QSFer Toshi Drake has a new gay sci-fi book out: Entity.
Lieutenant Michael Collins’s week just went to hell. The suspicious actions of his captain escalates as he orders Michael to investigate a dead ship’s heart—the cephalopods that pilot the star drive system. The mission forces Michael from the safety of his ship and his lover, Commander Eizen Sartris, while straining the bond with his own ship’s heart, Padua.
Attacked by Siwu pirates, Michael finds refuge on a damaged alien vessel, where he waits for Eizen to rescue him. But in the dark cold wreckage, he discovers a thriving garden tended by a strange young boy on behalf of his enigmatic “Mama.”
Fear dominates Michael’s thoughts as he struggles not to succumb to the darkness and terror of abandonment. To survive he must rely on his wits and hold fast to his faith that Eizen will find him before the pirates—or before the mysterious entity on board decides to destroy him.
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“Lieutenant Collins, report.”
Why was he calling me? I was done for the day. There were other people who could go into the smelly putrid corridors in the evening. “Yes, Captain?”
“The botanists on level fourteen have reported a malfunction in the humidity controls. They’re not sure what happened, and they want you to look at it.”
“That’s maintenance crew task. Ensign Veris is on duty,” I mumbled as I stumbled around, trying to find my pants and shirt.
“I expect a report when you’re done investigating.” And he was gone.
I didn’t know why I was the first one called for this task. I was supposed to be taking care of Padua and not ship malfunctions. We had an entire department for that, and you know what? I wasn’t in that department. At all.
“Boss said you’re having issues with humidity control?” I asked as I entered the greenhouse. I winced at the heat level and how dry it felt. I didn’t think plants liked it this dry. The botanist, an older female Terran, smiled as I spoke. She had a tablet in her hand.
“Coll, hi! I didn’t think they’d send you. Aren’t you off duty right now?” Lieutenant Commander Steph Argas asked before leading me to the trouble spot. “Anyway, you’re here now.”
I looked at the control panel on the wall and saw that the display screen was blinking and had unreadable letters flashing oddly. “That’s not any known language, right?”
“No, it’s definitely not. And usually this display panel would show temperatures of various areas in here.” She flicked the screen and winced as an ear-piercing sound echoed. “Sorry. That’s a new one for us.”
“Wasn’t I here last week fixing the tropical humidity controls?” I asked, taking the tablet and opening up the control panels. I searched for my records and nodded. Yup, same thing. Something had shorted out and disconnected the display panel from the actual humidity control. Now I had to figure out where and how to fix the problem. After shimmying out of my jacket, I handed it to Steph, who stood anxiously watching my every move. I was perfectly clean too.
“So it’s not just a display issue?”
“Sorry, Steph. Looks like there’s something wrong within. I have to go inside the ventilation shafts and find the problem there. It doesn’t have anything to do with the panels. I think I have to check the greenhouse power source.”
“Will you be able to get it done tonight? We can’t let these plants go on much longer without the proper humidity.” She bit her lip and clasped her hands together. “I am so sorry the captain called you to fix this. Do you need anything? I can get you some dinner?”
“Sure, if that will make you feel better. Don’t worry about it. I think it should be an easy fix. It’s only a problem because it’s damn inconvenient to get to.” I patted her arm and moved to the open panel. “I’ll have this fixed in a jiffy.”
“If you’re sure. I’ll get one of the cadets to bring you cake, okay?” She hovered some more until I stepped into the ventilation shaft. It didn’t smell as awful as this afternoon’s dive. So that was a bonus.
Squirming my way through the narrow tunnels was not my idea of a good time in the evening. Was this what a dick felt like when it went in an ass for the first time? How uncomfortable. Shuddering I turned off that line of thought, because eww.
As I crawled along, I noticed bits of chewed-up cotton and crumpled pieces of wiring and rubber. I sniffed the debris and cracked my head against the pipe. The odour was disgusting and yet familiar. It smelt like urine, and I was sure all the animals on board Padua were accounted for.
I rolled to my back and stared at the mass of fibre optics and pipes above me before contacting the head of the xenology department. “Hey, Commander Wild, it’s Lieutenant Collins. I was wondering, are all the animals in the animal cargo bay?”
“Uh, hmm. Can I get back to you, Lieutenant? I’m in a different part of the ship. I’ll have my second have a look. She’s babysitting the critters now, and she’ll let you know.” Lieutenant Commander Wild was a decent guy from one of Uranus’s moons. He worked in sanctuaries where they helped animals adjust to homes on new planets. He had a good handle on the ship and its cargos, and he was always willing to share insights into animal behaviour, which went a long way when dealing with Padua.
“Yeah, no worries, sir. I’ll follow this trail of breadcrumbs and let you or Simons know what’s going on. Collins out.” I grabbed a flashlight from my utility belt and shone it in every direction. I needed to know more about this creature so I could give a detailed report to everyone. Grumbling, as nothing jumped out at me, I wiggled my way through the shaft, trying to solve the problem of no humidity for Steph.
I grew so focused on the task at hand, I forgot about the mysterious animal until a high-pitched squeal and scratching of nails on metal had me jerking back. When I lifted my head, pointy teeth and whiskers flashed at me as the animal caught my hair and scratched my face—the tunnel was too narrow for me to duck and protect my head effectively. The monster rodent bit my ear, making me shriek in pain and crash into the ventilation wall. I managed to pull my arm holding the flashlight up and blind the fucker, forcing it to back off and dash down a left-hand tunnel.
I’m Toshi Drake, a baby MM author, just learning the ropes. I’m a book dragon, the staff of two furbutts and unapologetically Canadian.
I’m strangely obsessed with the colour blue. I try to deviate and yet.. everything seems to end up blue.
I’ve been a lover of books since I was a wee child. I’ve been working in some form of a library since grade 6. I’ve had stories written down since probably the same time. As a long time reader of yaoi, (Japanese gay romance comics, or boys love) I finally found the courage to step up and write the stories in my head. I invite you to come along and enjoy the ride.