A Stranger in Skoria

John Tristan

Jason Vale has just been unceremoniously dumped by his long-time boyfriend, and decides he could use a change of scenery; what he gets instead is a change of world. After setting out on a road trip to 'find himself', he barely get...
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Jason Vale has just been unceremoniously dumped by his long-time boyfriend, and decides he could use a change of scenery; what he gets instead is a change of world. After setting out on a road trip to 'find himself', he barely gets a mile before a freakish storm sets him down on a tundra of silver grass with a alien sky overhead. This world is called Skoria, and it soon turns hungry eyes toward him, most keenly in the form of Aedar Rictus, the cyborg pirate who covets him as a pet.

Collared and chained to Aedar's will, Jason slowly comes to realise two uncomfortable truths: first, he is not entirely unhappy as Aedar's property, and second, the chains that bind him to his new owner go both ways. An unexpected mind-link between cyborg and human throws the certainties of brutal Skorian law into disarray. With pleasure and pain linking them in a feedback loop of sensations, the boundaries between owner and property--machine and man--begin to blur.

“All right.”

I was sitting on the other side of my car—away from the little present my stomach had left me—hugging my knees and talking to myself. Under the current circumstances, it seemed like the sanest thing to do.

“All right,” I said again. “You hit your head pretty bad. And—and, I don’t know, you could have inhaled some fumes or something. Just sit with your head down and breathe a little, and this will all go away like the bad dream it is.”

Except I was pretty sure I was talking bullshit. The Dali trees and the moose-whales and the great big-ass planet in the sky above me—all that I could maybe chalk up to the world’s most florid concussion dream. But the smell of the air, the feel of the wind around me, the silky give of the silver grass beneath my hands… No matter what my chattering mouth was trying to convince me of, I was pretty sure all this was real.

“All right.” I struggled to my feet. My little car sat in the middle of it all, somehow looking like the strangest thing around, like a satellite dish stuck atop Stonehenge. I popped open the trunk and found a full bottle of spring water there. I felt a momentary surge of gratitude toward Theo. Running-off-to-Paris bastard that he was, he could always be counted on to keep us in bottled water.

I took a swig to clear my mouth and spit it out, then drank two deep swallows and poured some into my hand so I could wash my face. Okay. So I’d ended up in the middle of some galaxy far, far away. I’d read a bit of Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku; it wasn’t exactly impossible, right? Sure…in the same way dog crap turning into gold isn’t “exactly impossible,” came the cynical rejoinder, but I shook it off. At least I could breathe, and at least I had water. The only thing to do would be figure out what the hell I’d do next.

About ten seconds later, that consideration became moot.

A shadow fell across the landscape, blotting out the light. It swallowed up me and the car, swamping us under its dark ellipse. I turned, bottle still in hand, and looked up into a moving expanse of metal, dark and gleaming, supported on six immense clawlike columns that bit deep into the silver grassland. One of these columns rose, fell, and sank through the roof of my car like a skewer puncturing a tomato.

I screamed.

The claws halted their progress. I looked up into a sky of dark metal. It was a rough, massive oblong with slender, curving prongs at its front and rear ends; up close, it looked like a cross between a giant scorpion and a rusted yacht. Between its front two claws—one of which had speared my car—an aperture opened, and four chains unrolled to the ground, making a loose cage around me.

Down the chains came four creatures, none of whom could be mistaken for human. Two could have almost been human, save for their vivid blue skins and the third eye crowning their brows. They were tall and strongman-stocky with heavy muscles. A third was small and pale, perhaps four and a half feet tall, slender and androgynous with the black eyes of a crow, and a crest of peacock-colored feathers crowning its elongated head.

When the last figure came down his chain, I felt a staticky shiver at the base of my spine, like someone had just touched an electrified wire to the small of my back.

Or had just walked over my grave.

He stood perhaps seven feet tall, wiry and strong with his height. His skin was dark gray, a cool steel color. Waist-length hair the color of coal was pulled back harshly from a high forehead. Like me, he had only two eyes—except one of his had the nerveless glare of artificial light; its lids moved, snakelike, steel over steel. Next to the mechanical eye, his own gleamed an impossible purple, and his mouth showed a grin full of fang-sharp teeth.

I stared, a deer caught in the headlights of his gaze, and my heartbeat drummed hard in my ears. His machine eye flashed, and I winced, not quite in pain; a low buzz was rattling in the back of my head, the barely audible hum of a television on standby. Building below that buzz, there was a pressure, a sense of something dammed and dangerous, like white water held back by cracking stone.

He took a half step back and cocked his head, looking like a bird of prey in near-human skin. Then he barked an order at the others: “Get him.” I could hear the words as clear as my own heartbeat.

They converged on me; pain burst at the base of my neck, and once again the world went a starless black.

* * * *

When I woke up, I was naked.

A warm breeze stirred the hairs on my chest…and farther down. I blinked; they had taken my glasses from me. The world farther than five feet away was blurred and indistinct, and what I could see wasn’t exactly promising.

I had been propped into a half sitting position against a firm pillow. Thick manacles circled my wrists, and chains of dark metal secured me to a rust-colored wall. They had perhaps two feet of give: not quite enough to stand but enough to kneel.

“Who are you?”

My head snapped up—snapped back when I realized the third point where I had been tethered. A thick collar encircled my neck, and they had me on a short leash. I was chained like some sort of dangerous animal.

I tried again, more careful of my motions, and squinted at the blurred dark in front of me. A shadow detached from the greater darkness and stepped forward, just out of my reach: massive, dark, with his red mechanical eye glowing in the gloom.

“Who are you?” he repeated. “Where did you come from?”

I realized my mouth was hanging slack and snapped it closed. That humming sense of pressure persisted, somewhere just below my ordinary senses. “You…you speak English?”

He blinked, then went on, implacable. “Who are you?”

I took a deep breath. “My name is Jason Vale. From, uh…Earth. Can I please have my glasses back?”

In the dim light, his purple eye took on a red cast from its mechanical twin. He looked like some sleek, demonic machine. I gaped up at him, helpless to stop myself. Slowly details resolved out of the gloom: his left arm, from the shoulder down, was not skin but metal, the same gleaming, dark metal that made up my chains. The joints were silvery, moving smooth as water, and each metallic finger was tipped with a silvery claw.

“Who owns you?”

I blinked. “What?”

His red eye flicker-flared, and I sucked a breath through my lips. He was doing something to me, I thought, some kind of…ray or field or something. I heard his words twice: once spoken and once echoed inside my own mind. An electric taste danced on the tip of my tongue, like licking a charged wire.

The strangest thing was that I wasn’t afraid. I knew I should be afraid, but I wasn’t. Whatever instincts life as a city boy had left me told me I was…safe, somehow.

Safe? While chained down and naked with a man who had only a vague pretense of humanity looming over me? I almost laughed. Some instincts.

“Who owns you?” he repeated.

“I don’t understand,” I said. “Nobody owns me.”

For a moment he was still. My heartbeat thrummed in my veins. He stepped closer. I caught the scent of him: the clean musk of sweat mingled with a salt-air hint, like sea wind. He reached out to me and took my head in his hands. His metallic claws were silky cool on my cheeks, his hand rough and warm. Almost human.

“By the ancient law of conquest,” he intoned, “I claim you as my own, Jason Vale. From now on, you are owned by Captain Aedar Rictus of the Ugly Rumor.”

I hissed a breath between my teeth. Owned? Law of conquest? My heartbeat had redoubled, and now the fear was rising at last. Fear…and something else, something that mingled hot shame with the terror.

The tall man, Aedar, smiled down at me, showing the white edges of his fangs. “Eager to serve, are we? Well then, I’ll not deprive you.”

Naked as I was, there was no way to disguise the rising swell of my cock. I bit my lip and looked away—looked anywhere but down. What the hell is wrong with me?

“Look up.”

I did. I met his eyes. He was smiling, a tilted, one-sided smile.

“Good,” he said. “You’ll obey me.”

I balked at that, trying to pull away, but the chains held me fast. He did not seem to mind my struggle…or notice it, even. He undid the thongs of his trousers and drew forth his own cock.

Like the rest of him, it was…different. Alien. There was no foreskin, no scrotum, only nine inches of smooth flesh, its head narrow, its base startlingly wide. It was so dark I thought for one moment it was metal, like his arm, but then I saw it jump and twitch—like my own cock—saw the veins that bulged along the length of the shaft. It shaded from a deep black at the tip to gray at the base, blending into the color of his skin.

“Take it in your mouth.”

Copyright © John Tristan


Customer Reviews

fun but short Review by anne
This was an enjoyable short. I liked the caacters and storyline, my only complaint is it is only 75 pages. Glad there is a second in the series. (Posted on 2/17/2016)
Unexpected Review by Angela
Not sure what I was expecting here really. What I got was a very enjoyable, intreaguing read. It's not easy to create a whole new world but it is nicely done here, the characters and enjoyabler and the sex is certainly steamy.
Give this title and the next in the series a go if you like something a little different.
(Posted on 12/21/2014)

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