No government lasts forever, and the Third Confederation is no exception. With its collapse, the starship Midnight Ride has no choice but to run—from rebels, pirates, and warlords, with a cargo bay of political refugees who’ve been cryogenically frozen. Now, after centuries of drifting through space, trying to get home, the starship’s systems are failing, and her occupants don’t have much time left.
Fortunately, they’ve wandered into a solar system containing a G-type star, and it’s left to Chief Scout Hart and his scout pod Sarah to explore the sole planet that seems as if it might be hospitable.
However, others call the blue and green planet home, and Hart must determine if they’re a threat.
Will what Hart finds on the planet be enough to ensure the survival of the Midnight Ride’s passengers and crew, or will the desire for power overtake the refugees and lead to disaster?
Hart dreamed of gliding through blue skies, doing somersaults and vertical loops above green hills and plains—without benefit of his scout pod. Not alone, though. He’d wrapped his arms and legs around his partner and clung to him, all the while his partner dipped and soared with his cock deep inside Hart’s ass. Soon…oh, soon! he’d reach his climax...
The blare of the ship’s klaxon jerked Hart awake. He groaned and slapped at the switch that would shut off the klaxon. Only when he hit the polymer shield of the hatch did he realize he was in the scout pod and not his bunk in his quarters.
How long had the klaxon been sounding? Hart raised a hand to rub his eyes, but he was still groggy and his movements were sluggish; he nearly succeeded in hitting himself in the nose.
He froze as he realized his mask was off his face. How had that happened, and how long had he been breathing the Midnight Ride’s tainted oxygen?
The klaxon continued to blare.
Hart fumbled for his mask and got it settled over the lower portion of his face. The results weren’t much better.
Is it going to be a toss-up as to whether we suffocate or commit suicide? he wondered.
He hoisted himself up and out of the pod and stumbled to the wall, where he toggled the switch that turned off the alarm on the flight deck.
“What took you so long to answer, Scout?” the captain snapped over the intercom.
“Sorry, sir. I’m on the flight deck.” When the captain spoke in that tone, Hart knew he was addressing his superior officer and not his father.
“What are you—? Never mind, we don’t have time for that. Get your ass to Command immediately.”
Command? In spite of how logy his senses were, he felt himself turn cold. Was this it, then? Was the captain summoning the crew to offer them the capsules that would give them an easy out?
But all he said was “Aye, aye, sir.” He’d find out soon enough. And if this was the end, there would be time enough to envelope himself in the images and sensations of his dream as he waited for the capsule to do its job.
Hart paused for a moment to steady himself, then tried to brush the wrinkles out of his shipsuit. It was no longer as snug as it had been when it had first been issued. Rationing had seen the entire crew dropping weight.
He ran his palm down the placket that sealed it from his throat to his groin, not bothering to grimace at the pungent aroma; even the mask couldn’t quite filter out the odor, and he’d had no choice but to grow used to it. There wasn’t enough water to spare for washing clothes or bathing, and the sprays that blasted them with jets of air were hit or miss at best. One had malfunctioned so badly an engine tech had been scorched; it had literally fried his eyeballs. They couldn’t afford to lose any more people.
What am I thinking? The Midnight Ride is probably on her last run. It won’t matter how many people we do or don’t lose. In the end, we’ll lose them all.
He arched his back to work out the kinks, then returned to the Sarah O., making sure she was in good order. With that done, he pressed the control on the wall plate that opened the door of the flight deck, and walked out into the corridor.
Command was half a dozen decks above. He sighed and started the climb.