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Series: Galaxy’s Edge #9
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
It’s been several months since the Legion fell. Chuun spent the down time working with Admiral Deynolds to consolidate the Intrepid and other ships loyal to the Legion into their own task force, the Legion Expeditionary Fleet. Legion Commander “Wash” Washam has been feeding Chhun information on the new Empire’s weak points.
Kill Team Victory is hiding out in cargo crates aboard the De Zuan, an Imperial corvette, preparing to take the vessel over in mid-flight while the Indelible VI shadows it. They arrive on the bridge and stun the passenger a Republic senator, only to learn the corvette is rigged with explosives. Chhun uses this information to bluff the commander of a nearby Imperial supply station Kappa-II into surrendering. Despite the station’s surrender, it’s also carrying a wing of Imperial tri-fighters which attack the Indelible VI as she attempts to pick up Kill Team Victory. Keel handles the fighters but the ship is cut off by an arriving Black Fleet Destroyer which launches its own fighters. Cut off, Chhun is unable to jump the corvette to hyperspace. They transfer the kill team and the senator to the Indelible and fight their way free with help from the just arrived Intrepid. Despite the help, the Indelible VI loses her shields and takes heavy damage. Garrett arranges for the suicide corvette to be drawn into the destroyer’s hangar bay and detonates it, destroying the capital ship but wrecking the Indelible’s drives.
While the freighter is repaired aboard Intrepid, Keel tells Chhun that the senator they retrieved is a Sinasian. The Sinasians hate the Republic and launched their own rebellion against it before the MCR was formed. In addition, the senator is dying. Keel wonders if they can use that to their advantage. Once the Senator is fully briefed on the politics and plans of the various factions he agrees to help the Legion despite his illness. The next battlefield is to be Sinasia, and David Lawrence, the sector commander, is loyal to the Legion. Deynolds doubts it will be a full frontal engagement considering the loses both sides took over Utopion and Tarrago’s still-limited production output. They need Keel to head to Sinasia to act as a local force liaison and intelligence source.
After Senator Van Cammack declares the Sinsasian Cluster’s independence from the Imperial Republic on One Republic News, Goth Sullus meets with his high council to plan the system’s destruction. Washam describes the appointee system, telling how it devolved into a market place where the rich and powerful could buy luxurious civilian posts or risk-free military appointments from political patrons. The Imperial Republic has no allies in Sinasia and there is disagreement over how easily any insurrection there can be put down by Imperial forces. Sullus decrees that the Sinasians may go for now, but if they don’t rejoin by the time the Empire repairs itself, they will be destroyed. Delegate Orrin Karr suggests giving the Zhee free reign to colonize the Sinasian Cluster. The Empire can intervene on a political pretense, to defend them from the Zhee. Sullus agrees.
On Taijing, Keel and Leenah contact Legion Major Giles Endiffron, a legion point who manages the local garrison and is eager to buy his way off world to avoid unpleasantness. Together they pump Endiffron for information about the legionnaires under his command who are loyal to the Imperial Legion as well as those who are plainly disloyal. Endiffron promises Wraith a contract to transport the supposed traitors off world. Leaving the meeting, an off-worlder tail tries to ambush Leenah and is ambushed by Keel. Keel kills the man after realizing he has no useful information.
Back aboard the ship, Leenah expresses disgust with Keel’s tactics but acknowledges their necessity, while she goes off to improve on the repairs the Intrepid’s crew made to the ship. Ravi informs Keel tha their contract has arrived. Keel contacts Chhun and lets him know that they have the names of the Tianjing legion garrison who are loyal to the Empire as well as those who are loyal to the real legion. They also have a copy of the House of Reason-approved forms used by Imperial legion points to secure assistance from non-military operators (smugglers, bounty hunters, etc). Only assassinations are out of bounds, as Nether Ops still specializes in those missions. The contract is worth 5 million credits and Keel is heading out to fulfill the agreement that night.
On En Shakar, Prisma is feeling lonely and out of sorts. Her powers seem to be dormant and while she has found some purpose in caring for the patients in Skyla Forster’s infirmary, she longs to hear songs from her childhood. She has not forgiven Hutch, the Nether Ops legionnaire who worked with Andien Broxin, for abducting her aboard the Indelible VI, even as she cares for his comatose body.
Bear leads KT Victory down to the Tianjing legion garrison and infiltrates the base, thereafter securing the appointed officers in the base mess hall. While that is going on, Keel in his Wraith persona, neutralizes the gate guards at Tianjing legion HQ and introduces himself to Legion Commander David Lawrence, with an offer to help him secure the planet.
Back on Intrepid, Chhun is learning to manage the work load of a general even as he wishes he were still running with KT Victory. A constant inflow of active and retired legionnaires has been helping him and Deynlods to build a proper Legion Navy out of surviving units and ships. To that end he promotes Bear to lieutenant and asks him to fold KT Victory in with KT Warbird. Bear agrees and asks to reactivate Sticks to fill a remaining hole in Victory, to which Chhun agrees. A call from Legion Commander Washam informs Chhun that Nether Ops has been pulled into serving as a secret police force, and that the Zhee are preparing to invade the Sinasia Cluster as a prelude to an Imperial response. Chhun’s best option is to prepare a trap for the Zhee and then move to work with the government on Cononga to support its independence
On En Shakar, Prisma works with Mrs. Renfree, an elderly patient in Skyla Forster’s infirmary. She is a kind lady who Dr. Forster diagnoses with dementia and delirium, but she has some lucid moments. During one of these moments, she tells Prisma about a horrific event that happened to her aboard a Savage warship when she was about Prisma’s age. Prisma has an emotional reaction to the story and finds that her powers work better under duress. Even Hutch seems to have shifted in his sleep.
Mrs. Renfree dies soon after. During her funeral a cargo ship arrives with refugees from Qadib, which is being attacked by the Zhee. Prisma takes advantage of the lull to sneak aboard the ship and contact Leenah on a comm and asks Lenah to sing to her. The song makes Prisma feel less alone. The ship’s crew returns and Prisma overhears the captain offering a crew position to a stranger. The stranger turns out to be Skrizz who has decided to leave. Captain Pereira and Mother Ree are adamant that Prisma remain behind and she storms off the ship. She has a hurried conversation with a spectral figure to find that Skrizz has chosen to stay with her after all.
Cononga is in the grip of a civil war as it has always been loyal to the legion over the Republic; Goth Sullus has sent MCR forces to quell the dissent. Chhun and Deynolds however are invited into the situation by the planet’s governor and the Legion is busy landing on the planet. During KT Victory’s drop, Sticks hits the ground too hard and suffers damage to his bionic legs. They breach into the presidential palace and encounter a team of shock troopers with the same apparent mission of recovering the president. Victory fights past the opposition and gets to the president first. The first floor of the building is still occupied by shock troopers as Bear calls for exfiltration. Task Force Grinder arrives and engages the hostiles.
Aboard the Zhee battlecruiser Bloody Horde, Captain Vampa is advising Zhee crews in their efforts against Sinasian forces. They are approached by the Intrepid and warned off. As they hold their ground the Intrepid engages and destroyed a Zhee battlecruiser, Divine Zephyr. Vampa threatens the Zhee admiral and is then attacked by the crew. Her bodyguards spirit her away in a shuttle (piloted by Kat Haladis) while the Zhee engage the Intrepid. Admiral Deynolds tricks the Zhee into following her through a mine field which destroys the ships Mad Demon’s Kankari, Call of Death, Brass Djinn, Rage and Fury, and Supreme Vengeance. The Zhee fleet is destroyed.
In the city of Kahl on Rawl Kima, X meets with reporter Steadron Pawoe. His plan is to use the desperate and disgraced journalist as a propaganda tool in to restart what he sees as a “cold” galactic conflict. When Pawoe reports the destruction of the Zhee fleet by Sinasian forces, Goth Sullus meets with X who expects to be elevated to Sullus’s high council. Sullus puts X in charge of Imperial Intelligence. X’s first instruction is to send the Imperial Legion to Ankalor to destroy the remaining Zhee for their failure at Sinasia. When Kaar objects, Sullus unleashes the powers of the Crux, killing him and dissolves both the House of Reason and Senate.
Paren Michale is managing his salvage empire on Ochnia when Sullus’s announcement of the new order comes through the news. As he tries to process the news, the Cybar titans re-activate and head toward a ship which takes them off the planet.
Since meeting the spectral stranger in the gardens, Prisma has shown vastly improved confidence and drive as she matures into womanhood. Her powers return with a vengeance and her abilities improve almost daily. While helping out in the infirmary, Hutch wakes up from his coma and, seemingly under Cybar control, attacks Prisma. Skyla keeps Hutch busy while she escapes, but Hutch is too strong and Skyla is killed. Hutch fights his way through a crowd of sanctuary residents as she runs off.
Hutch pursues Prisma deep into the ice caves, where she hides, biding her time. When Hutch finds her, the spectral figure demands that she choose whether she will live or die. She chooses to live. As she makes her choice, she extends her powers, nearly stopping time and freezes Hutch in place. The figure shows her what Hutch would have done had the Forresaw completed its mission: killed her and the crew of the Indelible VI as the Cybar fleet destroyed Utopion. She chooses to kill Hutch and his body falls into icy water taking her with it.
Wash and Chhun examine their options in the aftermath of the Republic’s dissolution. Wash’s imperial legion is not up to the task of maintaining order, and wiping out the Zhee world of Nidreem with nukes is next on the Empire’s plan. Wash plans to take the weapon stocks on Ankalor and deliver them to Chhun after taking the planet back.
Having rescued Prisma, Crash shows her an ancient ship he’s discovered in the ice caverns. Though old, the ship is operational and Prisma and Crash take it to travel to the planet Morghul, in order for her to learn how to destroy Goth Sullus from her spectral friend. The trip will take five years with Prisma in stasis and Crash piloting the craft.
Keel and crew meet up with the Intrepid in the Ponterran system. When they learn of the dissolution of the Republic government and Sullus’s plans to use the Cybar titans to execute all House of Reason delegates, they realize that without a House to purge, there is no Article 19 to enforce. Keel for one has had enough of the legion and the politics, but Chhun has a favor to ask: pick up a MARO the Legion purchased on Ponterra. Keel agrees as long as Leenah can head back to En Shakar aboard a shuttle.
Keel heads to Ponterra for the pickup and Ravi suggests he visit Doc, a former Dark Ops contact. They arrive to find trench coated thugs trying to break into the old man’s apartment. Keel blasts the attackers and escorts Doc back to the now-loaded ship. Despite the police’s intercession, Keel bluffs his way skyward and they head off world to deliver the weapon as Chhun decides on using the legionnaire resistance forces on Utopion to attack Sullus directly.
Meanwhile, X has been busy rebuilding his own spy network using trustworthy Nether Ops agents from the Carnivale. His intention is to support Goth Sullus as a benevolent dictator. As he gets the word that the reporter Steadron was killed by Nether Ops Team 5 which was under X’s orders, he spots Washam emerging from a legion bar. Knowing the distaste legionnaires have for points he decides that Washam needs to be watched.
Goth Sullus inspects the last two thousand Cybar titans and expects they will not be enough to conquer the rest of the galaxy. The entities in the ring note the death of the Zhee homeworld Nidreen and show him other forces at work as they solidify their hold on him, and he on them.
Chhun and Victory team take a civilian transport to Utopion to contact the resistance leaders. Their contact runs a combat sled blockade and splits up the team to avoid capture. Exo is captured by Nether Ops and interrogated.
News that the core world Spilursa has declared independence from the Empire spreads, along with news of riots on Utopion.
Goth Sullus, desperate to retain hold on his fragmenting empire, orders Admiral Crodus to annihilate the nine words that have announced their independence. Deep down he (as Casper) realizes this will unite the galaxy against him but he is determined to see his task through to the end.
The Indelible VI’s crew arrives on a pastoral world to hide the MARO and Keel and Doc get to talking. Doc’s opinion is that Wraith needs to be on Utopion when the push to kill Goth Sullus comes down, to finish the job that Rechs isn’t there to do.
Exo insists (under duress) on talking to Ordo (confusing X a bit) and Nether Ops abducts Washam from his Utopion office.
Leenah arrives on En Shakar too late to meet Prisma, and everyone at the sanctuary believes her to be dead at Hutch’s hands. Skrizz isn’t so sure, and hearing that Crash was with her gives Leenah hope they might still locate the girl. Keel reports that he’s heading to Utopion to deal with Goth Sullus while Ravi reports that the spectral figure that Prisma has been speaking to is the same force that turned Goth Sullus into a monster. Leenah and Skrizz get back in their shuttle and head to Utopion.
On Utopion, Chuun, Victory Squad, and a host of veteran legionnaires are preparing to make their move. Wash, under duress from X, contacts Chhun and gives the call sign for an emergency. Chhun understands the situation and plays along as Wash orders a 24 hour delay in the strike. When the call ends, X kills Wash then orders a clean-up crew to go over his apartment and engage all the legion forces they’ve identified.
The Nether Ops teams go in…and report massive losses against their targets. X orders all hands on deck and realizes too late that he’s out of hands. Goth Sullus demands that Adm. Crodus bring the Black Fleet to Utopion; he refuses, saying the fleet is not Sullus’s personal property. Crodus has in fact ceded command of the fleet to Admiral Deynolds. Casper makes a last attempt to make himself felt and throw away the ring but Goth Sullus is more powerful and retains it. The ring-bound entities return the Crux’s power to Sullus, who reaches out and kills Crodus from half way across the galaxy.
Chhun’s legion moves through Utopion’s Capitol District, heading to the Imperial Palace. They are especially concerned about attacks from Cybar warbots and cyborgs, but remain on mission. The fact that Utopion never installed a properly staffed or equipped military presence helps immensely as does the spotty response from Black Fleet shock troops. Goth Sullus find himself alone in the palace, his officers and staff having abandoned him in the face of overwhelming defeat. Even his otherworldly allies now threaten to leave. He heads down to the motor pool for one last stand. The legion Lt. Col OIC at the pool defies Sullus and is killed; his troops respond by attacking their emperor. Sullus destroys squads until the resistance peters out. He deploys the Cybar machines and the remaining combat vehicles from the motor pool.
Chhun spots the Cybar and responds by sending out snipers armed with N-18 rifles equipped with depleted uranium rounds. Squads armed with N-50 automatic blasters hold their lines against the onslaught. Between the specialized rounds and rotation of battlefield tactics, the legion troops wear the Cybar down.
Indelible VI arrives (having left Doc to watch the bolt hole) to see Chhun’s legion fully engaged and Goth Sullus on the battlefield, but an MCR blockade (a destroyer and a number of small ships) bars access to the planet. Keel dumps the MARO onto the destroyer, blowing it up, then heads to the surface and Goth Sullus.
X finally realizes the situation has spiraled out of his control and heads to the palace’s remaining corvettes for escape, just as the Legion Expeditionary Fleet arrives, causing the few remaining MCR ships to surrender instantly. X contacts Chhun using Exo as a hook to form an alliance. Chhun and Exo play along until Exo is released…and then kills X with the butt of a Nether Ops rifle.
Goth Sullus rides a main battle tank into the fray, smashing legionnaires with his powers and shots from its main gun. But the Legion advances just the same. The ring-entities offer him a chance to save everything by destroying everything…and he takes it.
Above the battlefield, Ravi alerts Keel that The End of Everything is near and the time to act is now or never. The ring-entities are the very ones that Ravi’s people—The Ancients—fled the galaxy to avoid. Keel hands the ship over to Garret and the IndelibleIV’s cheerful AI and jumps out of the ship, diving right for Sullus.
Exo climbs out of the Nether Ops dungeon beneath the palace, takes an aero-precision missile launcher and knocks out the tank that Sullus is standing on, which interrupts Sullus’s attempt to kill Masters. But Sullus is able to kill Exo, snapping his spine on the spot. Sullus releases the spectral entities from the ring and they settle across the battlefield, animating the corpses to attack the remaining legionnaires. Sulllus retreats to the imperial palace. Wraith lands near Exo’s body and heads after Sullus.
Masters manages to carry Bear to Leenah’s legion shuttle; they begin to load up wounded.
Sullus retreats to the palace courtyard, and opens a portal to the realm of spectral entities. More come into the world through the new gate. As he gathers his efforts to let them all in, Casper asserts his personality and fights for control, shrinking the gate but not closing it. The distraction is enough to let Wraith approach Sullus from behind and shoot him.
The gate closes.
The Empire is done.
The war is over.
The only reason I have included such a humongous synopsis is because it is easier to cut and paste it in its entirety from the Fandom page than to try to write up my own. If all my creative energies go toward writing the synopsis, that just doesn’t seem fair to the My Thoughts section. Especially considering how deep, indepth, detailed and generally totally kick ass this section tends to be. Besides, if I don’t do a good enough job, Future Me is going to look back and sneer and call me a lazy git. So you all have to suffer a 6 page synopsis (that is what it came out to in the OpenOffice doc I use to copy/paste).
This was a good ending to what is called Season One. The Republic is irreparably broken, Goth Sullus is destroyed, bigger threats are hinted at and Prisma goes off with what appears to be a real bad guy. Most of the storylines are wrapped up with just enough left open to give you a hint of what is to come. I like that.
I really liked just how much of a puppet Sullus turns out to be. Instead of being a strong man standing for his convictions, he’s shown as someone who time and again has done what is expedient and betrayed anyone who thought differently from him. It’s good to see him get his just desserts.
Prisma, the little girl with special powers, is starting to worry me. Her behavior is very similar to Anakin’s in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. That hasty, impatient, not listening to anyone else, do what they want attitude. While Redemption stories are right up my alley, I’d rather see a character fight against and resist the Fall. I guess we’ll see if Season 2 is about Prisma or not.
Overall, I couldn’t have been happier with this series. Besides the little hiccup between the first book and second (where the style drastically changes from an almost straight up MilSF to Space Opera), I have not had a bad read. While the first book of Season 2 is out, I think I’m going to wait until the whole thing is out before diving back in. Thankfully, there are several other series I can check out while waiting. Anspach and Cole have farmed out various sub-series and I plan on reading those. I will have to see if they keep creative and quality control or if they just rubberstamp it with their name. Michael Anderle did the rubberstamp option and made me pretty much abandon anything by him. I hope Anspach and Cole do a better job.
For the records, I have the Savage Wars (3 books), Tyrus Rechs (3 books), the Order of the Centurion (5 books) and the Dark Operator (5 books) to get through. I suspect that will be more than enough to let Anspach and Cole bust out Season 2 of Galaxy’s Edge!