This book just didn’t read well to me, but I can’t really pin down why. The story’s main character is a bad-ass Special Operator called a “Reaper”. A Reaper is a genetically engineered and physically modified human fighting machine which in this case is also named Halek Cain, prisoner of the Bluesphere Maximum Security Prison-Ultramax IX. I guess it’s more correct to call him a former Reaper because he certainly isn’t a special operator for the Union any more. They have him securely looked away for good and hadn’t planned on releasing him any time soon. Until now.
His former Reaper commander shows up at the prison and offers Reaper Cain a deal that could get his sentence commuted, if he survived the mission. Apparently, Reaper Cain is the only Reaper still alive. While they are very capable at running special operations they are not immortal. Others died one way or another until the cost of creating new Reapers just wasn’t worth it. And with the fact that Reaper Cain had gone “off the reservation”, so to speak, killing eighteen or more civilians on his own that put kind of put a damper on creating any new Reapers. Why he went on this killing spree is for his own reasons, but it wasn’t an sanctioned operations so he was paying the price. Except they once again needed his services for a special operation that supposedly couldn’t be done by anyone else.
That right there sounds ridiculous as you read the story. There are other special operators working for the Union, battalions of them, but for this mission they only wanted Reaper Cain. The mission was something he was a specialist at and that was retrieving high profile hostages under very difficult conditions. This particular mission involved his securing a scientist from a very strange prison planet. How this scientist had gotten captured and by whom wasn’t really explained nor what he was doing at this prison. It was just explained that he was there and Cain’s mission was to rescue him alive. For this he would be brought back into the fold and become a Union special operator just like before.
Of course Cain didn’t believe any of this and after listening to the mission brief decided that this was definitely a suicide mission for which they didn’t expect him to come back. This prison planet was supposed to be run by the Union with Union guards managing the prisoners, but that wasn’t exactly the case any more. The prisoners had long taken over the place and had splintered into various gangs that now ruled specific territories of the prison. Cain was later to find out that there were actually civilians not related to any of the gangs living on the planet having been placed there for one minor reason or another by the Union. Most of their crimes were not violent and just didn’t justify this kind of imprisonment. But, someone had to run and maintain the prison planet/moon so these civilians did most of that. The other gangs had an understanding that if they want the gravity dome to remain operating and functional, then they had to leave these civilians alone. Also, these civilians operated a sort of smuggling operation that brought certain necessary supplies to the prison moon and the gangs benefitted from this so again, they didn’t harass the civilians in their sector that much.
But, every where else on this prison moon was chaos. And right smack in the middle of it was where they scientist was held. Cain was also to find out that the scientist’s daughter was a hostage to and of course he was going to have to rescue her along with her father. Now as deadly as Cain was, they weren’t going to give him the latest and greatest equipment, but dropped him on the moon in some older gear and told him to make do. They gave him a pickup point and told him to bring the scientist there at a specific time.
The only problem, other than the crazy prison gangs was that the moon was about to self destruct. Even the civilians managing the place couldn’t keep it going forever. Once the gravity generators quit, the place was fly apart. It was now just a gamble as to which would come first, Cain’s mission accomplishment or everybody dying.
Again, I just don’t know why I didn’t really care for this story. It could be that the author didn’t really give much of a picture into who Halek Cain was prior to becoming a Reaper. The author also didn’t really explain what a Reaper was or how they became one. And then the fighting on the moon just didn’t seem that terrible or difficult. Oh, it did include the Union turning on Cain with no intent on him getting off the planet, but that was expected. And to find out they had a new and improved Reaper that they didn’t use on this mission is kind of dumb.
I have the next book, “Fear the Reaper”, but I don’t think I’ll be in any hurry to read it.