They were coming for him and there was very little time.
This was all that Greg could remember. His head felt dreamy and light, like he was walking through an almost invisible haze. He was dislocated from the world around him, confused and disoriented, but the looming sense of shapeless, nameless threat would not abate. So he ran. He ran down a corroded corridor of rusted metal and dim lighting. His boots echoed hollowly as he ran for his life.
It was the loneliest sound he'd ever heard.
There were no doors in this immense steel tunnel, no ventilation grates, no windows. Nowhere to to hide, nowhere to escape to. He could not stop, either. It wasn't an option. So the only recourse left to him was to run.
And he did.
For what felt like ages, his boots hit the metal, pounding dully as propelled himself onward, feeling as though he were gaining no distance on the unnamed, unnameable thing that was chasing after him with the relentless compunction of death itself. He did not know where he was, (though it was disturbingly familiar), nor his objectives or what was at stake, (though he suspected it was his own life), only that he must run.
It seemed to go on forever.
Then, abruptly, a transition. Greg spied a looming wall ahead of him, an end to the passageway. An open door awaited him.
He sprinted through it without hesitation, then spun, trying to find a way to close it. He glimpsed back the way he'd come, down that endless rusty hall and saw...nothing. There was nothing there, nothing chasing him.
Greg spun around, abandoning his effort to close the door. At the same time, he groped for his pistol, which should be sitting in a hip holster, but his hand just touched cloth. In fact, he had on nothing but a ragged jumpsuit.
"Campbell..." he whispered, staring at the lone figure.
He recognized this bay. It was a huge, abandoned, industrial hangar. The final location of his final escape from the solar system he'd awoken in. He and Kyra and Campbell had run here, run for the ship that would be their salvation.
And Campbell hadn't made it.
"You let me die, Greg."
Campbell looked awful. He resembled what he was: a dead man. His skin was that awful pallid shade of death, like a corpse left in the snow for several days. His eyes were clouded over with blood. His face was covered in cuts and bruises, though he no longer bled. Blood had collected and congealed around the wounds. His armor was battered, bloodied, and largely ruined. In the end, it hadn't saved him.
Nothing could have.
"I didn't...I...I tried everything to keep you alive," Greg replied.
Campbell shook his head. There was no anger there, no hatred in his gaze, only a slow, cold kind of judgment. His stare was relentless, impossible to hide from.
"Not at the end, Greg. That's not what I mean. I mean you disrespected me, you didn't trust me. You made me lose my confidence. You made me wonder if I was even worth saving, if my life was even worth living after this. How many times did you threaten to kill me? How many of my friends did you kill?"
"We had to!" Greg cried miserably. "You all gave us no choice!"
"How many, Greg?" Campbell pressed. "How many did you kill personally? How many could have been saved? How many were just following orders? How many were just fighting for their lives? Hell, how many didn't even have a fucking clue as to what was going on? I bet most of them didn't even know we'd gone rogue from the government! Most of them probably assumed that what we were doing was the best outcome for mankind! The ends justifies the means, isn't that right? Isn't that what you and the others tell yourselves?"
YOU ARE READING
The thirteenth novel in The Shadow Wars. At the edge of explored space sits a desert world known only as Ash. It supports a minuscule population of miserable soldiers, technicians, and scientists. Why are they here? A year ago, a deep space governme...