Despite my extremely perverse frame of mind this weekend, I opted for “If I were you, I’d…”
A Sun in Its Womb
Knackers didn’t waste any time confronting Aja about the disastrous meeting with Jordy. He barged into the room like a badly programmed service unit and proceeded to spew bureaucratic venom.
“We’ve got our legal team on this. You have a parental interest in the fetus, or whatever it is. STOA has a duty to preserve and protect you.” The man paced while Aja watched him warily. “They were supposed to park their larva here. We would protect it, let it learn. There’s nothing in the treaty about it taking away additional genetic material.”
“I’m an adult human. Not genetic material.”
“To them, that’s all you are.”
Aja wasn’t quite buying that. He didn’t believe he’d just exchanged smiles and mouthed declarations of love with someone who saw him as a test subject. He needed to talk with Jordy, and he resented STOA in general and Knackers in particular for keeping him from her. “Just let me see her. I can get those answers you so desperately want—”
Light gleamed on Knackers teeth. “We’re getting our answers. As far as anyone, including the Fer, are concerned, you will be getting on that ship in an hour.”
“You’re letting me go?” His heart actually leaped. But then it dropped back with panic. Was STOA sending him off with the Fer? Did he even want that?
“I didn’t say that.” Knackers walked up and slapped him in the neck. Aja felt the sting of a needle just before his body went cold as space itself. His vision narrowed to the other man’s smiling face, then mocking eyes, then nothing.
* * * *
He felt the cold first, then opened his eyes to low, soft light. His skin detected the faint hum of machinery and he moved his hand automatically to his hip to summon Fritz, but the clothing he touched felt unfamiliar. Crinkly. Beeps cascaded nearby and something moved.
“We’re sorry, Mr. Paz,” a female voice intruded, low and faintly insincere. “It was better for you to be unconscious during the transfer.”
“Transfer?” His mouth felt dry.
“Sub warp shift. We timed our jump with the Fer ship’s departure. Its energy footprint obliterated our little signal. If I were you, I’d just relax and enjoy the trip.”
He was no longer on the station. And the Fer ship… had left human space. Jordy was gone. And he didn’t know, not for certain, what STOA had said or done or given the Fer to persuade her to leave him behind.
Jordy. He couldn’t bring himself to say her name. This woman probably wouldn’t know who Jordy was or, if she did, he didn’t want to talk to her about anything to do with the alien. He didn’t know what STOA’s plans for him might be. Perhaps he would never speak to anyone but STOA personnel again. They’d done something. Made a deal with the Fer, or tricked them. Whatever they’d done, Aja Paz was being taken away to disappear.
He drew deep breaths of sterile air. Jump ship air. It differed only in chemical traces from station air. He had never breathed air trapped by the mass of a planet and now he never would. The titanium walls of the life support tube wavered through his tears, then disappeared. The entire tube… disappeared. The jump ship dissolved like sugar granules spooned into hot coffee.
The STOA tech screamed, but the person standing beside Aja’s table hardly merited that. He… or she… had riotous curls of brown hair down to freckled shoulders, a mouth slightly too wide and lips perfect for kissing. He would have known that nose anywhere. The whole glittering plates of overlapping armor look was new, though. The tech stopped screaming and slumped into her chair the moment the Fer touched her.
“Jordy,” he said.
“I wouldn’t let them hurt you.” Jordy flashed him a grin. “I‘ve studied humans for eighty years. I knew they would try to cheat me.”
Aja sat up with Jordy’s help, his limbs still tingling from the drug. He had never seen his lover look more beautiful, even if there was something much less soft—masculine, even—about Jordy’s jaw line and voice, and more broadness in the shoulders. Softness remained in the lips, though, and Jordy’s eyes still looked the same: brown and soulful and so gorgeous he would be happy to gaze into their depths forever.
“What the hell, Jordy! You dissolved the jump ship!”
Blue architecture, elegant and faintly organic, arched in soaring spans over the filigreed space on which they now stood.
“I intend to recreate it. The humans—” Jordy waved at the five bodies slumped in their respective chairs around the platform, “—will not remember a thing. Ship’s instruments will register a debris hit that will account for deviation from expected trajectory and temporal lines. All right, bees!”
Aja looked up, startled to see several worker bees. They carried a human, one who looked just like him.
“A good copy,” Jordy said. The accompanying smile was far from cheery. “But a copy nonetheless. Loaded with psycho recorders and slip programs. They aren’t as clever as they think they are.”
After Aja’s replica took his place on the table, they all walked away. Aja joined them without hesitation. Whatever he would find with the Fer, Jordy would be with him… and probably it would beat life in some STOA holding tank. He stood beside Jordy and the worker bees on an observation platform and watched the jump ship’s hull and components regenerate, complete with visible damage to the aft shield. The Fer did good work.
Moments later that part of the Fer ship simply dematerialized and the human ship resumed its journey, vanishing upon some invisible, pre-programmed string. He’d never understand jump travel.
“Damn nasty stuff, that intra-galactic ice,” Jordy said.
(to be continued…)
I was going to wrap this story up this week, but will do so next week instead. Then I’ll try something new. Here are the links to the rest of the Wednesday Briefers and their fun stories!
Lily Sawyer m/m
Michael Mandrake m/m
Cia Nordwell m/m
MA Church m/m
Julie Lynn Hayes m/m