The thing with the security personnel and shuttles being yanked from the planet and not warning me about that beforehand was not cool on Daquan’s part. Fine, given what had happened to the two teams sent before me, I hadn’t really expected a lot of extra safety coming my way from the staff on the asteroid. But a few more eyes on the lookout for trouble was a good thing in my opinion, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who would’ve appreciated that. We weren’t going to have that now though, and judging from the super brief look of surprise on Warrick’s face, he hadn’t known about the security staff and shuttles getting pulled either.
That made me wary as fuck. I could see not telling me about the exiting of the regular staff and guards as security was not the reason I’d been hired. Whether or not there was security on the asteroid shouldn’t concern me since security wasn’t within the scope of my work. That was Warrick’s mission detail. However, not telling the guy responsible for my safety as well as his own that his job just got a lot harder due to a total lack of back-up had more than a little unpleasant smell to it.
It could fairly be said that I was a tiny bit paranoid. I liked to remind people that you weren’t paranoid if people really were out to get you. I didn’t think somebody was out to get me specifically in this instance, but something about this job was starting to make the hairs on my tail stand up. Caution was definitely going to be my watch-word while on the asteroid, and it wasn’t just because I was going to the super-max prison in this particular corner of the solar system.
Vague warning bells aside, Warrick was an even better looking masterpiece of organic engineering than his picture presented. The photo that was in the file hadn’t done him justice at all, and I’d thought that the photo was pretty damn good at the time. His eyes were a gorgeous soft, dark grey, and damned if they didn’t glint with what may have been tiny bits of gold metal in them. I loved the colour of his hair. Purple was my favourite colour after all. The colour calibration of the datapad I’d originally viewed his photo on was apparently a bit off. Or the photo had been one of those shitty government photos that always looked like crap. Warrick’s hair was still an awesome shade of purple, but it was a much deeper, richer purple with almost black-looking lowlights. I wondered if it was natural. That would be wicked cool. The Laiokian Teichle had naturally purple hair, so Warrick’s hair colour could very well be what he’d been born with.
Warrick was positively drool-worthy, and I was having a hell of a time keeping my dick to only a semi-hard state and my mind out of his awesomely engineered chassis. The upcoming shuttle ride to the asteroid was three hours from the jump-off point where we were currently, and a three-hour raging boner was not something I wanted to endure. I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be pitching a giant tent in my pants. It would just be uncomfortable and kinda frustrating, and I could totally do without that.
I couldn’t really see a way around my dick o’steel for Warrick either. I found him incredibly arousing, and he wasn’t even doing anything even remotely enticing. Unless I counted him simply breathing as enticing. I was starting to think my dick did find that erotic. I was willing to bet that if I went to the bathroom and jerked off like crazy, within the hour I’d be hard for him again. That was both cool and irritating at the same time. I’d absolutely be more than ready to jump him the second he showed even a hint of wanting that. But Awh’anise thoughts and behaviour where sex was concerned—namely doing whoever, whenever, and wherever as long as both parties wanted it—were definitely not universal constants.
I didn’t think my desire would magically ease off at the end of the shuttle ride either because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it wouldn’t. Not by a long shot. I’d just have more to distract me from thinking about getting my cock into him or getting his into me once we were on the asteroid and I was working on the security breach. I knew myself enough to know that once I was working on code somebody would need to damn near set my tail on fire before I’d surface only long enough to ask who was bar-b-cueing and if someone could bring me a plate when it was ready.
I was damn sure I’d be moving hella fast for Warrick if I were to proposition him fifteen minutes into the shuttle ride, but I sure as fuck wanted to. He still wasn’t doing anything that could remotely be called sexy or flirting. He was just standing there beside the pompous dick that was the director while the director blabbed on and on about the importance of the mission. Fine, the scent of arousal coming from Warrick was pushing all my buttons mega-hard and making me more aroused by the second, but I doubted he knew his body was doing it, and there wasn’t anything to be done about that sort of auto-response. It was a damn shame that so many alien cultures didn’t share the same views on sex that us Awh’anise did. It would make things so much easier and pleasurable for everybody if people were honest and upfront about wanting to fuck.
I could easily smell Warrick’s low-level arousal over all the other scents in the room, and it was driving me crazy in a good way. If he were Awh’anise, I’d have been all over him seconds after I realized I was the cause of his lust, and we’d have fucked right then and there. But he wasn’t Awh’anise, and that would probably be shocking and possibly even an illegal act to the people in front of me, so I restrained myself, as difficult as that was. Stars but I wanted to tackle him and lick him all over before getting down to the really fun part of dick meeting ass. I wasn’t even picky about whose dick met whose ass as long as it happened in the next ten minutes.
Fine, I couldn’t really see a bulge at his crotch that said he had a Mr. Happy stashed away in his chassis, but I’d read a few anecdotal notes in reports that were wonderfully explicit about the “fun package” that client’s had requested as part of the options when hiring a Daquan cyborg. To say the clients’ had been pleased with the performance was a bit of an understatement. While it was true I wasn’t a client and I hadn’t been asked a damn thing about my preferences for what Warrick was kitted out with, Daquan had done a ton of research on me and Awh’anise in general and would know about our love for sex and my preference for male partners. It stood to reason in my mind that they’d give Warrick something to meet those needs on this mission if we happened to click sexually. He was pressing my buttons so fucking hard that I thought they were going to get stuck permanently in the overdrive position. I was cool with that.
I choked back the soft growl that tried to leave my throat at the mental image of wrestling around with Warrick, our bodies rubbing and twisting against each other sensuously as we struggled for dominance. My cock finally won the battle over my brain at the erotic images combined with the scent of Warrick’s arousal, and I was now fully aroused, harder than stone, and ready for immediate action.
It was a damn good thing us Awh’anise didn’t get all embarrassed over popping wood in front of others because there was definitely no mistaking the fact that I was wickedly aroused. I had an awesome tent happening in my pants because of Warrick. I smirked a little at the blush on the female technician’s face and the fact that she couldn’t seem to keep her eyes off my crotch. I wasn’t the biggest dude in the cock department, but I’d been gifted with a nice package. With the typically loose style of pants us Awh’anise favoured, it was dead easy to see I was very happy about someone in the room.
I didn’t get aroused by females, but I could certainly appreciate her appreciating my cock. The male tech was making it a point not to look at me, and the director seemed oblivious as he droned on and on. Warrick’s face didn’t give anything away, but I did catch his quick glance at my crotch, and there was a nice jump in the scent of arousal coming from him after he saw what could be his if he wanted it. Sweet.
I’d never had such a visceral reaction to a person before. It wasn’t just because I was standing close to my idea of organic/mechanical perfection either. After seeing Warrick in person, I was absolutely positive that I wouldn’t have the same reaction to another cyborg. I didn’t have anything definitive to back that up except for a really strong gut feeling. I rarely ignored gut feelings.
Sure, I was curious about sex with a cyborg. Who wouldn’t be? But this strong, almost overriding need to have Warrick was different and more complex than just lusting after a cyborg. It was him specifically that I wanted. I’d even dreamed of sex with him without the cyborg parts. That would never happen, but it told me that there was more to my wanting him than just the kink of sex with a cyborg at play. What that more was, I had no idea, but I wanted to explore that. Hopefully, Warrick would be cool with that idea.
The little side trip Moswen had taken Warrick on was eating at my curiosity. I loved Moswen dearly, but there was a reason our entire extended family called him a trouble magnet. To be fair, Moswen didn’t actively court disaster. It just seemed to follow him around and tended to rub off on those close to him. In the name of full disclosure, what often seemed to be disaster of epic proportions at first usually ended up working out for the best in the end. It was just getting from the disaster to the good ending that was hard as fuck. Tyh once told me that the Fire Snakes—creatures of immense power and knowledge that were responsible for shoving us several rungs up the evolutionary ladder—called it Moswen’s chaos effect. Tyh said that chaos effect even prevented the Fire Snakes from clearly seeing the future around Moswen, which was apparently a huge deal to the Fire Snakes. They said they weren’t gods, but from everything I’d heard, they were close enough to not really matter about some minor technicality in the wording.
“Warrick will pilot the shuttle to the asteroid. Everything you requested has been loaded onboard. If there is anything else you think you’ll need, tell us now as once you leave here, you won’t be able to get any further supplies excepting what you may be able to scavenge from around the prison buildings. I would advise against trying that though given the hostile and frequently violent nature of the prisoners there,” the director said.
“The prisoners have free run of the facility barring a few, fortified areas like the reactor that powers the facility, the shuttle landing bays, the secure area where the computers are located, and the food and water storage depot. There are no dedicated quarters for personnel as they are changed out at the end of each shift. Staff leave by shuttle at the end of their shift and go to a derelict ship in permanent orbit around the asteroid where they eat, relax, and sleep before returning to the surface the next day for their shift. The ship will not be available for your use as sleeping quarters because of the ongoing issues on the asteroid. However, your shuttle has been supplied with blankets, pillows, and expandable foam sleeping pads for use in the computer building. Once you lock the door behind you, either the security code or explosives are required to open the door. The security codes were recently changed when the staff was removed from the surface, but it would likely be in your best interests to change them yet again when you arrive just as another layer of security.”
I hadn’t been expecting a five-star hotel room, but it kinda sucked to find out that there wouldn’t even be a half-star room available on this job. I wasn’t a stranger to camping and actually enjoyed it for the most part. But camping in the woods was worlds different from sleeping indoors on some shitty sleeping pads. At least, it sounded like we’d be safe to fall asleep in the computer building. I could probably get more details about just how safe we’d really be in the computer room from Warrick. I liked knowing what odds were stacked against me from the start.
“Long as everything I asked for is loaded up, then we’re good to go,” I said. “If I’ve forgotten anything, well, I’ll need to figure something out or cobble something together from supplies I have or whatever I can find. I’m good at thinking outside of the box.”
“We know that the job we’re asking you to do isn’t the easiest task and that you’re well aware of the need to have the situation resolved as soon as possible. With that in mind, what sort of timeframe do you anticipate to plug the breach and prevent others from happening?” The director asked.
I shrugged. “Realistically? To fix everything and stop future breaches? Minimum of two weeks if I was working with a dedicated team of at least four other senior programmers. With just me, and maybe the odd hand Warrick can give me, working my tail off, a month at the soonest and that’s being incredibly optimistic.”
The director started to sputter about that timeframe not being good enough. I cut him off, holding up my hand to stop the flow of words before he could really get himself wound up.
“I know you don’t have that kind of time. I read the report. Fixing everything and stopping future breaches isn’t what I’m going to do when we get there. I don’t have the luxury of either time or personnel to do that, which I’m sure you’re aware of. I’m freaking amazing and can make code dance to any damn tune I want. But I’m not a miracle worker, and these things take time, which I know you know.
“What I am going to do is plug the security holes I can find and make it extremely difficult for the people currently trying to break the system to do so, at least for a little while. That’ll buy time for your people here to keep working on the problem of permanently closing the holes in your security protocols. I will be sending regular updates of what I’m doing via a secure channel so your programmers can keep working the problem on this end. I anticipate ten to fourteen standard days to do that. Obviously faster is better, and I’ll do my best to make that happen,” I said.
“That’s not what we’re hiring you to do,” the director said with a scowl on his face. “We’re paying you exceedingly well to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again.”
I raised an eyebrow at that. That was not what had been spelled out in the contract I signed. I was very careful about what I signed and what my obligations were to hold up my end of the deal. I’d have never signed a damn thing if that had been what was demanded in the contract with the urgency and shortness of time available to get it done. There would’ve been no way for me to fulfill my end of the deal, and I wasn’t so keen on some of the penalties outlined for not doing what I was being contracted to do. Apparently, the director hadn’t read the contract as carefully as I had. Or maybe he was an idiot in addition to a pompous dick.
“Actually, the contract we both signed states that you’re hiring me to stop the current security breach at the penal facility on Demmron. That’s it. I had someone who’s excellent with all that legal double-talk read it over for me before I signed it, and there’s nothing in the wording that says I need to do anything to prevent further security breaches. But, I don’t believe in doing a half-assed job, so I’m going to go that extra step and make it very hard for the ones hacking your system and getting access they shouldn’t from getting that access again.”
The director scowled fiercely, but I wasn’t phased in the slightest. I’d been on the receiving end of scarier looks from way scarier people. My sho being one of those people and someone that could fucking terrify me under the right circumstances. The director wasn’t even close to being intimidating. I returned his stare with one of my own and waited for him to realize that he wasn’t going to be able to make me agree to something I hadn’t signed a contract for. He grumbled after only a few minutes and huffed out an impatient breath.
Director zero, Doctor Huyana-Dukker one.
“You will have no weapons on the asteroid. The inmates have more than enough creativity coming up with ways to kill using common items without introducing actual weapons. Warrick has clearance to shoot to kill any inmate he perceives as a threat to either of you, and we’re authorizing you, Doctor, to use deadly force if necessary to defend yourself. We know that you’ve received combat training during your time in the Awh’anise military and that your people, in general, are skilled fighters. The little fight you had with Shal-hazal Spirit Moswen when you first arrived was an excellent example of those skills. However, it would be in your best interests to leave the combat to Warrick as that is part of his mission parameters.”
“Yeah, I read that about the no weapons thing. I’m not exactly thrilled about it, but I understand the why of it. You said Warrick has clearance to shoot to kill. Does that mean he’s got some armament? You’re not worried about that falling into some less than desirable hands?” I asked curiously.
It didn’t seem fair that Warrick got some kind of weapon and I didn’t. They knew I had combat training, and while us Awh’anise did favour hand-to-hand combat for the pure joy of feeling a fist connect with a face and the crunching of breaking bone, we did know how to use all kinds of nifty and deadly weapons. Being violent and excellent killing machines was kind of our thing. I wasn’t a crack shot or a sniper by any stretch of the imagination, but I sure as hell would hit what I was aiming at most of the time as long as my target wasn’t too far away. A scope sure as shit helped, too, since I didn’t have the best eyesight once distance got involved in the story. Or when bright light entered the picture. I didn’t do so shit-hot then in general never mind when trying to pop off some shots. My eyes were more sensitive to light than the average Awh’anise, but it usually wasn’t much of a problem.
Not that I planned to be landing my ass on a max security asteroid with nothing to back me up if it came down to crunch time. I had a lovely little pair of Awh’anise weapons strapped to each thigh. At a casual glance, they looked like nothing more than twelve inch-long sticks. Flick your wrist when you whip them out, then you suddenly had thirty-six inches worth of high-tensile strength steel ready to do some skull bashing. They also had cool, six inch long curved spikes that popped out beyond the grip that could be used to slash or deflect blows from somebody similarly armed. No, they wouldn’t help me stop a bullet or laser blast, but where I was going, there was only a slim chance of those types of weapons being fired at me. I hoped.
“Warrick’s laser pistols are keyed genetically to him. Anyone who picks one up won’t be able to make it fire. Tampering with the pistols to try to override that will cause them to detonate. The explosion isn’t large, but it will typically remove the hands and possibly the arms up to the elbows with the force of the blast. The pistols are stored within the thighs of Warrick’s chassis, and anyone who attempts to break those open won’t be able to do it without heavy power tools. If Warrick is compromised to the point where someone is able to try to pry open the gun compartments, getting the guns out will be, quite literally, the last thing the person will be thinking of,” the director said in a confident voice.
I raised a brow at that. “Really? You sound awfully sure of that.”
“There is a failsafe installed in Warrick’s chassis. Should he be compromised with no potential way out, he’s been ordered to engage his failsafe. Should he die, the failsafe triggers automatically. I’d highly advise getting as far away as possible from Warrick at that point as the failsafe will level an area with a radius of approximately two hundred feet. You’ll have sixty seconds to escape once his sensors record the stopping of his organic components. It will be unfortunate to lose his chassis, but it’s the best way to ensure that our technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands,” the director said, his tone implying that he’d be more upset at losing the tech than Warrick himself.
Well, shit. That sucked big time. I looked at Warrick, but he didn’t give away a damn thing from his expression. That didn’t mean he was unaffected by the idea of being a walking bomb just waiting for the right time to go off. He was probably just really good at hiding what had to be a nauseating possibility.
It also pissed me off that the director seemed to be more bothered by the idea of losing the tech than Warrick. He didn’t seem to care if Warrick knew that either. From everything I’d been able to find out about the Daquan cyborgs, which admittedly wasn’t a lot, they were people and not simply a soulless machine. There were quite a few anecdotal notes in files that mentioned personal quirks and behaviours that pointed to the Daquan cyborgs being a whole lot more organic than other cyborgs produced around the universe.
“And on that cheery note, I’d say it’s time for us to get going. The sooner we leave, the sooner we arrive, and I get working on your little issue,” I said.
That was an entirely true statement, but I also wanted to get away from the director before I punched him in the face. That was not a good way to start off a working relationship with someone who was paying you a lot of money. Even among the Awh’anise it was considered rude to punch out your new boss unless he or she threw the first punch.
“Very well. Warrick will guide you to the shuttle. If you have any questions of a technical nature that were not covered in the report you were sent, ask Warrick. He has all the most current files on the situation and is fully capable of aiding you should you need it. We expect you to have this issue dealt with in a timely manner,” The director said before nodding at Warrick and walking away.
The two others in the room scurried after the director leaving me alone with Warrick. I’d have loved to greet him as an Awh’anise, but I’d read that a lot of other species felt uncomfortable with that sort of up close and touchy-feely sort of thing as if being encroached into their personal space. As much as I wanted to touch Warrick, I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable. If I was lucky, the touching would come later and be very welcome.
“Shall we head to the shuttle, Doctor Huyana-Dukker?” Warrick asked in perfect Awh’anise as he gestured to a door opposite the one the Director and techs had gone through.
Stars, he had a great voice. Mid-level in tone with a cool touch of roughness to it. I bet he sounded amazing during sex. I wondered if he was a talker or just made guttural noises. I was good with either. The language thing had to be Moswen’s doing. It was kinda awesome that he’d done that for Warrick even if some parts of our language would be impossible for Warrick to get right since he lacked a tail. Or claws. Or fangs. There were alternate words that could be used in those instances, but some of the impact and nuance would be lost. I mentally shrugged. It wasn’t that big a deal really. I thought it was cool though that he’d speak to me in Awh’anise when he knew Common worked just fine as I’d been speaking that to the Director the whole time.
“Just Tohan is fine. I’m not a super formal kinda guy. I’m ready to go; so lead away. Moswen said he’d drop my stuff in the shuttle bay, so it should be there. Hopefully, we won’t need to hunt around for it. He said not to worry and that he’d find out what shuttle to stash it in, but chaos tends to follow him around, so it might not be exactly where it’s supposed to be. Actually, there’s a better than average chance that Moswen’s chaos effect has kicked in, and we’ll be hunting high and low for my stuff.”
“Chaos effect?” Warrick asked as I joined him at the door and followed him through it.
“Disaster follows Moswen around like some kind of demented, super loyal pet. It tends to rub off on those close to him, too, although that’s not his fault. You’ve only had the one interaction with him so you’re probably safe from his special brand of what-the-fuckery. Me, on the other hand, well, better than two decades of contact means weird shit will happen in my life. It’s just a matter of when not if and how big of a disaster in the making it is.”
“I did have a strange sense of impending doom when he grabbed me but assumed that was just a combination of surprise and confusion,” Warrick said as he escorted me into a mag-lift and hit a button marked ‘Docking’.
I groaned and leaned my head back against the wall of the mag-lift. Warrick’s brow furrowed, and he looked mildly concerned.
“Should I be worried or take extra precautions? What sort of disaster are we talking about? Is it something we can even plan against?”
“I have no idea. Honest. Nobody does. Not even Moswen. It can be epic-bad—like the kind of bad you only see in movies or read in books to make things exciting. At least at first, it’s monstrously bad like that. Generally, the end result is actually really, really good. But getting through the shitty beginning to the good ending is.... Well, epic songs have been sung for lesser things.”
“Such as? You have personal experience with this?” Warrick asked as the mag-lift stopped and the doors opened to the docking area of the space station.
Shuttles of various sizes were scattered around the large open space. Surprisingly few people were around given the size of the space station we were on. Then again, for all I knew, it could be the middle of lunch break or a shift change or whatever. As long as the shuttle we were going to be on was stocked with the stuff we needed and could get us there in one piece, I’d be happy.
“My experiences have only been second-hand. On the edges of the mega clusterfucks, thank the gods. I suppose I’m over-due for my turn in that regard. I mean, there was the thing with Effie slamming into my life, and that was definitely life-changing but not like, monumental. Effie would probably see it different but....” I said with a small sigh. “I can give you a brief run-down on those instances on the way to the asteroid if you want. It makes for a good story or collection of stories I guess is a better way to put it. You can decide for yourself your position on Moswen’s chaos effect after that. I swear to all the gods above and below that it really is a thing.”
“I’ll hold you to hearing those stories. Who’s Effie? That name wasn’t in any of the files I have,” Warrick said with a smile as he stepped from the mag-lift.
“Effie is a hy’prae that I accidentally saved over a year ago. He’s convinced I saved him on purpose, so he won’t leave me alone now. It’s cool though. Except for times like now when I have to go away for work. He’s got separation/abandonment issues and freaks the hell out when I go somewhere and he can’t come. I totally expect my place to be trashed when I get home,” I said.
“Effie is a hy’prae? Fascinating. I wouldn’t mind hearing more about that, too,” Warrick said as he walked with purpose toward a smaller-sized shuttle with official-looking markings on the side.
I followed him into the open door and looked to the rear of the shuttle. I could see a variety of boxes strapped down to the floor and assumed they were the supplies I’d asked for as well as the stuff that we’d need for our stay on the asteroid. Peeking out from behind one of the boxes I saw the end of a large duffle bag that had some clothes, toiletries, and a few personal items of mine. I knew the bag was mine as it was day-glo orange with dark purple stars and crescent moons. Everybody laughed when they saw it, but I’d never had trouble finding my bag when travelling, and nobody had ever confused it with one of their bags.
“Should I assume the orange and purple bag is yours?” Warrick asked as he gave me a look that clearly said I was out of my mind if I was to claim such an obnoxious piece of baggage.
“Yep. I’ve never lost it because of the way it looks. There is a method to my madness and apparent lack of taste.”
Warrick chuckled, shook his head, and moved to the front of the shuttle where he slid into one of the seats and strapped himself in. I took the seat next to him and buckled myself in. Warrick started flipping switches and pushing buttons as he prepared for take-off. The shuttle jolted a little at the soft thud of the door closing, followed by the hiss of it sealing shut. Engines rumbled to life before settling into a low hum that was at the very bottom of my hearing for a few minutes. Warrick spoke to somebody over the comm, and when we were given the go ahead to leave, the engine hum dropped below my range of hearing as the shuttle lifted off the deck and headed for the opening. There was a brief flicker of blue-white light across the window as the shuttle passed through the energy barrier of the pressurized docking bay and out into the nothingness of space.
As Warrick piloted the shuttle away from the station, I stayed quiet so he could concentrate on what he was doing and just watched him. He really was too fine-featured to be called handsome. He was straight-up, fucking beautiful. With the right hair style and make-up he could pass, without much effort, for a gorgeous woman. Come to think of it, most of the pictures of Daquan cyborgs featured men and women who could go either way depending on hair style and whether or not they wore make-up. The chest area did give them away though as the females did have noticeable breasts.
As I watched him fly the shuttle, I idly wondered why he had long-ish hair. He was a cyborg that was part of a military arm, and many militaries had a standard of short hair for their soldiers. His hair was probably as long as mine. It was about mid-back, maybe a touch shorter, but definitely beyond the typical military almost-shaved-head cut so many soldiers wore. I thought it was interesting that Warrick had long hair. I liked it.
While I was currently working for the Awh’anise military, I was a civilian contractor and could wear my hair any damn way I pleased. Not that long hair was forbidden in the Awh’anise military. You could wear your hair any length you wanted. If you kept your hair long, you simply took the risk of it being used to grab and hold you while someone rearranged your face for you.
After a good fifteen minutes of flight, Warrick punched some random-to-me buttons and swivelled his seat to face me.
“We’re on auto-pilot now as the flight to the asteroid is fairly straight forward with little real-time piloting skills required. I’ll pick up the controls again as we approach the asteroid and land manually. The docking bays are located along the outer edge of a central hub for the facility services. We’ll need to walk or find a power cart to get to the computer room. It’s not far to walk and would take less than five minutes. However, we do have several boxes to bring with us, and it would be expedient to make one trip if at all possible, which is why I suggest the power cart. The fewer times we leave the computer room, the lower the chance of something happening. We should give the inmates as few possible opportunities to try something against us.
“I’ve read a rather extensive file on you, but I’m unsure what, if any, information about me was provided to you. I’m not talking about my qualifications as a bodyguard, my combat skills, or my proficiencies with assorted weapons. I think it would be a good idea for us to get to know one another a little better on a more personal level. We’ll be working closely in a space slightly bigger than a typical two-bedroom apartment for possibly the next two weeks based on your time estimate for getting the job done. Experience has taught me that it’s much easier to spend that kind of constant time in a smaller space if we’re friendly with one another. If you have any questions for me, now would be a good time to ask as we have two hours and thirty-eight minutes before reaching the asteroid. I believe we can cover all the necessary ground in that time.”
Any questions for him? Hell yeah, I had questions. First and foremost being, can we please, please, please have wild sex? Like right now? And again later? And could I lick him all over? And did he like sucking cock? If yes, would he like to suck my cock? How did he feel about rimming? Did he have any kinks? Stars, my questions about just the sex we could enjoy with each other could probably fill a short novel.
I had other questions of a technical nature regarding cyborgs, but I wasn’t sure he’d actually be allowed to tell me very much about that. I understood why, proprietary secrets and all that, but I’d probably ask anyway just to see if there was anything he could tell me. I’d ask about the facility we were headed to as well since the more I knew the better. I hated to go into a situation blind if it could be avoided at all.
But the sex questions were really all I could think about at the moment. I figured it was best to get at least the main one, whether he’d sleep with me or not, out of the way as soon as possible. He said he’d read an extensive file on me. I didn’t doubt for one second that it was more than just a footnote about the high sex drive of an Awh’anise since it was such a huge factor in our lives.
“I assume the extensive file you read on me also mentioned the stupidly high sex drive my people have. It probably also mentioned my being a bit weird by Awh’anise standards in only being attracted to men since that’s never been any kind of secret. I’m also betting there was something about us being pushy and aggressive in general in there, too.”
Warrick smiled. “Yes, that was all detailed. Moswen was also good enough to give me a wealth of information on your people with regards to culture, customs, political, religious, and familial relations in addition to what appears to be your entire language both written and spoken. I’m still processing it all as the amount of data is massive, but I anticipate a complete review to be completed within the next twenty-eight to thirty-four hours dependent on the final amount of cross-referencing required to catalogue all the information. He was very thorough in providing all the data although I’m a little unclear on the how, exactly, of him doing that. I had no sensation of anything being done, and oddly enough, my cybernetic components didn’t register anything being added or deleted. He said I should ask you if I was really curious about how that happened.”
I grinned. I owed Moswen large for the data dump he’d done into Warrick’s head. It would potentially make my working with Warrick worlds easier. I was an easy-going guy, and I’d worked with a few other alien species before, but it was always a bit of a challenge to not create an incident from something that should’ve been a minor thing. From my own experiences, the aggressive, pushy, and highly sexual nature of the Awh’anise frequently led to misunderstandings on both sides of the equation.
“I can’t tell you the mechanics of how a Shal-hazal puts stuff into your head. That’s way above my pay grade if you catch my meaning. Moswen and Tyh have said that when people dream, their minds are like looking at a picture book or a movie that they can watch really, really fast. When they want to add stuff that’s basic like the Awh’anise language or stuff about our culture, they just add pages to the book or scenes to that movie. They’re not trying to be sneaky about what they’re doing. The tricky part, apparently, is adding stuff or changing things so that the dreamer never knows that was done and believes the new info is one hundred percent truth. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the best analogy I’ve heard.
“My sho is a Shal-hazal Healer class, and she says that Shal-hazal brains are different from regular Awh’anise brains. Or most brains really. Something about rapid inter-hemispherical switching not being a thing for them, and their brains are sort of stuck in the blown-wide-open position all the time. The chemical levels in a Shal-hazal brain are at what should be dangerously high, if not fatal, levels. They should be having seizures, psychotic episodes, and wildly swinging emotional states. But they’re fine, and if those chemicals drop to what are considered normal levels, that’s when the trouble starts for the Shal-hazal. Or so I’ve been told. I’m not even going to pretend to understand half of what my sho told me the one time I was dumb enough to ask how Shal-hazal could be the way they were. I’m weak as hell on the biology end of things, but I do have a better than average understanding. I was still lost and confused.”
“Fascinating. If both hemispheres of the brain are being utilized at the same time, their processing speed would be incredible. I caught a millisecond glimpse of something, I’m not sure what, when Moswen took me away for our talk. I have a high-speed processor embedded in my brain, and I still couldn’t make sense of what I saw then. Or even now having had a little time to try to review what I saw.”
“Yeah, that’s kind of the way Shal-hazal stuff in general seems to work. Super cool but fucked if you know how it’s even possible.”
Warrick chuckled at that. “There are always mysteries of the universe to be solved. I think once we solve one question, three more are revealed. In my opinion, the world would be a very boring place if we knew the answer to everything.”
“You’re probably right about that. Since you opened the door for us to play riddle me this, I have a question that is burning in my brain demanding an answer.”
“Go ahead. I’ll answer to the best of my abilities. Be forewarned though, there are some questions I’ll be unable to answer for security reasons or because the information is simply unavailable to me.”
“Fair enough, and I kinda expected that would be the case. But I’m pretty sure you can answer this one easy enough. I find you massively attractive. You could probably tell by the rock-hard boner I’ve been sporting this entire time. I’ve read things that say Daquan cyborgs can be outfitted with all kinds of sexy-fun-times options. I could smell your arousal back at the space station, and I can still smell it now. Since it’s just you and me in this shuttle and your arousal scent hasn’t gone down, I’m going to assume that it means you also find me attractive.
“We’re not shy about sex, either doing it wherever with whomever or talking about it in general. A lot of species apparently find that rude or offensive. I’m not trying to be either thing, so I’ll apologize in advance if I come off that way with what I’m about to say. I want to have sex with you. I’m not picky about who does who as long as everybody enjoys themselves. Is sex something you’d do with me? Is it even an option for you? I mean I’ve read some anecdotal things that say it’s possible for Daquan cyborgs to have sex, but I couldn’t find anything official that said it was a thing for you.”
Warrick seemed surprised for a brief moment before he smiled at me. Damn, he was super hot when he smiled like that. It was knowing and sexy with a healthy dose of anticipation. Sweet!
“I’m not offended with you being honest with me. I actually appreciate your blunt honesty. I like knowing exactly what another expects or wants from me. I’d read that the Awh’anise sense of smell and hearing were sharper than those of many species. I didn’t realize your sense of smell was that sharp. You can actually smell arousal pheromones coming from me?” Warrick asked with a mix of surprise and curiosity in his voice.
“Yeah. I can also smell fear and whether or not a female is ready to be bred. Not to belabour anything but about the sex thing, are you interested in fucking me or me fucking you? I swear I won’t be mad or offended if you say no, and I’ll never bring it up again.”
“Because you’re being very open and honest with me, I believe it’s only fair that I be just as open and honest with you. Moswen warned me that you may not like what I’m about to tell you. He admitted to what he called taking a peak into my head. He was not happy about what he saw and said that you’d probably see it the same way. Please let me say all I need to without interrupting or asking any questions.”
I did not like how that sounded. If Moswen wasn’t happy about something he saw in Warrick’s head and said I’d likely not be cool with whatever that was, too, he was probably right. Just from what we’d been talking about I assumed it was related to sex in some way. It made my gut clench to think that sex wouldn’t be a thing between us. Sure, Warrick smelled deliciously strongly of arousal, but that didn’t necessarily meant he’d act on it. He could have some sort of ethical code about not sleeping with a client. Just because I’d read stuff about other cyborgs getting their freak on with a client didn’t mean he would.
“Part of my mission parameters are to have sex with you if you asked me to. The consensus there is that it would make the mission run smoother if you had a safe outlet for your desires given the very high sexual drive of your people. Your fascination with cyborgs, attraction to your own sex, as well as preferences of general physical looks were reviewed thoroughly, and I was chosen as the best candidate, meeting the bulk of what you’d look for in a partner, out of the currently available cyborgs.
“This mission isn’t the first time that command has been included as part of my mission parameters. It’s very unlikely to be the last time either. I do find you very attractive and being attracted to a client and allowed to become intimate with him is not a frequent occurrence for me. Like you, I’m only attracted to males, however, I have programming installed that simulates an arousal for females when I’m required to service one. A variant of that program also allows for me to appear to be aroused by a male that I don’t actually feel arousal for.”
Wait, what? Ordered to sleep with me? Not the first time to be forced to sleep with someone? Programs that make Warrick fuck when that’s not what he wants? My temper started to burn, and I had to clench my jaw to keep from protesting how wrong that was. Warrick asked to say his piece without my interrupting, and I’d do that, but damn it was hard to not say how fucked up and wrong that was. And how much that whole idea pissed me off.
“To be clear, Tohan, when I saw your photos, I felt an immediate attraction that had nothing to do with programming or what I’d been ordered to do. I actually stimulated myself to the point of release after viewing your photos because I found you that arousing physically. I’ve never done that before, and there have been a few times that I’ve been attracted to other clients. Regardless of being ordered to see to your sexual needs, I’d do it because I want to not because I have to. I’m positive that if I’d been told not to engage in sexual relations with you, I’d have done it anyway because I find you very desirable. Yes, that would’ve landed me in trouble for disobeying a direct order, but unless my actions compromised the mission, the likely worse-case-scenario would’ve been severe restriction of my movements or solitary confinement for a week or two. I can handle either of those easy enough.
“Moswen warned me that you might view my orders as slavery. I don’t view what I’ve been ordered to do as being enslaved. They’re simply mission orders to me. I’m not fond of the orders, but my opinion on them is irrelevant. From what I’ve already processed regarding culture of the Awh’anise, I understand slavery is a very big issue to the Awh’anise. Personal freedoms are sacrosanct, and slavery is the antithesis to everything you believe in.
“I am a soldier created by my government to fulfill a series of roles, and I’m expected to follow the orders given to me. I have pride in my job and strive to carry out my mission orders to the best of my abilities. You were in the military yourself, so I know you understand about following orders.”
“Yeah, I get orders and the need to follow them, but fucking someone or letting someone fuck you when you don’t want either thing is just wrong. It’s a violation of your rights. It’s gods damned rape is what it is, and I refuse to participate in that.” Anger grew in me at what was being demanded of Warrick.
“To the Daquan government, I am a product and a highly specialized machine. I’m not thrilled with that view-point as I see myself as a person. Technically, I don’t have a name, I have a designation number. The scientists soon realized that it was better to give us names and encourage our growth as individuals if they wanted independent, critically thinking creations that weren’t just robots in meat suits. By allowing us to develop personalities, we became what had originally been envisioned for the program. We even exceed the original goals.
“I am a free-thinking person, but I don’t have the same autonomous rights that someone like you has. I’ve never known anything different, and it honestly doesn’t bother me. That’s not to say I’ve enjoyed having sex with those I was not attracted to, but it was part of my mission, so I carried out my orders. It’s the same to me as killing someone during a mission. I don’t enjoy killing but I do it when it’s required as part of my orders.”
I guess I could see his point when it was looked at that way. It still smacked of slavery to me and I didn’t like it one bit.
“Rest assured, Tohan, I want to have sex with you. I currently have a nice attachment installed for that purpose, and yes, I can most certainly feel pleasure through the attachment, so it isn’t something that only benefits you. I’m also fully capable of being penetrated and will feel pleasure that way as well, which I quite enjoy. Whenever you want to have sex, tell me. You’ll have a very willing partner.”
I blew out a soft breath. This was not at all the way I thought this conversation was going to go. It was cool that he was being so upfront and open about things, but it was a little bit of a arousal-killer for me to learn what I just had. That lowering of my arousal was probably just a temporary thing though. My dick was now only half-hard. I still really wanted him. But now, I wanted to show him how good it could be when mutual desire was at play. Not that I thought I was some kinda sex god in the bedroom, but I was generally really focused on making sure my partner got the most out of the experience with me. I was a big-time giver in the sex department.
“Okay. I’m not happy hearing that you were ordered to sleep with me as part of the mission. I am glad to hear that you wanted to anyway. Consent is everything for us Awh’anise. It’s serious shit if someone doesn’t stop when their partner says stop. Dunno if you’ve come across it yet, but all you need to say to stop me from making any sexual moves on you is tay. That’s driven into every Awh’anise brain, and we will stop dead from doing anything sexual with the one who said it until that person says they want to be sexual again. You want to get your freak on, you just say so, and I’ll be all over you.”
“I had come across that information. Actually, I went looking specifically for the data regards the sexuality of the Awh’anise. I’m quite intrigued by the sliaru and the reactions that have been documented. Unexpected deaths aside, it sounds like an experience that I’d really love to try.”
I grinned at that. Sliaru was damn cool. Warrick could test it out orally and get the same sexual rush as getting it anally since it was most easily absorbed by mucus membranes. I doubted whatever sensors he had in what passed for an ass would be able to replicate what sliaru did. Problem was, sometimes other species had a really bad reaction to sliaru and there were even deaths associated with exposure. Warrick, assuming he was entirely of Daquan genetic stock, wasn’t one of the species that we knew about that died when exposed to sliaru since there was no record of a Daquan getting intimate with an Awh’anise. Any species that had a toxic reaction to sliaru was made common knowledge especially to anyone leaving Awh’an.
“For the most part I’ve got no problems with letting you experience sliaru. But since there hasn’t been a Daquan exposed to it, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve no idea what sort of reaction you’ll have to it. I’d rather leave that bit of fun to a place where there’s reasonably close medical staff just in case something goes horribly wrong.”
“I appreciate the concern and caution. I can, however, do some rudimentary testing myself. Us cyborgs are designed to be resistant to a host of diseases, poisons, and toxins. Some of them are very lethal, yet the worst I might get is a bad cough or headache. I’m not immune to everything as that’s impossible, but the list of things that are not dangerous to me is quite extensive. I also have access to a variety of antitoxins although that would obviously not be helpful with regards to sliaru since it would be an unknown element, and I’ve nothing prepared to deal with it.”
“How would you do these tests? You’d need a lab of some sort wouldn’t you? Is there some type of lab, even a basic one, at the facility?”
“I have a small kit that allows me to test things to see if whatever it is would be reasonably safe for me to eat or drink if I were in a position where I had no readily available safe food or water and had to forage among local flora and fauna. It’s not foolproof, but it’s reasonably accurate. It should be able to provide me with enough data to extrapolate whether sliaru would be harmful to me or not.”
“Cool. Guess you’d need a sample, huh?” I asked with a grin. I liked where this was going.
Warrick grinned back. “Yes. I assume that wouldn’t be difficult for you to provide.”
“Oh hell no. I could get you that in like under five minutes. And have fun doing it.”
“Excellent. We have two hours and six minutes before I need to assume the controls again for our landing. Once I have the sample and mix it with the regents, the results would take under ten minutes to acquire.”
“Fan-freaking-tastic. Just to be clear, you understand that sliaru is produced by pearl-like bumps that appear under the skin along the length of my cock and that I have to be very aroused and relax my control for them to appear, right?”
“Yes. I’ll help in any way that I can. For science, of course,” Warrick said with a straight face even as I caught what appeared to be humour in his eyes.
“For science. Right,” I said as I tried to keep a straight face as well but failed and ended up with what I was sure was a goofy smile. I would love for him to help me out, but since sliaru was also absorbed, to a lesser degree, through basic contact with skin, I was going to need to work solo on producing sliaru. Not that it would be a hardship to jerk off while Warrick watched.
I slipped a hand under the open edge of my wrap pants and pushed the fabric to the side exposing my still semi-hard cock. Warrick’s earlier revelation about being ordered to join me between the sheets and the slavery vibe those words had for me hadn’t gone very far in smothering my desire for him. I probably should’ve felt a little bad about that but couldn’t quite seem to get my brain to go far in that direction. I took my cock in hand and started to stroke myself. It was super hot to have Warrick watching me so intently. The scent of his arousal was slowly rising, and that made my desire jump higher. In no time flat, I was back to being hard enough to hammer nails with my cock.
“The pearls secrete sliaru through the skin. It’s very slick and has a sort of rainbow shimmer to it. I think it tastes pretty good, but that may be personal preference. I find it a little sweet and spicy. You might wanna get whatever you need ready to collect that sample. Once sliaru takes effect, orgasm isn’t very far away, and there’s not a lot you can do to slow it down. I’ll also need to jerk off again right away to get residual amounts of it out of my system. The second orgasm is just as fast as the first and really isn’t an example of my staying power. Honest.”
“Noted. You have a very nice cock, Tohan. Even without sliaru being involved I’m looking forward to sex with you. I have a bit of an oral fixation. You wouldn’t mind indulging me along those lines would you?” Warrick asked before licking his lips as he stared at my cock.
“Mind? Excessive thanks is what you’ll get,” I said with a breathy laugh as I stroked myself faster to the mental image of Warrick on his knees sucking my cock down his throat.
Warrick leered at me before he reached down and pressed something near his knee. A small section of his calf opened, and he removed a thin, rectangular box. The panel slid back into place, and he waited with the box in his hand, his eyes fixed on the motion of my hand stroking over my dick. The scent of his arousal rose making my arousal spike.
I let go of my dick and relaxed my control. The pearls appeared, and I groaned softly in pleasure. It always felt good to be completely free of restraint. Sex without the pearls was good, but sex with them was even better. I waited for whatever Warrick needed to do to run his test, my cock twitching eagerly. A thin rod extended from the box and he gently ran the rod through the thin layer of sliaru covering my dick. I hissed in pleasure at the light touch to my now super sensitive dick.
“I’d love to be able to help you out with that erection, but until I have the results of the test, it’s best that I don’t touch what I’d really like to touch since sliaru is absorbed though the skin,” Warrick said as the rod disappeared back into the box, and he set the box on the console.
“You’ve got no objections to my doing something about it while we wait, do you? I swear it’s not a line, but my balls are starting to ache with the need to come. Sliaru’s entire purpose is to enhance breeding capacity for both males and females. For males, it means increased arousal, basically zero refraction time, and frequent orgasms.”
“No objections what-so-ever. Matter of fact, I’d enjoy watching you find your pleasure,” Warrick said as he gestured for me to take myself in hand and finish what I’d started. “Would you mind if I touched myself along with you?”
“Oh, fuck. Yes, please,” I said as I started to stroke myself again, my eyes focused on Warrick.
Warrick unbuttoned his short jacket and shrugged out of it. I actually stopped mid-stroke and stared. He had tattoos? Cool. There was an elaborate tribal-style tattoo across his chest with what looked like a stylized hy’prae in the center. The body of the quasi-hy’prae appeared to be a diamond-shaped purple jewel. He also had tatts on both biceps from shoulder to nearly his elbow that looked to be swirls of some sort with stars scattered around them. I squinted a bit and sucked in a surprised breath when I saw that there were tiny hy’prae hanging from the swirls. That couldn’t be a coincidence. Not when I had Moswen for a brother.
“Why do you have a bunch of hy’prae tattooed on your body?” I asked in a voice that wasn’t entirely steady.
“They’re actually spiders which are like hy’prae only much, much smaller. Most spiders are only a few inches in size. I did a job for a company from a planet several galaxies away. The target was to be injected with a certain type of spider venom to make the hit look like natural causes. It killed her in less than twenty minutes. Spiders are native to that planet and after learning more about them, I was fascinated by them. I’ve seen some in person, too. They’re quite interesting as a species. Marvellous engineers, too.
“The person I worked with on that job, Rune, dragged me out to celebrate the successful mission. When I woke up the next day, I had the tattoo across my chest but no recollection of how I’d gotten it. Even my data files were a little disjointed. It took me an entire day to reconstruct what happened. I liked the tattoo so kept it. The other tattoos I had added later. I’ve got another across my back, too. We’re allowed to do minor modifications to our organic parts such as tattoos and piercings. As long as said modifications don’t impact our performance on missions the scientists don’t care. Why do you seem surprised to see my tattoos?”
I shook my head. “I think I’ve just been seriously targeted by Moswen’s chaos effect. I swear we can talk about that in more detail later. Right now though, my balls really are starting to feel like they’re going to burst.”
“I’ll hold you to that later discussion,” Warrick said with a look that told me he wasn’t going to forget about my weird reaction to his tatts.
That was fine. I really would talk about it later with him. Right now though, I needed to come.
Warrick’s hands slipped over his nipples, rubbing his palms over them several times before he started pinching and tugging on them as he watched me jerk off. My breathing sped up, and with every inhale, I got stronger and stronger scents of his arousal combining with mine. It was one of the best things I’d ever had the pleasure of smelling, and it made my mouth water. I was hoping to see what sort of attachment Warrick said he’d been given but nothing appeared. I guess it was going to be a surprise for later. I was okay with that as long as I did get to see it later.
I stroked myself faster as I watched Warrick tease and tweak his nipples. His breath hitched, and every now and again, he’d moan very quietly as he watched me jerk myself off. The scent of arousal in the small shuttle was thick enough that I could practically taste it. I was balanced right on the edge of wanting to come that very second and stretching out my pleasure for as long as I could so I could keep watching Warrick wind himself higher and higher.
I lost the fight when Warrick grunted and bit his lip, his eyes closing with the pleasure that was written all over his face. That was a dead sexy look for him. I wanted, no, needed to be the one to put that look on his face again. A growl slipped out of me, and Warrick opened his eyes to watch me as I shot ribbons of seed across my belly. Warrick totally made my day with a softly hissed yes and a spike in the scent of arousal coming from him. Pink tinted the bone-white skin of his cheeks as he drew in long, slow breaths while still playing with his nipples.
“Was it good for you, too?” I asked with a leer as I stroked my still hard cock, pleasure continuing to slither through me.
The smile he gave me was pure wicked delight. “Much better than doing it with just your picture for inspiration.”
I laughed. “Just wait until we get really up close and personal. Bonus money shot for you,” I said as I quickly stroked myself, chasing the orgasm that was already building again in my balls.
It took me less than two minutes to blow my load again. I was convinced the fast orgasm was because Warrick was still watching me intently and languidly playing with his nipples. Stars, I could barely wait until I could jump his very fine self. If he could get off on just nipple play like he seemed to have, he was going to be a treat for all kinds of other fun. I also hadn’t forgotten for one second that he said he had an oral fixation. I’d be beyond thrilled to help him feed that need. I grunted as I came again over my belly, watching Warrick watch me.
A soft ping shortly after I came the second time drew both our eyes to the box resting on the console. A tiny green light flashed, and Warrick picked up the box. He looked at what I assumed was a small screen on the box and got a contemplative look in his eyes before the panel in his calf opened again and he put the box back into his leg. The smile he turned on me promised all kinds of good and naughty things in my future. Yes!
“The test results indicate that sliaru is safe for my consumption with ninety-seven percent accuracy. There were a few compounds that couldn’t be identified but this is a small survival unit and mostly for emergencies, so I expected that. I might have mild tactile and proprioceptive hallucinations from exposure to sliaru based on similarities to other known compounds. The half-life of the similar compounds is quite short, so any hallucinations caused by sliaru would likely be short lived as well. Of course we won’t know for sure until I actually try sliaru.”
I nodded. “Tactile and proprioceptive hallucinations are not uncommon with sliaru exposure along with increased sexual arousal. Laiokian Teichle are able to read their partner’s mind for a brief period of time after sliaru exposure, but they’re the only ones we know of that get that reaction. Regular Laiokians don’t have that happen. And yeah, I already knew the shelf life of sliaru was crazy short.”
“Really? Genuinely telepathic? Interesting. I wonder which of the compounds are responsible for that,” Warrick said as he opened a compartment in the console and handed me some wet wipes to clean up the mess I’d made on my chest and belly.
“No idea. But it’s probably related to the Teichle being empaths. Tyh says it’s really cool and massively intimate but sucks when he’s trying to keep something from Dak. Dak is his shu’anad. Dak isn’t Teichle; he’s the Void. He is Laiokian though and a receiving empath, so that’s probably why sliaru works on him that way, too.”
I wiped down my belly and chest and threw the wet wipes into a slot that Warrick pointed to when I was done with them. I gave in to impulse and left my seat to stand over Warrick. He looked up at me with a question in his gorgeous grey and gold eyes. I leaned down and kissed him. I wasn’t sure what reaction he’d have, but I wasn’t expecting him to kiss me back with so much raw hunger without even a surprised pause at my move.
Kissing Warrick was intense and one of my better decisions. His lips were warm and soft yet firm and demanded I give as good as I got. He had a great mouth. A quiet purr sounded from me at how happy and content kissing him made me feel. I barely knew him, wicked wank session aside, and yet I felt like I’d finally come home as I kissed him. I slowly drew back from the kiss equal parts excited and terrified and absolutely, rock-solid sure that my life was about to change in a huge way.
Moswen’s chaos effect was in full swing. I knew the feeling only too well. The last time I’d felt the same combo of excited/terrified and just knowing my life was taking a sharp left turn was when Effie slammed into my life. The sensation this time was easily doubly as strong as when Effie entered my world. Fucking awesome!
“You are to monitor Doctor Huyana-Dukker carefully and ensure that no data leaves with him on any external devices. Obviously, we can’t stop him from remembering things, but it is a risk we’re willing to take. He will have some limited access to classified data, and part of your job is to ensure the data, for the most part, does not go further and that he doesn’t delve deeper into the classified files than we are allowing. We couldn’t find any instances of him stealing information from clients and selling it to the highest bidder, but that doesn’t mean it’s never happened. Only that we’ve been unable to find evidence of it.
“He is Awh’anise, and they are known for their excellent fighting abilities. All Sub-tropical Awh’anise, of which he is, are also required to enter military service for one Awh’anise year. He has already completed his military service, so it would be reasonable to assume that he can handle himself fairly well in a violent situation and likely has knowledge of basic weapons use. Even so, you are to protect him from danger. We don’t have enough data to predict how he’ll react to having a bodyguard as the Awh’anise appear to be fiercely independent as a species. His safety is critically important to this mission being successful, and he is aware that you are going with him to Demmron as his protection.
“Additionally, the Awh’anise are a highly sexual species and have a well-deserved reputation for taking any and every opportunity to indulge in sexual acts with either sex, singularly or in groups, whenever and wherever the mood strikes. You were chosen specifically for this mission as your design parameters match up best with Doctor Huyanna-Dukker’s sexual and personal preferences. It is expected that he will approach you for sex because of how well you match the physical attributes he is attracted to. He has been quite persistent in researching our cyborgs and is aware of the rumours of our cyborgs being capable of intercourse.
“For a species so obsessed with sex, consent is an absolute must for them, and if someone declines their advances, they accept it and move on to the next person. Forcing another into sex is a very serious crime on Awh’an, ranking slightly below pre-meditated murder. We anticipate him approaching you for sex, and you will comply with his request without hesitation to further the mission. An appropriate attachment has been installed on your chassis to facilitate this. Let him choose which role he’d like in any given encounter as we believe it will make him easier to manage and monitor if his sexual needs are being met by you. Any questions?”
“No, sir,” I said as I began to review the files about Doctor Huyana-Dukker, his skills, schooling, and family that had been uploaded into my head.
“One final note. He is intimately connected to a powerful, highly skilled group of specialized soldiers. They are able to do astounding things according to all reports, including being able to move between existences in a manner we’re not entirely clear on and that frankly seems impossible despite a multitude of verified reports confirming it. If the opportunity presents itself for you to learn more of this specialized group of soldiers, Shal-hazal they call themselves, take it. The data could prove useful to us in several programs we’re heading.
“Should the two of you be captured, it is highly likely that he’ll call on these family members to get himself out of the situation. It is doubtful that you will be extracted as well. You are to engage your failsafe if you are in danger of being compromised and all other options have been exhausted. Your tech is, under no circumstances, to be allowed to fall into the hands of the people detained on Demmron. That is an order.”
“Understood, sir.” I hoped I wouldn’t need to engage my failsafe. Blowing myself into tiny pieces and taking a large chunk of my surrounding area with me was not high on my To-Do List. I’d do it because it was an order, but I’d make damn sure all other alternatives had been very thoroughly exhausted first. If I were to reach a state of brain death or simply die, the failsafe would automatically engage after a short, set period of time.
“We’ve received word that Doctor Huyana-Dukker will be arriving sooner than initially expected. You have four hours until his arrival. Review the files on him as well as the files for what was done to find and seal the security breach on Demmron. Offer Doctor Huyana-Dukker whatever aid you can, be that computer assistance, protection from harm, or sexual relief. This mission is critical. No prisoner can be allowed to escape Demmron. You are authorized to use deadly force with extreme prejudice.”
“Yes, sir,” I answered.
The director turned and walked away leaving me to review the files in solitude. I hadn’t shown any emotion, which was in line with what was expected of me, but the mission I’d been given excited me. I enjoyed a challenge, and this assignment certainly was that from a purely technical standpoint. I was also intrigued by the doctor and the brief information I’d processed about him while the director was giving me my orders.
Having an intimate relationship with the doctor wouldn’t be a hardship. At all. Plainly put, he was the most exotic looking person I’d ever seen, and I’d meet thirty-four different alien species to date. There was a pleasurable zing of excitement at the thought of sharing the doctor’s bed. I was also thrilled and relieved that my potential partner was male this time, my orientation leaving me naturally desiring only males. I had bedded females multiple times while on assignment, but that was pure programming and had nothing to do with what I desired. I hadn’t enjoyed the majority of my sexual encounters that were requirements of my previous missions. I actually felt mild disgust at being sexually intimate with a female, and without the help of programming sub-routines, I’d have failed spectacularly. But what I wanted or liked in those situations hadn’t been a factor in doing the job I’d been assigned.
I didn’t often have the luxury of feeling sexually attracted to a client while being ordered to satisfy him or her physically. Fortunately, a true organic response to arousal wasn’t necessary for me to perform as demanded. Mechanical parts would function as designed, and whether I found a client stunning or disgusting didn’t matter. A small sub-routine I could engage would give the appearance of my wanting the encounter when I actually didn’t. I didn’t like using that program because of the way it made me feel mentally, but when I was required to perform in what was an unnatural feeling to me, it was my only choice. I wouldn’t need to switch that program on with the good doctor though. My reactions to him on a sexual level would be genuine, something I hadn’t felt in quite a long time and was really looking forward to.
Doctor Tohan Huyana-Dukker was, in my opinion, exceptional with tanned skin, wavy, dark-brown hair tipped in dark green that fell a bit past his shoulders, and a nice, lightly-muscled body. As with all Awh’anise, he had a long tail that was apparently prehensile, and the very tip of his tail had a brush of hair the same colour as was on his head. I was taller than him by several inches when in my regular chassis. He appeared to be within the normal range of average height for a typical Awh’anise. The information in his file said he was five foot ten and one hundred seventy pounds.
His eyes were highly unusual for an Awh’anise. I thought they were stunning. He had the typical vertically slit pupils of an Awh’anise, but it was the colour of those pupils and irises that made them unique. His pupils were a rich gold colour, and his irises were pale gold speckled with darker gold. Among the Awh’anise, it was considered very desirable and exotic to have either gold/amber or brown eyes, the two colours occurring rarely in the population. The doctor’s eyes, however, were not looked upon that way despite their colour and were not considered desirable or erotic.
The colour of his pupils and eyes wasn’t natural in that he hadn’t been born with them that shade. He’d been infected by a micro-organism native to Awh’an, ell’um-ysar, which loosely translated to golden mask of tears, when he was only a few weeks old. The organism first attacked a person’s eyes, and the organism’s waste material permanently bleached a person’s natural eye pigments to the golden colour as well as leaving them more light sensitive and with poorer vision depending on how long the infection went untreated. Apparently, if the infection was left untreated, the individual would go blind and eventually suffer terminal dementia as the organism moved into the brain and ate holes in the brain tissue.
I honestly thought his eyes were beautiful.
In addition to the unique colouration of his pupils and irises, the attack of the organism left the victim with thick lines of gold rimming the top and bottom lids of their eyes like eyeliner, as well as a light, shimmery golden mask-like marking over the skin around the victim’s eyes that was permanent as well. The doctor had been cured of the infection while a baby, but the traces the organism had left would never disappear according to the information in his file. I could honestly say I’d never seen anyone who looked as exotic and arousing as the good doctor.
Intellectually, he was very bright, and I could understand why he’d been selected to try to solve the problem where others had failed. He’d graduated at the top of his class and had an excellent reputation among fellow computer engineers. He also had a rather impressive reputation among hackers as someone who could get into places people weren’t supposed to be able to get into without the proper authorization. Or at least it was assumed that he was the hacker known as Hy’prae, which was apparently the name of some type of medium-sized, multi-legged, highly intelligent apex predator on Awh’an. Nobody had been able to definitely confirm him as that hacker, but the pieces of circumstantial evidence were fairly convincing as long as one was willing to make some leaps of logic.
He was ridiculously connected to powerful people. I thought it was interesting that he was part of a natural non-identical triplet birth although that wasn’t an uncommon thing for the Awh’anise as they were a multi-birth species. One of his brothers from that triplet birth was a Shal-hazal. He had several more family members, including his mother, an aunt, a half-brother, a couple of cousins, and even a great-aunt who were Shal-hazal of varying degrees of power. That many close relatives being Shal-hazal was extraordinary according to the data I’d been given. I hoped he’d be willing to talk to me about the Shal-hazal and the things they could do, and that wasn’t only because I’d been ordered to do it.
Having the small amount of data dumped into my head about such an interesting ability was definitely enough to pique my curiosity. Hearing about that sort of ability and getting to ask more questions from somebody so close to a Shal-hazal would be an amazing opportunity. While a good part of me was machine and I did do a lot of analytical thinking, my organic brain indulged in flights of fancy more often than it probably should, and I had a deep interest in the paranormal. Being able to move through the dreams of others as Shal-hazal were reported to be able to do definitely fit into that category.
I finished my review of the files and probably knew more about Doctor Huyana-Dukker on a professional level than anyone. Personal information had been generally sparse to put it mildly. I was actually a little surprised the information about his eyes was in the file. Then again, it was apparently common knowledge for any Awh’anise once they saw his face and eyes. I did find it a little amusing that his sex life was basically an open book and fairly well-detailed in the files I reviewed. Then again, the Awh’anise were not at all shy about sex, nudity, and discussing aspects of their sex lives or that of others openly.
I assumed the lack of real personal information was because of the powerful connections he had in his family as well as his allegedly being a highly skilled hacker that was very, very careful about what information about Hy’prae went out into big, wide universe. Even with the exhaustive research I was sure my government had done on the doctor, there was nothing that actually confirmed that he was the hacker rumours said he was. Considering how thorough I knew the research into the doctor would’ve been, that was impressive.
Several things about my physical appearance were apparently attractive to him, and that gave me a giddy rush. Purple was his favourite colour. My hair was naturally a very deep purple. He’d been quoted once in defending his half-brother, Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen, that the gold stripes on the man’s skin that marked him as a Throw-back were “cool” even though those same marks caused fear to most other Awh’anise for some reason that wasn’t entirely clear in the data I’d been given. The chassis I used most frequently, felt most comfortable in, and was unofficially mine was gold-coloured with random deeper accents of gold striping.
The striping had been the result of a trial technique to make the cyborg body lighter and tougher by using an amalgam of metals. It was ultimately declared a failure for the uneven distribution of the metals giving the finished product a non-uniform look and random areas more durable than others areas which was not desirable for an entire fleet even if the end result had produced a lighter and tougher chassis overall. The cost for the amalgam had turned out to be more than double the initial quote, and the failure rate was unacceptably high, which also helped to kill the trial. I was also a taller model of cyborg with that particular chassis, the result of a minor design specification error leading to the increase in height.
I hoped that the Awh’anise language I’d been uploaded with was correct. A couple of missions ago I’d been given what was supposed to have been complete language files for a client only to find out during the initial meeting that the wrong language for that mission had been uploaded into my brain. It had been the native tongue of the people trying to assassinate the client I was supposed to protect and a major embarrassment that almost resulted in my getting shot in a place I wouldn’t have been able to repair.
The Awh’anise language was pleasant sounding with a slight, almost musical lilt to it. There were significant gaps in what I’d been given, but I should be able to understand basic, conversational sentences for the most part. Apparently, the language was only spoken on Awh’an and among Awh’anise, so finding records of the full language with translations into Common was difficult. It was also a partially polysynthetic language, one where a single word or two could actually be an entire sentence, which lead to problems for non-native speakers to learn the language fluently. Doctor Huyana-Dukker could speak Common as well as several other languages that I’d never heard of. While I had access to several databases, including high-level access to Daquan military information, it would be nearly impossible to know all of the spoken languages in the multitude of universes, so my not knowing what the other languages were was not unusual. I was impressed that he was apparently fluent in four other languages aside from his native tongue. I found that being able to speak to a client in their native tongue even just a little made them more at ease with me.
After thoroughly reviewing the files I’d been given, my internal clock said that I still had two hours to go before my initial meeting with Doctor Huyana-Dukker. I decided to run some sub-routines to make sure everything was operating at optimal performance even though I’d been thoroughly checked over by the technicians just before the director had given me my final commands. I also wanted to use the downtime to check out just what attachment had been installed for intimate encounters before I’d entered my chassis.
There were any number of models that could be installed based on what a client requested. In this instance, what had been installed was likely a best guess, generic sort of model as Doctor Huyana-Dukker wasn’t a client and, to the best of my knowledge from the files I’d read, hadn’t been asked about any personal preferences, sexual or otherwise as far as choosing me and attachments went.
An opening appeared in my groin when I triggered the program for sexual excitement. I wasn’t a vain person, but I was relieved to see that I’d been given a nice, average-sized penile attachment with appropriately-sized testes although there wouldn’t be any actual seminal fluid during release. There would be a substitute fluid during orgasm that mimicked the real deal solely for the purpose of pleasing my partner with “proof” of my desire and pleasure.
I’d had attachments before that ran the gamut of micro-penis to obscenely large based on client desires. I’d even had attachments purposely left off for clients who wanted a male without genitals, which I thought was strange. The attachment had a flexible metal core with a skin-like sheathing that matched my skin tone making it look like it was my real cock that was exposed via an opening in my chassis. With the use of sensors and a specific program, I could feel a semblance of pleasure through the mechanical penis I now sported.
As I looked at the attachment I’d been given, a little pang of sorrow mixed with a spurt of anger hit me at the thought that it was highly unlikely I’d ever get to feel what sex with another person with my actual dick would feel like. While my cyborg body appeared to start just below my pectorals, I actually had a complete torso down to the hips that was fitted into my mechanical cyborg body.
Through much trial and error, it was discovered that the best, most efficient way to meld organic with machine was to maintain as many internal organs as possible. That way, any damage to the mechanical body was fairly easy to either repair or replace without needing any special equipment to keep the organic body alive. Some of the most complex parts of a cyborg weren’t actually parts of the mechanical body but those of the organic body, brain, and the wetware installed in the brain that allowed the two to function as one unit.
Because of my hidden organic parts, I didn’t require any specialized diet as I had all the necessary parts for regular digestion. I did need to void my body of waste, both solid and liquid, but that was accounted for in the design of the cyborg body. While in my cyborg body a narrow, expandable tube roughly three inches long was inserted anally, primarily for voiding purposes but also to allow anal sex when required. I had a similar short and thin tube inserted in my urethra and up into my bladder for voiding while in my cyborg body as well. Given that we generally preferred to be in our cyborg bodies for ease of movement, all cyborgs were used to and saw as normal what would probably seem uncomfortable or even invasive to others.
Breeding us to have a fully functioning torso also ensured that the scientists would always be able to easily harvest the raw genetic material, sperm from the males and eggs from the females, to create more cyborgs. We always bred true to form having been genetically tweaked decades ago to be born without lower limbs.
We could be cloned, but the results had proven less than optimal compared to selective breeding with sperm and egg and gestation in a nutrient tank. Clones had a shorter life span than naturally created cyborgs, and the clones typically had issues with their immune system or problems with the functions of internal organs. There was also a limit to how many times a clone could be made from another clone before critical failures began to appear in the genetics of the cyborg requiring their destruction before it even reached the birthing stage.
While the idea of providing genetic material, namely sperm, sounded like it would be fun for us males, it really wasn’t. I’d be removed from my cyborg body which, while not something I liked since it limited my mobility, wasn’t a big deal. It was an utterly painless, five minute procedure. Once out of my cyborg body I’d be strapped to a bed to keep from thrashing around during the procedure, which was never a good sign for any course of action about to be taken.
A stimulation probe would be inserted anally and a collection tube fastened over my cock. The probe wasn’t uncomfortable as I was well used to having something inserted anally even if the probe for stimulation was a good deal larger than the void tube. I liked the feeling of having my ass filled and usually requested a larger-sized probe purely for my pleasure. The mild electric pulse from the probe that stimulated my prostate wasn’t unpleasant... at first. It was the length of time that the extraction procedure lasted that made it a less than desirable thing to endure.
We were designed to maximize output on virtually every aspect. The volume of sperm males produced during orgasm was no exception and a two-hour session was common to fully milk a male. At the end of a milking, I was exhausted physically and mentally, and my groin ached and was tender to the touch for hours after. Thankfully, we were typically in a two-month-long rotation between collections, longer if we were on assignment and not able to get to the lab for scheduled milking. The females had it a little easier with anesthetic being given before egg harvest and their rotation requiring slightly longer periods of time to allow for maximum egg development.
I admired the penis I’d been given for several more minutes, familiarizing myself with the feel of it and tweaking the arousal program to give me pleasure that was as close to what I felt when I stroked my organic cock as I could make it. We weren’t supposed to masturbate and waste our seed but nobody really said much when it did happen as long as it wasn’t often. Not that it was something that happened very frequently to begin with as it generally required detaching from our cyborg body to do so. An alert was logged when the connection was severed between organic and cyborg body, and a reason for the unscheduled exit needed to be provided.
Typically, we’d exit our chassis once a week for a scrub-down of its interior as well as washing of the organic body. The chassis was designed to keep itself and the organic body installed relatively clean and we could go much longer than a week without needing cleaning. But it always felt nice to slide into a freshly cleaned chassis. It was generally a thirty-minute procedure but sometimes a tech would take their time cleaning the chassis and keep their back turned, knowing us cyborgs would grab the opportunity to get a little self-love pleasure.
Leaving the cyborg body solely to jerk off was not a reason for exiting the chassis. Punishment for doing that typically involved a month of forced leave from your cyborg body as well as an accelerated milking schedule of once a week for as long as you’d been sentenced to be without your cyborg body. Typically, you only made that sort of mistake once and were more circumspect in the future. Or at least I’d learned that lesson well and never repeated the error.
I could orgasm while in my cyborg body, but it would be a more or less dry orgasm because of the tube inserted through my urethra into my bladder. Anal stimulation was easy and pleasurable to do, but when the result was typically a dry orgasm, the end result wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as it could be. I could withdraw the urethral tube from my bladder to allow for a full orgasm but the times where I actually felt genuine arousal while on assignment were woefully small and didn’t seem worth the bother. A giddy rush zipped through me at the knowledge that I’d feel arousal with the doctor. I also wasn’t the only cyborg that had quite a strong oral fixation where sexual pleasure was concerned. Knowing that I’d very likely be enjoying the pleasure of Doctor Huyana-Dukker’s bed shortly, I was very much looking forward to sucking his cock.
I called up the image of the doctor and stroked myself. In a surprisingly short time, I found the single photo I’d been given in the file wasn’t enough. A quick database search found me a slightly pixilated video of a presentation that he’d given several years ago that looked like it’d been shot with a wrist comm of poor quality. The moving images, as crappy as they were, made me groan softly and catch my lip between my teeth. The good doctor was really going to get my best possible performance if he asked me to join him in bed, which I truly hoped he would. The sensation program for my attachment did its job a little too well and desire settled heavily in my balls leaving them feeling tight and aching for a release that wasn’t going to happen. I foolishly hadn’t expected to have such a strong physical reaction to what I was seeing and feeling.
I gasped and squeezed my eyes shut as pleasure from the pseudo-release of my attachment collided with the frustration of wanting to come with my organic parts, but not being able to. I’d been hurriedly milked twelve hours ago when the director got word that the job had been accepted by Doctor Huyana-Dukker. Milking a male and harvesting a female, if possible, was standard operating procedure when anyone was sent out on a mission in case something happened and we didn’t come back. For all intents and purposes, my balls were empty and it’d take several days to be able to produce anything even approaching a reasonable amount. Maintaining genetic diversity in us cyborgs was important, so the more collections the better.
I shut down the arousal and sensation program and tried to catch my breath as the attachment retracted back into my chassis. I was a little surprised to find a thin film of sweat on my skin and that my nipples were hard as rocks. That sort of reaction hadn’t happened to me in a long time from just the use of the attachment. I looked at it as something good, and it made me even more excited for certain aspects of the mission. I still had an hour and a half before meeting the doctor to clean myself up and get presentable. I headed for the sonic shower, a small smile on my face and a relaxed feel to my body despite the subtle ache in my balls from not being able to come.
I stood in the reception area with the director and a few assorted techs waiting for Doctor Huyana-Dukker to arrive. I wasn’t quite sure why we were in reception and not at the actual bays where the ships landed and took off, but it wasn’t my place to ask so I kept my mouth shut. All I knew was that the doctor had requested to meet in reception, and I only knew that from overhearing one of the techs asking why we were in reception. I wasn’t the only one who gasped when two men suddenly appeared out of thin air a few feet away from where we stood.
I instantly recognized Doctor Huyana-Dukker, and he looked even better in person. It was the first time ever that I was supremely grateful for the impossibility of my sudden arousal showing due to my chassis. Internal sensors would record my elevated heart rate, the surge of hormones through me, and the sudden semi-hardness of my cock. Nothing in my expression would give that away though. I’d been far too well trained for that to happen.
Based on the photos I’d seen, the tall man with tanned skin overlaid with golden stripes standing beside the doctor could only be his half-brother, Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen Fayina-Dukker. Asking to meet in reception suddenly made perfect sense since the doctor obviously hadn’t needed to go through the whole ship docking and debarking procedure. Travel by Shal-hazal appeared to be a much more efficient way to get around the galaxy.
“We’re here, Tohan. You can open your eyes now,” Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen said in Awh’anise.
Doctor Huyana-Dukker opened his eyes, which were even more stunning in person. His first move was to scan the assembled people in the room with a critical, analytical look. I approved of that as it spoke of battle awareness, something that would be an asset where we were going. He spotted me almost immediately, his eyes locking on me, his stare intense. Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen snickered and “Down, boy” was semi-whispered.
“You can go now,” Doctor Huyana-Dukker said to his brother in Awh’anise. He didn’t take his eyes off me, his gaze extremely focused and holding a wealth of sexual interest.
“Hell, no. This is getting interesting. I think he’s attracted to you, Tohan. Nice little shot of lust to the air that I’m betting wasn’t there before we arrived. Talk about laser focus. He hasn’t taken his eyes off you. Hey, can I watch you two fuck? I’ve never seen robot sex. Sounds kinky as shit. Ki would probably love to know how that works, too, although he’d be way too polite to ask.”
“He’s not a robot. He’s a cyborg. There’s a difference, and I know you know it. This isn’t the time or place to go all annoying little brother on me. Yes, I can smell his arousal, and no, you can’t watch us fuck. You’d freak the poor guy out just by asking. Most species don’t appreciate an audience when they screw. I’m pretty sure you know that, too, and are just trying to be an irritating shit. Congrats, you succeeded. You’re an irritating shit. Weren’t you supposed to take a refresher course on alien interaction since you suck so massively at it? We’re just lucky he can’t understand Awh’anise, or he’d probably be hideously embarrassed that we’re talking about his future sex life with me before even being introduced to him.”
“I’m supposed to, yeah, but that’s one of the perks of being the boss. Until the rest of the Wills gang up on me and make me take the refresher course, I don’t have to do shit. Are you sure about the no Awh’anise thing? He seems to be following our conversation decently going by the close attention he’s paying, but I could be wrong. I don’t think I am though.
“My nose is better than yours and believe me, he’s definitely interested in getting into your pants. He could want to bang one of the other people in the room, myself included, but I doubt that. Those pretty eyes of his are really only focused on you. I’m not really sure how sex works for him though with him being, what, seventy-five percent machine from the looks of him. Doesn’t look like he has a cock either, which sucks for both of you since I know you like getting as much as giving.”
The doctor’s eyes went wide seconds before he turned with incredible speed and punched his brother square in the mouth. Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen stumbled back a step before he grinned, licked the trickle of blood from his lip, and landed a solid side kick to the doctor’s ribs, knocking the doctor back a step and forcing a grunt from him. Even with my enhanced vision, the speed of the kick was incredible to see. One of the techs gasped, and the director seemed frozen in shock at the sudden outburst of violence.
My first thought was to step between the two men and protect the doctor as those were my orders. But, I knew from the data I’d been given that fighting was seen as a normal part of life to the Awh’anise, and getting between fighting Awh’anise to stop them would generally not be appreciated by the combatants. I also wanted to take the opportunity to assess the doctor’s fighting ability even if this didn’t appear to be a serious fight, based on what my data catalogued as genuine fight indicators for the Awh’anise as opposed to their idea of play.
Both men were fast. Astonishingly so. Information on the Awh’anise said they were quick and agile, and I had viewed a few videos of Awh’anise in action, but until I saw it for myself in person, it was difficult to understand just what that meant in comparison to other species. Doctor Huyana-Dukker seemed to be holding his own, but I could also tell that Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen was holding back somewhat—not to say he was untouched or that he wasn’t having to put some effort into what he was doing.
Several hard punches and kicks were traded between the men. Factoring in certain variables like speed, trajectory, force, and accuracy, there was a considerable amount of skill and power being thrown around, yet neither seemed overly fazed by it. I was sure there’d be nasty bruises at the very least on both men after the little spar was over. I’d read about the high pain tolerance of the species, but it was fascinating to see it in action. Several of the hits would’ve knocked most people to their knees and likely made them stay down. That certainly wasn’t the case unfolding in front of us.
Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen glanced at me and the others I stood with and seemed to come to a decision. He quickly moved in close to the doctor, landed a hard punch to the gut while he curled his tail around the doctor’s leg. Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen yanked the doctor’s leg out from under him at almost the same time he landed the punch to his brother’s belly. The doctor went down with a yelp, hitting the floor hard, his head making wince-worthy contact with the polished wood. The doctor muttered, “Fuck,” and lay on his back for several seconds apparently conceding the fight. The entire fight, while intense, lasted less than two minutes.
“Done?” Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen asked in Awh’anise as he remained ready to continue the fight, his limbs held in a loose fighting stance.
Doctor Huyana-Dukker sighed before pushing himself into a seated position. “Yeah. You’ve been training with Kijika again, haven’t you? I used to be able to fight you to a draw but you weren’t even giving me your best effort. Asshole. I’m kinda ticked you just cheated me of a nice little dust up. You know you have a god’s given talent for pissing people off, right? Kijika is a saint for not killing you. I don’t know how he resists the temptation.”
“He loves me,” Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen said with a grin as he offered his brother a hand to stand. “And he adores my cock working his hole. Despite him being a necromancer, he’s not into sex with the dead, so I’m pretty much safe from him killing me. Beating the shit out of me if I piss him off? Oh, hell yeah. The make-up sex is so damn hot after that I sometimes provoke him just a little on purpose. He knows that though and plays along because he’s awesome that way.”
A necromancer? There was no mention of that in the data I’d been given. Granted, Kijika was nothing more than a footnote in the file and listed as the spouse of Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen, but information like that should have been included in my opinion. It wouldn’t affect anything about the mission, but it seemed like a fairly big detail to leave out given how thorough the file had been on the doctor and his family connections. How odd.
Doctor Huyana-Dukker smiled and wiped at a trickle of blood from his nose. “Point taken. You do have a very nice cock although I prefer your tight little ass. You’re such a needy thing when being drilled. So eager to please. Pretty damn good at cock sucking, too. Such a shame that you only service Kijika now. And Tyh won’t play either now that he has Dak. Telek is still crazy for Ulla so that’s a no-go. Even Mered and Makis won’t go for a group thing since Kushaiah came into their life and they all became phu’aetsu to one another. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they decided to become shu’anad to one another in the very near future. I’m seriously missing out on fantastic cock since all of you found your special someones.”
My eyes went wide, and my mouth opened a little in surprise before I pressed it shut. There was a teasing tone to the doctor’s voice, but there was also an undercurrent of wistfulness. He didn’t really mean he.... Data on the Awh’anise said they engaged in incest and that it was a common thing in their culture, but I hadn’t really thought about how that may have impacted Doctor Huyana-Dukker’s life. Several of the names were male siblings of the doctor.
I had to admit that I was a little intrigued especially after a fast photo search for the family members the doctor mentioned revealed some handsome men. The Awh’anise as a species seemed to have good-looking encoded into their genes. The Tyh he mentioned was likely one of his triplet brothers, Shal-hazal Litch Will Tyhlian, with Telek being his other triplet brother. So that meant he.... Wow. Makis and Mered, according to the data I had, were identical twins and part of the sextuplets that Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen was part of. Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen saw my expression of mixed shock and interest and smirked.
“I’d say your cyborg understands basic Awh’anise pretty well, Tohan. You must’ve cracked your head damn hard not to have remembered that since that’s what prompted you to punch me in the face in the first place. I think you just shocked the shit out of him. Good job.”
“Fuck,” Doctor Huyana-Dukker groaned.
The next words out of his mouth were in a language I was completely unfamiliar with. Considering the database I had access to, I found that intriguing and wondered what it was. His brother, however, had no problem understanding him and nodded before he got a thoughtful look on his face. A grin appeared on Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen’s face, and the strangest sense of foreboding washed through me. I had almost no time to react before he moved to me with blistering speed, grabbed my arm, and said, “Back in a few,” in Common to the room in general.
There was a slight sensation of movement, and for a fraction of a micro-second, images screamed past my vision too fast for me to make any sense of them before it went dark. The quick glimpse of... whatever I’d seen, made my brain feel like I’d taken a particularly nasty blow to the back of my head, my thoughts muddled and disjointed as my mind struggled to try to process what I’d seen. Even with the advanced processor embedded in my brain, I couldn’t seem to piece all the information together into anything that made sense.
A tiny spurt of panic hit me when I couldn’t open my eyes and couldn’t seem to move any part of my body. Relief swamped me hard when what seemed to be only seconds later I could open my eyes and move again. The confusion of trying to sort through the whirlwind of images left my mind abruptly, and I had nothing more than a small headache as if from concentrating too intensely on something for far too long. Confusion of a different sort swirled through me as I looked around. The scenery around me was absolutely nothing like the reception room, and for several seconds, I was at a complete loss as to what had just happened.
We were on what appeared to be a beach of pale blue sand leading to a large body of translucent, blood-red water. At least I assumed it was water considering that it appeared to move towards the shore in gentle waves, the soft shushing sound relaxing. The water stretched as far as I could see, and my enhanced eyes could see a staggering distance, making me think we were on the shore of either a vast lake or perhaps an ocean. Large trees with silvery leaves lined the beach, the leaves rustling softly in a gentle breeze. It was quite hot, and I saw two suns in the sky but no other markers that would give me a reference point or clue about where we might be. I was damn sure I wasn’t anywhere near the reception area that I’d started out in.
“You’ve got some interesting wiring in your head. Tohan is going to flat out love that, geek that he is.”
I turned my head to see Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen sitting on a rock a few paces from where I stood.
“Excuse me?” I felt mildly off-balance, and that sensation had nothing to do with my internal stabilizers or gyroscope.
“I know it’s rude, but I took a quick peek in your head. I’m curious by nature,” he said with a little shrug. “Relax. Nothing I see in anyone’s head who isn’t a mark ever leaves my lips unless I have permission to spill it all, and you’d need to give me that permission. I don’t even tell Ki what I find in people’s heads, and I tell him virtually everything.
“By the way, I added the Awh’anise language to your head. Some of what you had was badly translated, so I wiped all of it and gave you the whole thing. You’ve got the written language in there as well. Threw in a bunch of crap about our customs and culture, too. I figure that’ll help you help Tohan with the job he’s about to start. I know this job is dangerous, and I want Tohan to be as safe as I can help him to be. You being informed of our customs and cultures and having the correct language will be a huge help in making that happen.”
“Thank you? Where are we, and how did we get here?” I asked as I checked my database.
Just as he said, what could only be the entire Awh’anise language was in my head along with an extensive background on the Awh’anise that was a little staggering in size. It would take me a substantial amount of time to go through all the information and process it despite the high-speed processor hard-wired into my brain. I had no idea how he’d done that. I had zero sensation of anything being added or deleted from my memory, and there was no way he could’ve made a hard connection to my brain without my knowing. The file size would’ve required close to twenty minutes to download as well, and it certainly didn’t feel like that much time had passed between him grabbing my arm and us winding up wherever we were. My internal clock said barely five seconds of time had passed from the moment he’d grabbed my arm to the point when I opened my eyes.
He also wasn’t kidding when he said the language I’d had was incomplete and parts of it poorly translated. Some of the words were identical in sound but vastly different in meaning depending on body posture, tail position, and even how much tooth and claw was shown. No wonder it was rarely spoken by non-natives. Getting all those small nuances right would be a nightmare if you hadn’t grown up with the language. Getting some words right would be impossible without a tail to convey the proper meaning. I was lucky I’d understood as much as I had about the earlier conversation. Re-playing what I had heard and saw with the complete language in my head gave me an even richer understanding of what had been said with subtle nuances to the conversation that I’d have had no way of knowing about before. There’d been a world of love and trust and rock-solid bonding between the two even as they’d been beating the crap out of each other. Shockingly, they’d been having fun while trying to dirt stomp each other into the ground.
“No probs. Here is a dream bubble, a scene from the ocean beach that’s near the city my family lives in on Awh’an. This beach is one of Tohan’s favourite places. I created it for this little chat. I Dream-Stepped us here. It’s part of what I do. I could’ve brought you to the real place just as easily, but I wanted to maintain control of the situation, so a dream it is. I also didn’t want to cause you problems just before a mission with breathing and whatnot because of the higher gravity and richer oxygen on Awh’an compared to where we were. I mean, I could’ve done some tweaking in your head to make that not so much of an issue, but it wouldn’t have been worth it for just a few minutes of conversation before I brought you back to where we were and had to tweak your head all over again. Just so you know, nothing happens here that I don’t want to happen. Shal-hazal are nearly gods of the Dream World.”
“This is a... dream? How is that even possible? I wasn’t asleep and neither were you. And why show me this specific place?”
“It’s a Shal-hazal Spirit thing. Well, more specifically it’s a me thing. I don’t need to be asleep to access the Dream World, and I can take anybody I want with me as long as I’m touching them. I could’ve created anything or even just a vast nothing. But, there’s some genuine interest in you for Tohan. He aroused you just from seeing his picture, and that’s not an often thing for you. That arousal was even stronger when you saw him in person. Tohan has a thing for cyborgs, and he’s been mentally and physically beating off to your image since he saw it yesterday. I wouldn’t have created this and brought you here if there wasn’t mutual attraction between you two. I want to help you get to know him. I also wanted to check you out to make sure you’d be good for Tohan.
“I’ll be straight with you, Warrick; I can call you Warrick, right?” He waited for my nod before continuing. “I know exactly what it’s like to have an intense visceral, erotic reaction to somebody. That’s what happened when I saw Ki, my husband, for the first time. Okay, fine, there were other things at play there, but my first reaction to him was to pounce on him and fuck him until neither of us could move. Us Awh’anise operate on instinct a lot because we’re not really all that far removed from our animal ancestors. Check the info I gave you for more on that, and it’ll help you understand Tohan better. Tohan has been attracted to people tons of times before, but this is different somehow for him, and it’s not all because you’re a cyborg. That is part of it for sure but not the whole reason. Going by what I saw in your head as I brought you here, I think you can not only make him happy but also be happy yourself, too.”
I honestly had no idea how to respond to what he’d just said.
“I’m not so thrilled about some of the other shit I saw in your head. It sounds a hell of a lot like slavery to me, and that’s one thing that pisses off the Awh’anise like crazy. Freedom is a huge thing for us. I know you don’t see your life that way, but it smacks of that to me, and I guarantee it’ll seem that way to Tohan. He appreciates honesty, so you might at some point want to tell him about what your life is like. I think you should also tell him that even though you’ve been ordered to sleep with him if he asks, you’re doing it because you want to not because you were ordered to.”
I was staring at Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen in shock. How would he even know about what I’d been ordered to do? And what did he mean about seeing things in my head?
“I know that stuff because I checked you out as a person when I took my peek into your head. Like I said, I love my brother and want to see him happy. I believe, based on what I saw in both your heads, you can be happiness for each other. By the way, you can just call me Moswen. Makes things so much simpler than spouting off the whole title thing every time you want to talk to me. For the record, unless you massively screw shit up with Tohan, I’ll make sure if he hollers for a Spirit to come save his ass, you’ll get scooped up, too. It might not be me that shows up, but any Spirit from my House that will show up answers to me, so you’ll be included because I said so. Just in case things go to shit and Tohan can’t call for help, I dumped the way to contact me into your head, too, so you can do it for both of you. Any questions? Now would be the time to ask.”
“Why are you so sure that his attraction to me isn’t just because I’m a cyborg? You said he has a thing for cyborgs.” Good lord, why did I even ask that?
Moswen’s tail started to swish from side to side. He looked uncomfortable before he shrugged. “I’m really not supposed to look deeply in the heads of my family. My Sho would chew my tail off if she found out. But I am nosy as fuck. And to be totally fair, dreams are pretty much my thing, so when I stumble across an interesting one that involves family, I can’t not look at it. Tohan has already dreamed of fucking you, and while part of the dream was of you as you look now, part of the dream was you without the cyborg parts. As a full bi-pedal. Sure, it’s going to rock his world to nail you as a cyborg, but it’s more than just your mechanical parts that makes his cock hard. Something about you strokes his tail just right. It’s instinct, and I’m the last person in the universe to go against instinct.
“I’m not going to tell Tohan about how much of you is organic. That’s your decision. I understand how vulnerable you’d be both physically and emotionally to be out of your mechanical body and bare for Tohan to see. I can’t say with one hundred percent certainty how he’ll react to that because it’s not something he’d be expecting, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be repulsed like you think he will. And yeah, I saw that past incident in your head, too. Shame you couldn’t have killed or at least maimed the guy who did that to you. All I can say is to go with your gut. If it seems like the right thing to do, then it probably is. I’m going to pop us back into the reception area now unless you have any more questions.”
Moswen looked at me expectantly, but I said nothing. I was sure I had a million questions, not all of them related to the fascinating doctor, but I couldn’t seem to pick which one I wanted to ask first. Moswen took my silence for a no although there was a little smile on his lips as if he knew I had things I wanted to ask but didn’t know where to start and he found that funny.
“Close your eyes and keep them that way until I tell you to open them, or you’ll puke up every last thing you ate from three days ago the second we’re back in the real world.”
I raised an eyebrow at that. That seemed extreme and possibly an exaggeration. Moswen grinned and shook his head.
“Nope, not even joking about the barfing thing. I can make you not see anything like when I first Dream-Stepped us, but asking you to close your eyes is way more polite now that we’re all friendly-like after this little conversation. I could also let you see everything I do and have you projectile vomiting from the information overload for a good five minutes once we’re back. Your choice. Pro tip, puking like it’s never going to stop without direct intervention from a god isn’t going to impress Tohan and might even lead to sympathy puking from the others in the room. I’ve seen it happen. It wasn’t pretty.”
“Aren’t the people in reception going to be frantic that we just disappeared for so long?” I asked. I’d be closing my eyes. It wouldn’t hurt anything to do so, and if it kept me from puking my guts up, that was a win.
“Nah. Time moves different in the Dream World. It might seem like we’ve been here for half an hour or so, but when we pop back in, it’ll seem like we were gone for less than thirty seconds.”
That was amazing if it was indeed true. The military ramifications of such an ability would be staggering. Moswen grinned at me like he knew exactly where my mind had gone. Then again, if this was a dream he was controlling, perhaps he did know. That was amazing and disconcerting at the same time.
“Yeah, that means exactly what you think it does as far as military manoeuvres goes. That’s why it’s a crazy amount of money to hire a Shal-hazal, especially one of us Spirits since we can transport people vast distances in the blink of an eye. Go ahead and ask Tohan about us. He doesn’t know everything because he’s not Shal-hazal and we’re a secretive bunch even with other Shal-hazals from different Houses. I know you understand about that sort of thing in general. The secret-need-to-know-level-shit that doesn’t get talked about outside of your team, but he knows a good bit more than the average person because of who he is and who he’s related to.”
It was a little freaky to have Moswen answer questions I hadn’t given voice to, but if we were in a dream, then I suppose it wasn’t all that strange. I dutifully closed my eyes even as a rush of excitement wound through me at the idea of learning more about the Shal-hazal and the things they could supposedly do. I had that same sensation of slight movement but resisted the impulse to sneak a peek at just what might be rushing past me. The tiny headache I’d had when first on the beach had faded to nothing as I’d talked to Moswen, and the last thing I wanted to do, in addition to throwing up all over the place, was to invite it back when simply keeping my eyes shut would apparently prevent that.
The slight sensation of movement stopped almost as soon as it started, and I opened my eyes when Moswen said I could. The people in the room had barely moved from the positions they’d been in when Moswen had abruptly taken me elsewhere. Doctor Huyana-Dukker was glaring suspiciously at Moswen, and there was now a mischievous smirk on Moswen’s face. I got that weird feeling of dread again just as Moswen moved with speed to his brother.
Moswen gave his brother a very un-brotherly kiss full on the mouth and stroked a hand down his brother’s tail in what I now knew—thanks to the data dump Moswen had done—was a sexually charged touch. Moswen drew back, laughed, said I was just what the doctor ordered, and vanished. Swears in multiple languages poured from the doctor’s mouth, all of them directed at Moswen. The ones I did understand were quite creative, and I was impressed with his imagination. The doctor finally wound down and dragged a hand through his hair before facing the director.
“I’m really, really sorry about Moswen. I swear to all the gods above and below that he can be extremely professional when on the job. His bringing me here was a personal favour though and he was off-the-clock so to speak. Please don’t let what you saw colour your views on the Shal-hazal. He is very competent in his capacity as a Shal-hazal and takes his job very seriously.”
The director waved off the doctor’s explanation. “Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen’s behaviour doesn’t concern us at this time. I do have some questions about what just happened between Warrick and Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen, but that information will be in Warrick’s report on the incident, so it’s not important right now either. You’ve read the reports we sent on the incidents on Demmron and are familiar with the job?”
“Yes. The crews you sent got a good start, and that’ll shorten up my work a bit. It’s still going to be a tough puzzle to solve, but I’m sure I can do it. I know I’ll be working against the clock on this to prevent any of the felons from actually leaving. I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be a tight race, and you might need to shoot down another shuttle or two before I fix it so they can’t keep taking off to test the system.”
“That won’t be an issue. All shuttles have been temporarily removed from the surface along with the support and security personnel stationed there. One of our registered shuttles will be used to take you and Warrick to Demmron from this station. It’ll be the only shuttle on the asteroid, and while it will be in a secure area, the inmates have proven to be rather resourceful, so I’d suggest you work fast before your transport is liberated, leaving you stranded there until another can make the run.”
Doctor Huyana-Dukker narrowed his eyes and his tail tip flicked up and down several times before stilling. The tail movement told me that he was annoyed and rightly so. I hadn’t known about the shuttles, support, and security crews being removed. It irritated me that I hadn’t been given that information. No back up security was going to make the job so much more difficult. Not impossible, but it was almost as if the odds of our success were being subtly stacked against us.
It was standard emergency procedure to remove personnel from the asteroid if the situation deteriorated to the point where the lives and safety of the staff, as few as there were in comparison to the inmates, were in mortal danger. Generally speaking, the prisoners had free-run of the asteroid, and the support crew was only there to make sure food, water, and medicine were distributed fairly. Security was there for protection of the support staff and to ensure that no inmates left the asteroid. As far as the current information I had went, neither the support staff nor security crew had been in any mortal danger. There had been no riots, moves of aggression against the regular staff beyond the odd incident that was more or less expected given the people held on the asteroid, or the taking over of key points of the facility. The security crew didn’t know the codes for shuttle entry and exit, so their value to the prisoners as a means to escape was zero.
The only on-going thing that I was aware of was the continued attempted hacking and attempts to leave the asteroid. Yes, the two crews that had been sent to fix the security breach had been kidnapped, tortured for what they knew, and killed. However, the data I had seemed to point to that being more an opportunistic thing the first time than a hastily planned assault like the second one seemed to be. Even with the second kidnapping, it appeared more of an unfortunate set of circumstances coming together than something executed after careful planning.
Was the continued hacking, kidnapping of the repair crews, and attempts at leaving the asteroid really as renegade as it seemed? Or was it all part of some careful plan to make it look random when in reality it wasn’t? It wouldn’t be the first time that someone on the outside had been bribed or threatened into doing something by one of the inmates of the asteroid or by some of their associates who remained at large. More data was required before I could draw a positive conclusion.
I set a sub-routine into motion to mine through the information I had. It would take a while to process everything and put the disjointed pieces of information together, but it would also be a background thing for me and wouldn’t impact my performance on my mission. I half hoped that I’d find nothing, but my gut was softly telling me that not everything was as it appeared. Perhaps Moswen’s advice to go with my gut applied to more than just how far I was willing to go with his sexy brother.
Phu’aetsu: partner—permanent pairing/mate with children (long term, not necessarily monogamous)
Shu’anad: braid partner (husband/wife). Deeply committed pairing that typically only ends with the death of one partner. The pairing can be dissolved but is rare. Only a very small percentage of Awh’anise opt for this as it is a strictly monogamous relationship.
Two thin braids about the thickness of a finger are made at the left temple of the one declaring themselves shu’anad, a braid representing each partner. The style of the braid is up to personal preference and they can be basic, complex or woven with objects. Frequently the braids are made by the partner. The braids are only undone to wash the hair or tighten them as required. If children are the result of the pairing, a braid for each child is also added to the right temple.
It wasn’t every day that I got called into the big boss’ office, thanks to all the gods. The dude freaking scared me spitless. The last time I’d been ordered to appear in front of him, it was for a huge dressing down for some things I’d done on my own time but had used company machines to do. What I’d done then wasn’t entirely above board but was not exactly illegal either. Not to put too fine a point on it, but what I’d done then wasn’t all that different from some of the stuff that I was ordered to do as part of my day job, so I really didn’t see what the big deal was. It wasn’t as if I’d been caught by the wrong people doing what I was doing or had left any trace of what I’d done. I was too good for that.
I’d gotten a disciplinary action written up in my employment record that time, which I didn’t really give two shits about, as well as a week’s suspension, which I looked at as a mini vacation, and the loss of that week’s pay. The pay loss irked me as I’d been saving to buy a crystal circuit board, and those things were hideously expensive even for someone making a better than decent wage like I was. I’d also been warned not to pull shit like that again while using company equipment, or there’d be some serious-ass consequences that I really wouldn’t like. I totally believed him.
He didn’t scare me because he was my overall boss and could fire my ass in the blink of an eye with zero reason. That would suck hard as the pay and benefits of my job were awesome and I’d be hard pressed to find something as good in the private sector. I was a civilian contractor for the military, and I loved what I did as a computer engineer. I loved the high-level military clearance I got as a perk of the job even more. Finding a new job wouldn’t be hard with my rep, but it would be a pain. I’d really, really miss the big-time military clearance and all the cool shit I had easy access to.
My big boss was hard-core, career military, but that wasn’t what made me twitchy either. I had all kinds of assorted relatives that were in various branches of the military, some of them even in top-secret, super-soldier, mega-elite branches. Despite how deadly, even for an Awh’anise, that made my family, they generally didn’t scare me like my big boss.
He made me nervous because I knew he was tied to some serious off, off, off-book things that weren’t even spoken of in whispers among the military. A little poking around in files I shouldn’t have access to outlined that he did things that made some of the stuff that my relatives did in the military seem tame. Then again, I wasn’t in the loop of all the dark and dirty things that my assorted family members got into during the course of their jobs in the different branches of the military. If my big boss wanted or needed to, I was absolutely sure he could make me disappear as easy as twitching his tail.
Not that he’d be able to keep my disappearance a pure disappearance with never a trace found. As way off-book as he sometimes worked, I was stupidly well connected with the type of people who could find out exactly what happened to me and, where I was, and those people would exact revenge with extreme prejudice on my behalf if I happened to be dead in my disappearance. Tyhlian, the oldest of us triplets, was not only a Shal-hazal Litch, but also the Litch Will of his House.
You didn’t fuck with Shal-hazal if you wanted to keep on living. You most certainly didn’t screw with a Litch since the Litches were all some flavour of insane thanks to the megalomaniacs, sociopaths, and all around nasty people they shared head space with. They weren’t dangerously insane anymore thanks to the Teichle that immigrated to Awh’an, but it was still a very, very bad idea to piss off a Litch. You really didn’t want to tangle with a Shal-hazal Litch that was powerful enough to run a damn House like Tyh did.
The other three people who ran the Shal-hazal House of Heyda with Tyh were my <i>sho, sha-ter’bil </i>and <i>nebil</i>, which was something that very, very rarely happened—like freakishly rare happening. Additionally, I had at least four, maybe five other close relatives in the same House, too. I think there were some more distant relatives scattered in a few other Houses as well. My family was ridiculously abundant with Shal-hazal, something very unusual considering that Shal-hazal made up only about one percent of the general population. You didn’t get to choose to be a Shal-hazal either. You could only be born one thanks to a weird little genetic twist of DNA giving the person the mental ability of a Shal-hazal.
If anything <i>‘unfortunate’</i> were to happen to me, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that nobody in my family would give up looking for me. Given that Shal-hazal had the unique ability to actually go into your dreams and dig out information you wanted to hide—some of them not being very gentle or careful with the digging part—nothing was safe from them. If somebody would rather not share whatever a Shal-hazal wanted or needed to know, it usually didn’t end well for the one not wanting to share, and the Shal-hazal got the info they were after anyway.
Even knowing all that, my balls were a little sweaty from nervousness as I sat in front of my boss. I knew there were worse things that he could do to me than a point-blank laser pistol shot to the head. Sometimes dying was the easy way out. Depending on how large I’d fucked up, I might not rate the easy way out for being such a huge pain in somebody’s ass.
I had an idea of why I was there, but I sincerely hoped like hell that I was wrong.
I’d recently been poking around someplace I wasn’t supposed to be without being told to go stick my nose in said place. Specifically, I’d used my military clearance and my hacking skills to look into some classified Laiokian government files for Tyh’s Lor’fei, Dakvir. Dak was Laiokian as well as something a little more. That something more was the Void, and he was literally the only one in existence right now since Void babies were immediately killed on sight. Being the Void made Dak universally feared and hated by the majority of his own people, something he shared with a small minority of his people called Teichle.
Laiokians hated the Teichle so much they sometimes killed Teichle babies when they were discovered. The baby killers generally suffered nothing more than a stern talking to for what they did if the <i>“incident”</i> even made it to court. In the past, parents of Teichle babies frequently gave their children to government facilities where all kinds of horrible tests were performed on them before they were sold for profit as slaves to other worlds. The parents even knew about the activities before they sent their defenceless babies there and were totally okay with that. That boggled my mind and made me throw up a little in my mouth at the same time. Laiokians didn’t officially do that to the Teichle anymore, although according to Dak it still happened sometimes.
Like the Shal-hazal, Teichle made up a tiny fraction of the Laiokian people. Dak wanted to save as many of them as he could and give them a shot at a decent life. Since he was partner to Tyhlian, the Shal-hazal Litch Will of the House of Heyda and one of my triplet brothers, it was totally possible he could do that with the backing of the House.
Dak’s parents were Teichle, so he had a bit of a vested interest in them. Dak wanted to know where his former government had sold the Teichle from the Facility before he was involved in helping the Teichle immigrate to Awh’an under a deal he brokered between the two governments. His goal was to find them, buy or steal them from the slave-owning scum that bought them, and bring the Teichle to Awh’an where they could live as free people among others who actually wanted them around and didn’t hate them on sight just because they were Teichle.
I was one of the best hackers around, and that wasn’t bragging. Dak knew that and asked me to go digging into secret Laiokian government archives he was sure existed to find the info that the officials were insisting wasn’t there. I saw his request as something I was morally obligated to do as slavery was a huge no-no among the Awh’anise and a pretty much universally loathed practice. If we came across instances of slavery, we did our best to stamp that nastiness out if we could. Slavery was something repugnant to us freedom-loving Awh’anise.
The info Laiok said didn’t exist was there, buried deep in files, in exacting detail. The Laiokian love of precise record keeping and staggering levels of bureaucracy made tracing the pieces of shit that bought the Teichle stupidly easy once I found the right thread to start pulling on. What I found about the sales and the continuing contact between the Laiokian government and the buyers was appalling and sickening and pissed me off big time. I gave everything I found to Dak and wished him luck in getting the Teichle still out there trapped in slavery back. I figured there was going to be another influx of Teichle coming to Awh’an soon once Dak finished his mission of mercy. That could only be a good thing in my mind, and I was more than happy to help Dak however I could.
I was ninety-nine point nine percent sure that I hadn’t left a trace of my activities in the Laiokian government archives, but nothing was a certainty in life, and I might’ve missed cleaning something up as I was leaving. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’d accidentally tripped a security wire while sneaking around in a classified place where I had no business being in. It hadn’t happened in years, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t happen.
Carefully ransacking the super secret files of a government that wasn’t mine and then liberating the information I found to give it to the most hated and feared man of the government I’d taken it from wasn’t even remotely legal or sanctioned. If my little foray had been discovered by Laiok, I was in so much deep shit, I wasn’t sure that my family connections would protect me. It wouldn’t matter that I’d been trying to help end some slavery. Causing a galactic incident between currently friendly planets was damn high on the do-not-do list.
“Tohan, you’re being sent to Demmron,” said my boss as he fixed me with a stern look.
Demmron was an asteroid in an irregular orbit around a dead planet in a little travelled part of the galaxy. The remote and barren nature of the place wasn’t what made my balls try and climb up my ass and my throat go bone dry in fear. The fact that it was a penal colony reserved for the worst of the worst offenders was what scared me spitless. It was also where various governments sent <i>‘problem individuals’</i> whom they couldn’t outright kill for whatever reason. I think I’d turned myself into a <i>‘problem individual’</i> by getting that info for Dak. <i>Fuck me</i>. I’d still do it again even if I knew the price, but fuck.
Cold sweat ran down my spine, and my tail tip puffed up to at least twice its normal size in fear. I was apparently in very, very deep shit. Possibly of the never crawl-your-way-out variety. This was exactly the sort of fate-worse-than-death thing I’d been afraid my boss would do to me. <i>Shit, shit, shit</i>. I was so very screwed.
“Sir?” I asked in a voice I somehow managed to keep from trembling. Go me.
Escape plans were already running through my head at the speed of light. If they detained me right away, getting away was going to be lot harder. Not impossible though. All I’d need to do was sleep. Once asleep, I could call Moswen in my dreams and have him steal me away. He could literally take me out of a secure cell just by using dreams and pop me anywhere in any galaxy in minutes because he was a Shal-hazal Spirit and that’s what they did. He was also the Spirit Will of the same House as Tyh, so it would be stupid easy for him to do that.
Kijika, Moswen’s husband, liked me and would probably be able to convince his grandfather, the king, to give me asylum in their country, which was on a different planet in a different solar system than either Awh’an or Laiok. Gi-foeh, the planet Kijika and Moswen lived on, was a nice place even if I’d feel like I was living in the land of the giants because of how freaking tall the Vylfians were. I could deal with that though when the options were land of the giants or the toughest, meanest super-max jail I knew about.
Moswen would probably do it because we were family, and family always helped each other out. He had a really strong sense of justice though, and he might not take me away into hiding because I’d obviously done something really, really wrong to get my charming ass sentenced to Demmron. Then again, he was also extremely fair-minded and didn’t blindly follow orders. There hadn’t been a trial of any kind, not even a farcical one, that had sentenced me to Demmron, and that would really offend his sense of rightness. So maybe he would save my ass. I figured I had a fifty/fifty shot with Moswen. I was working myself into a fine bit of panic before my boss spoke again.
“Relax, Tohan. You’re not being sent there as punishment,” he said, a tiny smile ticking up one corner of his mouth. He’d obviously intended to scare the crap out of me and was highly amused at my reaction. Asshole. “Or because of any of your extra-curricular activities.”
Oh yeah, he knew about my little tour through Laiok’s classified and not-supposed-to-exist files. But if he wasn’t going to string me up by my balls for that little search and retrieve mission—done without approval, even if it was to save lives and end slavery for some people—I wasn’t going to open my mouth to try to defend what I’d done. Admit nothing even when they caught you with the stuff you were stealing nestled snugly in your sweaty little hands.
“The government of Daquan wants to hire you to find and fix a problem they’re having with the computer system on Demmron. Since the asteroid is within their territory, they’re responsible for overseeing the facility and any problems therein. It appears that the shuttle and security system is being hacked by some of the prisoners on the ground, but they can’t figure out how. So far, two shuttles have managed to leave the asteroid without permission. They were blown out of the sky by the automated security system orbiting the asteroid before the shuttles managed to reach escape velocity, but the second ship got significantly further than the first before the security system blew it to pieces. That smells like the system is being tested. The Daquan government thinks that in addition to the shuttles being cleared for lift off and not triggering the auto defenses on the ground, whomever was in the ship was somehow linking the ground to the ship and working to hack the secondary defenses in orbit by using the shuttle as a way point before the shuttle got blown out of the sky.”
I nodded. That made sense. That also meant there were some real brains and a shitload of determination behind this effort. Everybody who was stuck on the asteroid wanted off it, but not everybody who was there had the brains, power, and drive to make the attempt especially when the attempts would most likely end up with the person flying the shuttle getting vaporized until the override for the security systems was found and triggered. To have people willing to die for the one behind the attempts was very troubling when talking about the type of criminals or <i>‘problem individuals’</i> who had been sentenced to one of the harshest prisons in the galaxy. That sort of devotion smacked of fanatical fervor and was scary as fuck. Those people would do absolutely anything for the one they’d given their devotion, no questions asked. Any of those criminals escaping would be epically bad for all kinds of people, not just the ones that had caused the criminals to be sent to Demmron in the first place.
A more unpleasant and frightening possibility was that the pilots of the shuttles hadn’t been <i>willing</i> to risk their lives but were forced into doing it somehow. Sure, everybody and their pet <i>cetr’ide</i> knew about space travel. Many of them had probably even flown to other planets. That didn’t mean everybody who’d been on a space ship knew how to fly one. That was a highly specialized skill set even with all the things that were computer controlled on a ship. Most people wouldn’t have the faintest idea of how to start up a ship never mind take off and fly it into the great beyond. I was amaze-balls with computers, but I couldn’t fly my way out of a wet paper bag without a shit-ton of luck.
I didn’t doubt for one second that there were people on Demmron who knew how to fly a space ship. Where else would you put dangerous space pirates but in a super-max that was known for blowing up unauthorized ships in their air space without warning? I was also sure that everybody on Demmron knew that to try to leave without the proper codes meant your ass would be vaporized without giving you the chance to turn back. I couldn’t see any but the most fanatical of fanatics going that route, and the typical pirate didn’t strike me as the true believer kind.
“Why hire me? Yeah, I’m a very, very good computer engineer. The best here on Awh’an and probably the best on several other planets. Daquan has top notch engineers, and they’re recognized across several galaxy for their skills in both hardware and software design. Hell, there’re several Daquan engineers that I admire for their elegant coding. Why not send one of their own people to fix the problem?”
My boss snorted softly, amusement in his eyes. “You might want to tone down the ego a tad, Tohan.”
I shrugged. “I’m the best. You know it. I know it. Several governments on other planets know it. That’s not ego, it’s fact. It’s probably why Daquan wants to hire me. Still doesn’t entirely explain why they wouldn’t send their own people who are acknowledged as tops in their field and who’d be familiar with the systems to fix the issue. They should have no problem finding home-grown talent to handle the attack to their system. Probably be a hell of a lot cheaper than hiring me, too, if they went with their own people.”
My boss sighed and got serious again. Crap. I wasn’t going to like whatever he was about to tell me.
“They did send their own people. Some of their brightest. More than once, too. According to the incident reports, the most recent crew lasted a whopping four days before they were taken hostage, tortured, and killed. Daquan thinks that part of the reason the last shuttle got as far as it did was because of the intel squeezed out of the poor bastards tortured to death.”
“Well, fuck,” I said with a heavy sigh. Things were beginning to make total sense to me now. “Here’s your new assignment, Tohan. By the way, you’ll probably be brutally tortured to death to help violent, sociopathic criminals escape a prison they’ve been rightly sentenced to. Have fun and watch your tail.”
My boss gave another amused snort before turning serious again.
“There is an element of danger, yes. But, Daquan has researched us as a people, and you specifically for this job. They need somebody highly skilled in computer engineering who can think outside of the lines and can also handle himself in a fight or a tight situation that turns violent. They know of your Shal-hazal connections and that if you found yourself compromised and about to be tortured like the previous crews, you’d have a virtually unstoppable escape route through Shal-hazal Spirit Will Moswen or one of the other Spirits of his House. They don’t want to hire a Spirit to safeguard their own people when they can basically get one for free with you because they know, given the chance, your family will save your ass if you call for help. I don’t think I need to remind you how costly it is to hire a Shal-hazal.”
Okay, that was a totally valid point and made a lot of sense from a cash-saving point of view. One of the biggest exports of Awh’an was soldiers or mercenaries. We were well known across several galaxies as an extremely aggressive, violent species that excelled at combat and could even be said to lust after it. It was frequently said by other species that one Awh’anise soldier was worth six regular soldiers. Military service is mandatory for one year, and many choose to stay in the military because it fulfills a desire for higher than normal violence levels in an acceptable way with good pay. Shal-hazal, a highly specialized branch of the military, could be hired by anybody who had the cash to do it although one must to be seriously rich to hire just one Shal-hazal—like emperor-of-a-country rich to hire one.
Shal-hazal were staggeringly expensive to hire because of what they could do. Usually, countries trying for a coup or to quell a hostile invasion hired a couple of Shal-hazal to do the work that would normally be next to impossible for several teams of highly trained soldiers in a precision timed attack. When you had an individual who could literally pop out of thin air, scoop up the target, and leave the same way in the amount of time it took to draw two breaths or simply invade a target’s dreams, absorb their mind, and leave the body to die while retaining all the intel, yeah, you were going to be paying serious cash for that kind of talent.
I’d done my service, but the military life as a soldier wasn’t one for me. I wasn’t all that keen on the rules and regulations that’d been forced on me as a soldier. I understood the reasons for those rules and regulations and followed them while I was a soldier, but it wasn’t a situation that was compatible with my personality. I had a little too much of that outside-of-the-lines thinking to make a good soldier though I was a decent fighter made better by the training. I could certainly hold my own with another typical Awh’anise. That translated into being a damn good fighter who was above average when compared to most other species. With that in mind, my skills as a computer engineer and my connections to powerful Shal-hazal, I could totally see where Daquan was going with the idea of hiring me even if I thought there were some serious flaws in their plan.
“So, I’ll be heading up a team and be responsible for their safety on this job? Gotta say that plan seems destined to fail, and I hate starting out on the losing end of the game. I can watch out for my own ass, but I can’t watch out for a bunch of other people at the same time and be expected to keep them all safe and in one piece, too—especially if they’re shit fighters. Most non-Awh’anise I’ve met are useless unless they’ve had intensive training. Just to be clear, if things went sideways and I yelled for help, Moswen or whoever he sends likely wouldn’t save anyone but me either. Him or another Shal-hazal Spirit saving me isn’t a given either. Probable, but not a for sure thing.”
“No team. Just you. The larger teams they sent in were either picked off one by one or captured as a group. The thought right now is that one person going in with one of their security people has a better chance of going relatively unnoticed than a half dozen engineers with another half dozen soldiers standing at the ready. I agree with that. It makes better tactical sense to send in as small a team as possible, do the work, and get the hell out before the natives really know what’s going on. I did try to talk them into hiring at least one of our regular soldiers to go with you as part of your security detail, but they want one of their own shadowing you and to keep the party as small as possible. As I mentioned, they researched you and don’t want you strolling off with any sensitive data they’d prefer to keep to themselves.”
I couldn’t help the grin at that. I’d be a stone cold liar if I said the thought of keeping a little info in my personal files after the job was complete wouldn’t happen. I’d always be a hacker first and a computer engineer second. Not that I’d do anything with the files I managed to liberate. It would be more of a trophy thing than something to take for profit. I wasn’t a criminal. The thing with Dak and those files I got for him was something completely different. While I guess it technically was a criminal thing that I did for Dak, I didn’t make any money off stealing the files for him, and the idea of making any money off that information was sickening.
“How would this security person know what I may or may not slip onto a data stick? Your typical soldier doesn’t know much about computers beyond where the on button is and how to find the kinkiest porn out there. I highly doubt they’d realize the value of a string of code that may or may not find its way to a data stick or that I’d commit to memory if I’m really working my programming awesomeness. I doubt the average soldier would even catch me copying shit onto a data stick in the first place. He or she could watch me vigilantly for hours but most of what I’d be doing would likely mean nothing to him or her and be very, very boring unless he or she understood code.
“Also, Daquan does realize that with just me working the problem, it’ll take longer than if I had help, right? Not saying I can’t do it by myself, but I sorta got the idea that this is a time sensitive thing. I can only work so fast, and there are only so many hours in the day. That might shave things awfully close on shutting down whoever is behind the escape attempts, especially if they got significantly closer with the last try.”
My boss grinned at me, his look reeking of triumph. It was actually a touch unsettling to see that expression on his face. I kinda felt like I was being set up for something, but that it would be something I’d find almost impossible to refuse. What the hell did they think they could offer me that I couldn’t get on my own or just say a big fat nope to? I wasn’t super materialistic, and my needs were actually pretty simple, crystal circuit boards aside. I was stumped.
I belatedly remembered that my government got a nice little commission fee for loaning me out to others. Going by the shit-eating grin I was seeing, that commission had to be a very fat one for this job, and one my boss was absolutely sure I was going to say yes to it. I was both curious and wary at the same time.
“They’ll send one of their cyborgs with you as your shield and their security measure if you take the job.”
I sucked in a sharp breath and excitement zinged through me so fast I felt a touch lightheaded. I was fascinated and maybe even a little bit obsessed with cyborgs. Daquan cyborgs were perfection and the sort of cyborgs that all others aspired to be but always fell woefully short of. I’d read everything I’d been able to get my hands on about the cyborgs of Daquan. They were utterly elegant works of form and function, a gorgeous marriage of organic, mechanical, and electronic parts. I wasn’t ashamed to admit that I got hard thinking of the complete beauty of them. The very idea of actually touching one and running my hands over the marvel that they were shoved my lust through the roof. If I was one hundred percent honest I probably had a fetish for them. They were, by far, the most advanced cyborgs I knew about, and finding out anything beyond what was available to the public was pretty much mission impossible.
Daquan rabidly guarded the secret of how they created such perfect organic machines. The files, aside from being top secret, were held in an impenetrable vault, in a deep underground lab at a high-security military base. The computers and servers that held all the info on the cyborgs were on a closed system that had no outside connection. You had to physically be in the room to access the data, and even then, you needed to provide biometric data as the security passcodes to access anything. Even the power plant that ran the computers and servers was in the vault itself making it a truly tech island unto itself.
Not that I knew any of that because I’d tried multiple times to break into their data files without success.
My boss pushed a data pad across his desk. “Everything that’s been tried to solve the security problem is on that data pad. There’s also a brief on the cyborg included in the file. Be careful, Tohan. They investigated the fuck out of you before they approached us to hire you. I’m one hundred and fifty percent sure that they decided to send a cyborg with you because of your interest in them, and that they knew it would sweeten a dangerous deal for you to agree to do the job. I believe they know throwing money at you wouldn’t be an incentive given your family connections. They even knew that you’re allowed to refuse any contract you want that’s outside of Awh’anise interests, which this problem certainly is. They were extremely thorough, and they want you on this badly.”
That seemed like a reasonable assumption. It was no secret that I found organic/mechanical creations fascinating. Hell, I’d done my doctoral thesis on the applications and morality of cybernetics and how it held the possibility of changing species forever, be that good or bad. I’d have loved to have been involved in the study and application of cybernetics, but I was weak as hell on the biology end of things and understood my limitations. I could’ve still worked on the hardware side of things, but I’d have wanted to be involved in all aspects because they fascinated me so damn much. The money thing... Well Moswen was married to an honest to gods prince, so if I really, really needed cash for something huge, it wouldn’t be that big a deal to beg some off Kijika. He was cool like that.
I opened the file on the data pad and skimmed the reports on what had been done to try to fix the security breach. I wasn’t absorbing everything in the quick read and would need to take the time to go through the reports in depth to understand fully what had been tried. It appeared that the teams sent previously had been competent and methodical in their approach from the bits and pieces I did pick up. That they hadn’t solved the problem or gotten very far in finding the breach, limited time or not, was not good. Somebody was covering their tracks as they worked to break the codes. That complicated things but didn’t make it impossible. I was a little intrigued now, but not to the point of saying yes to the job.
I closed that folder and opened the one titled Warrick-cyborg, anticipation making me almost giddy. My cock jumped to attention so fast it was a wonder I didn’t pass out from the massive blood rush to my dick at seeing the picture on the screen. <i>Damn</i>. I was staring at a truly magnificent work of art. A tiny growl of want trickled from my throat as erotic thoughts speared through my brain on their way to settle with aching need in my balls. Daquan had more than done their homework on me and what pushed my buttons hard.
I was seen as a little weird by most Awh’anise because I was only attracted to males. As a species that was predominately bi-sexual, preferring only one sex was a very minority thing. The most beautiful female in existence could prance around naked in front of me while we were both caught in the midst of our breeding cycles, and there wouldn’t be so much as the barest twitch of interest from my cock. I could certainly appreciate the beauty of the female form, but it had never aroused me.
The man in the picture was hotness incarnate and so fucking sexy that my cock was actually starting to throb in time with my heartbeat. His face was utterly gorgeous with a full, almost pouty bottom lip that—and I was willing to bet every last crystal circuit board I owned—would look and feel fantastic wrapped around my cock. His eyes had a come-fuck-me quality to them that I really wanted to take him up on. The picture wasn’t clear enough to make out the exact colour of his eyes despite my abusing the zoom function of the data pad. His eyes caught the light oddly in the photo making them almost appear jewel-like and gold in colour. He had dark purple hair, which was my favourite colour, and it fell in loose waves a little past his shoulders. I wanted to run my fingers through it as I kissed him senseless. His skin, what I could see that wasn’t covered by the short jacket he was wearing, was white as paper, utterly blemish free, and desperately in need of licking by me. He looked to be in his mid-twenties but his actual age could be anything as cyborgs apparently aged differently than regular people from what I’d been able to learn.
His mechanical body, what I could see of it beyond the short jacket he was wearing, was a thing of beauty. The design was sleek and functional while still staying true to the ideal for many bipedal species. The metal was gold in colour, and it seemed like there was subtle gold striping of the metal. It actually reminded me a little of the Throw-back striping Moswen had on his skin, which I’d always thought was pretty fucking cool looking. Warrick looked like somebody had checked off all the boxes of qualities that I found attractive, handed the paperwork to the cyborg scientists, and said, “Make this so we can trip all of Tohan’s sexual triggers at once and get him to agree to anything we want.”
Given the effort Daquan had put into checking me out and tailoring their offer to make it nearly impossible to resist, I was willing to bet Warrick was going to have some rather interesting optional parts included in his mission satchel as well. Aside from having a rep as an aggressive and violent species, Awh’anise were also widely known to have stupidly high sex drives. We would fuck any time, anywhere, and did it with a frequency that often had other species raising eyebrows. We weren’t quite ruled by our need for sex, but it was a huge drive that we tended to indulge a lot.
Daquan cyborgs were primarily soldiers and bodyguards. If you had the cash to afford one, you could apparently also request a few of the more fun options to be included in your package. Or so the rumours said. A giddy rush of excitement hit me when I realized that Daquan had likely shown a picture of me to Warrick along with my stats, asked him if he found me sexually attractive, and asked if he would have sex with me as it was pretty much a given that I’d ask him to fuck during our time together given my obsession over cyborgs. He had to have said yes if he was the cyborg going into hell with me. Not that sex was a must, but it would be an amazingly sweet bonus if that was part of what was offered, which I was damn sure was.
“So I’m guessing by your reaction to the cyborg that you’ll take the job,” my boss said with a smirk.
“I could be intrigued by the puzzle of figuring out the security leak,” I said as I continued to stare at the picture of Warrick and resisted the temptation of kneading my aching cock.
“You likely are. But I doubt you get as aroused as you are right now by the thought of solving some intricate computer puzzle. One look at the picture, and you damn near reek of lust. The cyborg has you by the cock, and you haven’t even seen him in person yet. Do you even know if anything sexual is possible with one? Do they even know what sex is?”
“Yeah, it’s totally possible. I’ve heard that they can come with optional parts that allow for that. Their brain is organic, and that’s where sexuality and arousal stems from, so yeah, they know what sex is and, I believe, can feel the desire for it just like any other organic being. I want the job,” I said as I closed the enticing folder with the hotter than hot picture of Warrick. I was going to be jacking off like crazy to that picture of Warrick later.
“One of our space ships will take you to Daquan. From there, you’ll pick up the cyborg and board one of the registered shuttles that is allowed to land on Demmron. You leave tomorrow morning. I’d also suggest you give whatever family member you need to a heads up about this job just in case it turns into a shit-show and you need to get your ass out of there an hour ago.”
I nodded and stood. Even without being told to loop in certain members of my family, I’d have done it. The job I’d just agreed to was dangerous as fuck, and it would be seven kinds of stupid to walk my sweet ass into that situation without having some kind of backup plan already in place. I wasn’t a genius, but I also wasn’t an idiot. Contingency planning would only help in keeping my ass in one piece.
“One more thing, Tohan.”
“Don’t go wandering through any more foreign government files using government property unless we tell you to. There are forms to fill out and sub-committees that need to approve of that shit before any of it can happen. The next time you find yourself in need of confirmation of facts, come see me first, and I’ll cut through the crap for you if you can prove that the matter is both serious and urgent. Clear?”
I licked my lips nervously and nodded. That was a don’t-fuck-around-or-you’re-dead voice if I’d ever heard one. There was no question in my mind now that he knew exactly what I’d been up to, what I’d borrowed-without-asking, and whom I’d given the information to. I’d take the warning to heart because I highly doubted I’d get another one.
“Crystal, sir. Thank you, sir. I’ll hand off what I was working on to one of the programmers I’ve been training. I was close to being done anyway, and she shouldn’t have any problem handling the last few details. Would it be a problem with Daquan if I could get a Shal-hazal Spirit to ferry me to their jump off point? It’d shave days off my initial travel time and get me working on the solution to their problem that much sooner.”
My boss snickered. “You mean get you face-to-face with your new bit of jerk-off obsession that much faster? No, I don’t think they’ll have a problem with that. I’ll let them know that you may be able to start sooner than anticipated. Watch your tail while you’re there, Tohan. I’d hate to lose my best hacker—excuse me, computer engineer—because he was careless and paying more attention to his protection’s ass than his own.”
“I’ll be watching both our asses. I’m not into dying just yet. Definitely not into dying before checking out just what sort of options package Warrick has been given for this job.”
My boss waved me off with a laugh, and I left his office, the data pad gripped firmly in my hands. I had a staff member to brief, bags to pack, and a favour to wheedle out of family. Hopefully, I could abuse my connections to powerful people and get to see Warrick sooner rather than later. If the gods favoured me, that might even translate into wriggling into his bed earlier than if I were to travel by space ship. I grinned in excitement. What I was about to do was incredibly dangerous, but the rewards had the possibility of blowing my freaking mind with their awesomeness. I could hardly wait.
My steps faltered a bit at the thought that I wasn’t sure if Effie was still at my place. I hadn’t seen him this morning, but that didn’t mean anything. He’d crawled into bed with me late last night, draping himself over my back and hugging me tight. Despite the AC being cranked to deep freezer cold to deal with the heat and humidity of summer on Awh’an, it took very little time before I was sweating my nuts off from the heat Effie was generating. He was going to be pissed at me for leaving. Stars knew why, but he had big time separation issues. A pissed off <i>hy’prae<i> was <i>not</i> something you wanted to be anywhere near, and Effie was a <i>hy’prae</i>.
A typical <i>hy’prae</i> stands about knee-high on an average adult male and weighs roughly fifty pounds. With eight legs and six eyes, long, thin fangs that inject a paralytic/numbing toxin into their prey, a very much not-picky appetite, as well as a totally true rep for being extremely aggressive to the point of deadly if they decide they don’t like you, people tended to stay as far away from a <i>hy’prae</i> as possible. You didn’t mess with one unless you had a death wish because they were highly unpredictable and very frequently deadly.
<i>Hy’prae</i> were wild animals and utterly refused to be domesticated even if you somehow managed to get one that was only hours old and tried to raise it yourself. To the best of my knowledge, that had never ended well for one of the individuals, usually the dumb-ass Awh’anise who thought their try at making a <i>hy’prae</i> a pet would be different from every other fatal time it had been tried. A <i>hy’prae</i> sometimes choose to be around an individual for reasons that were a total mystery as far as I knew. Best guess was that they were simply curious.
I groaned softly. I was going to have to get somebody to check on Effie and my place for me, and the only one that I knew that Effie liked aside from myself was Kushaiah. Unfortunately, Kushaiah, didn’t share the love with Effie. At all. He was actually kinda afraid of and creeped out by Effie. I could sort of see Kushaiah’s thoughts on them given what a <i>hy’prae</i> was known for even if Effie had never done a single aggressive thing to Kushaiah.
I was pretty sure Effie knew Kushaiah was afraid of him. Effie frequently tried to crawl into Kushaiah’s lap because sometimes Effie was just an asshole like that. Effie had been hanging around me for the better part of a year and didn’t show any signs of getting bored with my company and wandering off to find somebody or something new. The few times I’d gone somewhere he couldn’t join me when he wanted to, well, that’s how I found out about his separation issues. Little bastard trashed my apartment and damn near killed the manager when she entered to check on the noise complaint from my neighbours.
Effie could open windows and doors just fine as long as they weren’t locked, although to be fair, I wasn’t one hundred convinced that he couldn’t open a locked door if he really tried. He could come and go as he pleased from my apartment as I always left a window unlocked for him. I didn’t really have to worry about other unexpected guests through the window. If somebody was crazy enough to scale nine floors to reach my place, then they deserved whatever they could steal from me. Of course, if they ran into Effie once they got in, my problem wouldn’t be filing an insurance claim and making a police report but figuring out how to get blood and guts out of my carpets and off the walls once Effie was done with the burglar. Effie sometime liked to play with his food, and that was just gross to watch.
Effie didn’t always close the window behind himself even though I’d taught him to do it. He knew he was supposed to close it after getting in, too. I think he sometimes did it to see me lose my shit when I came home to find the window wide open and my power bill wince-worthy because he really was an asshole at times. Asshole behaviour aside, I really liked Effie a lot. Maybe I’d even go so far as to say I loved him. I’d never say that to him though. He was territorial and possessive enough as it was, and I was utterly convinced that he understood the concept of love. I was pretty sure he loved me because he would frequently bring me “gifts”, and I knew he’d protect me even if it cost him his life. I think he was working some weird sort of you-saved-my-life-so-it-belongs-to-you thing. At least that was my best guess of why he was with me.
Kushaiah was a really nice guy and partnered with my half-brothers, Makis and Mered. Even with that family connection it would be a really tough sell to get him to check in on Effie because he was that twitchy around him. <i>Damn<i>. I shrugged. I’d figure it out somehow. I always did.
Sha-ter’bil: half-blood, shared father sibling (brother/sister)
Nebil: aunt/uncle through father/mother (full-blood relation)
Cetr’ide: Literal translation is ugly friend of many legs. Dangerous looking but harmless animal. Sixteen stocky legs and coarse bristles cover its entire body. It has two pincers at the ends of its foremost legs and each leg is approximately the thickness of an adult male’s thigh. Mandibles around its mouth are approximately ten inches long each. Down the backs of its legs are suckers, and it has a heavy club-like tail. It stands approximately mid-thigh on an adult male and has six eyes on its head. It eats the vines of the gesh-ta’ne, grasping the vines with its suckers. The black drool it produces dissolves the tough vines and renders the mildly paralytic poison of the vines inert.
They are not bright animals, and even wild ones can be approached and petted easily. They are often kept as pets because once a cetr’ide claims a home, it screams at ear piercing volume if its home is invaded.
Hy’prae: Spider-like creature with eight legs and six eyes standing approximately knee-high on an adult male and weighing roughly fifty pounds. They have long, thin fangs that inject a paralytic/numbing toxin into their prey. They are typically purple-black in colour with a coarse, hairy coat of the same colour tipped in dark green over their back. They can move quickly over short distances or walk at a slow pace for days on end without needing rest.
They are web-builders as well as opportunistic ambush predators. If particularly hungry they will also actively stalk prey and have been known to track prey patiently for hours. They will eat whatever they can catch and will take down prey larger than themselves. They are mostly solitary but some will form partnerships or groups either short or long term although the exact reasons for a grouping is not fully known/understood.
Hy’prae are highly intelligent with complex puzzle/logic solving capabilities. If one finds another species interesting, it will stay with that species of its own free-will for an indeterminate amount of time ranging from a few hours to days, weeks, or even years. They are highly prized as companion animals, however; they cannot be forced into the relationship and must want it themselves. They will become extremely aggressive and even deadly if forced to stay or be in contact with someone they don’t like or want to be around. By the same token, they can take an immediate dislike to a person and will attack until they or the person is dead.
This sci-fi fic by ID Locke began last year and tells the story of Tohan, a brilliant engineer- and hacker- who has been hired to fix a computer program breach on a super max prison asteroid. Even if his cyborg bodyguard, Warrick, is a perk of the job, not everything is as it seems, and if he doesn't figure it all out soon enough, both he and Warrick will pay the price.
(The most recent chapter is available at our Patreon and will post here a few weeks after.)