enhanced and Riot liked that very much. Riot did not like Ultras or any human that had cybernetic enhancements. Now, back a Marine HQ, Nix was awaiting new orders before turning in his papers and leaving the Marines.
Yet, he didn’t get that chance. Upon arrival at Alpha Cosmeri, Nix was told to report to a Colonel Ethan Inverness, Special Operations Division, Protective Details. Nix didn’t know the Colonel and he had no idea what he wanted him for. But, orders were orders so he soon reported to the Colonel. This is where he received his new orders and he surprisingly when ahead and accepted them since they were like none he have every received.
He was to be assigned to the protection detail for a Medical Access Initiative (MAI) team. He and Riot were specifically requested because they were a human and dog team and because they had no enhancements. That surprised Nix. This MAI team were heading for several colonies to provided medical support as needed. Some of these colonies didn’t like strangers much, so Nix and the detail he was assigned to would provided protection as needed. This isn’t a job that Nix or Riot had ever performed, but he figured they could easily handle the job with some up-training.
Lieutenant Pedro Munoz was the detail team leader and he introduced the other team members to Nix and Riot once they were aboard the *Philadelphia*. This was a posh vessel with luxury accommodations that neither Nix or Riot were anywhere use to, but it was going to be incredibly enjoyable. Nix soon found that he and Riot were going to be the personal protection for the lead doctor, Dr. Madison Kelter. Nix soon found out why she had specifically requested Nix and Riot. She had a son on the autism spectrum named Oliver (Ollie). He didn’t show much emotion but when introduced to Nix and Riot, Riot took very well to Ollie and he showed some response towards Riot. It was very apparent that Riot was comfortable around the Dr. and her son, Ollie. So this job would work out very well.
So they started out on their mission with Nix and Riot learning all about their new ship. They found out that they had quarters only a Marine could dream about. As a Sergeant he was used to barracks living or compartment living with a bunch of other Marines. Not here on *Philadelphia*. He and Riot had their own room and even had access to a very well supplied dining facility. Nix thought he was going to enjoy this tour and had to ensure he and Riot didn’t get soft during the mission.
The course for the Philadelphia took them along a route that included by-passing a very hostile planet called Rastamus III. This planet had apparently been a very nice Earth-like planet at one time. The colony there rapidly grew and were becoming the technology center of the universe. They had automated almost everything on the planet leaving the people free to pursue their own agendas. The planet was pretty much ran by NERO, an AI, who did a fantastic job, until he went rouge. When that happened, you did not want to come to the planet or anywhere near it. The AI began converting all the resources to ensure he continued to live. He even began operating on the humans to turn them into cybernetic slaves with the implants he forced them to wear. These were not comfortable implants, but huge things attached to the sides of their heads which turned the unlucky humans into automatons working for NERO.
So, of course you can see where this story is going. While the medical ship had no intentions of coming near Rastamus III, it unexpectedly did. They crashed with everyone still in stasis. The on-board AI, NICO, revived him since he specifically didn’t have any electronic or computer enhancements which would have been detected by the rouge AI, NERO. So, Nix and Riot are on a deadly planet with apparently no way off. He doesn’t know if he can awake his fellow Marines or even if he should. The only other person he knows that isn’t enhanced is Ollie, but he doesn’t know if he would be any help.
This is where the story gets interesting. How is Nix and Riot going to fight against this AI who controls everything on the planet. Are there any normal humans left alive and if so, can they help. Is there any way off this planet that they could use. Even if they got off the planet, would they be allowed to land or interface with any other space travelers who might fear they would be taken over by NERO?
We’ll find out more in book 2, “[Ghost Tactics](https://amzn.to/3QA7o5X)”, available on Amazon right now.