Myrdu is an Avlan, part of a proud warrior race. He has family on Avla, mothers, broodmates, a daughter. But one day he finds that it's all a lie—that Myrdu himself is a lie. Myrdu's lifetime is only one of many in the unfolding memory of Okka, the shapeshifter, Okka, the spy. But Okka's mission on Avla has come to a bitter end, and xir homeworld has fallen. Xe cannot stay on Avla now that xe knows what xe is.
Okka flees to Earth, hoping to buy xemself time, hoping against hope to find some way to save the Mimica homeworld. Okka does not expect to find humans that xe can call family, not in the way that Mimica can be to each other.
Okka does not expect Waverly Kemp.
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Pairings: Includes NB
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Genderqueer, Non Binary
Protagonist 1 Age: Ageless/Immortal
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Adopted Child, Bad Breakup, Badass Hero, Cultural Differences, Famous / Not Famous, Hurt / Comfort, Most Mindblowing Sex Ever, Office / Workplace Romance, Rescue
Word Count: 65000
Setting: New York, NY
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Myrdu was deep in the flow of data analysis, right on the breathless cusp of an insight that would change the landscape of Avla’s interplanetary knowledge, when his broodmate popped into his work room for an unannounced visit.
More than forty years, even as Avlans measured, and Atur’s timing was just as impeccable as when they were boys. No one but Atur could make that sound coming down his hallway, boots treading heavy and unfailingly steady.
“What do you want?” Myrdu asked impatiently, turning away from his screen.
“I came to ask you to rejoin the ranks of the Avlan military,” Atur answered.
“Of course you did.” When Myrdu was halfway to cracking open all the secrets of Mimica communications streams. He barely kept from rolling his eyes. “And what makes you think it will appeal to me any more today than it did last time?”
“I merely hope,” said Atur. “And I can offer you a higher position. Better pay.”READ MORE
“No,” said Myrdu.
“You know the fleet needs you,” said Atur. “Please.”
Myrdu gave him a flat look. “Perhaps,” he said, “but do I need it?”
“I know you, Myrdu. You won’t be happy until you have a project you can devote your talents to.”
“I have a project.” Myrdu gestured to the screen in front of him, on which the progress of his latest decoding effort was displayed.
“I mean a real one,” said Atur.
“Something that suits your talents,” Atur corrected himself. “Not just a challenge, but something important. You should be winnowing out hidden viruses, saving the Avlan fleet’s computers from the Cewri’s underhanded attacks.”
It was difficult to say no to an older broodmate, Myrdu mused, especially one who had always been able to beat you up. Doubly so if the man in question had grown up to be a skilled diplomat, and triply so if he was elected chairman of a coalition that spanned dozens of worlds, including your own.
But Myrdu was damn well going to try.
“And who determines importance?” he asked. “You, as always?”
“I believe you should see the truth of this too,” Atur said. “You’re so smart, Myrdu. Smarter than me, in most ways. When will you accept that this is a dead end?” His eyebrows furrowed, and he shifted his weight with his impatience. “We know what Mimica do.”
“You mean we know what they’ve done in the past,” Myrdu corrected.
“Yes. Fine. What they’ve done in the past. They don’t think like us, Myrdu. They aren’t like us.”
“Is that so terrible?” His own daughter was unlike anyone else on Avla. Always would be, no matter how hard she might try.
Mimica, though, weren’t even humanoid. Atur could be right. Maybe.
“The Mimica could be great allies,” Myrdu persisted, “if we could trust them. And if not, if this research points the other way… well, then, ‘know your enemy’ is just as important with them as with the Cewri, or any race in the Imperium.” Atur knew full well how much of Myrdu’s value as a force against the expansion of the Imperium lay in his ability to collect new knowledge about them and their member species. Why not use the same tool to gain insight about the Mimica?
“You could waste your whole life trying to make sense of those signals. They’re most likely meaningless, if I am to believe my advisors.”
Myrdu snorted. “I know the markers of organized, lingual communication when I see them, Atur. There is something here to make sense of. I’m right on the edge of finding it.”
Atur pondered this for a long moment. “When you’re done, I want you back at my side.” His voice softened. “The Cewri’s attacks are unrelenting. My xenotechnical experts do their best, but none of them are you.”
Myrdu had forgotten to account for how Atur’s eyes could be huge, liquid gray pools.
Myrdu sighed. “When I’m done,” he agreed, “I’ll think about it.”COLLAPSE