Hard Duty: Merkiaari Wars, 1 (Unabridged)
by Mark E. Cooper
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Humanity's last encounter with aliens saw 16.2 billion people killed in a war with the Merkiaari that had spanned decades. Two hundred years later, the Alliance is cautiously exploring beyond its borders again, but the survey corp is considered a mere gesture by some. General Burgton of the 501st Infantry Regiment believes a lack of expansion is leading the Alliance into stagnation. So when one small ship discovers a new alien race, it should be an easy decision to make contact, but what if the aliens are like the Merkiaari? Captain Jeff Colgan of the survey ship ASN Canada is at the tip of the spear. His ship made the discovery, his crew's lives are on the line, and his decisions will decide the outcome. Will the Alliance make new friends or will he be responsible for another 16 billion deaths? When the aliens discover his ship and begin hunting him through their system, his mission changes from one of study to one of survival.