Demonspawn


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Adrift and stranded in deep space with no hope of rescue, the I.S.S. Mordrake has six months’ worth of food left, but just less than two weeks of air – and things are looking pretty grim. And, as if there’s not enough on their plate already, something dark and mysterious drifts into their path – an ancient derelict ship littered with the dusty remains of its long-dead crew! The derelict presents an all-too convenient and timely solution to their problem, offering the desperate castaways the spare parts they badly need to repair their ship… but nothing’s ever really that easy, is it? There’s no such thing as a free lunch out here, in the cold empty wastes of deep space.

Resentment, bitterness and malaise having taken hold of the survivors, this sudden reprieve brings new challenges – in order for the crew of the Mordrake to survive, they have to work together – even though the faceless, cold-blooded killer who murdered the Mordrake’s Captain still walks freely among them! Despite a further run of mysterious accidental deaths, they must find a way to retrieve the parts they need to repair their own vessel – no matter what it was on the derelict ship that seemed to want to keep them for itself!

“Demonspawn” is the second title in the Galaxii Series by Christina Engela.

Details:

  • Published: Fifth Edition, May 27, 2018
  • Words: 51,983 (Flowing Text eBook)
  • Pages: 178 pages (6×9 format paperback)
  • Duration: (to be announced) min (eBook narrated by Nigel Peever)


Synopsis: [Spoiler Alert]

Demonspawn” centers on a starship crew in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Adrift and stranded in deep space with no hope of rescue, the I.S.S. Mordrake has six months’ worth of food on board, but – due to recent unfortunate circumstances – only less than two weeks of air, and things look pretty grim! Morale, although low before the incident that resulted in their present predicament, is at an all-time low. The crew – all survivors of a fierce battle with a Corsair ship just days ago – has just been given the news that they are going to die and there’s nothing they can do to prevent it.

The damage to the Mordrake’s critical systems was severe, and they’re so far off the beaten path, there’s no likelihood of rescue – and without any long range communications equipment, they’re cut off and can’t even call for help.

Joe Lofflin

The ship’s not the only thing breaking down however, and pretty soon Commander Joe Lofflin – the ship’s first officer who has perpetually faced a degree of scorn from the crew because of his sexual orientation and faces a daily struggle to control his romantic attraction to a junior crewman almost half his age – takes on the role of acting-Captain. He’s in his thirties and keenly aware of his mortality – after the untimely death of Captain Blaine – and must now also deal with solving a murder on top of everything else!

Captain Blaine had been a martinet, a rigid, inflexible bastard. But he was the Captain after all, and someone – a member of the crew – had killed him.

It was understandable, Lofflin thought. After the mess he’d got them all into, the old man had hardly been popular. Pressing the Mordrake – a ship which had been suffering engine trouble, and was on the way back to the nearest starbase for repairs at the time – into a battle with the Corsair ship was at best a folly. Duty and honor had meant more to Blaine than the lives of his ship or crew, apparently – and it had been their duty to engage and destroy the Corsair… no matter who tried to reason with him to the contrary.

Instead of securing a victory and leaving a dead Corsair in their wake, the Mordrake suffered critical damage – which resulted in them being stranded in the Outblack, with no hope of salvation at all. Their foes, the Corsairs, had simply disengaged and left them there, not knowing if they were alive or dead – or perhaps knowing… and just not caring. At any rate, aboard the Mordrake as the last Corsair shots hit home and just as the power failed and the lights went out, the realization came crashing down on Blaine with all the weight of his own fears.

He’d killed them all.

Distraught and ashamed, the disgraced Captain retreated to his cabin and locked the door. Then he retreated some more – inside a bottle – and it was left to his Exo, Lofflin, to run what was left of the ship.

Despite all their skills, talents and scientific prowess, the crew of the Mordrake find no way to repair the vital systems of the ship. A few critical components are so badly damaged that they simply can’t be fixed – and they just don’t have spares aboard. They have no way to call for help – and no way to recharge the emergency batteries – the only things keeping them alive, that with each passing second ran lower and lower…

Hope failed. Someone – one of them – sought revenge. Someone killed Blaine…. for killing them.

But who?

Then, just as the pressured Commander Lofflin begins his inquiry into the murder of Captain Blaine, in an atmosphere where nobody is above suspicion and each senior officer has reason to suspect every other senior officer, the survivors of the Mordrake are thrown a bone by Fate.

As if there’s not enough on Joe’s plate already, something dark and mysterious drifts into the Mordrake’s path! What appears to be an ancient derelict ship of alien origins presents an all-too convenient and timely solution to their problem, offering the desperate castaways the spare parts they need to repair their ship!

Lofflin leads a team of mixed crew aboard the ancient ship to investigate – with the hope of finding any tech they could modify or adapt to repair the Mordrake. What they find is a tomb littered with the dry and dusty remains of the long-dead alien crew. The place is shot to pieces, lights are out – and the decks are littered with dry bones, chunks of desiccated flesh and lava-like crusts of solidified rivers of blood.

What the hell had happened there?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. They proceed cautiously… somewhere aboard the derelict, they’re sure they’ll find the parts they need to fix Mordrake’s stardrive. Thing is, they don’t know where to start looking – the ship is …well, alien – and things aren’t laid out the way they’re used to… and there’s the language barrier. Translation work would take longer than they have time to waste, so the only way is to explore the dark foreboding passages on foot.

After many hours of searching, Mordrake’s entechs actually do find usable parts on board the derelict – in a difficult to reach part of the long dead alien ship, with the only way in or out being a mile-long trek along a winding corridor, over unseen obstructions in the dark. They begin to dismantle the alien ships ancient engines for the parts they need, and prepare to move out.

Just as things start to look hopeful again – just when Lofflin and his crew start to think they’ve found their salvation, things start to go from bad to worse. Salvage team members working alone begin to experience mysterious accidents. Fatal ones. Gradually, it becomes apparent that ‘accident’ is not even remotely accurate. Lofflin and the chief of security, Murphy, consider whether it is Captain Blaine’s killer stepping in. After all, Blaine’s murder had been based on the premise that they were all going to die anyway, and they’d never be found out.

Things had changed in the meantime, and with their survival looking increasingly likely, Lofflin knew that Blaine’s killer must be aware that if Mordrake ever made it to a Terran port again, there would be a painstaking investigation into the murder of one of Space Fleet’s elite group of officers. With no idea who the killer is – freely roaming among them – Lofflin must prioritize. Survival of the whole crew must come first.

In order for them all to survive, the crew of the Mordrake must work together – even though any one of them could be the cold-blooded killer who murdered Blaine. The parts required to repair their own vessel must be retrieved by any means necessary – no matter what it was onboard the derelict ship that seemed to want to keep them there!

Although the first two stories in Galaxii run in sequence (“Blachart” is book 1 and “Demonspawn” is book 2 in the series) both stories occur more or less simultaneously and feature separate sets of characters.

What Comes Next?

In the next book ”Dead Beckoning“, both sets of characters from the previous titles come together in a combined adventure!

The History of “Demonspawn”

When I was in high school in 1986, I started working on an intended novel called “The Red Star”. As time went by, this story morphed and changed, grew longer – and then got split up to make new stories that would become entities in their own right. “Blachart” was the first of these to be completed, and “Demonspawn” was the second. A lot of left-over material formed the foundations of what would later become the third book, “Dead Beckoning”.

By 1988, the basic plot had evolved into the story of a starship that encountered an alien derelict ship lost in space, but there was still a long way to go. Originally, “Demonspawn” featured the same characters as “Blachart” – Mykl d’Angelo and Ripley Jones and co – and it wasn’t the I.S.S. Mordrake, it was the Antares – also, it wasn’t an encounter with a Corsair raider that disabled it – it was a somewhat improbably collision with an asteroid! The story plot was unrecognizable!

Over time, I recognized a need to change the story from the ground up, and to introduce new characters in place of those already introduced in the first book. I wanted more diversity of characters and settings, because the very last thing I wanted to do was to just retell the same old sci-fi trope using the same old ship, the same old characters!

I did this by merging the original “Demonspawn” with a short story I’d written in the meantime, called “Horner’s World”. Essentially, the characters from “Horner’s World” replaced the characters in “Demonspawn”, and instead of just being marooned in space after a catastrophic equipment failure, the crew of the ship – now called the Mordrake – also faced an additional intense, suspenseful struggle to survive while looking for parts aboard an alien wreck, to repair their ship – and of course, the Akx.

Fans might be interested to know that the villain in “Demonspawn“, the Akx, is the ONLY character of the original “Demonspawn” that survived the merger with “Horner’s World”.

By 2005, the first edition of “Demonspawn” made its debut on Lulu.com. In 2007, I redesigned the cover.

Until 2014, no further changes were made to “Demonspawn”. Between September 2014 and May 2016 I was with what I thought was a “traditional publisher“ – but the experience left me disappointed and frustrated. The publisher had insisted that they wanted the entire Galaxii Series, and so to comply with their wishes, I took down all my books from Lulu. Unfortunately, the company only ever re-published two of those titles – Blachart and Demonspawn.

Demonspawn” was released in 2015, with a new cover designed by their staff. By 2016 though, things had changed. The publisher abandoned all its ‘non-pure horror’ writers and cut us all loose, so I went back to indie-publishing again. By July 2016, I republished the Fourth Edition of “Demonspawn“on Lulu.com, using the same cover minus their logo.

In early 2018, I took a look at the channels through which my books were being distributed – and decided that I should also place my titles at Smashwords to gain access to their distribution network also. Smashwords have different publishing formatting requirements to Lulu, and and so, while I was busy releasing “Blachart” via Smashwords, I discovered that I had to reformat the entire manuscript to meet their technical specifications! It looked daunting at first, but I’m a quick study and in the end it wasn’t as hard as I initially thought.

While I was at it (the most dangerous words known to humanity) I spotted a couple of editing errors in “Demonspawn” left over from my “traditional” publishing days, and set off to check the whole manuscript for more. This sparked off another edit, and then I added a little bit here, and a little bit there… and before I realized it, a drastic complete rewrite was underway! I evaluated each sentence. I added a stack of more material… back-stories and extras that would enrich and enhance the overall experience of what I had envisioned as the Galaxii Series!

Two weeks later, the Fifth Edition of “Demonspawn” was finished, completed with a fantastic new cover I’d designed, which would also form the basis of a template for the entire Galaxii Series, and which I also modified for my other series, Quantum and Panic!

In 2019 I revised all the covers to further refine the brand and their look! I also carried the same template over to my other series (“Quantum” and “Panic!”), changing the colors and font for each.

What happened next, well…

As of July 2020, “Demonspawn” the audiobook has officially been in production! More details as they happen!

  

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Reviews:

Demonspawn by Christina Engela – a review

‘In space, not all things were certain… not even death’

Demonspawn is a detailed well-imagined space story, which I found hard to put down, in fact I read the book in just 3 sittings.

Christina Engela has created a believable world of space travel, delivering it in way that seemed to me logical and explained without straying from the main plot.

From the very opening, there is a deliberate psychological vagueness as to what the ‘big bad’ could be. This heightens the mystery giving readers a real urgency and a want to find out, eventually you will.

With that tension steadily building the story follows the somewhat damned crew of the I.S.S. Mordrake; a ship seemingly stranded and damaged beyond repair in the furthest reaches of space. Their captain is found murdered and so it’s up to main character Joe Lofflin to investigate along with a cast full of convincing characters.

Then they discover a derelict ship just floating in space.

This story reminded me of films such as Alien and Event Horizon but Demonspawn could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with them. There were many concepts of the sci-fi genre in this book that were original and put together in a way not seen before anywhere else (this was especially so for the ‘Akx’.)

It’s an enjoyable read that will leave you wanting more.

5 Stars.” – by Lee Hall, UK-based writer, playwright and reviewer, October 3, 2018.

Something’s waiting in the dark…

“Engela proves she is the newest, best voice in sci-fi with this second volume in her Galaxii series set in the furthest reaches of deep space.

On an Imperial ship, damaged in a battle with corsairs and now floating adrift, tensions begin to rise as the crew slowly begin to realise that they are all about to die. The captain, unable to accept that the current situation they find themselves in is all his fault, sits in his cabin getting drunk when he is confronted by a killer.

And it is in this moment that a small sliver of hope appears.

An alien ship, abandoned in an asteroid field, provides their only hope of salvation but going aboard, the crew soon discover there is a reason why the ship is empty.

Everyone onboard has been slaughtered.

With no other choice, the crew begin the slow process of cannibalising the alien ship for parts, all the time only too aware that there is not just a killer in their midst but also on this abandoned alien ship as well.

As more and more people begin to die, it becomes a race against time – can the crew get the parts they need and get out of there before it is too late? And even if they do, will they still be safe even then?

This book is an awesome read and one that comes across as a mash-up of such films as Alien, Hardware, and Event Horizon.

If this makes the book sound like it is derivative, fear not!

Christina Engela has a unique and brilliant voice that helps make this story her own as she slowly builds the tension to a shocking and tense climax.

Quite simply, Christina Engela is one of the best voices in sci-fi right now and to not read her work would be to miss a treat!

If you like classic space opera with an ultra-modern twist, you should check her out. Having read previews of her forthcoming work, I can guarantee you the best is yet to come…” – Mark Woods, author of ‘Time of Tides’ and ‘Fear of the Dark’, 2015.

A real page turner…

“Joe Lofflin, second in command of the Terran deep space cruiser ISS Moredrake, has to inform his crew of 226 survivors of the devastating news that they now only have a few days left to live – no thanks to the actions of their Captain, Philip Wainright Blaine.

The Mordrake was on a mission to locate the home world of their arch enemy – the Corsairs, and after suffering catastrophic damage in a battle, was now left adrift in space – helpless and marooned.

Joe also comes face to face with his own desires as he falls for one of his junior crew members – Dellon Bennett, a handsome 24 year old man in the prime of his life.

The murder of Captain Blaine sees Loffin taking charge of the ship and leading the survivors into an uncertain future. Facing not only death itself, with limited oxygen, they also have to deal with finding the murderer. But that’s not all – this human enemy is not the only adversary they will have to face. A derelict alien ship crossing their path adrift for over 6000 years offers them a tantalizing chance at life, but at greater risk.

Will the murder of Captain Blaine be solved? Will Joe Loffin’s interest in Dellon grow into something more? And will the Moredrake and its crew survive the ultimate enemy?

This Sci-fi thriller brings everything to the table, murder, suspense, action, love.

A real page turner by Christina Engela.” – Zenja Collins, Zen Entertainment, 2015.

Reader’s Comments:

A knack for writing villains

“The Space Fleet ship I.S.S. Mordrake has been damaged in a confrontation with the Corsairs. The main transmuter coil has burned out and there is no replacement. They are on life support which is running on the emergency batteries and will last only a few more days. Captain Philip Blaine has been murdered and Commander Lofflin has to take over. There is no hope until they spot a derelict ship in space that could have spare parts to salvage but an ancient terror, the Akx awaits them on the ship.

Christina’s writing is lucid and while reading I found myself shifting into ‘3rd gear’, able to immerse myself, immediately grabbed by the story. I liked the way the characters were developed. The strong leadership skills of Commander Lofflin are contrasted with the complete lack of leadership in Captain Blaine. There is moreover a strong theme of ‘confronting your fears’ in this story. Commander Lofflin has to confront his fears continuously. From addressing the crew about the impeding doom, the damaged ship and failing life support systems, right up to asking a young man out for a date. On almost every page this theme is brought in and I found it tremendously interesting.

Christina seems to have a knack for writing villains. With the Akx she really raised the bar. I felt suspense filling my whole body while reading. It kept me reading up till late to find out what happens.

A clearly written sci-fi novella with an interesting theme on confronting fear. The characters are well done and a villain that will raise suspense. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.” –  Mr. Green.

Sci-fi fans will love this book

“They say in space no one can hear you scream. In Demonspawn: Galaxii Series Book 2, there are plenty of screams as a creature rips its way through the inhabitants of a spaceship. A crew member, Kaine, tries to take the creature down in one last desperate move.

Reminiscent of Alien, where a helpless crew faces an alien terror, the story drew me in and I could feel that same claustrophobic feel I got when watching the movie. I felt the characters were well developed and the story moved along at a good pace. Sci-fi fans will love this book. It is available to buy now on Amazon. Rated it 5 of 5 stars” – S.K. Gregory.

Engrossing space story

“Engrossing space story.

A crew faces imminent death due to a poor decision to battle a ready foe. Just when they think they’ve found salvation in the form of a salvage ship they hope to use for parts – things go from bad to worse. The best part about the story was the quality writing. Excellent description. Good pacing. Recommend.” – J. Hunter.

 Awesome book!!!

“Really enjoyed reading this one. I had a hard time putting it down. Every page leaves you with a burning desire to find out what happens next. The way she writes this book makes it so easy to picture the entire story in your head. Its more like watching a movie than reading a book!!” – Stephanie Bothma

A riveting blend

“A riveting blend of horror and science fiction laced generously with Ms. Engela’s trademark quirky humor.” – Alex S. Johnson

Awesome And Incredible Reads

Scott books

“Both books [‘Blachart‘ and ‘Demonspawn‘ ] were awesome and incredible reads. I couldn’t put them down. They were fantastic and I was able to get vivid mental images of the scenes as I was reading them. That’s the sign of a great author. Congratulations Christina. Your writing truly ROCKS!” – Scott M. Darrah, reader, April 10, 2016.


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

Show your appreciation for Christina’s work!

All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.

 

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