Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Academy Post #21



Notes:  A bit longer than usual today, and we’re digging in a little deeper.  More Kyle this time around, because he’s interesting, damn itJ  Enjoy!

Title: The Academy

Part Twenty-One:  A Series of Unfortunate Events


***


He was alive.  That was the important thing, the only thing Cody could remember to check.  Marcys was alive, Cody could feel his pulse in his neck, irregular but there.

                Hermes was projecting something, but it took Cody a moment to tune back in.  “—response team headed to your location.  My visuals don’t indicate any immediate danger, but you should remain on your guard.”

                “I’ll stay,” Cody said immediately.  He pulled back the camouflage covering Marcys’ head and winced when he saw the fine pattern of burns all over his face.  It was like someone had thrown a net over his head, then set it on fire.  Which was stupid, but…  “What happened?”

                “I am still ascertaining that.”

                “But you saw it, right?”

                I am still ascertaining that.”

                Something was wrong.  Hermes didn’t prevaricate, he was programmed to be helpful, not obtuse.  Maybe he wasn’t allowed to fill Cody in, or maybe…maybe he hadn’t seen anything.  The thought made Cody shiver.

                “Cody?”

                Cody half-turned in the grass and looked over his shoulder at the newcomer.  “Kyle!”  His whole body flooded with relief.  Kyle was a senior cadet, he was smart, he was calm.  He could help.  “I just found him like this, Hermes is sending a medical team, he’s still alive, but I don’t know what to do for him right now, I don’t even know if I should be touching him—”

                “It’s okay,” Kyle said, coming over and kneeling down next to Cody.  He checked Marcy’s pulse too, then frowned.  “Why can I only see his head?”

                “It’s a type of camouflage he’s working on, it makes him really hard for most people to see, the pattern…there’s something about it evolving and reasons it doesn’t work on—” Almost too late, Cody realized Kyle didn’t know that he was a natural.  “I saw him when I came in earlier,” Cody continued, shifting topics awkwardly.  Kyle didn’t seem to notice, staring hard at Marcys’ face.  “When I came back out he was gone, but I saw scuff marks in the grass that led me over here.  I found him like this.”

                “All right.”  Kyle looked over at Cody, and his eyes were so intense that Cody actually jumped a little as the weight of that stare settled in on him.  “But you’re okay?  Nothing strange happened to you?”

                “Not apart from finding him like this,” Cody replied.

                “Good.”  Kyle’s lips parted, like he was considering saying something else, but then the medical team arrived, and Cody and Kyle were pushed out of the way so that they could do their work.  More people wandered over to gape, and one of them was Phil, who ran to Cody’s side and tried to get closer, her eyes wide with fear. 

                “What happened?” she demanded.  “You never came to meet me, I’ve been trying to contact you for five minutes but Hermes wouldn’t let my messages through, something about you being “indisposed” and still nothing from Marcys…is that Marcys?  What happened to him?”

                “I don’t know,” Cody replied honestly.  “He’s alive, though.”

                Phil blanched.  “There was a chance he could be dead?  She started to force herself through to his side, and Cody knew he should do something, hold her back or say something that would get her to calm down, but he couldn’t.  His head felt swimmy, like it did sometimes after a really exciting ride on his hover bike, but instead of lifting him up the sensation seemed to drag him down instead, a weight inside his chest that pulled him forward.

                “Sit down,” Kyle said, maneuvering Cody over to the bench.  “Head between your knees.  Take deep, slow breaths with me, okay?  One.”  He inhaled noisily, and Cody just barely managed to copy him.  “And out.  Again.”  He took one of Cody’s hands and pressed it to his chest, inhaling, and that made it easier.  The front of Kyle’s uniform was comfortingly familiar, the press of buttons warmed by body heat smooth against Cody’s palm.  He took deep breaths, and gradually the sick, disconcerting feeling drained away.

                Cody sighed and sat up, but Kyle didn’t immediately release his hand, just looked at him again.  His eyes were a strange blend of pale and dark, light central irises expanding into a thick black band surrounding the color.  Cody vaguely wondered if they were modified for anything.  “Thanks,” he said quietly.

                “It’s no problem,” Kyle replied.  “Adrenaline hits everyone differently.”

                “It’s never made me feel like this before.”  Weak. Cody shrugged uncomfortably and looked down at his lap.  “I’m fine now, I was just…worried, I guess.”

                Kyle finally let go of his hand and set next to him on the bench, close enough that their shoulders touched.  “You had good reason to be.  Finding someone like that would scare anyone.”  Cody shrugged again, embarrassed after the fact.  “When my dad’s ship was attacked when I was nine, I didn’t remember anything from the time the alarm started blaring to when our escape pod was recovered, I was so out of it.”

                That got Cody’s attention.  Kyle had never shared anything really personal before, although to be honest his past was an open book thanks to his brother’s position as President.  Cody knew he’d lost his father at a young age, but… 

                “I know, from looking at security footage of the attack, that my dad put me into the pod himself,” Kyle continued.  “He hugged me and he kissed me goodbye, but I don’t actually remember any of it.  It’s all one big blank.  For a long time I hated the fact that I’d forgotten it, but eventually I came around to accepting that it’s just a physiological response.  There was nothing I could have done at that age to change my reaction, and there’s nothing you could have done differently here to make your response any better.  You got help, you made sure he was still alive…that’s more presence of mind than a lot of people would have under the circumstances.”  Kyle looked away.  “It’ll be easier to deal with next time.  The rush, I mean.  Even terror can be something you become conditioned to handle.”

                “I don’t think I want that,” Cody confessed.

                “No one does,” Kyle said.  “But you’re joining the Federation military, and depending on your specialty you could be sent anywhere, expected to do almost anything.  There’s a lot of stuff out there that we still don’t understand, and even when we do understand it, it can still be brutal.  Exploration, territory defense, mining expeditions...nothing we do is completely safe.”

                Like my dads and Liberty.  The most advanced planet in the Federation, and yet one of the most dangerous places as well.  Cody shivered unintentionally and Kyle frowned.  “Are you still feeling okay?”

                “I’m fine,” Cody assured him.  “I feel fine.”

                “Cadet Helms?”  He and Kyle looked up at one of the Academy security officers, standing in front of them with a grimace on his face.  “You need to accompany us to the administration building.”

                “Can’t you take his statement here?” Kyle rejoined, and Cody was suddenly, breathlessly glad to have someone on his side.  Not that he had done anything wrong, he knew that, but still, it was nice to have the support.

                “Admiral Liang himself has asked for Cadet Helms to come to his office.”

                “You should have started with that,” Kyle said, but he stood up and offered Cody a hand.  Cody took it, even though he was pretty sure he could get up on his own at this point.  They followed the officer to Admin, and he left them at the door to Admiral Liang’s antechamber.  The Master Sergeant was waiting for them there.  He frowned when he saw Kyle. 

                “What have you got to do with this mess, Senior Cadet?”

                “Nothing, Chief,” Kyle replied.  “Just helping out a friend.”

                “Since when have you been friends with random plebes?”

                It wasn’t said maliciously, but Cody still felt the sting of Chief Jessup’s words.  It was kind of true; he wasn’t in Kyle’s specialty or a Legacy.  It was amazing they had ever met at all.

                “Since he beat me on the racing track,” Kyle said.  Jessup’s double take was gratifying, and Cody stood a little straighter. 

                “Well, you can leave him now.  The Admiral will see you in a few minutes,” he said to Cody.

                “I’d rather stay, Chief,” Kyle interjected as the Master Sergeant began to turn away.

                Jessup turned back with raised eyebrows.  “And I believe I just gave you a directive, Senior Cadet.  Your friend will be fine by himself.  Go about your business.”

                Kyle’s mouth tightened a fraction, but his pleasant voice didn’t change at all.  “Yes, sir.  Cody, I’ll see you tomorrow at club.”

                At club…right, Grennson had changed it to tomorrow from today when it became apparent that none of them were going to be completely sober in time.  “Okay,” Cody said.  “Thank you.”  For helping me, for talking to me, for telling me about yourself.

                Kyle smiled brightly.  “It was my pleasure.  Chief.”  He snapped off a salute, then left.

                “Come and sit down, Cadet,” Master Sergeant Jessup said, pointing to a bench.  “It won’t be long.”

                “Yes, sir.”  Cody sat.  The master sergeant sat across from him, but kept working on his holotab. 

                Cody was vaguely aware of the hum of Hermes in his head.  He could feel the activity centered around his implant: someone, or more likely several someones, were trying to contact him.  Hermes was blocking the messages from getting through, though.  He put his hand on the wall and shut his eyes.

                “No chatter, son.”

                Cody looked over at Jessup, startled.  “What?”

                “No chatter, no outside communication of any kind right now.  This room has been secured against it, and Hermes wouldn’t have answered you anyway right now, but you might as well know.”

                “My quad mates might be worried.”

                Jessup snorted.  “Knowing that lot, they probably are.  You can talk to them when you’re done here, about what the Admiral allows you to say.  Until then they’ve been informed that you’re unharmed, so they won’t worry too much.”

                “Thank you, sir.”  Cody sat up straight, not liking the feedback he got when his back touched the wall.  His spine still quivered every few seconds, a tiny tremor, but enough to remind him that just a few minutes ago he’d been having what felt like a panic attack.  He was tired, and he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and he missed his dads…Cody clenched his jaw firmly.  He wasn’t about to embarrass himself in front of the master sergeant.

                The admiral’s door opened.  “Go on in,” Jessup said.

                “Yes, sir.”  He went.

                Admiral Liang’s office was festooned with layer upon layer of holo feed.  They looked like different security vantages from around the Academy grounds, and they shimmered lightly as Cody stepped through them toward the desk.  “Cadet Helms.”  Admiral Liang swept a hand, and the footage faded away to reveal his very normal office.  “Thank you for waiting.”

                “Sir.”  Cody immediately breathed easier.  He knew people like Admiral Liang, hell, he was related to people like this man.  Where the master sergeant seemed dismissive, Admiral Liang just felt…competent.  It was like being with Robbie, or Miles.

                “Sit, please.”  Cody sat.  “Cadet, I’d like you to recount what happened outside of Hephaestus today.  Not just finding Marcys, but everything before and after that, anything of note that stood out to you.”

                “Yes, sir.”  Cody went through his morning, from getting Phil’s message and heading out to looking for Marcys outside, and what led to finding him against the wall.  He didn’t hide his naturalism from the admiral; undoubtedly the man already knew about it.

                “Intriguing project,” Admiral Liang said a bit absently once Cody was done.  “And you did just the right thing, contacting Hermes immediately.  Up against the wall…dragged…and there were no other witnesses there, no people standing around you?”

                “None close,” Cody said, then, daring, asked, “Don’t the holo feeds verify all of this?”

                Admiral Liang smiled thinly.  “There was a disruption in the system that Hermes couldn’t account for fast enough.  We lost some of our data.  Please keep that to yourself, Cody.”

                Oh.  Shit.  “Yes sir,” Cody said, a little numbly.  Then, “Is Marcys going to be okay?”

                Admiral Liang steepled his fingers.  “Regen will set him physically to rights in fairly short order, but the particular technique that was used to knock him out did severe damage to his brain.  Our doctors will do their best for him, of course.”

                “He could be brain damaged?”

                “His brain will come back to full functionality,” Admiral Liang clarified.  “But if it was damaged with enough severity, he might have lost a great deal of his memory and motor control.  Marcys will wake up, but there’s no telling what, if anything, he will remember about his life or his education.”  He sighed.  “I’m telling you this, Cody, because I want you to take precautions.  I’m sure your fathers already spoke to you about this, but this is a time of great political fluctuation within the Federation.  I will continue to do my utmost to make this campus secure for all cadets, but no one can guard against everything.”

                “Why Marcys?” Cody asked quietly.  “If someone was after me?”

                “We don’t know that anyone was,” Admiral Liang cautioned.  “Don’t jump to unwarranted conclusions.  It entirely possible that Marcys was the target, or that he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, thanks to his camouflage.  The point in, for right now we simply don’t know.  So be careful.”

                “Yes, sir.”

                “Try not to be out alone.  Keep one of your quad mates with you whenever you can,” the admiral continued.  “You trust them, don’t you?”

                “Absolutely.”  Cody wasn’t sure about anyone else at this point, but he trusted his quad.

                Admiral Liang smiled gently.  “Good.  I’m glad the four of you have worked things out.  Now, Cadet St. Florian is waiting to escort you back to your rooms, and if we let hir and the chief spend any more time together alone, the walls might spontaneously combust.”  He stood up and reached out his hand.  Cody shook, and the firm, warm grip was reassuring.  “I’m always here if you need me, Cadet,” Admiral Liang said.  “Don’t feel like you have to bear any of the weight I know you’re feeling on your own.”

                “Thank you,” Cody said.  “I appreciate it, sir.”

                “Good.  Now, go rescue my master sergeant.”

                Cody managed a little smile.  “Yes, sir.”  He headed out into the antechamber where, true to expectation, Ten was arguing with Jessup.

                “—acting as though this is some sort of official investigation, which is ludicrous on so many levels, because Cody is—”

                “Right here,” Cody interrupted.  “We can go now.”

                Ten eyed him doubtfully.  “No extra tracking device?  No interrogation?  You weren’t tortured in any way?”

                “Oh, for the love of God,” Jessup growled.  “This isn’t the damn Fringe.  Now get out of here.”

                Ten rounded on him again.  “I just have to make sure, considering the Academy is a completely biased feeder of talent and resources into the military-industrial complex of the Federation, which, if you recall, is currently fighting with itself!”

                “Ten.”  Cody set a hand on hir shoulder.  “I’m fine.  I’d like to go home, though.”

                Ten blinked, derailed for a moment.  “Then…we’ll do that.”  Ze scowled at Jessup, then proprietarily looped hir fingers around Cody’s wrist and pulled him out of the office.

                “Are you okay?” ze asked quietly as they left Admin and headed for Hebe.  “All we heard was that someone got hurt and you were there, and they wouldn’t let us contact you and we were starting to get really worried.  Well, Grennson and Darrell were, at least.”

                “Right,” Cody agreed.  “No, I’m fine.  Someone did get hurt, but…”  He sighed.  “I’ll tell you about it in the room, not out here.”

                “Too many eyes?”

                “Something like that,” Cody said.  “That and I’m tired and really want out of this uniform.”

                Ten frowned.  “I thought you weren’t hurt.  You’re acting very strangely, though.”

                “I just got a little upset after the fact.  Kyle was there, and he helped a lot.”

                Ten stopped abruptly.  “Kyle?  Alexander?  Kyle Alexander was there?”

                “Yes.”

                Why?”

                Cody shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Meeting someone in Hephaestus Tower, probably.”

                “At the exact time you needed ‘help’?”

                “Ten, what are you getting at?”

                Ten stood stock still for a moment, then grabbed Cody and hustled him along faster than ever.  “Maybe nothing.  I’ve got to check something out in our room, and you need to, I don’t know, hydrate, probably.  Grennson’s been cooking, so there’s that.  You’ll be fine.”

                “I will,” Cody agreed.  “I am.”

                For now.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

RainbowCon and other stuff!

Finally, a post about RainbowCon!

This was the inaugural year of RainbowCon, put on primarily by the owners of Storm Moon Press and taking place in Tampa, Florida.  For those of you who don't know, I live in Colorado, which meant flying out Wednesday, my man in tow, and getting into volunteer mode.

RainbowCon was meant to be a con that focused on more than just M/M fiction, and in that way it certainly delivered.  There were panels on writing YA, on F/F fiction, on writing trans characters, on self-publishing, on contracts, on...just about everything.  There was a trip to Ybor, the nightclub hotspot in Tampa, which I didn't participate in.  There were also male strippers as part of the welcome event,which...I did participate in.  What can I say, my man handed me some money and said go for it.  Then the awesome Lori Toland bought me a dance, and I was done.  Let's just say there's video of me out there on Facebook (which I'm cautiously approaching thanks to Anastasia Vitsky and my beloved readerwife) and leave it at that.

I got to meet a lot of great people, and some of my favorite authors!  It's pic time, so if you don't want to know what I look like, avert thine eyes.

First off, my absolute favorite author of M/M right now, if you haven't checked out her series I mourn for you: Jordan L. Hawk.  Read the Whyborne and Griffin series, guys, start with Widdershins and go from there.  It's so good.



I also got to see K-lee Klein again, who was out in Denver last year visiting for Pride--she is fun and awesome and has gorgeous tattoos, not to mention a step-and-fetch-it boy.  Lucky woman.



The LT3 Press people were also there, which was great because I got to meet Megan and Samantha Derr and their entourage, and also I'm publishing with them in, oh, a week or two, so--nice to know them.



I also went out to dinner at a very authentic Korean restaurant with Ana Vitsky and David Berger, and was introduced to barley tea and the feeling of being a small child.  Seriously, they had to get scissors from the back to cut some of the noodles because David and I couldn't handle them at their normal length.  Ana didn't laugh too hard, bless her.

Honestly, the best place to get pictures and see what was going on is the RainbowCon facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/rain.con.3  Needless to say at this point, it was a lot of fun and a good way for me to get used to new aspects of attending a con, like being a moderator, so if I can go next year I certainly will.

Other stuff, real quick:  I should be able to weather any disruptions to The Academy's posting schedule for the next month, hopefully.  Lots is happening--my readerwife and her husband are coming to visit this weekend, in fact--but I can handle it now, I think.  So, happy news for Tuesdays.

I've gotten an extension on my goodreads's group Love's Landscapes story, so it's now due on the 10th.  I just got too busy to adhere to my writing schedule, and the reprieve will help me make it a story worth reading.

My f/f novella Camellia, co-written with Caitlin Ricci, is available for preorder now.  It comes out on May 6th, and I'm really excited to be doing something different and challenging.  It's lesbian/BDSM (mild, all things considered)/based on a Japanese tea ceremony, so very different.  If you're moved to read it, I love you.  If not, well, you're reading my blog, so I still love you:)  I'm a bad disciplinarian, I'm afraid.

That's it for now...happy Thursday, darlins.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Academy Post #20


 

Notes:  Aaand we’re back!  RainbowCon was a lot of fun and I’ll tell you all about it soon, but first: the next installment of Academy.  Things are getting serious now and this chapter didn’t turn out at all like I expected it to, but I’m pretty pleased with how things are going so far. I hope you all enjoy it, and thanks again for putting up with the disruption in our normal posting scheduleJ

Title: The Academy

Part Twenty: Catch Up

***


                Cody would have liked nothing better than to spend the rest of his weekend lazing around in his quad, but there was a terse message from Phil waiting for him when he logged his implant into Hermes, informing him that he was getting behind on his independent study with her and he’d better put some time in in the lab today.  Which, yes, he hadn’t been there in a while, but he’d been busy.  It had nothing to do with her disapproval of his quad mates knowing about him, nothing at all.  Nope, none.  Nooope.

                Don’t be a coward, Cody chided himself as he unlocked the door and headed in to his room to get a change of clothes.  It was still early enough that no one else was up yet. If he was lucky he might be able to keep it that way, because talking shop with Phil was one thing but he was feeling a little bit fragile right now, and a more gentle touch might make him think too hard about his dads.  Screw what was going on here on Olympus, his fathers were headed to Liberty.  It was a huge planet, an old one, highly developed and heavily corrupted, and it didn’t matter how careful a planner you were, on a planet with that many people there was always something you wouldn’t see coming—

                “Could you bang around a little harder, I don’t think you’ve woken up the rest of the floor yet,” Ten hissed from hir bed, one hand flung dramatically over hir eyes.

                “Sorry,” Cody murmured, toeing his second shoe off a little more quietly as he stripped out of his pants and reached for a clean pair.  Fresh undershirt, another dress shirt to go on top of that...wait, where did he put his spare—

                “Second panel from the top,” Ten said, waving at Cody’s wall.  “Thank fuck these are smart fabrics, the way you throw them around.  Can you imagine having to get wrinkles out of those?”

                “I do actually know how to press a shirt,” Cody said, closing the dress shirt’s fixture and turning away briefly to add the new false button.  It wasn’t that he didn’t want to tell Ten about it, he just wanted to know a little more about it himself first.

                “Ah, right.  Some quaint chore that you had to learn during your idyllic childhood on far off Pandora.”

                “Actually, my…I learned that on Paradise.”  From Jack, his biological father, not that Cod had any intention of giving Ten the details on that any time soon.  Drifters didn’t often have access to the kind of technology that made smart cloth a good choice—it was so tear-resistant that you couldn’t alter an outfit to work for someone else, and then when you did finally manage to break it, you didn’t have access to the nanites that it required for a solid fix.  Some Drifters still wore cotton shirts, real Earth cotton, clothes that had been carefully cleaned and handed down for hundreds of years.  Nothing went to waste on a Drifter ship.

                “Hmmwhatever.”

                “Hey,” Cody remembered, reaching for the things he’d thrown onto the bed in his haste.  “I’ve got something for you.  It’s from Garrett.”

                “From Garrett?”  Ten sat up, immediately interested.  If Cody didn’t know better he’d feel jealous.   “What is it?”

                “I’m not sure.”  Cody passed the package over to Ten and watched hir tear the cloth sack open.  Ze reached inside and pulled out a—

                Cody tilted his head.  “What is that?”

                “Oh.”  Ten cradled the metallic semi-circle in hir hands, looking at it with wide eyes.  “Oh.  It’s a corona.”

                “A coronet?”  That would explain why it looked like a very slim, fragile crown.

                “No, idiot, a corona.  It’s a coronal transducer, it assimilates different inputs, everything from vibrations to sound waves to electric impulses and compiles and translates them when hooked into your implant jack.”  Ten lifted it up and looked at it worshipfully.  “The technology is amazing, it’s a great way to get all sorts of information about your surroundings that you wouldn’t otherwise get.  They can be concealed by hair if you adjust the frequencies, but they’re also very stylish at full power.”  Ten carefully set the shining circlet on top of hir head, tucking the ends of it around the very front of hir earlobes.  An inch above the metal Cody could just barely make out the iridescent shimmer of some sort of field.

                Ten looked over at Cody and grinned, and Cody stopped breathing for just a second.  “Isn’t it beautiful?” Ten asked, fluttering hir eyelashes.  The corona tamed hir hair, the shining metal framed hir face, and ze looked almost supernaturally ethereal to Cody.

                “Yes,” Cody said, because ze really was.  It was the first time he’d found Ten blatantly attractive, and it was…disconcerting.  Ten was his friend, his roommate, not someone he needed to be thinking about like that.  He was sure that Ten wouldn’t appreciate it.  Cody stood up quickly.  “I need to go meet Phil.”

                “Sounds hideously boring.  Have fun.”

                “Yeah, you too.”  Cody turned and left at a brisk pace, shaking his head a little bit.  Stupid, trying anything with Ten would be so stupid, and he couldn’t afford to be that way with Ten.  Not just because Cody was probably very inexperienced by comparison and Ten would certainly have no problem letting him know that, but also because Ten didn’t have many friends.  If there was one thing Cody knew how to be, it was a friend, and both of them needed that.  It was a good place for the two of them, a comfortable place, something he could live with.  He didn’t need to shake things up for no good reason.

                Besides, it wasn’t like other people didn’t turn his head as well.

                Speaking of which…he was supposed to meet Kyle today for some racing, and Cody was pretty sure he wasn’t going to make it.  He rolled his eyes, stopped to touch a wall and reached out with his implant.  “Hermes.”

                “Cadet Helms.”

                “I need to send a message to Senior Cadet Alexander.”

                “You should be able to do that on your own through your personal account, Cadet Helms.”

                “I know, but I’m not in my room and it’s hard for me to access outside of it.”

                “You should have a higher level of familiarity with the system by this point, Cadet.”

                Cody frowned.  “It gives me the worst headaches,” he muttered.  “Can you just help me out?”

                “I will assist you this time, Cadet, but you must apply yourself to mastering this basic use of your implant in the near future.  It will have an impact on your readiness for promotion within the Academy, and an eventual impact on your schoolwork as your courses become more complex.”

                “Thanks, Dad,” Cody joked.

                “I am not a parental figure, Cadet Helms.”

                “That’s good, because I don’t need another parent,” Cody replied.  “Please send this message to Cadet Alexander: It’s Cody, I’m sorry to cancel on you but I’ve got too much studying to do today.  Maybe tomorrow or next week?  Thanks.”

                “Sent.  Shall I inform you upon receipt of a reply?”

                “If you want to.  I can just pick it up when I get back to my room, too.”

                “It shall be good practice for you to receive it somewhere else.  I shall mark the message as urgent to encourage a hasty reply.”

                “Um…thank you.”  Cody let go of the wall and continued toward Hephaestus Tower.

                Marcys was sitting outside again, making notations as people passed him by.  He was clad in a metallic checkered pattern that seemed to shift a little in the early morning light.

                “Good morning,” Cody said.

                “Ah, perfect!  Come here.”  He came a little closer to Marcys, who spoke softly.  “I wanted a natural’s perspective on this blend.  How does it look to you?”

                “Better than the last one,” he said encouragingly.  “It’s sort of…fuzzier.”

                Marcys sighed.  “It works perfectly on everyone else who’s gone by.  I wish camouflage had never started relying on the effects of Regen for mutability.  Earthers were so much better at it, but very few of their original patterns are still on file.”

                “I’m sure you’ll come up with something good,” Cody replied.  “Have fun.”

                “It’s research, of course it’s fun.”

                Cody swept his hand over the lock and waited patiently for the door to open.  All towers had controlled entrances, but Hephaestus was more controlled than most because of its labs and sensitive projects.  A moment later the doors opened for him, and Cody stepped inside with a shiver.  Hephaestus Tower was louder and colder than all the others, colder to help maintain delicate electronic components, and louder because of the work the building went to to keep things from overheating. 

                Cody made his way to Phil’s lab and knocked on the door.  “Come in.”

                “Hey,” Cody said as he closed the door behind him.

                “You got here early,” Phil said, glancing up from the table where she was very carefully taking something apart.

                “I thought I should get a jump on things,” Cody replied a little sheepishly.  “Sorry I’ve been kind of AWOL this last week.”

                Phil shrugged.  “You had a lot to do, and I know your dads were visiting yesterday.  You’ve still got to get the power source under microscope two up and running again by tomorrow, though.”

                Ugh, power sources.  Cody didn’t mind fabricating his own things, but power sources were so messy.  “Fine,” he said.  He paused, fingering the inertial dampener on his jacket for a moment.  Maybe it would be a good idea to reverse engineer one of these, so he could make more.  It would probably be a great distraction for Phil, too…

                But it didn’t seem quite right to share them. Cody trusted Phil, of course he did, but Garrett had given him these with the idea that they were a last resort, something he had to keep secret.  Maybe later, if things stayed calm, he could tell her about them.  He’d probably need her help to make a new one anyway.

                Cody settled in at the microscope, pulled on gloves and eye protection, and got to work on the power source.  It was busy work, not difficult to do but painstaking, especially when dealing with the caustic chemicals that he’d probably have to use to synthesize something like this in the field.  Cody stared down and moved tiny components around, soldered things together and added tiny amounts of fuel, and eventually he lost himself to the rhythm of building.  It was a little boring, but it also felt normal, and distracted Cody from everything else that had disturbed him lately.

                “You hungry?”

                “What?”  Cody looked up, then swore and pulled off his eye protection when the room remained dark.  “What?” he repeated.

                “Are you hungry?” Phil asked, a little smirk on her face.  “The cafeteria closes in thirty minutes and you haven’t moved for the last four hours.  How’s the work coming?”

                “Ooookay,” Cody allowed.  “It’s generating power, but not at the rate that I expected.  I must have a short or a leak in there somewhere.”

                “A leak could damage the rest of your equipment, you’ll have to find it and make sure the casing is solid.”

                “I know,” Cody said.  “But I’ve been looking for the last hour and I haven’t found the flaw yet.”

                “Put the project in stasis, you can go back to it after we get some food,” Phil said.  Cody turned on the stasis field and pulled off the gloves, then sat up straight with a grimace.  “Yeah, remember to stretch at regular intervals,” Phil added, rolling her own shoulders.  “Otherwise you’ll feel a long session in the lab for days.  I’m going to let Marcys know we’re ready for lunch, he probably needs a break from being invisible for a while.”  She reached out and put her hand on the wall, and Cody smiled a little.  He wasn’t the only cadet who didn’t like working with Hermes’ systems with his mind only.

                Phil frowned.  “He’s not answering, and he hasn’t left me a message.  Did you see him this morning?”

                “Yeah, he was sitting outside,” Cody said, standing up.  “I can check and see if he’s still there, if you want.  Maybe he’s just distracted.”

                “Maybe,” Phil said, but she was frowning.  “I’ll check his room.”

                Cody headed for the front door, nodding to a few other cadets in the hall.  Meal times were pretty much the only times you ever saw people out and about in Hephaestus Tower, the rest of the time cadets were mostly sequestered in their labs.  Cody waved his hand and waited for the front door to unlock—it checked you going in and out, a unique feature of Hephaestus, since its security risk was the highest of any tower.

                People were walking around outside, but there was no sign of Marcys.  Cody walked a little further, past the bench where the man liked to sit and observe and around behind it to the bright, multi-colored lawn beyond.  Maybe he’d decided to take a break and fell asleep or something.  There were a few people lazing off in the distance, but not sign of Marcys.

                The lawn was scuffed up where Cody was standing, lavender grass crushed and mixed with the dirt beneath it.  Cody frowned.  Sports were forbidden on the lawns, the grass was too expensive to maintain for people to get away with pickup games.  How had this happened?  Two faint runnels led off toward the wall of Hephaestus, around the edge of the building.

                Had someone been running?  Or crawling?  The marks didn’t seem quite right for that.  Cody followed them around the corner, to a tree that grew right up against the wall.  Propped up against that tree was a slumped shape covered in—

                Cody ran over and smacked his hand against the wall.  “HERMES!”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Just To Say...

It looks like I'm swamped after all.  Client charts to update, coverage to deal with, getting the cat taken care of and seeing my sister and her fiance off tonight.  There won't be an Academy update today, but at least the Jonah and Garrett vignette happened.  Small victories for the win!

Thanks for all the lovely comments and encouragement, guys.  I'll be taking a lot of pictures and meeting a lot of people and staying incredibly busy in Florida for RainbowCon, but I plan to share as much of that here as I can.  Next week things should get back to normal...hopefully :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Academy Post #19: Interlude


 

Notes:  Time for a sexy interlude!  A little J&G, from Jonah’s point of view, because I can.  Still not sure about the status of a post on Tuesday, but hopefully this will satisfy.  Happy Saturday!

Title: The Academy

Part Nineteen:  Interlude:  Feeling It

 

***

 

 

                Jonah Helms wasn’t a man given to philosophizing.  The nature of the universe, the purpose of humankind, their expansion across the galaxy…it was all so much fluff to Jonah.  Drifters were raised to be practical, devious and determined, and Jonah was a faithful example of his upbringing.  He had too much to do to waste time on “what ifs,” or at least he usually did.  Right now, though, leaving his son behind and heading to a planet he’d never imagined seeing in person before to pick a fight with the leaders of the Federation, Jonah seriously wondered whether or not this was actually his life.  It seemed so improbable.  What did he know about interplanetary politics?  What did he care about infighting between self-important jackasses who lived light years away from everything important in his life?  Nothin’.  Not a goddamn thing, just like a Drifter should.

                Garrett had changed Jonah’s life, for the better in most ways, but it still sat wrong for Jonah to leave his kid behind while he gallivanted off to make verbal warfare.  Not that he’d be particularly useful there; Miles and Garrett were the experts when it came to political maneuvering, Jonah was nothing but support staff for this battle.  He knew Garrett wanted him there, he knew Cody would probably be fine, he knew it didn’t do for him to hover, but Drifter traditions still tripped Jonah up sometimes.  Families were supposed to stay together, damn it.  There was safety in numbers, in familiarity and family bonds, and right now Cody didn’t have that protection.  His roommates were good kids and Admiral Liang promised to look after him, but the fact that Garrett had been concerned enough to work up those shields with Wyl made Jonah’s stomach clench.  Garrett wasn’t given to overreacting.  If he didn’t think there wasn’t the genuine chance that Cody would need those, he wouldn’t have gone there in the first place.

                Jonah Helms, cut adrift from Drifters, attaché to Federation aristocracy, worried father, useless lump.  Hard truths, but honest. 

                Soft hands cradled his jaw, jolting him out of his reverie.  Jonah refocused on Garrett, staring at him with concerned eyes.  “You looked a little lost,” Garrett said quietly.

                Jonah dredged up a smile.  “Just a little sad to leave Cody again.  You know how I am.”

                “I do,” Garrett agreed, sliding forward and straddling Jonah’s lap smoothly.  Jonah instantly looped his arms around his husband’s hips, the movement unconscious after their years together.  “I also know your sad face, and that wasn’t quite it.”  He brushed a strange of Jonah’s hair back from the curve of his neck.  “Are you worried about Cody?”

                “Always,” Jonah said wryly.  “Nothin’ new there.”

                “He’s going to be all right,” Garrett said, with all the assurance of someone who was so used to things turning out the way he expected that Jonah could almost believe Garrett’s wishes were reality.  “He’s smart, he’s got good friends, he’s got the admiral on his side, and it would actually be shocking for someone to try to take action against an Academy cadet in a political standoff.  I just wanted to be safe.”

                “I know, darlin’, I appreciate that.”

                Garrett looked at him shrewdly.  “Is this about us, then?  Are you upset that we had to cut short our vacation to go to Liberty?”

                “No,” Jonah replied truthfully.  “There’s only so much vacation I can take before I get antsy for work, and we just about hit the limit.”

                “And yet you’re still antsy,” his husband said.  He leaned in and kissed the shell of Jonah’s ear.  “Tell me, sweetheart.”

                Now that he had to share it, it seemed childish.  Still, Jonah had promised himself he’d always be honest with Garrett, and he wasn’t about to stop just because it might hurt his pride.  “I don’t reckon I’m gonna have much to do when we get to Liberty, darlin’.  I don’t have any status beyond being your husband, and I’m no politician.  I don’t know enough to handle security, I don’t have any allies that could give your negotiations a lift up.  I’ll be a little useless there.”

                He’d expected Garrett to immediately negate his concerns, to tell him, “Of course you won’t be useless!” and pacify him with sweetness, and Jonah was ready to let him.  Instead, Garrett leaned away from him and looked over his head for a moment.  “Did I ever tell you why I tried to kill myself?” he asked when he finally made eye contact again.

                Whoa.  “Not specifically,” Jonah said uncomfortably, “and you don’t have to now.  I know you were sick.”

                “Chemically imbalanced,” Garrett agreed, “but that isn’t the reason I tried to commit suicide, it was just a contributing factor.  After my mother’s death, I went to live with my grandmother.  She’s always liked keeping her family close, and back then she still thought I had some promise.  My father was deployed and grieving and not interested in dealing with me, so he thought that she was the best option.

                “I stayed with her for the next ten years, and no matter what I did, it was never what she wanted.  The woman is impossible to please.  She didn’t want to make me into my father, but she didn’t want to let me be a child, either.  It made me feel like I was good for nothing, every moment spent defending or justifying myself.  She sent me to boarding school when I was thirteen, and by that time I was completely convinced I was a hopeless cause.  I got sent to a detention center, I abused drugs, and I finally tried to kill myself because it seemed like I had nothing good to live for.  I wasn’t useful, I wasn’t loved, I wasn’t happy.”

                Despite knowing full well that Garrett had turned out all right, Jonah still felt angry when he thought about the child he had been.  Younger than Cody, and he’d been so hopeless he’d wanted to die.  It was inconceivable.

                “After that, Miles came back and took custody of me, and things got better.  It took a long time, but eventually I understood that I really was loved, that I could learn, that I had something to offer.  What started it all, though, was the love.  Finding my strengths, figuring out what I could do with myself, that was secondary to realizing how much Miles loved me.”  Garrett leaned in and kissed Jonah, his lips soft and warm.  “I love you.  I’ll always need you, no matter what we’re doing.  And I know that’s not enough, but you will find something to give you purpose while we’re on Liberty.  Just start with feeling my love, okay?  Let that be a beginning.”

                Jonah smiled at his husband.  “I like the sentiment, darlin’.  We’ll see how it falls out once we get there, I guess.”  He ran his hands up Garrett’s back, tracing the arc of his spine.  “I’ll be fine.  Find something, like you say.  And I always feel your love.”

                “Good.”  Garrett smirked and kissed him again.  “Are you feeling my love right now?”  He pressed his hips forward.  “Mmm, right there, can you feel it?”

                “That’s what you’re callin’ it now?” Jonah teased, slouching a little further down in his chair and hitching Garrett higher.

                “It’s as good a name as any,” Garrett said.  “And it wants to be felt.”  The chair tilted further back as their weight shifted. 

                “Better get up here, then.”

                Garrett’s eyes widened as he grinned.  “Really?  Right here, in the pilot’s chair?  The one place where you promised me we were never going to have sex because it could be dangerous and was irresponsible and we could be hailed at any time, and on and on and on?”

                “You wanna have the last word, or would you rather get your dick sucked?” Jonah asked bluntly.

                Garrett mimed sealing his lips and put his hands on the back of the chair, leaning forward.  Jonah stroked the bulge in his well-tailored pants, then slid a little further down in the chair.  It wasn’t the most comfortable position, but he didn’t think he’d be here very long.  It was an idiosyncrasy of Garrett’s that he could fuck for literally hours, buried in Jonah’s body or taking Jonah into his, but a blowjob could set him off so fast that he rarely asked for them, because it ended things so soon. 

                Right now, Jonah didn’t care.  He needed to feel Garrett.  He unfastened Garrett’s pants and pulled the silky material down just far enough for Garrett’s cock to spring free, then eased his hips forward.  “C’mon now,” Jonah murmured when Garrett hesitated.  “Don’t make me beg, darlin’.”

                Garrett arched his back and gently thrust forward, and Jonah let him, opening his mouth and doing the best he could to take him in.  The position wasn’t a good one for depth, so Jonah made up for it by being active, sucking the head of Garrett’s cock as he pulled back, laving his tongue against the smooth shaft as he pressed back in, and all the time stroking Garrett’s bare ass and the small of his back.  He knew this man, knew him inside and out, knew what turned him on and what made him go off.  It was heady, having that kind of knowledge of another person, being so intimate with them.  Jonah had never been like this with anyone else, and he couldn’t imagine wanting to.

                “Mmm,” Garrett hummed, pushing Jonah’s hair back and watching avidly as his cock disappeared between Jonah’s lips.  “Oh, that’s just…so pretty.  You don’t think you’re pretty, but I d-do, I know better, you’re so—ahh!”  Garrett’s eyes fluttered shut as Jonah dragged his nails over his lover’s smooth skin.  The marks wouldn’t last long, they never did, but right now they’d be bright spots of sensation, prickling and hot.  Jonah smoothed his hands over the reddened skin, then repeated the scratching motion, urging Garrett deeper.  He could feel him against the back of his throat now, blunt and hard and wet, so eager, so close already.

                Garrett let go of the chair with one hand and cupped the back of Jonah’s head, lifting him up a bit and curling his fingers tight in Jonah’s hair.  Garrett controlled the pace now, fast, shallow thrusts just barely shy of making Jonah gag, and he loved it.  He knew it wasn’t what Garrett meant when he said he needed Jonah, but goddamn, did he ever feel needed now.  He lets his legs fall a bit further apart, feeling the strain of his own erection, then dipped one hand in between Garrett’s thighs.  The cloth made the fit tight and the position was cramped, but Jonah knew he didn’t need much room.  He just had to rub a few times right up here

                Ahh!”  Garrett curled over Jonah’s head as he came, pulling back after the first few spurts to ease the pressure on Jonah’s throat.  Jonah swallowed and stroked and moaned appreciatively, and a minute later, after only a little bit of fumbling, his husband was back on his lap, kissing him with vicious satisfaction.

                “You,” Garrett said between hard, biting kisses, “you are my favorite, did you know that?  My absolute fucking favorite.”

                “Better be,” Jonah managed.  “Gare…”

                “I’ll pay you back,” Garrett said with a grin.  “I’ll pay you back right now, in this chair.  You can strip me down and fuck me, or you can watch the stars go by while I go down on you, your choice.  Right now, but you have to pick fast, or I pick for you.”

                “I want—”

                Incoming hail: sender identified as Olympian Port Authority: signal indicates that you are leaving official Olympian space: response required.”

                Jonah groaned loudly.  “Fucking sons of—”

                Garrett was already in stitches.  “It could be worse,” he gasped around his laughter.  “At least they waited for me to finish.” 

                “This is why doin’ this here’s a bad idea,” Jonah grumbled.

                “Oh, it’s not so bad.  You’re right here to send them a quick message, and then you can get back to a nice, long, slow…something with me.”

                Response required.  Please respond.

                “Hold that thought,” Jonah told Garrett, then flicked on the comm.  “Understood, OPA.”  He sent the signals for Response Received, All Well and Signing Off, waited to get confirmation that each signal was received, then finally turned back to his husband.

                “Now, where were we?”