Authors notes: And with little or no fan-fare I unleash part 3 on the unsuspecting masses. I've only had a couple of people wanting to gouge out their eyeballs with rusty dessert-spoons so far, but third time's the charm, right? Will you be that lucky third? Let me know. Hearty thanks to the fine editing done by Richard. You rock, Sssssssir (a big sloppy Vanguard kiss comin' your way). Now on with the story before some Arbiters gang-rape my muse again. Wont someone think of my muse?! Oh the humanity! (Goodnight and don't let the Taniwha bite...)

Taniwha - Part 03


   The end, when it came, was almost graceful. Expanding firey red blossoms of plasma erupted from all over the battered carcass of the Lightning-Strike as it came apart under the onslaught of Arbiter particle-beam weapons. Large, fractured sections of the superstructure tumbled away, propelled by the detonation of various secondary internal power sources as their shielding failed.

   Docile-Until-Provoked turned away from the scene of destruction on the view screen, as the shuttle he was in made good its escape. Distressingly few shuttles or escape pods had managed to get clear of the Lightning-Strike before it went up. Most of those that did had been picked off by the small strike vessels accompanying the five large Arbiter cruisers that had seemingly appeared from nowhere.

   Thankfully their escape had gone unnoticed by the strike vessels. They had been shielded by a large section of hull-plating, which had come loose during the early stages of the short-lived battle.

   Along with two other medics, Docile-Until-Provoked tended to the injured crew that had managed to get to the shuttle before the docking bay had depressurized. Although he had seen more than his fair share of death and suffering over the years, it still broke his heart afresh to see so many young Vanguard who would never live long enough to see another sun-rise.

   Putting up a confident facade, he hunkered down beside a familiar looking young warrior, nursing what looked like mostly superficial wounds. The warrior was cradling the unconscious head of an engineer in his lap.

   "Do not concern yourself with me. This one is more in need of your attention." Invokes-The-Storm gently laid the engineer's head on the deck and staggered awkwardly to his feet, stepping back slightly to give the elderly medic some room.

   "Looks like he has had a bit of a beating," Docile-Until-Provoked observed, as he leaned over the prostrate form and spread his taloned hands over the body. He didn't see the warrior wince guiltily at his choice of words, as he closed his eyes and concentrated. Several minutes later he sighed and opened his eyes again, turning to face the warrior who was looking on anxiously. "Hrrr... He will recover with sufficient rest. As for your own injuries..."

   "My wounds are not serious," the warrior interrupted him. "There are others more in need of your assistance." Invokes-The-Storm waited until the elderly medic had moved on before he knelt down beside the unconscious engineer. "I am so sorry," he whispered, gently stroking the side of Obscuring-Darkness' cheek with the back of one of his hands. Getting to his feet he headed up to the cockpit to see if he could render any assistance to their inexperienced pilot.

   Blocker looked up from the control console briefly, as a warrior entered the cockpit, before turning his gaze back to the controls. His talons clattered nervously on the warm metal as he studied the various sensor readouts, waiting for the tell-tale signs of persuing Arbiter strike vessels.

   "Is there anything I can do?" Invokes-The-Storm stood beside the agitated reptile, looking out of the view screen at the growing moon in front of them. Its barren surface was pock-marked with craters and starkly shadowed mountain-ranges.

   "I am an engineer, not a pilot. One of you Ancestor-cursed warrior types should be flying this thing; I am not cut out for this!" Blocker muttered somewhat bitterly, sparing a second or two to glare at Invokes-The-Storm as if the warrior was single-handedly responsible for the catastrophe that had overtaken them.

   Invokes-The-Storm huffed with amusement for a few moments before he wilted under Blocker's deepening glare. "Hrrr, I would not know the first thing about how to fly this bucket. You are doing an excellent job of it. Please do not let me stop you. Have you heard anything from the leader? Do you know if he escaped in time?"

   "Not that I am aware of. And I do not believe it would be in our best interests to attract attention to ourselves by transmitting anything. Unless you wish to join your Ancestors, sooner rather than later...?"

   "I am sorry. I should leave you alone -"

   "No! No, please do not - I am sorry I snapped at you. Please stay." Blocker's sulky glare was quickly replaced by a pitiful expression, and Invokes-The-Storm suddenly realized just how scared the engineer really was.

   "Of course. Where are you taking us, anyway?"

   Blocker turned to look at the moon, growing larger in the view screen, and then down at the controls, speaking in a subdued tone. "I - I do not know. Away from here, anyway. Putting as much distance between us and those fucking Arbiters as I can."

   The shuttle slipped into the moon's shadow, skimming low over the pitted surface to avoid Arbiter scans. There had been nothing on the shuttle's sensors for some time, and the two of them were just beginning to relax a little bit when the console started flashing a warning signal. Alarmed, they both studied the read-out, fearing the worst. The sensors indicated that the object was too small to be an Arbiter vessel, but too large for a Vanguard escape pod.

   Invokes-The-Storm was about to suggest that they avoid whatever it was, when Blocker turned to him with a surprized expression on his face. "It is heading in the same direction we are, away from the battle. Hrrr, I think it might be the human vessel."

   The scene of the battle was soon hidden behind the bulk of the moon, as the shuttle emerged back into the sunlight. Ahead of them lay the brightly shining blue and white planet that the peculiar little aliens called Earth. They were also quickly gaining ground on the blip on the sensor console, which soon became visible as a small, irregular shaped bunch of cylinders slowly coasting through space towards the planet.

   Slowing the shuttle as it closed in on the human vessel, Blocker temporarily forgot about the recent conflict as he stared, fascinated, at the unlikely human machine. It is so... crude. Primitive. Ugly, he thought to himself. But it also had a certain stark, simple charm too, he grudgingly admitted. They must be very brave to travel through space in that thing. It doesn't even have basic electromagnetic shielding, Blocker shook his head in wonder.

   When they were within a few dozen metres of the vessel, they could see puffs of gas jetting from small attitude and directional control nozzles all over its surface. Slowly it rotated around its centre of gravity, until what looked like a large funnel-shaped thruster was pointing towards them.

   "Hrrr, perhaps we should back off a bit?" Invokes-The-Storm suggested to Blocker.

   Snapping his jaw shut in agreement, Blocker tapped out some commands into the control console, which put a bit more room between them. Just in time it seemed, as a bright glare lit up the cockpit through the view screen. A loud alarm from the control panel forced Blocker to squint at the readout. Their shield was being hammered by a lot of radiation from the nuclear engine of the human's vessel.

   Silencing the alarms, Blocker turned to a concerned looking Invokes-The-Storm with a small smile. "Nothing our shields cannot handle. Do not look so worried."

   As the crude ship put some distance between them, Blocker sighed and leaned back against the rear bulkhead. Blinking at Invokes-The-Storm through eyes still dazzled, the engineer started looking nervous again. "Hrrr, do you think these humans will welcome us on their planet?"

   "I do not think that is likely. The meeting was not a success, given the reports I have read." That their leader, Blaze-For-Eternity, had almost killed one of their warriors would not have gone down well with the humans at all, Invokes-The-Storm believed. "We are probably safe from Arbiter scans for the moment. This would be a good time to set a course for home, would it not?"

   Blocker looked at him as if he'd suddenly sprouted a second head. "You do realize just how far from home we are, surely?"

   "Indeed. It only took us a couple of weeks to get here. Should not take that much longer, even in this bucket." Invokes-The-Storm wondered why the engineer had started spluttering halfway through his sentence.

   The Lightning-Strike was subspace capable, this shuttle is not! We only have a near-FTL drive. Do you have any idea how long that would take? No, I see by the expression on your face you do not. Try 18 years."

   "18 years? Hrrr, still that is not so bad -"

   Blocker started spluttering again, interrupting him. "Of course it is bad! What do you plan on eating after the first couple of months? Once all the rations on board run out, hrrr?" Blocker looked at Invokes-The-Storm wide-eyed, starting to panic a little. "Will you resort to cannibalism? Who will you eat first? The old? The injured? Perhaps you prefer something a little more tender," Blocker stopped leaning against the bulkhead, and took a couple of steps away from the warrior.

   "Calm down, my friend. I am not about to start eating anyone, especially not our pilot! I am sure there are some planets along the way. Somewhere we can stock up with supplies." Invokes-The-Storm smiled reassuringly at the engineer, but Blocker wasn't having any of it.

   "Nothing! That is what is between here and home. Two dead star-systems probably crawling with fucking Arbiters. And a whole lot of empty nothing." Blocker moved around the cockpit in short bursts, punctuating his sentences with agitated arm-waving. "Our food will last two months. Four, maybe, if we starve ourselves. Life support? Maybe three years before it fails for lack of renewable resources. The singularities which power the grav-generators have a lifespan of seven years before they evaporate into uselessness."

   "Alright, I get your point -"

   "No," Blocker stopped and stared at Invokes-The-Storm, despair and desperation evident on his face. "No you do not! What in the name of the revered Ancestors are we going to do?"

   Unnoticed by the two arguing Vanguard, another stood in the shadows listening to their conversation, just out of sight of the cockpit. With a calculating smile, Flows-Like-Water turned away and went back to assist tending to the injured.

   The tense mood in the cockpit was abruptly interrupted by a loud «clang» as something heavy and slow moving penetrated the shuttle's shields. Designed to absorb radiation, energy weapons and high energy kinetic munitions, the shields didn't stop the low speed/low energy object that had just bounced off the hull-plating and gone sailing off into space.

   Blocker quickly turned to the control console, while Invokes-The-Storm stared out of the view screen, looking around in vain for the source of the noise.

   "There, look!" Blocker pointed out at the human vessel, now little more than an oddly-shaped point of light, difficult to make out against the bright backdrop of the blue and white planet in front of them. Adjusting some controls, Blocker magnified the image on the screen.

   The shape of the human vessel was visably starting to alter. Small sections of the structure supporting the various cylinders were breaking off, spiralling away into space. The large main thruster at the rear of the ship was intermittantly flashing on and off, along with the smaller attitude and directional control nozzles, desperately trying to keep the ship's flightpath stable.

   "I do not believe it is supposed to be doing that..." Invokes-The-Storm commented to Blocker, unable to take his eyes off the screen. He reflexively ducked as a large girder section flew past the view screen, narrowly missing the shuttle.

   "Hrrr, you think?" was the sarcastic response from the other reptile.

   When a large plume of what appeared to be internal atmosphere started venting from the gap in between two of the cylinders, they realized the humans were in serious trouble. The main thruster came on again and stayed on, and the human ship starting tumbling, gaining speed. A small explosion came from the coupling between the engine module and the rest of the ship, and the support girders holding the module to the rest of the ship started twisting.

   More plumes of venting atmosphere started jetting from other sections as the human ship tore itself to pieces in slow motion in front of the two shocked Vanguard. The engine section, still under full power, finally tore free and speared into the side of the largest module. Mortally wounded, the vessel tumbled through space, debris flying off in all directions.

   "I am reading an overload in their primitive fission reactor," Blocker briefly looked up from the control console at the scene of destruction in front of them. "I am going to take us back a bit; our shields are not designed for that kind of abuse."

   Invokes-The-Storm watched the destruction, eyes wide. "Are there any life-signs remaining?"

   "Five." One of the smaller cylinders making up the stricken human vessel, seperated from the others and tumbled end over end before it ruptured, spraying its contents into space. "Hrrr, four."

   Jarred out of his horrified fascination, Invokes-The-Storm turned to Blocker. "Get us as close as you can to the remaining humans. We need to move quickly - I do not think they have much time."

   "Are you insane!?" Blocker stared at Invokes-The-Storm wide-eyed in alarm.

   Laughing bitterly, the warrior turned to Blocker and stared him down. "Yes... Yes I think maybe I am."

   The unexplained flashes of light stopped as quickly as they had started; there was nothing more to be seen. Lieutenant Irenei Putin cursed the lack of even a small telescope on board the Valentina Tereshkova. None of the American's had brought any binoculars with them either, so he had to rely on his aging eyeballs instead. It wasn't long before the bulk of the moon blocked the region of space where the flashes had originated.

   "Alright, gentlemen. As you were. I don't think Lieutenant Putin will mind us keeping the weapons accessible, just in case those lizards are up to something." Captain Hardy looked over at the Russian officer, who nodded at him but said nothing.

   Petter Nilsen, who had poked his head through the hatch when the alarms went off, returned to the crew module. Terry The Fish Christian stationed himself down by the hatch to the main docking module, and proceeded to pull apart and service his replacement assault rifle. Captain Hardy clipped himself onto a guide rail and continued writing his report.

   Corporal Antonio Oh-Man Franco was about to return to the auxiliary docking module when Irenei floated over to him. He held out his arm so the Russian could grab hold of it to stop from hitting the bulkhead.

   "Thank you, Corporal. Nuclear reactor needs tending, could use assistance. Accompany me, please?"

   "Uhh, I don't really know anything about that sorta stuff, Sir."

   "Does not matter. I teach you everything you need to know, da?"

   "Yessir, if you say so. You lead the way, Sir. I'm still not very good at moving around in zero-G."

   Irenei patted him on the shoulder and pushed off towards the engine module access hatch. Antonio followed a few seconds later, slowly and awkwardly grabbing hold of each hand-hold along the way. Once they were inside the engine module, Irenei sealed the hatch and pushed off towards the reactor console, grabbing a guide rail to stop himself from floating away.

   Antonio made his way over to another guide rail on the other side of the console and hung there, waiting. "What do you need me to do, Sir?"

   Irenei turned his attention to the console and stared at it for a few moments, before speaking. "You call me Irenei. I call you Antonio, da? Good. Would like to tell you about young man I met during Siberian Incursion."

   "Sir - Uh, Irenei... What has this got to do with the reactor?"

   "Nothing. Reactor not important. Wanted talk with you away from your Captain Hardy."

   "I'm not sure that this is a good -"

   Irenei interrupted Antonio, pulling out two of the sipper bottles full of vodka and handing one to the marine. "Please, drink with me. Vasya tells you about Russian traditions, da? This is another. Drink, and listen to story."

   Breaking the seal, Antonio took a small sip of the potent alcohol - his third helping so far that day - and tried to relax as he listened to the Russian officer.

   "Year was 2012. China Red Army passed through Mongolia and invaded Eastern Siberia. Contrary to what you hear in West, it was not about reclaiming land or mineral rights. Nyet, it was about water. Clean water. China has some of most polluted water anywhere. Mass poisoning of its population from industry. Bad shit, comrade. They got desperate, thought Russia easier target than countries on South or West borders."

   Irenei stopped and took a brief sip of his own vodka before continuing.

   "Anyway, enough history background. I was stationed near front. Just promoted to Praporshchick. First active combat assignment, was shitting myself. Red Army was advancing quickly, Russian troops young and inexperienced were quickly overwhelmed. Base was under heavy artillery attack, lost many many good men that day. Red Army tried overrun base, but we fought back. One soldier fought harder than others, caught my attention."

   "Vasya?" Antonio asked quietly.

   "Da, Gefreiter Vasya Kolzak. Fought like wounded bear, almost one-man-army by himself. Him, and one other who I later learned was lover. Fighting together were unstoppable. Over next few weeks got to know him better, nice young man. Good sense of humor. His lover, Kirill, nice boy also." Irenei stopped and looked up at Antonio. "Da, Russian Army think like ancient Greeks. Think lovers fighting together make better soldiers. Not just men either. Many many normal married couples fight together also."

   Antonio looked at the Russian, surprized. "Really? Shit, we didn't hear about any of that when we learnt about the Siberian Incursion."

   Irenei frowned and looked down at the console again, taking another healthy drink of the vodka. "Nyet, you wouldn't. Russia doesn't like talking about that to outsiders. Too much - how you American's say - drama? Da. Anyway. It beautiful Autumn day in Siberia. Frost on ground, could see breath in air when you exhale. Makes you feel alive, you know? Red Army had been quiet for several days, didn't know they hit area with biological weapon then retreat. Our Lieutenant sent Kirill out on patrol, by himself. Bitter man, that Lieutenant, did not like faggots in army, he like to say."

   Taking another drink of the vodka, Antonio got a horrible feeling he knew what was coming next.

   "Vasya wanted to kill Lieutenant, when he found out. Was going to leave Lieutenant tied up naked in middle of minefield, da? I stopped him, barely. Kirill came back, unharmed - or so we thought. Poor boy got sick very quickly. Base medic had never seen anything like it, he said. Kirill was dead inside 6 hours - died in Vasya's arms." Irenei stared sadly at Antonio, as he sucked at the vodka some more.

   "Many others also got sick and died over next few days, only small number of people in base survived. Quarantined for weeks before allowed back. Day before quarantine lifted, Chinese attacked again, our position hit and Lieutenant and myself trapped inside burning troop-carrier."

   Transfixed and drink forgotten, Antonio looked at Irenei and waited for the man to continue.

   Irenei blinked away the painful memories and shook his head wonderingly. "He rescue me, Antonio. Vasya got me out. Couldn't save Lieutenant though - well, so he said." The Russian smiled, a smile that chilled Antonio just a little. "I did not ask further, either."

   After conflict ended I got promotion, then I promote Vasya. Also transfer Vasya to my command, permanently. We were national heroes! He did not care about medals or hero stuff, only important thing to him died in his arms." Irenei stopped speaking, and stared at Antonio with a strange expression on his face.

   Unsure of what to say, Antonio finished off his vodka. Feeling a little awkward after a couple of minutes of silence, he asked a question that had been in the back of his mind for several minutes. "Did you and Vasya ever...?"

   Irenei closed his eyes and laughed. "Goodness, nyet! He is nice boy, but old Irenei Putin does not bend that way. I have wife and two beautiful daughters. I have also mistress. But I not talk about her - wife would not understand, da?"

   Laughing, Antonio realized he was now quite drunk. He relaxed in the weightless environment, comfortable in the company of the genial Russian officer. "Why are you telling me all this stuff about him?"

   Irenei studied the drunk marine for a few moments before replying. "You know Vasya liked you, da?"

   "I dunno, maybe. So?"

   Smiling a mysterious little smile, Irenei watched the blushing Antonio with a glint in his eye. "I think you liked him too, da? Don't try denying, I can see it in face, comrade. Having you around made Vasya happy. It has been long time since I seen him like that. He opened up to you. And you to him, I think, da?"

   "Maybe a little," Antonio admitted grudingly. "I'm not gay, though," he said defensively.

   Irenei laughed again. "Gay is just word, my young friend. What matters is here," he reached out and gently touched Antonio on the chest, then on the head, "and here. Why did I tell you story? Important you know what kind of man Vasya was, I feel."

   Antonio was just about to ask Irenei another question, when there was a muffled banging on the access way hatch. They both looked up as a nervous-looking Terry poked his head partway through, and spoke a little breathlessly. "There's something comin' towards us, some sort of spaceship! I think it's the lizards!"

   A couple of minutes later, back in the command module, the three Americans and one Russian were clustered around the small view port, looking at the approaching vessel warily. Unlike the blocky and box-like battleship, this one was much smaller and sleeker-looking. It still held an air of menance, however. The prow of the smaller ship resembled the sharply curved beak of a bird of prey.

   "Can we outrun it, Captain?" Terry looked at Captain Hardy, then quickly turned to Irenei when the Captain turned to the Russian with a questioning look on his face.

   Irenei turned to the doppler radar on the control console, and shook his head doubtfully. "Nyet, it moves much faster than we can." He stroked his chin before looking at Captain Hardy. "Contact Earth, they might have suggestion. Meantime we should suggest to them to keep distance. Corporal Christian, go to engine module and listen for commands." He turned to Antonio, all business again. "Corporal Franco, please watch other ship. Tell me what it does, da?."

   Seperating, they all went to their assigned spots and waited as Irenei pulled down a small joy-stick styled control from the module's control centre. "Waiting for your orders, Sir." Terry's voice came crackling over the intercom. Captain Hardy was frowning at the unfamiliar radio controls, all the labelling in Cyrillic. Antonio waited by the view port, alternating his gaze between the alien vessel and Irenei.

   "Brace yourself, coming around," the Russian officer jammed the joystick down while watching a small status screen unwaveringly.

   The Valentina Tereshkova shuddered as the small maneuvering thrusters fired in staccato little pops, ponderously rotating the bulky vessel on its axis. Once it reached half-way, Irenei jammed the small joystick in the opposite direction, slowing the rotation again. The superstructure groaned loudly, protestingly at the unusually vigorous movement as the large main thruster swung down and stopped, centered on the alien vessel.

   "Corporal Christian, there are four large, black buttons above screen on reactor console. Press them one at time, right to left. When lights beside button turn green, let me know." Irenei waited until he got confirmation over the intercom before he continued. "Very good, da. Now get out of there, quickly!"

   Waiting until he saw Terry re-enter the command module, Irenei flicked several switches on the panel in quick succession and was rewarded by a deep rumbling as the nuclear engine started firing. Instead of the gentle acceleration they had felt before, the thrust generated this time around was much more savage. Losing his grip on a hand hold, Captain Hardy slipped down the bulkhead until he was resting on the new 'floor'. Terry and Antonio looked at each other in surprise as they went sliding down to join the Captain in a heap at the bottom of the module.

   Loud groans and an occasional creak filled the air, as the supports holding the Valentina Tereshkova together were put under an incredible amount of strain. From somewhere deep in the bowels of the engine section there was a muffled «crack» of something heavy falling. This was immediately followed by a shrill alarm and an increasing number of red lights blinking urgently on the panel in front of a startled looking Irenei.

   Unknown to the crew, the noise had been made by the heavy backpack nuke. Breaking loose from its restraints, the nuke dropped like a stone under the strong acceleration, smashing the reactor controls into useless, sparking wreckage. Before coming to rest, it crushed several of the redundant cooling pipes leading deeper into the reactor itself. While losing one cooling pipe wouldn't have normally been a problem, the reactor was under a heavy load, and was running well above its normal tolerances. An irreversable chain reaction started...

   "I think you've made your point, Lieutenant," Captain Hardy spat out between gritted teeth as the acceleration increased.

   There were a series of muffled thumps from outside the hull and they felt the whole vessel shift slightly. "This not my doing! Something has gone wrong, cannot shut engine off!" Reaching out an arm that felt like it now weighed a ton, Irenei clumsily slapped at the cut-off switches, with little effect.

   The main engine abruptly cut out a minute or so later, sending all sorts of shaken loose detritus flying back into the air. The respite was short-lived. With a roar, the main thruster fired again, sending the objects raining back down onto the marines' heads. With a cry, Irenei was torn loose from his precarious position halfway up the bulkhead, and dropped down amongst the Americans in a tangle of arms and legs.

   With a shriek of tearing metal, two of the reinforced girders supporting the engine module collapsed, puncturing the access way.

   When he heard the high-pitched whistle of escaping air, Irenei acted quickly. "We have got to get into support module. It is oldest module!"

   Terry lost what little composure he had left. "How's that gonna help us, you crazy fucking Russian?!"

   "It's oldest, strongest built. Shut your flapping American mouth and move!" Irenei shouted at them as he struggled to climb up the nearly vertical bulkhead. The climb was made a little easier when the main engine started sputtering and choking, as the overheated fuel started burning through the pumping machinery.

   Slamming the hatch shut after the last marine had made it through into the support module, Irenei collapsed, breathing heavily. He was just in time. There was a loud groan and the whole ship shook as the last supports for the engine module collapsed. The whole thing broke free, swinging around and slamming into the command module under full thrust. The last thing any of them remembered was the deafening noise, as their world shattered.

   Feeling someone nuzzling him from behind, Vasya smiled as a pair of hands playfully covered his eyes, and a husky voice whispered suggestively into his ear. "Guess who?"

   "I'm not sure. The mailman, nyet? You know, I always had a thing for the mailman when I was young..."

   Laughing, Antonio pushed Vasya onto the bed and leapt on top of him before the stocky young Russian could escape. Their skin slid together slickly, still slightly sweat-damp from their evening run. "Not the mailman, no. But I do have a package to deliver," he said, rubbing his rapidly hardening cock against Vasya's ass.

   Vasya managed to wriggle free long enough to turn over and scoot further up the bed, quickly grabbing a pillow and stuffing it behind his head. He looked at the tanned, buff, Latino marine staring hungrily at him, and licked his lips. Dark hair, sensuous dark eyes, and a delicious little treasure-trail of dark hairs led down into a neatly trimmed dark bush of pubic hair. Everything about Antonio was darkly seductive. "What's in the package? I hope it's a surprize. I like surprizes."

   Antonio slowly crept up the bed, stopping to lick and nibble at various points along the way, his tongue dancing teasingly up Vasya's thigh towards his cock and beyond. When he reached Vasya's head, he locked lips, his tongue dancing with the Russian's as they urgently ground their bodies together.

   Coming up for air, Vasya grabbed his Latino by the hips and pulled him forwards, until Antonio's cock was swaying gently in the air in front of his face. Taking a deep breath, all he could smell was Antonio's sweaty, intoxicating scent. Leaning forward slightly, he licked the entire length from Antonio's balls to the tip of his cock. The marine tilted his head back and hissed softly, eyes closed.

   Slipping his lips over the engorged head, Vasya drew Antonio's cock deep into his mouth, before pushing back slightly. Antonio got the hint and started gently bucking into the Russian's mouth.

   After a couple of minutes of fucking Vasya's mouth, Antonio pulled his cock out, much to Vasya's disappointment. The disappointment was short lived, however, as he then started rubbing his balls over the Russian's lips. "Suck 'em, yeah... That's so fuckin' hot, man. Suck my balls, lick the sweat off. You like that, dontcha?" Vasya was enjoying himself too much to answer with anything more coherent than a groan.

   Vasya stopped licking, and looked up at Antonio with a predatory smile. "Now it's time for the ride you promised me earlier, cowboy." Pushing the marine off him, Vasya reached over to the beside cabinet and grabbed a small sachet of lube. He passed it over to Antonio who was lying beside him, smirking. He lay on his stomach and spread his legs, feeling Antonio get up and move around behind him.

   Squeezing a generous amount of lube onto his fingers, Antonio knelt between the Russian's spead legs and admired the view in front of him. He slipped two of his fingers between Vasya's ass cheeks and started rubbing them across the twitching hole, massaging the lube around liberally.

   Vasya gasped as he felt the cool, slick fingers trace around his hole, preparing himself for an American invasion. Antonio slowly, but firmly, worked his two lube-slick fingers into Vasya's ass, pushing them deeper and deeper with rhythmic movements. From the groans that this elicited, he knew the Russian was looking forward to this. Antonio finger-fucked him gently for several minutes, working the lube deep into his ass.

   With his other hand, Antonio squeezed the rest of the lube onto his cock in preparation. "Saddle up, pardner," he drawled in a bad imitation of a Cowboy voice.

   "Get on your back, I want to watch you as I... How do you Americans say... Ahh, ride you into sunset, like cheap dimestore horse - da?"

   Antonio laughed as he lay on his back, watching as Vasya straddled him, reaching back to grab his cock, eyes closed. "That's ride me into the sunset, like the cheap dime-store pony I am."

   "Dime-store pony, da. Ahhh, you have big gaduka..."To his credit, Vasya only grunted once with the slightly pained stretching as he gingerly lowered himself onto Antonio's stiff, waiting cock. Bottoming out and opening his eyes, he stared down at Antonio. "I have conquered your gaduka, your serpent. Let's ride!"

   Thrusting gently to start with, Antonio watched the sweat drip down Vasya's face as he bucked up and down. After a few minutes, Vasya reached out and grabbed him by the shoulders and started vigorously bouncing up and down on his aching cock, picking up the pace and increasing the depth of penetration.

   "You are... Close, da? I can feel your cock get harder, Cowboy!"

   Antonio was very close indeed. In one quick movement, he pushed Vasya onto his back without withdrawing his cock, and fucked the young Russian missionary style, while staring deep into Vasya's startlingly intense grey eyes. With a howl, he hammered home the last few strokes, fast and deep into Vasya's tight ass, nailing the Russian into the sweat-soaked mattress.

   Vasya wasn't far behind. Grunting out a string of gutteral Russian, he jacked his own cock furiously, blowing a load clear across his chest, spattering the wall behind him. Antonio could feel the Russian's ass clamping down on his cock throughout the orgasm, trying to prevent it from slipping out. They lay together in companionable silence for several minutes afterwards, as the daylight faded, long shadows gathering in the room.

   Lying on the bed with a contented smile, and a pleasant ache in his ass, Vasya watched as Antonio got to his feet and wandered over to the large picture window to watch the last of the sunset. When the marine started speaking, quietly and seriously, Vasya's smile slowly faded, like the last of the sunlight. He was suddenly filled with a feeling of foreboding, which was unsettling so soon after their love-making.

   "We need to talk, Vasya. There is a storm coming..." He turned back towards the Russian.

   The room was now quite dark, and Vasya could no longer make out Antonio's features clearly. "I am not afraid of storms."

   "I know you're not, comrade. But not everyone shares your love of the rain."

   Comrade? Vasya was startled at the rapid change in mood. Antonio's voice had also changed; it sounded strange... But also strangely familiar. He watched as the sillohetted figure came towards the bed, hesitating slightly before sitting on it, facing him. He reached out tentatively and put a hand on Antonio's shoulder. "Are you... Are you alright? What is this talk about storms? I have not heard thunder."

   "You are going to need to be strong in the face of storm. There will be others who rely on your strength, da?"

   Vasya snatched his hand back as if stung, and sat bolt upright in bed, straining to make out the features of the man sitting next to him. "Your voice...What has happened to your voice?" He managed to choke out. The light from a faint flicker of lightning coming through the window, illuminated the man's features briefly. The face looking back at him was not that of the Latino marine. "Oh god, nyet... K-Kirill?"

   "Do not be afraid, lover. You will not face storm alone."

   Vasya switched to speaking Russian in his fear and confusion. "You're dead! I held you in my arms as you died! You cannot be Kirill! Who are you? What are you?!"

   The Kirill look-alike stared at him in the darkness, a kindly expression on its face. A rumble of distant thunder came in through the window, accompanied by a cool breeze and the faint smell of ozone. "I - and others of my kind - feel that you have an important role to play in the future of your kind. But first, you must survive the coming storm."

   Vasya sat in the darkness, blinking at the figure while frozen in a state of complete shock. Stronger, and more frequent, flashes of lightning lit up the room as the two of them sat there, looking at each other.

   Without any warning, the figure started changing in front of his eyes; very quickly losing all semblence of humanity, becoming larger and more imposing in the flashes of stark electrical light coming in through the window. After several moments, the transformation was nearly complete. Vasya scrambled backwards with a yell, until he felt his back against the wall, as he watched the horribly familiar creature take shape. "Is this hell? Am I dead? Please let this just be a nightmare!"

   "This is not a dream, however you will awaken soon. Do not be afraid, I will not hurt you. In fact I will endeavor to protect you as much as I am able." The Vanguard got up and stepped around the bed to get closer to him, holding out all four of its arms in a manner that it obviously intended to be placating. Only in the intermittant flashes of lightning, all it succeeded in doing was to look more frightening.

   "What have you done to me?" Vasya wanted to make a dash towards the open and unguarded window, but found himself unable to move as the large reptile approached him.

   When the Vanguard reached him, it hunkered down onto its haunches until its eyes were level with his, its face only a few centimetres from his own. His eyes were locked onto the reptile's, unable to look away. Using it's two slightly smaller forward hands, it reached out and very gently gripped either side of his head. "Calm yourself, young one. I need you to be strong. Relax... Relax..."

End of Part 03