The Stars Are My Salvation: The Reason Cover Image

The Stars Are My Salvation is the debut science fiction novel by Hollywood veteran screenwriter, Stephen Langford. The first book in an exciting new series, fans seeking intergalactic adventures, unlikely heroes, thought-provoking political discourse, alien agendas, and secret agent missions, will find all of this and more within.

The Stars Are My Salvation: The Reason (Book 1) will be available in Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook formats from Stygian Press on May 23, 2023. Read a preview of the Prologue below.



As Commander Kris Galloway gazed out at the star Sirius from a sick bay porthole, his mind was consumed by one word: mutiny. His eyes dropped to a transport cruiser filled with gold miners that were slipping under his ship. He was envious of the miners passing beneath him. They were getting out of harm’s way. They would live to see tomorrow.

They jumped into hyperspace in a brilliant green flash, which deposited a swirling light show of tiny green particles that rolled and scattered to the right.

Mutiny had been on his mind for the last ten days as the war raged on across the great expanse. It was a week ago when he began to hatch his plot.

Kris turned away from the porthole and ran his hand through his wavy brown hair. It was a habit when he was nervous. He sat down a little too hard on a stool. His legs were weak. He’d been up for thirty hours or so, and the Lasta pills were wearing off.

Kris’ ship, the Concord, was the last starship left in orbit around Sirius. There were twenty other fleet vessels posted nearby, but his ship was the furthest one out. The ship closest to the war.

They were to be the next wave. The last wave.

Kris stared in the mirror at his bloodshot hazel eyes, seeing a weary young man who didn’t look that young anymore. He was twenty-eight and felt forty. He looked around the sick bay and recalled how much he disliked the sterile smell. The rest of the ship was outfitted with sniffers that produced pleasant or familiar scents. He was especially partial to deck B as it smelled like grass-covered hills. It reminded him of growing up in Wyoming and the endless stretches of green.

“Time,” Kris said to the room, and the computer voice answered.


Kris had been in the treatment room for twenty minutes. He didn’t like to wait and was relieved when the door slid open and Dr. Rourke bounded in. Rourke was in his forties with an unruly mop of blonde hair and scrubs that were overdue for a wash. He was an energetic man due to a dedication to exercise and eight cups of coffee a day. He talked a little too fast, which gave Kris pause as his life was in his hands.

“How does it look out there?” Rourke asked while eyeballing the melanoma on Kris’ hand.

“Grim.” Kris winced as Dr. Rourke poked around the cancer with his gloves. Dr. Rourke glanced down at a scan-pad and saw the diagnosis pop up. It was several pages long, and the commander waited anxiously while the doctor scanned through the charts and digital images. Even he could see how deep the cancer went.

“Stage four.” Dr. Rourke shook his head as if admonishing a child. “Why’d you let it get this far?”

“Slipped my mind.”

“That’s really gotta be painful. How’d you let that slip your mind?”


When Kris started out, he had a bit of a mouth on him. He was more knowledgeable than most and made sure everyone else knew it. He once corrected his commander, Willie Stone, and, as a result, Stone posted him to a planet called Galox, which had a weak atmosphere that allowed an abnormal amount of radiation to seep through. Kris had been overexposed during his tour. He consequently had several melanomas in the years since.

He cursed Commander Stone before recalling that Stone’s ship was blown apart in the first wave of attacks. A shot from a Citari cruiser landed on the flight deck, vaporizing Commander Stone and his crew. Kris couldn’t be that vindictive. He wouldn’t wish that on his worst enemy. There was only death beyond the star he was circling.

He winced again as the doctor squeezed the discolored area.

“Does that hurt?”

“Of course, it does,” Kris said, raising his voice a little. “Why do you do that? You know it’s going to hurt.”

“It’s a reminder to take care of your health.”

Dr. Rourke retrieved a device with a snout-like end, placed it over the melanoma, and punched in a few numbers. The device vibrated and made a soft clicking sound as it sucked away the infected tissue and replaced it with new skin. Kris felt a strong pinch but nothing more. The melanoma disappeared in a matter of seconds. Kris gripped his hand, mostly out of instinct, pain free.

Rourke pulled out a nose spray. “Chemo.”

Kris took a hit of the spray. He shook a little as he felt the chemicals coursing through his bloodstream, and he felt a slight burning sensation that went away after a minute. Kris felt a little dizzy and gripped a nearby desk to steady himself. It quickly faded away.

Kris got to his feet to face a grinning Dr. Rourke, who clapped him on the shoulder.

“You should be cancer-free by lunchtime tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

“Oh, and Galloway?”

“Yeah, Doc?”

“Try not to get us killed.”

“Nobody’s dying today,” Kris assured him.

“Have they come to their senses?” Rourke asked hopefully.

The question went unanswered as Kris headed out of the treatment room with the doctor’s words ringing in his mind. He had to make the right moves. It was a matter of precision. He had rehearsed the plan every evening after his shifts. Kris hadn’t slept last night. He was preparing. He was saving his species from annihilation.

He was a mere ten years out of high school and billions of lives were in his hands. This was the most singular moment in human history. No man had ever faced a challenge of this magnitude. He had to extinguish the madness and save humanity.

Kris was filled with self-doubt since his demotion. He had to temper his low self-esteem. It could engulf his soul and Kris knew he couldn’t allow this frailty to consume him. His mind had to remain keen. Earth was depending on his mutiny.

Kris stepped onto the flight deck and covered his eyes to shield from the glare of Sirius. He squinted and blinked. It was too bright.

He looked to the science officer, Delilah Court, a thirty-five year old with jet black hair and an eternal pout planted on her face.

Hearing the door open, Court turned and stared at Kris, unimpressed. Kris shrugged it off. He knew she didn’t care for him. She should have had his job. He’d been demoted to what should have been her promised promotion. She’d played the good soldier the best she could, so, to Delilah, Kris was an insult. Whenever he was around, her jaw went tight, and her eyes went icy cold.

Kris could feel her hostility, but he remained indifferent. Delilah wasn’t on his mind. Saving the human race was.



“Increase filter by twenty-five percent,” Kris ordered.

“Aye. Hurting your eyes, sir?” she said with a little sting in her voice.

Kris felt guilty. She had every right to needle him at every opportunity. He shouldn’t be here. He should have resigned in protest and gone back to his parents’ house in Wyoming. He could have stayed in their log cabin near Jackson Hole and fished carp. He could have drenched himself in fresh air and cool beer and completely checked out. But something kept him on the Concord.

He remembered the first time he put on his flight suit. He was in a locker room in front of a mirror and realized for the first time that he, Kris Galloway, had an identity. He wasn’t anonymous when he walked down the street in uniform. People knew what he did, and strangers shook his hand for doing it. He didn’t join NASA to find something that set him apart from others, but when he became aware of that feeling within him, Kris realized it was something he needed. Kris wondered if this was a flaw in his character, a bit of narcissism that needed to be fed. It gave him a great sense of unease, for he knew, deep in his heart, he craved it.

Court took her time increasing the filter, just to irritate him. Finally, after finishing some procedures at her station, she decreased the intensity. Kris shifted his weight a little as the room became darker. He even felt his breathing become more measured. He considered that she had turned the brightness up just to get under his skin. She’d do that from time to time.

“Thank you,” Kris said.

Court didn’t acknowledge him as she stared straight ahead at her station.

Kris watched the helmsman, Hernandez, a Hispanic man with wide brown eyes and a tiny frame, punch commands to turn the ship out toward empty space. Kris stepped down to the command chair and stood by it, resting his hand on one of the arms. He regarded the chair with a slight sense of regret. The arms were brown leather and a little worn. He could see a stain where the captain had spilled some coffee. It had once been his chair. He was the youngest captain in the fleet, the boy destined to become admiral by thirty. But, due to circumstances aided by his honesty and boldness, Kris’ life would divert on a course he couldn’t begin to imagine.

He had started to turn away when there was a flash in the corner of his eyes that he first assumed was a side effect of the chemo, but then it happened two more times in rapid succession. He pivoted around and couldn’t help but let his jaw drop a little before he caught himself.

As Kris stepped forward, walking past Court to the side of the helmsman, he could see the war raging sixty million miles out in the void. He sighed. This shouldn’t be happening. He had warned them. There was no question of the outcome.

Kris told the helmsman to increase the magnification on the screen, then instantly wished he hadn’t. His instinct was to turn off the screen altogether, but that would make him look weak to the crew. He had to accept the alternative: watching the Earth’s battle fleet exploding across the great expanse.

Kris was watching his friends die.

He directed his attention to the science panel. He was dodging the view still, but not as obviously. He didn’t want to think about the myriad of faces, of friends out there, frozen in the harshness of space, their last memories of war, knowing their lives were over.

Kris pictured others either vaporized or dying slowly in the hulks of starships with no hope of rescue. They would only have time to think about death from either radiation exposure or dwindling oxygen. They were friends, mentors, lovers, and enemies, all dying for a folly.

He came out of his fog and realized it was time. Time for mutiny. A mutiny of one with no accomplices.

He had the flight deck. It was his moment to come out of the shadows and be bold again.

“Where’s the skipper?” Kris demanded.

“Torpedo room. You told him to confer with the weapons officer. Remember? Before we go in,” the helmsman reported, his eyes filled with fear.

“Right. Right.”

Kris plopped into the command chair. He was offered a coffee by an ensign, and he grabbed it and gulped it down. The cream and sugar felt good sliding down his throat. The ensign lingered.

“What? Something on your mind?” Kris asked.

“You wrote the Keifer Report.”

“Yeah, that’s me. And by the looks of it, I was pretty accurate.”

“Why didn’t they listen?”

The Keifer Report was a detailed analysis of the Council, the leadership of the most powerful aliens in the galaxy: the Citaris. Using intelligence analysis, the report determined that war with the Council was futile. It explained how Earth needed to reform its ways or else face destruction. Yet the warnings were not heeded, and hubris reigned.

In return for writing the report, Kris had been relieved of his command as captain of the Monmouth and was demoted to commander, then reassigned to the Concord.

Kris gazed in horror at the deep blue flashes in the distance, but soon noticed they were becoming less and less frequent. A few minutes later, there were none. All they could see was the stark blackness and the stars. In his gut, he knew they’d just lost the war.

Kris shifted in his seat, his jaw tightening. “Communications, what’s the chatter level?”

The communications officer slowly turned to him, stifling back tears, her voice trembling. “None of ours. Only Citari.”

The ensign stared at Kris with fear in his eyes. The whole flight deck fell silent, save for the pulsing and beeping systems that ran the ship. The Concord had been one of the backbenchers in the war, but it was quickly apparent to everyone on the deck that they were the new front line.

“Captain still in the torpedo room?” Kris asked.

“He’s on his way up,” Court said.

Kris knew that the captain was itching for battle, but he had no sense for tactics. He was at the bottom of the barrel in the fleet. He got his command because he’d been in the game so long, they had to finally give him a ship. Kris was assigned to be his babysitter.

But Kris was done. He had resolved he was going to protect Earth from itself.

Taking decisive action, Kris flipped open a panel on the command chair. He could see the captain’s beacon, indicating he was on an elevator. He quickly went to a second panel and shut down that elevator, cutting off its communications. This was the first step in his silent mutiny. No one would know. It would read as a failure in a relay and nothing more.

Kris was going to put an end to all the madness.

“Helm, release buoy. Five, seven, five.”

“A buoy, sir?”

“I didn’t ask for questions. Move!”

The ensign released the buoy and it floated past their viewscreen.

Court turned around to Kris curiously.

“Engage drive. Set course for Earth. Seventy-five lights,” Kris said sternly.

“The captain? Are these his orders?” Court questioned.

“The Directorate. It’s above your paygrade,” he retorted.

Court stood up and stared him directly in his eyes. Kris didn’t flinch. Court walked up to him in her panther-like way. She eyed him suspiciously as the rest of the crew damned her silently for questioning his orders. Kris watched her approach, not believing she was pulling this now. He could see the other crew members shooting daggers at her from around the flight deck.

“The Directorate?” Court echoed.

“Lieutenant, return to your station,” Kris said firmly.

“I’d like a confirmation,” Court insisted.

“If you’re willing to wait in the brig for it,” Kris said coolly. Court unclenched her fists and turned away, defeated. She glowered at him, turned away, and sat at her post. Kris opened a panel on his chair and punched in a code. It was the recall code for the other ships scattered in the quadrant. He was supposed to tell the communications officers to send it, but he had rewired the module the night before. No one on the deck would know what had happened.

The code went out to the last ships in the fleet. The cruisers, without question, turned around and headed back to Earth.

The Concord jumped into hyperspace and headed home, too. The Council ships arrived five minutes later. Theirs were larger, outfitted with turret guns that swung on the buoy, but they didn’t fire. The guns still glowed white hot from the battle they’d just won.

Kris’ eyes were on a scanner, watching the Citari ships hold their positions. The Citaris by now could hear the song in their native language being broadcast from the buoy as it blared into the speakers of all the Citari flight decks. Kris knew the melody would be familiar to all onboard the Citari starships. It was ancient, dating back to the twelfth mellen of the Citari race. It was “The Song of Salaya.” The song of surrender, one that the Citaris had accepted as the end of hostilities for thousands of years. Kris knew when he broadcast the song it would be seen as a sign of respect from the Earthers. When those haunting words were sung, Kris was certain the Citaris would accept that they were victorious. They had made their point. Over four hundred Earth ships were destroyed or missing. They had boxed in the Earthers. As “The Song of Salaya” repeated chorus after chorus, the Citaris stood down. The conflict was over. Kris eyed the message that the Citaris had accepted. The surrender came with terms that the Earthers could travel no further than the DMZ, which was four light years past Proxima Centauri.

Kris felt satisfied seeing that the remains of the fleet, twenty ships, were hyper-spacing back to Earth, so this was all done with one vote. His vote. The vote of Commander Kris Galloway, the secret mutineer.

By the time the Concord arrived in Earth’s orbit, Kris learned the Council had notified Earth that the boundaries were set, and they were not to cross them. Ever. Congress revolted against the hard-liners who had promised Earth would become the leaders of a great galactic empire. They told lies to get a war vote. There was an earthquake in Washington, D.C.

The president and vice president resigned instead of facing certain impeachment. The Speaker of the House, Helen Swope, rose to the presidency that day and accepted the terms. Internally, countless heads rolled in the government. Swope promised that there would never be hostilities between Earth and Citari again.

Kris sat in his quarters, looking down at Earth, and knew it was safe. It was the year 2176, and he had made sure there was going to be a 2177. He wondered if anyone would uncover his mutiny. He didn’t care if they did and threw him in jail. With no one else willing, he had to stop the madness.

Kris gazed at the blue world below, dotted with white puffs of clouds. He smiled, knowing it would be his home again. Forever, he hoped. Kris slipped into his bed and pulled the sheets tight. He wanted to feel secure. He fell asleep and dreamed of fishing striped bass at Bighorn Lake in Wyoming.

If you liked what you read, you can continue reading Chapter 1 here, and don’t forget to add The Stars Are My Salvation: The Reason to your Goodreads shelf!

Can’t wait to get your hands on a copy for yourself? Pre-Order your autographed copy in either Hardcover (with dust jacket and laminate case finish) or Paperback from us, or get a non-autographed copy from your favorite local bookstore or online here. Also available in Kindle eBook format on Amazon!

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