“The Lone Wolf” is set in the distant future when space travel is as common as a drive to the grocery store is for us. The Mining Guild has been in exisitence for 300 years and controls much of the galactic resources. Marc & Matilda serve on a small mining vessel in deep space. Aolani is the Mining Guild’s home base. This excerpt is from chapter 2. Wil is an old acquaintence of Marc’s, though Matilda senses that there is something terribly wrong between them.
As Matilda followed Marc to the docking bay where the ship was locking on, she noticed he was armed. The energy weapon he wore was hardly standard Guild issue. On the maximum setting, it could take down a man Marc’s size, putting a sizable hole in him.
“Expecting an army? You can kill a xar beast with one of those.”
“I wish I had something bigger. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. If I order you to fire, Commander, you fire. No questions. Is that clear?”
He opened the door to the docking bay. The other ship had attached and the airlock was pressurizing. As the door spiraled open, Matilda sensed a shudder pass through Marc. He raised his weapon, covering the entrance.
Slowly and with a casual air, a man entered the airlock. Nearly as tall as Marc, he was leaner of build. His curly, dark brown hair fell to his shoulders. He stood still while Rubee scanned his identification tag before releasing the force shield in front of him.
He wore a black eyepatch over his left eye and a scar ran from his left temple to the corner of his lips. It was an old scar, worn and somewhat sunken. A slight stubble of beard shaded the lower half of his face, all but the scar line, which was a pale crescent in the dark. His uncovered eye glittered black and dangerous in his ruggedly handsome face. Holding his arms from his sides, he waited as Rubee scanned him for weapons. Finding none, she gave clearance for him to pass.
He stepped forward, lighting a dark, thin object. The pungent odor of a cheroot filled the confined space. Squinting past the smoke, he gazed into Marc’s eyes. Marc’s weapon remained pointed at the other man’s head, his calm expression strangely predatory.
Their visitor sized Matilda up with a glance, dismissing her as non-threatening. He puffed on his cheroot thoughtfully. A crooked grin cracked his face in half, the scar pulling his left lip up at an odd angle.
“Marc, it’s been a long time.” He reached out to shake his hand.
Marc remained aloof, not taking his eyes off the visitor, lowering his weapon or acknowledging the proffered hand.
“Kind of a cold reception, isn’t it?” His voice was rasping and low.
The smile was replaced by a slight frown, a hint of sadness in the obsidian eye. Then the same placid expression took its place. Nothing in Marc’s face betrayed what he was thinking or feeling.
Marc spoke calmly. “Commander Dulac, please show Colonel VanLipsig to the lounge.”
“Of course, sir.” Looking puzzled, she did as he asked, feeling his eyes on her.
Marc followed, covering the man from the rear. When they had seated themselves, Matilda ordered three cups of joe from the synthunit. Marc kept his weapon out on his knee with his hand resting upon it. The other fellow leaned back, seemingly unconcerned and at ease. Taking a sip of the joe, he grimaced, glancing down at his cup before matching his gaze with Marc’s.
“Marc, I know we parted under difficult circumstances, but is this really necessary? I’m here to do a job, nothing more.” He carefully kept his hands in plain view, moving slowly, talking with deliberate ease.
Marc looked at him blankly, his expression bland. “I thought you were dead, Wil.”
VanLipsig nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “You were sure you killed me.” His voice was flat, toneless, unemotional. He shrugged casually, tilting his head to the left. “I got better.” There was a flash of a chilling smile.
“The reports of my death were greatly exaggerated,” VanLipsig quipped, dark eye glittering mischievously.
Marc’s fist dented the table with a furious blow. “Dammit, Wil! Can’t you just stay dead?”
VanLipsig threw back his head, laughing caustically. The laugh became a long, high pitched, chilling howl. Matilda felt a shiver run through her to the very bone. She did her best not to show it, but a subtle shift of her bearing betrayed her. His gaze penetrated her soul, laying it bare, finding it wanting.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to the lady, Marc?”
Marc hid his anger, but Matilda knew he was furious. His attitude toward VanLipsig puzzled her. They seemed to have known one another for years, parting on less than amicable terms. Though VanLipsig seemed to harbor no ill will, Marc obviously did.
“May I present myself, ma’am? I am Colonel Wilhelm VanLipsig, also known as the Lone Wolf. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” He attempted to look humble. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.” His glance flicked to her name tag and insignia, dark eye lingering hungrily on her chest. “Commander Dulac.” His mouth formed the words, enjoying the feel of the consonants on his tongue.
He waited patiently for a response. Getting none, his eye locked with hers, curious, intrigued. “Do you speak?”
Matilda studied him quizzically, raising an eyebrow. “There seemed little to say.”
Wil chuckled deep in his throat. It was the most seductively menacing sound she had ever heard. He put his feet up on the table between them, relaxed, but all business.