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Authors: Steven L. Hawk

Son of Justice

BOOK: Son of Justice
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

No part of this work may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher.

Published by Kindle Press, Seattle, 2016

Kindle Scout

Amazon, the Amazon logo, Kindle Scout, and Kindle Press are trademarks of
, Inc., or its affiliates.

This book is dedicated to Aaron, Taylor, and Steven. The best sons a father could wish for . . . mostly.

Also by Steven L. Hawk:


Peace Warrior


Peace Army


Peace World


Creeper Town



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29



About the Author


Left . . .

Left . . .

Left, right, left.

Inexorably onward he marched.

With each tired step, vicious bolts of agony shot upward. They began at the soles of his feet and sliced through the blisters that had formed on the back of each heel. Continuing upward, the tendrils of pain cut a scorching path through aching calves and knees before settling firmly in his thighs and lower back. Having reached their final destination, the bolts turned into hot knives of torture that twisted and scraped.

Eli looked left and right at the barren, sandy Telgoran landscape and trudged forward. Occasionally, he veered to the right or left to skirt a boulder or to circumvent yet another constellation of scattered, head-size rocks—what he now thought of as “Telgoran rock gardens.” At other times, he found himself staring into the distance, at one of the mysterious, dark, cave-like entrances that led to the Telgoran underground. They seemed to be everywhere, and he wondered, as he always did, if any of the planet’s original inhabitants were standing in the darkness, hidden from view, watching as the exhausted humans trudged slowly past. He never saw one, but he used the thought of being observed as additional motivation to keep his feet moving. Mostly, he just fixed his eyes on a spot ten meters ahead and kept walking. Forward was the goal, and forward was the direction he always came back to.

The pack on his back—nearly half his own body weight—was burden enough to cause many of his peers to drop out. But the pack was the least of his worries. He was used to
kind of pain—the kind that comes from hard work, the kind that can be conquered with a strong body and a bitter refusal to say, “Flock it. I quit.” By itself, that pain would be relatively easy. But when combined with all the other dynamics in play, the current trek seemed never-ending. The heavy pack, his Ginny shotgun, the loneliness of the hike, and the blistering desert they traversed all weighed heavily on the body and the mind.

And the boots! The worst pain of all was caused by the boots.

The standard-issue boots the sergeants had given them were beautiful. Made from the orange leather of the
, a Telgoran deerlike species. They were unlike anything he had ever seen. But they were worse than uncomfortable. Stiff and unforgiving, the leather didn’t mold to the foot the way a boot should. While others had marveled over the receipt of such an important part of their gear, he had held them in his hands, and after a quick, five-second inspection, recognized them as a problem. Armies lived and died by their feet. While others took care not to scratch their boots, he took every opportunity to abuse them and work them into shape.

Despite the tired aching of his feet, a quick look over his shoulder at the forms struggling along behind him proved that his efforts to break in his footgear hadn’t been completely in vain. Although he struggled, the rest of the training unit stretched out for more than a kilometer across the sandy terrain behind him—the closest, no less than a hundred meters away. Most of them were hobbling or limping.

At a few centimeters under two meters, he was shorter than many of the other recruits. Most would describe him as wiry and lean. Few, if any, random onlookers would have placed their bets on him to be leading the pack in such a grueling, lengthy forced march. Yet here he was. His body, well toned from a lifetime of physical training, was not as bulky as a majority of his male counterparts, who, without exception, had been raised on Earth. Unlike his peers, Eli hadn’t called the planet where he was born “home” for nearly a dozen years. Fully two-thirds of his life had been spent on Waa, the planet where the Shiale Alliance was headquartered. He kept that fact to himself, though. He had no desire to open himself up for the inevitable litany of questions and probing the knowledge would provoke.

Although he doubted they would need to be told after this fiasco, Eli made a mental note to ensure every other recruit worked on breaking in their boots before the next march. The need for him to pass along such obviously important information made him shake his head. Their Minith sergeants had to know about the problem and should have warned their charges before throwing them into the first forced march of their training. He wondered if withholding the information was an oversight, or if it was done with some purpose in mind. He couldn’t fathom any rational reason, but it was possible the boots were some form of cruel test.

One thing was certain, though. Their footgear was an excellent example of form over function, and form failed miserably. If he had his own well-worn boots on his feet, he’d be kilometers ahead. His feet would be tired, but not blistered. Every step wouldn’t be a rage against the torture that threatened him.

Left . . .

Left . . .

Left, right, left.

When his body demanded that he stop moving—cried out that he couldn’t take another step—the litany moved him forward. The unspoken words beat out a worn rhythm he had come to rely upon. As long as the words continued to generate forward movement, he would place his faith in them. He had no idea what he would do if they ever failed him. He refused to consider that possibility.

Left . . .

Left . . .

Left, right, left.

The heat of the Telgoran sun beat down on his shoulders, creating bothersome rivulets that began beneath his helmet and flowed downward. His uniform was soaked with the salted clamminess of his body’s sweat, and he paused his silent chant long enough to turn his head and suck down a quick gulp of water. The plastic spout that trailed over his shoulder and into the water pouch stored in his pack was hot, as was the mouthful of life-sustaining liquid it dispensed. He wanted a second gulp. Hell, he wanted to drain the reservoir dry, but he kept his desire in check. He didn’t know how much farther they had to go, and the last thing he wanted was to drop out because he couldn’t ration his water allowance properly.

They’re teaching you discipline. Ah! It’s another test.

Despite his intense discomfort, the sudden flash of understanding caused him to smile. There was a reason behind the madness. Somehow, that made the harsh reality of his situation bearable. He silently scolded himself for wallowing in the pain of his present circumstance and made a personal commitment to expand his view of the nonstop training and torture—to look for explanations and reasons, to view the cruelties of the
right now
through a broader lens. With a nod to himself, his mind turned to the long-term.
This hell can’t last forever,
he told himself for the hundredth time. For the ten-thousandth time, he repeated the mantra.

Left . . .

Left . . .

Left, right, left.

A sense of renewed purpose and strength flowed through Eli’s body. He lengthened his step, increased his pace, and pushed on through the pain.



Chapter 1

General Grant Justice, Supreme Commander of the Alliance Defense Force, scanned the holo-page that floated above the shiny agsel surface of his desk. The memo took less than five seconds to digest. With a curt wave of his hand, he deleted the irritating message and swallowed the curse that was trying to force its way past his lips.

The Minith general in charge of the forces on Telgora was complaining again. Apparently, the posting didn’t meet the standards “appropriate to one of his social position,” and he needed more authority and resources. As if two hundred thousand soldiers—nearly half of their entire contingent of ground troops—weren’t already posted there under his direct control. It was typical Minith posturing, meant to position the general for the next plum assignment. For Grant, it was just one more thing that demanded his attention. His demeanor and skills weren’t suited for administration. Unfortunately, administrative tasks represented the majority of his job.

Grant was a soldier, trained to fight and lead men in battle. Despite turning fifty on his last birthday, he still preferred working with fellow soldiers in the field to manning a desk—even when that desk was the senior military desk in the Alliance.

The old soldier stood up and walked to the large window that looked out over a northern view of the Waa capital. It wasn’t Earth, but from forty stories up, it was still quite a sight. Over the tops of the shiny metal and glass buildings that made up the skyline, he spied the launch area for the alliance mother ships in the distance. He wondered briefly if any of the departing ships were bound for Earth. He felt a sudden pang of longing that quickly dissipated. Earth wasn’t his home now. It hadn’t been his home for a long, long time.

The general stared out at the planet that was now his home and considered how unlikely it was for him to be standing where he now stood.
What were the odds
, he wondered? Man wasn’t the strongest species in the universe. The Minith, with their large, apelike bodies could easily beat most humans into submission when they met hand-to-hand on a battlefield. No contest. Even the Telgorans—those thin, seven-foot-tall warriors with muscles like corded steel—could defeat the strongest human in a contest of pure strength. And their quickness, oh, the Telgoran quickness. Again, no contest.

At best, man came in a distant third—and that was only when comparing the species with which they were intimately familiar. No doubt, there were even stronger species as you left the tiny corner of the universe where humans existed and delved deeper into the stars.

Nor was man the smartest species. The Waa, those little green aliens, with the large, dark, almond-shaped eyes, claimed that trait. Their unparalleled ability to design and build remarkable spaceships and other technological wonders gave credence to the claim. Though they held a secret most non-Waa would never know—the ability to read minds. They could learn a task or a process simply by observing your thoughts as you performed the work or thought through a problem. It was, without a doubt, the most efficient self-learning method possible. Yes, it was hard to argue with their claim of being a “nine” on the intelligence scale. Humans and Minith, in comparison, were a “six” and a “four,” respectively.

BOOK: Son of Justice
12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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