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    Topher Lydon
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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. 

The Falcon Banner - 46. Chapter 46

We've come too far to turn back now. Not when freedom is so close. Not until everyone shares that freedom.

-General Jefferson Iver 'Before the battle of Haligonian Station'

HMS Excalibur

It felt good to be back aboard the Excalibur, Darien slipping into his more comfortable duty uniform as he stood staring out of the great stern windows at the fleet that was forming up behind his ship, preparing for the final leg of the journey, the one that would take his ragtag strike force to Haligonian Station.

He turned back from the window as he began to button the shirt, looking down at Elias standing in the small recess between the two couches looking up at him, the diagnostic report held loosely in his hands against his chest as he gaped.

"You don't have to stare," Darien said abandoning the buttons as he came around the desk, looking at the young engineer.

Elias blinked a moment, his eyes lingering on the small section of exposed skin under the shirt. "I have the report you wanted...sir." Elias did his best to approximate a salute, even though his eyes darted again downwards.

"You've never called me sir," Darien responded, folding his arms and leaning back on the edge of his desk.

"You want to be the Captain," Elias replied shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot, "you want to keep this professional..."

"I don't remember saying that," Darien said pointedly.

"But it's what you want," Elias repeated insistently, pulling the digital report tighter against his chest.

"Why do you do this to yourself?" Darien asked, stepping away from the desk and coming down to the same level as Elias, reaching out to touch the small engineer's shoulder, feeling him shake under the thin corduroy jacket he was wearing.

"Because I'm in love with you," Elias replied, looking up with utter desperation and fear in his eyes. "I'm in love with a guy that will never allow himself to feel the way I do. That can't give me... that won't give me that love back, and it sucks."

Darien shook his head. "That's not true. You have to know that by now." He took a deep breath of his own and lifted his head slightly. "Why do you think I'm still here? Why do you think I'm doing all of this?" He gestured to the uniform he was wearing. "Because I don't want you stuck in this universe. You're better than all of this... I'm doing all of this because I want you to be safe..." He closed his eyes and swore awkwardly. "I care about you... I love you... and I can't bear to see you stuck in a universe that has put you through all this shit. And the only way I can stop it is to change it..."

Elias looked dumbstruck for a moment, running a hand through his hair to push it back from his eyes, blinking in disbelief.

"I could have... should have left a hundred times," Darien replied insistently, needing Elias to understand, to realize how much he was loved. Simple nods and holding one another, the occasional kiss... it wasn't enough any more. "But every time I think I should go, I just have to look at you and I think of a hundred reasons to keep doing what I'm doing... For god sakes," he looked up at the ceiling, before he pulled the engineer tightly into an embrace, "why is this so damn hard?"

Elias closed his eyes in the embrace, his lithe form pressing closer against Darien's body, his hands touching that burning skin, feeling it and realizing how much he loved the texture of it. How safe he could feel just being in one person's arms.

"Say it again..." he murmured, "please?"

Darien looked down and kissed the top of Elias's head. "What, that I love you?" He stepped back, and walked to his desk, picking up the growler phone and switching it to PA mode.

A shrill whistle went through the entire ship. "Attention... Attention," he said turning to face the shocked Engineer who was just beginning to clue into what Darien was doing.

"Stop..." he hissed.

"This is your Captain speaking," Darien said firmly. "I just want it clear that I am in love with our Chief Engineer, and..." he smiled flatly, "if anyone has a problem with that, I invite you to come on up here and say it to my face."

* * *

Shale, standing in the CIC reviewing the tactical data with Nazzien extended his paw to the startled weapons officer.

Nazzien blew a long loud sigh and handed over twenty credits, cursing the Taïrian, and Darien for that matter.

* * *

Masconi pulled her head out from under the F-120 fighter she was checking, looking across the hanger deck towards Squadron leader Katz. "Our Captain's in love with the short Engineer?" she asked in surprise.

Katz rubbed an eye and shrugged. "I guess..."

"Is it common on this ship to announce romantic liaisons?" Masconi asked, her hand easing the sidearm she was wearing, contemplating what she was going to do to a certain weapons officer if he so much as reached for the intercom.

"I think this is new," Katz said, nodding to the speaker.

* * *

Colonel Mayfair, sitting in the command chair felt the flush of happiness radiate from the ship at the announcement and he glanced over at the holographic commander.

"You explained it to her?" Mayfair asked.

"Yes." Kit removed his glasses and polished them trying to hide his embarrassed smile. "She's wondering when they are going to start making babies..." The holographic commander shook his head. "It's rather hard to explain the concept of sex and sexuality to her... she has her heart set on a nursery..."

"Well," Mayfair shrugged, "they have made some advances in medical science..."

Doctor Kyr, standing a few feet away checking environmental readings looked up from the console. "I'm sorry, but I flat out refuse to deliver Matt Elias's baby. One of him is bad enough... can you imagine if he starts multiplying?"

"What makes you so sure he's the bottom?" Mayfair asked with a wink and a smile...

"Alert! Contact" Kit announced as the tactical grids snapped on. "Inbound Amsus Raptor."

"You know," Mayfair said standing up as the ship cleared for general quarters, "they have the worst timing... launch the alert fighters and tell the CAP to intercept the hostile."

He turned as Captain Taine marched onto the bridge tucking his shirt in as he stood beside the command chair. A rather dishevelled-looking engineer appeared a few moments later, glaring at the Amsus Raptor on the tactical scopes.

"What do we have?" Darien asked slipping on his glasses.

"One contact, moving erratically," Colonel Mayfair reported. "It's definitely not one of ours, however it's not making a standard Amsus approach vector... I have the CAP moving to intercept."

Darien nodded, "Raise it on the comm.."

Midshipman Galadriel complied. "Unidentified Amsus vessel, this is the Imperial warship Excalibur..."

* * *

Darien sat behind his desk staring at a ghost.

There had been a general reaction of complete shock amongst the crew when they realized who had control of the Raptor. And Darien had listened to her story as a pair of marine guards stood silent sentinel and Doctor Kyr ran a detailed series of checks to confirm that she was who she claimed to be.

"... They..." Darien scrubbed his face trying to take it all in.

Lauren nodded as she pulled her arms closer about her -- now that she was home it all began to catch up to her. Arcanis, the weeks of torture in Rikard's hands. And now returning home to realize, again, that she wasn't who she thought she was.

Darien sat in his chair frowning at her, digesting her story. He was uncertain in his own disbelief at the situation, but his mind already sorting through the tactical information she had brought back with her. The Polians had allied themselves with the Hegemony, and that Rikard...

"Tell me again about Rikard," he said glancing down at the notes he had been taking.

"I don't know," she said shaking her head. "It was as if the Amsus revered him. They referred to him as their master..."

"Chancellor Enarbrem Sul'Rikard," Colonel Mayfair said, looking across at Kit who was also present at the debriefing. "What can you tell us about him?"

"Nothing, I am afraid," the Commander replied regretfully. "The ship's database contains no record of him beyond that he ruled the Imperial High Council under the Bishops. When VonGrippen led us away from the Empire certain records were deleted in an effort to protect the identities of notable Imperial figures in case this ship fell into enemy hands, records that could be used by the enemy to identify senior Imperials."

Darien looked towards the barren shelves where paper records would have been, destroyed in Kendrick's attack. The traitorous Wing Commander had done more damage than he ever could have hoped.

Kyr entering the Captain's stateroom caused them all to pause, as the small doctor tucked a pen into his white lab coat and leaned down to speak to the Captain.

"She's a construct," he said, keeping his tone even as he presented the report for the Captain's inspection. "A near perfect duplicate..."

"How is that possible?" Darien asked, looking over at his former first officer. "She possesses all of her original memories."

"It's not possible," Kyr responded, "not with current Amsus technology. Constructs are typically blank human beings with the capacity to be programmed. If someone were to be able to download a synaptic pattern, then maybe. But it's beyond our technology, and if it's beyond us I can guarantee you the Amsus don't have it."

"And the Polians?" Darien asked sitting back into his chair.

'During the war," Kit stepped forward again, "there were reports of the Polians possessing temporal technologies that gave them certain edges. Given that they knew exactly where the lieutenant was at the exact moment of her death, it is possible they were able to collect that synaptic pattern."

"So the Polians and the Amsus can resurrect people." Darien leaned forward. "I find that unsettling..." He looked over at Lauren and leaned back to the doctor. "Have they made any modifications?"

"Not that I can tell," Kyr reassured. "She's a straight copy, not even the standard construct programming in her. In my medical opinion, this is Lauren."

Darien stroked his chin, looking at his friend and confidante. A woman that had been with him from the beginning of it all. His right hand. He'd missed her...

She looked uncertain -- alarmed, no doubt, about her identity, what she was. Nervous about how people would take her, would they accept or reject someone they had all grieved over.

"Welcome home," he said, reaching his decision and gesturing to the two marine guards that they were dismissed.

Lauren relaxed noticeably, a pained but hopeful look returning to her face. "Thank you..." she said with a tight smile. "I leave you alone for five minutes and you wreck the ship?" She nodded out of the stern windows down towards where one of the support carriers was permanently moored. "I felt like remodelling," Darien responded as he got up and joined her down in the comfortable sitting area, looking at her in concern. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Lauren pulled her tunic tighter about her, realizing that she hadn't stopped doing that since she had returned. She felt scared and violated, her bruises still fresh, but she was home. She nodded her head, realizing that her eyes were welling up.

"...Oh..." she murmured realizing that she couldn't stop the tears; after all she had been through, she finally had to break down.

"Hey..." Darien said, sitting her down, touching her shoulder reassuringly, "you're home..."

* * *

"So?" Nazzien asked, intercepting Elias as he tried to duck down a service corridor to get away from the inquisitive Orion.

"So?" Elias shrugged, playing dumb.

Nazzien rolled his ivory white eyes. "Did you and the Captain finally....?"

Elias set his jaw. "I got as far as his belt buckle and we go to red alert," he grumbled, pulling open an access panel he needed to work on, and setting about replacing a damaged circuit board. "You know, I want just an hour of uninterrupted..."

"Sex?" A familiar musical voice caused Elias to drop his screwdriver, turning to look at Lauren, his face cracking into a bright and happy smile as he ran to embrace her, holding tight and refusing to let go of his 'big sister'.

"Lieutenant," Nazzien greeted, looking her up and down, "you look like hell." Which was Nazzien's way of saying he missed her and was glad she was back.

She held the little engineer a moment, warmed by the outpouring of love she was getting from people she had grown accustomed to as friends. But there was one gaping hole that couldn't be filled. That gaping hole had come with the destruction of Arcanis.

"So you finally got Captain-stuffy-britches to admit he loves you?" Lauren said, trying not to dwell on her personal pain.

Elias blushed a little. "I kinda had to shake it out of him..."

"Figures," Lauren said with a half-smile as she leaned back against the bulkhead. "At least he admitted it... to the whole crew. That's a big step for him."

* * * "So who is he?" Darien asked, standing outside the heavily reinforced brig. The whole thing had been constructed to hold aliens much stronger than the average human being, heavy metal grating reinforced with steel and connected to an elaborate alarm system. Darien didn't want to meet the creature that could break out of that.

"His name's Doctor Carey Brim," Lauren said, standing further back still looking shaken from her experiences.

Darien again marvelled at her resourcefulness; escaping Rikard's clutches and successfully capturing a Raptor, even lightly crewed -- that was no small feat. He wondered if he would have had the mettle to pull something like that off.

"A collaborator?" Darien asked, walking up to the bars and looking in towards the thin young man smoking sitting at the small metal table. He looked too young to be a doctor, probably barely out of university, too young to know better... Darien felt old at that moment, realizing everything he had gone through and he crossed his arms studying the young man.

"He was a part of Doctor Robert's research team," Lauren explained, handing a leatherbound journal over to her Captain. "He claims she was looking for Peligia."

"What the hell is Peligia?" Darien murmured, flipping through the book glancing at the journal and the collection of sketches, turning to an intricate design labelled simply 'cover stone on Hga'ard'. He studied it a moment before snapping the book closed and pointing to the pair of marines guarding the doors, indicating that he wanted to go in.

The guards pulled back the heavy doors to admit their Captain, their hands resting easily on their submachine guns as they waited for any sign of trouble.

The boy looked terrified. He was wearing a bad shirt that reminded Darien of too many parties when he had been that young. He shook his head as he sat down across the table from the young man and reached out for the cigarettes.

"May I?" he asked, not waiting for a reply as he pulled one out turning it over in his hand -- an Earth brand, illegal for export and heavily controlled on Earth as it was. Darien knew from his experience enforcing TER-SEC blockades that it took one thing for a boy that age to get cigarettes -- a lot of money.

Darien set the cigarette down on the table and looked at the boy. "Do you know where you are?"

The boy bobbed his head, nervously looking towards the security guards.

"And I take it you know who I am?" Darien continued.

The boy's eyes flicked back and he licked dry lips as he tried to find his voice, "Y-yes..."

Darien nodded. "Very well, you have one chance to get out of here." Darien held up the journal and set it down on the battered metal table, sliding it forward a little towards the Doctor. "Tell me about Peligia."

* * *

He turned the pages of the journal, sitting at his desk chewing his lip and making notes on a pad of paper as he worked. Piecing together what he was reading from Doctor Robert's journal and what young Doctor Brim had told him.

"Captain," Kit appeared in the centre of the stateroom, "I have been cross-referencing Peligia in Excalibur's database and I am afraid I am encountering a secure-level-one encryption block."

"I know," Darien replied looking up from his work, and setting his pen aside. "I encountered the same thing from my inquiries with the main computer. However..." Darien flipped through the Excalibur's log books till he found several obscure entries inputted by VonGrippen's hand, "the old Admiral makes reference to a Peligian Expedition almost a year before the fall of the Empire. He doesn't go into specifics, but it's clear from what I read that he was involved in this expedition, I was hoping that Excalibur could shed some light on this?"

"I remember talk of an expedition," Kit replied, again shifting to clean his glasses looking thoughtful. "It was a very quiet operation, I got the impression that the old man had decided to minimize involvement in it. I can remember that when he returned we began preparations for the exodus."

"Rikard believes there is some kind of Oracle device there..." Darien pressed, hoping to glean some snippet of useful information from the holographic Commander.

Kit shook his head. "I'm afraid I can't help you, Captain. Not without you gaining the appropriate level of clearance..."

Darien steepled his fingers as he leaned back into his chair. "There's only one way to do that, break the siege on Haligonian Station and get our fleet through that gate."

The Commander bobbed his head. "That might do it, Captain."

Darien glanced up from his thoughts as Elias re-entered the stateroom. The young engineer had a determined look on his face as he looked at Kit. "Out!" he commanded, his eyes twinkling as he fought to hide a smirk.

Kit blinked as he turned, "I'm sorry, Lieutenant," the Commander said arching an eyebrow, "I think I misheard you."

Darien fought down a chuckle of his own as he glanced at his watch. "It's all right, Commander, it's getting on, we're done unless you wanted to..."

"I was going to ask when you wanted Lauren to return to duty?" The commander looked uncomfortable asking the question, but he knew it had to be asked. They needed her, and they all knew it.

Darien chewed his lip closing his log books and walking down from the desk. "Tell her when she is ready she can return to duty... after Doctor Kyr gives her a clear bill of health."

Kit inclined his head. "As you wish." He turned back to Mister Elias and bobbed his head again. "Have fun." The Hologram smirked as he vanished leaving the two men alone.

"Before you say anything," Elias said holding up a piece of circuit board, "I cut all communications to this room..." He tossed the circuit board down on the coffee table.

Darien flashed an amused smile down at it, and back up at the Engineer. "You know I could courtsmartial you for sabotaging the ship..."

"So spank me later..." Elias grinned as he unbuckled his tool belt and set that down on the table as well. "So if you have to go dashing off, now's the time to do it..." Elias looked expectantly waiting for the alarms to go off, for something to happen that would, inevitably, interrupt them.

Darien arched an eyebrow. "I think we're in the clear," he murmured as Elias quietly crossed the room to him, swallowing and pushing that rogueish hair from his eyes, beaming a huge smile as he nervously bit his lip considering what he should do.

He lunged forward, their lips colliding as Darien was pushed back against his desk, surprised a moment, but relaxing into the kiss as he deepened it. He returned the excitement and fervour that Elias was showing to him, hands slipping around to draw them both closer to the other, as they fought the earnest desire and came up for air.

Elias closed his eyes feeling the coarse texture of Darien's cheek -- the Captain needed a shave, it was faint, sandpapery and only excited him more. And he sighed as Darien smiled at him, his finger tips brushed Elias's soft features, delicately tracing the contour of his nose and up around his eye, finally running back down to his jaw sending shivers through the young engineer. "I love you," he repeated firmly.

Elias's grin broadened. "Prove it," he said, leaning forward to pull Darien by his belt-loops closer to him, their hips collided and neither could deny the excitement they were both intimately aware of. Elias bumped his hips forward again, moving from side to side. "Prove it prove it prove it," he chanted, his grin broadening each time.

Darien glanced up at the ceiling. "Why is it I always get assaulted when I forget to wear my gun?" he said with a smirk, and allowed himself to be led by the belt-loops towards the bedroom. Timid and nervous but at the same time curious. He'd never... not with a... He smiled and admitted truthfully to himself that he'd never made love before; sex was one thing, but this was going to be very different.

He felt Elias squeeze his hand, and he realized that he wasn't the only one to have that feeling.

Elias pulled him by the hand into the dimly lit bedroom, both of them trembling as they realized the enormity of what was to come. Elias flashed Darien a shy smile, his hair falling back into its usual place, hiding his eye as he swallowed; it was like he had waited so long for that one moment, and there he was, with the man he was in love with. A construct in love, it wasn't supposed to be that way, yet...

"So..." Darien said with a smile, "bedroom..."

"Yep..." Elias said bouncing on his toes, both men suddenly very shy, despite the fact they had shared a bed to sleep for so long.

"So..." Darien repeated.

"Yep..." Elias echoed again.

"Oh, screw it," Darien said with a grin as he leaned forward to push the small engineer backwards, falling to the bed with a soft thump. The Engineer grinned as he scooted up towards the headboard, his eyes wide with mischief.

Darien stood looking down. "What?" He looked puzzled, before the Engineer grabbed him in a full-on tackle and the Captain went down in a tangled heap at the foot of his bed, the exuberant engineer firmly on top pinning his arms to his sides with his knees.

Darien wiggled his arms free, his hands snaking up to wind around the other man's trim waist. Their eyes locked together as they were close enough to feel every breath of the other. And Darien lifted his head the fraction of an inch to touch lips again, tasting that all too familiar flavour of engine greases and engineer. Their bodies ground together as Elias somehow managed to wrestle out of his clunky work boots, tossing them to the far side of the bed in long arcs.

Darien pulled back, fiddling with Elias's shirt, pulling it out of his pants with deliberate slowness as his fingers moved around the soft skin, to the tender trembling stomach, stopping momentarily to tickle his belly button and play with the soft treasure trail, causing Elias to giggle.

"Hey!" Elias grinned shyly as he blushed.

"I promised you a tummy rub, if you remember,' Darien reminded, laying the flat of his palm against the soft, warm skin, moving it in a gentle circle. He stopped a moment to pull the garment up and off all together, the Engineer raising his arms to allow it up and over his head, sitting back down as he glanced into Darien's eyes, his hair falling forward seductively.

Darien moved to stand, picking Elias up as if he weighed nothing, laying him delicately back onto the bed, unbuttoning his shirt and pulling it off to reveal his chest again. Elias nodded as he instinctively reached up to trace down it with his fingers, running them down to Darien's belt, unhooking that with a simple and quick motion, pausing to glance up at the intercom speaker in the ceiling expectantly.

"What?" Darien laughed at him. "It's all good..."

Elias nodded, reassured as he unbuttoned the pants and pulled them down, revealing Darien's boxers, the Engineer looking up for permission, his hand hovering an inch or two from his prize.

Darien smiled as he shook his head, stepping out of the trousers, reaching down to unhook Matt's, sweeping them and his boxers off in a single clean motion, leaving him exposed as Darien looked down, nodding, unhooking his own boxers and pulling them off. Finally they stepped beyond 'almost' as Darien shivered slightly and gingerly positioned himself straddling Elias's thighs, lowering himself down on top of the smaller man as Elias's limbs wrapped around him to invite him down further.

Elias ran his hands over Darien's muscular back scraping over taut skin as he ran up and under Darien's well-built chest and flat stomach. They'd slept in the same bed, Elias had felt that chest before, touched that skin, but now... there was an intensity to it that hadn't been there before.

* * *

His vision blurred; that sweet pain seared upwards through his body, causing him to gasp as it sent a ripple of ecstasy through him. A longer gasp rose and died in his throat, only a small sigh managed to resound, repeated again a moment later. He felt every inch, pushing deeper into him not wanting it to stop, knowing what it meant to be that connected to someone, to be whole. He kept pressing with his legs, urging Darien deeper; he wanted more, needed more. Not for the pain, but the other sensation that burned through his mind with each push. He wanted to be lost in the sensation, to know what it was like to be loved.

And that eternity came to an end as both bodies remained still, Darien pausing to be sure he hadn't hurt him, and Elias taking a moment to remember where he was, breathing hard as he adjusted, looking back behind him and smiling again, wanting Darien to know he was all right.

Slowly at first, Darien began to slide back and forth, slipping in and out as it eased, the tightness causing friction that both could feel with each stroke. The sensations caused both of them to move faster, to increase the pace. Needing to feel each other move as one as they gained even more speed. The pain subsided into pleasure as the euphoria strengthened, gasps becoming pants as his body moved with each thrust, losing himself in Elias's embrace, a fevered dream in which they were both connected as one, moving as one, pushing pure emotion through this new bond, proving how they felt for one another in a way that was as old as time. Each motion became more intense, grinding further into each other as they both began to moan.

Time drew out, impossibly long seconds filled with sensation then emptiness as Darien withdrew, only to plunge back inwards again, building towards... His arms went weak as he struggled to hold back, not wanting it to end, but knowing he was too far gone. All his muscles tensed up at once, triggering the same reaction in his partner, the two men pressing together as they fell forward, spent.

Elias turned to impart one final kiss on Darien's lips as he surrendered to the darkness, feeling Darien's arms pull him tight and close.

Copyright © 2011 Topher_Lydon; 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. 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. 
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For god sakes," - For god's sake,"

Several times in this series, you have used the expression 'landing gears'. 'Landing gear' is the correct usage as 'gear' in this case is both a singular and a plural noun.

The tenderness of this coupling is wonderfully expressed. You are an artist at your craft. Your writing sings.

Edited by Will Hawkins
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Finally Darien sincerely and complete says, "I love you" to Elias.  Lauren makes it back with strategic information. Darien and Elias get to make love for the first time.  Will wonders never cease.

Edited by raven1
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Here is hoping that Darien and Elias get at least 24 hours to enjoy their new relationship before all hell breaks loose.  Lauren is back, even if she is a construct, it is her.

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