Science fiction about the far future’s powerful military families, a sequel to Moon’s Once a Hero (1997). As Lt. Esmay Suiza’she of the seriously bad hair and knack for getting into hot water—joins her officer training course, she’s requested to nursemaid the talented but wayward civilian Brun Meager, daughter of Lord Thornbuckle, the Familias Regnant’s head honcho. Brun wants to party, but Esmay’s taking double classes—and when the red-hot Brun starts flirting with Esmay’s beloved, Barin Serrano, the emotionally inexperienced Esmay explodes and bawls Brun out. Unfortunately, the media record the scene and Esmay finds herself vilified, reprimanded, and shunted off to the unglamorous Search & Rescue branch of the Fleet. Worse, Thornbuckle blames Esmay for Brun’s plight, and she breaks up with Barin after accusing him of sleeping with Brun (he didn’t). In a huff, Brun decides to tour her family’s holdings in space, but makes the mistake of detouring through the system where the New Texas Godfearing Militia has just seized a freighter carrying illicit arms. The Militia consists of fascist religious crazies who kidnap and enslave women and children. They grab Brun, then beat, rape, and impregnate her, and murder everybody else. Esmay, executive officer aboard an SAR investigating vessel, finds debris and grisly remains, but it’s a long time before she can track the crazies to their home planet. Poor Brun, meanwhile, gives birth to twins (for whom she feels nothing) and escapes just as Fleet’s rescue gets under way. Esmay, back in favor after some manipulating by senior members of the Serrano clan (she finally gets a good haircut, too), gets in on the action—and, of course, Barin still loves her. Great female characters, vigorous plotting, a solid military-family backdrop, but not enough action to keep everyone on board.