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A pretty short book/story and somewhat predictable. We have a far distant Earth that has gone through, I guess, WWIII with the Russians invading the USA. They or some sponsored terrorist managed to set off a nuclear device somewhere off our east coast which devastated that area and left it a mess. The US Government ran back to the mid-west and has yet to get things fixed. The Army has stood down for quite some time now and is in no shape to fight off a Russian invasion. It doesn’t actually appear that the Russians are invading, but there are enough things happening on the east coast that they need to be investigated by a fighting force. So, the US Government/Army has resorted to hiring contract military to fight their battles.

The group that is the main focus of this book happens to be led by a former Captain Nathan Stout. Except he died while on active duty and instead of just losing all that experience, they cloned a new Nathan Stout. He had most of the memories of the original, but he wasn’t a full-on copy. They only gave him glimpses of who he was in his past life insuring that he retained his piloting skills to use the mech that he operated. The Army of this future fields ten foot tall mechanized weapons platforms operated internally by one man. A highly trained and skilled pilot that cost a lot to produce.

With the adoption of these mechs, soldiers fighting on the battlefield just wasn’t very effective any more. Also, the cost of maintaining these machines and the men who piloted them was just about bankrupting the US Government. So, they turned to hiring contractors to pilot, maintain and fight with these mechs. The now contractor Nathan Stout was leading his own company of five mechs to fight whatever the Army told him to fight.

While a lot of the recruitment for his fighting men came by word of mouth, not all of his current charges were prior military. A few had just gone through the intensive mech training so they could earn some very scarce money and have a job that paid fairly well and steady. As long as they fought their mechs like Nathan wanted, he really didn’t care what their background was especially since his was kind of shaky. Only one of his guys knew what he was, a “dupe”, as they called it. But as long as Nathan was capable to lead, that’s what he was going to do. That had contracts to fill and wouldn’t get paid until they were done.

Unfortunately, you’ll find that Nathan’s lack of interest in his unit members caused him some serious problems. What they do is dangerous and they need to do it pretty much in secret. They have to trust each other and that’s a problem when you really don’t know the guy or gal next to you. If each one doesn’t do their part, then bad things can happen on an op. Bad things were happening to Nate’s guys and he didn’t exactly know why.

I say the book is kind of short because it only involves two operations. Both do explain what is going on, but they are kind of short on action and don’t really explain all that is going on. What you do find out is that something isn’t right, and it’s pretty easy to figure out why. Because this book seemed short, I really didn’t get into the story all that much. I don’t have a strong desire to continue reading the series and the end of this one was kind of strange. This is the first of a three book series. Book two, “Brimstone”, is available on Amazon now while book three, “Apocalypse” is up for pre-order and will be available 14 December 2021.

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