Big Damn Rescue

A.N. This is Book 3 of a series. If you haven't read Books 1-2, you'll be really confused. Check out Book 1: Damsel in Distress, and Book 2: The Osiris Run. Thanks for reading!

Just as fair warning, this story contains some pretty heavy angst when it comes to death and depression. I've put warnings on the chapters where it gets the darkest, and I've tried to weave hope into those dark moments. Love is strong in this crew, and they endure!

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PROLOGUE

The job was finished, no turning back. Fifty men dead at his command, five by his weapon. He had done it. He was now the most powerful man in all the core planets. Only he didn't want it. He felt hollow inside, like a part of him had died to attain this goal.

He looked sideways and noted a satisfied grin on his brother's face. Although Amadi wasn't his blood brother, they had been raised as such; they'd risen through the ranks of their social circle as such. And now they had taken control together. Amadi clapped him on the back in victory.

"What do you say, Book?" Amadi always called him Book because he would walk around in Shepherd's garb carrying a bible. Book found that the costume confused the local authorities, as well as the rival crime bosses.

When Book didn't speak, Amadi laughed. The blood from the bodies pooled at their feet and his brother laughed! Book stepped out of the circle of corpses. He did not fear the police – he owned the police now.

"Do you want this, brother?" Book asked.

Amadi looked confused, following as Book walked down the street, toward the space port. "Do I want what?"

"This," Book waved his hand in the direction of the bodies, then toward the tall building that was their center of operations.

"I want my fair share of it," Amadi answered. "This is our empire, brother. What we build here will be our legacy. No generation from here on out will forget us."

"These things, too, shall pass away," Book whispered.

Amadi wasn't listening. Instead, he pulled his brother into that tall building, across polished floors, toward their private bar for a stiff drink.

"Shall pass away," the words floated through Book's mind like a doomsday prophesy. A strange thing had happened to him in the years since he'd started dressing like a preacher. He'd flipped through the pages of that book once in awhile, read the words. Over the years, he'd read it cover to cover. Not to say he believed it, but the words sat in his mind, weighed on his heart.

"Will you stop muttering to yourself and drink with me," Amadi charged, toasting with his whiskey. Book met the glass in the air and downed the drink.

"I want out," Book said after they drank again.

"You don't want your share?" Amadi asked incredulously, pouring the next drink

"It's all yours."

Amadi raised his glass with a joking smile. "May this empire never be wrested from my hand."

Book nodded, accepting the next drink. He looked around the room, wondering what he should take, if anything. He thought back to his home, mentally scanning the poshly decorated rooms devoid of life. The words floated through his head. "All these things shall pass away." What was the second half of that statement? What was the hope? The answer came: "The word of the Lord stands forever."

With hardly a second thought, Book picked up the black, leather-bound bible he was most fond of, and headed out of the office.

"You're leaving now?!" Amadi cried in shock. "Where are you going?"

Book was heading toward the space port. "I don't know."

"Do you have a fresh clip?"

Book pulled the pistol from his shoulder holster. He'd almost forgotten it was there, it was so much a part of his body. Without a word, he handed the pistol to Amadi and walked on.

"Do you need money?"

Book shook his head. He hadn't thought of anything except leaving this place behind. And since he'd just inherited the entire core, the only place left to run was the rim.

"Not now," Book said. "When I figure out where I'm going…"

"I'll make sure the doors stay open to you," Amadi promised.

Amadi stopped walking, but Book kept going.

"Brother, think this through," Amadi pleaded as the distance between them grew. "We built this place together. We took this place together. It is ours."

"And now it is yours."

Book didn't want to turn back. He knew his brother's eyes would be filled with fire.

"Fine!" Amadi yelled. "I'll take it. I'll take it all! And don't even think of coming back here! From now on, it's mine!

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