Chapter 03: Happy

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Trent strained and grunted as he pushed the barbell up once more, his movements slow and measured. The bar was attached to a rack built into the bench he was lying on and it would lock up if he pushed himself too hard and his muscles gave out. At the two hundred and fifty pounds he was pushing up, if that occurred, it'd very likely crush his neck and kill him. With the real danger removed, at this point, it was more a matter of pride than anything else. Trent reached the top, extending his arms all the way, then slowly began to lower it.

Just three more.

He was currently in between missions. He, Drake, and Genevieve had been gallivanting across the galaxy over the past month, ever since they'd rescued that doctor and recovered that weird artifact on the snowy planet. It had been a lot of fun. The three of them had been dispatched within a day to investigate a derelict jump ship with a Rogue Ops serial number found adrift in space in the middle of nowhere. Its internal navigational database had given them an origin point and they traced it to another isolated region of space where they found a large, abandoned cruiser. There was no trace of anyone onboard, almost as if they'd never been there. Once they checked it out, Hawkins had sent in a massive team to pick the thing apart and wring any clues from it they could. The database was mostly scrambled, but Trent had learned they'd found a few things out.

He wasn't really sure where this all was going. He knew that they had to stop Rogue Ops, but beyond that, he didn't like to think about it too much. Now that Trent was doing something worthwhile, something that would have some lasting impact on the galaxy, he found that happiness came a lot easier to him. The strange terror, the morose apathy, the questions that kept him awake at night...they were all practically gone. He was satisfied on some deeper, primal level. Things he did mattered now, and he slept like a baby.

Trent put the bar up once more and then began bringing it back down.

After the ghost ship, he and Drake had led a squad of Spec Ops troopers against a group of mercenaries who were apparently working with Rogue Ops. They found the mercs holed up in a warehouse on Frontier, in a really seedy slum. They surrounded the place, hit it hard, hammered the mercs and killed most of them inside an hour. The survivors surrendered and were questioned right there in their warehouse HQ. Trent and Drake hung around to help out, since they'd picked up a few interrogation techniques over the years and figured they might be able to connect with the mercs a bit, considering they, themselves, were mercs.

Unfortunately, the mercenaries had literally no idea who they were working for. Their databases, sloppy and ill-maintained as they were, confirmed this. They were supposed to be running security for a shipment coming in the following night, but they had no idea what the shipment was, where it was coming from, or where it was bound. They went to check out the spaceport where the shipment was supposed to be transferred through, but nothing ever showed up and the whole thing was a bust. Trent and Drake shipped back to the Atonement for another quick vacation. Trent, Genevieve, Drake, and one of the soldiers Drake had been into ended up going for a quick vacation out to the nearest pleasure planet. It had been a great two days.

Trent lowered the bar and began to push it back up once more. He could feel his muscles straining and burning. This was the last one, then he'd call it a day.

There had been two more missions after that, both of them milk runs where they didn't run into any real resistance. Trent could sense Hawkins's growing frustration. Rogue Ops had essentially up and disappeared on them, which should have been impossible. But the galaxy was a big place, they could be anywhere. Whenever they left a ship, a base, anything behind, it was either destroyed or wiped clean of almost all evidence. Rogue Ops was nothing if not thorough. Trent had an idea that Hawkins was running out of places to check.

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