In a grim future of corporate tyranny and deep space combat, Samuel Hyst has endured his life as a factory laborer, daring not to dream of a life beyond the polluted industrial planet of Baen 6. Everything changes when his young wife, Sura, reveals that she is pregnant. Now Samuel is faced with the harsh reality that his child will be born into the same debt servitude that he was. Determined to create a better life for his growing family, Samuel and his best friend Ben Takeda sign up for the hazardous life of a salvage marine, the foot soldiers of a militarized deep space operation. They are older than the other recruits of Tango Platoon, and right away have to prove themselves as they suffer through the grueling pace of marine battle training. No sooner than they are prepared for their tour of duty across the scrapyard quadrants of this war-torn universe, they are hurled into frenzied combat against murderous scavengers aboard a derelict starship.
After barely surviving their first encounter, the marines find themselves upon the battlefield once again, this time in the dark confines of an abandoned mining colony, hunted by hideous creatures that emerge from the tunnels. Even as Samuel struggles to survive his tour of duty, he must contend with matters of the heart, as his marriage with Sura is tested by the affections of a beautiful marine Jada Sek. Before Samuel can put the pieces of his life back together, he and the marines of Tango Platoon are dispatched to a remote factory compound, where they are faced with their hardest fight yet. A rival corporation has sent elite mercenaries and mech warriors to confront the salvage marines. Out numbered and out gunned, will Samuel and the marines survive or will they end up just another expendable resource for the corporation?
Samuel Hyst and the salvage marines of Tango Platoon have gone up against everything from space pirates and hideous mutants to the heavily armed elite troopers of Helion Corporation. By all accounts, they are some of the most battle-hardened veterans in the fleet and experts at hostile salvage operations. However, nothing has prepared them for the horrors that await them in the darkness of the subterranean underworld of Vorhold. Tasked with a critical demolition mission, the marines are to travel to the center of the vast network of sewer tunnels and chambers that lie beneath the mega-city, and to do so they must fight against savage monsters and brutal street gangs every step of the way. Victory comes at a steep cost, with Ben Takeda being terribly disfigured and Jada Sek enduring captivity, and the marines who survive all emerge from the depths with scarred bodies and traumatized minds.
Samuel’s return home is sweet but brief, as he must accept a dangerous assignment for bonus rewards so that he can pay off his mounting medical bills and get his family back on track to escape the debt cycle. Samuel and Tango Platoon find themselves crossing into unknown parts of space and launching a massive land invasion of an uncharted planet. The salvage marines are soon locked in pitched combat against ancient machines and the mechanized undead as they struggle to conquer a strange city of polished stone and alien temples. Through it all Samuel manages to survive, and at long last purchases his freedom from the corporation, only to discover that the fine print of his military service empowers the company to demand his return to war.
Samuel Hyst has learned the hard way that business is war, and in this grim future business is booming. Economic competition between rival companies has escalated into a full scale galactic conflict, and the salvage marines of Tango Platoon are pulling combat duty at the center of the catastrophe. All around them vast armies of conscripts, convicts,
and contractors are fighting their way across hostile alien worlds and through the cold void of space at the will of their corporate masters. Samuel finds himself aboard an assault ship plowing its way through the debris of a destroyed starship, and upon impact he and the marines seize the ship in an attempt to capture valuable survivors that can be ransomed back to the rival company. Though they succeed in doing so, the marines cross paths with the deadly agents of a slave cartel, and despite his best efforts Samuel must witness more of his comrades die. With little downtime to rest and heal their wounds, the marines are sent to a swamp planet to secure a factory complex and defend it against the rampaging creatures that live in the murky waters.
Samuel, now in charge of his own squad, struggles to recall the names of the new recruits, as they join and die so quickly that the veterans like himself can barely keep track. Eventually the war weary marines are dropped into the middle of a massive three way firefight between two corporate armies and hordes of the alien machines. It is during this apocalyptic battle that the marines suffer the loss of one comrade too many, and launch an impromptu labor strike. Tension is high at the military compound, and after the death of a union leader, the marines end up facing off against the hereditary warriors of the corporate elite. Now that they have forced a dialogue, Samuel and the other squad leaders negotiate better pay and the option for freedom for those who serve as salvage marines. Samuel, now that he is able to buy his freedom once again, says goodbye to his friends, as Ben chooses to remain a marine, and Jada joins an elite mercenary squad.
At last, Samuel and his family are able to retire to their forest homestead on a distant frontier planet. For a short time life is good, though once more Samuel must take up his rifle and make war, as slave traders raid the frontier settlement. In this universe you can only keep what you can hold.