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*Warning, the following contains BDSM scenes. If you are not into this kind of thing, then chances are this story will not be for you. You have been warned so please don’t leave feedback telling me you didn’t enjoy the chapter for these aspects. Thank you.*
“Landing in thirty minutes. Prepare for atmospheric entry.” The automated voice sounded through the corridors of the Goliath TC36. The bustle of the large crew as they made their way to their designated seats for landing. Today was the day. After eighteen months of space-travel after leaving Earth, today was the day Humans first reached CT-9, the first planet humanity had reached that had an atmosphere that could sustain life. The planet’s surface was estimated to be roughly 60% water according to the various probes and unmanned vehicles that had been sent to explore the surface of CT-9. It wouldn’t be long before the crew took their first breath of fresh air in well over a year, so everyone was excited.
“I wish we could just fast-forward this part until the bases were set up so I can begin my work. I can’t wait to get analysing the plant life on our new home.”
“I’m much more worried about microbes. Who knows how different they will be to the ones on Earth. We could all die the moment the doors open.”
“Don’t be so grim, the nanites in our bloodstream are programmed to eliminate any foreign bodies that register as being a potential risk. I trust they will work fine.”
“Yeah, you remind me too much of that chaos theorist in that classic movie Jurassic Park, you’ve always managed to be a bit of a downer of this journey, Patil.”
“And why is it that chaos theory is still around? Things can always go wrong! I’m a realist when it comes to these things.”
The chatter carried on amongst the crew as the ship began to enter the atmosphere, causing what could be described as feeling something akin to turbulence of an aeroplane. Only about three times worse. Doctor Liam Conrad found himself beginning to become queasy as his stomach began to do back flips. He had a hard enough time flying, so he hadn’t been looking forward to this.
“You alright doctor Conrad? You’re looking a little pale.” Nikolai asked, offering his hand to Liam who took hold of it and squeezed. Nikolai Yozhikov had been Liam’s rock this past year and a half. Liam was considered brilliant within his field, but here on the ship he was far out of his element amongst the sterile metal of the Goliath TC36. Often suffering from bursts of anxiety and panic attacks, Nikolai had met him during the second week of their voyage and had quickly become friends. Nikolai was a survival specialist that had conquered every habitat on Earth and was signed up as an explorer for when the Goliath had landed and the first base was set up.
“I’ll be fine.” Liam replied, panting slightly as he stared into Nikolai’s bright blue eyes. Liam had been attracted to Nikolai almost from the moment they had met, that only being slightly marred by a panic attack relating to a feeling a claustrophobia. Liam found himself falling head over heels for the six foot ten tank of a man with a soul so gentle Liam found it difficult to believe that he was trained in Tae-kwon-do, Muay Thai and Krav Maga. Liam loved Nikolai’s company, and during their seventeen and a half months of friendship, they had been inseparable. Yet Liam had struggled to grapple with his anxiety to confess his feelings to Nikolai. What if he rejected him? What if he laughed in his face? What if he was so repulsed by the idea that Liam got an up-close demonstration of Krav Maga?
“It won’t be much longer until we’re on solid ground. You’ll feel much better then.” Nikolai reassured him as he smiled at Liam, causing his heart to melt at the queasy feeling in his stomach to become worse.
“I hope so.” Liam mumbled. Nikolai was going to be gone for a long time once they had landed. The expeditionary forces had so much to do. Secure the landing site, find a source of fresh water, bring back some specimens of the flora and fauna. And it would surely be a long time before Liam would be going out into the vast new world. His role as an ecologist with extensive experience in animal behaviour, was necessary, but one most people viewed as commonsense. You don’t need fancy qualifications and a tonne of experience to tell if something was friendly or not. In the preliminary expeditions, it was likely that any animals that were to be returned to camp would be brought back dead. Shoot first, ask questions later.
“Landing in fifteen minutes. Please make sure that you are safely secured in your seats. Engineers are to report to their designated seats. Heat shields are holding steady.” The automated voice called out again. Liam felt himself begin to quiver under the stress of the situation. Anxiety and fear was causing him to run the worst case scenario over and over in his mind. It wasn’t long before he began to hyperventilate.
“Liam, calm down, everything is going to be fine.” Nikolai reassured him, gaziantep escort squeezing his hand as he the shakes and shudders of the Goliath entering the foreign atmosphere intensified. Liam was close to having a panic attack, ready to bolt and hide himself away in a dark corner of the ship rocking backwards and forwards until he was incinerated by the ship’s failure to breach the atmosphere, or until they were on solid ground for the first time in a year and a half where the gravity wasn’t artificial.
“How can you know that?” Liam muttered as his nerves felt as though the stress was pulling them apart.
“I have faith in the pilot and that the engineers have done their job perfectly. Everyone up here are the best of the best in their field. That’s why we’re here, to start up a base. Just think, another hundred, two hundred years and man will be travelling the stars as normally as if it were the same as driving a car. We are the pioneers here Liam. Have faith.” Nikolai said, his gentle rumbling voice both soothing yet powerful at making his point.
“And driving has never been without problems.” Liam retorted, but Nikolai’s speech had calmed his nerves somewhat. The anxiety partially replaced with some excitement. Nikolai chuckled at Liam’s quick-witted retort.
“They don’t let just anyone fly the largest spacecraft man has ever constructed. Yvonne Armstrong’s family is legendary for being from a long line of astronauts. I think it was the late 1960s when her great, great, great, great, great, great, give or take a couple of greats, grandfather, was the first man to step foot on the moon. They say her family has stardust in their veins. I trust her with my life. You’ve met her haven’t you? You should have at some point. Within all of eighteen months, we must have ran into absolutely everyone on the Goliath.” Nikolai said, staring off into nowhere in particular as he was thinking. Liam was also thinking as well. He had met Yvonne. She was both impressive, and terrifying.
“Atmospheric entry successful, five minutes until landing.” The automated voice said, met by the resounding sound of cheers from the crew. The feeling of being in the epicentre of a small earthquake had passed and Liam let of a sigh of relief. He smiled up at Nikolai who smiled right back.
“See, didn’t I tell you things would be just fine?” Nikolai said happily as he took back his hand to join in with the applause that sounded through the brig.
“You did. Now, once you’re off out exploring don’t eat anything until the biochemists say it’s okay and be sure to bring me back some specimens for dissection.” Liam said, his nerves almost completely subsided and his usual cheerfulness returning somewhat.
“Yes mother.” Nikolai replied jokingly as he tousled Liam’s sandy blonde hair in an affectionate kind of way that turned Liam red. ___
The following days passed by much too quickly for Liam’s liking. The explorers had originally scouted the immediate area around the Goliath in order to make sure it was safe before the rest of the crew began to work on setting up a settlement. Within two days various tents had been erected and a perimeter barrier consisting of rocks and branches of a deep purple had been set up in order to keep unwanted visitors to stray too close. Liam found himself in awe each and every day that passed, observing even the smallest of creatures that scurried along the scorched ground near where the Goliath’s engines had burned the vegetation of the landing point to a crisp. Amongst the crew, Liam was considered to be somewhat unreliable because of his interest in studying every new creature he spotted, but they understood. Everyone was excited and eager to start their work, just happened Liam was good with animals.
“Conrad! get your butt over here and lend us a hand!” Liam heard a woman call out to him that caused him to nearly fall over as he observed a small ant-like organism that was scurrying along the ground, searching for food. Liam quickly got to his feet and rushed over to the five foot eight woman that Liam was taller than by barely an inch. Her copper red hair tied back in a ponytail as opposed to her usual style told Liam that Yvonne Armstrong was ready to work hard, and work others to death. She and her team were in the process of erecting another tent that would serve as an emergency medical facility. There was no shortage in labour, but Yvonne and Liam never really got off on the right foot. She considered him something of a wimp due to his panic attacks he had been prone to having cooped up on the ship. She was right of course, but Liam found her insufferable since she constantly harped on about it.
” I didn’t know you’d be getting your hands dirty, captain.” Liam said, quickly taking a mallet as he began to secure tent from the side nearest Yvonne, struggling to keep the tent in an upright position.
“Of course. Earth wasn’t where I was meant to be. Just like You were never meant to be on the ship.” Yvonne retorted, struggling to keep the tent from falling to the ground until Liam pegged the other side of the tent.
“Claustrophobia is perfectly normal. I have no idea why you harp on about it all the time.” Liam sighed, moving to the other end of the tent as he secured the rope holding the weight of the material to the peg as Yvonne held the pole supporting the tents end.
“I do not. Just most of the time we’re together. You should know I’m only teasing, I pick something with everyone. You just react all the time, making it fun. Here we are on CT-9 and you’re acting like a child in kindergarten when someone teases you. Wait, isn’t it reception in Britain? All the same, like a five year old. Lighten up and learn to laugh. Come on, let’s get everything set up. You know your way around a lab right? Can’t imagine a doctors bay being much different.” Yvonne said, rolling her eyes as the tent was finally upright without the need of help from others.
“I was more involved in field studies. Sure there were some Pavlovian conditioning experiments and some fixed action pattern investigations, but I was more involved with the ecology of the ice caps as they began to refreeze after the greenhouse gas problems were solved. Surprising how well some species bounced back from that. Their niche was so vital to the ecosystem, the conservation status had rose from endangered to vulnerable within five years. That is extremely fast. It’s been almost ten years since I was in a lab. But yeah, so long as we don’t break any bottles and release any chemicals, everything should be easy enough. Where are the chemicals and medicines anyway? Still in storage on the Goliath?” Liam asked, looking around the busy growing settlement in search of the cargo containing the medical equipment.
“Still on board. But looks like that will have to wait, the expeditionary team is back.” Yvonne said, pointing out beyond the perimeter to the return of the explorers, led by Nikolai, carrying an assault rifle that simply didn’t seem to look right in Liam’s opinion. He knew he was more than capable of using it, but the way Liam knew him it still didn’t look right in Nikolai’s hands.
“Mind if I tag along for their report? I want to hear everything directly so I can get an idea of how long it will be before I get to go out with them.” Liam asked hopefully, taking Yvonne’s shrug to mean sure, why not.
As the expeditionary team drew nearer Liam noticed that one of the men was being supported by two others, he seemed to be sweating profusely, and limping.
“One of them is hurt. I’ll get a medic.” Liam said to Yvonne as he rushed off to find a doctor. Yvonne began to turn white as a ghost as she saw the look on Nikolai’s face.
“Pearson was caught in a type of primitive snare about two miles east of here, looks like the branch was tipped with something and the nanites aren’t registering the substance as harmful. We brought back the stick in order to provide a sample of whatever is in his body, but he’s deteriorating fast. I s’pect if we didn’t slow the blood flow to his leg, he’d be a lot worse.” Nikolai said grimly as he directed the explorers supporting Pearson to the medical tent and set him down on the ground, Yvonne barked orders to get blankets and water to them before looking back at Nikolai.
“Anything else to report? Were you able to locate a water source?” Yvonne asked, trying to get any other information out of Nikolai before they discussed the elephant in the camp.
“We found what appears to be a river a mile and a half east of here, but the cliffs were too steep at the points we located for it to be any good as a water source. Not long after Pearson got caught in the trap. You know what this means right?” Nikolai said, dropping his voice to nothing more than a whisper for the last sentence. Last thing he wanted to do right now was cause the crew to panic or start celebrations.
“Yes. We’re not the only intelligent life on this planet. Oh the fun that will be reporting back to Earth. Listen, for the time being, keep that quiet. The same goes for the rest of your team. It means we are going to have to delay Conrad’s trips out with you.” Yvonne said, rubbing her temples at the headache she was already beginning to develop from the whining she knew Liam was sure to start once he found out.
“I feel that’s a little harsh. He may not be a survival expert like me, but he’s extremely observant, and I know my team are more than capable of watching out for him. I feel that with his input, we stand a much better chance. Plus he knows ecosystems very well, so I bet he’d be very good at getting to grips with an alien ecosystem as well. He’s brilliant at what he does.” Nikolai said quietly, unsure why exactly he had dropped his tone.
“Well I can see the benefits, but he’s too much of a wimp. Those anxiety attacks of his, those would seriously hinder you and your team. Plus I’m a bit concerned about your relationship with Conrad. You two seem a little too chummy. There nothing else going on?” Yvonne asked, raising her eyebrow inquisitively, the tone of her voice mixed with seriousness and concern. Nikolai felt his face begin to flush slightly but shook away the thought soon enough.
“Like you said, he’s too much of a wimp to speak his mind. I find that adorable. But I’ve seen the way he looks at me, he’s definitely smitten, and I think I am as well.” Nikolai said, biting his lip in embarrassment as he saw Liam leading a short Indian woman to where Pearson was lying, shivering and sweating profusely from the poisonous substance in his veins.
“That confession complicates things, but it only confirms what I noticed a couple of months ago on board the Goliath. I’ll consider things and let you know before your next scouting mission. You’d better get some rest.” Yvonne said, patting him on the back as she was unable to reach his shoulder before she swept off to speak to the doctor treating Pearson. Nikolai stood rooted to the spot. He had severely underestimated this woman. He hadn’t expected her to be so perceptive. Nikolai relayed the message to his team to go and get some rest before he made his way back to his quarters on the Goliath, collapsing on his bed the moment he got to it. Nikolai quickly fell into a deep sleep, his mind still reeling over the revelations of intelligent extra-terrestrial life.
Liam was having the dream again. Dream might be a bit light a term. Recurring nightmare best describes it. Whenever he woke up from this , he found himself having broken out in a cold sweat and often found himself trembling and then usually cried himself back to sleep. He wished his unconscious mind would stop throwing the experience back at him.
He was in the cage again, naked as the day he was born. His vision was well accustomed to the dark dingy basement that was his home. He could hear the scurrying of rats and the light snoring of others, the relative quiet broken by someone yelping in their sleep as they struggled to lose themselves in their dreams to escape their harsh reality. Liam looked around, he remembered clearly what their handler had said what he had guessed today was going to be. Auction day.
Liam heard the floorboards above him creak, their handler was coming. He let out a frightened little whimper then pretended to be asleep like the rest. If the handler knew he were awake and failed to warn the others of his arrival, he’d be beaten something fierce. Even through his closed eyelids the sudden change in the levels of light, he heard others begin to wake up groaning quietly.
“Wake up you pieces of shit! Time for the auction. Best hope someone buys you, trust me, you don’t want to be left unsold….” The handler roared, rattling the cages of those he deemed still sleepy. Liam stared at the man with hatred towards another he had never felt before, which was saying something. Liam hated everyone. The warden noticed his staring and moved over to his cage.
“Is 89312 looking forward to remaining behind? Trust me sweety, consider this treatment us going easy on you. If you get left behind, you’ll wish for death. You understand that, don’t you 89312?” The handler said, spitting in his face between the bars before he opened his cage and dragged him out, Liam’s frail weak pale body doing his best to keep himself in the cage, where at least the abuse would be difficult, his fingers soon slid from the cage bars and he was on the cold hard concrete, where he felt a searing pain go through his stomach as the Handler’s foot collided with his ribs.
“Stay down boy unless you want the whip. Same goes for the rest of you!” The Warden warned menacingly, showing a small handle that seemed to be nothing more than just that, a handle. Liam was well aware of the severity of the threat, as were most of the rest. Liam laid there, writhing in pain, doing his best to keep from crying out, which would earn him another beating or worse, if the guard was feeling sadistic, the whip. One by one the other captive prisoners were pulled from their cages and remained on all fours.
“You okay?” Whispered a scruffy looking boy, his eyes darting between Liam and the warden. Liam pulled himself to his hands and knees and smiled at the boy, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.
“I’ll be fine 76450.” he said giving the boy a watery smile, wanting to give him more than just another kiss but this was not the time, nor the place. 76450 was the only person in his entire life that he didn’t hate. He was sweet and he felt empathy towards Liam, and Liam towards 76450. They were in the same boat. They had been captured in the same batch out on the outskirts of the Capital of England, New London. And for all he knew, he could have been here for two months, or three years. He didn’t remember anything of his life before the cellar. All he knew that he knew things about the rats without knowing how he knew. Such as how they transmitted something called leptospirosis in their urine and that they had the ability to learn to push buttons if they were to gain food or sexual stimulation. He never spoke of such things, but in the back of his mind, he knew he was clever.
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