Authors: Victoria Zagar
Tags: #sci-fi, #gay, #space, #glbt, #alien, #science fiction, #m/m romance, #alien sex, #war, #gay romance
Heart Of The Sun
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
HEART OF THE SUN Copyright
Victoria Zagar. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For more information, write to
Cover art image courtesy of http://FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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This story was written for the Goodreads Gay Science Fiction Group's 500 member celebration and is based on a prompt by user Bluesky39:
"I would like to read about a future human race at war with an alien race. Two soldiers, one from each side, are the only survivors left on an alien planet and have to work together to survive. They should fall in love and have an HEA but the conflict between the races doesn't have to be resolved. Maybe our heroes escape to another galaxy or find asylum on a neutral planet. The military aspect and the clash between the differing races and cultures are key to the story."
Visit the prompt thread: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/998902-story-prompts-writers-come-pick-a-prompt
Falls To Earth
Above Rinax One
Alan feels his fighter break into a spin as a laser blasts through his wing. The stars blur as he struggles to find a focal point, some fixed object to remind him which way is up and down in the vastness of space. A sleek Karalian fighter swoops past him in a victory dance, mocking him by leaving him for dead. He flips his middle finger at the Karalian. It’s a crude gesture straight out of the mess hall, flippantly delivered as if he is only cursing a bad driver and not the Karalian that might kill him. It helps to alleviate the panic that tears through his gut as his cockpit explodes into a disco of flashing lights and buzzers that Alan knows can only mean one thing.
Death is on its way.
Desperation coils through his bowel like a snake as he realizes that it’s all over for him. The Humans will go on fighting and the war effort will continue, but he’s out for the count.
Only the count is forever.
He remembers the emergency handle in a flash of inspiration.
Lord knows if it will still work, but I have nothing to lose,
he realizes, and with a shaky hand he pulls on the cord. His ship falls away around him like so many pieces of a child’s construction set, leaving only an egg, a capsule designed to preserve a life until rescue can be found. It spins through the darkness, propelled by the last gasp of his fighter pushing him away.
Only somehow he’s getting pulled into the gravity of Rinax One.
That’s not good. I could burn up on re-entry. Perhaps this is the end after all,
he realizes with a heavy heart, his bright hopes suddenly dashed. His emergency beacon pulses with light, but his signal falls on deaf ears in the heat of the battle.
It’s too late. They’ll never find me. By the time the battle is over, I’ll be a charcoal briquette down on Rinax.
He closes his eyes, trying to force away the sudden rush of sentimentality as he thinks of his family, his mom, his dad, his little brother Chester who’s attending medical school back on Earth. There’s a photo back on the ship of them all standing together, beaming pride on his parents’ faces.
They’ll cry. They’ll be proud, but they’ll cry. Keep Chester safe, okay Mom?
Not that any of you can hear me.
He feels suddenly alone as he drifts away from the battle, the space war behind him seeming like a distant memory from another life as he’s pulled closer to Rinax. The capsule is a tight shell around him, suddenly claustrophobic and he puts his hands up against the glass as if he can will it away from the planet, or maybe just to take one last good look at the stars. The capsule is being pulled into the corona of Rinax now, and he can see more of what’s beneath the atmosphere than up above. Rinax is purple, the purple of amethysts that grow on its surface like plants. It would be beautiful if not for its harsh climate, swirling storms that tear the planet to pieces, leaving only rocks and crystal dust in their wake.
It’s getting warm in the capsule, a slow heat rising by the second as he is pulled into the atmosphere and the capsule begins to burn. He prays to the Gods to be knocked unconscious so he can miss the part where he’s fried alive, but this far out in space, none are listening and he’s acutely aware of the heat and the sensation of falling.
If the heat doesn’t kill me, the landing surely will.
He closes his eyes, feeling suddenly sick to his stomach as the acrid smell of melting wires meets his nose and the gravity generator starts to fail. Outside the world is spinning, his capsule out of control, protesting against the re-entry it was not designed for. He’s falling, swirling, spinning, closing his eyes against the amount of stimuli that’s competing for his mind’s real estate.
The Gods finally hear him, and he blacks out.
* * *
There’s a low buzzing sound at the edge of his consciousness. He swats at it like a fly in the darkness, but it only grows louder and louder. The comforting darkness slips away like his mother’s arms and he opens his eyes to a blurry jumble of information that prompts him to close them again until he can figure it all out. Blood, there’s definitely blood, he can both see it and smell it. There’s broken glass, too and more of that burnt wiring. The occasional spark flies out of what’s left of the dying control console. That’s not the source of the low buzzing, though. The thrumming is coming from outside.
The capsule lurches and he realizes with terror that he’s not on solid ground. Opening his eyes in a hurry, he breaks through the dozen visual stimuli demanding his attention (that wound is bad, Alan...) and looks through the broken glass of the capsule to see it is in fact, floating. He tries to stand and realizes he is still buckled in. He pulls off the seatbelt and feels a stab of pain. A rather large shard of glass is jutting out from his leg, surrounded by warm blood. The ship lurches again and Alan fights the urge to throw up his breakfast.
I don’t want to revisit what could be my last meal.
The ship seems to move suddenly, as if acted on by some outside force. It starts to sink calmly like a doomed cruise ship being slowly eaten by the waves. It makes a gentle sound as it hits the ground, almost like a vehicle being parked. Then he sees the face peering in at him, the green glow emanating from the being’s hands, and scrambles to get out of his seat.
A Gods-damn Karalian! I’ve got to get out of here!
He fumbles with the door controls as he feels warm blood pouring down his leg.
I’ll never get away like this. He’ll kill me for sure. I only hope it isn’t painful.
A piece of his mind saw fit to argue back at him.
If he wants to kill you, why did he park your ship? He could have dropped it from the cliff and watched you become a red stain on the purple sand.
The door opens with a whoosh, silencing all of Alan’s mental arguments. The stranger stands outside, curiously looking at Alan. The Karalian appears to be male, with long black hair over a layer of white, his face covered with the warpaint birthmarks that are standard of his race’s warrior caste. He’s tall, over seven feet, and Alan feels tiny and insignificant.
Which is exactly how they want us to feel. He is quite attractive, but let’s not forget, a cold blooded killer. Every Karalian warrior washes his hands in blood and magic.
“Mahatoa, saf’roa it vorhan!”
The Karalian speaks a sentence in his native tongue, and then lets out what seemed to be an almost human sigh as Alan gives him a look of total confusion. He unclasps a blue crystal from around his neck and gives it a flick with his fingernail before putting it back.
“You almost landed your ship on me.” The Karalian’s voice, now translated, has a sarcastic edge to it, and Alan’s hand moves to draw his gun. He points it at the Karalian, but the alien man just smiles. “Put your peashooter away. It will do you no use here.” As if to illustrate his point, he flicks his thumb and forefinger together and the weapon clatters helplessly away down a ravine. It fires into the rock, the shot echoing below them.
“Didn’t your mother teach you how to handle a firearm?” Alan asks, with some sarcasm of his own.
Two can play at that game.
“Didn’t your doctor tell you how fragile humans are?” The Karalian asks, gesturing to the wound on Alan’s leg. “You do know about your ridiculously short lifespan, I hope?”
“Don’t play games with me,” Alan says. “If you’re going to kill me, just do it. I just ask that you make it quick and as painless as possible.”
“Who said I was going to kill you?”
“You’re a Karalian. I’m a Human. This can only end one way.” Alan sits down, perching on the edge of the capsule. He’s lost the will to remain standing as he debates his death with the stranger.
“You lack the intelligence to see that I am stranded too, I see.” The Karalian shakes his head, his mane dancing with it.
“It never occurred to me, no. I’ve been a little busy bleeding out.” Alan tears a strip off of his flight suit and goes to pull on the glass. It comes out with a sickening slick sound that even seems to put the Karalian off balance. There’s more blood pooling in the wound than Alan’s ever seen, and he can barely stand to look at it.
“Put aside your primitive medicine and let me have a look.” The Karalian moves closer and inspects his wound. Alan realizes that the Karalian has decided he’s not a threat.
I’m not sure if I should be insulted by that. I could still deliver him a nasty gut punch if I wanted. Hell, I could probably knock him into the ravine.
He dismisses the prospect.
Enemy or not, he’s done nothing to harm me yet. Let’s wait and see what he does first.
To his surprise, the Karalian puts a gentle hand over his injury and closes his eyes. Green light emanates from his hands and Alan can feel the wound closing, albeit painfully as the tissue knits together. He grits his teeth until the Karalian removes his hand, and then he can see his leg is scarred, but whole. It’s not the first time he’s seen Karalian magic, but it is the first time he’s ever seen a Karalian heal somebody.
“I had no idea you could mend flesh,” Alan says with unrestrained awe in his voice.
“It can be done, but it is costly. Still, it was necessary so that you may walk. There is a storm coming, Human. I can feel it on the winds. We must find shelter.” The Karalian stands, wasting no time. Alan stands up, his leg feeling strange, but no longer in pain. He follows the Karalian in silence, too tired to argue or fight back.
For now, I am alive, and he seems to need me that way for now. Best to save my strength for later, when he chooses to show his true nature.
The sands give way to a strange, twisted forest, home to plants and trees that look dead, yet seem alive. The trees grow no leaves, yet their branches seem to block out the harsh sun which even now is being overshadowed by thick, black clouds. The Karalian looks at a map, a crude piece of parchment that looks like a poor man’s copy of a blueprint.
“There.” They enter a clearing to see some kind of facility, if it could be called that. It is more of a series of huts than anything, clearly abandoned. Vines are growing on it, thick black tendrils that look like they might swallow a person sooner than feed on the mulch below them.
“A colony seed setup. When did we ever try to colonize Rinax?” Alan asks. The Karalian laughs heartily.
“Every second since you discovered this pretty little rock,” he says. “No colony ever takes off, though. Between the storms and the raids by my people, every colony is a failure. As it should be. To us, this pink rock is fuel. To you, it is the stuff of worthless little trinkets. Yet you would fight and die to have it, just to be a thorn in our side.”
“You started the war,” Alan says. “You came to invade Earth. You threatened our home world.”
“Two hundred years ago,” the Karalian says. “To you, that is ancient history.”
“To you, that is just yesterday,” Alan retorts. “The same men still rule your world and threaten our very existence.”
“You would not understand,” the Karalian says. “You are ignorant people, savages.” He shakes his head. “Enough. I tire of this discussion.” He fights through the vines and cuts them away with a knife. Alan follows his lead until they have made a path into the building.