In a technologically advanced universe where humans are classed according to their sexual expertise, Orrin, a man approaching revered Teacher status, is kidnapped and forced to educate slaves in the pleasures of the flesh. Before he can attempt to teach his first student, he has to save the life of Fai, a purring Mattian. Orrin just manages to nurse his little lion back to health when their cell gains another occupant: Hara, an exotic and experienced slave who was sold by his old master. Despite their difficult circumstances and knowing they will eventually be separated, the three men form an steadfast bond.
Soon Hara finds himself with a colorful new Master across the universe while Orrin and Fai remain behind at the slave traders' base. With their problems only building daily, can they find a way back to each other or will they succumb to the trials they face?
EARTH is a planet respected throughout the galaxy. Its population, formerly known for wars and brutality, evolved into a new race divided among Innocents, Adults, and Teachers, easily distinguishable by the color of their eyes.
Green-eyed Innocents are usually the youngest of their kind. Sexually inexperienced, they have yet to discover their hidden potential.
Adults, with their eyes the bright color of blue, make up most of the population and they lead regular lives, not willing or able to reach the higher level.
The last but most respected group is the Teachers. Becoming a Teacher is only achieved by some, through personal growth in every aspect of life, including spiritual, sexual, and emotional development. Their higher understanding of life, love, and spirituality, together with their extreme expertise in all sexual matters, brings them the gift of immortality. The stage when their blue Adult eyes turn to purple and they enter New Life makes them highly valued individuals on Earth as well as on other planets.
Teachers rarely stay on Earth. When it becomes apparent an individual might be at that level, it is likely he or she will travel, and self-improvement is encouraged as well as helped by other Teachers.
The Teachers’ desire to travel and spread their knowledge to other worlds brought new technologies back to Earth, making it one of the most developed planets in the system.
IT WAS one of those nights when a man wanted without knowing which desires were the strongest and what exactly would be enough to satisfy the nagging need. Unlike most of the time, Orrin was alone. Not in the mood for company, he walked through the smog-filled streets, deep in thought.
Living at the edge of the low town quarter had the advantage of being close enough to the center town quarter and the variety of restaurants, bars, and nourishment in general. The quality ranged from great to terrible depending on your establishment of choice, but center town was above low town in every way and a good place to find some entertainment, no matter what that entertainment might be.
Orrin had been walking for hours before he stopped in front of a bar, the green clover on the glass drawing his curious gaze. The symbol was one of the cultural remnants of the past, when different parts of the world had harbored different cultures and every trip could turn into an adventure.
Those times were long gone, and no matter where you went, you would find the same tall buildings, the same city layouts, and the same variety of people—beings whose genetic makeup wasn’t solely human. Discrimination between races was a thing of the past.
Inside the bar, the music was a joyful combination of notes, with an angry fellow growling his lyrics. Barely understandable words perfectly matched the mood of the song. The design of the interior separated the comfortable seating section from the casual standing area by the bar. Green was the dominant color next to the brown imitation wood that covered the walls, floor, and furniture.
Squinting through the smoke-filled room, Orrin found his way to the bar and placed his credit on its surface.
“What can I get ya?” the bartender asked, clear disinterest visible on his face even as he reflexively wiped the bar with an all-purpose bio-designed rag.
“House beer. And keep it coming,” Orrin said, already knowing that the night would be one of liquid pleasure and not pleasure of the flesh.
It was the end of the month, and he knew he had reached his drinking limit. It was one of the reasons why he had decided to go drinking alone—he knew the bartender would be forced to cut him off once his limit ran out.
The beer was black and bitter, kicking right where it should, and Orrin ignored both drunken and sober advances with no difficulty at all. For once, sex wasn’t what he wanted, and he happily indulged in his other vice.
It was late by any standard when his credit finally beeped that he’d had enough and he stumbled drunkenly into the night. It was a long walk back, just long enough to clear his mind of the alcohol, and he looked forward to getting home with a satisfied smile.
Orrin didn’t exactly see them as much as he sensed the aura of malicious intent and wicked satisfaction, but he never imagined they would be waiting for him. Only that surprise allowed them to get close enough to whack him over the head and change his life irreversibly.
BY THE time the alcohol and the force of the blow wore off, hours had passed, and Orrin knew that he was no longer on Earth.
His head was killing him, his hands even more so, and for some reason, his feet weren’t touching the ground. Opening his eyes more out of necessity than choice, he gave the room a glance, instantly wishing that he had stayed asleep.
It was a blank room with the characteristic metal walls of a space transport. There were no windows or doors that he could see and no objects close enough for him to reach with his feet. He was hanging from a chain, his arms painfully stretched above him, and his head hurt just enough for him not to try anything else to ease the stress of his position.
He heard the sound of a door swooshing open and the footsteps of who he assumed were his kidnappers.
“Are you awake, Teacher?” a rough voice asked as a palm connected with Orrin’s painfully strained shoulder.
“Yes,” he mumbled, more from curiosity than desire to indulge.
“Good. Now listen well. I know you are not yet a real Teacher, but those eyes of yours say you’re awfully close.” He paused for effect. “And so it happens that we need a Teacher on our jolly transport, and we decided you would be the perfect choice.”
There was nothing to say to that, and Orrin kept his mouth shut. Whatever reason they needed a Teacher, it did not bode well for him.
“Nothing to say?” the man asked, his greasy hair giving an even uglier appearance to an already ugly man. “Good. We just might be able to work with you. If not, we can always blast you off into space.” He laughed, his voice louder than those of the rest of the men in the room.
“Now, we have ourselves here a small merchant transport. We are proud businessmen. But I suppose the name you would use is along the lines of ‘slave traders’ or maybe ‘kidnapping scum’, if you’re feeling imaginative. Nonetheless, we consider ourselves businessmen, and every business has room for improvement, if you will.” The man paused, his characteristic blue Adult eyes icy cold as they watched for signs of understanding on Orrin’s face.
While Orrin was tired as well as hurt, he was not so hurt as to miss the point of the one-sided conversation. “You want them trained as sex slaves,” he whispered, his eyes wide from shock. It was almost unimaginable that someone would use a Teacher to take the innocence from an Innocent.
“Ah, good. I am glad the blow didn’t cause permanent damage. I assure you the idiots responsible have been punished. After all, you are our commodity now. No one wants damaged goods, even when they are not for sale.” He paused again, letting Orrin absorb his words. “At the moment.”
“I refuse,” Orrin spat in anger. There was no way he was going to go from room to room on a ship raping innocent souls so that they could be sold at a higher rate. He would rather die.
“I figured you would say something like that. But I’m afraid you are left with little choice.” The Adult looked almost sad in a sick, twisted kind of way. “You see, it’s easier to acquire random young males, as well as females, than it is to find someone of your status. Close enough to the Teacher status, yet not quite there. So you can refuse to obey, which will result in violence toward you and a rather harsh form of education for the young ones. It is your choice. But eventually, I am sure you will see things my way.”
The man flashed a line of irregular teeth as his lips curved into a wicked smile.
FAI finally felt wonderful. His skin fit like a glove, his emotions were in balance, and all he wanted to do was smile. He heard the door click discreetly behind him as he left his friend’s house for the day and headed home in a sudden rush.
Living alone had many advantages, some as simple as being away from his overbearing parents, others as necessary as his need for peace and quiet. But for a Mattian, it lacked one crucial thing: a willing person to cuddle with. Cuddling was almost like food for Mattians, as it released a hormone that recharged their energy and allowed them to function—nourishment without the actual consumption.
They had spent the whole afternoon together, watching the suns set in an amazing dance of red and purple, while making each other purr. Now it was already nighttime and he was walking home through narrow streets. All he wanted was to avoid any Mattians who were still around so no one would see his tail all ruffled up. Embarrassment was a common state among them because all things had their natural state and proper place. It was basic courtesy to exit your home with your tail perfectly groomed and your clothes covering your body in a fashionable way.
His friend lived in the very center of the city, where there were no big patches of trees and flowers, where stone discs covered the paths and tall houses stood next to each other. Travelers brought change with them, making the modern way of life take precedence over the company of nature. Old Mattians still lived among the trees, accepting nature as their companion and rejecting all that was new. Fai missed the green sometimes, the fresh air and the friendly creatures that so loved to play. He lived at the very edge of the modernized part of the section, but it still wasn’t the same as being surrounded by the pure air of untainted nature.
Just one corner away from his destination, a strong hand grabbed him from behind, pressing a damp cloth against his mouth. The smell of it was intoxicating, the cloth rough against his face, and he tried to fight the grip around him, but he was simply too small. In a matter of moments, his world spun and he flagged like a lifeless puppet into someone’s firm embrace.
It seemed as if whole cycles passed by while he stumbled in his scrambled dreams, with voices echoing in the rooms around him. He was terribly nauseated once he woke up, lost in pitch black, and his body was simply too heavy to move. The exhaustion draining him felt like the side effect of days without cuddling, but there was also some undercurrent unknown to him, taking away what strength he had left. He vaguely wondered about the smell they had pressed against his face, as he could still taste it on his tongue. Eventually, he closed his bleary eyes without meaning to, the strain becoming too much, and just as if someone had flipped a switch, he returned to those disconnected dreams, leaving his worries behind in the real world.
The next time he woke up, it was to a gentle palm against his cheek. A strange creature was watching him with a worried expression, its eyes between purple and blue in color.
“Are you all right?” The voice was so like the music that could be heard in the center where the artists played, and the soft sound made him ache for home. Somehow he knew that he was far away from everything he’d ever held dear, and his deep fear of the unknown was struggling to break free.
Answering seemed like a way to hear that voice again, to remember what he had lost. Fai needed at least that little bit of comfort, because he also knew that he was going to die. He felt it in his every cell, the way the energy just dissipated like simple rays of light, leaving him permanently empty. But when he tried speaking, tried voicing the barest of sounds, nothing came out. Instead, shivers started traveling down the length of his body. It took him just a moment to realize the extent of his weakness. He was too far gone even to talk, and the time he had left was limited to cycles at the most. The worst part wasn’t the pain his body felt or the fact that he would soon close his eyes forever; what ached like the most serious of wounds was the simple reality of being so very far away from anyone he knew. In his desperate sadness, he felt tears slip down his cheeks, and his eyes closed once more.
ORRIN looked at this adorable little being curled up on the narrow trunk against the cell wall. It had taken him forever to wake the little creature up, but he was already drifting away. Orrin wiped the stranded tears away from the gentle, narrow face, wondering what was wrong with him. You couldn’t ask a sleeping individual anything, despite the fact that Orrin’s heart was dying to know more about him.
He was by far the most beautiful thing Orrin had ever seen. He had soft, interestingly gray hair that matched the color of the long, lifeless tail that slipped from under the covers. As far as Orrin could see, the little one’s body was as smooth and soft as a baby’s. If not for the young, innocent face and body, Orrin would have thought him an old man simply due to the color of his hair and fur.
It’d been four days since he’d been confined to the naked cell with the little one; his roommate’s serious condition was worsening by the second. Orrin wasn’t familiar with the species, since this was also his first time away from Earth—a great time to regret his reluctance to explore the system.
They had taken Orrin because his eyes had taken on that distinctive purple touch. He wasn’t there yet, but he was close enough that the blue had ceased being the dominant color. Once it transferred completely, his rank would turn into that of a Teacher, and he would be one of the most desired individuals in the galaxy. On Earth, Adults gained the Teacher rank after years of independent sexual education. Only a few ever got that far, as the growth combined sexual, emotional, and spiritual understanding of one’s being. Having an open mind, a very big heart, and an unlimited amount of patience gained you the new status, but it also came with much-sought immortality and enough job offers to make your head spin.
Since it was impossible to kidnap a Teacher without someone noticing, his captors had opted for the second-best thing, and good old uninteresting Orrin had ended up on a space transport. His captors’ plan wasn’t so inconceivable. In fact, it made perfect sense. They kidnapped individuals from different worlds, carefully selecting only the good-looking ones for the sole purpose of selling them to the highest bidder. When they didn’t specify the purpose of those poor creatures on the market, the price was nominal, but the minute they characterized them as sex slaves, the price went up.
It was impossible to educate an innocent, inexperienced male in sexual matters by violence and rape. Though they would eventually learn, they would also lose their spirit, and spirit was a highly valued commodity. So the next logical solution came in the form of a Teacher, or as it happened, in the form of Orrin.
He could have said yes and been done with it, but the very idea went against everything he believed in, and his captors weren’t above beating obedience into him. As it was, he was covered in almost-healed cuts and bruises, which they left to heal on their own. Orrin hadn’t been a pretty sight when he was first paired with the little mystery on the bed attached to the wall, barely moving in all shades of blue, black, and purple, but now he was almost back to his old self, with the addition of that obedience beaten into him.
Well, not really obedience. More like temporary acceptance. He was getting off of the transport as soon as he spotted his chance.
The little guy who currently occupied the bed was supposed to be his first pupil, but after regaining consciousness for the first time only minutes ago, was already back in the dream world again. It was unnerving to be so helpless when all you wanted to do was help. Orrin was sick to his stomach of watching the almost lifeless body lying on the bed, unmoving.
Like he had countless times before, Orrin slipped his fingers through those strands of gray as he watched the small chest rise and fall with every breath. He had kept his distance for all those days, hoping that the creature would eventually wake up. But he hadn’t been prepared for the creature’s sad eyes or the way the gray captured his heart.
Orrin had never considered taking a lover of another species. Living his whole life on Earth made him a somewhat-sheltered man, his sexual encounters limited to his own kind despite the variety of possible lovers. It wasn’t that he was against it like some people were; it was that the idea had never even crossed his mind. Humans were the dominant species, and all the newcomers tended to keep to themselves. Unfortunately Orrin was not one to search for lovers; he preferred they come to him.
He heard the doors of their cell open just before one of the Adults stuck his head through the gap. “Is he awake yet?” The mocking voice spread throughout the room.
“He woke only for a second, started to shake, and fell asleep again. Something is very wrong with him. Can you ask someone about his species?” Orrin asked desperately for the tenth time since they had brought him into the room.
“I’ve asked around, but no one knows anything about them. All they know is that his planet is called Matti. He was the only one they took.”
“Matti? I’ve heard that name somewhere before….” Orrin’s mind was frustratingly out of focus, and he opened every door, desperately searching for that information.
“Well, if he dies, we’ll give you another guy. It’s not like we are short on them. The females are in high demand at the moment—sorry about that.” The Adult laughed cruelly and closed the door behind him.
Orrin felt blinding hatred for all of them consuming his body. Although he’d never hated before, the emotion being contradictory to his character, now it seemed to be all he was capable of. It wasn’t that he cared so much about his fate. There was no one waiting desperately for his return, and he had no place to call home. He wasn’t even important enough that anyone would notice his disappearance. But this little guy had been ripped out of his world only to be brought to a place where he would probably die. It was unacceptable to Orrin. Living beings deserved so much more. Love, tenderness, and respect should fill their lives, not this metal prison of abuse. It wasn’t natural.
Basic Teacher training, the hard lessons of unlimited love and acceptance, swam through his mind. He had learned so much during his years, focusing on the needs of others and giving only the good he had to offer while accepting whatever was offered in return. It was soiling his mind to be exposed to the worst form of human selfishness and cruelty. It was also hard not to think about the world he craved, the one where peace and harmony were as normal as breathing and where wickedness and greed were just words from the past. But it was nothing more than wishful thinking on his part. Wherever there were humans, there was pain and suffering, despite all their so-called progress. It was inevitable, and quite frankly, it was sad.
But thoughts of perfect harmony triggered some distant memory, and a forgotten conversation came to mind. When he was just a child, the first Teacher he had ever met had talked to him about a planet where only peace existed. The inhabitants were shy and gentle beings who had no notion of evil or corruption. They lived their long lives constantly caring for each other and providing for the needs of others. Orrin remembered the reason the topic had seemed so sad. Everyone who lived there, in their desire to make their lives more pleasant, focused all their attention on the most comfortable aspects of their existence.
They had discarded the course of nature, how children were made in the moments of passion, leaving only the necessary cuddling as their form of closeness. Getting naked was too embarrassing for such a timid species, and somehow, during the years, they forgot how to make children.
The Teacher talked about how it was a shame to let them die out and how the Teachers could have a huge influence there. He was one of those who had fought for their education in that field.
Orrin also remembered how his childish curiosity had forced him to ask about the cuddling, especially how such a casual thing could be more crucial than making children. The Teacher had answered, “Because cuddling gives them energy. Just like food and water sustain us, a Mattian cannot live without another person to make him purr.”
That was the answer! Orrin jumped to his feet, excited by the memory and the solution it presented. That was the reason why the little guy was so sick. He’d been alone for days, and the poor thing was starving to death. Orrin hoped that he wasn’t too late as he climbed onto the bed and pulled the little guy firmly into his arms.
The little gray head was resting on Orrin’s bicep, while his palm hurriedly rubbed against the other man’s scalp. Touching the rest of him was surprisingly soothing even for Orrin. His other hand was moving carefully from the shoulder down to the Mattian’s belly, where he pressed lightly in comfort. There was no instant sound of awareness, and doubt started to creep into his mind, but it was still too early to give up. He lifted his knee and rubbed those thin legs as well. His whole body engulfed the little lion, and in a moment of desperation, he gently pressed his lips to the pale, exposed neck.
A soft rumble sounded in the Mattian’s throat, and like an avalanche, it soon spread throughout his body, making Orrin’s face crack into a wide smile. He hugged and rubbed the little body with delight, finally feeling traces of hope somewhere deep inside.
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Unstable Stud by Ariel Tachna Audiobook