5 Small Stars
Dark Paths

The Earth’s only starship, the Leviathan, has just returned home from a very successful mission. They are anxious to get back out and meet with General Atalis who is now consolidating his forces and situation on the cathedral planet. They have a short meeting with Colonel Jack’s who tells them a little bit about a terrorist group known as Icarus Rising led by a man going by the name of Phoenix. So far, this group hand only taken over a telecommunication station, which he used to broadcast his message in hopes of gathering more recruits to his cause. This group was opposed to the exploration of space and therefore against the Agency and all it stood for. They believed the Agency had brought the terrible destruction by the Collector ship upon Earth through its space program. They wanted Earth to quit all space exploration and go back to hiding from the galactic community.

Now this is where the book diverges from previous books. Usually, the author, John Walker, will only write about the mission assigned to the leviathan and that’s about all. What happens on Earth while the ship is gone isn’t usually of interest and it makes the storyline pretty easy to follow. But, now we have a second thread beginning and that’s with this terrorist activity. Of course, this is a problem of Colonel Jacks since he’s in charge of the Agency. So, I think we’ll now be following two separate stories, but I don’t know how involved we’ll get to the Icarus Rising part. Of course, if they try and attack the Leviathan directly, then that would merge the two story lines, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Anyway, the Leviathan is sent back out to meet with General Atalis and discuss who he might consider as additional allies. They desperately need some planet that has a military and would be willing to commit those assets to the cause. Right now that cause is to protect Earth from future attacks as well as put Avania on the Empirical thrown. She is recognized by General Atalis as the rightful sovereign and should be Queen. That’s the way he’s going to treat her and that will be used in negotiations with other governments they might contact.

The General sends the Leviathan off to meet with the Gellans. This is a race of people who are pretty much introverted in that they have colonized several system planets, but have no desire to go beyond that. They do have FTL or worm drive technology, but do not want to use it. Still, they are part of the Empire and that means they are subject to the Collection ships. These dreadful ships visit planets periodically and capture people for processing to extract their “essence”. That was the same thing the Collector ship over Earth attempted to do and succeeded until Captain Miller and his band of abductees intervened.

The Leviathan do make contact with the Gellans and are initially welcomed. While the Gellans are somewhat suspect of the protection this alliance will provide them, they agree to assist Queen in Exile Avania in her efforts to overthrow her cousin.

Just as the Leviathan is about to leave and return to General Atalis, a Collector ship appears in Gellan space. It is not expected since a previous Collector ship had been to the planet and taken what it wanted not very long ago. Captain Miller is not about to let this ship do its terrible job this time. He will engage and destroy the Collector ship at all costs with some assistance of the Gellan military. There is no guarantee that the upgrades to the Leviathan will allow victory, but it’s time they found out just how powerful the Leviathan can be and prove to the Gellans that they now have a formidable ally. So the battle begins.

A very good story even if it does have a side thread now with the introduction of the terrorist group. We do get to know a little more about it and Colonel Jacks has even assigned one of his computer experts to begin tracking down everything they can about this person Phoenix and stops their efforts before they get started.