The captain’s luck is finally changing. After four years of being lost in space, his starship, The Prayer, has found an inhabitable planet to land on. The whole crew—and his lovers Thomas, Rick, and Zachery in particular—are happy to set foot on terra firma again, not least because the planet comes with plenty of trees to hide behind for those…intimate occasions. But the fertile landscape hides a secret. When the captain finds himself abducted by an alien life form, he’s got limited time to get back to his crew before they succumb to infighting. Only the alien is so very attractive…
The Captain’s Encounter
Author: T.J. Land
Release Date: April 11, 2016
Format: ePub, Mobi, PDF
Cover Artist: Aria Tan
Word Count: 17300*
Sex Content: Explicit
The Captain’s Encounter
T.J. Land © 2016
All rights reserved
Thomas tilted his head back and closed his eyes in bliss.
A breeze. An honest-to-God, one hundred percent authentic breeze. And ground, real ground underneath his feet. And the sky, miles upon miles of perfect duck-egg blue. It was so beautiful he wanted to sob.
The captain had them assembled outside The Prayer, which had entered the planet’s atmosphere ten minutes ago and made a soft landing on a sandy beach. He drew their attention with a whistle; most of them, like Thomas, were still bowled over by how big the sky was and the novelty of standing on something that wasn’t metal.
“All right, everyone,” the captain said, “I’m sure I don’t need to remind you all of protocol…”
He didn’t. Before landing, they’d sat through a two-hour lecture on the proper procedure for ensuring the safety of the crew and the surrounding environment during first-time landings on unknown terra. There had been diagrams and pie charts and a test.
“…but just so we’re clear; if I see anyone touching anything you haven’t been authorized to touch, or diverting from our route, or attempting to re-board the ship without going through the appropriate sterilization procedures, I will have you marooned.”
“Yes, sir,” they replied in one voice.
Zachary stuck up his hand and waved it around. “Hey, captain, what if we need to go to the bathroom?”
Thomas hoped it spoke more to the general air of excitement than to the overall maturity level of his crewmates that it got a few snickers. Not from the captain, of course, who replied, “You should have gone before we disembarked, Mister Halberstam. But if you must, Antoine assures me that the atmosphere is sufficiently Earth-like to permit temporary removal of your suit. Just try not to hit anything that looks as though it might object.”
After spending the last two months in orbit, collecting data and assessing risk, they’d learned the planet’s ocean and southern ice sheet covered eighty-six percent of her surface, and that her two irregularly shaped moons exerted a weaker pull on her tides than the moon did on Earth’s. While there were things swimming in the ocean, none of them displayed any signs of intelligence. Antoine, naturally, had given his own lecture on “the definitional challenges posed by such categories as ‘intelligent’,” which, so far as Thomas could ascertain, boiled down to: “Don’t screw with shit, because the shit you’re screwing with may be smarter than it looks.” As far as the land was concerned, they hadn’t spotted anything big enough to be a threat, inferring a lack of large carnivores from the lack of large herbivorous herds.
Regardless, the captain had told Thomas and Irene to bring the laser rifles, the two of them being the only trained marksmen in the crew. When he’d first signed on, Thomas’s official job title had been “security officer.” Although, like most of them, he’d ended up doing whatever needed to be done. The one other weapon they’d brought with them was Antoine’s stun gun; he never left the ship without it. It was strapped to his suit somewhere in the vicinity of his waist, though Thomas couldn’t see it underneath all the other gear he had on. Their first officer was carrying more equipment than the rest of them put together, including hundreds of test tubes so he could collect samples. Even laden down, he’d been skipping around like a kid at Disneyworld ever since they’d disembarked.
“Look at him,” Zachery said, coming to stand next to Thomas. “You know he’s going to find some freaky alien dog and bring it back to the ship to be our new pet.”
“I’m excited too. Always loved exploring new places. Back home, I used to be a birder,” Thomas volunteered.
Zachery blinked. “A what, now?”
Thomas felt himself blush. He didn’t know all that much about Zachery Halberstam. He’d barely spoken to the guy in four years—not deliberately, but they worked in different parts of the ship, and he’d never thought they had a lot in common. Since the captain had dragged them all into bed with him, they’d started having these strange, stilted conversations. Thomas thought they were becoming friends.
“A birder. Bird-watching? It’s a hobby where you go looking for different types of birds, and if you see one you haven’t seen before, you tick it off the list.”
“It’s a lot cooler than I’m making it out to be. There’s ten thousand species on Earth, and no single human being alive has ever seen all of them. I was pretty good at spotting…”
Thomas trailed off. It had occurred to him that Zachery wasn’t from Earth; he’d been born on Mars. Had he ever seen a bird? Did he think Thomas was being an asshat, showing off about the fact that he’d been born on the most ecologically diverse planet in the solar system?
Before Thomas could figure out what to say next, Antoine passed by, clattering as he walked, eyes locked on the ground in search of specimens. He made a funny sight, with his weird, skinny body loping through the grass like a stick insect hunting for its dinner.
Zachery nudged Thomas. “Is it just me, or is he whistling?”
“Think so. I heard that he’s got a doctorate in astrobiology. This planet’s like cocaine for him.”