On our way to Shangri La or the planet that promised to hold untold advance technology that should help us finally defeat the Regent. As you know by now, the Regent is the actual enemy. It is the super intelligence behind all the mindless robotic attacks against the humans. It’s sense of self preservation has some how over ridden it fundamental program which was to server the Old Ones of this ancient race. It and it alone, decided that the Old Ones were a threat to its existence so it methodically began to exterminate these ancient humans. The weapon it used has worked before to wipe out hundreds of thousands of humans without a shot being fired. And now it was going to turn that weapon lose upon the humans of this new fleet.
Dr. Cutter has found references to other human civilization that the Old Ones seeded just as they had Earth. Admiral Compton, strongly urged by his scientist. agrees to send out an exploratory vessel to find this other civilization and see if they can become an ally in their fight against the First Imperium. That single ship sets out on a voyage alone knowing that the fleet will forge on without them to Shangri La. If they can return, they will meet back up with the fleet there, but first they have to find this other human planet. I wonder what they will find there, and more importantly, what will they bring back. Could it be something useful or could it destroy the rest of humanity?
While this is going on, the fleet is still fighting sporadic attacks by the First Imperium. These attacks are not large, but just enough to wear down the fleet. It is slowly using more and more ships and crew. The surviving crews are becoming battle weary and barely able to continue at their stations. Something must be done to bring some rest to the fleet and Admiral Compton has a plan that could do just that.
He decides to split the fleet into two groups. One will head for Shangri La while the other will fight a delaying action leading the First Imperium on a different path. It’s hoped that this rearguard can pull the First Imperium away from the main fleet so they can continue on in relative peace for awhile until they reach Shangri La. HIs plan works for the most part. Surprisingly, the main fleet does reach Shangri La and then Doctor Cutter has is work cut out for him. He, some how, has the knowledge to operate the vast underground laboratory which will make Shangri La very useful to the fleet at least for a while. But, the equipment is very, very old. Some has decayed beyond usefulness and is inoperative, but there still may be just enough.
But, nothing appears to be immediately available to defeat the Regent. Except for the last logs of the ancient Old Ones who had a plan, but it was never executed. Their time ran out. So, can this plan be revived and put to use. If so, its chance of success is extremely low, but it might be the only chance the human race has to survive.
Also, surprisingly, Admiral Compton decides to lead the rearguard group against the strong objections of his fleet Admirals. He is tired of sending his crews to their death without truly risking himself in these numerous battles. He feels it is now time for him to commit something other than order his people to their death. So, he and the AS Midway are now caught in the midst of numerous running battles with First Imperium starships of which Admiral Compton can only hope to defeat. Soon, everyone in the main fleet believe that Admiral Compton has died, but his successor, Admiral Erika West carries on. She isn’t Admiral Compton, that’s for sure. She commands by fear for the most part which doesn’t make her well like by the fleet. Still, the job is hers and she will do it to the best of her ability or die trying and so will her fleet!
I was surprised by the ending of this book. It’s almost like the series could end here, but the epilogue indicates that isn’t happening. Still, there is a significant action at the end of the book that makes it hard for me to see this series continuing. But apparently it will because book 4, “Winds of Vengence” is already published. I’ve got that book, but I think I’m going to read something else for awhile. There just doesn’t seem a compelling reason to continue on with this series given how book 3 ended. Of course, you might think otherwise.