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  1. Chapter 31

    Jeremy sat down and leaned against the large tree, someone had told him what it was called, but he'd forgotten. It's bark was rough, and almost gold in color, it was at least twenty feet high and the 'leaves' were thin lines that shimmered, and made rainbows when the sun hit them at the right angle. It was his first time on Kelser, nine years after he'd found Gralgiranselhelrarvir. He'd been surprised when he found out they were coming here, and then he'd wondered why they hadn't they hadn't come sooner. He knew it wasn't because Gral wanted to keep him hidden, he was quite proud of their relationship, and had introduced him to his parents over vid. "I'm a hunter," Gral had said, "I keep my people safe, by being out here, hunting those who would hurt them." Jeremy had found it strange, considering how much Gral loved his family, and his world. Jeremy couldn't stand being on Earth, although he hadn't realized why, at the time, that was why he'd never done more than call his family. "Come on," one of the females said running toward him. "We're not done dancing!" "I am!" he replied. He tried to remember her name, but he had been introduced to so many of Gral's large family, that he couldn't. "I thought you hunters were suppose to be full of energy!" "We are! But no one trained me for *that*!" He pointed to the crowed dancing to the sound of the band. She nodded and ran back to the dance. Jeremy had danced with Gral's mother, his father, all of his siblings, of which one brother caught him in one of the slow dances, and made sure Jeremy could tell he was interested in having sex with him. Jeremy probably would, at some time while they stayed here. He was as tall as Gral, a little leaner, and could rival him in nibbling his ears. "You should have warned me about this," he told Gral, when he joined him, carrying a tall glass of the alcoholic beverage his father had made, with the fruits he grew on his land. It reminded Jeremy of the fruit punches his grand mother would make for summer activities, but the taste was much more bright, and the slight alcohol in it just enhanced it. "I didn't want to give you a chance to plan your escape." "Do you guys do this often?" "This large of a gathering? No, only when all the space faring members manage to make it back at the same time. Otherwise, it's just a small affair." "It can't have been easy to arranged." "It wasn't. We've been working on this since our trip to Earth. "A year? And you never told me?" "I wanted to surprise you." Gral said smiling. "Well, as you saw when we got here, you managed it." When they had arrived on the property Jeremy had been smothered by the crowd of family members wanting to hug him, lick him, nibble on him. "Well, all of this, is because of you. Everyone has been wanting to meet you." "I have to say, your family is very welcoming." "No more than any other." "What's your brother's name? The one that looks a lot like you, just leaner." Jeremy pointed him out of the crowd. "That's Roumalger, you want his full name?" Gral asked mischievously." "No," Jeremy answered with a laugh, "I'd have forgotten that by the time I have sex with him. But I have to tell you. You're going to have to work on your ear nibbling, I think he might just manage to steal me away from you with his." "Oh really?" Gral pulled Jeremy against him, and closed his muzzle on his ear, licking along the edge, sending a shiver of pleasure down his spine. When Jeremy was panting and moaning, Gral started nibbling. When he finally stopped, Jeremy had to catch his breath, then look at his chrono, to find out twenty minute had passed. He leaned back against his Heart, and looked at Thuruk, Asarin, and their new cub, sitting at a table, and feeding her. "You forgot to mention that yours and Thuruk's family were close." A third of the people were Thuruk's family. "All the families in the valley are close, but we're the only two with spacefarers. Everyone else just works groundside." Jeremy nodded, and was silent, watching Thuruk and his family. "Have you ever though about having a family?" he asked. "I have a family," Gral replied, muzzling the top of his head. "I mean starting your own, having cubs." Gral didn't reply immediately "I did, but I never really found the time to look for a female." "Found the time?" Jeremy asked, turning and looking at him, disbelieving. "Gralgiranselhelrarvnir. You don't *find* the time to look for someone, you *make* the time. I swear, you're lucky I walked onto your ship, I don't think you'd have found me otherwise." Gral pulled him against him and ruffled Jeremy's hair. "I would have hunted you on that station of yours. Actually, if I remember correctly, I did just that." Jeremy smiled, and relaxed against him, watching the family in the distance. "Do you want a family?" Gral asked cautiously, after a long silence. This time it was Jeremy who took his time responding. "Yes, I do. I look at them, I see how happy they are, and I think that we have so much happiness, that we should be sharing it with a cub." "Tomorrow, we can start looking for a female we both like. We'll have to stay closer to Kelser until the birth, but That wouldn't be a problem." "I was thinking of a lost cub." "A lost cub?' "Yeah, I've been reading about them, there's a lot of them, who lost their families in accidents, we could save one of them, bring him, or her, in our family." Jeremy's voice became soft. "I want to give one of them, what you gave me, a chance to be happy again." "I never thought about that," Gral said, "but you're right, it would be appropriate." They were pensive for some time after that, until three of Gral's siblings came to pull them back in to the dance. * * * * * Jeremy enjoyed the quiet house. After the hustle of the previous night, with all the guest, some peace was appreciated. He made his way to the kitchen, and put the case on the counter. He started water boiling, and took out the tools from the case. He could get all of this done in a machine, and back on the ship, it was often how he did it, but for the first one of the day, he enjoyed the ritual. He activated the gravitic anchor at the base of the mortal so it wouldn't move, placed the pestle next to it, and then measured enough beans for two cups. Grounding the beans by hand and releasing the aromas was how he liked to start his day. He was engrossed in the process, taking his time, and watching to make sure he didn't grind them too fine, when arms wrapped around his waist. "I knew I felt you leave the bed," was whispered in his ear, before it was gently nibbled on. Jeremy shivered. "Sorry if I woke you." "Don't be sorry for waking me, be sorry for leaving me alone." The hands rubs his chest, and his neck was licked. "I thought you'd want to sleep longer, we were up fairly late." "I don't recall either one of us being up. We were in bed, if my memory serves me." He paused and sniffed the air. "What are you doing?" "I grinding coffee beans." "That smells very nice." "Roumalgergravnilamir," a female said sharply, "go put some pants on, we have guests." "Yes mom," Roumalger replied, and then licked the back of Jeremy's neck, making him shiver. "I'll be right back," he whispered, and then left. "Good morning, Parkiler," Jeremy said, and Gral and Roumalger's mother joined him at the counter. "And a good morning to you, Jeremy. What are you doing?" she bent down to breath in the aroma. "I'm preparing coffee." He took out two cups, placed a dripper on each of them. He divided the ground coffee evenly, and put that in the bottom part. "I've never heard of it." "It's a human drink. Coffee is a plant grown on earth and most of their colonies." The water was boiling, so he poured it in the top part of the drippers. "I did you get a human product? I thought we weren't trading with them until they stopped persecuting some of their people." "I know someone," Jeremy replied with a smile. The water as done dripping to he took off the dripper some a cup, and picked up to inhale the aroma. "You know someone who can get you an illegal product. Maybe I should inform your captain of that." "And lose my only supplier?" Gral said, as he entered, "I don't think so." He nuzzled his mother, and then kissed Jeremy. "What did you just do?" Parkiler asked, head tilted. Gral took the other cup. "We kissed." He took a sip of his coffee. "Kissed?" "It's a human custom that we've adopted, took some trial and error, but we found a way to make it work," Gral said. Jeremy was starting to turn red. "Really?" she said, "you're going to have to show me how it's done." "I don't think so," Gral replied, "it's ours, and ours alone." He grinned at his mother. "Is it true that you only have sex with males?" she asked Jeremy. He stopped moving, cup to his lips, and looked at her over it. "Yes, it is." "Is that a common behavior among humans?" "I'm not sure I'm the right person to ask," he replied, "why are you even asking about that?" He paused. "Right, you do socio-psychological research. If you want to answer that question, you should speak to one of them, instead of me. I don't know if you could trust their answers, considering they still don't acknowledge that they have males who have sex with males." "Maybe I can get one of the ambassadors to do some research on this for me." Gral's father entered the kitchen. "I thought I heard voices." "Morning Dad," Gral replied. "Morning dear," his mate said. "Good morning Marse . . . Dad," Jeremy said, definitely not used to calling him that. Marseforderiven nuzzled everyone in turn. "What is it you're holding?" "It's coffee," Gral said, handing him the cup. "It's a human drink." Marsef smelled it, and then took a swallow. He made a face "it's very bitter." "I know," Gral said, smiling. "It's invigorating." "You drink this a lot?" his mother asked. "No, just a cup in the morning, Jeremy drinks it through out the day." "It's flavors are interesting," Marsef said. "I wonder how well I could grow it here." "Dear, it's a human plant. It' be illegal for you to grow it." "It would just be for me, an experiment, if you will, there wouldn't be any harm." He looked at Gral. "I can't give my approval, you know that dad." He nodded toward Jeremy, "But if you were to manage to get yourself a plant, without my knowledge, there isn't much I could do about that, could I?" Jeremy looked from the father to the son. "I'll talk to my contact, see what he can do about it, but you're going to have to do your own research on how to grow them, I have no idea how that's done."
  2. Chapter 30

    "Are you sure you want to do this?" Gral asked. "Yeah, I am," Jeremy replied. "It's time for this. Like I told my mom, I'm never coming back to earth, so it doesn't matter if I'm never going to be able to speak English correctly. I can't continue to ask every new crew member we get to learn English just so they can understand me. I understand Kelsirian perfectly, it's about time I was able to speak it." "Modifying your voice box, that's a pretty big thing." "I know, but Gariel assured me that it's a simple procedure." "It's perfectly safe," she said entering the medical room. "I've had to perform this kind of reconstruction often when I worked groundside. They worst you can expect, is having to be silent while it heals, and then have to learn your pronunciation. It's going to be like being back to a Learning Center, all over again." "I have no idea what that is," Jeremy said, with a chuckle. "Where do humans go to learn the basics of language?" "We learn that at home, with our family, growing up. Don't you?" "Yes," she said obviously realizing she'd gone for the wrong analogy. "Well, it's going to feel like you are learning to hunt, when you thought you already knew how."
  3. Chapter 29

    They were headed to their shuttle, Jeremy surrounded by his friends, and the two human officers on each side of the group. They were about a third of the way when everyone, except the officers, tensed. Six humans were walking in their direction. Not something unusual, in a busy spaceport like this one, but their demeanor wasn't casual. They kept glancing around them, and their hands kept jerking toward their backs. "There's a large delivery transport on our left, for cover," Jeremy said. "Nothing on the right," Gral added. "Lets head for it." "What are you talking about?" the officer on the right said. "You shuttle is straight ahead." He pointed in that direction. Instead of replying, Gral grabbed him and pulled him with them. A moment later the group was firing in their direction. Gral leaned against transport. "Anyone hit?" Negatives all around. Thuruk laid down, looking under the transport. "They are spreading out. We don't have much time until they come at us from each side." "I thought these two were suppose to make sure we weren't going to have trouble?" Houlin said, edging to their left. "There's a few crates that can give one of us cover, but we're going to need fire power." "We have nothing to do with this," one of the officer said. "Right," Jeremy commented dryly. "I told you we should have smuggled in a weapon or two." He was flexing his hand. "I am never leaving the ship without my gloves again." "Hand me your firearm," Gral told the officer, who was now cowering behind the transport's wheel. "No. You're not allowed to have a weapon. It's against the security protocol." "They aren't respecting your Gods cursed protocol," Thuruk growled. "Unless you plan on firing on your own people," Gral said, "you are going to give me your firearm." He looked over to the other one. "And you are going to give yours to Jeremy." That one handed his firearm without hesitation. Seeing that, the one next to Gral handed him his. "Jeremy, you and I provide cover. Toom, you head to the shuttle as fast as you can, and get it ready for take off. Thuruk, Houlin, do your best to avoid contact with them, if you can't, it's disable and subdue only. You aren't to kill anyone." "Can I keep their weapons?" Houlin asked. "Sure," Gral replied with a shrug. "No he can't!" the officer said. "We're already breaking the rules by letting you use ours." "We're past caring about your rules," Thuruk commented, crouching. Gral took a breath. "We are Hunters," he said. "We die so our people live," the four others answered. He ran for a large post, firing in the humans' direction, forcing them to find cover of their own. Once there he checked his people's progress. Jeremy was behind the crates, Thuruk crawling on the ground, below the human's field of vision, heading for a vehicle closer to them. Houlin and Toom had made it to a hiding spot ahead of where Gral was. When they looked in his direction, he gave them a nod and started firing again. They ran for it, and Gral headed for the cover they had been using. One of the humans popped up to fire in their direction, and Gral took him down. He hit him center of mass, so he was probably dead. Once he reach the cover, he could see another human unmoving, on the other side, taken down by Jeremy. Thuruk stood next to a human, with his back to him, wrapped an arm around his neck, and grabbed his weapon with the other. A human stood from behind a low vehicle and fired in his direction, hitting the male Thuruk was holding. Thuruk fired back, two shoulder hit, and one to the waist. He'd live, but he was out of combat. He dropped the male he'd been holding and crouched down. The area was quiet for a moment, then alarms went off. After a few more seconds without being fired upon Gral looked around. Thuruk and Jeremy had made it a few more hiding place closer to the shuttle. He couldn't see any sign of the humans. He looked back to where the officers were still cowering. He didn't want them to shoot them in the back if they were part of this. Still no more fire while he took the time to do his check. "Thuruk, Jeremy, straight line to the shuttle, but remain on your guards. We don't want to be here when their security arrive." He followed his own instructions, not running, but walking at a good pace. The other two did the same, keeping distance between them, and remaining vigilant. As they passed the area where they had last seen the human, they found it vacated. They made it to the shuttle without taking more fire. "We are going to have to discuss your definition of 'avoiding' Thuruk," Gral said as he took a seat. "I tried to avoid them," Thuruk replied. "It isn't my fault one of them was standing right before me when I stood." He thew the weapon he was holding to Houlin. "Here, that's for your collection." "You don't have authorization to take off," a voice came from the com. "I hear you, control," Toom replied, as he continued preparing. "I just don't care. We took fire, so we are leaving. I'm not sitting here waiting for someone's ship to decide to blow us up." "You can't take off, you don't have a clear corridor." "A clear corridor? What's that?" he checked the scan. "There isn't even twenty shuttles out there, the sky's practically empty. Now, you either release the clamps, or I'm going out with a cutter, and doing it myself." After a moment of silence, Houlin and Thuruk went to the back to open the tools locker. As they were taking out the cutters, they heard sound of the clamps releasing. "Thank you control." Toom said, and send the ship up in smooth acceleration. He looked over his shoulder for a moment "I've informed the ship of what happened. Unless you have different orders, they will leave orbit the moment we are parked." Gral looked to Jeremy, who shook his head. "I'm good with those orders." * * * * * "Did the station give you any trouble?" Gral asked once he reached the bridge. The ball that was Earth was already barely visible on the main screen "They argued, threatened, pleaded, but no, they didn't give use any trouble." Ajanix said. "Captain," Klisten, at come called, "you need to hear this." "Just moments ago, a group of kelsirian, led by the traitor Jeremy Krommer, killed two spaceport officers, and then, using the firearms they took from their victims fired indiscriminately as they made their way to their shuttle. There is no information on the number of dead at this time. "They then took off without authorization, endangering multiple shuttles on their way out. Only those pilot's great skills managed to avoid collisions. Jeremy Krommer had been allowed on the planet under the pretense that his mother was dying. We reached out to Gabriella Krommer for comments." "Than man is no son of mine," came Jeremy's mother's voice. "He abandoned his family to go off with those perverted animals. I didn't want to see him, and I kicked him out as soon as he showed up." "Her doctors commented that while Miss Krommer was sick, there was no danger to her health, and she should be back on her feet shortly. We will be looking into how it was that someone missed that she wasn't dying, and allowed the traitor here. We will bring you the names of those who were bribed as soon as we discover them. At last report, their ship left orbit unchallenged, due to no military ships being in the vicinity." The main screen changed to show a strategic map of earth's orbit, with three bright dots not far from where the ship had been parked while in orbit. "I could have sworn those were military ships," someone said. Ajanix turned to look at Grall. "Do humans ever tell the tr . . ." His voice trailed off. Gral turned to see Jeremy behind him, tears flowing down his eyes. He went to him and held him close. "I told her to say that," Jeremy said. "I told her to renounce me, so why does it hurt so much." "It'll be okay," Gral said softly. "So doesn't mean it." "I know, but it still hurts." "Ajanix," Gral said, without turning. "The bridge is yours again. "We are going to our quarters." "Yes, captain" "If anyone gets in our way, just disable them. For all the good that'll do."
  4. Chapter 28

    "Jeremy," the com said, as he was under panels, rebuilding them. "Here." "I have a signal here, all the way from human territory. He wants to talk to you." "I'm in the middle of something. Get the information and I'll contacted them when I'm not busy." "He says it's important," the com came back, after an extended silence, "and that he's your brother." Jeremy stopped. "My brother?" "Yes. Do you still want me to take the information?" "No," he answered, after thinking it over. "Send it to the terminal in my engineering office." He pulled himself out and cleaned his hands on his way to the office. He sat and took the call. "Byron," he said once his brother's face was visible. The image was clear enough that Jeremy could see the worry lines age had traces on his face. He was paying top money to talk to him. "Look. Dad didn't want you to know, but even though I don't approve of . . . Some of the choices you've made in your life. You have a right to know that mom is dying." "What? How?" "They found a tumor in her neck." "Can't they operate?" "It's right against the spine. They said that if they try, the odds are very high it's going to kill her. If they don't do anything, she has about one year. She decided to take the year. . . . Dad's pissed about that." "Tell her I'm coming.' "What? No! I didn't tell you so you could show up here and remind her of what you did to us. I just wanted you to know" "I didn't do a damn thing to you, Byron. And I don't care why you you told me. Now that I know, I am going to go say goodbye in person. I'm asking you to tell her I'm coming. I don't know how long it's going to take, but I will be there. Tell her to hang on." He didn't wait for Byron's reply. He cut the communication and rushed out of the office. "Bridge," he said in his hand com "Here. "Where's Gral." "I'm here," Gral answered. "What's wrong?" "I'm on my way. I'll tell you there." "Jeremy, tell . . ." Jeremy shoved the com unit in his pocket. * * * * * When he entered the bridge Gral was pacing. "What's wrong?" The captain said. "Why didn't you tell me over the com?" "I didn't want to discuss this over wave." Gral stopped moving and looked at him, worried. He took a cautious step toward him. "What's going on?" he inquired. "I need to go to Earth, right now." Gral gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "Talk to me Jeremy, you're worrying me." Jeremy finally looked him in the eyes. "My mother's dying. She has maybe one year to live." Gral's eyes went wide, and pulled him tightly against him. "I know you guys can't go back there, after the last time, but I have to go. I don't care what I need to do to get there. I can't let her die without saying goodbye." "Oh, little warrior. Of course you will say goodbye." He kissed the top of Jeremy's head, and then let go of him. "Anyl, contact the ships along our patrol, I'm calling on Family Law, and they are going to have to cover our route until the council sends someone to take over." "Yes sir." "Toom, contact the council to have them send a ship to replace us, and tell them we need passage to Earth." "Family Law, yes captain." "Once you've done that, check with your contacts in the back rooms, We need to make it there, and like Jeremy said, I don't care how." * * * * * The station they were approaching was one Jeremy had never seen. Its building had started the year he joined Gral's family, eight years ago. Behind it, Earth could be seen. Jeremy's heart caught in his throat. Seeing it again, after all these years gave him a pang of homesickness. He'd renounced his human citizenship, and he hadn't thought he'd ever be back here, let alone want to be here. He'd started thinking of himself as kelsirian over the last few years, but he still knew that this ball of rock was where he was from, and it still called to him. "Unknown kelsirian ship," a voice sounded forcefully though the com system. "You have entered Human space in violation of the Krommer treaty. Come to a full stop or you will be shot down." "Entered human space?" Toom asked aloud, "what have we been doing those last hundred or so light year since we crossed into their territories?" "They're asserting their authority, now that we are somewhere that gives them the firepower to enforce it. Come to a full stop" Gral said. "I'd like to see them try." "We're not here to start trouble. Now be quiet." He nodded to the communication officer. "This is Gral, captain of the viper's Bane. I am calling on Family law. My government has lodge a petition to allow us to be here, and it has been approved. I have a crew member with a dying family member on your planet." "There must be a mistake, captain," the reply came after a moment. "There are no kelsirians on earth." "My Heart is human. His mother is dying. I repeat that a petition for him to visit her has been approved by your government." "You are correct. He is approved for a twelve Earth hour visit. We will dispatch a shuttle to bring him to the spaceport." "We don't need a shuttle. We'll provide the transport to him and his escort ourselves." "That's a negative on the escort. He is to be on his own." Gral snorted. "Sorry, but no. Each time my Heart has been around humans without an escort, attempts on him have happened. While he's more than able to handle whom ever your government might send to intercept him, I'm not going to just hand him over." "Fine. He can be escorted by one person." "Six." "What? I can't let that many of you on planet." There was silence. Gral looked at Jeremy and then around. It was becoming obvious that the human wasn't going to make a contour offer unprompted. "Very well, I will not accept one, you will not accept six. How many are you willing to accept?" There was another silence. "Four?" came the tentative reply. "That is acceptable." Toom ran out of the room. "They will be unarmed." Gral considered this request. To go down without weapons left them at a disadvantage, but would humans really attempt anything with the ship in orbit? "Very well," he said. "Once your shuttle is on its way, you'll be given the landing pad assigned to you." The communication was terminated. "Toom, when the three of you suit up, make sure you are armored against solid slug weapons, on top of energy." "In all these years," Jeremy said, "didn't I ever mentioned that humans don't haggle?" "I don't think you have." * * * * * Jeremy took shallow breaths as he exited the shuttle, and then deeper ones when the air smelled cleaner than he remembered. They stepped through the detector that had been setup at the bottom of the steps leading down from the landing pad. The security there seemed surprised when none of them triggered an alarm. Of all of them, the only one that had been reluctant to leave something behind was Jeremy. He was used to wearing his clawed cloves when he left the ship, and felt uneasy without them. "We have a transport ready to take you to your mother's house," the agent said, and pointed to it. Jeremy hesitated as he noticed that, while a larger vehicle, with their larger frames, the Kelsirians would still be tightly packed and make defending themselves difficult. He headed to it, and the others followed. They couldn't walk to the house, his parents lived outside the city, and he didn't have earth currencies anymore, so he couldn't hire is own transport. * * * * * His childhood house had barely changed since it's left Earth. The paint on it looked to be fresh, but it was the same color he remembered. "When do you want me to come back?" their driver asked. "Don't go anywhere. I won't be here long." Jeremy walked to the door, four kelsirians close behind him, Gral the closest, and knocked on the door. "I'll get it!" a woman said, and Jeremy couldn't help smile as he recognized the voice of his older sister. The door opened and an adult woman with graying hard stood before him. His smile dropped, she was only six years older than him she couldn't be graying already. "What can I do for you?" she asked, and they looked at him, and the kelsirian behind him. "Hi Beth," he said. "Jeremy? What are you doing here?" "I'm here to say goodbye to mom." "What? How did you . . .? Byron!" She stormed off. Yelling after their brother. Since she didn't close the door, Jeremy shrugged and entered the house. The door opened to the living room, where Marcus, his younger brother, by ten years was sitting on the couch. He lifted his head on seeing him and then stood abruptly. Gral ordered the others to stay by the door, and followed Jeremy toward the stairs leading upstairs. "What the fuck do you think you're doing here?" a gruff voice said, and his father entered from the dining room. "Hi to you too dad. I'm here to see mom." "Like hell you are. It's your fault she fell sick. You abandoned her to go with those furballs." "Dad, before you go insulting my friends, I hope you remember Gral, you met him on the station, when you forced us here with your fabricated story. He's my captain, as well as my Heart, my husband. The others are three of my best friends." "Do you fuck them too?" "Yes, I do. They're also very good warriors, they don't understand English, so they might over react if they think you're threatening me." His father looked at them and then at Jeremy. His eyes narrowed, and his face reddened. With a huff he turned and went back to the dining room. Jeremy turned to the stairs again, and this time Marcus was in his way. His younger brother spat at his feet. "Dad's right. It's your fault mom's dying. If you weren't a pervert we could have gotten the best care for mom, and she wouldn't be in this condition." Jeremy sighed. "Marcus, I have very little patience left for this family. You can thank dad for that. So you're going to get out of my way, or I'm going to throw you across the room." The cold look that accompanied his words left no doubt as to his seriousness, and Marcus got out of his way. He went up the stairs, and to his parents' room. He pushed the door opened slightly and looked at her, lying on the bed. She was very thin, and pale. He stepped in, and sat on the chair by her side. He looked around, wondering where the medical sensors and other machines, to see to her health were. He placed a hand on her brow and it felt hot. He saw the bowl of water on the night stand with the towel. He wet it and applied it to her head. She stirred and opened her eyes. She looked at him, unfocused, closed her eyes, and opened them again. "Jeremy?" she asked when she finally focused on him. "Hi mom." "Oh Jeremy, you came. Byron said you would. I'm so happy you came." "How are you doing? Where's all the equipment to look after you?" She looked around. "Oh, I don't needed it. I'm perfectly fine." "Mom, how come you don't have any support? Where's the nurse?" "They told me that if I called you a traitor, they would give me the best treatment. They wanted me to denounce you, to renounce you as my flesh and blood. I couldn't do that. And I told them as much." "And because of that," Marcus said, form the doorway, "she's not getting anything. They found a bunch of loopholes to disqualify her from everything. I hope you're happy." "Watch your tone, young man. I won't have you talk to your brother that way." "I'm sorry mom. I didn't know they would go this far," He was just one man, why was the human government so set on making him pay for being happy? "Don't ever be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry. I'm the one who should be apologizing to you. I should never let those doctors do those horrible things to you, but I was so afraid, they told us that if they didn't, you would get worse that you might die horribly. I thought we were helping you." Jeremy too her hands in his to try and calm her. "Mom, it's okay. It's in the past, and you though you were helping. But now I need you to help yourself. When I leave, I want you to renounce me." She shook her head. "Tell them you kicked me out, that you never want to see me again." "I can't do that you're my child, I'm suppose to protect you, to look after you." "You did mom. But now it's time for you to look after your other children. I have my own family now." He looked up at Gral, who placed a hand on his shoulder. "They look out for me, they love me. When I leave here, I'm going back to them, and I won't ever be back in human space. So I won't hear those word you'll say. You have to say them so you can get better. You still have children to look after." His mother look above him, to Gral. "Do you love him?" "More than I can put in words," he answered. "I will always be with him, love him, protect him. He is my Heart, and I am His. Not even the Gods will tear us apart." She smiled. "Alright, I'll do it." She closed her eyes, and her breathing calmed. Jeremy kissed her forehead and stood. "Don't think this changes anything. You're still a pervert." "Marcus, don't push your luck. She's asleep now. I can probably throw you down these stairs without waking her." * * * * * The transport dropped them off by the ramp to their pad, and then left. There wasn't any security waiting for them. "How much time do we have left?" "We're only been on planet a little more than three hours." Thuruk said. "Do we have anything of value we can trade?" "Depends," Toom said. "What would humans want?" "Here, the best bet would be precious metals or gems, something they can get easily exchanged for cash" "I though you said humans don't trade," Gral commented. "They trade, it's haggling they don't do." "I don't have anything," Toom said. "Me neighter," Thuruk said. Gral shook his head. "I have a couple of gold nuggets left over from the mission on Cresting," Houlin said Toom eyed him. "You went to that market?" "They have nice stuff there." "Right, nice stuff," thuruk said, miming sniffing something off a table. "Can I have the smaller of the two?" Jeremy asked Houlin. Houlin handed it to him. "We should be going back to the ship," Gral said. "I know, but this is the last time I'll be here, and I'd like to have a good Scotch, one last time." He started for the bar. * * * * * The barman had easily agreed to give him five tumblers of his best Scotch for the gold nugget, and he took them back to the table they others were sitting at. They attracted attention, but no one bothered them. "This isn't brougtfal, Scotch is made to be savored, so drink it very slowly." Toom sniffed it, then took a small swallow, a moment later he was coughing. They others eyes him and then their drinks. Jeremy took a swallow, rolling it on his tongue, and had to work at not reacting to the burning, as it went down his throat. He couldn't keep his eyes from tearing up. It had been a long time since he'd had anything this strong. Kelsirian alcohol was more about flavor, rather than strength. He had been enjoying his drink for a few minutes, the others taking very tentative sips of theirs, when Toom, and Houlin stiffened up. They made the other turn and look in the same direction as them. Two humans were walking directly towards them. They were all on alert when they reached them. "Can, can we join you?" the taller of the two said. He had brown hair, cut short and ha lanky build under his jacket and pleated pants. The other was ahead shorter, blond hair and a slightly stockier build. They both had a silver leaf pin at their lapel. Gral nodded. "Please keep your hands on the table." This surprised them, but they complied, pulling in a chair each and keeping their hands visible as they sat. "I'm very happy we've been able to catch you before you left. You have no idea how long we've been looking forward to meeting you." They were looking at Jeremy. "Who are you?" he asked. "I'm Patrick," the taller one said, "this is Louis, we're . . .." They discreetly looked around, before grasping each other's hands. "We're lovers." Jeremy sat straighter. "I was under the impression Earth had no males who loved other males," Gral said. "The government's trying very hard to catch any of us who shows signs, and treat us for them, but some of us are more resistant to it, while others just manage to remain undetected." "Why tell us?" Gral asked. "Because, you have no idea how much of an impact you've made on us, Jeremy. They've tried to keep what you did hidden, but the stories have been circulating, and our numbers have grown in the last years. We now have people in positions that can have an impact on the government. We have a plan in the works, it's going to take time, but when it comes to fruition, we will need your help." "I won't blindly promise you assistance." "I understand." He reached for his lapel, and claws were extended, making him detach the pin very slowly, and put it on the table. "Keep an eye out for this. It's our symbol. You will be seeing it in the future." "How are you making it work?" Jeremy asked. "It can't be easy." "It isn't. This is the first time we're seen each other in two years." Patrick said "I work on the moon, and he's on Armstrong L1 station. We have to keep our distances. We're both engineers, so every few years we're at the same convention, and we get to catch up. This was a special occasion, because of your presence here." "And dangerous." Patrick nodded toward the door, where two uniformed officers entered. "We have to go. We'll be in touch." They left in different directions, and Houlin palmed the pin. A moment later the officers stood by their table. They were the same gray uniform, and gloves. There were no identifying marks, and up close Jeremy noticed they also wore faceless masks. "How was the visit with your mother," the one of the left asked. "It was good. I think she's going to be getting better." "That's good to hear," the other said drylly. "Since the visit is done, you should head back to your ship. You wouldn't want to get in trouble here." "I have twelve hours. No even half that has passed." "That's correct, twelve hours to visit your mother, not loiter around, making the patrons nervous with your alien ways." Gral put a hand on Jeremy's arm. "We'll head back to the shuttle now," he said. "That is an excellent idea. Why don't we escort you, to make sure no one troubles you on your way."
  5. Chapter 27

    Jeremy panted, looking into Alix's eyes. The male's legs were wrapped around Jeremy's waist, preventing him from pulling out as they both came down from their orgasm. Jeremy straighten up, smiling down at his partner. "This just keeps getting better." Alix continued holding him inside him. From that first time, only a few months ago, Jeremy had realized that Alix liked looking up at him, like this. Every few days since then they had sex together, usually in the bed Alix had in the office, and it almost always ended with Jeremy kneeling between his legs, held in this position for long moments afterward. Alix smiled back at him, but his eyes weren't as jovial as he'd expected. "Is everything alright?" Jeremy asked. "Everything's fine," Alix replied, but again, Jeremy could tell he was keeping something back. "How are the humans doing?" "Humans? How would I know how they are doing?" "Don't you go see them?" Jeremy rolled his eyes. "No. As far as I'm concerned, we're wasting time sending them to the incarceration colony. We should just space them." "Did they reveal who sent them?" Jeremy tilted his head. "Again, I don't care. I know who sent them. The fact they wont admit it doesn't change that. Alix, what's wrong?" Alix was quiet. Jeremy ran his hands through the male's leg fur. "Please, talk to me." "Nothing's wrong, not really. I'm just going to miss this; engineering, you, the ship." He untangled his legs, but Jeremy didn't move. "What do you mean, you're going to miss this?" Alix pulled himself away, and turned so he was leaning against the wall. "I'm leaving. When we get to FarSpace station, I'm going to hop on a freighter heading back to Kelser." Jeremy looked at him, stunned. "You can't leave. Who's going to be in charge here?" Alix looked at him, smiling, and this time there was mirth in his eyes. "You are." "Me? I can't be in charge, I'm just your assistant." "My assistant?" Alix laughed. "Is that what you thought you were?" "Well, yes. I followed you around, doing the work you told me to, the way to told me to do it." "I don't have assistants. As far as I'm concerned, they are just a waste of space. You were my apprentice." "What?" Alix nodded, pulled Jeremy close, and leaned against him. "I have to admit, when you first told me you want me to teach you, I figured I'd show you enough so you could do tech work and leave it at that, but you are a good engineer. I know I didn't say it, back then, but you did do good work with the repairs, especially considering you weren't familiar with our technology. "When I decided you were too talented to be limited to a tech, I knew eventually you'd take over for me here. You've been ready for a while now, but I've been postponing it - Easy to do when we're nowhere near a way to get back home." He nuzzled Jeremy. "The sex with you has made it difficult for me to reach this decision." "Then why leave? We can both be in charge. I don't want to kick you out." "You're not. It's my decision. It's time for me to go back home. I've been in space over twenty years, with nothing more than the occasional stopover at Kelser. I miss seeing the sky, and it's time for me to start my own hunt." "Your hunt? For what?" "For my Heart. I love it here, but it's out there, somewhere. And I long to find it. Engineering is going to be in your hands now, good hands, so I can leave in peace." Jeremy didn't know what to say, so he wrapped an arm around Alix's shoulders, and held him close.
  6. Going Home: Great Oaks, Part 1 (an Excerpt) Going Home is a series that Explores the city of Tiranis through the eyes of Eric Clarkson, a returning veteran, who finds that he city has changed more than he expected in his absences. Each section of the series will focus on a different part of the city while Eric gets pulled into problems typical to that area, or sometime not so typical. This is about 1000 words of the 15,700 words chapter. You can read the full story here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/16302947 , as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level Going home: Great Oaks, Part 1 It was a loop. One of the logical conundrum one of the sergeants liked to recite. He could break the window, that would cut the loop, but it would attract attention. He widened the diagram to include the entire door and saw there was a gap at the base of the window. Very narrow and covered by a rubber strip. He didn’t have anything thin enough to slip in. And a quick look around didn’t show him anything he could use. An empty can had possibility, but it was too flimsy. He ran for the businesses, the one directly in front of him had a sign reading ‘Reignheart Medical Clinic.’ There was a hair and fur stylist on the left and a pharmacy on the right. He entered the clinic and looked around for something to use. “Can I help you?” The woman seated behind the counter looked at him expectantly. She was human, older, in her fifties; his mother’s age, the thought came unbidden, when he left for the army. With it came the reminder that she was now dead and he felt a pang of sorrow. Only he couldn’t deal with that right now. There was something more important. There had to be something here that would let him open the door. A lion in a doctor’s smock opened a door and let an older lemur out. He froze. “Eric?” Eric forced himself to look at him, then was surprised to recognize him. “Mister Reignheart?” How was it that of everyone in the city, he’d run into him for a second time? The lion smiled. “Do you need assistance with anything?” Eric began shaking his head, then stopped. He opened the door and pointed to the minivan. “Do you know who owns that?” Walter came to him and peered across the lot. “I’m afraid I don’t.” He looked at the older woman. “Jennifer?” She joined them. “No. It was there when I got here this morning. It must belong to one of the other people in the plaza. Eric nodded and ignored Walter’s questioning expression. He couldn’t waste time going around looking for the owner. It might explode during that time. Once he’d disarm it he could work on figuring out who the target was. He looked over the counter at what was on the desk, hoping the receptionist had one of those thin metal rulers that had been popular with his classmates, but there was nothing like that. Not even papers or a pencil. All there was on the counter was a computer, a phone and a tablet. Maybe someone in the waiting room might have something? Many of the women had large purses and they looked like they could contain anything they needed. His mother’s purse had certainly seemed like it contained whatever she needed, no matter how strange. But it wouldn’t be polite to just rummage through them. He stepped forward to ask them to look for something and a small plant with thin reflective leaves became visible at the back of the room, next or one of the office doors. Reflective? What plant had metallic leaves? And then the object resolved itself. It wasn’t a plant. It was a short pole with thin metal bands jutting off, curling at the end, it gave the illusion of a very crude fern. If it was an art piece, Eric thought as he stepped to it, he didn’t see the appeal. Walter called after him, as did a woman as she opened her office door, but he ignored them. The ‘leaves’ were thin enough, and there was enough of a straight length for what he needed. He broke one off, the weld easily giving out, and headed out. “I need to borrow this.” Walter and the others stood there, watching him leave. He cut the jagged end where the welding had been done and then made a notch in the side, to use and catch the mechanism. He slipped it in, having to force it past the rubber and then it scraped down the inside of the door. After that it was guesswork, moving the strip and trying to get the notch to grab onto the rod so he could pull it up. He could see the lock mechanism easily enough, but the metal strip he was using wasn’t technological. Twice he thought he’d gotten it, only for nothing to happen when he pulled. The second time he pulled hard in frustration and it came out. He forced himself to calm, he wouldn’t accomplish anything by getting angry. He pushed it back in and tried again. Steps caught his attention, regular, firm, approaching from the sidewalk, not the shops. A police officer had to have noticed him and came to investigate. Hopefully he could explain about the bomb without having to say too much about when he could do. As the steps came closer, he could make out three sets of them. When he looked in the window, expecting to see the blue and yellow of the Tiranis Police Department, he saw people dressed in black and wearing face-covering masks. He reacted without thinking on seeing the arm reach for him. He turned and shoved it aside, then brought up his in a defensive pose. The person before him studied him, a man, Eric thought, which was confirmed when he spoke. “You’re meddling in things that don’t concern you.” Eric couldn’t tell if they were humans or furries. Their masks all had muzzles, but they also had bumps where human ears would be, and their head covering would keep furry ears out of sight. It was a simple, and clever disguise. The one thing Eric could tell about them was that they had training. They stood relaxed, but they all had a hand near the knife each had at their belt, and they were ready to act. He couldn’t see guns, so that was good. Eric smiled. “I like to think that bombs concern everyone, don’t you?”
  7. Chapter 26

    Jeremy walked around the core of the anti matter generator, testing the new junctions. Alix and him had installed them over the week, and he needed to make sure they were able to handle the energy levels. Satisfied everything was fine he stepped away, and almost tripped over his tool bag. He put his hand on the opposite wall to keep his balance, and immediately moved it away when he felt the heat. He looked at his hand, fully expecting it to be burnt. When it wasn't, he frowned, and looked at the large circuit. He moved his hand closer, and he felt heat radiating from it, but no where near as much as he thought there should be. He looked around, at all the similarly sized circuit along the wall that was the back of the console, on the outside of the generator. He touched the circuit, wondering at the heat again, for a moment, and then, realization hit him. How hadn't he realized before why they were this way, he'd noticed that the inside of the generator was warmer, but he'd never made the connection. Slightly dazed he exited the generator, and headed to the office. It was still early, so only a few techs were there. They said hi, but he didn't notice. He entered the office, and went to the window over looking engineering. Alix looked at him, said something, but Jeremy didn't hear. He looked out at he generator. "How did I manage to miss it for all these years?" "Miss what?" "I mean the design is amazing in and of itself, but the size, why make them so large? I could build one a eight of the size and it would be able to do the same job. Let me finish," Jeremy said when he saw Alix was about to object. "I could, but then I'd have to add heat sink material, and even with that I'd have to use a heat treated backing, because it would still get pretty hot. It's heat dispersement. Because they're so large, they don't over heat. Sure, it means your generator has to be larger over all, but I'm willing to bet it masses less. This is so fucking ingenious." He felt arms go around his waist, and Alix lean in against him. "You want to know why the generator's inside is so large? It's because we like to have space to move about. You're right about the circuit's design, but I can guaranty that the size of the generator came first." The were quiet for a time, then Alix nuzzled Jeremy's neck, before bitting it lightly. Jeremy gasped, in surprise. "What do you think you're doing?" He found he was panting slightly. Alix licked along his neck. "I heard you had sex with one of the ships pilot." "You heard that?" Jeremy found himself leaning back against the male, who licked his earlobe. Jeremy shivered pleasantly. "The whole ship heard about it. I also heard the humans even got to watch." "Not for long." Jeremy's breath was faster and shallower. "They didn't appreciate the sight." "Then they don't know a good thing when they see it," Alix whispered. He nibbled along the cartilage around the ear, and Jeremy moaned. "You asked what I was doing. I'm hoping to convince you to have sex with me." Jeremy had trouble thinking, He was slightly nervous, but he very much enjoyed what Alix was doing. Would Gral understand? Hadn't he said he was okay with this? Jeremy realized this would be a perfect chance to put it to the test. "How," he panted heavily. "How do you plan on convincing me?" Alix showed him, and Jeremy was convinced. * * * * * Jeremy stood before the door, trying to calm himself. He thought about his box for a moment, and then dismissed it. This was something he needed to work through, not bury. He was dressed again, but he was pretty sure he smelled of sex. He opened the door, and entered Gral's office. His Heart was nose deep in his pad, with two screens up. He didn't react to Jeremy entering. "I had sex with Alix," Jeremy said, and studied Gral's reaction. "Okay," he replied, no looking up. Jeremy stayed silent, still watching him. After a moment, Gral looked up. "Is everything alright?" Jeremy looked at his mate's face. He'd gotten quite good at reading it over the years they'd been together. "You're really not bothered by that, aren't you?" "Should I be?" "I don't know, I wasn't sure." Gral pushed his chair aways from his desk, and motioned Jeremy over. He sat Jeremy on his lap, sideways, and had him lean against his chest. "I told you." Jeremy silenced him with a finger on his lips. "I know. You don't have to repeat yourself. I guess I just had to prove it to myself. I won't pull something like this on you again, I promise." "You saw I was okay with you having sex with Toom." Gral rubbed Jeremy's stomach with a hand. "Yes, but that's Toom, you like him. You have sex with him. I guess one some level I thought you were okay with him because of that." Jeremy gasped as he felt Gral's hand fondling him. He hadn't noticed him slipping a hand inside his pants. "You are free to have sex with anyone you like. Gods, you're free to have sex with who ever is willing, if you ever find yourself in need, and no one you know is around." Gral stroked Jeremy's now hard cock, making him moan. "This, has nothing to do with my love for you. You find someone that interests you, if they're willing, you go and have sex with them. If you feel strongly enough about them, take them as a mate. That won't change how you feel toward me, or me toward you." Jeremy was panting, and moaning. "I . . . Know. I just need to get rid of this human idea that only exclusive one on one relationships work." He groaned. "If you keep that up, I'm going to throw you over your desk and fuck you silly." "Good," Gral replied. Moments later the floor was littered with items that had been on the desk, and they were both groaning.
  8. Chapter 25

    "Querik said something," Jeremy said, "back when I first met him, that I'm curious about." They were curled up in bed, after a long session of sex. It had been about a month since he'd finally over come the last of what had been done to him on that station, almost two years ago, and they had been enjoying that time, a lot. "What did he say?" Gral asked, when Jeremy didn't continue. Jeremy shook himself back to the present. "He said that kelsirians were warriors. That you attack problems, instead of just letting them pull you down." Gral thought for a moment. "I suppose that yes, as a whole we are warriors. Why are you curious about that?" "The ship's pilot, he's been giving me dirty looks." "Which one?" "The gray one, with splotches of white." "That's Toom." "If he doesn't like me, why doesn't he just confront me or something? Instead of just giving me those looks?" "Some of us are more warrior like than others, but in his case, I think it's worry over what I might do if he confronts you. We used to be close, until you came along." "So he thinks I stole you away from him?" "I don't know what he thinks. Maybe you should be the one to confront him about it. Remember, you are also a warrior." The com interrupted Jeremy's reply. "Captain, we've just docked with the station." "Very well. Tell them I'm on my way." Gral rolled out of bed, and Jeremy grabbed his hand before he could walk away. "Do you really have to go? I'm worried about what they might do." "I can't ignore a direct order. And don't worry, you're perfectly safe on the ship." "I'm afraid of what they might do to you." Gral smiled. "I hope they try something. I want an excuse to sink my claws in them." He kissed Jeremy, before heading out to clean up and then go deal with this meeting. * * * * * They only kept him sitting in the audience for two hours this time, while a kelsirian ambassador, humans and taouling discussed government matters. He approached the table when called. "Where is my son?" one of the humans asked. The human representative silenced him with a look, and turned back to Gral. "The order was for both you and mister Krommer to be present, where is he?" "The last time I allowed Jeremy to be on the same station as humans, he was kidnapped and tortured. He decided he wasn't going to risk that happening a second time." "He decided? Or you did you decide for him? Maybe you locked him up somewhere on your ship to make sure he couldn't beg us to free him from you." "I don't know how you treat you mates, but I wouldn't imprison him anywhere, or let anyone else do it to him. He has free reign of the ship." "That is easy for you to say while we are sitting here, with no way to verify this. Would you be willing to let some of our people inside you ship so we can verify that he is indeed free to move about as he pleases?" "No," Gral replied flatly. "Let me make something clear. The only reason I came here, inside human space, to your station, is that I was ordered to. I have no desire to deal with anyone of your species. But if you want proof that Jeremy isn't a prisoner, I can provide it." He looked at the controls in front of him. "Does your com system have vid capability?" "Of course," the human replied. Gral contacted his ship. "Viper's bane, here." "Ar'ridian, Gralgiranselhelrarvnir here." He continued in English, for the benefits of the humans. "Where is Jeremy?" There was a moment of silence. "He's in the level three, front aft recreation room." The reply also came back in English. "Good. Send the video feed to my location." "Aren't you in the meeting room, with the humans?" "I am." "I'm not sure it's a good idea for them to see the feed." Gral frowned. "Just send the feed. We'll judge if it's appropriate or not." "Very well, captain." A moment later the room appeared over the table. The camera was at a high angle so all they could really see was Jeremy's naked back and legs. It took a moment for Gral to realize that he had a set of gray furry legs on his shoulder and that he was thrusting, rather energetically. He tilted his head, trying to figure out who Jeremy was with. Was that Toom? "Oh dear Gods," the kelsirian ambassador said, "please turn this off." Gral cut the feed, surprised, but pleased that Jeremy had decided to confront Toom. "See," the human said, "even your ambassador can't stand watching this kind of abomination." "You misunderstand the reason for my request," the ambassador said, fanning himself. "At my age, being surprised by such an exciting scene isn't good for my heart." "What? You can't honestly tell me that you approve of such depraved behavior." "Please, calm yourself senator," the ambassador said, "you know very well that my people finds nothing offensive with males having sex together." "Look," Gral interrupted, "why am I here? Are you just looking to insult me, and my people, or is there an actual reason I was ordered to come here." The human sat down and took a moment to compose himself. "You are here to respond to accusation of kidnapping, as well as charged of corrupting a human citizen." "Again? We already dealt with that. Why didn't you just go over the logs of that meeting?" "The accusations have been laid by mister Krommer's father." The human who had made the earlier outburst stood. "What did you do to my son? He was a perfectly normal and healthy boy before you got your ugly paws on him!" Gral stood. "You call being forced to receive mental reprogramming, reinforced by subliminals normal? What kind of father lets something like that be done to his child?" "The kind that cares about his well being. There was something wrong with him, so they fixed him?" "There is nothing wrong with him!" The human sat down under the force of Gral's voice. "Perhaps, we should have a recess," the ambassador said, in the ensuing silence. "To let the tempers calm. How about we reconvene tomorrow morning?" everyone agreed. "Captain," he called after him, before Gral could leave. "Please have you mate here with you tomorrow. I promise you that he will be safe." Gral reluctantly promised. "Good, and now I need to find one of my mates to work off the excitement your mate has generated in me." * * * * * Gral's personal com informed him he had a message as soon as he entered the ship. "Captain," the voice was Barniah, the head of security, "You're going to want to come to cargo bay two, when you have a chance." Gral thought about it, he had planned to head to the recreation room and join Jeremy, but she wouldn't have bothered with the message if it wasn't important. "I'm on my way," he sent back to her. * * * * * What she wanted him to see was obvious the moment he entered. Six humans, in what he judge to be military EVA suit, guarded by six of her security. To the side he saw helmets, and oxy tanks, in the same black as the human's suits. "What are they doing here?" he asked her. "We caught them in the decompression access for the bay." "They got in?" Gral stared at her, surprised. "How did the Gods let that happen?" She shook her head. "They didn't. We let them in," she continued, before Gral could say anything. "I let them try to force the door while I put people in position, then opened it for them. They piled up in the chamber, closed the door behind them, and found themselves facing rifles. They aren't as stupid as the reports led me to think. They surrendered." Gral let out a breath in relief. If humans had been able to force their way into his ship he would have to rethink how much of a threat they were. "Why aren't they in the brig already?" "I figured that you might want to space them. It's quicker to just wait for you and march them back to the chamber." "As tempting as that is," he said, after looking the humans over, "I don't want to provoke the human government. Strip them and throw them in the brig. I'll talk with the ambassador on station for the best way to deal with them. Have the techs go over their equipment, just in case there's anything we can use. Post the rest on the market boards as salvage." He headed out as she gave orders to her people. * * * * * The bridge confirmed that Jeremy was still in the recreation room, and Gral found him there, on one of the beds, his naked back to him, and an arm over Toom's body. He knelt behind him, and licked the side of his neck. Jeremy bolted to a sitting position. "Growler! I didn't know you were back. This. . . . This isn't what it looks like." Gral tilted his head sideways, surprised at the panic evident on his face and by the fact he'd called him by the name Queric had introduced him with on that first meeting. He took his face in both hands to stop him from looking around, obviously looking for an escape, and kissed him. Jeremy was still panting when they broke the kiss, but the panic as gone from his face. "You have nothing to fear," Gral said, "You are free to have sex with whom ever you want, that will not stop you from being my Heart. And I did suggest you confront Toom, find out what the problem was." He nodded to his pilot, who nodded back, arms behind his head and contented smile on his face. "I see you did work things out." "Yeah, we did," Jeremy said, smiling and reddening. "All his looks were because he thought I was forcing you to me mine and mine alone. I told him we were both adults, able to decide who we had sex with, and then proceeded to show him. I hadn't really planned on it, I swear." "It' alright," Gral said, caressing his cheek, "in fact your timing was rather good. The humans reaction on seeing you two have sex was rather priceless." "You what?" Jeremy yelled. Gral caught him and forced him to remain seated. "The humans accused me of keeping you locked up. They demanded proof, so it was either provide a feed to what you were doing or let them on the ship." Jeremy was silent for a moment. "Priceless, huh?" "They were livid. Of course they then accused me of having corrupted you, of taking you from the innocent human you were to the depraved creature they saw." "Damnit! Can't they leave us alone? I'm really getting fed up with them trying to decide how I'm suppose to live my life, especially when they aren't even on the same ship as me." Toom stretched. "I'll leave you two alone, I need go clean up and get ready for my shift." He licked the back of Jeremy's neck. "I'm happy you forced the issue." He looked at Gral. "Your warrior is very energetic." He stood to leave, but Gral caught his hand and pulled him down to nuzzle his neck. "I'm glad you and Jeremy can be friends." Toom nodded and smiles. "Are you really okay with me having sex with him?" Jeremy asked once they were alone. "Of course. I told you that, a long time ago." "I thought you said that because you thought that's what I wanted to hear." Gral shook his head. "You need to remember that for us, sex is about pleasure and procreation, not about our Heart. You are free to have sex with whom ever you want." "I guess I still have some human attitude ingrained in me." "I don't want you to force yourself to, but if you want to have sex with anyone on the ship you are comfortable with, know that I will accept it." Jeremy nodded. "So long as you do to. Toom has missed you a lot." "I'll make sure to spend some time with him, but right now I am going to have sex with you." He pushed Jeremy back on the bed and climbed over him. * * * * * "You have got to be kidding me!" Jeremy was pacing back an forth in front of the naked humans behind the force field. They were all working very had at not looking to one another, and covering their crotch with they hands. "What the fuck are you doing here? No, don't answer that. I know why your here. You were suppose to capture me, weren't you?" None of them said anything. Jeremy screamed in anger and stormed out. Gral caught him as he left the brig. "Let go of me. I'm going to go tell those assholes what I think of this." "Not right now. The meeting is in the morning." "Why did you tell me about them if you didn't want me to go claw them a new asshole?" "Because I didn't want you to be surprised when I bring them to the meeting tomorrow. But I need you to be calm." Jeremy looked at him, and nodded, but Gral could see the anger behind his eyes. "I swear to you," Jeremy said, "that this is the last time they ever do something like this." He took a few breath. "I'll be okay. I just need to go do something to calm myself down. I'll see you later." Gral nodded and let him go. * * * * * "How are you feeling?" Gral asked. "I'm ready to deal with them once and for all." Jeremy flexed his fingers and the claws in his gloves extended. Gral smiled and looked his little warrior over as they walked toward the meeting chamber. He looked good in his uniform. A none-armored version of Alpha's assault uniform. His was dark green pants and shirt with a tan jacket over it. Gral wore a similar one, but in brown that matched his fur and a white jacket. Behind them six others were escorting them, the same six as when they rescued Jeremy that first time. Staying behind was another group, guarding the humans, dressed in prisoner's gray. They would wait for the signal before coming to the chamber. They entered the chamber, and all heads turned their way. The humans' impatience was visible on their face. Gral had waited until the bridge let him know he had been called to the meeting, before leaving the ship. They'd kept him waiting the last two times, this one they could be the ones waiting. Their escort stopped ten paces before the table, but remained standing. Gral sat as he reached the table, while Jeremy looked everyone over, his gaze stopping for a moment over his father before continuing. "Mister Krommer," the human representative started. "Shut up," Jeremy said, continuing to look around the table. "Mister Krommer, I won't be . . . ." "I said shut the fuck up." "Jeremy!" his father said, standing. "Don't speak to him that way." "Shut up and sit down, dad." "Don't you dare use that tone on me, young man. I'm your father, you are going to respect me." "Why the fuck would I respect you? You let these bastards torture me." "You were sick, they treated you." "I wasn't sick," Jeremy growled. "Now, sit the fuck down!" His father sat down, stunned. "This is going to be quick, because I don't give a fuck about what you want. I am here to tell you that as of right now, I'm renouncing my human citizenship. I'm kelsirian now." "You can't do that!" the human representative said. "Actually, I can. I spent all of last night going over federation rules regarding changing citizenship. So long as I can find someone else to take me as their citizen, I can renounce the previous one." "And what makes you think they are going to take you? Just because you fornicate with this captain?" "Actually," the ambassador said, before Jeremy got to let his anger loose on that human, "Jeremy has been a kelsirian citizen since he became Gralgiranselhelrarvnir's mate. So he doesn't have to ask." Gral sent the signal to the other group. "So you need to remember," he said, "that from this point forward, if you attack Jeremy, you're not repatriating one of your citizen, you're kidnapping a kelsirian, and we will have to respond appropriately." The group with the prisoner entered the room, and the few people in the audience gasped. "What is the meaning of this?" the representative said. "I though you'd want your warriors back. I'm keeping their equipment, to make up for the trouble they caused." The humans quickly talked among each others, and with the taouling among them. "I have no idea what you are talking about." The representative said, finally. "You mean, these aren't your warriors? Sent to break into my ship?" "No." Gral turned to watch the prisoner's reactions. They did their best, but he could read the surprise on their face. "Do you know who sent them?" "No." Gral leaned back in the chair. He hadn't expected that. "Ambassador. Their crimes are on my ship, which is kelsirian space. I have reports by the security forces who captured them, supported by video. Breaking into a military ship his punishable by fifteen years on a penal colony. If the humans will not take them, I have no choice." Gral saw the glare the representative was giving in the direction of the prisoners, and he turned again. A couple of them looked like they wanted to say something. "Do you have anything to say?" Gral asked them, but they shook their head. "Senator," the ambassador said, "the colonies are no place for your people. I ask that you reconsider, and take ownership of them." "No. To do that would be to admit to having attacked a kelsirian military vessel, and we would never do that." "Very well. Captain, I don't have a brig here, so you'll have to transport them to the nearest federation station yourself. I'll make sure everything is in order for their transport to a colony from there." Gral nodded and they left.
  9. Chapter 24

    I errr, make no promises?
  10. Chapter 23

    Deep trauma don't get resolve quickly
  11. Chapter 22

    thank you
  12. Chapter 21

    Well, hopefully I setup the humans as the bad guys early on enough that this didn't come as too much of a surprise
  13. Chapter 24

    "How is he doing?" Gral asked. "Physically, he's healthy," Gariel, the head medic said, looking over the information on the datapad she was holding. "What ever they did to him, it didn't cause any physical damage." "What did they do to him?" "I don't know for certain, other than it affected him on a mental level." She pulled up an image of Jeremy's brain. "As you can see, he is extremely stressed, even while being unconscious. From what I'm seeing, I can tell you that he is afraid, but I can't tell you why. I recommend that a mentalist see to him, other than that, if the techs can work out what was done to him, we might be able to come up with a treatment. Other wise all we can do is hope that you rescued him before there was any permanent effects." "Thank you, Gariel." She put a hand on his arm. "Don't worry, he will get better." Gral wanted to nod, to agree with her, but she hadn't seen the fear in his little warrior. He had been terrified of him. "I'll go see what the techs have found out." * * * * * Gral looked at the pieces spread over the work table. "Have you figured out what they did to him?" He asked Thuruk. "They injected nightmares directly into his mind using this." He waved at the parts. "The work that went into building this is impressive, disconcerting, and terrifying. I can't imagine how they tested it to make sure it would do what they wanted it, and nothing else." He looked up. "Are we really going to let the people who built this into the federation?" "I can only hope the Gods will work against them. At least we aren't supporting them anymore. I can't see who in their right mind would support them either." Gral leaned back against the wall. "Do you know why I can't get close to him, while Saul was able to pick him up?" "They made you the center of his nightmares. I think they were trying to turn him against all of us, but because of how close he was to you, they wanted to make certain you would never be together." "Did they succeed?" he asked weakly. "Will I ever be able to hold him again?" "I don't know. They had him for hours, but not for as long as they wanted. The program they were running had hours to go before it concluded, so that's in Jeremy's favor, but I have no way to know how advanced it was on the part that dealt with you. I wasn't as gentle as I should have been when I took the processing center out of their machine. It was all I could do not to smash it." "I understand," Gral said. "I don't blame you, I blame them. I want to go back there and rip their heads off. Thank you for stopping me from killing them." "Just following your orders," Thuruk smiled, but it didn't hold. "How hard do you think they'll come down on us?" Gral shrugged. "There's no way to know. Jeremy's position on the crew and as my Heart is established, and no one's argued against him." "Would anyone contest it?" "I have enemies. If they can find a way to use that against me, they will. Gods, I hate politics." He headed to the door. "Keep working on it, send anything you find out to Gariel." * * * * * Jeremy walked through the corridor, greeting those he knew, and nodding to anyone he wasn't familiar with yet. He'd made this walk often over the last six month, and daily over the last two. Getting back on his feet after what had been done to him, hadn't taken long. Being able to move about among the kelsirians, let alone work with them took longer. It had been a month before he stopped looking for the exit each time there was more than two of them in the room with him. Another two before he didn't have to force himself not to jerk away each time one of them touched him, and another one to stop jumping each time someone he hadn't noticed appeared in his field of vision. Now, he was working on what he considered his last real obstacle. This time the shaking didn't start until he was standing in front of the door. He reached for the bell, and his stomach lurched. He pulled away and sighed, he'd try again tomorrow. He turned and headed for his quarters to get ready for work. He stopped when he saw who was buzzing his door. "Ambassador Querik?" The older kelsirian turned and looked at him. "Jeremy, it's so good to see you again, but it's just Querik. I'm not an ambassador for the time being." "What happened?" "Nothing, I just decided to take some time to focus on my family. With being posted on varying stations through the federation, I hardly got to see my mates." "You have more than one? Couldn't they go with you?" "Yes, two females and one male. If they weren't busy with their own careers they could, but they are successful in their on rights back home, so I decided to take a break and look after them for a while. I'm on my way home, actually, and I through I'd travel with you, since you're heading in that direction too." "I didn't know we were head to Kelser, I've been spending most of my time in engineering." "How are you adapting to being on the ship?" Jeremy eyes Querik. "I've been here for over two years. I'm pretty comfortable." "I'm glad to hear it. I worried that you'd miss your people." "I am with my people." "I'm glad you feel that way. I know the crew thinks of you as one of them." "Why are you really here?" "I'm here because I'm heading home, I swear." Jeremy eyed him again, obviously not quite believing him. "Since I haven't seen you since you first joined the crew, why don't you show me your favorite place on the ship?" "My favorite place?" "Yes, surely you have one, some place where you like to go to relax, where you don't have to concern yourself with what is going on outside." "I, I guess I do." "Show me." Jeremy took Querik to engineering. "This is your favorite place?" "Well, one of them, it's pretty high on the list. I'm comfortable here, I'm in my environment." "You have list?" "Yeah." "Why don't you show me another place on that list?" Jeremy took him to the mess hall, and then a few of the recreation rooms he liked going to, the one with the movies, the one with the games and the quiet one. All the while knowing that he wasn't doing what Querik had asked of him. Querik wanted to know what his favorite place was, not those close to the top of the list. He took a breathe to calm himself and headed across the ship. Querik followed him silently, until they stood in front of a door. Jeremy tried to reach for the buzzer twice. "What's here?" Querik asked. "You wanted to know where my favorite place was." He reached for the buzzer and pressed it. "Enter," the voice on the other side said, and the door opened. Jeremy started sweating on seeing Gral behind his desk. He wanted to run away, a voice at the back of his mind saying that this was the monster who had hurt him and stolen him from his family. He took a step forward. Gral looked up and stood on seeing who was in the doorway. "Jeremy? Are you okay?" He stepped around the desk and took a step toward him, but stopped. The voice was louder now. 'He's coming to hurt you. Run, run away.' Jeremy closed the distance between them and wrapped his arms around Gral, surprising him. The voice told him to move away, that he wasn't safe here. He only held on tighter. Gral gently wrapped his arms around him "This, this is my favorite place on the ship," Jeremy whispered. "Welcome back, my little warrior." "I'm sorry it took me so long, and I don't know if I'll be able to do more than this." "It's alright. If this is all I get, I'll be alive."
  14. Chapter 23

    Jeremy stood in the middle of the large room. It was featureless, except for the four mats on the floor, probably six meters on each sides, it was basically empty. He looked around again, he could see people walked by through the two doorways, but no one was paying him any attention. He wasn't sure what happened here, and if not for the message he received, telling him to come here, he didn't think he'd ever come here. "Hello Jeremy," someone said, startling him, and making him move away. It took him a moment to take hold of himself again. "I, I, I'm sorry, I didn't see you there," Jeremy stammered. She looked at him, tilting her head. "I'm Amigerlianfernel, I command gamma squad, and I am also a combat trainer." Jeremy nodded, his breathing slowly. "Okay, why did you want to see me?" She was a little shorter than him, with silver fur, spotted with black. "I'm not the one who requested this session. The captain did." She moved closer to Jeremy, and he found himself taking a step back. "I will not hurt you. Now that you are starting to feel more comfortable around us again, he has asked me to train you. It's been three months since your abduction, correct?" "A little more than that." She nodded. "Please come closer." "Look, I don't really need to learn how to fight. I'll just stay on the ship form now on." She motioned for him to come closer. After a moment of hesitation, he did. "You can not spend the rest of your life on the ship. Please show me your hand." Jeremy raised a hand to her. She took it and turned it over, examining it, and his fingers. "Since you don't have claws, I'll start by teaching you close fists techniques, until we can find something to correct this. have you even been in a fight?" Jeremy had to think back rather far. "When I was a kid, I think. I've never been one to look for fights." "That's good. A Hunter doesn't want to fight, but it's his duty to stand between the threat and the innocent." "I thought hunters were the name of a military unit." She looked at him. "Not here. The Hunters on the ship follow the ancient ways. For us, it is a way of life. It means I well never let someone be harmed. I will give my life to protect my people." "Isn't that a little extreme?" She shook her head. "The Hunter's creed is this : 'We are Hunters. We die so our people live.'" "I don't know if that's for me," Jeremy said. She smiled at him. "You're not being asked to become a Hunter. It isn't something anyone can be forced to be. Your mate wants you to be able to defend yourself should humans try to kidnap you again." Jeremy nodded, it wasn't an unreasonable request. He had no plans on dealing with humans again, but he couldn't know what was going to happen. He took a deep breath. "Okay, how are we going to do this?"
  15. Chapter 22

    Jeremy cautiously walked through the corridor. They'd told him it would be empty, but he couldn't get himself to trust them. He kept expecting to have one of them jump at him at every intersection. Walking up had been to go from one nightmare, to another; A sleeping one, to a waking one. As soon as he'd started panicking they left him alone. Once he'd calmed down, one of them entered the room, but stayed by the door. She was female, in charge of th medical bay. He'd met her before, but he couldn't remember her name. "How are you feeling?" she asked. He glared at her. "How do you think I feel? I want to get out of here. I want to go back to Earth. It's driving me insane! I know what they did to me, and I still want to go back." "Do you remember what was done to you on the station?" He shook his head. "I just remember being forced into a chair, then there's pain, hate, anger." "We are going to help you." She took a step toward him. "Stay away!" he tried to push himself tighter against the wall. "I'm a friend," she soothed. "I know that! But you're terrifying me!" She left the room then. The rest of the communications were done over com. Eventually they'd told him they couldn't keep him here, he needed to go back to his quarters. He couldn't go back there, that's where the monster was waiting for him. They'd made arrangement for new quarters, in one of the vacant habitation sectors. A ship like this was never at full occupancy, unless it was war time. Even if everyone were to bring their families with them, there would still be empty quarters. As it was, more than half the people on board either lived alone, or only with partners. That left a lot of empty quarters. As they had promised, the way to his quarters had been free of people, and he'd slowly made his way there. Once there he quickly entered, and closed the door behind him, only then able to breath again. He leaned back against the door, and slowly slumped to the floor, crying. He wanted Gral to hold him, to comfort him, but Gral was the monster out to hurt him. He screamed, holding his head. He couldn't reconciled both thoughts. They had done something to his mind, twisted it to the point where he didn't know if he could trust anything he thought. He couldn't even summon the box to help him. When he tried, he felt it, just out of reach, but it wouldn't appear. After a time, his mind calmed down, out of sheer exhaustion. He stayed there, catching his breath, then stood. He would get over this, somehow. The first step was to settle in. On the desk were a few piece of clothing, and two large sacs. He had no idea what they were, until he went closer to them, and the aroma reached him. The rich scent calmed him. There was a datapad on the top sac. He took it and turned it on. "I know this isn't going to make up for what was done to you, but hopefully, it will help sooth you. Xenial." Jeremy put his face against the sac and breathed in deeply. Coffee. Xenial had finally be able to find him coffee. He had to make himself a cup, right now. He looked around. These quarters had a cooking area, since he wouldn't be able to go to the mess to eat, but it hadn't been supplied yet. He hadn't had coffee in years now, and yet he could feel the craving coming back. He really needed a cup of coffee. He looked at the door. He'd have to brave the outside to get what he needed. He couldn't move, his craving warring with is fear. Then he realized he didn't have to go outside. He took the pad, wrote up the list of what he needed, and sent it to Xenial. Then he put away the clothing and sat down to wait. He jumped when the door buzzed. He went to it, and his hand hovered over the unlock button. "Who's there!" he yelled, knowing sound didn't carry well through the door. "It's Xenial," came the muffled reply. "I have the things you asked for. Jeremy looked at the button again, trying to decide, just how badly he needed them. His hand fell away, and he rested his head against the door. "Can you put them down! And leave!" he tried to catch his breath. "Please!" He was crying again. "Okay," Xenial said, and then added. "We're here for you Jeremy. I'm leaving now." Jeremy hated this. He slammed his fist against the door, over and over. They were his friend. They were the ones who had taken him, accepted him, even with his differences. They hadn't questioned his motives, they hadn't regarded him with suspicions, they had accepted him. Humans were monsters for making him afraid of his family. He waited for a full five minutes before opening the door. He had to glance on each side, before he could step out to take the box, and bring it in. He put it on the table, and pickup up the pad. "I'm sorry," he sent. "We will wait for you," came the reply. Jeremy fought the tears, He wasn't going to cry again, he promised himself. Never again would humans make him cry. He took a moment to compose himself, and then set about making the first coffee of his new life.

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