This was an odd week, even for me. It was a short week for most people, but we were gearing up for the bookfair, prepping another title for release and figuring out what we want to do for promos at the event on Labor Day. It wasn’t really leisurely. Thus, I felt like I had been to work, and yet the days of the rest of the week weren’t lining up. This weekend, I discover that there is Football to watch. Those familiar with me know that I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. Right now, I’m enjoying another ‘exciting’ game with my favorite team. Mind you, in the world of the Iggles (that’s the correct pronunciation), exciting means I should really be a bit drunk when watching, and my new neighbors are about to find out just how much and how loudly I can swear. Still, I will watch for the regular season and hopefully beyond.
One of my new leading men has become enamored with our first feature, Demon Under Glass. It’s a funny thing about his timing. We’d been thinking a lot about that film a lot lately. In part, the reflection is because we’re gearing up for a new projects. That always makes one think about past experiences, and what one does and doesn’t want to repeat. We’re also doing some new marketing of material from the film with one of the leads. I also realized that the current trailer would make an excellent book trailer for the novelization. So we’re in the process of releasing some new material from the film, and I’m working on the book trailer.
Last night was the first time we’d looked at the film in a very long time. Making it had been a difficult experience, and it’s hard to view it without all of the baggage of filming it clouding the experience. But this was different. We were thinking about all the things that we pulled off when we shouldn’t have been able to, and how good some of the performances are. That was fun. And we did accomplish all we’d set out to do when Demon Under Glass was green lit. We finished it, we sold it and it got good reviews for the most part. That film put us in a different category to agents and managers we approach now. It means something to make a film for such a small budget and get it sold. Thus, we can approach all sorts of people with our projects and at least get a chance to really pitch. It was worth the hell we went through producing it.
We’re over the trauma of the shoot, post and distribution and really itching to do go through some new and different trauma. Twisted, huh? Maybe not. There are a lot of cuties who work in front of and behind the scenes on a film. That’s not such a hardship.
The Eagles just lost. Is it too early for wine or too late for this game?
Long Awaited Sample Chapter
Jon is tied up with the new book, the new Demon Under Glass release and the signage for the bookfair, so he hasn’t had time to update my web pages. Thus, I’m debuting the sample chapter here.
Without giving too much away, there are some new characters appearing in this chapter or mentioned in it. Sonja Becker is the Excecutive Office Manager for the Atlered's Foundation, and Percival is Rik and Vincent's personal assistant/bodyguard. They really need one in this novel. Percival is based on a character from literature and a television show. Win an advanced copy of the e-book version of A Soldier's Fate if you can name the author who created the character. I'll give another hint next week, if no one gets it.
I leave you until next time.
WARNINGS – READ AND TAKE HEED!!
Graphic Homoerotic Content! Major Spoilers from A Soldier’s Choice!
Last Chance to turn back!
A Soldier’s Fate©2007
by D.L. Warner
It seemed that it was overnight from ‘prom’ night to graduation day. Vincent and I sat in the front row of the Civic Auditorium with Maximilian, Remak and other VIPs. Ellie Kramer sat with us causing all sorts of curiosity from parents and especially from her media colleagues. We paid no heed to the scrutiny or camera flashes. Our minds were on the young blond man with a new buzz cut beneath the black graduation cap. The haircut really made his jaw seem more square. Bobby looked quite grown up then standing straight and proud. His duffle bag was in the car. He would not be coming home with us. We couldn’t even have a celebration lunch to toast his top honors. Bobby had to fast before going through the first injections. A couple of hours after tossing his cap in the air, Bobby would become an Altered.
Vincent was very brave. He managed to be genuinely happy for Bobby during the ceremony. He laughed at the bad puns from the speakers and applauded enthusiastically at every award Bobby received. But soon, all the diplomas had been awarded and Bobby was walking toward us smiling brightly. My heart ached painfully. I couldn’t imagine what Vincent was feeling. We managed to take all sorts of photos. Percival deftly gathered the awards and the diploma to place them carefully in a case in the trunk.
Bobby was still smiling as he said his goodbyes to Remak and Maximilian. He hugged them both for good measure. My Lieutenant was misty eyed when they parted. Maximilian was openly weeping into a huge handkerchief. Ellie Kramer hugged Bobby for a long time despite the cameras going off around them. Bobby’s cheerful façade faltered for an instant, but they managed to part without tears. Still, I sent Percival to escort Ellie to her car in order to discourage her reporter colleagues from asking questions and to make sure she could drive. That gave Vincent and I a little time alone in the car with Bobby to compose ourselves.
I slipped into the squad leader mode to distance myself from my own feelings. Vincent fed off my calm to center himself. We were able to chat easily in the car.
“When can you come to visit?” Bobby asked quietly.
“Three weeks,” I replied. “Your immune system, will have fully stabilized by then.”
“You’ll like the room, Bobby,” Vincent said. “It’s like a dorm room, but it has a private shower, audio/visual entertainment, and you can order almost anything from the library.”
“The military library?” Bobby asked with wide eyes.
“Of course,” Vincent laughed. “Direct requests to Ms. Krause. She’ll hook you up.”
“Once you’ve gone through stage one, you can interact with the other candidates,” I said. “There is a common area just beyond your quarters where you can eat together and socialize if you want.”
“Will we all be on the same squad afterward?” Bobby asked.
“Not all of you,” I replied. “You’ll be placed according to where your skills are needed. However, you’ll all be together through advanced training.”
Neither Vincent nor I mentioned that it was likely that some of the candidates would wash out before reaching advanced training. We were en route by then. The interior of the car was quiet during the short drive. All to soon, Percival was handing Bobby his duffle bag in the lobby of the hospital.
“I must say my goodbye now, Sir,” Percival said. His normally crisp tone was more somber. “Take care. I am certain you will make an outstanding Altered.”
“Thanks, Percival,” Bobby replied, blushing. He impulsively hugged the man. Though surprised, Percival returned the embrace, smiling. “Take care of them.”
“I shall, sir.”
We took a collective deep breath then made our way to the Altered Wing. Dr. Auerbach was waiting along with a nurse who had a very kind face and a capable manner. She gently took Bobby’s duffle from him. Vincent and I watched as he then signed the final consent forms that Auerbach was holding on a clipboard.
“Okay, gentlemen,” Auerbach said quietly. “It’s time. I swear, Major Greven the younger will have the finest of care.”
“We know,” I said, facing Bobby. I pulled him into a tight embrace.
“You’ll be fine,” I whispered. “Write your brother and keep the doc informed. I’ll miss you.”
“I will. Take care of Brother. Don’t let him be sad,” Bobby whispered in return. “I’ll miss you, too.”
I released him, so he could hug Vincent. My lover looked so pained, it broke my heart. He whispered something to Bobby before letting him go. Auerbach then led him away. We stayed until the doors closed.
“Please, Rik...don’t say anything. Get me home...not the house,” he rasped. He didn’t come near me. “Let’s go to the apartment.”
“Okay,” I replied. I knew he was holding himself together with all he had. If I touched him then, he’d break. I walked ahead to the lobby. Vincent followed.
The drive home was silent and mercifully short. We reached our apartment without running into anyone save for and occasional security guard. It was Saturday, so the building was sparsely occupied.
“I took the liberty of stocking the kitchen with sandwiches and some meals,” Percival said. “Call if you require anything. Otherwise, I’ll see that you’re not disturbed.”
“Thank you, Percival,” I said. “Thank you.”
Vincent was in my arms an instant after I locked the door. He was trembling as he clung to me.
“Fuck me, Rik,” he pleaded softly. “I don’t want to think...I can’t...I can’t...”
I silenced him with a deep, possessive kiss as I held him close. Vincent choked back a sob as he clutched at my jacket. I took control of the kiss, freeing his hair to card my fingers through it with one hand, and holding him firmly about the waist with the other. Slowly, Vincent relaxed, allowing me to maneuver him into the bedroom.
As I pushed Vincent onto the bed, it was very clear that he was too round up for a slow seduction. Instead, I pinned my lover down to kiss him more slowly. When Vincent yielded to that gentle kiss, I unhooked his belt, and then unzipped his pants. Vincent was still reacting to the kiss when I grasped his straining erection then took him in my mouth to the hilt.
Vincent arched upward, crying out. I pinned his hips then worked with him without mercy until he came in my mouth. I took it all, loving the taste and feel of him. My lover sighed with deep contentment after he came, but he remained as mercurial as ever.
“Bastard,” he murmured with his eyes closed. “I wanted you to fuck me.”
“Can you think right now, love?” I asked sweetly as I stripped him.
“No, I can’t,” he admitted, lifting his hips for me to remove his pants and shorts.
Vincent watched me with rueful, sleepy eyes as I shucked out of my clothes. Soon, I was straddling his lithe, muscular body. My lover’s expression grew suspicious.
“You’re up to something.”
“Oh, I am, love,” I replied. “Just needed to take the edge off, so I can take my time.”
Vincent gasped as I ran my tongue along his elegant collarbones.
“Planning on torturing me?” Vincent demanded.
I sucked his nipples for a long moment before answering. The graceful way Vincent arched his back almost distracted me from what he’d said.
“I love see you like this...lost in the feeling...I can’t believe I can have you like this...”
“God, Rik...have me already.”
I sighed into his belly button before shoving his thighs apart. “You never could resist turning all of my battle plans upside down.”
Vincent smiled at me. It was such an angelic smile despite the wicked glint in his eyes.
“You never bitched at the outcome, Colonel,” he murmured then groaned as I stretch him.
I pushed inside him to the root without preamble. That shut him up, but it nearly brought me over the edge.
Vincent’s eyes held mine as I fought for control. He said nothing – probably couldn’t. I sure couldn’t speak. After a long moment suspended like that, I started to move. My plans were dashed, but that hardly mattered. All that mattered was the intense energy building between us. I had to take him hard and fast. Vincent was driving me crazy, writhing beneath me wantonly and gasping my name. I stroked him while pumping into him until I felt the energy sizzling across my nerves before erupting between us as we came.
My lover was as limp as a rag doll when I gently withdrew. He could barely keep his eyes open.
“Sleep, Vincent,” I murmured, kissing him softly on the mouth. “Let go. I’ve got you.”
Vincent nuzzled my neck as I held him. He sighed into sleep a moment later and was deeply asleep a short while after that. My mind was still buzzing though my body was exhausted. And there was a phone call that I needed to receive before I could rest. Once I was sure Vincent wouldn’t easily wake, I gently disengaged from his limbs. After cleaning us up a little, I poured a stiff cognac then turned on the TV in the bedroom. I kept the sound down. Still, Vincent mumbled as he sought my body. He settled as soon as he could drape himself all over me. I wasn’t able to move much, but I could watch the news.
The first report was troubling. Our neighbors to the south were once again voicing concern over border security. Military exercises were being considered. This report meant economic conditions in that country were dire. News that reached the outside world from there was heavily censored. The military junta that ran the country often responded to internal crisis by implying there’s an eminent security threat from our country. Being the focus of scorn from another nation was nothing new. The problem was that our own government would get nervous about any military activity near our borders. Eventually, they would act on that nervousness by doing something military as well. I wondered if they would try to reactivate us. I had an odd feeling in the pit of my stomach.
The last story was about the graduation ceremony. I hit the record button on the remote. Vincent would want to see it once he calmed about Bobby being gone. The coverage was nice. The report mentioned that Bobby was about to follow Vincent into service and the number of awards he received. There was open curiosity about Ellie Kramer, but they basically respected his privacy.
The phone rang then. I answered it quickly to keep from waking Vincent.
“He’s fine, Colonel,” Auerbach said. “No rejection from the serum. It has already begun to take affect.”
I sighed with relief. There was a very remote chance that Bobby’s immune system would reject the serum entirely, putting his life at grave risk. It was an unlikely scenario given his brother had easily tolerated the serum. Still, I had worried.
“Not at all,” re replied. “He’s resting now.”
“Let me know if he can’t handle the pain,” I said. “I can get him to meditate.”
“Sure thing,” he replied. “You get some sleep.”
I was finally ready for sleep. The cognac had hardly been touched. I slid into Vincent’s arms thinking all we had to worry about was missing Bobby and introducing the new Officer Training Protocols. Little did we realize that our lives were in grave danger from an unlikely source.
* * *
Vincent was ravenous upon waking. I could hear his stomach growing insistently before I opened my eyes. That input was juxtaposed with the fact that I was on my back with my wrists and held very firmly just above my head. Vincent was straddling my hips. His erection was branding my stomach with its heat.
I opened my eyes to find Vincent scowling at me. My brows raised in curiosity. Open amusement was unwise. His grip on my wrists tightened at the first hint of frivolity.
“I suppose you blame me for your current condition,” I murmured evenly.
“I was going to get us food, but you moaned my name when I tried to get out of bed,” he muttered. “You kept trying to hold me...”
“You haven’t eaten since yesterday morning,” I replied with a gasp as he licked my neck. “You need to eat.”
“Tell me to stop,” Vincent murmured in my ear.
The protector in me wanted to stop. It was still hard for me not to be his superior officer. The words died in my throat under his golden gaze. His grip tightened on my wrists, as I considered moving. I felt the weight and power of his possession as I considered refusing him. My body betrayed me. It sang beneath his. I swallowed hard, feeling a blush bloom on my cheeks.
“I can’t,” I replied. My tone was huskier than intended. “Please...”
“Horny bastard,” Vincent muttered with a smirk before biting the curve of my neck at my shoulder.
I cried out as he sucked at the bite while pressing me flatter against the mattress. I relaxed against him, baring my throat further.
“Slut,” he murmured against my skin. I could feel his smile.
Vincent liked the reply. He relaxed his grip then turned me on my side.
“Need you...more than food...more than anything.”
I felt him stretching me. His face I was pressed against the back of my neck. Again, I relaxed. Vincent took me with a focus that should have been scary. Soon, he was pushing inside me. One hand still held my wrists. The other clutched my hip hard enough to bruise. My lover didn’t scare me. I pushed against his thrusts as I sought closer contact with is body.
Vincent hardly touched my erection before I came. He held me close as the orgasm and energy field wracked through us. Afterward, my lover clung to me.
“I’m so hungry,” he murmured. “For food.”
I laughed softly. “If I can walk, I’ll get us food.”
Soup, sandwiches and coffee were on the menu since Vincent was not up to his usual kitchen magic. Percival had left a large quantity of each. We demolished most of it in very short order.
Food and a long, hot shower made a world of difference to Vincent. He wasn’t shell- shocked anymore. I felt a lot of pent up energy from my lover. I grew a little concerned for my own safety.
“So, what do you want to do today?” I asked as I combed his hair.
He shrugged. “I don’t have anything pressing at work until tomorrow. Weren’t we invited to a skirmish?”
“We have an open invitation to weekend maneuvers.”
The Foundation had solicited the invitations, so we could get to know the current crop of officers before we began the push for training reform.
“Let’s take up that invite, Colonel,” Vincent said with a wicked smile. “Unless you want me to strap you down for the day.”
My body reacted to the purr in his tone. He was gazing at me intently.
“I can’t refuse you, love,” I murmured, swallowing hard.
Vincent smiled at me as he cupped my face. Then, he kissed me tenderly.
“God, I love you,” he whispered against my lips. “Let’s go beat up some tanks.”
It didn’t take long for Remak to make the arrangements for our participation in the skirmish. She even included herself and Maximilian in the mix. I suppose all of us were feeling deskbound. We quickly put on our protective gear and fatigues, including helmets. Percival was waiting to take us to the vast Military Training Fields, about a half an hour from the edge of the city.
Twenty minutes into the trip, I noticed Percival was shifting his glance to the rear-view mirror more often than was his norm.
“What’s wrong, Percival?” I asked.
“There’s been a vehicle behind us since we left the Foundation, sir,” he replied. “It followed us through a circuitous route to the highway and remains with us still. They had been keeping a certain distance away. They are now gaining on us.”
Vincent glanced back out the rear window, and then he scowled.
“They’ve obscured their windshield,” he muttered. “What is this, a robbery?”
“I wouldn’t think so, sir,” Percival replied. “We’re riding in a clearly marked military vehicle containing three adult males. Robbers would pick an easier target.”
I activated my beacon. “Call the police, Percival. Then, floor it.”
“Very good, sir.”
“And you will not leave this vehicle until we reach military grounds or are instructed to do so,” I said quietly to my very antsy lover. “We cannot fight them.”
“I know, Colonel,” Vincent muttered.
While everyone understood our very public actions in the Market Square last year, the government was near panicked over the thought of Altereds using their skills on civilian streets during anything other than a declared emergency. An edict restricting such actions came down just after the New Year. Other than on personal property or on military grounds, we could not use or skills even in self-defense. That was another reason Sonja Becker’s foot dragging on getting us an assistant had made no sense. We needed someone who could protect us. Percival was proving to be that man. Shortly after ringing off with the police, the ex-sergeant floored the gas. We gained ground on our pursuers easily. Then, I felt a strong pulse through the vehicle.
“Fuckers!” Vincent spat. “They have an EM pulse emitter. Why haven’t we stopped?”
“I took the liberty of having Lieutenant Colonel Heisler’s men shield the car’s systems against such weapons,” Percival replied smoothly as we weaved through traffic at high speed.
“Is that keeping you from being dead?” Vincent asked. “We have on protective gear.”
“No, sir. I’m wearing the same protective gear as you,” he replied. “I thought it prudent given past attacks. Heads down!”
The back window shattered an instant later. They had fired an explosive dart that could break bulletproof glass. We were flat against the seat cushion when I saw Percival’s elegantly gloved hand pointing a big, shiny automatic back toward the open window. He fired a volley of six rounds. The car behind us swerved.
“They’re still coming,” Percival muttered. “Tenacious lot. We’re five minutes away from the training field.”
I heard sirens coming from ahead of us and behind us. There was even a helicopter overhead. Heisler was trying to raise me on my phone. I kept one arm firmly across Vincent’s back as I answered it.
“We’re all uninjured, Mark. Just get them alive.”
“I’ll do my best, sir, but the locals are moving in with their guns drawn.”
“We’re crossing a police line,” Percival said. “We should exit the vehicle as soon as we stop.”
Getting out wasn’t really a choice. As soon as we were free from our seat belts, strong hands grabbed us both to pull us away and put us on the ground. They were Heisler’s men, and they were literally covering us on the ground.
“Relax, Major,” the man who had Vincent said.
“Hardcase,” I said in a firm tone to get his attention. Lord, he was furious. “You know the drill.”
“Yes, Colonel,” he ground out, relaxing beneath the security officer.
I was not pleased about the man plastered all over my lover. And judging from the profound grimace on Vincent’s face as he glared in my direction, he wasn’t pleased about the person on top of me. Still, they had a job to do. And then there was the continuing gunfire coming from the pursuit vehicle. Our assassins were apparently undeterred by the impressive show of police force. My hope of questioning them was obliterated when their vehicle blew up shortly after we were pulled from harm’s way.
Heisler arrived as Vincent and I were helped to our feet. The usually mild mannered Security chief was livid.
“What part of take them alive didn’t any of you understand?” He demanded.
From the indignant babbling that followed, it soon became clear that the explosion came from inside the assassins’ car. While the first responders were putting out the fire, and the evidence teams waited, the commanders turned their attention to Vincent and me.
“Rik, do you have any idea...”Heisler began.
“You know what we’ve been working on Mark,” I muttered in frustration. “Training Protocols, Medical Wing renovations, mess hall changes. And there is absolutely nothing off the record.”
“Who has time for off the record?” Vincent snapped in irritation. “I mean what the fuck do we have to do to keep people from trying to kill us? Live in a glass jar?”
It was a fair question. Unfortunately, no one had an answer. Heisler knew that Vincent was nearing an explosion.
“Look, let us follow up here,” he suggested. “I can interview you at the Foundation, and I’m sure you can be available for the police.”
“Of course,” I replied with relief.
“We’ll just borrow you man for a little while,” he continued. “My men will see you to the training fields.”
With that we were on our way. It turned into a very fine and productive day. Vincent and I were assigned to the artillery unit in which Captains Forrester and Schmidt were assigned while Maximilian and Remak were with the opposing unit. The commanding officer we worked with was open to our suggestions, so it was easy to pull off our demonstration. Rather than have us merely attack the opposition, we drew them out of their cover and attacked only when absolutely necessary. The artillery unit won the skirmish despite having inferior numbers. We scored points with both sides that day.
Percival caught up with us as we celebrated with both units. He had no news, so we enjoyed our evening of food, drink and tall stories. We were wiped by the time we got back to the Foundation apartment. Still we showered as usual to decompress from a surprisingly busy day. I combed Vincent’s hair. His eyes were half closed when we climbed into bed. I thought my lover would be sound asleep in an instant, but he surprised me.
“Are you going to call the Doc?” he asked sleepily. “I know you spoke to him last night.”
I kissed Vincent’s temple. “Yes, love. I was just about to do that.”
The day was very long, but it was only 9 pm when I called the Medical Wing. This time, the phone was on speaker so we both could hear.
“How is Bobby, Doc?” I asked.
“How are you?” He countered. “An assassination attempt and then a full skirmish? General Zumwald just about plotzed when he heard all of this.”
I smiled as Vincent sighed impatiently in my arms.
“We’re fine. We behaved and even ate our vegetables. How is Bobby?”
“It was bad today,” Auerbach replied. “The serum is acting very quickly, just like it did with Vincent. He was in severe pain, but he wouldn’t let us call you.”
I wondered why the doc sounded so calm. “Did you sedate him?”
“We didn’t have to,” Auerbach replied. “Bobby’s a tough SOB. Somehow, he found a way to meditate. He put himself to sleep and sleeps still – peacefully and deeply while his cells implode and rebuild.”
Vincent smiled. I could feel him slipping toward sleep himself.
“Thanks, doc,” I said softly. “Get some rest. We will, too.”