Technicians working on the Azemi L97 Slipdrive engine had been pretty negative about it. Whatever virtues it had in terms of license fee, construction cost, and efficiency of both power and fuel was countered, they’d said – at least in those reviews that weren’t cursing tirades – by its maintenance demands. While parts weren’t an issue as such, the thing required regular adjustments, a task seemingly needing three hands while in cramped crawlspaces that even one tech could barely fit into, never mind two.

Kirrik, then, was doubly fortunate; he was far smaller than any other tech he’d met during his career in space, and any of his six limbs could be brought to bear when he needed a hand. If the work needed to set up and tune the L97 was complicated and needed him to move three things at once, that was still easier for him than bringing heavy force on one thing. Indeed, the extra bits were a joy to work with for now, though that’d probably ebb as the novelty wore off. And a secondhand focusing matrix with less than two hundred hours on it – the “heart” of the engine, the only part they hadn’t been able to fab new – meant that even those much-bemoaned extra adjustments would be less than had been demanded by the decade-old, much-abused, more-patches-than-not monstrosity that had been saved from the recycler to get their ship moving way back when.

Completing that thing’s long-delayed journey to be reduced to fab material had been one of the biggest guilty pleasures of Kirrik’s career.

He was attaching leads for the last flow sensors when his tablet chimed, the soft, unobtrusive beep of a low-priority message. As his forehands wrapped sealant around the connector, he brought it up with a midhand. “Any ETR?” the Captain wanted to know. “OK if no, but otherwise ready to find cargo.”

He replied in kind to the simple text, still securing the remaining leads with his forehands: “Unknown. About to run tests, will know in 1/2 hour what more work needed if any.” Sending that on its way, he looked over the compartment – all good – and bolted the panel back in place.

His roommate-and-boyfriend-or-something, Gorrak, was in the engine room when Kirrik skittered out of the crawlspace. As the Trygg emerged, Gorrak lowered his tablet and smiled. “Goes well, I hope?” he rumbled.

“I hope so.” Kirrik climbed up to the high bench that was installed by the main console. “I’m about to run diagnostics. Social call?”

“Social call,” the Khamorloagh confirmed, coming up behind the bench. He scratched Kirrik’s ears briefly, then let his hand fall and just stood close by, present, but out of the way.

“If this goes well, the Captain will probably want you,” Kirrik noted, turning on the display. Not only was the ship’s cargo Gorrak’s responsibility, but so was security – the Captain’s, for instance, should she need to meet a potential client.

“I don’t doubt it,” the big male rumbled. “But she hasn’t paged me yet, we’re still in lockdown, and I just did rounds.”

“I’m not trying to chase you off, believe me,” Kirrik said, shifting over to the reactor controls with a chittering laugh. “But I may be a bit boring for a while here.”

“That’s fine. Your presence is enough, even if work keeps you from really being company.”

Kirrik aimed a grin over his shoulder, curling his long tail to brush along Gorrak’s naturally armor-plated side. “Same goes to you, lover.” But then he turned his full attention to the task at hand.

In any major job, Kirrik was accustomed to needing a few passes at the work, as some little detail inevitably got missed no matter how attentive he tried to be. That was exactly why he ran this kind of test, after all. This time, though, it seemed he’d actually caught everything. The only lights that didn’t come up green were those that he expected with the ship in its current state, and that held true even as he spooled up the reactor and ran a low-power test on the engines themselves. He couldn’t really give a full report without a proper shakedown flight, but those results were very promising.

“Huh. I guess that’s that,” he said aloud, bringing the reactor down to minimum power. With the capacitors charged in the course of the test, it’d take days for them to drain. “The Captain will be happy, I think – I sure am.”

“Well, if she wants me somewhere, I might as well be right here to get the message.”

Kirrik called her then and there, with numbers that made his engineer’s soul utterly giddy: a massive increase in their effective range – even thinking conservatively and allowing for something to go wrong at higher power, a 150% gain felt like a stingy estimate – and a more modest, but still noteworthy, 10% boost to their overall speed. There was still room for things to go wrong, as usual, but at least where the engine was concerned it probably wouldn’t be on the level of their usual headaches.

“Sounds like I can search a bit broader for jobs, then,” was the reply. “I’ll take the next half hour to do some digging, then I’ll want Gorrak in my office while I make calls, to answer any relevant questions and hopefully accompany me on some visits. I’ll page him then, but for now, both of you can consider yourselves off-duty – you, Kirrik, can take the next four hours for some well-earned rest. Do I need to let Gorrak know separately?”

Gorrak leaned in to rumble a negative, and the Captain cut the call.

“Half an hour, huh?” Gorrak grinned down at his diminutive partner. “I think we can squeeze something in,” the words came out with enough weight to make Kirrik squirm, “and still have enough time for me to groom.” He extended his arm.

Kirrik hopped up onto it, and from there climbed to the big male’s shoulder, while Gorrak proceeded to their cabin at a jog – roughly equivalent to a human’s run, or a mad-dash sprint for Kirrik himself. Free to think of the time ahead, Kirrik was panting by the time they reached the dorm corridor, and started to loosen his coveralls before Gorrak had even reached their door, much less got the recalcitrant thing open.

Once inside, they stripped each other down in a hurry. As it turned out, Kirrik had misinterpreted Gorrak’s innuendo somewhat; when he reached up to the pack secured to the side of his bunk, extracted a squeeze-bottle with a forehand, and started to reach for Gorrak’s swelling piece with his midhands, the bigger male stopped him with a touch to the wrist.

“Down there this time, glowy,” he said, nudging Kirrik’s hands down in the direction of the Trygg’s own very ready pair of bioluminescent erections. “If you don’t mind.”

“Not at all. I guess it would be an easier sort of squeeze for the time we have,” he chitter-laughed, sitting up on his hind-hands. He dribbled a bit of the slippery stuff on one shaft, giving it a few wet strokes to spread the stuff around, then repeated the motions for the other.

While he was doing that, Gorrak leaned back on his bunk, settling himself in what was by now a very familiar position; then all Kirrik had to do was press his shafts together, straddle his big lover’s tail, and slide in.

Of course, as that brought his front right up against Gorrak’s length, he wasn’t about to neglect the other male. Besides, having his mouth right there would help keep the Khamorloagh from having too big a mess to clean up.

It was quick, almost frantic, and that intensity had a power of its own. It couldn’t have been three minutes before two hard shudders struck Kirrik in rapid succession, and he muffled a cry against Gorrak’s stomach as both his shafts pumped into the other male’s warm body.

As his dual climax waned, he wanted nothing more than to curl up with his lover for a good long while, but that wasn’t an option. Instead, he ducked in, propping up with one forehand on Gorrak’s stomach, both midhands working the length of the Khamorloagh’s shaft while his tongue danced and stroked over its head.

Gorrak shuddered, a hand tightening against Kirrik’s nape, and his shaft jerked in the Trygg’s muzzle, sending a copious rush of semen over Kirrik’s tongue. And another, and another – there was a torrent in him this time.

Good thing Kirrik had had enough practise to deal with that, though. He didn’t let a single drop escape.

He pulled gently free when his lover’s load had finally ebbed to nothing, skittering forward along the bunk to trade nuzzles and kisses; then, as Gorrak reluctantly but firmly rose to go wash, Kirrik sprawled in the warm space the bigger male had vacated. Gorrak finished in good timing, reappearing neatly-dressed, sitting on the edge of the bunk to stroke the drowsing Trygg’s side; five minutes later, the Captain’s expected call broke up the little slice of bliss, and Gorrak went to tend to his duties.

It was almost like they’d gone through a strange sort of shift change. If so, mind, that had to be the best one Kirrik had ever gone through.