by Camile_Sinenis (Teapot)
Title: Command Structure
Author: Camile_Sinenis (Teapot) – email@example.com
Pairing: Ashmael/Velaxis (or possibly vice versa!)
Setting: Takes place in Imbrilim around the time of “Bewitchments”.
Sometimes the moral victory is the important one…
Thiede always had an ulterior motive. Of that, Ashmael was very sure. His favours were loaded with obligation, and his gifts came with strings attached. His latest “gift” had looked harmless enough to begin with – an unusually beautiful har of rather feminine aspect – all long silver hair and lithe limbs. Just Ashmael’s type. The General had felt a familiar and pleasant stirring as he ran his eyes admiringly over the har’s perfect body. The har looked down at his own feet, demurely.
“This is Velaxis,” Thiede announced, waving his hands vaguely and importantly in his usual fashion. “I am giving him to you and the Hegemony. He has many skills and will serve you well.”
Ashmael did not doubt that for a moment. He was already fantasizing what he was going to do with that endless, soft hair and pale skin. In his mind he was already entering the har and pushing hard into his body and pressing him firmly against the wall and…”
Velaxis looked up, and the moment his icy blue eyes met the General’s lustful stare Ashmael’s fantasies did an abrupt 180 degree turn and ran off whimpering to hide under the sofa. In the next town. There was nothing remotely soft or feminine or submissive about those eyes, whatever the body said. A small smile appeared on Velaxis’ face, and Ashmael was reminded of something unpleasantly carnivorous.
“General,” The voice was as silky as the hair “I have heard so much about you. It will be a unique and fulfilling pleasure to serve you in any way that I can”
Which he did. Velaxis was extremely hard working. He took on a multitude of tasks, both administrative and domestic. Not to mention that The General’s first instincts regarding his other – talents – proved well founded too. It was just that… Ashmael couldn’t put his finger on it, but it seemed to him that everything Velaxis did – every order he took, every command he obeyed, every fantasy he fulfilled – was somehow because he wanted it to happen. Ashmael had been a soldier all his life, and he recognised the importance of the Command Structure. With himself at the top. Which was why he recognised there was something seriously wrong with the order of command when it came to Velaxis.
Time to show him who was in charge round here!
He went to Thiede.
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” Thiede pronounced loftily. (as usual, Thiede’s every utterance tended to sound as though he was proclaiming some earth-shattering new revelation rather than addressing domestic trivia) “He is a servant, nothing more. You are his master. Show him who’s boss”
Privately, Ashmael was pretty sure that Velaxis already knew who was boss. It also occurred to him that perhaps Thiede might have had similar… command structure… problems with his ex-assistant, which was why Thiede had so generously gifted him to the Hegemony. Thiede always did enjoy offering the poisoned chalice.
However, for the next few days, Ashmael did not have time to formulate any new strategy regarding discipline in the ranks. Imbrilim was a hive of activity, with new arrivals adding to its population every day. Some were human, some Wraeththu. All were fleeing the chaos sweeping across the land in the wake of the collapse of human civilisation and the subsequent rise of the Varrs to fill the power vacuum. Ashmael discovered that among Velaxis’ other talents, he was fluent in several of the languages commonly spoken by the refugees. Since none of the humans and very few of the Wraeththu were advanced enough to communicate on a purely mental level, it was useful to have someone who could understand the incomers and mediate between them and the Gelaming administration. Ashmael was happy to delegate the responsibility for the processing of new residents to Velaxis, and Velaxis performed these additional duties with his usual efficiency, simultaneously somehow managing to imply that it was all beneath his dignity to do so.
During the afternoon, as he strode around the camp conducting his daily round of observations, Ashmael became aware of a commotion on the far side of the encampment. He hurried over, and was just in time to see a ragged and filthy human break free from the two bemused Gelaming guards who were trying to restrain him, and make a run for it. The man had an impressive turn of speed, and before anyone could do anything about it, he was sprinting off into the distance.
Ashmael raised one eyebrow quizzically at Velaxis, who was observing the scene with his usual detachment.
“The man attacked several hara and injured them,” Velaxis explained calmly. ” Also, I believe he stole a number of items. He must be brought to justice.”
Ashmael sighed and looked at the swiftly-diminishing figure of the man. “Well, it’s a bit late for that now, I don’t think…”
Velaxis gave a heavy sigh and tsk-ed contemptuously. He took a rifle from one of the guards, put it to his shoulder and aimed at the still-fleeing man.
“Don’t be ridiculous! Apart from anything else, he’s much too far….”
Ashmael’s sentence was cut off by the sudden ear-splitting report from the rifle. In the distance, the man dropped to the ground. The aftermath of the gunshot left a curiously intense silence
“What the…..?” Ashmael snatched the rifle roughly from Velaxis’ hands. “Give me that! What do you think you’re doing? You can’t just go around… killing people, even if they’re only humans.”
“Don’t be silly,” retorted Velaxis icily. “It’s only a leg-wound. He’s still alive – have the guards pick him up. If I had wanted to kill him, he would be quite dead, I can assure you.” Velaxis leaned over and pointed his index finger at Ashmael’s forehead. Smiling humourlessly, he mouthed the word “bang” and jerked his finger upwards.
A large crowd had gathered by now, and many hara were now staring curiously at Ashmael, wondering what he would do. As a professional soldier, Ashmael knew that maintaining discipline was vital. To remain in control, one had to be seen to be in control. Velaxis had crossed the line, and he had no option but to discipline him now, whether he wanted to or not. (although, to be frank, he was going to derive some personal satisfaction from this…)
“Velaxis, your behaviour is unacceptable. ” Ashmael admonished him in his sternest tones, which had put the fear of the Aghama into many a quivering footsoldier. Velaxis, however, merely gazed at him mildly and waited for him to continue.
“… you are relieved of your current duties. You will report to the Health and Hygiene Division. I believe the latrines need cleaning out.
There was an audible murmur from the assembled throng, but Velaxis simply continued to stare at Ashmael, his expression bland and unreadable. For a moment, Ashmael wondered if he was going to challenge him. In truth he was almost expecting it, and he braced himself for a battle of wills. A har like Velaxis would not lower himself to dealing with the bodily waste of others….
To his surprise, Velaxis lowered his gaze and inclined his head meekly.
“Whatever you say, General. I exist only to serve you in whatever capacity I may”
Without another word, Velaxis swept off in the direction of the camp latrines.
Ashmael realised he had been holding his breath, and let it out rather shakily.
“Do you think he will do it?”
Ashmael turned at the sound of the familiar voice. Arahal stood behind him, looking on with a mixture of curiosity and amusement.
Ashmael snorted. “Of course he will! I’ve given him an order. He’s not exempt from my command. He’s just a har like all the rest of you.
Arahal smiled wryly. “And I’m the Archon of Ferelithia”, he murmured to himself.
It was more that his curiousity got the better of him, rather than any doubt of his own ability to command, which led Ashmael to watch the proceedings over at the latrines. Or, at least, that was what he told himself.
A small crowd had gathered for the event, and Velaxis did not disappoint them. Stripped to the waist with his long white hair braided and tied behind, he waded through the ordure without so much as wrinkling his perfect nose. Ashmael stayed there for two hours, but Velaxis continued to work tirelessly, without either taking a break or showing the least bit of disgust at the task. Eventually, the General left to attend to some other of the multitude of chores awaiting his attention, feeling strangely as if he had lost yet another battle, but unable to pin-point why.
Much later, the sun was sinking and Ashmael was relaxing after dinner with a glass of wine. He held the glass in both hands, staring into the depths of the dark red liquid reflectively. Momentarily distracted from his thoughts, he glanced up and saw Arahal approaching. He raised a hand lazily in greeting and the other har took a seat next to him. They sat there in companionable silence for a few seconds.
Ashmael took a sip of his wine.
“Has he finished?” he enquired
“Oh yes,” Arahal stretched his long legs out and poured a glass for himself.
“Are they clean?”
“Sparkling and daisy-fresh. You could eat your dinner…. er….. I mean….” Arahal demurred, surveying the remains of Ashmael’s meal. “Possibly the wrong analogy. Suffice to say that of all the adjectives one could apply the camp latrines, “clean” is now by far the most usefully accurate.”
Ashmael snorted. There was another pause.
“He’s in the showers” Arahal offered helpfully
“I bet he is!”
Arahal merely grinned and drained his glass in one long gulp.
Ashmael sighed heavily and rose to his feet. He set off in the direction of the shower block. Around him, the camp hummed lazily with late-evening activities; hara eating, drinking, laughing, arguing. The last rays of the sun were streaking the sky with orange and gold by the time he reached the showers. From within he could hear the sound of running water. He idly wondered exactly how long it took to scrub the odour of latrines from a harrish body. A fair time, if the dense clouds of scented steam inside were anything to go by. He pushed open the door and walked in.
Velaxis stood with his back to him, his long hair hanging wet and heavy, weighed down by the water so that it reached past his hips. His face was turn up towards the spray, letting it cascade over his neck and body.
“Good evening, General”
Ashmael knew he had made no sound as he entered.
“I trust the assignment was completed to your satisfaction.” Velaxis turned to face him, a small, polite smile gracing his elegant features.
For some reason he couldn’t quite fathom, Ashmael felt uncomfortable. The rational part of his brain knew – and prompted him insistently – that Velaxis was the one standing naked, and he, Ashmael, was fully clothed and In Command, and that every law of nature and society decreed that Velaxis should be the one at a disadvantage; should be the one to feel awkward and embarrassed. But Velaxis, annoyingly, was none of these things. He was simply standing there – naked – with that irritating half-smile on his face, as if waiting for Ashmael to explain his presence.
Ashmael tried not to stare at Velaxis’ body and failed. He tried not to let his own body react to the other har’s nakedness, and failed again.
Ashmael was not used to failure, and it irked him, so the next words that left his lips did so with rather more irritation than he had intended.
“Why?” he barked. “Why do you do it?”
“Do what?” Velaxis ignored the curt tone, which only irritated The General even more.
“All this “… I-am-your-humble-servant-I-exist-only-to-serve” crap.”
Velaxis mouth twitched with amusement. He turned off the water and took a step towards Ashmael, wringing out a length of his wet hair and splashing droplets of water on the other har’s clothing. By sheer force of will, Ashmael managed not to step back. It occurred to him rather belatedly that having a naked har invade your personal space rather overturned his theories re the social order of the clothed and the unclothed.
“And why should I not?”
Velaxis was now only inches from him, and he could feel the warm, damp heat from the other har’s body.
“You demean yourself!” Ashmael gritted his teeth and stood his ground *do not step back* he told himself.
“Demean?” Velaxis’ eyebrows raised in feigned surprise. “How so? “Is it not a noble thing to serve? Is there not dignity in dedicating oneself to others? Cannot redemption come from sacrifice?”
“I don’t think you’re going to get to heaven by shovelling shit!”
Velaxis laughed drily. “There are many ways to enter heaven, General. Perhaps you should let me show you a few…”
Velaxis moved closer to him, and Ashmael discovered that even his own feet had joined the ranks of the insubordinate as he took an involuntary step backwards. His back was now pressed against the door of the shower cubicle, and no further retreat was possible. A slim, manicured finger traced down his neck and invaded the top of his uniform. Ashmael swallowed hard and gasped involuntarily. Velaxis’ face was now so close to his own that he could feel the other har’s breath when he spoke; could see the slow, steady pulse in the hollow of his neck.
“I do these things because I choose to. That is my reason.”
“There is no coercion. Oh, I know the rumours General…” – fingernails dug into his chest slightly – “…that I am a wicked criminal, being punished for my misdeeds. That I am the ill-favoured offspring of some benighted tribe sold into slavery for gain. That I am the spurned lover of some powerful har who wishes me gone because of the embarrassment I could cause were I to reveal his secrets…”
A small part of Ashmael’s brain registered with surprise that even he hadn’t heard that last one, and he made a mental note to keep in better touch with the Imbrilim grapevine, but his mind’s brief sojourn into the realm of independent thought was ended abruptly as the hand inside his uniform moved downwards.
“But it is my own decision to do what I do, and in owning the choice to do these things, I take it from any other.”
As he struggled with the meaning of this, Ashmael became aware that Velaxis’ other hand – the hand which was not currently conquering the inside territory of his uniform – was engaged in a strategic manoeuvre opening his belt.
Ashmael was an experienced enough campaigner to know when he was fighting a losing battle. He knew there would be no answers from Velaxis. Whatever persuaded Velaxis to perform his acts of servitude would remain a mystery. However The General felt it was now time to mount an attack of his own, He grabbed Velaxis roughly and swung him round so that the other har now had his back to the door, and was gratified to see a fleeting look of surprise cross his face.
There was no objection, though. Not when he ran his weapon-calloused hands greedily down the naked body in front of him, not when he traced the sharp contours of the hips with the edge of his thumb, and certainly not when he pressed mouth-against-mouth, hard and wet and open. A brief flurry of images licked his mind, but revealed nothing.
The belt was swiftly defeated, and rest of Ashmael’s clothing was quickly occupied by Velaxis’ dexterous and professional probings. Ashmael felt himself harden as he was stroked and teased, but the penetration of his defenses did not stop there, and he tensed slightly as two long fingers entered him
“No. I don’t…”
“I know you don’t. But why?…”
Ashmael felt a questioning presence touch his consciousness, probing, seeking answers, but he resisted it, and it withdrew without fuss . If Velaxis could keep his secrets then so could he. In any case, Ashmael’s mind was now empty of all intellectual thought processes. His body knew what it wanted, and that was all that mattered. He clasped his hands firmly around Velaxis’ hips, and with a sudden jerk, lifted him bodily. Velaxis was considerably heavier than he looked, but Ashmael was strong and easily able to support his weight as the other har wrapped his long legs around him. He shoved Velaxis back hard against the shower door again for support, then shifted his position to find the entrance to his body. With one long, easy thrust he pushed himself inside. Velaxis inhaled sharply, and to Ashmael it felt like the sound was a physical thing in itself, touching him and exciting him further, but in reality it was the pulsing depths of the other har’s body which tightened around his flesh making him thrust harder and deeper and sending a visceral stab of pleasure down the length of him.
Somewhere in the distance, he noted that the corrosive liquid stinging his eyes was his own sweat, and the blades shredding his back were Velaxis’ fingernails, but all that mattered was here, now; this damp shower room, this other body that he was pounding rhythmically against the rough door while all the time something unbearably intense grew within him, increasing exponentially and threatening to escape at any moment. In the last seconds before his orgasm, he remembered fantasizing this scene, or something very like it, and curiously, it was all as he had imagined it, except for the part where Velaxis had surrendered himself, but then a million supernovas exploded behind his eyes and Velaxis was making desperate, guttural noises and convulsing in his grasp and when his vision cleared and sanity finally returned he reflected that perhaps it was a victory of sorts after all.