Star wolf shattered gala.., p.1

Star Wolf (Shattered Galaxy), page 1

 

Star Wolf (Shattered Galaxy)
 


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Star Wolf (Shattered Galaxy)


  Star Wolf

  A Shattered Galaxy Novel

  by

  David G. Johnson

  Star Wolf – A Shattered Galaxy Novel copyright 2017 by Faith X Fiction Press and David G. Johnson, all rights reserved.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written permission of the author. Exception is made for short excerpts used in reviews.

  This story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

  Cover artwork by Elsbro (https://www.fiverr.com/elsbro)

  Cover design courtesy of Mary C. Findley

  Dedication

  To God and His Son, Jesus Christ, without whom nothing in my life would be possible.

  To my daughter, Ariel, and my wife, Amy, who put up with a moody curmudgeon, always struggling to find time to write. Without you, none of this would have come to fruition. Thank you for supporting and enabling my dreams.

  To the members of my author group, Iron Sharpening Iron, you are a constant source of strength and support. Your input was invaluable.

  Finally, to one of my greatest fans, Ben B., for following me out of Fantasy and into Outer Space.

  Acknowledgments

  This section is always the hardest. There are so many to thank, and so many opportunities to inadvertently forget someone. Thanks to my cover artist, Elsbro (the link to his Fiverr.com page is below). Thanks to Mary Findley, the fantastic designer who took Elsbro’s artwork and made it into a brilliant cover as well as doing my print and ebook formatting.

  Thanks to my editor, Anna Lindsay (author page linked below), who, even when I hit some slowdowns, didn’t give up on encouraging me to finish and whose work made this book much better thanks to her input. Thanks to my ISI groupmate Cindy who kept herding me off Facebook and back into my writing desk. Thanks to Dr. Knight, who consulted on some medical details. Thanks to my beta readers, Jim, Sherry, and Kessie (whose Amazon author page links are below) for helping me work out a few kinks.

  Last but not least thanks to the fans and readers who have supported my other books and who were clamoring for more. I pray that this new and futuristic setting, with an expanded imagining of a universe in which our Lord tarries on His return until a time when mankind reaches the stars, is one which you will find thoroughly entertaining, edifying, and satisfying. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.

  Elsbro—cover artwork: https://www.fiverr.com/elsbro

  Mary Findley—cover design: https://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/image-displays/

  Anna Lindsay—author/editor:

  https://smile.amazon.com/Anna-Lindsay/e/B00O8EGKQ2

  Jim Dempsey—author/beta-reader:

  https://smile.amazon.com/Parenting-Unchained-Overcoming-Deceptions-Christian-ebook/dp/B00MAHBUQO

  Sherry Chamblee—author/beta-reader: https://smile.amazon.com/Sherry-Chamblee/e/B00BA06RJ2

  K.M. Carroll—author/beta-reader:

  https://smile.amazon.com/K.-M.-Carroll/e/B00H2WIUN8

  Table of Contents

  Foreword

  KNOWN GALAXY – ACCORDING TO MAN

  FACTION ALLIANCE CHART

  One – Freedom Flight

  Two – On Course for Tede

  Three – Search for Reason

  Four – Dead Ends

  Five – Unexpected Guests

  Six – Brothers of the Lion

  Seven – Back to the Stars

  Eight – A Voice From Beyond

  Nine – Friend in the Fold

  Ten – Firefight

  Eleven – Close Quarters

  Twelve – Friend or Foe?

  Thirteen – Spies and Lies

  Fourteen – Who Watches the Watchmen?

  Fifteen – Out of the Frying Pan

  Sixteen – Brother Zebedee

  Seventeen – Breakout

  Eighteen – Cast Off

  Nineteen – Clean Break

  Twenty – Advance or Retreat?

  Twenty-One – Back to Ratuen

  Twenty-Two – Inquisitor

  Twenty-Three – Revenge

  Twenty-Four – Spider’s Web

  Twenty-Five – Called Bluffs

  Twenty-Six – Shattering

  Twenty-Seven – Guardian Angel

  Twenty-Eight – Flight to Furi

  Twenty-Nine – Lost and Found

  Thirty – New Feelings and Old Friends

  Thirty-One – Hey, Abbot

  Thirty-Two – On Your Marque

  Thirty-Three – Last Call

  Glossary of Technology and Terms

  Afterword

  Foreword

  For those of you familiar with my writing, this brief foreword will be no surprise. For those of you for whom Star Wolf is the first of my works you have encountered, I promise to keep this foreword brief so you may continue on to the story.

  I try to let everyone know right up front that I am a Christian author. I personally hold a Christian worldview, and all of my novels are necessarily written from this worldview, as I have no other worldview from which to write.

  That being said, however, I endeavor in all my works to primarily write an entertaining story. I write for my readers, not at them. This is not in any way a sermon wrapped in a story. I know many Christian works are, unfortunately, which has left many non-Christian readers with an understandable skepticism toward works by known Christian authors.

  I am happy to report that I have fans and solid reviewers who have enjoyed my work without sharing my worldview. I write as a long-time fan of fantasy and science fiction, who happens to be a Christian. There are definitely Christian themes in my works, but I strive, with every novel, to make them intrinsic to the story, endemic to the situation as they might naturally arise in the lives of characters, some of whom are people of faith.

  I also do my best to steer away from the “Christians are good guys, non-Christians are bad guys” trope that permeates so much “Christian fiction”. I build complex characters and hence one can find honor, nobility, and heroism, or, just as in real life, treachery, misguided zeal, and base behavior, both in those who label themselves Christians and in those who do not.

  Christians are far from perfect, and non-Christians are not all bad. You will find contained in this novel a balance of characters on both sides of the faith-fence to love and to loathe. If I managed paint my characters as complex, flawed, and unpredictable as real people are, I have done my job.

  It is also important that my readers understand it is not necessary to share my worldview to enjoy my stories. My novels are written to be great adventure stories. However, in the afterword of each novel, I do take the time to share my own testimony of how I came to faith, and what faith in Christ means to me. For those not interested in delving deeper into that aspect of the author, I assure you that you will miss nothing of pertinence to the story itself by skipping the afterword. It is included solely for the benefit of those who may be curious about what I believe and why.

  Without further ado, we now move into our adventure. I hope you will have as much fun reading this story as I have had writing it. If so, leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads is always a helpful way to show appreciation. I do not ask that anyone necessarily leave a positive review, only an honest one. Those are always welcome, ideally after actually reading the book, of course.

  KNOWN GALAXY – ACCORDING TO MAN

  FACTION ALLIANCE CHART

  One – Freedom Flight

  Sharp cracks punctuated John Salzmann’s rage-filled bellows and his wife
Elena’s shrieks of agony. The tortured couple, backs bared and bleeding, hung from shackles that bound their wrists and denied them even the comfort of collapse. John yanked futilely at his chains and roared in frustration, his fury focused on the rotund, balding, pock-faced inquisitor whose whip continued to alternate between his two targets.

  John barely recognized his own voice, much less the unbearable wail coming from his beloved Elena. He had never heard her scream in pain before. It was a sound he wished never to hear again. Yet the hard and passionless face of their tormentor remained utterly indifferent to the woes of his victims. It was not the way of the Faithful, but John could not repress his inward desire to repay tenfold every stroke the inquisitor administered to his beloved Elena.

  The smell of blood and fear filled the chamber. Hanging in agony, skin shredded, face twisted in rage, John bore little resemblance to the athletic, carefree, towheaded youth he had been when he first met Elena. Yet, even after their years together on Tede, even after all the suffering they had endured in this prison, Elena’s long chestnut hair and large brown eyes appeared as beautiful to John as they had the day they met. He prayed the Lion of Judah would come and whisk her away to anywhere far from the horror of this place. The bloody patchwork pattern on her skin bore witness that the inquisitor had been working diligently at his task for quite some time.

  “You Faithful beat all I’ve ever seen,” said the torturer. “You’re all meek as lambs, yet tough as iron. I’ve had battle-hardened soldiers break quicker than this.”

  Just then, the door from the prisoner corridor opened, and a single, silvery-gray furred Lubanian in guard’s uniform entered. The very sight of a man-sized wolf, dressed in human clothes and walking about on hind legs, was enough to distract John from his inquisitor-inflicted agony. The guard’s lupine snout protruded from beneath the visor of his tac-helmet. There were several Lubanian guards at this prison, but John still found the sight of them disturbing.

  On John and Elena’s homeworld of Tede, aliens were never permitted outside the starport. Aliens were common enough on the core world where John had studied medicine and done his residency, but he had rarely interacted with them. His focus was on treating humans, the only specialty he would need on Tede.

  Humaniti had discovered a handful of major and thousands of minor alien species during their exploration of space, but Lubanians were one of the most commonly encountered aliens on human worlds, especially along the spinward borders of Humaniti space.

  The new arrival took up a position near the door. The alien guard seemed to be staring at him, but who knew for certain what those wolfish eyes were doing beneath the tac helmet’s shaded visor. The other two human guards ignored the newcomer completely, and the jailor paid him no more than a passing glance before returning to his monologue. The torturer growled in John’s ear, grabbing a handful of bloodied blonde hair and yanking John’s head back to guarantee full attention.

  “Perhaps it is time for a new tactic. I’ve interrogated enough of you Faithful to know you’ll never betray your friends to save yourself. You wouldn’t even if I peeled every inch of skin from your bones as an encouragement.

  “However,” the jailor whispered into John’s ear. “I’ve never had the pleasure of interrogating a husband and wife together before. If you won’t save yourself...”

  “No!” John shrieked.

  John swung his head to the side, trying with what little strength he retained to bash his skull into the inquisitor’s face. The torturer was too quick and evaded John’s feeble effort with a brief chuckle.

  “Here is my proposal,” the jailor continued. “Whichever of you tells me where to find the hidden Brothers of the Lion monastery on the Tede system’s mainworld, will end their spouse’s torment.”

  After a brief pause, and having received no response from either John or Elena, the jailor growled, “Bah! Have it your way.”

  The leathery slither of the whip cut through the air as the jailor drew it back in preparation of resuming his work.

  “Wait!” John called out.

  “John, no!” objected Elena.

  “Shut up, witch!” replied the jailor. “Out with it, man. I won’t stay my hand for long.”

  The inquisitor emphasized the point by cracking the whip in the air, causing the couple, who had learned the pain that normally accompanied that sound, to flinch and shudder.

  “Do you swear by all you hold sacred that her torture is done if I tell you where to find the monastery?”

  John tried to bluff, as though he were in some position to force the jailor to keep his word. John was an accomplished gambler, but this time he was holding a busted hand with no choice but to bet into a losing pot.

  “Not another lash will fall,” the fat torturer assured him with a smug smile. “In truth, I have no interest in you sheepish, Faithful devotees. Those Brothers of the Lion, however, are another matter altogether. They have become an intolerable nuisance to my employers. Now stop stalling or your wife will know the full range of pain I can deliver.”

  “John, you can’t!” Elena said, tears filling her eyes. “Don’t do this!”

  “I must,” he answered.

  Had Elena ever sounded so desperate? There was no reason to believe the inquisitor would keep his word, but refusing to cooperate guaranteed their torment would continue. If there was even the remotest chance of sparing Elena, John had to try.

  “I was supposed to protect you, Elena. I failed. I can at least end your pain.”

  “This won’t save us,” Elena pleaded.

  John knew what she meant. What he was about to do was risky, even if the inquisitor kept his word. At best, this would buy them a week or two. If they couldn’t find a way to escape before then, John’s gamble would only have made things worse. Still, at this point he was out of options.

  “The Lion of Judah will look after His own, my love, but He entrusted me to look after you.”

  “Very touching,” the inquisitor said, cutting a new lash across Elena’s back, eliciting a pain-filled scream. “But you are wasting my time with this sentimental backwash. Speak quickly before I change my mind.”

  “Their secret monastery is in the hills to the east of Elucia City.”

  “Oh, John!”

  Resignation filled Elena’s voice as she sagged in her shackles. John felt as though he had delivered another punishing lash to his wife’s back with his very attempt to spare her. All defiance had fled from her battered form. It was too late to back out now. John had made his bet and had to play out the hand.

  “They are in an underground cave complex,” John continued. “There are cave entrances on the south-facing hillsides that lead to the hidden monastery deep inside the hills.”

  “See?” the inquisitor said, walking back into John and Elena’s view and setting the whip on a table. “Was that so hard?”

  John sighed. It looked like the gamble worked. They were safe from the whip, for now.

  “Now, to fulfil my promise.”

  The inquisitor grinned and locked eyes with John as he drew a knife from his belt. Grabbing a handful of Elena’s hair and raising her head, he slit her throat with practiced smoothness.

  Elena quietly gurgled, looking at John with pleading eyes as her lifeblood poured from her.

  “No!” John screamed in a voice wracked with impotent rage. “You lying demon!”

  “Don’t you dare impugn my honor, knee-bender.”

  “You gave your word!”

  “And I kept it! Her torture is over, just like I said,” the inquisitor replied through a twisted smirk. “However, if we don’t find those monks where you said they’d be, then yours hasn’t even begun.”

  He turned to the Lubanian guard near the door.

  “You.”

  “Yes sir?” the Lubanian replied, snapping to attention.

  “Return him to his cell. We’re done talking today. I fear I have offended this man’s tender sensibilities. In truth,” the inquisito
r’s sadistic smile widened, “I hope he lied. It will give me the opportunity to set a new galactic record for how slowly I kill him.”

  The Lubanian nodded crisply and moved toward John. The torturer then turned toward one of the human guards.

  “And you.”

  “Yeah?” the guard replied, still leaning slightly against the wall and not granting the jailor the same respect that the Lubanian had.

  “Go immediately to the comms room. Broadcast to the System Express jumper waiting in orbit that the Brothers of the Lion are holed up east of Elucia city in the hills. Have them jump immediately to rendezvous with the strike fleet waiting at Hececcrir. Maybe we can finally root out the Brothers of the Lion operations in this subsector once and for all.”

  The human guard gave a half-nod and slipped out the door opposite the one through which the Lubanian had entered.

  The hairy, lupine humanoid detached John’s shackled hands from the hooks suspending him, and grabbed him roughly by the nape of his neck. Lubanians were much stronger than humans. The wolf-alien’s one-handed grip was more than enough to keep John upright, even on wobbly, weakened legs, while eliminating any hope of an escape.

  They barreled through the door into the corridor leading to the prisoner quarters, leaving the other human guard behind with the inquisitor. The callous torturer paid no further heed to John, having busied himself with cleaning and sorting the pain-inducing tools of his trade.

  *****

  As soon as he and his prisoner were clear of the torture chamber, Molon released his tight grip on the battered human’s neck. The Lubanian dropped his left hand to a more supporting position around the human’s waist, preventing him from hitting the floor. Draping the man’s right arm around his own furry neck, he addressed the human.

  "Sorry about the rough handling,” Molon said to the weary and bloodied prisoner. “It had to look convincing. Can you walk?"

  The human scrunched his face.

  “Huh, what?”

  The puzzled prisoner squinted at Molon. Molon sighed in frustration. Humans weren’t exactly the quickest sophonts in the galaxy. They always seemed to need everything spelled out for them, but right now, there was no time to coddle a sluggish human intellect.

 
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