What follows is a work of complete fiction.

This series will include detailed descriptions of sexual encounters between a human male and other males from various alien races in a science fiction setting.

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About the story:

This series tells the story of an ordinary man who's life is near its natural end, but who suddenly finds himself, at the moment of the unexpected destruction of his world, the victim of an alien abduction with a bizarre motive, that ultimately opens the entire universe to him and propels him into a life of adventure that he'd never imagined was even possible.  He eventually finds himself thrust front and center into events that could, both figuratively and quite literally, change the shape of the entire known universe.

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Favors of the First Ones - Chapter 17

Jake was lying on his side in their small tent when he woke to the sound of moaning.  He opened his eyes and saw Mak lying on his back with his hands clasped behind his head.  His eyes were closed and there was a smile on his face.  Down at his crotch Rhokki's head was bobbing up and down as he sucked the end of the young bull's massive penis.

Mak and Rhokki had grown much closer over the last month and it wasn't long before the three of them began to share each other physically every chance they got.  Their love making sessions were intense and varied and extremely pleasurable.  The three were now completely in love with each other and couldn't be happier.

It had been thirty-nine days since their rescue from the surface of the sacred planet and today was the day Mak was going to be picked up by his father and the ascendance committee to complete the staged ascendance and allow Mak and his father to come back together.  Mogwo had completed the process of having his favors purged just days ago, so once they got back to their home world Mak would be able to speak openly with him about everything.

Mak had wanted to be 'squirted' back down because he thought it was a cool technology, but both Jake and Rhokki had protested that it was better to stick to a safer method of travel.  Besides, given the close shave with a massive predator previously, Jake and Rhokki wanted to be down on the planet with him.  They would be fully armed with zeth disrupters in case there was any trouble.

The zeth had insisted on joining them as well.  He had begun to form an attachment to Jake and Mak as an extension of the bond he shared with Rhokki, and the strong emotions Rhokki had for them.

They had decided to take a short break from their duties on the ship and make it an overnight camping excursion.  A shuttle had dropped them off yesterday and they'd set up camp and enjoyed an evening of relaxation by the campfire.  The zeth and two of his people from the ship were camped at another location nearby in the trees and they were all armed with disrupters.

They would all stay in hiding until the shuttle arrived to complete the ceremony, and Mak would go out into the open field to get picked up.  Jake, Rhokki and the zeths would be picked up shortly after and brought back to the Shadow's Claw.

Jake had asked Rhokki about the other bulls from Troska's group.  They would know that Mak was due to get picked up today and they might make an appearance to try to make a play for the shuttle to get themselves off the planet.  Rhokki had informed him that they'd been dealt with, though much more leniently than he would have preferred.  The captain had their camp dismantled and rebuilt at a more remote location on the other side of the planet.  One that was nowhere near any of the areas used for the ascendance trials and was right near the proposed location of the underground satellite manufacturing facility that was planned.  The bulls were abandoned at the new camp and told that they were essentially prisoners for the time being and were to wait for further orders.  They would form part of the labor detail needed for construction in the near future.  If they were to attempt any escape before someone came back to get them started, they would be destroyed by a well placed disrupter torpedo fired from orbit.

Within a few hours the ascendance committee's shuttle would arrive to pick up Mak and they could begin the next leg of their resistance movement with Mogwo as leader of the miquanowan faction.

As he watched Mak and Rhokki lose themselves in the sensations of their love making, Jake thought about how much he was going to miss the young bull for the next little while.

They'd decided that he would spend a couple of weeks with his father.  It was actually a father-son getaway that Mogwo had planned a while ago to celebrate Mak's passage into manhood, and the young bull felt he would like to go ahead with it and spend the time fixing the relationship with his father that he had allowed to become so broken during the run up to Jake's arrival in their lives.  Towards the end of their getaway Mak would break the news to his father about the truth of the universe.  He would take some time to get his father used to the idea and then Mak would ask Mogwo to lead the miquanowan faction.  If he agreed, he would be brought aboard the Shadow's Claw for a full briefing.

Jake would work closely with him to transfer all of the knowledge he'd gained over the last month and then Mogwo would return to their home world to get the ball rolling on setting up a base of operations on the sacred planet and beginning the construction of the satellite factory following the zeths' blueprints.  It would be a massive undertaking and would take years to complete, but once in operation the zeths felt it would be able to crank out at least a dozen satellites per month at first, then even more at a higher rate once it had a steady flow of resources and materials from the miquanowan home world, and the factory was tweaked and tuned and set to its maximum production rate.

Mak would rejoin Jake and Rhokki on the Shadow's Claw in two weeks and they would make their way over to the other world that was populated with what sounded to Jake like panda bears.  The zeths aboard would oversee the satellite manufacturing facility there as it was brought online over the next six months or so.

Mak had earned his certification weeks ago in the Stiletto fighters and was remarkably skilled.  He'd shown the ability to think and make decisions quickly while in the thick of combat in the advanced simulator missions and he'd risen in the ranks to become one of the few squadron leaders aboard the Shadow's Claw.  The ship had only twenty four Stilettos arranged in three small squadrons of eight fighters each.  The fighters used a small version of the more efficient antimatter generator that was used in the Claw, but they also used more powerful weapons and shields and much more powerful thrusters, which meant that they still suffered from the same energy management issues as regular fighters, but to a lesser degree.  What it really meant was that they were faster and more deadly than any other fighters in the collective, and Mak was thrilled to be one of the few who could pilot one, and the only pilot who was not a rhuxus.

Jake smiled as he thought of the few times he'd gone and joined Mak in the simulators just for fun.  He'd enjoyed the experience immensely and he looked forward to having enough time at some point in the future to pursue his own certification.  Mak had handed him his ass in so many different ways it wasn't even funny but he'd felt he was improving quite quickly and the basics of dogfighting seemed to come naturally to Jake as well.  The young bull showed an aptitude for instruction too, and Jake intended to have Mak be the one to teach him and lead him to certification later on when there was time.

As Jake watched the young bull relaxing and enjoying the intense pleasure of fellatio performed by the raspy tongue of the beautiful lion, he knew it would be the last time he would get to be with Mak for a couple of weeks, and he wanted to get in there and get involved.

He moved closer and put his face over the young bull's and kissed him on the lips.  Mak's eyes opened he grinned up at Jake and then he closed his eyes again and opened his mouth and drove his tongue into Jake's mouth.  The two necked with passion for a while.

Jake pulled back and turned himself to straddle the bull's head while facing Rhokki, and he brought his ass down over Mak's nose.  The young bull immediately stuck out his tongue and began to work it at Jake's asshole.  Mak had come to enjoy rimming almost as much as Jake did.  He loved the extreme intimacy of the act and he performed it on Jake or Rhokki in turns as part of every love making session they had.

Jake let Mak continue to wet his pucker to get him lubricated.  One of Jake's favorite things to do was to allow Rhokki to take him roughly from behind.  The cat could not have intercourse with anyone else, not even Mak.  It would cause damage.  Jake's strengthened rectum was able to take Rhokki's cock and he'd grown almost addicted to the extreme intensity of the barbs rasping against the sensitive nerves in the rings of muscles along his rectum.  He loved it and Rhokki loved doing it to him.

When Jake felt he was sufficiently lubricated he got off Mak and positioned himself along side the two of them in the submissive pose that indicated he wanted to be bred by the big, beautiful lion.  Mak smiled at him and tapped Rhokki on the head and the big cat looked up and saw Jake waiting for him.

The lion took his mouth off of Mak's cock and grinned as he moved to maneuver himself over his man and lowered his rear and began to hump at Jake.  He loved to fuck his man so much that he never lasted very long.

Jake moaned as the cat's thick, hard cock with the bulbous, barbed head forced his anus open and pushed its way deep into him.  The nerve endings in the muscle rings along his rectum began to explode with intensely pleasurable electricity immediately as the barbs ran across them.

Mak smiled and got up and went to his knees in front of Jake.  He pushed the wide, blunt end of his oozing cock at Jake's lips and the man opened wide to suck in the young bull's thick tool.

Mak pushed firmly forward and bit by bit drove the entire eighteen inches of his huge cock all the way into Jake's mouth and down his throat.  He moaned at the sensation.  He never tired of fucking Jake at either end.  He loved him more than his own life and he loved the idea of taking him this way.

The young bull grabbed the sides of Jake's head and he began to pull back and push forward and increase his rhythm as he fucked his man's face.

Rhokki began to moan as he felt his orgasm rapidly build up.

Mak leaned in and kissed the big lion on the lips and Rhokki opened his mouth and the two began to tongue wrestle as they skewered the man beneath them.

Jake was in ecstasy between the two of them.  His throat was stretched to its limit along its length and the sensation of the massively thick cock being pulled almost completely out and then shoved all the way back into him was intense.  The feeling of the big bulbous head of Rhokki's penis hammering up his backside sending waves of powerful electricity through him was almost more than he could take.

He began to feel his orgasm build rapidly already.  He reached underneath himself and took his own cock in hand and began to work it.  Almost immediately he felt his orgasm start to bloom inside him as his balls tightened up against his body and the first massive shock wave shot out through his body.  He tensed and his whole body was wracked by a powerful spasm as he shot a long jet of cum out onto the floor of the tent.

With each powerful pulse of his orgasm, his anus and the rings of muscles in his rectum clamped down hard, intensifying the sensation of Rhokki's thick, raspy tool stimulating the nerves, and his orgasm became so intense it nearly caused him to lose consciousness as it pummeled his body.

Rhokki groaned at the sensation of the muscles gripping and working his tool so hard and suddenly he tensed and slammed himself forward into Jake and roared as his orgasm crashed into him and cause him to shoot a long stream of his seed deep into Jake's bowels.

Mak was carried off by the sound of incredible pleasure from his two lovers and his orgasm hit him and he grunted as he thrust hard into Jake to shoot his cum right down into his lover's stomach.  He moaned and humped hard against Jake's face while holding the man's head between his hands and forcing every last bit of his cock as deep into him as he could manage as he bucked out his orgasm, shooting all of the seed his massive balls could produce into him.

The three moaned and bucked and fucked or jacked until none of them had any of their own seed left in their bodies.  It had all been transfered into Jake, or shot out onto the floor.

They collapsed into a loving pile and held and stroked each other as they always did at the end.  They loved each other deeply and they never tired of sharing each other's bodies.

They settled down and lay still against each other for a while and Mak said, "I love you guys so much.  I can't believe how amazing my life is now with you two in it.  I feel so lucky.  I never could have imagined my ascendance being anything like this."

Jake chuckled and said, "I doubt any miquanowan will ever be able to say they've had such an interesting adventure during their ascendance.  You'll need to focus on not giving anything away while you're on the shuttle going back.  Only your father can know the truth of what's been happening to you over the past forty days, and only when the two of you are completely alone.  If anyone asks why you're wearing such a big grin just try to remember that you're just happy to be going back home."

Rhokki said, "Indeed.  You need to maintain the charade right to the end."

Mak said, "Yeah, it would be easy to slip and start spouting how cool the Shadow's Claw is, and how great you guys are, and how I'm a Stiletto pilot in charge of my own squadron now.  My dad's head is gonna spin once I get the chance to tell him everything.  I bet he's been wondering what the hell happened to Troska and why he disappeared.  It's a good thing Troska got taken out by the predator.  It was probably a much easier death than he would have had at my father's hands once he finds out what Troska did to you, and what he had planned for us."

"An easy death isn't what I'd really wished for for that bastard, but I guess in the end he got his due.  I think I would have been happier if somehow we'd gotten away and left Troska stranded here with the others.  I would love to see how your father would deal with him.  At least it will be satisfying to know that Mogwo knows the truth about his butler at last," Jake said.

"We've come such a long way from that night of running from them," Rhokki said, "It's hard to believe we were so close to death at the hands of that maniac.  I never imagined as we sat here, forty days ago, waiting for Mak to finish the start of the ceremony and join us, that we would end up right back here in the same trees, looking out over the completion of the ritual, knowing that we're watching the leader of a fighter squadron and an officer of the Shadow's Claw.  It was quite an abrupt ascendance into manhood indeed."

Jake chuckled and said, "The cream always has a way of rising quickly to the top.  Mak has what it takes to be a great man.  He'll be unstoppable for the rest of his life I think."

"Indeed," Rhokki agreed.

Mak smiled and said, "I learned it from my father.  I can't wait to see him again."

"It won't be long now," Rhokki said, "I suppose we should go out and have something to eat.  It will be a long flight back for you."

Mak nodded and got up and went out to light a fire, and Jake and Rhokki followed him.

They heated what was left of the meal they'd had the night before that was made up of some meat from a freshly killed 'bunny' that Rhokki had enjoyed stalking and taking down.  They made a hearty stew out of it by adding some tubers, mushrooms, a celery-like vegetable and something that tasted very much like green onions from Earth but was much thicker and was actually brown in color and grew out the side of tree trunks.  They wanted Mak's last meal on the planet to be the same as he would have eaten on a real ascendance.

After they'd eaten they began to break down the camp to get ready to go and then they sat around the remains of the fire and chatted about all they'd been through and what would be happening next when they picked Mak up in two weeks following his father-son camping outing with Mogwo.

Eventually they heard and felt the vibrations of the anti-fermion drive systems of the miquanowan shuttle as it passed overhead towards the clearing beside the volcano.

They all stood and Jake and Rhokki gave Mak a final hug and kiss and sent him on his way.

He grinned as he ran out from the trees towards the shuttle that was setting into a landing.

Jake and Rhokki watched from a distance, well hidden in the trees.  They'd come too far to risk being seen this time as Jake had been the last time so they stayed well back.  Mak had told them the end of the ascendance was nothing special anyhow.  There wasn't really any ceremony.  Just a celebration when they got back home.

The shuttle settled down, and even before the ramp came down fully, Jake saw Mogwo emerge with a huge grin on his face as he saw his son running towards the ship.  He charged down the ramp and Mak flung himself against his father as the two crashed into each other, laughing.

The relief in Mogwo's face at finding his son alive and healthy was obvious, as was the joy in knowing that his boy was now a man.

Jake could see the difference in their relationship already as the two bulls pulled back and grinned at each other.  Mogwo looked at his son as though he was an equal now and the most interesting thing was that Mak looked at his father the same way.  He could see the love Mak felt for his father and the pride Mogwo felt for his son.  The two of them were right back where they should be in their relationship and the next two weeks they were going to spend together would solidify it.

The bull who'd led the ceremony when it had begun had emerged from the shuttle, as well as a different bull dressed in the black religious garb that Troska had worn, and they waited at the bottom of the ramp.

Mogwo and Mak turned to go to join them and there were grins all around and some words were spoken as the ascendance ritual was concluded, but they were too far away for Jake to make out what was being said.

Shortly they all turned and made their way up the ramp and into the shuttle and it took off and immediately engaged its plasma thrusters and rocketed at a steep angle up out of the atmosphere.

Jake and Rhokki smiled at each other and then they turned to gather up their gear and moved towards the zeths' location to wait with them for their own shuttle to come and pick them up.

They did not have to wait long before the shuttle descended into the clearing and they got aboard to head back up to the Shadow's Claw.

The trip was short and they were soon settling into the shuttle bay for a landing.

They had only just unloaded their gear when Captain Sintas' voice came over the intercom and said, "Rhokki, Jake, please bring Voph along and meet me in the briefing room next to the bridge immediately."

Jake had learned that the zeths did not use names in the normal sense but the rhuxus had given each of them names from some lesser deities from their ancient lore.  Voph was the name given to the zeth that Rhokki had been working with closely for years.  Voph was the leader of the zeth contingent aboard the ship and had several of his own people under his command.

Something must be happening related to the resistance.  There had been no meetings planned for today.

They hurried to the briefing room and as they entered, Jake was surprised to see two bears in the room with the captain.  One of them looked sort of like a panda in color, but was actually much thinner and longer of build.  More like a small black bear, but colored black and white.

She was very nice looking, but Jake was immediately stricken by her companion.

He was a massive, pure white polar bear.  He looked absolutely beautiful and imposing.  He had to be close to a thousand pounds and he looked the spitting image of a polar bear from back home.  The only difference was that his massive front paws were slightly more dexterous looking than the rear ones, almost like a cross between paws and large hands.  They had the same black pads underneath as his rear paws did so they were clearly adapted to walk on all fours or on two while using their front paws as hands, just like the rhuxus people did.

The polar bear had looked at Rhokki and then at the zeth with not much reaction as they entered, but when his eyes came upon Jake they suddenly went wide and he immediately smiled almost reflexively like he'd seen something quite appealing.

Jake smiled back automatically.

This must be the other pair who had accidentally been duplicated.  The zeths had since decided that, though it would take longer and be much more of a hassle, they would no longer have meetings on the surface of the other world.  It was just too great of a risk that there might be more incidents of people with contracts having their favors cut off and being duplicated.  They would only have meetings aboard the Shadow's Claw from now on even if it meant putting them off until the ship was available in their star system.

These two had been rushed off the planet and put on a fast transport ship that hustled them out of that system's heliosphere as fast as it could go, jumped to this one, and raced inward.  The ship was not encumbered with any sort of life forms that required gentle treatment so it had the luxury of accelerating at an extremely high rate while those aboard it were strapped into acceleration seats.  It took the transport only a week to get out of the other system's heliosphere and a bit less than that to make it into this one to reach the Shadow's Claw.  The rest of the time had been spent charging and jumping between the systems.  Even though the transport had been designed for long range with an oversized antimatter buffer, it had taken it five jumps to cross the thousand light-year expanse between the two star systems.  They were not expected to arrive until sometime the day after tomorrow, but Jake had not kept up with their status and hadn't been aware that they'd be getting here sooner.

Captain Sintas rose and said, "Jake, Rhokki, Voph, I would like you to meet Ausku and Chetichwal.  They arrived early this morning."

They went along and one after another and greeted the bears.

Jake was last to greet the polar bear and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Chetichwal."

The bear smiled and replied, "You may call me Chet."

Jake smiled and nodded.

They all settled in and the captain said, "Ausku and Chetichwal have been fully apprised of the resistance and the truth about the First Ones and they have decided to join us and do whatever they can to help.  Ausku is experienced in law enforcement and had worked for some time prior to that in the correctional service on her home world.  She has volunteered to help with the bulls down on the sacred planet and become one of the lead foremen for the excavation down there.  She will take charge of the new camp along with a small force of our people and begin to build it up and prepare it for the start of construction.  We will not be seeing much of her as she will spend the bulk of her time down on the planet.  She has asked that she be allowed to get started immediately so she will be going down by shuttle within the next few hours to get settled in.  Materials, supplies and equipment for the camp have been shuttled down over the past week so they have nearly everything they will need to build up the camp and get it ready to receive the heavier construction equipment that is en route so that excavation can begin.

"Chetichwal has no experience in law enforcement or military.  We had such great success with Mak in the fighters and we still have a few slots to fill so I've asked him to take a stab at the fighter training program and he has expressed an interest in doing so.  He will begin immediately as well.  He will feel somewhat like the odd man out as the only pure white person on a ship full of black cats, so I would like you to take him under your wing if you could, Jake, and try to make him feel comfortable."

Jake smiled and said, "I doubt he would fit under my wing, but it would be my pleasure to help him feel more at home here.  I know what it's like to be the oddball in the room.  We'll set you up in quarters right next to ours, Chet."

The bear beamed at Jake and nodded and said, "That would be a pleasure indeed.  Thank you."

Jake turned back to the captain, "May I ask, why the rush to have Ausku start work down on the planet?  It must have been a grueling trip to get here in such a short time at high acceleration.  Shouldn't they be allowed some time to recoup and relax before they're put to work?"

Sintas said, "Yes, they should be, but unfortunately we do not have the luxury.  I've called you here in part to introduce them to you, but primarily because we have a situation brewing back on Ausku's world that requires us to head there with the Shadow's Claw as soon as possible.  She requested she be sent down to the planet rather than come with us because she would have no function aboard the ship during our trip, and she cannot be seen on their planet in any case.  At top speed it will take us a little more than a month to get to her world and the length of our stay there is as yet undetermined.  It would take us at least a month to come back here, though if we go at our normal fuel conserving rate it would be at least two.  She would have nothing to do for several months and she appears not be the type to enjoy being idle for too long.  She has indicated she would prefer to get to work immediately on the new camp."

Sintas turned to look at Ausku and said, "Her dedication will prove to be a great asset to our cause I have no doubt."

Ausku smiled but said nothing.

"How soon will we be heading out?" Jake asked.

"We will need the next ten hours or so to send down the last of the equipment and supplies for the labor camp.  The zeth called Myph and his rhuxus companion will go down as well to oversee the technical aspects of the preparation for construction.  They will be joined by a force of a thirty other rhuxus from our crew.  Several transports are on their way with the heavy equipment so they will have everything they need to begin the excavation before we return.  Once they are settled and ready to begin their work we will be on our way out of this system."

"What is the situation on Ausku's world that requires us to go there?" Rhokki asked.

"We had asked the resistance groups on the planet to stand down and disperse while the First Ones investigated the incidents surrounding the sudden death by vaporization of Chetichwal and Ausku.  As we feared, some of the groups ignored our request and continued to push for change on their world.  They do not seem to grasp the danger they are placing their entire world in by making themselves so easily heard.  The zeths have intercepted communications that would indicate the First Ones are taking an extreme interest in the rumblings of the resistance groups and we fear they may react strongly to eliminate a perceived threat there," Sintas replied.

"You think they'll use the favors on her planet?" Jake asked.

"Yes.  We think they will, and if we don't miss our guess, they will do it soon after the other Chetichwal emerges from his resurrection and tells them that he saw zeths on the planet.  The First Ones are already suspicious of the deaths and have been investigating on Ausku's world.  They know there were similar rumblings of resistance on our world and they discovered our association with the zeths.  Their investigations intensified and eventually led them to the discovery of our satellite manufacturing facility.  That was what ultimately brought them to the point of destroying our world.  It looks as though they are on the same course at Ausku's home world and it is only a matter of time before they decide the threat is too great and they destroy it.

"They must know that if any of the races of the collective have begun to work with the zeths, those races will know the full truth of the First Ones' true nature and the atrocities they've committed.  They cannot allow that truth to spread and they will do whatever they need to do to stop it.  It will not be long after they hear of the zeths from Chetichwal before they act.  We will push this ship as hard as it can go and we will launch a satellite warhead at Ausku's world to cut it off.  It is our only choice.  It will expose us to the First Ones but I have spoken at great length with the other zeths aboard and they agree that the world will be lost if we do not act."

"Ugh, this is turning into a mess," Jake said, "It's just too risky to operate this way.  Couldn't we just pull back all operations to the miquanowans' sacred planet and go dark while we wait for the other Jake to gain access so that we can try our other option?"

"We could, but that would not alleviate our current problem.  It will be another month before the other Jake rises and it could be many months after that before he finally gains the access we need.  Ausku's world will be long gone by then.  It is unfortunate that things have gone as they have, but it cannot be changed.  We have no doubt that within a month and a half her world will be dissolved to eliminate it as a threat to the First Ones.  When the other Chetichwal's resurrection is complete and he tells them zeths are involved, they will likely launch an intense and thorough investigation that will lead them eventually to the satellite manufacturing facility there and that will be the trigger," Sintas said, "They know that the zeths are now able to communicate with us.  That means that they know their secret is out.  They will be desperate to eliminate any and all races that may be privy to it."

Jake nodded, "Yeah, I guess you're right.  How are we gonna protect their world once we cut it off?  Won't the First Ones just send in a military force when they realize they can't control the favors anymore?"

Sintas nodded and said, "Yes, they will.  There are several warmongering races that the First Ones will bring to bear quickly.  One is the race of mole-like people who are responsible for the destruction of your Earth.  They will happily take fuel credits from the First Ones in return for declaring war against Ausku's people and laying waste to their world.  They will also likely notify the rest of the collective that Ausku's world is an enemy and has joined forces with the zeths.  It may not be possible to save it, but we must try.  A fast transport has been loaded with one of the zeths devices to cut off the favors and it is en route to dock with Ausku's people's ark ship.  It should reach it a week before we get to the star system of her world.  They will be ready to cut off the favors on the ark ship at the same time as we cut off the favors on her world.  If the worst should come to pass and their world is destroyed, at least the ark ship will serve its primary function and will allow them to rebuild their race just as we will have to rebuild ours."

Jake sighed and turned to the black and white bear and said, "I'm sorry all of this has happened to your people Ausku.  I know from experience what it's like to have your entire race suddenly reduced down to a very small number.  The rhuxus know it too.  I hope everything works out for the best."

Ausku said, "I have learned a great deal about the resistance and my people's part in it on the trip here.  I am proud of my people and I fully support what the resistance has done.  My people knew the risks involved and they felt the cause was important enough to accept those risks.  It would have been better if things had not gone this way but I do not blame the zeths or the resistance.  I will continue to do my part to ensure my race has a role in bringing about much needed change."

Sintas smiled at her and said, "Did I not say she had dedication?  There is hope yet, however slim.  We will do our best to keep your world safe."

Ausku smiled and nodded.

"What about the miquanowan movement?" Jake asked, "I don't think it's wise to try to rebuild it just now.  We would be putting them at risk as well as long as the First Ones are on high alert to threats.  They know about my suspicious death here and they might well decide to send someone to investigate that too.  I think it might be best to cancel the construction of the new camp and we should try to get a message to Mak to let him know he should not expose his father to the truth just yet.  It might be best to keep Mogwo in the dark until we can deal with Ausku's world at least.  We need to tread even more carefully from now on."

Sintas nodded and said, "Good thinking.  I agree in part.  I don't think the new camp will be at risk here, though.  When the final few transports arrive within the next few weeks with all of the heavy equipment and materials, they will have everything they need to get started and there will be no more shipments to or from this world so even if anyone is watching closely they will see no activity.  A great deal of the construction for many months will be excavation underground using a modified version of the zeth disrupters as tunneling equipment to open up sections of the bedrock underground.  There will not be much activity at the surface and once the front part of the excavation is complete the living quarters for the work force will be moved underground and there will be no evidence that anything is happening there.  There are absolutely no satellites or probes of any kind in orbit around this planet so it is nearly impossible that our camp could be discovered even if someone knew it existed and decided to search for it.

"The First Ones do not know that your death even occurred on this planet so they would have no reason at all to look here.  You told me yourself at one point that you didn't know you were on the sacred planet until you reached Mak and he told you.  That means the version of you that wakes from his resurrection in just over a month will not know either.  You did not see any zeths before your sudden 'death' so your situation will not be as alarming to them as Chetichwal's was.  The construction of the satellite manufacturing facility is too important to postpone.  If anything should happen to Ausku's world we will lose our only source of satellites until this new factory can be constructed and put into production.  It would be a major setback and put us in extreme danger since we would not be able to get more warheads to cut off favors with.  We must move forward with construction immediately and we must push hard to complete it as quickly as possible.

"I do agree that we should postpone our plan to bring Mogwo into the picture until we can return here.  He will only be partially effective until he can start to bring more of his people in and that may raise too much suspicion right now.  We need to wait until the First Ones are done investigating and find nothing of interest before we bring Mogwo in and start to rebuild our resistance movement here.  The engineers down on the surface will be able to make a great deal of progress with the resources at hand and it will be some time before they will need to begin to get supplies, resources, and additional manpower shipped here from the miquanowan world.  We can wait several months before we bring Mogwo on board without losing any progress at all.

"I am afraid you will have to hold the mantle of leader of the miquanowan resistance for just a little longer, Jake.  You should send a message as soon as possible to Mak so that it will be waiting for him as soon as they arrive home.  He is a valued member of my flight crew and I would prefer not to leave him behind.  If I know our young miquanowan as well as I think I do, he will insist on coming back aboard anyhow.  He will not wish to be left behind while you gallivant off into another part of the universe without him for months."

Jake chuckled and said, "You're right about that.  He'll want to put his father-son getaway on hold for a while and come with us.  I'll have him make some excuse with his father.  I'll remind him to get Mogwo to prepare a message to my other self and tack Mak's message onto the end of it and get it off soon.  We need to get that ball rolling so we might eventually have a shot to bring all of this to a quicker end.  It will be another eleven hours or so before Mak gets home.  Will that be soon enough for him to get it before we arrive at their planet to pick him up?"

Sintas nodded and said, "We won't be leaving here for another ten hours or so.  This ship is fast, so it will take us just a few hours to pass Mak's world on our way out of the heliosphere.  We'll make a close approach and have him yanked.  It will be quickest and we can do it without decelerating into orbit."

Jake nodded.

Sintas looked around and said, "Alright everyone.  Let's get to work.  We'll be leaving orbit in ten hours.  Chetichwal, if you will please stay with Jake for the time being.  I'll have your quarters prepared and they will be ready by the time we leave.  Jake will show them to you later.  Rhokki, please escort Ausku to engineering and introduce her.  She'll be meeting the foreman appointed to head up the construction down on the planet.  After that, please help to coordinate the last of the shipments of materials down to the camp.  Thank you all for your time.  You are all dismissed."

Everyone dispersed.

As Jake went out in the hallway he waited to give Chet time to say goodbye to his match, but to his surprise Ausku simply smiled and nodded at the big white bear as she passed him by and headed off with Rhokki to find the rhuxus construction engineers.

Jake turned and began to walk down the hall towards the communications room and Chet followed.

As they walked, Jake looked over at the big bear and asked, "You may not be seeing your match for several months at least.  Don't you want to say a proper goodbye to her?"

Chet shook his head and said, "We are not so strongly attached any longer.  She is not taking the idea of duplicates of us being made out there somewhere very well at all.  I find the idea that there will be another one of me somehow comforting in a way I cannot describe.  I would love the opportunity to meet him though I know that would likely never be allowed.  Somehow, Ausku was enraged to find there would be another of her.  It's as though she feels that her other self will be in direct competition for the same life as her.  I think that is why she volunteered for the position overseeing the work crews down on the planet, to begin to forge her own path in a new life since she can't return to her old one.  I suppose it upsets her that she feels the life she built was hers, and the other version of her will be the one to reap the rewards of it while she must start all over.  I'm not certain why that bothers her so much, and my lack of understanding has made her quite irritable and she has been difficult company for the past month.  I think an enforced separation over the next few months might do us some good.  It is the reason I chose to stay aboard the ship rather than join her down on the planet, and she actually welcomed my decision, so clearly she feels the same way.  I believe our paths may never merge again to be honest."

Jake said, "I'm sorry to hear things are rough between you.  If you ever need someone to talk to, don't hesitate to bend my ear."

Chet smiled and said, "Thank you.  I was worried that I would be the odd man out in this ship full of black cats.  They are quite beautiful creatures, but among them I stick out more than a little and I draw quite a few stares.  Now that I am with you I feel more comfortable knowing I am not the only one who stands out.  My people are happiest in pairs, and you and I are a pair of oddballs in this crowd of rhuxus.  I will find your company quite enjoyable I have no doubt.  I am not overly distressed that the match is over for me so you need not be concerned about that."

"I was a match myself," Jake said, "I fell in love with the one I was matched to almost immediately.  You'll be meeting him when we pick him up in twelve hours or so."

"Your match is male?  You are a homosexual?"

Jake smiled and said, "Yes.  Is that a problem for you?"

"Of course not, no.  I find it interesting.  Homosexuality is extremely rare among my people.  We do not see sex as a form of recreation so we do not engage in it much at all when our bodies are not simply driving us to procreate with the nearest available female.  The idea of two males engaging in the act simply out of love for each other and the wish to enjoy each other is alien to me, yet I must admit it is intriguing, though I personally have never been attracted to any male of my species before.  It is interesting to me as well that you fell in love with your match so quickly.  I had heard that that happens quite commonly with matches but that was not my experience.  Ausku and I were close, but we were not in love."

"How long were you together?" Jake asked.

"Nearly a year.  We had not yet fallen truly in love, though we felt we were a good match and there might be a future for us.  It is unusual for my people to fall in love quickly.  We come to love very slowly and her people are no different.  It is unfortunate that things will likely not work out but I am not really devastated by it, nor is she.  Both of our races are long lived, even without the immortality of resurrection contracts.  There will be plenty of time for each of us to find mates if we are ever allowed to return to our respective home worlds."

Jake nodded.

"Tell me, Jake, is your match the same race as yours?  I have never encountered anyone who looks even remotely like you before.  You are incredibly attractive," Chet said.

Jake smiled and said, "That's very flattering, Chet.  You certainly speak your mind.  You're attractive to me, too.  I've always been attracted to size and strength and you look like you have that in spades.  I love the white fur too.  That's considered fairly exotic on my world.  My match, Komakwa, is miquanowan."

Chet nodded and said, "I've seen their people before.  They are very impressive indeed.  They too are quite large and imposing.  I can understand how you would be attracted to him if that is what you like."

Jake smiled again, "He is quite precisely what I like.  I love him deeply and I lust for him always."

"You mentioned earlier that you knew what it was like to have your race nearly destroyed.  May I ask how that came to be?" Chet asked.

"My planet was destroyed by the First Ones just over six months ago.  We were not in the collective yet and we had no real presence in space so no ark ship.  I've been told that there are tens of thousands of my people scattered about the universe, but we would somehow have to come back together to have any chance to rebuild the race.  There's some faint hope that it could happen I suppose, but if the resistance is successful and the favors are cut off for everyone in the universe, that would mean no more immortality.  I'm not sure that there would be time to bring us all back together to start building our population before everyone grows old and dies.  We don't even have any place to live anymore.  My race may well be doomed to extinction."

"I am very sorry to hear that.  I will speak with my own people when this is all over.  Our planet is cold for the most part but near the equator it is warm and green and would likely be hospitable to your race and could easily support a population of many millions.  We are not built for warmth so in effect that part of our planet is uninhabited.  Perhaps my people would be willing to allow yours to live there while you rebuild your numbers.  It would give you time to find a more suitable home.  I have little sway with my government myself, but I know some who have a great deal of pull.  We could likely work something out."

"Wow!  That's an incredibly thoughtful offer!  Thank you, Chet.  You would be a hero to my race.  It's not every day someone rescues an entire population of people and brings them back from the brink of annihilation."

Chet smiled and said, "Is that not what you and your resistance are attempting to do with Ausku's world as we speak?  The Shadow's Claw is in essence one small ship that is attempting to rescue the entire collective from a deadly threat of which they are not even aware.  Should you succeed, there is no way to estimate how many worlds, how many races, and how many trillions of lives might have been spared, that would have been lost to the First Ones' twisted entertainments over time.  I sense you might have lost sight of just how important what you are doing here is to everyone out there.  What you are attempting to do for the entire universe far outweighs anything the rest of us could do for your people.  Once the truth about the First Ones and the countless atrocities they've committed and races they've snuffed out on a whim are revealed, there will be a great many races who will be extremely grateful to all of you should you prove successful in removing the threat of annihilation by the favors.  I don't think the rhuxus, or your people, will have any trouble finding a home after this is over.  You will likely be getting many offers.  There is a whole planet below us at this moment that is habitable, yet completely devoid of intelligent life as we speak.  I'm sure your match's people would be happy to make some arrangement with your race and the rhuxus as well.  You need not worry about the future of your people, Jake.  They will have no difficulty whatsoever finding a new home."

Jake felt uplifted by Chet's words.  He'd sort of given up on his own race for the time being and couldn't really imagine how they would ever come back.  Having a home would be more than half the battle.  He'd never even given any thought to Rhokki's people.  They may have two ark ships but if they really want to rebuild their race they would need a planet to call home.  Chet may be right.  The miquanowans themselves have an entire world unused and they may be willing to give it up to the orphaned races out of gratitude if the resistance is successful.  There was hope for the humans yet.

Jake stopped and turned to Chet and wrapped his arms around the big bear's neck and hugged him impulsively and said, "Thank you so much.  The future of my race has been nagging at me for a while but I never stopped to really think it through.  I think you're right.  There's no reason at all to give up hope."

Chet put one of his massive paws around behind Jake and hugged him back and said, "It would be a shame to lose such a rare race as yours.  I'm certain the others will see it so as well."

Jake pulled back and smiled at the beautiful polar bear.  Chet seemed like a wonderful guy.  He couldn't wait to get to know him better.

They turned and continued down the hall.  They arrived at the comms room and Jake composed a quick message to Mak explaining the situation, and asking him to make his excuses and to ask his father to prepare a message for the other Jake and send it off with the recording they'd made earlier attached to it.  He told the young bull they'd be swinging past to yank him up very soon and he would get in touch when they were getting close.

Jake and Chet emerged from the comms room and Jake asked, "They may have your quarters ready by now, would you like me to take you there?"

"No.  If you don't mind, I would prefer if you escorted me to the fighter training area.  I will feel less like an indolent passenger and more like a prospective member of this ship's crew if I make myself active immediately.  Would you have the time to take me there?"

"Of course.  Actually, if you don't mind, I wouldn't mind joining you in the simulators while you get started.  I've only tried them briefly a couple of times and it was incredibly fun.  I won't have much to do for the next while so this might be a chance for me to really learn to fly properly.  Komakwa's gone through the certification and is now leader of his own squadron.  I didn't have time to go through the training with him and I would have held him back anyhow.  He was already an experienced flier and had tried out fighter simulators before so he was ready to jump into advanced tactics.  I intended to spend more time in the simulators as soon as I got a chance and now seems as good a time as any."

Chet grinned and said, "That would be splendid!  I would love it if you would go through the entire program with me if you would be interested.  I would like to have someone to challenge me and keep me trying my best.  If you have no real experience either then we would both be starting at nearly the same level and could grow our skills together."

Jake smiled and nodded, "Sure, that would be great.  I'll sign up for the certification program with you and if I can spare the time I'll try to keep up with you.  I was going to be busy with Komakwa's father, bringing him into the resistance and getting him up to speed on everything.  Those plans are now on hold so I should find myself fairly idle for the next while.  We can have Mak come in and teach us both.  I think he'd enjoy handing us our asses over and over again."

Chet said, "That sounds like fun.  Let us go and get started then."

Jake instructed the computer to guide them to the simulators and they headed off.

They got started with the program and became so immersed in the fun they were having that while they were in the simulator, Rhokki finished coordinating the last of the shipments down to the planet's surface.  Ausku boarded the last of the shuttles and went down to the planet to begin her work there, and the Shadow's Claw then began to accelerate hard towards Mak's home world.

Shortly after Jake and Chet emerged from the simulators, Rhokki came to join them and they all went to the 'yanking' room to wait nervously for the young bull to get pulled on to the ship.  Mak was yanked aboard without incident as the ship flew past the world and continued to accelerate to get out of the heliosphere so that it could jump to Ausku's star system.

Mak and Chet were introduced, then the four then went to the mess hall to eat, then back to show Chet his new quarters next to theirs.

Once they had Chet settled, Jake, Mak and Rhokki returned to their own quarters and collapsed into a heap on their sleeping mat.  It had been a long day and they were too tired to mess around.

As he began to drift off to sleep, Jake's mind wandered to Ausku and he thought about the extreme danger her world was in.  He did not want to see another world fall at the hands of the First Ones like his and Rhokki's had done.

He hoped they would make it in time.


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or check the Gay/SF-Fantasy section for...

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Feedback is the fuel for the author's engine.  All comments are much appreciated even if they say nothing more than "Liked it, thanks." or "Hated it, don't go there again."

Thank you,


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