Jungles of Awanil
Chapter 1

Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Science Fiction,

Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Volentin #4 The Human-Vizz war is into its second decade. The Vizz are running amuck on the colonized planet Awanil in the equatorial jungles. Gavril, a ten year veteran of the Imperial Forces, is a sergeant in a mudball unit that hunts down the elusive enemy. His life was already miserable when royal Volentin appeared, making his life ever more complicated. If the Volentin doesn't kill him, the Vizz, the planetary predators, or the incompetent captain will.

The near naked teenagers dancing on the stage were boring. Gavril had gawked at them, or young women like them hundreds of times, he guessed, and he was blasé to the promises their swaying hips offered. He watched his squad, all of them five to eight years younger than him, hoot and holler at the show while keeping their options open for the girls trolling the tables with watered down drinks and greasy finger foods.

"Sergeant want a good time?" a sweet voice with a thick Awanili accent whispered in his ear.

"I sure do," Gavril answered. "You ain't it, though. Why don't you ask Dunnel sitting right in front of me? He needs a lot of coaching if you know what I mean. You make nice-nice with Dunnel and I'll be nice-nice to you."

He never even looked at her face.

Gavril watched the thin woman lean over Dunnel's shoulder and whisper something in his ear. The younger man's ears went red. Dunnel turned back and looked at his sarge, who gave him a slight nod of approval. Dunnel let the young woman with long black hair take his hand and lead him towards one the doors beside the stage.

Gavril settled down with a second drink. By the time he had finished sipping through the shot of the local distilled liquor, his entire squad was in back getting laid. The local stuff was good, a slightly fruity finish but still dry. They deserved it after the hell of the Awanili equatorial jungle, hunting Vizz remnants. After ten years of hunting the slippery bastards down on seven different planets, he was near his limit.

He had shot, burned, sliced, and even strangled the alien bastards for too long. They fought viciously, confoundingly leaping from one body to another, even if the only living creature was a dumb animal. They didn't leap to humans though. To hunt them, one had to rely on the tracker equipment to identify the enemy because the Vizz could fool human senses. The bastards could hide in the trees, under the ground, or deep in the rocks. Bastards.

This tour of duty wasn't going according to Gavril's personal plan. A twenty-year hitch guaranteed a lifetime pension and benefits, but most soldiers didn't expect the majority of their time to be spent in combat. Ten years and seven tours — there seemed to be no end even though the humans were winning. Awanil was supposed to have been base building and training, not running like maniacs through alien jungles with greenhorns in tow. Too many of his fellow veterans were already dead or gone.

He glanced at his half-filled glass wondering why he didn't remember drinking it. His face darkened at the memory of the new captain chewing him out for all of the destroyed and missing equipment he had reported earlier in the day. The moron had the fresh scrubbed look of a new graduate from a fancy-pants military college. Some day Command Central was going to put pressed-pants Captain Blowhard out in the field and let him learn the real lessons of the Vizz war. Gavril gave a short chortle as he considered the possibility that he would be ordered to drag the captain's ass back to a forward base. Nah, with his luck, the captain would be commanding his company. Moron.

He missed his lieutenant. There was a man who never failed to appreciate what he had and he drank, and when the lieutenant didn't have something to appreciate, he drank more. A Vizz had ripped a hole straight through his middle three weeks back. Gavril had collected what little gear the lieutenant had and handed it over to the major at Forward Base Charlie. Like Gavril, the lieutenant had been a war orphan. There was no one to notify. Gavil and his squad had offered a toast to the man under a sky full of alien stars, using the last bottle that the lieutenant had squirreled away.

Gavril ordered a third shot. He was staring at the potted trees at the corner of the stage slightly ill at ease, wondering if the vegetation had been scanned. As a drink was placed at his right elbow, a body slipped into the seat beside the glass and a soft hand brushed his arm.

"Drinking alone?" the unaccented feminine voice asked.

"Not if you're sitting there," Gavril said as he turned towards her. "Ma'am."

She was wiry, all muscle and no obvious fat. Her black hair was cut in a military bowl shape and she stared at him seemingly without blinking her eyes, which betrayed an ancient Asian ancestry. However, her irises were palest blue and her look was predatory. She was definitely off-worlder, with an air of command about her. She may have had a calm demeanor but her back was ramrod straight and her legs were still poised to launch her body from her seat. Sergeant Gavril had no doubt that he was talking to a superior officer.

"If these women don't entice you, why are you here wasting your precious hours of leave?" she said.

Gavril hadn't been expecting that question; of course, he hadn't expected to be talking to a beautiful commissioned officer in the middle of a whore house/titty dance club. He took a small sip as he attempted to formulate an answer that would keep him respectable but at a distance. Officers in the field like the captain this morning were a crapshoot for veterans like Gavril: some got it and some didn't. Officers above the rank of captain in the Imperial Forces who oversaw dirtball action were to be avoided even more. No commissioned officer in his or her ambitious mind wanted anything less than a space command. Their dream job was whizzing around in space cruisers armed with lasers and missles. Meanwhile they read dirtball tactics out of the manual as if the way to kill Vizz was in there. Idiots.

"I've got a green squad fresh from the field. I'm just guiding them through the best hours of their leave before we go back to the meat grinder, like a good mother hen is supposed to do, ma'am," Gavril said.

"Nothing for yourself?"

"Pardon the crudeness" Gavril said, "but ten years of fucking whores leaves me cold. At least when I drink the liquor, what I feel is genuine." He glanced at her, trying to gauge her response.

The strong beat of the piped music shifted to a more sultry sound. The dancers on stage took their cue and left, most of them coming down to the tables to drum up business with the soldiers who still had chits in their pockets. Rumor had it that some of the locals were carrying a particularly vicious STD that ate a man's dick from the inside out, leaving it a shriveled, useless peanut. Gavril wondered if his men were using the condoms that he had distributed earlier in the day.

"You want a real woman, sergeant?" she asked.

"This is Awanil Three," Gavril said. "What I want most is to get the hell off of this planet, and a woman comes a distant second. Neither of my wants is particularly possible. I don't believe in miracles, ma'am."

Ten years of military life had taught Gavril that there was a clear and distinct line. Commissioned officers were above the line and everyone else was below. He was not going to make the mistake of making a pass at an officer.

"Your cynicism is duly noted, sergeant. However, I would suggest that even on Awanil many things are possible for those who have a sharp mind and a willingness to seek," she said.

"You're probably right," Gavril said. "You're also talking in some cryptic fashion that I cannot begin to crack. Ma'am."

Gavril's mental alarms were on full alert. Whatever game she was playing, he had better step up and pay attention. Reluctantly he placed his nearly full drink back down on the table and took a deep breath. He pushed the decidedly warm feeling of a good buzz to the back of his brain as he straightened up in his chair.

"I see that I've got your full attention," she said. "Play my little game a moment longer and I'll explain myself. Based on what little you know of me, what role do I play in the Imperial forces?"

Gavril took a moment to scan her body and her clothes. Bringing his eyes back to her gaze he said, "Military Intelligence."

"Close enough," she said. Reaching into a pocket on her pants, she pulled out a folded piece of paper and placed it on the table. "I'm looking for volunteers for a new unit that is beyond the scope of the Awanil mission. I'll see you tomorrow morning at this address. Come sober and I promise you will not be disappointed. Questions?"

"Will my absence be squared away with my captain?"

"He will be informed," she said. "Good day, sergeant."

"Good day, ma'am."

The woman got up to leave but turned back to Gavril.

"By the way, sergeant, you may want to try the dinner at the Willy-Nilly club in City Centre. Bring your chits and plan for a long night. You won't be disappointed. I, too, take care of my charges."

With that, she turned on her heel and walked out the door. Gavril watched her go, keeping a close eye on her small, but well-defined butt. She didn't walk, he decided. Rather she glided as if gravity had little hold on her. He shook his head with a touch of disbelief when she disappeared through the doorway.

He picked up the small note and read the address, committing it to memory. With a quick pitch, he tossed the rest of the shot down his throat. Sergeant Gavril Dalakis stood and weaved towards the door. If he was to have a night to remember, he wanted to be alert, shaven, and rested.

Following a nap and a 3-S regimen (shit, shower, and shave), to put him in a better mood, Gavril exited an ancient cab in front of the Willy-Nilly club. Two local militiamen stood guard with burst rifles, a nasty piece of weaponry to have in the middle of a city. One shot of burst could level an entire floor.

He stepped in the door and was greeted by an older Awanili man dressed in a formal suit. His hair was grey and his face was full of wrinkles, but his smile was faint and humble. If the man was unimpressed with Gavril's fatigues, he didn't show it.

"Name, sir?"

Gavril gave his name with a shrug, knowing full well that he didn't have a reservation.

"The sergeant's table will be ready momentarily. May I suggest you wait at the bar? Atalato is our bartender and he has the touch with many a good drink. Ask him for a recommendation and you will not be disappointed," the old man said.

The old man politely pointed at the curtain behind him. Taking the cue, Gavril stepped through the black curtain with its gold geometric patterns and into a very formal setting. Local wood polished to a deep luster shone on the walls, the tables, and the booths around the sides of the room to his right. Crystal shimmered from the ceiling and tables. Nothing in the room was off-worlder exotic, which Gavril would have dismissed as posturing anyway. The room was a compliment to the beauty of Awanil and indeed, many of the faces at the tables were the typical black skins of the Awanili.

To his right was the bar and it was a study in curves and wood. Pleasing to his eye, Gavril couldn't see one sharp edge to the bar or the built-in behind it with its hanging glasses, and shelves of many colored liquors. The windows with their thin curtains let in the last of the day's sun with a softness that seemed to glow off all the surfaces. The room seemed magical.

Gavril chose a spot in the middle of the bar and clambered up on a stool. Another Awanili man, a young adult, approached him.

"What may I get you this evening?" he asked.

Gavril glanced at all the bottles that he couldn't identify against the wall.

"Are you Atalato?"

The man nodded and Gavril continued. "Then what do you recommend for a man who doesn't like sweet, but appreciates the local panishtato straight up?"

"If you can drink panishtato, then you are on the right track to appreciating the beauty of Awanil. Are you waiting for dinner or are you here to drink in my bar?"

"I have a reservation for dinner, but I'm drinking alone," Gavril said, not really sure why he added the extra comment. There were a few other customers in the bar. All of them were dressed in better military fatigues or in Awanili civies. None of them was alone either, sitting in groups of two or four people mostly. Every single one of them seemed engrossed in the people with whom they were sitting. Gavril felt alone. "Orphan alone" they used to call it at the depot center.

A depot center was the way station where young men and women who had no home world prepared for a life in the Imperial military. The second Vizz war had destroyed enough planets to create a vast army of war orphans. The bad news was the Vizz returned; the good news was the humans were prepared and people were saved even if the planet wasn't. Some people were saved.

"I have just the thing," Atalato said in the local patois, 'ting.'

Despite the use of Galach as the official language, Awanili seemed to despise the t-h sound. 'That thing that you do', a favorite popular local song at the moment warbled on the headsets as 'Tat ting tat you do'. It was a good, catchy tune.

A frosted glass appeared on the bar with a pale yellow liquid that was slightly fizzy. Gavril looked at the drink with great skepticism. "It's fizzing. Are you sure this isn't a foo-foo drink?"

Atalato laughed loudly. "I don't know what a foo-foo is, but this is the bitter fruit of the Wangoo bush tempered with a northern version of panishtato. You can drink this all night with food and not suffer terrible consequences."

Gavril blew out the air in his cheeks and gave his bartender a hard look as if to say, 'I'm tasting this only on your word'. He sipped. He took another sip and he smiled.

"This is good," he announced. "I hope my table takes awhile because I want to take time to appreciate this drink."

"Flattery will get you everywhere," Atalato said, obviously pleased. "How did a man such as yourself find my bar?"

"I had a conversation with an officer in a whorehouse this afternoon and she told me to stop wasting my time. She sent me here," Gavril said.

"The military is good for business. Whorehouses are not so good, but if it keeps you killing Vizz, then I will live with the whorehouses," Atalato said, making conversation.

"I hate the whorehouses. Even so, I look at my squad of young men who've never gotten laid, and ... let's just say the whorehouses serve their function," Gavril said, licking his lips.

"So, you are a man on the ground," Atalato began. "How long do you tink it will take to kill all the Vizz."

Gavril took another sip as he considered the question for the umpteenth time. "The Vizz probably thought they could hide on Awanil because it is mostly uninhabited and the majority of the continents lay in the equatorial zone. There are, what, half a billion people on the planet, at most? The Vizz must have fled here to hide rather than kill. We can kill 'em; we just have to find them and that takes time in these jungles."

"They slaughtered Ewantook," Atalato said.

"Ewantook had the bad luck of being the first planetary target," Gavril pointed out. He looked up from his drink and saw the slight hollow of Atalato's eyes. He knew that look. "You had family in Ewantook?"

"I was born and raised there," the bartender said softly. "The beaches were a pale pink sand and when the breeze came from the east, it carried these amazing scents of the fertile mountains behind it. There were no buildings over five stories tall to block the view of the snow on the tops of the mountains while we sweated in the tropic heat far below. Ewantook was beautiful."

"You're a war orphan," Gavril said in an equally soft voice that he knew wouldn't carry. "So am I. Welcome to a very large club."

He hoisted his drink in a toast to the bartender. Atalato took a shot glass and filled it with something Gavril didn't recognize. The bartender raised his drink.

"To better days!"

"To better days!" the bartender repeated and they both downed their drinks. "I'll get you another."

They spoke of little else of import while Gavril waited for his table. When the maître d' approached Gavril to escort him to his table, he left a couple of extra chits for the bartender. Gavril wasn't stupid with his money anymore, but he also saw no sense in hanging onto chits when good things could be done with them. Saying thank you was one of those tings.

Sitting at the table with a menu in hand, he didn't recognize any of the main courses. All the food was Awanili and their names were gibberish to him. The waiter was dressed in black slacks and a white shirt spun from the nesting material of a native insect. Gavril had noticed the slightly iridescent clothing before and had even toyed with buying a shirt, but as with most everything else he considered buying, he had no desire to haul more shit across the galaxy.

The waiter was not particularly friendly. He said all of the right words, but there was little sincerity behind them. Bigotry and nativism went both ways between the locals and the military, and all of it wearied Gavril. He had no patience for it. All he wanted was a good meal, even if he had to sit alone in a strange restaurant to get it.

"What would you care to order this evening," the waiter asked without much enthusiasm.

Gavril pointed to the menu. "I don't understand one word on the menu."

"Would you like me to explain any of the items, sir?"

Gavril didn't like the attitude. He gave the man a once over with his eyes and stared him in the face.

"Let us say this could be my last good meal. In two days I may be a bloody corpse littering the jungle floor. What should I taste of Awanil before I die?"

The man was startled. "Well, I..."

Before he could continue, Gavril interrupted him. "You choose for me. Surprise me. I'll try anything."

The waiter had to think about that one for a moment. "Will you be drinking wine this evening?"

Gavril held up the liquor glass that he had brought with him from the bar.

"Whichever you think goes better with my entrée, as long as the price of the bottle is reasonable for a cynical sergeant."

The man gave a snort at Gavril's self-description and hustled off to place the order. In due time, Gavril ate a small plate of crunchy white larvae with a spicy green paste. His drink was refilled from the bar. The salad course was strips of purple, red and yellow rinds atop one large broad leaf whose texture felt like stiff, fuzzy hairs under his fingertips. The drizzled oil was nutty but acidic, and Gavril had no words by which to describe the taste. When he was done, the waiter came and whisked away his plate and his drink.

As Gavril waited for the main course, he watched a young woman in a flowery sarong dyed a deep purple make her way from table to table. Sometimes she delivered wine; other times she greeted familiars or introduced herself. She appeared to walk across the room in time to the rhythm of the reed music that was playing softly.

Her display brought a smile to his face that quickly retreated into a frown. The young woman wasn't doing anything wanton or lurid. She was dancing to the music and it was wonderfully human and normal. The amiability of her greeting brought back nostalgia for the home world of his youth that no longer existed, along with all of his family. Their molecules had become a part of the vacuum of space. Here Gavril sat, eating dinner before trying to exact some more revenge for his home world, killing Vizz one by one and this beautiful creature was sweetly dancing.

The juxtaposition of her carefree way and his regimented life grated on him. She provoked the memories of his home planet that he fought hard to bury and forget. The primary lesson the Orphan's Depot had taught was that no one could ever go back, not to the planet, one's parents, or one's life. Humanity at war was the "new" normal for humanity's newest class of single citizens. However, deep down in his soul where he rarely went, he wanted to believe that somehow, some way, he could recover some sliver of his childhood. When he saw that young woman dancing so carefree, the sight reminded him of that hidden, impossible hope. He was frowning.

A plate of rich, succulent smells under his nose shook him from his reverie. He closed his eyes as he inhaled the scents that wafted around him. There was an old Awanili woman in the City Centre market who roasted nuts over an open grill and dusted the kernels with fine brown spice that was slightly sweet. She was one of his regular stops when he was on leave. These were the same nuts. He hadn't known that the old lady was selling a gourmet item. Maybe it was the liquor, but he could picture the woman at her stall, turning the nuts in a bin with her scoop if he closed his eyes.

"Are you drinking wine tonight?" a sweet voice asked.

"I'm not sure that I can eat this," Gavril said, as he opened his eyes.

"Is there something wrong with your dish, sir," she asked.

"Oh, no," Gavril said. "It almost smells to too good to eat. It's been a long time since I've had something like this in front of me."

"Of course it does," she said. "We only serve the best."

Gavril smiled at the trite phrase and decided that he that he didn't want to talk to her. She made him think uncomfortable thoughts that made him squirm. She made him say things that sounded flowery and incoherent. Suddenly he felt like a poor man making a buffoon out of himself in a rich man's place, just another stupid grunt.

"Wine, sir?" she asked again.

"Uh, no thanks," Gavril said, suddenly worrying about the cost of a glass of whatever she was holding. He felt an aura of disapproval coming from her but he barely gave her face a glance. A beautiful woman who danced around a room with a bottle of wine in her hands was a bit beyond his experience. He wasn't going to talk to her again.

He picked up his knife and fork, politely ignoring her. He stopped when she unexpectedly sat down in the chair on the other side of the table. When he looked up, she was staring right into his eyes with a playful smile on her face.

"Why are you dining alone tonight?" she asked.

"As I explained to the waiter..." Gavril started to say, only to trail off. Her arched eyebrow was enough to silence him. He didn't want to say another word to her.

"I heard what you said to Chicchayo. You nearly gave him a heart attack, having to choose a meal for a condemned man. That's not nice."

"I didn't say it to offend; I said it to explain. I go directly to the point because it's a survival skill in my line of work," Gavril said. "Don't waste words."

"The other officers don't speak that way in here," she said.

"They don't go out in the jungle and hunt Vizz," Gavril said. "Look at their uniforms compared to mine. They spend their days walking the safe streets of Awanili cities, and suffer eyestrain from too many hours in front of a comp. There is no dirt under their nails and no heat rash under their shirts."

"They do preen like pampered puppies sometimes," she said, looking both ways to make sure no one was eavesdropping. "Why are you eating alone?"

"I could say I'm eating alone because my lieutenant was killed in action a few days ago, but I'd be lying. He was drinker and not much of an eater," Gavril said picking up his utensils again. "The truth is that an officer who didn't give her name told me to come here."

"That officer would be Colonel Fayta Volentin, in case you wanted to know her name," she said. "I'm Kamaria."

Gavril sat back stunned for a moment, dropping his hands back to the table. "Split me up the middle and throw me to the dogs. The colonel is a royal?"

"Yes," Kamaria said with a satisfied smile.

"What the fuck does she want with me?" Gavril said.

"I couldn't tell you, but she told me that I would be impressed with you," Kamaria said, pointing her finger at his chest. "The colonel said that you would be a welcome change from the preening imposters who often come to charm me out of my dress."

"Welcome?" Gavril said as he remembered to pick up his fork and knife again.

"The word she used was 'delicious' but I didn't want to give away too much after only meeting you," Kamaria said.

"Oh," Gavril replied. While he wanted to puff up with pride, he had a sneaking suspicion that he was being flattered for a yet-to-be-revealed reason. He didn't trust her. In fact, he felt like the small insects that creep around the petal's edge of one of the small carnivorous plants that flourished among the roots of the jungle trees. With one small misstep, the hapless creature slides down to its death.

"What am I eating?" he asked, trying to change the subject. Whatever she had done, she had already gotten under his defenses. He had already told himself that he wasn't going to talk to her and yet he was. How did she do that?

"Do you have difficulty taking compliments?" Kamaria asked. Gavril felt electricity surge through his system as her bare foot caressed his calf under the table.

"Oh, you blush too," she said with a giggle. "Take your time eating and stay through dessert. When the room clears out, we will have time to sit and visit again. Since daddy owns the place but can never be here, he insists that I stay while the manager closes up."

With that announcement, Kamaria rose from her seat and walked to another table to introduce herself and peddle her wine.

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