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Games of Command (Bantam Spectra Book) Mass Market Paperback – February 27, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Bantam Spectra Book
  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reissue edition (February 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553589636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553589634
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #730,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Winner of the prestigious national book award, the RITA, science fiction romance author Linnea Sinclair has become a name synonymous for high-action, emotionally intense, character-driven novels. Reviewers note that Sinclair’s novels “have the wow-factor in spades,” earning her accolades from both the science fiction and romance communities. A former news reporter and retired private detective, Sinclair resides in Naples, Florida with her husband, Robert Bernadino, and their two thoroughly spoiled cats.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One


SHIP'S GYMNASIUM, TRIAD HUNTERSHIP VAXXAR

"Captain, we have a problem."

It took a moment for Sass, toweling the sweat off her face, to acknowledge the comment voiced by the tall woman striding down the locker room aisle toward her, her black and tan Alliance uniform partly obscured by a blue lab coat, her shoulder-length blond hair uncharacteristically mussed.

Captain. Gods' blessed rumps, after five and a half months of being called "commander," she finally had her rank back. That was the only good news Admiral Branden Kel-Paten gave out during the senior staff meeting earlier–though the definition of "captain" on board the Vaxxar was, in Sass's opinion, still up for grabs.

However, Sass had a feeling that the admiral's announcement–at that same meeting–of the Vaxxar's departure from Lightridge Station within the hour was solely responsible for the grim expression on Doc Eden Fynn's face.

"You've given Lightridge some decent leads–"

"Leads?" Eden came to a halt in front of her, then flung her arms wide in exasperation, narrowly missing smacking her hand on a metal locker door. "People are dying of fright in the space lanes, Tasha. No one knows how or why. And now we have eighty-seven more dead bodies exhibiting abnormally high levels of dopamine and serotonin."

The deaths on the freighter Degun's Luck were the sixth such incident in Triadian space in the past four months. Lightridge had promptly alerted Alliance HQ, requesting a forensic medical team. The Vaxxar, chasing down reports of an Illithian mother ship in the sector, had been diverted to Lightridge, pending the team's arrival. But only temporarily.

Sass draped the towel around her neck. Three of the dead were Zingarans, Eden's people. That only made the incident worse for the CMO. "The med team from HQ arrives in ten hours. They're best equipped to handle this. We're a huntership, Eden. We need to be out there stopping the Illithians from breaching our borders, not sitting on station performing autopsies."

Eden didn't seem to hear her. "I'm the only empathic doctor to come on scene in the first thirty hours after one of these incidents. There are still emanations. But I need time to work with them. Only now he pulls us off Lightridge. All because some damned pirate-turned-informant decided to go on an unscheduled vacation!"

"That damned pirate was gathering intelligence on the Illithians," Sass pointed out. "HQ and the admiral feel it's imperative we locate him." Border breaches and a missing undercover operative did not make for a happy Admiral Kel-Paten. Sass figured that was why he denied Eden's request to stay behind on Lightridge. He needed Eden's expertise when they captured Jace Serafino. Sass just wasn't sure if he was referring to Eden's empathic talents in discerning falsehoods or her medical ones in putting Serafino back together after the admiral wiped the floor with him. Their mutual animosity went back years.

It was years as well since Sass had seen Serafino. He was a charming rogue, always hip-deep in some kind of trouble. According to the staff briefing, he had changed little.

But Tasha Sebastian–the woman Serafino knew as Lady Sass–had changed. Though she prayed he wouldn't remember her. She didn't need Admiral Edmonds's warning ringing in her mind to know that there were parts of her past that the Triad–and especially Kel-Paten–must never know.

"Since he won't grant the medical investigation critical-mission status," Eden was saying, "then I'm asking for a two-week leave of absence. It would take me only six hours to get back there by shuttle."

They were still in the inner-system lanes and at sublight speed. A shuttle launch would slow them down twenty, thirty minutes at most.

If Kel-Paten agreed to it. And he might, if Sass couched it in the proper terms. For all of Kel-Paten's aggravating qualities–and they were legion–he encouraged her input. Sass enjoyed testing the depths of his cybernetically perfected mind. His cybernetically perfect form wasn't half bad either, she grudgingly admitted. Except for his attitude and that damned perpetual scowl . . .

But she'd brave that for Eden, even though she wasn't thrilled with the idea of losing her CMO–and closest friend–for two weeks. "Let me see what I can do." Her comm link trilled as if to punctuate her words. It took her a moment to find it under her towel, clipped to the neck of her pink workout shirt. "Sebastian."

"My office. Five minutes." The admiral's familiar deep voice brooked no argument. She wondered what crisis he uncovered–again–to occupy what was left of her free time.

But, hell, she'd just agreed to talk to him on Eden's behalf.

"By your command, sir." Sass clicked off the link and caught Eden's wry grin. "What?"

"Good shirt."

Sass looked down. My name's No, No, Bad Captain! What's Yours? was clearly visible now that she'd removed her towel. She grinned back as she tossed the towel into a nearby hamper, remembering the day her officers on the Regalia gave her the pink T-shirt. Remembering more the wide-eyed expression on Kel-Paten's face the first time he saw her wearing it as she left the Vax's gym. Gods, she so enjoyed rattling his cage.

"Want to try double-teaming him?" she asked, heading for the door.

Eden fell into step with her. "He can dock my pay for the cost of the shuttle fuel if–"

The red-alert sirens erupted as the corridor doors slid open, stopping Eden in mid-sentence.

Damn. What now? Sass flicked on her comm link. "Sebastian to bridge. Status, Mister Rembert."

"Incoming interstellar thermal wave. Eight-point-two on the Graslan scale. McAbian residue readings–"

"On my way! Sebastian out."

Sass bolted down the wide gray corridor for the lifts, her heart pounding. She didn't have to hear the residue reading figures. An 8.2 Graslan wave was more than enough to tear a huntership the size of the Vaxxar apart.

Oh, gods. Tank. She stepped into the lift, gave the command for the bridge deck, and tapped her comm link again. "Sebastian to captain's quarters. Tank. Kennel, now!"

She knew her voice would sound in her quarters. She prayed her black and white fidget wasn't sleeping so deeply he couldn't hear it. No, he'd be awake. The sirens would have accomplished that. Chances were good he'd clambered into the small safety pod even before she barked out the order. The pod was rigged to dispense one of his favorite treats when it sensed his presence inside. The fidget might not understand emergencies, but he was never one to miss a meal.

"Bridge," the tinny autovoice announced.

She lunged out of the lift, almost colliding with a tall, dark-haired man in a black Triad uniform. Kel-Paten. He slanted her one of his infamous scowls before guiding her through the double sliding doors that led to the upper level of the bridge.

The two-tiered, U-shaped command center of the huntership was already frenzied with activity, black-uniformed senior officers moving efficiently from station to station, specialists glued to their chairs but swiveling quickly as new information downloaded to a nearby screen. Voices were terse, commands clipped. Every screen streamed with data.

Kel-Paten released her arm. "You're out of uniform."

She was also off duty, but the possibility they were at death's door prevented her from reminding him of that fact. She offered him a brief "noted" as she headed for the closest scanner station to check incoming data.

What Sass saw on the screens wasn't pretty, but they had time. Five, maybe ten minutes to try some fancy dancing that could either save their lives or send them to their graves in infinitesimal pieces. She glanced over her shoulder. Kel-Paten slid into the left command seat. She watched as, with a practiced familiarity, he thumbed open a small panel covering the dataport in the armrest and linked into the ship's systems through the interface built into his wrist. He frowned slightly, then his eyes flared with that eerie, luminous hue that signaled his cyber systems were at full power. He was spiked in, as much a part of the huge huntership as the drives, scanners, and bulkheads.

Except, unlike the drives, scanners, and bulkheads, he could talk.

She turned back to her console, knowing he could hear her just as well from there as if she were seated next to him.

"Admiral, my data shows a major energy disturbance at oh-five-seven-point-four."

"Oh-five-seven-point-four-three-two," the voice through her comm link stated. "No damage from preliminary residual shock waves. Ship integrity is sound. Secondary waves–"

"Damn!" Sass swore as she was thrust abruptly sideways. She clung to the wide console with both hands and considered sitting down and strapping in.

"Forward shields down to eighty-five percent," a crewmember's voice announced below her.

She opted to remain standing, working at the console. Kel-Paten was no doubt eons ahead of her calculations in his inner journey through the data, but he looked for the known, correlating and synthesizing, while she looked for the unexplainable. Granted, his cybernetically enhanced thought processes were a million times faster than hers, but he was linear, where her analysis tended to do pirouettes and somersaults.

"Tell me what we don't have, Kel-Paten," she said tersely under her breath, forgetting for a moment that–spiked in–he could hear her. The huntership shuddered as ano...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Marshall Lord TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 11, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is Linnea Sinclair's fourth multi-genre Science fiction romance. All these stories borrow from a number of genres, including Space Opera, Romantic Comedy, and usually also Paranormal Romance.

Games of Command is the same type of story as Sinclair's previous books, "Finders Keepers, "Gabriel's Ghost" and "An Accidental Goddess." This time, however, Linnea Sinclair has set herself a much more challenging task; this one is a double romance with two heroes and two heroines, and is set in a universe with a galactic political situation which is more complex, much darker, and rather better thought through than in her three previous similar novels.

Background:

Two star nations which were often enemies in the past - the Keltish Triad and the United Coalition (or "U-Cees") have formed an alliance in the face of a threat from a much more dangerous and aggressive race, the Illithians.

This is a universe in which a number of races have telepathic or empathic abilities: because both the Triad and U-Cees are terrified of rogue telepaths, both nations have powerful agencies to keep them under control. "Psy-Serv," the Triad agency, is a ruthless and feared "state within a state" which nobody wants to cross. Although we are told that the U-Cee equivalent "Tel-Tal" (the Telepathic Talents Regulatory Agency), "wasn't as overzealous" as Psy-serv, they don't sound like a particularly gentle or benevolent outfit either.

The action of this book starts on the Triad Huntership "Vaxxar," flagship of the First Fleet, which is tasked with watching a large section of the Illithian border. All four of the main characters on the ship have secrets from each other, secrets which could destroy them ...
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Elaine C McTyer VINE VOICE on March 5, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I have waited to write this review because I was so thrilled by the book, I felt I might be to enthusiastic, however, now I can say truthfully this is a wonderful read. Although this is two of her older novels put togather they are much better. The story is somewhat like FINDERS KEEPERS, but as an earlier attempt they are very good in one volumn. this author has not written a bad book so far. I have loved all of them.

Tasha (Sass) Sebastian is a captain in the UC fleet. She has also worked undercover as a spy. But for the last 7 years she has been totally immersed in her career. Now there is an alliance with their former enemies. Sass has been accepted as a ally trainee on the flagship Vaxxar, captained by Admiral Brandon Kel-Paten. Although Sass is now a fleet officer she has met Kel-Paton several times over the last 12 yrs. Always they have been on opposite sides. She is uncertain how they will mesh in the new alliance. But she has been allowed to bring a few officers and her pet fursal with her.

Kel-Paten is a biocybe, he is more machine than man, however against all probability Sass has managed to touch the male part of him. A part he did not know existed and if Psy-Serv finds out he will find himself erased. At the age of 16 his arms and legs were removed and replaced with cybernetic appendages. It is a wonder he is human at all. His brain is enhanced and he is able to plug himself into his ship and become part of it.

Dr Eden Flynn is a friend of Sass's, she has been assigned to the Vaxxar too. Only she knows Sass's secrets and she has her own furzel. Another independent woman she will not easily become entangled in the clutches of romance.

Jace Serafino is a gambler, spy, and all round cad.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Detra Fitch VINE VOICE on February 27, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lady Sass had been a merc, a rim runner from Kesh Valirr. Then "Ace" Edmonds, of the United Coalition (U-Cee), gave nineteen-year-old Lady Sass an offer to legitimately become a part of the U-Cee Fleet. Lady Sass jumped at the offer. "Lady Sass" went to prison and died.

Commander Tasha Sebastian's past looks legit. Very few knew Tasha's history as Lady Sass. There is now a new Alliance between the Triad and the U-Cee. Tasha is one of the first transferred (merged) as part of the Alliance Personnel Integration Program. Problem is that Tasha finds herself serving under her former nemesis, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten. Kel-Paten is a biocybernetic officer. He can "spike into" his Triad huntership, the Vaxxar, at any time and actually become a large part of the ship! It is said that the "Tin Soldier" is more 'cybe than human. Neither Tasha, nor Ace, could understand why Kel-Paten had personally requested Tasha Sebastian be transferred to the Vax. He even allowed Tasha and his new Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Doctor Eden Fynn, to bring their pet furzels with them! However, the two furzels, Tank and Reilly, are more than anyone could possibly imagine.

Wanted rebel Jace Serafino literally tears out of a vortex and ends up in the Vax's sick bay. Eden must keep the pirate alive for interrogation. Jace is supposed to have information to help the Alliance, but he also has information that could expose Tasha's past and rip the Alliance apart. Then Eden finds out that Jace also has an implant that only his unconscious self is aware of. As a touch empath, Eden must bring Jace's split personality together if the much needed info for the Alliance is to be received.

At the same time, somewhere aboard the Vaxxar, resides a dangerous entity. It quietly waits bides its time.
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