Peacemaker Van Tudor and his crew of the Fafnir have been sent to explore a remote base that had been designed to refurbish small powerful military-spec engines. It had suddenly gone quiet and the Guild wanted to know why. So, Van and his crew were slowly working their way through some dark corridors finding nothing much of anything. At first they didn’t even find any people, bodies or otherwise. The place looked abandoned and recently so. But, then as they proceeded further into the factory, they finally came across dead bodies. Or at least what was left of them.
Perry, the AI in the form of a bird, examined the bodies and declared they had been literally torn apart. They did find some artifacts in the business offices which they took back to Anvil Dark and the Guild HQ. They wanted to see what was the last activity at the factory and possibly where everyone had gone. While the technology was old, Bester, the Guild archivist was able to extract some information from the hard drive. This information eventually lead them to contacts that further implicated several planets involved in mining, potentially mining osmium. Osmium was one of the key elements used in making the chips from which kidnapped entities were turned into slave artificial intelligences. This directly tied in to the Crimes Against Order investigation which Peacemaker Van Tudor and his crew where heavily involved in. This osmium was also found to be mine on a planet called Level Blue in the Delta Pavonis system.
What they found at Level Blue was disgusting. The planet was an ecological disaster with no regards to keeping the planet habitable. Open mining was going all over the planet and the pollution was going on unabated all over the same planet. Further, it appeared that the people or entities doing the actual mining were nothing more than slaves. They were worked to death and the crew of the Fafnir unfortunately found numerous dead bodies in various states of decomposition lying openly all across the planet. The knew this operation was being done under the contracts which lead directly to the BeneStar Corporation! The further this investigation went, the more BeneStar was becoming implicated in everything. It was an evil corporation and Peacemaker Tudor was going after the owner one Helem Guass.
But, he was supposed to report back to Anvil Dark to stand against charges brought by none other than Carter Yost, his cousin. As usual, unless he was summoned back to Anvil Dark by Master Gerhardt, Van ignored the summons. Still, Master Kharsweil was insistent on Van’s return so much so that he sent out three Peacemaker auxiliaries to bring him in. Turns out these guys were pretty shady and really had no intention of bring Van back alive to Anvil Dark. But, Van has lots of friends of his own so they made quick work of dissuading these guys into doing something else. Still, Van did find out that not only was the Guild after him, there was a very large bounty placed on him and his crew by the BeneStar Corporation.
So, in order for Van to pursue his investigation, they had to stop leaving a trail for bounty hunters to follow. That entailed using lots of cash to fund their operations and not filing expense reports back to Guild HQ which were used by Kharsweil to track his movements. They headed to Helso, Torina’s home planet, to ask her parents from some temporary cash and to get some much needed rest. But, they knew they couldn’t stay there very long, because trouble followed them every where and they didn’t want Helso to be attacked just to get at them.
They were surprised with their reception there. It was more than they could have imagined and got them well on their way towards getting to Carter Yost and eventually Helem Gauss. Could there actually be an end to this investigation and an end to the kidnapping entities and turning them into slave AIs. Read the book to find out. You’ll probably be just as surprised as I was.
The next book in the series, “Echoes of Empire”, is going to be real interesting and I’m definitely interested to see where this is going.