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Title: Kill Team
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #3
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. On the destroyer’s hangar deck the remains of Doomsday Squad spy an assault shuttle preparing to attack the Ohio-class ship bombarding the planet. Chhun, Exo, Wraith, and Specialist Kags convince the shuttle crew to let them join the assault. The marines agree, and the Ohio-class ship is boarded and captured by the legionnaires and Republic marines. The boarding parties recover snippets of data regarding who planned and executed the MCR attack.
Two months earlier, X, leader of the Nether Ops office known as the Carnivale, is preparing a new assignment known as Operation Ghost Hunter. X explains the mission to an operative code-named Tom Delo. Tom’s mission is to infiltrate the illegal arms market on Ankalor and follow the chain of contacts to the supplier who is providing the Mid Core Rebellion with their weapons.
Tom discovers the man behind the supply is known as Scarpia and begins to track him. His first contact is a local enforcer known as Frogg, who leads him to a talkative reported named Steadron. On the way to the Night Market, they are attacked by Zhee, humanoid aliens with a long history of religious zealotry. At the Night Market, Tom learns that the bombs that destroyed the Chaism and Camp Forge were MAROs, portable anti-matter bombs, and finds the republic officer going by the street name Abo can sell him two for three million credits each. On the way to the delivery site, Tom learns more about Frogg, who was once a legionnaire who was so uncontrollably violent that he was dishonorably discharged from the legion.
Frogg takes Tom to meet Scarpia, who gives Tom a mission: plant one of the acquired MAROs on the Chiasm and the other at Camp Forge. Tom goes through with the mission in order to secure his place in Scarpia’s inner circle, but increasingly chafes against his orders from X. Still, orders are orders, and Tom continues in his undercover role.
Lt. Chhun and Captain Ford get their first bit of down-time on the Mercutio and are introduced to Legion Commander Keller, who confirms the permanence of their new ranks and introduces to Captain Ellek Owens. Owens works for Dark Ops, a clandestine office that specializes in assassinations and spycraft. Owens is creating a Kill Team to go after the MCR rebels who destroyed the Chiasm and invites Chhun and Wraith to be part of it. Both accept.
Their first mission is on Kublar, along with Andien Broxin who they now learn works for Nether Ops. Andien retrieves a data cell from the Chiasm that reveals that the ship was destroyed with a MARO, difficult to get except through the illegal arms market.
Back aboard the Merutio, Owens, Chhun, and Wraith start picking troops for their squad, including Kags, Twenties, Masters, and Exo. Getting ahold of Exo is difficult as Capt. Devers has ordered Exo to be court-martialed for assaulting him on Kublar. Owens visits Devers in sick bay and violently convinces him to release Exo from the proceedings which Devers does.
Tom takes the freighter Hoplyte to meet Scarpia at Smuggler’s End, his private estate on Pthalo, with Illuria, his concubine, and attendant friends and staff. Over the next days, Scarpia alludes to a much bigger plan, one to sell the leaders of the MCR the equipment they need to launch a major attack against the Republic, while Tom and Illuria spend time together and grow closer.
Owens’ kill team travels to Utopion and locate Exo, who agrees to join the team. Their trail leads them to the various links in Tom Delo’s chain of contacts who are intercepted and interrogated one by one.
Back on Pthalo, Scarpia finally tells Tom the big plan: loading up a stolen republic corvette with crustbuster bombs and crashing it into the House of Reason on Utopion. Tom is taken aback by the magnitude of the plan but stays with his cover, agreeing to be part of it. A preliminary mission is to kill the officer who sold the MAROs to Tom back on Ankalor. Tom and Frogg take the Hoplyte to Ootani Station and succeed in killing Abo, but Frog loses control and kills three legionnaires as well. Tom arranges an escape for them aboard a life pod.
On Ankalor, Owen’s kill team is sent to interrogate the Zhee militia leader who knows the whole story of the MCR attack on Kublar and the weapons deals leading from and up to it. Missing the Zhee, they do locate Steadron who tells them the Zhee’s name: Jarref Varuud. Andien contacts Varuud who reveals Scarpia’s place in the sales and Owens declares that bringing in Scarpia is now the kill team’s primary objective.
Tom tries to figure out how to deal with the new situation; he can’t let the House of reason be destroyed as it would mean the destruction of the republic, but he can’t blow his cover, either. His relationship with Illuria deepens and she tells him the rendezvous point for the corvette-bomb: Makchuria, and also agrees to send a coded message to X via RepubNet when she heads off world on a shopping trip the next day.
Now that the location and nature of the attack is known, Owens’ team begins to train for it aboard the Intrepid, Owens’ base destroyer. They fail repeatedly using standard legionnaire doctrine and agree they need to change their tactics to board the corvette in time to avert the attack.
The day of the rendezvous, legion super-destroyers gather at Makchuria but no corvette is in sight. Tom learns from Scarpia that he merely told the MCR leaders he was on board with their plan but has actually sold the corvette to the Zhee who have a different plan in mind, a suicide mission. The corvette is actually going to Ankalor to board a battalion of Zhee fanatics and then head to Utopion. The Intrepid detects the corvette jump in above Ankalor, and changes course to pursue without the support fleet at Makchuria.
Over Utopion, Owens’ kill team boards the MCR corvette while Tom Delo takes over the bridge, and together they kill the zhee rebels and avert the attack.
Back at the Carnivale, X closes the book on Operation Ghost Hunter and Tom returns to his wife, and his daughter, Prisma.
Good stuff! Star Wars lives again.
I am getting really strong Karen Traviss and the Republic Commando vibes here. Except it is all good, not mixed with hatred like Traviss had for Star Wars. These Legionnaires are what the 501st should have been like instead of thugs for Vader. It is GOOD to see some heroism.
That being said, I can afford to have some complaints. First, I still mix characters up. Between first names, last names, code names and nick names, half the time I am not keeping track of who is who. Kind of annoying. Second, and bigger for me, is how the authors have chosen to skip around in time. In this book we return to the aftermath of the first book AND a timeline leading up to the first book AND a timeline leading up to the second book. I can understand why the authors wrote it this way (it keeps things moving and keeps the readers interested and doesn’t get caught up in sloggy moments) but I really like moving from Point A to Point B to Point C in a straight line. None of this connect the dots for me, thank you very much.
I wasn’t excited while I was reading but I was completely satisfied by the end. To put this in food terms (here’s a shoutout to Lashaan who always ribs me (ha!) for these food analogies), this was like a serving of Cheesecake Factory Loaded Baked Potato Tots.
Those suckers are good! I always get them when we go to the Cheesecake Factory for our anniversary and to be honest, I’ve thought about ordering 2 or 3 servings and making that my main dish. Dipped in the sriracha sauce, mmmhmmmm! It’s not like the cheesecake, but it is warm, satisfying and filling.
I continue to be happy with these books and how the authors are handling everything (even if I don’t like how the timeline is handled). There are 9 books in this series, several spin off series and a standalone novel or two. Thank goodness it is all listed over at the Fandom page! As long as the quality stays up to par, I should have plenty more adventures in this Dumpster Fire of a Galaxy Far, Far Away!