** This work is a sexually explicit fiction intended for audiences 18 and over, or as determined by local ordinance(s). All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, is purely coincidental. The material below contains scenes depicting sexual romantic involvement between an adult and a fourteen year older. If this is illegal in your country, or if this offends your sensibility, please read no further. This work is the property of its author and may be protected under U.S. and international copyright, and may not be reproduced, modified or reworked without the author's consent. All rights reserved. **
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Coming to terms with whatever happened to me has not been an easy task. Sometimes I think I might never come to terms with it.
I have assimilated the fact that my experience with Chris was a non-corporeal one, but I'm sure it happened, at least, at a certain level. The key in the tiny metal box is the other thing I hang on to as evidence of my relationship with him, as well as my having lived through it. It is the one thing that allows me to know I'm not losing my mind, at least not completely.
Or that's what I tell myself every time I think I'm just going completely insane.
I've been ordered on forced shore-leave for psychological recovery. And I'm glad I was, because it's given me the time to see how I'm going to proceed regarding Chris and the mysterious key I was given. I'm meeting someone today, the captain of a civilian trading ship whose crew might be bold enough to take me back to the planet where I crashed on my way to station Solaris II. I am told the captain of this vessel, a woman named Bristow, is widely known for taking on dangerous assignments if the pay is good. And I do have the means to pay her if she is willing to take me back to the planet.
I leave my flat and take the lift to the ground floor. For some stupid reason I take my hand to the key hanging under my shirt from my military necklace, as if it would assure me I'm not going insane. It's there as expected and I exhale feeling a little better.
I stand in the corner and signal a hovercab to stop. I hop inside it and hand him my creds.
"Where to, sir?" he asks.
"To the south docks, please."
"That'll be double what the meter marks, sir." He says and looks at me.
"Fine," I reply, "just hover."
"Yes, sir," he says.
He takes my cred, inserts it in the slot designed for charging purposes and starts driving. It takes us about fifteen minutes to reach the south docks. The sole environment makes you understand why the hovercab has charged double. There's the sort of people you wouldn't want to run into in a bar fight, from the typical former military men to those who look like no more than petty thugs. There's a strong smell to the place, like a combination of cigarrette, booze and sweat which makes me nauseous.
The driver keeps the hovercab running almost to the end of the docks, where Captain Bristow is already waiting for me, standing over a yellow speeder. There's two people with her, a tall bulky man with a rather unfriendly face and a goatee, and an athletic short haired woman with no eyebrows.
The driver stops and as soon as he charges and hands me my cred back, he drives away.
"Sergeant Nisu'gah, I presume?" Bristow speaks sizing me.
"Indeed," I tell her.
She extends her hand and I clasp it.
"I'm Bristow. These are Missdon and O'Malley."
"Nice to meet you both," I say extending my hand to both of them.
"Please," Bristow says, "hop inside my speeder and let's go to a much friendlier place."
She turns and opens the speeder's door for me to hop in. She follows. The athletic woman takes the driver's seat and the bulky man takes the copilot's. And off we go.
It doesn't take long for us to reach our destination, Bristow's ship, The Persephone. The speeder enters the ship on its belly, where a ramp-like hatch has been lowered for that very purpose. As we descend from the speeder, the bulky man, O'Malley, asks me to extend my arms and he starts searching me.
"Sorry man, standard procedure," he says as his hands search for weapons and the sort. "He's clean!"
Bristow looks at me and gestures me to follow. We leave the cargo area and take some inter-deck ladders up, until we reach a space with three doors, one of which conducts to her office. She sits down behind a desk and signals me to sit on the chair across from it.
"So," she says, "let me first tell you that you came through a very reliable client, so I'm guessing you're good pay."
"I am, Ma'am."
"Call me Auriel. Let's hear about your plans..."
I clear my throat before I speak, after all, I wouldn't want her to think I'm a nut case.
"I need to go back to a planet near The Central Planet..."
"You've said as much..."
"Yeah, well... I have a particular interest in a ship that crash landed four years ago..."
"Scavenging, huh?" she says partially smiling.
"Not really, see...um..."
"You might want to give me some more details, Sergeant. You do understand that if I'm gonna run into undesirable business with either The Core or The Covenant, I do need to know..."
"Yes, yes," I tell her, "I understand. See, you're probably gonna think I'm a basket case, but the truth is I've had a... well, um... a sort of mystical experience, so to speak, and I do believe I'll find some answers there..."
"No weird Core or Covenant business then?" she asks opening her eyes wide.
"No, Ma'am. The ship was a civilian vacation cruiser which was unfortunate enough to crash there. I've prepared a report on it, in case you want to go through it..."
"It so happens, I do," she says and smiles, "Do you have it on you now?"
"Yes," I say as I extend the memory crystal for her to take.
She takes the crystal and inserts it in a slot on her personal monitor. The info takes very little to upload and she then gives the crystal back. She looks at the info displayed on her monitor and nods a couple of times.
"You wouldn't mind if we did, say, a bit of scavenging ourselves?" she asks looking me in the eye.
"No, Ma'am. All I'll need from you is to take me to the planet, provide a suit and wait for me to come back... If you decide to take the mission, that is. Any other activity you conduct will be your business and I won't interfere on it."
"Thanks, Sergeant. I'll consider your request and send you my fee."
I nod and she taps a button on her desk. A couple of minutes later, the athletic woman, Missdon, comes into the office.
"Hadz, please escort Sergeant Nisu'gah to the cargo bay and ask O'Malley to take him home."
"Aye, Captain. Sergeant, please."
I stand up, shake the Captain's hand and leave her office. I'm hoping she'll take me to the planet. Getting anybody else to take the job might prove complicated, especially because I want to go hidden from the Core's Military radar, since I'm supposed to be on medical shore-leave.
Nights have become the worst and best part of my day at the same time.
It is at night when Chris still visits me in my dreams, and I've come to fear those moments, not because he's with me, but because the sense of emptiness when I wake up is too much to bear. So, I go to bed and try as hard as I can to be awake. It doesn't really help, `cause I'm so tired I very soon start to drift.
It's his smell the very first thing that comes to me and fills my senses. I then feel his weight on the bed and then the warmth of his body next to mine. I open my eyes and contemplate him in all his glory, his beautiful golden locks cascading down as his intense blue eyes look at me.
"Chris?" I ask half asleep.
"Hey, Robbi!" he says running his hand through my hair, "It is me, you sillyhead!"
I pull him close to me and kiss his lips deeply. I kiss him and kiss him knowing that, come dawn, he will be gone again. I wonder if this thing I'm living is real, I wonder If I actually lived my romance with Chris and if he's actually here with me right now.
"I know what you're thinking, Robbi," he says looking at me.
A shadow crosses his beautiful blue eyes as he talks.
"You do, Sweetie Pie?" I ask him smiling.
"Uhu," he says, "you're asking yourself if you're not going insane... you're wondering if I'm real, if this is real, if my love for you is real..."
I say nothing and he looks at me, sadness in his eyes.
"You see?" he says, "I know you very well, sillyhead..."
"I'm sorry, baby," I tell him, "it's just that... this is all so weird, you know? I don't... I don't understand what happened or how it happened and I'm so terrified, I'm so terrified of waking up every morning and not having you by my side..."
"I'm real," he says and then kisses me, "This is real, and I do love you, sillyhead..."
"It doesn't seem that way, Robbi... it seems like you don't want to believe in me anymore..."
I hold him close to me and kiss his forehead like I used to do when we both were stranded on the planet... or when it seemed that we were.
"Don't you ever say that, Chris. I do believe in you, I do! I'm just confused... I'm..."
"I know," he says, "you just don't understand how it happened... and that makes you doubt if this was ever real... am I right?"
I nod, `cause I'm not sure what to say.
"Well, just because you don't understand it, it doesn't mean it isn't real... if you stop believing in me... if you leave me... then I'll be gone for good..."
I hold him close to me and kiss him deeply as I caress his golden mane.
"I'll never stop loving you... and I'm doing everything I can to get close to you, believe me..."
"I know you are, Sillyhead..." he says and giggles.
I hold him close to me and kiss his forehead once again.
"Now, stay close to me, baby," I tell him, "I want to fall asleep with you in my arms, `cause as morning comes..."
"Shhh..." he says and throws his arm over my waist as he leans his head on my chest.
"I love you, baby boy..."
"I love you too, sillyhead..."
The alarm goes off.
I find myself alone in bed, though I wouldn't have expected otherwise. For some reason, I don't feel that horrible sense of loss I've been experiencing as of late. This time, I feel renewed and assured that Chris is real, that what we've lived through is real and I'm more than willing to go the distance for him, for us. Or am I?
I take a quick shower and then head to the kitchen to fix myself some breakfast. I decide on fried eggs and bacon and start on it, when my personal monitor bleeps. I move the frying pan aside and go tap at my monitor. There's a prerec blinking from captain Bristow. I tap it and the message starts.
"Sergeant Nisu'gah. Hi. Just to let you know I've decided to carry on with your assignment. I'm attaching an account number and I'll be expecting a call from you to discuss on the terms and amount. Have a great day."
Best news I've received since I crashed on that Gods Forsaken planet.
I go back to fixing my breakfast and I instinctively grab the key holding from my neck. I can't help smiling. I'm going back to that planet to find once and for all what happened. There's no going back now. And I'm not letting anyone stopping me from reaching my destination. It's time to prove to myself I'm not losing my mind... or time to let go of what might as well be a paranoid fantasy my mind conjured while I was between life and death.
I smile as the bacon sizzles and I dial Bristow's number.
I sent word to my superior that I'll be taking shore-leave at my mother's house.
That will buy me the time and give me the excuse to go near The Central Planet, since my mother lives in Celeria, the Capital city of Maravia, one of the smallest countries on the Central Planet. Upon receiving my message, my superior arranged for a military vessel to take me to Maravia. He said I shouldn't be spending any money if I'm travelling under forced shore-leave. That has also come in handy, since I'm spending a good sum paying Bristow for my personal enterprise.
So, I'll be leaving to Maravia tomorrow. And then, I'll be taking an orbit civilian shuttle to one of the Central Planet's moons, Nyx, where The Persephone will be waiting for me. I haven't discussed the rest of the logistics with Captain Bristow, but I will as soon as I go on board. Right now, my mood is in its highest peak, `cause I know I will be getting one step closer to finding out the truth.
I've set a will and made the proper arrangements. It's not like I think something will go wrong, `cause I'm a rather positive man. But one never knows what might happen, and I do know the planet where I'll be going in search for answers is not very friendly to humanoid species, at least, not to my species. Everything I own will go to my mother, shall a horrible fate befall me.
The hours tick by and I double and triple check my packed suitcase. I make sure to have the key hanging from my neck and then I laugh at myself reminding me that it's always there since I left the hospital. I've also told my mother I'll be on shore-leave and that I might get to spend some time with her after I run some errands, which I don't explain to her, there's no need to. She's thrilled we're going to see each other since we haven't seen each other for probably two years or so.
I leave my flat on my way to Damarin's house. From all my siblings, he's the one I've always been closer to, and I feel like I owe him an explanation of what I'm about to do. Not like he would know anyway, but I feel compelled to share it with him. If I should die, someone should know about my story with Chris.
Damarin's face is the first thing to show as the door to his flat slides open.
His gorgeous dark hair and his bright green eyes show at my chest's height as he moves backwards propelling himself over his hoverchair.
"Hey, you!" he says smiling.
"Hey, you!" I reply and then I bend down to hug him.
He throws his arms around my neck and kisses me on the cheek.
"Hey, Ethen!" he yells, "Rob is here!"
The red haired mature man comes from inside the bedroom and comes to hug me too.
"Welcome home, Rob!" he says, "can I fix you a drink?"
"Coffee will do, thanks Ethen."
I sit down on the love seat and Damarin hovers close to where I'm sitting.
"So, how are you guys doing?" I ask casually.
"I'm scheduled for a new spine check-up next week. My new doctor is very optimistic about this treatment with implants that might give me at least sixty percent of my mobility back..."
"Well, that's great news, Damarin!" I tell him genuinely moved.
"That's what I tell him," Ethen says coming back from the kitchen, "ever since the battle, this is the best chance he's got at a treatment that might help him regain most of his mobility."
Even though he's only twenty five, Damarin has been confined to his hoverchair for almost two years, since the Battle of the Cells, where a grenade detonated very close to his position. Not close enough to blow him, but so close as to send him flying and crashing down over a hovertank, severely injuring his spine.
"Here he goes, always the optimist!" Damarin says joking.
"Shut up, kiddo!" Ethen says holding Damarin's face and kissing him on the lips.
Ethen himself was retired from service around five years ago, when he lost his right leg and arm, which have now been replaced by cybernetic prosthetic pieces which have allowed him to carry mostly a normal life. It was after the cybernetic arm was implanted that they both met at the hospital and started dating. Damarin would refuse, saying he wouldn't want to drag anyone down to deal with a cripple on his day to day, but Ethen's persistence eventually won Damarin's heart.
"That's enough chatter about us," Damarin says, "let's talk about that thing that brought you here..."
"That, yeah," I say.
"I'm gonna go see about that coffee," Ethen says, obviously trying to give us some space.
"So," Damarin says.
"So," I tell him, "this might be a little bit hard to explain. I, um..."
"Does this have to do with your crash-landing and that stuff?"
"It does... and it does not... see, I was brought here after the crash..."
"I know... actually I knew about it just after you called, since we're not officially listed as brothers..."
"Well, as it turns out, I was in a coma for 19 days, but in my mind something else happened. In my mind, I was there, on the planet where I crashed... and I met a boy, a boy who had survived a crash-landing four years before. He was alone and we met, and we fell in love and..."
"Wait," Damarin interrupts, "but you were in a coma..."
"The doctors say it was a sort of vivid dream in which I incorporated certain real elements from the crashed ship..."
"And," Damarin says trying to be as respectful as possible, "what are the chances of the doctors being wrong about it?"
"You see, I had almost convinced myself that they were right, until, when released from hospital custody, I was given back what few belongings they had retrieved, this key included..."
"And that's relevant because..." he says.
"See, in my dream, the boy... Chris was his name, gave me this key inside a tiny little Ahtruvian box, a souvenir from one of his father's trips to Athra... there was no way for me to have come into posession of the box or the key..."
He nods, his eyes unblinking.
"I know it might sound stupid, but I know I met Chris, I know we fell in love and... the key, you know..."
Ethen comes back from the kitchen then holding a tray with coffee for me and him, and Corelian Tea for Damarin.
"What does your heart tell you, Rob?" Ethen asks as he places the tray on the coffee table.
"That it's real, somehow, I did live my relationship with Chris. Following this key, which is the only clue I have to find him, is what I'm going to do..."
"Do what your heart tells you," Ethen says smiling, "and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. The mind is powerful and, well... we don't know what kind of cosmic connection this boy and you might have shared while you were unconscious. I've heard much weirder stories, believe me."
I nod and smile.
"You know what worries me, Rob?" Damarin says.
"What if you get hurt... or worse?"
"I know it's a risk," I tell him looking deeply into his eyes, "but one I'm willing to take. Falling in love with Chris was the most beautiful experience I've ever lived through... and I'm not willing to sacrifice it out of fear... My only choice this one time, is not to play it safe... And that's exactly what I'm gonna do..."
"Well, one thing I know about you, brother," he says, " is that once you've made up your mind about something, there's no turning back. So... best of lucks..."
"Thank you, little brother... It means a lot to me..."
"We'll be waiting for your return, Rob," Ethen says, "Do what you must and come back home."
I stand up and hug Damarin and then Ethen. I'm sure I'm doing the right thing, now more than ever.
It's almost 2100 hours and I've just arrived in Nyx.
Captain Bristow sent a message saying that one of her crew members will be picking me up in about half hour. I'm so nervous I can barely keep myself quiet as I wait in the shuttle station on Nyx. I had never been to Nyx myself, even if it's one of the moons of the planet where I was born and raised, but it is indeed as colorful as I had been told. I don't think there's many places within The Core that hold that many species.
History says that Nyx was originally an independent moon which during the Old Day War served as a neutral land for refugees from all the nations and planets involved in the conflict, resulting in the myriad of species one can see upon arrival. Nyx has also become a popular moon because of the variety of sexual establishments all over its main towns, which also attract a lot of Core Tourists.
We leave the shuttle in which we've traveled and I walk through the docking station, trying to spot Bristow's crewmember. I stand just outside the station when I recognize Bristow's speeder. It stops almost in front of me and I recognize the woman form our previous encounter, Missdon.
"Sergeant Nisu'gah," she says, "Hop in!"
I hop on the speeder and try hard to relax. Sitting on the back there's a little man, easy on the aye. If I had to guess, I'd say in his twenties.
"Hi there, I'm Swift."
I nod and smile at the man.
"Rob," I simply say.
"Persephone's very close so don't make yourself too comfortable," Missdon says.
I smile again.
The ride isn't very long, but somehow it feels like the longest one I've ever taken. I know it's just the fact that I'm feeling restless. After all, answers are getting closer. The clock's ticking...
To be continued...
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