Sten Adventures Book 2: The Wolf Worlds
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|Author||Chris Bunch and Allan Cole|
|Cover artist||David B. Mattingly|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Publisher||Del Rey Books, reissued by Orbit Books|
|Media type||Print (paperback)|
|Followed by||The Court of a Thousand Suns|
Sten is a leader of Mantis Team 13, one of the Empire's covert operations units. After crashing, Team 13 is ambushed by the local Janissars. Team 13 is able to overpower them, capture their ship and return home.
Sten's mission confirmed the existence of a rare mineral in the Eryx Cluster, a fact which does not please the Eternal Emperor. The shortest path to Eryx is through the dangerous Lupus Cluster, also known as the "Wolf Worlds". The Lupus Cluster is the home of the cult of Talemein. The Talemein have a military faction called the "Janissars" who engage in piracy to acquire money and ships, killing captives who do not convert to Talemein beliefs. According to the Emperor's analysis, in three years time every "wannabe merchant, miner and explorer" will be travelling via the Lupus Cluster, where they will be slaughtered by the cult. The Emperor would then be obliged to send the Imperial Guard as protection. Sending the Guard would be personally embarrassing, as the Wolf Worlds had been gifted by the empire thousands of years earlier to the young soldier known as Talemein. Since official action is out of the question, the only acceptable solution is an unofficial one.
Sten receives a very simple order: in three years he has to pacify the whole Lupus Cluster using whatever means necessary. He can recruit anyone but no more than one other member from Mantis covert operations. Sten takes Alex Kilgour, his best friend and former team member from Mantis.
Talamein is ruled by the merchant prince Parral and his prophet Theodomir. Sten offers them mercenary services and unification of the cluster. They accept, while secretly planning to kill Sten after the completion of his work. Sten then offers help to the Bhor, the natives of Lupus Cluster. The Bhor are a race of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, usually engaged in either tearing their competitors apart or doing the same to their bank accounts. Because the Bhor are militant and violent beings, they quickly develop a friendship with Sten and Alex.
Sten then begins his campaign by attacking the Janissary military centre, reinforced by multiple follow-up attacks. Lacking in numbers, Sten accepts the help of Mathias, Theodomir's son, who has a small group of followers. During the attack, Parral betrays Sten and orders his ships to retreat, leaving Sten to die on the planet. Luckily, Sten is saved by the intervention of the Bhor and he decides to pay Parral a visit.
After Mathias kills Parral, the Eternal Emperor personally visits Lupus Cluster and declares prophet Theodomir to be the legitimate ruler, in spite of Sten's warnings that he needs more time for the situation to settle. Mathias murders his father Theodomir the day after the Emperor leaves. He then falsely accuses Sten, and declares holy war against traitors, unbelievers, and "that heretic Emperor". Sten and Alex escape, but Sten's mercenaries are captured.
Sten takes Mantis Team 13 and infiltrates Lupus Cluster's capital, where he frees his imprisoned mercenaries and launches an attack. In the ensuing battle, Mathias' Shastri Spice Group seemingly disappears. After a long struggle, Sten finally captures the villainous Mathias, drugs him and forces him to recant and publicly declare peace.
The Eternal Emperor is pleased with Sten's action in the Lupus Cluster and promotes him to commander of the Gurkhas, the Emperor's personal bodyguards. Sten is first tasked with finding the elusive Shastri Spice Group...