PHLEGM is not one of those acronyms that just rolls off the tongue. It tends to stick in the throat. But it's easier to say than Planetary Hub Law Enforcement Group - Monroe Division. PHLEGM is an important unit, doing an important job. Members of this group are called shields and they patrol Monroe Station, a huge orbital community in Earth's influence. This story is about one of those shields. His name is Levi, and he's trying to fit into a human world as best he can. Levi is a sheep, but not just any sheep, he's a fearsome quad ram, specially modified genetically for law enforcement.
Levi and his human partners Bud Havoc and Marty Boher get a call to go down to a small town called Harry-Hurt-His-Toe in the university district of Monroe Station. There they find a madman ransacking an office and screaming about an ancient prophecy of doom. Havoc approaches the man but he has protection, a 500 pound gorilla. Levi is able to dispatch the gorilla, allowing his partners to subdue the man and take him downtown to booking.
They listen to the man's rantings. The end is near, he says, as foretold by the Book of Trudy and only the Eye of Nigel can save them. The madman is released, but he continues to make trouble all over Monroe Station. Levi doesn't put much credence in the prophecy of doom, but then he discovers there are missing PHARTs (Planetary Hub Armed Recon Teams). Three have disappeared in two weeks while on patrol. When he meets a recon commander, he finds out that it's worse than they thought. There are now many more PHARTs missing. Something is happening out on the perimeter. Something sinister. Can it be stopped?
What's a sheep to do?
I really enjoyed this story! I loved the commentary on modern life with Smith's subtle and not so subtle imagery. This was my first try at listening to an audio book, and I am very glad that it turned out to be a fun and hilarious story to listen to!