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In the shadow of a scarlet moon

by Tamari Erin

Cyrus sat alone in the Hypersthene‘s darkened observation deck, one of the privileges of his rank. The ship sat in a low geostationary orbit around an unnamed moon, and only a brief arc of its curvature was visible through the obs deck’s great convex viewport. It hung low like an overripe fruit, limned by the red glow of the coronal eruptions that had forced the Hypersthene into hiding.

The Drive was offline until the stellar flares died down, to protect its delicate components, and the espers who powered it were drugged into dreamless sleep for the crew’s safety. And as the man whose will shaped the espers’ hypnagogic trances to guide the ship to its destination, Thought-Captain Cyrus was off duty for as long as the star was active.

The bassy hum of the sublight engine thrummed up through his boots and he sunk back into the padded bench facing the window. Cyrus sipped at his drink and watched as the dark red light danced around the moon like a strange fire.

He heard the obs deck’s doors hiss open behind him and a small rectangle of painfully bright light was reflected on the window, just at Cyrus’ eye level. He winced and raised his hand to shield his eyes. Three tiny silhouettes stepped into the bright rectangle.

Cyrus did not turn his head. “Shut the damn door,” he said, in a tone that made junior officers tremble.

Three sets of footfalls entered the obs deck, the doors hissed closed, and the patch of light disappeared. Cyrus could still see an afterimage burned into his field of view. It did nothing but further incite his temper. He’d left strict directives that he not be disturbed, and Cyrus was not a man who enjoyed being disobeyed.

He was going to enjoy this.

A single set of footfalls broke away from the group and circled the bench to approach him, surely in some misguided quest for mercy. Cyrus smirked behind his glass.

A dark shape–tall, slender–came to a stop to his right. Close enough to be visible, but not to block the view. Cyrus knocked back the last of his drink and set it down with a clatter before looking up.

The words died in his throat and his anger vanished as well. He leaned forward with a leer, propping his forearms on his knees. “Ah, so you’re the one the Cardinal sent, the, ah, special envoy.”

He fixed his gaze on the techno-priest’s boots and let it slowly sweep up to that familiar face. It had been years since he’d seen Xanthos, but he was reassuringly unchanged. Clad in a black cassock and skullcap, eyes hidden behind little dark eyeglasses, and his complexion the sickly pallor common among servants of the One True Church, Xanthos still looked as he did when he and Cyrus had first met so many years ago.

Cyrus stared deliberately at his lips. “Well met yet again, Brother Xanthos.”

Xanthos’ full mouth twisted in displeasure. “I have been ordained to full priesthood within the Church since last we spoke, Thought-Captain. You will address me,” and his lips curled up in a cruel smile, “as Father.”

Cyrus didn’t bother to hide his smirk. Xanthos had always been such a pompous little shit, and Cyrus was glad to see that even that hadn’t changed. “My most sincere apologies,” he said, lowering his head in mock obeissance. “Father.” He let the word linger on his tongue like a lover’s name, and kept his eyes downcast.

Xanthos’ leather cassock rustled heavily as he moved forward and caught Cyrus’ chin in one gloved hand. His fingers dug in painfully to the underside of Cyrus’ jaw as Xanthos tilted his head back up until their gazes met. All the while, his thumb stroked along Cyrus’ jawline in a tantalising contrast as the heady scent of leather filled Cyrus’ nostrils.

“Brat,” Xanthos mouthed.

Cyrus pursed his lips and mimed a kiss, smirking as his reflections in Xanthos’ mirror-dark glasses copied the action.

Xanthos passed his tongue over his rich mouth in a languid motion. His lips glistened in the low red light like a whore’s. He kept his grip on Cyrus’ chin and lifted his other hand to Cyrus’ face.

Cyrus closed his eyes as Xanthos stroked the backs of his fingers down his cheek. A pleasant tingling sensation sunk down his spine, and Cyrus leaned into Xanthos’ embrace When his hands withdrew, Cyrus opened his eyes. Xanthos clasped his hands behind his back and stared down at him, his mouth an impassive line.

He was close enough for Cyrus to touch him, and so he did. He set his hands low on Xanthos’ legs and slowly slid them up his thighs. The leather of his cassock was supple under Cyrus’ hands, and through it he could feel the lines of the heavy studded garters Xanthos wore beneath his cassock.

His hands kept moving up past Xanthos’ snakelike hips to settle comfortably on his waist, just below the wide band of his fascia. Cyrus gave him a quick squeeze and drew him closer.

Xanthos arched one carefully-shaped brow. “Remove your hands, my child, so that I can sit.”

Cyrus flicked his eyes downwards and let his hands fall back down onto his knees. “Yes, Father,” he said in a meek, breathy voice. “I’m very sorry.”

The displeased noise Xanthos made was as satisfying as any victory. “Somehow,” Xanthos rumbled, “I don’t believe you are sincere in your contrition.”

Cyrus looked up at him and made his eyes very wide. “Oh, Father, if you’d let me, I would get down on my knees and show you how penitent I am.”

Xanthos’ hand spasmed at his side, and Cyrus felt an ache for the sharp slap that didn’t come. It was such a pity that Xanthos had somehow managed to learn some self-control over the intervening years.

He let his gaze drift from Xanthos’ hand back up to his mouth. Cyrus briefly dipped his head to the right, at a spot on the bench just beside him. “Do please join me, Father.”

Xanthos slid his hands down the backs of his thighs and swept the tails of his fascia and the skirt of his cassock forward as he sat. His back stayed ramrod straight, and he folded his hands primly in his lap.

Their thighs were pressed flush together, and Cyrus had to only move his hand an infinitesimal distance to settle it on Xanthos’ knee. Xanthos let out a quiet breath, and Cyrus left his hand where it was.

They sat together in silence and watched the nameless moon burn.

“It’s beautiful,” Cyrus said finally.

“Mm,” Xanthos replied. “God’s purifying fire is a wonderful thing to behold. A pity it’s scorching this sad little moon and not a more deserving planet.”

“A great pity, since it’s thrown us very much off schedule. It’s going to make us late to the Guild conclave.”

“Quite. My schedule is so very full leading up to and during the conclave that if not for this interruption, I wouldn’t have had a chance to even speak to you.”

Cyrus shot him a quick glance. “Perhaps it’s an omen, then.”

“Perhaps. Or it’s just a fortuitous coincidence. It’s not our place to presuppose God’s will.”

“I suppose not.” Cyrus glanced down at his wrist implant. “Our scientists are predicting it won’t last for more than a few more hours.”

“Bright, but brief. Like so much beauty in our terrible world.”

Cyrus sighed wistfully.

Xanthos looked over at him, and Cyrus met his reflection’s gaze in Xanthos’ glasses. Cyrus’ hand was still on his knee, and Xanthos set his own hand atop it. “Shall we make it full use of it?” he murmured.

They rose as one, and Xanthos put his hand comfortably–possessively–on the small of Cyrus’ back. He bent his head to Cyrus’ ear. His voice was low and his breath was warm on Cyrus’ skin. “You shall lead me to your quarters now, my child. No dilly-dallying or I will be very cross.”

“Yes, Da– Yes, Father.” Cyrus felt as intangible as a ghost, as if he would flit through the hull of the ship and vanish into the aether if not for the steady weight of Xanthos’ hand anchoring him down.

Cyrus’ quarters were nearby, and the walk only took a few minutes. The few other crewmen they passed Cyrus ignored when they tried to speak to him, and a glance from Xanthos was enough to make them back away. It was a wonderful feeling, to let Xanthos take charge like this. Years ago, Cyrus would have fought bitterly before giving up control, but he had learned that a graceful surrender could be so much more pleasurable.

When the doors to his dimly-lit quarters slid shut behind them, Cyrus curled against Xanthos and pulled him down for a kiss. His mouth was warm and tasted faintly of ozone.

Cyrus broke away and met his reflection’s gaze in Xanthos’ glasses. He slid his hand down the endless column of buttons down the front of Xanthos’ cassock and swallowed in a very deliberate manner. “Shall I help you disrobe, Father?”

Xanthos set one hand on Cyrus’, stilling it in place at the level of his pelvis, and with the other he pulled off his dark glasses and tossed them onto the floor with great nonchalance.

Cyrus met Xanthos’ strange gaze, his eyes a roiling sea of silver and blue. All technopriests were enhanced in some way, rebuilt and remade to be more perfectly in the image of God. Cyrus remembered when Xanthos had been given his new eyes, how proud he’d been, how beautiful he now was. Xanthos still concealed them out of modesty, and Cyrus always thought he was lucky whenever he was allowed to see them. He kissed him again, fiercer this time. Yours, he thought.

When Xanthos pulled away, he held out his arms. “Swiftly, my son,” he said. “I am not a patient man.”

Cyrus obeyed. He unknotted the fascia and let the silken sash tumble to the floor. He slid the skullcap off Xanthos’ head to expose his close-cropped hair and the pattern of scarring criss-crossing his scalp. He unfastened the rows of buttons at Xanthos’ wrists and felt a shiver run through him as Xanthos shook himself free of his cuffs.

Finally he started on the buttons leading down the front of Xanthos’ cassock. Cyrus knew his breath quickened with every button undone, but Xanthos remained as impassive and unmoving as a statue. When he reached the skirt of his cassock, Cyrus had to get down on his knees, and though it was almost inaudible, Cyrus would have sworn he heard Xanthos’ breath hitch.

Cyrus bent his head and allowed himself a small secret smile.

When done, he sat back down and folded his hands demurely in his lap. Cyrus made a happy noise when Xanthos slid his hand down his cheek. “Well done,” he murmured, “for someone so out of practice.”

“Yes, Father,” Cyrus breathed. “Thank you, Father.”

Xanthos shrugged dramatically, and let his cassock fall to the floor with a weighty thud. He set one still-gloved hand on his hip and stood nude in front of Cyrus, clad in only tall shapely boots and a spiny garter around each thigh. His cock jutted like a standard

Cyrus rose to his feet and let Xanthos kiss him, crushing them together, his grip painfully tight. Xanthos moved from his mouth along his jawline and down his neck, and with every kiss Cyrus felt like he was being set ablaze anew.

He ground himself against Xanthos’ answering hardness. “Oh, Father,” he moaned. “Oh, Daddy!”

Xanthos snarled and sunk his teeth into Cyrus’ neck. It was high enough above his collar that any mark would be visible for days, and the thought of that, of having Xanthos’ mark be visible for any and all to see made him almost painfully hard. “Oh, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” he whimpered.

Xanthos shoved him onto the nearest piece of furniture, which was a footstool, and towered over Cyrus, breathing heavily. Wordlessly, Cyrus turned onto his stomach and arched his back to raise his ass up higher.

He heard Xanthos’ boot heels stride back across the room, the rustle of leather, and then return at a faster clip.

Cyrus started rutting against the footstool through the heavy fabric of his trousers. “Oh, please, Daddy, oh please, please!”

Xanthos’ hands fell on his waist, and under that comforting weight he stilled himself with only a whimper. Xanthos didn’t bother undressing him, only roughly yanked down Cyrus’ trousers.

He brought one gloved hand down hard on Cyrus’ bare ass, and Cyrus yelped in response. It took so much self-control to not start grinding himself on the footstool again. But with every breath, his cock brushed against the rough upholstery and it was almost too much to bear. He buried his face in his arms and clenched his eyes tightly shut.

Xanthos brought his hand down again and again, and the heat spread from his ass through to his entire body. He moaned wordlessly, so close to the edge and so far beyond words.

And then Xanthos’ hand stopped. Cyrus felt tears prickle at the corners of his eyes. His ass burned like a brand. He drew in a ragged breath. “Please, Daddy,” he managed, his voice broken and so desperate.

Behind him, he heard Xanthos let out a low chuckle. One slick, gloved finger was pressed against his opening, and Cyrus gasped as it slid into him. He wriggled, and thrust back until Xanthos began working him, adding a second finger after only a few thrusts.

When Xanthos had worked him open enough, he withdrew his hand. Cyrus barely had time to take half a breath before Xanthos was inside him again, his heavy cock filling him completely.

Cyrus felt like a man dangling above a gorge, hanging on by only a finger. He let go.

Xanthos slid out and drove back in, and Cyrus thrust up to meet him. They found a rhythm easily, and Cyrus fell and fell, and wished he could fall forever.

When Cyrus came it burned brighter than any erupting star.

Xanthos’ climax came soon after and he collapsed in a heap on Cyrus’ back.

“Thank you, Daddy,” Cyrus murmured.

Xanthos’ reply was an incoherent mumble that made Cyrus smile like a fool.

They lay together in a daze for a long while before Xanthos slid out. He pulled Cyrus to his feet and together they made their unsteady way to the bedchamber.

He didn’t remember undressing, but when he awoke a few hours later in bed, curled around Xanthos, he was nude. He still felt wonderfully untethered, safe in the warmth of Xanthos’ presence.

Through the small viewport in his quarters, he could see the nameless moon they’d been hiding behind. It hung cool and lifeless ahead of them. The stellar flares had stopped. The star had returned to normal.

Cyrus nudged Xanthos awake and together they watched the star rise over the moon’s horizon as the Hypersthene moved out of its shadow.

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2 thoughts on “In the shadow of a scarlet moon

  1. I was immediately engrossed by the concept of a human-powered starship led by a single psionic captain, and the more I read the more 40K vibes I got from this; checking the author’s notes I was pleased to see this was more than a little intentional! Technopriests are just SO COOL and it’s a blast seeing all the different things people do with them. The detail about Xanthos’ eyes/sunglasses was particularly striking to me.

  2. I was going to say “I can easily see this as part of a badass space opera film” but I guess those USUALLY don’t have sex scenes with spanking, but one can always dream, yes? This left me extremely curious for more details about the world but what you have here is hot and enjoyable. 🙂

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