by Michael Arram
‘This is tense,’ observed Henry Gretason to his supposed hostages. ‘Give me my helmet, little monkey, and keep out of the vay.’
‘What’re you gonna do? Nothing dangerous, I hope.’
‘And miss the next round of sex with your beautiful little bottom? Please! Sorry, Alan, you are not supposed to know about sex are you.’
‘You have sex with Henry! Cool!’
‘Apparently he does know about it. He is eleven.’
‘Sorry. I forget these things are important, me being nearly sixteen and all,’ Henry Atwood observed. ‘What’re you going to do, angel-boy? Humour my anxiety.’
‘I am going to test the abilities of Petakh technology, that is all. Stand back from the door as I go out and attempt to reason with your military.’
With the helmet on the avian did look somewhat sinister, it had to be said, as the visor was mirrored. He folded his wings as tightly to his back as he could manage, following which the shoulders of the armoured suit deployed a sort of netting that enveloped the boy’s pinions then apparently set firm, like a backpack.
‘You okay in there?’
Not comfortable, my sexy monkey, came the reply in his head. The design leaves something to be desired, but I don’t want my wings shot off any more than my balls. I’d be half the Petakh I am.
Without your balls or your wings?
I leave that for you to decide.
I vote for you keeping your balls.
Somehow I thought you might. We must talk some time about your shallowness.
The human Henry was not convinced by his mate’s studied insoucianceHnery
. For all that the Petakh was a brave youth, he could easily detect the nervousness beneath the control. He pulled Alan away from the door as the avian opened it and stepped out, hands in the air. The suit magnified his voice.
‘I am unarmed. You are in no danger.’
A squad of police led by the sergeant approached and put their guns to the avian’s chest. Then others grabbed the two human boys and dragged them away, both protesting vigorously. As he was bundled down the stairs, the last Henry Atwood saw of his namesake and lover was him being forced to his knees and the helmet wrenched off his handsome head, to which a pistol was put. Henry shouted blue murder and struggled, but the men were too strong for him and he was dragged out of sight of the avian. But he was not out of mental contact, and as a blinding pain blossomed in his head he fainted.
‘Use your brain, captain. What could one ship do against such a fleet?’
‘What are they?’
‘Friends, allies and cousins. Now get some height and head for that central battlecruiser, the one emblazoned with the gold prow. Something tells me it’s a command vessel, and I need to talk to whoever’s in charge of this Petakh armada.’
‘My God, sire! Do you see what’s on the side.’
A broad grin split the young emperor’s face. For underneath and on both sides of the biggest of the warships could be made out the heraldry of his own house, the red lion on gold, though in this case a blue crescent occupied the left hand corner of the shield. They were the arms once borne by Prince Leopold of Radelngrad, brother of the Second Emperor, and now carried by his descendant, the avian king and field marshal, Maxim VI Elphberg.
‘I think we’ll find a welcome on board. This fleet is family, and my cousin’s in command.’
‘Sir, I’m getting communication in ... it’s Rothenian. We’re to land on the upper surface. We’ll be escorted in by a flight of the ... he called them the Lion Guard.’
‘Nice that the Petakhij keep up the old traditions.’
Rudi’s ship and escorts climbed above the battleship, flanked by detachments of armoured avian warriors. They came to a gentle landing in a hangar that opened for them beneath the bridge. The hangar filled with an honour guard armed with ceremonial pikes, their shoulders draped with scarlet and gold cloaks between their folded wings, their helms with high red crests. Rudi straightened his tunic and went out. The avians were very much taller than he was, and walking the line towards the welcoming committee he felt indeed to be the teenage kid he was.
The party of a dozen Petakh commanders was nude, which was his first shock. Three of them had horns curving up from their foreheads and two were female. There was no doubting the king’s identity, firstly because of his Elphberg red hair and his scarlet and gold wings, and secondly the rich and elaborate armlet that clasped his right bicep. The king was a young man, so much was obvious, though precise ages were difficult to assess with mature avians and super-saps. He gripped Rudi’s right hand with both his large ones. ‘This is a great day, cousin!’ he declared. ‘Our two sundered branches of the Elphberg family meet again at last. The Lord Mendamero assures me you know of us. I give you the greetings and friendship of my own emperor.’
‘Where is the seraph?’ Rudi asked.
‘He came back to Rodinija to see the expeditionary force off and brief us on the situation. The Yaahl fleet above us is already under heavy attack, and Petakh legions have appeared all over Europe and Asia. Their hunting packs are now the hunted. There will be no more mercy than they show others, which is none.’
‘Have you experienced problems?’
The marshal-king frowned. ‘I’m receiving reports of fire on our ships from human units. It’s regrettable. There have been Petakh casualties. My troops have been briefed to avoid retaliation.’
Rudi too adopted the Elphberg frown. ‘Not only is it regrettable, it was avoidable. I told the High Command over and over that you were coming and were friends, but they did not believe me and so the troops had no warning. We must ensure that a cease-fire has been ordered now, at least.’
The avian king took Rudi by the shoulder, a gesture that protocol would have forbidden to any other. ‘Come up to my command bridge, my kinsman and brother. We have the facilities to open a line to your forces.’
The marshal-king and his staff walked, in deference to their guest, and as they did the king broached the subject of Henry Gretason. It appeared the boy’s heroism had been reported by Mendamero before the imperial presence itself, and he was required at Petakhrad to receive recognition for single-handedly preserving Earth’s Imperium.
Rudi had to confess. ‘I’ve lost track of him. Once the military got hold of me he was supposed to have been taken care of with the refugee party I was leading. He was with Henry Atwood.’
‘Henry Atvood? Of course, there must be human Atvoods. How very strange that they should meet.’
‘I imagine that the seraph-guy had something to do with it.’
‘Ah ... now that may be very significant. Mendamero does nothing without a reason, and if he wanted the two boys to meet that could be very significant indeed.’
‘How’s that ... er ... sir?’
The king grinned down rather boyishly at his kinsman. ‘Call me Maxxie. It’s what the family does.’
‘You ... I mean, we ... have family?’
‘The queen my wife, a horned princess of the noble house of Oscott. We have a majalath of a boy and two girls, and each of them has majalathij, all now meledhij.’
‘Er ... what?’
‘I have three kids and nine grandchildren, all your cousins. My boy’s the eldest, and is the Elphberg High Prince. He has a remarkable all-male majalath, which tends to run in our family. So there are three Elphberg princes in various lodges in Radelngrad, all your age: Leo, Rudi and Ferdy. You’ll like them. They’re mad to meet their human kinsman. Actually ... they’re mad, full stop.’
‘If they’re anything like Henry Gretason, I can’t wait.’
‘A fine boy, I’m told, and now a Durchlaucht.’
‘The coolest guy I ever met.’
They came out on the impressive command bridge of the warship, avian warriors manning the desks; one or two on the wing were flitting across the roof-space. At a nod from the king, the screen lit up with the bemused face of the human C-in-C, which became alarmed when he saw who was standing next to the great horned avian on the bridge.
‘Your er, highness ... imperial majesty. What ...?’
‘I understand that fire has been opened on our allies’ ships contrary to my orders, marshal?’
‘Are you under constraint, sire?’
‘Why did you fire on the avian fleet despite my orders?’
‘Clearly ... sire, the information cannot have reached me.’
‘I would beg to differ, but we will return to that at another time. For now, you will issue an immediate cease-fire order.’
‘It has already been done, sire.’ The marshal broke in on his emperor, a rudeness that brought a frown to King Maxim’s face.
‘Not soon enough, unfortunately,’ Rudi resumed. ‘May I introduce King Maxim Elphberg, marshal of the Petakh Fleet and my cousin. As he is now the senior adult member of the Elphberg family I am placing myself under his protection, for I recognise him to be the lawful regent of the Oecumene until I come of age. The forces of Earth are to take his orders and obey them implicitly so we may quickly bring to an end the terrible war by which the Yaahl have devastated our planet. Kindly set up facilities immediately so that I and he may address the people of Earth.’
Henry Atwood woke up to an appalling headache and a terrible anxiety. His mind instinctively reached out and, despite the pain he was in, his heart was flooded with relief. His avian mate was still present in his head, though he could sense distance between them.
He took in that he was lying on a sofa in the Year 11 common room. Wincing, he sat up. There was no one else in the room apart from one or two police officers at the window, staring at something. Henry tried to locate his lover, but the effort made him want to throw up.
It was then as he lifted his head from his hands that the dapper figure of the seraph entered the room, smiling happily. ‘Awake I see! Good! You won’t want to miss this.’
‘It’s still on your shoulders, sweetheart.’
‘Where’s my Henry?’
‘Up on the ship. Come look.’
So Henry staggered to the window and looked out. The sky was filled with great silver ships and wheeling formations of avians. A squadron detached as he looked and headed south at increasing speed.
‘The Petakhij have arrived and the Yaahl are everywhere in retreat. The commander-in-chief is on that giant just above the Long Mynd. He wants to meet you, pronto!’
‘Me? Why me?’
‘Cos you’re a celebrity. Get used to it. The lodges of Petakhrad are already competing to produce the definitive Song of the Two Henrys.’
‘Can I have an aspirin?’
‘I can do better than that.’ The seraph took the boy in his arms and gave him a firm kiss on his mouth. The pain went.
‘What happened to me?’
‘Your Henry got irate at the way they manhandled you and beat up a couple of police before they brought him down with a shot to the head, the pain of which you shared. Fortunately, it was an avian they shot, and they’re not easy to kill even with a bullet to the back of their thick skulls. Besides I was there and made sure he suffered no long-term ill effects. You won’t see the scar unless he loses his hair, which no avian so far ever has. I kept the bullet for a souvenir if you want it.’
Henry slumped. ‘Thank God he’s alright. I was so alarmed.’
‘You’ll never need to be again. A new world has begun, and you and your mate have a big part to play in it. But not here.’
‘You’re on your way to Rodinija. Your guy has to go home by imperial command, and if he goes you must too. Besides, there’s the marriage.’
‘I have to get married?’
‘Indeed you do. Petakhij are big on ceremonies, and as a sign of favour to your prince and yourself, the emperor himself and his zemec will perform the wedding. All the Atwoods will be there.’
‘You’ll find out.’
‘What do I take? What do I wear?’
‘Oh ... I think you and clothes are going to be strangers to each other for quite a while. Ready?’
‘I guess. No, hang on, my parents!’
‘I said all the Atwoods,’ the seraph reminded him. ‘You’ll find them waiting for you on Rodinija. The Petakhij have already built a range of human housing in Petakhrad’s new diplomatic quarter, and once they got over the shock of being hijacked by yours truly your mum and dad rather liked their little flat with its amazing mountain views. In the new times that are coming, they’ll be able to use it as a holiday home. There’ll be space liners plying between Rodinija and Earth in just a year or two. You wait.’
So Henry followed the seraph out on to the stairs, at the bottom of which were three adult avians, mercifully in armour. They smiled at him and reached down to shake his hand. A female one introduced herself as an Atwood and asked a kiss. Henry obliged though the whole school was looking on. Henry’s eyes widened. ‘Oh! I can feel your mind!’
The woman laughed, ‘You are truly as Petakh as you are human.’
It was true. There was a sense of presence in his mind which was reaching out around him to all avians. That part of him was strengthening and it had consequences. At the door out on to the fields where a shuttle was waiting, he paused. Looking around he removed his absurd tunic and threw it away. Then his undershirt went. He kicked off his boots and peeled his leggings down. Finally, he pushed down his briefs and stepped out of them. Naked, he felt a lot happier. He walked the grass to the shuttle and into it: a walk in which shame played no part whatsoever.
Mendamero watched the slim form of the human boy, his namesake, disappear into the shuttle and on towards a new and wonderful life he could never have dreamed of. He paused to realise he was deeply envious. He noticed a much younger boy disconsolate in a corner, being comforted by an older one. They were obviously brothers, and it was touching to see them like this. He wandered over.
‘Hi kids! Any problem here?’
The elder brother dabbed at the little one’s wet cheeks. ‘It’s okay, sir. Little Alan has lost so much over the past week. Our family was in London when it was taken out, and now he’s lost Henry Atwood too, and Henry’s er ... boyfriend, one of those avian guys. They were incredibly good to Alan.’
Mendamero smiled. ‘At least he’s got a brother to be proud of.’
Little Alan grabbed his brother frantically around the neck as if he were afraid he would lose him too. The seraph was saddened, but ruffling the little boy’s hair in comfort he picked up something.
‘You’re Westenras, yes?’
‘Well, yes sir.’
‘I’ve known a few of your family down the years.’
‘Yes. To the extent that I feel a little responsible for you. Alan, you love Henry Gretason, the avian boy, don’t you.’
The little one looked up into the man’s kind eyes, and nodded.
‘Well, you have a Petakh mind.’
The boy’s eyes showed dawning comprehension. ‘Are you Mendamero, sir?’
‘I am. And I can grant your wish.’
‘Please sir, will you? But only if Lukey can be one too.’
Lucius looked puzzled. ‘Every now and again I make humans into avians, though I haven’t done it for quite a while,’ the seraph explained. ‘But you two look good candidates. There’s nothing for you on Earth, but there’ll be a great future for you both on Rodinija.’ He laid his hand on Lucius’s head, and the images that arose there caused the boy’s eyes to widen.
‘And avian girls ... they all do it, any time you want?’
‘I’ll make sure you’ll be in a good lodge as a meledh, don’t worry. I think the avians need a House Westenra. And Alan, I think I know just who’ll take care of you till you’re in lodge.’
The brothers’ eyes met and they stood, struggling out of their clothes, as they knew they must. Lucius faced Alan and put his hands on the little one’s shoulders. In that position the change hit them. Wings burst from their backs as they grew and metamorphosed. Alan shook his head, an awed and amazed look on his new and very beautiful face. He spread wide his wings, trying desperately to see them over his shoulders. Both boys were of a brown hue, with emerald wings and golden eyes. The two new avians then hugged hard.
‘Cute little elfin ears, baby bro!’ Lucius gave a wide grin as they broke apart, and he surveyed the large and sturdy fixture he now displayed between his legs.
‘Lukey, let Alan climb on your shoulders between those rather fine wings of yours. It’ll be a couple of years yet before he can fly under his own power. Now, pick me up. Don’t worry, you’re strong enough for that and much, much more. Then fly us up to that big ship in the west, the one with lions painted on it. It’ll be leaving for Rodinija in a few hours, and I think you both need to be stowaways on board.
‘We could fuck here, and nobody would say a word. Look! Everyone can see your dick is up and weeping.’
‘I hate empathy. You know all my buttons to push.’
‘Especially this one!’
‘Get your finger out of my bum.’
‘Nope. It’s staying there till I make you come. You gotta get used to avian mores, the best of which is that rutting meledhij can and do fuck when and where they like. It’s the only expectation of us.’
Henry Gretason’s own cock was rigid against Henry’s back as he sat on his lover’s lap in one of the mess rooms of the giant battleship, Hendrik den Leuven, flagship of King Maxim Elphberg. Indeed, his randy mate was right. Hardly any of the crew gave their sexual play a second glance, even though it was being carried out in full sight of several of them. If one of the pair hadn’t been human, they might as well have been invisible.
Henry got up and off the instrument of his sexual torment, to be chased to the viewing window, cornered and snogged lovingly, though the avian boy didn’t carry out his threat to bring Henry off in public.
The great ship was leaving Earth’s atmosphere. King Maxim had already transferred his flag to a heavy cruiser and was leading the scouring of continental Europe of its Yaahl infestation. But his flagship was returning to Rodinija, carrying a number of military liaison officers and ambassadors rapidly nominated by the imperial government of Earth. Rudi was somewhere on board, but Henry Atwood had yet to see him. He was discovering that he himself was a celebrity. Three avian news networks had already programmed joint interviews with him and his mate, the first non-avian pair to experience millenij.
Henry was also discovering that he was indeed married to a prince, the first horned Atwood in four generations, and there were many, many Atwoods. This development was also a big thing on the news networks, where there had been speculation that South Riverlands might lose its standing as an imperial fief by default. Every now and again the boys would encounter one of their House, and the warrior would go to his knees enthusiastically before them both and kiss the hands of the boys. Henry had already learned the right words to say to females, who he was intrigued to find came to him for the blessing. It seemed sexual arrangements were no secret to Petakhij, and everyone knew the human boy went under his avian lord.
Most of the humans on board went clothed, but as the ship entered the rift to return to the Rodinijan system the pair were joined at their viewing window by a tall and naked human redhead. ‘Rudi! Wow, you’re into the swing of things!’
Henry admired the handsome body and endowment of his friend, who blushed bright red. ‘Stop staring at me, Atterboy. I don’t mind it when the avians assess my junk, but it’s different when you do.’
‘You got nothing to be ashamed of.’
‘It’s orders from the Regent of Earth. Clothes are forbidden me off planet. If I’m going to Rodinija as an emperor I have to wear these openly.’ He indicated the magnificent bands of jewellery encasing his upper arms. ‘These are the imperial armlets worn by the great Maxim, the Second Emperor, when he visited Rodinija as an avian. They brought them to me from the Imperial Treasury in Petakhrad where Mendamero deposited them after the emperor’s death, to await the prophesied day when a human emperor would return to Rodinija. They don’t ever come off apparently, but they’re not uncomfortable.’
Then all fell silent as the ship entered the rift in a blaze of blue light to emerge in orbit above a different planet, bigger and greener, with no polar ice. A great moon was visible, with continents a purplish brown. It was Selene, whose second continent was the Elphberg royal fief. It was where Rudi was to go after the reception at Petakhrad, to enter lodge and bond with Elphberg usakamaradij. His mind was to join that of the Great Family and he was afterwards to attend military school and university amongst the avians before returning to take up the rule of the human Imperium. It was to be a ten-year apprenticeship to equip him to rule over human and Petakh alike.
‘I have to form an imperial household. So you two are my first nominees as privy councillors and imperial chamberlains. That means you have to have appropriate human rank, so as well as being a Petakh prince, Henry Gretason becomes a knight of the Rose, as do you Henry: not the first Atwood of that name to occupy a stall of the order. And, Henry, I also make you an imperial count. There! Some have fame thrust upon them ...’
‘Don’t thank me. You’ll work for it. I’ll need your quirky perspective over the next decade here, and after my return to Earth. The human Imperium will need a high commissioner on Rodinija one day, and you’re heading the list at the moment, indeed you’re the only name on it.’
The two Henrys headed for a place to complete their sex play in relative privacy. It would be six hours before the ship manoeuvred to land at its base on the First Continent of Rodinija, in the military zone north of the Dragons’ Teeth range, outside Mound City.
As they were passing through a refectory the crowd around a table caught the avian Henry’s attention. He nudged his mate. ‘What the fuck is a novachek doing on board?’
The avian child was being totally smothered by a gang of females, petting his wings, stroking his cheeks and kissing his hair, as they forced food and admiration down him, for though he was pretty enough to be a girl the sturdy equipment between his legs said otherwise.
Henry stared at the curly golden hair and little brown face. ‘It can’t be!’
‘It’s that Alan Westenra. He’s been turned!’
‘Am not. Let’s confront the little tick.’
The pair loomed over the little one, who was clearly lapping up the attention. The jump as he recognised the Henrys confirmed it all.
‘Okay Alan,’ the human youth demanded in English. ‘Start explaining yourself and fast.’
‘Oh ... er, hi! I just got hungry and Lukey went off with this girl and didn’t come back. And these nice ladies are looking after me.’
‘Lukey’s here and he’s avian!’ Henry exploded. ‘I don’t believe it!’
His mate seemed to be seeing the funny side. ‘And he’s getting laid too.’
‘It was Mendamero, wasn’t it.’
Alan nodded. ‘He was very kind. He said he’d find Lukey a lodge and me a nice home. Like my wings?’
Henry Gretason picked up the lad and hugged him tight. ‘I love them. You are a perfect little novachek, and just vait till you get to Rodinija. You vill love our Petakh schools. But your Rothenian vill have to improve!’
At this point an avian Lucius Westenra wandered in, looking a little dazed. The state of his cock said it all. He was startled when he recognised the two in the room with his little brother, who had in the meantime toddled back to his female fan club for another admiration fix.
‘Having fun, Lukey?’
He gave a sheepish grin. ‘It’s true what they say about Petakh girls. What a way to lose it! You talked to little squirt then?’
‘Not very responsible, wandering off and leaving Alan.’
‘You kidding? What could happen to him up here? Those girls want to adopt him he’s so cute.’ A female walked up behind him, clearly the one he had just been intimate with, though she at least had freshened up. She sidled up behind him to rub her pubic mound purposefully against his tight butt while reaching round to manipulate his sticky cock. Rather broad comments came from the gang around Alan who stared, then sniggered. With a helpless shrug, Lukey allowed himself to be dragged away to a nearby bench by his erect dick, making no protest at all. He was soon deeply engaged in his partner, his butt flexing and thrusting as she squealed appreciatively under him.
‘So this is avian adolescence,’ Henry mused.
‘It’s what zharpulavnij does to you if you’re not mated. Your friend Lukey will be living in the myelhei he’s so randy. Considering what we’ve been doing, you shouldn’t be surprised.’
‘No, no. It’s just so different from the human experience.’
‘Then be grateful. Avians know what they want, and know where to get a lot of it. There’s no doubt, or shame or hesitancy.’
‘I wonder how I’ll adapt to lodge life?’
The great hall of the People was packed, apart from a long lane leading to the three thrones. On the central one sat the impressive form of the avian emperor, Damien VIII Macavoy, and on his right hand his human counterpart, Rudolf IV Elphberg. The left hand throne was occupied by the imperial consort, a silver armlet around each bicep, the zemec Piotr Helenson of House Debies.
The two Henrys stood hand in hand awaiting the call. Both had garlands of flowers set on their dark hair and chains of flowers wrapped around their bodies down to their ankles; Henry Gretason’s mum and sisters had done a great job on them both. The human thought the decorations didn’t look in the least girlie on his mate’s body, so refused to be bothered by how silly he thought he himself looked. He had been a bit bothered when he first met his own mum and dad, who had not embraced Petakh nudity, with all his wares on display to them for the first time since he was eight, but was now no more embarrassed with them than with anyone else. A grin and a hand squeeze told him his lover had sensed his insecurity and vagrant thoughts. Stop being so human, my monkey, came the reassuring message.
Henry’s heart surged with love towards this boy who had so transformed his life, and just as big a surge washed back over him. They were kissing tenderly when the great doors rolled back, and to applause and cheers the pair walked shyly down the avenue of people towards the thrones.
Novachek choirs were singing on either side of the hall. The avian emperor and his zemec came down from the dais to meet and embrace the pair. The boys turned to face each other as the choirs sang more softly.
Clear and with no nervousness as he stared into his lover’s dark eyes, the human Henry declared ‘You are my lord and my husband, Henry Gretason of House Atwood.’ He then dropped to his knees and clasped the avian boy’s legs around the back of his thighs. Looking up, he swore his oath. ‘I do you homage. You are the lord of my life; it is yours, my prince.’
Now the avian boy knelt to face him, kissed him and gripped both his hands, saying ‘I am your husband, Henry Atvood of Earth, your lord and your protector. You are the blood in my veins, the light in my eyes. I have no life without you. We are one till death and beyond.’
Tears flowed down both their faces, and they kissed again as cheers burst around them. It was a while before they rose and the cheers died down. When they did it was to face the emperor and his zemec. They kissed each boy on the forehead, the emperor the avian and his consort the human, and they blessed them. The zemec’s eyes held Henry’s and he found there a deep current of understanding and sympathy from a man who shared his own core. Henry’s bond was complete, and he was as much wedded to the Petakh race, wingless though he was, as he was to his avian prince.
It was a great party, Petakhrad Three providing its version of the Song of the Two Henrys, with Henry Gretason himself very cool on the drums and Henry Atwood offering applause. He was to enter lodge after the mating flight and was intrigued to meet the avian kids of whom he had heard so much from his husband. They had each wrung his hand and assured him they were honoured to be the first lodge to host a human meledh. His first impression of his future usakamaradij was very positive. All he felt from them was openness and friendliness, with none of the power play he had endured from his human peers.
The avian emperor and his zemec made an appearance, which was a great honour for the happy couple. Trailing after the imperial party was a curly-haired novachek with green wings, hand-in-hand with a female.
‘Alan? Why’re you with the emperor?’
‘Well, Damien and Piotr have always wanted a kid, and Mendamero knew this, so he suggested they adopt me. This is my governess, Lady Mechtild, she’s teaching me Rothenian.’
‘So you ended up a prince, little Alan?’
‘I don’t know. Am I, Mechtie?’
‘If the emperor says so, Alanescu, or if you grow horns when you’re bigger.’
Bemused, Henry Atwood watched the cute little elf follow his new parents around the hall, touched by the seriousness with which the child addressed his new situation in life. It pleased Henry to see the affection the orphan was getting from the emperor and his mate, the zemec himself picking Alan up when the time came for departure, to fly off with the boy cuddled in his arms.
His husband observed at the departure of the imperial party ‘That Mendamero is bloody clever.’
‘What d’you mean?’
‘The emperor and Piotr were desperate for a kid, everyone knows that. But they couldn’t adopt even if there had been a kid available, as it would mean favouring one House over the others by giving one of their members imperial status. But little Alan is unique, he belongs to no avian House and so can be adopted without offending anyone.’
‘Oh! I hadn’t realised. Wow! What a political dude.’
‘He was Chancellor of Rothenia when he was human. Looks like he still has the skills.’
Henry Atwood’s foot skidded in the large puddle of wet spunk one of his usakamaradij had not wiped up after a session. He sighed. Lodge life had its downside, and the stink and lack of hygiene was part of it. He had come out of zharpulavnij, so the all-day orgies some still indulged in were beginning to be tiresome. But there was nothing about sex with boys or girls that was a mystery to him now, and some of the demands the lodge made on him had been boggling. The day he had taken the lodge’s biggest cock for a bet when they were all pissed was a personal low. It had taken an hour and two bottles of lubricant as the lodge chanted and took odds, but he had taken it right to the root, and regretted it for a week. The song the lodge had subsequently made of the episode was remarkably tasteless, though very funny. It had become an underground meledh hit. The guy who had fucked him with the monster had been straight, but then Henry too had obliged girls in one way or another, so who was he to judge? They were all his usakamaradij and he would do anything for them.
A flurry of wings announced arrivals. Lukey and his mate, two months pregnant, had flown up from their Antonsberh lodge. The avian House Westenra was about to become a reality, with two boys and a girl in Sancha’s womb. Lukey was in seventh heaven, as was his little brother Prince Alan Piotreson, just become meledh and about to join the new intake of Petakhrad Three, as Henry’s cohort graduated to adult life. Alan fluttered in after his brother, a teenager now with developed wings, but as elfin and beautiful as ever. The lodge girls were immediately all over him, though he was far too young to be a target for the socially ambitious. He was simply a babe magnet, gay kid though he was.
Henry and his husband were just about packed. Henry Gretason’s horns now curved out far from his forehead, proud and golden. He was acknowledged to be the heir to the Atwood principality in the Riverlands, and would take up his high rank after the couple had completed university and his great granddad retired, so they had been given a pretty little house-tree in Hendriksberh to set up their independent family life and become known around the region. Furnishing and improving their home was becoming a mental refuge for Henry from the slum they lived in as meledhij. He was maturing fast, and finding that he had a lot in common with his mother-in-law, whom he adored and who was delighted she, her only son and his mate would be neighbours.
‘Am I zemec?’ Henry had asked his prince, one day.
The avian raised his eyebrows. ‘You chose the oath zemecij take, but others do too.’
‘When I met Piotr’s eyes at our marriage, I felt he knew me through and through.’
‘That may be so. He is the focus for the minds of females and submissives, but the true zemec gets off on absolute submission to his lord and master. They really go to town on subservience, some do seriously kinky stuff.’
‘I do kinky stuff.’
‘Not that sort. And I’d vomit if you used zemec language to me. I love you as my friend and soul-mate. I don’t want a slave. I like a good row with my monkey every now and then.’
‘We don’t row. We have constructive disagreements.’
‘Point proven then, monkey mine.’
The journey south to Hendriksberh was Alan’s first long-distance flight, and every now and again when he was feeling tired he alighted on his brother’s back for a rest and chatted with Henry Atwood, who was as usual on his husband’s shoulders.
‘So do you know yet who your usakamaradij are going to be?’
The boy nodded. ‘There are six from my class in the Gus Underwood First School, including Lech.’
Alan’s face darkened with a blush. ‘He’s my best friend. He says he wants to be my zemec when we grow up.’
‘You never know how things turn will out, Alanescu,’ Henry Gretason commented. ‘But you already know you prefer boys, so it’s possible.’
‘That’s what my dad Piotr said.’
When Alan had taken wing again, Lukey flew close. ‘I was talking to a guy from Selene last week. He knew a gay guy in Rudi’s lodge. He said that Rudi’s really loosened up. He fucks all the gays as well as the girls. Chance for you, Atterboy.’
‘I’ll ask him next time we meet.’
‘Do that. Tell me what he’s like. He’s a big guy for a human.’
Henry asked his husband what he made of it. ‘Not a lot. It’s pretty uncommon in lodge for any straight to refuse to fuck an ass, male or female. I’ve had all the guys up me at one time or other, two at a time on occasion. Despite your handicap, you’ve had three straights up you and all the gays. The only odd thing is that it’s a straight human who’s doing it. It’s a new thing to find how zharpulavnij works on a human mind. Your sexiness was a real surprise; the gays love taking your little ass, and you love having them do you, especially in the air.’
Henry had found ways of enjoying in-flight copulation with his wing-mates. Fucking was easy enough, you just held on to a boy’s shoulders and shagged away happily. Taking it was more difficult, but he and his husband found that if penetration started on the ground he could be carried up into the air impaled, face to face, legs scissored and in ecstasy as he was hammered. A different way was to lie on the warm back of a flying usakamarad and be fucked from behind by another. Meledhij were inexhaustibly inventive that way, human or avian.
After five hours in the air, they came up out of the plain of the Great River to the low hills of the South Riverlands, Atwood country. It felt like home to Henry and he knew and was known in all its small and picturesque provincial towns: Rafaelsberh, Gabrielsberh and the little river-port of Atvoodesee. Hendriksberh however was a city covering a ridge in the Blue Hills region. It was mostly an agricultural district, but Hendriksberh had always had a food-processing industry, which was expanding with the new licences firms were getting to produce Earth-type foods.
The Atwood princely house had got in early, cannily investing in producing several exotic Earth brands, not least Maltesers, now every novachek’s favourite sweet. Chocolate had to be imported for the manufacture of these and other confectionery, so a new spaceport specialising in freight was making Hendriksberh one of the leading commercial points of entry to Rodinija and transforming the region’s fortunes. Prince Rafael Danason was ascending the Petakh rich list.
‘Home,’ Henry sighed happily, as the five alighted on the top floor of their modest but pretty house-tree. His husband’s mum had filled the fridge and both Henrys got busy preparing a meal for their guests. It was a good night, and even little Alan was allowed a glass of local wine. Their friends took off back to Petakhrad the next morning early, leaving the couple to get on with their homemaking. Hendriksberh would be their base for the next few years, while Henry Gretason served his apprenticeship in Prince Rafael’s office learning the basics of the family business, and his mate kept house. University was still three years in the future, but there was a lot to do before then as their hormones settled and study became possible. Henry Atwood had a year’s internship waiting for him in the newly-formed Imperial Office of Human Affairs, when both would move back to the capital. Life was seriously good.
A month after their move to Hendriksberh, Henry Atwood trotted downstairs from the warm bed he shared with his husband, yawning in the early morning, to find the lounge sofa occupied. It was the seraph Mendamero, and he looked troubled.
‘Sorry to barge in on you, sweetheart.’
‘No problem,’ the human replied. ‘Every Atwood home is open to our Lord and Father. You know that.’
Mendamero gave a small smile. ‘That’s a kind thing to say, kid. Things look nice here. You’re a real home-maker. This is not a social call, however. I need to borrow you two again. Are you ready?’
‘My farewell tour.’