This could be my first m/m romp. It’s definitely Science Fiction. It’s a universe that I’ve dabbled in many times, with characters I adore.
In their ships of wood and with no map, the Sidhe race left their homeworld for systems beyond their galactic neighbourhood. They took with them the prayers of the people and the hope for a better tomorrow. No item of the homeworld was to be taken with them but for the seeds and genetic material necessary to start new life. All trace of the path back was to be erased.
For their gods were banished from the world, and with the gods, all the races therein.
Lel Whisen sat in the back corner of the dive bar, frustrated and annoyed. He had just competed a business transaction and should have been elated. In fact, he would have been elated.
Had he not been paid in Terran credits.
Fucking Terrans, he thought as he looked around him.
The bar was filled with Terrans, perhaps that should have been his first clue. The transaction was done on the Andasal tertiary world, however, where only Union credits were supposed to be legal. One Terran credit was equal to less than a quarter of a Union credit.
So while he had been paid in full, he was still in the red for this trip. Which meant that he had to take on a local job to get out of the neighbourhood and the only ones offering those sorts of jobs were Terrans. Who would, without a doubt, pay him in Terran credits again instead of Union credits.
The only places that took Terran credits were run by Terrans. Which meant that Lel basically couldn’t use the credits unless he found a Terran brothel, but Terran prostitutes always left a nasty aftertaste. They were too unguarded for him to enjoy himself comfortably.
He passed some credits from his account, to the bartender to close his tab, then stood and collected the book he had brought with him to read. An actual physical book. It had drawn a few eyes when he had walked in, but as soon as the Terrans noticed the blue collar around his neck, they went back to their card games and drinks.
Ayans and Terrans looked a great deal alike. Two eyes, two arms, skin colour varying from pale right on up to almost black. The Terrans had even tried to push a motion through the Union to rename the entire Ayan race to Terran because they ere totally the same thing.
Even though if they did breed, they created infertile half-breeds who tended to be completely unable to live self-sufficiently. Their genetic material was even different enough to say that they weren’t from the same family of the evolutionary tree.
Ayans could breed with any race with two legs, two arms, and a mammalian background. Some adaptation quirk. Maybe that was why their homeworld had been the birthplace of not one, not even two, but ten different races. Seven of which had been called daemon until they got off world and were finally able to set up cities of their own without being slaughtered.
“Hey,” a Terran called, waving at Lel. “Hey, hey, hey! I want my fortune told, get over here.”
Lel gritted his teeth, then rolled his eyes and shook his head.
Terrans for some reason saw Ayans as a sort of gypsy. Neither race had a homeworld any longer, and Ayans were well known for having the kinds of powers that other races called psychic. The strengths varied from almost nothing to full blown mind reading and telekinetic abilities.
“Come on, don’t be like that. We’re all friends here, come show us what you can do.”
The Terran’s friends laughed behind their drinks. It was the sort of laugh that Lel had heard before, the kind that people used when they thought they had found someone who lied about a special skill. They were hoping to out him as a sham in a dive bar, as if that was an insult of some sort.
Lel approached the table, fingers tingling as he considered each man in turn.
Just by the fact that they were in a bar in the middle of the morning, already drunk, he could make a few guesses as to how their lives would end off. He didn’t have to use his skills to speak of their futures, because all he had to do was state the obvious.
Still, it irritated him when he was called out like that in the middle of a dive bar like he was the worst one in there.
He reached out and took the Terran’s cup from him. Sipping the liquid, he found a small trace of a memory. The alcohol had burned away pretty well everything else. Lel set the glass on the table, considering the fragment. Even from that, he could have made an assumption.
But he sort of felt like being a jerk.
While considering the drink, Lel reached out and grabbed the Terran by the shoulder, pulling him close. The man was startled, too startled to fight back as Lel kissed him and thrust his tongue into the Terran’s mouth.
He swore, letting the Terran fall as he spat to the side, trying to get rid of the fragments before they could drown him in sensation. Lel had just enough time to wipe his lip before the Terran came up swinging. He grabbed the Terran and slammed the man into the table, toppling the drinks as he twisted the man’s arm up towards the middle of his back.
“See, some of us have quirks,” he said, baring his teeth at the other Terrans at the table. “Mine is the ability to see into the mind through genetic material. Your friend here asked for his fortune. So… let’s see how you like this.
“You know how my people taught the Andasals how to rend a body slowly apart? How that type of execution has just now been made legal for a very specific sort of crime? How would you like to die that way? How would you like to scream yourself bloody, unable to die because they’ve taken even that from you?
“Because that’s the road you’re headed for. What was done to you, doesn’t have to be done to other people. Doing that to other children isn’t going to make you anything more than a coward of a man, it doesn’t make you big, it doesn’t make you strong and you will be caught. Maybe you’ll be lucky and it’ll be between generations, my people pick up criminals between generations, during the training times, to learn how to cause that sort of pain. So maybe you’ll get lucky and you’ll die quick.
“But I doubt it, you know why? Because you aren’t even smart enough to know that Ayans don’t tell the future, we tell you the past and make rational conclusions about where you’re going in life. And you, my friend? Are going some deep and dark places.”
Lel looked up and made eye contact with one of the Terran’s friends.
“Your wife knows about the affair and your bastard, that’s what she meant this morning when she said she had plans. You’ll find your mistress dead this afternoon unless you go now and stop your wife. Though she’s got one of your peoples’ old style blaster guns, the spray projectile one. That’s going to hurt in your chest. Your bastard son though, it’s going to hurt him a lot more. Maybe you should consider what your actions will do to those around you before you do them.”
He released the Terran and cuffed the man upside the head for good measure.
“You’re lucky I’m not one of the ones who melts brains out skulls for giggles, you moron. Some of us can only light things on fire, you know. If you had gotten a healer version, what would you have done? I know what they would have done. They would have snipped out all to keep you from breeding more stupid.”
With a disgusted huff, Lel spat again. He left the bar and slammed the door behind him before he slipped away from the bar and across the road to a cafe. Inside, he ordered a cleaner water and waited impatiently as the memories began resurfacing.
The barrista took his damned time filtering the water and allowing it to ‘breathe.’ Water didn’t need to breathe. With the water, Lel left the cafe again, muttering under his breath as he watched several Deaths slip into the bar he had left a few minutes before.
He didn’t know them, but he knew who ran the group on the planet and he didn’t want to tangle with them. Time to slip away.
Lel sipped his water and walked casually away.
Deaths could be found on any planet that his race had a treaty with. Which was pretty well any planet within the Union. The thing was, Deaths only dealt with those from Ayata, the home world of the Ayans.
Lel was in the Terran district, and he hadn’t seen anyone but Terrans in several hours. Which meant that the Deaths were there looking for him, or because the bar’s patrons had filed an assault claim. On any other planet, he could get off free of charge by explaining the situation.
Looking like a Terran didn’t help as long as the collar was showing. He stopped at a stall selling scarves and purchased on, wrapping it around his neck before slipped credits into the tender’s account and thanked the man with a handshake which blurred the collar from his mind. If the Deaths stopped to ask, the man wouldn’t be able to give a positive identification so long as the Death didn’t have the same power.
The water helped clear his head, wash away the taste of the Terran, but it didn’t help the growing hunger problem. Lel eyed the food vendors, but continued towards the exit of the district.
The problem with food vendors was that, out there on the street, there was a pretty good chance that there was genetic material in the food that hadn’t been completely cooked away. Having that in his mouth was one thing, but the moment it hit his stomach, he was stuck until it left. He couldn’t be left at the mercy of the Terrans.
Overhead the orange sun began setting. Within an hour the blue sun would be rising. Which meant that Lel either had to find a hotel that accepted Terran credits, or spend twelve hours in another dive bar. If he used Union credits, the Deaths would be notified, if they were actually searching for him.
The blue sun was too much for his space faring skin. Grumbling to himself, Lel slipped onto the main street and glanced to the checkpoint.
Where there were two Deaths standing alongside a full Andasal police squad.
He swore and turned back to head deeper into the Terran district, coming face-to-face with a Death.
Up close, Ayans could tell the difference. He had been told that Terrans couldn’t tell the difference between Ayan and Terran, but Ayans could tell. Just as they could tell the difference between a Death and a regular Ayan, or a healer, or one with the sort of powers that Lel had.
“Lel Whisen,” the Death said, crossing his arms across the wide chest. “You’ve been causing trouble, boy.”
Which meant a complaint had been filed by the patrons of the dive bar. A strange thing for a dive bar, considering the fact that he had heard of people being murdered in them without a charges ever being filed.
“For starters, I’m older than you are,” Lel said. “Secondly, you don’t have a right to arrest me for using a bit of shadow power on someone.”
“That wasn’t shadow power,” another voice growled as a presence came up behind him. Lel swore as he turned to Drinth, the leader of the Death group. “Shadow power transfers emotions, you pried into his mind, Lel. You aren’t allowed to do that to Terrans.”
“He wanted his fortune told, so I told him his future. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get to the transport to get back to my ship before the second sun rises.”
“You haven’t got the time. You’re going to come with us and to the shuttle we have waiting just past the check point. We’re going to take you someplace safe.”
“It’s not safe if Ilnor is there,” Lel said to the air to the right of Drinth.
“It is safe, please, Lel. Don’t make a fuss, don’t make me pick you up. This is for your safety. You’ve taken in the genetic material of a Terran. That’s got to leave a bitter taste. We’ve got clean food and drink, screened showers. When was the last time you took a shower longer than five minutes?”
Six months previous, when Ilnor had tricked Lel into setting down on the planet with a distress call from Lel’s grandmother. He wasn’t falling for that again. Lel glanced at the other Death, a man he didn’t know the name of, then back to Drinth.
He could get free, but at the cost of Terran lives. They were such a fragile race, when it came right down to it.
They were also tenacious fighters who wouldn’t let a body remain alive after causing the sort of damage that Lel’s other powers could cause.
Lel clenched his hands and looked down and away from Drinth.
“Good to see we’re on the same page,” Drinth said quietly. “Come on. Maybe Ilnor will run you a bath, yeah?”
He shuddered, unable to say no. He wanted to, he desperately wanted to cut Ilnor off completely, but he couldn’t. Lel’s shoulders sagged as Drinth reached down and took his hand gently.
“Come on, a third-timer like you needs special care, we can’t let anything happen to you, now can we?” Drinth said.
That got his attention. Lel looked up, frowning at Drinth as the Death led him towards the checkpoint. Drinth flashed his identification, then pulled Lel through without showing his.
Which really got his attention, because it was called a checkpoint for a reason. Everyone had to scan their identifications in and out of the checkpoints. Because he hadn’t scanned out, anyone looking for him would assume he was still in the Terran district. It was a big district, lots of places to hide.
With the right bots on the net, he could check himself in and out of a multitude of places by sending a bit of credits their way.
He kept his mouth shut as he was led to the awaiting shuttle. Inside, he was made to sit in the back with several other Deaths.
Who were all thinking very loudly about bed and sleep, the comfort of a lover’s arms. Lel struggled against it as Drinth wrapped an arm around him slowly, pulling him close.
“You know why the Union is looking for you?” Drinth asked.
“No,” Lel responded, trying desperately to keep his eyes open.
The last time he had fallen asleep, Ilnor had found him before he had awakened. He had spent a week in a sex filled fantasy, balanced on the edge of orgasm and unable to get away.
He didn’t like not being in control.
“Really? Because the president sent some of his folk over to have a private conversation with Ilnor, the type of conversation that usually results in execution. Now, Ilnor’s been back and forth enough that he doesn’t worry about being sent back, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair to him to do that.”
Lel shuddered and turned on the bed.
No, it wasn’t a bed. He struggled back to reality and smacked Drinth’s chest.
“You can’t take me there,” he said, flopping off the chair.
Why flopped? Because his legs and most of his body didn’t seem to want to work for him. Drinth was very good and putting him to sleep with thought alone, it was a an unfortunate side effect of having spent time with the Death. He knew the man’s mind, inside and out, having been visited by Drinth’s memories so many times.
“Lel, don’t be silly,” Drinth said, bending to pull him back up by the back of his jacket. “Since when do I cooperate with Union Police?”
“There have been times,” he managed to get out, groaning and struggling as Drinth placed Lel at his side once more. “Tissay.”
“Was a serial murderer and rapist who came here thinking I wouldn’t turn him over,” Drinth said. “Well… heh… guess he was right there, I didn’t turn him over to Union Police, but you know how many others have come here to hide? None.
“They were asking questions about a third timer with powers.”
“So not by name,” Lel said with a shake of his head.
“How many third times do you know, who have lived on the homeworld?” Drinth asked. “Only one I can list, and I wasn’t telling them that I had a name to go with the profile. Good thing you weren’t born on a Union world, or they’d already have your name to go with it.”
“Unique reincarnation gets me screwed by a past life,” Lel grumbled irritably.
“Yes, I figured we’d pick you up to give you the warning, when we received the complaint from the dive bar. That gave us the right to close down the district to pick you up, luckily. But they also filed an interplanetary report with the police. The power branch of the Union are going to be looking for you and that’ll raise flags.”
“Flags,” Lel muttered.
“You ever tell them about your past lives?” Drinth asked.
“I don’t remember the past lives,” he said, still clinging stubbornly to reality.
“Not many of us do, but when you registered through the power branch, did you have to register your lives as well? We all did at birth, but I’ve never seen someone with power born outside the Union be registered before. Did you tell them?”
“It’s in the blood profile,” Lel sighed out, pressing his face against the firm chest of the Death. “That’s how they know at birth. Blood carries the soul.”
“Priests register that.”
“It’s in the blood profile,” Lel insisted.
Drinth swore. “So we have about ten hours before they register the profile, maybe a full thirty hour galactic day before they find your ship and bind it to the world you’re on.”
“Of course you are, all your power use today has probably drained you,” Drinth said. “Go to sleep little one, I’ll watch over you.”