Chapter 01: Into the Darkness

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Genevieve opened her eyes as a tremor ran through her section of the ship, rumbling the deckplates and bulkheads. Wouldn't it be a laugh, she mused, if this was how she went out? Twenty years with a gun in her hand, skillfully taking out hostiles, up close and from a distance, and she went out because of a malfunction in FTL flight? The tremor subsided and the old ship held together. She closed her eyes once more, seated on her single-wide bed, made with military precision, legs crossed. She controlled her breathing.

In, then out.

Slow, calm, even, and steady.

This simple meditation had helped lay the foundation of calm that she made her life. She had to admit, it had slipped over the past six months, ever since Trent had died. A tremor of unease slithered through her. She didn't like to think about him. If anything, she had tried not to for a long time. Their relationship had been...easy. But his sudden absence from the land of the living had been complicated. She'd been angry, frustrated, and distracted, her calm demeanor eroding slowly. It was only recently that she had really begun to feel...normal, again.

Genevieve tried to stow the thoughts of Trent and Rogue Ops. They were, both of them, dead and gone now that Drake, Greg, and Eve had put down Enzo and his final cell last week. She'd been there when Drake had left. She'd wondered if he would come back. But now she had a mission all her own, one that Hawkins had said suited her particular skill-set quite well. And he was right. Genevieve wasn't just a sniper and an assassin, she was an expert infiltrator and she could blend into pretty much any environment or situation.

For the most part.

Like now. Here she was, a member of an independent salvage team being led to their doom. This was to be Genevieve's first solo mission since joining up with Anomalous Ops. She lamented that it took so long for such an occurrence, that the past six months had been spent either training or running down dead-ends relating to what was supposed to be a defunct Rogue Ops and, on two separate occasions, the GA had called on her 'special skill-set' to 'marginalize' a pair of targets. They didn't like to admit it, but rebels were coming up again in a few separate sectors and they weren't in any condition to fight another war.

Then, suddenly, after half a year of monotony, Hawkins had approached her last week, told her that he had a job for her. He had a smile on his grizzled face. He seemed just as relieved as she felt. It was weird, he promised, a real mystery. He handed the infopad and told her she'd be departing in twelve hours and to be ready.

The file was slim.

Ever since starting up Anomalous Ops, Hawkins had apparently put into effect a new program, (with the tentative appraisal of the GA). Its goal was simple: sift through terabytes of data, all the mundane information that came from a million different sources spread out across the galaxy, and look for abnormalities, anomalies, oddities. A few had cropped up and one of them was the fact that, apparently, people were going to an isolated asteroid, abandoned by a small, now collapsed mining corporation, about five years ago...and they weren't coming back. Only that wasn't entirely true. As of two years ago, one of them was coming back.

The same one, each time.

His name was Brad Ross. He was in his fifties and he had a bit of a shifty, checkered background. He drifted from job to job and had been put away three times for thieving and just generally being a lowlife con artist, tricking people out of their money or goods. Genevieve found that somewhat amusing. If you were considered a lowlife, then you were called a con artist when you fucked people out of their money, but if you wore a business suit, had a job title, and slicked back hair, you were called a genius.

Or at least a businessperson.

Hawkins wanted the mystery unraveled. And there was a mystery. Officially, the company that had laid claim to the asteroid and set up a mining operation there had left after about six months, claiming the initial scanner results had led them to believe there were much vaster deposits of iron and nickel in the asteroid and that they had gotten all there was to get. But that didn't quite seem to hold up. Genevieve had looked at the scans herself and they didn't seem off or odd at all. The only thing, she imagined, that kept anyone from looking into this anymore was the fact that the company folded only a month later.

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