On the planet of Kathtor, Midnight Creek is special. It houses a geo-spatial anomaly that crosses the distance between opposite sides of the planet with a single step. A hundred years ago, the warring Kimon used the anomaly to invade the peaceful Therlerians, only to be driven away by their advanced technology.
Now, a single man guards the point of entry. Warden Arie Vedebel is the best of his kind, a soldier in the Liberated Therler Federacy, determined to defend his people to the death. When an electrical storm sets the creek on fire, he races to extinguish it, only to discover a man in the midst of it—General Dennick Ginn of the Elds Regime, a highly decorated Kimon officer.
Arie’s orders are to kill on sight, but Dennick’s claims that’s he come through the anomaly to destroy it make him pause. As far as Arie knows, the man’s goal is impossible. Then again, he’d always been told his post was a precautionary one, that traveling through the anomaly was no longer viable.
Warily, Arie and Dennick form an alliance. While Arie strives to find the truth, the one fact he can’t dispute is that Dennick is not what he expects a Kimon to be. The two men have more in common than military training...and they just might have a future, too.
Genres: Gay/Science Fiction/Futuristic
Heat Level: 2
Length: Extended Novella (39k words)
Read a short excerpt...
...What Arie believed, what he’d been taught from his earliest memory, was that the Kimon were barbarians, incapable of expanding beyond their meager numbers because of their inability to restrain their bloodlust even amongst their own kind.
The unconscious stranger in front of him certainly looked the part. Age weathered his face. Deep grooves were carved out of his brow and beneath his eyes, disappearing into the graying scruff that highlighted his sculptured jaw. His lashes were pale, but on closer inspection, Arie saw that it was ash clinging to the thick, curly strands. Soot mingled with sweat to darken his skin, but most striking of all was the wide scar that bisected his right eye, running from his hairline all the way to the corner of his wide mouth.
That was a battle wound. Which meant Kimon had broken the quiet between their nations by sending a soldier through the door they’d opened years ago in Midnight Creek.
Arie took advantage of the stranger’s unconscious state to search for weapons. He wore nothing but his clothing and odd, lightweight boots with recessed studs hidden inside the treads. As far as Arie could tell, they didn’t come free, so those weren’t a threat. The man didn’t have any jewelry, either, no kind of gauntlet for his arms or amulets that might house tiny blades.
He frowned as he sat back on his heels again. A soldier without weapons? Of what use was that? Even a scout would have something with which to defend himself, but as far as Arie could tell, this man was completely unarmed.
The fire, however, could’ve destroyed a weapon. Clearly, it had taken the Kimon by surprise, since he’d been caught in the blaze. He could’ve had a pack, too, that was either destroyed or still in the cavern.
As he sat debating whether it was worth venturing down to the creek’s source to search for anything the Kimon might have brought with him, the man stirred.
Arie leapt to his feet and reached for a weapon that wasn’t there. Damn it. He should’ve returned to the station for his tak gun before approaching the stranger.
The Kimon coughed once, then opened his eyes. They were a startling green, in eerie contrast to his mottled skin, though he squinted almost immediately against the winds and rain that still rattled across the grass. When he turned and saw Arie standing over him, however, he froze.
“Where am I?” he asked. Though he spoke Therlerian, each word was heavily accented, clearly not his first language.
“You don’t get to ask questions,” Arie bit out. “You answer them. Who are you?”
The Kimon’s gaze swept down Arie’s body in a quick assessment. He shook his head when he was done. “I don’t have time for this.”
When he started to sit up, Arie thrust his foot into the Kimon’s shoulder to pin him down, only to feel his world warp around him as the man grabbed onto his ankle and twisted until he fell sideways. He landed with a grunt on his left side, knocking his head into the sonic extinguisher he’d set out of the way. By the time he leapt back to his feet, the Kimon stood as well, staring at the thinning smoke issuing from the nearby trench.
“What did you do?” the Kimon asked.
The query could mean anything. In the face of uncertainty, Arie floundered for the correct response.
Those sharp eyes cut back to him. Arie had to tilt his head in order to meet his gaze without flinching. “I know my Therlerian isn’t that bad you don’t understand me,” the man said. “So I will ask this only one more time before I lose my patience for good. What happened?”
Arie bit back his natural instinct to inform the Kimon of his mistake. It wasn’t the same question at all. This one he could answer.
“I pulled you out of there before you got caught in the fire.” He couldn’t resist adding, “Most people would consider that a good thing.”
The snide addendum took both of them by surprise. The Kimon’s scarred brow shot up, while Arie tamped down the bile that rose in his throat at such obvious childishness. That type of reaction was beneath him. He could only credit his weariness and the inconstancy of his current circumstances for it occurring at all.
“I didn’t ask to be saved.”
Whirling on his heel, the Kimon began marching toward the smoke...