Forsaken Stars Tales: A Soulless Christmas, Part Two
This very special Forsaken Stars Tale of A Soulless Christmas takes place in Captain Sera Besh’s youth. You know, before she was a Captain. To read Part One, click here.
Sam raised his rifle and fired, but the werewolf moved at blazing speed, dodging the purple blast of energy and banking off the stall wall to leap at Sam, claws first. The beast tore the rifle from his grasp, sending it in pieces across the floor of the barn; it’s great white-furred shoulder plowed into Sam, knocking him against the opposite stall door and through it. Everything went black for a second. Then the beast, almost seven feet tall, stood at the entrance of the stall. Snow pigs snorted and squealed and tried to get out. Samwell found himself uttering a prayer to God and Core and the werewolf crouched to pounce—
Shots echoed in the barn, one of them glancing an arm of the beast. It howled and turned on the new attacker. Sam scrambled to his feet in time to see the farmbot B9 lose its gun arm and then its head under protests of “Alarm! Alarm!” and “You are trespassing on the property of Besh Farms and Transport” and “You are not authorized to do this.” And then silence as the beast twisted B9’s torso from its pelvis. It let out a roar at it’s handiwork and then rose to howl at the night.
Sam pulled his liquid metal wrench from its sheath against his thigh and set it to “Spike.” It lengthened to about three feet, and came to a sharp point. The white werewolf turned to him as he slowly made his way to B9’s gun arm, still clutching the tranq rifle. It was about the only time Sam recalled himself cursing the fact bots weren’t allowed to carry weapons of deadly force.
The werewolf roared at him and Sam dove for the gun. The wolf beast dropped to all fours and bounded at him. Sam hit the ground, grabbed the gun arm and scrambled to squeeze the finger on the trigger. Thip! Thip! Thip! But the wolf kept coming. It opened its toothy maw going for Sam’s face, so Sam ditched the gun and drove his liquid metal spike deep into the beast’s throat. It yelped, and then its full weight fell upon him. The scent of seared blood and fur filled the air through his filters as his heat shield burned at the beast. He turned the shield off and grappled with the werewolf to get it off him.
Goony and Dorn ran up to Samwell then and helped pull the body off of him. Even as they dragged it to a nearby wall, it was changing, shrinking, its white fur falling away to reveal albino skin. “Gosh, Sam, it’s still breathing. What in Core’s name is it?”
“A white werewolf. A white man.” Sam said through gasps of air.
* * *
Sera’s father had been gone for a long time, and she could have sworn she’d heard his rifle go off at least once through the howl of the wind–had that been the wind? So she sang her weary mother to sleep, suited up and went out to brave the storm.
She ran out of the barn screaming into the night, but the hail and wind drowned her out. The watery bits of ice that made it through the field overhead pelted her cheeks, forehead and tongue. She fell to her knees and it took her a moment or two to shake the gruesome sight of the tri-horse carcass she’d stumbled upon.
She went to her father’s workshop next, half following the tracks and blood in the snow, half drawn to the light shining through the window blinds. She crouched low and opened the door silently and swiftly darted through it. Fortunately, her father’s shop was cluttered and a few high shelves obstructed one’s view to the doorway. Also, Samwell, Dorn and Goony were concentrating fully on the stranger in the suspended animation chamber they were using as a makeshift containment cell. They’d frozen him from the neck down. Sera tried not to look below his belly button, but she had to admit she was curious–still, the glass canopy of the metal cylinder was too foggy with supercooled air to make anything out clearly from about the chest down. His head, that is, his face, was strangely beautiful and hard. His hair was long and so white it was silver-blue and his eyes were black on yellow. He sniffed the air as she made her way closer. She thought she saw the corner of his mouth twitch into a smirk, but she couldn’t be sure. She crouched behind a shelf and held her breath while they spoke.
“We should behead him, dismember him and burn him,” Uncle Dorn said.
“He killed and et a tri-horse and broke B9 to pieces. He should go to jail,” Goony said, clutching B9’s head in his thick hands. He scratched at his large forehead and whimpered.
“Let’s not be too hasty, boys, he might be valuable. There might be a price on his head, or better still, he might not be a fan of the Ohm Hordes, and in that case, we could use a man like him.”
“Are you serious, Samwell? He was going to kill you. You put enough tranq in him to down a tri-bull, you ran a pig-sticker through his throat clear through his insides and he’s still breathing!”
“He was hungry, half starved and possibly on the run, Dorn. Let’s hear what he has to say for himself before putting him down like a dog.” Sam took a few steps toward the cylinder. “What’s your name, son?”
“Nieve. Hunter-Warrior of the Glacial Kill Tribe. And I am not one of your bastard werewolves. I am Lupos. You Soulless call us Wolfen.”
“Then why did you change? Why do you have a human face?”
“I am… cursed. The spell was cast by an Ohm High Priestess Bitch!” He spat. “I was forced to fight amongst their ranks against my own people. When I refused, or was too beaten to continue, I became this. With all the base urges and multitudes of thought that weigh you men down. Kill me or free me, I’ll not stay a minute longer in this form.”
“Now, hold on, Nieve. This form as you call it has its advantages.” Sera’s dad said, stroking his stubble like he did when he was thinking. “Now I imagine you can’t go back to your people, at least not right away, not until you sort some things out. And it doesn’t sound like to me that you’re itching to go back to the Ohm Hordes. Now, maybe, just maybe, if you could keep things under control, I just might let you stay here until things simmer down. As of this moment, you are a fugitive, right? A deserter of the Ohm Horde Army?”
Nieve had a hard time looking Sam in the eye. “My ship was attacked by Troll Privateers. We broke away, but our engines sustained too much damage and we crashed in the mountain ridge north of here. There were other survivors but–”
“You killed them.” Sam finished.
“Yes. I killed soldiers, some had been killed once before. And I killed the hag that cursed me, but the curse remains. Forever.”
“Not necessarily! You’re a beast, maybe true love’s kiss from another Lupos or Wolfen or whatever–” Sera burst out, having stepped out from her hidey place without thinking.
“Sera! You have no place here! Where’s your mother?”
“She was tired. I sang her to sleep! You said I could if she was hurting–!”
Samwell grabbed his daughter by her arm and then caught himself. He sighed and put his hands on her shoulders. “Sera it’s not safe here…”
“I know it was wrong to snoop, but I was afraid when you didn’t come back. I thought I’d heard pulse fire, so I had to make sure you were okay.”
“Okay, okay. Well, as you can see, we’re all alright here.”
“Except for B9,” Goony said, brandishing the head for her to see.
Samwell turned back to Nieve. “I suppose if I’m going to let you stay here, you might as well know this: this is Sera, she’s my daughter, my baby girl, my light. If you so much as grow a hair in her direction I will sever your head from its body and, well, generally do what my brother Dorn here suggested I do in the first place.”
“Understood. I don’t know why you would do this for me. I trespassed, killed your livestock, destroyed your property–”
“What is this?”
“It’s a time of giving. Hoping. Trusting. Opening one’s heart and home.”
“No. Hmm. Maybe I shouldn’t thaw you out just yet…”
“They will come for him, Samwell,” Dorn said.
“I know, but I have a couple of ideas about that.”
“You can’t trust him!”
“I know, but something tells me I should take a chance on this kid. Look at him, he doesn’t look much older than Sera.”
“Yeah, now, but when he’s all White-wolfed–”
“It won’t be long. He’ll be on the next shipping run with me come Jan’ry.”
“Who you trying to convince, Sam? Me or yourself?” Dorn said.
“Well, to tell truth, I’m practicing for when I explain all this to Emmy.”
Dorn slapped his knee and let out a belly laugh, “I don’t envy you, brother.”
Come back for Part Three on Wednesday!
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