He nuzzled Jakob’s neck, darting a tongue out to taste his lover’s skin. Jakob tilted his head back to allow Kyle greater access.
He nibbled lightly before reaching down and lifting Jakob up and onto him. The wall behind Jakob provided leverage as he entered his lover, and Kyle let out a soft moan that was answered by the other man.
A small laugh escaped him after he came. “I’ve never fucked an officer before.”
Jakob gave a small shake of his head and smiled before lifting an eyebrow. “Was it everything you’d hoped?”
Kyle kissed him. “Definitely an experience worth repeating.” He let Jakob down, then gave him a light shove toward the shower unit. “Can you tell me what the meeting is about?”
“All I know right now is there was a sensor anomaly.” Jakob turned the shower on and stepped inside, then moved over a little to make room for Kyle’s entrance. “If it’s a rescue operation you’ll learn about it soon enough.”
Anson noted Doc coming up the corridor and slowed his pace to wait for the other man. The officer’s pips had already been added to the collar of his uniform. Anson gave a slight shake of his head, then gestured. “You’ve got those reversed.”
Jakob blinked. “Excuse me?”
“Mind if…?” He gestured to Jakob’s collar. When the doctor nodded, he reached up and fixed the pips into the proper order. “Solid ones on the outside.”
“Thank you.” Jakob smiled as he gave an awkward shrug before stepping into the lift next to him.
“Still feels odd?” Anson glanced at him. A small part of his brain noted that the uniform looked good on the little doctor, and he shoved that thought aside. The doc was a married man, after all.
“No…” Jakob twitched a shoulder. “And it is that fact itself contributes to the oddity of the situation.” He glanced at the datapad in Anson’s hand. “There was a signal?”
The lift doors opened, and they started down the corridor. “Distress signal. Only…” He offered the datapad to the doctor.
By the time they were in the briefing room, Jakob was nodding. “The level of distress coordinates with the location in the ship. That does not seem a plausible distribution.”
“You two are in agreement then?” Captain Mateo glanced at them.
“Sir, based on the information Doctor Narel has just provided I’m forced to conclude this is a —”
“It’s a genuine signal.”
He blinked. Then blinked again. Then turned toward the other man. “Uh, Doc?”
“The information in the signal is spoofed. The signal is genuine.” Jakob was frowning at the datapad. “Sir, the…” He hesitated, then sighed.
“Doc?” Captain Mateo frowned.
“Doc…” Anson took a deep breath. “It’s an Alliance thing?”
“Not a military one. There is a secondary distress signal under the first, it’s…” Jakob nodded. “The injury distribution itself is a signal. It’s a Xinar trick for…” Jakob looked up, meeting Anson’s eyes. “It’s a hostage situation.”
“How many people would know about that trick?” Anson frowned.
“Anyone who has trained at a Xinar station. However, prior to…” Jakob shrugged. “The protocol was not entered into the military database as Xinar’s Sapphire leadership designed the protocol to accommodate military interference and misuse of resources.”
“In case they were taken over by the Alliance military itself.” Anson nodded. “Any way you can tell from the signal if that’s what has happened?”
“The protocol allows for two variations. The first is ‘stay away’. Those markers are not present. The second…” Jakob looked down at the datapad again.
“Help us.” Captain Mateo slowly nodded. He looked over the faces of the rest of the crew. “Alright, any suggestions?”
He knelt next to the wounded technician. She’d been part of the crew that had taught him during his training rotation. There was no recognition in her eyes when she looked up at him. “You’re going to be alright.” Julian nodded to her.
“Thank you.” Yasmin smiled. Her eyes went to where the soldiers were assisting in putting parts of the facility back together. “I’m not sure who was more surprised to see a Palindor patrol come through the door, us or the pirates.”
“I am not certain what they expected to accomplish.” Julian finished the diagnostic and gave her a small injection. She had the worse injuries, having been shot in the shoulder as an example to the others.
“They were trying to lure in one of the merchants that pass through.” She sighed, then glanced at the soldiers again. “I think we can take it from here. Your people should…” She smiled. “It’s possible an alliance ship picked up the signal as well. I’d hate for…”
“The concern is appreciated. We will be on our way as soon as we are certain the enemy forces have been secured.” Julian looked up to see Anson striding toward him. Before the other man could ask the question, Julian stood. “There are no medical injuries remaining that require immediate treatment, Commander.”
“Good.” Anson nodded. “We should clear out then, before any Alliance ships come to investigate.” He turned and strode to the group of soldiers.
Julian watched him go, then took a chance. He met Yasmin’s eyes, then slid a datachit into her pocket. She blinked and started to open her mouth. He spoke before she could. “It was good to see you again.”
Her mouth shut, and her eyes abruptly widened. She stared at him for a moment, then her eyes flicked to the Palindor soldiers before flicking back to him. Then she nodded, and her hand briefly touched his. “You too.”
His jaw tightened a little when he saw the commander laughing with Jakob. The CSO stood just a little too close and put his hand on Jakob’s shoulder. Kyle took a couple deep breaths before walking over to join them. “Commander.” He leaned in a little to greet his lover with a kiss. “Jakob.”
“Narel.” Commander Anson grinned. “Good news. Doc’s latest scans show that the stuff produced in locker 7A that I know absolutely nothing about is not poisonous.”
“That is a very liberal interpretation of my results, Commander.” Jakob rolled his eyes. “I believe I stated —”
“I heard you. You said one drink won’t kill us.” The commander nodded.
“I strongly emphasized the ‘one’ in that statement.” Jakob folded his arms, then met Kyle’s eyes. “One.”
“Is that one drop, one shot, one bottle…” Kyle shrugged. Then Jakob’s eyes narrowed, he smiled. “It’s the first stuff they’ve produced that doesn’t taste like we should be cleaning engine parts with it.”
“One.” Jakob held up a finger. He glared when Kyle bent down to kiss the finger.
“Alright, off-duty time.” Commander Anson rolled his head from side to side. “I’m going to go get some sleep.” He nodded to Jakob before heading off down the corridor.
Kyle watched him go, then frowned. “What were you two talking about?”
“I performed an analysis of the latest results from the still.” Jakob raised an eyebrow. “As we just discussed.”
“Was that all?” Kyle turned back to him. He took Jakob’s arm as he started toward their quarters. “What else?”
“A few minor ailments among the crew, the effects of a recent chemical exposure in engineering, and…” Jakob shook his head as he was half-dragged along. “Kyle, is something wrong?”
“No, I just…” Kyle shrugged. “Want you all to myself for a while.” He smiled as he opened the door to their quarters, then gave Jakob a gentle shove inside. “I’m eager to find out what it’s like to have an officer sucking my cock.”
The bruises around his wrist formed an almost perfect handprint. Julian stared at them a moment before applying some of the medical gel. He watched as they slowly faded, then raised his head to look at his reflection in the mirror. Another dab of the medical gel took care of the small cut on his lip. He swallowed before returning the ointment to the small medicine locker.
Kyle had left to go back on duty, which meant it was probably safe to leave his quarters. He had several more hours before he had to be back on duty himself. Suggesting they spend some of their down time outside the quarters had resulted had met with an objection from Kyle. He’d barely let Julian leave the bed in the last two days, let alone leave the quarters.
He checked again for visible marks before going in to get dressed. Something had clearly set Kyle off. When he got the chance, he’d check to see if there had been an altercation of some kind with the crew. Julian rubbed the back of his neck before pulling on the tunic. That, of course, assumed his potential interference wouldn’t set Kyle off again. Maybe he should just leave it alone. If an altercation was the problem, Anson would deal with the matter quickly enough.
As soon as he set foot into the solarium that served as the ship’s gym, Anson waved him over. “Hey, Doc.”
“Commander.” He inclined his head as he greeted the other man with a smile.
“It’s come to my attention that you have zero combat training.” Anson folded his arms.
“Yes.” He shrugged. “I prefer it that way.”
“Well, you’re not the security officer here now, are you?” Anson grinned. Then he shrugged. “Not trying to turn you into a soldier here, Doc. I’d just feel better if I knew you could block a swing from an unruly patient.” He gestured at one of the practice circles.
“I…” Julian started shaking his head.
“This is just self-defense training, Doc.” Anson hesitated, then lowered his voice as he stepped a little closer. “An officer, even a medical one, is supposed to have at least basic combat training. I’d rather not have somebody question your lack of it, so humor me here.”
Anson was looking out for him. Julian smiled. “A fair point, thus I’ll save you the trouble of making it an order.”
“Let’s start with some basic blocks then.” Anson stepped into the practice circle and waited for Julian to join him there before he began demonstrating.
Fortunately, Anson proved to be a patient instructor. And he did enjoy the man’s company. After a couple hours, he could semi-reliably perform most of the blocks. When Anson suggested some weapons training though, Julian shook his head. “To be blunt, Commander, the idea of inflicting damage makes me physically ill. I think putting a weapon in my hand would only serve as an additional complication rather than anything helpful.”
“Having just observed you trying to throw a simple jab…” Anson nodded. “I’m forced to agree. That’s fine, a medic isn’t required to carry a sidearm. Some even think it should be actively discouraged, like it was way back in the old days.” He twitched a shoulder. “Used to be a war crime to throw down on a medic.”
“The good old days.” Julian chuckled.
“Keep practicing the blocks and defensive stuff, and we’ll do this again next week.” Anson rolled his shoulders. “Weapons or no, I’d like to teach you a couple disarming maneuvers. For patients not in their right mind type situations, not for…”
“I understand.” Julian stepped out of the circle, then rubbed his neck. “I should go shower before my shift starts.”
“See ya in a bit.” Anson nodded.
Leon frowned at the datapad, then looked up at the security officer. “And it was addressed to me?”
“We found that odd as well. According to our records, you’ve never patrolled near that system.” Radko sighed, then folded his arms as he leaned against the wall. “The Xinar tech swore in her deposition that the man who gave it to her looked familiar. She thought it was someone she’d trained with a few years ago, and that he recognized her as well.”
“She couldn’t give a name, or more to…” Leon looked down at the datapad again. “If this is genuine…”
“Frankly, sir, even if it isn’t genuine, we could probably use it.” Radko shrugged. “If it’s a genuine backchannel, we get good information. If it’s false, we learn what information they want us to believe, and that’s something we can also use. And if we can get it established as a two-way channel, it even more useful.”
“I don’t need a lot of convincing here, Radko.” Leon chuckled. He set the datapad down.
A couple hours after Radko had left, he picked it back up again. He scrolled through the file. His first thought had been to wonder if the message had come through Captain Thorne. The thought had immediately been rejected. Thorne was a man of honor, not a traitor. That’s why he’d like the man. The technician’s name was Yasmin Hakim. He entered her information into his computer, then scrolled through her file.
The name of the Xinar waystation caught his attention and brought a tear to his eyes. Marinos, in the Karin sector. Julian had trained at the same one. Leon swallowed past the lump in his throat and looked again at the datapad. Maybe it was genuine, and his brother’s ghost was looking out for him. The thought was appealing.
He wiped a hand across his eyes and took a couple deep breaths before getting back to work.