Great fantasy. There are coincidental & occasionally illogical events, but they can be brushed aside.
Heart of the story is a very lovable species of aliens that essentially do the work of Red Cross at galactic scale, & end up having some unfortunate consequences for the beneficiaries - for no fault of the benefactors.
Full text of this story is available online.
Gregory Donovan, the narrator, is a member of security team at OceanPort, a spaceport 8 km off Miami coast. When following up on an incident at OceanPort, he gets into the details of the curious deaths of two rather ordinary men - Myron Seymour & Daniel Daniels.
Both had acted suicidally brave - battling armed thugs unarmed - on more than one occasions, & finally died. In a discussion with his boss, Captain Symmes, he learns of a third very similar case of Creighton Mortenson Jr.
Investigation reveals a common thread - Kobernykov II aka Nikita - a planet a 1000 light years from earth. There was a war some years back where earth was on the side opposing Patruka Alliance (Patrukans are some kind of aliens). These three were soldiers that were part of a sneaker team sent to Nikita to blow up an enemy ammunition dump. All three had had a medical discharge from space service - apparently the fighting unit.
Some more investigations, & things get even more curious. Of the human sneaker teem of 30, only 5 survived the battle. Tracking other two made mystery deeper - each of them too had courted death several times till it caught up with them!
Queries with Patrukans revealed that their 4 survivors of battle are also dead - 2 of natural cause, & two of especially brave behavior!
Obviously, something happened on Nikita.
Rest of the story is of Gregory's visit to Nikita to learn its secrets, & a very charming adventure there. And he comes back ready to put himself in suicidal situations!
"All the Things You Are", short story, review
First published: Jim Baen's Universe, Oct 2006
Nominated for Hugo Awards 2007 in novelette category