Chapter 02: Collapse

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Everything had been going so well.

Allan felt this thought drift through his head, like a soap bubble on a peaceful day...then it popped as another spat of automatic gunfire cut through the air. He bit back a sharp curse, shifted aim and opened fire. A man in flat black armor narrowly avoided the three-round burst Allan had launched his way, stepping back behind cover, and this time Allan did curse. He dropped to one knee, waiting, eye lined up with the scope. A few seconds later, (a lifetime when staring down the barrel of a gun), the man began leaning out, trying to line up another shot, and Allan squeezed the trigger. This time, the three-round burst hit home.

The man's black visor shattered in a spray of glass and gore and he collapsed to the floor with a dull clang as armor hit metal deckplates. He waited a moment longer, to see if anyone else was going to show up and try to ruin their party, but it seemed that they had temporarily exhausted hostiles in the area. Allan quickly stood back up and glanced at the others. Callie and Donovan were still intact, ready to face what lay ahead.

What lay ahead...

"Come on," Allan said, hurrying across the empty room they'd tracked the terminal to. He still couldn't believe they'd been discovered. What the hell were these jackasses doing this far out? It didn't matter now. Bitching about the situation, even inside his own head, wouldn't change it. All he could do was adapt to it.

He jogged across the room, having memorized the route through the abandoned facility. They had to cut through a few rooms that had been marked on the old map as 'generator rooms', then they would be back in Rogue Ops territory. They had set up camp in the center of the old building, around the central control room and the living quarters, where the workers had stayed on site however many years ago it was that the place was functional. It wouldn't be too difficult to navigate the structure, but cutting into the Rogue Ops' position might be a different story. Allan reached the door and peered cautiously out it, both ways.

They were alone.

He stepped over the final corpse he'd produced and into the corridor beyond. Another length of rust-eaten metal awaited him. The hallway was awash in that slightly iridescent glow that his visor gave the environment when it kicked in the light-amp function. Still no one. Callie and Donovan were behind him, backing him up, making sure no one tried to kill him from behind. He jogged down the corridor, pressed his back to the wall and peered slowly around the corner. Nothing and nobody. Yet. He took off down the next corridor.

The trio moved quickly and efficiently through the derelict facility. For a second, Allan marveled at how exciting his life had become just lately. When he'd left his homeworld of Frontier, an old colony world covered in one, gigantic cityscape with a ridiculous crime rate, he'd been fractured, close to breaking, looking for some relief from the horror of constant chaos, of men with guns and lunatics intent on murder or rape or gang warfare. The backwater planet he'd relocated to had seemingly been ideal for such an escape.

His relocation, however, had only left him cold. He'd spent nearly a year 'settling in', but never truly felt at home or comfortable in the peaceful, idyllic environment. Allan had thought he'd found something in a new relationship he'd formed there, but it only seemed to underline his new stress. When the shit had hit the fan and he found himself facing down an unstoppable killing machine, hadn't there been a relief? A sort of release? And ever since then, his life had been an almost nonstop action-adventure of blood and bullets and bombs. He'd been miserable, suffering, and mentally ill...but hadn't he been enjoying himself, too?

Yes. If he was being honest, he was. Because Allan Gray was not an idle man. There was no 'settling in' for him. There would be no peace for him...at least, that's what he thought. It was true for the moment, he knew that much. As for the future...who knew? Maybe he'd get his fill of death and murder and bizarre, inhuman horrors from beyond the stars. But not today. Not when there was so much to do and so many lives relied on him. And if he was stuck in this situation, well, why not at least try to enjoy it?

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