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Bandits Engaged

Battlegroup Z Book Four

Daniel Gibbs


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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26


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Bandits Engaged by Daniel Gibbs

Copyright © 2020-2021 by Daniel Gibbs

Visit Daniel Gibb’s website at

Cover by Jeff Brown Graphics—

Additional Illustrations by Joel Steudler—

This book is a work of fiction, the characters, incidents and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. For permissions please contact [email protected]

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FREE BOOK: Read the story of Levi Cohen and his heroic fight at the first battle of Canaan in Echoes of War: Stand Firm.

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Also Available from Daniel Gibbs

Battlegroup Z

Book 1 - Weapons Free

Book 2 - Hostile Spike

Book 3 - Sol Strike

Book 4 - Bandits Engaged

Book 5 - Iron Hand

Echoes of War

Book 1 - Fight the Good Fight

Book 2 - Strong and Courageous

Book 3 - So Fight I

Book 4 - Gates of Hell

Book 5 - Keep the Faith

Book 6 - Run the Gauntlet

Book 7 - Finish the Fight

Breach of Faith

(With Gary T. Stevens)

Book 1 - Breach of Peace

Book 2 - Breach of Faith

Book 3 - Breach of Duty

Book 4 - Breach of Trust


System XB-361-A

Terran Coalition Border Zone

26 July 2434

While the war between the Terran Coalition and the League of Sol raged, life in the neutral planets and outlying human colonies went on. Throughout the border zone, worlds with humans—some who left the Terran Coalition and other colony ships from Earth sent after the initial Exodus—tried to survive.

The lifeblood of survival was trade. Alejandro Metztli and his crew supplied it like a beating heart. From the bridge of the ISV Juan de Fuca, he commanded an aged Victory ship that was a relic from the second Saurian War. Rapidly constructed, the old freighter was coming up on the end of its projected lifespan, but Metztli’s bank account didn’t allow for the purchase of a new vessel. The ship was one of thousands just like it plying trade across the stars.

“Lawrence drives about spun up?” Metztli asked.

The navigator turned her head and nodded. “Yes, Captain. We’re almost ready to jump. Another twenty minutes or so.”

Metztli would’ve done anything for a new commercial-grade FTL drive. But we’re stuck with forty-year-old technology. Since they were in the middle of a war zone, the fact was sobering. But League military forces hadn’t been spotted close to the Jewel Box, where Metztli and his crew primarily ran cargo.

“Good,” Metztli replied. He briefly considered getting a snack.

“Neutrino spike off the port quarter,” Carlos Cabrillo, his first mate and de facto tactical officer, announced. “Looks like an incoming wormhole.”

“How close?”

“A thousand kilometers, give or take.”

Warning bells rang in Metztli’s head. Too close for comfort. “Angle us away and increase thrust. Power our deflectors.” Probably a false alarm.

“Aye, sir,” the navigator replied. “Thrust increased to maximum output.”

“It’s a bulk hauler. Maybe an ore freighter,” Cabrillo said. “Heading straight toward us too.”

The large vessel accelerated faster than it ought to have been able to and gained rapidly on the Juan de Fuca as its ore storage pods opened.

“Fighters are launching from the contact.” Cabrillo swore under his breath. “Mother of God, there’s dozens of them.”

“What?” Metztli felt his face warm. “Freighters aren’t carriers—” His breath caught. “Pirates. It must be.”

“Makes sense, Captain,” Cabrillo replied. “But all the way out here? We could jump ahead of schedule to escape.”

Metztli turned his attention to the status display built into the CO’s chair and pulled up their jump readiness. “No, too dangerous. Thirty percent chance of exotic-particle release if we go now.” Besides, pirates want cargo. It’s a safer play to give it to them and live to haul another day. “Open a channel.”

“You’re live, sir,” the third mate, who manned the communications station, replied.

“Attention, unidentified vessel. This is the ISV Juan de Fuca, a duly registered freighter with the Interplanetary Spacers Union. Please state your intentions and terms. We would be glad to negotiate with you for safe passage.”

Seconds ticked by without a response. All the while, the incoming ship gained on them. The fighters accelerated, flanking the Juan de Fuca on both sides. In short order, they were boxed in with little room to maneuver.

“Send my message again via text transmission,” Metztli said quietly. He stared at the sensor plot as the seriousness and hopeless nature of the situation settled in. “We could try to fight our way out. What do you think, Carlos?”

“Too many of them, Captain,” Cabrillo replied as he gripped the sides of the tactical console tight enough to turn his knuckles white.

“Send a general distress call while we still have time. Request Terran Coalition Frontier Enforcement assistance.” Metztli forced confidence into his voice. “Charge our forward xasers and the point-defense guns.” The Juan de Fuca mounted three xaser-beam emitters and several turreted PD emplacements. Like most cargo vessels, she was capable of limited self-defense.

On the plot, the fighters suddenly broke and headed straight for them. Additional icons appeared—missiles. They raced through the void, shooting purple and red plasma fire and striking the Fuca’s shields.

If it weren’t for the bridge crew’s harnesses, they would’ve been thrown about like rag

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