Rating:

4 Small Stars
Rift
This was a pretty good story, but very predictable for the most part.  The Earth Fleet is pretty much in charge of the Solar System.  Humanity has moved out from Earth to settle on Mars and various moons of our other planets.  There’s not much danger in our system, except for a few space pirates and the occasional planet uprising for which the local government can’t handle.  Once the Earth Fleet is sent in, everything comes to a screeching halt.
Grand Admiral Jish Karn has been leading the Earth Fleet for well over thirty years and she is driving it to become much, much larger than you would think necessary.  Still, thirty years ago, something happened in our solar system that has scared her almost to death.  She knows something that only a very few people know and has kept her secret for the last thirty years.  The only other person that knows her secret is Councilman Jarden Fairbanks.
Jarden Fairbanks disappeared almost two years ago.  Some say he died, but others are not so sure.  Either way he’s not around to discuss Grand Admiral Jish Karn’s plans which he wouldn’t have liked anyway.  Truth is, Councilman Fairbanks has been very busy over the last thirty years and has become a hugely wealth man.  He’s taken that wealth to develop his own plan and is soon going to execute it.  Everything is coming to a head in just a few short days.
Another part of the story involves a former Earth Fleet Marine and his co-pilot, Kat.  Flint Lancaster is the pilot of a pretty rough looking freighter that he and Kat pilot through the solar system delivering “things” to his clients.  He’s not going to say what he delivers other than he doesn’t do human trafficking even if asked and paid a lot of money.  An independent freight hauler can’t really make a living just doing “legal” hauling, so he’s taken on his share of questionable cargo and delivered it as directed.  Kat is pretty young to be a co-pilot.  She and Flint met after one of the worst terrorist attacks which killed both her parents and left her with no one.  These two have had a pretty good time together although they aren’t getting wealthy, that’s for sure.  Then they come to the attention of Councilman Jarden Fairbanks.  He has sent his personal assistant, Benson, to collect Flint and Kat for a job they can’t refuse.
Then there’s Ace.  He’s a very young kid on the streets of Old Chicago barely living any kind of life.  He’s not wanted by the authorities, just one of many that has no life and nothing to look forward to.  He then comes across and alley where he hears two toughs talking to someone who turns out to be a young recruit from Earth Fleet.  The young guy is drunk and really doesn’t know what’s happening.  Ace doesn’t usually get involved so he waits to see what happens when the two punks shoot the Earth Fleet Recruit and then high-tail it out of the alley.  Ace goes to the dying kid and watches as the life goes out of him.  Now Ace is afraid that if the authorities find him near the body, they’ll think he did the killing.  Ace has always dreamed of joining the Earth Fleet and now he might have a way.  He takes the ID chip out of the recruits wrist and his identity card and hustles away from the seen.  He also found a wad of credits on the dead recruit and finds a man that can change out his chip for the dead Recruit.  So, it looks like ACE will get his chance to joint the Earth Fleet and realize his dream of becoming a star-fighter pilot!  Maybe!
Ok, just a few more characters starting with Wren.  She’s a young woman barely in her thirties.  In her former life, she was an accomplished biotechnologist with her own lab and everything.  She was engaged to another scientist and everything was looking great for her.  Then her boyfriend was killed and she got framed for the death.  So now she finds herself on a desolate moon in a prison for women; one that no one every comes back from.
The prison is ran by androids; seemingly mindless, programmed androids.  They have no feelings for their prisoners, but the know the rules of the prison and enforce them vigorously. That is except for one android labeled CD6.  He’s definitely not like the other androids and he’s known this for over thirty years.  He has a strong feeling that Wren is not guilty of the crime she’s accused.  So, he makes a plan to get her out of prison and in so doing will also set himself free.
So that’s the cast of characters and each story-line.  They all will merge in a few days at the same spot and await the revel the secret that Jish Karn and Jarden Fairbanks have kept for over thirty years to the day.  The Rift is about to open!