Vakov Fukasawa used to be a Reaper: a bio-enhanced soldier fighting for the Harmony, against a brutal invading empire. He's still fighting now, on a different battlefield: taking on stormtech. To make him a perfect soldier, Harmony injected him with the DNA of an extinct alien race, altering his body chemistry and leaving him permanently addicted to adrenaline and aggression. But although they meant to create soldiers, at the same time Harmony created a new drug market that has millions hopelessly addicted to their own body chemistry.
Vakov may have walked away from Harmony, but they still know where to find him, and his former Reaper colleagues are being murdered by someone, or something - and Vakov is appalled to learn his estranged brother is involved. Suddenly it's an investigation he can't turn down . . . but the closer he comes to the truth, the more addicted to stormtech he becomes.
And it's possible the war isn't over, after all . . .
Release date: June 4, 2020
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Print pages: 544
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Listen to a sample
I realised this was a bad idea at around the time the alien biotech started pulsing with dark pleasure under my ribs.
Not that it had ever been a good idea, of course. When you boil it down, there’re two types of plans: the ones that get you killed, and the ones that don’t. When you’re in the business of stealing illegal goods from dangerous people and selling them to other dangerous people, risk is part of the deal. But it was only since I’d been injected with stormtech that I’d started enjoying it. The rush of adrenaline. The thrill of danger. The heat of aggression.
The polymer atrium of the spaceport with its recycled oxygen and pallid lighting was freezing, but my skin was flushed and prickling with fresh sweat, my breathing shallow, my hands twitching by my sides. I think I was even salivating for some action. Moist, sticky saliva filling my mouth like treacle. I grimaced. I hated when my body did that. Twitchy hands were acceptable and sweaty skin I could handle, but I was never going to get used to a sudden mouthful of saliva. The stormtech only got this keyed up when I was walking into something no sane person would consider.
Nothing for it but to press on, keeping a watch on my body and my surroundings. Breathing hard, sweat snaking down my spine, I stepped into the spaceport terminal. It was frantic in the way only spaceports can be: people wandering around and clutching e-tickets, queuing for zero-gravity nausea meds, whirling to meet flight schedules, all while drones jostled overhead. I cut a path through the crowded chaos. No easy feat for a guy my size, though folks tended to edge out of my way, especially since I was wearing heavy armour, my face concealed behind a helmet with a wide, mirrored visor.
The humid, hot stench clung to every surface of the spaceport like a bad reputation. The stormtech had elevated my senses, letting me smell the difference between the spicy, gunpowdery stink of a suit lined with asteroid dust and the greasy odour of a suit worn by an engine-room worker. Between the familiar smell of a human and unfamiliar one of some alien species. The smells all tumbling and blending together and oozing into every pore. Didn’t matter which planets or outposts or habitats you went to in the universe, all spaceports smelled like this. I’d visited enough of them, back when I was a soldier.
This spaceport was in the bottom floor of Compass, a colossal, hollowed-out asteroid. I’d never been to anything like this asteroid, and it was hard to believe, even standing in the flight terminal and seeing the geometries of chiselled rock gouged out high above, hollows sparkling with metals and threaded with girderwork and support struts like the ribcage of some giant, celestial creature.
Golden lights glistened down on tiles shiny with engine grease as I stepped into the tumultuous streets. Only now did my body-heat drop, my breathing returning to normal. Slowly, I started to think more clearly as my focus unclouded. Eyes on the corners. Ears open. Mapping escape routes and points of interest. Scanning the crowd for weapons and possible assailants.
Paranoid, perhaps. But paranoia is always preferable to a bullet in the face. I had to assume the Jackal had look-outs and was packing surveillance gear. You don’t become one of the most notorious crimelords on an asteroid of half a billion people without your own healthy dose of paranoia.
People clustered around a hexagonal viewport to watch a kilometre-long chainship soaring by, blue starlight glinting off its silver flank. Highrises towered above the spaceport, radiant with blinking lights. Multilevel shop readouts advertised ship parts, engine repairs, navsystem charts, spacesuits, cheap flights and cheaper booze in English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and a smattering of alien and offworld dialects, bleeding stains of neon green and crimson like angry mist into the air.
A crackle echoed from the spaceport. A busted chainship engine, probably. I was the only one on the street who turned towards it. Without the stormtech bolstering their senses like mine, the average human wouldn’t have heard it, or the distant warble of engines entering and exiting the spaceport, or seen the guy in a high window shooting a needle of synthsilver into his arm. Thanks to the organic blue matter shimmying down my throat, wrapped around my bones, slithering down my ribs like ladder rungs, and fused into the fibres of my organs and muscles, I could.
A sudden commslink burst filled my eardrums. ‘Grim! Turn the frequency down,’ I managed to growl.
The intense static quietened until it disappeared entirely. ‘Sorry, Vakov,’ Grim said.
‘I thought we agreed you’d wait for my signal,’ I said, ears still ringing.
‘Yeah, well.’ I could practically hear the ear-splitting grin in his voice. My friend’s face popped into the bottom right corner of my heads-up display. He was short and weedy where I was tall and broad, pale with a shock of red hair that was the opposite of my tanned skin and black hair. We were opposites in many ways. But I’ve found friends to occasionally be like magnets: opposing forces attract. With the emphasis on occasionally. Grim was snacking away, every crunch amplified in my ear. But telling him to stop eating would be like telling me to stop drinking. ‘Everything else is ready … and I got bored. You know how it is, big guy.’
Unfortunately, I did.
‘Please tell me you’re not watching me through street cams again,’ I said as I brought my waypoint up. ‘If they backtrace—’
‘You worry too much. My tech’s airtight, always has been,’ came the hacker’s easy drawl. Grim was my best friend, but in moments like these I wanted to wring his scrawny neck. ‘Just making sure you don’t do anything stupid. Like on Kaddus Station.’
I winced. ‘You and I remember Kaddus very differently.’
Grim gave a knowing mhm. I changed the subject. ‘Make yourself useful and watch for nasty surprises at the waypoint.’
That was our deal. I handled the physical end of the business, while he worked his tech magic from twenty floors above. Grim grumbled but eventually settled down to work. He might whine about it, but he always comes around in the end. If I need him at my side he’ll be there, though sometimes the convincing gave me a headache.
He reminded me of my little brother.
I willed those painful memories away as Grim piped up: ‘Vak, why are we messing with the Jackal?’ The waypoint beamed a neon-green hexagon on my visor, measuring the distance as I walked. Broken glass crunched under my armoured boots. ‘You know he hunts down anyone who messes with him. He takes half of them.’
‘Half of everything. One eye, one ear, five fingers, five toes. He leaves the tongue, so they can warn others.’
Wasn’t like I didn’t already know all this. ‘Your point being?’
‘My point being, why are we putting our heads on the chopping block?’
One of the Jackal’s less lethal enterprises was a biochem laboratory that sold experimental biotech on the darkmarket. One of our contacts wanted one of his genomes for a prototype called Hendrix – a male hormonal stimulant – enough to pay us to steal it. I make no excuses: stealing from crimelords is no less illegal than stealing from anyone else. Theft might not be my proudest work, but it’s the least dangerous and least bloody kind I do.
I hadn’t told Grim I only took this job to pay for his Compass residency card. He always buried the problem beneath jokes when I brought it up, but I caught the nervous flash in his eyes, worrying if this was the week he’d be deported from the asteroid.
I’ve not had not much stability in my life, not many people who stuck by me. Grim had. And I don’t let go of my friends easily.
‘Jackal boy isn’t home,’ Grim said over the sucking roar of a chainship departing the spaceport and punching through the hangar’s electric-blue shield-barrier into vacuum. ‘Probably won’t be until work hours are over, so it’s unlikely we’ll cross paths.’
‘You won’t,’ I rasped. The stormtech had slithered up to fold like wet cement in my throat, turning my voice husky and thick. I wasn’t suicidal or stupid enough to break into the Jackal’s biotech lab. But crimelords are usually paranoid enough not to trust their own security completely, and predictable enough to keep their closest secrets close: at home. ‘I’m the one breaking into the place.’
Although, we both knew I’d partially taken this job because of the risk. It was a challenge. A gamble. It’s no secret that my body’s wired to sniff out danger for the thrill of an adrenaline rush pumping through my system. It was why I handled this end alone. I’ll put myself in harm’s way, but I won’t risk my friends.
The chaos of the spaceport evaporated behind me as I slid deeper into residential sectors. Past colourful smears of digital ink, beneath the vertical labyrinth of jutting balconies and tangled walkways spiralling up through the buildings. I thought over the plan, my brain cycling through the risks and anticipating the possible dangers I’d confront and the kick I’d get out of them. My hands clenching and unclenching, my muscles tensing, the burning glow of adrenaline and androgen trickling through my system, feeding the alien plumbing hardwired into my body chemistry. I tried to shrug out of my body’s sticky sensations and ground myself in the hard details, the schematics.
Sometimes, my body is my own worst enemy.
I passed a group of stinking drunks slumped in a doorway in one of those seedy spaceport bars that only smuggler crews visit. Glancing up, I saw a flag displaying the atom-shaped insignia of Harmony snapping in a simulated breeze up near the vaulted ceiling. Harmony was the governing body that controlled this asteroid and many others, and back when I was a soldier, that insignia had meant something to me. My body heat rocketed sky-high as I gazed at it now, stormtech clenching inside me. No surprises there. They’d injected the drug into me, after all.
I looked away, jaw hard, just as one of the drunks flicked his gaze towards me. As if despite my ash-grey armour and one-way helmet visor he knew what I was. Some folks know something’s off. Wrong. Something down in the brain stem lets them sense the rottenness of alien biotech with no business being bottled in human flesh. Maybe he could smell me. He threw an empty beer bottle that glanced off my armoured shoulder. The stormtech instantly flared up in response. An invitation for violence. I turned away before I was tempted to accept it. Already raring for danger like I was, walking away was harder than I liked.
I could feel my armour responding to me now. Covering me sole to scalp, the toughened nanoparticle surface was supercharged at my touch. Inside the armour, the interface tendrils shifted along my back, the electrostatic charges crackling along the nape of my neck.
I turned a corner and saw a skinnie slumped in one of the asteroid’s hollows. He was birth-naked and striated with what looked like blue gills. They rippled in violent bursts along his tattered chest, his wire-thin arms, his malnourished face. Each breath sounded like stones rattling. His sweat was nearly black, oozing out of clogged pores, releasing the sickly-sweet stench of wet overripe fruit. Skinnies were stormtech addicts, some of them so consumed by their own body’s sensations they’d spiralled into the deep end, beyond the point of return.
One too many missteps, I’d end up this way, too.
I swallowed hard and eased past the poor guy, glad Grim had the sense to shut up. A few minutes later, I came to the Jackal’s house in the laneway below me. One of those standard living spaces you see everywhere: two storeys high, olive-green walls, largely inconspicuous. I perched on the walkway some three floors above, scanning the exterior of the building. No camera, no guards, no nasty hidden autocannons packing high-calibre armour-piercing rounds or any other fatal surprises. I vaulted over the guardrail and fell towards the roof. I landed on my feet, rolled clear to my knees. The three-storey drop should have hurt like hell, but the surface of my armour sparked as the shock absorbers cushioned the fall. So far so good.
Grim cracked his knuckles. ‘Surveillance cams, sub-dermals, alarms, thermals, laser tripwires, pressure points, and micro-detectors all off.’ Hazy gold outlines of the security tech that branched throughout the building began to discolour, oozing back into their honeycombed sockets as Grim disabled them. ‘Happy thieving.’
The vent slithered open and I dropped in.
I don’t know what I was expecting but given the rundown surroundings, it wasn’t for the place to be decked out. Ebony floors, grey angular chairs, and a huge viewport peering out to the dockyard, frantic with ships from a dozen solar systems and half a dozen alien species. I eyed an impressive gin collection sitting in a glass cabinet.
Grim gave a low whistle. ‘Vak, I think we’re in the wrong business.’ But my body heat had skyrocketed, my elevated pulse throbbing hard and fast in my skull, warning me of the real risk. If I had been doing this for anyone but Grim, I might have reconsidered.
But it was for Grim.
I made a beeline for the Jackal’s workstation, unplugged the overriding port from my suit and jammed it into the central port so Grim could get to work trawling through the mainframe while I stayed alert for visitors. A convulsion of colourful geometrical images and complex code flashed across the flexiscreen. Grim muttered to himself. ‘Still searching … still looking for it … man, there’s a lot of data on here … our Jackal is busy, busy boy … oh, oh, that’s not good.’ An image of a young man appeared on-screen. He was spattered with blood, missing an eye and an ear, and the fingers and toes from the left side of his body. His remaining eye was glassy and broken and full of fear. A reminder of the Jackal’s work for his own private collection. My blood pressure spiked.
‘Almost,’ he whispered. ‘Almost … almost. Found it!’ A genome sequence labelled Hendrix materialised on-screen as a clutter of colours and statistics. Hands twitchy again, a trickle of sweat running down my arms, I retethered the port to my suit and the transfer commenced. ‘That’s right, come to Grim, nice and easy.’
The screen chimed again and the Hendrix dematerialised. Finally.
‘Got it.’ said Grim. Sticky, hot relief flushed through my body. I’d earned a drink now. I had half a mind to swipe one of the Jackal’s vintage gin bottles. As I passed the gleaming collection, the stormtech coiled in my throat and my thirst became raging dehydration. I couldn’t resist. I eased open the cabinet, three dozen bottles of liquid gold glinting inside. All begging to be taken away.
I scooped up the most expensive looking one and headed to the front door. If I’d been paying more attention, I’d have heard the approaching footsteps, the conversation. So I was as unprepared for the three men ascending the porch steps as they were to see me. The echoes of their conversation withered out into stony silence.
I wasn’t thirsty anymore.
All three men were about as handsome as backalley dogs, but I picked out the Jackal instantly. It was his casual slouch, the relaxed demeanour and controlled reaction that set him apart as the naked surprise on the other men’s faces quickly curdled into rage. They were Sniffers, their bodies crawling with canine augmentations that helped them seek out threats and hunt down enemies. Their wide nostrils twitched and flared in unison. They’d locked onto my scent already.
‘I see you have something of mine,’ the Jackal said in a vaguely disinterested tone, glancing past me towards his workstation. His slender face was sharp and jagged as a mountain peak, as if the bones had been carved with a diamond-edged blade. His wavy black hair was slicked back, his moustache oiled. His soot-black eyes constantly moving, drinking in everything, missing nothing. Like me, he was half-Japanese, although I doubted that’d give me any slack. A small knife of a smile appeared on his face, as he thrust his hands into the pockets of his trenchcoat. ‘And I believe that’s my gin.’
‘Get out of there,’ Grim snapped.
The image of severed fingers and sliced ears flitted through my mind as a strip of metal unfolded in one of the Sniffers’ hands. It snapped into position as a half-metre-long blade, sizzling with white-hot heat. Wielded with enough strength, it’d carve my armour into scrap metal with me inside it. He took a step forward. My muscles tightened, legs bracing in a combat position, instincts kicking in.
‘Did you want it back?’ I asked, and returned the bottle by smashing it across the side of the Jackal’s head. Glass shattered, shards and alcohol splashing into his face. The stormtech rocketed at the fresh action and, barely hearing his growls of pain, I rammed past the two Sniffers and charged into the alleyway. I hadn’t had this much excitement in months; my body was rewarding me with extra speed, hot adrenaline shooting through my veins like a turbo boost.
They gave chase, all clutching slingshivs that danced like silver fire in their hands. The Jackal roared for me to stop. I turned to look back but ripped my gaze away before I was overcome by the urge to stand my ground and fight. There was nothing stormtech liked more than a good brawl, even if it meant getting my own teeth kicked in.
I locked down my instincts and focused on how the genome I was carrying would stop my friend’s deportation, letting that push strength into my legs as I ran further into the labyrinthine passageways of the asteroid. The halls blurring and smudging under sweat-logged vision. Puddles of muddy wastewater showering up my legs as I burst around a hairpin corner. They were so close behind me I could hear their ragged breathing. I cut the connection to Grim, even as he told me not to. Couldn’t risk him being traced if I was caught.
One of the Sniffers closed in on me, heavy footfalls echoing. Guys like this are all meat and muscle and zero balance. I waited until a flare of chainship lights had flickered down, stabbing light into our eyes, before I jerked to a stop, tilting my body backwards and letting the man crunch nose-first into my armoured back. He tottered backwards, dazed and cursing. I slammed him sideways, into the incoming path of the second Sniffer. While he was off-balance, I hooked his leg out from under him. My fist sank into his gut, right below the ribs, my elbow slamming into his throat and sending them both crashing to the floor in a graceless tangle of limbs. I dived through a stone corridor, the stormtech really riled up now, stamping down on my weariness.
They knew the terrain, knew all the exits. But if I gained enough distance, I could double back and out-manoeuvre them in a wide flank. The Sniffers might be able to smell the path I’d taken, but they couldn’t tell when I’d taken it. My legs burned as I ran on, spotting a burst of light in a narrow gap ahead. I grinned as I curved around a corner … and my heart plummeted to my guts.
Two metres away, through a tall slab of hard, unforgiving, solid asteroid rock, was the spaceport. Might as well have been two kilometres.
Soaked with sweat inside my suit, I stepped back to scout for a new route as the three men stuttered to a halt behind me. They’d swapped out slingshivs for nasty-looking handguns. The Jackal’s relaxed smile was replaced with a deathly-quiet expression, his cold, granite eyes dissecting me. Watching me search for an escape route. Trying to think the way I’d think. This man was a hunter, and he’d cornered his prey.
Eyes still fastened on me like restraining bolts, he spoke to his men. ‘Cage him.’
Screw it. You’ve got to make a last stand somewhere.
I thrust forward and smashed into the first bodyguard, going straight for his broken nose. He screamed. The handgun went off as I thrust it up, the helmet saving my eardrums. I punched him in the crook of his arm, wrenching the weapon away to train on the Jackal. But I was centuries too late. A sun-bright muzzle flash in the darkness and an electranet seized up around me. Thick, chainmetal cables wrapped around my body, pinning my arms and legs, my helmet cracking against hard rock as I toppled. Rough hands rolled me onto my back. The cables crackled with voltage, getting tighter and tighter as I strained against them, my chest heaving. The Jackal’s boots kicked up asteroid dust as he walked over, towering high above. He glowered down at me before delivering a series of vicious kicks to the side of my helmeted head. One, two, three, four, sending flashing lights scattering across my vision and blood flooding my mouth.
The safety of the spaceport whirled away two metres behind me as the Jackal straddled me. No one would hear me calling for help over the noise. ‘Don’t flatter yourself into thinking my dog-boys sniffed you out in the dark.’ The Jackal pressed his sly, angular face close to mine. ‘Truth is, I don’t need augs to hunt a man down.’
He held the white-hot blade of his slingshiv over me, daring me to jerk away. ‘What shall we do with him, boys?’ His lips twitched, as if wrestling with indecision, but I know what a man who’s made up his mind looks like. ‘Let’s crack him out of that metal shell to get to the gooey bits inside. Then flay his skin off. There’s a good word. Flay.’
The stormtech pounded under my breastbone in mimicry of my thudding heart. Survival instincts kicking in for real now. I struggled in the net, but the Jackal was waiting for it. He kicked me in the head again until I slumped back down. I was vaguely aware of being dragged across the rock by one ankle.
‘Business before pleasure, boys,’ the Jackal said. ‘First we take him home, tie him up properly and get to work. No interruptions there.’
‘On it, boss,’ the one with the broken nose gurgled.
A voice cut through the passageway, halting him. ‘What’s this? You guys picking on someone bigger for a change?’
Three figures stood silhouetted behind the Jackal. I recognised their sleek, black-barrelled marksman rifles; I’d spent too many years holding one myself. ‘Harmony to the rescue, huh?’ I let my head sag back against the rock.
‘Harmony?’ The Jackal’s sly confidence cracked. ‘How—’
‘Clear off, Akira.’ The trio were led by a woman, her voice sharp enough to slice bone. Her small service thin-gun remained holstered, her arms casually folded. There’s power in carrying a weapon and showing you’ve got no use of it. ‘You’re lucky I don’t have time for a chat about this today.’
‘We were just leaving,’ said the Jackal.
‘Yes, you were,’ she said. ‘And if I ever see you harassing folks around here again, I’ll find a nice airlock for you to play in. Plenty to choose from around here. You read me?’
‘Of course.’ The Jackal was all charm and charisma again. His sly, dangerous smile twitched at his lips, his gaze hooking mine before he and his men vanished into the smoky asteroid passageway.
I peered suspiciously at my saviours as they cut the electranet off me. ‘What’d you want?’
‘Harmony wants a chat, Vakov Fukasawa. A long, long overdue chat,’ the woman told me as I pulled my arms free. ‘I don’t appreciate having to backtrace your friend’s feed just to find you.’
Of course that was how they’d found me. At long last, Grim’s outrageous confidence in his own abilities had conspired with pure happenstance to completely screw me over.
But Harmony didn’t waste time with petty smuggling. They had a galaxy to run, after all. The stormtech sparked in my chest and I had the impulse to make a dash for it. Scramble to my feet and get a head start before they caught up. Wasn’t like I owed these people anything. Not after the poison they’d pumped into my body.
But they wouldn’t have dug me up unless it was important. Really important. I had to find out why. So I swallowed the urge and asked, ‘I don’t suppose I have a choice?’
‘No,’ she confirmed. ‘You do not.’
Blood, Politics and Coffee
As we walked through the brightly lit hallways towards the spaceport, I got a proper look my saviour. The shib interface implanted in my skull and overlaying my vision told me she was Katherine Kowalski, of the First Class Primer rank. While her black, one-piece underskin with its liquorice-like sheen was typical Harmony field gear, her loose leather jacket and salt and pepper scarf weren’t, especially not for someone so high up the chain. She was Slavic; fair skinned with sandy hair and grey eyes that had a wild, bright look that didn’t usually last long with Harmony types. At over two metres tall, she stood eye to eye with me. Unusual. Had she maybe come from New Vladivostok? No. People from my homeplanet are less forthcoming, more habitually hunched over to shield themselves from the razor-like winds and freezing temperatures.
Watching her stride in front of us, I was acutely aware of the gunrunners maintaining pace behind me, ensuring I didn’t get any ideas about slipping away.
‘Stupid move, stealing from those guys,’ Kowalski said over her shoulder. ‘The Jackal runs Tipei-Corporation. Other darkmarket syndicates won’t even risk selling in their territory, let alone rob them.’
‘I’m not from here,’ I told her, unwilling to explain I was only doing it for a friend.
‘Tell that to the Jackal.’ She slid a chrome vaper out of a pocket, breathing deep and exhaling a thick plume of scented smoke. Hardly your standard Harmony accessory either. ‘He enjoys hunting thieves.’
‘I’m not a thief,’ I corrected. ‘I’m a smuggler.’
‘Don’t want to hear the excuses,’ she replied.
I could see we were going to get along just fine.
We bypassed the crowded spaceport and headed straight to a polished hangar bay. The metallic causeways were clustered with Hangarmasters and Shipmasters wearing flight suits. Flight schedules and docking designations for arrival ships were blaring out over the speakers. A vast viewport showed a black canvas, stained blue with stars and frantic with chainships and deepsystem spacecraft rendered in various metallic colours and swirling patterns. Their engines roared and left contrails of bright blue streaks as they shot out of view. There was even a lungship: a bulky, geometrical spacecraft several kilometres in length and built to traverse galaxies. More of Harmony’s signature flags hung from gleaming walkways and observation decks. As if anyone would forget who’d won the Reaper War.
We passed through unseen and boarded a Comet-class Harmony chainship, aerodynamic in build with a vanilla-white paintjob and a black trim along the elongated flank. Antigrav-nets kicked into gear as we strapped in, the ship smoothly disembarking from the berth and exiting the spaceport. Holographic icons glowed across the control screens, the viewport expanding to allow an unobstructed view of space. I folded my arms, content to travel in silence as the gunrunners gossiped about me in Japanese. My face was hidden behind my helmet, so they had no way of knowing I understood every word.
‘You think he’ll attack us?’ one asked, fidgeting with his thin-gun. ‘Stormtech screws with their heads, right? Gets them high on danger? Probably why he was messing with the Jackal in the first place.’
The stormtech swirled around my ribcage, as if it knew it was being talked about. I shifted against my five-point seat harness, tightening my hands around the shoulder straps.
‘Hard to think of any other reason. He fought in the Reaper War, after all,’ said the other, folding his hands around his bulging gut. ‘Besides, you get that alien DNA shot into your bloodstream and sooner or later you’re bound to go off the deep end.’
I knew they were waiting for me to remove my armour and expose my alien-infused flesh so they could see the blue zigzagging and looping through me. They were going to be disappointed. Stormtech increases the sensitivity of my skin, particularly my hands, feet and face, making my body temperature usually too cold or too hot. My armour was rigged up to counter this, actively scanning my biorhythms and stormtech, automatically adjusting the temperature to fit my conditions. The armour would press in on my body like an embrace, using a combination of gel-padding, thick tendrils and gritty abrasives to provide hard friction against my flesh, combating the stormtech’s influence with external stimuli. Right now it was dropping the temperature to cool me, my body heat declining and the tension in my muscles ebbing away as the stormtech settled. No matter how many times I used them, the suit’s custom-built functions never got old.
I exited the temperature controls as the chainship curved and the view of Compass took my breath away. The cratered surface of the gargantuan asteroid was spiked with titanic clusters of jutting, icy metal. Soaring kilometres tall, the dark spikes scintillating in the sun, it looked like the universe’s biggest sea urchin. All the damaged dreadnoughts, frigates, corvettes, spacecraft, warships and ordnance from our galactic region of the Reaper War had been wilted to slag and installed on Compass like this. Harmony’s final way of humiliating the self-established, bloodthirsty government that had come so close to destroying us all in the war. Some sa
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...