Roc, July 2004, 22.95, 311 pp.
On the planet K-2 the native life form is aquatic/amphibian humanoids but for the most part they need to stay in the water to survive. There is a war going on in the galaxy between the Alliance and the Hsktst in which a brave group of natives have become SEALS (surgically enhanced/ altered life forms); their mission is to patrol their quadrant of the galaxy to make sure the Hsktst don't return or give warning if they do.
Different species of colonists live on land, the majority of which are a cult of the Skartesh whose world was destroyed by the Hskskt. Leading the Skartesh is Shan who is looked upon as a messiah by his people because they believe a sacrifice on his part will restore their home world. Dair, the half native - half human leader of the SEALS, risks her life to find thousands of Skartesh who have vanished but uncovers a conspiracy that targets a take over of all the inhabited worlds in her sector.
S.L. Viehl is a terrific world builder who takes the mermaid legend and integrates it into a very serious space opera. The heroine, different since birth due to the surgeries and the human DNA in her system, is a natural leader and though people follow her into battle, xenophobics fear her and the colonists look upon her as someone who doesn't belong. She has the strength of mind to ignore their prejudices and save their lives when an enemy threatens them and in doing so finds that she belongs wherever she chooses to be. BIO RESCUE is another great work by a gifted writer.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner