Title: Priest and Pariahs
Series: Centauri Survivors Second Chance Chronicles, Book Three
Author: J. Alan Veerkamp
Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC
Release Date: September 24, 2018
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Science Fiction, sci-fi, romance, space, gay, family drama
Costa McQuillen has escaped from Earth, where being para-human—a Pariah—with tech empathic abilities is illegal, and marks him for extermination. Arrogant and standoffish, Costa is unable to trust anyone but is willing to risk everyone’s safety in his desperate effort to reach the planet Omoikane. His best solution, gaining passage on board the Santa Claus.
Arbor Kittering is the crew’s newest coding tech. Having spent a short time in prison for data hacking and falsifying government files, the Santa Claus is his last chance at a new start—if he can decipher the strange malfunctions plaguing the ship.
Eugene “Priest” Jones, the Santa Claus’s Head Pilot, is a bit of a scoundrel. Perpetually single, Priest is attracted to Costa and Arbor. In truth, he’d like to have both, but it’s clear even his grifting and gambling skills can’t make that happen.
Now as they all travel together, it appears Priest needs to make a choice before it’s too late as each of their lives intertwine with potentially dangerous and deadly consequences.
Priest & Pariahs
J. Alan Veerkamp © 2018
All Rights Reserved
The darkness reminded him somehow of being an unborn child—as if one could remember such a thing—floating weightless, enveloped by warmth. What would anyone give to fall back into such a simple existence, removed of all need beyond instinctual thought? What a fortunate nine months it would be. A wonderful life, sleeping and cared for inside the womb, never requiring a voice. All before anyone could teach a soul to love or hate, or something or someone was unwanted.
Is that what was happening here? Had he somehow regressed back before his own infancy? The pangs of jealousy he was experiencing told him no. Sadly, no.
He felt like he’d been slumbering for such a long time, and very, very gradually he started to wake. Threads of logical coherence tickled his thoughts in the dark. It was not a welcome sensation, and he fought to avoid it. Why couldn’t he go back into the lovely silence?
Envy for the ignorance of the unborn rolled through him. How unfair it was to have the innocence of being sequestered and never hearing the taunts of children or comprehending the cries of the intolerant taken away from him. If only he had never heard slurs of hatred or understood what defined a second-class citizen.
What was that sound? Could it be a faint heartbeat in the distant void? It sounded brash and unnatural, refusing to lull him back to sleep like the soothing cadence of a mother’s pulse.
Like a child, he wanted nothing more than to stay safe and warm, but like in every instance, someone always forced a person into the painful light and cold of reality. The darkness parted above him with a soft mechanical hiss. The warmth bled away, making him want to cry.
Daring to open his foggy eyes, he squinted in the artificial light. A woman in a white coat hovered over him.
“Welcome back to the real world. Can you tell me your name?”
His voice was dry and raspy, and he had to concentrate to answer her correctly. “Costa…Costa McQuillen.”
“Good. Your stats are looking healthy.” A warm smile graced the young woman as she read over the flat scanner in her hand.
Focusing was becoming easier. He found himself undressed, lying back in comfort, some kind of foam bedding molded around him. It held him effortlessly, but its touch was delicate, tricking his senses into thinking he was floating. Several small pieces of equipment were attached to his body, taunting him with their hidden binary code. She touched one piece of technology and looked back to the miniature screen she carried.
“Are you a doctor?” Costa asked.
“Yes, I am.” A small frisson of panic lanced him. He wasn’t about to lie back and allow her to poke and prod him. The doctor placed a hand on Costa’s shoulder as he started to rise, holding him in place with little effort. “Hold on. Don’t sit up right away. You’ll be a little disoriented for a bit. That’s normal for a five-year hypersleep.”
Costa groaned, trying to sort himself as the doctor’s caring tone diffused his anxiety. “Where am I?”
“You’re on board the Mayflower Ark.”
“The Mayflower Ark?”
The doctor nodded. “Yes. You booked passage from Earth to Alpha Centauri Prime.”
“Yes. Just like everyone else on board.”
“I’m sorry. I’m a little confused.”
The doctor’s smile was sweet with understanding. “It’s all right. I have this conversation with most of the passengers. We’ll be arriving on Alpha Centauri Prime within twenty-four hours. We’re in the process of waking all of the Earth immigrants.”
Costa looked around and found himself inside an enormous medical bay filled with mechanical wombs, just like the one in which he lay. Men and women in lab coats drifted from capsule to capsule, setting free the dazed people inside. Some were more awake than others, with men, women, and children milling about the vast room as they dressed. The more he saw, the more the cloud over his thoughts lifted.
“This is odd.” The doctor squinted at her handheld display.
“There are a few anomalies in your bio-scan.”
“That’s ridiculous. Your tech must be faulty.” Costa granted the device in her hand a vicious stare. “Look again.”
The doctor’s forehead creased as she blinked in confusion. “Oh. Wait. It’s normal now. Must have been an error.”
“Yes, it must have been. May I get dressed now?”
With a simple touch, the doctor removed each of the devices attached to Costa’s arms and legs. “You seem coherent enough to move around safely. The muscle stimulators kept your body from atrophying during the long sleep, but you may still be a little weak. Be careful until you get settled. If you find yourself feeling lightheaded, I want you to sit down immediately.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
She might have been genuine and helpful, but she couldn’t go away fast enough for his tastes.
Once she left, Costa took on the slow task of sitting upright and retrieved his clothing from the bin alongside the bed. After he was dressed and found his footing, Costa wandered over to the observation decks located next to the hypersleep room. He couldn’t bear to keep looking at the rows of chambers. Even with all the living people inside, each capsule reminded him too much of a coffin, and with so many clustered together, the errant idea morphed itself into some kind of perverse morgue. He couldn’t bear to spend time entertaining the image. It sparked far too many horrific memories.
The view into space through the three-story-tall view ports lining the wall pushed back the recollections. Alpha Centauri Prime grew larger as they approached, looking similar to his homeworld with its land masses and blue waters, even if the continents didn’t match. He had to look more than once to convince himself the world before him was not actually Earth. Costa had no intention of ever setting foot on that planet again.
Meet the Author
While spending years more focused on visual arts, J. Alan Veerkamp never let go of his innate passion for storytelling, wanting to write and draw comic books when he grew up. Once he discovered M/M fiction, a whole new world opened filled with possibilities. Why couldn’t you have fantastic and dynamic sexy tales with an M/M cast? He started reading the online tales of authors like, Night Tempest, Rob Colton, and Alicia Nordwell, which only fueled his need to create. Eventually he found GayAuthors.org, and with a little coercive nudge, started sharing his tales with an unexpected level of positive response. The experience and support gave him the courage to cross his fingers and aim for the world of M/M publishing.
Born and raised in Michigan, J. Alan continues to type away, wishing it was practical to use an noisy, old fashioned keyboard that clacks with each strike, if just to annoy his loving partner and spoiled miniature dachshund.