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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Hidden Sunlight - 13. Fundamental Unity

Standing upon the terrace, the misty warmth of Lucere's summer night surrounding me, I was faced with the uncompromising truth. There was no latitude for anything else. Even as the nocturnal weather lulled for a second, I felt as if it was over. My acceptance of what appeared to be real was the only thing remaining.

What more is left?

The garden and grass were still and in that moment of calm, I imagined him, as clear as the light of day, walking sedately across the lawn. A phantasm from my sickened mind, an image of what I wanted to be there but ... wasn't. I simply watched. Lily was completely right. I shouldn't have thought about his death, shouldn't have focused on it. It was torture and it was going to haunt me forever.

The mist swirled across the apparition, one that did justice to my memory. The smallest minutiae were as they should have been, every part of it as faithful as could be. Then, right as the ghost reached the edge of the balustrade, a foot or two below me on the grass, something in my mind clicked.

The moisture in the air was not blowing through this ghost of memory, it was hitting him.

Hitting a solid object.

A person.

...

I stepped back, the air forced from my lungs.

He leaped up gracefully onto the balustrade then off it, to stand right in front of me.

Trying to find something, anything, to say was impossible. As impossible as what I was seeing. Yet here it was.

Here he was.

Am I dreaming?

He did not move, staying perfectly still. Just looking at me. I did not shift either, but there was no denying my hope longer than a few seconds. My left hand rose, trembling, to his neck, and ...

Contact.

Damp skin. Slippery, soft, and completely utterly one hundred percent real.

I'm not dreaming.

I ran my hand up his neck, behind his ear and into his hair. Every millimetre of that movement, each sensation and touch; it all felt like I was returning home, a long journey done. My breath came in sharply and my brows knitted, emotions flaring as I tried to reconcile what I knew with what I was seeing in front of me. Shellshocked, my vision was glazed and I stared at his face, studying it for a moment as I finally found my voice.

"It's ... really you," I whispered. "I thought you were .. gone."

Mira's smile was small and sad. There was no happiness in it, only a world of regret, an ocean of remorse. He shut his eyes as my hand rested in his hair and something in him seemed to give way at that point, spurred by my touch. Eyes still closed, his head dropped slightly and then tears slipped out, sliding from the corners and down, twin trickles across his face. I couldn't speak to say how aghast I was, how torn this sight made me feel, so beautiful and so terribly wrong.

"I am sorry," his whisper came, powerful as rolling thunder. The voice reverberated through me, a sound I thought I would not hear again, and as his eyes opened, still downcast, I could not wait any longer. Moving a step closer until there was almost nothing between us, my right hand came to rest on his chest, my left to cup his chin. I pulled his face up level and his eyes met mine. The look there was not far from the one I had seen at Volkov in those few horrifying seconds, such apology and shame; 'I crave your forgiveness for delivering you this hurt, but I don't deserve it.'

I wanted to lose it right then and there, but I didn't. Somehow I reined it in, but even as I spoke my voice almost broke with every word, wavering with the emotion that made me want to simultaneously cry for joy and sorrow. "Don't ever say you're sorry for coming back," my speech was fierce but timid, distressed yet glad. "You hear? Never be sorry." Fingertips pressed into his chest, my grip tightening on his chin. "I don't care. You came back to me. You came back," I breathed, "and I nearly believed that you- ... that you were gone forever and I was alone ... but you're here. You're here and that's all that matters."

His left hand came up to my face, just as mine had to his, brushing over my cheek before settling under my chin. The tears had stopped but the liquid shine of emotion was there, a glimmering well of steel-grey empathy. For the first time since the day of his awakening, his armour, that mighty shielding of his personality, was relinquished. He was bare in front of me, so vulnerable and so unguarded.

Then, just as he had spoken to me in the bathroom, soul to soul, our eyes locked together once more and his words were reaching me silently, the speech of his inner self.

I fell into darkness, dragged by a piercing evil. My will fought this sickening but the depths were my fate. Then, everything changed. All the world was golden light and at the heart was an angel of wrath and glory. Again, you gave me life renewed. Again, you saved me. Your grace is my strength, your love is my blood. No earthly trial can keep me from you, no ward shall bar my way home. I came back because you allowed it; to honour my covenant, to cherish you and heal you as you heal me, to bring happiness and peace until the end of our days. Know this and remember it: I am always at your side and I will never leave you again.

We were so engrossed in each other, so tied together by our connection, that I did not notice at first that we had moved even closer until the tips of our noses were touching. Both his hands were holding my face and everything about the way he was acting was reassurance. Every stroke of a fingertip on my earlobe or neck, every tickle of air on my cheeks, it all spoke to say: 'I'm right here, not going anywhere at all.'

It was around then that it sank in fully.

He's alive. My miracle is alive, and he's here, and I get to touch him again. I get to see him. I get to hear him talk.

I get to kiss him.

No hesitation, I leaned in and so did he. Feather soft, our lips touched in the lightest of kisses, both parting swiftly as though brushed by a candle's flame. Then in wonder and reverence, his grasp came away from my face. Clasping my left hand, he drew it to my right where it lay still upon his chest, nestled between us; enfolding both in his own, almost as if he were praying. He let go for a second, only enough to dip his head and kiss my fingers before closing them back in again. His hands cradled mine, holding them as if guarding something precious and fragile from the world.

To protect ... me.

I could see his mind working as his hands squeezed mine and then, the words came. Speech was not his thing and verbalising his thoughts didn't come naturally and probably never would. Talking required mental connections to be made that weren't normal and seemed problematic for Mira to piece together. Yet despite the inherent difficulty for him, like many other things, it seemed he tolerated that hardship and underwent it for me.

Only, this was not a single utterance. He said an entire sentence, spoken aloud; more words in one go than I'd heard from him before.

"Shay, you are the light in my world."

"You are my miracle," I felt dizzy, drunk from hearing his voice, out of breath, "and knowing you has opened my eyes, made me feel ... alive."

Then, the smile that was reserved for me. So honest, so full of feeling, it swept away what melancholy remained, dismissing the remainder. So undeniably happy, so thoroughly content, and of course, I was instantly smiling back.

Being in love is the most fucking awesome thing in existence.

I wasn't sure how long it took me to notice, but at some point my eyes wandered to a cut on his cheek and then unable to stop myself, I was looking him over, inspecting the damage. The worst was on his right arm, littered with punctures from what I guessed was a sharpeling's teeth. The rest was a cocktail of varying severity; slashes and cuts, mostly on his arms and upper body. The same horror at seeing him injured was still there, but it was tempered now by the knowledge that he had survived a stab wound through his chest, so this was basically small fry. Still, it brought out a nurturing instinct that made me want to fuss over him. He stopped me before I could start, waylaying my probing attempts and catching my eye again with a casual look; 'oh these? They're nothing. A few scratches, that's all.'

My eyes widened. Nothing? A few scratches?! His charming flippant shrug sealed it for me, the worry reduced to minimal levels, and then I couldn't stifle my giggles. Life threatening problems? No big deal, they're only scratches. Reminds me of a classic 20th century movie. "If you even try to convince me these are 'just a flesh wound'," I murmured, "then I think I'm going to spank you for misbehaving."

As soon as the words were out, I realised what I had said and exactly how it sounded, and immediately clapped my hand over my mouth. His smile had morphed into a curious grin, his head tilted slightly as if to say; 'spanking? Is that meant to be a punishment or a reward?'

Um, yeah, well ... uh ...

As I fumbled for the proper words, Mira's hand slipped back into mine and squeezed. Then, we were moving as he pulled me towards the door to inside. Flustered, my gaze met his and despite my perennial embarrassment, he was only encouraging and at the same time, gently teasing. Just before we entered, he gave me a final cryptic message, the expression both promising and hesitant, hopeful and shy; 'I want us to find out about all of those things, if you're okay with that.'

Despite my usual crushing inability to think or act when in such situations, at that moment, I decided I wasn't going to let that stop me from experiencing life. More importantly, I wasn’t going to let it stop a part of my life that had become so vital to my own happiness and sanity that there was no facet of it that I would not embrace.

I think ... I'm fine with that.

I nodded to Mira, and he opened the door.

"Okay," I said, soft and sure, "I want to find out too."

Together, we stepped inside.

-o-0-O-0-o-

This time it wasn't me prompting Mira to get clean, but the other way round. The bathroom was the first place he took us and though I tried to let him just go ahead, he would not release my hand. Before I knew it, he was looking pointedly at the shower and telling me in his own empathic communication that he was expecting me to go first and that he was going to wait right there until I was done. Like a gentleman, he turned his back to allow me some space so I could disrobe.

Mira followed me showering and I waited for him just as he had for me, extending the same privacy before and after. I had to admit to myself that I knew it had been more for my benefit than his, to pre-empt my neurotic fear of being naked in front of him. As we made our way back to my room, clad in towels, it struck me yet again how extraordinarily considerate he was; how making me happy always seemed to be a top priority.

Anything I need is always a top priority for him.

Dumping our clothes on the floor, I wandered to the window, fastening the latches and pulling the curtains fully closed. The door clicked shut behind me as Mira closed it. Wonder what he's intending for us to wear sleeping. I pulled the bedcovers back and noticed he was still motionless by the door, just watching me, as if trying to make up his mind about something.

What's he doing?

I held his gaze in return and then, a few moments later, seemingly satisfied and having found whatever it was he was looking for, a hand came to his waist. Fingers loosened the fabric, the towel uncoiling around him. With a deft flourish, Mira whipped it away from his body and dropped it into a crumpled heap on the carpet.

Just like that, there he was.

Naked.

Lucere had given me ten times more breathless speechless brain-fried moments than the rest of my life put together, but that one right then was the award-winning prince of them all.

He's ... perfect.

Mira was a boy; not fully a child but not yet a man either. A beautiful, graceful boy. Firm and flat, soft and curved where he needed to be; he was a work of art, a study of contrasts. Tawny haired, pale skinned, fey and nimble. Yet as much reality as fable, the past promise of wet boxers was living up to expectation. More than living up to it, surpassing it in a spectacular breathtaking way. Virile, red-blooded and extremely masculine; a very sensual, very sexual boy.

Then, he was right in front of me. His eyes had found mine and at the same moment his fingers were slowly pulling at my towel, I was concentrating on his face. He was the antidote to the feeling of utter terror and the knots of anticipation tumbling around inside me. Searching for my acceptance, I gave him a wide-eyed nod right as I felt the material at last come loose, falling in a pile around my ankles.

Now I'm naked too. Completely naked in front of the boy of my dreams.

Too scared to look away, I refused to do so. Religiously locked on his face, I wanted to reach out and embrace him, but there was another message there; 'this is all for you, just lie back and enjoy it, I'm going to make you happy, okay?' There was the gentle pressure of his hands on my shoulders, a step rearward, and suddenly my upper back was resting against the wall, my body angled on a comfortable lean.

Okay.

His hands slid down my sides, leaving a trail of tingles as they descended, until they found their end target, their favourite handhold. His palms slid in symmetry across each buttock, and the touch was so evocative that my hips were pushing back involuntarily into his grip. I didn't know why but it made me feel so girlish, so submissive and feminine, but more embarrassing than that ... I loved it. Like he's claiming me, marking his territory, owning me.

Laying my head back against the wall, I closed my eyes. Mira's lips were on my neck and he began to move around my upper body, kissing and exploring with his mouth. Both sides, collarbone, shoulders, chest and then some time on the nipples. I never knew they were so responsive to touch; each movement was electric, the little nubs so sensitive and by the time he moved on, I was a converted fan. My mind strayed as he explored, a peaceful delirium, reveling in the sensations. Losing track of how long it was, after some travel, his lips eventually landed much further down.

Is he going to ... ?

It was a kiss the same as any other, at first. I felt his lips part, experimentally, then his tongue, swiping across. Oh! Then, cautiously, a hot wet smoothness was engulfing me, slipping lower and lower. Without meaning to, I let out a prolonged moan of ecstatic pleasure.

He is ... it feels so ... so ... oooh!

His hair brushed my thighs, his head moving and hands pressing me to him as my attraction bloomed, growing under his loving touch. Fingers found his hair and my breath began to quicken as his lips played with my flesh, his tongue rubbing and swishing beneath. Each caress ignited a wave of tingling goosebumps that spread out through my body. My hips wanted to push forward into this amazing divine sensation that was emanating from his mouth, but I let him tease and stroke, riding on it for those seconds, those minutes, of indulgence.

"Mira," I breathed huskily, "I don't th- ... ooh! Don't t-think I can last- ... uhh!"

Too late.

The waves became a flood, a groan of blissful satisfaction escaping from me along with the pulsing tide of release. Eyes open, my knees wobbled and nearly buckled, but Mira was standing again, catching me and easing me to the nearby bed. All of a sudden, I was incredibly drowsy but so very content, and lying back, the sheets felt wonderfully inviting. His weight was on the bed next to me, his naked body pressing against mine as he drew the covers over us.

That was just ...

Wow.

I'm the luckiest boy alive.

His arms encircled me as we became comfortable and I turned my head towards him so he could hear me as he hugged me from behind.

Have to say it. Want him to hear it.

"I love you," I whispered.

His response was typical for him. Action, not words. A delicate, sweet kiss upon my cheek.

My miracle.

I was still smiling a minute later when I drifted off to sleep.

-o-0-O-0-o-

Mira eased the door back shut as he returned to the bedroom, midnight relief taken care of. Silently, he crossed the carpet and sat down upon the bed's edge, making certain for his weight to land as evenly as possible. It had been difficult enough extricating himself from Shay's grip prior to his excursion; the boy had been clinging to him in every way possible, arms and legs wrapped around him in a needy hug that refused easy escape. As much as he had loved it, their physical forms unified in a slumbering furnace of body heat, the need for the bathroom had arisen.

So, delaying his return to the sleeping embrace of his boy, Mira stayed a moment. Instead, he wished to admire, and with the greatest care, he pulled the covers away. Inch by inch he drew them down across Shay's back and onwards until stopping midway on his thighs, revealing the splendour that Mira had longed to see.

What a sight it was.

For him, The Self, human emotions were still at times quite hard to separate, to place where they belonged in the map of his inner psyche. His understanding had come some way since that first day of salvation; the fundamental aspects of his existence augmented now by a fresh emotional calculus. Often it was impossible to distill the component feelings into portions that belonged in any one place, but it was gradually becoming easier.

Right now, it was simple.

The Other had gifted him with a fragile trust, the veil removed from his form. This angel had allowed him to see and touch unclothed, a luminous pure innocence that was incomparable. Mira knew this had opened the door to other things yet undiscovered and it moved in him two very recognisable human emotions.

He was grateful. He was very happy.

In spite of Shay's virginal fear and shyness around his nudity, Mira could not understand it as anything other than a good thing. The lust he knew was a base instinct, begun in the primitive biochemical urge to mate and reproduce, but here? Here, The Other had embedded it so deeply into his own feelings that they had become synonymous. Sex and love were one and the same, and to Mira this was the evolution of soul that so many humans would not achieve.

So, he resolved that his purpose had to include the delight of the body as much as the joy of the soul. As often as possible, he mused, for this was the best way to encourage acceptance, to promote how wholesome and healthy it was for the unified person.

Also, because pleasuring Shay was the most erotic thing he had known and he wanted to experience it again -- and soon.

Not only that, but it would grant latitude to explore. There was so much left of this canvas that was unpainted and he wished to know it all. He could not help himself and leaning, he kissed softly down the boy's spine, following the ridges of muscle and bone. The wanting only multiplied as he moved, blood coursing, a swelling in his loins, a hungry fire in his chest. His kisses travelled along the dip of that line down the lower back and continued still as it rose again with the hips, right to the top of the boy's cleft.

Unlike the other males Mira had seen, Shay was different in body as well as spirit; his torso and upper half were so narrow, slim and petite. Then from the waist, a total opposite in physical shape and style; two round smooth white mounds of muscle that fascinated him beyond anything else. They fit into his hands as if made for his grasp, the fullness of the curve and tauntingly frictionless texture of the skin acting as a sexual drug for his senses. So badly he wished to continue, to learn every part of Shay with his fingers and lips and tongue; to follow every angle and arc of bare tantalising skin right down to the toes.

Yet, not today.

His fingertip tapped so very gently against that perfect left globe as he gazed longingly at the naked form of The Other. The flesh shimmered, rippling almost imperceptibly from the lightness of impact, and he bent down, placing a delicate chaste kiss, a possessive mark, in the middle of each cheek. In his sleep, the boy moaned, his back arching, his rear pushing up slightly in unconscious response. It was innocent but so powerfully seductive, and Mira had to segregate the feeling before it could overwhelm him.

No, this was going to wait for a time when they could both enjoy it together.

Climbing back in beside Shay, he pulled the covers up once more. Stirring, his boy turned towards him and cuddled instinctively in. Shay's fingers groped softly against his stomach, head against Mira's chest as he burrowed in as close as he could get. A dreamy exhale, a harmonious sigh of reunification came from him, his beloved miracle now back next to him, within the unconscious reach of his touch

After all, Mira still had his earlier resolve. The intent was to make it happen.

Repeatedly.

For now, that would suffice.

-o-0-O-0-o-

It is the same beach from the last dream I had. The same stretch of sand and bluest sky, palms, whitecaps and soothing wind. Now, I lie on a beach towel, sunbathing. Next to me, Mira is on his own towel, napping. The scene is just right, and this time there is no abandonment, no loneliness. The summer of daytime is here to stay and I know it to be true.

This time, there will be no night.

I stretch lazily as I recline on my back, making the most of it. The heat of the tropical sun is amazing. It seems to warm my body everywhere, washing over me and right through me.

Today is a good day for the beach.

Feeling abuzz from the solar energy, the pleasing richness of the rays, I stretch out even more. Drenched from head to toe in sunlight, I twist comfortably against the towel, trying to spread that same delicious feeling all over. The fabric against my body is soft and smooth, and the touch is so good.

So damn good.

Smiling, eyes shut, I rub my arms and legs against the towel. Everything feels so nice, so intensely pleasurable. So luxurious, relaxing, soft, smooth, warm and wet.

Wet?

My eyes opened and my whole body shuddered. An explosion of orgasmic exhilaration radiated through me, and I was arching my back, thrusting my hips into the moist warmth of his mouth, sheets scrunching as I clutched at them. The bursts of pure gratification began to fade and my arousal slowly subsided as I sank back to earth. Mira's head was lifting off my lap, the covers rustling, and a second later he was right next to me. His arm slid across my chest as it rose and fell, nuzzling into my neck as I stared at the ceiling, utterly dazed.

That is ... one hell of a way to wake up.

The previous record for awesome wake-up-calls had just been shattered by today's offering. When my heartrate had calmed a bit, I turned to him, his hand climbing up my shoulder to my neck. First, there was a good-morning kiss on the tip of my nose, his fingers twirling my hair in slow circles. Then he gave me a comfortable, contented gaze; 'it's about you. All about you, and don't you forget it.'

Every time, you find a way. Just when I think you can't get any more incredible, you manage to do it. "How do you always know?" A hoarse murmur. "Last night and this morning was amazing. I just, well- ... thank you." I didn't know what else to say that didn't sound trite, so I just repeated it. "Thank you."

Mira's expression became a little surprised, and then he shot me a cheerful query. A bemused look, that seemed to say: 'this wasn't a one-time thing. You do realise it's going to happen every day, don't you?'

Huh?

"Uh ... every day?!" I croaked.

He nodded.

Wow.

A funny tight feeling was there in my chest. He really means every day. I'm going to get a, um- ... to get a, uh, blowjob, every day. It was weird enough for me to even think the word, let alone say it. An uncontrollable grin was on my face growing wider and wider, this realisation hitting home. Wonder how many guys I knew from school back in Seattle were in love and getting regular, uh, blowjobs when they were only fourteen? It was a massive ego boost, an injection of self-esteem, and the horny teenage part of me was excitedly jumping up and down. Not to mention, when we get away from all this crap and find somewhere truly safe? If we're this into each other now, then once we have some real privacy and time on our hands?

Oh my god ...

We're going to be having a LOT of sex.

The future was looking better all the time.

Before I could lapse into any hormone-powered daydreams, Mira leaned in and gave me a peck on the lips then turned, sliding out of bed. He padded lightly across to the dresser and opened it, retrieving some clean clothing. I wasn't paying attention after that as everything else felt a bit meaningless compared to what I was staring at. Completely mesmerising, the muscles in his legs, back and rear moved fluidly and easy as he searched. It was a dizzying sight and my mouth was as dry as a desert, my gaze roaming across his skin. There weren't any sharpeling cuts on this side of his body, but my throat constricted and I felt cold when I saw it; two slits, a couple inches long, right next to his spine.

It's the stab wound.

My fists clenched and I took a steadying breath. You don't have to relive it, Shay. He survived. It was the Frenchman who paid.

Still, my memory of it was raw, just like the mark on his back; not yet fully recovered.

Give it time.

I sat up in the bed and Mira turned, our clothes in hand, coming back across to the bed. For some reason, the nervousness took hold, knowing I was going to once again need to be naked in front of him in order to get dressed. Mentally I kicked myself for being illogical and silly given what had just happened. Still, letting go of that emotion was just as difficult as making myself physically release the covers themselves, my hands clutching them as tight and close around the waist as I could.

Why do I have to be so stupid about stuff like this?

Of course he knew. As I tried not to have another freak-out, he was crouching, gently prying the covers from my grip, then pulling them aside. His eyes locked to mine, calmly telling me to concentrate on his face and I did, swallowing, ignoring the strangeness of feeling so totally exposed. He grasped my knee, pivoting my body sideways so I was sitting on the edge of the bed, legs off the side. Then, without letting me look away, he lifted my feet, one at a time, and slipped the boxers onto them, pulling them up my legs.

He must think this is so ridiculous. My face was warm with the humiliation of it. "You must think I'm- ... I'm a child. Can't even dress myself around you," I muttered.

Instant response. He shook his head and spoke, putting an end to that thought.

"No."

He was shifting the boxers up my thighs and I was lifting my hips, the material sliding over my butt. As I sat back down, there was his adoring sparkling smile. It was paired with a reassuring glance that, for the millionth time it seemed, brushed away my insecurity; 'you are anything but childish and I love you just the way you are.'

Gets me every single time.

My mood jumped, my heart fluttering. Then, his eyes narrowed a little and the look became more lighthearted. Breaking eye contact, Mira glanced to the door then back to me, hovering on my face. The tip of his tongue peeked out, delicately wetting, then he bit his bottom lip in restraint, and gave a sigh, an actual wistful sigh, of resignation. It was so direct, and it said to me 'I wish you knew how badly I want to prove it, but I shouldn't wear you out before breakfast.'

Oh boy.

"Okay," I told him, a dorky lovestruck expression plastered all over my face. Then, uncharacteristic for me, the flirtiest thing possible came to mind. "You can take your time making it up to me later."

Mira brightened, eyes gleaming at this news and he nodded enthusiastically.

Yeah, one more time for the record. Being in love: Best. Thing. Ever.

Today was going to be a fantastic day.

-o-0-O-0-o-

I hadn't thought about how anyone else would react when they saw Mira. Certainly, when we walked together into the kitchen hand in hand, I wasn't expecting the sound of breaking glass and Lily squealing in shock.

The smashed cup completely forgotten, she was rushing around the counter and wrapping Mira in a tight hug. Confused and surprised, he just let it happen, completely unused to being touched by anyone that wasn't me. In another first, as soon as she let go of him, he looked her over, paused, then leaned forward and gave her a gentlemanly kiss on the cheek.

Lily went bright red. "You're okay!" She clasped her hands, pressing them against her chin. "My goodness, you're- ... you're alive." Looking from him, to me, then back to him again, her eyes glistened. "Thank heavens! It's- ... we all thought- ... I can't believe it." She took a deep breath. "Oh. Oh my. Please, excuse me."

Hurrying away, she exited the kitchen, overtaken by emotion. Konstantin was sitting at the counter and he arose, slowly. The big man was staring at Mira. He stopped, looked down to his feet and crossed himself, speaking softly as he did so. "Vo imja Otca, i Syna, i Svjatogo Duha. Amin." Then up, to me: "Every time we talk, it seems I can do nothing but seek penance from you. That evil may wear the skin of a man, but he is a peculiar demon dwelling in matter, devoid of light. I let him fool me." He shook his head, looking ashamedly at his hands. "If I listened to you, trusted in you, then so much could have changed. So much needless pain, avoided."

"Konstantin." He regarded me solemnly. "You're right. What happened was, well, I don't like using the word, but yeah, it was evil. Maybe I could hold you responsible, maybe I could hate you for it, because you could have listened. Still, you're not those men." There was a pause, for recollection. "The day León died you told me the instigators were the ones that deserved blame, so that's what I'm telling you now. Miles Hartley is at fault, not you. You're a good man and I don't think I could ever really hate you. You've helped me so much and I don't know how long we'd have survived if we didn't meet you." I paused again, this time for a lungful of air. "So, every time you try to apologise, I am going to tell you that."

"Mira too. You are a young man of blind devotion, courage and it seems to me, love also," the Russian told him. "So new to this complex and depressing world, but so much fairer than the jackals that inhabit it. I wish my apology could be stronger to you, for you have suffered far more than any deserve. There are no words to show the relief that my eyes were wrong in what they saw."

Nodding, I agreed wholeheartedly. "Trust me, I know how that feels."

"Shay, you are half his age," he said to me gravely, "but already you are twice the man that Hartley is."

"Half?" I snorted, trying to keep a straight face. "More like six or seven times. I have two centuries on him, he has a lot of maturing to do if he wants to catch up."

He looked at me curiously for a second, then his face split into a massive grin and he burst into a deep hearty laugh. Striding round the table, he clapped me on the back, and gestured for us to sit, and we did so. "Young Mr Andersen, your company is as always an honour and a delight for me. So too, is your other half, whose likeness I am so filled with happiness to see before me. There is much to discuss since our time at Lorentz, but first you boys must eat!" Konstantin clapped his hands, rubbing them together eagerly. "I think some luxury is in order. How does bacon and eggs sound, mm?"

My eyes went as round as saucers.

Did he just say bacon?

So far, today was definitely kicking yesterday's ass.

-o-0-O-0-o-

As soon as the dishes had been finished with and breakfast done with, we were off to Konstantin's office to get right down to business. Unfortunately, that business consisted of a lot of rather uninteresting computer work which was quite indecipherable to me, as it was medical-related. All I could do was sit and wait, since he needed me present but didn't require me to actually do anything. The first thing the Russian intended was to isolate the genetic virus inside me and to 're-image' it, whatever that meant, so it could be compared to the copy he had taken from Volkov.

As he set about doing this, I relaxed in the other office chair and let myself daydream about Mira. It's ironic how both Lily and Carlos noticed that I do it, and by making me so aware, they just made it even worse. 'Cause now I don't care, and I can openly admit that I enjoy it. I avoided thinking too closely about last night and the morning, since that was more like fantasising than daydreaming, and those thoughts were weird to have sitting next to someone else.

Instead, I thought back to just a couple of minutes ago at breakfast. The eggs went down nicely, but watching Mira eat bacon? The expression on his face was like rapture. He'd chewed it so slowly, every single bite being savoured and enjoyed. Konstantin had served him seconds and then thirds and he had worked his way obligingly through all of it. At least I know what to feed him to keep him happy. I giggled to myself. That was way too cute.

"Well," he said, breaking my reverie, "that is strange."

"What did you find?"

Konstantin frowned at the computer. "Nothing conclusive, yet. However, I think I am getting a lot closer." His finger traced along a couple of lines of text on the screen. "The genetic virus inside you is far beyond the original Volkov design. So far advanced, that I cannot understand enough about the gene expression to isolate elements that might delay the Sharpe virus. I don't think it spontaneously mutated, it seems to have been compelled."

"Compelled?" I raised my eyebrow at him. "What would do that?"

"Hold that thought. I want to try something."

He vanished out of the office, coming back a minute later with a syringe. Ushering me over to one of the side desks, he sat me next to a small squat looking machine. Directing me to place my left arm across a flat sensor-grid panel on the side of it, he strapped the limb so it couldn't move, then closed the upper side of the panel down on top of it, leaving only a narrow strip where my arm could be seen inside. Putting his face to the machine's viewer, he adjusted it, calibrating it to be how he needed. Then, to me: "Okay, this won't take long. A quick test. I hope you're not afraid of needles?"

"I don't love them," I told him truthfully, "but they don't bother me either."

"Good." He took the cap of the syringe, flicking the end with his nail. "This contains a concentrated sample of the Sharpe virus. It is infected human tissue." He nodded genially. "You need not be afraid of it, your immunity is already very clear. In fact, it is more dangerous to me than you. However, I am no mad scientist, and I need to ask permission of my subjects before I run tests on them."

He's going to inject it right into me? While it wasn't a very happy idea, I would have been more concerned had I not already seen Mira both bitten and scratched by sharpelings and not suffer any infection or red palms, the carrier sign. There's no point in worrying now. If I could catch this thing at all, I would have done so quite a while ago I think. Just go ahead with it.

"Okay," I agreed. "Always dreamed about having a deadly disease put straight into my bloodstream. Let's do this. For science."

Konstantin let go a sudden bark of laughter. "Good show! That's the spirit. Now, this may sting a little." He lined the needle up and I winced as it pricked into my arm. Just like that, it was done. He re-capped the syringe, placing it carefully away on the desk, then moved back to the viewer. For a minute, he looked into it, then he sat back, sporting a very odd puzzled look.

"This can't be right," he murmured. "That makes no sense."

What's going on?

"What is it?"

He rubbed his lip with an index finger. "Hold on Shay, please. I need to think." He hummed pensively for a moment. "Maybe I should try another idea."

Tapping at the machine's control panel a few moments, he hit a final button. The interior of the sensor grid lit up, and Konstantin once again put his eyes up to the viewer. He had only been looking into it for no more than twenty or thirty seconds, when I heard him inhale sharply. He jerked away from the viewer, hitting the same button on the machine. The sensor lights turned off and whatever it had been doing stopped. He was staring at me, shocked, and his normally weathered face looked unusually pale. I stared right back, feeling spooked.

"Konstantin," I said, "you're scaring me. What's going on?"

"Shay," he replied, a slight tremble in his voice, "I've just discovered the link that binds all of this together."

What?!

"Combined with Lily's help, with what she's learned from her own research," he continued, "there will be some real answers. We need to get the others, so everyone can hear this."

Just ... whoa.

He flipped the panel open, unstrapping my arm.

"Come. Today is our meeting with destiny. We must not keep her waiting."

-o-0-O-0-o-

A short time later, all five of us were gathered in the lounge. I had not been around when Carlos had learned that Mira was in fact still alive, so I had no idea how he reacted. He didn't seem to be disturbed or put out at seeing us together like the Volkov incident had never happened, so I assumed he was okay. Of course, Mira elected to sit right next to me on the couch. Lily was with Konstantin on the other couch, and Carlos took the armchair.

Not wasting any time at all, the Russian got straight to the point.

"So," he began, "I have just run two tests on Shay. The first was an injection of an infected sample into his body. The genetic virus inside him was not providing any answers at all, so I decided to try a more direct strategy: to see exactly what his body does when forced to deal with the Sharpe mutation head on."

"What did it do?"

"This was the confusing part. Your body didn't appear to do anything. The infection just .. dissipated. It was gone in seconds. There was nothing acting on it, at least not that I could see. It seemed like it just evaporated on its own."

That doesn't really explain anything.

"That made me think. I tried a second test. I bombarded the tissue on your arm with several types of radiation, to see if there was some other physical factor restricting biological mutation. Radiation causes cellular and DNA damage, among other things, and observing the impact of this at a basic level should have told me about your body's ability to withstand it. What I saw was remarkable. Instead of the normal degradation I was expecting to find, the radiation didn't do anything. More importantly, your cells hadn't been damaged before this either. Not by anything."

Huh?

"Okaaay," I said, dragging the word out a little. "So what does this mean?"

"Let me put it this way," he said, looking me directly in the eyes. "You know you are genetically 'perfect'. Now it's also apparent that your body hasn't taken any cellular damage at all since you woke up, and it still isn't suffering any."

"Um, so, you're saying that ..."

"I'm saying that you possess immaculate health, enhanced regeneration, resistance to toxins, immunity to disease and 100% physical resilience at a basic level. I'm saying that your body is still in completely perfect condition from when you exited suspended animation, and it has not changed since. This is because the physical processes of age are not doing anything to you."

"What?" I whispered, my voice suddenly gone.

"You aren't ageing," he repeated. "Entropy has been stopped. The correct term for it is biological immortality."

How can that be? Just ... how?!

"It must be the same reason you survived for 214 years in stasis. If your body could not take damage from the Hoffstadt chamber, the failsafe would not trip and you would continue sleeping uninterrupted. I recall reading the chamber's technical specifications on the Volkov remote server, and they estimated each could in theory be run independently on its own power supply for 210 to 220 years if it had to. Their estimation, it seems, was quite accurate. You simply outlasted it. The chamber finally ran out of power, it woke you up and switched itself off." He nodded. "The irony is, you could have lived that same time without suspended animation, assuming you were able to find food, shelter and safety for that long."

"So," I breathed, "I'm not going to get old and die?"

"Not from any natural causes. You're not invulnerable, of course, so other things can still hurt you just the same, but if you have any luck at all, you could live for a very long time."

I shook my head. "I can't think of anything to say. That is so ... fucked."

"Dimi, that is extraordinary." Lily seemed unfazed by the concept. "I was expecting something spectacular from you Shay, but immortality wasn't it. My money was on telekinesis, though invisibility was running an outside chance."

Smiling at her humour, I still felt floored by this. Immortality. "Where did this come from? I mean why did it happen?" I addressed Lily this time. "Is this where aemfid comes in?"

"Well," she replied, evenly folding her hands in her lap, "I haven't told any of this to anyone, not even Dimi, but he was making a logical jump based on some recent information. Shay, I know how smart you are, you have proven that often enough to us. I'm sure you realised that this 'Hartley' character's inhibitor locations are the same points on the surface of Lucere where the aemfid phenomenon is particularly active."

"Yeah," I nodded, forcing myself to think despite the totally crazy news I had just been given. "It basically just proved that whatever is causing aemfid is also slowing the Sharpe virus."

"Right," she agreed. "We also know that he's searching for these locations, although as I understand, he was hardly willing to say what he intends to do with them. Nonetheless, if that pompous ass had known about the GSPI data, he would have had a complete map of those locations quite some time ago. Like the one I've managed to create."

Konstantin gaped at her in amazement. "Dearest -- did you really?"

She gave him a pleasant smile and a look as if he were making a jest. "Of course I did. If anyone expects a broken arm and a bunch of military goons threatening the men in my life is going to stop me from changing history, there are some lovely scenic cliffs near here they can go jump off."

"Chyort." He folded his arms, grinning. "That's my girl."

"Always," Lily affirmed. "So, to break down what is significant about what I've discovered, there are two main points. Do you remember Shay, when I hadn't found anything definite in my research? The only correlations were between electromagnetism and the small amounts of beta decay GSPI had recorded. Nothing else was pointing to a clear pattern that could identify aemfid nodes and what was producing them."

"Yeah, I remember."

"Good. So, I was curious why it seemed to be beta radiation in particular and not alpha or gamma, and only at such trace levels. Beta radiation is an effect of hydrogen fusion, the process of a star burning its fuel. That process is regulated by what's called the 'weak nuclear interaction'. Along with electromagnetism, these two make up half of the four fundamental forces that govern physical reality."

Oh. I was starting to see where this was leading. "So there's aemfid for the electromagnetism, but there's also beta decay being created by distortions in the 'weak nuclear interaction'?"

"Yes! Of course, aemfid is obvious because it's visible and showy; you can see it happening. Beta decay is more subtle, but still detectable. The third fundamental force is the 'strong nuclear interaction.' That one was pointless to investigate, because there is nothing to look for as evidence of distortion. The strong interaction occurs at a subatomic level and any anomalies in it couldn't leave anything that the GSPI's instruments would have picked up. So that left only the fourth and final force: gravity."

Konstantin cut in. "You found fluctuations in gravity? Isn't that impossible?"

She giggled. "I don't think we should use that word any more, it's lost meaning lately. It is meant to be impossible. That is to say, normal gravity is a function of mass and distance. Humans have learned to manipulate it on a rather small scale, but in nature, it's predictable and constant. Yet, lo and behold, there are distortions in Lucere's gravitational field. Small, insignificant distortions, just like the beta decay, but they are there. They also, not surprisingly, correlate with the locations of the first two fundamental forces. Plotting the measurements of the cross referenced data of all three on a geographical map of Aurum is what gave me the spread of the inhibitor locations."

"Wait a sec," I suggested. "So, that's the first important thing you mentioned: whatever is behind these inhibitor locations is causing distortions in the four fundamental forces of the universe? That's insane. It's like messing with the fabric of reality."

"Wait till you hear the second part."

Oh boy.

"When you see the inhibitor locations on a map, they're in a grid pattern. I don't mean they are lined up roughly so that maybe they look a little like a grid shape or anything accidental like that. I mean a real grid pattern. Straight lines, evenly spaced. We only have data for Aurum, but I know it would continue the same on Pyropus and Argentum. Nature doesn't produce a uniform linear distribution of points across an entire planet. The fact is these nodes are artificial and they pre-date human colonisation. I don't need to tell you what that means."

We're running out of adjectives to label this shit with. Is mega-super-fucked-up considered a word?

"Aliens?" Carlos shook his head, looking with suspicion at Mira, then at me, before speaking to Lily. "First, our silent ninja makes like he's Jesus and turns up alive a couple days after he was stabbed. Then, Shay is going to live for a million years or something like that, and now you're telling me that aliens were on this planet before people arrived?"

"Humans certainly didn't make this grid, it's far beyond any technology we possess. Also, it was already here when we arrived on this planet in the 21st century." She shrugged. "What other explanation is there?"

Carlos directed his next question to Konstantin. "Are you sure no one spiked the water supply around here? 'Cause, you know, this is really ... out there. Juan used to tell me some tall stories when I was little, but this stuff beats that and it's supposed to be true."

"Hah!" The Russian laughed. "It is true, Carlos. Hard to believe, but all of it supported by scientific inquiry. I'm sorry to disappoint you but I haven't been dumping any psychoactives into the reservoir."

"One last thing to add regarding the inhibitor locations," Lily said, continuing her explanation after dropping a rather large metaphorical bombshell on her congregation. "The map shows that the Volkov Medical Centre was constructed directly on top of one of them. According to the GSPI readings, the locus of the node would be a couple of metres beneath the basement floor of the building."

Then, right at that moment, it all made sense. That puzzle piece brought everything into focus and the bigger picture was right there, almost in our grasp.

Oh ... my ... god.

I could see it.

"I've got it," I whispered.

"What?"

"I said, I think I've got it. I think ... I understand what's happening."

Konstantin was contemplating it too, but he nodded to my statement. "I may not be far behind you Shay, though all of this is still tangled. Tell us your thoughts and we will see if we can free it."

"Do you remember when I told you about that strange energy that I used to, um, create Mira? Well, when they stabbed him at Volkov, I got so ... angry ... and it happened again."

"When the sharpelings went crazy," rumbled the Russian. "That was you causing it, wasn't it?"

"It was me. Except this time, I could see it. The energy, it was, well- ... it was everywhere. Floating around in the air, drifting through people and walls and stuff. I didn't think about it at the time, but now that I recall, it was coming from within Volkov. From within that building."

This is it. Holy fuck, it's starting to come together. Can't stop now.

"Shay, are you saying that ... " Lily left her sentence unfinished. Konstantin though, was not half as reticent. His eyes lit up as he too made the connection that I already had. "You could see the hidden force behind aemfid! It's the same as your strange energy. Shay, by God!"

"Yes! It was in me, through me, like I was made out of it. Made from golden light. I used it to burn those sharpelings, made them crazy with pain, forced them to attack that man. Le Renard." An excited inhalation and I continued talking as fast as I could, trying to get it all out so they'd know too. "I used this force to make Mira human because, I mean, normally it just inhibits the Sharpe virus, right? But I flooded him with it, cleaning it out of him completely."

"Oh, my goodness," Lily cut back in. "We know that force is shaping reality at a basic level and your body is completely infused with it? It has to be what's making you all those things; regenerative, resistant, immune ... and immortal."

"Good lord," the Russian boomed. "A force that unifies the fundamentals and manipulates matter in the most basic way. Artificially created, protecting and renewing your physical form, fighting disease and mutation."

I tried not to start shaking from the excitement and inordinate scale of what we were talking about. This is getting much more clear the more we discuss it. All of this fighting and running around and shit that's been going on, it's actually leading to something real. Something big. "That's what connects aemfid to me and the Sharpe virus, what links us all together."

"Well," Konstantin went on, "that gives reason for much of this! The Sharpe virus is unlike anything else that's come before. It's so strong that this force is just slowing it down, not stopping it. Yet, in you and Mira, it is extremely concentrated. Enough that the mutation is powerless, vapourised without mercy. In everyone else? No escape."

"Why him, though?" Carlos asked. He had been following the conversation with more than a little scepticism on his face and it was quite obvious in his voice too. "People have been living around these places for decades, centuries since it broke out. What's different about Shay that your 'force' made a home inside him?"

I was on a roll, everything was just coming together. This is so fucking awesome and crazy and ... wow. "It must be the only thing that sets me apart from everyone else."

Konstantin's smile was growing. "The very reason you are on Lucere to begin with. Your treatment. You were sitting in that Hoffstadt chamber, right on top of an aemfid node, your body full of the genetic virus programmed to kill the Demming's genotype that was crippling you. The same genetic virus that has evolved, surviving inside you well after it should have died off, against what logic tells us should be the case."

"Shay," Lily spoke. "This force is artificial, so it would have been programmed somehow to act a certain way. How I wish I knew more about the parameters it has, to figure out exactly how it decides where to focus the universal power it holds. What is clear is it goes after things that are harmful, so maybe it assists things that are friendly? My guess is it somehow 'saw' the treatment happening, recognised the genetic virus in you as good and saturated your body."

That's it! That's why it's still there in me, and hasn't just dissolved into my system like Albans said it would. "Konstantin," I told him, "Lily's right, I think, and so were you when you said the genetic virus didn't just spontaneously mutate. It was compelled, exactly as you thought. Compelled by this force, superpowered by it, evolved to clean up my DNA and make me, what was it, 'genetically perfect'."

All of us just stopped talking right then, allowing a few moments for this momentous cavalcade of discovery to pass through our minds. It's so much, so huge. How could anyone have known 214 years ago that all of this shit was going to happen on Lucere? That many millions of people would be dead, that the laws of reality would be twisted and broken and that the most significant revelations in human history would be made along with it?

No-one, and right in the middle of it?

Me.

"You are right," Konstantin agreed, cracking the quiet. "By God, you are right! Do you realise what all of this means for humanity? This changes everything. Everything! So tragic that the knowledge we have touched on is stuck here, on a world that was laid waste. We have only liars, thieves and murderers to share it with."

He crossed himself again and reached to touch Lily reassuringly on the shoulder. Her hand was over her mouth and she was staring at me, disbelieving but knowing the pieces fit together too seamlessly to be false. Carlos was sitting back, glaring at us like we were all total raving lunatics, while Mira was patient and unruffled next to me, fingers resting casually on my thigh. Then, forcing the conversation to a close, he slid off the couch, slipped across to the outside door and looked back at us as if to say 'come on, follow me. I want to show you something.'

"What is he doing?" Konstantin questioned.

"I'm not sure," I replied. "Let's find out."

-o-0-O-0-o-

The dead soldier was lying beside the chicken coop, dressed in the same uniform the Liberators wore, only it was all stealth and camouflage colouring. A sniper rifle was next to the body in the mud, and Mira was picking up a knife just as we arrived on the scene. He refused to let anyone touch it, though he showed the weapon to me first, giving a long slow look that communicated a wealth of information.

"He found that blade wherever he woke up after they stabbed him. When he got back here, he saw this man enter the estate, so he tracked him … and killed him with it."

"How do you do that?" Carlos was regarding me oddly. "Like you can read his mind or something. It's weird."

"Shut up," I mumbled, and punched him on the arm. How do I even explain how Mira is like an open book to me? He smirked and looked down at the corpse.

"I thought Hartley wanted us alive." Carlos snorted. "Me, a soldier. Like I would fight for him. I would rather make it on my own."

Konstantin grunted in agreement as he crouched down to examine the body. "He overestimates his reach. Still, I would judge that this was the backup, in case things did not go as planned. If he could not control us, he would have us eliminated instead."

"Except now his assassin won't be reporting in," Lily added, "meaning we can expect more attention at some point. Dimi, I don't like where this is headed. Not one bit."

I didn't either. The more I thought about it the less I liked it. Not just the idea that Hartley had sent people to kill us but also that it could put Mira back in danger if they realised he was alive. My chest tightened instantly at the thought and I tried to shake off the horrible ill feeling it generated, the throwback to Le Renard and Volkov. I'm not- ... I'm not going to let that happen again. It can't and it won't.

The thought of that situation -- it scares me so fucking much.

In an instant, Mira had slipped around Lily, returning next to me as the others were looking down at the dead man on the ground. His left hand slipped firmly into my right, the fingers latching together and his eyes were full of concern, that changed quickly to resolve; 'I told you, I'm not going to leave you. Never again.'

I know you won't. I gave him a discrete smile, the others not paying attention to us at this second, my shaken up nerves calming at his touch. His face had his emotional mask on it that he wore in public, but his eyes, as always, said it all. Every damn time. I want to kiss you right now.

I love you so much.

"Neither do I, dearest, neither do I." Konstantin lifted the rifle out of the mud, and stood, wiping the crud off the stock and barrel. "Our best hope is finding out exactly what information he was after at Volkov, so we can beat him at his own game. It can't be simply a map of the inhibitor locations, that's too simple. He has something else in mind, I am sure. I wish I knew what it was." Tucking the rifle under his arm, he looked at each of us in turn. "Even if we go back and search the computers again, I have no idea what I'm looking for, and there was a LOT of information there."

"Won't need to do that." Carlos shrugged, nonchalant, and smugly folded his arms.

We all looked at him and Lily frowned irritably. "What do you mean?"

"I was watching Hartley very close when he was doing his work. Just before he was done, he made a copy of whatever he took and gave it to the guy who helped him break into the computer, to hold onto."

"How does this help us?"

"That guy was the one that escorted me downstairs." He reached into his pocket, dug around for a second then pulled out his hand, unfolding it. There, sitting on the patch of scarlet in Carlos' palm, a micro-disk stub. "Fucker shouldn't have pushed me around. He made it too easy."

She burst into laughter, the rest of us joining in. "Carlos, in another time and place you would have made a very capable thief."

With a cocky smile, he shrugged again. "I have many talents."

"And little modesty," chuckled the Russian. He took the stub from the proffered hand. "There is a score to settle with Mr Hartley. Destiny is smiling today and she has shown us the door. Now, here is the key."

A lot had already happened and the day wasn't even half over yet. There was too much to think about, and yet more to be learned on the path ahead. One thing was abundantly clear, for everyone that was present at that moment. We weren't going to take any heat from the Lucere Liberators. Not any longer. He was really going to be sorry he tried to mess with our lives.

Miles has no fucking clue how hard life is about to become.

It's just a flesh wound!
Well, gentle readers, what a day it's been for our two boys and their adopted family. The lieutenant-colonel is certainly in for a rude shock, isn't he?
Not to forget -- sexy times! Oh boy. Nerve-wracking to publish, but then again that's just me.
Reviews, comments and likes on any/all chapters are always welcome! Here lies the story thread.
Copyright © 2013 Stellar; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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A lot of thought and work went into this chapter and it shows. Good job. thumbsupsmileyanim.gif

The quest to stop Hartley is firmly established. Shay's "gift" is better understood, but I still don't think he really knows how to control it. Mira, the miracle product of the gift twice given is still mostly an enigma. However, his love of Shay is absolute and constant.

Can't wait for some more!

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"Being in love is the most fucking awesome thing in existence."

this chapter made me so damned happy inside lol. It did make me wonder where Mira learned...all his techniques though hehe.

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Remarkable chapter! thumbsupsmileyanim.gif The eroticism in the early scenes was nicely done. Lots of new information filling several gaps.

I like the way Carlos seems to be providing a "grounding" force or role in this chapter as in "Ok, guys, let's get real here!" or something along those lines. He definitely seems to be a character whi is "evolving" as the story proceeds.

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On 10/30/2012 05:07 AM, Daddydavek said:
A lot of thought and work went into this chapter and it shows. Good job. thumbsupsmileyanim.gif

The quest to stop Hartley is firmly established. Shay's "gift" is better understood, but I still don't think he really knows how to control it. Mira, the miracle product of the gift twice given is still mostly an enigma. However, his love of Shay is absolute and constant.

Can't wait for some more!

Thank you! It's the third longest by wordcount and it required quite a bit of revising before it was ready, up there with chapter 10 in how much I had to play with it before I was happy to release it.

 

Indeed, everyone is united now in their wish to make sure Hartley is given his due. You are right, Shay cannot control the power within him and it certainly must make one wonder what he could achieve with it once he is able to do so.

 

Mira still is what he is! Though now perhaps, grown a little wiser about how dangerous other humans can be.

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On 10/30/2012 05:13 AM, murakisdoll said:
"Being in love is the most fucking awesome thing in existence."

this chapter made me so damned happy inside lol. It did make me wonder where Mira learned...all his techniques though hehe.

Haha! I'm glad :)

 

He didn't learn his .. erm, techniques, in any particular place :D He's just a very physical boy and is a fast learner .. with a keen eye for what makes his other half tick.

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On 10/30/2012 11:23 AM, MuddyRiverGirl said:
SEXY TIMES! *happy dance* WOOT! :D
Yes indeed! Very sexy times :lol:
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On 10/30/2012 02:48 PM, Conner said:
Remarkable chapter! thumbsupsmileyanim.gif The eroticism in the early scenes was nicely done. Lots of new information filling several gaps.

I like the way Carlos seems to be providing a "grounding" force or role in this chapter as in "Ok, guys, let's get real here!" or something along those lines. He definitely seems to be a character whi is "evolving" as the story proceeds.

Thank you, I'm glad you think so :)

 

Carlos is the least explored personality of the five who are living at the Andropov estate at this point in time. Also probably the most different than any of the others, as he has lived a much less secure life than any of them. Definitely more to come from him!

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Definitely a "feel good" kind of chapter to balance the two previous ones: thank you, Stellar! It was exciting to learn more about what all happened, and now aliens to thrown into the mix. Are they still around? Can Lily learn to do anything with the force? What is the purpose of the grid? So many questions, and no, I'm not expecting answers -- yet. I am so glad that the boys started to consummate the physical part of their relationship. Particularly after the past few chapters and nearly losing each other, it was so necessary. The love of Shay and Mira is such an incredible emotional high. Now let's see what happens when the 5 of them put their skills and knowledge together to deal with Hartley.

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Well, after 13 chapters, I thought I better leave a comment :)

 

So when I read CassieQ's review on the blog I hesitantly clicked on it because like others, sci fi wasn't my genre of choice.

 

Well you captured me right away!

 

Still so many questions are popping into my mind about so much. Does Shay have the ability to turn or purify other Sharplings? Does he have the ability to make others immortal too? Those are just a couple in the forefront of my mind.

 

I must applaud you for the tale you have told so far over 13 chaptersworshippy.gif Your attention to detail has even a schmuck like me understanding the science of what is going on. The character development has been superb! After this chapter I wondered if Shay will permanently be nearly 15 years old, could he grow and develop? I think the answer is a resounding yes! I also believe it will be Mira that pushing him to do that into the future.

 

I guess on a sad note, will Mira, Konstantin, Lily and Carlos all die while Shay continues to live on as a 14 year old? :(

 

And yes, I'm still upset with you over killing Mira a few chapters back. Luckily you redeemed yourself and I'm over it ;)

 

Thanks for the story so far, and I will anxiously be waiting to read more.

 

Steve

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On 11/02/2012 04:24 AM, hillj69 said:
Definitely a "feel good" kind of chapter to balance the two previous ones: thank you, Stellar! It was exciting to learn more about what all happened, and now aliens to thrown into the mix. Are they still around? Can Lily learn to do anything with the force? What is the purpose of the grid? So many questions, and no, I'm not expecting answers -- yet. I am so glad that the boys started to consummate the physical part of their relationship. Particularly after the past few chapters and nearly losing each other, it was so necessary. The love of Shay and Mira is such an incredible emotional high. Now let's see what happens when the 5 of them put their skills and knowledge together to deal with Hartley.
Definitely feel-good .. it was very much needed after the previous events.

 

Aliens! Indeed, who built such a thing?! *Why* build such a thing? It's pretty advanced stuff! The bigger picture may now look a little clearer, but the whither-to and what-for of the situation is still a bit murky, I know.

 

There is something very satisfying about the relationship to me and writing it brings a lot of enjoyment. The readers seem to enjoy it, so I'm feeling good about that!

 

Figuring out the villain's game is the next step in the journey and is what will lead everything to the eventual conclusion.

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On 11/06/2012 09:32 AM, wildone said:
Well, after 13 chapters, I thought I better leave a comment :)

 

So when I read CassieQ's review on the blog I hesitantly clicked on it because like others, sci fi wasn't my genre of choice.

 

Well you captured me right away!

 

Still so many questions are popping into my mind about so much. Does Shay have the ability to turn or purify other Sharplings? Does he have the ability to make others immortal too? Those are just a couple in the forefront of my mind.

 

I must applaud you for the tale you have told so far over 13 chaptersworshippy.gif Your attention to detail has even a schmuck like me understanding the science of what is going on. The character development has been superb! After this chapter I wondered if Shay will permanently be nearly 15 years old, could he grow and develop? I think the answer is a resounding yes! I also believe it will be Mira that pushing him to do that into the future.

 

I guess on a sad note, will Mira, Konstantin, Lily and Carlos all die while Shay continues to live on as a 14 year old? :(

 

And yes, I'm still upset with you over killing Mira a few chapters back. Luckily you redeemed yourself and I'm over it ;)

 

Thanks for the story so far, and I will anxiously be waiting to read more.

 

Steve

Hey Steve, thanks very much for letting me know your thoughts :)

 

Ah, there are always questions, aren't there? One cannot escape from the mystery in such a story, but for me that is part of the foundation of it, part of the enjoyment. :)

 

Having folks understand the science of what is going on is important. It needs to be accessible to the average reader and if the text contains a bunch of technobabble that has no basis in reality or too much specific jargon; it kills the interest rather fast.

 

Regarding Shay's 'powers', his immortality and how it effects him and those in his life: this will be explored a bit more in coming chapters. There is a lot of potential for it to go several possible directions. Something that is overlooked however is that Mira shares several of these 'super' characteristics with his other half, so naturally one must wonder if he is not 100% the same! ;) Food for thought.

 

Mira was never dead :) Chapter 11 will live in infamy, I am sure .. but it was never exactly what it appeared ^_^

 

Again, thank you for taking the time to review. I'm glad you've enjoyed it so far and hope to see you follow for the rest of the ride!

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Immortal?????

That means he's gunna be having LOTS of sex!!!!!!!!!

He's a lucky bugger that Shay.

Great chapter Stellar. There is so much going on in this chapter like they say. Heck, I had to read and re-read a few times to keep up with it all. :P

Two things that leap out in this chapter.

One, The sincerity of the love shared between Mira and The One is sensational. His attentive diligence and complete submission to his role as the better half of Shay is so beautifully told. What makes me chuckle, is that while Mira is naturally inclined to be in service of The One, his chief desire to bring happiness and contentment to The One, Shay has thus far taken a very submissive role sexually. hehe. I love the way this little quirk plays out in their relationship and enhances the dynamic of their relationship. Not sure if that was an intended result, but it is subtle yet powerful. :)

The second thing is your ability to make even the most confusing seem fairly simple. To create the dialogue and rapport between the characters while they are discussing the results of Konstantin's findings, and uncovering its implications is masterful. There is so much information to present to the reader, and for a layman to take that in, process and understand it, is only possible through the passage of text as it is written. For that alone I salute you, aside from the other details I could rave about. But credit where credit is due, that was a great piece of writing.

I look forward to seeing the pain that is delivered to the Lucre Liberators I'm not sure they are going to be liberating all that much in the near future. I am also really interested to see where things are going with Carlos. Red patches on his hands??? That sounds ominous. :P

So many possibilities lie ahead. Oh what it is to have to wait for the next instalment of this tale. Woe is me, get writing buddy! :D

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Immortal huh? He wont age at 14. At least Mira won't age either hehe. I feel sorry for Mr. Miles Hartley.........NOT!! Great chapter awesome story.

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On 05/20/2013 02:12 PM, Daithi said:
Immortal huh? He wont age at 14. At least Mira won't age either hehe. I feel sorry for Mr. Miles Hartley.........NOT!! Great chapter awesome story.
Thank you :)

 

Correct, Shay is not ageing, and yes, by extension Mira is not either, though this doesn't get properly touched on until the following chapter.

 

You're not alone, I don't think anyone feels sorry for Hartley. Some villains can garner sympathy for their story or the suffering that created their malaise. Not so much for Hartley, he's just a right douche.

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We have the answers to all of the questions from before, thank you very much. Now what to do it, how to use it, where to go from here. Then of course there are still the bad guys out there and countless creatures roaming about. Wherever you take us from this point onwards is all icing on the cake, thank you.

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Great chapter....though it raises many questions for each reveal it made!! Chiefly, what else can Shay do with this power? Can he manipulate what is in the others to give them immunity or heal them? Can he cure other Sharpelings and make them human? Though Mira is clearly his other half or his 'soul-mate,' was he the only Sharpeling that could have been 'cured' and is their relationship special b/c of the way they feel about one another or was it forged by Shay using the power on him?

Sadly, it seems Shay is powerless unless he is on one of these spots where the aemfid occurs. One thing they haven't concentrated on is the weakness in their security! How did the assassin get past their defenses? Clearly it is Harley who knows how to and who told him and Leon how to get by undetected. So, they are effectively completely vulnerable now.

I am confused as to why Hartley would suddenly want 'priceless' Shay killed. He must know how special he is, so why not want to keep him alive and possibly learn his secrets? Or does he already think he knows the way to become like Shay with the use of the machine that put him in stasis? Aren't those machines the key to allowing Shay's DNA to be manipulated by the virus? Did the creator of the 'cure' know any of this? Was the Volkov center built on that spot for a reason? I am still a bit lost with the whole part about the virus sensing good in him and therefore making changes in him, but maybe I just need to read it a few more times :) it is a lot to absorb.

Looking forward to reading on. Should be sleeping now though. Lots to do other than finish the story! lol

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On 11/17/2013 10:45 PM, Cannd said:
Great chapter....though it raises many questions for each reveal it made!! Chiefly, what else can Shay do with this power? Can he manipulate what is in the others to give them immunity or heal them? Can he cure other Sharpelings and make them human? Though Mira is clearly his other half or his 'soul-mate,' was he the only Sharpeling that could have been 'cured' and is their relationship special b/c of the way they feel about one another or was it forged by Shay using the power on him?

Sadly, it seems Shay is powerless unless he is on one of these spots where the aemfid occurs. One thing they haven't concentrated on is the weakness in their security! How did the assassin get past their defenses? Clearly it is Harley who knows how to and who told him and Leon how to get by undetected. So, they are effectively completely vulnerable now.

I am confused as to why Hartley would suddenly want 'priceless' Shay killed. He must know how special he is, so why not want to keep him alive and possibly learn his secrets? Or does he already think he knows the way to become like Shay with the use of the machine that put him in stasis? Aren't those machines the key to allowing Shay's DNA to be manipulated by the virus? Did the creator of the 'cure' know any of this? Was the Volkov center built on that spot for a reason? I am still a bit lost with the whole part about the virus sensing good in him and therefore making changes in him, but maybe I just need to read it a few more times :) it is a lot to absorb.

Looking forward to reading on. Should be sleeping now though. Lots to do other than finish the story! lol

Okay, another long review! There's a lot of posited questioning here, so I'll try to respond to some of it.

 

- regarding the extent of Shay's 'power' and how it affects other people and sharpelings, that's still a point of contention as of Chapter 13. All I will say on this matter is that Mira *is* different from the others in Shay's life with regard to the 'being cured' concept, and this fact is a defining one/

 

- you are correct in that Hartley's military band has the knowlege to circumvent the security fence. While Konstantin knows this, there is effectively nothing he can do about it since he is not aware of how the enemy achieved that bypass. It is something beyond Konstantin's influence and knowledge, and while it certainly is a concern, he sees little point on focusing on it when there is nothing he can do to change that.

 

- just why does Hartley want Shay dead? Well, part of that is from the 'if I can't imprison and control him, I'll make sure he's dead so no one else can' philosophy and the man's decidedly sociopathic tendencies. The rest of it comes from Hartley's longer term goals, which are still somewhat murky and will be revealed later in the plot.

 

- you hazard quite a few guesses around the Volkov experimentation and stasis. Most of it will be explained in future, but on the matter of 'becoming like Shay': the idea of using the machinery at Volkov to replicate the treatment that happened to Shay isn't realistic, given it would require not just operational knowledge of the Hoffstadt chambers themselves, but also a laboratory-created tailored genetic virus that Shay was embedded with way back in 2104. Konstantin may know a fair bit about medicine, but he is still a long way behind being able to repeat what actual doctors and expert geneticists would have done originally.

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Bloody brilliant Stellar. I so like the way you handled the "BJ" part of the tale. :)
These two, Shay and Mira, are more than sex buddies, they ARE IN Love.
Thanks for the story thus far, I am waiting for more. :)
Ashley D

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On 11/28/2015 02:23 AM, Ashdaw said:

Bloody brilliant Stellar. I so like the way you handled the "BJ" part of the tale. :)

These two, Shay and Mira, are more than sex buddies, they ARE IN Love.

Thanks for the story thus far, I am waiting for more. :)

Ashley D

Haha, I'm glad you are enjoying it. The sex was always going to be secondary to how they felt, but it was inevitable given the relationship's progression.

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I'm on the fence here. I read you're comment on the discussion about death being something that can happen to any character other than Shay and I was surprised that Mira came back. A happy surprise but surprised still the same. I'm glad he came back.

Although I'm sad when it happens but when people die that is related to the plot then I think it can help a story progress with people mourning and moving on when it's done right.

I hope this is understandable as sometimes I try to say what I want but doesn't make sense.

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