#freereads – Adrift Ch 64 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!

Time to see what condition the engine room is in.

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

 


 

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Chapter 64

Several scans to test the integrity of Pakko’s patch on the hull were performed before Arad overrode the emergency protocols to reestablish the atmosphere and drop the bulkhead separating them from the engine room.

Balling up a fist, Pakko gave Arad a gentle tap on the shoulder. “Told ya the weld would hold.”

“I’ve already seen people blown out into space. I’m not looking forward to a repeat.” Arad shuddered.

“I hear that.”

The rupture hadn’t been large, but ragged lines in the metal webbed where the air violently escaped after the shot. The breach was sealed, but Pakko planned to weld additional layers from the inside as insurance. With images of the Midas Ascending crew’s deaths in his mind, the extra work couldn’t happen too soon.

Arad, Pakko, and Yosei—the techs between the two ships—assessed the damage. Anything not nailed down had been scattered when the air voided. Some container doors barely hung on their hinges. A lot of debris was either too large to fit through the breach, or the atmosphere emptied before it could be blown out. The result: the entire engine room was a wreck.

“Ya know, those pirates were awful precise. They hit you just hard enough to keep you from running. Seems a bit above the wage scale for those types.” Pakko sounded like he’d been fed more conspiracies from Vosh again. If only the bear wasn’t so accurate. Protecting the existence of the remaining designer DemiShou continued to be Arad and Roku’s first priority over the Ansariland’s restoration.

Thankfully, Yosei appeared to be immune to Vosh’s stories. “Not if they wanted to salvage the ship. The Ansariland’s not new, but it has some valuable modifications. It could be sold for a decent price to the right people.”

“Pirates didn’t waste much time explaining themselves,” Arad groused. This line of questions needed to end before the story details revealed something he wanted to stay hidden.

Clearly, Pakko hadn’t been briefed. “Why didn’t they tag the jump drive? That would have made more sense.”

“The jump drive’s shielded. It doesn’t show up on any scan we’ve made. They wouldn’t have known it was charged, and then bam! Gone. Beautiful tech, and so not standard equipment.” Hands on her hips, Yosei let out an awestruck snicker. “This is totally a smuggler’s ship.”

“Not anymore it’s not.”

Once the ship could travel again, Arad had already been scheming on how to support themselves. The Nightingale was giving them a helping handout, but he couldn’t count on that for long. Keeping Roku under a low profile would be paramount. A starship needed funding and delivering cargo back and forth wasn’t the worst option. At least this time without the DemiShou trafficking. He would not be the next version of Torrins.

Arad walked away from the other so he could see the powered down engine up close. A lot of hours had been spent doing maintenance on this beauty. It was a shame to see it in such condition. The ship deserved better. A pity it took the deaths of the crew to give him access to the schematics to understand the nuances of the engine specs.

He ducked under a fuel line whose seals had been spared from First Commander Bard’s attack. It was a precision strike. Otherwise, half the room would have been missing and he’d be staring into the vacuum from here. Whether he’d admit it or not, Pakko was right about the shot only intending to cripple the ship, no matter what threat Bard had made.

“I narrowed the problem down to the flow regulator.” Anything Arad could do to steer the conversation back to repairs would be a good thing.

“And you would be one hundred percent right. I’m still impressed you figured that out before we fixed your sketchy sensors. Nice work.” Yosei squinted at her pad, as she zoomed in on the scan image. “I’m seeing all sorts of internal fractures. Explosive decompression must have junked its alignment and cracked it. If you try to reinstall this and fire it up, this baby’s probably gonna explode.”

Arad’s breath caught. “Is it repairable?”

Pakko took a peek at Yosei’s findings and frowned. “‘Fraid not, but I think we got a spare we can fix up.”

“We don’t have any money for that.”

“It’s the old one we replaced last season. It’s growing dust. Besides, Hodge said to do what we needed to get you fixed as long as it doesn’t gimp us.”

Arad groaned. “I’m not sure.”

“No charge. Honest. And I’m gonna do it anyways, so you’d better get over yourself. I like new projects.”

“Sorry. I’m not used to people being generous without expecting favors.” Only the clergy ever gave charity in Grey District and even that had its cost. It was how Arad found himself hustling rather than being in debt to abusive zealots. Floating in space may have been a far cry from Grey District, but he didn’t like owing Hodge and his crew more than he already did. 

“Yeah, well, you quashed that idea already and now I have to do it to be a nice guy.” Pakko sighed, talking at the ceiling to himself as much as anyone else. “I know it not happening, but the four-way wrestling match would’ve been epic.”

Arad didn’t say a word. Some ideas were better ignored than acknowledged.

Making gagging noises, Yosei continued her work. “Anyway… It’ll need some modifying, but we can do that. We’ll have to synthesize a few minor parts to reconfigure it for the Ansariland’s specifications and recalibrate the operating system to recognize the new part, but it’s doable.”

Hopeful relief sprouted in Arad’s chest, threatening to bloom. “How long will that take?”

“A few days.”

“That’s all?”

“At most.”

A few days was a small price to pay to get his life started up again. Maybe his suspicious nature read the scene wrong for a change. Arad sure hoped so.

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 63 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!

After a sleepless night, Arad faces the new morning.

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

 


 

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Chapter 63

Familiar heartbeat chimes echoed off the cargo bay’s walls. Shirt hem bunched in his hand, Arad wiped a barely-there layer of dust off the cryotube. Hachi slumbered, big bull face pressed against the plexiglass, floating unaware of Arad’s care in the early hour. And it was indeed early. Arad forced his voice to a whisper, despite how he couldn’t really disturb any DemiShou present.

“I’ve been a little busy lately, but we haven’t forgotten you guys.”

Still naked from bed, Roku burst into the room, exhaling in relief as he locked eyes with Arad. “There you are. I woke up and you were gone.”

Arad shrugged. “Couldn’t sleep.”

Without losing step, Roku swept Arad into his arms, rubbing his cheek and jaw along Arad’s. Gradually, his breathing settled into something less harried. His panicked edge made it impossible to enjoy his lack of clothing.

“I dreamt Hodge and his crew had stolen you and then you weren’t in bed. I almost grabbed some of Torrins’s weapons and stormed the Nightingale.”

Arad shuddered. While he’d never seen it, he could imagine Roku on a rampage would likely be bloody and unforgiving. Not something for the faint of heart. Arad had never been a violent man, even when pressed by the sort who truly deserved it. “That would have been bad. Really bad.” 

“Extremely. I would likely be outnumbered and outgunned. I have the feeling that other than Yosei, the crew are ex-military or some other authority.”

“Makes sense. Bryce was definitely military. DemiShou conversion wasn’t open to civilians, so she’d have to be if she’d been on the list and got passed up.”

Roku growled. “The longer this goes on, the less I like it.”

“I’m sorry. I should’ve thought you might worry.” He hated being reminded Arad of the gaps in Roku’s memories. Without them, the connection should have been obvious. Arad squeezed Roku tight, hoping to ease both of their souls. Days with Yosei and the gang had gone well, and he felt guilty he wanted it to end. Survival on the streets left him poorly equipped to function in groups for long periods.

“All these extra people walking through our ship has me agitated.”

Arad caught the our in Roku’s comment, which made him smile inside, even as he noticed the tiger wanting to defend his territory. More of his animal nature peeking through, which didn’t bother Arad in the least. No matter how kind the Nightingale crew were, they would always hold a certain title of intruder to Roku. A strangely comforting thought since Arad wasn’t part of that crowd.

“It shouldn’t be much longer, then we’ll be on our way. I like them, but I’m not joining them either. We’re better off on our own.”

Leaning back, Roku palmed Arad’s cheek. “The Ansariland is my home.”

Our home. Our ship.” Arad’s smile beat back any lingering negative thoughts. “They can visit on holidays.”

“Maybe.”

“They can send us holiday vid messages.”

“I find that option acceptable.”

Separating, they clasped hands as they circled the cryotubes, both men assessing the DemiShou. They examined the monitors and casings, looking for any flaw or degrading seams. All connections were solid, and the health telemetry appeared unchanged from before the Nightingale arrived.

Arad wiped dust from Shichi’s window. “You know, before you hatched, I used to spend all day in here watching over you guys while I read tech manuals, because I had the idea that if something went wrong, I’d be able to help.”

“You saved me.”

“I got lucky. I didn’t have a clue to what I was doing. I’m not sure I did the CPR thing right either.”

Roku squeezed Arad’s hand in support. “Yet here I am, alive and well.”

Arad paused, sighing as he reflected. “I just feel like I’m neglecting them lately. Like I’m doing something else instead of watching over them.”

“Staying out of sight is in their best interests. The Nightingale has been good to us, but the fewer people who know of their existence the better. We don’t need to pass out knowledge that can be used against us.”

They stood unmoving, side by side, as they continued to stand watch over their charges. One tube had been Roku’s and seeing them now with him by Arad’s side brought back all kinds of images, reminding him of how far they’d come and how far they still had to go. A solemn air passed over them, quelling any thoughts Arad had of Roku’s state of undress. He made an effort not to look at the mattress still lying nearby or the spot Roku originally awoke in an incoherent and horny daze and ravaged a Syn-high Arad.

Nope. He wasn’t thinking of that at all.

“We should go and stay away from this area for a while. I don’t want any chance of the others thinking there’s anything valuable in the cargo bay. Just in case they might be scanning us.”

With the sensors functioning properly, Arad had been checking for that all night. So far, no trackable signs. If he wasn’t going to sleep, he could channel the paranoid man who survived alone in Grey District. Being blindsided by events on this ship was a thing he had no interest in repeating. Enough surprises colored his time on board from the Midas Ascending to its current identity.

“Do you have any ideas on what to do after this is done?” Arad asked.

“I’m not sure. All I know, is the sooner we complete repairs and are on our way, the better.”

Arad sighed as Roku tugged at his hand, ushering them towards the exit. “Do you think we’ll ever save them?”

“If there’s one thing I don’t doubt in this universe, is your willpower to succeed. You’ll find them a new home. But first, let’s see if we can get this ship to right, so we have a way to get them there.”

“I like the way you think.”


 

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 62 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!

How is Arad handling all this charity? He hasn’t known much kindness in his life up until now.

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

 


 

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Chapter 62

Memories disguised as dreams were a special kind of hell. 

Arad knew he wasn’t awake, yet the truth woven through the scenes kept him hoping for a fresh ending even though he knew this story better than anyone, because it was his. Playing at high speed, his thoughts screamed as the highlights slowed down, showing off their gritty detail. 

The men in black jackets intercepted him on the way to lessons and dragged him away. No one stopped them. No one helped. The invasive examination at the workhouse—stripped and probed like a criminal—being catalogued like property. The panicked flight the day the workhouse burned.

Flashing forward, Sketch asked him if he really wanted to see them again, and like a wishful child Arad said yes, because deep down he knew all the madness was a misunderstanding. Once his parents saw him again, he would apologize and do whatever absurd plan they asked. They would be a family once again. He’d learned his lesson.

Rain soaked him to the bone in the dream, but in reality the dingy sky had been clear. He argued with the concierge, the very man he’d flirted with days before his induction into the workhouse, who now refused him entry, pretending Arad was a vagrant. A stranger. Bystanders gathered as everything escalated, until finally the doors opened and his parents stepped onto the sidewalk, glowing with a heavenly aura. Untouchable by peasants.

The dream rain didn’t touch them or the willowy boy accompanying them. Skin too dark, features too slender, he looked nothing like Arad. No family resemblance whatsoever. How could they believe this impostor could stand in his place?

“Mom! Dad! What’s going on? I’ll do whatever you ask.” 

His father stayed silent. His replacement sneered. His mother looked down at him, her dark eyes dilated with whatever recent pharmaceutical was at her disposal. “We have no idea who this boy is.”

The concierge’s fingers bit into Arad’s arm. “Time to go, son.”

Arad dug in his heels, refusing to be moved. “Let go! You know who I am!” He spun his stare on his parents. “How can you do this to me?”

The rain streaking his face tasted surprisingly salty as security arrived in quick time to the concierge’s call. Uniformed men attempted to remove him from the premises, but Arad demanded to be scanned to prove his identity. Surprisingly, they agreed.

Undocumented.

“You’re no one,” said nobody but the voices in his head.

Greedy to a fault, his family had erased the impediment to their fortune. His parents denied everything, leaving him the choice to walk away or be arrested. Betrayal flayed him to the bone, but he dredged up enough sense to leave. He’d heard enough stories in the workhouse about what happened to incarcerated slugs. And of that day, that was what he was: a street dwelling slug. No one of importance. He didn’t exist.

Arad looked over his shoulder, and his parents didn’t even watch him walk away.

Hopefully Sketch could forgive him for being so colossally stupid. How much lower could he go knowing a drug dealer was his sole lifeline? 

That hadn’t been intended to be a challenge to the universe.

Arad knew the downhill slalom that came next, but the story rewound and played itself again, over and over.

Nightmares were supposed to end once a person opened their eyes. 

Arad counted the ceiling rivets, barely visible in the dark. Roku slept soundly for a change, and he found himself envying the tiger’s missing memories. His fingers twitched, and he ached to curl into a mass of Demishou muscle and fur, but couldn’t bring himself to disturb Roku. At least one of them deserved a quiet night.

Carefully, he edged himself off the bed and shuffled out the door, thankful it wasn’t closed, because the Ansariland’s basic mechanicals were not quiet. On the bridge, he could watch starlight shining off the Nightingale’s hull as it drifted in tandem, docking moors in place.

He stared at the sister ship, looking for evidence of activity, signs of something sinister because no one gave charity. Even the preachers in Grey District spouted gloom and doom to scare people into filling their tithes, few willing to aid the desperate and homeless. Weren’t the clergy supposed to be the caretakers of the underprivileged? Even his parents fell short, so what could he expect out of random travelers?

With a growl, he scrubbed his hands through his hair and over his face. He hated how hard trust came to him, but it had been broken out of his splintered soul, and now only Roku had earned the honor of holding the remaining shards. In its place sat layers of suspicion which had kept him alive long after Sketch disappeared and left him on the street.

Listening to be sure Roku hadn’t woken, he pulled the bridge computer out of sleep with a few deft taps to the screen. Weeks of free time with ship manuals gave him the command logs open only to the Ansariland’s captain, however he gained the rank. He pressed his thumb to the screen, then typed in the encrypted password. The thumbprint alone couldn’t get anyone into this data.

Dates, times, and systems were displayed in a neat graph for easy reading. There was Yosei’s access to the sensor grid after Arad had no choice but to give it up. Her pad’s ID signature stayed isolated to the bridge. No other log-ins detected, hers or any other. She hadn’t attempted to abuse the privilege he’d granted her and apparently had shared it either.

The Nightingale’s crew had given him nothing but kindness, but he couldn’t smother the trace of doubt that lingered. The lack of faith weighed heavy on his shoulders, but no one in Grey District lived long without expecting the worst, even in good situations.

Since sleep was lost, Arad spent the rest of the night watching the logs.


 

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 61 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!

Yosei and Arad work on the Ansariland bridge.

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

 


 

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Chapter 61

“Pakko, the hull breach should be twenty-five meters ahead, forty-six degrees from your current position.”

Still outside the ship, his voice came through layered with static. “Got it, Yosei.”

Multitasking was her mojo. For the past half hour, she’d kept passing occasional instructions to Pakko while teaching Arad various piloting sequences on the Ansariland without losing her ever constant speech tempo. However, the constant audio distortion continued to prompt face scrunching.

“Your communications and sensors are working, but they’re still wonky.”

Arad sighed, happy for the break. “Tell me something I don’t know. So is there anything else I need to know about the auto-pilot?”

“Only that everyone uses it to dock and land and then pretend they did it by hand.”

A snicker escaped Arad. “Does Hodge do that?”

Despite her innocent appearance, Yosei’s pixie features turned positively conspiratorial. “He’s one of the worst offenders. But starship captains and pilots spend a lot of time patting each other’s butts, so you might as well learn to be part of the crowd now.”

Happy banter and more instructions filled the bridge as Yosei had Arad repeat what she’d already gone over. They’d been adrift for so long, the details of what to do next had gotten lost. Assuming the repairs had ever been managed, Arad was only a starship captain in name. He knew next to nothing when it came to running his ship. Reading manuals and trials by fire could only be successful for so long.

The tide turned in tiny increments, flowing with him rather than leaving him swimming against the current for a change, but he knew better than to expect life to treat him like a wealthy elite. That time was over. He would take what he could get, and appreciate it for as long as it lasted.

“Pakko, I really appreciate you making this effort to help us out,” Arad said.

“Aw, it’s no big deal.”

“Seriously, it is. I don’t know many people who’d go this far for anyone else. I just wanted to say thanks.”

“I know how you can thank me.” It couldn’t be seen, but Pakko’s sleazy grin could definitely be heard.

“That sounds more familiar, but your bear can bend you over and thank you instead.” 

Yosei shuddered and gagged. “Ew. Stop talking about copulation in front of me. Why can’t you guys settle for fully clothed hugs and hot chocolate?”

Arad and Pakko both erupted in laughter yet neither bothered to answer. That question was better left alone. Sex had been more of a transactional activity than strictly for pleasure before Roku came along. After encounters with some of his customers, he appreciated a lack of human contact. Learning how to exist in a sexual relationship with commerce was a beautiful thing. But he understood how it wasn’t for everyone. If Yosei preferred platonic relations, she was welcome to it.

“Hey Yosei. Are you sure there’s no major systems under the breach? I don’t want to get blown up out here. Can you give me a more precise location?”

“I have the specs and my scans from the Nightingale, but the sensors here are messy. Hold on.” With one hand flying over the monitor attempting to tweak the feed with little effect, Yosei shoved her compad in Arad’s face without looking. “Touch a thumb to it. Minor permissions only, so I can sync the pad. If there’s a power line I’m not seeing, Vosh’ll have to trade up at the next station.”

“I heard that!” Pakko squawked.

“Chill. There’s only a minor chance of that really happening. Infinitesimal. Sort of. Arad? Permissions?”

Arad hesitated. “Oh. Right.”

He understood her request, but giving away any level of authority on the ship may him cautious. With everything she and the rest were doing for them, Arad told himself it was a small concession, necessary to move forward. Praying he wouldn’t regret it, he pressed his thumb to the screen and the pad chimed. Yosei made more adjustment and the communications feed became a clean stream of sound.

Her grin brightened in satisfaction. “Now that’s much prettier. After we get Pakko sorted we have to get this array calibrated. Your jump shook this up worse than I thought. Otherwise, once the engines are fixed, you’ll crash into an asteroid because you won’t see it coming. Static city. What a mess. I’m totally demoting you to deckswabber if I find more of this. Pakko, five meters and counting. On your left.”

“Found it.” Without the pervious sound garbage, Pakko’s voice was pure enough to hear his breathing.

Arad perked up. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. The hull’s scorched, but the hole’s not too big. Blast didn’t punch through. Looks like it found a weak spot and popped. Just a fist-sized blowout.”

The description surprised Arad. First Commander Bard may have erased the shuttle and crew, but it almost sounded like he wasn’t trying to incinerate the ship. A warning shot to get them to surrender? Perhaps.

“So you can seal it?”

“Don’t see why not. I’ll have to soften the edges with my torch so I can flatten it and weld the panel across. You guys can check to see if it airtight, and then we can reinforce it from inside. Won’t take long.”

The relief came in a wave. Luck hadn’t exactly been Arad’s friend over his lifetime. “Sounds like you’ll have it fixed faster than it took to find.”

“Too right. Get this set, and we’ll tackle the engine.”

Arad leaned back in his chair and allowed himself to hope a little bit. The Ansariland was on its way to being whole once more. His dreams of living free with Roku—money in their pockets and food in their bellies—grew brighter and more tangible. Years of toil and hunger could become history rather than a daily struggle. A story to look back on in their old ages.

Yes he deserved it. The universe owed him that much. 


 

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 60 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!

Looks like it time to start repairing the Ansariland.

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

 


 

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Chapter 60

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Arad asked.

He, Roku, Vosh, and Yosei watched Pakko seal his spacesuit and check the seals with a practiced hand inside the Nightingale’s airlock. A toolset and a spare piece of deck plating sat at his feet with a loose cable connecting them to his belt.

“Yeah. I do all the outer ship fixes. I’ve spacewalked a thousand times. I’m good. But it’s nice to know you care.”

Arms crossed, Roku’s arms flexed as he spoke. “I don’t like anyone going out there. Arad had to go out of the ship to fix communications. I almost lost him.”

Arad placed a hand on Roku’s arm, feeling the leashed tension. “But I’d never done it before and got myself in trouble. Pakko looks like he knows what he’s doing.”

“That I do. Okay, let’s cycle the airlock so I can get this done.”

Vosh double checked the readings from the nearby panel. “All systems are optimal, babe. See you in a little while.”

“I’ll get that hole welded shut and be back in time for lunch.” Pakko saluted and picked up his tools.

“Works for me.”

With a series of touches, Vosh cycled the airlock. As the air safely vented, the artificial gravity lowered, causing the plating and attached cable to float in a lazy drift.

“Do you plan on monitoring his status from here?” Roku asked. Vosh tapped the panel, which switched to a series of health statistics similar to the screens on the DemiShou cryotubes and Bryce’s equipment. Medical displays appeared to be consistent regardless of the device.

Vosh’s gaze fixated on Pakko. “Yes.”

“Do you mind if I watch with you? In case Arad ever needs to go out again. I was very… unprepared last time.”

He pondered Roku’s request for a moment and answered with a soundless nod.

The airlock finished and the outer hatch opened. A ring of lights marking the door helped the darkness seem less intimidating. Pakko latched on his security cable, waved to them all, and climbed outside. A solemn hush fell over the group, causing Yosei’s voice to startle the men.

“Okay, watching med stats will bore me to tears, and I can be more useful in other places, so if you don’t mind, I’ll take Arad back to the Ansariland and we can check the damage control reports. From there I can calibrate the wonky systems and link to Pakko’s com and direct him to the breach. Easy-peasy. It’ll just be me and Arad.”

Her breakneck jabbering caught everyone off guard and Roku simply stared, eyes wide. The tiny pink haired pixie wrapped her arms around one of Arad’s like schoolgirls did with their best besties.

“Don’t worry. If he gets fresh, I’ll tase him.”

Roku snorted. “Go on.”

Yosei dragged Arad away. “C’mon! Time’s a’wastin’!”

Arad called out over his shoulder, letting Yosei take the lead. “I’ll check in once we make some progress.” What else could he really do? Arad wasn’t the biggest guy around, but Yosei made him feel huge and he suddenly grasped Roku’s obsession to treat him carefully. Even so, her arms were thin, but amazingly strong. The girl was a dichotomy.

Before long, they reached the tunnel connecting the two ships.

“Sorry for asking permission like that. After he cave-manned you at the sparring match, I figured it was the smart play. Getting mauled by the big kitty is your job. No I don’t want a single detail of what happened. Gross. Forget I said that. Are you sure you’re really the captain?”

Arad laughed. “Yes, I’m the captain. But some things Roku makes his mission. He has a bit of an overprotective streak.”

“A bit? I’ve seen corporate level starcraft hyper-spatial induction coils that were smaller.”

“That was way above my tech level, so I’ll have to take your word for it.”

While she wasn’t attached like a leech to his arm anymore, Yosei still led the way, always one step ahead of Arad. A variety of tech tools were latched to her jumpsuit, some peeking out of the various pockets. Arad wondered if they weighed down her waifish frame. Her boots clomped through the hallways as she walked with an obvious knowledge of the bridge’s location. Well, she had announced she’d looked up the ship’s model specs.

“You’re pretty new to being captain, right? The OS promoted you when the crew got zapped. You said you were a low level tech. How did you learn the ship systems? Did you already know them?”

Arad shook his head. “I’ve just had a lot of time to read.”

“Wow. You did good in such a short time. Starships are complicated and your model is a fussy girl. I’m really impressed you were able to fix the communications array well enough to send out a distress call. If there hadn’t been a hull breach, I bet you’d have fixed the engines too. Once we get your ship running you’re going to have to land—or at least dock— to replenish supplies. You haven’t flown your ship yet, have you?”

“Um… not yet.”

Yosei’s energy was so different than the bleak resignation to hard life on Grey District’s people. Positive and refreshing, it made for a delightful if unnerving change of pace. It was difficult not to divulge everything in her presence. An innocence permeated her every move and word, and he could understand Hodge’s interest in protecting her from a more jaded world as best he could.

Yosei lowered her voice as if they shared a special secret. “You’re a smart dude. I think you’re a lot better at this than you admit, but I still think I can teach you some stuff.”

“You’re insanely brilliant. I certainly hope so.”

The color of Yosei’s cheeks deepened as she restrained her smile. “By the time we’re done, you’ll know how to fly this ship better than Hodge. But don’t tell him I said 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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#freereads – Adrift Ch 59 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!

I ran a poll last week to decide after the end of the last installment, whether the readers wanted to go to the next scene or follow our boys into the shower and continue the sexy time.

The vote was a perfect 50/50 split so I still had to make the final decision. Let me know if I chose right…

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

 


 

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Chapter 59

Even as a child, Arad understood the impact of labels. For good or ill, they defined a person, distinguished their place in the status hierarchy. Corporate flew free above the towers. Slugs crawled in the dirt. Authority served as gatekeepers between them and all the other stages from top to bottom. Rarely did anyone climb higher, find a way out of their placement. Fall down out of the sky, however… that was far more common.

Recent conversation had dredged up little thought trails, or perhaps a doubt or two or where he stood with Roku. He shouldn’t have cared. On the streets, nothing was permanent. What changed?

As DemiShou, Roku was little more than a second-class citizen sitting on the lower social ladder rungs. They could only climb so far due to prejudice, but Arad was convinced he’d been part of the authority in some fashion.

That authority was in full force as he held Arad chest and hands spread against the shower wall while he buried his snout and tongue between Arad’s quivering buttocks.

It started out simply enough. Sharing the warm spray, they lathered one another, lingering over sensitive areas the longer they dragged out the bathing phase. He’d followed lazy rivulets of foam trailing around the crevasses of slick-furred muscle, down the torso, running off the tip of Roku’s gradually swelling member. By the time it reached full size, the foreskin had rolled back and a tiny bead of dew shined at the slit.

Arad had dipped his head and licked the drop clean. Warmth spread through his tongue. The taste ramped the craving to new heights and he pumped Roku’s shaft, determined to draw more to the surface. The tiger could only be teased so long before he spun Arad and took command.

Without breaking his feast, Roku reached into the shower niche and snatched the bottle of sex oil. It only made sense to keep some handy since the tiger loved to pounce in the water. He stood tall, his broad shoulders sheltering Arad from the water as he stuffed slippery fingers into Arad’s opening, prepping him for more.

And it was so much more. The girth of Roku’s cock at his backdoor was almost too much, but he been beyond caring for a while now. Roku lifted him off his feet and Arad had no choice but enjoy the long slide until the entire length impaled him.

“Are you all right?” Roku held still, his voice a mask of restrained lust.

Overwhelmed, Arad nodded with a barely coherent grunt of assent. 

Roku’s arms tightened around him, and he clamped his jaws over Arad’s neck and shoulder. Held in place with his feet off the floor, Arad gave in as Roku slid out and back in again. Every nerve inside Arad flared into full brightness as Roku picked up speed and took want he wanted, what they both needed.

Arad shouldn’t have been able to feel Roku’s release. Yes, he flexed, heaved, and thrusted deep, but not the actual flood which burned and chilled Arad’s insides in delicious ways, sending tendrils of ecstasy through his blood like the headiest whiskey. It charged through his spine and groin and tore a screaming orgasm out of him, leaving a pattern of sticky trails on the wall only to watch them wash away as the craving subsided.

Roku carefully disengaged and held Arad close as he rinsed them both off, taking care with Arad’s more tender areas. He turned off the water and led them out, grabbing a towel and gently drying Arad before dealing with his own wet state.

Now that the itch had been scratched, the wayward thoughts came alive once more. “Vosh called us mated. Is that something special for DemiShou?”

Roku stopped scrubbing his fur and gave Arad a pointed stare. “I wouldn’t know.”

“Sorry. Memories. I forget sometimes. The way Vosh talked, I guess mating’s a bigger deal than just fooling around.”

“I don’t see us as fooling around. I can’t.” A hard crease marred Roku’s brow and he averted his eyes. “The longer we’ve been together, the more I’ve hated been apart from you. Even in different rooms when it’s only us here on the ship.” Roku paused and his breath shuddered. “Don’t make me give you up. Please.”

Big, strong and so vulnerable. The fear he recognized in Roku’s eyes stabbed Arad deeper than he thought possible. It startled Arad, because he saw the same worry inside himself. Permanent wasn’t typical on the street, but they weren’t technically on the street anymore. Doesn’t that change the rules of social standing?

Before he said something stupid, Arad flung himself forward and wrapped his arms around the wet tiger, squeezing as hard as he knew how, trying to say more than he could out loud. Roku hugged him back, and it made Arad’s chest flutter.

Arad buried his face in Roku’s chest, because it was too hard to look him in the eye, and he was not about to cry. “No. I wouldn’t do that to you… to me… to us.” Arad scrunched his face and forced it out. “Can you make me a promise?”

“Anything. Just ask.”

“If I promise to keep you forever, would you do the same?”

Roku rubbed his cheek and jaw along the top of Arad’s head. “I’ve already made that promise.”

“When?”

“Since the first night I woke up in your bed.”

Arad’s shaky exhale was filled with relief. “Me too.”

They stayed locked in their embrace until Roku dried and Arad’s doubts lifted. Forever was a long time, and a thing he’d never guessed he could count on. Life in Grey District would never have allowed the pipe dream. Perhaps the new label made him realize he could be more than just a slug for the first time in so, so long. It gave him new meaning and maybe even a step higher on the ladder.

“I like the word mated.”


 

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 58 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 just manhandled Arad and left the Nightingale. What now?

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

 


 

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Chapter 58

With Arad slung over his shoulder, Roku closed the Ansariland’s hatch and continued down the hall until he reached the lavatory. Remembering Roku’s order, Arad kept his mouth shut as he was lifted and sat on the nearest sink’s edge. Roku stepped back and tossed his unworn shirt aside. Smirking, he reached for his kilt, keeping his eyes fixed on Arad’s. Licking his lips, he unfastened the garment, consciously flexing groups of muscles—chest, abdominals, hips, and thighs as the garment slid to the floor—all for Arad’s benefit.

Smug confidence still charged from the match, laced his words as he sauntered close. “I can smell how much you enjoyed watching me fight. Should I be exerting myself for you more often?” Roku stepped between Arad’s seated legs, nudging them apart.

If Roku could smell Arad’s arousal, he was getting a nose full. Even so, Arad had never considered himself easy. He’d always made a cocky man work for it.

“Maybe it was just the fight. I wasn’t the only one there you know.”

Roku chuffed as he leaned in close, inhaling along Arad’s shoulder and neck. “Yes, I’m aware. Everyone was watching. Bryce too. I could hear her cheering over the speakers.”

“Yes, well, make sure you don’t get naked over there for any reason. She has screens turned on the entire ship.”

“You noticed that too?”

Oh, Arad noticed, all right. He nearly bit his tongue keeping quiet because he couldn’t risk alienating the Nightingale when they were so close to getting repairs in order.

Roku’s hands skimmed under Arad’s shirt tracing the flesh upwards, lifting it up and off Arad’s body. The heat radiating from his furry flesh fought off any amount of chill. “Once repairs begin, make sure she doesn’t get access to any of our communications net. I don’t care what she does over there, but I’d like us to have some amount of privacy on the Ansariland. I don’t want anyone seeing you undressed but me.”

His ability to be official and commanding while being oh so sexy impressed Arad, but he wasn’t about to cede all control. “As long as you promise to keep your kilt on around Vosh and Pakko. I think they’d be more than happy to get you going all sweaty, naked dom on the two of them. Especially after that match.”

“I would never touch them like that. Not for real.”

Using a single finger, Arad prodded Roku’s granite chest. “You spanked Vosh.”

“He needed something to make him face that he’d lost. It was domination. Not sex. That is something strictly, and only, for you.”

“Make sure they don’t confuse the two.”

Roku placed a gentle kiss on Arad’s lips. “I will be happy to remind them the difference.”

The longer they kissed, the gentler Roku became. The fear of losing control had been fading lately, being replaced by a welcome confidence to take command. Authority used to repel Arad. Men with it couldn’t be trusted. They used and abused the people under them all the time. But Roku’s gradual emergence brought a comfort and warmth he hadn’t expected to find.

Roku pulled him close so Arad could feel the hard evidence of his aroused state, but made no effort to remove Arad’s shorts, even as he continued to trace firm lines over Arad’s skin. Arad used the opportunity to touch Roku, never tiring of the unyielding physique highlighted in silky fur. Roku’s natural musk piqued, spicy from exertion, and he slowly took it in. Nothing was rushed between them and the cockiness from earlier became a relaxed foreplay. Rather than speeding the pace, it reduced to a crawl, but refused to halt if the pair of hard organs crushed between them was any evidence. The craving had returned and it simmered, waiting to be pushed into a full boil once again.

Arad shuddered as Roku pulled back giving him a bit of breathing space but without losing contact. “So you think we’re good to let them help us?”

“I don’t see how we have a choice, but Hodge appears genuine, and Yosei seems to be excited to play it anything as long as it’s tech. She was enjoying the match, but was the only one who didn’t smell aroused to some extent. Hodge was the least affected but still charged up from the fight.”

“Most guys like to watch a fight. Nothing new there.”

Urging Roku to one side, Arad hopped down from the sink. The cushion-less edge digging into his behind threatened to end the moment before it could properly begin if he stayed put. Even then, he stretched his legs to ward off the discomfort, a reminder that the sink was a crappy sex perch no matter what the porn vids showed. 

Arad realized he hadn’t stopped touching Roku but made no move to disconnect. “All right. I’ll follow your lead, but remember we don’t really know any of them enough to trust them too far. Once the ship’s fixed, we’re moving on. Hachi and Shichi still need somewhere safe to go.”

“Agreed. Be cautious, but don’t create an issue. We need them.”

“For now.”

“Yes. For now.”

What the hell was he doing? Arad had the hottest male he’d ever laid eyes on wanting and waiting for sex and here they were discussing the strategy of repair scheduling with the Nightingale. Discussing strangers they weren’t planning on sleeping with for any reason. It was an important talk, but did it have to be right now? They were both ready to go. What was wrong with them? 

With a quick movement, Arad unbuckled his shorts and bared himself to his ankles. Stepping out of the pile, he removed his footwear and headed for the shower. “Enough about them. Are you planning on taking advantage of your winnings yet or am I going to have to wash my own back?”

Roku didn’t hide the slap of eager footsteps on the deck following Arad.


 

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

Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!

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