by Victoria Zagar
A Culture Wars Story
To Jason, with all my love.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
LAST CHANCE Copyright
Victoria Zagar. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For more information, write to
image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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The year is 2243. Mankind has reached for the stars, creating colonies on Titan and the cold, distant Nereid. Where man goes, war follows, and now two factions warring on Earth have taken their cultural and religious war into space in hopes of dominating Earth’s global government, the Assembly.
On one side stands the Moral League, a loose grouping of religious nations and social conservatives whose aim is to destroy the Freedom Alliance, a group of progressive nations who they claim are leading the human race towards destruction. Rejected by his family for his homosexuality, Samuel Walden finds himself joining the Alliance’s Space Force. Posted to the fleet’s flagship, the Northampton, Sam meets the ship’s crew officer, Major Tom Averay, and the two embark on a relationship that will change their lives. Love, war, humanity, friendship, sacrifice and death weave through this action-packed romantic novel. Will Sam and Tom work out their feelings in the midst of darkness and uncertainty? Will the Alliance survive against crushing odds to preserve the human rights it stands for?
Paperback version is available now at Amazon.com and CreateSpace. The digital edition is out now on Kindle and will be released on All Romance E-Books and Smashwords on September 12th, 2012.
Anton felt his stomach clench as he heard the words “suicide mission”. He looked over at his closest friend Julian sitting two seats down and their eyes met, a thousand words exchanged in one glance.
We’re running out of time. This dance must end, one way or another.
“You will suit up and be ready by fifteen-hundred hours. Good luck, everyone. I’ll see you on the other side.” Major Tom stepped down from the podium, a sad expression flashing in his eyes for a brief second.
Of course he’s sad,
Most of these faces he’ll never see again. The Khartoum is the deadliest warship in the League’s fleet. There’s no way we’re all making it through this.
Anton stood, his legs stiff with fear.
This is war. This is what we signed up for, isn’t it? I never used to be this scared. What changed?
Julian looked back through the throng of pilots making their way to the briefing room exit and caught Anton’s eyes with his sparkling blue ones.
I met him. That’s what has changed,
Anton realized. He fought through the crowd to reach his friend, the only person he wanted to see at that moment.
“Walk with me,” Anton whispered into Julian’s ear. They slipped out of the briefing room and down the hallway in the opposite direction to the other recruits, who were already preparing for their final mission.
“Where are you taking me?” Julian asked. “I have to record a video log for my mom. She’ll want to know what happened...”
Anton stopped and turned to Julian, a look of horror on his face. “Don’t talk like you’re going to die. That’s not going to--”
“Come on, Anton,” Julian said. “You and I both know that I’m not a very good pilot, but this is what I signed up for. I’ll complete my duty as promised. Earth’s future is counting on us.” One of his dirty blonde bangs fell in front of his face and he let it shield his sad expression.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” Anton whispered. His long fingers touched Julian’s face and gently eased the hair out of his eyes, tucking it back behind his ear with a tender gesture. “You’re my friend. I’ll keep you safe.”
“Anton...” Julian looked down at his shoes. “Don’t take risks for me. I refuse to be the reason you get killed! I know I’m not a great pilot. I’m not taking you down with me.”
“That’s not your decision to make,” Anton whispered, as a group of cadets walked past.
“Anton, I joined up to protect the world and everyone I care about,” Julian said. “You did, too. You know how important this mission is to the Alliance. You need to keep your eye on protecting the Northampton, not me.”
“Julian, no more arguing. We don’t have much time left,” Anton said. “There’s less than two hours until the mission. If these are our last two hours in the universe, how should we spend them?”
“Anton, there’s something I--”
“I know,” Anton whispered. He took Julian’s hand and led him to a door, pressing a button. The door slid open to reveal a storeroom, filled with various food items. He closed the door behind him and keyed in a locking code.
“Guess it’s good job I’m on inventory duty this month,” he smirked, but his eyes were two dark pools of seriousness.
“This has been a beautiful dance,” Anton said. “I’ve watched you move gracefully through it, my perfect partner in this undignified universe. We’ve stepped around each other, always avoiding the moment we’ve been afraid of...” He leaned in and pressed Julian against the wall, their lips meeting in a tentative whisper of a touch so light it could barely be called a kiss.
Julian gasped, an involuntary sound that suggested the need for more kisses like the need for air. He pulled Anton into another kiss, tasting his lips like they were the sweetest honey. Julian’s hands found Anton’s short spiky black hair and ran his fingers over it, down his face, memorizing the shape of him for eternity.
Their breaths became more husky and uncontrolled as Anton’s hand slipped between them, feeling the shape of Julian’s desire through his uniform pants.
“Ah.” Julian’s breathless gasp spoke a million volumes as Anton unzipped his pants. Julian bit his lip as he felt Anton’s warm hand encircle his cock, taking it in experienced hands and stroking it with husky, labored breaths. He knew he would come if he just let Anton continue, yet he put his hand on Anton’s wrist, a silent plea to stop for a moment.
Anton froze, uncertain for a second and Julian smiled, feeling the transfer of power. He reached for Anton’s pants and unzipped them, pulling them down with awkward motions and then pulling Anton’s hips towards him. Flesh met flesh and they both gasped, grinding together, their hips and mouths locked in a dance, a battle for love and control.
It was almost accidental as Julian slipped over the edge, his head thrown back against the wall, Anton’s lips on his neck as he came with a cry. Anton followed, his head resting on Julian’s shoulder as pleasure coursed through him and his seed spilled on Julian’s chest.
Julian had those sparkling tears in his eyes again and Anton leaned in for a tender kiss. “Don’t look so sad,” he whispered.
“There was so much more that I--”
“We’ll do it when we get back.” Anton’s words were spoken with so much authority that Julian let himself believe them for a moment before once again understanding the predicament that they were in.
The odds of both of us surviving a mission that even the crew officer calls “suicide” are...
He let his thoughts slip away as Anton kissed him again.
“Come on.” Anton smiled and rifled through the shelves of supplies until he found a box of kitchen towels. They cleaned up wordlessly and made themselves presentable before Anton unlocked the door. They slipped out into the hallway and back to their dorm, where pilots were hastily scrawling their final letters and recording video logs in case they didn’t make it back.
“I don’t want to watch this,” Julian said.
Anton grabbed a fresh uniform. “Come on, let’s go shower,” he said. Julian found his uniform and they left. The showers were empty and they stripped down. The warm water seemed to soothe Julian and he wrapped his arms around Anton, rubbing the soap down his body.
“Thank you for today,” Julian whispered. “I don’t think I ever would have worked up the courage to tell you how I felt.”
“Some day you would have,” Anton said, touching Julian’s hand and holding it on his chest. He held it there for a good minute before letting go. He stepped out of the shower, grabbing his towel and drying off. He leaned back to kiss Julian before dressing and they walked out together, hands finding one another and clasping together, fingers entwined in a way that told the world that they were one.
* * *
Julian paced the hangar bay. Anton was talking to the engineer about his fighter. He spotted Julian’s nervous wandering and walked over to him, putting his hands on his shoulders.
“You’re going to be fine,” Anton said. “I’ll keep you safe. I promise.” He leaned in to kiss Julian, not giving a damn about the other pilots on the deck.
“See you later,” he said, walking away.
“Anton, wait!” Julian said. Anton turned to see Julian taking off his dog tags.
“A lot of pilots swap their dog tags when they go on dangerous missions,” Julian said. “I mean, it’s not like they matter. If we go down, we’ll just be space dust anyway.”
“Okay,” Anton said, taking the tags. He took his own off and handed them to Julian, then put Julian’s on. “I want those back, though. They’re my good luck charm.” He smiled, breaking the seriousness of the moment before walking away.
Julian felt Anton’s dog tags over his heart as he climbed into the cockpit of his fighter.
See you on the other side, Anton. Stay safe.
The glass was lowered and he took a deep breath from his mask as the alarms rang to clear the deck. He looked to the side of him as his engines fired up to see Anton beating at his cockpit controls.
he realized, as they fired off into space. He felt his stomach twist into a pretzel as he looked around for Anton’s ship. He saw it firing on one thruster, the other one spluttering. He opened a private comms channel to Anton’s ship.
“Go home, Anton. Turn the ship around and get home safely.”
“I promised I’d protect you!” Anton yelled. “I won’t go back now!”
“Yes, you will,” Julian said. “Please.”
Anton fired up the main comms channel. “This is Ship B-23, Pilot Songstar. Requesting emergency landing clearance.”
“I love you,” Julian whispered down the comms channel, before cutting it off and firing his afterburners. His ship shot ahead to join the rest of the squad, leaving Anton to slowly turn around and hobble back to base.
Anton landed his ship safely. Once the bay doors had closed, he jumped out of his ship, tearing his helmet off. “Get this thing fixed!” He rounded on the chief engineer. “Isn’t there another fighter I can use?”
“Sorry, buddy. All the fighters are out. There’s nothing I can do for you.” The engineer pulled a panel off the side of the ship and peered inside, contemplating the complex maze of wiring as he spoke to Anton.
“I can’t just watch,” Anton said. “My boyfriend is out there alone!”
“He’s got his squad,” the engineer pointed out. “I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”
Anton pointed to an old ship still on the deck. It was half-covered with a tarp that was slipping off. It looked dusty, but serviceable. “What about that?”
“That’s an old Dragon fighter. I can’t let you take that.” The engineer sighed, fiddling at wires and making Anton feel like he was an insect on the man’s shoulder.
“Is it still operational?” Anton stuck his head into the panel and looked at the engineer.
“Sure, but you don’t even know how to fly it. You haven’t had the training.” The engineer moved his head to see around Anton.
“I’ll figure it out,” Anton said. “Ready her for launch.”
“You can’t order me about,” the engineer protested.
“Look,” Anton said, grabbing the engineer by his overalls and pulling him out of the ship’s underbelly. “Everything I care about is out there. Ready the fighter or I’ll do it myself.” He looked into the engineer’s eyes with a steel gaze until the man backed down.