Chapter 01: Into the Breach

79 10 1

They came in low and fast over choppy waters the color of molten lead.

Drake Winters was leaning out the side of one of a pair of jump ships. He was attached to the cabin and the ship itself via a cable linked up to his suit so that if, God forbid, he fell out, they wouldn't have to come back and pull him from the water. But that wasn't on his mind at the moment. He wasn't thinking about the ship, the people in it, or even the mission they were on. At least not the full scope of the mission.

He only had eyes for the massive metal structure built onto the side of the cliff sheer dead ahead. The facility and the man supposedly residing inside of it.

Enzo Rains.

Drake was dead set on murdering the man. As brutally as possible.


Something seemed to give and his laser focus was broken. He swung his head to the left, returning his gaze and his attention inwards. Only two other people occupied the interior of the little jump ship. One of them he was very familiar with, the other he knew only peripherally. The first was Greg Bishop. He was sitting across from Drake, his helmet off in the seat next to him, revealing his pale face and short, dark hair.

Done up in the traditional black armor with silver trim of the Special Operations division of the military, he was smoking a cigarette.

"Yeah?" Drake replied.

"You okay?" Greg asked.

They had to shout to be heard over the roar of the engines.

"Fine," Drake replied.

Greg stared at him, clearly unsatisfied with the answer, but instead of opening his mouth, he reached into one of the many pockets on his armor and fished out a battered pack of cigarettes. Galactic Lites was stenciled on the side of the thin white pack. He tapped it, so that the orange butt of a cig popped up out of the opening, and offered it to Drake. He took it almost without considering, and accepted the lighter, too.

Drake had never really been much of a smoker throughout his life. But ever since Trent had died, he found the urge returning. As Drake finished lighting the cig, he snapped the metal jaws of the Zippo lighter shut and passed it back to Greg. His mind turned to darker thoughts. Trent...if he closed his eyes, he would see Trent's pale, dead face, staring up at him from cracked and bloodstained metal deckplates where he'd found the man.

His final resting place aboard that ruined Rogue Operations cruiser.

The man had died with a smile on his face, at least. Killed not by the fast-acting poison that had been introduced into his bloodstream by the enemy, but by the crash that he had given his life to initiate, to not only take everyone onboard down with him, but to spare the lives of a thousand drifters and salvagers in a dead colony below.

Drake tried to clear his mind. He glanced over at the only other occupant. A Spec Ops soldier they had culled for the mission. He had a shaved head, calm green eyes, and dead pale skin, the kind people got when they spent too much time in deep space. All of this was now hidden behind the suit of black-and-silver armor he was encased inside of. His name was Malone and he was a Sergeant in Spec Ops. Drake thought it was strange that they were only sending two men for back up, (the other man was in the second jump ship, with Allan and Callie,) but Hawkins had pulled them aside after the briefing and explained the situation.

The politics of it all still made him sick.

After the majority of Dark Operations, the GA's answer for all the shady shit that governments had to do to keep the peace, went rogue, they assembled what was left of Dark Ops to figure out what went wrong and put a stop to them. The renegade faction, relabeled Rogue Operations, was still largely a mystery to them. Because the GA didn't want to feed the beast they'd inadvertently created, they kept a limit on the funding and manpower they allotted to the remainder of the real Dark Ops...lest they follow in the path of the others.

CountdownRead this story for FREE!