Every now and then you bump into someone with talent. While there's no substitute for hard work and learning, some people just 'get it' and can tell a story with ease. Then to jump into someone else's universe and tell a story within that, well, let's just say you have to be a hell of a writer.
Mike Morton is one of those people. I'm not sure how we first connected but I was putting together stories for Book 2 of the Fallen Empire series. There's a story in there where troops from The Irish Brigade accept a contract to shut down a slave ring and rescue a high value hostage from a space station. The problem is that, as a soldier, all my experience has been, shall we say, dirtside. Enter Mike Morton, rocket scientist. Well, not really, but he does have a lot of experience with orbital mechanics as an Air Force officer who dealt with satellites. Mike jumped in with both feet and wrote a section of the story that deals with another mercenary unit, the 76th Microgravity Strike Team, or 76th MIST. The boys and girls from the MIST, many of them ex-Terran Marines, seize and hold the entrances of the orbital, allowing the sons of Eire to wipe the place clean. It was a great piece of action that integrated seamlessly into my work, so I asked Mike if he'd like to write another story for the book. He did, an origin story of the MIST, and I said, "This doesn't work as a novella. It needs to be a book of it's own."
So Mike sat down and told that story, an excellent tale called Silent Violence. How the end of the Succession Wars left the 76th being demobilized and Captain Freeman McManus staring at a desk job. How, with some help from an old commanding officers, a certain Colonel Meagher, the 76th was reborn as a private military corporation working the Demilitarized Zone. Their first job lands them in the middle of commercial intrigue and learning hard lessons about profit over loyalty. It's one of those rare first time author books that you sit back and read in one sitting. Mike's got a great career ahead of him as a premier writer of space opera and military sci-fi.
What’s a soldier to do when the war is over? When he’s only known conflict his whole life? Since time immemorial the solution has been to find another war, this time for pay. Whoever has the credits and wins the high bid gets the experienced fighter. Sometimes, though, the credits aren’t enough to over the price.
Empires rise, but Empires also fall. The Terran Union has spent five centuries under the control of the alien Grausians , like a barbarian tribe under the thumb of Rome. Now, after almost two decades of civil war and succession struggles, the formerly subject races have settled back in their ancient territories to lick their wounds and rearm, leaving hundreds of settled planets to exist in a political vacuum. Into that space steps the free companies, mercenary units that fight for gold, honor, power and glory. Veterans who can’t get the wars out of their souls, new recruits looking for adventure, corporations with their own agenda.