This book involves a lot of fighting on the planet Aphrodite. Sgt Ryan Hendrix is in charge of the inserted Combat Infiltration Teams (CITs) which are to organize the local militia into fighting a resistance war against the Tahni on the planet. Ryan has the job because he volunteered for it after getting almost killed in his last battle. They military had put him back together only after he volunteered for the CIT program which gave him almost a brand new body. His previous body was practically destroyed to the extent it would have taken a year of rehab to clone and grow back new parts. That he couldn’t put up with so he now has a re-enforced titanium skeleton covered with skin and cybernetics for arms, legs and one eye. To say he was better physically was an understatement. He was fantastic physically, but he wasn’t all that sure he was “better”. Still he was a Marine and he had asked to go to battle. Actually, now with the CITs, he was Fleet Intelligence, but he still felt and acted like a Marine. And that meant he was going to accomplish his mission no matter the cost.
While he was on the planet getting his people organized, Captain Travis Miller was commanding a flotilla of ships that were preparing to take back Aphrodite from the Tahni. He wasn’t exactly sure if he had the resources to do the job, but he was going to do his best to get it done. The first thing he had to do was get through the gate leading to Aphrodite and he was pretty sure it was going to be heavily defended. He knew the Tahni had almost a year to get their forces to the planet and get it reinforced so his job was not going to be easy. Then he had to deal with Captain Malenkov. Malenkov was a Russian that still blamed Travis for starting the war with the Tahni. He wasn’t happy being under Captain Miller’s command and was probably going to question every order he received. So, Travis was going to have a face-to-face with him right at the beginning to get that cleared up.
That meeting went about as well as Travis thought. Travis was initially mad at Malenkov because he thought he was the on who had initiated the complaint about Travis and Commander Leer’s relationship. Yes, Travis and Jessica Leer were involved, but he thought they had kept their relationship quiet and discrete. It was not normally acceptable for a Commanding Officer to have an intimate relationship with a subordinate in his chain of command. Commander Leer had transferred to another ship so she wasn’t directly in his chain of command, but now that he was the fleet commander, it could be said she was back in the same boat! Travis figured it would not have been hard for Captain Malenkov to have filed the complaint, but he denied doing so. Anyway, Captain Miller knew that he wasn’t going to let his feelings for Commander Leer to interfere with his mission requirements. While she was now a Group Commander, she shouldn’t be going directly into combat in a starfighter, but, knowing her, that’s exactly where she would be, orders or not!
So, to start off the repatriation of Aphrodite, the fighter squadron would have to go in first and find out what’s on the other side of the stargate. Hopefully, they wouldn’t all be destroyed immediately and could report back on what they found. Then the rest of the fleet would barge through one way or another. Captain Travis Miller was determined to get the Tahni off Aphrodite and eventually gain back all the human planets that had taken. He knew this could be a long war, but if that’s what it took, then he was going to fight it. It was up to Sgt Hendrix on Aphrodite to help soften up the planetary defenses so Marine drop-ship could eventually land troops to support his fight against the garrisoned Tahni’s on the planet. How Sgt Hendrix was going to do what he needed to get done was almost a mystery to him. He had little in the way of assets and very few well trained troops. But, he was going to do his best no matter what.
Meanwhile, the Tahni are up to something else besides fighting around Aphrodite. They apparently have some knowledge of secret stargates that lead back to the Solar System and open up on the opposite side of where Earth’s defense forces expect them to appear. Aa far as Earth knew, there was only one stargate into the Solar System and that one was defended by all the fleet assets that was left. They weren’t sure if this was enough, but a surprise attack from a different direction would be a disaster, that’s for sure!
Another good book and one that seems to finish off this series. Reading about space battles can be confusing without visual aids. Writers have to be very descriptive of what they are presenting or it gets confusing really fast. I can’t say I stay up with every battle, but as long as it seems like the forces are doing what they should, then the story doesn’t get to incredible. I don’t mind reading about space battles and then flipping to ground attacks. Both should happen, but what I’m amazed with is that writers seem to think that one small force can liberate or capture an entire planet just by attacking one small place. Planets are huge places and if they are occupied by any kind of civilization, they will be armed to the teeth. I can’t imagine an alien invasion that could bring enough soldiers to take over an entire planet. Oh, it’s been done in the movies, but we don’t really get to see all the battles. I guess my imagination isn’t as polished as some science fiction writers. That’s why I’m just a reader!