Building Family (S1 E3)

Season content notes: transphobia mention, ableism,

Needing a distraction and maybe a few new ideas, Emeka decided to pull up the Black & Poly Facebook group. He’d never been active in B&P, but he liked lurking and learning. Even though a lot of the stuff on B&P was 101 stuff (which was how the founder liked it), he often picked up a useful nugget or two.

Today, someone had posted about land being available cheap in Minnesota, and maybe they could get an intentional community going. Intentional communities were another topic that came up from time to time. Last time had been about someone’s family plot in Texas, of all places. He hadn’t paid much attention, but this time he sat down to read the whole discussion.

The phone rings, startling Emeka. He scowled at it but answered. “Hello.”

“Hey, ‘Mek!” his friend Raul said. “Look, I know we were going to do a movie night Thursday, but I picked up an extra shift. I can’t afford to turn that down.”

“I hear you. Movie night can be done anytime, right? How about we try for next Thursday?”

“You know how it goes. I don’t have my schedule for next week yet. But we can try. What’ve you been up to? How’s the new place?”

Emeka shrugged even though Raul couldn’t see him. “It’s okay. Nice to not have to worry about rent.”

“Lucky asshole.”

Emeka didn’t know that getting kicked out as a teen and learning his parents died from lawyers counted as ‘lucky.’ But no rent was definitely a silver lining of the whole mess. “So, I was on B&P. They’re talking about intentional communities. Sounds pretty interesting, like a bunch of folks deciding to build a community together.”

“What! No, man. That’s white people shit. I had a coworker who was obsessed with that stuff. Like, building a bunch of log cabins in the wilderness and all living together off the grid. Who needs that shit?”

“Really? That’s not what I was seeing.”

Raul snorted. “Sure, they make it sound good, but it’s like Woodstock — crazy white people idea that they make sound amazing, but is actually rain, mud, and not enough toilets.”

“Alright, alright. I’m not going anywhere without enough toilets,” Emeka laughed.

They talked a bit longer, until Raul had to leave for work.

Emeka went back to B&P and the discussion about intentional communities. It sounded like Raul knew a bit about them; more than Emeka did after reading part of one conversation. God knew coworkers with obsessions could talk your ear off. So if he thought it was a bad idea, it might be. And this talk of buying land in Minnesota or where ever wasn’t reassuring on the toilet situation.

Still, Raul had a tendency to dismiss a lot of things as ‘white people shit’. As if white people coming up with a thing or doing it a lot was a reason to dismiss it. Besides, if folks in B&P were talking about it, it obviously wasn’t ‘white people shit.’

Hell, some people’d told him polyamory was ‘white people shit.’ Which was ridiculous. If anything forcing monogamy on everyone was white people shit. Lots of places around the world didn’t do monogamy before Europe came conquering. If prejudice about what a black person could do was going to stop him, he’d never have transitioned.

Fuck it. He pulled up DuckDuckGo and ran a search on intentional communities. There was a lot of info, and he settled in to read. It was on the third website that he found a reference to Freedom, Georgia. 97 black families had bought a chunk of land to start a new community. White people shit my ass.

Emeka started reading up on intentional communities.

A while later, movement out of the corner of his eye distracted Emeka. He looked up to see two birds — sparrows maybe? — flying around right outside. He took a closer look. They had a nest tucked into the bush right below the window. He’d never been much of a bird watcher, but curiosity had him turning away from the computer to see what they were up to.

There were a trio of chicks in the nest, and it was feeding time. Each of the grown-up birds dropped something — bugs? worms? — into one of the babies’ mouths, then flew off.

Emeka waited a minute or two and was about to return to his reading when they came back with two more morsels. For the next several minutes, they flew in and out, feeding the babies until the little mouths stopped gaping.

A shadow skimmed across the grass.

Suddenly, the grown-up sparrows turned into, like the Red Baron, dive-bombing a crow that must have come too close to their nest. They were tiny next to the blackbird, but they didn’t stop. They were defending their babies, and nothing was going to drive them away.

It wasn’t long before the crow was driven off, and the show was over.

Emeka went back to his reading, but it didn’t seem as interesting. He couldn’t really do an intentional community, could he? He was just as tied to this place as the birds were to their nest.

He has a job, polyam partners, friends. Oh, if he needed to, he could pack up and move. Maybe to Connecticut to be near Bertina. But not on a whim or because he didn’t like the goddamn free home he got.

He pulled Facebook back up and was relieved to see that the Whovians were finally settling down. It would probably flare up on and off for a couple of days, but it wouldn’t take over his feed again. Until the next feeding frenzy. He was glad his friends were Whovians. When GoT fans got going, they had gone on for days. Those folks really loved their shows.

He thought about that love and excitement and realized that was what he’d been missing thinking about intentional communities. He wasn’t excited about them, wasn’t in love with the idea. Whatever he ended up doing about the house or roommates or whatever, he came to one decision right then. He wouldn’t move away unless he’s as excited about moving as the fans were about their fandoms.

Meadowsweet (S1, E9)

Season Notes: This is essentially a heavy nonconsent/dubious consent story set in space that’s as close to erotica as I come. If you are uncomfortable with noncon, explicit sex and/or rape, or fictional slavery, skip this story entirely.

Moira was floating in the afterglow of really good sex. There’d been more than a bit of angry-not-exactly-make-up-sex in it on both their parts, which made it better. They needed to talk, but she didn’t want to ruin the warm glow. So she snuggled down into the bed, determined to ignore the world for a few more minutes. Unfortunately, that made her bounce off the bed, which was when she realized she really was floating.

She shot upright — or tried to. Instead, she ended up in an uncontrolled spin. Something clamped onto her arm and pulled her. She nearly screamed, but a hand clamped over her mouth. Zdenko murmured in her ear, “not one goddamn sound.” He waited until she nodded, then released her mouth and grabbed a handhold next to the bed, stopping their spin.

“If we’re lucky,” Zdenko continued in that same quiet voice, “Ezra was doing some repairs and didn’t want to risk disturbing us. Might have screwed up somewhere, but Ezra doesn’t screw up.”

“And if we’re not lucky?” Moira somehow strangled her shriek down to a whisper, but they both heard the panic in it.

Zdenko made sure Moira’s hand was wrapped around the handhold, then let go himself, reached down, and turned on the magnetic soles of his boots. A moment later, his feet were clamped to the side of the wall as if was a floor. “Then we’re dealing with pirates. Or privateers.”

“Is there a difference?”

“Maybe. Pirates will take us and the ship and sell both. Privateers will take the ship and let us go somewhere with nothing but the clothes on our backs and their sincere apologies.”

Moira held the handhold until her knuckles turned white and tried not to hyperventilate. She was an academic, for god sake! She wasn’t supposed to travel the galaxy having exciting adventures. She was supposed to write case studies about other people having exciting adventures.

“And on that subject…” Zdenko rummaged in one of the bags hanging next to his bed, and Moira suddenly understood why he had bags hanging on the walls instead of a dresser. He pulled out a ball of fabric and threw it at her. She squeaked, grabbed at it, lost her grip on the handhold, realized she was spinning, squeaked again, grabbed for the handhold, and somehow managed to hold onto both the fabric and the wall. The fabric, she then realized, was a wad of clothing.

Zdenko barely seemed to notice. He walked down the wall, crossed the barrier between ‘wall’ and ‘floor’ in a single stride that left Moira feeling dizzy and reached under the bed. “Get that on. If we are unlucky enough to be stranded somewhere with nothing but the clothes on our back, you’d better have some clothes.”

Moira squeaked again, some distant still-logical part of her mind (the part that was in no way in control of her body) pointing out that while Zdenko’s had a point, she would have a hard time putting anything on with both hands wrapped around the handhold.

Then she noticed that what he’d pulled out from under the bed was a gun. Her brain, the brain that didn’t shut up even when she’d been looked on the 3P waiting to find out how she would die, immediately started up. “If you shoot that, won’t you put a hole in the side of the ship? Then we’d asphyxiate rather than whatever these… people have planned for us. And shouldn’t there be an alarm going off? This room isn’t soundproofed, so why is it so quiet?”

“Hush.”

She hushed

“You’re right, we should be hearing something, and the alarm should have gone off. But we don’t have any way to see what’s going on out there.”

Moira blinked, something about his words… “Wait!” She looked around for her datapad, left… somewhere when she’d come in the room. She saw it, floating near the other side of the room. “There! Get that.”

Looking at her oddly, Zdenko clumped across the room and brought back her datapad. Now she was juggling the clothing, pad, and handhold, and keeping a grip on none of them. Cursing, Zdenko pinned her against the wall, shoved her legs into the loose pants, grabbed the spinning tablet, and handed it back to her. “If we get out of this, I’m turning the gravity off for a week, so you can learn how to not kill yourself in it.”

Moira couldn’t exactly argue with that and wasn’t interested in trying. Instead, she pulled up the still-not-fixed hack she’d worked into the ship’s security systems. The video loaded, and she blinked in surprise, then turned the screen to show the captain.

“Well, fuck,” he said.


Sorry for the short episode and the cliffhanger. Family emergency has me scrambling, but I promise we’ll be back next week to learn what they are seeing and how they’ll respond.

Building Family (S1, E2)

Season content notes: transphobia mention, ableism,

Emeka knew he was on the right track. He needed to find someone (or several someones) who’d want to make a home with him. Finding that person was the challenge.

He had three polyam partners. Jenna was a casual partner he saw every few weeks when their schedules meshed. Shayna was a fairly serious partner — they had a weekly date night and tried to spend a weekend each month. And Bertina and he were comets. They ‘flew’ in and out of each other’s lives a few times a year. Bertina would visit again next month for a couple of weeks.

He hadn’t ever talked about living together with any of them. Becoming nesting partners hadn’t seemed in the cards. Hell, Bertina lived in Connecticut, so it wasn’t even a reasonable question. Right? Things changed, though. Just because it hadn’t been in the cards when he was living in a crappy apartment didn’t mean it wasn’t worth asking now.

The fire alarm started blaring, interrupting his thoughts. Emeka opened his eyes to see smoke pouring off the pot on the stove. “Fuck!” He pulled the pot off the stove, then rushed to silence the fire alarm. One advantage of living in a house — no neighbors complaining about the alarm going off. Of course, that didn’t help with dinner.

Disgusted, he dumped the charred remains of the pasta into the garbage and grabbed the menu for the local pizza place. Looked like it was going to be delivery again.

Some things never changed — his ability to burn anything among them. Wanting it wouldn’t make him a better cook — or, he realized, change the course of his relationships.

He’d have let it go at that, but he needed to try something or he was going to fall into another funk. So he kept turning the idea over. No, he’d never talked about living together with either Jenna or Shayna. But that meant they’d never said anything about not wanting to live together. He could at least have the conversation.

The last time he’d seen Jenna was shortly before his parents’ lawyer got a hold of him. She’d been having troubles with her landlord. Jenna’s apartment building was a mess. Not quite as bad as Emeka’s old place, but it was going to get there if the landlord didn’t start making repairs. The asshole had been dodging her calls about a leak in the ceiling — not something you wanted to ignore. She said she was sticking it out because she liked how close it was to downtown, but no one needed a ceiling coming down on their head.

The smell of burnt past permeated the kitchen. Emeka opened a window the clear the air and retreated back to his computer. He could still smell the smoke there, but it wasn’t as bad. He flipped through the menu for the pizza parlor, even though he knew what he’d order. Hell, he’d been living on take-out the past two weeks while he got his stuff moved in and settled.

The last time Jenna’d cooked for him, she made a stir fry. Beef and onions with chopped peppers. He had no idea what she seasoned it with. The onions and peppers had been dotted with black bits from the spices she’d tossed in the pan. It had tasted amazing. God knew when he’d have food like that again.

With a sigh of regret, he dialed the pizza place. 30 minutes and he’d have something to eat for dinner.

Pizza ordered, Emeka decided he needed a distraction. Something to get him out of his head. He pulled up a new browser tab and hopped on the Big Blue. Facebook was a steaming pile of shit most days, but you could always count on it to distract you from your own troubles. Or at least that was Emeka’s opinion. Shayna had closed up her account last year and swore she’d never get on again. As soon as the page loaded, he glanced at the top corner and froze. 68 notifications. What the fuck?

Top of his feed was a picture of a long-haired white guy wearing fancy sunglasses, suspenders over a dress shirt (only half-buttoned), black slacks, and bright blue socks covered with jumping sheep. Emeka had never seen the guy before. No caption, no description. It wasn’t until he looked at the comments that it started to make sense. Someone had leaked a picture of Dr. Who’s next Companion — whoever he would be.

Whovians — a fan group that included a good chunk of his friends — were going wild. Speculating like crazy about what the character would be like, where he came from, so on and so forth. Usual fandom feeding frenzy. Having a suspicion, he clicked over to his notifications. Yup, he was being tagged in dozens of Dr. Who posts. That’s what most of those 68 notifications were. Watch a show for a single season and never hear the end of it.

He read the first two or three posts just to keep up with what his friends were into. Then started scrolling. It was a couple of pages until he saw the first non-Whovian post. Jenna had shared a long-ish writing. Looking forward to seeing her thoughts, he clicked on ‘Read more’ to see what she’d been up to.

Looked like someone a polyamory group had been talking shit about solo polyamory. It happened from time to time, assholes who thought anyone who didn’t do it ‘their way’ was doing it wrong. Jenna, also as usual, didn’t take shit like that lying down. But this post was different. Instead of defending sole polyamory in general, Jenna was claiming it. She was solo polyam, and no matter how committed she was to a partner, she would always need her own home and her own space… Had she ever told him she was solo polyam? He didn’t think so.

By the time he’d finished reading, he had another half dozen notifications filled with Whovian chatter. He had tried to get into the show a few years ago; it would have been nice to share that fandom with his friends. But he just couldn’t care.

However much he might like the idea, asking Jenna about moving in would be a mistake. It would be like one of his friends trying to get him into Dr. Who again. Landlord problems or no landlord problems, he needed to respect her needs. But where did it leave him?

Meadowsweet (S1 E8)

Season Notes: This is essentially a heavy nonconsent/dubious consent story set in space that’s as close to erotica as I come. If you are uncomfortable with noncon, explicit sex and/or rape, or fictional slavery, skip this story entirely.

Zdenko wasn’t a fool. He knew what his crew was doing. What he wasn’t sure of was what to do about it.

He’d made the rules clear from day one. His girls needed to be able to walk off this ship free in all ways — including free of attachment to them. His other girls had shown no interest in spending time with him or the crew anyway. They kept their heads down, did what they were told, and got out as soon as they could.

And that was why he was stumped. Because it wasn’t the crew who were seeking out Moira, she was pushing herself on them. Not that they — Ezra and Skullfire especially, but Ildar too in his quiet way — weren’t enjoying her company. What was he supposed to do, confine her to his rooms? That was exactly the kind of asshole move he’d always tried to avoid. Order the crew to avoid her when she had herself planted in the middle of the common room?

So he’d been avoiding her. A week now without release, and the damn parasite wasn’t going to let him go much longer. He was walking around with a constant hard-on — literally — and his hand wasn’t doing it. Something about the parasite demanded a partner, the scent and feel, and perhaps most importantly fluids of another person. Why? Who the hell knew?

It wasn’t the worst he’d dealt with — hell, he usually went months between girls because he was too stubborn for his own good. But it was different with Moira right there, her scent in his room and all over his bed. He needed to talk with her, to figure out what the hell she was doing and how he could keep her from making a big damn mistake.

Should be easy, right? She was his slave and hadn’t once disobeyed him.

Yeah, right. She was obedient to a fault and still kept managing to get her own way. That was the whole reason he was avoiding her, after all.

Moira was surprised Zdenko hadn’t confronted her. Ezra and Skullfire were equally surprised he hadn’t yet cornered them. Ildar and Efe were still keeping their heads down but were starting to open up. Efe had even brought Moira a cup of tea and a warm brownie the other day. Moira wouldn’t have thought the second officer the type to be shy. Maybe she wasn’t one to talk if she didn’t need to.

Efe was actually curled up on the other side of the couch watching a vid when Moira found the answer she’d been looking for. “Ahh–!” She clamped a hand over her mouth a moment too late. “I can’t believe it,” she made herself whisper. “I can’t believe it. But it fits. It fits everything…”

Zdenko had been a puzzle to Moira since she met him. Sexual slavery wasn’t exactly unusual, and she knew most common personality types for people who bought sex slaves. Zdenko didn’t match any of them. Even stranger, she’d often noticed that he didn’t seem to enjoy the sex. Approached it as an obligation, even. Something he did because he had to, regardless of what he actually wanted. But here, when she wasn’t looking for it, buried in the ship’s log from nearly ten years ago was an unexpected clue.

Shortly after Zdenko purchased the Meadowsweet, he and the then-crew (only Skullfire was still with him from that trip, and she had a few guesses why) had landed on Verda.

Verda infection was nearly as mythic as Stolkholm, a legend within the psych and sociology fields that just happened to really exist. The parasite was one of the rare infections able to cross the blood/brain barrier and infect the brain. Moira wasn’t a neurologist, though any student of the human psyche needed to know at least a bit about the brain. The insula she recognized as being involved in sexual desire. Some of the other brain regions the parasite affected not so much. Regardless of the mechanics, what it did was well known — create an unending drive to have sex.

People — especially moralizing people — had been talking about and worried about ‘sex addiction’ since before Earth was destroyed. The Verda parasite created /actual/ sex addiction. A need for sex that got worse the longer it was denied. Stories of infected people fucking themselves to death were urban legends, but people had certainly caused harm under the parasite’s influence. As the captain had down when he’d fucked them both raw during her first few weeks on the Meadowsweet. A response to… how long without release? She didn’t think he’d ever said.

And he’d been avoiding her ever since she took her stand in the common area.

Moira sighed and closed up her datapad. Zdenko tried to be a hard-ass. Well, he was a hard-ass with everyone else. With her (and, she suspected his other ‘girls’), it was more of a bluff. Something — guilt she was betting — turned his stone to sand as soon as the parasite stopped riding him.

She waved to Efe, who smiled then went back to her vid. Then Moira strode into the captain’s rooms. “Zdenko.” She had, almost from the moment she found her feet on the Meadowsweet, been thinking of herself more as a high-priced sex worker than a slave. Time to clock in, that much-needed argument with her ‘client’ could wait.

“Zdenko.”

He started at his name. Zdenko could count on one hand the number of times Moira had called him by his name rather than ‘captain.’

She didn’t give him long to wonder about it, walking right up to him, grabbing the collar of his shirt, and pulling him in for a bruising kiss. He was stunned and confused, so full of need he responded immediately anyway.

After an eternity, she broke the kiss and stepped back — still holding his shirt. She pulled him to his feet and started dragging him to his bed. He wanted to stop her, to ask what was going on. But he needed too much, and she wasn’t given him a moment to think, to get control of himself. She twisted until he was in front of her, then pushed him down on the bed and climbed on top of him.

He found enough brain cells still under his control to say, “Moira, what…” then ran out of words as she bent over him and kissed him again.

This kiss was shorter. When she pulled away, Moira said, “You make a shitty slave owner, you know that? But I’m starting to think under all that bluff, you might be a halfway decent man. Now get your clothes off because I’m not in the mood to do it for you.”

She slid over to lie next to him. He immediately started working his pants off — probably proving her point. But hell, ‘shitty slave owner’ wasn’t exactly an insult when you came down to it.

Moira was already naked, of course, and used her hands and mouth to distract him and slow him down. He groaned as she slipped her hand under his briefs and began fondling him. “Fuck, girl…”

“That is the idea, yes.”

He was supposed to be angry with her. And this was too good to be true, that she sought him out, wanted him… she wasn’t ever supposed to want him…

But she had his briefs out of the way now, and her tongue was flicking his slit, and he couldn’t think, couldn’t remember why, didn’t care, as long as she didn’t stop.

She did, eventually. But by then, he was too worn out to complain about anything.


One of the fun things about writing stories is how they don’t always stay on track. One of the fun and frustrated things about serials is how they go off track and I need to fix it on the fly because y’all are waiting for the next installment.

This started as a Master/slave M/f and I expected it to stay that way for at least the first season or two. Moira (as usual) had her own ideas.

Building Family (S1 E1)

Season content notes: transphobia mention, ableism,

The house was silent, an echoing silence that belongs in the depths of night. One that comes when everyone sleeps: no footsteps or music, no dishwasher running, no occasional sound of someone bumping their toes or closing the door a bit too hard. Silence is supposed to exist in the space between sounds. This silence seemed to echo, the absence of noise growing louder with each moment that passed.

Emeka had lived with the silence for two weeks. He had tried to break it — blasting music, stomping up and down the stairs, talking to himself. But the silence always waited. It ambushed him when the music stopped and echoed in the moments between his footsteps. When he first moved back into the house, he had hoped the silence would grow comfortable. That it would become the relaxed silence of being in one’s own company. It never did. It was always the loud, sharp silence that said one was alone.

He had been 18 when his parents kicked him out. They had ‘done their duty’ until he was officially an adult but wouldn’t put up with his ‘perversion’ one moment more. He hadn’t spoken with his parents again. Hadn’t even known they died until their lawyer got a hold of him and told him they left him the house. He’d thought it was some kind of sick joke at first, but no. All the paperwork had been under his dead name, of course. That he would have expected — if he’d expected to be included in their will at all.

Memories haunted every corner of the house that had once been his home. It was those memories that made the silence so loud and so painful. His father’s voice telling Emeka to get out and don’t come back. His mother’s tears the day he came out to them. The urgent late-night whispers as they planned how they would ‘fix’ him. There had been happy memories too, once. But the silence drowned them out.

Needing to do something, Emeka pulled up YouTube and turned the speakers up to 11. He knows it won’t work for long, but he’ll take anything he can get.

His ‘My Mix’ on YouTube started with K’naan. The auto-generated playlist was feeling old school. He closed his eyes and let himself rock on the rhythm of “In the Beginning.” He tried not to listen to the lyrics, just let the music hold back the silence enough that he could relax.

Maybe he should sell the house. Take what he could get for it and go. It wasn’t like he had any sentimental reason to hold onto it. He’d only moved in because his lease was ending in a month anyway — he wanted out of that shit hole as fast as he could manage it. He had no idea what it would sell for or how to go about selling a house. But that’s what the internet was for.

As he pulled up a new browser tab, a new song cued up. Shakira, singing about “try everything.” He found himself singing along because how could you not? He’d been in a funk since he moved in, barely leaving the house except for work. There had to be other options, right? It wasn’t just… live with this shit or sell out.

He’d been handed a free house. Almost literally free — the mortgage was paid off, and the estate covered the death taxes. After a decade of struggling to keep a roof over his head, he’d be a fool to walk away. He hadn’t seen the utility bills yet, but they had to be less than the rent he’d been paying at his last place.

There would be property taxes, though. They’d be a pain if they were high enough. And according to his landlord’s bitching, they’d gone up last year. He’d need to save up for that, and he’d never been good at saving.

He opened his eyes and found himself staring at the bright blue drapes that wrapped around the windows of what had been the guest bedroom. He’d set it up as a computer-and-game space. Less because he needed a dedicated space and more because… why not? The drapes weren’t new, but like almost everything else in the house, they were new to him. His parents had redecorated hardcore, and he first thought that would help him get used to living here again. Instead, it added a level of weirdness to the whole thing.

Even with his income, he could easily afford to live here. But making it a home, a place he was comfortable? His money wouldn’t run to redecorating, making it his home; instead of his parents’ place he’d never been welcome in.

Emeka shook his head and closed the browser down. What he needed wasn’t to get rid of the house. It was to get out of his own head. Living in an apartment or boardinghouse there were always people around. Always someone carrying groceries up the stairs or blasting their music too loud. You never had a chance to feel alone because someone was right on the other side of the wall.

Really, it was kind of ridiculous to have this whole house for one person. It had been a big house for him and his parents; they hadn’t exactly needed a guest bedroom after all. Maybe that was the answer — invite someone (or someones) to move in and share the place. It wouldn’t be so silent, with other people around. And those people would add their own stamp to the house, whether or not they could afford to redecorate.

His stomach rumbled. He grimaced and stood up, heading for the kitchen. The cabinets were almost empty, but there was plenty of mac and cheese. He couldn’t manage much in the kitchen, but even he could usually make pasta without too much trouble. He needed to go to the store and stock up on frozen dinners or something tomorrow.

Maybe he could get someone to move in who knew how to cook. Really cook. He would happily trade laundry duties — dirty underwear and all — for a decent meal a few times a week. More than one of his partners had teased him about being a cheap date — double whatever they usually made for dinner, and he was a happy man.

Yeah, finding someone to share the house with might be the answer to his biggest problems.

Special Edition: Bound by His Oath Cover Reveal

Since Bound by His Oath finished posting to the website in June, I’ve been working on reformatting it as an ebook. God and Murphy willing, it will be out on most major etailers this fall.

In the mean time, y’all get an early look at the cover.

 

Let me know what you think!


I always intended (as time time allowed) to include some character sketches and story illustrations in these newsletters. Now that my health is back on track, expect one episode a month or so to include a bit of illustration.

See you Tuesday with our regularly scheduled newsletter, and the start of Building Family.

How NOT to Save the World (S1, Season Finale)

Season Content Notes (incomplete): violence, anti-nonhuman bigotry, consensual violence

After Cheung left, Ameohne’e paced the room, eventually finding herself standing in front of her framed copy of The Evil Overlord List. “Number 15: I will never employ any device with a digital countdown.”

She shook her head and checked the countdown tracker. Of course, it said exactly what she expected. Her meeting with Cheung hadn’t even lasted an hour.

Wu and Deborah came in and stood behind her.

“Was I wrong? Was there another way?”

Wu and Deborah glanced at each other. “My friend…” Wu trailed off.

“Of course there was another way.” Deborah smacked her. “There were lots of other ways. Would any of them have worked? Were you capable of following them? Will daisies begin singing?

“Who cares? You picked the best path you could, and so far it is working. What more do you want, the voice of God to guide your steps? Tough luck, the Age of Prophetcy ended 3,000 years ago.”

Ameohne’e rubbed the side of her head and looked at Wu. “I suppose you’re going to give it to me too?”

“This one would never speak so.” Wu gave an almost mocking bow. “But you ride upon the tiger. Wonder ‘what if’ when we all survive this.”

Ameohne’e took a deep breath and nodded. “Alright. Alright. Cheung isn’t on board, but ey isn’t going to cause trouble right now.”

“This one will message Shin, e is best suited to being Cheung fully on board.”

Ameohne’e turned away from the List. “Good. If Shin can get Cheung on board, then we’ll bump up the schedule for going public.

“Deborah, I should have asked yesterday, but any new updates from our collection of seers?”

“What little new came in was also contradictory. Overall analysis shows our chances of success dropping.” Ameohne’e and Wu grimaced. “I’m hopeful that was just the risk of Cheung turning on us, and the numbers will improve over the next week.”

“How bad are we looking at?”

Deborah hesitated. “Last night’s results gave us one in three of enough people surviving on Earth to rebuild when everything is over.”

“Well. That’s reassuring.” Ameohne’e rubbed her eyes. “Wu, do whatever you need to get us a night off. I need some family time; remember what we’re fighting for.

“Join us, Deborah?”

Deborah smiled but shook her head. She enjoyed being an unofficial grandmother to Ho’neheso when she got the chance, but tonight she had other commitments. “My granddaughter has consented to join me for dinner tonight. I’ll bring leftover kugel to share tomorrow.”

Ameohne’e took a deep breath, straightened her back, and nodded. “That’s for tonight. For now, back to work.

That evening, Deborah slipped out of the World Government building, looking not much different from any member of the cleaning staff. Like Ameohne’e, she had taken a new name within the rebellion. Unlike Ameohne’e, she never ‘died’ in her old life. She had simply lived two separate lives. A challenge at her age, but one worth doing. With a bit of care, some cosmetic changes any community theater could pull off, and the slightest bit of magic, she could show up on international news and not even her family could recognize her.

It wouldn’t last forever, of course. But once she went public, she dragged her granddaughter into the limelight with her. That, she wanted to avoid as long as possible.

Sadly, neither her daughter nor granddaughter had ever been interested in the study of Torah and Talmud necessary to become a Baal Shem. But they had their own paths to walk, their own purposes to fulfill in the world.

Avigail, as she was known in her private life, reached home without incident and started work on a simple kugel for dessert. She had just put the kugel in the oven when the fronted door opened.

A woman with short spikey hair in a long trench coat with a subtle triangle pattern running around the hem strode into the kitchen carrying a takeout bag.

“Joan!” Avigail smiled and opened her arms for a hug. “Running late again; your job keeps you too busy.

“What did you bring for dinner?”


Well, that’s going to be a problem sooner or later.

We’re saying goodbye to our Evil Overlord and her friends and enemies for now, but they’ll be back next season.

In the mean time, we’ll be starting a new story. This is one of my rare pieces of contemporary fiction and an experiment in the kishotenketsu story structure which is popular (in several variations and names) in East Asia.

Family is supposed to be natural. Spontaneous.

Relationships are supposed to be born out of star dust and moon beam.

Love isn’t supposed to be something you decide to feel.

Emeka won’t wait any longer.

Orli doesn’t like star dust.

Andi always needs a plan.

They are done with ‘supposed to.’

Together, they are

Building Family


The first 6 posts of Building Family are already up on my Substack. If you want to get caught up, pick a paid subscription option today.

Meadowsweet (S1 E7)

Season Notes: This is essentially a heavy nonconsent/dubious consent D/s story set in space that’s as close to erotica as I come. If you are uncomfortable with noncon, explicit sex and/or rape, or fictional slavery, skip this story entirely.

Moira hadn’t confronted the captain. Her first reaction to learning he’d been isolating her had been to storm out of Skullfire’s rooms and scream at him. Her second had been to burst into tears. Having sex with Skullfire (and sharing many orgasms — once the worst of her heat had passed the alien had insisted on reciprocating) had been a distant third. It had, however, been the right one. Endorphins, Moira thought with a small sigh of memory, were wonderful. Nature’s best invention. Even better than sugars and caffeine.

Now, a day later, Moira had set herself up smack in the middle of the crew’s common room. She was done hiding in Zdenko’s bedroom and stalking the crew through surveillance systems. It was time to force the issue. Her way.

Besides, her case study on the social dynamics of a free trader was drafted, and she’s sent it out for peer review at their last planetfall. Given what she was ‘earning’, she’d have another two years stuck on the Meadowsweet. With planet falls (and access to a new library) every few weeks, it was time for that cultural survey she’d been contemplating the last few years.

She smiled at the thought as Efe popped out of her room. Moira’s smile grew wider as the woman stopped, blinked at Moira, and slunk across the common room to the head.

Each of the crew had responded differently to her staking out the common area. Efe with embarrassed awkwardness that was almost cute. The captain with silent glowers. Skullfire had given Moira a smile the first time she’d seen her there and otherwise went about her business apparently unnoticing. Ezra… poor Ezra was having trouble with Zdenko’s edicts. Every time he saw her, he started to say something, caught himself, flushed (with anger, she thought), and stomped out of the room.

Ildar was the only one to actually use the common room with her there. He’d walk in, give her a brief nod, and go do whatever.

Unknown to Moira, with her no longer stalking the security cams, the crew could talk openly about her and were. Well, when Zdenko wasn’t in the room.

Which was how Skullfire kept Ezra from confronting Zdenko himself. Skullfire was very impressed with Moira and thought the human woman would want to handle the matter herself. Skullfire was able to point to Moira’s sudden siege of the common room as evidence that Moira had her own ideas and they should let her handle it.

Skullfire’s counsel lasted a week. After that Ezra, was out of patience. But he did take to heart part of Skullfire said.

Moira was, once again, in the common room, doing a quick skim of a paper on the function of the Tyrelean government. Ezra stepped into the room from the galley, did what had become his usual open mouth, close mouth, flush, turn… then he stopped and turned back.

It took Moira a moment to notice the change. When she did, she dropped her data unit and raised her eyebrows at him.

“Look, I don’t know… I mean…” he stopped and shook himself. “Do you have some kind of plan here?”

“Plan?”

“I would have bitched Zdenko out myself by now, but Skullfire said not to fuck with whatever you’re up to. So… do you have a plan? Or do you need any help?”

“Oh. No, I don’t have a plan. Not yet anyway, I’m doing research.”

“Research?” Ezra took a step closer to her, curious. “What kind of research?”

“A bit of psychology, a bit of sociology.”

“So… mental stuff?”

“You could say that.” She grinned at him. “Congratulations, by the way. You’re the first of my subjects to grow a pair of balls.”

“The first of your…” He blinked at her, blinked again, and burst out laughing. “You mean you’re waiting to see how long you can take over the common room before we start telling Zdenko to go fuck himself.”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it that way…”

“Nope, you’d drape in some scientific gabble, just to drive it home that we’re being a bunch of idiots. Right?”

This time she flushed a little bit and shrugged.

“So,” he said, finally crossing the small room and sprawling on one of the lounge chairs. “Ildar’s hanging out in here doesn’t count as growing a pair?”

“He used a different avoidance tactic than the rest of you, but pretending I don’t exist beyond the barest courtesy is not exactly challenging Zdenko’s pile of shit.”

“Oh.”

Ezra didn’t know what to say to that. But he didn’t want to just… walk away again. Finally, just as Moira was picking up her data unit again, he blurted out, “You like fish? I finally got my fish tank set up proper.”

Moira blinked. “Is that like asking me if I wanted to see your etchings?”

“Huh?”

“Old, old joke.” She shook her head. “What kind of fish do you keep?”

Ezra didn’t stay long, not because he was avoiding Zdenko, but he did have work to do. When he left, Moira had to bit her lip to keep from crying. While she had enjoyed, reveled in, the true intimacy Skullfire had offered, she had known it was a one-time thing, a biological imperative, and not a reflection of anything between them. Ezra offered her something infinity more precious — not a single night of sex, however enjoyable, but his friendship.

She looked forward to learning more about his fish — literally and euphemistically.

How NOT to Save the World, S1 E11

Season Content Notes (incomplete): violence, anti-nonhuman bigotry, consensual violence

T minus 1 year 235 days

Ameohne’e welcomed Colonel Cheung and their subordinates into her office and waited until Wu left the room. Colonel Cheung’s eyebrows rose as they realized that Ameohne’e was meeting with them alone. Even with modern security, that was a significant sign of trust.

Cheung introduced their subordinates, and Ameohne’e offered drinks, which were politely declined. Then Ameohne’e got down to business.

“Gentlefolk, I appreciate you being willing to talk. For what it’s worth, Colonel Cheung, I always intended to have this discussion with you. I had simply hoped to build a stronger working relationship first.”

“Very well, Ms Littlesun. For now, I will accept your assurances at face value. Perhaps, however, you might share with me why you felt it necessary to create that specific… special project… in the first place.”

“I’ll do that. But first, I want to say that my goal today is not to convince you to believe me. Or to convince you to do anything other than what you’ve already been doing. If you walk out the door thinking I’m insane but are willing to keep doing your job, I’ll count that a win. I asked you to bring some of your staff partly as an assurance that this meeting wasn’t a setup. But also, on the off chance that you believe me, you’ll need some people you trust on the inside to start making plans with.” She stood up and moved to the small dry bar. “Excuse me. I know it’s rude to drink alone, but I’ve been anticipating this conversation for over eight years. Liquid courage and all that.”

Cheung took a moment to absorb everything Ameohne’e had said — and not said.

“Ms Littlesun, I also hope we will come out of this meeting with a working relationship. And, as I have thought you insane for quite some time now, I doubt anything you say today will change my opinion.

“I would, however, appreciate information. May I suggest you follow the advice of an old Englishman and ‘Begin at the beginning.”

“Continue through the middle, and when you get to the end, stop?” Ameohne’e tossed back the ouzo he had poured and shrugged. “I’ll try. Though we haven’t gotten to the end yet.” He poured himself another shot, then capped the bottle and put it away.

“Do you believe in prophecy, Colonel Cheung? Or in destiny?”

“Magical predictions of the future? Of course. We live in a world powered by magic. Predictions are tricky; many become self-fulfilling. Others never come true because people take action to change them — intentionally or otherwise.

“Destiny, I am suspicious of. This story begins with a foretelling, I take it.”

“My version of the story begins with a vision quest. Oh, there was a prophecy before that, but I thought it was a joke. Random person stopping me on the street, not something I was inclined to take seriously at the time.

“But I was in a bit of a bad way at the time, my divorce from my wife was finalized after several years of separation, I’d just met Wu, was on the outs with my father.” He shrugged. “It’s a familiar story, I’m sure.”

The senior NCO who had come with Cheung snorted. “Very familiar, sir.”

“I decided not to be a complete fool about it and sought out my tribe’s… wise woman, you might call her. She helped me on a vision quest.

“Are you familiar with vision quests, Colonel?”

“Not particularly.”

“They are usually very personal, but sometimes they have a …wider import. Mine warned of a great danger coming. Something with the potential to destroy the world.”

Cheung’s eyes narrowed. “You believed this vision quest. And rather than warn anyone, you decided to set yourself up as dictator and savior.”

“I’m a controlling, power-hungry bastard, colonel. I’ve never denied it.

“But before you ride off on your high horse, you might talk with Deborah or some of the other mystics in my organization. I’m not the only one who received a warning, and others did try to warn the government; for what good it did them.

“There’s a reason such a high percentage of magic workers follow me. Actually, I’m not sure why me and not someone else — unless it’s just that I’m driven and ruthless enough to see it through. But a reason they share my goals and support me. I know damn well why they didn’t follow my predecessors.”

Cheung grimaced. They could have argued, but… not very well.

“At the moment, Ms Littlesun, the greatest danger I see to the world is you. No one else is building a weapon powerful enough to destroy the world. Your pet engineer is doing just that.”

“Three lasers, actually. Collectively powerful enough to destroy the world. We couldn’t manage a single laser of that power.”

Cheung blinked. “Forgive me if that does not reassure me. Or answer my question.”

“You didn’t ask a question, but I know what you meant.

“In approximately 1 year and 8 months, we will be invaded, conquered, and wiped out, unless we can find a way to stop it.”

“Invaded by who? You lead the world government! There is no one else in the… world…”

Ameohne’e nodded as understanding dawned in Cheung’s eyes. “Want that drink now?”

“Please.”

After Ameohne’e poured and passed the drinks, Cheung said, “I see now why you expected me to question your sanity, Mr. Littlesun.

“I will need time to think on this.”

Ameohne’e nodded and looked out her windows. “Some of us have done our best to develop… you can’t exactly call it ‘intelligence’… on the threat. Whatever scraps we can piece together. Major Shin at F9 will be available to discuss that with you if you want.

“Questions of my sanity aside, Colonel, do you have any other concerns I can address today?”

Colonel Cheung Bo of the World Space Force shook their head. “No. Though I would appreciate being copied on new weapons development proposals in the future.”

“I’ll see to it.”

“Then, with your permission, I think we’re done here. Sir.”

Ameohne’e didn’t even try to hide her relief. “Thank you, Colonel Cheung.” For a moment, her eyes went hard and flat, reminding Cheung of the odd moment in the first meeting. They recognized it now. Fanaticism. For all her casual manner and charm, the world’s new dictator was as great a fanatic as any in history. “Hold the orbitals, Cheung.”

There was only one answer any member of the Space Forces could give to that order. “Yes, sir.” Because that was what Space Forces did.

Meadowsweet, S1 E6

Season Notes: This is essentially a heavy nonconsent/dubious consent D/s story set in space that’s as close to erotica as I come. If you are uncomfortable with noncon, explicit sex and/or rape, or fictional slavery, skip this story entirely.

Ezra and Skullfire were not happy. Skullfire being Skullfire, no one, not even Ezra knew she was unhappy. But she wasn’t.

And though they didn’t know it, they were unhappy for the same reason.

Moira.

None of the crew had been happy with Zdenko’s ‘keep your distance’ policy with his girls. But the other three hadn’t wanted anything to do with the crew, so Zdenko’s foolishness hadn’t had any major consequences. Moira wanted to be part of the crew. From the beginning, she had put herself forward, claiming space on the ship and a role in the crew. Instead of just staying out of her space, the crew had been forced to actively avoid her.

Ildar had resorted to an old cipher system to let the others know that she’d gone as far as to hack the security system to observe them. They’d quietly agreed not to tell Zdenko or plug her hack.

In other circumstances, Skullfire would probably have kept her silence until after Ezra exploded. But as it happened, she was coming into her own heat cycle. She could have taken care of it in port, but the timing was too convenient. Zdenko decided right before they made port that Moira had healed enough from his initial attentions to allow others to request time with her.

Skullfire kept silent until after liftoff, then simply told Zdenko that she was going into her yearly heat and would like a shift with ‘the girl.’

Zdenko groused at her about not taking care of it on planet but agreed.

Moira was surprised and a bit… concerned? She wasn’t sure if that was the right word, but definitely not happy when Zdenko called her only to send her off with Skullfire. Still, she knew she didn’t have a choice, so she made an effort to be gracious.

Skullfire’s cabin was disorienting — the light was orange and reflected strangely off the furnishings and decorations. Moira stopped just inside the room and blinked a few times. Skullfire took her hand to guide her into the room. “Close your eyes. Your vision is too different from mine to be comfortable here.”

Moira obeyed and Skullfire wrapped a scarf around her eyes, blindfolding her.

“My genitals are much like yours. Will you be comfortable attending me? If not I can wait until next landfall, but it will be… difficult for me.”

“You’re giving me a choice?”

Skullfire led Moira to the large cupped cushion that served her as a bed. “I wished to speak with you away from prying ears. I have not previously made use of Zdenko’s girls, and would not have asked for you otherwise. I do not lightly subject a human to my preferred environment.”

“You wanted to… speak with me? I thought you all–”

Skullfire patted her hand. “You were supposed to. Zdenko has a great concern for your wellbeing and some… odd notions. Apparently, some humans suffer from a… Stockhell syndrome, I think he calls it.”

“Stockholm syndrome.” Moira rubbed her forehead and wished for something to bang her head against.

“You know it. He wished you to be able to leave freely when your time here is done, not to be tied to him or us by a… it is a mental illness?”

“Something like that…” Moira sighed. Every few generations for nearly a thousand years, some ‘genius’ dug up that old story to make a new award-winning viseo or other media. Moira had always thought it was annoying but harmless. “It’s a survival mechanism, really. And it isn’t anything like you see in the stories.

“So… the captain wants you to keep your distance because he thinks if you are friendly with me I’ll develop Stolkholm, am I understanding this right?”

“Yes.”

“And if it wasn’t for his… for him, I wouldn’t have been isolated and alone the however many weeks?”

“Yes. Certainly, we would not have been avoiding the common area — for all I have worked to make this room comfortable for me, I am no more fond than most humans of seeing only the same four walls.”

“I’m so pissed right now.”

Skullfire patted her hand again, trying to ignore the shudder that rolled through her.

“Are you okay?”

“It is only the heat cycle.”

“Oh…” Moira licked her lips. “That’s quite a topic change.”

“You do not have to–”

Moira managed to move to her knees and leaned against Skullfire, pushing her back down on the bed. “I remember.” With her eyes covered, she had to rely on her hands. Skullfire’s tank top and cargo pants were familiar enough, however. “But under the circumstances, I’m finding someone asking what I want to be incredibly sexy.” Moira was delighted to find that the rough fur of her arms and back turned to soft down on her breasts and stomach before disappearing lower down. She sighed with happiness at the feel of familiar curves and folds. Skullfire moaned at the lightest touch and Moira grinned. “And I’m kind of desperate to play with something that is not a cock, you know?”

“Well,” Skullfire murmured, “Don’t let me stop you then.”

Moira didn’t. With gentle fingers, she explored and discovered. Two sets of labia, the inner long and full. A nub where they met that Skullfire warned her away from. The inner channel, slick with moisture that eagerly swallowed three of her fingers — rough and smooth by turns with areas that the merest brush made the alien thrash and moan. “What is it you need, your heat?”

“Orgasms.” Skullfire moaned again and her channel clenched on Moira’s fingers. “Lots of orgasms.”

“That, I can do.” Moira slowly pumped her fingers in and out, pressing up against one of those sensitive zones as she did so. Using her other hand to guide her she leaned down and licked the top of Skullfire’s slit, then opened her mouth wider and sucked on the inner labia. Skullfire’s taste was different from a human’s, salt and tart. Moira loved it, lapped it up, hunted more of it through the crevices. Soon Skullfire was panting, her moans growing into cries and her hips pulsing in time with Moira’s hand. She shivered and was still, gasping for breath.

Moira sat back and licked her lips, wishing she could see Skullfire’s face. “That’s one.”