In an era of genetic engineering, Lieutenant Henry Gallant is the only Natural (non-genetically enhanced) officer left in the fleet. In spite of his superiors’ concerns that he is not up to the challenge, his unique mental abilities have proven essential to the defense of the United Planets in its fight against the Titan invaders.
Serving on the first FTL prototype, the Intrepid, on its maiden voyage to Tau-Ceti, Gallant finds a lost human colony on the planet Elysium. Elysium’s leader, Cyrus Wolfe, has allied himself with an ancient Artificial Intelligence which had lain dormant on the planet for millennia, but is now willing to protect the colonists against the Titans.
Gallant allies himself with Alaina Hepburn, the leader of the democratic opposition. With Alaina’s help, he discovers that the ancient AI has a sinister ulterior motive and he must match his exceptional mind against the complexity of machine intelligence to escape the ultimate trap and prevent the extermination of humanity.
In Lieutenant Henry Gallant, one man pits the naked human mind against the perspicacity of machine intelligence.
Gallant ran--gasping for breath, heart pounding; the echo of his footsteps reverberated behind him.
He hoped to reach the bridge, but hope is a fragile thing.
Peering over his shoulder into the dark, he tripped on a protruding jagged beam, one of the ship's many battle scars. As he crashed to the deck, the final glow of emergency lights sputtered out leaving only the pitch black of power failure--his failure.
He lay still and listened to the ship's cries of pain; the incessant wheezing of atmosphere bleeding from the many tiny hull fissures, the repetitious groaning of metal from straining structures, and the crackling of electrical wires sparking against panels.
Thoughts flashed past him.
How long will the oxygen last?
He was reluctant to guess.
Where are they?
The clamor of dogged footsteps drew closer even as he rasped for another breath.
Trembling from exhaustion, he clawed at the bulkhead to pull himself up. His hemorrhaging leg made even standing brutally painful.
Nevertheless, he ran.
The bulkhead panels and compartment hatches were indistinguishable in the dimness. Vague phantoms lurked nearby even while his eyes adjusted to whatever glowing plasma blast embers flickered from the hull.
As he twisted around a corner, he crashed his shoulder into a bulkhead. The impact knocked him back and spun him around. Reaching out with a bloody hand, he grasped the hatch handle leading into the Operation's compartment. Going through the hatch, he pulled it shut behind him.
He started to run, then awkwardly fought his own momentum and stopped.
Going back to the hatch, he hit the security locking mechanism.
It wouldn't stop a plasma blast, but it might slow them down, he thought. At least this compartment is airtight.
Finally able to take a deep breath, he tried to clear his head of bombarding sensations. He should've been in battle armor, but he'd stayed too long in engineering trying to maintain power while the hull had been breached and the ship boarded.
Now his uniform was scorched, revealing the plasma burns of seared flesh from his left shoulder down across his back to his right thigh. He had no idea where the rest of the crew was; many were probably dead. His comm pin was mute and the ship's AI wasn't responding. He had only a handgun, but, so far, he didn't think they were tracking him specifically, merely penetrating into the ship to gain control.
Gallant tried to run once more, but his legs were unwilling. Leaning against the bulkhead, like a dead weight, he slid slowly down to the deck.
Unable to go farther, he sat dripping blood and trembling as the potent grip of shock grabbed hold. The harrowing pain of his burnt flesh, swept over him.
Hope and fear alike abandoned him, leaving only an undeniable truth; without immediate medical treatment, he wouldn't survive.
Closing his eyes, he fought against the pain and the black vertigo of despair. He took a deep breath and called upon the last of his inner resolve and resilience . . .