Bones of Empire (2010) is the second SF novel in this series. It follows At Empire's Edge. In the previous volume, Usurlus travels to Dantha to investigate Procurator Nalomy. Usurlus only takes his person guard of about sixty men.
CeCe comes home one day and learns that she has been sold as a slave by her stepmother. At the slave market, Alamy is sold to the Majordomo of the palace. Alamy becomes part of the kitchen staff.
A Vord destroyer attacks the prison ship carrying Verafti. The captain of the prison ship closes with destroyer and the Xeno Corps policemen board the enemy ship. The prison ship is severely damaged, so the cops scuttle the destroyer and land on Dantha. There Verafti escapes from the Xeno police and leaves the planet.
In this novel, Jak Cato is a Section Leader in the Xeno Corps. He has the usual modified DNA, but his genes seem to have flaws. He can read emotions as well as any other corpsmen, but he cannot completely shield his emotions. He now has CeCe as a slave and lover.
Isulu Usurlus is an Imperial Legate in the Uman Empire. He reports directly to Emperor Emor.
Livius is the chief bodyguard in Usurlus's staff. He replaced a man killed of Dantha.
CeCe Alamy is a young uman from the Dantha slums. She was bought by Cato and joined his household. She is also Cato's lover and has been promised that he will free her.
Tegor Nalomy is an Imperial Senator and head of his family. He is very angry with Usurlus and Cato for the death of his daughter.
Tuso Inobo is the Primus Pilus of Corin. Cato reports directly to him when not assigned to Usurlus.
Verafti is a Sagathi, a shapeshifting empathic alien species that can replicate the body of any animal with about the same mass. They absorb the fear of their victims and eat their bodies.
Demeni is also a Sagathi. Verafti wants her to become his mate and has been searching for her.
In this story, Usurlus is returning to Corin, the Imperial capital. He will parade through the street with police in front sounding sirens and flashing lights. He and Cato will be riding in a war wagon following the two stretch limos.
A gang of assassins has set up an ambush for the motorcade within Port City. A rocket hits the first limo, but doesn't penetrate the armor. Livius orders the other bodyguards out of the car to guard the war wagon. He leaves several staff in the car, including CeCe.
Alamy orders the other staff to lock the doors. When three assassins appear in front of the car, she drives the car over two assassins, but then crashes into a barrier. The last assassin starts firing at her through the bulletproof window glass, so she fires the antipersonnel grenades.
Somebody gives Usurlus a submachine gun and he is returning fire at the assassins. Cato tells the bodyguards to take the SMG away from Usurlus and put him back in the car. When the dust dies down, every assassin is dead and Usurlus, Cato and Alamy are still alive.
After the ambush, Cato is subject to the orders of Inobo. The Primus Pilus assigns him as centurion of the bunko squad. He is told to ask Section Leader Shani for the particulars.
Cato finds Shani in the Military Detention Facility. She was jailed for brawling with civilians. Cato gets her released and becomes her partner for his first patrol.
Alamy finds housing in the capital city. When the landlady learns that Cato is a cop, she knocks a little off the price. It is high on the slope and can be reached only by the stairways, but Cato loves the view.
Senator Nalomy is exceedingly angry at the unsuccessful attempt against Usurlus. He makes a deal with a Cloque crime boss to assassinate Cato. He is assured that the deed will be done.
Leechlike creatures crawl across the ceiling and drop on Alamy and Cato. She is almost smothered before Cato frees her and then he is ensnared by four of the creatures before CeCe stabs them with scissors.
Meanwhile, Verafti has been on Corin for several weeks. He shifts into a Praetorian Guard and gains access to the Emperor. After eating Emor, he searches the databases for signs of Demeni. He severely neglects the business of empire and the emperor's closest associates start to wonder if he has lost his wits.
This tale takes Verafti to Therat, an Imperial world that had been taken by the Vord. Usurlus convinces the Vord to accept three Xeno empaths (and CeCe) to hunt down the shapeshifter. The umans are not well liked on the Vord destroyer that transports them to Therat.
Cato is obviously not intelligence trained. He should have kept at least one assassin alive for questioning after the ambush. He only discovers the involvement of Senator Nalomy after the assassination attempt against himself.
This story concludes with Alamy missing on Therat. The next installment in this series has not yet been announced on Amazon.
Recommended for Dietz fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of alien creatures, empathic cops, and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin