A Captain shielded by his mother’s rank.
An enemy determined to buy freedom with blood
A battle no one expected to fight
Captain Isaac Gallant is the only son of the dictator of the Confederacy, his career slowed by a dozen measures to protect his reputation and safety alike—but he has no intention of being a pampered child and is determined to do his duty.
An attempt to force his crew to acknowledge their own duties puts his ship in a unique position to intervene when an overwhelming rebel attack is launched on one of the Confederacy’s most critical facilities.
The rebels didn’t expect to fight anyone. The Confederacy didn’t expect Isaac Gallant to fight at all.
All of them were wrong.
Captain Isaac Gallant finished reviewing the readiness report in front of him with a sigh. It was the last of the departmental reports for the Confederacy Space Fleet’s warp cruiser Scorpion, and it matched the pattern of the rest of them.
Isaac studied the terminal screen in his office for several more seconds, then made a decision with a shake of his head.
“Commander Giannovi, please report to my ready room,” he ordered over the intercom. A moment later, an indicator on the computer screen tattooed into his left arm changed, informing him that Lieutenant Commander Harris now held the conn.
Giannovi stepped into his ready room—exactly three steps outside the bridge, just far enough that you had to pass through the bridge’s security detail to reach it—seconds later.
“You asked for me, sir?” she asked crisply. Lauretta Giannovi was a throwback by the standards of twenty-fourth-century humanity, born in Italy of entirely Italian extraction. She was a permanently tanned-looking woman of barely average height with short-cropped black hair.
“Have a seat, Commander,” Isaac ordered. He shared Giannovi’s unimpressive height, which meant that sitting allowed her to tower over him—and that wasn’t how this meeting needed to go.
“I presume you reviewed the departmental readiness reports,” he told her. It was part of the executive officer’s job, after all.
“I did,” she confirmed, still crisp and efficient as ever.
Isaac concealed a sigh.
“Are you aware of the Liebermann Readiness Summation Metrics?” he asked bluntly.
“They’re part of every XO’s training, sir,” Giannovi said carefully. Some of her calm seemed to slip. “They’re…far from perfect.”
“Like any summation tool,” Isaac agreed. Given that the late Franz Liebermann had been his father, he was perhaps more familiar than most with Liebermann’s own assessment of the tool’s flaws.
“But it serves a useful purpose for Captains to assess the changes in their command and compare their departments,” he noted. “For example, when I came aboard Scorpion a month ago, the readiness reports from every department but one were in the mid-eighties, more than acceptable. Review of the detailed reports is required, but it told me that I needed to focus on our warp drive department.”
Giannovi nodded slowly.
“We got Lieutenant Commander Catalan’s people a refresher course on the warp drive and set up a new cross-training program,” she remembered aloud. “It wasn’t really a surprise—there are only eight ships in the CSF with independent FTL.”
“Agreed,” Isaac said with a wave of his hand. The Captain was even darker-skinned than his XO. The Captain’s father had spent his adult life aboard ships, but Franz Liebermann had been born on New Soweto. The colony wasn’t much less ethnically mixed than the rest of the Confederacy at this point, but its populace did tend towards the coloration of its original African settlers.
“So, imagine my concern when I reviewed the second set of semi-monthly departmental readiness reports and the summation matrices put them all, including Catalan’s warp drive people, in the mid-seventies,” he noted dryly.