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Authors: Stephanie Snow

Demon's Captive

DEMON'S CAPTIVE

Stephanie Snow

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Demon's Captive

Stephanie Snow

This e-book is a work of fiction. While reference might be made to actual historical events or existing locations, the names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Published by Loose Id LLC 1802 N Carson Street, Suite 212-2924 Carson City NV 897011215 www.loose-id.com

Copyright © October 2007 by Stephanie Snow All rights reserved. This copy is intended for the purchaser of this e-book ONLY. No part of this e-book may be reproduced or shared in any form, including, but not limited to printing, photocopying, faxing, or emailing without prior written permission from Loose Id LLC.
ISBN 978-1-59632-556-2 Available in Adobe PDF, HTML, MobiPocket, and MS Reader
Printed in the United States of America
Editor: Jana J. Hanson Cover

Artist: Anne Cain

Chapter One

      In the dim light of midday, between the charred earth and the grim sky overhead, Charity hid. For the previous six months, running had been her primary occupation. Now there was finally no place left to run, no next hill to climb, or river to cross. Only burned wasteland for miles. As she lay motionless in the rubble, covered with ash and soot, she cried silent tears. It seemed a million years had passed since the end of her world. Fear of a terrible death had kept her on the move.
      But what was she living for?
      There was no escape from the invaders; hard lessons had taught her that. She had learned quickly after watching her people die at the hands of monsters with no mercy. Terror snatched the breath from her body as distant rumblings reached her ears.
      With her cheek pressed to the ground, Charity felt the vibrations of approaching craft, and prayed again for salvation. If not to remain undiscovered, then to be quickly dispatched. Her elusiveness had probably increased the murderous rage that gripped the alien savages. The killing she'd witnessed them commit in the past made her certain of her own demise. It was what they might do to punish her that caused new tears to track down her soot-blackened face.
      It was hard to remember be
fore the invasion. That time seemed a distant memory Charity couldn't fully recall.
      In a southern winter, there was no snow, and Charity reveled in the temperate weather. End of term was four weeks away, and the anticipation of seeing her family far outweighed the doldrums of final exams. Maneuvering her way off the public transport with her oversized book bag, she squinted into the bright sunshine to eyeball the math building a half a mile away. Suddenly, a chill wind blew across her bare arms. Charity looked to the sky as a strange light laid itself across the sun. For a moment, the world was cast in shades of red, and a terrible tension filled the air. Then it was gone. She shrugged, positive it was imagined. If only she had known…
      Lying immobile in the ruins of her civilization, with the vibrations of the approaching enemy aircraft growing stronger each moment, Charity wished she had simply died in the beginning. If she had only stayed in the city, instead of rushing across the mountains for home, she would have met a quick death -- either from fire or the explosions t h at leveled every structure.
      The apartment she shared with another student at the university was brimming with people. Fighting her way through the front door and into the living room, Charity looked for her roommate.
      "Sarah?" Shouting to be heard over the conversations all around her, she spotted the familiar red head of her friend and pushed through the throng to reach her. "What's going on?"
      Sarah looked worse than Charity had ever seen her. "Oh, Charity! I'm so glad you're back! Haven't you been listening to the news?"
      She glanced at the screen where the 24-hour news stations played, then shrugged. "I've been in class. Why? Did someone die?"
      "You really don't know?" Sarah seemed shocked, and quickly led Charity past some other students in deep discussion to watch the news.
      On the screen, terrible images of a city turned to rubble flashed alongside pictures of thousands of bodies of slain civilians.
      After a moment of watching and listening, Charity looked back to her friend with tear-filled eyes. This was a war.
      At first, there had been no question an earthly enemy had brought such damage on them. Within the week, a volley of accusations had flown around the world and ended with a preemptive strike against another country. As open warfare broke out, no one imagined the real terror came from above, carefully hidden in the sky.
      When the attacks began, Charity had become stranded in the tiny mountain town of Pinyon. In the weeks that followed, the world was laid to waste. Damage done by their infighting had crippled society; they were easy pickings for the aliens.
      If the war between people had been terrible, what came next was hell. Humans were hunted like animals by the invaders, and slaughtered like beasts in the field. More than once, Charity had hidden in fear only to see men and women alike cut down trying to defend their lives.
      Even now, she did not know what manner of beings they were. Devils, the holy men warned, or aliens from another planet; it mattered not. They killed and tortured and defiled with abandon.
      The distant rumble became louder with every passing moment. They were almost upon her. God have mercy.

 

Chapter Two

      Over the low hum of the air courier he piloted, a shrill beep sounded, alerting him to his quarry's location. With its sophisticated equipment, Melmanon actually heard her breathing. Unnaturally shallow and erratic, it gave away her fear as clearly as her scent trail had.
      That she had eluded him for six hours, let alone six whole days, was unheard of. His legion had begun to question his prowess after several failed attempts to capture her, and he had been obliged to combat-challenge three of his mid-ranking officers to save face. A bloodlust like his was not easily satisfied, but he had deliberately held back, ensuring there would still be a killing rage upon him when he found her.
      As commander, he wielded a great deal of power. He owed it entirely to his exceptionally cultivated cruelty. A soldier such as he was rarely matched in ability when it came to torture, killing, and strategy. In the thirty-eight years of his life, he had been at the forefront of nine planet wars. He hesitated to count this current conflict since it was hardly a war in his mind, considering the weakness of the defense.
      Because the planet was divided into many smaller countries, it had been simple to feed off their fear of one another and instigate a war. Within weeks, they had launched their most terrible weapons against one another. It had taken the worthless leaders that long to figure out the greatest danger came not from their neighbors, but the sky.
      By the time the war tribe's ships had reached the surface, the battle was half-won, most of the major cities leveled by infighting. Those who had resisted died. A growl filled his chest as his rage came to the forefront. In the copilot chair next to him, a young warrior kept an eye on the console.
      Melmanon was tempted to snap at him. Each new generation of warriors was less and less hardened. Training used to be brutal. In recent years, the politics of the tribe had changed, becoming soft in his opinion. The generals that governed the war tribe were guided in public policy by an elected representative host: two thousand men and women from all tribe-ruled planets. Will of the people or not, recent decisions shaped a future that involved less battle and more negotiating.
      The knowledge this might be the last real battle he ever fought made his blood pound through his veins. The life he had known -- one that had given him pride and success among his peers -- was coming to a whimpering end.
      Thinking about the end of warring always made him angry. He added that to his simmering rage as the sensors on the console chirped rapidly. They were fast approaching the place where she hid.
      He lifted his hand to signal his copilot to slow, and finally, stop. Popping the seal, Melmanon stepped out onto the ledge that circled the craft, then dropped heavily to the earth some ten feet below. A shudder rippled through the ashes and debris.
      This close, he heard her stuttering heartbeat. The power of bloodlust rushed through his body as he moved deliberately to the mound of earth concealing her shape. Her breathing had stopped entirely. Near her physical body, he heard a smattering of her thoughts. Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God. Oh, God.
      An evil grimace twisted his face as he fed off her fear. Her desperate inner ramblings suggested she wished it would end quickly. He wanted to make it last.
      As he punched his fist into the earth to grab her fragile neck and pull her from the concealing dirt, he sent her a message wit
h his mind.
      It will never end.

 

Chapter Three

 

      Charity couldn't see. At first, it wasn't frightening, but as time passed and her memory returned, the inky blackness surrounding her became ominous and sinister. Her last recollection was of the demon ripping her from the ground. Of his massive…paw around her throat lifting her high, providing her an up close look at an invader. She shuddered at the image.
      He was a demon. Built like a man with two arms and two legs, he was covered in skin the color of dried blood and possessed musculature far more developed and complex than any human man. Clad in what looked like black leather pants and vest, with boots laced up his calves, he seemed to be at least seven feet tall.
      His face had all the right parts: two eyes, a nose, a mouth. The eyes were like burning coals, pure black with embers flaring to life inside their depths. His nose was a narrow blade that flared sharply. The shape of his dark lips was almost normal, but a mouthful of teeth to rival a shark flashed sharp and white. It was the mouth that had caught her attention because she heard him speak, and his lips did not move at all.
      Deliberately she pushed the image of his face away. Exploring the darkness with her hands, Charity could feel she was on a bed. Naked, too, but clean. She rose to a sitting position, and realized something was banded around her throat, preventing her from standing up.
      Her fingertips found a seamless band of leather at her neck. From it, a leather thong trailed to a small ring. Whether it tethered her to the wall or to the bed, it mattered not. Tears of despair coursed down her cheeks as the severity of the situation hit her with force
.
      She was his captive.

* * * * *

      "Yes, Commander Stave, we are completely secure. There are no further actions necessary, and my men will begin preparing the territory for occupation."
      "Good, Commander Melmanon. You are the first to achieve completion. You are to be commended."
      Seated at his communication screen, Melmanon drummed his fingers restlessly against the polished surface of the panel. "May I speak frankly, Stave?"
      He watched as his old comrade removed the seal that recorded their official conversations. "What is it, Melmanon? Is there some problem?"
      "I am…restless. I find no satisfaction in mastering these weak people. It seems all the truly great battles have been fought and won, and now, only the worthless are left."
      As he spoke, Stave brought his face closer to the screen and spoke in low tones. "I understand you well, brother. We have fought so long, and well, that we have conquered all valuable races. As we enter the prime of our lives, we begin to wonder what greater achievement can be had."
      Striking the console sharply, Melmanon growled. "There is no greater achievement left! This entire planet has proven to me there is no species who can stand against us, no world where a fair fight can take place. Do not misunderstand me. I have enjoyed this slaughter. I simply enjoy a real battle so much more! In wars of the past, we have conquered honorable races, and melded their people with our own, making us stronger. What have we gained here? A planet? It seems a paltry reward."
      Stave looked thoughtful, but did not immediately speak. After several long moments, his carefully measured words came through. "We both know what comes. The tribe is changing. We have no battles left to fight. In the future, it is the man clever with his tongue, not his fists, who is the first to see new horizons."
      Angry at the words, but unable to dispute them, Melmanon growled low, pushing away from the screen.
      "Minth Hai, Commander Stave." The traditional farewell was more the roar of a beast than the words of a man.
      "Minth Hai, Commander Melmanon. Go kill something. You'll feel better." Stave's suddenly grinning face winked out on the console.
      Melmanon stomped back to his quarters. His captive was still waiting. There was at least that to look forward to.

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