After Doomsday, there wasn’t much left—a world that had fallen apart. It hadn’t been enough to boil the oceans and raze the surface with fire. With that scorched earth had come a final solution, the contagion. In a world where every breath was ash and disease, few survived.
The Imperium hunted them, extracting healthy flesh to extend the life of the powerful. All the while, soaring unseen, the tools of an old order search. Hidden far from the sight of the ruthless Imperium, deep beneath the earth, the DIRE stations offer renewal—an exit from the destruction of the world.
Those ships, like a phoenix, rise with the last refugees to bring them to DIRE, hoping that a keeper yet lives to hold open the only chance of escape.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Purple Horn Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Hurt / Comfort, Reunited and it Feels So Good, Second Chances, True Love, Uncommunicative Masculinity
Word Count: 14500
Setting: Secret Underground Bunker
Languages Available: English
“DIRE EPSILON, STATION TEN, do you read.”
That Elijah understood the words was a testament to too many years in the bunker. They crackled like a living thing, mixing with static in a dance that tested his patience.
“Keeper Epsilon. Negative safe zone. Repeat, negative safe zone. Divert to station nine.”
It was what he was supposed to say. Station nine was gone. So was station seven. They were closest. There was no chance of reaching anything further away. Not that there was anything further away to reach, anymore. Hidden and secret, the DIRE stations were buried deep below the surface of what had once been the world. But he couldn’t advise them to land. It was against the rules. First, they had to say the right words.
“Elijah Dennis?”READ MORE
Keepers didn’t have names. Keepers didn’t have friends. Elijah squeezed his fist, glaring in darkness at deep brown skin stained darker by something under the surface. Knowing his name was not enough. He listened through the dance of static.
“I have children on board, Elijah. Please.”
Pressing a few buttons stirred ancient generators to life. It’d been months since he turned the power on. The coms were powered by cells that lasted a thousand years. Elijah had seen too many fail to believe that, but his still worked. As for the rest, they survived on emergency power.
Elijah began the dance of fingers on the keyboards. Thirty. By Sol! Twenty-eight of them children. Elijah’s heart fluttered. Twenty-eight. He swallowed the bile that rose in his throat. Would it be enough for the council? He tapped out another sequence to activate the scanners.
“What the hell!” That wasn’t the captain. A co-pilot, perhaps?
Panicked screams called out to Elijah even over the static—the children, probably. His scanners still worked, sending out blinding green rays that sliced through the supplicant ship over and over, penetrating the hull, telling him what he most needed to know. Even the Phoenix craft captains had never seen those, they had only ever been used at the DIRE stations, and never extended beyond the bunker. No one who entered DIRE ever left.
He studied the readouts. His stomach was leaden weight. He pressed a few more buttons. Deep in the earth motors ground with a sound like earthquakes. “Platform six. Landing is dark. Repeat, landing is dark. Assume hostiles.” Another button keyed an intercom. Unlike the coms with the ship, he might as well have been standing right in front of every person in the bunker having a one-on-one. “Incoming platform six. Repel all hostiles. All passengers must reach the bunker. There are no acceptable losses.”COLLAPSE