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Gregory Marshall Smith
Gregory Marshall Smith
An above-average sailor struggles to clean up a distant galaxy as a deadly pirate war edges ever closer.
Pegram Kimble, an above-average storekeeper, is on his way to Tedesco in the Vasco de Gama system. For years, the Federation Navy dumped its malcontents here. As a result, morale suffered and the system became vulnerable. Kimble's task-to whip the main supply base into shape, the first step in the Navy's return to Vasco de Gama.
From the day he first sets foot on Tedesco, however, Kimble finds shoot outs, smugglers, ambushes, pirates, mercenaries, traitors in his own ranks and even the eyes of Tedesco's most powerful beautiful and powerful women.
Kimble must take on new duties and missions far above his abilities, moves that may cost him his life.
Kimble and an overwhelmed Navy must rebuild a broken system and hold the line against a brutal enemy hell-bent on bringing its fruitless war to Vasco de Gama and imperiling the lives of millions.
“Picking up an energy signature on the ground dead ahead,” Stimson called out. “Looks weird. Looks almost like a portable scanner.”
“Could be a local weather station,” Berg suggested. “They leave them on the plain to detect when cells will pass to give an early warning to workers in the fields or out in the open.”
“No, this is different,” Stimson countered. “Lieutenant, it’s a scanner. A combat scanner. Sir, it’s targeting the shuttle!”
“Damn it!” Sengaila’s voice said over the intercom. “Take it out. Warrant, warn the shuttle. Evasive maneuvers, now!”
Kimble’s mind raced. What the hell was happening? Was someone or something targeting them? Who would be crazy enough to do that?
“Too late!” Berg called out. “Energy emission! We’re under fire! Prepare to engage the position!”
Berg moved as one with her controls. She ordered her AI to find the firing position that had emitted the energy. She swung the twin cannon on the underside on the ship around and fired off three bursts. Kimble couldn’t see where the shots went.
“Hit on the target!” Berg called out. “Where’s the missile?”
“Damn it, what missile?” Kimble blurted. “The shuttle’s too heavy to maneuver with all that crap on board. Don’t we have flares or something to distract it?”
Remembering his landing party training, he reached up and pulled a flak vest from a harness above his head. It contained pouches for ammunition, smoke grenades, flash-bang grenades, shrapnel bombs and flares, not to mention a miniature hook-up connector to a combat vessel’s AI. It also provided protection against shrapnel, something he didn’t want to have experience again. He also pulled down a combat helmet and fitted it down over his head and ears, with a flap that covered his neck.
“Good to go,” he said to himself. “Now, where the hell is that…”
He never finished the question, for a bright flash outside his window blinded him to the world.