It is Summer, and I´m currently spending my days with my family. Great fun, and to me this will always be the most important things in life. But it does mean most of my writing has been put on hold for a few weeks. I still have some work left before Legacy, the third and final installment of the Rift Saga, is ready. I expect to have a manuscript ready for editing by the end of Summer. From there things usually flows pretty quickly, so expect the book to be out by the end of August or early September at the latest.
But it´s time for the first excerpt, a little something to whet your appetite (hopefully). In this scene we meet Renee, on her way back from her first mission as an intelligence operator for Buchanan. As always with these early excerpts, this is raw and unedited material, so there will be issues! Still, I hope you enjoy it!
Renee had dreaded the flight home. Compared to the confinement of the sub, traveling by airship was a luxury, but the flight reminded her of the final exodus of her people, and the flight from the west bank of the Rift to Buchanan. She had developed a strange fear of flying, which came out as not so much fear of the flying itself, but of the things she associated with it; defeat, loss, death.
The landscape below looked beautiful, but Renee knew it was an illusion. The Dead Zone stretched for hundreds of kilometers and contained diseases, people living hand to mouth in extreme poverty, huge areas contaminated by radioactive fallout. She was surprised anyone could live like that. Thinking of them gave her a bad taste in her mouth. After all, the surviving French had been welcomed into Buchanan, while many of these were turned away on a regular basis. Captain Lee had explained it to her once, that Buchanan was unable to absorb more than a certain number every year, and every year more people were being born out there, in the Dead Zone, than Buchanan could absorb. It was simply impossible for Buchanan to help them any more than they already did. He had also explained that there were projects set up inside the Dead Zone, with aid workers doing what they could to assist them in learning to help themselves. These were quite successful, but every now and then some local war lord would feel threatened by their presence, and go on a rampage, destroying everything built by the aid workers and killing indiscriminately. From what he had told her, many in Buchanan regarded the Dead Zone as a lost cause, and yet some who refused to give up. These wanted to push the Buchanan border out, little by little, using military force if necessary. Of course, that would lead to wars and skirmishes, but in the long run it might help.
The problem was the Covenant. If the Buchanan border got too close, the Covenant would feel threatened and might decide to strike early. Everyone she had talked to said there would be an all out war with the Covenant, sooner or later. But the same people knew it would be devastating, and wanted to avoid it at all cost. Renee didn´t know what to think. On the one hand, she had seen the effects of war, and feared it more than anything. On the other hand, sometimes war was the only option, sometimes you had to fight back.
She wanted nothing more than to crush the Covenant, but she realized the enemy was strong. They had wiped out the French in a couple of days. Buchanan would probably last longer, but if the Covenant launched a full scale surprise attack, she doubted even Buchanan would stand a chance.
She didn´t speak to Grey, who in fact slept through most of the journey. Only after crossing the Buchanan border did he open an eye, smile and speak to her.
«You did well out there,» he said. Renee blushed, even though she wasn´t the blushing kind. Probably just because she was tired, and receiving praise from her superior felt good.
«Thank you,» she replied.
Grey, that was apparently the only name he went by, looked out the window and pointed at a mountain in the distance.
«See that mountain over there? It´s called Brenda´s peak. They say it was named after a compassionate old lady during the years of winter, after the Fall. Or something. It´s probably just a legend anyway.» He looked back at Renee, a piercing look.
«Not many agents get to go on active duty so quickly. I know you´re an experienced soldier, but still.” He paused, but Renee said nothing.
«You´re a natural. The way you retrieved the intel, your field manners… But you need to pay more attention to your exfil. Your escape was quick but you left clues. They were onto you, and they would have caught you if I hadn´t been there to pick you up.» he said sharply.
«I´m sorry,» was all Renee could think of saying, but Grey cut her off.
«Don´t be. Someone without your talent would have been caught. In fact, the only thing that matters is the package. You got the intel, you delivered, and now you´re here. Without them knowing why you were inside the Covenant in the first place.» he said. Renee relaxed a bit.
«Once we get back I´m expected to file a report. It will contain everything I´ve said here, the good and the not so good. I will also endorse you for further service in the intel services. Like I said, you´re a natural.» Grey grinned at her confused look.
«We take the good with the bad. Knowing your weaknesses will save your life one day,» he said, before he leaned back and closed his eyes again.
Renee looked out the window, processing what Grey had told her. She was one step closer to becoming a full intelligence operator.