Chapter 11

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Chapter Eleven

I held the rose agate pendant so tightly in my grip that the contours pressed hard into my flesh. They were taking her away from me. She was screaming my name. Telling me not to save her. 

And somewhere, Lien was crying. Lien, the feral child on board Starfang. Her large eyes swam with glistening tears. 

I started awake, my heart pounding so hard it was painful. The ship was thrumming with a rhythm that immediately informed me that it was pushing its engine drive. It was moving hard, in one direction. Was it being pursued?

The dream hollowed me out. I cleaned up with a sense of grimness heavy in my limbs. The food was late again. I sipped the water, feeling the clawing demands of the hunger. Hurried footsteps halted in front of my door and a tray slid in, rattling loudly. There was only two slices of bread this time. As I paused to retrieve the tray, the footsteps pounded away with an urgency I found intriguing. S’sahrak was late too. S’sahrak was never late.

I pushed myself into nangun drills, ignoring the biting pangs in my stomach and in my veins. I kept the visions of April, my Pack-crew and Lien before me, goading myself on. Somewhere, they lived and that mattered.

Would they accept me, an addict to craz?

The ship suddenly shook significantly to knock me off my feet. I rolled onto my haunches, using my hands as traction. I was too experienced, too ship-wise, to know that was a strike on the ship’s flank, possibly starboard. When I carefully got up, another strike rattled the ship, a warning blow this time. Two ships seemed to be firing their cannons at it.

The door slammed open and S’sahrak stepped in. Immaculate and precise the shishini was, I sensed it was disturbed and harried.

“Please come with me,” S’sahrak said. Its rosettes were vivid brown now. I noticed the pistol hanging by its left side. It was an assault-type weapon used by many clans.

Two black-armored guards backed S’sahrak, carrying heavier weapons. They meant business, right down to their visored faces. I also smelled wolf off them. So, I was indeed on a clan ship. I inclined my head and walked out obediently. I couldn’t stare down the wolf guards – they must be trained to ignore the instinctual reactions when it came to more dominant clan members. I reined in my urge to escape – wait, Francesca, wait. Not now, not now.

Continue reading “Chapter 11”

StarFang Chapter 8

Chapter Eight

Accord Station was like any other dock I had visited: grey, functional and sterile. It had its pleasure and entertainment section of course, but the station’s circumference was dedicated to ship gantries and grapplers, numbered slots for the various ships that came to dock, refuel and re-stock. It hung-spun in space, beside the asteroid belt ringing the water planet Lucidia, a neutral dock, silent and majestic when seen on approach.  In the center of the circumference were Station control,  entertainment joints and the habitat section for the station workers and guests.

Station control didn’t bat an eyelid when five warships appeared at the borders, four escorting an enemy vessel. Calm instructions were given to us, our docking slots provided for our convenience. I was mentally calculating the bill for this re-stock and re-fuel, with half a mind to make the Amber Eyes pay half of it.

News would already be circulating on the station: four Black Talons ships escorting an Amber Eyes cruiser, do not get involved, do not get involved, stay down.

“Any other ships docked?” I drank in the sight of Accord, glad somewhat for a short breather.

“One shishini ship,” Mariette reported. “R’rrakak. Merchant ship dealing in ores.”

“Go on,” I flexed my hands, clenching them into fists.

“Two other merchant ships. Didn’t say where they are from. Merchants. Verity and The Joke.”


“Mixed. Station control claims that they are neutral. Clan-less.”

“I see.” Starfang was on automatic dock now, the machines and sensors taking over the procedure. “I will be at my headroom.”


Continue reading “StarFang Chapter 8”

Chapter Six

And we return to our serial StarFang – Aunty Fox


Chapter Six

I only met April when we were ten. It was the year when our clan defeated the Amber Eyes and held a big celebration to honor this victory. It was also held during the Mid-Autumn Festival; the event was very grand with the entire clan and sub-clans gathering on Noah’s Ark. Clan duties had kept my aunt, April’s mother, away for a long time – and the celebration was the only time she could attend. She wasn’t a ship captain, but a planetary governor, overseeing the agricultural growth and exports of food. April was the only cousin I didn’t get to see during every Spring Festival.

Dressed in a sky blue gipao, I fidgeted and tugged at the horrible fabric which was making my skin itch. I was standing dutifully beside Father and Mother while they toasted the assembled guests, relatives and allies with expensive wine. The hunt would be later. I glanced around, feeling bored; the green forest was calling out to me. At the same time, I felt awkward and uncomfortable, all gangly limbs and a body which had started to rebel against me. I hated the idea of growing up. The stupid gipao was attenuating every curve, every bulge.

I caught the eye of another girl, about my age, dressed in a red gipao and looking as uncomfortable as I was. The red shimmered under the light of multiple lanterns hung in the guest hall like a contained fire.  She had huge eyes and curly black hair. But what drew my attention to her was her smile. It lit up the hall. I was suddenly consciousness of my hair, tied in a neat ponytail… and I wanted to tear out the stupid hair-band and run screaming away to the forest

She smiled back and my world froze. I had never seen her before.

During the banquet, she came over, the strange new girl. She stretched out a hand in greeting.

“I am April Yue,” she said. Up close, she was pretty. “You must be my cousin, Ming Yue.”

This girl was my cousin. I tentatively grabbed that hand in return. She felt warm.

“Ma told me about you, said that there would be a girl about my age at the banquet,” April smiled. “Have you eaten already?”

I stared at the half-finished bowl of longevity noodles, my appetite gone. My parents were talking to their guests, going around each table, wine glasses in hand. I wasn’t part of their celebration.

“I am not hungry,” I said.

“Interestingly enough, so am I,” April shrugged. “You going for the hunt?”

“I can’t… turn yet,” I confessed, feeling my cheeks redden with heat. April pulled my hand and we slipped out of the banquet hall, which was loud with conversation, into the central courtyard with its lotus leaves and flowers. I often hid here, on normal days, to feed the koi fish that dwelled beneath the lotus leaves. As we ran along the corridor, the koi swirled in flame-colored patterns of red and orange, eager for their daily feed of fish food.

“I can’t either,” April said. “I can only do the eye-color changing thing.” She concentrated, inhaling slowly. Her eyes became gold with black rings. “But everyone can do that and turning is not a competition.” The gold faded back to brown.

A long howl interrupted our conversation. It was the signal for the hunt.

We didn’t take part in the hunt until we reached fourteen, the age where most youth experienced their first turning. By then, we had spent so much time together, my aunt having sent April to study at the school before entering the academy.

April gave me a rose agate pebble with smooth edges when I turned thirteen. It fit in the center of my palm. She said that she found it while she scoured the beach. She loved beaches. I loved her for that. When we were twelve, we realized our relationship was different. We were cousins, but we felt something stronger than that. Young as we were, we couldn’t describe how we felt.

I had the pebble made into a pendant. I didn’t wear it though. Instead I kept it in the main drawer of my desk on board the ship, to remind myself of what was real and tangible.

Continue reading “Chapter Six”

Chapter 2


After the meal, I bade Mother good bye and headed for my own personal quarters. The servants had cleaned and aired it out, letting the fresh scent of pine. I sniffed appreciatively. The balcony looked out into the clan’s forest area, replete with lake and trees. I would meet up with my pack-crew later in the evening, perhaps sharing a hunt with them. They had to know about their new assignment. At the moment, I had the luxury of being alone.

I dressed in a light cream robe and padded out on bare feet. My quarters were secluded, away from the main mansion.

When I reached the pine grove, I stripped naked, letting my skin drink in the air, the space, the energy. With a laugh, I stretched and turned.

Oh, the flesh engineers made it simple for us to change. I couldn’t explain it and could only say that it was all based on energy and the transmutation of cells. Illogical explanation, but all I knew was that it was pleasure to turn, and agony to turn.

The limbs shortened first, followed by the rest of the body stretching, cracking and adjusting the spine, the ribs and the muscles. It also triggered the stretching of the jaw bones and the emergence of the fur. I would say that the agony and pleasure would leave me panting, writhing, like sex and orgasm. But oh so subtly different. Turning was never sexual or sensual: it was ugly as heck. There were sub-groups in the clans who used turning as a fetish – but we didn’t normally talk about them.

I lay on the grass, exhausted by the turning. My senses were now different. One thing the flesh engineers had done to our wolf bodies was to retain our human consciousness. I was aware of my wolf limbs, wolf body. Slowly, gingerly, I got up, shaking out the kinks and the aches. I didn’t normally induce a full-body change, except on vacation and shore leave. Most of the time, the shifts were minor: fur on skin, hands into claws and the lengthening of canine teeth. Full turning would require focus and concentration. And of course, going full nude.

My strength returning, I trotted into the forest.

~*~ Continue reading “Chapter 2”

Chapter 1


The Rise of the Clan



Wolves should not be in space, but here we were, a clan of wolves and merchants. Instead of the preserved forests of New Earth and Noah’s Ark, we were in ships of steel and armor, reading data scans and commanding officers on the bridge. Wolves within the uniform of merchants and mercenaries, human seeming, claws and teeth sheathed.

Our genes kept us apart from the homo sapiens race. Some merchant clans tried to spread the rumor that we were the product of genetic engineering, a pact made between the secretive flesh engineers and our clan progenitors, in exchange for what we didn’t know and care about. Some rumors were more far-fetched, bordering on the mythical and mystical and the alien, alleging raptor-like shishini or grey-tinged juka involvement.

They were partly right.

They were also partly wrong.

We were homo sapiens lupus.

We were a breed apart.

And we were set to rule space.






Chapter One

Docking was a simple task, a routine procedure which let the machine navigator work it out and allow basic station instructions. I watched the data scans as the jets eased Starfang into her assigned lot. But my mind was already somewhere else. After the tour of duty, I was eager for a run in the forests of Noah’s Ark with my pack-crew. My body ached to move.

However, there was one thing I needed to do when I disembarked. I had to return to the clan home mansion to pay Aunt Gertrude a visit.

I waved my ID tag at the immigration officer who allowed me to pass. He recognized my uniform and my eyes. All homo sapiens lupus had what normal humans called “wolf eyes”. It was another thing that marked us as different.

The family car was already waiting for me at the arrival hall. I passed the trip gazing out of the tinted window. The green trees rushed past. The green called to me. It was a visceral song to my body, my cells.

They kept Aunt Gertrude – or “Cloud” if she wanted to be called by her hanzi name – in a separate enclosure. It was a walled enclosure, not more than a prison box, with only a slit for a window. There was a reason for this. Aunt Gertrude had the defective “R” gene that misfired and caused her to switch forms more frequently than the rest of the clan. For most of us, we could control the urges.

I loved Aunt Gertrude. She was actually my grandaunt, second sister to my grandfather, the Grand Wolf. I had seen the pictures where she was a hotshot pilot for our clan fighter corps. She used to hug me once I was younger and I loved her scent: earthy, like the forest. Comforting, like plush soft fur.


Yet, at the age of forty, Aunt Gertrude couldn’t control the urges anymore and was confined to the prison box where she lived for thirty years now. The family still provided food and water, as it did for the elderly and the injured. She had foregone the desire to bathe, like a high functional human being. She told me, before I left for New Earth, that bathing was over-rated.

“Aunt,” I said, modulating my voice for wolf ears were sensitive. No problem: she could already smell me. “Aunt, it’s me. Fransceca. Ming Yue. Have you eaten?”

I could smell the odor of something animal, something wolf. Pungent. Urine. Faeces. And interlaced with it was the forest. My aunt was still in there. I just wasn’t sure if she was wolf or she was human at this stage. Her control of the misfiring gene had already completely disappeared

“Ming Yue,” her voice – low, like growling – came through the slit in the door. “You are back.”

“Just today. We managed to quell the uprising at Olympus Mons.” I said. I heard the soft chuff-chuff-chuff of someone sniffing and I knew it was a wolf doing that.


The chuffing stopped and I heard a human cough. “I am glad you are here. It has been so lonely here.” Quavering voice, an old woman’s voice. Tired, panting.

“I am sorry. You know Clan rules.”

Another cough. “They tried giving me a vid. I can’t use it… You know…”

I hated pregnant silences. I looked down at the piles of dishes beside the door. The door was locked from outside.

“They gave me a beef haunch today,” Aunt Gertrude’s tone was amused, laughing. “How delightful.”

“What did Dr Yang say?” I asked brusquely.

“You mean the pills? They have not worked and they do not work. At my age… pffff. Dr Yang should know better.”

“He’s our best physician trained in homo sapiens lupus physiology.”

“I know he is,” another cough and another chuffing sound. “You have your father’s malaise. We are lang. Not some silly scientific term.”


“I only wish for open skies and trees,” Aunt Gertrude sighed and the sigh ended in a low snarl.


The snarling grew louder, turned into a whine — and then Aunt’s voice going: “Leave me be, Ming Yue. Enjoy your shore leave. Do not worry about me.”


The whine came back and then a snarl, a low angry wolf snarl, full of bared teeth and barely-suppressed rage. My back prickled. The pungent odor was heavier than ever, sour and richer than a woman’s menstrual cycle. I forced myself to walk away, back to the main mansion. Behind me, she howled, a mournful song reverberating in the air and chilling my skin.


The family hall was done in the traditional style, all rosewood furniture and clan banners on the wall. Paintings of ancestors lined the hall way, men and women. My ancestors: graceful, haughty, grim-looking in their court official wear, always with a black wolf sprawled beside them as they sat on their rosewood sedan chairs. My boots echoed as I made my way to the main hall. I suddenly felt filthy, in need of a good long soak in the hot springs and a change of clothing.

Mother sat on her crimson settee. She was wearing her sky-blue qi pao. She did not seem to age. Her hair was still black, jet-like, tied in a severe bun with a blue shell hair piece. In her youth, she captained the Starfang. She was now alpha female, co clan leader of the House. Starfang was mine now.

As I bowed politely in front of her, Mother stood up. Her slim frame belied her strength. She was lead hunter during the Clan Games.

“Welcome home, daughter,” she said.

“Mother,” I bowed lower. “Have you eaten?”

“The hunt has been fruitful this year,” her reply was routine, another tradition too.

“I visited Grand Aunt,” I said, still standing. “She is also well.”

The smooth planes of Mother’s face creased a little. Her eyes glowed a lighter amber. She inclined her head to acknowledge my words. She was one of those who protested Aunt Gertrude’s isolation.

“Come, daughter,” she smiled as if she wanted to dispel the sadness. “I cooked your favorite, pig trotters with ginger and vinegar. Tell me more about Starfangwhile we eat.”

I knew it was important when she, not Cook, cooked my favorite food. Mother seldom did things without a reason.


Mother had set the dining hall in clan colors – gold and crimson, with the black claw symbol on every banner. The main dining table was mahogany, made of one of the ancient trees from Noah’s Ark. As servants hurried about, laying out the chopsticks (all mahogany) and porcelain spoons, we chatted casually aboutStarfang. She had the same coolant problem in the same sector of the engine. The targeting system needed to have re-fitted and refined. Since my ascendancy as captain, I had installed more gun batteries, as the area I was tasked for my tour of duty was rife with piracy. But then, Starfang moved in her Pack Fleet, and the rest of the ships were armed to the teeth.

For a brief moment, Mother’s eyes glowed with pleasure and pride. Starfang was hers, before she retired.

“Sit, sit,” Mother gestured gracefully. I waited until she settled down. Protocols were still important, even though I was the eldest in the Clan, and daughter to the alpha pair. The fragrance of the vinegar and ginger invigorated me. It was a delightful winter warmer, and post-pregnancy food for new mothers. I picked at the fat of the trotter. The collagen would fetch a high price in the black markets everywhere in the galaxy. Rendered into pill form, taken intravenously, the hive rich would kill for this. But at this table, it was just part of our daily diets. Normal meal, nothing fancy. I took a few mouthfuls, sipped the jasmine tea and folded my hands on my laps, waiting for Mother to speak.

Mother nibbled at the pickled cucumbers, before she set her chopsticks down and glanced at me. Her eyes gleamed amber.

“I have received word,” she began steadily, “of an insurrection in Sector 41B. You will be re-assigned there.”

I winced. Sector 41B had always been restless. Three hive planets, providing raw materials to the clans for their wars and money-making. It had earned a reputation for being unruly, unable to listen to orders. Executions were frequent, almost regular. Sector 41B was also the hunting ground for the Pariahs, a clan of mongrels, who ought to be the instigators of the insurrection. Half-wolf, half-other things, the major clans considered them thieves, beggars.

“The Pariahs,” I said.

“Yes,” Mother nodded, tapping her chopsticks. “The mangy ferals. Beware, daughter. This time, they have the backing of another clan at odds with us.”

My fur stood on end. “The Amber Eyes. The Zuo. By the fur of our Progenitors, they hate us still?”

The Amber Eyes’s hatred ran as deep as the dangerous ocean under-currents. Our history with them harked back to the ancient forest days, when pack territory overlapped. Now, with their own ships and their wealth, they were fighting back.

“They are also fuelled with craz. And they feed the Pariahs with it.”

Mother’s voice was laced with revulsion. I could almost imagine her snarling. Craz, the addictive drug that fuelled, killed and drove the gangs like the Pariahs. I shook with disgust. I had an insurrection to deal with, and a drug trade I might have to stop. Yet things were not that simple. Eco-systems functioned differently. This was one such eco-system I had to handle with extreme care: other variables were involved. In the past, wolves and other predators were top of the food chain, managing the prey groups and niches. One false move – and the eco-system crumbled. What other prey groups and predators was I going to encounter? My academy teachers drummed that question into my head.

“Humans are involved,” Mother said finally.

knew it.

“Move with care,” she continued.

I picked up my chopsticks again. Indeed, I would.


Starfang: Rise of the Clan by Joyce Chng

Coming Soon.

Joyce Chng is releasing her latest book as a serial here on Fox Spirit.


Is a clan captain going to sacrifice everything for her clan? Welcome to Starfang, a world where merchant and starship captains are also wolves and merchants. For Captain Francesca, is a blood feud worth her entire life?