With the help of his commanding officer, a genetically engineered ex-soldier fights back against the government that created him and others like him to be expendable slaves...
Halvor Cullen, a genetically-engineered and technology implanted ex-soldier, doesn't see himself as a hero. After getting out of the service, all he's interested in is chasing the adrenaline rush his body was designed to crave. Hal knows he won't live long anyway; vat soldiers like him are designed to die early or will be burnt out from relentlessly seeking the rush. His best friend and former CO, Tyce, is determined not to let that happen and distracts him by work salvaging crashed ships in the Edge.
Then Hal's ship gets a new crewmember - a hacker-turned-tecker named Vivi. As they become friends, Hal wonders if he's got a chance with a natural-born like her. Then on a job, the crew finds a sphere that downloads an alien presence into their ship...
Multiple clashes with the military force Hal and his crew to choose sides. The battle they fight will determine the fate of vats and natural-borns throughout the galaxy. Will they join the movement against the Coalition? What has invaded their ship's computer? And can there be a real future for a vat with an expiration date?
File Under: Science Fiction [ Toy Soldier | On the Brink | Against the Odds | Stars are Crossed ]
Found family takes center stage in Smith's gripping debut. Captain Ty Bernon is a "nat," born naturally, while his one-time subordinate turned close friend Hal Cullen is a "vat," a lab-created soldier with superior combat skills cut loose after seven years in military service and designed to die by 30. Their adventures kick off when Hal, an unstable but good-hearted adrenaline junkie, rescues techie Vivi Valjean from an attempted abduction and recruits her to the crew of the salvage ship Loshad, where medic Beryl McCabe patches her up. The four crewmates form a tightly bound group and soon come face-to-face with a series of enemies: a vat assassin, a military ship, and an artificial intelligence named Eira that takes a keen interest in them. Along the way, they stumble upon some surprising allies and uncover a conspiracy that threatens all the vats. Smith masterfully cultivates a deep sense of camaraderie among the characters while keeping them on the edge of danger. The unlikely bonds linking the crew members and thoughtful exploration of the morality of genetic engineering are sure to draw readers into this well-crafted space opera.