Into the Fire

Into the Fire

by Elizabeth Moon

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101887363
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/30/2018
Series: Vatta's Peace Series , #2
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 43,801
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Moon grew up on the Texas border, served three years of active duty in the USMC (1968–71), and now lives with her husband, also a veteran, near Austin, Texas. She has published more than twenty-five novels, including Nebula Award winner The Speed of Dark, Hugo finalist Remnant Population, and the enduring epic fantasy series The Chronicles of Paksenarrion. She has published more than fifty short-fiction pieces in anthologies and magazines and in four of her own short-fiction collections, most recently Moon Flights and Deeds of Honor. When not writing, Moon enjoys photographing native plants and wildlife, knitting socks, and cooking.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Slotter Key, Port Major

Day 1

Ky Vatta stood looking out the upper-floor window of the Vatta home in Port Major, just above the entrance. Below, she could see the brick walk bordered by low shrubs pruned into balls, the perfect green lawn, the white-painted palings and gate through which she and Rafe had entered a few hours before.

A chill draft came off the window, reminding her that she was still in the beach clothes she’d put on before leaving Corleigh just that morning. If Stella and Helen hadn’t arrived on Corleigh yesterday, if she and Rafe had gotten back to the mainland when they planned, it would have been warm here, too. She could almost feel the elation of the previous morning as they packed to leave the island, planning to buy their own ship and leave Slotter Key together. Her fortune, they’d thought—her back pay, her savings banked on Cascadia, and the money Stella owed her for the shares Ky had given up—combined with Rafe’s personal fortune and the stipend he had from ISC, would be enough to buy a spaceship, hire some crew, and go wherever their interests took them.

But then . . . ​it had all fallen apart. Stella and Helen arrived because the house—this house—had been attacked, a door kicked in, and Helen had feared for the children. They’d brought the news that the money Ky had counted on to help buy a ship—her back pay from Space Defense Force and money owed her for the sale of her shares of Vatta Transport and Vatta Enterprises—had been sequestered by the government of Cascadia, because she was being blamed for the death of her former aide. Jen’s father was on the Grand Council of the Moscoe Confederation. Stella’s position on Cascadia, Vatta’s secondary headquarters, was threatened, as well. Ky’s own accounts here on Slotter Key were also frozen because of the deaths on Miksland. The evidence she’d collected so carefully from the crashed shuttle and from Miksland had gone missing—the evidence that could clear her of suspicion that she’d murdered those who died. So much had gone wrong; probably more would.

The gray sky outside matched her mood. She felt alienated from the house, the city, the entire planet; eight years of physical separation, the attack—she wasn’t even sure exactly how long after she’d left—that killed her parents, her brothers, her uncle, Stella’s sister and brothers. It was too different—no, she was too different. She didn’t fit into the Vatta family structure anymore. She didn’t have a place in Slotter Key’s military; she no longer had her own fleet, the fleet she had built from one old battered tradeship. The men and women she’d commanded—those who knew her best—were either dead or far away, in the Space Defense Force. Her throat tightened; her stomach churned.

She took a deep breath, forcing herself to think forward and not back. She had things she could do, things that might—though it was hard to believe—be as interesting, as worthwhile, as what she’d already done. First she needed to find out what had happened to the evidence she’d brought back from Miksland, evidence that would clear her of charges of murder for every death that had occurred. Then find a way to convince the Moscoe Confederation that she had not killed Jen Bentik, so they would release the lien on her funds. And she needed to know how the other survivors from Miksland were doing. By now, they should be almost through the home leave she’d been told about, ready to return to duty. Grace, as Rector of Defense, would be able to get their addresses for her.

And—if she was stuck here long enough, all the way to the next southern summer, she might even return to Miksland, explore the deep levels, those mysterious laboratories, maybe even figure out who had built them. Rafe didn’t have enough money for a spaceship, but he certainly had enough for a charter flight. Scientists were probably down there now. It would be safe, with Greyhaus’s people far away and the mercenaries dead. Whoever had first claimed it surely wouldn’t dare do anything now that it was public knowledge.

She looked across the street to another front garden as formal as the one below, and the white brick house behind it with its flagstone walk, its rows of shrubs pruned into little pyramids. The second floor was built out over a rounded portico, forming a curved row of windows. Handy for neighborhood snoops, if there were any.

Rain spattered the window, a swift rattle that broke into her thoughts. Across the street she saw a curtain twitch, opening a dark gap, but she couldn’t see anyone. So there was a neighborhood snoop. Below, a black car pulled up in front of the house. Stella got out, accepted her travel case and two white containers from the driver, then tapped the code onto the front gatepost. It opened for her. Ky saw someone step out between the portico columns of the house across the street, and then disappear again. Stella waved the driver away.

Ky went back to the stairs and down in time to see Rafe open the door. A gust of cold wet air swirled in when he pulled it back.

“I brought supper,” Stella said. She handed the containers to Ky. “Take these into the kitchen, please. I’ll be back when I’ve changed into something warmer.”

Stella came into the kitchen a few minutes later, dressed in slacks and a pullover, looking elegant as usual. Ky wished she had asked for her own clothes to be picked up that afternoon. She set out plates on the kitchen table, opened the boxes and made a guess at who wanted which. Stella pushed the opened containers to the middle of the small table and said, “Whatever you want.”

After supper, eaten quickly and almost silently, they made the rounds of checking doors and windows. As Stella looked out the double glass doors into the back garden, she shook her head. “I should have checked before supper. There’s that miserable stuffed pony, getting wet on a swing. Justin loves it. It’ll mildew if I don’t get it in the dryer. And the ball looks tacky out there.” She turned on an outside light, opened the door and went out, crossing the terrace and then the grass; Ky stayed back, away from the cold wind and rain, watching. Stella came back, raindrops in her hair sparkling in the light, the wet stuffed toy in one hand and the ball in the other. Just as she came into the house, the door chime rang and someone knocked on the front door.

“Take these,” Stella said, handing off the wet toys to Ky. She shut and locked the garden doors and headed toward the front. “Dryer’s just off the kitchen.”

Ky had no desire to visit with company; she ducked into the short passage to the kitchen as whoever it was pounded harder on the door. Rafe, she noticed, had followed Stella. Ky found the dryer, tossed the stuffed toy into it, and stared at the dials, finally deciding on gentle. She dried the wet ball with a kitchen towel, then sat down at the kitchen table. She could just hear Stella speaking, though she could not distinguish the words. The tone made it clear Stella was upset. In a minute or so Stella was back in the kitchen, color in her pale cheeks. “The utter nerve—” she was saying to Rafe, who followed her.

“What’s the problem?”

“Oh, some military police or something—not Port Major police—said they suspected there were dangerous fugitives in the neighborhood. They wanted to search the house and grounds. I said no, that there’d been a watchman at the house day and night. They thought the damage to the kitchen door meant someone might be hiding inside. I had to show my ID, even. Do I look like a fugitive?”

“Of course not,” Ky said.

“I told them to check with Port Major police about the break-in—maybe it was the same gang they were chasing—asked if they knew who the fugitives were, but they didn’t answer. Just said to be careful and lock everything up. Oh, and they’re going to be doing aerial surveillance tonight.”

“We should see what’s on the newsvids,” Rafe said. “Surely there’d be something about a prison breakout.” He led the way to the security office next to the lift and turned on another screen. A serious-faced man was explaining what cut of cattlelope to choose for braising. A streamer at the bottom carried ads for cookware shops. Rafe changed selections. Two women and three men were arguing about a recent election on Dorland and what it meant for the balance of power in the planetary legislature. Here the streamer carried what Ky recognized as financial news. Another try gave them an obvious drama vid, with a stationary block giving time, temperature, wind speed, and wave height.

“Wrong time,” Stella said. “Slotter Key’s media laws are different from Nexus or Cascadia. Much more tightly controlled.”

Rafe switched off the screen. “I’ll go on out, then, and repel lurkers, if any.”

“It’s cold and wet,” Stella said. “You should change.”

“I have nothing with me. I’ll be fine.”

“Backup?” Ky said.

“No. Stay here with Stella.”

“That’s his I’m up to something voice,” Stella said. “If only they hadn’t been so rude—”

“It upset him?” Ky leaned on the wall, out of the draft coming in the door Stella held half open.

“Yes.” Stella looked outside again, where Rafe was a vague blur in the dark.

“Why military police?” Ky asked.

“I don’t know,” Stella said. She glanced at the kitchen door, slightly crooked in its frame and braced with a couple of boards nailed across it. “But I hope they’re wrong about any escaped military criminals. That boarded-up door does look like an easy place to break in.” They watched Rafe move along the front of the shrubbery and waited for him to turn back toward the house when he reached the garage wall. Instead, he stood still.

“Found something,” Stella said. “I wonder what.”

“Or someone,” Ky said. She moved her pistol from her shoulder holster to the pocket of her shorts. Then Rafe turned back toward the house, walking steadily, not looking back, and behind him the first figure came out of the shrubbery. Then another. And another. They were hard to see in the rain and poor light. Ky heard Stella’s indrawn breath, Rafe’s sandals scuffing in the damp grass, and behind him, other footfalls, softer. He stepped onto the terrace, walked across it, his sandals slapping lightly on the bricks. He quirked an eyebrow at her. Behind him, just visible in the dim scattered glow of his handlight, she could see the first of the three following him: short and slight, a bald head paler than the brown face, wearing some kind of thin garment—a robe?

Rafe stepped inside and walked on, turning around as the three came in: all women, Ky could see now, shivering as their wet clothes clung to them. All were bald, scalps and faces completely hairless. Were these the escaped criminals? They didn’t look like it. Their legs were bare from well above the knees, their feet in thin, now-sodden cloth slippers. Stella shut the outside doors and pulled heavy linen curtains over them.

All three knelt, dripping on the floor. The one who had led them in said, “Admiral, please help us. You’re the only one who can.”

The voice gave Ky the name. “Inyatta?”

“Yes, sir. Please—don’t turn us in—”

Ky fought to keep her expression calm despite a surge of rage at what had been done to them. They did not need her rage; they needed her help.

“Stella, lock us down,” Rafe said.

Stella looked at Ky, at Rafe, at the three wet women who’d been hiding in the shrubbery. “No one can see in now. And lockdown will seal off the kitchen annex.”

“Do it,” Ky said. She held out her hands; Inyatta grasped them. “Inyatta—all of you, get up; the floor’s cold.” She reholstered her pistol. “These must be who those men were hunting.” She had not looked away from Inyatta; she heard Stella walk to the master panel and key in the code. “Corporal, what’s happened to you? Are the others all right?”

“No—and we don’t know what, or why—they separated us—they changed our implants—” Inyatta’s voice was shaky as she clambered up; she was shivering.

The house lights brightened and a current of warmer air moved across the room. “Internal power and environmental confirmed,” Stella said. “Now what? You know these people?”

“Yes. This is Corporal Inyatta; she was with me on Miksland.” She still didn’t recognize the other two. Ky glanced at Rafe, then back at Stella. “We need to get them dry, warm, and fed. Then find out what’s been going on.”

“You won’t send us back?” Again, the voice gave her the identity: Corporal Barash. “Please!” The third had not spoken at all, and Ky hadn’t figured out who she was yet. She had a fresh scar, a raised red-purple ridge, on her head, and puffy swelling that changed whatever her face had been.

“Of course I won’t. Come on upstairs. Hot baths, towels, clothes—Stella, have you got some extra warm things? All I have is a change of shirts.” Ky headed for the stairs. “I trust you left nothing behind that could be noticed in the morning?”

“No, sir. We ate the paper off the fruit bars.” That was the third, and again the voice gave Ky the identification. Kamat—that was Durga Kamat? The shaved head, scar, and puffiness obscured what had been an unusual beauty. What had happened to her—to them—and what about all the others? Questions erupted in her mind, but right now these three needed care.

Ky led them to the first of the two bedrooms on the right of the landing. “I’m guessing you’d like to stay together?”

“Yes, please.” They were clustered in the doorway, staring at all the flowered chintz.

“The sofa will make another bed. The bath’s back here—” She led the way. “This should be a linen closet—yes. Towels, robes—ready for guests.”

They looked worse in the brighter light, bruises and puncture marks as if they’d had many injections, marks on wrists and ankles from restraints. Ky said nothing about that. “Stella’s my cousin. She and I will be looking for clothes for you, but feel free to wrap up in blankets or anything you find to get warm.”

She kept her voice level and calm, for their sake, but when she went back into the hall, her anger shot up like a geyser, dimming her vision for an instant. All of them must have been taken, drugged, held. Separated, Inyatta had said. Probably early on, perhaps even at Pingat Base while she had been on a flight to the mainland. Who had done this to her people? And how? Why hadn’t Great-Aunt Grace made sure the other survivors were properly taken care of? She should not have agreed to fly back separately—she should have thought—but too late for that. First things: take care of these three. She crossed the head of the stairs and met Stella coming back with a stack of folded clothes.

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Into the Fire 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting read with many unexpected twists as KY ends up where you'd least expect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the previous book and unlike the Vatta's War books, this has much more of the feel of a Tom Clancy thriller, as although there is some military action you experience far more of the suspence you come to expect in a thriller. Excellent writing, as usual, and an interesting tour of Ky Vatta's home world.
DeborahJRoss More than 1 year ago
I pick up a new Elizabeth Moon novel with anticipatory delight. In its pages (or phosphors, for the ebook version), I will find fascinating characters with skills and intelligence, subtle conflicts of culture, superbly handled tension and plot twists, and insights into people who are different from me. Unlike the heroine of Into the Fire (and Moon herself), I have no military experience whatsoever (30 years of Chinese martial arts notwithstanding). I was a long-haired, sign-waving war protester. Most military fiction leaves me looking around for those love beads. But not Moon’s, and a big part of that (aside from her sheer story-telling skill) is the intelligence and compassion of her military characters. In the previous novel, Cold Welcome, Ky Vatta and an assortment of people under her command and not-under-her-command manage to survive a shuttle crash into icy waters and make their way to an abandoned base in a frigid, barren landscape. Their survival depends not only working together and making the best decisions but a huge measure of luck. Ky’s training and experience give her a structure to establish leadership and discern what must be done, and by whom, and in what order, how to best use the skills of the others, how to resolve conflicts without squelching initiative. Most of the book centers on how leadership, delegation protocols, the balance between negotiation and creativity and obedience, and the skills to construct and carry out strategic planning can save lives. In fact, there’s very little shoot-‘em-up and a great deal of wow, these people have thought carefully about how to manage desperate situations. Into the Fire continues that story. After the grand finale and rescue, Ky might think her ordeal is over. Ha! Her meticulously collected records of the sabotage go missing and her people mysteriously disappear, drugged and kept incommunicado by forces inimical to her family. The focus shifts from physical to political survival. Sabotage, betrayal, immigration raids, poisoning, and a rescue executed in typical Ky Vatta style build and sustain tension. Again I was impressed by the skillfulness with which Ky and her companions make and execute plans, whether it’s marshalling an academy full of unseasoned cadets to defend the planetary president or nab the drugged prisoners from several different locations. Ky didn’t just jump into action, as characters in many other military novels so often do. She didn’t say, “Trust me, just do what I say” to her subordinates. She conferred with those with expertise, made plans, revised them, revised them again, made backup plans and backups to the backups, made sure everyone had the information they needed to do the best, smartest job. Things went wrong, as of course they must in fiction. And that’s half the fun of the adventure. Moon provides enough backstory for Into the Fire to stand on its own, but I recommend reading it together with Cold Welcome. And I do recommend it!
CaptainsQuarters 4 months ago
Ahoy there me mateys! This here be a combined review of the Vatta’s Peace duology. While I try to post no spoilers, if ye haven’t read the Vatta’s War series and ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . . Ye think I would have enough of Ky Vatta after readin’ the 5 books in the Vatta’s War series. Well no, I wanted more! Luckily for me this companion series exists. Ever wonder what happens to the Admiral when war is over? Then this be for ye! I loved book 1 so much plus there was a crazy cliffhanger so I just leapt straight into the remainder of the story. And was very satisfied by what I got. This story follows Ky as she goes back to her home planet to quickly take care of some business and return to the fleet. Only she never gets to her destination. Sabotage finds her stranded in arctic conditions with a very small band of survivors. I adore survival stories especially when it involves treacherous seas, islands, and people! This aspect was me favourite part. I thought how the author chose to portray the timeline of the survival story was particularly lovely. The only minor quibble was the “rescue” was a little anti-climatic. But of course after the survivors are saved, the pace gears back up. I certainly did not expect what happened to Ky and the others after that. Politics and chaos become the order of the day. It was super fun. Ky, Stella, and Grace all play their parts. And what was fascinating is that they continue to grow and change more in these two books. Like real people do. So that was fun. While the Vatta story can end here, I will certainly take another companion series that looks into the unsolved mystery of this duology. Arrr!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fabulous edition to the Vatta series! Old family nemeses thwarted, take over of the planet thwarted... What will she do next? Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hopefully another coming. Great way to end the suspense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Engaging suspense and hard to put down. This will definitely be reread.
AnnieB345 More than 1 year ago
All-around FIVE STAR book - plot, characters, settings, prose so fantastic that I felt I had a bird's eye view of the action. Only "off" note is that this is the second book in the "Vatta's Peace" series, and it takes a while to get back into the "world" and its characters.
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
Into the Fire (Vatta's Peace, #2) by Elizabeth Moon Into the Fire is another step in Elizabeth Moon’s plot to leave us in suspense. This novel is the next in the installment of Vatta’s Peace. Sera Ky Vatta, has survived the plots and ploys of her enemies, crash landings, and murder attempts to find herself sequestered in the Vatta compound because of legal obstacles. A new law has caused a problem of phenomenal legal conflux. The people who are plotting against the Vatta family and attempting to hide their secrets of Slotter Key’s Miksland island have done many things to put obstacles in the way of their freedom. The mounting scope of the legal problems, and direct assaults on the family seem insurmountable, added to the mix is a plot to hide all the transgressions that happened on Miksland. Sera Rector Grace Vatta, has been poisoned, and her secret file released. Ky Vatta has been sequestered in the family compound that has been assaulted, and attacked more than once, she faces deportation and loss of her citizenship. Raf, and Teague have been labeled criminals for expired visas. Those troops that survived the crash and isolation on Miksland have been kidnapped, drugged and labeled exposed to toxic exposure and illness. Sera Stella Vatta, has been assaulted, her citizenship questioned, and has many legal problems that the Vatta family is not prepared for. The solution of these problems is the building suspense of the book, causing the reader to be addicted to resolution of the plot.
Karen_Benson More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Moon did it again in her 2nd book in the Vatta’s Peace series. She once again delivered the goods and created another book that kept me glued to the pages far past my bedtime! In Line of Fire, Ky Vatta once again proves why she’s such a kick ass heroine in this sci-fi military space opera! I’ve been reading Elizabeth Moon’s books since the 90’s when I discovered the Serrano series. I apparently have a love for military sci-fi set in space and/or other planets. In Line of Fire, Ky discovers that the rest of the survivors of the shipwreck from Cold Welcome (1st book of Vatta’s Peace) are being held prisoner. With the aid of her fiancé Rafe, her cousin Stella, and her Great Aunt Grace, Ky does anything and everything to plan to rescue her fellow survivors. And who was responsible and why? I thoroughly enjoyed this book (and series) and I hope there’s another waiting in the wings! Everything seems to be tied up pretty neatly by the end so I’m crossing my fingers that Ky and her family are needed again to save the day. *Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey for an advance copy!*