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 19

Jake moaned at the pleasure of having his hole stretched by the thick penis of his lover.  He was on his back and his legs were hooked up on Srythryn's shoulders as the muscular croc pounded away at Jake's rectum.

Jake was nearly bent in half and Srythryn had leaned in to plunge his tongue into his mouth.  They sucked at each other's tongues with a frenzied passion while Srythryn approached yet another intense orgasm.

They'd been making love for hours.  Jake had missed his lover so badly he could not get enough of Srythryn and the croc was thrilled to help him try to slake his needs completely.

Srythryn pulled back from the kiss and shouted as his orgasm crashed into him hard yet again.

He grunted and tensed and thrust himself as deeply into Jake as he could and shot a long spurt of his thick seed deep into his lover.

The sensation of the powerful croc's thick tool hammering past the rings of muscles along Jake's rectum were more than the man could take any longer and he grabbed his own penis and began to jack it hard as his orgasm hit and he gasped as he shot a long stream of cum onto his chest.

His anus clenched with each pulse of his orgasm and the sensation of Srythryn's cock rubbing against it drove Jake to even higher levels of pleasure as he continued to spurt ropes of his cum out onto his own belly and chest.

Srythryn bucked and moaned and gasped as his body was wracked with multiple powerful spasms until it finally could produce no more semen and his orgasm began to settle down.

He slowed his humping to a stop and then moved his face back in to neck with Jake once more.  This time they kissed slowly and lovingly as the last of their orgasms faded away.

After a time Srythryn carefully pulled out of Jake and then moved to lay down beside him with one arm over Jake's messy chest and one leg hooked over Jake's legs.

They lay against each other quietly as they enjoyed the last warm glow of their powerful orgasms.

As he lay there, Jake thought about the busy day they'd had, and the work that they still had ahead of them.

Prior to this lovemaking session, they had been in the briefing room for hours while Srythryn was showed all of the evidence the zeths had been compiling against the First Ones, including their destruction of the Earth.  As Jake had assumed he would do, the big croc had become enraged at having been duped for his entire life by a race that saw other beings as so far beneath them that they snuffed entire sentient races without a thought.  He'd launched into a chain of expletives that even the translator had trouble with as he swore and cursed and raged for quite a long while while the others sat quietly and allowed him to vent.

Jake would not want to be Xelzix.  The little alien's name kept appearing mixed in with the strings of obscenities the big croc had been spewing.  He was quite certain if the little grey man was here in the room now, Srythryn would be peeling him like a banana and rolling him in salt.  The future was not bright for the lackeys hidden away in their section of the Slirkstrith.

Everyone understood exactly what the big croc was feeling and most had the same reaction themselves when they had first been informed of the truth.

Even while the meeting was underway, they had coasted across the edge of the heliosphere and the navigator had executed an extremely short jump that jogged them a few hundred thousand miles to the side.  They maintained their speed and began to travel in a circle around the point they'd exited so that they could wait and see what the Slirkstrith would do next when she came through.  It would take her a couple more days to cross into interstellar space.

After Srythryn had settled down somewhat from his reaction to their shocking revelation, they'd taken more time to explain as much as they could about the resistance and their failed attempts at using the satellites to protect worlds.  The discussion eventually led to the reason Srythryn had been brought aboard and what they wanted him to do.  He agreed almost immediately that he would help in any way he could.

It had been a long session and Jake had suggested they adjourn for a few hours to give Srythryn time to process everything before they began to plan strategy for their encounter with the Slirkstrith.

Everyone had agreed and they all went their separate ways.

Srythryn went with Jake to his quarters and, to the croc's delight, Jake had nearly ravaged him.  He'd missed his sweet crocodile more than he'd even realized.  They'd made love with more passion than they'd ever done before.  In between their intense orgasms they held each other and spoke tender words of love and allowed all of the emotion they felt for each other to flow out.

At last they were spent.

They were expected back in the briefing room in just half an hour to discuss the strategy of how they would reconnect with the Slirkstrith in five weeks when it hopefully would rush to the siskreth system, and how that encounter should play out.

They had enough time to relax together for just a bit longer before they needed to head back to begin the meeting again so they began to chat.

"It is so odd to be making love to you this way and have it be the first time for you since you last left my ship more than three months ago, while to me it seems we did it just five days ago.  The session we had then was even longer than this one.  I hadn't been with you for six months but you had been with me just a couple of days prior from your point of view.  Time definitely plays tricks with the mind when resurrection is involved.  It gets even more complicated when there are more than one of each of us.  It is so hard to take it all in," Srythryn said as he ran his fingers around in the messy cum all over Jake's chest and belly.

Jake chuckled and said, "Yeah, I've had quite a bit of time to deal with the idea of my double, but even I wasn't expecting to have two of you until just a few days ago when the idea hit me.  The idea that there will be another one of you in five weeks is still new to me too."

"It was an amazingly well conceived plan, my love.  You were truly thinking outside the box.  I am impressed with you."

"You don't feel any anger about having a double who is going to lay claim to the life you built?" Jake asked.

"No.  It does not bother me in the least.  I have lived long enough that I have rebuilt my life countless times.  I quite enjoy reinventing myself and I would have done it again in time.  When you have an eternity stretched out before you, you soon realize you will need to change everything once in a while to keep things interesting."

Jake chuckled and said, "Well, neither one of us will have that problem any longer.  We have no favors communicating with the First Ones' computers and we'll never have the ability to resurrect again.  There is no eternity for us.  You will have to get used to the idea of mortality.  The whole universe will, in fact.  I'm not sure that we'll be seen as heroes if we manage to succeed at what we're going to attempt.  There may be a lot of people upset with us for taking away their immortality, even if it means they gain true freedom."

"Indeed, there will be some who will hold it against us and we may end up being hunted for the rest of our lives, but most will understand.  The future is uncertain for everyone even if we succeed in any event."

"How so?" Jake asked.

"We will be cutting off the favors and as such removing them as a weapon, thus disarming the Lawkeepers and destroying the infrastructure required for the insurance of return, but we will not be destroying the First Ones themselves.  The zeth said in the meeting that from their past experience the First Ones were too well hidden within their own network and the zeth programs could not route them out.  No one has any knowledge of the physical location of the First Ones' computers within the universe.  They could be anywhere.  Even a concerted search by all members of the collective would likely turn up nothing with billions of years for the search.  As such we cannot stop them from attempting to rise up and strike back at us.  It will simply be a matter of time before they do.  Perhaps they have contingencies in place that we cannot know about.  Perhaps they have kept some of their dangerous technologies from the past under wraps in the event that they may need to bring them out and rearrange the universe someday.  We have no way of knowing what they might be able to do to us."

"I hadn't really thought that far forward, but you're right.  We can't stop them unless we can find them while they're still weak and have no link to the favors and no one on their side.  We have to destroy their computers somehow before they get a chance to mount a comeback," Jake said.

"There will be a great deal of time to think about that.  The First Ones operate on a scale of time that will no longer be available to us once the resurrection process becomes impossible.  You and I will have likely faded from memory long before the First Ones reappear, unless somehow a new method of achieving immortality is developed.  We must focus on the here and now and ensure that we get our parts done to enable a future for the collective that will be free of the threat of destruction by the First Ones.  Having seen what this ship is capable of and the technologies the rhuxus and the zeths have been able to develop without the First Ones' interference, I believe we will quite quickly be drawn into a technological revolution that might shake the foundations of the known universe.  There may be dangerous times ahead."

"Yeah," Jake agreed, "I struggled with that idea for a time when I thought about what the zeths and the resistance were trying to achieve.  All of those protections you told me about when you first scooped me up off the Earth were effective, even if they were not done for benevolent reasons.  The First Ones wanted all technological advancement stopped because they wanted to ensure no one would ever develop any technology that could defeat them and remove their role as de facto rulers of the universe.  The end effect was still to protect all of the races from accidentally killing themselves, and everyone else, with technology that they couldn't control.  Now, with the First Ones not watching and controlling everything, there will likely be a surge of advancement on all technologies on every front and someone at some point might unleash something that undoes everything."

Srythryn said, "It is unavoidable that the races will all try to advance themselves as quickly as possible, but we have another benefit that the First Ones provided to us, again, even if not for the right reasons.  They are responsible for the creation of the collective.  Hundreds of thousands of races have been living in peace and harmony for so long that it has become ingrained in our way of life.  We will be starting from a position of peace and cooperation among all peoples.  As long as we are able to maintain the collective going forward, we should be able to police the development of technology ourselves and try to keep somewhat of a rein on things.  We need only create our own set of laws to govern what can and can't be done among member races of the collective along with review processes for more dangerous areas of research.  We will need to be decisive when it comes to enacting punishment for any that attempt to work outside the collective's guidelines."

"There will be some races that won't like being told what they can and can't do by the others.  The races that have been doing the First Ones' dirty work come to mind," Jake said.

"It would be unwise at this point for any race to break away, though some may do it.  With luck, we should be able to maintain the peace and harmony that has existed for so long.  It is because of the First Ones that we did not ever have to go through a period of war and competition on a universal scale.  We have much to thank them for, even though they have much to answer for as well."

"Yeah, they destroyed my world and Rhokki's and Ausku's in just the last half year, and countless others in the past.  If someone handed me an axe and pointed at the power cable I needed to cut to end the First Ones' existence forever, I wouldn't hesitate to chop it, even if I knew it would electrocute me and kill me."

Srythryn kissed Jake on the cheek and said, "Let us hope it never comes to that.  I want you with me for as much time as we both have remaining.  I love you more than my own life, my sweet man.  No matter what the future may hold, I am ready to face it so long as I may do it with you at my side."

Jake smiled and turned his head to kiss his wonderful croc on the lips and said, "I love you too.  I'm so glad I get to have you back in my life.  Now I don't have to feel jealous of the other Jake, but happy for him."

Srythryn chuckled and said, "It is the other Srythryn who is lucky to have the other you."

The big croc nuzzled Jake's cheek lovingly and then he sighed and said, "I suppose it is time for us to prepare for the next meeting.  I don't think the others would appreciate us entering the room covered in each other's seed as we are.  We have made somewhat of a mess of ourselves.  Let us clean up and then make our way back to the briefing room."

They both reluctantly got up and headed into the bathroom to shower and get ready for the next strategy session.  They put on fresh clothes and headed back to the briefing room and found the others already assembled.

"Welcome back, you two," Sintas said, "I trust you had sufficient time to reconnect?"

"Not quite as often as I would have liked, but we will be able to reconnect a few more times later tonight I'm sure," Srythryn said.

Jake grinned and Rhokki smiled at him.  Rhokki and Mak had both decided to give Jake and Srythryn their space for a day or two to get their long absence from each other out of their systems before they all tried to find a new way to live together as one big family.  It was obvious from their first meeting that they would all get along fantastically well.  It was just a matter of giving it enough time and not rushing anything.

"Let us begin," Sintas said, "Our main order of business is to determine how we will arrange to be in the siskreth system at the same time as the Slirkstrith is, so that we may cut off the favors of the ark ship and the planet at once in order to protect them from possible retaliatory action by the Lawkeepers when they detect our attack on their systems.  Srythryn, what is your feeling about the message you received from Komakwa just before you 'died'.  Do you feel your other self will react to it as we had hoped?"

"Indeed, there is no doubt in my mind.  It was well crafted.  I was convinced that Jake's match had gone mad and was somehow in control of this ship, and the First Ones themselves had already convinced me this ship had the power to destroy worlds.  The other version of me will be rushing to the bridge the moment he awakes with the intent to bring the Slirkstrith back home as quickly as possible.  There is no doubt that in five weeks she will be headed to my home system."

"Good.  At least we know that she will be heading there in five week's time.  We simply don't know where she'll be when their trip begins and so we won't know how long we'll have to wait for her to arrive at the siskreth system."

"When she arrives will depend somewhat on what she does next.  She may wait in interstellar space for me to be resurrected, in which case one short jump will take them to the siskreth system as soon as the other me awakes.  My home system is not far and it would be only one jump for us as well so we could follow her immediately, though we would not know precisely where she would come in.  I suggest our best course of action for the time being is to wait and watch to see what she does.  If my executive officer follows through with my wishes, then she will ultimately jump away to the miquanowan system.  If we see her jump, we cannot be absolutely sure that is where she went, and it would be pointless for us to follow her to the miquanowan system anyway.  She can get there in one jump but it would take this ship five jumps."

"Agreed," Sintas said, "Is there any reason to assume she might go somewhere other than where you had intended to take her next?"

"As I'm sure you are aware, Captain, any ark ship acting as a resurrection site is ultimately at the mercy of the First Ones during any emergency situation that involves them.  It is possible that the Lawkeepers may direct her on another course, though it seems unlikely.  All I am saying is that the First Ones will have the ultimate say in where the Slirkstrith goes next.  We can be fairly sure she will end up in the siskreth system though, so it may just be best for us to make our way there directly and wait.  How long it takes her to get there will depend on how deep they are into the miquanowan system when my other self wakes and turns her around to head back out.  It could be at least another five weeks, though she will likely increase to combat acceleration, in which case it would be just a week or so before she would be back in interstellar space and able to jump."

Sintas nodded, "So our best action is to jump to the siskreth home world, and stay hidden at the fringes and wait for her to come to us in five weeks or more."

Everyone agreed that there wasn't much else they could do but head straight to the siskreth system and wait.

"We will have at least five weeks to prepare for our encounter with the Slirkstrith, are we ready to begin the discussion of how we will proceed with it?" Sintas asked.

"Yes, I think it best that we work out as many details as possible now, so that we have as much time as possible to get things ready," Srythryn said.

"Our primary concern will be survival," Sintas said, "The Slirkstrith is a formidable ship and the Shadow's Claw would not stand a chance going toe to toe with her.  Are there any weaknesses we might exploit to improve our survivability?"

"It will not be easy," Srythryn said, "Our biggest concern would be to not let her bring her main cannon to bear on this ship.  If she does, we are finished.  There are two ways to prevent her from doing so.  The simplest is to stay out of range of the weapon.  That would not help us as we must get into range in order to engage her.  The other way is to get so close to her that she cannot get a bead on us.  The cannon is at the front, attached to the massive sphere that contains the antimatter buffer.  It can target anything within a fairly wide arc in front of the ship, but if the target falls outside of that arc then the ship must be turned to face it.  The Shadow's Claw is vastly more maneuverable due to her small size and the power of her thrusters.  Your artificial gravity systems remove the concern of protecting the people within from violent forces of acceleration.  Do you think it would be possible to bring the Shadow's Claw directly alongside the Slirkstrith, and keep her there no matter what maneuvers she attempts while trying to bring her cannon around?"

"Absolutely," Sintas replied, "The Claw is invisible to any scanners and as such your defensive systems will not be able to target her successfully.  When right alongside, she will be invisible.  We can use retros to move her around the cylinder, back or forward, closer or farther, whatever it takes to stay on the move and difficult to track.  We would be able to stick to the Slirkstrith in such a way that she could never bring her cannon to bear on us.  The problem at that close range would be the fighters.  We would be in the thick of them and there would be close to a thousand by the time they are all launched.  We have only so many tubes and could not fire enough disrupter charges to keep that many of them at bay indefinitely if they are spread out and coming at us from all angles.  We have no other form of fighter suppression other than our own fighters, of which there are not enough to make any difference."

"Agreed, the fighters will be our biggest concern.  I cannot see a way to take them out of the equation.  We built the Slirkstrith to withstand a very large force.  One small ship cannot stand much of a chance against her," Srythryn said.

"I can think of at least one way to take not only the fighters out of the equation, but also the main cannon, and all of her defensive turrets and missile ports," Jake said.

Sintas smiled and said, "Why am I not surprised?  How can we do it?"

"We can't, but Srythryn can," Jake said and he turned to the croc and asked, "You have the power to shut those systems down as captain, don't you?"

Srythryn's eyes widened and he said, "I do indeed.  If we could somehow get me aboard at the beginning of the encounter, I could shut down launch control and weapons control and I could even lock the other Srythryn out of the system so that he couldn't possibly gain control back without physically replacing the security core.  That process takes hours."

"Would you be willing to shut down her shields as well?" asked Sintas.

Srythryn immediately looked uncomfortable, but before he could speak Jake said, "I don't think that would be wise, or even necessary.  The only reason to drop her shields would be to allow us to squirt Srythryn aboard her, but in order to lower her shields, he would have to already be there.  We have to figure out how to get Srythryn aboard even while the Slirkstrith's shields are still up.  It would be asking too much to have Srythryn render his ark ship and its entire population completely defenseless against any threat.  They would even be vulnerable to micro meteors and solar radiation unnecessarily.  The shields should stay up."

Srythryn seemed to relax and Sintas said, "Yes.  I suppose you're right.  The only other reason we might want her shields down would be to hit her with the zeth signal to disconnect the favors, but Voph assures me a portable unit will work quite effectively once it's inside the shields.  As you say, achieving any of this means getting Srythryn aboard while the shields are still up.  I should not have made the suggestion.  We should keep her shields in place."

Srythryn smiled and said, "I am glad you see it that way.  I am not willing to risk the lives of all of those aboard by lowering the shields for any amount of time.  So, the question is, how do we get me aboard?"

"You came out yourself to destroy this ship before, is there a chance you would do the same again?" Sintas asked.

Srythryn shook his head and said, "It is highly unlikely.  They are now fully aware of your disrupter weapon and they will not make the same mistake twice.  The other Srythryn would send out all of the squadrons he has to ensure success.  The light fighters would harry this ship and draw the disrupter fire to attempt to drain your buffer, while a steady stream of squadrons of heavy strike craft would throw a constant barrage of torpedoes at her from all sides.  They will know not to bunch up in order to avoid them all being caught in the disrupter blasts.  They will work in extremely loose formations and fire torpedoes in staggered sequences so that a single blast of the disrupter might take out only two or three while other torpedoes fly through in between blasts.  They would eventually get several torpedoes through our defenses.  This ship could not hold out in such a situation.  I would assume it was designed to strike fast from a position of stealth, and then run fast and disappear once more."

Sintas nodded and said, "Precisely so.  The Shadow's Claw was not designed to engage in such protracted combat, especially not with a ship the size and power of the Slirkstrith.  Our buffer drains quite slowly even if we fire the disrupters repeatedly so we can keep the suppression going for quite some time, but we would eventually run out of energy and then we would be a sitting duck.  We could take out the entire compliment of the Slirkstrith's fighters if we wished, by positioning ourselves right at the aft end and pummeling all of the fighters with disrupters blasts as they emerge and before they can spread out to engage us, but that would leave the Slirkstrith defenseless after the engagement and she may need her fighters to deal with whatever happens next if our attempt to destroy the QECH hub fails.  We cannot risk letting all of the fighters spread out and attack us from all sides, nor can we risk leaving the ark ship defenseless by destroying them all as they emerge."

Srythryn said, "In any case, to answer your question, we must assume the other me will remain aboard the Slirkstrith to coordinate the battle from there.  You will not be able to use the same trick you used to get me aboard here.  He will not be sitting in a fighter."

"We don't really need the other Srythryn.  He would be on the bridge and wouldn't get in our way.  It doesn't matter who is in the fighter.  We only need the ship, not the pilot.  The main concern would be to limit the number of fighters we destroy, so our best bet is to limit the number that she sends out after us.  How many ships can the Slirkstrith launch at once and how fast could she launch them all?" Jake asked.

"If she had been at battle stations for any amount of time, the pilots would all be hanging in the gantries and ready to go at a moment's notice.  She could conceivably have her entire compliment of close to one thousand fighters launched within minutes," Srythryn said.

"Ugh.  If we could somehow get her to launch just a few squadrons, we could probably still use the same trick we did before.  A well placed disrupter blast would wipe out all of their shields.  We could then yank someone out of one of the ships, and then squirt you into it and you could simply fly it back to the Slirkstrith and dock.  As far as they would be concerned you would be one of their own pilots coming back for repairs after being hit by the disrupter."

"Yes, if we could somehow get it done quickly enough, you could prevent the launch of any more fighters," Sintas said.

"I don't see how we could limit the number of ships she launches," Srythryn said, then he paused in thought and said, "Wait, something just occurred to me.  The other Srythryn will be attempting to reach his home world as quickly as possible.  With our entire race at risk he will pull out all the stops.  He will not be concerned with the destruction of all of the life in the jungle and ocean.  He will evacuate everyone to the emergency acceleration seats.  That would include all of the pilots.  If we could somehow engage the Slirkstrith while all of the crew are still in the seats, they would be extremely limited in the rate at which they could launch fighters.  All of the crew would be funneling out of the emergency section at once and there are only so many elevators to service them all.  They would trickle to their fighters and as such could only be trickled out into space a few squadrons at a time.  It would go from taking just minutes to launch the thousand ships, to taking hours."

Sintas smiled and said, "That would be the ticket then.  If that is the case, it should be a simple matter for us to come in close and engage the first few squadrons they are able to send out, and get you onto one of those ships and heading back to the Slirkstrith to shut down launch control to prevent them launching any more."

"The timing would be most problematic," Srythryn said, "I'm not entirely sure we could take advantage of it.  As we discussed earlier, we would not know precisely when the Slirkstrith will appear in the siskreth system.  Even if we did know precisely when, we wouldn't know exactly where.  The heliosphere is just that, a sphere.  They could come at it from any one of millions of different directions.  We cannot guess the navigator's mind.  We wouldn't know where the Slirkstrith would appear, or which side of the system she would come in from, and we wouldn't know what speed she will be traveling when she executes her hot jump, but it would likely be quite high.  It would simply be impossible for us to wait for her, then be in position to come up alongside her while she is still at speed and the crew are still in the emergency section.  Even if this ship had ten times the acceleration capability it already has, I don't see how we could do it.  They will have had the luxury of weeks of accelerating to build up their speed, we would be waiting for them and suddenly have to match that speed within hours.  It's not remotely possible."

Everyone thought about it for a while, but no one could think of a way around it.  If the Shadow's Claw was hidden and waiting at the outer edge of the heliosphere of the siskreth system, she might be the full diameter of the heliosphere away from the Slirkstrith when she popped in.  They couldn't possibly catch up to her in time if that was the case.  Even if they happened to be close to the point where the Slirkstrith entered, they would not have a clue what speed she would be moving at and they would likely not have the time to match it and then catch up to her.

If they stayed closer in to the siskreth home world to wait for her and try to meet her half way, they still might not be able to match her speed precisely, and they would also be taking a much greater risk of being discovered in advance.

"We would somehow have to know precisely where the Slirkstrith will be, how fast she will be going, and what she will be doing next even before she does it.  It seems impossible.  The only solution to something like that would be to have someone on the bridge.  We couldn't possibly arrange that without facing precisely the same problem we already face in trying to get our Srythryn on board," Sintas said.

Jake thought about what she'd said about knowing where the ark ship will be, and he suddenly realized there might be a simple solution.  It may not be possible to know what the Slirkstrith would be doing next, but it might not be necessary.  They knew where the ark ship was right now, and how fast it was going.  All they had to do was stay with her and match their speed to hers and follow her wherever she goes.  If they never lost sight of her and kept on accelerating just as much as she was, they would never have to guess where she was or what she might do next, and they would never have to rush to match her speed since they would already be going at the same speed as her.

He asked, "Just how invisible is the Shadow's Claw?  When the Slirkstrith comes out of this system's heliosphere in a couple of days, would we then be able to sneak right up alongside her without being detected?"

"Yes, that would not be a problem.  They would never be looking right next to them and even if they did, if we approach her straight on, the stars would not be moving over the Shadow's Claw's surface in relation to their scopes so they would not even see the 'wiggle' that can sometimes give us away.  The shroud extending from the back of our ship covers our plasma cones completely from anyone looking from the side, even at maximum thrust, so they wouldn't even be able to see us if we had to keep accelerating to match the Slirkstrith's speed.  There is no chance they would detect us.  That sort of stealthy approach is precisely what this ship was originally designed for.  What is it you have in mind?" Sintas asked.

"Well, back on Earth, we had some annoying youths who would take part in a dangerous activity called 'skitching'.  It involves riding up to a large moving vehicle on a small board with wheels on it called a skateboard.  They would grab onto the vehicle and hang on and 'share' the vehicle's speed and acceleration to get pulled along with it and go wherever it goes at whatever speed.  Wouldn't it be possible for us to skitch the Slirkstrith and actually 'share' the space warps and wormholes she generates?"

This time everyone's eyes went wide as they pondered the possibility.

Srythryn finally slapped the table hard and shouted, "By the Granth's barnacled buttocks, that is an amazingly clever solution!  I would never have thought of it!  There is no reason why it would not work.  If we could stick right alongside her, we could make every jump she makes without even having to know where she is going!  She could carry us across the universe through any number of jumps and we would not need to expend any antimatter at all bending space or opening wormholes to keep up with her as she would be doing all the work!  It is absolutely brilliant!"

Sintas laughed and said, "Jake, are you certain you are not part rhuxus?  We value stealth and efficiency above all, and your solution is the epitome of both!  That would solve all of our timing problems!  We do not need to know when she will jump, or where, or how fast she will be going when she enters the system or which side she will be coming in from.  We'll be right beside her and matching her speed right from the start and we will never let her out of our sight.  Whenever she bends space and slips through a wormhole we will slip right through the same hole with her to emerge right where she does and she will never be the wiser.  It is an absolutely perfect solution to our greatest problem!"

Jake suddenly felt a presence encroach into his mind and he knew immediately it was Voph trying to communicate with him.  He tried mentally averting his gaze as he'd done before and the presence grew stronger.  Jake was suddenly filled with a feeling of joyous celebration.  It felt sort of like the psychic equivalent of a high five.  Suddenly he felt a slight sadness and a sense of loss.  Once again he could not really make sense of the emotions out of context.  The two feelings simply didn't make sense together.

He then began to sense a frustration at his lack of comprehension and the presence quite suddenly vacated his mind, and the zeth then raised a hand with one finger pointed up and waved it around as though he were trying to make a point.

Rhokki then grinned and said, "The zeth says that he feels that the First Ones may have made the single greatest tactical error in their many billions of years of existence by plucking such an excellent example of a human off the Earth before destroying it.  This resistance has gone from struggling to survive, to utter failure, only to be brought fully around to almost certain success by the ideas of just one man who did not really exist in the wide universe until just months ago.  He says Jake may be the one person ultimately responsible for bringing about the removal of the First Ones as a threat to all races in the known universe.  I think he is right.  He also says that he feels truly sad that they could not have met the human race before the First Ones had the chance to ravage it.  He pledges all of the resources that the remaining zeths can bring to bear to help Jake round up all the remaining humans when this is all done and settle them somewhere safe and protect them so that they can rebuild their wonderful race once more."

"Thank you, Voph.  The human race will need all of the help it can get so I will definitely hold you to that offer once all of this is over," Jake said, then he looked around the room at all the grinning faces and said, "You all certainly know how to over inflate your praise.  One good idea does not a genius make."

Srythryn grinned further and said, "I haven't been present for all of them, but I know for a fact there were quite a few more than just the one good idea.  In any case, you have once again shown your ability to think outside the box.  You have eliminated our greatest hurdle with a most elegant and simple solution.  I can think of nothing else that would impede us.  I believe we might just have a solid chance at pulling this off."

Sintas said, "Agreed.  It is simply a matter of nailing down the timing for the start of the encounter.  That may be more easily done when we've followed the Slirkstrith for the five weeks it will take to resurrect the other Srythryn.  It will all depend on the speed they are going when they jump in to the siskreth system and we won't know what that speed will be until the time comes."

Srythryn said, "They will have already been accelerating hard to get out of the miquanowan system and they will have built up a tremendous speed.  They will do a hot jump and then turn around to use the maximum thrust to decelerate into orbit as they approach the planet.  We can use their thrust cones as an indicator to know when we need to begin our attack as they will suddenly to a length of more than sixty miles by the time they reach full thrust.  In fact, I know her specs quite intimately.  Since we will know precisely how fast she is going when she enters the siskreth system, I will be able to calculate, with timing down to within minutes, the moment that they will need to begin hard braking to decelerate into orbit using the moons and the planet itself for gravity assist.  They will have everyone in acceleration seats before then so we can begin our engagement even before they begin to ramp the thrusters up.  It would be my preference if we could intercede before she increases thrust to full and kills all of the life in the jungle and ocean.  Anything we can do to minimize the impact on the Slirkstrith would be appreciated.  If she ends up having to run from the collective after all of this then she will be on her own and she will not be able to sustain her population without the animals.  We must ensure her survivability."

Sintas nodded and said, "That should not be a problem.  We will not put the Slirkstrith at risk any more than necessary, Captain, you have my word.  We can reveal ourselves at any time we choose once she is in the siskreth system.  When they see us they will realize they can neither accelerate, nor decelerate, or they risk losing range on us.  We simply need to turn about and show her our thrust cones to expose ourselves at the moment we see their plasma cones begin to grow towards maximum thrust.  They will shut down their thrusters immediately when they see us, but we will know that the entire crew will be in the emergency section at that time and they will not be able to launch anything more than a slow trickle of fighters at us."

"Good," Srythryn said, "So then, the sequence of events is simple.  We reveal ourselves just as they are about to go to maximum thrust.  They launch the first few squadrons as we bring ourselves up alongside and fire the first round of disrupters.  The fighters will lose their shields.  We choose one that still is maneuverable and yank the pilot aboard.  You squirt me onto that ship.  It will of course still be tuned to the Slirkstrith's shields so I can fly through them and dock with her.  Once aboard I can immediately access the computer and shut down both the launch control and weapons control systems and then alter the security to lock out the other Srythryn so that the Shadow's Claw is out of danger.  I then make my way into the lackeys' section and disable the shielding around their network room so that I can enter it to inject the zeth program.  Then what?  When do I cut off the favors?"

"Rhokki?  What does the zeth say is the sequence after that?" Sintas asked.

They waited as Rhokki absorbed the zeth's response and then the big cat said, "Voph says the device to cut off the favors cannot be fired until the zeth program finishes its work.  It relies on the QECH system to communicate with the First Ones' network and the device is not selective and will kill all QECH communications within the Slirkstrith by destroying their photons.  He reminds you that the device to cut off the favors is primarily a fail-safe in case the plan fails and the program does not manage to locate and destroy the QECH hub for the favors.  If the plan succeeds, then all favors everywhere in the universe will be cut off and both the Slirkstrith and the planet will be safe without any further intervention required."

There was another pause while Voph communicated with Rhokki and then the lion said, "He says Srythryn will also be carrying a zeth communicator that uses their hub-and-spoke quantum entanglement system.  Once the program locates and infiltrates the QECH hub control system for the favors and destroys it, it will communicate its success or failure back to the zeths here.  We will notify Srythryn and he will activate the device if the attack was a failure.  We should ensure that the satellites are en route to the planet before then so that they will arrive in orbit as close as possible to the moment the attack begins in order to protect the planet.  The timing will be tight, but it should be safe.  If the attack works as planned the planet and the ark ship will be safe regardless, but if it fails, the satellites will be in orbit to protect it and Srythryn will be in position to fire off the portable device to protect the Slirkstrith."

Srythryn nodded and said, "Understood.  I will only need to activate the zeth device to cut off the favors if the attack fails.  In that case, we will need to be sure that the Slirkstrith is made aware of everything.  She will need to defend our world in case there is retaliation brought in from other member races of the collective.  She will be able to hold out for quite a long while, but I am not sure that it will be long enough."

"You can count on the Shadow's Claw to do anything she can to help.  Though we wouldn't be able to offer much in the way of brute force our stealth and speed can be a great asset," Sintas said.

Voph once again raised his hand and everyone waited while Rhokki processed what the zeth was telling him, and then the big cat said, "Voph has been in touch with the remaining people of his race that are now trapped outside of their own galaxy.  He says they were kept back for this very type of contingency.  They will begin a push to interstellar space and will be ready to jump to just outside the siskreth system as soon as our engagement is complete.  Whether we are successful or not they will drive inward to defend the siskreth home world to the death.  Their force is substantial and should be able to hold out for years if needed.  There are many additional groups of capital ships that have been in hiding since the beginning of their engagement against the collective.  They have been holding them back until they were needed for a final push.  They feel that this is it and they will also be calling on those groups for reinforcement."

Srythryn smiled and bowed to the zeth and said, "You have my thanks, Voph.  The Slirkstrith was designed specifically to defend against your most powerful capital ships.  Never in my wildest thoughts could I have imagined the zeths would be the ones coming to our aid against the whole of the collective.  With the aid of your people I am confident we have a solid chance at survival."

The zeth nodded.

"Excellent," Sintas said, "This meeting was even more productive than I'd hoped.  I feel confident that we will succeed.  When the Slirkstrith emerges from the heliosphere we will sneak right up alongside her and see where she takes us next.  You are all dismissed."

They all stood and left the meeting room.

Now that they'd hammered out the details of how they were going to approach their attempt at destroying the QECH hub for the nanos, Jake was truly beginning to think it might actually be possible to pull it off.

Jake and Srythryn headed straight back towards Jake's quarters to pick up where they'd left off on their reunion.


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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."

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