While driving home during a snowstorm, Serge Kosygin witnesses a meteor plummeting to Earth. When he reaches the strike location, he finds a horrific crash site instead of a meteor crater, with two aliens dead and one survivor barely alive. His deeply ingrained mistrust of the government prompts him to rescue the alien before the authorities arrive.
Een has lost his life mates in a desperate effort to reach safety. With their deaths, he may be the last Aalana in the galaxy. He finds himself in the care of a strange alien being, which both frightens and intrigues him. Though communication issues, biology, and grief impede him, Een is determined to learn all he can about this new world and his rescuer.
Music and the natural world bring them together, creating a bond stronger than culture shock, but government interference and Een's failing health threaten their budding relationship. Only their combined ingenuity and their determination to stay together will give them any chance of saving the last living Aalana.
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Publisher: MLR Press
Pairings: MM, NB
Heat Level: 2
Romantic Content: 3
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay, Non Binary
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Hurt / Comfort, Cultural Differences
Word Count: 19000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Smoke rose from the damaged pod. Difficult to say how much, since it was obscured by the windswept snow. This was supposed to be a mild season in this hemisphere. The instruments had only given them general data, not enough to take elevation and local weather patterns into account.
"Field release," Een whispered. A last sliver of hope insisted that the AI functions might have survived the crash. No response. He fumbled with the manual release, fingers clumsy and swollen, difficult to maneuver with all his faiina still upright in hard spikes from fear and pain.READ MORE
Perhaps his containment field failed as well, since it shut down suddenly, leaving him free to crawl from his command bowl out of the ruined pod. Grief jostled with frustration in his jumbled thoughts. Almost. They had been so close. On the outer rim of the escaping fleet, their small asteroid pod had escaped the worst of the damage from the failure of the fleet's field generators. Even so, they suffered localized instrument failures and the loss of outbound communications. They could only listen in horror as other pod crews cried out for assistance, desperate emergency calls in a dozen languages cut off in mid-word, lives suddenly extinguished, missing lives the AI registered only as a blank space in the data.
Dragging his burned and uncooperative body one-armed, he reached Aal. Flat and dark, once shining silver eyes stared sightless at an alien sky. Forcibly ejected when the pod crashed, Aal's neck had snapped. Perhaps it was kinder that way. Laiin's remains lay farther on, twisted, burned, no remnant now of that quick, bright laugh, the graceful shadow dancer. They had been all Een had left, the last of his home--this world had chosen cruelty over mercy and taken them.
So close, they had come so close to safety. The outer hull had burned off on entry, following its design, most likely leaving a bright trail of fire in its wake as they plummeted into the gravity well. They had held on, singing the patterns, joyful that they had reached sanctuary. Then on approach, the EM fields failed, transforming what should have been a hard landing into a catastrophic crash.
Somewhere out in the vast bowl of stars, there might be more Aalana. But here, beneath this chill sky, gray as death, he was the last. I welcome you, Light-Singer. Gather me into your arms.
But death turned her back and refused his embrace, leaving him bereft and in agony in this terrible, barren place.COLLAPSE