Logan McRae expected to wake on the spacecraft Mercury, ready to pilot the ship to New Earth. Instead, he finds himself facing two aliens whose help he'll need if he wants to find his people.
Kit doesn't know what sort of creature he has accidentally purchased, but it's definitely male and not completely different from him and his lover, Halor. The language barrier might be a problem, but Kit knows the language of love doesn't always need words.
Halor has been reluctant to expand his nest, but he'll do anything to give Kit the happiness he deserves, even invite another man into their bed.
Logan has no idea that Kit isn't quite like other men until their passion results in unexpected consequences. Now he must choose between his mission and the two men who have given him everything he has ever wanted, as well as things he never dreamed of.
"You don't dream in cryo."
The words of the cryo-tech during the briefing came back to Logan McRae as he stared at the two creatures standing on either side of his pod. They were like nothing he had ever seen before, and they certainly weren't the medics he had been told to expect when he woke.
Both of the creatures appeared to be bipeds, though from his current position, he couldn't say for sure.
The taller one stood on his left, pushing buttons on the panel on the side of the pod. Hopefully he would find the one to lift the cover soon, because Logan's mild claustrophobia was starting to surface. He tried to ignore his rising panic by concentrating on studying the--for want of a better word--alien.
Although the creature had mostly human features--two eyes, a nose, a mouth, arms, and hands--there were also some bird-like qualities to him. Instead of hair, the top of his head was bald, save for a stripe of raised feathers running down the centre. His eyes were yellow and black, and he didn't appear to have any eyelashes or eyebrows. When he raised his arm higher, Logan could see that there was skin from his armpit to his elbow, almost like wings. Logan didn't know much about birds, but he did know that they didn't all have the capacity for flight. He suspected that this being was grounded, though he admitted to himself he could be wrong. After all, if he had been asked to describe an alien, he would have probably gone with the popular bug-eyed creatures with large heads so frequently described during the twentieth century by those who claimed to have been visited by beings from outer space.
Turning his attention to the second alien, Logan saw that he, too, had the same human features as his companion. His eyes were green and similar to those of a cat. In fact, he had many feline attributes, including lengthened incisors and tabby-like markings all over his skin and throughout his hair. Logan wasn't entirely sure, but he had a feeling that was fur rather than hair on his head. A rhythmic tapping drew Logan's attention to the long claws of the cat-man's hand as he drummed them on the cover of the pod in a gesture of impatience.
Finally, the bird-man hit the right button to open the cover and Logan drew in a long breath of air. Both of the creatures jumped back a little at his movement. They stared at him as though they had never seen a human being before. Logan supposed that might even be the case. After all, he had never seen anything like them before, either.
He wanted to sit up, but he recalled from the briefing about the cryo-pods that he could be weak at first and would need to undergo a full medi-scan before he attempted to move.
Unfortunately, with no medics anywhere in sight, he suspected the scan was out of the question.
With some difficulty, he moved his head to one side then the other, taking in as much of his surroundings as he could.
Both creatures jumped at his expletive and took a step back from the pod.
"Where the hell am I?" Logan asked.
This was not the Mercury, the ship he had been on when he had climbed into the cryogenic pod. The last time Logan had been awake, he had been on the first of three ships that had successfully launched from Earth, heading to a new star system and the planet that had been chosen for the evacuees of his dying planet to colonise.
He had no clue where he was now, but it was definitely not where he was supposed to be. Something has clearly gone wrong, but what?
At his shout, the bird-man pulled something from the belt of what appeared to be some form of ancient Egyptian-style kilt and pointed it at him. Logan had no idea what it was, but the stance of the creature made it pretty clear that it was a weapon of some kind.
Logan slowly raised his hands in what he hoped was the universal sign of surrender. He didn't want to get shot before he found out what was going on here.
The creature didn't lower his weapon. He kept it trained on Logan with a steady hand while gesturing with his other for the cat-man to move behind him.
The two aliens stepped back slowly, and the bird-man said something to the other. Logan couldn't understand what he said--it sounded like the cawing of a bird--but the cat-man nodded and darted across the room, hitting a button on the wall.
The bird-man lowered his weapon, clearly believing them to be safe, though Logan couldn't tell why he thought that to be the case. As far as he could see, nothing in the room had changed.
"Where am I?" he asked again, trying to keep his voice calm and reasonable.
They ignored him as they communicated to each other, the bird-man with his cawing and squawking and the cat-man with his meows and yowls. They were clearly speaking two entirely different languages, though apparently had no difficulty in understanding each other.
Even though Logan had no idea what they were saying, he could tell from the gestures and facial expressions that they were arguing. From the sulky pout on his face, the feline appeared to be losing the fight.
The room began to sway around Logan and he closed his eyes to fend off the feeling of nausea. He really needed a medic right now, preferably with the medication they had promised to help strengthen his muscles after the centuries of being frozen.
His head pounded, not helped by the arguing across the room.
Finally, the two creatures stopped their squawking and yowling and Logan chanced opening his eyes again. What he saw was almost as shocking as the vision he had woken to.
The two creatures appeared to have forgotten him entirely--or at least must have determined that he was not a threat to them. Why else would they now be groping and kissing like a couple of horny teenagers? What made them so sure he wasn't about to get up and attack them? Not that he would... He was a pilot, not one of the scouts and fighters trained to clear out any dangers found on the planet they were travelling to. Even one-on-one, Logan suspected he would be pretty useless in a fight. Against these two, he'd be a goner. The bird-man was huge and the feline had those wickedly sharp claws. No, he didn't want to fight either of them, not unless he absolutely had to.
Logan closed his eyes again. Maybe this was a dream? Perhaps he was slowly being pulled out of cryo, and when he woke again, he would see Shauna and Claude, the two senior medics in charge of the flight crew. He'd be checked over, and once he'd been given the all-clear, he'd head on over to the flight deck and help to navigate the Mercury to its new home. Then, once they were safely landed, he'd track down his friends and tell them all about this crazy dream he'd had. They would laugh and tease him, of course, just as he would them, if they shared similar bizarre stories.
No, this was just a dream and he would wake up properly soon.
Kit stared at the strange creature through the clear barrier that separated it from the flight deck of Halor's craft. It didn't seem so dangerous now that it was sleeping.
"Step back from there," Halor ordered.
Kit whined his annoyance. "The barrier is secure and the life form seems to be sleeping."
"It could be a trick to lull us into a false sense of security."
Kit knew Halor was right, but his innate curiosity couldn't be denied. He wanted a closer look at the creature, and surely it was best to do that whilst it slept.
Halor flicked through what he thought were the instructions for the autopilot, grumbling under his breath. "This is stupid. I can't read any of it and the pictures are no help at all."
Kit perched on the arm of Halor's chair. "I think I screwed up the purchase."
Halor's eyes widened comically. "You think?"
"The auctioneer definitely said it was a pilot. I'm just not sure it's a computer program, or if it is, that it'll be compatible with the interface of this rust bucket."
"Rust bucket?" Halor repeated, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
Kit smacked him lightly on the shoulder. "It is a piece of garbage, and you know it."
Halor grumbled again and returned to the instructions on the screen. "Tell me again why I keep you around here when all you do is insult my baby and leave fur all over the place?"
"Because I'm your baby and the only one who'll put up with your grumpiness and smooth those ruffled feathers," Kit replied easily. Leaning down, he licked at Halor's ear. "Plus, I do believe you might be quite fond of me--or at least of my cock."
Halor smiled without looking up from the screen. "There is that, Kit."
Kit glanced over at the large container the creature had been trapped in. "Maybe the creature is a pilot," he suggested.
Halor roared with laughter, the screeching almost painful to Kit's sensitive ears. "That noisy thing? Oh Kit, you do make me laugh."
Kit frowned. "Why is it so hard to believe? It has two eyes, a nose, a mouth, arms, and legs, just like us."
"Did you get a close look at its hands?" Halor asked. "No claws on it at all. And the stuff on its head is strange, not feathers like mine or luxurious, soft fur like yours."
Kit purred as Halor ran his talons through the fur in question, stroking the nape of his neck with a light, teasing touch. "Maybe its claws are retractable, like mine."
"Maybe we should take a closer look while it's sleeping, to check for when it wakes up?"