Humanity has been ravaged by alien war. Will the next encounter spell the end of mankind?
Sixteen billion people died in the last alien invasion of the Alliance's colony worlds. When survey ship Captain Jeff Colgan discovers a new alien race, he's required to investigate. But what if the life form is as deadly as the Merkiaari?
As the aliens discover Colgan's ship and begin to hunt him down, the captain's mission changes from one of study to one of survival. Nanotechnology was all that kept humanity afloat in their brutal war against the Merkiaari, and it led directly to the creation of vipers, a regiment of cyborg super soldiers tasked with protecting the Alliance. When Gunnery Sergeant Gina Fuentez finds one of the fabled viper cyborgs in a terrorist camp during a mission, her squad comes under attack. Two members of her squad are dead, and she'll face the same fate if she can't escape the ensuing firefight.
General Burgton's self-imposed mission is to safeguard the alliance from future Merkiaari attacks. As the black missions Burgton authorizes begin to fail, he spends trillions of dollars on a forbidden solution: artificial intelligence. When the project collapses, Burgton compounds his crime. If he can't build an A.I., he'll just have to steal one!