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  1. Oh no, lack of the calendar can't hide it from me!! Happy Birthday to our very own @Myr!!
  2. Cia

    Chapter 83

    “You are to be interviewed as soon as possible.” “I see,” Captain said. He stood ramrod straight. The alien in front of us with the line of guards blocking the exit ramp of our ship was tall with a large head topped with a dome of purple scales, and all the swirling patches on his clothes made him look very important. “The prisoners?” he asked. His voice hissed on the end of the word, and the multiple nostrils on the end of his protruding snout snapped shut to cut off the sound. “Ready for transfer.” Deke and his small team stood behind three transports with thick bars. They were gagged as well. I was relieved. I clenched my hands in fists, looking away from their glares and frantic movements hampered by the fields holding them to the transports. Three men snapped their weapons into holsters on their thighs and stepped forward from the line behind the man in charge. They walked away immediately, not waiting for the rest of their squad. The color of the scales darkened on the male’s head. “Now, if each of you will follow along with one of my men, we will start the interviews.” He began to turn. Wait. What? Each of us go with one of them…? I tensed, and Captain stepped back and to the side so his body barely covered mine. “No,” Captain said. A bugled whistle pained my ears, and all the color faded from the guy’s scales. “No?” he hissed. “We are not subject to military interrogation as civilian contractors, even if we were working on the Council’s orders, which we were not. As such, we can only be interviewed on the matter as a case of civil unrest as false imprisonment and violence was perpetuated against us and we fought back to retain our rights of freedom and life. If the Council convenes and wishes to judge the matter as one of abuse of power by a planetary governing body, we can also be called to testify before them as to that matter. “Otherwise, you have no legal right to separate, question, or detain my crew. We have provided evidence of criminal actions, the criminals who are so accused who survived the violence against us, and we stand ready to testify in public session as to these matters. That is all.” Captain stood straight and tall in front of me, protecting me and the rest of the crew, and he didn’t bend an inch. His voice didn’t shake as he firmly stated our rights. If I wasn’t so damn scared, I’d be whooping. Deke clearly wanted to, that, or start laughing at the sheer dumbfounded shock that even I could recognize on the alien’s face. Freska elbowed him. He huffed, and I glanced at him. All the amusement faded from his face and cold fury took over as I heard plastic scraping noises. Someone had just armed their weapon. Freska spoke up. “Do you really think us so naïve us to approach Central without putting surveillance in place to ensure our presence would not be swept away like so many other embarrassing debacles for the powers that be?” “We have control of all the technology—” “I am technology you have never seen,” Danie said. He stood beside Freska. “And you have no idea what I can do. What I will do, if you try to harm any of these people who are just trying to right wrongs that have happened to too many innocents. That video that was transmitted? A single command and only a few seconds against a few old men and women. I had no need to use more… deadly means.” The cold, impersonal tone was as scary as the implied threat if the soldiers’ faces were anything to go by. The alien whipped one of its tentacles behind its back, and the weapons were powered down. “You cannot hide from this. Everyone saw what you did. It is your duty—” Captain cut him off. “I did my duty, for years, for people who were looking out for themselves. For greed. Power. What I’ve learned? Power corrupts. No one remains untouched. No one has the right to demand I give up my life to save the rest of the universe, and I’m not going to risk those who depend on me just to satisfy some heroic ideal any real soldier knows is fake bullshit. Bad things happen every day, on planets all over the universe. Someone else is just going to have to fix them. I’m done.” Captain backed up, pushing me with him. We retreated into the ship, never turning our backs on the soldiers on the ground. As soon as the hatch slid shut, Captain’s shoulders slumped. I put my hands on them and leaned against his back, resting my head against his shoulders. “I shouldn’t have spoken for the whole crew like that,” he said. He looked at the hold which held basically the whole crew. Everyone was armed or carrying supplies for running, in case we’d had to abandon the ship. “Hell yes, you should have,” Deke said. “Captain Querry, you should know by now that you are more than just the captain of our ship, you are the man who we all follow because you would do anything for us. Fight off fictional Elite who are hell bent on taking over the universe, refuse to bend to sneaky politicians who’d turn us into figureheads and puppets or worse, scapegoats.” Others nodded at Freska’s words. “But that Council toady was right. We won’t be able to escape this. Our ship is known to every single station, dock ring, and landing field on every planet with a vid system. We’re either famous or infamous—and I don’t know which would be worse.” “Stop being such a defeatist. You solved that already. Like a damn intern, always spouting off silly questions they know the answer to,” Aparoe muttered.
  3. Cia

    Chapter 82

    “Where’s Deke?” I’d expected him to be in the meeting I’d interrupted, but as it broke up and everyone went to their respective parts of the ship, he’d been nowhere to be seen. “He insisted on overseeing the ship security after he locked up that Elite bastard. Said he didn’t trust them not to have put something on the ship or tricked the A.I. even though Freska said the ship confirmed we’re clear of any devices or anything.” I turned quickly from the viewscreen that showed the system we were currently passing. “Is that a concern?” “No,” Captain said soothingly, “like I said, the ship’s A.I. said nothing was added or installed while she was berthed. It’s safe.” He put a hand on my back. “I think Deke’s just restless because he didn’t have anything to do. He’s not used to someone else being able to do all the ass kicking, as he put it.” “He said we kicked ass?” I didn’t know if I should be pleased, but I kind of was. My face heated. My skills weren’t a good thing, but they could be used to kick ass, if I needed them to. But that wasn’t the kind of work I wanted to do. That’s why I was working in maintenance, not security. That, and I’d never trusted myself before. Turns out I’d been right to worry— “Kohen? Were you listening to me?” Captain stopped in the middle of the corridor. “Oh. No.” I’d been locked in my own brain again. “Sorry.” “Do you need to find a place to meditate or go see Aparoe for something? I should have taken you straight to Medical,” he fretted. He slid his arm around my waist. “You can lean on me, talk to me, if you need to.” “No, I’m fine. Just… thinking.” I curled my arm around Captain’s back, enjoying his closeness. “I will tell you my thoughts. Just… not now.” That word kept coming. Just a little worry. Just a simple plan. Just thinking, just not talking. “In the meeting, you mentioned delivering the Elite, your cousin and his contact, and what vid files we could only stream and then record for the more far-flung galaxies.” I licked my lips. “But what about after?” We were still in the middle of the corridor. Anyone could come by. This ship was small, so it wasn’t like there was much privacy outside of his quarters. But I couldn’t wait to ask these questions later—I’d go mad waiting for the answers the whole day. Captain raised a brow. “We’ve talked about that.” “So… planet with a good patch of dirt and water and space port not too far off for when everyone comes to visit?” Sure enough, our privacy was invaded and someone had been listening to our conversation. The voice came before the body turned the corner. “Like you’re going to have any privacy or time to yourselves or the crew will let you just up and disappear on us.” Deke twisted at the waist, his spine cracking. “I’ve been sitting and torturing for too long; I need some place to stretch out. This ship is tiny compared to the last one.” “The last ship was an attempt to bribe us into complacency and laziness. And it almost worked,” Captain pointed out. “Would’ve too, if it wasn’t for Kohen and Danie.” Deke waved a hand. “Whatever. It was still nice not to be cramped in a space tin can. Can’t blow stuff up or really get a workout in. Just you wait, Kohen, I know of this one planet Captain Querry and I once spent four months on digging out an encampment of Preus IV immigrants that couldn’t speak a lick of standard and who used deadly force as a method of greeting.” “Seriously?” I frowned. “This is one of those fake stories you tell, isn’t it?” “No, no,” Deke said. He tilted his head back exposing the soft underside of his neck and chin, pointed out the scar, then started walking back down the corridor. I had to follow to keep up with him and hhear is hoice. “See that scar there? One of them said hello and sliced into my throat. Aparoe was so mad they threatened to stop fixing me for the whole rest of the trip to Central after that.” “How was it your fault?” I asked indignantly. “Trust me, it usually is when something goes wrong,” Captain said. “Biggest pain in my ass still somehow became head of my security.” “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” I didn’t remember where I’d read or heard the suggestion, but it seemed like a good fit for the situation. Deke was, well, Deke. I had to suppress a laugh when Deke wordlessly objected. The two of them exchanged a look. “Hey, I saw that!” Now it was my turn to object. “Are you guys managing me?” “You seemed nervous after the meeting, wanting to know where Deke was before. The chaos will end, and we will all be okay,” Captain said soothingly. “I promise.” He really shouldn’t promise things he couldn’t guarantee, but I knew he’d try. They both would. And I was coming to the realization that I might not need to fight, but I’d do it if I had to if that’s what it took to protect me and mine. The next two shifts were spent traveling straight for the Central alliance. My waking hours I spent with the keepers of the ship—my good friends, a few new ones. I was trying to learn all the jobs; I was good and cleaning and fixing things but the ship was really self-sufficient. I was slowly going crazy. Worse, everyone knew about us, so we couldn’t stop at most of the medium-sized arrays. So, by the time that planet came back into view with its crowded air space, I might as well been strapped to the outside of our ship to wave. That’s about all I was good for.
  4. Cia

    Chapter 81

    The third person you are referring to I believe are Kohen's internal thoughts about Danie, or that was the intention. He's thinking about what Danie is saying and how he's been acting but since it is in first person, I can't say "I thought" or something similar to show it's his thoughts because you don't think you're thinking about something, you just think it. It's a hard line to walk sometimes with internal discourse/thought in first person mixed in with narration, but since I don't head hop to other characters or show scenes outside of Kohen's POV either (since, again, it's in first person so we can only see what he knows/sees) then you can assume that anything like that is his internal dialogue about another character, not third person narration about the character from the author POV. Sorry if that came across confusing though!
  5. Well happy May to everyone! Is it moderate and beautiful where you are? The year is moving faster and faster, but and we're approaching Pride month next month. Did you catch the feature call for the Premium short stories themed with coming out stories? It's something many gay authors face, no matter what orientation we claim (and can't that be interesting to explain?!) and it's no surprise it's often the subject of teen fiction as well. Let's take a look at another long-time favorite GA author's take on the subject with this month's CSR feature! The Strange Life of Jonas Marks by @comicfan Length: 57,189 Description: Jonas Marks has just graduated high school when he tells his father he is gay. The end result is that Jonas is tossed out of his home. With no money, no job, and no place to call home he ends up on his friend Jenny's couch till he starts working at Kroger's. Then his life just gets strange. A/N: This story originally began as a short story in the Anthology Walk on the Wild Side. I had a number of people comment on how it really needed to be expanded. The end result is what you are now looking at. For those who read and comment, this is for you. Thank you for your vote of confidence and I hope this lives up to what you expect of me. A Reader Said: What a surprise to suddenly find an epilogue here! It suits your story quite well. The story arc developed nicely and I like the end. I'm glad it's not a major cliffhanger but interestingly a sequel might be possible, who knows Anyway, thank you for this great story, I enjoyed it a lot. ~ Zenobia So enjoy this month's CSR selection, but don't forget to be ready to come back and share your thoughts and comment on the Discussion day on Monday, May 27th!
  6. IRL: Tapping. I hate tapping noises. Pen clicking, tapping pencils, tapping me. I repeat, "You are not in music class and you are not a drummer." sooooooo many times a day at school at students. Writing: Authors who can't be bothered to learn the craft. They send their work to editors or get told they could fix this or that and are given information on HOW yet refuse to do the work to even TRY to learn to apply it to their own writing skills and abilities. The tale does NOT trump the telling! Respect the craft, do the learning, show your story the honor it deserves by making it the best it can be before you ask others to help you out. I detest laziness in all forms but this drives me crazy. Reading: Readers who prejudge a book or dare to give a review based on things that just aren't fair to the author, the story, etc... based on personal bias. If you don't like something, don't read it!
  7. Cia

    Chapter 81

    “Kohen, calm down.” Captain’s warm hands landed on my shoulders. He squeezed them, rubbing the tense muscles. “I won’t let anyone take you away from me. We’re bonded, remember? Where you go, I go.” “But you just said—” “I know, and maybe I need to censor some of the information I share with you until you are a little calmer. Breathe, okay? There may be some calls for action against us by those who are dirty or who were colluding with the Elites and hoping not to get caught, but I know Freska. She’s damned every single one of the dirty bastards. They’ll go down for this. And even if governments are calling for action against us, there’s a simple solution.” Captain pulled me toward his chest, folding me into his arms. Bunching my hands into his uniform, I breathed in his scent, took in his heat. Fronts pressed together, there was no escaping my reaction to him, but this wasn’t that kind of intimacy. I matched my breathing to his, slowing down my sharp gulps for air. I pressed my forehead to his shoulder. “Thank you.” I blinked and leaned my head back. “What solution?” A slow smile spread across his face. Captain shrugged. “We just go to one of the planets that is hailing us as heroes and settle down. I’m sure at least a few of them are good enough to stick around forever on. You trust me, right?” “Always.” “Good. I already knew that, but I wanted to be sure that you remembered you trusted me. That you can always trust me.” He leaned in, his lips parting. Knowing what was coming, wanting it, I met him in a gentle kiss of lips. His hands roamed my back, hypnotizing sweeps up and down along my spine. Brushing our mouths together, he covered every inch of my top and bottom lip with tiny nibbles with his lush lips, taking his time before finally giving me the firm pressure I craved. “Mmm,” I sighed. The last of the tension leeched out of my body. Captain backed me up to the bunk. I watched languidly as he finished getting ready and then left. Sleep claimed me soon after. The door alert woke me, but it took me a few moments to put on some clothes. “Danie?” “Can I come in?” Danie looked up and down the corridor. “Sure?” I drew out the word, backing up so he could step inside. He was acting strange, which was saying a lot for him. His behavior was never quite what was expected. His outsides might mimic a human perfectly, but he hadn’t been programmed to act perfectly. Bandages covered his arms. “Are you okay?” I asked him. “Yes. The medic says they will heal quickly, but they are deep enough to warrant covering.” He’d been scratched during the attack. I’d forgotten. Being busy killing people had that effect. “Are you… um… do you want to sit down?” I waved a hand toward the lounge area. “I guess.” They both sat a foot or two apart. Danie sat quietly, but he didn’t speak. I shifted around, looking at him then away, then back at him. “What did you come by for?” I asked. It might sound abrupt, but well… I wanted to know. “Do you dream?” he asked. I frowned. “Dream? Like make plans for life? Or like sleep?” “It is an ambiguous term. I meant sleep.” “Yes.” Though I hadn’t, not with Captain watching over me. He made everything better. “I had… flashes. While I was recharging and in stand-by. Freska says I’m sleeping, even though I’m not really human, so was it a dream?” “Maybe?” How was I supposed to know? I didn’t want to say that though. “Did you ask Freska?” Danie’s eyes widened. “I can’t do that.” “Why not?” Now I was curious. I settled into the couch. “It was about her. What if she became upset or some other emotion? She’s different from everyone else. I can connect with her.” He touched the back of his neck, but his other hand drifted up his chest. I don’t even know if he realized it. “I don’t want to lose that.” He was worried about offending Freska. Maybe embarrassed about the dream? And he didn’t want to lose his connection to her? The longer Danie was alive, for lack of a better word, the more he was integrating his hardware and software. His humanness. “Is that all you dream about? Freska?” “It was after we killed those people. When she connected with us. I could feel her inside me. I-I like it. What if she did it again?” Danie tilted his head. “I don’t understand any of this. Is this how you felt, when you were rescued?” Was it? He’d been scared, confused, stressed, angry, happy, and so much more in such a short span of time. There’d been a plot to capture or use or kill him since he’d been sold the first time, and his first brush of freedom hadn’t stopped that. But Captain had. Maybe that’s what Freska did for Danie. “Some. But what I’ve learned is that talking with people is the best way to make sure they know how you feel and you can learn how they feel. So you should talk to Freska, even if that seems like it’s a bad idea.” “That’s it? Talk to her?” I stood. “That’s it.” I needed to get some clothes on. I’d slept enough, and talking with Danie made me realize if I wanted to be a part of Captain’s decisions, I needed to remember I didn’t want him protecting me. I had to stay strong, rebuild the confidence I had. This crew made me one of them, so I wasn’t going to shirk my duties. First I’d seek out Captain to learn what was happening and what our plan was, then I’d find something useful to do.
  8. How'd you enjoy The Assassin? I know when I read it that I couldn't stop. I just had to know what was going to happen next, what sort of plan was unfolding, who was coming after the guys, who they might turn to... so many twists and turns in the story evolution. I enjoyed it, and I hope you did too, so make sure you share your comments below. But first...! My interview with Lilansui is below, so you get to know all the deep details of the writing journey before you comment. Have you ever gone out in public, realized your shirt is on backwards, and just don’t care? Something close, it was inside out and not backwards. My workplace was running a conference. I woke up late, so I dressed fast in a black top and jeans, rushed out of my house to collect supplies from my office, and then drive to the conference hall. At the venue, I worked for a solid hour until one of the ladies I work with took me by the hand and led me into a small office. She’s like, ‘Your top is inside out.’ It should have mortified me, but I just laughed, changed and continued as if nothing happened. Thinking of it now, was it to happen in my starting out days, that would have mortified me, but not anymore. If you were an animal, what would you be? A cat. I have one and she just sleeps and eats without a care in the world. All she has to do is cute poses and I’m done for…hahaha. What’s one location you’d love to go to research for a story? Istanbul, Turkey. The carpets, the architecture, the history…so much. I can just imagine it already. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? The toughest criticism: - I have had criticisms, lots of them, from ‘your work needs more research’, ‘bad grammar’, ‘huge plot holes’ to ‘I don’t understand what you’re trying to say with this one’. I take them, love them and learn more. Best Compliment: - Came in a personal message sent to me on social from someone who thanked me for writing an Asian character in Kiss Me to Spring Time who found love in a gay story. He said it gave him hope, hope and more hope and to keep creating more such characters. He made me cry. Is there a literary character (in the whole universe of fiction) that you’ve read who you really identified with? There is a manga named Nana by Yazawa Ai. It’s about two girls with the same name, Nana, moving to Tokyo for a fresh start. When I first read it, and I was around twenty or so, I swear, I fell in love with Nana the rock star. Her ambition made her so awesome, that I wanted the best for her always, plus she was in love with a guitarist, and she built her own table. She was soo cool. I collected all the books in this manga series. For a while, I thought I would only ever wear Vivienne Westwood knuckle rings and listen to punk rock, hahaha. Nana inspired me to find courage in my own life. Up to this day, I find great pleasure in rereading her story. I loved that she had a dream, and decided to make it come true on her own terms. I loved, and still love her style of doing things. She’s a get-it-done kind of girl, and I strive to be that too. There was this assassin… and a milkshake at the mall. Seriously, where did those two ideas come from and how did they get paired together? When I was in high school, my friends and I were in different schools and we would have to wait for each other at the food court in the mall, so that we could do whatever we had planned for the afternoon. Whoever made it first would buy a milkshake, as they waited. I figured Kian would try one out if he ever went to the mall. He likes the strawberry one, lol. A lot of your stories have eastern influences. Is it easy or hard to mesh cultures when writing fiction? When I first started writing, it was hard. I worried a lot about mixing characters with different ideals, and such different backgrounds, putting them together and going like, dear readers, here you are, believe this can happen. It was hard, and I needed to do a lot of research, I even thought this might be a crazy idea, better stop. Then one day I decided to stop worrying and just write what I wanted to express. From personal experience at work and life, I meet people from all types of cultures. I’m comfortable thinking of Diwali, the lunar year or going to an Indian festival of colors, the same way I invite people to my house for Chuseok, thanksgiving or Christmas, that it now seems commonplace to have meshed cultures. I can’t be the only one who has this happening. So, I decided to jump in and bring my characters to life in a similar way. I think communities as they exist today are very diverse in nature. There is no place in the world you’ll go and find only one kind of person, in terms of culture, or any other category you might choose, unless the community itself is living in a kind of vacuum. We’ve all become a global village of sorts. Thinking of it this way, writing meshed cultures has gotten so much easier and I don’t struggle as much as I did when I first started. Did you connect with Daven or Kian more as a character as you wrote The Assassin? Why? I connected with Kian the most, as his life unfolded for me from when he was quite young. He was someone who had lived a life without love, or comfort at home. He had a lot of hardship and a very warped sense of what things are right or wrong. By the time he’s meeting Daven, he has met the world, and it has given him love, (in Taewon), then forced him to give it up to protect it. He’s not confident in himself and does not even think of seeing the future. I wondered how I would ever get Daven to like him. Hahaha. Daven came to me in a situational sequence; I had to spend a lot more time getting to know him. He came out stronger than I expected, and it was fun getting him to rescue Kian at some point. He was a great hero to create. In this story the characters jet around the world to quite a few locations. Have you visited any that were mentioned in the storyline? I had a work exchange a few years ago that had me in France for a week. My host family had a charming apartment in the city. Their daughter, Hye Sung, who turned into my very good friend, took me to café du trocadero when she got out of work, or very early in the morning for breakfast when we could. My stay with them was very short, but very inspiring experience. I had to give Paris a mention. What’s your favorite part of The Assassin? Why? My favorite part is Kian and Daven’s date in Amsterdam, although Kian leaves Daven at the end of it, I think it was the first time he truly did something he wanted without fear. I thought it beautiful.
  9. Cia

    Chapter 80

    Captain held me tight, his body wedged behind mine. His breath heated my neck, and his hips were rocking the hard bar pressed tight to my ass in subtle surges. I went from lazy grogginess to aching need in seconds. My shaft filled, the skin behind my balls literally aching with the need to be touched. A heated sigh and shudder left me. “Captain.” “Hmm?” He nuzzled my neck. “You awake?” Part of him was. His arm slid down my stomach. “Hmm, you are. You need me?” “I want you.” I always needed him, but I wanted him too. The weight behind my ear shifted, and the synthgar’s pinch sent a lance of heat through me. My eyelids grew heavy, but I didn’t want to look away from the strong fingers I was twining with mine. That he let me touch him, squeezed our hands together even, was priceless. I couldn’t see the tiny creature move to Captain, but the bond between us flared and his hips surged against my ass as he gasped. “Ahh, Kohen.” Captain’s fingers stroked my cheek, my lips, as he tilted my head sideways to look into my eyes. “You’re amazing.” What I felt from him… he wiped the dark places inside me clean with the pure joy and heat beaming through our bond. I needed him closer, and I didn’t even have to say it. Captain stretched past me and reached for lubricant. Snick. Squish. Slick rubbing. Panting. The sounds of sex took the place of words we didn’t need to say as Captain played my body exquisite sureness. His arm under me stroked my chest, grazing my right nipple with the edge of his thumbnail. I arched my back and then exhaled in a long ahh as his slick fingers found my entrance and danced over the tight flesh. He pressed without entering until I pushed back, then he slid his finger inside in a long, slow glide. Still new, it ached and forced my walls to part, but I was so intent on the feelings he was delivering to me through our bond and as he strummed my body, I was too busy processing all the exquisite sensations to focus on the pain of the stretching. No, I knew what was coming and I couldn’t wait. “Please,” I exhaled on a whisper. He was in so much need, I didn’t know how he was holding back. “Now.” Captain grabbed more lube, then he rolled me over. “Want you face to face.” “’Kay.” He hovered between my legs on his knees. Captain leaned forward on one fist shoved in the bedding over my shoulder, the other wrapped around his erection as he breached me, his eyes watching with need, the same need I felt wrapping around us both through our bond. It wasn’t enough that I was feeling him entering me, each fraction of his rosy head piercing my core and then inch after inch of his shaft… no, I could feel my stretched rim squeezing him like a hand wrapped tight, then soft, warm walls pressing against the sides, top, and bottom of his shaft and easing the path as the lube spread. He lost it the last few inches and sank in deep, thudding our bodies together. I curled up, crying out, and he froze. “Again!” I demanded. He always treated me as if I was about to break, but this time, this time I needed more. He needed to fill me, consume me, take me roughly. Thank the stars for our bond because I clutched at him but didn’t have to say anything more. The lazy rhythm I woke to and that he’d stretched me with was gone, and Captain followed both our desires to completion. We fell back asleep, still wrapped together, messy, my body and his smelling of each other’s lust. It was doomed from the start, however, as duty reared its ugly head. We were pinged not nearly long enough later to overcome my exhaustion—or Captain was. “Sir, we’re receiving massive amounts of incoming messages directed to your eyes only. Freska has handled what she could but—” Captain sighed. “I understand. I’ll be there shortly.” I crossed my arms over my chest, holding the blanket beneath my chin. Captain stroked my hip. “Sorry. We knew this would probably happen; Freska did release a doozy of a message on the universe.” He probably should’ve been working since the moment we got back to the ship. Everyone else had been, it sounded like. “Sorry I distracted you.” “Hey,” Captain said. He leaned down, kissing me, parting my lips, teasing my tongue. He pulled away reluctantly. “I needed to reconnect with you after that just as much as you needed me. This bond between us is important and needs to be nurtured. We can’t just ignore it. I don’t want to, even if we could. Okay?” I nodded. “Okay.” I rolled onto my back to watch him dress. “What do you think the messages say? Who are they from?” “Planetary leaders. Central Council members. All wanting to know how Elites are real, how we found out about their plans, why we didn’t contact a committee, is it really true, what are we going to do now, come in for debriefing, demands for information sharing, calls for justice for and against us, conscription.” At the last one, I jolted up. “Can they do that?” “No.” Captain shook his head. “Central cannot compel our military service once we’ve been released, and every single person on this ship has been released.” “Except me. And Danie. Oh my god, what if they demand you hand over me and Danie?”
  10. Just let me know in a PM if you need to talk a short extension!
  11. I have one submission for this, woohoo!! Any other surprise writers? Who's next, @Thorn Wilde @Valkyrie ?
  12. Cia

    Chapter 79

    I didn’t know if that was possible. Safety was an illusion. There was always someone or something bigger out there. And the whole universe would be in an uproar after what Freska revealed. “Does it have to be us?” I asked. “Do you trust anyone else?” he asked me quietly. He rubbed my cheeks with his thumbs. “No.” I sighed. I didn’t even really trust Anyas, not after his performance. How much had been an act as he tried to stay as true to our original plans as possible of revealing the Elite’s plans to the universe by bouncing the signal off the ship’s A.I. network versus his clear obeisance to Rilecca and her father? He was a consummate actor and politician—able to play both sides and jump wherever and whenever it benefitted him. Still… he’d helped us. He’d benefit from it; already he was talking to Freska, attempting to consolidate power and information. Deke stood over the pitiful old man. Danie watched everything dispassionately. Did he care that we’d been used? What we’d done, how we’d had our free will taken away? Maybe he’d known freedom for too short of a time, or maybe he was more machine than human and it didn’t really register. I wanted to grab onto Captain and never let go, but my hands were stained. Blood had splashed down my front. I couldn’t even let him squeeze me to him, take comfort in more than his hands touching me. “Do we have to stay here?” The urgent need to wash away the taint of violence consumed me. “No. Anyas, we are going to retreat to our ship. The documents and agreements have been signed; we will deliver our copies to Central Command. I’m sure someone will have taken charge there by the time we get back and will be prepared to oversee a response. Freska will ping your system for updates as needed to ensure you’ve taken control and are ensuring the retreat of any forces and influences under Elite control as soon as possible.” Even I could hear the implied threat—do as you promised or Freska would find out. And we might have needed Anyas’s help for this mission, but we’d come back with the might of many behind us if he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain or tried to take the same path Rilecca thought to. “He goes with us.” Deke hauled up Lord whoever. His shattered leg wouldn’t hold him, so Deke dragged him, ignoring his mewling whines. I almost protested, but then I remembered all the times I suffered, all the men and women I’d hurt or killed, and all the people who were still suffering because of the monster. All my sympathy dried up and I stared at him with hard eyes. “Shut up or I will let Captain cut our your tongue so we don’t have to listen to you, even if I don’t have to worry about you taking control of my brain,” I hissed. “I lived with more pain than that on a daily basis.” Back on the ship, Captain escorted me to our room. “Don’t you need to go command things?” I said with a wave of my hand. I desperately wanted to shower. “No. Someone else can take care of it.” Captain looked deep in my eyes. “I’m exactly where I need to be.” He reached out and released the catch on my shirt, spreading the fabric. “I can do that!” I rushed to say. He didn’t need to touch the stained fabric. “So can I,” he replied. He didn’t speak again, just removed the rest of my clothes methodically, then led me with an arm around my waist into the shower. He didn’t touch my hands, somehow sensing that would be too much for me. As soon as the water was warm, Captain drew me into the stream. It was so rare to feel a hot water bathing, I relished the heat and wet. We didn’t speak as Captain took hold of both my wrists and held my hands in the water. The drops streamed down, beating on the flesh and washing away the rusty stains and darkness. Captain grabbed soap and lathered it up, suds coating his hands. The first touch of the slippery bubbles and his firm fingers massaging my hands sent a shudder down my spine. I watched intently as he washed the palms and backs of my hands, then carefully scrubbed each finger, leaving no spot uncleaned. Unclean. “Oh, Kohen, you aren’t….” Captain held my hands under the water with his and let the suds rinse away, then pulled me in close. Heat and the unique musk of his skin surrounded me as he read my mind, or maybe the tears I hadn’t realized were streaming down my face. Sobs clawed at my throat, the screams of rage and betrayal and fear swamping me and the soothing love he tried to send me. If I could have, I would burrow into him, but all I could do was cling to Captain and the reassurance I could feel him trying to share with me through our bond. I could feel it, feel him. He was sad, sorry that he hadn’t protected me, guilty at his failure… “You didn’t fail.” I gulped, looking up at him with burning eyes. “I didn’t listen. You told me a long time ago what you were afraid of, and it happened. That’s on me.” Captain’s arms were like steel bands. “I couldn’t feel you. You were locked away from me. It was like our bond was broken, even though I could see you in the room with me.” Maybe I wasn’t the only one to suffer when Rilecca took control of my brain. I snuggled in closer to him. “You couldn’t have known. It wasn’t something we predicted. Freska saved me and Danie. We’re safe now.” I held him just as tight as he held me.
  13. Did you catch Monday's featured ad sharing Underthehoodter's story, First Encounters? The story takes you back to those early days when the world was a different place and romance was something new and scary and amazing... and you need to read the story find out more! If you weren't intrigued before, how about after reading this excerpt? This moment is that first conversation, that first interaction... that WHAM! You all remember it, right? When you felt the stomach churn and the other... parts that locked on to another person and made you a complete idiot when you tried to talk to them? Yeah, that's in the story, and Underthehoodster captured it perfectly, imo. Read on! LOL To read more, click here.
  14. Happy April and welcome to this month's Classic Author Feature! These blogs are all about bringing some of the older stories from our inactive authors that were once some of our most popular promoted authors that newer readers might have missed. Last month's story took you a bit forward, and this month's story takes you back. Revisit those early teen years and the crush you might have missed out on in @underthehoodster's First Encounters. Length: 51,634 Description: Perry (A fairly rich kid who always seems to be in some sort of trouble) and Jesse (A poor kid who is a blackbelt and has a bad past reguarding his previous schools and his father) find love for each other after Jesse moves to Perry's school from another city. A Reader Said: I enjoyed this fully. It was a true and amazing record of a new loving relationship between two teenagers. This was so well written and a pleasure to read. Now on to the ‘Discoveries ‘. ~ Cinnamon If you want to spread the word about Underthehoodster's story, download the graphic below and add it to your signature! Make sure you come back on Wednesday to see the excerpt I chose to share!
  15. Cia

    Chapter 78

    “If you want to kill your father, do it yourself!” Freska demanded. “But my friends are not your pawns. And before you even think to order those guards to do anything to us, know that I have skills you did not even know I possessed. Did you wonder what I was doing before you pretended to wake up? Do you know I don’t need to touch electronic systems once they’ve let me in? I know that this whole place is wired for vid and sound.” Rilecca gaped at her. “What?” “See, I figured you would need proof of them killing your father, which meant you’d record it. That meant there had to be a recording system even in this chamber where the council met. I asked the building AI to access the system and broadcast it. Live. So your plan might have been to pretend to mourn and take your father’s place, but now your people know the truth.” “So?” Rilecca hissed. “I still hold the power. My father’s generation is done; I have allies and we will take over.” She straightened, planting a smirk on her face. “This is even better. I have my father to plumb for even more information, but my people will respect my power. They will respect my ability to see a plan through and fall in line behind me so I don’t take them down for getting in my way. And we still control Brox and your Central Council. What if I don’t change our role in the universe like you so naively believed I would? What if we just keep taking over planets and systems?” “See, the AI gave me all that information too. And I asked it to not just broadcast to your planet, but to connect to my ship’s A.I. which your father failed to neutralize when they towed it here. My ship is equipped with custom systems I designed; this was broadcasting to the entire vid network. That means a live vid of all your information is bouncing out among the stars. Right. Now.” Freska stood tall and triumphant, holding Danie to her. “You lose, you and all you damn Elite bastards who thought they could just take what they wanted and damn the rest of the universe in the process!” For the first time Rilecca looked truly shocked. She staggered, and one of the guards rushed to her. “My lady, your orders?” She gasped. “Kill them!” “I don’t think so!” Anyas stepped in front of the group and pressed something on his belt. A shield went up, the shimmer just visible as it rose from the floor to the ceiling. “Back up,” he hissed. “Corner. Now.” Captain and Deke fanned out, more of the undetectable weapons in their hands. Had they had them the whole time? Anyas grinned over his shoulder at me. “They really need to learn to search Elites better. I am not nearly as padded as they seem to think life on that frozen wasteland made me.” Blasts ricocheted off the shield and hit the walls and ceiling. Powder and bits of the building flew through the air, and that did make it through the shield. I started coughing, doubling over. “Kohen, are you okay?” Captain glanced over his shoulder. I nodded and waved my hand, unable to talk. I just wanted this to be over. Deke stepped out from the shield and shot, winging a guard, then he darted back inside. The chaos actually helped as the screams and mess from the three guards’ shots added to the confusion, letting Deke and Captain take them out one by one. That just left Rilecca hiding behind the chairs and her father who was slumped on the floor by the table. “Kill order, Captain?” Deke asked. He hesitated. Deke closed ranks, and they started saying something that wasn’t filtering in to the mess that was spinning inside my brain. Then Rilecca’s head popped up and she made a break for the door. A flurry of activity took us all by surprise when Anyas dropped the shield, jumped forward, scooped up the weapon that had fallen from one guard’s hands and shot her, right in the back. Blood bloomed on her gown at the base of her neck and her arms flew outward. Rilecca’s initial wail cut off with a wet gurgle, and she fell to the ground. The wound on her back was small, but the pool of blood under her head and chest spread rapidly. Anyas turned, gun held ready, and pointed it at her father, the only surviving Elite in the room besides him. “No!” Danie said. “He knows things. Information. We need him.” “I thought we had her.” Anyas gestured toward Freska with his free hand, not taking his sights off the aged Elite. “She can talk to all the computers; nothing is secret or protected from her.” “Freska has been trying to unlock my memories, and there’s stuff in here I know he is responsible for. The things he did… he’s a monster, but killing him helps no one and could damage our ability to unravel his plans.” Danie was calm, rational. I wasn’t. “It would help me!” My chest was heaving. “He has to die. He knows how to take control of us. He can’t… no one should be able to do that.” My voice broke. Captain tossed his weapon to Deke and rushed to me. He pulled me into his arms, and I clung to him. I buried my face in his shoulder. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” “Shh,” he murmured. Freska turned. “No, Kohen, you’re safe. I broke the conditioning, once I found the keys from the AI here. No one can do that to you again. I’m sorry, but Danie’s right. There’s much still to unravel.” Captain pulled back. “We’ll put him in restraints. Gag him. Cut out his tongue. Whatever you need.” He cupped my face. “Never again, Kohen. I’ll make you feel safe.”
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