Sarge by Bey Deckard
Series: F.I.S.T.S #1
Source: Review by Request
Copy provided by the Author
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Sometimes it’s just about being in the right place at the right time… with the right person.
Sarge is the short story of a burgeoning D/s relationship between two space marines stationed on an alien planet where an endless war drags on.
Sergeant Wilkes is a hard man with a long, celebrated military career.
Brawny, tattooed, and utterly submissive, Murphy is just an interesting diversion… until Sarge realizes he has found something truly rare.
Is it hot in here?
…or is it just this book?
“You’re a good boy, Murph,” he says softly to me. “You get me home, get me patched up, and you’ll see what good boys get.
I swear to god, I have never made a sound like it before; half whimper, half gasp, it’s past my lips before I can stop it. Sarge sees the effect his words have on me, and he smiles.
Sure, the alien planet might be unbearably hot, but the setting barely holds a candle to the heat being generated between our main characters…
You will not believe the amount of brilliance crammed into this little book – This short story combines so many amazing elements it will make your head spin – the fact that the author managed to write such a complex tale in a short amount of space while allowing for seamless continuity and perfect pacing is nothing short of astounding.
What we have here is a military romance between two men in uniform – they are ‘Space Marines’ battling an alien force on a distant planet – that means we get to layer in all kinds of Sci-Fi badassadry including inventive technology, weapons, and a fabulously creative setting – you know I thrive on originality, and this story is wonderfully unique!
Let’s break it down, shall we?
There is a definite D/s theme which spans the relationship of the MCs. You’ve got your “forbidden fruit/banging the boss” kink since the relationship is between a Private First Class and his Sargent. In addition, there is a pretty substantial age difference between the two men, so I think it’s safe to add a bit of Daddy Kink into the mix.
Private First Class Andrew Murphy
I have no shame left. I’m his. One hundred percent. Whatever he wants, he can have it.
Murphy is an enigma – a fearless, enormous Marine who typically keeps to himself. His silence is often mistaken for ignorance by the rest of the world, but they are so wrong.
Murphy’s ingenuity and quick thinking saved the life of his Sargent in the trenches. The connection they forged in that bloody moment will have a lasting effect neither man had planned for…
He’s a good boy, my Murphy; never a peep of complaint when I make him wait for his reward… and reward him I do. I’m a man of my word. Hell, the kid had to carry me up on his fucking back for the last mile across scorched desert. I’ll keep rewarding him for as long as he’ll stay with an old bastard like me.
Wilkes tries not to dwell on the fact that bending another man to his will has always held a sexual thrall… How fortuitous that the soldier who saved his life and pulled him from the battlefield would be so eager to serve him.
Andrew Murphy might be a fearless giant, but he’s always known he is a submissive… Not a lot of men can look at a man like Murphy and understand exactly what he needs… but Sarge can…
Murphy’s effortless submission to Wilkes evokes a feeling the battle-hardened Sargent cannot ignore… and that’s just the beginning…
The story was intriguing and engaging.
It was not campy or sentimental – the romance between Sarge & Murphy was subdued in comparison to the comfort and camaraderie of having someone you trust at your side.
I have only two complaints about the entire book:
1. Since the POV alternated, it would be nice to have an obvious demarkation of the change (perhaps in the chapter heading) that way it doesn’t take me two or three sentences to figure out which character I’m reading.
2. I want the second book… like now. Book one leaves off with a battlefield cliffhanger and I’m dying to find out what happens next!
Overall, I am incredibly impressed with this story, and I’m eager to read the rest of the series.
Down on my knees in mud made from equal parts dirt and blood, I survey the damage done to Sarge. His left eye’s completely gone; it’s just a big, wet red hole where the charge went in. Thankfully, it’s cauterized some, so the bleeding is minimal. There’s nothing I can really do about it; he’ll have to get it replaced at the chop ‘n’ change at HQ, and that’s a half-hour hike that might as well be on the other side of the planet as long as the sun’s still up.
I pop open a compartment in my hip and take out a pin-sticker of hubba bubba. I jab it into his neck and sit back to check if any of this goddamned blood is my own while I let the painkiller work its magic. HeBA, or Hexa-Benactryl Almeanotroxene, is a synthetic compound that’s part homegrown and part alien; the fact that the shit is bright fucking pink gets me thinking that the squinters and grinders that make it were actively hoping for the nickname.
It doesn’t take long. The hubba’s pretty potent. Up until this point, the Sarge’s been staring off to the side, his face tense, not saying a word. The wound’s gotta hurt like hell, but this is the Sarge. He’s a legend. Hell, even I’d be tempted to cry a little if some asshole blew a hole in my head. When he finally turns to me, his right eye looks blankly somewhere over my shoulder, and there’s no expression on his face.
“Soldier?” he says, like he doesn’t know who I am. He’s still not looking directly at me, and it dawns on me right then that maybe he can’t see.
“Y’sir,” I reply. My voice is in the basement end of the register, all gravel and boom. Half of what I say ends up sounding like a grunt, but that’s fine with me. I don’t say much.
“I think I’m blind,” he says, blinking slowly. It seems like his marbles are all in place though; he doesn’t have that lost look that most men got in his situation. I nod, and then feel like an idiot.
“Y’sir,” I say again. I reach for his face. “Uh, hang on. Sorry.” To his credit, he doesn’t look alarmed when I start stuffing the empty socket with gauze before taping the whole thing over with a few strips of med tape. When I’m done sealing the damage, I thumb up the lid from the other eye. The pupil’s not reacting to the light from my helmet, so I figure there’s something wrong between his eye and his brain.
I get a bright idea and dig around in the med-kit some more. I find the relays and press one to his right temple before sticking one to my own. They both come on, powered by the subtle electric charge that runs through a human body. I watch the little LEDs go through their patterns as they calibrate, but I have no fucking clue if this is going to work. These relays are made for bridging the neural gap caused by injury in one individual—you know, so that a guy with a spinal injury can still hoof it to HQ on his own. I don’t know if lending a little of my brain’s processing power to his eye is going to result in anything good. Maybe I’ll just end up short-circuiting my own damn head, but it’s worth a try.
I’d give my fucking life for this man.
After a few seconds, Sarge blinks, looking startled. His pupil contracts when he turns and focuses on me. I don’t feel any worse for wear, so I figure the relays are doing their job. They’re good for about two metres and change, so he and I are going to have to stick close, but that really doesn’t bother me.
“Murphy?” he says, surprised. “How in the hell did you know that was going to work?” He looks at the relay on my face and touches the one on his own.
“Didn’t,” I reply. It comes out as a mumble, but he doesn’t notice because he’s suddenly peering around in confusion.
Oh shit, I think.
“What the hell? What are all these colours? Is this a side effect?” he asks. There’s a loud boom to the north of us, and I see the streak of blue across my vision. I watch his eye track it.
“Erm, no Sarge,” I say. “Synesthesia.” It feels like a lie. What I have is not the run-of-the-mill, smells-or-sounds-to-colours kinda thing. Somehow, I’m able to pick up on waves in the air, and my brain neatly colour-codes them for me. You know the electricity I mentioned before that runs through every damn one of us? Well, that gives off waves too, and it changes with emotions. Not exactly something I like to advertise; I’m already a bit of a freak. I wonder with a grimace what Sarge will make of what he sees.
Needing something to do with my hands, I take the rifle from his lap and begin to strip it down.
“It’s… beautiful,” he says, gesturing to the air in front of him.
I grunt a reply and nod, concentrating on the BFG on my knees. The pieces slide into my hands as I hit all the small catches. Though this one is identical to my own, my fingers know it’s a stranger. A ding here, a scratch there; every piece unique.
“I take it we’re waiting until sundown before heading back to HQ?” he asks, peering at the heat-distorted horizon.
Another nod from me. The sight on his gun’s a little sticky so I give it a rub with the cloth from my hip and screw it back into place.
“You ain’t much of a conversationalist are you?” asks Sarge after watching me work for a while.
“N’sir,” I reply. How can I tell him that every time I open my mouth, I feel like an idiot? I’m not though. It’s just that I don’t have a way with words like a lot of the other guys do. I’m not funny. I can’t tell a story to save my life. I’m not even especially crass, something that would at least make what I said colourful. Nah, I just leave the talking up to other people. That’s fine with me.
I finish up with his gun and hand it back to him before starting on my own.
I can tell that he’s watching me closely, and it’s making me a little uncomfortable. Not really in a bad way, mind you.
“You’re a fucking mystery, Murph,” he says to me. “I see you eating by yourself, head down, reading something on your pad. Always on the fringes when we’re offstage. No one talks to you. But, when the curtain rises, you’ve got everyone’s back, and you fight like goddamn Mars himself.”
I lift my eyes for a sec before looking back down at the rifle I’m turning over in my hands. This is the most Sarge has ever said to me. I just hope my brain’s not showing him too much about how thrilled I am; I’m probably lit up like a Christmas tree, and I’m sure that beneath the blood and paint on my face, I’m blushing like a schoolgirl. What would he think about the fact that being around him makes my britches a little tight?
“So you like pain, do you?” he asks, seemingly out of the blue. For a sickening moment, I think he’s been following my line of thought. Just as he said it, I was thinking that if Sarge asked me to lick the sole of his boot, I’d have a goddamn granite staff in my shorts. But, when I look up, I see that he’s staring at my arms.
Now, regulation armour has us covered from chin to ankle in flexible nano-shielding that even a buzz bullet from a GR-U can’t cut into. Problem is, unless you’re running your cooling unit all the goddamned time, in a day you’ll lose half your body weight in sweat. After five years in this hell of a war with CUs breaking down only weeks into combat, you see a lot of us grunts using the mech torches to cut loose the moulded carapace pads as soon as we get them. Basically, I look like I’m wearing glorified football shoulder pads with elbow, knee, and ass pads to match.
The whole thing used to be painted a dark blue, the colour of my unit, but since then I’ve taken a half-hundred hits, and the paint’s mostly chipped off. It’s a dull, dark grey with hints of gore at the moment. There’s webbing down the front of my chest where there’s a series of compartments to keep my stuff—you’d be amazed how much you can carry when you strip out the plate lining them—but, apart from the shorts and the helmet I mentioned earlier, I’ve got nothing else on. I don’t care; I’d rather get shot than die from dehydration.
The reason Sarge is staring at my arms is because of the colourful tattoos that cover me from shoulder to knuckle; you can see them clear as day between the straps that hold the moulded pads of my armour in place. They’re a combination of Irezumi and laser etching—something the kids these days call “slash and burn”—and are taken from the margins of an illustrated book of poetry my mum used to read to me as a kid. They’re what you’d call “fanciful” if you were the type to use that kind of word. Songbirds, dragons, butterflies, insects; it’s like my skin is the sky, and it’s filled with colourful things in flight. I feel silly just thinking that, but hell, I like the way they look.
Sarge hasn’t said anything to merit a gruff thanks from me; I can’t tell if he actually likes them or if he’s just going to leave it at the question about pain. I’m about to shrug my shoulders and go back to putting the BFG back together when he looks into my eyes.
He’s curious. He’s also impressed.
There’s a little dry spot at the back of my throat, so I swallow hard and end up coughing into my fist. I realize then that maybe the question wasn’t rhetorical like I figured; what if he wanted an honest-to-goodness answer from me? On a crazy impulse, I decide to give him one.
“Y’sir,” I manage to mumble, my voice in the basement again. I look down and realize I’m thumbing the tit of the power switch like I’m trying to get it hard, and my cheeks get hot again.
To distract myself, I pick up the little collapsible pot from the lip of the trench and gently slide the circle of nano-plastic from the top of it. After I fold away the water-harvester into quarters to stow away, I feel a little reckless and take out a metal thimble. Sarge watches me quietly as I float it in the piss-warm water that collected in the pot. I slap the side of my rifle to release the coolant pod and, with a practiced hand, I pop open the side and let a single drop fall into the thimble. Instantly, ice crackles over the surface of the water, and I lift the thimble out. I look up, slightly shamefaced for showing off now, and offer the water to Sarge.
He accepts it with a wry grin.
Using coolant from a CP to make water cold is completely illegal for two reasons: one, the stuff is completely poisonous; so much as a drop gets into a gallon of water, and you’ll be shitting your brains out and sweating like a pig for hours. Second, taking coolant out of your weapon is considered a criminal waste of resources. That one makes no fucking sense anymore; I’m literally sitting in a trench full of dead guys, and every single one of them has a rifle with a CP in it. It’s not like I’m going to hump them all back to HQ with me. Sarge, of course, knows all this, and I can’t believe I just had the stones to flaunt it in his fucking face. He takes a sip and hands it back to me. However, I don’t see anything but amusement from him; my stupid party trick’s not going to land me in the stockade this time. I breathe easier, though I feel little sheepish.
“What were you doing before the war, son?” he asks, leaning back against the wall of the dig-in; he knows we’ve got at least another hour to wait before the massive red sun dips below the horizon, so he’s making conversation.
For a second, I’m a little disappointed. If he’d taken a look at my sheet, he would’ve known that about me; I’m embarrassed by the number of times I’ve looked at his. I take a deep breath and stare down at my boots. I’m ankle deep in slime and, for a split second, I’m struck by how so sick and tired of the fucking war I am.
“Studyin’, Sarge,” I reply after a thought.
“Neuroscience.” The word barely makes it out of my mouth before I quickly take another sip of water and roll it over my tongue. The startled silence is one that I’m really fucking familiar with.
Sarge sees my discomfort; maybe it’s the relay showing him, or maybe he’s just observant, but he lets out a small laugh. He takes the pot out of my hand, and his fingers graze mine. I feel a little weird. Maybe the relay’s doing something to my brain after all. Maybe it’s just my fucking nerves.
“Murph, you gotta admit that you don’t seem the type,” he chides me.
See, I’m a big guy. I’m just about 6’8 in my boots. A slab of muscle on a frame that’s almost comically large. Pair that with the fact that I don’t say much, and you’ve got people thinking I’m none too bright. The big dumdum that can tear the arm off an enemy soldier if he’s in the right mood. I shrug. I’m good at shrugging.
“So, you’re smart. I’m not that surprised actually, given your idea with the neuro-relays. Got a girl back home, Murphy? A wife?” he asks. When I shake my head no, he gives another little laugh. A pause. “A man, then?” Another shake of my head, but this time my face is so hot you could cook a fucking egg on it. “What? Single? A good-looking guy like you? I find that hard to believe, son.”
The way he calls me son does something to me. Everyone always thinks that because I look like a big, mean bastard, I’m the dominant type. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve disappointed guys.
When I look up again, I see that his one eye is narrowed at me in amusement. And something… else. Without an ounce of diffidence, he casually asks me another question.
“So, are you completely proportionate?”
It takes me a second, maybe two, before I realize that he’s asking whether I’m packing a peashooter or a rocket launcher in my shorts. We’re out hiding from enemy soldiers, buried ankle deep in the guts of our unit and burning under an alien sun, him missing an eye, and he’s asking about my fucking cock. Sarge is hitting on me. There’s no mistaking the gleam in his eye, and I can see it coming off of him in waves.
You could not have painted me more shocked.
He gives this little laugh and adds, “Well?” when I don’t reply right away.
I turn away to stare at the horizon, a huge shit-eating grin on my face that won’t budge. After a sec, I just give a little nod. I know I’ll be crushed if he wants to call me “Daddy” or some shit, but at least for now, I couldn’t be happier. However, a second later he removes any of my doubts.
“You’re a good boy, Murph,” he says softly to me. “You get me home, get me patched up, and you’ll see what good boys get.”
I swear to god, I have never made a sound like it before; half whimper, half gasp, it’s past my lips before I can stop it. Sarge sees the effect his words have on me, and he smiles. It takes me a few loud beats of my heart to realize he’s waiting for me to answer. I let my own grin drop, digging around in my skull for my usual serious sense of duty. I give a nod, swivelling the scope from my rifle between my fingers.
“Y’sir,” I rumble, and his grin widens.
With a new sense of purpose, I turn to the horizon and drop the sun shielding over the charge rifle’s sight so I won’t blind myself. I squint and peer. The coast is clear, as far as I can tell. Maybe we don’t need to wait until after sunset after all.
Without glancing back, I know that Sarge is thinking the same thing.
Interview with Bey Deckard:
Tell us about your book…
Sarge is a short story about two soldiers in a never-ending war against an alien enemy. Despite all the shit they’re going through, Sarge and Murphy find something meaningful.
Sell your book in five words or less:
A battle won with submission.
What was the spark of inspiration that led to this book?
The first chapter is a dream I had. People really liked it, so I decided to flush out into a short story. I also consider it a writing exercise. I’m new to writing and wanted to see if I could write first person present POV.
How did you come up with the character, Murphy?
I didn’t do it consciously – he was a fully formed character in my dream, and I stuck close to what he was like there. I’m not exactly sure what/who he’s supposed to be… but, and you’re going to probably find this a little odd (and I’m amazed no one has asked me about this yet, considering how many pics I post of him)… Murphy is the name of my dog. I did think about changing it for the book, but decided against it in the end. Hell – Murphy the Dog a loyal, loving, patient, powerhouse. That’s pretty much Murphy the Solider, no?
What about Sergeant Wilkes?
Well… he seems to be a mix of Colonel Tigh (Michael Hogan in BSG) and an old buddy of mine’s dad (decorated war veteran). He’s your stereotypical Hollywood hard-ass, emotionally crippled commanding officer who doesn’t have time for anyone’s shit. But he’s got a chink in his armour, and it takes a unique pair of eyes to see it.
With a topic like Space Marines you had the opportunity to imagine all kinds of neat technology and gadgets – is there any single invention from your book that you wish existed today?
Quick organ rebuilding/replacement is definitely one I’d love to see. With 3D printing, we’ll be looking at that soon!
Do you have any experience in the military? What kind of research did you do to prepare for writing this book?
No personal experience, no – unless you count living with soldiers a military experience. 🙂 Not much research except double-checking some of the lingo and how much tonnage I needed for the explosives.
What is your favorite quote or moment from this story?
It takes me a second, maybe two, before I realize that he’s asking whether I’m packing a peashooter or a rocket launcher in my shorts. We’re out hiding from enemy soldiers, buried ankle deep in the guts of our unit and burning under an alien sun, him missing an eye, and he’s asking about my fucking cock.
All of chapter 6.
Is there a song which you feel perfectly complements your story?
Now I Wanna Be Your Dog by Iggy Pop (funny, right? Considering the dog thing… but “Lose my heart on the burning sand” is pretty damn fitting, I would say)
What can we look forward to next with the F.I.S.T.S. series? (No spoilers, pretty please)
Shit, it’s hard to say anything about it without spoilers since it’s so short. But, suffice it to say that they’re going somewhere else. It’s going to be about the same length (I think) as Sarge, and it’s going to be called Murphy. I’m also going to release a paperback version of both the shorts together.
Bey Deckard On Writing:
How long have you known you wanted to be an author?
Since last year, I guess. It happened after publishing my first book in February. I wasn’t expecting folks to like my writing so much.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first real story I remember writing was what basically amounted to fan fiction based on the movie The Lost Boys. It’s around here somewhere – one of these days I should transcribe it. It was about me and my kid brother moving to Santa Carla and joining the vampires. I wrote it when I was 13-14.
How do you keep your creativity flowing?
Copious amounts of whiskey! (kidding)
I’m not sure. My brain’s always going… painting, drawing, writing. I’m always creating something.
How long did it take for you to write Sarge?
About a week or so.
We’re loving the cover of this book! Who designed it?
I did! I should really put that info in my books, huh? I was going for a 70’s style sci-fi look.
What advice do you have for new authors? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Network with other authors. I sort of published in a vacuum, and I think I could have benefited from having more author friends.
How do you deal with bad reviews? Any advice for other authors in that regard?
I’m a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Bad reviews don’t bother me – I find most of them pretty interesting. It’s fascinating what different people take away from the same book.
My only advice to other authors is: don’t get involved in bad reviews. You created something, you sent it out into the world… if someone wants to trash it, it’s their prerogative. Don’t like bad reviews? Don’t read them. And – keep writing. 🙂
What additional projects are you working on?
Well, I am currently in the final stages of finishing the third book in the Baal’s Heart trilogy, set to come out in April. After that, I have another six projects planned, one of which is the sequel to Sarge. I’m hoping to publish four books this year.
Bey Deckard On Reading:
What book have you read more times than any other?
More than any other? Hm. Maybe Cry to Heaven or The Mummy (Anne Rice). That or the whole Death Gate Cycle (Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman)… or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (Philip K. Dick)… or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S. Thompson)… I tend to re-read books a lot. For instance, I’m rereading Wuthering Heights at the moment, and I’ve read it at least a half-dozen times already.
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
The latest book I bought and read was Death Benefits (Nelson DeMille). Fun little short by one of my favourite authors.
Is there a book you keep meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to it? Don’t worry, we all have ridiculously long TBRs!
Many! I feel like I have zero time to read these days. Two that I have started and keep meaning to get back to are Existence (David Brin) and Big Damn Sin City (Frank Miller).
Do you recall the first piece of Science Fiction you ever read?
Oh man. *thinks hard* Probably Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne).
Do you have a favorite Book Boyfriend/Girlfriend?
That’s a concept I’ve only become recently acquainted with! I was actually trying to think of some the other day when someone posted something about it on Facebook. I would have to say Haplo from the aforementioned Death Gate Cycle (Hickman & Weis) or Gregor Eisenhorn from Eisenhorn (Dan Abnett). I think it’s less a matter of attraction than intense respect for the characters.
Bey Deckard On Play Time:
When you’re not hard at work writing, what do you do with your time?
Well, usually I am working on something else – I’m also a freelance graphic designer and artist. When I’m not working at all… well, I hit the pub with a buddy mostly. Watch a lot of movies. Paint/draw for myself. Travel. Get tattooed.
Honestly though, writing has almost completely taken over my life, and I’m not sure how I feel about that sometimes.
What’s the first thing on your Bucket List?
I don’t really have a bucket list as such. I have a list of places I’d like to visit though… at the moment, Italy is at the top of that list (changes day to day).
Do you have any pets?
Yup. A pit bull named Murphy. He’s a big loveable lug. He’s snoring away as I’m writing this.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I don’t feel guilty about anything… but I suppose romantic comedies would fit into that category, right?
Favorite Swear Word?
Cock. (What the cock? Holy cock!)
Thanks so much for having me. 🙂
Two Smutsonian Readers will be receiving copies of this awesome book! Enter here:
About the Author:
Artist, Writer, Dog Lover.
Born and raised in a small coastal town in northern Québec, Bey spent his early summers on his uncle’s boat and running wild on the beaches of the surrounding islands, lighting fires and building huts out of driftwood and fishermen’s nets. As an adult, he eventually made his way to university and earned a degree in Art History with a strong focus on Anthropology. Primarily a portrait painter and graphic artist, Bey sat down one day and decided to write about the two things that he felt most passionate about: sex and the sea.
Bey currently lives in the wilds of Montréal with his best buddy, a spotty pit bull named Murphy. Caged: Love and Treachery on the High Seas is his first novel.