It's the war story he's dreamed of. But the battle may cost him his mind.
Military journalist Raymin Dahl thinks he's finally getting the story of a lifetime. Secret peace talks on a remote tropical moon are about to surrender five colonized worlds—and six hundred million civilians—to a ruthless enemy.
But when his commanding officer, Captain Ansell Sterling, is fatally wounded before the negotiations can begin, Dahl can no longer just report on the mission. He's ordered to complete it. With help from the AI embedded in Sterling's comms bracelet, Dahl must impersonate his commander—a Marine Corps hero and psychological operations expert.
However, Sterling's AI may be luring him to surrender more than he realizes. And the mission Corporal Dahl thinks he's running isn't the only operation underway.
Inverting the perspective of most military science fiction, Schwabauer (the Legends of Tira-Nor series) puts the soldiers behind the journalist in this topsy-turvy novel of far-future psychological operations. Raymin Dahl, son of a decorated Fleet commander, rejects his father's career, enlisting instead as a feature writer for the official United Colonies news media. Respected by the front-line colonials, Raymin is ordered to join Capt. Ansell Sterling, a combat vet now working for military intelligence, on Sterling's mission to negotiate a ceasefire with the Grand Alliance, humans controlled by invasive AIs and called grendels. When Sterling is killed by rebels, Raymin is forced to take over the captain's identity and negotiate with the grendels, as well as with the colonial rebels, all while fooling Sterling's elite Marine guards. To make matters worse, the captain's AI may now be infected with a grendel virus. Schwabauer peels back the layers of Raymin's relationships with his father and his erstwhile love, Ivy Weber, as Raymin battles to keep his disguise intact. Readers may occasionally grow disoriented in the race to uncover the secrets of the grendels but should enjoy the unexpected answers. \n