The Shroud of Peace
by Nathaniel Szymkowicz

"You do realize that it’s just gene therapy and state-of-the-art neural implants that make them such capable operators."

The time is 2585 A.D. Mankind has reached the stars and can travel through Dark Matter Conduits faster than light. But humans are not the only species in the universe, and there has been warfare between man and alien for the past 150 years. The insectoid-like Sanhaeli race had almost conquered the inhabited universe until the Human Interstellar Alliance took control of a Sanhaeli cyber-weapon and turned the tide. A cold war between the former combatants has become the new normal, but the fragile peace is threatened by the growing power of a private military corporation called Blackout. Mitchell Henderson awakes from a coma-like condition and slowly regains his awareness as a product of Blackout. He has been transformed into a genetically and neutrally altered “super soldier” that is capable of superhuman (though morally neutral) battle abilities. Meanwhile, Major Da-Xia Chen, or “Dutch,” has been sent on a multi-species expedition to intercept and destroy Mitchell.

In chapters alternating between Dutch and Mitchell’s viewpoint, the author provides a great deal of backstory explaining their motivations. Both are battle-scarred and have witnessed atrocities performed by the Sanhaeli. The theme seems to be the futility of cycles of violence, even though it is required for survival in a hostile universe. The characters are developed well through the series of flashbacks alternating with present time action. The plot is intricate, with many turns and twists that keep the pages turning. This military space opera has aliens, augmented super soldiers, and an interstellar setting—elements sure to keep any sci-fi fan satisfied.

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