In a desolate void fifty light years from Dellal, the Faith and the Fox waited. The mysterious ship, invisible if not for the plasma flare and that it was blocking a few stars in the background, had frustrated any further attempt at scanning. On the bridge of the Faith, John tapped his fingers on his armrest. The door behind him opened, and Milly, Dana, and Sparrow entered.
The Cygnian Liberation Front was based on a large, rocky moon of Dellal V, in an underground complex that had been a palladium mine. The mining operations were still ongoing, at least on paper, but any meaningful amount of precious metal had long since been removed. A meager haul of palladium was still pulled from the mine, though profit was no longer its reason for existing. The Cygnian Offworld Mining Export and Transport company had been transformed into a shell corporation for the CLF. It was not a perfect arrangement, but the eyes of God were everywhere.
The crews of the Faith and the Fox, save for Cane, had front row seats at the arena, as Tomoyasu had reserved those spots ahead of time. Unlike the last time Evangeline had visited this space, the arena was filled to capacity. Over 200 people had managed to squeeze inside, and some were forced to stand on the stairs of the bleachers just to get a view. The arena was ovoid, 50 meters on its long side, and despite the asteroid’s need to save power, Tomo had ordered the lights to be raised to full brightness. Even with the lighting, motionless stars could be seen through the dome that covered the arena.
Daimyo Kitsune was having a busy morning. So far, his walk with Maoko had been the only peaceful part of it. Even though he had only been leader of the Eagle for a few weeks, he had quickly fallen into a routine of meetings, visits to areas that were experiencing problems, and, of course, martial arts practice. The arrival of the Reckless Faith was a welcome change to his routine, despite the awkwardness of his conversations with Vecky. He was proud of her, and wanted to get to know her better, but there was still lingering guilt over his decision to leave her with his brother Aoba all those years ago.
This latest entry puts me at 20% of the total projected length of the book. My other novels have been doing well, and the encouragement is helping my motivation.
Arianna Ferro was happy to see the feverish reunion between Vecky, Devonai, Richter, Evangeline, and the two other crewmembers of the Fox, though the sight also came with a sense of melancholy. Too long plagued with both extremes of emotion, she had taught herself to, in most circumstances, feel nothing at all. Even though few situations within the last month required her to quash her feelings, it was the only way she felt like she could redeem herself in the eyes of her crew, despite that none of them expected her to carry on like an automaton. However, the depth of her betrayal kept her reactions muted to satisfy her toughest critic: herself.
I’m not usually a fan of post-apocalyptic sci-fi. This book caught my interest because of its unusual but thoroughly plausible premise – that in a United States ravaged by a nuclear apocalypse, the Internal Revenue Service would be the only governmental entity to survive.
Fitzgerald excels at juxtaposing a ludicrous scenario with fast-paced storytelling and humor. Unlike anything I’ve seen before, this book was refreshing for its originality and accessibility. In a world where violence is the rule of law, we can always rely on one constant – the IRS, and its stalwart agents.
The protagonist undergoes a predictable character arc, and his weathered, hard-boiled companion is a trope by herself. These foibles are easily forgiven due to the enjoyable story and clever narrative. The author also makes a few grammatical errors, undetectable with spell check but pernicious nonetheless. Still, these problems hardly detract from the story and will probably go unnoticed to all but the most IRS auditor-inclined readers.
If you’ve read Chapter One already, please note that it has been changed to reflect that the crew of the Reckless Faith has decided to meet up with the Fox instead of building a new ship before leaving Earth. It’s not a significant enough change to warrant another read. Below are the continuing adventures of the Faith and the Fox, soon to be reunited.
The heavily armed group of people closing in on the gas station were human, that much Val could see. He would have found them reassuring, if he had any idea who they were. Friendly or not, due to the sparse cover and bright sunlight he could see at least three of them take up positions near the road, and four more swept toward his position in a wedge formation. He had hoped his own people would notice he was missing, call up the chain for help, and find him. It was possible these were all DIA personnel associated with Jones, but their mismatched clothing and odd variety of weapons belied that. Ultimately, it didn’t matter who they were, as Val was outnumbered and had no escape route. When the four men had approached to fifty meters, he hollered at them through a broken window.