High school senior Tanner Malone has bombed the Test, a high-stakes exam that establishes how much he owes for his corporate-funded education. Burdened by a crushing debt that rules out college, Tanner enlists in the navy of Archangel, a star system with four terraformed worlds. But he hasn't factored in the space pirates.
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Tanner Malone is starting to enjoy his navy post in the honor guard. After surviving violent conflicts with space pirates in the void, he hopes to stay out of the stars for a while. But when the government of Archangel, a prosperous Union state including four terraformed worlds, makes a dangerous decision to defy the Big Three's corporate dominance, war threatens the galaxy.
"We require a different battlefield." Nobody expected the war to last three hours, let alone three years. The star system of Archangel holds the line against invading corporate fleets, but a quarter of its territory is already lost. The navy can't hang on much longer. Faced with this grim truth, Archangel's leaders shift their strategy to diplomacy and espionage. For both arenas, they call upon a reluctant weapon: a frontline grunt named Tanner Malone. These days Tanner doesn't aspire to win the war.