Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 58


Inspired by the prompt: Use kidnap, fungus, ransom

Freska’s face underwent a series of expression changes. I didn’t understand them all, but Captain remained tense beside me. I turned my body toward his and curled into him, needing the contact. What she was doing reminded me of what I’d felt meditating with Lakshou; that connection with another being, the sharing. It wasn’t nearly as intimate as what she was doing with Danie, their whole bodies touching, parts of her actually inside him, but he’d been inside my mind too.

The difference being he’d hidden who he was from me, from us all. What I’d seen and heard of Freska was open, blunt, unable to suppress her first impulse to share or speak what was on her mind. She even gave Captain a hard time, unlike anyone but Aparoe and Deke.

An eternity passed in microseconds as her body told a story. I recognized anger and sorrow the most. Surprise, maybe? That was what wide eyes often meant, at least among humans.

I almost wanted to see Danie’s face. What was he learning about us? What did Freska know about me? “Is this sharing thing like downloading files or something?” I whispered.

“Dunno. She just knows things. Gets inside a system, learns it, and it learns her. She can work anything, and it’s like most ships are eager to link with her. Freska says she’s not unique among her kind, but I’ve never come across another like her before.”

“What is she?” I studied her, but she appeared normal.

“Not human, even if she looks it. I’m not sure what she is exactly.”

“She’s not an A.I. is she?” I whispered as faint as I could.

“No, I’m not. I bleed, and Aparoe has scanned me left and right and up and down. Aside from my circuitry here, which leads to my perfectly normal brain, I am a natural being. Just… different.”

“It’s not natural to have a brain with parts two or three times bigger than everyone else.”

Freska grinned. “It is where I come from. Almost small, in fact.” She still held on to Danie. She pulled back and looked into his eyes. “You okay?” Her fingers caressed the back of his neck below the ports.

I shivered, not able to control the sympathetic twitches. They were sensitive back there. I didn’t mind the front or sides of my neck, or even the base where it reached my neck, but right at the edge of my hair where the tiny ports bored through my scalp and into my skull, the nerves were raw.

But Danie didn’t seem to mind.

“I’m fine.”

He didn’t sound fine. His voice was hoarse and rough, like he’d been shouting or weeping for hours. “What… How can you live like that? Alone? Disconnected?”

Freska dropped her hands and stepped back from him, her gentle smiling demeanor disappearing to be replaced with a serious, almost blank expression. “One gets used to it.”

“But you’re not. You keep seeking, looking for something to connect with. You’re so lonely. I thought I knew, that I was alone. But you—” He choked off the words, stopping when Freska pierced him with a fierce glare.

“I’m fine. Can I share what I found out about your past? I like to ask before I start blurting things out, if I can help it.”

“Of course.” Danie dipped his head in a shallow nod.  Freska stepped back to the table and pulled out a chair, and Danie mirrored her. They sat, scooting their chairs until their arms touched. It was strange, something in Danie’s rigid posture had eased and Freska was sitting upright in her chair, leaning forward.

I watched it all with fascination. Humans—or whatever they were—had endless interactions that interested me, but the mating habits were rarely shown on vids unless they were what Deke called skin vids. Those didn’t interest me at all. But the intimacy between them was something else.

What had happened? Was it truly an exchange, like personalities or mannerism? Was it temporary?

“Danie will trust us now,” Freska said.

“Is that right?” Captain tilted his head. “And why is that?”

“Kohen. And you.”

“And you,” Danie said. He looked at Freska. “You really only want to help not use me.”

“We don’t use beings,” Captain said, drawing Danie’s attention back. “Freska said you are an A.I. No one has ever succeeded in creating a true A.I. before, a self-aware learning machine. And you’re housed in what appears to be a humanoid body. That makes you very dangerous to the wrong people. And very valuable to worse people.”

“And you’re not either of them.” Danie didn’t even hesitate. “You didn’t kidnap me to ransom me off to the highest bidder either.”  

“No, we’re not space fungus. To me, you’re Danie, an autonomous being with rights to be respected, same as me, same as Kohen, same as Freska, no matter how you came into existence. And apparently, you have quite the story.”

I had to hope it wasn’t like mine.

“It was Brox, and that bottom-feeding animal Frijul was working for them. But this is bigger, so much bigger, Captain Querry. See, the rot goes all the way to the center. The wars? Distraction. Keeping the planetary alliances too busy to see what is happening with those who’ve taken up the reins at Central. Danie is a weapon, yes, and the very first successful experiment of grafting all the various alien, computer, and human parts together to create the ultimate agent.

“But they need Danie back because his body is unique—or it will be until they can clone it.”

“How do you know they don’t already have it?” I asked.

“His genetics changed after they added the alien biology. They didn’t realize how much it would alter his basic DNA.”

“How do you know?”

“Danie was still being encoded when I broke him free, but his memory was active, and has been since he went online. I saw it all.”

TBC
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 57



I held onto the table that separated us, staring at the thing. It. Him. Danie. Whatever it was. My stomach roiled when I touched the ports in my head. “Like… mine?”

“What?” Freska’s eyes widened. She whipped around the table and pushed my hand aside, exclaiming when she saw the ports. A light flicked on and flared past me. She nudged my head this way and that, mumbling. I gripped the table with both hands, my knuckles white, and stared at my hands.

What was I? What had Captain bound himself to?

“Freska, stop it. You don’t touch people like that.” Captain gently urged her away and placed his hands over mine. He didn’t uncurl my hands, didn’t pry them away from the table, just covered my fingers with his and shared his warmth. My joints ached as I let go and turned my wrists to lace our fingers together.  “You’re fine, Kohen. We already know all about you, remember? I chose you, and you chose me. You can’t take that back. Not ever.” Warmth passed from the bond and not just his body.

I sagged, half-closing my eyes as I nodded. I hated that I needed his reassurance all the time, but…

“You have reason, and I don’t mind sharing my thoughts and feelings for you, no matter who we are with.” Captain leaned down and kissed me gently on the lips. He let go of one hand and urged our little bond companion to leave him and curl up with me. “I think you need him.”

The synthgar curled up on my neck. “He needs a name,” I said. I stroked his smooth skin with one gentle finger.

“He does. Maybe you can think of it.” Captain rubbed my side, holding me close still.

“Maybe.”

The entire exchange was watched by Danie, which I tried to ignore. Freska had moved back over to the A.I.’s side, flicking her fingers over a portable vid. She physical made a noise. “Aha!”

“What?” Captain asked.

“As I thought. See, here and here and here.” She tapped her vid and held it out flat. The picture zoomed up, solidifying in a way I’d never seen before. More of her hologram tech wizardry. “Look at the similarities in the alien biomechanics. I have no idea what species they come from, but what bits and pieces are in Kohen’s mind and nervous system to increase his intelligence, suppress his memory, increase his compliance, all those things, are also tied in to the fiber options running through his body along the natural channels to enhance his strength.

“Now here’s Danie’s.”

The two images rose, solidified, and spun slowly side by side. There were a lot more parts in his, but there were too many that looked the same for it to be a coincidence.

“Were you made or born?” I asked him.

Danie stared at me. “Unknown.”

“Freska, what do you know?” Captain asked. “You’re magic with machines. You’re telling me this is all you have?”

She dropped into a chair at the table. “I’m going with the human body making this special circumstances.” She looked sad. Or maybe mad.

I couldn’t tell.

“What I do isn’t magic, you know. It’s skill. But he’s an A.I. He’s not a machine. He’s intelligent. Self-aware. Really self-aware. Not just some sophisticated program running algorithms and probabilities. And. He’s. Not. Talking.” That look was definitely anger. And something else I didn’t know.

Captain sat down and I took the chair next to his. He pulled it closer, and I smiled. Danie stared at us.

“Who are your makers, Danie?”

“Classified.”

“Why?”

Danie blinked, those gray eyes flickering. “What?”

“Why are your makers classified?”

He opened his mouth then shut it. “I don’t… know. It’s classified.”

“Even from you? Your mind is made up of circuits and data.” Captain was calm. “They created your purpose. Hiding who they are means they don’t want that known, which must mean your purpose isn’t good. Are you evil, Danie?”

“Evil isn’t real. It’s a human construct formulated from superstition and stories.” Danie shifted.

“Are you sure of that?”

I licked my lips, stroking the synthgar. “They made me do evil things. Hurt people. Hurt myself so I could hurt people. Then they’d poke around in my head and my body and that was worse.” I put my hand down so I wouldn’t hurt the tiny creature curled against my throat. “They took away my choice, made me into something I’m not. Something I never wanted to be.

“Can you say they’ve never done that to you?” He kept staring at me, so I stared back at him, letting him see my truth. I hadn’t shared it with anyone but Lakshou and Captain. Lakshou betrayed my trust, but Captain had helped make it okay.

Danie’s throat bobbed. “My makers are…” He jerked, his head twitching. “Makers are… are…”

Freska jumped to her feet. “He does have subroutines. Look at that.” The scans she had rotating must have been live. Something on his flared orange. “Danie. I can help you. Look at that, do you see those? Those are—”

“I see them. I know. How can you h-help?”

“Let me in, Danie. It goes both ways.”

“If I say no?” His hands fisted.

“You said it before. I respected that.” She mirrored his twitches now.

“Yes,” he said roughly, his chest heaving.

She pulled him into her arms, and I stared with wide eyes. Then Freska turned and stared at the scans.

“She has biomechanical parts,” I whispered. Gold light shone around the long digits of her fingers buried in his ports.

“How else do you think she gets all things mechanical like she does? Talks to ship A.I.’s? She connects with them.”

“Like Lakshou, but with machines?” That was the second time I thought of him.

“She cannot open them without opening herself though. What she will learn of Danie, he will learn of her. It’s a two-way passage.”

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Wednesday Briefs Denied Chapter 56




“Captain.”

“Freska. It’s good to hear from you. It’ll be even better to get out of this shuttle. Is your location secure?” Captain sat in his chair, and I sat in a chair at an unused station nearby.

“It is. It might not be for long though, sir. We’ve been pursued by Frijul’s and Elliard’s conspirators because we discovered something significant.”

“Oh?” Captain’s eyebrows rose. “And that is?”

“I’d rather tell you in person, sir.”

“You’re afraid a system you control might be intercepted or spied upon?” Captain had looked surprised before, but now he was flat out shocked. I tilted my head, watching him.

“Call it an overabundance of caution. You’ll understand.” Freska glanced sideways. “We’ll see you soon.”

The shuttle bounced through the atmosphere as we navigated through the clouds toward the surface. It wasn’t nearly as harsh as Mackinack, thankfully. My stomach was especially thankful. The shuttle’s dampeners weren’t nearly enough to compensate for those wind forces without tossing us around considering how many people and cargo we were carrying.

Nothing like heaving through the sky like a fat-bellied beast, which we’d be if the shuttle could actually bulge at the seams. We’d run into Luca who’d been good-naturedly listening to Priella complain. She’d flushed and saluted at the same time, making Luca chuckle as he lazily saluted as well. I was glad they were both in the crew that came with us, though. I’d gotten surprisingly attached to them.

“Sir, we’re here. Hail the ship so we can board?”

“I’m absolutely certain… Yes. There.” From the front viewport the ship was rapidly growing larger, filling it. A gaping hole opened in the side of the ship.

“I didn’t realize the ship Freska took was so big,” I said.

“Me either. I think she’s been making improvements.”

“To a ship?” I must have looked skeptical.

One of the crew at a station turned. “Freska can do things with metal and mechanics that are like magic.”

“Magic isn’t real.”

Captain reached out and touched my hand. A spark of our earlier resonance still clung to him, or me, or maybe it was both of us. When we touched, the aura around us flared and I could see the colors. “Oh, isn’t it?” Captain cocked an eyebrow.

“Well….” Chemicals, nerves, venom… I could quote those, but I knew what he did—there was a connection between us that defied explanation. Our age difference, the way we’d lived our lives, everything between us should’ve been a barrier, but still we were stronger and better together than apart. “Okay, fine. She can do magic.”

We were finally parked inside the ship and the pressure equalized as the airlocks opened, and we all breathed a bit easier knowing we weren’t crammed in to a virtual coffin hurtling through space. Maybe that was how all non-spacers felt.

A delegation met us as we trooped off the ship. Captain and I led the way, and after we got out of the way, several security team members trotted inside to find Deke and his captive. Freska wasn’t taking any chances apparently.

The others were taken to quarters or duty stations, but Captain and I were led to a large meeting room. Freska was standing in the middle of the room, a table with several seats ringing it between her and the door. She saluted and then stood still while Captain stood in the doorway.

Hovering behind her was a being.

Human, or humanoid in appearance, though I couldn’t see anything specifically alien about him, he seemed off to me. Perhaps it was his rigid stance, ramrod straight with his arms at his sides. The being’s pale gray eyes studied us, glittering in the low light.

“Captain Querry, I would like you to meet Danie.”

“Hello.”

“Hello, Captain.” His voice was low, quiet, and calm. Nothing about him betrayed his nerves, which, in and of itself, was odd. And I didn’t like that he just called him captain.

“Querry,” I said. “His name is Captain Querry. And my name is Kohen.”

“Nice to meet you,” he said politely.

I stared at him. He talked like he was out of some old vid or something.

“Sorry. I’m trying to teach him better vocabulary and slang, but you know how processors are; they tend to latch on to the first thing they learn.”

Danie sighed. “I told you, I am not a processor.”

“And I told you, with the best scans I could do without a better lab. We do know your brain and central nervous system are made up on connections and fiber options.”

My mouth dropped open. “His… what, now?”

Captain stopped nearly to the table, and he swept his arm behind him to corral me closer to him. “Explain,” he demanded.

“I think we had such dedicated pursuit, not because we have Frijul, but because we have him.” She tilted her head toward Danie. “He’s what I think they were trying to make with Kohen but failed.”

“And just what is that?” My heart was racing and cold sweat dripped down my spine. The worst spilled out of my mouth, but I desperately wanted to take them back. I didn’t really want to know.

“Captain Querry, I am what is known as an A.I. My makers are going to be very angry that I am not where they left me.”

“I had to take him, Captain,” Freska said. “He was plugged in. Like… hardware. I had to know how, why.”

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 55

Prompted by the phrase: Time is a luxury we don't have


“Oh.” I let out my breath on a long exhale.

That I could see.

Every single particle of my being was energy and, as I moved, the energy ebbed and flowed all around me to mix with Captain’s energy. He was cool blue and green, pale gold and a thin ribbon of shiny black that blended with the purple, orange, and shining white of my aura. That shiny black linked us, and I realized it was the synthgar’s venom as it throbbed with our matched heartbeats.

Captain shuddered in my arms and his body thrust into mine. The combined sensory input of the feeling of his hard shaft inside me so warm and firm, and his arms wrapped around me, his breath bathing my face so that all I could scent was him, and the sight of our very selves mingled on an intimate level down to our very souls… I lost control. “Kohen.” He stilled, touching my face. “You’re mine.”  

My throat burned, and I couldn’t answer when I opened my mouth. I flipped us, kneeling with my legs spread on either side of him, taking over the rhythm and claiming him with my body instead. Captain’s hands blazed on my hips and ass, spreading my cheeks, pulling me up and down on top of him while he stared intently at me. I lost all sense, and his words as he babbled were no better than gibberish, yet I knew he needed me to move faster, harder.

I needed it too.

“Everett….” I put my hands on the wall behind the head of the bed and used the leverage to push down harder and faster. Sweat dripped down my face, and my chest burned as I gasped for air. But I couldn’t stop. We were so close. “Need you.”

“Uh-huh.” He took ahold of my shaft, skimming his palm up and down with my movement, then planted his feet on the bunk and pushed up as I came down, slamming our bodies together. The collision was like a supernova.

The resulting explosion obliterated all my senses. The sight of our auras blending, the scent of his body and my come, the sound of his shouts twinned with mine… it was all a backdrop to the absolute pleasure wringing every drop from my balls as my body turned itself inside out.

When I came to, I was slumped on Captain’s chest, our breaths still synced as we struggled to do more than pant frantically. My vision slowly cleared as I blinked, but that sense of connection to Captain was even stronger.

I lifted my head. “My…” I coughed, my throat hoarse. “Uh. I can’t talk. God. Will it always be like that?” I asked.

“No, I don’t think so.” He trailed his fingers up my sweaty back. “But we could try.” He grinned when I rolled my eyes. “For science.”

“Right. Science.” The synthgar was curled back around his ear. I hadn’t felt the sting, but I’d felt the way the venom had expanded my perceptions. The surge of adrenaline and release of chemicals as I came had done things I’d never felt before, and I’d taken drugs and had a lot of drugs used on me.

“We should clean up just in case.” I groaned as I pulled away. We were a sticky, salty, sweaty, mess. My legs quivered as I backed off the bunk. “Wow.” I was more tired than I thought.

“Sonic cleaner is over there.” Cptain pushed a button and a port came out from the wall exposing the head. “Only one at a time.”

I hurried through the wash, detesting the way the waves cleaned my body; I never actually felt clean. Captain was sitting up on the bunk watching me as I bent, swayed, and straightened. “Your turn.”

We traded places, and he brushed my body. “What about the synthgar?” I asked.

“He’ll be fine.” Captain reached up and tenderly stroked the tiny creature. “He’s now linked to us, and anything we can handle, he can too.

Captain was finished with his sonic rinse and heading back to our bunk when mandatory quarters alarms and warnings sounded through the vid system and audio.

“Copy, Captain?” The vid screen alarm cut out in our quarters.

“Go ahead.” Captain shoved his legs into his uniform.

“We’re encountering a debris field where there should nothing. We’re not sure… what if it’s Freska’s ship?”

“Unlikely,” said Captain. “This is just another safety protocol.” He reached up and tapped on the handheld vid I clutched. “There. Use this.” It was the second part of the message we’d received. It appeared to be a nonsense section, like the words had been scrambled or missing, but when they were overlaid on the map, the curves and dots of the letters overlaid the debris and the straight lines indicated safe paths.  

“Wow. She’s amazing.” I couldn’t believe she found a way to lay a debris field so elaborately some would think it was a natural phenomenon. A planet lay beyond the field. “Is that where we’re meeting her?” I asked.

“That’s it.”

“Why don’t we go around?” I asked. “Why risk going inside the debris field?”

“Time is a luxury we don’t have. And there’s other dangers that make this the safest path, as long as you have the key.” Captain keyed the map file to the navigators. Captain finished fastening his uniform. He took a deep breath. “Time to put Elliard and Frijul together and see what shakes out of the bastards when the other is used against them.”

“You’re going to let Deke do that, right?” I still didn’t want him questioning his own cousin.
“We’ll see. I also need to find out what caused Freska’s delay. I don’t like whatever sent her to our secondary meeting location. Frujil couldn’t have found out she was coming, so someone else was on her trail.”  

TBC
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 54



The Captain’s quarters also became his war room. I had nowhere to retreat to be alone, and the stress of it was wearing on me. I went from being alone and desperately wishing for the touch, sound, and scent of other beings to freedom that was bearable only because of my small quarters, to the bliss of sharing a room with Captain for a short time.

Now, as I tried to find some small way to handle the crowd by curling into the corner of the room so two walls surrounded me and my back was safely covered, Captain, Deke, Aparoe—who still clutched a cloth to their eyes at times but had a fierce expression on their face—and the others of his bridge crew met in our room to discuss all the revelations.

“I’m sorry, Kohen,” Captain said. “We’d have more room, but I had my office outfitted as a brig.”

“They’re alive?” Aparoe’s mouth dropped open. “After they betrayed us all like that?”

“No.” Deke shook his head. “My teams and I took out the cells and agents on the ship before the shuttles were released down to Mackinack. My cousin”—his nose wrinkled in disgust, and I thought he would spit on the floor—“is our current guest. He knows far more than those underlings, and he’s a far better bargaining chip, should we need him.”

“Did SaARALA get a message off?” Captain asked. “Warn anyone of our meeting rendezvous with Freska?”

A small alien with purple stripes and several eye stalks burbled, waving stubby hands. “No, the comms have not fired off any interstellar transmissions.”

Captain narrowed his eyes. “What about in-system messages?”

I drew in a breath. What if they knew we were coming? If they were already there, nets with EM fields just waiting to burn out our engines and trap us before we could jump to the meeting coordinates.

“Nothing we could see.”

Relief swamped me, and I sagged. The wall caught and held me, and I leaned my head back. A small caress behind my ear startled me. I jerked his head up, glancing around wildly. Nothing. No one had touched me; they were all still seated and discussing the raid.

It was the synthgar. Captain had transferred it to me once we’d reached our new quarters. The tiny creature had a firm grip but was so light I barely felt him once he’d locked into place behind my ear. It was like wearing a locator, but this one occasionally moved. And it was warm, like a smooth, flexible ring that warmed me mentally as well as physically.

I lost the thread of the conversation as I focused on that tiny ember of heat. Was it what was between me and Captain? The link between us brought me a sense of comfort and security. I’d never remembered feeling before meeting him. He brought me warmth I basked in

“Kohen?” Captain stood over me. Our tiny quarters were empty for the first time since we’d gotten on the shuttle.

“I’m sorry. What did I miss?” Did I need to go to work somewhere? Do something?

“A bunch of planning for torturing more information out Elliard. Bastard’s holding out. I’m going to take down this conspiracy that’s furthering the Brox Consortium’s goals to subjugate species by any means possible in order to grab power. Central Command is made up by representatives from each planet, but they all retain autonomous control within galactic regulations. Brox would replace all that with a single rule, a single voice that drowns out all others. And that voice is corrupt. I plan to silence it for good for once.” Captain crouched.

“But even taking down a vast conspiracy can’t be all work.” Captain crouched. “Enjoying our new friend?”

“He’s so warm.” The synthgar had moved from my ear to my neck, and I sat with one hand cupped over him.

“I thought you’d like that.” Captain smiled. “Warmth. Heat.”

“It’s what I felt when we first met. The heat from your arm. It hurt to touch you, but you were so warm, so soft.”

Captain frowned. “I hate hurting you, but pain… it’s part of bonding. Both for this,” he cupped my hand hovering over the synthgar, “and being bonded. It’s a risk, because if we separate too long we could be harmed.”

“So you can’t get rid of me? Drop me off with those other rescued beings somewhere safe?”

“I stopped trying that a while back. You won’t be left behind.” Captain’s fingers caressed mine. “I don’t think I could handle it anyway. Not being close to you is torture.” His voice dropped to a husky whisper. “We have a few hours before we’re needed. Are you ready?”

Was I? I locked gazes with Captain, seeing all he felt and how it matched his words in his open eyes. “Yes,” I whispered, my breath instantly gone as my skin tightened. A miniscule quiver took up residence in my spine, turning it to jelly. “I need help up.”

Pulling me to my feet, Captain made a face at the small bunk. “Not the bed I’ve chosen to bond in.”

“We’ll be close. Close is good.” I wasted no time stripping. “Naked and close is better.” My shaft was firm and throbbing, pearls of fluid beading at the tip.

Captain licked his lips, and I groaned. “Naked. You. Now.” His uniform went flying, and Captain yanked down the covers on the bunk. He slid onto the mattress leaving barely enough room for me. Good thing all I wanted to do was blanket his body.

Somehow, somewhere, he found slick and brought it to my entrance. I gasped, arched, and whined. He breeched me, and I was so focused on that I never felt the warmth at my throat turn into a burning strike. Not until the synthgar climbed onto Captain’s neck and pierced his neck with that wickedly sharp tail, pumping in his unique poison.

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