Rating:

5 Small Stars
Flag Ship

I’ve really read a bunch of great military science fiction books lately. This one is from a, new to me, author. I think I’ll be reading a lot more his books. “Flag Ship” starts off a little different in that the Captain Jonathan Dallas of the United Systems Ship (USS) Callaway is contemplating mutiny! Yeah, he’s part of a task force headed by his former friend and now Admiral Hartford Knox. They are on a mission which up until recently was highly classified and very dangerous to not only this fleet, but to humanity. Admiral Knox’s orders told him to send a planet-killer bomb through a warp gate into the sun that supported a Sino-Korean system. That explosion would definitely kill that sun and most likely about 5 billion Sino-Koreans.

There would definitely be a galactic war as a results of that attack. Even though the Sino-Korean Navy would have been severely reduced in strength, they would have a gigantic reason to fight back against the United Systems. Whether they would use planet-killers is probably a certainty. Humanity might not survive this terrible war. Captain Dallas wasn’t all that certain that the bomb needed to be used. He was certain, that is, until this recent event in which he is involved. He has a small part of the task force that has been checking out a couple of moons orbiting one of the gas giants in this system. One of his ships has failed to report in and he’s going to go look for it. Several recon drones have been launched and none have came back from the back side of this moon.

When he finally gets his ship around to the back side, he spots some wreckage and then a swarm of unknown alien spacecraft begin what appears to be an attack run on his small fleet. One of his ships is suddenly sliced length-wised completely in to. So he has a fight on his hands while he attempts to sling-shot the USS Callaway and the rest of his ships around the gas giant and back towards the main fleet. He looses several of his escorts but manages to close with the main part of the fleet heading towards the launch gate where they are to release the planet-killer. In the meantime, Captain Dallas has brought his XO/First Officer, Commander Robert Cray, into his confidences about his planned mutiny. Captain Dallas now feels more than ever that it will be the absolute wrong thing to kill billions of humans now that they have positively identified and hostile alien threat in this system. There is a slipstream gate leading directly back to Primus-3 which then leads back to the Sol System. If they fail to protect this gate or fail to protect the gate in the Primus-3 system, Earth and the Solar System could be completely destroyed. He doesn’t believe that it’s in the best interest of the United Systems or humanity to be fighting an internal war while also trying to fight an unknown alien. Therefore, he’s trying to convince other Captains within the fleet that Admiral Knox’s mission is wrong and they should not follow the Admiral. He plans to bring up a vote of No-Confidence at the next Captain’s meeting which would then remove the Admiral from command. He’s now got the backing of his XO, who also doesn’t want to destroy 5 billion humans just on that principle alone.

When they report back to the fleet their encounter with the aliens, the Admiral doesn’t believe their story! Even with some captured material from one of the enemy’s fighter craft, the Admiral believes it’s the Sino-Koreans who have gotten wind of his mission and are trying to stop them. Even with video evidence that the ships just encountered by the USS Callaway are alien enemies! So, Captain Dallas asks for a vote of No-Confidence which fails miserably! The Admiral found out about Captain Dallas’ plans through the USS Callaway’s AI, Maxwell. He then arrest Captain Dallas and has him placed in the brig. His XO is left in position since they have no positive proof that he was not just following orders, but the Admiral doesn’t trust him enough to put him in command.

The a day out from the launch point for the planet-killer, the aliens do attack the fleet in force. They have very powerful weapons especially when close in and decimate the fleet pretty quickly. They also detonate the planet-killer ship which effectively ends that mission although the mission ended when the Admiral’s flag ship was destroyed with all hands aboard. The senior most Captain in the smaller fleet is now Captain Jonathan Dallas. The USS Callaway becomes the Flag Ship and the story really begins!

A lot going on, that’s for sure. I like the writing. It’s pretty direct and to the point. There’s also not a lot of external stuff going on although the space battles take a little thinking to get an idea of what’s going on. There are civilians aboard the USS Callaway, mostly scientist and maintenance types, plus some of the crews family is aboard to make the extremely long voyages more tolerable. What I don’t understand is how the United Systems organization think that killing 5 billion humans would remotely be OK with anybody! They’re not even at war with the Sino-Koreans! That kind of scenario would be cause for any starship Captain to question why he was involved in such a heinous crime when they weren’t even at war. We’re supposed to be the good guys right?

Ok, so on to book two, which I’m happy to say is readily available. I’m already well into “Test of Mettle (A Captain’s Crucible – Book Two)” and enjoying it just as much. I’ve also found the “Atlas” series which involves a MOTH (read the book) and how he came to be or the start of something new.