Review: Tarantula (The First Swarm War Book 0) by Chris Pourteau
Addison Halsey and Sam Avery didn't begin as heroic captains; twenty years ago the UEF spaceships they trained on had Russian and Chinese enemies. Both women were midshipmen in command roles on a monitored mission. The Swarm was yet unknown (although it had already won its first unheralded battle with Mankind).
For Addison Halsey, the thrill of taking command on a routine survey run is a natural outgrowth of her Academy studies. According to her friend Sam, she's a natural leader. As long as the mission is counting space rocks, she's comfortable.
When the ship intercepts an SOS in Russian from a ship crashed on the surface of Ceres, the midshipmen assume it's part of the training exercise at first. Then Halsey realizes their monitor, Commander Vickers, while still assessing their performance, is no longer relaxed.
This was not in the script; it's a real crash. Possibly with real Russian enemies aboard. Russians who had no business anywhere near UEF-controlled Ceres.
Her acting XO, Sam Avery, takes an away team to the surface to rescue or recover whatever they can from the scout-ship RK Tarantula. And now, natural leader or not, the implications of her command decisions crash in on Halsey:
Having all those lives in her hands … for the first time, Halsey understood the phrase weight of command.
This prequel novella is best read after Books 1 and 2, since reading it first may confuse you, offer major spoilers, or both. Fortunately I was forewarned by a college chum of the author. Read after Book 2, however, it is a satisfying flash of back-story for the ladies who command in the full novels.
And I'm still waiting for the other shoe I noted in Bug Wars: Then Come Assassins to drop.