#freereads – Adrift Ch 23 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

OMG! Roku’s awake and out of his cryotube. What now?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 23

Roku swayed back and forth in minuscule movements. His lidded eyes stared at nothing, unfocused and groggy.

“Can you hear me?”

Arad risked reaching out to touch Roku’s head, trying to get some response. Roku allowed the contact, but barely seemed aware of it as well. The soaked fur glided between his fingers with the touch of luscious velvet, begging to be stroked. Dense muscle danced underneath the surface.

The tech attached to his skin popped off one by one when Arad brushed his hand against them. He traced the unnatural stripes decorating Roku’s body with his fingers. They ran down his arms to merge with his neck and back, all the way down to his meaty buttocks. Arad snatched back his hand and averted his wandering eyes. He was perving over a possibly injured man while hunched over Roku with his bare ass hanging out. He told himself it was the Syn talking, but either way it was damned inappropriate.

Tugging down his shirt hem, Arad stood and stepped backwards, while trying to maintain a crumbling air of decency. “Um… Hold still. I’ll be right back and get you a blanket.”

With a jerky, awkward movement, Roku reached out and caught Arad’s ankle in his grasp. Uncoordinated his grip might have been, but it was made of unforgiving steel. He gave a sudden pull and Arad lost his balance, dropping to the floor.

Still holding Arad’s ankle, Roku shifted forward in a clumsy shuffle that could barely be called a crawl. Nose flaring, he snorted and sniffed his way up Arad’s shin, thigh and into his groin.

“Whoa! Whacha doin?”

Roku’s inhales grew stronger, more urgent. A feral yowl seeped out as he opened his jaw and wetted Arad’s cock with his wandering tongue.

“Oh shi—” The word caught itself short as shocks surged through his body and brain, all centered on Roku’s lazy but intent slavering. Arad’s dick responded instantly, the Syn having turned his normal recovery time into nothing. The drug used to fuel Davis’s marathon sex binges. A cycle of excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution to be repeated until his body gave up. Arad had taken half of Davis’s usual amount and assumed the effect would be far less. Perhaps not.

“Don’t…”

A fluttering of unease captured his splintered thoughts. This should not be happening. Arad grabbed at Roku’s head, but instead and shoving him back, he found himself pulling the DemiShou closer, rubbing his swollen, eager cock all over Roku’s mouth and face, desperate for more.

Fevered rushed struck hard, far faster than rubbing one out earlier. Without warning, he peaked and toppled. In a wordless shout, every muscle seized as he came. Streaks of semen coated his shirt and Roku’s face, and it did nothing to slow things down for either of them as the Demi licked up the mess.

Roku’s lifted Arad’s leg as he rooted deeper, his snout and tongue forcing Arad to turn over on his stomach to avoid being folding in half. The new position allowed Roku to push forward and separate the halves of Arad’s buttocks with his free hand and face. With unfettered access, he wasted no time digging deep, lapping the tender iris into a center of quaking need.

“Stop…” Arad’s pitiful plea sounded unconvincing as he pushed backwards like a desperate two-credit whore.

Sex had always been a transaction for Arad, no matter how pleasurable. A way to afford food. A roof over his head for the night. Acts of trade of any variety. Hooking up with someone exclusively to chase a sexual high? Never. It had always been an exchange of services. Always. How was he supposed to handle walking through this foreign territory?

Or handle the disappointment when the treatment ended.

Roku stopped long enough to climb Arad’s body, still stumbling and groggy until he clamped his jaw over Arad’s collar and shoulder. Sharp teeth didn’t pierce his skin but when Roku’s steely arms circled Arad’s chest and arms, he knew Roku didn’t want him going anywhere. The rest of the DemiShou’s body settled on top of Arad, with an obviously large and hard penis landing between his spit-slick cheeks. With a shift of his hips, Roku’s solid member began humping the wet channel between Arad’s haunches at a maddening slow and frustrating pace. 

Arad knew he should be scared. Roku was a fierce stranger with all the power. He knew the unforgiving metal and rivets in the floor should leave him in pain. But the Syn morphed all of it into heady sensations, and the more he got the more he craved. And the more he urged it on. 

“Don’t stop…”

Canting his hips on each upstroke, Arad hoped to capture the slippery knob and force it inside to no avail. Held down tight in feral arms, he lacked the clearance to do much more than feel each juicy slide rub across his opening and making him moan uncontrollably. The slow stroke allowed his feverish mind to map out each ridge and vein teasing him into a frenzy.

Roku’s speed didn’t increase, but each rut strengthened. The growling against Arad’s shoulder vibrated deeper through his body, meeting his crushed cock until everything swelled into climax. Roku squeezed Arad tight and with a muffled roar went rigid. Searing fluid shot up Arad’s lower back and ass, ultimately dripping down his sac in hot rivulets. All the conflicted feelings and ramped up tactile sensitivity triggered Arad again. He cried out as he came, smearing the floor beneath them.

Without releasing Arad, Roku’s huffing reduced to normal breaths until he fell asleep with Arad still trapped in his arms. Then he began to… purr?

The guttural chainsaw reverberated into Arad’s shoulder and chest. It lulled him, drowning his anxiety on the harsh metal floor. Exhaustion dragged him into sleep, and he allowed it because he was sure Roku wasn’t letting him up anytime soon.

And strangely, he felt safer than he should have been.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 22 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week, the contributing members write a chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

Now that Arad’s had the chance to try the Syn and blow off some steam (no pun intended) what will he do next?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 22

Plodding barefoot across the cargo bay’s riveted metal floor was oddly comforting instead of outright painful. Every little sensation brought him a touch of joy and pleasure. A sure sign the Syn lurked under the surface. That and Arad found himself evaluating the DemiShou in an entirely inappropriate way. Not that he hand’t noticed before, but he seemed slightly obsessed with how the cryotubes’ transparent faces allowed near complete peepshow views of their inhabitants. 

Shichi’s scales looked coarse, like rows and rows of serrated edges. Almost as if they could score patterns into another person’s bare skin. Strangely, Arad’s curiosity kept coming back to that feature until he forced himself to move on. Stupid drug. 

Hachi’s fearsome size continued through every part of his body, including his flaccid junk’s prize-winning length and girth. If all bulls were this well hung, it was probably a good thing he’d turned down the bartender the night he met Torrins. Even so, his gaze lingered much longer than he should.

Roku’s endowment, while more than ample, elicited far less terror. It suited the fine hair covering his perfect musculature which made his body appear so silky. Arad found every centimeter of his physique alluring, even as Roku started… to twitch?

The alarm blared as Roku’s movements progressed into full seizure. He jerked and flailed, thumping over and over against the container’s sides. His muscles swelled in relief, contractions increasing the definition with each pulse. Ropy veins pushed to the surface, threatening to explode at any moment.

All arousal fled, replaced with razors of panic. Arad’s heartbeat spiked as he tried to keep it together, knowing he would useless if he freaked out. The incessant electronic cadence tugged at the braided thread binding his nerves together, making it difficult to concentrate. His attention flew between Roku and the screen, his hand millimeters over the PAUSE SEQUENCE and ABORT controls. Last time, Hachi’s seizures resolved themselves and everything was fine—

Abruptly Roku slumped in the cryotube and every health data readout flatlined. The alarm condensed into a single shrill tone reserved for the dying.

“No no no no no…” This wasn’t supposed to happen. It’s not what happened with Hachi. He was supposed to have time to learn how to save them all.

Not knowing what else to do, Arad slapped the ABORT command.

Arad jumped backwards as the capsule split open, the top and bottom halves separating like a cracked egg. Chamber fluids gushed out in a wave, splashing the floor and rushing towards the built-in drains nearby. When the tube opened far enough, Roku crumpled and tumbled out into an unseemly heap, arms and legs bent at odd angles. Arad rushed to him, ignoring the pooling liquids splattering his shins and ankles.

“Roku! Roku, wake up!” Shaking the unconscious DemiShou did nothing. Dead weight refused to move. No, not dead. He wasn’t allowed to be dead. Arad grabbed a shoulder and heaved with all his might to roll Roku onto his back.

“First aid, first aid, first aid.” The myriad of instructions whirled in his head, and there wasn’t time to hunt down the tablet somewhere in the cargo bay and confirm them. Arad needed to do this right. And now.

Roku’s chest didn’t move. It didn’t rise and fall like a living man, and Arad couldn’t find a pulse at his neck. Hopefully he was checking the right spot. He’d practiced finding his own often enough while he studied. Light glinted off the fluids filling Roku’s slack mouth.

“Oh man, you’re drowning.” He tipped Roku’s head to the side, allowing it to drain. “You could breathe this stuff just fine in the tube. Why not now?” Once the flow stemmed to a faint trickle, Arad slapped him. “Come on! Please! Wake up!” Arad slapped him again.

Nothing happened.

Scrubbing at his face, he cried out in desperation. No higher power would help him now, he had to do the work himself. Arad reached up and grabbed fistfuls of his hair as he raced through the procedure in his head. He could do this. He knelt next to Roku in what he thought was the correct position.

Arad’s exhale stuttered. “I hope I’m doing this right.”

With one hand over the other, he pumped at the center of Roku’s chest, making a wish he was using enough power to do the job. Five, four, three, two, one. He grabbed Roku’s head and sealed his mouth over Roku’s. It wasn’t easy with his tiger features and thin lower lip, but Arad managed. He blew steady and with enough force to make Roku’s chest rise. Two, one, then repeat.

Over and over, he ran through the steps, praying he had them right. He only stopped as water gurgled up in Roku’s mouth, forcing him to turn his head and drain it once again. His arms burned and his eyes blurred with only the sounds of his efforts filling the room. What he wouldn’t give for the alarm to distract him. It couldn’t end this way. Arad refused to give up, even though his patient did nothing on his own.

The only thing stemming Arad’s tears was the rhythm of two breaths, five compressions, two breaths, and cracks were forming in the dam. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold out. His strength was fading along with his determination to survive. The one thing he’d always held dear and it was failing him.

“I’m so sorry, Roku.”

Suddenly, Roku lurched, bucking Arad off with a yelp. The DemiShou rolled over and began heaving, spewing all the fluids trapped in his lungs until he gave out a ragged, weakened gasp. The first breath of the newborn. He coughed and sputtered with his face on the wet floor, too weak to hold himself up higher.

Tears laced with relief finally tore free from Arad. He crawled carefully closer, not wanting to startle the groggy DemiShou on the floor.

“Roku, can you hear me?”


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 21 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Happy New Year! and welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week we write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

This week I used the following prompt: use certificate, crane, and onion in your story.

Arad found Daiko and Serene’s stash of Syn. What happens now?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 21

Arad flipped the bottle’s top open with his thumb and stared at the nine or ten tiny squares of paper inside. Each one had an identical stamp, marking the maker so the buyer knew where to get more.

Syn was based off an obsolete synthetic drug called LSD. Still a hallucinogenic, it centered on the pleasure centers of the brain, making everything feel good. Severe overuse left a person corrupted, leaving them in a perpetual state of uncontrollable sex addiction.

Arad had seen enough of it after Sketch found him recovering from pneumonia in the alley. He’d taken pity on Arad and let him crash with him for a few months. Sketch made and dealt the Syn—it was easy enough with a basic lab—but he didn’t use. He insisted on Arad keeping clean as well. The last thing he wanted was a corrupted burnout in his flat. Sketch was kind and didn’t ask anything for favors in return. He said Arad was far too young.

The few months together were an odd blessing compared to living in the workhouse, but it couldn’t last. Sketch had use his expired pharmacy certificate to steal the ingredients from a corporate chemical storehouse and the authorities managed to trace them back and raided their home. Sketch was arrested but they pitched Arad into the street—literally face first—because his identity had been scrubbed and he was now undocumented. Corporations didn’t care about slugs. He never saw Sketch again.

In all of their encounters Davis used Syn, so Arad knew there was little risk of being corrupted with a single dose. Davis would take two hits and every aspect of his grim life in Grey District would shine and sparkle and become fabulous.

An exhuasted sigh made his shoulders sag. “Oh, I could use some of that right now.”

He’d lost count of the number of men and women who lost themselves to chemical escape over the years. Stealing small moments in a life of drudgery was common, as for some downright dangerous. Arad had made a point to avoid the trap. When the high faded, all the crap of the world still existed.

But sometimes a little distraction felt appropriate.

Carefully using his fingernails, he picked a single square from the bottle trying not to touch the rest. Syn could soak in through the skin and throw off the dose. He dropped the tab on his tongue and swallowed it down. Tossing the bottle onto the bed, he only had to sit back and wait for it to take effect.

When the red, chipped paint on the wall started looking especially luscious, he knew it had begun. Colors appeared more vibrant, each detail crisper. Serene’s glittery dress sitting in a heap on the floor seemed sad, unable to shine.

“Starting to see what Davis saw in this stuff.”

Was the room temperature climbing? Warmth spread through his body and his skin tingled. It felt good. Really good. Arousal ramped up in a gradual incline and Arad found himself thumbing his nipple through his shirt. Each little stroke built a charge which flooded his battery and threatened to overflow. His clothes had never felt so confining. Restrictive. Arad attacked his belt. Completely stripping himself from the waist down, he dumped his pants on top of the glitter dress. The recycled air on his bare ass and legs was a blessing.

“Oh wow. My cock’s hard enough to do the work of a crane! That’s awesome!”

Swollen and jutting out like a flesh covered spike, he wasn’t sure his dick had ever been so rigid. He had a fleeting idea to tie a cord around the end and see if he could lift things with it. But no, that was the Syn talking. The color and stiffness was impressive. Arad took a light grip to better examine his organ and was gifted with a hard, pleasurable shudder that quaked him to the core. Nothing had ever felt so amazing before. So fantastic, so addictive, he didn’t let go as his flesh swelled and pulsed in his tightening fist.

Davis used to make the weirdest, uncontrollable noises in their sessions and Arad did the same as he made an exploratory stroke. So much glossy fluid dribbled out of the slit, he spread it around making each slick movement peel away a new layer of his inhibitions. A pantsless, horny onion. Three or four strokes were enough to throw the idea of stopping out the airlock. Eager and needy like never before, he launched into his task with a new vigor.

Near-mindless in ecstasy, he kept pumping until he came loud, crying out at the top of his lungs, and all over Daiko and Serene’s sheets. Spraying his DNA to mark the bed as his own made him preen even as his moans echoed in the room’s tight confines. He began to wonder what it could be like if they were still here with him—

“Nope. Full stop.” Arad gave his head a violent shake to end that traitorous thought. “That is definitely the Syn talking.”

Several long, tedious minutes were required to calm his breathing. Scooping up the bottle, he dumped it in the drawer and kicked it shut with a scraping bang. “So glad Torrins didn’t ever get the nerve to dose me with this junk. Who knows what he would have talked me into. Ha! You missed out, Torrins. Sucker.”

The heat still simmered under his skin, but the intensity muted after his orgasm. His cock continued to do its impression of a third leg, but the need to couple and rut was gone. A touch of euphoria elevated his mood above normal, lifting the stress from his bones. Now that the edge was off, he could go back to his work. The DemiShou and Ansariland’s issues had yet to disappear.

Refusing to glance at the bed’s condition, Arad stepped into the hallway and headed back to the cargo bay.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 20 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Happy Holidays and welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week we write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

Arad has a lot to learn on the Ansariland. Is he up for the challenge?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 20

Throwing his arms wide, Arad slumped backwards on the mattress and allowed the tablet to tumble out of his hand and to the floor.

“No more today, guys. I can’t look at another schematic.” 

Six straight days studying the Ansarliand’s mechanical systems had turned his brain to mush. It’s not that he didn’t find it all fascinating, there was just so much to get through. The first day overloaded with emergency medical procedures had been bad enough. He should have paid more attention in biology. Academics came easier before he ended up in the workhouse. Arad remembered how much he’d complained about school, and now he almost missed it.

Almost.

Most of his time was now spent in the cargo bay standing watch while he scoured the databases. He’d even gone so far as to drag Franc’s mattress out of his room, dropping it in front of the cryotubes for a better vantage point. It wasn’t a big deal. Franc didn’t need it anymore.

An unfamiliar chirp from one of the tubes startled Arad. “What was that?” Rolling to his feet, he sprinted the short distance to the capsules, barely noticing how he kicked the tablet aside in the rush. Starting with Hachi, Arad scanned the slumbering DemiShou, his container, and the attached control screen, searching for any sign of distress. Finding nothing, he repeated the process with Shichi and then Roku. The status line under Roku’s health line data had changed from BIOLOGICAL to SYNAPTIC.

His panicked breath stalled as Arad stared at Roku, waiting for something to explode.

Long, long minutes passed and nothing happened.

Roku continued to sleep like all three with no more movement than the rise and fall of his chest and the occasional muscle twitch that amounted to a whole lot of nothing.

He wished he understood the DemiShou process. There was no way to know if any part could harm them and no available datafile existed to teach him about the past week’s changes. A fine pattern of iridescent scales covered Shichi’s body, the pebbled texture now defined. Hachi’s skin had grown darker and Roku’s geometric stripes were richer and deeper in tone. All of their animalistic features and details were more pronounced. What more was in store? How likely was another seizure and would it end as uneventfully as the previous one? Frustration over his lack of knowledge was such an understatement.

Scrubbing a hand through his hair, Arad stepped backwards. “I gotta take a break. You guys relax. I’ll be back later.”

With one last fleeting look of concern at Roku, Arad left the cargo bay. Stepping into the hall did little to ease the constant state of tightness in his chest. Overseeing the DemiShou would send him to meet Torrins and the rest.

“Forget it, Torrins. I’m not getting buggered by you in the afterlife.”

Too much information and worry and uncertainty flooded his mind and left him more adrift than the ship. It was near impossible to focus on one thing when all sides of the situation competed for equal time. Arad couldn’t be sure which aspect deserved the most attention. 

The resulting sigh echoed down the corridor, amplified by the emptiness. He probably should have left the music running, but the background noise pulled him out of his studies too easily. Street noise he could ignore, but not Torrins’ eclectic playlist. And Arad needed to learn all the areas he never had access to before the crew got popped because there was too much riding on it now.

Why couldn’t he be like Torrins and not give a shit? Life would be so much easier if he could be like so many others he’d met over the years. So selfish they could sacrifice everyone around them in order to survive. Arad understood the appeal, but no matter how hard his life became, people still mattered. He hadn’t given up on the universe simply because it turned his back on him. He was only somewhat jaded.

Middle finger raised, Arad waved his hand at the ceiling.

“I’m gonna figure this out, no matter how hard you jerks made this.”

Half in a fugue state, Arad wandered the halls looking for something, anything to distract his thoughts. Shuffling about between the crew quarters, he ambled into Tank’s old room. It didn’t take long until boredom moved him along into another and wound up in Daiko and Serene’s.

Without any real intent, he wrenched open various drawers, hardly flinching as the metal scraped. The noise did little to jar the fuzziness of his mood. He thumbed through their closet for the thousandth time, and hardly noticed anything of interest. The weight on his soul muddied him into boredom. Or maybe some kind of depression. It was hard to tell the difference.

Had he skipped his last meal? It was possible given how much energy he’d thrown into the ship schematics, but finding the momentum to deal with food was harder than it should have been. Too much weight on his shoulders. Too many dilemmas in his thoughts. If he didn’t get a handle on it soon, he was going to have a spurting, bloody stroke all over the ship, and with his luck he’d be crippled and still have to clean up the mess.

He’d give anything to spend a little time out of his own head. But seriously, what kind of options did he have?

Arad slumped down onto the bed and fell back on the mattress, refusing to harbor images of how Daiko and Serene spent their intimate time on this potentially seedy surface. Shuddering, he rolled to his side and bumped his knee against the first storage he’d opened when he came in.

“Ow!” Arad rubbed out the ache, oddly proud to remember his first aid studies. “If you drew blood and I need a tetanus booster, I’m gonna rip you off the hinges.” 

Peeking into the drawer, he spied Daiko and Serene’s bottle of Syn.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 19 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week we write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

What’s Arad going to do now that he has three more bodies to care for on board?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 19

It took several uneventful hours with no additional DemiShou alarms before Arad was satisfied enough to pry himself from the cargo bay. Even so, he still peeked over his shoulder and stretched his hearing as he crossed the threshold. Worry lingered in his chest, but it sat hushed, dulled enough to prevent the impending panic over the chance something horrible could happen at any second.

Dulled, but not extinguished. Quick steps rushed him down the hall to the closest thing Ansariland had to a sick bay. 

In all honesty, the infirmary was a glorified closet dominated by a high-end automated medical bed and companion first aid kit, looking way too pricey for this ship. He’d only ever seen one in newsfeeds and entertainment vids through storefront windows. This sleek model was out of place among the rusted yet functional aspects of Ansariland.

Arad circled the bed and its tech, beauty he’d never believed he see up close, let alone touch. A proper reverence warmed him as he brushed his fingers over the glossy, hygienic surface. “Man, Torrins. I always wondered if you smuggled this on board or if you sold someone’s first born to a workhouse to get ahold of this?”

Humor rushed out of Arad faster than a storm drain. Some things shouldn’t be joked about no matter if a person survived the experience or not.

Arad shook himself to bring him back to the present with a hard shiver. Hachi’s seizure had stretched his tolerance for bitter memories into tattered mesh. Blocking the sieve was a necessary skill born from years on the streets. If he bogged himself down in the unchangeable past, he’d have no chance to help Hachi, Shichi, and Roku. Survivors didn’t wallow.

With no one to shake a disapproving finger at him—mostly Serene, but the rest also took their turns keeping him in his place—Arad was free to explore. The portable first aid kit mounted to the wall released with ease. Inside, the contents appeared well stocked and mostly untouched. A number of the items were unfamiliar. Hopefully, instructional files were included with the med bed.

The bed’s translucent surface gleamed in the harsh light as a gentle glow brightened it from within. Too hard to be plastic, too soft to be metal, Arad marveled at its construction. Much of its appearance bordered on design and aesthetics rather than function, marking it an item of excess. Something not intended for likes of him.

The cryotubes had similar characteristics. Unnecessary perfection for an illicit machine. What a shame that those with wealth and power would waste such splendor.

Well, it was in his hands now and he planned to be able to make use of it.

It took several minutes to dig through the monitor’s menus to find the medical library. Navigating a piece of tech so complicated was something he might have excelled at years ago—before his fall from grace into slugdom. Now he struggled with unfamiliar systems, an awkwardness built from disuse.

But Arad would persevere.

He found the search function and pulled up everything the bed was programmed for regarding the care of DemiShou.

Arad’s heart sank when the results revealed next to nothing.

“You have to be kidding me!”

Only fleeting references to DemiShou existed inside the encyclopedia of data. No specialized medical profile to cover the three in the cargo bay in case of emergency. Welcome to Go’s fate.

Arad remembered what it was like so many years ago after being ousted from the condemned workhouse. One hand on the scanner pad, he stood before a med-kiosk in the pouring rain trying to navigate the device’s diagnostics program through the fever haze cooking his brain. 

“Your diagnosis is… double pneumonia.”

No surprise given the shoddy conditions he’d lived and worked in for so long. Barely able to breathe through painful, wet coughing fits, he stopped pretending that this might pass.

“To dispense treatment, please insert currency.”

Arad had fed the last of his meager credits into the machine because starvation would be a slower death than the one brewing from his current condition. And far kinder.

“Accepted. Thank you for choosing GalatiCorp. Have a nice day.”

He curled up in an alley behind a dumpster, shivering against the deluge. Creating what little shelter he could manage from a discarded metal sheeting as a makeshift roof, he waited for his meds to kick in and the ache in his chest to ease. No job. No money. No home. Hope circled into the sewer faster than the gutter’s runoff as he learned life’s most important rule.

Corporations didn’t care about people over profits. Nothing personal, just business, of course. The giant excuse for unethical behavior on a global scale. If they hadn’t already, it was a harsh lesson Hachi, Shichi, and Roku would learn the moment they set foot on solid ground once again and were forced to make their way. 

Assuming they survived long enough to find out.

“Dammit, Torrins! You brought them on board for a quick score and had no backup if something went wrong! You’re just like my idiot parents! I’m glad you’re all dead!”

Arad punched the bed twice, three times, leaving no mark on its lavishly durable shell. Fist aching, he pulled back. He needed to calm down before he really hurt himself. This was why he hated dwelling on the past. Only shame and humiliation lived there. Living for the future is how he continued moving forward, no matter what.

“Okay. I’m not really glad. But I’m not sad about it either.”

With a deep breath, he dug into the directory for first aid instructions. If the bed couldn’t help the DemiShou directly, he would have to do it himself. Add it to the growing pile of things to learn along with the engines, communications systems and everything else.

He’d never envied people with enough money to pay for implants that could upload everything into their brains instantly before now.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 18 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week we write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words, trying to get the most out of the word limit. For me, it helps keep me writing when my schedule gets tight. Win/win!

What’s Arad going to do now that he has three more bodies to care for on board?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 18

Arad crossed his fingers as he attempted to download the ship’s schematics onto the handheld computer he found in Franc’s old room. Years on the streets hadn’t given him near enough opportunity to work with operation code and he had to guess and experiment to get this far with the unfamiliar equipment. He tapped on the screen with an impatient finger, yet gentle enough not to jostle the progress bar graphic.

“Come on. You’ve only wasted seven hours doing this today.”

The device chirped and its status updated. Arad blinked at it more than once to believe the readout. UPLOAD COMPLETE.

Arad pumped his fist and shamelessly gyrated his whole body in success. “Yes! I never thought I’d get it right.”

A chime echoing down the hall halted the victory dance.

His head perked up with a tiny panicked yip. Gripping the tablet tight, he sprinted to the galley keeping the heavy blanket over his shoulder from falling. Sighing in relief, he found his noodle bowl safe in the cooker, ready to go. 

Arad patted the appliance and retrieved his meal. “That’s a good boy. Daddy like.”

It wasn’t as if the food could go anywhere, but so much time spent in the past securing meals had left him a little paranoid on the subject. Arad was man enough to admit that.

Tucking the tablet under his arm, he spiked a pair of chopsticks into the noodles and carried everything—bowl and all—down the hall to the storage bay. Even though he had access, the door was left open. Locking the bay’s tenants in the closet was unacceptable now that he knew they were here. Traversing the maze of cases was still necessary. Arad needed to pull up the inventory to see what actually was hidden inside, but it could wait for now. He had other priorities.

“Hi, guys, how did you sleep?”

The DemiShou floated in silence, not replying. Arad shrugged the blanket to the floor, and kicked it into a rounded pile in front of the cryotubes. 

“I hope you don’t mind. I always heard you were supposed to talk to coma patients. Not sure if that’s to help them wake up or prevent brain damage or something. A lot of the medical stuff I learned in Grey District was a little sketchy, so bear with me. Plus, I’m not sure if I’m ready for any of you to wake up yet. Either way, I have to find someplace safe when you guys hatch, but I can’t really do that if we’re floating in space blind, now can I?”

 Refusing to give up the bowl and handheld, Arad carefully squatted down until he sat into the makeshift blanket cushion. He managed not to drop or spill anything either.

“As much as I like drifting about, at some point we’ll need supplies. I can’t do that with the ship busted. So I need to learn as much about Ansariland’s systems as I can, because I think I’m stuck being the only one who can fix anything.”

Arad propped the tablet on his knee so he could thumbing through the ship schematics and slurp up his noodles at the same time. Oo, spicy. He settled in, eating and reading, looking for anything to help teach him the repairs he needed for the Ansariland.

The sudden alarm startled Arad, making him lurch off his seat. The tablet and bowl clattered on the metal deck, noodles and red pepper sauce splattering in a violent arc. Chopsticks bounced end over end into a corner, dotting the path with a trail of spice. Hachi’s cryotube emitted a piercing alert as the bull seized and convulsed inside.

Arad shook himself into moving and rushed to the station. The control screen flashed and the siren knifed into his spine worse than when First Commander Bard crippled the ship. What was going on?

Hachi’s health data reads were erratic, the gentle rhythmic lines having turned into snarling holographic barbed wire. Arad didn’t have a clue what the different details meant, he only knew what he was seeing was bad. Was that his heartbeat going all crazy? Hachi continued to flail, thumping against the tube’s sides. It this what happened to Go? Arad’s chest tightened in pulses matching the alarm’s cadence.

A series of controls ran down the screen’s right side. Under the PAUSE SEQUENCE button sat another labeled ABORT. 

“I’m not a doctor! What am I supposed to do?” He was afraid to touch anything in case he made things worse. But could it get worse?

The tube was active and Hachi was in distress. Could aborting hurt him? Could it kill him? The health telemetry became wilder, his thrashing louder, more pronounced. Hachi’s mouth sagged open like he was screaming without making a sound. Did he have a choice? Would Hachi die if he did nothing? Could he live with that? Arad’s hand hovered over the ABORT command as he said a silent prayer to higher powers that had never given him anything.

Before he could touch the button, the data leveled, Hachi quieted, and the alarm silenced. 

Arad stepped backwards and scanned the group. All three DemiShou slept in their capsules as if nothing had happened. The only proof was the bass pounding of Arad’s heart.

Rubbing his hand over his neck and head, Arad surveyed the area, mourning his lost meal. The spray of noodles and red sauce made him think of a crime scene he snuck into a few years ago. The way Hachi’s heart nearly exploded out of his chest, Arad’s appetite flattened into non-existence. If this was what happened to Go and he died, if this could happen again to any of them, time wasn’t Arad’s friend. The scene only emphasized the work he needed to do.

“I’m going to clean this up and get back to my research.” With a near-bottomless inhale and exhale, he turned and pointed at the unconscious DemiShou. “Don’t do that again.”


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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#freereads – Adrift Ch 17 by J Alan Veerkamp #scifi #mmromance #freereads #lgbtfiction

Welcome to another free read Wednesday!

We’re back for the most recent addition to my new story, presented through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.

Each week we get a prompt to write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words.

No prompt this week, which is probably good because I knew exactly what I needed in this installment.

Last week, Arad discovered a batch of DemiShou. What the @&$! is going on?

Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1


 

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Chapter 17

Each DemiShou floated in a foggy liquid in its capsule, except the last one which was dry and empty.

Where did they come from? Amber text on the monitors looked like health data along with… bio-chrysalis percentages? Did that mean they were works in progress? That shouldn’t be possible. Newsfeeds were always filled with archives of the days when politicians spouted slogans to protect human rights by ending the breeding programs every time some kind of DemiShou controversy reared its head. Test-tubing new DemiShou was highly illegal.

Not that corporation ethics aligned with statutes and legislation on a regular basis. The rules were reserved for everyone beneath their social tier.

It certainly explained the corporate interest in retrieving their property at all cost. If word got out some company higher-up had ordered the manufacture of DemiShou—of any kind—stocks would plummet. The military connection was also disturbing. Did they know what cargo they were assigned to collect or were they just following orders?

Now Arad understood why Torrins, who normally exuded endless self-confidence, had to marshal his nerve when confronted by First Commander Bard. He knew how dangerous the game had become. Somehow he and the crew had smuggled these containers on board, no doubt intending to sell them for a hefty profit, all without Arad noticing a thing.

“I’ll give you credit, Torrins. That was pretty slick, no matter how stupid.”

Careful not to touch anything important, Arad slid his fingertips over the sleek surface of the nearest incubator. The faintest, almost imperceptible vibration tickled his senses, the mark of engineering excellence. He couldn’t be sure whether he should be awestruck or horrified at the situation. Curiosity won out, stomping down the creepier side of packaging males like life-size dolls. Arad had heard of a niche brothel that served such role-playing back home.

However, there was nothing playful about the slumbering beastmen.

All three of the DemiShou bodies were dotted with tiny pieces of tech on every major body part: temples, neck, chest, arms, and legs. They wore no obvious breathing apparatuses, so the fluid must have been oxygenated, right? Denser than water, it hazed the view and dulled their coloring closer to monochromatic. If the display didn’t confirm their heartbeats, he might have believed they were ghosts. Even so, Arad decided to learn more details on his guests, if only to stave off macabre thoughts of zombie DemiShou. One by one, he examined each capsule and its matching data.

Hachi. The bull hybrid reminded Arad of the bartender at the tavern where he’d met Torrins. Dark skin, thick neck, and short horns defined a face with bovine features less pronounced than the bartender’s. He was huge. Someone thought ahead to make the tube large enough to accommodate his freakish size.

Shichi. Arad pressed close to the glass. Even as his facial features were smoother  with a smaller nose and thinner lips, his dusky skin held some kind of pebbled texture. Almost patterned in neat rows like scales. Would that make him a lizard hybrid of some sort? Arad wasn’t sure through the milky haze.

Roku. Powerfully muscled, his elongated nose reminded Arad of a cat. Maybe a tiger. Faint stripes lined his skin in defined, almost geometric patterns. Definitely influenced by the hand of man rather than nature. Like the others, his head was shaved, but his skull appeared softer as if covered in a fine layer of fur.

Go. Empty of DemiShou, the tube was dark, a film coating the glass’s interior. Perhaps left from dried up fluid? The screen displayed no active data other than the text ABORTED in bold. Why? Arad recalled something Franc said when he’d interrupted the men on the bridge.

We’ve already lost Go.

A swell of sympathetic grief grew inside him in a way he hadn’t with the loss of the crew. Something happened. Did Go die? Most likely. Arad shivered at the idea of drowning in the tube. Did he wake as it happened? Arad didn’t want to know. Not really.

Obviously, afterwards the crew treated him like damaged cargo, because to them it’s all he was. A product to be bought and sold which was cracked and worthless. Timelines ran through Arad’s head. From the most likely opportunity to bring the group on board to the likely moment of Go’s death. The idea that Torrins ejected the body, maybe so it would be incinerated by the local sun—to hide the evidence—while Arad worked on the maintenance sickened him. Thrown out like garbage.

Arad tipped his head back so he could shout at the ceiling. “Whatever I said before, Torrins, I was wrong. You were absolutely a horrible person, and every single one of you deserved what you got. I’d pull the trigger on you myself if I had the chance.”

Piecing Torrins and the crew’s scandalous plan together absolved Arad of any lingering guilt he had of surviving the encounter with Bard. They had hatched an unforgivable scheme, intending to leave him behind as sacrificial goat while they dumped their cargo and made off to thieve another day.

“Yeah, it didn’t work of that way, did it?”

Go may have been lost, but Arad had no intention of allowing anything of the sort to happen to the rest. He understood being treated as an object with no value. A slug’s existence. No living being, human or otherwise, should live that way only to be abandoned out of convenience. 

The surviving three deserved a better fate than Go’s. Arad had no idea what he was in for, but he would do what he could to help them. If anyone discovered their origins, they would be designated as contraband and confiscated as government property. Who knew what would become of them then? No, Arad was determined to welcome them to Ansariland and find them a safe place to call home.

Now he only had to figure out how to do just that.


 

Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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