#freereads – Adrift Ch 28 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!

Arad shares his limited experience of the DemiShou process.

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


 

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Chapter 28

Roku stood silent while Arad gathered his thoughts. Deciding which beginning to launch from was difficult. He kicked himself for divulging his degrading position as cabin boy earlier, so he didn’t want to expand on those details. There had to be a more relevant—and less damning—event to start from. 

“After the crew died, the ship updated me to captain. Since I had access to everything, I started exploring everything I’d been barred from.”

“Like the cargo bay.”

“Yeah. As the scapegoat, I couldn’t be trusted to know you guys were here.”

Still examining the cryotubes, Roku nodded. “Pretty standard tactics for smugglers.”

“I couldn’t find any data files for DemiShou so I kept watch. Hachi had a seizure. It passed and he quieted down like nothing happened, so when you had yours after your status switched over to SYNAPTIC and you crashed, I aborted the program and got you out.”

Roku fingered the edges of Shichi’s monitor, careful not to touch any controls. “My status switched over?”

“Yeah. From BIOLOGICAL.”

“Did I change during that period?”

“Physically. Your animal traits became more and more pronounced.” Arad read the remaining active monitors. Hachi and Shichi both were in the SYNAPTIC stage of their development. How much longer did they have until they were complete?

“How did the machine do that?”

“Roku, I’m a mechanic who used to lived on the streets.” Ignorance made Arad’s voice rise a notch. “I didn’t build this thing, and it didn’t come with an instruction manual.”

“I’m sorry. I just want to understand.”

Arad sighed, dropping back down to a more reasonable volume. “Yeah, that’s fair. I know how scary it gets when everything you knew is gone. I want to give you answers, but I only know so much. They don’t teach this stuff in a workhouse.”

With earnest intent, Roku focused that much more on his sleeping brethren. His intense concentration bordered on the theatrics of streetwise psychics, except Arad knew those hustlers were only trying to fleece funds out of weak-willed pedestrians. Roku was desperate to understand his existence.

Another wave of curiosity buffeted Arad. “Do you remember what it was like? In the tube?”

A slow pause ended with Roku’s quiet, haunted words. “Darkness. Silence. Burning through every pore.” He glanced over at Arad. “I remember a kind voice in the distance.”

“Really? What did it say?”

Roku shook his head. “It was too distant to make out, but it made the fire bearable at times. How long was I in there?”

“I never saw a time stamp, but it’s been a couple weeks since I found you guys.”

He didn’t ask more, but Roku’s scrutiny of the DemiShou intensified, becoming more critical.

“They’re strong. You don’t make something this powerful without a purpose.”

“What’s yours?”

“I have no idea. It’s like there’s claw marks across my brain, leaving bloody scars caked over my memories.” Roku brushed his fingers along his temple. “I can tell they’re there, but they’re buried under these… wounds.”

“I wanted to ask before, who you were, but when you couldn’t remember your name… You looked so hurt. I figured we could get back to that.”

“Thank you.”

Arad watched Roku processing every detail. Analyzing. Not what one would expect from a zombified tiger. The intellect behind the DemiShou’s eyes was sharp.

“Whatever they did, it didn’t scrub your brain completely. You walk, you talk. You know how to do things. You have a personality. If they did, I’d think you’d be more childish and drooling everywhere.”

“True. I haven’t been lobotomized. Not exactly. All of my knowledge is being kind of fickle, like looking at something out of the corner of your eye. You know it’s there, but if you try to focus on it, then it slips away.”

Another round of silence was filled only by the tiny sounds of the cryotubes. Arad knew what he wanted to ask but worried about crashing the solemn moment and upsetting Roku. He’d been through so much. However, the question had been scratching at the back of his skull all day and it needed saying.

“When you woke up, you were kind of… feral. Do you still feel that?”

Roku turned, his gaze meeting Arad’s. Guilt spread across his feline face, knowing why Arad asked. He’d lost control when they met.

“If I think about it, I can tell it’s new, something added. Everything is brighter, sharper, more primal, more black and white. I can feel the feral cravings prowling under the surface. At the same time, it feels completely natural, like it was always there, woven into me. And then I see my reflection and know I’ll never be myself again. I’m not sure how else to describe it.”

“The animal part. Is it dangerous?”

He reached out to Arad, possibly in comfort, but stopped his hand short. “It’s not separate from me. It is me. But no, I’m not dangerous. Not to you.”

The admission satisfied Arad more than he thought it should, but Roku hadn’t actually hurt him. The circumstances were incredibly embarrassing, and regret stained his every inch of Roku’s composure. He was being far more honorable than the sort Arad was accustomed to dealing with. Usually, he didn’t trust people like that. Usually.

“All of this makes me wonder who you were before this happened.”

Roku’s voice became all too distant. “Me too.”

Hachi twitched in his tube, his massive muscles flexing, and his horns tapped against the glass in his tight confines before he went still once again. Not a seizure, but the brief event stiffened Roku’s shoulders.

“I don’t know what I am, or what I’m supposed to be. But I know even less about them.” Roku pressed the PAUSE command on Hachi’s panel and did the same to Shichi’s. “Until we know more, they should keep.”

“Are you sure?”

“If something went wrong, I don’t know if I could protect you from both of them.”


 

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 27 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!

Roku wants to see the other DemiShou. Let’s hope this is a good thing.

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


 

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Chapter 27

Roku vibrated with a newfound impatience, yet allowed Arad to lead them back through the crates hiding Torrins’s scheme. As they approached the bay’s open space, Roku hesitated and the opening, he hand clutching one the crate’s edges.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to do this now.”

The blanket had fallen open enough to see the fear in Roku’s eyes. “No. I need to do this.” He pulled the cloak tight, squared his shoulders, and soldiered forward. 

A hazy film coated the floor leading to the drain left behind by various fluids from Roku’s emergence. Arad had slept in many filthy places over the years, but the sight even made him cringe. He had a few standards. Aches and new bruises reminded him of the familiar mattress off to the side he’d wished they’d landed on during the more embarrassing portion of their introduction. He hoped Roku would be too engrossed in the sleeping Demis and the cryotubes to need an explanation.

“Why is there a mattress here?”

And… why would Arad get what he wanted?

“I spend a lot of time watching over you and them.”

Inching closer, Roku took a good look at Hachi from top to bottom. “You watched us?”

“Watched over you. What’s the point?”

“They’re naked.” The implicit we could be heard in that sentence.

Arad scoffed. “It’s a lot less sexy than it sounds. I brought in a mattress because all the other furniture is bolted down.”

Neither said a word as Roku moved between capsules, his fingers barely brushing the surfaces as if scared to touch the machines and make it all too solid. The blanket may have hid his face, but the tension through his arms and back was unmistakable. Shichi held his secrets as well as the mute Hachi. The next tube still sat open like some mechanical egg, and Roku’s hands stopped short of contacting the interior.

“What happened to me?”

“I wish I knew. I didn’t know you guys were on board until after Torrins and the crew got blown to hell. Best I can tell is, you’re stolen corporate property. They must have bankrupted a few hospitals putting you together.” 

“It’s illegal to manufacture sentient beings. DemiShou, they’re…” Roku cleared his throat. “We’re not a commodity.”

“Corporate military killed six people to collect you lot without breaking a sweat. I imagine they don’t much care.”

Apparently content with exploring his own container, Roku moved to the last, empty and dark. “There’s one missing.”

“Yeah. Go was gone before I found you. From what I pieced together, something happened and he died. Maybe he had a seizure like you did, and they couldn’t save him.”

“Maybe they didn’t try.”

“It’s possible, but I’m trying to believe the old crew weren’t complete monsters.”

“They left you behind to face the corporates.”

“I said I’m trying. Didn’t say I’d succeeded.”

“You succeeded in saving me.”

“I couldn’t sit back and watch you die.”

“They would have.”

Arad couldn’t argue that point. The Demis appeared to be little more than a cash crop for Torrins and the crew. A lot of effort had been made to hide them for casual inspection, but it didn’t look like they’d spent much time regarding their maintenance since even the medbed didn’t have a DemiShou module installed.

So enrapt with his methodical examination Roku’s hood had slipped, leaving his face exposed. He went back over each unconscious Demi and their capsules, making sure to read the details on both monitors.

“I see why you keep calling me by number.”

“What?”

“Go, Roku, Shichi, Hachi. Five, Six, Seven, Eight.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize.” Awkward moment number 4,289. Language studies had ended when Arad arrived at the workhouse. 

The broader truth festered in the pit of Arad’s stomach like sour eggs. This group wasn’t the only batch of DemiShou in this project or whatever it was. He could only guess what and where numbers one through four could be. “Would you rather I call you something else?”

“No. It doesn’t bother me when you call me Roku. It’s nice to have a name.”

Roku didn’t share any information he’d gleaned from the monitors and moved back to the Demis themselves. While not a blank vegetable, Roku’s amnesia might be a sensitive issue. Corrupted Syn-users he’s met could get defensive over memory gaps after a binge. He wasn’t sure how deep he should probe the issue so soon, or how Roku could react. They barely knew each other. Perhaps he could test it in small doses.

“Do you recognize them?”

Roku huffed softly. “I don’t recognize myself.”

Arad sighed, understanding Roku’s frustration. “I mean, do they seem familiar at all?”

“No. Not even a tiny bit.” Disappointment flickered across his feline eyes.

Arad placed a comforting hand on Roku’s arm which softened at the contact. “Maybe you never knew them. There’s nothing saying there’s a connection between all of you besides the process.”

“How can I be sure? I don’t what the process is.”

“I’m not much of an expert on that either.”

“You know more than I do. Tell me everything.”

Arad hedged. Sharing information was dangerous on the streets when you couldn’t trust someone. It didn’t come automatically. Also, how would Roku digest what little he knew? It had only been hours since his awakening and how stable could he really be? Arad had only pressed him carefully as it was. There was no question Arad had no means to restrain the tiger if something popped in his brain and he psychoed out.

Oddly enough, Roku seemed structured and sane enough to handle bad news even if he was in the worst position of his life.

In the end, Arad had to decide what he would want if their positions were reversed. He would hope someone would help and hopefully save him. Or give him the chance to save himself. Like Sketch did.

“All right. I’ll tell you what I know.”


 

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 26 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!

Roku is settled. (In some fashion) Now it’s time to sort Arad.

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


 

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Chapter 26

Covered head to toe, Roku appeared and sounded noticeably calmer. Arad wasn’t sure if that was a good sign but decided he could sort Roku’s mental state once he had pants on again. The shirt in his hand was wrecked with bodily fluid and whatever constituted that amniotic fluid stuff Roku had been floating in. He also didn’t want to explain why his trousers were in a ball on the floor of Daiko and Serene’s quarters.

Roku followed without instruction as Arad took them to his own room and threw the dirty shirt aside. Wrenching open the one drawer which held his possessions, he pulled out his extra pair of trousers. He ignored the obvious presence of an extra body watching him as he stepped into the garment. Buckling the waist, he finally felt less exposed and a little more like himself. 

“This room smells like you. And someone else.”

Arad turned, finding Roku staring at the bed. “I had to share this room with the original captain. Accommodations were tight.”

The blanket hood hid Roku’s face but Arad heard a few sniffs. “More than shared.” An unhappy growl rumbled out of him.

As much as he wanted to care for Roku, some ground rules needed to be established. Staying polite under the circumstances was a challenge. Arad spoke over his shoulder to keep from doing something more rude.

“One, what I did before you woke up is none of your business. Two, he’s dead like the rest of them, so it doesn’t matter.”

Since he needed to use the laundry anyways, Arad decided to shop through Torrins’s effects for a shirt. Jerking open a second drawer, he pushed aside a series of phase pistols to find one of the captain’s old shirts. He swam in it—Torrins had been much larger than Arad—but after spending so long running around starkers, overdoing the coverage wasn’t so awful an idea.

“That shirt smells like him.”

“He couldn’t take it with him, so there’s no point in letting it rot. I don’t have enough to go around.”

A tiger-shaped shadow drifted over Arad and the drawer as Roku moved closer. “Why are there so many weapons in here?”

Arad shrugged. “Torrins smuggled stuff on the ship. The man was practically a pirate. I guess he expected a lot of trouble.”

“You’re a smuggler?”

Pivoting around, Arad spoke slowly to make sure Roku understood. “No. The original captain was a smuggler.”

“What did he smuggle? Weapons? Narcotics?”

“Apparently DemiShou.”

“Why?”

“I wish I knew.” Sighing, Arad closed his eyes, trying to contain his frustration. “Look, I’ll tell you what I know, but I think we could both use a meal. Let’s gets some food and go from there.”

Thankfully, Roku didn’t press further as they made their way to the galley. Survival could be a capricious game, and any level of judgment over how Arad played it annoyed him. Hunger proved a stronger motivation, and both of them dug into their meals in relative silence. Roku’s covered mass looked almost comical at the small table seated across from Arad. He was on his third noodle bowl and his second protein bar when his eating finally slowed. Who knew when his last solid meal had been.

Arad started calculating food inventories in his head. At three meals a day, years would dwindle to months without some rationing. A new wrinkle in the survival scenario. “At this rate, I’m really going to have to get the ship fixed.”

“Are we close to port?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where are we heading?”

An indelicate snort escaped Arad. “You’re making an assumption the engines are running.”

“We’re adrift?” Roku set down his utensils, the remaining food somehow forgotten.

“Yep.”

“How did that happen?” The question held a tinge of authority that reminded Arad of the officer presiding over the shanty demolition back on the docks.

Defenses up, Arad’s snark turned on. “It’s an old story. Cabin boy gets hired to be the fall guy for smugglers when corporate soldiers come looking for their stolen property. Crew escapes and gets vaporized. To avoid corporate prison or worse, cabin boy does a space fold jump inside a star’s gravity well.”

Roku’s voice rose in shock. “That’s crazy. A star’s gravity would unbalance the fold. There’s no telling what would happen.”

“That’s what the monitor warning said.”

“And you did it anyways?”

Arad stood and dropped his empty bowl into the sink to deal with later. “The warship had already incinerated the crew’s shuttle to keep them from escaping. I wasn’t about to be next. It was a rough jump, and unfortunately it toasted the external sensors, including navigation.”

“What did the crew steal?” Pure offense colored Roku’s words, as if he grew up a law-abiding citizen who never had to bend the rules to get by. Arad wondered how much of his past still existed, since his personality had survived his cryotube.

“From what I can tell, four highly illegal, freshly cooked DemiShou.”

Sitting up tall, Roku stilled for a long moment. “Four? There are others?”

“One of them was already gone before I found you guys, but…” Tilting his head, Arad narrowed his eyes in confusion. “Didn’t you notice them in the cargo bay?”

Even under the shade of his hood, Roku’s gaze became piercing. “I was distracted by the young man under me.”

Warmth flooded Arad’s cheeks. “Oh. Yeah.”

Roku pushed his bowl forward, signaling the end of his meal. His shoulders swelled and lowered in a deep exhale. “Arad, I’m sorry about the attitude. You’ve done nothing but help, and I’m behaving badly.”

“You just woke up—”

“It doesn’t matter. I may be a little out of sorts, but you deserve better than that.”

Previous aggravation deflated, Arad nodded. “Thank you.”

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to see the other… others like me, captain.”

Arad gave him a small grin. “All right. If you’re sure you’re up for it, let’s go.”


 

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 25 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!

This week I had the following prompt: Use bath, band, and nun in your story.

It’s time to get our boys cleaned up and Roku some clothes. Are you sure about that?

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


 

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Chapter 25

Tentatively, Roku took Arad’s hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his full height with a featherweight tug.  Averting his eyes, Arad took care not to ogle Roku’s rather robust physique. The DemiShou appeared meek and confused, if lacking even the barest shred of modesty. Barest. An accurate word. With his free hand, Arad attempted to discreetly pull his own shirt’s length lower.

At a cautious pace, he led them through the container maze and out of the bay. Emerging into the hallway didn’t lessen Roku’s disorientation or his wandering gaze. 

“Is this a spacecraft?” The timid stammer underscored Roku’s fragile state. 

“Yes. Welcome to Ansariland. I am your captain, Arad. It’s a pleasure to have you on board.” In Red District, holographic brothel barkers would try to entice people with their carnival sales pitches into their establishments to pilfer what little funds they had. Arad had refused to work for any of them. Imitating their upbeat manner and programmed speech patterns wasn’t his greatest skill, but if it distracted Roku’s mood, it would be worth it. “We’ll do a complete ship tour soon enough. For now, we both need a turn in the bath. Follow me, sir.”

Without saying anything, Roku shuffled along, staying close and keeping pace with little urging. Arad continued to jabber as they walked, pointing out items of interest. Anything to fill the uncomfortable quiet. It made him feel like an idiot, and he breathed a sigh of relief when they arrived. 

Torrins told him he’d removed the wall between the modest gym and lavatory to make the space larger. End result: an absoltue lack of privacy outside of the three toilet and three shower stalls. Typical pervy behavior he could count on from the original captain.

Like everywhere else, Roku scanned the room, but this time he froze as he caught sight of himself in the mirror over the sink. 

His hold on Arad’s hand firmed as he looked into his own eyes. Arad waited for him to reach up and touch his face to inspect the changes, but instead he only stared at himself as his eyes widened, becoming wetter with every passing second. A tremor built along his feline jaw. 

“C’mon. Shower time.” Arad patted Roku’s shoulder, hard enough to interrupt his attachment to his reflection. Roku turned away from the mirror, cringing subtly as he peeked from the corner of his eye.

Arad closed Roku into one of the shower stalls, and when he heard the water running, stripped off his shirt and claimed one of his own. The steam built quickly into familiar, rolling tendrils. Arad dunked his head under the spray trying to drench the chaos ricocheting around in his skull. Hopefully it would also wash away the tacky physical evidence of his and Roku’s encounter. As an unknown quantity, caring for the woken DemiShou might be more than Arad was ready for. His scalp was beginning to scald when Roku’s frustrated murmur drifted between the stalls.

“Why won’t it wash off?”

“Roku? Are you okay?”

Pause. 

“I’m fine,” he mumbled.

Hardly convincing, but Arad would have to take his word for it. For now.

He scrubbed himself clean and exited, wanting to be available when Roku finished. The second shower stopped and Roku emerged. His fine fur slicked to his skin clung to every substantial muscle and sinew expect for the patch on his forearm that looked like he’d scrubbed the hell out of it. Arad passed him a towel from the dispenser and went back to drying himself instead of mapping the black bands on Roku’s limbs and back. Now was not the time to notice the pattern reminded him of an abstract circuit board. Definitely deliberate design.

“Let’s get you some clothes.”

Leading Roku back into the corridor, he soon landed at Tank’s old room. He let himself in with his all access rank pass and began rummaging thru the drawers. He’d never been allowed inside before, so he had to start somewhere. It was much tidier than he would have expected.

“I’m not sure if anything will fit, but this is our best shot.”

Roku drifted inside, his bulk dwarfing the room. “Who’s room is this?”

“It was Tank’s. He’s gone. There’s no point in making this a shrine when we can make use of what’s left behind.”

“How did he die?”

“Same as the rest of them. Shot by corporate military squad while being a bunch of backstabbing pricks.”

Arad was thankful Roku didn’t ask for more details. He’d revealed more than intended. Torrins’s double cross still chafed, but settling Roku into some clothes took a higher priority. The drawer next to the closet squealed open, revealing a stack of kilts. Jackpot. He sifted through the pile, searching for the largest and held it out to Roku.

“Hope you don’t mind, Tank only wore kilts. Which is probably for the best because you’re still bigger than him and he was huge. If he wore pants, I don’t think they’d fit and you’d be stuck running around naked.” Arad found himself needing to clear his throat. “Which would be bad.”

Roku took the kilt and wrapped it around his waist. It rode shorter than normal, but at least he way on the road to decency. Before Arad could hunt down a shirt, Roku dragged the oversized blanket off the bed and threw it over his shoulders, forming it into a makeshift robe. With the edges brushing the floor, he covered every inch of his body the way the ex-communicated nun back on Bleacher Street did as she shouted damnation from atop an upside-down bucket at any and all who took pleasure or profited in sins of the flesh. She targeted Arad a lot.

Pulling the worn fabric over his head, Roku fashioned a hood, allowing only the tip of his nose to be visible. He clutched the robe near his throat to cinch it closed. 

“All right. I’m good for 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 24 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!

Okay… Arad and Roku have had an interesting encounter. What now?

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


 

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Chapter 24

Arad’s eyes fluttered awake. Had minutes or hours passed? Roku still held him in his iron embrace.  Two rows of teeth continued to gently rest around Arad’s drool soaked shoulder. Rucked up from earlier, his shirt was chilled and clammy from wicking moisture off the DemiShou’s fur, meant it couldn’t have been too long. Although he didn’t feel aroused in any way, so the Syn must have worn off.

All kinds of things told him he should be terrified, but the extra weight felt less like a cage and more like a warm, dozy shelter. Roku held him like a treasured possession, and Arad welcomed that, which made Arad question his own mental health under the circumstances.

The opportunity to assess his wayward brain ended as Roku shifted and awoke with a gasp, probably from the peeling of stuck-together body parts. Releasing Arad, his weight lifted, moving to his straightened arms and floor. Then with a confused grunt, he lurched backwards. It allowed Arad to roll over and the sight quashed all the warm feelings he’d woke up with.

Sitting back on his feet, Roku’s corded muscles twitched as his wild eyes fixed on Arad. Distressed, feral noises rumbled out of him. Now able to see Roku unhindered, Arad could see the bestial side hidden during his hibernation, the dangerous unknown in his midst. It stoked Arad’s primal urge to run. To flee. But even a slug knew not to run from a predator.

However, the longer Arad watched, the less Roku appeared enraged. The skittish gaze grew glossy with each passing minute. His broad shoulders weren’t poised to pounce. They shivered as if struggling to hold the weight of his huge arms.

Roku looked lost. Somehow monstrous and vulnerable at the same time.

Arad stamped down his unease. It didn’t vanish, but smothered long enough to paste on a facade of confidence. He hadn’t forgotten his promise to help. He wouldn’t abandon him now.

Raising both hands, Arad tried to sound calm. “It’s okay, Roku. Everything’s all right.”

“Who are you?” Roku growled. He clasped a hand to his own throat. “What’s wrong with my voice?”

“Oh! You can speak?”

Annoyed ridges crinkled Roku’s snout. “What? Why would you say that?”

“Sorry. It’s been a weird week. You’ve been through a few changes.”

Feeling abruptly stupid, Arad tried to maintain a casual tone. The tiger hybrid was spooked enough. No need to add to his anxiety. 

Roku’s baffled gaze swept the ceiling and walls, yet didn’t turn to see the cryotubes behind him. “Where am I?”

“Oh man. That’s gonna take some explaining, Roku.”

“Why do you keep calling me Roku?”

“Um… long story. What should I call you then?”

Roku opened his mouth to speak and paused. His eyes lost focus as he searched himself, brow creasing as he dug deeper. Arad waited, watching Roku’s feline features darken into a growing despair as he came up with a big fat nothing. From his expression, more than his name was missing.

“It’s okay. You can be Roku until you come up with something better.”

“What’s wrong with me?”

The last status Arad recalled read SYNAPTIC. He knew what that meant. Did the process scoop out Roku’s brain and leave it empty? What was left of whoever he started as?

Roku wrapped his powerful arms around himself, as if he could make himself smaller and escape. Every glance and every movement screamed out his disorientation. 

Marshaling his nerve, Arad covered his concern. “You just woke up. Give it time.”

“Your voice. It sounds familiar.”

“I talked to you a lot while you slept. Didn’t know if you could hear me.”

“Was I sick?”

“I’m not sure. You were in a kind of coma, I guess.”

Roku’s brow furrowed as he noticed his hands, seriously for the first time. He raised them for a clearer view. Spreading his fingers wide, he followed the unnatural stripes running up his arms, turning them slowly to see as much as possible. His breath stuttered, leaving him one step away from shedding a tear. The sound wrenched at Arad’s heart.

“What happened to me?”

“I wish I knew. I don’t really understand what was going on.”

“Do we know each other?”

“Sort of? Maybe?”

“How?”

The word biblically came to mind, but it wasn’t completely accurate, so he struck it down as poor phrasing. “I’m not sure how to answer that.”

Roku looked down at himself, finally aware of his nudity. He touched the dried fluids around his groin and smelled his fingers. When his attention came back around, he sniffed in Arad’s direction.

“You smell like… Did we…?”

“You don’t remember?”

Roku’s eyes widened as he really took in Arad’s lack of pants and the stains on the shirt. Recognition flashed across his tiger face and there it was. That horrible moment when a person wakes up and the drugs have worn off, and they’re forced to realize what sleaze they’d been up to the night before.

“Okay… Yeah… you remember.” Mildly humiliated, Arad fingered his shirt hem, tugging it lower as if a hooker could really make himself decent. He tried to be nonchalant, but Roku noticed.

“Did I hurt you?” His voice became so tiny and fragile, contrasting his dominant presence.

“No.”

“But I scared you.”

Scratching his head, Arad’s face burned as he tried to find an answer. “That’s not how I’d describe it.”

“I… I… don’t understand.”

The questions and Arad’s conflicted thoughts made the awkward scene heavier still. They needed a chance to get settled. Somewhere without the evidence and memories of their first encounter getting in the way. Roku needed a touch of stability.

“Right now, it’s not important. I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually run around with my junk hanging out when I have guests over. Let’s go get cleaned up and see if we can’t find you some clothes.” Arad stood and offered his hand. “Roku? C’mon.”


 

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 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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