Friday, June 21, 2019

Freebie Friday: Torn Apart (m/m)


After a massive natural disaster all but destroys the planet of Torn, William—a Human soldier—must find his native lover, Intugu. Will the two be reunited, or will William's dreams end in a pile of rubble?


Torn's not like any other place you've ever been. That planet has a soul—remember that. She'll demand your respect, and you'd do best to give it.

And in true Human fashion, William had dismissed the words of his superior officer. Ten years of living in the barely-describable-as-civilized wilderness of Torn without incident had only served to cement his belief—no, his conceit—that nothing could stop him. There existed nothing that William—indeed any Human—couldn't conquer, couldn't bend to their will. Couldn't convert.

Except Torn. She'd proven that, at last, and taken back the land from terraforming, digging, and drilling. Torn had handed down her revenge. The storm—the natives called it The Great Anger—had come on quickly. No preceding black skies, no foretelling howling winds. No time to react. No warning. Nothing.

Crudely built, the wooden shanties they lived in had splintered and crumbled under the powerful gusting gales. The Great Anger ripped mighty trees from their roots as if they had not been rooted at all, careened them through the air like they'd weighed no more than twigs. They'd become weapons in Torn's plan, a way of bringing about even more damage as they slammed through walls and rooftops. Quakes split the roads open, torrential rains flooded the cities. In its wake, the Great Anger left nothing but devastation.

William recalled passing the bodies of the dead and dying, some trapped beneath rubble but somehow still drawing breath. Though he'd known many of them—as an Earth Liaison he had crossed paths with almost everyone in the village at some point or another—he hadn't stopped to help anyone—not the dying, at any rate. There'd been nothing to do for the dead; no way to see their remains properly honored. He'd comforted himself by saying he'd come back for them, but he doubted the truth of that even now, in the aftermath, in the eerie silence that surrounded him—in the moldy, wet dark. William had one thing on his mind, one person left in the world whom he gave a damn about besides himself. Intugu.

Where his lover had ended up, William didn't know. He'd searched as much as he could during the storm—run up and down alleyways, darted in and out of huts screaming Intugu's name to no avail. The last they had spoken, Intugu had mentioned a meeting in the council hall on the other side of town. William would reach the hall within the next hour, if he'd guessed the distance correctly earlier.

He crouched low at the sound of voices off to his left. Only two days since The Great Anger, and already the looting and pillaging had started. Not just those from other ravaged towns come to prey upon the weak, but their own townspeople as well. There was no one left to enforce the law—the Honor Guard had long since fled, had taken possession of anything that would fly the very hour The Great Anger had ended and left the planet behind. There was no justice to be had, no safety anymore. Not from the elements, not from the animals—four legged or two. And they were surely all animals now.

He waited for the voices to move away before he stood again and continued down the path. Pain shot up from his ankle, sizzled along the muscles of his leg, and nearly made him cry out. He surrendered to it, though only momentarily, kneeling to inspect the makeshift bandage he'd fashioned. Seeped through with blood and muck, the thing clung to his wound with a tenacity that seemed almost Human. He grimaced at the sickly squishy sound it made as he pulled it back.

He might as well have not even bothered, since all that met his eyes was the same gnarled flesh scraped down to the bone. The smell though—the scent of overripe meat, the sharp tang of blood, and the heated stench of sweat combined with pus—would've raised food to the back of his throat if there'd been anything left in his stomach. As it was, he failed to stifle a cough. William replaced the bandage as best he could and stood again, shouldering his pack. Time to move on, to focus on his goal of finding Intugu.

He limped along slowly. In truth it drove him mad to move at such a snail's pace, but he supposed it didn't matter anyway. If Intugu had managed to live, he'd be somewhere waiting. And if he hadn't, well, he'd still be somewhere waiting. Fatigue tugging at him, William started to mentally catalog the supplies he'd managed to scrounge before he'd headed out after Intugu. His bag held a length of rope—not much longer than his arm, but maybe it would prove useful for something—a hunk of sambat bread—though he hated the stuff—a large knife, a spoon—in case he somehow managed to find something more appetizing than that disgustingly dry, crumbly bread—and a hunk of chain. A paltry lot, indeed, but the Honor Guard had taken most everything else.

Following the winding gravel trail through what remained of the forest, he finally arrived at the council hall. He stood frozen in that spot, mesmerized, as the sheer magnitude of what had happened pressed down on him. What had once been a tall, proud, sprawling building was now a barely recognizable, ruined heap.

To be continued...

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