Authors Note: Wow, been a long time since I posted last. This is the first part of a story I'm working on. It's a work in progress, and it's going to be of considerable length. As such, most of the erotic action will be happening quite later, and it'll be a bit before it's up. So if you're looking for a quick read that cuts straight to the action, this may not be the story for you. This is my first attempt at a story of this length, so hopefully it'll turn out well.
Lt. Eric Connor pulled himself from the wreckage of the transport craft, wincing as he realized that various parts of his uniform were caught on the jagged metal. Working carefully, he managed to extract himself from the remains of the crash harness he had been strapped into with little more than cuts and bruises. Looking around, it took a moment for him to comprehend what he was seeing.
He was the only one left.
The marines, who only minutes ago had been poking fun at the "non-combatant" and joking about how they'd call if they needed a band-aid or have a splinter removed, were all dead. After being tagged by enemy fire in orbit, the transport had the misfortune of crashing into a rocky outcropping, and the entire front portion of the vessel was a mess of twisted steel and frayed wiring. A growing pool of blood beneath the compacted compartment where the marines would have been sitting was telling evidence of their fate.
Earth fleet protocol stated that all medics on military transports were to ride in the back compartment where each transport ship had a small medical bay. This was the safest part of the ship in an accident, so if there were wounded that needed to be attended to, the medic would have the greatest chance of being able to do so. Of course, that was assuming there were actually wounded that were still alive to treat.
He looked up at the sky. Even in daylight, the bright flashes of the battle occurring in the space around the planet could still be seen. Earth had been fighting the Ketrali for several years now. A warrior race of feline humanoids, relations between them and earth had deteriorated almost as soon as they had begun. They saw humans as soft and weak, just another race to be crushed and dominated. However, humanity had proven its will to survive, and its ingenuity when it came to warfare.
The one thing that gave humans the ability to stand on an even footing with the Ketrali had been their weapons technology. The Ketrali had been able to easily dominate the other races they had crushed because they used advanced energy weapons, and had shields strong enough to stop even their own arms. So it had been a real shock to them when the first earth battleship opened up with heavy rail gun batteries, smashing through shields designed to stop energy weapons and utterly destroying the Ketral cruiser. Since physical projectile weapons on a large scale had long ago been dismissed as being outdated, they had absolutely no defense against this high tech version of an ancient weapon. Early victories bolstered the spirit of humanity, and they had rallied to fight back. The result was a war on a galactic scale, with battles all along the boundary between human and Ketrali space.
Seeing nothing that suggested human life, Eric looked around the crash site. Luckily, when the pilot realized they were hopelessly out of luck, he had jettisoned the fuel tanks, so the wreck hadn't caught fire. However, everything forward of the bulkhead that had protected him from the crash was obliterated, so he turned to where he had been sitting. Most of the small med bay was a mess. Even if it hadn't there wasn't really much that would be of any use to him anyways. His patients were all dead!
Still, just because it made him feel better, and because he had no idea what he'd run into, he managed to pry open the armored locker next to his crash harness. Inside was his complete combat medic gear. The light body armor that gave protection without sacrificing mobility was on in a matter of seconds. It contained several built in features to aid him in his work. A basic light exoskeleton was built into it, giving him an increase in strength and stamina. This was useful if a wounded soldier had to be moved and there was no one else around to help. A small scanner was built into each palm, meaning that all he had to do was touch someone and he would have a basic idea of what was wrong with them. The helmet headpiece had several built in features, such as magnifying lenses that would aid him in delicate procedures, a small work light, and sensors to detect body heat and other life signs.
The latter function was also helpful in situations not involving treating the wounded. While he was a non-combatant, he was permitted to defend himself and his patients under urgent circumstances, though in all honesty he hated guns. Still, because he had no idea what he'd run into, he took out the pair of small gauss pistols and strapped them to their proper location at his hips. With that done, he pulled the last item out. The combat backpack issued to medics was almost like a small infirmary designed to be carried on one's back. Among other things, it had a collapsible hover stretcher, crutches, a defibrillator, various types of antidotes, analgesics, and a small kit for basic battlefield surgery. While it was obviously preferable to wait for better conditions, in a pinch he was able to operate to set bones, repair battlefield trauma, and even stop internal bleeding until more adequate care was available.
With his full gear on, he took one last look around the crash site for anything that might be useful, and then left. While he doubted that the crashed transport would be of any importance to the battle up in orbit, he didn't want to stick around. If enemy forces did for some reason track the crash, he didn't want to be around when they came down looking. With that thought in mind, he took off into the forest in search of cover.
While the circumstances of his arriving here could have been a lot better, he had to admit that it could be a lot worse. The planet was at least somewhat close to earth climate, although slightly warmer and a little more humid. It reminded him of the forests found in the part of the old United States known as Florida. After an hour or so of walking, he spotted a place that looked promising. He'd reached the edge of this particular forest, and was now looking at the side of a cliff about 50 feet in height. A small cave was located at the base. It was shallow enough that he could see the back of it, so he was sure it wasn't in use by any fauna that might inhabit this planet, but it was also deep enough that it would probably provide adequate shelter from the elements. Entering, he took off his back pack, and then walked out into the forest. It wouldn't be hard to find fuel for a fire.
Returning with the firewood, he dug through his survival pack, finally finding his ration kit. He figured that if he played things right, they'd last him about a month. Hopefully by then, he'd be able to get some kind of message up to the fleet above and be rescued. While he did have a distress beacon as part of the survival kit, he didn't dare activate it right now while the fleet was still engaged in battle. Not so much that it would distract them, but that they wouldn't be the only one who could pick it up. Being captured by the Ketrals was not very high on his list of things to do.
While setting up the fire, a high pitched whining noise caught his ear. He stopped what he was doing. While it didn't sound like any kind of wildlife he'd ever encountered, it was still very worrying. The fact that it was getting louder didn't help either. He turned towards the cave entrance. Whatever it was, it was getting closer. A few seconds ago it had been so faint he had to strain to hear it. Now, it finally escalated into a roar that made him cover his ears.
He jumped against the back of the cave when a burning object the size of a small car crashed down about 20 feet away from the entrance to his cave. It smashed into the wall next to the cave entrance, leaving a trail of singed vegetation in its wake. A few moments later, a massive impact shook the ground, causing chips of rock to fall from the roof of his shelter. He quickly gathered up his gear, stuffing the partially opened ration pack back into his pack. He didn't want to hang around if the roof was going to collapse.
Leaving the cave, the first thing that he noticed was the remains of what looked like an atmospheric flight engine at the base of the cliff. The engine was still smoking, and he could smell the odor of some kind of fuel hanging in the air. Since he didn't know if there was enough fuel left in the thing to make it explode, he backed away from it, and then looked up. At first he didn't see anything, but as the wind shifted to blow over the edge of the cliff, a cloud of black smoke became visible. It was obvious that whatever this engine had come from had crashed on top of the cliff. Looking back at the engine, he frowned. While he was no expert on mechanics or anything like that, it didn't look anything like the engines that had been on his landing craft. Of course, it was considerably deformed from its sudden interaction with the ground and cliff face, but still...it made him uneasy.
Moving along the cliff face, he found a part that wasn't quite as steep as the rest of it. There were plenty of handholds along the jagged cliff face, so it was relatively easy to climb up to the top. A part of his mind nagged that it was probably smarter to get as far away from here as possible, but he was curious. And besides, if indeed it had been a transport ship such as the one he was on, there might be injured soldiers to be cared for.
A short walk through the forest led him to the crash site. A gash the length of a football field had been torn through the forest as the vessel had plowed through the dense tree growth. Picking his way along the edge of the trail of destruction, he saw a large column of smoke as he approached the wreck. Even from here he could tell it was considerably larger than the one he'd been on, or rather, had been. Most of the wreck was on fire, and he realized that until the flames died down, he probably wouldn't be able to get close. Finally reaching the vessel, he stopped. The smoke was so thick he could barely make out the form of the craft. Reaching up to his headset, he switched to thermal vision and pushed the eyepiece down over his face. Bright white patches on his goggles showed where the fire was burning. The craft was completely engulfed. No way he'd be able to go near there. He was however able to make out the outline of the craft. He stopped.
It was a Ketral assault transport. He'd seen images of it in his briefing, and had seen them out of viewing ports while the fleet was in combat. Designed to carry up to 100 of their warriors in boarding actions, these ships could spell disaster for a ship of the fleet if they managed to break in. Looking at the burning wreck, he could see a massive gaping hole in one side of the ship, characteristic of the damage caused by a heavy rail gun slug. A part of him cringed at how many must be burning to death in the wreck, but he realized that survivors would be a threat to his life. He sighed, and turned away from the wreck, pushing the eyepiece of his helmet back up.
And then stopped. Right before he pushed the goggles up, he had sworn that he'd seen a moving heat signature in the foliage next to the wreck, but it wasn't the burning white heat of something on fire. He turned back to the spot he'd seen it at. No smoke. Frowning, he pushed his goggles back down over his face. There, something low to the ground in the bushes. Warm, but not hot. "What in the..." he said to himself, and then turned white. He saw the outline of pointed ears and a tail rising up as the now humanoid silhouette crouched down preparing to lunge.
A high pitched roar, similar to the scream of a mountain lion split the air as the ketral burst out of the underbrush, at first on all four limbs but then sprinting on its back legs as a human would. Eric yelped and turned to run in the direction he'd come from. His mind told him there was no point in this, that there was nowhere to run to, but at this point he was only responding to his base instinct to live, which meant getting away from the ketral in any way possible. As he ran through the forest, he could hear the alien tearing through the woods behind him. The pounding leaps and bounds behind told him that the creature was almost breathing down his neck. As distracted as he was with that, he barely missed a low hanging tree branch, only just ducking. The alien however, did not. He heard the branch smack against the helmet the creature wore and a roar of fury followed by a thump as the creature was knocked off its feet by the branch. He continued running away from the scrambling alien, thinking that might be his chance to get away and..
"Whoa!" he barely stopped in time. He had burst from the edge of the forest. Unfortunately, that edge was about twenty feet away from the cliff edge he had climbed to get up to here. "Dead end..." he thought, and then heard a low rumbling behind him. He forced himself to turn towards the ketral crouched on all fours at the edge of the forest.
It was wearing soot-blackened metal armor plates strapped to its body, with gaps occurring at the joints to allow mobility. The helmet encased the entire head except for the chin, which displayed a snarling mouth of sharp white teeth. Pointed ears poked through gaps in the sides of the helmet, and a long leonine tail swished in the air behind the growling alien. Even crouched, he could tell it was at least six feet tall. And by the way it was eyeing him, he guessed that the traditional red cross medic insignia on his armband that labeled him as a non-combatant meant absolutely nothing to the creature.
Despite the fact that he was scared out of his wits, Eric was still coherent enough to realize something wasn't quite right. He'd seen other ketrals on battlefields while treating fallen soldiers, and this one looked somewhat different from those he'd seen. A thick long braid of sand colored hair with spiked bands holding it together ran from behind the creatures head, draping over the muscled shoulders. All the ones he'd seen had hair that was relatively short, the longest only just long enough to tie back at the neck. There were also several reports of ketrals using their fangs in close combat. And that wasn't surprising, as some troops had taken to calling them "sabers" because of the resemblance of their teeth to that of the long extinct earth cat. Looking at this one however, he could tell that the fangs, in particular the sharp canines, were a magnitude shorter than any he'd ever seen.
His thoughts were interrupted when the alien lunged at him. Even from 20 feet away, there was no doubt that the powerful leap would reach him. Without thinking, he fell to one side, drawing one of the pistols he had forgotten about during the forest chase, firing as he fell. A sound like a whip-crack echoed throughout the forest.
Sheer dumb luck saved his life. The recoil of the gauss pistol made him drop it, but one shot was all that was needed. An armor plate covering the thigh of the creature shattered as the hypersonic round hit it, and the impact of the shot threw it off balance as it flew through the air. Instead of landing on top of him, the creature crashed onto the ground next to him with a thud and then tumbled over the edge of the cliff. He heard metal hit stone several times before a final crash at the bottom.
Eric was too stunned to do anything for a moment. He just lay there while the fact that he was still alive worked its way into his head. "Well..." he thought. That was one to tell his friends about, if he ever returned to the fleet. Then a high pitched roar echoed through the air. The thing was still alive!? He scrambled to his feet and peered over the edge of the cliff. From here he could see the ketral sprawled across the ground on its back. From here, it didn't look like it was moving. Tentatively, he got to his feet. If the thing was still alive, he was still in danger. Once it decided to move from where it was, it would easily pick up his scent, and then keep tracking him. Trembling, he looked at the pistol he had dropped. As much as he hated it, he knew what he had to do.
He had worked his way to the bottom of the cliff, using the same rocky section that he'd used to ascend. Pistol drawn, he edged along the base of the cliff, hoping for and yet dreading the possibility that the ketral would be gone by the time he got there. But no...there it was, lying at the base of the cliff, right where it had been before. He held the pistol out in front of him, shakily pointed at the alien as he approached it. The tumble down the cliff had caused it to lose about half of the armor plating it was wearing. Up this close, he could now see it was breathing heavily. It was definitely still alive. He saw the leg that he had managed to hit when the alien had attacked him. Most of the armor had been ripped off, either a result of the fall down the rocky cliff or from the shot he'd made. Either way, with the armor gone, it was very obvious that either the fall or the pistol round had broken the creature's leg. And then he noticed something else about the armor the alien was wearing.
"Are you going to stand there all day?" He jumped. It had spoken. Very slowly, the creature removed its helmet, and then turned to look at him. Predatory yellow eyes stared straight back at him. "Right here," it said through gritted teeth, obviously in a lot of pain. It tapped a finger in the center of its forehead. "Make it a clean death."
He blinked. If the curved form of the chest plate the alien was wearing hadn't confirmed it, the voice did. He was looking at a female ketral. To his knowledge, a female had never been seen in combat, or anywhere for that matter. The only reason they knew there was a female to the species was due to autopsies on dead ketrali soldiers, all of which were clearly male. It occurred to him that the long saber shaped canines must be unique to the male gender, explaining his earlier observation. He had no doubt however, that this made her any less dangerous. He could tell that underneath the armor, she was six feet of pure muscle. Her body shape was for the most part humanoid, but the feline curves and the yellow eyes of a predator left no question that he was looking at a hunter.
"What are you waiting for? End it." she growled at him. He looked at her face, and then the broken leg. His mind realized that it was highly immoral for him as a medic to leave a creature suffering like this. Bringing the gun up, his hand still trembling, he sighted down the barrel at her forehead. Those yellow eyes stared back at him, defiant, and yet...there was something else. He holstered the gun, and then walked towards her. This was possibly the stupidest thing he'd ever done, but he just couldn't pull the trigger. Besides, didn't the oath say this was the right thing to do? Her expression of defiance changed to one of confusion. "You...what are you doing!" she yelled at him as he knelt down by her leg, the broken one. "Stay back!" she tried to move but then grimaced as her motion jarred the bad leg.
"Hold still!" he yelled back at her, taking the pack off of his back and pulling the eyepiece of his headset over his face. Adjusting the setting on it, he placed his hands on her leg, activating the scanning sensors in them. His eyepiece displayed an X-ray of the limb, clearly showing the clean fracture of the tibia and fibula. "If you move, you're going to make it worse" he told her. "Don't make me have to sedate you." Taking several items out of his kit, he made sure to grab one of the special pre-loaded syringes marked in red and set it aside, and then turned to the alien. Beneath the armor plates, she was wearing some kind of black body stocking or jumpsuit, and a slightly thicker fabric was wrapped around the ankle and foot, leaving the heel and toes exposed. Taking a pair of scissors, he started to cut away the fabric directly below her knee. Bending over to do this however, he put himself within her reach. His eyes registered a quick movement followed by a snarl before a piercing pain blazed into his shoulder.