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Title: Galactic Outlaws
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #2
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF / Space Opera
The Battle of Kublar rages while Victory Company is extracted by the Mercutio.
7 years later…
Prisma Maydoon and her warbot/droid servant, KRS-88 (Crash) arrive on Ackabar aboard the Viridian Cyclops, a freighter piloted by Captain Hogus and his Wobanki co-pilot, Skrizz. Ackabar is in the midst of a Republic police action, but despite the obvious danger Prisma is focused on finding a bounty hunter. During the fighting, Crash helps Prisma locate Tyrus Rechs, an ill-reputed bounty hunter in the port city. Conflating reputation with competence, Prisma and Crash head through the battle find Tyrus Rechs. Rechs for his part is in the field hunting a pirate known as Junga Doobantu and wondering about the choices he’s made in life.
Meanwhile Aeson Keel, captain of the Indelible VI and his holographic co-pilot Ravi land on Bantam Prime. Keel intends to pose as the bounty hunter Wraith to deliver a number of Mid-Core Rebel prisoners to the local republic legion company. However, Keel isn’t entirely forthcoming with the legionnaires: he is smuggling princess Leenah of Endura and her escort, General Lem Parrish in the ship’s secure hold, both of whom are deeply involved in the Mid-Core Rebellion against the Republic. Keel heads away from the ship to contact the local legion and poses as Wraith to find the legionnaires only to kill them when things go badly. The legion responds by sending reinforcements (including a tank) after the Indelible VI.
After a brief firefight, Keel manages a parley with legionnaire Lt. Lynne Pratell. He convinces her through clever misdirection to pay him (as Wraith) for the prisoners who he actually releases (as Keel) and avoid retribution for killing her legionnaires. Too late, one of the dying legionnaires informs her about the double cross and she vows to destroy Keel, one way or another. A flight of Preyhunter fighters pursue the freighter as it tries to achieve orbit, and the freighter escapes with some damage.
Keel allows Leenah and Parrish the run of the ship while in hyperspace. It turns out that Leenah is a skilled ship’s mechanic and she repairs the Indelible VI’s damaged shields. Arriving at Pellek, Keel contacts local pirate king Lao Pak, but not before he kills several of Pak’s men. Keel is surprised to learn that there’s no bounty or ransom for Leenah, as everyone on Endura has the title of Prince or Princess due to a local custom. He’s less surprised to learn that the Republic has a bounty on his head, courtesy of Lt. Pratell, for his actions on Bantam Prime. Pak tells him about the real prize these days, a 250 million credit bounty on a warlord known as Goth Sullus, for killing the Maydoon family. Keel keeps Leenah on board and abandons Parrish with Lao Pak, who tells him where to find his pet hacker, Garret Glover.
Still on Ackabar, Prisma and Crash locate Rechs just as another firefight breaks out between him and Junga’s crew Rechs grabs the girl and escapes on his ship the Obsidian Crow, with Crash (and Skrizz) following.
On Pellek, Keel heads to Tannespa spaceport and convinces Garret to come along on his new mission. As they talk, Garret recounts a job reprogramming a warbot for the wealthy and well-connected Maydoon family. Keel does the math and puts Garret up to talking to his contact at Trident Corp., the company which sponsored Maydoon’s reprogramming work, in hopes of planning a next move, or lining up a new job. At the Trident offices they meet Aldo Kimer (and his bodyguard/receptionist, Sentrella) who claims he knows nothing and shoos them away. A short time later, Keel, posing as Wraith, forces, Kimer to admit that he did reprogram the warbot for Maydoon’s child and that the warbot can be tracked, and that he subsequently told Goth Sullus everything to save his life. Keel gets Garret to track Crash across the galaxy, as Leenah completes repairs Keel’s ship.
Rechs, with Skrizz, Prisma and Crash in tow, jump into hyperspace to escape a fighter attack. During the lull, Prisma tells him about to her vow to seek revenge against Goth Sullus, the warlord who recently had her father, Kael Maydoon killed on the planet Wayste. She tells him about the Maydoon family’s last days on Wayste, after Kael Maydoon took the post of sector defense minister and how Sullus’s black armored mercenaries destroyed an entire settlement to make sure he died. Rechs, convinced that the girl’s intentions will literally ruin her life, decides on another path for her. Rechs decides his next destination is En Shakar.
En Shakar is an ice world, the home of Mother Ree, who Rechs (aka General Rex of the Republic Legion) rescued from the hands of the Cybar and the Republic’s political machine many years ago. It’s Rechs’s intention to leave Prisma with Ree and her monastic disciples but the girl refuses to be left behind. Rechs tries to describe the soul-killing evil of hunting people for profit but she will not be dissuaded from the path she’s chosen. Rechs accepts that hunting Goth Sullus will cement a relationship between them and rid the galaxy of a true evil. The bounty on Sullus is real enough and Rechs figures he might as well go big as he heads toward the end of his career (and probably his life). In their parting moments on the planet, Mother Ree tells Rechs that the mercenaries who work with Goth Sullus are from the Brotherhood of Vengeance and he can find them on Telos, the site of a huge campaign toward the end of the Savage Wars.
Heading to Telos, Rechs picks up more resistance from pirates and shows Prisma how to use the gun turrets in the Obsidian Crow to shoot them down. From that point on, he takes her under his wing, teaching her what he knows about tactics, equipment, and fighting.
Keel arrives on En Shakar after Rechs has gone, and Mother Ree tell him where Rechs is headed, but also that Keel will eventually have to choose whether to follow Wraith’s path or Aeson Keel’s. Finally she tell him that the Maydoon girl is to be found on Tusca.
At Telos, Rechs contacts the Brotherhood and uses a combination of psychology and extreme violence to convince several of the mercs to tell him all they know about Goth Sullus and the troops who accompany him. All Sullus’s shock troopers are former legionnaires, expert soldiers who kill without remorse. It’s a mobile operation, but their last known base was on Andalore, the site of another great battle that Rechs fought.
At Andalore, a Republic sector capitol, Rechs finds that they’ve jumped into a tense battle between Republic legionnaires and Brotherhood mercenaries. Rechs, Skrizz, Crash, and Prisma fight their way into the guarded compound to find Wraith, Leenah, Garret, and Ravi heading them off. Rechs orders Crash to shoot, but Garret’s remote programming prevents Crash from carrying out the order and temporarily scatters the pursuing legionnaires.
Wraith/Keel and Rechs put their cards on the table and exchange information. A Republic Admiral, Silas Devers, is on his way to meet Sullus. Wraith wants to kill Devers and Rechs has agreed to kill Sullus, so an alliance of sorts is called for. As the discussion closes, Rechs declares that both teams now work for him.
As fighting between the Brotherhood and the legionnaires resumes, Rechs sees a black-robed and hooded figure escaping with a data core, a device that houses the memory for the sector defense computers but can’t figure out why a thug like Sullus would want it. Rechs concludes that Sullus is a much bigger player than he thought, and gets the idea that he knows who Sullus is. Sullus escapes in his ship, Siren of Titan, and Rechs is left wondering how he’s going to fight off the legion troops.
Keel meanwhile is leading his new and expanded crew back toward the Indelible VI, and tricks a legion patrol into thinking Wraith is taking away prisoners. The ruse is discovered however and the legionnaires open fire, forcing Keel’s crew to fight through the ruined compound to escape. Prisma responds badly to the new surroundings and people on the ship, but Rechs and Keel work together to bracket the Siren of Titan as Rechs pays Keel the bounty for Sullus.
On Tusca, Keel sets a trap for Devers, intending to snipe at him from cover while Siren of Titan is docked at the spaceport, and confirms the presence of the ship but not Sullus himself. More legionnaires arrive and a firefight ensues. Rechs learns from a Brotherhood merc that Sullus has already left while a heavy mech begins a counter-attack. Rechs tells Keel to take Prisma and leave the system as Devers arrives. Keel agrees after ground fire chases Devers’s shuttle off.
Aboard his ship, Keel prepares for his assassination of Admiral Devers, donning his old legion gear as he leaves the ship and takes Twenties’ old N-18 sniper rifle with him. But as he prepares to make the shot, he is discovered by legion patrols, who attempt to capture Prisma. Ravi defends her but “dies” after absorbing multiple blaster hits.
Rechs, sensing the problem, draws the legionnaires and mercenaries to his position, calls the Obsidian Crow to him, and activates a distortion bubble in his armor as his ship detonates a Romula nuclear mine. Keel gives up his dream of revenge and escapes with his crew as Rechs, barely alive, confronts Goth Sullus. He learns that Sullus is after the War-Mind, a swarm of automated war drones, the key to which is stored in Prisma’s DNA, triggered by the data globe he took. Sullus reveals that he’s not out to fix the Republic, just to destroy it.
Sullus finally meets Devers and several other Republic admirals and tell them they may begin their attack.
For the record, that synopsis is over 1600 words long. Somebody is a real fan of the series to have taken the time to think that out and type it up. Thank goodness that my power as Dr. Lord Bookstooge allows me to copy/paste effortlessly now that No-Internet has been banished.
When I started reading this I have to admit I was taken off guard, as this was not the MilSF I had gotten in the first book. The tone was different, the characters were all new to me (at first) and it wasn’t about the Legions doing Legion’y things. This was about outlaws and bounty hunters and a princess and a rebellion and a little girl looking for revenge and killer robots, etc, etc.
Then it clicked with me. The first book was pure setup, the prequel book as it were. This book was what the series is meant to be like. It was meant for fans of Star Wars just like me, who had been burned and turned their back on the franchise for a variety of reasons.
Everywhere I turned was another reminder of Star Wars. The thing is, it didn’t turn me off. It was executed in such a way that it made me happy. It was what I expected from Star Wars. There is even a mysterious, robed figure with the name Goth Sullus.
I loved this story. The only downside for me was near the end, when a LOT was going on, that it felt very disjointed. I’d think I was going to read about Characters X,Y & Z in a spaceship and then when we’d switch over to their viewpoint they’d be on the ground and I was wondering how it happened.
The first book hooked me with the promise of generic MilSF, but this book has gotten its claws in me. While I’m pretty bitter about Star Wars, I feel like this can fill that void, or at least soften that hardness inside. You can’t ask for more than that for any franchise.