WARNING: This story contains the following things: gay, men, gay men, simbionts, strange martial arts, mystery and otherworldly powers. There may also be trace amounts of peanuts. If you are allergic or avoidant to any of these things, then vamoose.
You have been warned.
Muffled footsteps and breathing. That was all Blake heard while lying in his bed. He could tell one of them was Jared and the other had to be Rob. They had been pacing around for nearly two hours. His senses had been dulled to conserve resources, limiting the range of his hearing, but Blake could hear most of what was going on because his friends were shouting most of the words. As far as he could tell, they were fighting over him.
‘Blake should be in a hospital!’ Rob shouted.
‘Back off, Rob. Blake doesn’t want to go to a hospital.’ Jared said.
‘I suppose he told you that, did he?’
‘Yeah.’ Jared said, eyes narrowing.
‘Funny, you’re the only one he’s seen these past few days. Why is that?’ Rob asked.
‘Don’t go there, man.’
‘Jared--Blake is sick. He needs a doctor.’ Rob said softly. Blake could barely make it out.
‘I told you already, Blake doesn’t want to see a doctor.’
‘Well you could at least go to the drugstore and pick some stuff up! God! You’ve been lurking around the house for three days! I don’t even think you’ve slept!’ Rob yelled. Blake felt a pang of guilt. Rob had taken him in and he had caused nothing but trouble so far.
There’ll be more trouble if knife-toting simbionts come after your friends and you can’t stop them. Blake tried to sigh but Khamon was controlling his lungs. It was scary sometimes how much in control the simbiont could be. The initial fear that Khamon would take him over completely had ebbed somewhat.
Downstairs Blake heard a door slam. Rob probably stalked off. Jared hadn’t left his side since the other day. He knew it was extracting an enormous toll on Jared, still the taller man would come in and chat with Blake, though Blake couldn’t respond.
I really want a glass of milk. Blake thought, aching for the familiar sensation and taste. It had been three days since he ate real food. That wasn’t the worst of it though. The pain was horrendous. The worst had been when Khamon re-knit his entire skeleton and nervous system. The simbiont had to stifle Blake’s cries so Rob would not come to investigate.
How much longer? Blake asked.
::Nearing complete reconstruction in three hours.::
Blake waited. It was all he could do. Wait and listen.
Suddenly there were footsteps on the stairs. Blake listened as they moved to his door, it opened slowly. He could feel the heat of a body near his. A hand smoothed back hair he had let grow too long.
Blake stiffened. Not Jared, but Rob was beside him.
‘Jared went to get the car. We’re taking you to the hospital.’
::I suspect Jared is going to stall a bit. It is possible we will wake up on the ride.::
Will being moved damage anything?
::No. I am in the process of finalizing the alterations.::
What does that mean?
::I am encoding the changes in your DNA so your body will not reject the changes once I stop actively inducing them.::
‘Blake, man, I’m sorry I didn’t get you to a doctor sooner. I figured, well, I dunno. You and Jared...’ He heard Rob sigh. Blake felt terrible.
A hand fell on his forehead.
‘You have a slight fever.’ Rob said mostly to himself. He heard him go to the bath room and run some water. A few moments later a wet cloth was lying on his head.
‘There. I’m going to go downstairs.’
This is not good.
Blake could do nothing but count the seconds until his friends returned. Thankfully it was nearly an hour before Rob climbed the stairs again, Jared in tow.
‘I’m telling you, Rob, he’s not gonna be happy when he wakes up.’ Jared offered.
‘I don’t care. Someone has to look out for him when he can’t.’ Rob said, opening the door.
‘Hey! He asked me to do this. He was looking after himself.’
‘Yeah? Well, it kinda falls to you to knock some sense into his head.’ Rob shot back.
Blake could feel Jared frown. He was going to have a long talk with the jock later, reassuring him that he did exactly what he was supposed to.
::I’m releasing some functions.::
‘Wah…’ Blake managed after mashing his lips together for a few seconds.
‘Dude, it’s okay, we’re just taking you to the doctor.’ Rob’s voice. Everything was slowly coming into focus.
‘N-nn. No doctor.’ Blake managed, spit running down his chin.
I feel like a moron.
‘Blake, you have to go to a doctor. You’re very ill.’ Rob spoke softly. Blake could feel the concern in his voice.
Before he could protest, his senses expanded and then fell back on him like a railroad spike in the skull, knocking him to the floor.
::There’re other simbionts near. Four or five. It is difficult to get a lock on them in this state of flux.::
‘Red…help Rob. Get to the car. Quickly.’ Speech was painful, but nothing compared to what he had undergone in the past few days.
Jared obeyed immediately and Blake was left wondering what he had done to command such loyalty. The got Blake to the car and into the back. Rob ran back in the house to get his cell phone. Blake pulled Jared close.
‘Might attack. Four or five.’ That was all he could manage. Jared didn’t seem to fully get it. Blake felt helpless. Then he gave a little mental push, thrusting the idea into Jared’s head. The tall man’s eyes went wide for a moment as he examined the new thought in his head, obviously not his own, then nodded.
‘What’s that for?’ Rob asked as he got into the car, nodding to the bokken on Jared’s lap.
‘Just in case.’ Jared shrugged.
As they drove, the road became bare. Houses slowly faded away and trees took their place. Soon they were on the highway. Two or three other cars moves along with them.
They’re close. Blake could feel his senses clearing. He could move his hands and feet.
Blake prayed that they didn’t attack before he was ready. He felt the car swerve.
‘Fucking prick cut me off.’ Rob said as a car moved in front of them. Blake didn’t have to peek in the mirror to know there was one directly behind them now, as well as one to the side.
Three cars. Four simbiont-soldiers. He counted.
‘What the hell?!’ Rob shouted as the car behind them nudged them a little. The other cars combined their efforts and soon Rob was pulling over to the side of the road. Before he could stand and get out, Jared was up, sword in hand.
The first one to come at them looked like an accountant that had just gotten off of work. He was skinny and balding, with horn-rimmed glasses, still he moved with speed and force that betrayed his true nature.
Jared struck him a few times before the accountant-simbiont would even acknowledge him as a threat.
Blake struggled to move. He managed to get his fingers around the handle of the car door. He watched, helpless as Rob was flung aside. He landed somewhere in the trees, beyond the road. At least they didn’t kill him.
::Their actions are inconsistent. None of them wield weapons.::
Jared quickly worked up a sweat fending off the one simbiont on Blake’s side. Meanwhile the other two were clamoring to get into the car to Blake. The dark-haired man flexed his will and moved a barrier in place between the front and back seats. The more they pushed on it, the stronger it became.
Then, as Jared faltered and fell to his knees, Blake felt a sudden rush come over him.
::It is complete.::
Blake pushed the door off of the car without even touching it. He felt like he had more energy than he could possibly use. The accountant came straight for him, Jared forgotten.
Blake moved forward. A basic principle of shiai was that you always moved forward towards your opponent. Blake felt himself instinctually doing this, even though he lacked a sword. He found that Khamon was correct—they weren’t trying to kill him, at least not yet.
Blake took several blows that were obviously meant to incapacitate him. They had no effect. He swatted the simbiont as if it were tissue paper. The other two fell on his back while he finished the accountant.
They were easily tossed aside. It took them only seconds to recover and renew their advance. Blake felt himself fall into an unfamiliar battle stance.
::The Mown Chaal.::
The words didn’t mean anything to him, but he felt all of his fear and anger center into his being. When the simbionts came at them he dealt a flurry of blows that he had never before seen. No kung fu movie could possibly duplicate what he was doing, and it seemed to be working.
Suddenly he was alone, the simbionts on the ground, dead or unconscious, Blake didn’t know or care. He had defended his friends and defeated his enemies.
‘Blake!’ It was Rob. He wandered over, holding his head. Jared stood slowly, wincing.
‘What the hell was all that about?’ Rob asked. There was a minor cut on his forehead. Blake gave an inward sigh. Rob was fine.
As Blake opened his mouth to explain, he felt a sharp spike again. He spun around just in time.
There were four simbionts.
The black blade dug into the flesh of his arm. Blood, a richer red than any human’s, welled up and spilt onto the pavement. Blake swept down and away, avoiding the next few attacks.
The simbiont looked like a soccer mom who had just dropped her kids off at practice. How did he miss her? She didn’t set off any of his alarms until it was almost too late.
Seeing Jared’s bokken on the ground, Blake dove for it. The soccer mom was close behind, but now Blake could face her like a real swordsman.
He fell into the water stance and everything became calm. There was no anger, no rush of emotion at all. Blake let everything go. As the blade darted in he responded with natural, flowing movements. He could have given a counter strike at any time. He was sure that the blade was sharper than any katana, and that it was somehow part of the simbiont he faced. Still, he only dodged, getting an idea of the simbiont’s skill.
Then he saw it--a weak spot when she lunged forward, over extending herself. Not by much, but just enough. The next time she struck, Blake moved forward, bringing the sword down on her skull. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head and the blade hit the pavement, instantly evaporating into a dark purple vapor.
Suddenly, without warning, he felt a part of himself dart out and latch onto the simbiont inside of the woman as she fell to the ground. The tendril returned with something. Blake was knocked backward onto his butt. Jared and Rob came rushing over.
Blake was barely able to keep his eyes open.
‘Are you okay?’
Rob grabbed his arm. It was only then Blake remembered the cut.
‘What the…’ Rob’s confusion drew his gaze.
The cut was smaller than before and the bleeding had stopped, but it was deep. Blake could see all the way down to the bone. At least he thought it was bone, but instead of a pale white it was a glossy black, and the muscle that surrounded it was a purple-red color. As he watched, it knit it self back together.
‘Whoa.’ Jared said. Suddenly Blake felt light headed.
‘Blake? Blake!’ He stumbled as his friends led him to the car and got him in the back seat. He was vaguely aware of them turning around and heading back to the house.
‘So this Peor guy is a statue?’ Rob asked again. Blake rubbed his head. Jared had taken everything remarkably well, so well that he had kind of expected Rob to make the transition just as easy. Not so much. The pre-med was full of a billion, never ending, ever-expanding questions and he didn’t really seem to buy into any of it at all, until Blake reminded him of the things he saw.
‘The very fact you saw all that proves it.’ Blake said. They all sat in Rob’s kitchen, drinking coffee into the wee hours of the morning.
‘Not exactly.’ Rob said, ‘I admit I saw something freaky, but it sounds a bit out there, no offence.’
Blake felt his teeth clench together. Rob wanted all kinds of proof that he was unable, or unwilling to give. X-rays, medical tests, tissue samples, demonstrations. Blake quickly felt like a guinea pig.
‘Dude, Rob, give it a rest. You’re stressing him out.’ Jared said lightly. Both men had apologized for their actions, and though it was sincere, there was still some lingering friction between them.
‘What about the artifacts?’ Blake asked. They had uncovered several items on the bodies of their enemies, none of which looked to be of human construction.
‘There’re some freaky things out there that defy current knowledge.’ Rob said. Blake sighed. He just wasn’t getting it.
Jared cut in to give Blake a break, and continued to try and persuade Rob of what happened.
What if he can’t?
::Then it will be very dangerous for him as well as us.::
::No part of a lion does not believe it is not a lion.::
Blake sat, puzzled. Khamon would often say such things. But the point got across. They were in this together, and they needed to move as a team. Denial would only lead to chaos down the road and Blake didn’t want to give gifts to his enemies.
Jared continued his debate. Blake stood slowly and reached for the knife. Rob caught his eye just in time.
Blake drove the blade into his forearm, where the cut had previously been. Pain lance through his arm.
Can’t you do something about that?
::No. We need to replenish our resources.:: Khamon said. Blake got the feeling the simbiont knew what he was up to. Hopefully he still had enough material to keep Blake from bleeding to death.
‘Blake!’ Rob was up in an instant, towel in hand, ready to dive to the phone.
‘I’m fine. Sit down.’
‘Blake! You shouldn’t do that!’ Rob said, as Blake cut into his flesh.
‘Sit down, Rob.’ Blake’s tone was even and firm. Rob slowly sank into his seat. Blake continued to cut. The blood was minimal but the pain only intensified.
‘Look, Rob.’ Blake said, exposing his arm. He had to pull the flesh from the cut apart so it didn’t begin to heal. The unnatural skin and bone was exposed.
‘Look hard. Is this proof enough? I’m not completely human anymore. Hell, I don’t even know if I’m human at all!’ Blake said, feeling his frustration mount. Rob could only stare at the strange flesh.
‘But it…you…it doesn’t prove….’ Rob said slowly.
‘Dammit!’ Blake felt something flex and the giant flower pot in the corner shattered. ‘Is that proof enough?!’
‘That’s just coincidence.’ Rob said. Blake proceeded to break the handles on the mug hanging on the counter, each one landing with a dull thud.
‘Name it, I’ll break it.’ Blake said. Khamon was eerily quiet. Rob looked at him with wide eyes. Blake saw realization in them as the brown-haired man slump in his seat. He released his arm and let it heal.
‘Everything you said…’
They sat in silence for a second before Rob looked at Blake. The look was different, not the usual look, it was the look prey gives a hunter. Blake felt his heart lurch. He hadn’t meant to scare Rob so badly.
‘I’m gonna need some time.’ Rob said, wandering to the stairs. Blake heard him go into his room. The unfamiliar snick of a lock echoed with his heightened hearing.
Blake heaved a sigh and slid into Rob’s vacant chair.
‘That didn’t go so well.’ He said. Jared smiled, rubbing Blake’s hand.
‘You did good, man. There was no other way to convince him. He’s a bit of a stubborn ass.’
Blake bit his lower lip, pulling his hand away. Jared threw a weird look.
‘What?’ Blake asked. The tall man stood.
‘Nothing.’ Jared slipped on his jacket.
‘Where’re going?’ Blake asked. Jared suddenly felt stormy where he was usually a clear sky.
‘You don’t have a car!’
‘I’ll walk. I need the exercise.’
‘Red, don’t be dumb. It’s over twelve kilometers. Crash on the couch.’ Blake said.
‘I don’t feel like staying.’
That was the last thing he said before he stepped out the door. Part of Blake wanted to stop his friend, the part of him that moved to the door, ready to shout. But then there was another part of him that made him still. It was dangerous to get involved with Jared. Blake loved him deeply, like a brother and a best friend, and in light of new events would be happy to have gone further, except for one thing--he knew Jared and Jared hadn’t had a relationship that lasted two weeks in his entire life.
It would be for the best if he was discouraged. But part of him still wanted to cry out, to call him back. In the end Blake slowly sunk into the couch, alone.
::You are never alone.::
Blake mulled things over for a minute.
I really screwed things up today.
::You brought things together. It is not an easy or fast process. We have but taken the first steps of our journey. It will only become more difficult after this. We need them.::
::Will come around in time. His rational mind demands it.::
::Wounded love is an unpredictable thing, but he does love, and that means he will return when he feels his wounds have healed.::
That could be days. What if he gets attacked?
::Not to worry. I will watch him.::
You can do that?
::There are things I can do now, after our encounter.::
Blake nodded. The exploding cups were new.
::Yes, there are dozens of new skills we have learned in the past few weeks.::
What was that martial art I was doing back there?
Khamon’s tone was full of interest.
::The Mown Chaal. It is a warrior’s Art taught back on my world. I do not know much about it, but it is very difficult to master. I don’t know how you would know it.::
Blake frowned. There were too many unexplained things in the recent past. Sure, he was dealing with alien simbionts, but even they had to have some kind of consistency. And the strange artifacts had yet to be examined, mysteries yielded.
::There is time. Don’t worry, we will find all the answers.::
I hope so.
A bit late, but school always gets in the way. What will happen next? I’m just as anxious to find out!
Any comments or criticisms can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org