After 25 years of service, Commander John Forest has had enough of the fleet. He is retiring to a real job on Earth, far from the frontier and the fleet to start a new life. His intervention in an experimental fighter at the Battle of the Markus Nebula over 20 years ago turned the tide against the Globurs and made him a hero. Now he just wants to change his life and get away from the fleet.
The Globurs are the first intelligent species ever encounter by humanity in hundreds of years of exploration. First contact was during a survey and details are scarce as no one survived. Rim systems were attacked and overrun over the next few years. Globurs probe for weakness and attack without mercy. No attempts to communicate with them have ever received a reply. Recovered prisoners are insane, but the Globur do not take prisoners anymore.
The tide was turned by a new strategy and a decisive battle at the Markus Nebula. The Globurs were pushed back and a stalemate developed along the rim. The stalemate means attacks and raids on civilian outposts and merchant shipping. In the interstellar space along the rim, fleet outposts and patrolling task forces continue to defend humanity. The imperial senate calls the war and skirmishes an "incursion."
Over the last 20 years, things have gotten a lot quieter. No one has seen a Globur capital ship in years. The only thing the core worlds care about is the unnecessary cost of maintaining the fleet. Not much news ever really gets back to the core worlds and the "incursion is all but forgotten. Only those on the rims worlds volunteer for fleet service to protect their worlds.
Things on the rim are changing. When a heavy fleet task force is savagely mauled and manages to limp back to their outpost, the unthinkable is revealed. The Globurs have an advantage that puts every outpost and rim world at risk. Fleet defenses, long relied upon to detect incursions and dispatch intercepts, may be rendered useless. Ships are lost and not easily replaced. The fleet cannot sustain the current loss rate and something big may be coming. The Senate agrees to dispatch the fleet's greatest hero with their finest ships on a "goodwill tour" that covers a desperate gamble.
All this should have nothing to do with John Forest. He is retired, and his augmentation has been permanently deactivated. He has gone home and settled into a new job on Earth. He even has a new girlfriend and is beginning to enjoy himself as his replacement takes over his former duties on the rim overseeing the fighter operations aboard the flagship of his former task force. His new girlfriend is a reporter – and a smart one. She thinks he is being watched. John thinks that is ridiculous, but he does start to wonder. Sure he was a hero – but that was a long time ago. Who would possibly be interested in him?
Only a few know the shocking secret he hides and John isn't one of them.
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