Vishinu

Seren, Sulim 07, 01031

“Lieutenant! Can you tell me what the fuck is going on?”

“If I knew, soldier, I’d let you in on the secret.”

“Something weird is going on.”

“You got that right, soldier, but we don’t know what.” Kamaku looked out the window of the APC and wondered what kind of sandfuck had arranged for her to go out into the middle of the desert and babysit a bunch of college kids and their leafheaded professor. She was a career girl, good at squad command and not interested in doing much else right now with her life. Dealing with the academic type always made her itch. “This is one drorshit assignment.” She turned away from her crew to look out the window. The desert slid by underneath the APC in unbroken waves of pristine sand. That, at least, was comforting. “Shit.”

“Lieutenant?”

“Just thinking, Scrid. Someone fucked up. Fucked up bad. Here we are, not even a year after the Return and already something’s gone to Zhalsfift. There’s secrecy, I’ve been hearing of arrests among the top ranks, the queen is missing. Something funny is going on. And now we get command, right from the Queen’s military adviser, to go out into the desert and help a crew of archeology students– and what the fuck is archeology?”

Scridaya knew the answer to that one. He was as close to a leafhead as she wanted to have in her crew. “It’s digging up old cities and town that have been buried. They’re trying to put together enough stuff together to understand what happened thousands of years ago.”

“And they need protection?” Kamaku snorted. “Great.”

“Lieutenant, we’re about to start our landing!”

The shout from the cockpit jarred her out of her frustrated reverie. “All right you lizards, get your camp together and get ready to eat sand.” The ship shuddered as it landed; the clamshell doors parted to reveal the bright desert. Eight llerkin, lightly dressed against the day’s oppressive heat, stood there as Kamaku descended the ramp. “Professor Vishinu?”

“Yes?” Although indistinguishable in age from his students, the professor carried himself with the air of someone who had been on the ground when the Sinox strike had begun.

“I’m Royal Lieutenant Melitin Kamaku. My people have been assigned to protect you. My orders indicate that you and your students may be the subject of a military action sometime soon.”

“Yes, we received word of your coming.”

“You… you did? From whom?”

“Ken Shardik.” He seemed uncomfortable admitting that, Kamaku thought. She had to admit that the information surprised her. If this had been arranged by the Pendorian then something was seriously up. “May I ask what the danger is?”

“I’ve been asked that a lot. I haven’t been informed myself. I’ve been told to tell you that this is quote for the honor of the Queen unquote.”

Nodding, the professor said, “It would seem that by order of the Queen, we are at your command. What should we do?”

“We have two choices, sir. We sit here and wait it out, or we get onto the APC and move somewhere safer. I’ve been told that the risk of attack is relatively low. The APC cannot take all of us; we would have to do any traveling in two shifts.”

“At this point, Lieutenant, I would rather not leave our position. We are in the midst of delicate process.”

Kamaku had anticipated that answer. “Scrid,” she said. “Deploy for a dig-in.”

“Yes, sir.”


She walked around the perimeter. The twelve soldiers under her command had done the usual excellent job of setting up alarms, radars, sensors, and other tricks of the trade, some of which were unique to her crew and some of which were used by everybody. Almost every squad had its specialists; hers were in the business of detecting trouble. It served them pretty well.

Satisfied that Scridaya and the rest of the squad were at their best she walked back to the lit tents of the academics’ encampment. She still had no understanding of what they did or why they were doing it. It was time to find out what she was protecting.

She walked through the tent flap and came up immediately short as her eyes settled on two tables. Stretched out along their length were two humanoid skeletons of a species she had never seen before. They were two meters long, so that their leg bones stretched out over the table. The bones were thick. The skull had an elongated appearance. She looked up and spotted Professor Vishinu, trying to formulate her next sentence. She arrived at, “What are those?”

“Those, my young friend, are the prelkin.”

“Prelkin? You mean, like in the movies?”

Professor Vishinu smiled. “Something like that.” He walked over to her, took her by the elbow and led her closer to the examination table. “Come, come. They’ve been dead for a thousand years and it’s not likely they’ll be coming back to life. You’re a soldier. Surely you’re not afraid a few bones.”

“I just… I’m used to police actions and nonlethal skirmishes. These are, um…”

“Dead. Yes. And they are our ancestors. Or, at least, they are the species that inherited llerkin before the Calamity.”

“These?” She felt an odd sensation tickling the back of her neck. Fear?

Vishinu pointed to a large screen set up in one corner. “Yes, those.” On the screen resolved a clear picture of the prelkin now walking. “That is the species that created the cities and towns that existed before the First Calamity.”

“This is what you do? Dig up the past?” She was suddenly fascinated with the idea as if it were new and interesting. She had never imagined that such treasures could exist under the very sand.

“This is what we do. Although we didn’t have the color right on these until we received some data from Ken Shardik. We found what we think is a bunker of sorts next to some kind of burial plot. This is a very big breakthrough and we can’t leave because we’ve contaminated the site and time is of the essence.” He noticed the quizzical look on her face and took it to mean she didn’t understand. She didn’t, but the look on her face was more because of a strange reaction she was having to his smell. Still, he kept on, and she appreciated it, both for the information and the distraction. “We opened the bunker. That means that the air of today is seeping into the chamber. We don’t know what kind of condition much of the bunker is in, nor do we know what the new atmosphere of llerkin will do to whatever’s in there.”

“I see,” she said. “Do you know what this is all about? The need for us?”

“No,” he replied, then yawned. “It’s late. I’d like to turn the lights out and get some sleep. Your people are free to ask questions and assist if they get any time to themselves, but I and my students need our rest.”

“Of course, professor. My apologies.”

“The lights were on. You are welcome here and there is always water here for you and your people.”

She thanked him and left the tent, still a little shaken from the images of the two dead creatures on the tables and the distracting scent of Professor Vishinu. She walked back to their own tent, command post for this babysitting operation.

“Sit down, guys,” she said as she walked in. They knew they weren’t supposed to get formal on her, but the new guy, Pilillo, had a tendency to salute a little too often. “Anything?”

“Not a thing, Lieutenant. If we’re going to get hit, we’ll know. But the satellites show not even air activity within two thousand slais of this place. Before the war we might have even seen nomads in this desert, but not now. It’s just us.”

“Scrid? Got a sec?” She canted her head towards the outside.

“Sure.” He rose from his chair and joined her outside. Looking up, he took a deep breath and sighed. “Sure is beautiful. No light pollution.”

“Scrid? Have I been doing this too long?”

He turned to her and shrugged. “What does that mean, Kamaku?”

“I don’t know. I just– I took a look inside the Professor’s tent and I was just locked up. What they’re doing is interesting. They’re actually finding the story of what this world used to be like. No theater, no stories, nothing like that at all. It’s really strange. And the professor…” She sighed. “I need to get laid.”

“I’m always available,” Scridaya joked.

“We tried that, remember? I think I’d rather drop out an APC without a parachute.”

“Was I that bad?” he asked.

She put a hand on his shoulder consolingly. “We were that bad for each other, Scrid, and you know it. There’s no way. Besides, I don’t care how the Pendorians do it. It’s bad for discipline.”

He nodded, not hiding the disappointment on his face. “So, this need to get laid. Did it have anything to do with meeting the professor?”

“You’re too damned perceptive for your own good, Scrid.”

Scridaya chuckled. “Well, he does have that rugged, handsome look you go for, And he’s not military. He seems an okay guy.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“My pleasure, Lieutenant. Always glad to be of help to an old friend.” She laughed at the sad irony of it. “You should turn in, Kama,” Scridaya continued, using the shortened from of her name. “Gonna be a long couple of days. I’ll wake you up if there’s anything to be worried about.”

“Thanks, Scrid. G’night.”


Two days passed without much to show for them. She checked in with the high command twice a day and no change in her status was ordered. When she asked what, exactly, was her status, the officer at the other end told her she would find out eventually.

She hated that part of the job. Secret missions were not her style.

She spent part of her time with the professor and his students. They were a good bunch, all typically younger than she, except for the professor; none of them were anti-military, a change from the campus mentality prior to the war. Only one of the students seem to harbor any intellectual resentment toward the military, calling them “the social organization that most epitomized our failure to achieve utopia.” She gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The work held her fascination more than anything else. The students here really were digging up the past. They had managed to pull a few more artifacts out of the installation they had found. Among them were a few static images, photographs, of the creatures whose bones now lay on tables pushed into a corner of on overcrowded tent. She watched as the students pored over what little they had found aside– some fragments of clothing, piece of electronic equipment, what was visibly a medical kit. The photos were the most fascinating and gave more clues about the coloring of the creatures. They had been much taller than llerkin but the coloration looked similar enough that she could believe the two species had been related. The wide spaced eyes and open, clearly amused muzzles gave away a species with intelligence and humor, and the clothes they wore showed them to be creative, colorful, and more like than unlike the people who came after them.

She also found herself getting inexplicably angry at times. She would find herself leaving the tent to walk in the desert, only later to recognize the clenched jaw and tightened fists of rage. The desert absorbed her anger, though. It’s bleak and unchanging horizon of fine sand held her attention, bleeding the strange hatred from her.

Tonight she had stormed from the tent after spending only an hour or so with the students and the crew and had just started walking in a straight line, not paying any attention to where she was going until she finally just sat down and stared up at the sky.

“You’ve felt it.” She whirled at the sound of a llerkin voice and found Professor Vishinu standing behind her. It was obvious what he referred to. She nodded, embarrassed, but suddenly curious. Did he feel it too?

He answered her question before she even asked it aloud. “All of my students have felt it. Usually it’s fear but two told me that the work made them angry. We weren’t sure if it would affect llerki who didn’t work with it for the kinds of time we spent in there.” He gestured. “May I have a seat?”

“There’s plenty of sand.”

He sat down next to her, looking more like the adventurer than the leafhead she usually thought of him. Maybe it was the parachute pants with the huge pockets and the sportsmel’s vest. The kind of gear military people wear. Sensible work clothes. He gave her a smile. “We think it’s deliberate.”

“What? That seeing those old bodies makes me angry?”

“Yes. We’re guessing, but we think that someone implanted in our genes a fear of these things, like people have fear of creepy crawlies.” He held out a hand. “Ramus.”

“Kama,” she said, giving his hand a perfunctory shake. “So why would someone do that?”

“I don’t know. Oh, my students, they have many ideas. The best one is that whoever put us here put that in us so that we wouldn’t want to dig up the past and find things that might be dangerous to us.”

She laughed. “I guess I should count myself lucky that whoever they were, they decided not to make us horny instead.”

“Yes. Of course, one can be angry for a long time. Arousal, seen with the other eye, can be put to rest quickly and for quite a while.” He gave her a smile.

“There are people aroused by anger.”

“I’ve worked with a few of those,” he mused. “It’s funny. During the Exodus, I spent some time in Egypt. That’s a region on Earth with a great deal of history and, so, archeology. I never felt it there. The anger.”

“So it’s specific to llerkin?” she asked “Or to those skeletons?”

“I don’t know.” He held out something in his hands. “Water?”

“Thank you.” She drank from the offered canteen deeply, then handed it back. “Stillcan?” she asked.

“Couldn’t survive without them,” he said. “I would hate to have to ship in water every day.”

“They always taste funny.” She gave him a smile. “So, Ramus, are you, um, paired with anyone at the moment?”

“I can’t say that I am. Why, are you looking?”

She looked away. “Ah, you wouldn’t be interested in me.”

“Why? Because you’re a soldier?”

“Something like that,” she said with an embarrassed grin. “I called you a leafhead when I first got here.”

“Fair enough. I told my students we were getting a few sovras,” he said, referring to a large, primitive bipedal animal that had existed before the Sinox War. There was talk of reviving the species. “You’re not quite so primitive though. Quite lovely, actually.”

She warmed to the compliment. “I’m primitive enough,” she hinted. “Besides, don’t compare me to my people. They didn’t go through OCS, where they teach us manners.”

He laughed. “Good, because leafheads never learn manners. Our brains are so crammed full of what we do that there’s no room for manners.”

“So there’s no protocol for asking the good professor to a date?”

“No,” he said, rising to the game she had already begun. “None at all.”

“Then is this out of the question?” she asked, closing the distance between them. She kissed his mouth softly.

“Absolutely,” he whispered. He surprised her by returning the kiss. “I have to admit to being curious to what’s hiding under all that gear.”

She smiled wide. “They don’t show a whole lot, do they?”

“No,” he said. His lips pressed against her, open-mouthed. His hands touched her chest. Fingers adroitly opened a button, allowing one hand into her shirt. She moaned involuntarily at the press of his cool hand against her hide. Her heartbeat pulsed in the tips of her ears. She let one hand find its way up his leg. She was surprised at the firm muscles she felt through his clothing, but this was no behind-the-desk guy, he was out here on an adventure.

A beeping sound at her belt caught her attention. Frustrated but dutiful, she keyed the radio. “Yo.”

“We got something comin’ in real fuckin’ fast, Lieutenant. Real fast. Three aircraft from the south at just over supersonic.”

She jumped to her feet. “Come on. Scrid, get the civilians covered! Get the decoys lit and hot!”

“The lights are out, the lights are on,” came the reply. “We got the kids in a cover tent and dual antiairs up side-by-side.”

“Good!” She was running back to the tents. She didn’t even know if Ramus was behind her.

“HQ says they’re dropping a squad of fighters from orbit but they won’t be here for twelve minutes.”

A boom broke her concentration as the invaders flew overhead, their engines screaming in their wake. Blue fire lit up the night sky as gauss cannon needles heated up in their flight through the air. They may as well have been energy weapons. An explosion went up a short distance away. “They went for the decoys, Kama.”

“Take em down, Scrid.”

“Working on it.” Missiles arced into the blackness, disappearing downrange as they chased their prey. The darkness Scridaya had produced was effective; she knew she had run in the right direction by her compass and she knew she had run far enough, but she still couldn’t find the command tent through the optothermal camouflage.

There was nothing she could do anyway. This was the soldiers’ fight. If she needed to know something, Scridaya would let her know. This was how the fight was fought, let the sergeant do his job.

A fireball lit up in the distance. “Two down,” Scridaya shouted into her ear. Two? When had the first one gone down? It didn’t matter; she would replay it afterward to see what could be improved, if anything.

“Oh, fuck. Kama, radio off! They know where you are! Radio off!”

Panicked, she turned the radio switch to off. She couldn’t hear anything; the guns were silent, the one fire she could see distant, and she was as alone as she could possibly feel in the middle of a barren desert. She waited.

Electrical sounds like a transformer about to explode erupted not five meters from her, and only a few meters beyond that a beam lanced the sky, starting red, then becoming yellow, then blue, more tungsten steel barbs of gauss ammo glowing in flight. It would have been lovely if she hadn’t known the purpose.

A light appeared in the sky, coming right toward her. It had to be the enemy plane. It was coming closer, faster. New lights appeared in the corners of her eyes, ground-to-air missiles fired by artillery pressure caps, up to speed even before leaving the barrels, closing on the target. The enemy aircraft pulled up and away but it was already doomed. Her team was better equipped than it and the missiles, the gauss cannon, they had it. It exploded in flight, a beautiful fireball right before her eyes. Then she realized it was still coming toward her. It was falling down in the same arc it had been following upward, the same straight line that led right over her position.

Instinctively, she reacted, running at a ninety degree angle to the line of flight, running away from this falling angel of death. She ran as the cold desert air burned at her lungs and robbed her throat of water.

The desert lit like noon. The shockwave made it all go away.


“Lieutenant, can you hear me?”

The voice was right in her ear and it startled her. She reacted by trying to get away, then realized that she could barely move. “Yes,” she said angrily. “Ouch.” She opened her eyes.

“That’s better. I am Major Scame, physician to Her Majesty’s Military Forces. You are in good hands. You are somewhat injured. You have a concussion, three fractured ribs, a broken leg, and a punctured eardrum. All will heal eventually, but I recommend you take it easy. We are reinforcing this area now that we know that the professor’s find is indeed significant to the Conspiracy. All of your men are well, although Professor Vishinu was also near the crash site and was similarly injured to yourself.”

She looked around. The small size of the room indicated an aircraft medical bay. “Are we still in the desert?”

“Yes. You are on medical leave, but Sergeant Scridaya is handling your people well in your absence.”

She sagged against the pillow. She felt tired. She rested.

It was another two days before they let her out of bed. The nanochine had prioritized her leg; her chest was still wrapped and she couldn’t hear out of one ear. She kept turning her head to the side; it would probably take a while to adjust to the fact that sense wasn’t there, and when it returned it would probably be just as long before she adjusted to having it back.

She stumbled her way over to the command tent and peeked inside. “Kam… I mean, Lieutenant! Are you supposed to be out of bed?”

“No, Scrid, but did you think I was going to leave you sandfleas out here without me?”

“No, sir.” He grinned. “Quite the fuckup.”

“Ah,” she said, “You did fine. We’re all alive, they’re all dead.”

“That’s one way to look at it.”

“That’s the only way to look at it.” She saw the look on his face. “What?”

“I never fired a shot in combat before. I mean, I killed six llerki.”

“That’s what they pay you for. To take that action after I give the orders.”

He nodded. His face was screwed into a tight mask of discomfort. “Kinda new.”

“Don’t get used to it.”

Ramus’s voice interrupted any reply Scridaya may have made. “Excellent advice, Lieutenant.”

A flood of excitement swept through her. He looked to be in much better shape than she. “It’s good to see you in one piece,” she said.

“You too. Although I hear they picked two pieces up off the desert floor.”

She reached down and knocked on the chromed sheath about her lower leg. “They didn’t tell me it was that bad.”

“It was that bad.” He grinned. “By the way, we have much more of the story now.”

“Oh?”

He told her of the Western Conspiracy and it’s attempt to create confusion by killing Anlestin. She listened with rapt attention to Scridaya’s confirmation of the failed coup d’etat within the Army and the continued rebellion of several legions. She could hardly believe it; they were acting like their allegiance was to their local governors, which was especially absurd after the Exodus. Finally, the story seemed to be coming to a close when she asked, “Where do you come in, Professor?”

“That is the strangest part of this mystery. It would seem the Western Conspiracy had tried to create a supersoldier, and they modeled it on our creatures. The prelkin. We think that what they have are prelkin, genetically revived. We don’t know how that’s possible. The laboratory where this was done is another planet, now in her Majesty’s control, thanks to the Space Forces.” He paused. “What’s very odd, it seems that the prelkin have this reaction that you experienced when they are touched, but that our people are reporting no such feelings of animosity toward living prelkin.”

She tried to imagine that reaction. “That’s weird. Anything else?”

“Well, you could say that Shardik is again at the center of it. It seems that the Conspiracy used animosity toward him as a rallying point, and he was present at the discovery of the prelkin base.”

“Anything else?”

“That’s about it so far,” Scridaya said.

“Keep me updated.”

“Will do.”


That night, she took another walk around the perimeter. This had become a full-blown emplacement, mobile howitzers and gauss tanks, the big kind, spaced in defensive rings about the seemingly innocuous tent where the past was being resurrected piece by piece. Darkness had been banished from the night; where the Army had gone small and stealthy, the Air Force had gone big, brash, and bright.

“It is a little different now,” Ramus’ voice shook her out of her reverie as she looked into the night sky. “Fewer stars with the lights on. Too many eyes all looking down now at us.”

“Us, specifically?” she asked.

He smiled. “Perhaps us not specifically.”

“I’m off duty for a while,” she said, hoping he would take the hint.

He did. “So. If you’re off duty, Kama, would you like to go somewhere away from prying eyes and resume the conversation we were having before the war broke out?”

“I’d like that,” she said.

“My tent is this way. I can’t promise it’s any more comfortable than your hospital bed has been, but at least it’s private.” He offered his hand, and she accepted it.

She could still feel the twinges in her chest, and her leg was still weak, but as they walked toward the green personal tent set near the perimeter her hearts began to beat in time, louder, faster. She knew that she’d probably hurt herself more doing this, but as they stepped closer she became more and more convinced that she needed it. She had almost died. They’d picked her up “in pieces” and assembled her together again. She was feeling an intense need to prove that she was still here, one person, and desirable. Ramus and she had begun something back there, out on the sands, before the bombs had dropped.

They stepped into the tent and he closed the flap behind him. “All the comforts of home,” he said. “Environmental module keeps it down to a nice 400 or so. I can’t do anything about the dryness.”

“It’s nicer than what they give us rockheads.” She smiled and looked at him. “I’m hurt.”

“So am I,” he said. “I’ll be careful.” He stepped closer to him until they were virtually eye-to-eye, then leaned closer to her and kissed her on the cheek. She felt his kiss spread through her like some magical thing, taking on a life of its own as it spread across her cheek and down her neck into her belly. It took its time getting between her thighs, but she didn’t care. She was looking up at him, convinced that she had to have that strong mouth, those gentle eyes. She grabbed him by the lapels of his sand jacket and pulled him to her, then kissed him hard. He groaned as their mouths met, their lips parting. He kissed pretty well.

She let him go and searched his face. “There’s no one back home I should worry about, is there?”

“Not for a while,” he said. “You?”

She shook her head. “It never seems to work for me.”

“Then let’s not try to make this ‘work’,” he said. “Let’s just comfort each other.”

His words so closely matched what she’d been thinking moments before that she grabbed him and embraced him to her chest. “Oh, Ramus,” she gasped. “You have no idea how badly I needed to hear you say something like that.” She felt her own effort across the torn muscles above her ribs, but she didn’t care. “I need you.”

His big hands were around her waist and touching her ass before she could react. “I know what you mean.” He didn’t seem to be touching her lasciviously; it just seemed to be the way his hands had landed when he’d chosen to hold her.

But she wanted him to want her that way. She wanted to be desirable. “Ramus,” she whispered. “Do you want me?”

“Oh, yes,” he said. “You have no idea how hard it is, being a teacher, avoiding any sense of favoritism, fighting against the instincts all men have. We had been out here for weeks, with barely any sense of privacy, and all of the communications gear in the world can’t put us in touch with people so far away. And then you come along– so strong and capable. I guess I expect all of those things in a rockhead. But you were curious, too, which was such a nice plus. And you’re beautiful.”

Kama turned her head away. “I don’t know about that.”

“I do,” Ramus said. His mouth was warm and inviting. As they kissed, she felt his hands find the clasps of her sand jacket. He pushed it off her shoulders, exposing the simple tank-top underneath. His warm hands explored her shoulders, his touch light enough to make her shiver in delightful ways. “You do dress like a rockhead, though.”

She giggled. “Do you dress like a professor?”

He shrugged off his sand jacket and exposed the tunic he wore underneath. She examined the rugged khaki pants and narrow t-shirt and decided she like what she saw. “You don’t dress like a professor.”

“Not in the field, no. Although I wear a cravat when I teach.”

She stroked his chest gently with her fingertips. He seemed solid enough, then on impulse reached back and pulled off her tank-top. He did the same with his tunic. “I’m not so injured as you,” he said, his hands stroking the white strips of bandage that held her ribs together to let them knit properly.

“I’ll live.”

“Have you ever been wounded so badly?” he asked.

She shook her head, feeling confessional as she did so. “Nothing like this. A broken leg once during a police action when I was new, about a decade ago. I was stupid and didn’t have my shin shields properly seated.”

“I’m glad you’re in one piece then,” he said with a smile. He held out his hand and when she took it he led her to the bed. It was little more than a frame with a thin mattress over it, but it was comfortable enough, certainly better than the portable she had been using for the past week and far better than her own cot. She was almost disappointed to have to share it with the good professor.

Ramus joined her, kicking off his shoes as he sat down next to her. Silently, she leaned against him, kissing his mouth again, her narrow tongue silently seeking all the sweet textures of his hide, the tiny scales under his lip, the broader ones of his chin. He murmured something appreciative as she kissed his neck. There was no hesitation in her actions, and no restraint in his; if she needed to consume someone he was willing to be offered up. She kissed his broad chest, sliding across the unmarked expanse of muscle and hide, watching his breath come in and out, his ribs rising and falling. Self-consciously, one hand slid across her own chest, wrapped in bandages and hiding the long scar she had from that same “police action” many years ago.

She kissed his flat, pale belly, equally unmarked by the passage of time. “Ramus?” she asked, “Have you ever had any scar editing?”

“A few. One of my calf, down there. Childhood trauma. And my finger was cleaned up. Another one; caught it on a fence and tore it lengthwise. Why?”

“I can’t figure out how old you are.”

“A hundred and twenty three.” She looked up at him. He nodded. “I was born in 908, the year Pendor and llerkin worked out the Immortality Codes for our kind. Why?”

“I’m just thirty-three,” she said. “I was born on the Reach.”

“I was just over twenty when the war happened,” he said. “I spent most of my life on the Reach, too.”

She kissed his belly, reaching the hem of his pants. With one hand, she opened the buttons and spotted the elastic of his underwear. Underneath it, she saw his erection pressing against the fabric. She had expected to giggle when she saw it, or be amused, but instead she felt something else: hunger. Desire. It had been too long since she had had sex that the mere possibility made her own cunt wet with need.

“Help me,” she whispered up at him, and he smiled, lifting his hips and sliding the entire ensemble off in one awkward motion. It landed on the ground with a ruffle of fabric. His erection slapped up against his pelvis, an average-sized thing. Her fingers reached out stroked the exposed underside of it, making it twitch delightfully. She explored the pale, unmarked shaft, the thin, blue veins visible underneath the translucent skin. They covered the white flesh in a net so delicate seamstresses had worked once worked themselves blind to duplicate it in Royal colors, and Ramus had a very handsome example. His cock tapered to a point of white and blue where the veins encircled the twin openings at the tip.

She touched the lip where his cock emerged from its hiding place, then down between his legs to his butt for a moment before coming back up to stroke him gently. He groaned.

She opened her mouth to touch his cock, starting at the base. He tasted good, the feel of his skin on her tongue was electrifying. Between her legs something demanded what her mouth already had and Kama had to tell both of them to shut up and wait their turns. She licked her way along the length of his cock, up to the head, taking it into her mouth and sliding its rigid length down into the back of her throat. She closed her lips about it even as she heard him voice his approval in deep, guttural tones, his hands on her head, touching her ears. She whimpered but did not stop her assault on his cock.

She managed to get it to the back of her throat before her gag reflex stopped her. She held onto it with her lips while his body tensed even from the little touches she was giving him. She pulled off and held the tip just at her lips, turning her head to look up at him. “Been a while?”

“Too long,” he said.

“Me too.” She opened the clasp to her pants as he watched, dropping them to the ground. Her right leg, the one that had been sewed back on by the doctors, complained as she straddled him and positioned her cunt right over his cock and she ignored it. A concern other than her injuries was driving her on. Her fingertips guided his cock to her cunt, and she slowly eased it home. The conical tip found its way into the bell of her cunt and slid upward, two perfectly interlocking parts. She pressed herself down onto him until his cock was nuzzled up against the far wall of her wet tunnel, just around from the little pinch that marked the real border from her insides and the outside world.

She had her hands on his chest, and began stroking herself back and forth, the tip of his hard erection swinging within its arc inside her body, stimulating her insides in ways that were meant to open her up and accept his come. It wouldn’t work, not when she was on hormones, but it felt so good just to have a man inside her again, fucking her once more.

Her leg faltered and she nearly fell to one side with a cry. Ramus caught her and guided her down to the bed, then very gently eased her legs up to her chest, exposing her cunt. He slipped into her wordlessly, and she lay back, willing herself to be open to him.

His cock was neither particularly large or small, just right. It filled her, but didn’t threaten to make her sore. His strong body above hers, thrusting up and down, swung inside her in ways that made her body tingle from her belly to her shoulders. She wanted to lie there forever, subject to his needs, surrendering to him. She was alive and Ramus’s thrusting, groaning body above her confirmed that like nothing else. His chest was heaving. His arms were taut with the effort. He was close. She knew the signs, had known them since she was a teenager, could feel them in herself. She would come when he did. He had done his job well.

His thrusting became frantic, mad with need, and suddenly he groaned out and came inside her. She felt her body clamp down hard on his cock and try to pull him inside her, and she was rewarded with the ecstasy of her own climax as she came about him. It was the sweetest sensation she thought she had ever experienced.

Ramus dropped down on top of her, making her grunt an “oof!” “Sorry,” he muttered. “Wow.”

She grinned, although he couldn’t see it, and hugged him. Her ribs ached, first from his fall, then from her hug. She didn’t care. “Thank you,” she whispered in his ear, kissing his cheek. “Thank you so much.”

“Shouldn’t I be saying that?” he asked.

“No,” she said. “I needed that much more than you did.”

“I’ll have to take your word on that.”

She nodded. “Thank you, Ramus.” She kissed his cheek again, and this time he turned his head to kiss her in return. Their bodies warmed against each other, making Kama feel tired. She could feel it in him as well.

He stroked her body afterwards, playing with her breasts, caressing her gently. Eventually, though, he said, “You should probably go back to your tent. It’s… Xhal, it’s after dark! Well, so much for the appearance of propriety.”

She felt a wave of lethargy pass over her and fought off the momentary leaden feeling in her eyelids. “You’re probably right. I should go back to bed.” She stood up and pulled on her shorts. “We should do this again.”

He reached up from where he sat on the bed and took her hand. “You’re right. We should. You’re a good lover, Kama.”

She turned away, the tips of her ears warming as she pulled the tank-top over her head. “Nobody’s said that to me in a long time.”

“Well, come back and I’ll say it again.”

She grinned. “It’s a deal.”