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Into the Dark: Dark Universe, #1

Into the Dark: Dark Universe, #1

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Into the Dark: Dark Universe, #1

ratings:
4/5 (1 rating)
Length:
265 pages
2 hours
Released:
Jan 9, 2015
ISBN:
9781507054444
Format:
Book

Description

Into the Dark opens an amazing new futuristic setting by Jason Halstead called Dark Universe.

Aden Garrett is fresh out of security academy and looking for a little excitement. A little more than walking security at local space station bars and a little less than the job that got him kicked out of the academy.

Meshelle and Janna are Vagnosian sisters that run a small transport and special operations ship, and they're looking to replace a fallen crew member.

Chance brings them together and puts them work for one of the mysterious Kesari merchants who's looking for some expendable assets for a special job. It's a perfect match, except the crew of the Uma, Janna's ship, doesn't agree to being disposed of when the job is done.

What follows is a game of cat and mouse through the galaxy with twists and turns at every solar system. Lost alien civilizations, six limbed insectoid warriors, plasma rifles, and more await. Much, much more…

Keep your eye out for future Dark Universe novels:
Book 1: Into the Dark

Book2: Out of the Dark

Book 3: Chasing the Dark

Released:
Jan 9, 2015
ISBN:
9781507054444
Format:
Book

About the author

Jason Halstead has always had colorful stories to tell. At an early age that creativity usually resulted in some kind of punishment. At long last he's come into his own and has turned his imagination into an asset that is keeping thousands of people entertained. When he's not writing Jason spends his time with his wife and two children, trying to relive his glory days as a powerlifter, or developing new IT systems for his dayjob. He enjoys reading and responding to fan mail as well, so if you liked any of his books, don't be shy! Sign up for his newsletter, find him on the web at http://www.booksbyjason.com, email him at: jason@booksbyjason.com, or follow him on Twitter: @booksbyjason.


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Into the Dark - Jason Halstead

List

Into the Dark

Dark Universe: Book 1

By Jason Halstead

Published by Novel Concept Publishing LLC

©2015

All rights reserved under the International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

For additional information contact:

www.novelconceptpublishing.com

5699 Applegrove Dr

West Bloomfield, MI 48324

Cover art by Cora Graphics

Proofread by Faith Williams

Warning: the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Jason Halstead’s website: http://www.booksbyjason.com

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Dark Universe

Into the Dark (book 1)

Out of the Dark (book 2)

Chasing the Dark (book 3)

Dark Star (book 4)

Shades of Dark (book 5)

Lucky Star (book 6)

Chapter 1

A puckered gray ridge marred the miles and miles of smooth skin that curved over her hips and ran down her long, long legs. Aden reached out to rub his finger over it without thinking.

She slapped his hand away and sat up. She turned enough to look at him. That tickles, don’t touch.

Sorry, he mumbled. How’d you get it?

She ignored him and bent forward off the edge of the bed so she could grab her dark green utility pants and slide her feet into them. She hopped up and finished pulling them up and over her hips. Thanks for the sex. I need to get going.

What? Come on, just like that? he protested. Look, I’m sorry I asked, okay?

She turned, only half dressed, and flashed him a smirk. You want to know?

Only if it’s not going to send you running. I just met you, Amber. I mean, is that even your real name?

She reached up to the piece of amber that hung from the cord around her neck. She stroked it and smiled. That’s what people call me.

He nodded. Okay, so tell me about the scar. You’ve got a few of them.

She lifted her left arm over her head and used her right hand to pull her breast over enough to expose a long scar along her side from front to back. It was still a little pink in the middle as she stretched it. This was a near miss from a pulse laser.

His eyes widened; he hadn’t even noticed that one during their frenzied sex. He’d been too worried she was going to kill him, or at least break his hips.

Amber kept going, turning and showing off a small round scar high on her right shoulder blade. Tracking round from a rebel sniper. Damn near got my crew killed before we got it out.

She watched his eyes widen and then slapped her thigh next. This was shrapnel from a grenade that landed in a bunker full of power cells. Left my ears ringing for days, even through my helmet.

Hang on, he said. Are you serious? I mean, that’s a lot of action!

Amber winked at him. I get around, kid.

Kid? You’re like what, five years older than me?

She laughed. Add ten or fifteen.

No way! I mean, sure, I’m young, but you’re not—why would you want someone that much younger?

You’re legal, that’s what matters, Amber said. Legal, cute, and energetic enough to keep up.

Keep up? Barely! I was afraid you were going to break me!

She grinned again. I was trying to. No sense in having a good time unless you’re going to remember it.

Aden laughed. I’ll remember!

So, thanks—maybe I’ll look you up again next time we swing by this way.

Whoa! Just like that? He tried to sit up and grimaced. The muscles in his belly gave out. He had to shift onto his side to sit up. You left bruises!

Poor baby. Want me to kiss them and make them better? she teased.

Actually, I think I would like that!

Amber rolled her eyes and grabbed her boots. She sat on the edge of the bed and pulled them on. A press of a button and the laces tightened, securing them on her feet. She stood up and turned, looking for her shirt.

I took you for a spacer, but I was thinking engineer or officer, not a soldier.

She grabbed her shirt and fixed him with a withering stare. I’m not a soldier, kid. Mercenary, plain and simple.

No shit? Are you solo or do you have a company you work for?

Why, you looking for a job?

He lifted his chin to accept her challenge. Maybe I am.

Amber sighed and sat down on the bed beside him. She left her shirt in her lap and met his eyes until he dropped his gaze to her lip. He didn’t even look at her boobs; there was too much wisdom and experience behind her green eyes. Aden, you’re young. Too young to throw your life away doing something stupid like that.

He sighed and turned away. I was top of my class on the range at the academy, he said. Besides, how young is too young, and why do you get to decide? You can’t act like my mom, not after what we just did.

Amber laughed. That’s a good point. You really knew how to hold on there.

He stiffened. I didn’t hurt you, did I? I was afraid I—

She leaned over, pressing her breasts against his back before she kissed him on the back of the neck. You can’t hurt me, Aden, don’t worry.

I can’t? he asked. He’d been holding on pretty hard to try to keep himself from getting hurt. She was strong and fast. Beneath her smooth and soft skin were muscles that were hard as the rocks being mined in the asteroid belts. He knew because he’d been digging his fingers into her.

You can’t. It felt good, she purred in his ear to reassure him. She kissed the side of his head before leaning back and standing up. She pulled her shirt on over her head and tugged the body-hugging top into place before turning to look for her jacket.

So, um, how about it?

How about what, a job? Amber asked.

He nodded.

She frowned while securing her jacket. He studied it closer and saw the standard mounting clips spaced regularly on the jacket. I don’t know. I work on a special crew, and I’m not the boss.

Body armor, really? Tek-weave? I’m surprised you’re only wearing a shirt and not pants too.

She raised an eyebrow and nodded. Not bad.

So why no armored pants?

Too tight, she said. And they’re a bitch to get off.

Oh! So you were planning this? I thought I talked you into having sex, he said and trailed off.

Amber laughed. Aden, when a woman’s bra and panties match, you’re not the one who made the choice about getting laid.

His laugh fell flat when he realized something. Wait a minute, you weren’t wearing—

She winked at him. Still a match.

Oh. Oh!

She grinned. We lost a guy recently, she said. So we’re short one. You any good with electronics?

Top of my class! he boasted.

She raised an eyebrow. Got a gun?

He rolled out of bed and groaned when his legs hit the floor. I think maybe you did break me, he whined before crouching down and pressing his thumb against the biometric scanner on the locked door.

You don’t look broke to me, she said. In fact, that butt of yours looks almost cute enough to make me want to try again.

He twisted and looked up at her. Try what again?

She winked at him.

The lock chirped and the door popped out. He turned back to it and drew out a pistol with the station-lock attached firmly to the barrel. Aden held it up and rose to show it to her, a smile on his face.

She held out a hand and asked, May I?

He jerked and pulled it back. He gave it a quick once-over, verifying the gun was unloaded and the magazine was empty. He handed it to her and watched as she tested its weight in her hand and then spun it in her palm before curling her fingers around the grip. She tried a two-handed grip on and then sighted down the barrel at the far wall. She relaxed and handed it back to him.

Not bad for a little gun.

A little gun? he blurted. This is a thirteen millimeter! I could only get one this big because of the security license I was granted when I was in the academy!

She shrugged. That’s why we don’t bring our weapons onto the station. That and the station-locks are too damned inconvenient.

Incon—they keep guns from firing accidentally. Or intentionally. You can’t discharge a firearm in a pressurized environment!

Can’t. She sighed and shook her head. Can’t is a word for conformists. You want to break away and be somebody special, you need to start finding ways to turn can’t to can.

He blinked a few times and then shook his head. He turned and put his gun back in the safe and was about to close it when she cleared her throat. Aden straightened and turned back to her. What?

I thought you wanted a job?

I do! I mean, I thought you—don’t I need to meet your boss?

You want it, you come looking ready to go. We don’t waste time between jobs and if she doesn’t think you’re serious, she won’t even give you a chance.

She? You got a crew of all women?

Amber tilted her head. She nodded her head as she counted and then said, Might be a little less exciting if we did. Too damn catty, though; we’d be killing each other in no time. Four and four, sort of.

Sort of?

Two Tassarians. Both of them are women, though, and neither one seems likely to change.

Two Tassarians! Wow!

Pick your jaw up, she said. It’s not like they lay around the ship naked...much.

What?

Amber grinned. Just one thing, though, she said and turned serious. She pointed at the bed. What just happened here, that royal fucking? Don’t expect that if she ends up taking you on. Maybe once in a great while, but I don’t do relationships, got it?

Um, yeah, he said. Good idea.

Okay, get your gear and hurry up.

Aden jumped and spun around. He ripped open the drawers in his small one-room habitat and started shoving clothes into a pack. He got dressed in the process, almost forgetting in his excitement to find a job a little more exciting than pouring drinks and breaking up fights at one of the cantinas in the station. And there were not one but two Tassarians on the crew already. His sore muscles were forgotten in no time!

Chapter 2

Amber led the way along the outer hall of the main concourse of the station. Thick windows reinforced with an almost invisible lattice of energy shields were the only thing separating them from the vacuum of space. On their left, a railing was all the kept them from taking a forty-foot step to the main floor of the upper concourse.

Aden wasn’t paying attention to the upper-class habitats and businesses of the station; he’d seen most of them before even though his credentials didn’t allow for him to spend more than thirty minutes on this level of the station per day. He was staring out the window, at the field of spaceships tethered to the station. Which one’s yours?

Amber slowed and peered outside. She pointed and said, Hard to see it from this angle—it’s the blue, black, and white one out there. It’s an old Vagnosian space yacht.

A space yacht?

It’s been modified over the years. It’s Meshelle’s pride and joy, a family heirloom, so keep that in mind.

Aden nodded. Um, who’s Meshelle?

She’s the boss.

Is she a Vagnosian?

Yes.

The short-haired blond sped up again and led him through to one of the lifts that went up to the top service deck. They passed through a checkpoint, where they had to wait in line a few minutes. A pair of red and brown furred Devikians jostled each other ahead of them, causing others in the line to back away.

We don’t have time for this, Amber muttered as one and then the other dropped to all fours and snarled back and forth.

Aden looked past the short-tempered aliens and saw one of the scanning bay doors open. He looked back to the Devikians to make sure they hadn’t lowered their heads. He knew once they brought their curled horns into play there was no stopping them. Security would be called and then the real delay would begin.

Hey! Aden shouted and waved. Big guy!

Both Devikians turned. One of them lifted himself up a little, though he stayed on all fours. Mind your own business, Terran!

What? Oh, sorry, I was talking to him, Aden said and pointed at the other Devikian.

Amber’s lips twitched on one side as Aden became the center of attention.

The first one growled and lifted himself up. Bah, Terran eyes are as bad as they say!

The other Devikian grinned. I think his eyes are fine.

Both of the aliens began to turn back towards each other, the red-haired one baring his teeth and starting to lean forward. Wait! Aden cried. We can settle this easy enough. Both of you go over there and stand against the wall.

The two glared at him until the brown haired Devikian huffed and began to walk. He swiped at the other one but missed. Red turned and followed, stepping out of line and letting people slip into both of the now open scanning units.

Okay, side by side and stand tall, Aden coached them. They rose up to their full height on two feet and stretched as high as they could. Each was taller than Aden by half a foot, then another six inches when their ram-like horns were factored in. Maybe step apart a little, out of arm’s reach.

You move, Red said to the other.

No, you move, Brown argued back.

Both scanning bays slid open. Amber grabbed Aden’s shirt and gave him a tug.

Well Terran? Which—where’d the human go?

Aden grinned as the door slid shut behind him. He stood still to let the scanner work and then jumped when something slammed into the door behind him. He stared at it, expecting to see dented metal. Or worse, a crack and a red or brown haired arm reaching for him. Instead, he heard the soft chime of a finished scan. The green light flashed and the door on the other side of the cell opened, letting him stumble out of it before it slid shut.

Amber was waiting for him. Let’s go, she grunted and turned to head up the short hall that led to the service deck. The deck was really another circular hallway, except it was enclosed save for the occasional viewport.

Well? Aden asked as they walked down the corridor. People of all races and colors passed by them, each heading to or from their ships. Some pushed anti-grav carts piled with luggage or boxes.

You gambled and got lucky, Amber said.

It wasn’t much of a gamble, he pouted. I know how stubborn and temperamental Devikians are, that’s all. You have to give them a new challenge to get them to listen.

She smirked but kept her eyes on the signs over each service door they passed. The hatches were spaced every twenty feet and denoted by both numbers and letters in multiple languages on the signs. They reached the hatch marked A12 before Amber stopped and turned to face it. This is it.

Aden glanced down the passage behind him. Good. If security didn’t show up, they’ll be coming soon.

She smiled. Another challenge?

That’s the other thing: they don’t forget when they lose.

For being so clever, you’re not very smart, Amber said. She punched in the code to the air lock door and waited for it to cycle and pop open. Hard to believe you haven’t gotten yourself killed yet.

Aden joined her in the air lock and waved his hand, dismissing her concerns. It’s a big universe. What are the odds I’ll ever see them again?

Better than you think, Amber said. The more places I go, the smaller the universe gets.

Aden frowned and then heard the warning chime as the air lock finished processing them. He grabbed onto a bar and waited for the second and third chime to go off. His stomach floated up into his throat as the gravity cut out. He swallowed and sucked in a breath. He held it until his body adjusted to being weightless. The outer door slid open and revealed the flexible passage that connected Amber’s ship to the station.

You look a little pale. You sure you can handle this? Amber teased him.

Aden forced a grin. It’s been awhile since I’ve been in zero-G. I’m fine.

Follow me, she said and pulled herself into the mouth of the service tunnel. Just not too close. I don’t want you ramming me from behind.

That wasn’t what you said earlier, Aden quipped back.

Amber glanced back at him and chuckled. She shook her head and pushed off, propelling herself into the tunnel. Try to keep up, she called back.

Aden cursed and kicked off the wall. He bounced off the light padding of the service tunnel. He hissed but bit back a louder cry of pain. It was more shock than pain. And stupidity. He shook his head and scrambled to grab a rope so he could pull himself along. Amber was more than halfway to the ship already and easily springing off the sides of the hatch every dozen feet or more.

He grunted. Tricking a couple of Devikians was one thing, but to impress this lady he was really going to have to up his game. He nodded and clenched his teeth. He was up for the challenge!

Chapter 3

Aden was barely through the air lock door before Amber tapped the button to cycle the

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