by Michael Arram



















  ‘They’re too small,’ Lucacz commented.


  ‘You what?’  Leo, clinging on to a conduit as the great ship raised itself into orbit, was a little taken aback by the randomness of his mate’s observation.


  ‘Their wings.  They could never lift those enormous dragon-things.’


  ‘We’re pretty unlikely flying animals ourselves.’


  ‘But we have a degree of mystical power.  They’re all too material.  And another thing, those creatures actually fly in our skies: our scouts have seen them.  I’ve seen one fly, or I think I did.  So how do they do it?’


  ‘Can we focus, baby.  We’re stowaways on a giant spaceship which has just lifted itself off from our planet.   It’s crewed by vicious alien predators with an evil look in their eyes.  You could say we are in the shit.’


  ‘Maybe, but they don’t know we’re here.  I for one think this may be a real opportunity to revenge Emilja and Ruprecht ... and their kids,’ he added quietly.


  Leo kissed him.  ‘Who’s the brave one, my little zemec?’


  ‘I wonder why they’re taking off now, since it can’t be anything to do with us.  A thing this size lifting off will be visible to our troops on the Teeth.  They’ve revealed themselves to the avians, something they’ve deliberately avoided till now.’


  ‘You think this is a response to some other event, then?’


  ‘I do, and I’ll bet you’re indirectly to blame.  Not you, but your Uncle Henry who brought you to us ... and to me, which is why I love him.’


  ‘There are many other reasons to love my Uncle Henry.  Maybe you’re right, but what has he done to get their attention?  I thought he was just visiting his family, that and keeping my big bro out of trouble for a while.’


  Lucacz pondered briefly, then shook his puzzled head.  ‘No idea, Leczu.  I’m just saying it’s too big a coincidence; he’s here with all his power, then suddenly these things break cover.’


  Leo stroked his lover’s back gently, and let his fingers linger on his tight rear and stroke what was between his buttocks.  Lucacz shuddered with the delicious sensations and nestled into his husband. 


  ‘That’s so nice,’ he cooed.  ‘You’re trying to distract me from our danger, but I don’t mind, just go ahead.’


  The stimulation had the usual effect between Lucacz’s legs as his penis reared high, but this time the lubricant didn’t pulse out on to Lucacz’s glans, it collected into a large clear droplet at the tip and slowly drifted off into the air.  Wedged as they were amidst the network of cables, they had failed to notice they had lost gravity.  The craft had left orbit.


  Leo sucked the floating juice into his mouth.  As he licked his lips he observed in turn, ‘I can think of one use they’d have for wings.  They’d be useful if you spend a lot of your life in space, wouldn’t you say?  These draconids have to be long-distance spacefarers.  Now how about we take a peek into that inner chamber.  I think it must be the spaceship’s control room.  They’re all in there and they’re busy, so there’s a chance we’ll not be caught out and detected.’


  ‘Trying to fly in zero gravity may require a learning curve, Leczu.  It’ll be a risk.’


  ‘We’ll learn nothing perched up here.’


  ‘Okay, Leczu, if that’s what you think.  But let’s try a short-range flight first.  Just across this roof space.’


  So the pair poised themselves by grasping cables and pushed off in the general direction they wanted to go.  It was eerie to them as avians to coast through the air without the usual effort involved.  As the less-experienced avian, Leo instinctively flexed and beat, propelling himself headlong with a crash into a tangle of cables, where he struggled till Lucacz freed him.


  There followed a long and anxious pause, but the ship was too full of vibration and draconid screeching for any racket they made to be noticed.


  ‘Okay, my zemec.  Looks like you were right, as is beginning to be usual.  How did you control yourself so well?’


  ‘You beat the air, and you didn’t need to do it.  A shiver of the pinions is enough when you don’t have gravity as a drag.  Try it again.’


  Leo did, and he returned to their original perch in a more controlled fashion, Lucacz alongside him.  After a couple of back-and-forth flights Leo felt confident enough to lead the way to the control-room portal.  Upside down, he gripped the top of the arch and cautiously peered through, Lucacz at his side.








  ‘It’s not heading for us’, the sergeant observed laconically.  He and his men had armed themselves, though Henry was less than confident that the avians’ level of weapons technology would have any deterrent effect on the aliens. 


  Reggie confirmed the spacecraft’s route.  ‘It’s heading directly towards the tumulus we plundered.  We definitely pressed an alarm button there.’


  ‘When they find out it’s been looted, what then?’ Henry wondered aloud.


  Reggie shrugged.  ‘It’s a fair bet they have the technology they need to trace us, and then they’ll come looking.  We’re about to have a close encounter of the horrid kind.’


  ‘It doesn’t look good, does it?  Fancy them being on your planet all the time, and you not knowing.’


  Gus intervened.  ‘It’s not that surprising.  Our planet is bigger than Earth, and we’ve explored only a fraction even of our continent.  Our job has been to build and consolidate.  Davey’s done wonders in housing and feeding our rapidly growing population.  Thorough exploration is some years in the future.’


  ‘Maybe it’s just moved up the agenda.’


  ‘It seems to me they can have no large civilisation on our planet,’ Gus continued.  ‘I have observing it over several nights here, and by my calculations have seen all of both hemispheres during their night-time.  We cannot see the lights of our own settlements from up here with the naked eye, but large conurbations would certainly be visible.  I saw nothing of that nature.’


  ‘So what do you think, Gussie?’  Henry asked.


  ‘My guess is that what we have found here and what is apparently on our own planet are outposts of a much greater alien empire.  Maybe a thousand years ago they moved into the system, exterminated the advanced people they found on this moon and staked claims to it and our own world.  Then I think they moved on, leaving colonies behind them to exploit the system.  The one on this moon failed to prosper, and the one below did not do much better.’


  ‘Why do you think that?’  Reggie enquired.


  ‘This species, whatever else it is, is morally crippled.  Its specialism is genocide and war, and I imagine its entire culture is geared towards expansion and conquest.  Take that away and its predatory culture is insufficient to sustain itself.  I rather imagine it will collapse in on itself if it has to live off its own resources.


  ‘I have the rather horrible image of these decadent predators leisurely hunting down over the years the last of the native people, and then the bigger beasts, until nothing was left worth killing.  This moon was their hunting ground.  You will notice we have found nothing amongst the fauna of this moon larger than a squirrel.  I think that finally they simply packed up here and joined their colleagues on the planet below, where there was more fun to be had, killing either other beasts or each other.’


  ‘Each other?’  Danny exclaimed. ‘How can a culture survive when its members prey on each other?  Oh!  Don’t answer that.  That’s been a human specialism down the millenia.’


  Henry gave a tragic look. ‘Maybe, though at least humanity has a conviction that things ought to be better and can be made better.  It’s all speculation at the moment, but like Gus I don’t believe this bunch think that way.  They expand and prey on other cultures because the alternative is to consume themselves; it’s how they survive.  They must have chosen that way.’


   The spacecraft was descending now to their south, glowing bright as the atmosphere slowed its descent and leaving a great vapour trail behind it.  Soon enough the ship disappeared behind the range of hills, and the rumble of its passage buffeted their ears.


  ‘Sir?’ the sergeant suggested.  ‘Perhaps now might be the time to vacate this moon and return to Petakhrad.’


  ‘I don’t think so,’ Henry replied.


  ‘No?’ Danny asked, a little nervously. ‘What’s the advantage of staying here?’


  ‘To begin with, the avians can’t offer us much help against these technological Huns.  Why take a damaging fight to their doorstep?  No, I think this bunch will have to have their showdown with me, up here.’


  ‘Are you up to this, dad?’  Reggie was concerned.  ‘I know you’re a trained soldier and all, but this would be one Henry against an alien battlecruiser.’


  Henry shrugged.  ‘I’ll pelt them with my cuteness, and if that fails I’ll get really stern.  But this is a fight that would have had to happen sooner or later.  It’s a crisis which was bound to come, and better it’s sorted here and now.’  Henry turned to his escort. ‘Now sergeant, you’re an angel-born.  You have the gift of tongues, how are you guys on alien languages?’


  ‘No experience, sir.  But theoretically we can understand any communication with intelligence behind it.’


  ‘Okay, then.  If they want to talk, then at least there’s a possibility we can do that.  We must know more about this species.  I have a seriously bad feeling about them.’








  The control room was a cacophony of draconid screeching.  Leo wished he could cover his ears, but his hands were busy gripping the portal arch.  There was little chance they would be seen, however.  The crew was hard at work, and the purpose of the black tubs was now apparent.  The draconids had coiled up in them and were working the controls from panels within.  They were perfect workstations in weightless conditions, leaving the draconids’ hands free as the tub’s rim was gripped by their bodies’ own pressure.


 The giant screens were alight, many displaying complex graphics, and one or two the outside view.  The ship was closing with the moon, and on one screen the topography was displayed with lines and glyphs which indicated the crew had targeted a site for landing.


  Leo and Lucacz looked at each other and nodded, their shared mind concluding they had seen enough.  They returned to their roost.


  ‘One was the commander, I think,’ Lucacz speculated. ‘He was the one in the raised bowl at the rear.  He could see down on the others, and he seemed to be the one howling the loudest.’


  Leo agreed.  ‘Not my dad’s style of command.  He just looks at people and they run to do the right thing.’


  ‘Does he terrify people that much?’


  Leo smiled.  ‘No.  It’s difficult to explain.  People try so hard not to disappoint him.  Anything he asks, they do.  They know he has their best interests at heart.  His troops love him, they don’t fear him like his men did that evil emperor, Malik.’


  Lucacz gave a look of mingled disgust and fear at that ill-omened name.  ‘You have no idea of what the mention of that monster does to me, my husband.  Did your father kill him?’


  ‘I’m sorry, Luczu.  I didn’t mean to distress you, especially considering the shit we’re already in.  Malik?  No one saw him after the battle in the Starel Gap.  Everyone thinks he died there.’


  ‘Good!  I hope it was slow.’  Lucacz’s handsome and sensitive face for once looked something less than angelic under its crown of thick white locks.  He shook his head to clear it of the feeling and looked at his lover with his more usual expression.  ‘So what do we do, Leczu?’


  ‘Wait and see, my brave lover.  Maybe we’ll get a chance to strike a blow soon.’








  The people of Petakhrad did not need the messenger from the Dragons’ Teeth outposts to alert them to the new danger.  The great pillar of vapour as the alien craft rose through the atmosphere announced to them that their understanding of their world had just changed.


  It took the gloss off Maxxie’s first myelhei.  He had ascended in a mixed afternoon flight from the city.  He had half hoped Dana Tsernatova would be in the rising flock, but in default of her he paired with a grinning group of newly-active meledh girls, who took turns to scissor themselves on him and bring themselves off frantically on his very impressive cock, while the others erotically massaged his legs, feet, ass and anus.  He just held himself in the air above the mountains and experienced orgasm after orgasm, teased and brushed not just by their fingers but also their wing feathers.  He was out of his mind with a sexual ecstasy that seemed to be endless.  This was sex at a literally new level for him and it had no limits.


  After the fourth climax he broke away and soared down into the wheeling mass.  It was then he learned that he was not only attractive to the females.  There was a flurry of wings behind him and male hands firmly grasped his horns from behind.  A new sexual sensation exploded into his interior.  A warm male belly slapped on to his lower back and a very large cock, which felt as though it might have been constructed on a blueprint offered by Tom of Finland, speared his ass. 


  ‘Holy shit!’ he yelled, as he lost his anal virginity with one astonishing, deep thrust.  The experience was at least not what he had feared.  His avian rectum was built for the purpose of intercourse, and if it did not take the monster with ease it took it without much pain.  The pressure on his prostate caused an almost instant ejaculation, and he began building up to the next one as the copulating male body took complete control of his.


  It was that aspect, rather than the internal sensations, that turned Maxim off.  So it was almost against his will that he began slamming his ass back into his aerial assailant’s member, seeking more of the electrical ecstasy that his tight anal ring was offering.  He clamped down hard on the anonymous cock as he felt it pulse its offering into his interior and he himself shot into open air yet again.


  He was nonetheless half-disappointed when the male lifted off him and he felt the cold mountain air fill his now gaping sphincter.  No new body took his temporary mate’s place and very soon Maxim saw why.  For the first time ever in avian history a myelhei came to an abrupt and unwilling halt.  The rutting avians had a very good view of the ascending spacecraft on its white pillar of exhaust.  The thunder of its passage through the atmosphere alerted the rest of the myelhei, which was still too deeply engaged to be able to witness it.


  Maxim came out of his sexual daze and spiralled down to the city, folding tight his wings as he landed and racing through the streets to the guarded portal of the Macavoy palace.  The guards did not attempt to stop him as he pounded his way to the chamber of the Radkornatij.  Davey, Helen, Lance and Damien were already there.


  ‘You saw it?’ he gasped.


  Damien nodded.  ‘It came from far to the north, beyond the Great Fen.  None of the people have explored so far in that direction.  We have no idea what’s up there, but it looks now like something is.’


  ‘But we’re gonna find out soon,’  Lance broke in.  ‘The military is mobilising.  Damien’s sent out the alert.  Mike’s ordered the premenja.’


  ‘The what?’


  ‘That’s when our people’s physiology mutates into war mode. You saw it in the Horde Wars, didn’t you Maxxie?’


  ‘How can you be sure it’s war?’  Maxim asked Damien.


  ‘Can’t be certain maybe, but I like to take the worst case scenario.  The disappearance of Emilija and Ruprecht is now less inexplicable.’


  ‘I have to go with the expedition.’


  The council looked unconvinced.  ‘Not sure I can allow that,’ Damien finally said.  ‘You’re a guest.’


  ‘I’m also an Elphberg, Damien.  You can’t deny me my birthright.’


  Helen shook her head.  ‘Maxxie, you’re no longer the One.  Henry removed the power that could have preserved you if things got too dangerous.  You’re physically no different now from any other avian, and just as mortal.’


  Maxim growled.  ‘Have you forgotten my brother and his mate went out into that very wilderness?  I have to account to my father for him.  You may not forbid me.’


  Damien gave an inclination of his head.  ‘Put like that I take your point, Maxxie mate.  So go with Sub-Commander Atwood here.  He’ll tool you up.  I’ve just drafted you, Private Elphberg.  Sorry, but king or not you have to start at the very bottom in our military.’


  Lance took his hand and led him out.  ‘Come on, Maxxie,’ he said, as they took the way to the barracks.  ‘I’ve got some armour that’ll fit you, and you can have one of my spare helmets, they’re designed to accommodate horns.  Enjoy your first ass-fuck did you?’




  ‘The smell of you and the state of your ass rather indicates you’ve taken a myelhei to the limit for a heterosexual.’


  ‘Oh, right.  Yeah.  Did everyone notice?’


  ‘Can’t miss the signs, which are dripping down your right leg.  You’ll need a shower before I let you near my uniform closet.’


  Maxim wiped the back of his right thigh with his hand and licked off the result.  ‘It was pretty awesome actually.  But I won’t do it again in a hurry.’


  Lance agreed.  ‘It’s not for me either.  I occasionally let Reggie do me, as it’s special between us, but I won’t let anyone else up there, and couples who’ve been through the millenij rarely go up in a myelhei in any case.’


  They reached the barracks, and Maxim observed the guard on the entrance with interest.  Her body had mutated, with swollen muscle and all signs of sexuality smoothed away beneath her armour.  She had a massive Russian rotary machine gun cradled in her arms, a rocket launcher strapped to her back and ammunition belts slung around her shoulder.


  ‘So you brought some armaments from Earth with you.’


  ‘It would have been foolish not to.  We had no idea what we would find on this planet.  We warehoused them after arrival, and made do with more renewable and less industrialised munitions.  But when we need something with a bit more bang to it we have those ex-Warsaw Pact Shipunov miniguns in reserve, as well as quite a store of machine guns and RPGs.  One of the Tsernatov workshops has the ability to manufacture all the ammunition and explosives we need.  We’re far from defenceless.’


  Lance and Reggie’s house-tree was near the university in Antonsberh, but he also had quarters in the warrior barracks in the capital.  Maxim looked around the small apartment.  ‘Hey!’ he said, observing a wall picture. ‘That’s a majorly good photo of avian Reggie!’


  ‘No photo, my brother Rafe has turned into a superb artist.  He did it.’


  ‘Amazing.  I must sit for him some day.’


  Maxim showered and made sure to take a pee, following Lance’s advice. He returned to find Lance equipped for war, his body mutated and armed.  ‘Er … how do I …?’ 


  He looked into Lance’s black eyes and felt a shock.  Suddenly his heart began trip-hammering.  He stared down to see his cock swell hugely and all but fuse to his lower belly, while his balls disappeared.  His body seemed to vibrate with the pulse of the mutation, then it settled, leaving him with a sense of huge and contained physical power.


  As soon as his body had stabilised, Lance threw a short and padded green tunic over Maxim’s head.  He fitted it between Maxim’s wings, belting it at his midriff.  Over this he fitted skilfully-made black armour, which protected shoulders and chest, and which had a special furrowed and padded plate to protect his lower belly and sex.  A hanging leather belt strapped it tight to his torso and looped under his crotch to meet a cord hanging between his butt cheeks.  Lance confided that he should make sure to unloose that particular strap before relaxing premenja, or the result could be very painful.


  Lance placed a black open helmet on Maxim’s head and strapped it on.  There were apertures where his red horns could emerge.  ‘Horns don’t give you rank in our outfit, Private Elphberg.  Your humble status is advertised by the smallness of the green tuft on your helmet.  You may notice the rather large horse’s mane that makes me look like a Spartan hoplite.  So salute anyone with more of a plume than you have.  Okay, let’s go find Commander Mike.’


  The two avian warriors found the Petakhrad garrison marshalling in a central yard.  There were maybe two hundred of them formed into four sections.  Lance confided Maxim to a section headed by a lieutenant and he was in turn handed over to the sergeant.  Maxim looked hard at the cheerful round face framed by its well-tufted helmet.  ‘Marsin?’


  Maxim was powerfully hugged.  ‘Good to see you, er … do I call you your majesty?’


  ‘No, sir.  I’m Private Elphberg for now.  How’s Sergeant Marsin?’


  ‘Pretty good.  I went through millenij with an angel-born and we have a majalath. two girls and a boy: Tovyanja, Maria and Vukašin.  Here, take this assault rifle.  Do you know how to use it?’


  ‘I’m the son of the Red Elphberg.’


  ‘Enough said.  Here’s an ammunition belt, supply pack, knife and grenades.  Let me sort you out.  Excellent!  The perfect petakh warrior.  You don’t have usakamaradij do you?  Oh well.  I’ll put you with the angel-born platoon, they don’t either and they’re one pair of wings short.  All girls by the way.  We have rules about fucking on duty, but it’s okay any other time.’


  ‘I love the army.  I can’t wait till the premenja’s relaxed and I get my cock back.’


  Marsin bellowed with laughter.  ‘A natural squaddie.’


  Orders were shouted and the Petakhrad garrison came to attention as the impressive figure of Commander Mike Atwood descended into the yard.  Maxim had forgotten how colossal an avian figure Lance’s brother made.  He barked a command and, section after section, the heavily-armed avians rose to defend their realm, flying north with all possible speed.








  Henry was shaken awake by the sergeant, an angel-born called Marius.  The sergeant had an angel-born partner called Priscilla, and a rare majalath of three girls back home.  Henry, ever the journalist and politician, had made a point of getting to know these facts.


  ‘Sir, they’re coming with the dawn.  The craft is just appearing above the southern ridge.  They’re heading directly for us.’


  Reggie strolled up.  ‘They could probably pick up from space the technology of theirs we looted.  I’d guess they’ve been checking the mound for clues as to what manner of creature we might be.  Now they’re coming to find out more.  Any ideas, dad?’


  ‘Yup.  Keep behind me, and that goes for you warriors too.  But sergeant, you stay by my side.  I need a translator if they want to talk before they kill us.’


  The craft scudded towards them with frightening rapidity and at a low height, its engine exhausts blazing with blue light beneath to give it lift.  In shape it was rather like an ancient Apollo command capsule, but in a dull metal finish and on a massive scale.  About a kilometre from them it slowed and hovered, stirring up a wind that beat dust into their faces and caused the surrounding pines to bend and sway.


  That the mission had been sighted its members had no doubt.  Henry braced himself in case they shot first, but it appeared the aliens intended to ask questions.  Henry was not surprised.  The appearance of non-technological avians on the moon must have puzzled them mightily, but a bipedal human even more.  He had no doubt their sensors were trained principally on him, as the real mystery.


  Eventually a portal opened in the side facing them, and Henry watched breathlessly for the occupants to emerge.