Greg walked briskly through the brilliantly lit corridors of the station he was currently aboard. He tugged briefly at the black jumpsuit he was wearing. He'd tried dressing in normal civilian clothing but had only managed it for a week before giving up and reverting back to the jumpsuits. Greg turned a corner and hurried his pace.
He was excited.
It had been just over a month since the shit had gone down, since he and his friends had fought monsters and madness out beyond the Far Reach and put an end to Rogue Operations for good. After getting back, everyone had spent three solid days in and out of debriefings. Not just for the mission itself, but for everything, from the beginning. Now that it was all over, the Galactic Alliance finally wanted to know the truth behind the terror, whether or not it had all been bullshit. Finally, the endless investigators had been satisfied, to some degree, and everyone was cut loose for two weeks' real vacation.
They had all gone to Mezzanine.
It had been a genuine, real vacation. Greg, Eve, Allan, Drake, Genevieve, and Callie had all gotten the best suites at the best hotels on the best island of the whole damned planet, all expenses paid, courtesy of Hawkins and his great political power. The other members of Spec Ops who had survived had also been given a vacation as well, though none of them had felt like going to Mezzanine. Greg had done all the things he'd promised to himself: drink, smoke, lots of sex with Eve, swimming in an ocean and relaxing on a beach. He'd also tried out gambling, but he hadn't been very good at it. It had been quite a hell of a good time.
When it had been over, apparently the Galactic Alliance still hadn't gotten their shit together, and all Hawkins would tell them was that there was 'something big on the horizon'. Greg wasn't sure what to make of that. They still didn't have an answer as to whether or not any of them were in trouble. Sure, they'd been operating under GA authority, but they'd all done illegal things, to some degree or another, in completing this assignment or during the past, and now they knew a hell of a lot that, officially, no one was supposed to know.
Hawkins seemed to feel good about it all, but he was also keeping a lid on things. So they'd been given about another two weeks off to do whatever they'd wanted. Everyone had left. Greg wasn't sure what Drake had gone off to do, or Allan and Callie, but it had been somewhat serious. He could tell in their demeanor when he ran into them. It made sense. They all had baggage, in one form or another, that could actually be dealt with.
Greg's baggage...hadn't turned out like he'd expected. He and Eve had finally gone to see his parents. It had been nice, but...
He didn't want to think about that.
Finally, he stepped through a doorway and came into an observation platform. Hawkins had called them all to gather. He said he had something important to tell them and something important to ask them. That seemed to indicate good news, though Greg was still wary. He'd learned to be so ever since waking up on Dis.
Hawkins stood in front of a window that was opaque. He looked like a man preparing to drop a veil and show something really neat to a crowd. Eve, Drake, Genevieve, Allan, and Callie were already there, standing before him, staring at Hawkins and the opaque window.
"It's about time," Hawkins said gruffly, but there was genuine good cheer in his voice. Greg moved to stand next to Eve, who smiled at him and took his hand. "So...first of all, I imagine you'll all want to know about the loose ends from the Rogue Ops missions. The artifact you discovered is still inert. We have it under lock and key at an isolated research facility, attempting to discern exactly what it was, where it came from, and how it works. We've finished locating and destroying all of the remaining Cyr sites that might be used to open up that portal. The GA is also in the process of gathering up all intel relating to the process so that no one might ever try to start again. Though I imagine they'll have a hard time since even Rogue Ops, working with all the best gear and personnel money could buy was only really firing up old Cyr tech...
"Rogue Ops is dead and gone. Based on the information we gathered from this final op, we've cleared out all of their bases, seized all their remaining assets, ships, and tech, and arrested everyone we could find. There's a number of personnel still missing, presumed dead, but...Enzo is still listed among the missing. We've got eyes out there for him, but so far...nothing. I'm sorry, Drake. Now, on to more current events...all of you are in the clear. I've come through with my promises. Your bank accounts are fat and secure. Your records are clean. Actually, you're all to be presented with medals for what you've done." Here he stopped, and grinned.
"But you're all wondering...'what happens next?' Am I right?"
There was a general murmur of affirmation.
Hawkins's smile widened. "Perfect. Well, what happens next is this: I, and by extension, the Galactic Alliance, would like to offer each of you a job. It's a job that very few others are capable of doing and you are all uniquely qualified to do. In light of recent events, the GA has opted to close down Dark Operations and bring back the Office of Intelligence. But they could not deny how...unsettling and bizarre the galaxy can get at times, and they need someone capable of dealing with these...abnormalities. Which is why they've tentatively agreed to start up Anomalous Operations, with myself in charge, and the surviving Spec Ops personnel you all served with over the past few months as the crew. All that's left is for the six of you to say yes."
For a moment, there was silence.
"What would we actually be doing?" Greg asked finally.
"Dealing with unique threats that present themselves on the galactic front...or something like that. Basically, whenever someone finds an ancient alien artifact that turns them into zombies or encounters a lethal new type of monster, you will be called in to deal with it. You'll have the best gear, the best pay, whatever you want, I'll do my damnedest to get it to you. So...what do you say?"
In the end, it didn't take very long. They all said yes.
Because, if they were being honest with themselves, what else, exactly, did they expect to do with their lives now?
After they'd all said yes, Hawkins's turned and changed the setting on the window behind him from opaque to transparent. As it fell away, he stepped out of the way. Beyond the window was a ship, about half the size of the Atonement. It looked sleek and quick and state-of-the-art. It was painted a flat black, though its joints were painted a sharp industrial yellow. Along the side, in the same glowing industrial yellow, was a single word.
Hawkins's smile widened. "Welcome to Anomalous Ops."
YOU ARE READING
The tenth novel in The Shadow Wars. The end has come. With one of their own dead and another turned traitor, who took one of the all-important artifacts over to Rogue Ops, the lingering remnants of Dark Operations must prepare themselves for the fin...