Together they walked out onto the bridge where D'vork addressed the assemble officers. "I have an announcement to make. As of now, U'lac will be released from the brig and resume his post as Commander of this ship; L'gia will step down and resume his post as Lieutenant Commander. I was rather hasty in my judgement of the commander; it seems he only had my welfare at heart. Today, I found that he was right and I was wrong, and I have accepted the human prisoner Tadik as my companion for the remainder of the journey."There was a collective gasp from the crew and he raised a hand for silence. "The reason being, the prisoner in question was wrongly convicted and I am awaiting the results of an investigation into the affair. Until I receive the result of that investigation, the boy will remain in my quarters for his own safety."Turning to L'gia, he said, "Lieutenant Commander, will you see that the Commander is released from the brig and brought back to the bridge, please? The rest of us have a ship to rescue."
By the time D'vork and his crew had dealt with the emergency, a complete inspection of the disabled ship resulting in the discovery that the defence shields had been sabotaged and soon set right, he and the crew on his shift were ready for a good sleep. His feet ached from being on duty for twelve hours. His eyes hurt from concentrating on the viewing screens around the bridge. His back ached. In short, his whole body protested as he entered his quarters. Seeing all the lights dimmed, he looked for the reason, and Inmahn crept out of the bedroom with a finger to his lips. "The boy has just dropped off to sleep again. He's had a rather traumatic day."
"Why; what happened?"
"Well, it's my fault actually. He wanted to find out about the attack on his father's ship. Apparently no one has ever given him any details about what really happened, so I let him use Percy, and showed him how to go into research mode. Percy was delighted to be of assistance; at least it stopped him having the usual bitching session with me. One of the details we found was that the ship that answered Captain Versont's distress signal called off the search when the Captain's ship couldn't be found, and it was logged a L.I.S."
D'vork was astonished. "You mean they didn't carry on searching?"
"Correct, sir. It was considered an extravagant waste of money and resources to search for just one small vessel. At the time, the Earth Space Project was thought, globally, to be a drain on Earth's resources."
D'vork shook his head in disgust. "Well, thank the Gods we don't think like that. I remember my dear mother remarking that the ESP was full of holes draining the coffers by having too many managers lining their own pockets and not enough workers. That's the reason she decided to stay on Gpuchk and marry my father. How did the boy react to the findings?"
"Rather badly, as you would expect, Captain. He didn't eat his evening meal and cried himself to sleep again."
D'vork scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm; I wonder if I can get the search reinstated?"
"We've tried that already; we literally had the door slammed in our faces. Unfortunately, Percy is of the opinion that whoever it is has not been entirely honest with the evidence or lack of it, and will now be alerted to our interest in the case."
"Then we'll just have to move faster than them. Percy? Who has control of Tadik's finances?"
"A Mr Vickman, a colleague of Sir Rayle. As Mrs Versont was in charge, Sir Rayle had the court step in and declare a conflict of interests. The judge handed the portfolio to Mr Vickman. Sir Rayle has been successful in obtaining a hearing tomorrow afternoon for the appeal against Tadik's conviction. Meanwhile Tadik is on bail of one million pounds, pending the outcome."
"That's steep! Who posted the bond?"
"Mr Vickman, sir, out of the portfolio funds and audited by a court appointed accountant. That's one reason Sir Rayle refused to handle the portfolio himself."
"So, technically, Tadik is no longer a prisoner?"
"Correct, sir. The boy doesn't know yet; he was asleep before Percy received the news. Sir Rayle sent a personal message as well. He is of the opinion that Captain Versont's disappearance may be connected with Tadik's case. Shall I remind him that we now have only forty-eight hours before our speed makes communication with Earth somewhat patchy?"
"Not for the moment. We'll just reduce speed and hope the Quastorians don't notice."He clicked the console to bring up the Bridge. "Commander L'gia. Report to my quarters please."When the Commander appeared in D'vork's lounge, his expression conveyed his thoughts that the captain had changed his mind again. "Commander, I'm telling you this in strictest confidence. We need our speed reduced to allow enough time for certain parties on Earth to make a report."
"Enough for the Quastorians not to notice."
"May I ask the reason why, Captain?"
"Certainly."D'vork smiled at his old friend. "That's why we are talking here and not on the bridge. I'm sure Tadik's story has circled the ship by now; and I know the crew will be pleased that he is no longer a prisoner. His case is being reviewed as we speak."
"So, you want to wait till you hear something definite before we go into Quatral Jump? If the Quastorians do get a sniff of what we're doing, I'll just tell them we have a bit of a problem with the jump core and we've reduced speed to give the engineers time to fix it. Actually that won't be much of a lie. The chief engineer has found something not quite right and asked for time to check it out, and he can't do that unless we drop out of warp speed."
Satisfied that his ship was in good hands, D'vork dismissed U'lac and turned to Inmahn. "You've been on duty none stop since before breakfast. Go and get some rest; Percy can stand by for the night."
Inmahn laughed. "Aren't you forgetting something, Captain? Androids don't sleep."
D'vork glared at him. "I know you don't sleep the way humans do, but when was the last time you had the chance to overhaul all your systems?"He glanced at the Allcom on his left wrist. "You have nine hours to run a full check on yourself. I don't want you breaking down in the middle of a crisis."
Inmahn stared blankly at him. "What crisis?"
"The crisis you'll be in if you don't do as you're told."D'vork reached out to press the deactivation control at the back of Inmahn's neck.
Inmahn stepped back a pace. "Okay, okay! Point taken; I know when I'm not wanted. Admit it; you want to be alone with the lad. I'll just sit here, in the lounge and read."D'vork's finger reached the control and Inmahn backed away to the lounge entrance. "I'm going, I'm going! Goodness! All this fuss so the Captain can have a bit of Hanky Panky! Talk about touchy. Percy, you're on standby till I get back in the morning."
"Thank you, Inmahn."The communications screen went black as Percy spoke. "Captain, I could do with a full system check of my own. The person who built but can't spare any of his precious time to maintain me. Why don't you swap him for a newer model?"
"I beg your pardon!"Inmahn's nose lifted a couple of inches. "I've never been so insulted, you useless box of wires."
D'vork chuckled as he realised he was being drawn into a Percy-versus-Inmahn spat. "Be honest with yourselves you two, neither of you would work with anyone else."He pointed at Inmahn than at the door. "You, out, now."Once Inmahn had gone, with a toss of his head, D'vork unfastened his tunic shoulder straps and walked towards the bedroom door. "Light's down, Percy, and lower the temperature in the bedroom. I don't want to be sleeping in a sauna."
Out in the corridor, Inmahn grinned his delight that his and U'lac's plan had begun to work. Chuckling, he turned a couple of cartwheels just for the hello of it, then realised he had company. Two Quastorians were walking towards him, frowning at his antics. He cleared his throat, tugged his tunic straight and bade them a cheerful goodnight. As soon as they were out of sight, Inmahn activated his Allcom and landed in the middle of his maintenance room on G deck. Settling himself on his bio-bed, he attached a lead to the back of his head and switched the bed to full scan. As he was going under he suddenly had a thought. Why were two Quastorians walking the corridors at this time of ni.............
Tadik wasn't really asleep; he had just wanted Inmahn to stop fussing. Under the warm fur, he stared up at the ceiling and wondered if he dared. That afternoon he had been bored and had explored the bedroom, and found what the hatch above the bed housed. To his shock, upon pressing a button by the handcuffs, the hatch had opened and a strange looking harness of leather and steel dropped to about eighteen inches above the bed. Inmahn had come into the room as Tadik struggled to put it back. The android had calmed him down, saying he hadn't done anything wrong and explained that many years ago, the Gpuchkians had been slave traders, and this ship had been one of the escorts. These harnesses were placed in every cabin to aid the sexual pleasures of the crew. They were hardly used now, and had been forgotten. Inmahn had shown Tadik how the harness worked and had then replaced it behind the hatch.
As soon as he heard the captain dismiss Inmahn, Tadik leapt out of bed and activated the hatch. After shedding his clothes, it took only a couple of minutes to get into the harness where he received the second shock. As soon as his body was lying on the main pad which stretched from his collar bone to above his crotch, and his hands gripped the handholds, steel clamps came round his wrists, and the leg restraints brought his legs into a frog position, the restraints tightening sufficiently enough to stop him escaping. Clamps came round his waist and the whole harness tilted till his shoulders were lower than his hips, and a piece of rubber came up against his mouth. He opened his mouth and the rubber slid into place where he could bite it if he experienced any pain he couldn't cope with. The bedroom door opened and he heard D'vork give a gasp of horror. Then D'vork roared. "INMAHN! Get your butt in here, now!"
"I'm sorry, Captain,"Percy said quietly. "Inmahn is now connected to his console and will not be awake for another eight hours. Can I help?"
Tadik heard D'vork pacing about, muttering softly, and regretted getting himself into the harness. He had nothing to live for any more. His father was gone, his mother didn't want him; he had no friends. He wanted to die, but he had one thing to do; and that was to show his gratitude to the captain for rescuing him from the pen and giving him comfort when he most needed it. He would let the captain use his body for his own pleasure, and damn the pain.
"Oh, Tadik, you silly boy."The captain's voice was soft and full of regret. "Why are you doing this? There is no need."Tadik felt D'vork's hands on his rump, gently stroking his cheeks before sliding his hands up his back. Then the harness released him and he slid off the pad to land face down on the mattress. Tears sprang to his eye. Even this surrender had been rejected. He heard the hurried rustle of D'vork removing his uniform, and then the bed dipped as the Gpuchkian lay down beside him. He grabbed Tadik and rolled him over till he was in his arms. "Do you realise that if anyone had seen you in that harness, an old law would have been invoked and made you my slave for life. I would have had to obey that law."
"I don't care,"Tadik wept. "I've lost my dad, my mother, my sisters, my home; what life do I have to look forward to?"
"I can offer you a life."D'vork lifted him till they were face to face, and he placed a gentle kiss on Tadik's lips. "I want you to be my friend, my companion, and my consort, if you will accept."While Tadik's eyes widened with surprise, D'vork kissed his tears away.
Tadik sniffed back more tears as he gazed down into D'vork's eyes, seeing nothing but love in those dark eyes. "Why would you want me for a consort? I'm no one."
D'vork shook his head. "You are a beautiful angel, and I love you."Tadik read his thoughts and realised D'vork did have feelings for him; he searched his own feelings and found that he also liked D'vork enough to make the best of the raw deal life had dealt him so far. Perhaps he could learn to love him back. He laid his head down and nuzzled D'vork's neck, then shivered. The temperature of the room had dropped. D'vork shifted beneath him till he could reach the fur and pulled it over Tadik's shoulders. Under the fur, D'vork's hands caressed his back, gently exploring. In response, Tadik pressed his lips against D'vork's, hoping the Gpuchkian knew how humans kissed. He wasn't disappointed as D'vork rolled him over onto his back and forced his tongue past Tadik's lips and teeth.
While D'vork supported most of his ponderous weight on his right arm, Tadik felt his left hand caress his belly and chest before moving down to his manhood. He spread his legs to allow D'vork better access and loved the way D'vork's hand completely covered the whole of his genitals in a warm and gentle cocoon. Wanting more things to happen, Tadik put his arms round D'vork's neck, urging him closer. He wanted D'vork to completely overpower him, to claim him in his first sexual experience with a male. Daddy had taught him all he could, short of committing incest, but he had never taught him about sex with a Gpuchkian. This he would have to teach himself. So far it was good. D'vork certainly knew how to kiss.
D'vork broke the kiss and smiled down at him. "Have you experienced orgasms?"
Tadik frowned. "Yeah, of course I have."
"With a man?"
"Only with my dad, when he taught me about sex."
"Well, yes; it's the law now, on Earth. A father has to teach a son and a mother has to teach a daughter. The law was brought out to stop kids learning about sex from unreliable sources such as the streets, and picking up STD's. The result, over the last fifty years, is that those infections have been almost eradicated."
D'vork grinned. "In that case I'd like to show you something very pleasant."
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