Please welcome the delightful Hurri Cosmo back to our little corner of the interweb! She`s here to share some info about her book, The Astral Mage. Hurri is giving away one free copy of The Astral Mage to one random commentor, so make sure to say "Hi Hurri!" and leave your contact information in the comment section below.
Kyrus is a wanted man. He's an Astral Mage, better known as a "Soul Giver", a race of people who can reattach life force energy back to its source. In other words, he brings the dead back to life. For years the Confederated Authority, the governing body for planets, has been methodically hunting them down and Kyrus is as pure as they've seen. So it becomes a huge risk when Tilbarr, the captain of the Wolf, brings Kyrus on board his ship. Not that Tilbarr is afraid of the ConFed. Far from it. But the threat to Kyrus doesn’t come from outside the Wolf and it isn’t long before Tilbarr realizes he just may have to give up everything in order to save Kyrus, his ship, his crew and even his life. All in all, not a bad trade off.
They weren’t moving any longer. Even though Kyrus was in the bowels of the space freighter, he could definitely tell they had come to a stop. It probably wasn’t a good thing. He had felt a shudder under his feet a little while ago, like something had possibly hit the hull.
Kyrus tried again to look out the tiny laser-barred opening in the high-density aquacite door to his cell but just like the hundreds of times before, he could see little of the hallway, much less anything else. All he could hear was the constant groan of the engines. This close to them, he could feel their vibration too. The pulsation made him feel off balance and just a little nauseous.
He flopped back down onto the small cot provided him. It was little comfort, but why make merchandise comfortable? A commodity was all he was— an item of value, at least to some, to sell. But, he had to admit, this cramped, stagnant cube was better than the dark, musty, wet cell he had come from. He surely would have caught some incurable disease had he been made to stay there much longer. Luckily, unlike the Fera Nobi slaves he had been housed with, who basically went on the block for auction the second they came to port, the transaction that sold him to the captain of this freighter, called Araeli, was done in private. Kyrus had been cuffed, visor-blinded, gagged, then dragged up and out to the cold space docks and then down to the bowels of this ship. There he was unceremoniously dumped into this cell.
They had uncuffed him so Captain Falland himself could “inspect” him—that having been extremely uncomfortable. He had been stripped to his boxers and made to stand spread-eagle while the captain walked slowly around him, touching and caressing him in ways Kyrus didn’t think appropriate for anything, much less live cargo—and certainly not something you did in front of crew members. But, according to Falland, he was searching for concealed weapons. Kyrus paled, remembering the painful squeeze to his buttocks, both cheeks—then the finger that dropped into the back of his boxers and slid along his crack, finding and going dry into his opening, pushing hard. He didn’t think it had anything to do with “finding a weapon”. But he had been in no position to argue. He had simply screwed his eyes shut, concentrated hard on showing absolutely no fear, and failed miserably.
Thankfully, since then, the captain had made no visits to his cell. But Kyrus had no idea how long this trip was going to be. It was something none of his captors evidently thought he needed to know.
Still, no matter where they were headed, four days out from the Great Simbos spaceport on New Titania did not get you to the next spaceport. Not even close. In fact, it only put you into deeper space, far away from any civilization. The only reason a ship stopped mid-space like this was engine trouble, and Kyrus was pretty sure he would have been able to hear it if something had gone wrong with the engines, so that wasn’t the case. Or they were waiting for someone, which could be a possibility since he had no idea who Falland was selling him to. If it had been the Confederated Authority, or the ConFed as they were so lovingly referred to, they would be docking at an official CFA Space Dock, of which there were plenty, but not out here in the middle of nowhere. So that left only a small number of “others” who could possibly have an interest.
The only problem was in order for a transfer to happen out here the buyer’s ship needed to be fairly large because it would have to have its own docking capabilities—or, at the very least, house a runner in order to take in an escape pod. He had no idea how big the Araeli was, most likely a common enough freighter, so escape pods would be the only other way off the ship. However, jetting even one of them off a common freighter when there was no emergency did bad things to the stabilizers. Even he knew that. Escape pods were only used as a last resort.
Not to mention selling an Astral Mage, or a “Soul Giver,” to anyone other than the ConFed was considered illegal, so having that kind a transfer take place out in the vast wide open would not be a good plan. Even out in deep space the ConFed still had eyes and ears. So he doubted that was what was happening either.
The only other possibility was a bad one—a really bad one.
Suddenly a door opened. Kyrus bolted back up and to the door of his cell right as the captain came into view. And he was in a hurry.
“Get back away from the door,” the captain yelled.
“Why? What’s going on?” Kyrus peered out the tiny opening.
“I’m not kidding, Kyrus. Get back. I have a wing taser and I’ll shoot you if I have to. Now get back.”
Fuck. A wing taser? It was because of a wing taser that he had been captured this last time. The damn thing did something to the nerves in his body, shutting them down or numbing them somehow. All he knew was there was enough pain to make him pass out and independent movement was impossible for at least a couple of days. He stepped quickly away from the door as he heard the beeps and hum of the locking mechanism shutting down. When the door opened, Falland ran in, grabbed Kyrus by the shoulders, spun him around, and slammed him into the hard wall. The force was enough to take his breath away for a second, long enough for Falland to pin his arms back and bind them in laser cuffs. He spun him again and jammed a visor over his eyes, clicking it on, effectively blinding him.
Excerpt two: (mature language)
Tilbarr walked over to his couch and looked at it for a moment. Residue from Kyrus’s and his activity was not as evident as he had thought it would be. Still needs cleaning though, he thought. He chuckled. He felt absolutely wonderful and his heart fluttered when he thought of the young man. Tilbarr typically wasted no time in going after something he wanted, but it was usually some contraband or even some other entity the ConFed secretly hired them to run down. He had rarely included a lover in the mix. Maybe it was age trying to catch up to him but he truly had never felt like this before and he intended to explore it to its fullest.
Kyrus was too skinny, but being on the run did that to a man. Tilbarr would need to fatten him up, treat him to good things to eat. He probably didn’t have much on a regular basis. It was going to be a lot of fun finding out what he liked best in food and drink. He already knew what he liked best for recreation. Mmmmm. His skin had been so soft, tasted so good. Next time, he was going to make Kyrus come in his mouth. He had only had a teasing sample of that salty muskiness and he wanted more. Tilbarr would employ his best techniques and he would see how long Kyrus would hold out when he…
“Tilbarr! Where the fuck are you?” Slydane had come up behind him.
He hadn’t even heard him. He shook his head slowly. “Sorry, Sly, just…thinking.” He smiled. “Yeah, right. Just thinking, my ass.”
“No, not thinking about your ass…”
“Damn it, Til.” Slydane turned and walked back to his chair. He flopped down, running his hand over his short hair on the top of his head. He looked back over to Tilbarr, who decided to sit on the couch, his arms spread out across the back. “Since you brought it up, mind telling me why you took a prisoner off the Araeli? And just what did you do to their stabilizer? I heard the damage was permanent, but that the thing was running by time we all got off the damn ship. The rumor with our own people was that the kid, the prisoner, did something to it. Put his hands on it and healed it like some ancient preacher or something.”
Tilbarr knew the question had to come. If he hadn’t become all wrapped up with the young man, he would have had this meeting with his second in command already. He took a deep breath. He would only tell him the truth. He had to be able to trust him, even though the truth was going to be something Slydane was not going to want to hear.
“First, his name is Kyrus. He…was a prisoner because…” He looked right at Slydane, deep into his eyes. Slydane needed to know how serious he was with needing complete secrecy. “Look, Sly, I planned on telling you, I just haven’t had time. But this also needs to stay between you and me, understand?”
“Til, you’re scaring me. What have you brought on this ship other than a deadly cargo of chemicals?”
“An Astral Mage.”
Slydane’s eyes widened for a second then he looked away. He leaned back in his chair and whistled. “Shit, Til! Really?” He glanced at Tilbarr then rose from his chair to pace the short distance from the chair to the door and back to the chair again. “An Astral Mage? Fuck, Til, I thought they were all but extinct, all rounded up by the ConFed. Wow. So…they can…do that…that Mage stuff with equipment? I didn’t think they could.”
Tilbarr shrugged. “I didn’t either, but evidently they can. He did say something about ‘energy is energy.’ Not exactly sure what that meant. But the reason I took him is Falland had him lined up to sell to some cutthroat for a hell of a lot of sheplas, which he obviously needed. That ship of his was running off the energy of that one remaining stabilizer. It’s why it needed to be fixed. As much as I wouldn’t have cared if that asshole died in the process, I couldn’t let his entire crew die with him. It makes me think the turborus was not really headed for Yaach or the Pordain sector either. He probably was selling that off world as well. He’s a horned fish bug. Unworthy of a ship and crew.”
“I won’t argue the point, although you are insulting horned fish bugs.”
“Yeah?” He chuckled. “I’ll apologize the next time I see one.”
“Soooo, Til…tell me about what was going on in here…a while ago.”
Tilbarr laughed. “I don’t fuck and tell.”
“Actually… you do. In fact, you took great pride in making sure that first time between us was all but on ship’s comp. Talk about horned fish bugs.”
Tilbarr laughed again. “Yeah, well, we were both pretty drunk, not sure if it was much of a secret, anyway.” He sobered. “You had come off of a nasty breakup too, if I remember correctly.”
Slydane sighed. “Til…I…”
“You know I was serious with you. You weren’t just a…you know.”
Tilbarr rose up from the couch and came over to the chair Slydane sat in. He crouched down in front of him, taking his friend’s face in his hands. “I know that—but rebounds never last. We both know we needed that time together, but that’s all it was too—a time—a few wonderful weeks together.” He pulled Slydane down and kissed his forehead then released him and straightened up. “We didn’t need to muck it up with emotion and shit so…”
“So you outed me to the entire crew.”
“Outed you? What the hell are you talking about? You honestly think the crew cares who you fuck? Do you care who they fuck?”
“No, you moron. I mean, letting them know I fucked you.”
“Oh! Well, yeah. Maybe that wasn’t necessary but you didn’t fuck me, pal, just to get the record straight.”
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