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Hyperlinks in the text are intended as supplemental material, discussing elements of the science behind the science fiction. They are not intended as required reading for the story. Hyperlinks will be provided at the point in the story where it comes up, but all the links will also be collected at the bottom of the post for easy reading.
Argentinian Atlas Pillar, Earth
1 year before the loss of the Midgar-6
Ki’an’i sat cross-legged on the padded floor of her exercise room, hands clasped behind her back as she breathed slow and steady. This kind of meditative ritual was not her favorite thing in the world… as a rule, the Sethis woman preferred action to contemplation when possible. It didn’t matter how important it was to her order or to practicing the critical skills they had, she always felt a little silly when it came time to meditate.
It was a whole process. It would start with bathing, then dressing herself… not in her uniform, which the Lieutenant was most comfortable in, or civilian clothing which still felt awkward in even while at liberty, or even in the cloth of a martial gi she wore when practicing forms sometimes, but instead in a robe of silk so slight and soft and thin that it was like wearing nothing at all. The point was that she wasn’t supposed to be able to feel it, and as much as possible that was true… Ki’an’i did feel naked as she slipped into the templar-grey robe and lowered the hood. It was important, though… a templar had to accustom themselves to regularly shifting into a battle trance, to silencing the needs of their body… pain, hunger, exhaustion, yes, but most importantly fear. Void Tracers, the Demons of the Stars, had pheromones that could bypass conscious thought all but completely and physiologically put a victim into a state of near absolute panic, making them utterly vulnerable in the initial moments of an attack. Something like 60% of total Federation casualties to Void Tracers happened within the first ten seconds of one showing up… and that was why the templars existed.
Ki’an’i breathed in and out, keeping her imagination firmly on the right concepts, ordering her mind solidly in time with her breathing. She had been doing this long enough that letting her thoughts fall into pattern usually never took a second thought, and that was good… during battle there wasn’t time to meditate, of course. This right state of mind did have to be actively maintained, however, and not just to reach it for a mere battle trance… not to hold her thoughts in perfect balance for a few minutes or an hour but for longer… as long as possible. It took a lot more mental discipline to accomplish that, and that only came with practice.
Lots and lots of practice.
The process, as always, began with preparing her environment, and then herself. She closed off her practice room and lit her favorite incense, a calming, spicy scent. Then she got into the shower and bathed herself with focused thought, really focusing on the individual actions and the mechanics of it, how she needed to move her limbs to scrub her arms, to wash the oils out of the flowers atop her head. Before long, she found that her movements had synced with her breathing, taking on the cadence of deliberate ritual as she steamed under the hot water, and imagined that she could feel extraneous emotion sluicing away beneath the water… fear and anxiety flooded and washed down the drain.
When she had finished, she had dried and slipped into the robe and then sat onto the floor, letting her body fade away until she could feel almost nothing at all but the thoughts in her head. Mindful and focused. That was the way… she needed her body to do only what she commanded it to do. She needed to conquer fear, lest it conquer her. To slip into the trance, her concentration had to be completely pure. Random thoughts, worries, fears, and emotions would sabotage the effort. Ki’an’i focused on breathing, upon stilling her thoughts, and felt her limbs growing colder as her heart actually slowed a little, less blood pumping through the Sethis woman’s limbs.
It took a while to get herself in the proper frame of mind for that level of focus, and by the time she was finished she had her thoughts completely in order… she was only thinking what she wanted, only feeling what she wanted. The world around her felt oddly fuzzy and unimportant, but at the same time crisp, in brilliantly sharp focus. She took a deep breath…
And Stark opened the door to her practice room. “Ki’an’i! Amara’s here to see you. She needs to talk to you abo-” he abruptly cut off as his eyes processed what he was seeing, and his face turned crimson. “Oh. I did it again, didn’t I?”
Ki’an’i tried to hold onto her focus but this kind of deep trance really wasn’t meant to handle this kind of interruption. Her thoughts scattered, and though she tried to grasp onto them it was like grabbing at sand… the more she clawed at it, the more of slipped away. Finally, she sighed and gave up on it. “Hon, you’re a goober,” she said, rolling her eyes. “The door was closed!”
Stark scratched the back of his head. “Yeah… sorry, she said she needed to talk to you, and it was important, and I didn’t think,” he said, looking embarrassed.
Ki’an’i rose, stretching her hands over of her head as she relaxed the soreness out of muscles she could suddenly feel the protesting of. It turned her entire body into a bow that made the silk cling to her. Stark, bless him, seemed unsure as to whether he should stare or look away. The handsome, dark haired man always looked the most precious when he was flustered. It was one of many, many reason that she had married him. Ki’an’i walked over to her husband and took his head in her hands, kissing his forehead without particular effort to lower his head much. “It’s alright,” she said, sighing again. “Commander’s orders.” She wrapped the robe a little tighter around her and kissed her husband again. “Alright. Tell her I’ll be just a minute.”
Stark gave her a kiss back and went back into the other room, leaving Ki’an’i to put herself back together. The wake of a broken meditation was always disorienting… it kinda felt like she was looking at objects for the first time, unsure of what they were. Everything felt subjected to a strong sense of jamais vous, a itching sense of unfamiliarity to every sensation, thought, and experience. Trying to subjugate her physiology through sheer mental mindset did come at a cost, after all. It took a few minutes before her breathing was steady again and she didn’t feel as odd, so she straightened her robe, hanging it so it didn’t quite cling to her form like a second skin, and stepped out to see Amara Black.
Amara had been her best friend since they were in the same class in the naval academy. Together, in less responsible days, the two of them had caused all kinds of trouble around campus… as far as Ki’an’i was aware, the base commander still to this day didn’t know what had happened to all of his socks. Still, those had been earlier days, before they had had responsibilities, so she didn’t get to see the woman as often as she liked. When she stepped out in the room, Amara was sitting at her table, sipping coffee as Stark laughed at the story she was telling. Ki’an’i smiled, stepping closer…
And stopped when she noted the icon on Amara’s shoulder.
“AMARA!” she gasped, eyes widening. “Congratulations!”
The redhaired woman smiled sheepishly, one hand coming up to press at the Captain’s insignia on her breast. “Thanks,” she said, her grin twisting uncomfortably. “It still doesn’t feel real.”
Ki’an’i pulled out a chair and sat in it. “When did this happen?”
“Officially, next week,” Amara answered. “Unofficially, immediately. They want me to start submitting evaluations for my ship by tomorrow.”
“The admirals don’t let much grass grow under their feet,” Ki’an’i said with a snort. “Which ship are you taking over?”
The small smile on Amara’s face vanished entirely, her face going solid. “The Midgar-6.”
“The Midg-” Ki’an’i started, cutting herself off as the words processed… and she realized what was going on. Ah. That explained things. This wasn’t a genuine promotion, then… this was politics. Ki’an’i knew as well as anyone in the Terran Federation that Amara’s sister had gone missing, and of the colony target bearing her name. Putting Amara in charge of that ship wasn’t a statement of confidence, then… it was a political statement, a moral drive. It was enough to make Ki’an’i sick, because she knew better than anyone that her friend deserved this promotion… but arriving like this? No one was going to feel that way. Being put in charge of a colony ship? It was an extremely prestigious assignment, usually given to veteran Captains… not because of its difficulty but just its importance and visibility. Amara would make many enemies among the top ranked Captains by winning out on this assignment, and no one could mistake the promotion for not being influenced by politics.
“I see,” Ki’an’i said quietly. “Congratulations, and condolences.”
“I’m dealing with it,” Amara said stoically, nodding along.
Ki’an’i nodded back. “So, who’s making up your crew?”
Amara brightened a little bit. “Well… that’s the good news. When they came to me with this ‘offer,’ I had conditions.”
The templar laughed. “They came to you to give you a colony ship and you had conditions?”
“If they want my name and face on this project, I sure do!” Amara agreed eagerly. “I got to pick my crew. Evangeline is doing engineering for me, and Dr Constantos was my first pick.”
“Good choices,” Ki’an’i agreed. “Who else?”
“I’m still picking others, but I’ve already decided on a few,” she said. And then she reached into her pocket and pulled out a small, manila envelope, passing it across the table. “Congratulations.”
The Sethis woman’s breath caught in her throat and she felt like she was sweating, even if she had no glands for it. With shaking hands, she picked up the envelope, ripped it open, and upended it… and two insignia dropped out onto the table. Ki’an’i stared in shock.
“I want you,” Amara said firmly. “I want you to handle protection and security.”
“Amara…” Ki’an’i whispered. “I can’t… I’m not qu-”
“Oh shut up!” Amara said firmly. “We’re headed into deep space. Void Tracers are a concern… having a templar on board will be helpful. You can do this in your sleep. The mission comes with an immediate promotion to Lieutenant Commander, and an immediate brevet promotion to Commander. After return from Miranda and upon a performance review from your Captain, the rank will become permanent.” She looked between her and Stark. “You could get a posting that keeps you in Sol,” she said softly.
Ki’an’i turned the rank insignia over in shaking fingers. “Are you sure about this, Amara?” She looked at Stark. If she could get a commander’s posting here in Sol, there would be no more long months away from her husband. They would be able to see each other every day once she got back… she would be able to start a family the way they wanted to. “I don’t want to let you down.”
“Ki’an’i, there’s no one in the galaxy I would trust more with this than you,” Amara said, and her voice held absolutely no doubt. “If you told me to jump into a black hole, I’d trust that you could take be safely out the other side smelling like flowers.”
The Sethis templar took a deep breath, then traded a quick look with Stark. Then she nodded sharply once, and closed her fist around the emblem. “Thank you, Amara. I won’t let you down.”
Cursa Eridani A, Far Orbit
3 years after the loss of the Midgar-6
Shale fucked his way into his slave with relentless, monotonous brutality. The brutish human thug panted and groaned while he did the deed, sweat pouring down his beefy muscles and from the scalp of his bald-shaved head. Like always, there was a lecherous madness within his eyes, a complete and utter void where sympathy and higher thought should reside. He was completely absorbed by his own triumphant domination, intoxicated by the sensation that someone else was being hurt while he was delivering the pain. For him, this was winning.
For his slave, this was hell.
“Dirty shroom bitch!” he grunted like a swine, the exact same phrase he’d repeated a half dozen times since he’d started. For all of the criminal racist’s delusional bravado, Thomas Shale did have an enormous cock, and he delighted in sticking it deep into the inhuman cunt of his Sethis victim. Its bulbous head hammered against her cervix with every punt, ramming her down against the metal as if she was some prisoner from a primitive age who had been sentenced to be bludgeoned to death.
The two drifting space-exiles, rapist and victim, were rutting on the floor of one of the Midgar-6’s escape shuttles, locked together in what looked like a loving embrace in the missionary position. Within the confines of this life-preserving vessel after escaping from the Kthid, there was little else to do but fucking and inflicting violence. Over the course of the three years they had drifted together, they had used every position he could think of dozens of times, and he rarely bothered to be creative anymore… for the beastly man such creative details mattered little. A more normal psyche would quickly have tired of such activities but not Thomas Shale. His whole persona was brutality and devious cunning, his success measured solely in the form of the control and dominance he could inflict on another living being. Isolated in this diminutive vessel and far from the arm of the law or the judgment of his peer, the gangster could indulge in his proclivities like a man obsessed. If anything, these conditions had made him into even more of a monster. It was hard to believe that a man who’d sold out his fellow Earthlings to the Kthid could become even crueler.
“Yeah!” Shale growled as he slobbered and drooled all over Ki’an’i’s face, his spit falling down onto her slimy, well-covered face. “How does that feel inside your cock-glove, bitch!?”
“Very big, Master!” the battered templar responded on her cue. Her voice was weak and subservient, but she was careful to only use small words… he would be furious if she said anything that made it sound like she thought she was better or smarter than him. “You’re turning my subhuman sluthole into a real, human cocksheath with every stroke! Soon, this Sethis pussy will hold the exact shape of your cock even when you aren’t pummeling me!”
Shale chuckled at that, a sneer cruelly plastered across his perpetually grinning lips. Referring to herself in such terms was another of his perverted instructions. The Terran sadist truly seemed to believe his racist slander, that a Sethis’s adaptable, mimicked body was so malleable and pliable that her cunt could be molded to fit a certain shape with reinforcement. It was insane… unbelievably xenophobic slander believed only by the most fringe-of-the-fringe extremists, one that had its origins in outlandish speculations about the Sethis physiology and Mimic Fungus’ ability to reshape their figures based on other lifeforms’ DNA, but it had no bearing in reality at all. Thomas, however, fancied himself a sculptor… and so aimed to remold her genitals to his own liking. He would no doubt punish her when he failed… but based on how hard and incessantly he hammered into her, Ki’an’i wondered if he might very well reshape reality through the bodily damage alone.
After all, idiot though he may be, Shale had already proved he was capable of remolding her mind to better suit him. Why should her body be more resilient?
The unwilling pair had traveled dozens of orbits around the star that the Midgar-6 had met its end under the light of. This whole area was vast tracts of uninhabited stellar wilderness, with no human habitation within dozens of light years. The two of them were all alone within the grandness of the Universe, with no other lifeforms even close to nearby, and yet even in such a place one was still oppressing the other. Their ship had no hope of ever making it back to Earth, or even to any of her colonies or search outposts… without a Lilis drive to use the wormhole in this system, even their top speed would see them long dead from old age before they found another human even if their supplies lasted that long. These shuttles were only made to last a few years at most, and Ki’an’i wouldn’t have trusted Shale at the controls enough to travel in the right direction even if it was possible. The basics of stellar navigation and operations were subjects that every single enlisted man and woman of the HEF, even the ensigns, had been instructed in… but Shale had been a stowaway onboard the Midgar-6, no true member of the crew, and Ki’an’i had no faith he understood the controls at all… it was a wonder they hadn’t managed to crash into anything yet even in their mostly empty space.
“Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!” Thomas grunted while he pumped, inflicting some further physical damage of her sore, ravaged body. His cock did its best to reshape her insides, but it was far from his only avenue of inflicting hurt, however. Ki’an’i’s body was now decorated with even more pyrographic artwork then the ones she had begun her hellish journey with. Crude scorched drawings and letterings now littered her thighs, pelvis and arms. There were like black embers strewn across her otherwise lime-green hue. He added another piece whenever inspiration struck him. Besides the “Property of Thomas Shale” tattoo which prominently graced the inside of her thigh, there were now many others, most of them aggrandizing the virility and power of a certain bald-headed criminal while disparaging a certain sentient plant-based lifeform. Self-glorification and racial degradation seemed to be the only subjects which entered his mind. Ki’an’i’s once so statuesque and fitness-honed body had become an artwork of his racist beliefs. Just like with her supposed “cock-glove,” her existence as a Sethis was being reconfigured to fit his own perversities, mind and body.
Ki’an’i knew that she should resist better than this. She was a templar. They were supposed to be masters of their fear, unbowed and unbroken beneath the pressure of terror in combat. What she had learned, however, was that the mental discipline she had spent years honing was worthless. No… that was a self-defeating thought. Not worthless. Simply not meant for this. It was meant to keep her thoughts from drifting, to deny the physiological responses of the body to terror… but it could only do so for so long. It wasn’t immunity… it was armor, and like armor it could be beaten, deformed, and destroyed. The Kthid had, through prolonged suffering and misery, cracked that hardened shell. Over the last few years Shale had shattered it completely.
“Uff! Uff! Uff!” he continued, that same moaning sound that she had been listening to for uncountable days, months, and years. “Feel that, shroom? Your master is about to water his plant! You’re about to get some grade-A jizz!”
Ki’an’i knew that she was supposed to respond to this. Every time he started saying anything degrading, the Sethis templar was meant to reply with something lewd and self-effacing in kind. If she didn’t do so, and quickly, the consequences would be a savage beating, followed by whatever more creative torment he could device. Ki’an’i’s flesh had already been painted purple-and-brown many times over, her face so manhandled and abused at times that bruises formed atop her other bruises. However, this time, something unprecedented happened which stopped the noises from escaping her throat, something which hadn’t happened once in the last three years of orbiting the system… A light by the controls started beeping.
The light flashed yellow while an alarm rang out, loudly enough that it was impossible not to notice. “Huh?” Thomas Shale grunted, shifting his granite-block of a head in the disturbance’s direction. It was a testament to his base cruelty that he didn’t stop thrusting, either… his already swollen cock moving inside her until he finally erupted, orgasming inside the templar’s bruised and swallow cunt. It was only after he had finished painting her insides as pale as her skin that he grunted and rose off her, casually ripping a petal off her head before heading over to investigate the alarm.
Ki’an’i lay there, limply sprawled on the ground… stuck somewhere between being unwilling and unable to move after she had received her owner’s big, sloppy, scattershot ejaculation. Her rapist’s sperm now lingered and smeared itself into the regions of her pussy, the hole swollen and tender from his ravages. Her well-buffeted thighs were so numb that she could hardly feel them. In short, she was in no condition to walk over to the diminutive cockpit and inspect the alert even if she possessed the boldness to do so. With her face a grimace of agony, Ki’an’i lay there and waited numbly for news of what had happened.
The big brute walked over there, casually sucking on the leaf. Ki’an’i knew that something in Sethis flower had a mild narcotic effect, and deprived of any of his usual drugs of choice Shale had been plucking them off her head on the regular for years now… slowly sucking it for the minor high. He leaned in over a console as if having difficulty reading what it said. To Ki’an’i, the man’s whole body language was like that of a monkey struggling to grapple with what some advanced technical gizmo actually did. Was the reactor out of fuel? Proximity alarm… was an asteroid collision immanent? Were they about to fly into the bloody star? In truth, any of those scenarios might be genuinely welcomed by Ki’an’i at this point… a relief from the constant monotonous torment which now constituted her existence. I’m sorry, Stark…
Shale’s head cocked upwards. Then he leaned back down as if needing to read it again. His head cocked back up for one last and final time. “Huh,” he said in perplexity, standing stock-still with his back towards the Sethis. “Well I’ll be damned,” he added, not divulging the mystery.
The man stood there, thinking, obviously uncertain as to how to proceed. Ki’an’i could never recall ever having witnessed such a cadence of doubt in him before… he was a man who moved with reckless self-assurance and no reflection, so seeing him consider was actually novel. He shuffled around a little, like an animal who had lost its tracks. Then, finally, his posture stiffened, the surefire mark of certainty. Thomas Shale was Thomas Shale again. With the press of a button, he made the beeping sound go away. Then the criminal spun on his heels, sporting a wide yet cagey smile as he glared down towards the templar’s floorbound and enfeebled body.
“Well well well. That, Shroom, was the ship’s scanners,” he revealed. “It appears it took the HEF their sweet ass time, but my brilliant plan finally worked out… A ship has appeared on our scanners… and it’s coming right towards us.” He smiled broadly. “They apparently discovered us long before we discovered them… they’ll be here soon to rescue me as we speak. You and I are getting boarded, shroom.”
A physical paroxysm enveloped Ki’an’i at hearing these unbelievable news. As she was bodily wrecked from the years-long worth of abuse, her reaction was only a minor fit, a slight trembling of all four limbs and a wiggling of her abdomen. The bottled-up emotions caused her to stir even though she didn’t want to and knew that Shale could punish her for this. The sperm deposited in her womanhood still blazed warm but now there was a heat burning within her chest as well. Home…? Was it actually possible she might be able to go home?
“Unfortunately,” Thomas continued. “I guess this will put a definitive end to our little honeymoon. How sad. Just when we were getting to exploring the depths of our romance. The way I see it, it’s possible this is finally a Kthid ship that’s found us. They’d be pretty mad… if it’s them, then we’re both as good as dead no matter what happens,” he said before trailing off into silence.
“The other option,” he continued after a brief interlude. “Is that it’s a human rescue ship. After three years, I consider that far more likely… and in that case, well, let’s just say that things would be a bit more complicated. Our rescuer is about to encounter the last survivors of the great colony vessel, the Midgar-6! What will they think? What do I want them to think? The great Thomas Shale, the survivor of a hostile alien force… They need to believe me. For that to happen there needs to be some changes around here…” he concluded, his eyes glittering darkly.
Ki’an’i watched him ball his hands into fists. A great mortal terror gripped her. For Shale, the situation would be easy to explain if he were to simply be rescued alone. Ki’an’i, if she had ever been here at all, had simply died in transit… another tragic victim of interstellar madness that grips those suffering through prolonged isolation in such tight and restrictive confines as an escape shuttle. He could possibly even use the incinerator to destroy her body sufficiently that no tangible evidence was left for the HEF to investigate… Sethis’s more fungus-like tissue burned easily. If he were to but start the flame by the petals of their hair — as Shale had oftentimes threatened to do — then the resulting conflagration could burn her up from head to toe within a few minutes.
He could kill her. And there wouldn’t be much difficulty in doing the deed or explaining it afterwards either. Templars were trained not to fear death, but after having suffered so much through their indescribably long voyage the thought of dying at the cusp of a potential rescue truly terrified her. He was going to kill her. After all of this, after everything… with rescue so close, with being able to see her husband again so close, he was going to kill her. She needed to think fast. She needed to figure out some way for him to spare her life.
Shale advanced, and it made her blood run cold… so many times he had moved towards her, his eyes lustfully glittering. Now, though, the man’s face was devoid of erotic interest.
In the moment, little but sheer survival instinct gripped the former Security Officer of the Midgar-6. If her templar instincts were still active, then they’d have told Ki’an’i’s muscles to fight for her life whether the rest of her was ready to or not. Now, however, those thoughts only felt like residual impulses within her mind which failed to stir her dilapidated physique into action… her once strong will shattered by prolonged misery and slavery. No, her salvation had to come from somewhere else. She’d have to think of a reason to spare her and think of it now!
“But Master,” she peeped, hating even as she spoke up how desperate and weak she sounded. “You haven’t turned my slut-hole into a real cock-glove yet!”
“That’s a joy that I will sadly have to live without,” Thomas spoke gravely with a note of the forlorn. “But that’s alright… I’ll make sure to find myself a new spongie cumdump in your honor to continue what you started.”
“But Master!” Ki’an’i protested desperately, her mind racing. “When you first started fucking me you said that my hole was only a cock-box and that you were going to turn it into a cock-glove! It’s almost ready, Master! My pussy is like a tunnel!” She took a quick breath before she continued her pitifully protesting. “And… and all my tattoos and brands! You promised to add more! The masterpiece is yet to come! You said so yourself! Please Master you have my entire backside and butt still to mark up!”
The bald-headed man’s tiny pupils swiftly took a glance down towards her well-raped pelvis, checking out that sperm-oozing and gaping-open cunt. Slowly, they then shifted so to inspect the many burned-in markings that he had so painstakingly etched onto her flesh. There were many hours of labor invested into Ki’an’i. He had finally taken a Sethis and transformed her into something he could find agreeable. It would be a shame to leave all that work undone. To end it after so many pyrographic treatises and Sethi cunt-stretchings would be a waste that he could never once more retain. She could see the thoughts writ plainly across his face. “No… it’s too dangerous,” he spoke, more to his own internal musings then to Ki’an’i.
The space-madness had finally made its lunacy known upon his psyche. That same compulsive obsession which had motivated Shale to rape Ki’an’i through years of interstellar journeying was now preventing him from seeing the situation through an objective lens. It had festered upon the sharpness of his mental faculties, making obviously bad choices seem more reasonable. Rape and body-disfigurement had been his life for the last three years and so now he valued them unduly. Remodeling Ki’an’i’s pussy into a cock-glove had been his one source of entertainment. Could he really throw it all away with a simple kill?
The brute’s strong hands felt like they belonged to a gorilla as he enclosed them around the Sethis’s throat. She felt the familiar squeeze as he cut off her air, strangling her. This time though, there was sturdiness enough in them to murder. He wasn’t so much looking to strangle her to death as he was intent on crushing her windpipe.
Squeezing her neck…
“Master, what about the collar?” she yelped, blurting out the idea the second it occurred to her, right before that airway was squeezed shut. “The… shock collar. The security collar!”
“Huh?” he grunted, eyes blinking as if he were stricken from some spellbound state. “What collar?”
“The one you used to electrocute this stupid plant whore with. Don’t you remember? You wanted fried mushroom so you shocked me so badly in hopes of making me smoke,” she replied.
Thomas Shale dismounted her recumbent figure. He traipsed back towards the cockpit and opened one of its lowermost drawers. The templar exhaled at having been given a few more seconds to live. “This thing?” he worded, pulling a slim metal collar from out of its confines. “Yes, I remember this. Not as satisfying as the smoldering iron. Electricity, unlike fire, doesn’t leave any lasting marks.”
Shale didn’t think much of it… but even looking at it terrified Ki’an’i because, unlike him, she understood it. The collar in question was a standard issue prisoner collar that came with naval security equipment… They were ubiquitous throughout the Space Armada for their ease of access and smart functionality. On a warship, the truth was that the most ships simply didn’t have space for a brig or the manpower to spare for guards, so these collars had been invented as a sort of portable prison for anyone who needed to be locked up during a long journey. They all came with a tiny remote, which one could tap to activate the incapacitating voltage.
As a former Security Officer, Ki’an’i was well-familiar with these devices. Thomas Shale though — for all his criminal activities — was not. Throughout their journey, he had occasionally made Ki’an’i don it so that he could torture her with its electrical shocks. He had even made Ki’an’i hold the device against her own pussy-mound as he pushed the activation button so that a lightning storm of electricity would tear through her labia. It had been so painful that the templar had flapped around on the floor like a stranded fish, the voltage so high as to incapacitate its wearer with blinding agony. Similar scenes had been repeated against both her breasts and her ass. In fact, wearing the device as a collar had soon become Shale’s least favorite way to use it. Eventually, however, he had grown disinterested in the collar in favor of the soldering-iron and old-fashioned rape. The device had been stored away and forgotten for months.
Because he didn’t understand what it could do.
“No… no,” Thomas Shale spoke aloud. “This doesn’t change anything. Too risky. The cock-glove could still speak. I’d have to monitor you all the time… not worth it.”
Ki’an’i blurted the damning words. “But Master, you don’t! The collar can be set to automatic.”
“Huh!?” Shale grunted, looking up with eyes round and beady.
“You can amplify its voltage. It can go really high, and… and… it has automated settings. It can monitor my nervous system, pulse, blood, and brain activity… monitoring for violent or rebellious impulses.” She could swear that she was sweating, even though she knew that she wasn’t… stupid brain. Almost as stupid as she was for giving him this idea. “To keep me in line… in case this dumb dirty shroom gets any stupid ideas! Think about it, Master! If I merely think of betraying you then this cock-glove will be fried senseless! Isn’t that great?” the Sethis woman said, trying to sound inane and vapid rather than desperately pleading the way she was. She needed to make Thomas Shale think that this was all about preserving his favorite cock-glove rather than saving her life… otherwise, the spiteful man would probably kill her just to show he could.
He looked down at the circular choker again, flopping it around left to right like a caveman who didn’t quite understand what he held in his hands. The reason as to why Shale had never discovered these alternative inputs himself during their three years in space was not strange. The way one tinkered with this device was inobvious by design… it was meant to look innocuous. All of these alternative modes were semi-secrets within the Federation’s security apparatus, known internally but never published publicly. As such, the vast majority of the populace never even knew the extent to which HEF military technology could be used to read a convict’s mental and emotional state, largely due to their extensive research on the Exalted process. The collar was a dangerous gadget, certainly not suited to be handled by the mentally unstable.
Which was exactly why Ki’an’i hadn’t ever mentioned any of these functions up until she had reached the limits of her desperation… but she certainly had now.
The brute’s mannerisms turned ponderous. With short, small steps he walked back towards the templar. Squatting, he held it out before her. “Show me,” he ordered. “And if it’s for prisoners, I assume there is a tamper-setting too, to prevent it from being taken off. Turn that on, too.”
He was going for it. Ki’an’i let out a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Even putting on the tamper lock wasn’t a problem for her. Now it would be possible for her to escape. It would hurt… it would hurt unbelievably badly to disobey… but she could. All she needed to do was say one thing while in range of security forces… then it wouldn’t matter that she would pass out before she got the words out. Just them seeing that she was wearing such a collar would give away the game. With one hand, Ki’an’i tinkered with the tiny levers and buttons, keying into it with her thumb print, turning on the scanning technology. “It’s enabled, sir.”
“Give me that,” he said, obviously intrigued. Shale grasped the collar again and checked the voltage level settings. “Put it on,” he commanded, and handed the item to Ki’an’i who fitted it around her slender neck without comment, swallowing sickly as he raised the remote and-
PZZZZZIIIII!” The device made a quiet, electrical sound, but Ki’an’i didn’t hear it… for her, the world had vanished in pain as the collar went to work. Every single nerve in her body seemed to fire at once, her agony complete. Normally, someone would do this once, just to incapacitate a prisoner before physically restraining them. Shale, however, held it down… just to watch Ki’an’i squirm. Her whole supine body went from dead-still to violently flapping about from the raging volts surging through her viscera. She shook so furiously that her limbs drummed against the floor and caused a metallic punching noise. Yet no matter how ghastly her figure wobbled about, Thomas would not take his thumb off that remote. Idly Ki’an’i understood… the criminal wanted to see exactly how much it could hurt her before he made up his mind.
“Hmm…” he mumbled and finally released the trigger. She gasped. Though the voltage ceased — Ki’an’i’s body kept on shaking, her limbs thrashing for long seconds. She was shaking about as if possessed by some ghost and undergoing an exorcist out of ancient Terran history. Her muscles were so tensed by the electrocution that she could not even scream. When the involuntary spasms finally died down, vapors steamed off her flesh and the stench of burnt flesh filled her nostrils.
“Interesting…” he added, continuing to be succinct. The ex-stowaway tapped the remote several more times just to make sure that the effect returned with the same amount of force. The templar began to spasm with electric shock, then lay still and reeking again, spasmed with electric shock, then still and reeking. This collar was intended to be handled with professional care but he was playing with it like a toy.
Whatever tortured noises managed to escape her throat in these brief interludes were strangled of all sound. This was way worse than any way Ki’an’i had ever had to incapacitate a criminal… the templar felt as if her cerebral cortex had been lit on fire, her brain cooking within its cranium. Only the knowledge that this might keep her alive kept her sane. “Not bad,” Thomas said as he pressed another button on the remote and said, clearly, “Release.” The collar opened to the sound of his command, and he grabbed it as it fell, looking at it with something like with curiosity as it opened the compartment Ki’an’i had adjusted earlier.
Ki’an’i panted on the floor, struggling to stay lucid. The knowledge of an unknown vessel nearby had broken even the mindless rut to which her torture had descended. She had to survive these last experiments. Then, to the Sethis woman’s horror, he opened up the casing and started looking at it, holding the soldering iron in one hand. “You know, I was working in engineering,” he said, peering at it. “Stupid electronics stuff, but I had to be able to fake it. And, most importantly, know enough not to electrocute myself.” He pointed, smiling. “I know what a safety inhibitor looks like…” He stabbed the part of the chip by the battery with the iron, acrid smoke singing Ki’an’i’s nose. “And how to get rid of one.”
Shale laid the collar on the floor and then, lifting the remote, tapped it once. PZZIIH! The collar made a snapping, buzzing sound and then jolted on its own like some tiny animal. An electrical sparkle accompanied the outburst which looked almost like the flash of a lasgun going on, a bright, violent conflagration. Ki’an’i stared at it, horrified. Without the limiter, there was no doubt that what she had just seen would be a lethal dose. “Hmmm…” Shale mused, trying out the collar again. “Hmm, but will this keep you in line?”
Ki’an’i swallowed. She wanted to vomit and run away screaming. Instead, she gave a shaky smile. “You see, Master? A real good buzz! You could kill a Void Tracer with that!” she said. “I won’t be able to disobey you.”
“Yeah… I bet you’re right,” he mumbled absentmindedly. Then he handed to to her. “Put it back on.”
If he intended to kill her with it, closing that collar around her neck was suicide… but if he wanted to kill her there were a hundred methods. She was worn down, malnourished, exhausted, beaten, and little but a cringing fucktoy at this point… the warrior who could have resisted him felt like she was long gone. Praying that she would survive, Ki’an’i closed the collar around her neck and silently prepared for the end.
It didn’t come. Instead, Shale smiled at her. “Now… to test that impulse-monitoring function that you mentioned,” he said aloud, pushing the tiny button to make the adjustment, lowering the shock to its lowest setting rather than the above-normal maximum. “But how to make sure that it actually works? Hmm…” Shale pondered. He gazed towards her, his feminine plaything. “You said that it activates during violent or rebellious impulses. Like the urge to kill, no doubt,” he commented. With this, Shale leaned over and grasped a handhold of Ki’an’i’s petal mane. He started jerking on her flower-like hair, pulling it upwards as if wanting to tug the petals out by the root. The pain was immeasurable and all-consuming. Ki’an’i screamed and went postal with the urge to escape from this clutch.
“Ouch!” Shale exclaimed as a quick zap stung his hand. He shook it around so to weed out the pain. The Sethi had taken most of the hit though and so suffered another body-shaking quiver.
“I guess it actually works!” Thomas Shale commented with a big dumb grin on his face. Ki’an’i whimpered, the excruciating sensations harrowing her nerves much slower to leave her body then it did his hand. “But…” he added and then craned his neck so to gaze back at the cockpit. “That other spaceship won’t be here until another two hours. I think we have time to test it more thoroughly…”
At this, the thug leaped at Ki’an’i like some wolf. Forced flat onto her back, he swiftly shuffled his hips up to her neck, pinning her head underneath his stinking balls and organ. The member seemed to have regained some vigor after its climactic fusillade inside her earlier… Already the shaft protruded stiffly with eagerness.
“We’re going to do some deep, thorough testing,” the loathsome man said. “This dick is going to make a home inside of your throat until I cum. But unlike what normally happens, you’re going to be the driving force,” he said, aligning his bulbous cockhead’s slanted piss-hole against the templar’s pouty lips. “You’re going to swallow this until I cum. Every time you swallow it all the way down… it doesn’t come back out. You’ll hold it there until you run out of air and pass out.” He grinned at her eagerly. “Don’t worry about falling unconscious; I’ll slap you back awake each time so you can continue… I promise.” He glared down at her. “If you can do this without once thinking about killing me or breaking free, well… then I guess I’ll believe that this little cock-glove has truly learned to appreciate her position as my slave.”
Ki’an’i was horrified. The feelings of despair flooded over her at the unfairness of it all and the immensities of her task. But as quick as she found the woe coming over her, she felt untold determination. She wanted to live. Lingering on her existential despair was a luxury that the ex-Security Officer did not have. There was only do, or do not, and die as a result.
Craning her neck up, the Sethi swallowed the human’s pulsating fleshy dong to penetrate down her airhole, pressing so far that her whole visage was contorted into a grimace. There was no point in trying to stay lucid, that was not the point. She just had to show that she could obey him like a robot, without any emotional turbulence. With primate dick spearing through her gullet, Ki’an’i fought for composure.
“Ahhhh!” Thomas groaned. “Maybe this was a bad idea! My prick is buried so deep inside you it might as well be wearing that collar itself! If your impulses go off, then my dick will get quite a zap! Of course, if that happens, I am going to kill you, little shroom-whore,” he jested, chuckling to himself, though for the impaled Sethis it was no laughing matter. This was not cock-sucking, but cock-strangulation. Fellatio was not the purpose – it was putting her through such extreme distress that there was no question of her submission. Providing pleasure in the normal sense was not the problem since this beast would eventually orgasm on sadism alone!
Ki’an’i groaned crassly, regurgitating spittle which ended up being smeared all over her strained countenance. The edges of her vision were beginning to become distorted, as if overlaid with black gauze… but she didn’t pull back. “Yeeaaah!” Thomas gruffly cheered as Ki’an’i’s eyes began to roll. With his dick sunken into her throat, he could feel those convulsing muscles go limp. Her craned-forward head gave way and dunked against the floor with a solid thud.
Ki’an’i, however, was only spared her merciful oblivion for a few moments. As promised, the sadistic man quickly brought her back to reality through violent smacks of her cheek. These caused the Sethis to awake suddenly with a great inhale of air, her eyes popping wide in their sockets as she gasped like someone resurrected. “What are you waiting for?” Shale spat as she continued heaving. Battling for mental tranquility, the green-skinned female once again downed his manhood. As it happened, Thomas kept looming lordly above her, delighted by the results his little experiments were creating. Not only was he getting to truly enjoy himself, but he was getting to stress-test this cock-glove he had been grooming for years.
A normal woman would have incredible trouble strangling herself to the point where all-consuming blackness overtook her senses… but unfortunately the ex-Security Officer was no normal woman. She had undergone the initiations of the templars, had spent years practicing meditation and the most esoteric martial arts. The Sethis woman had honed both mind and body to be in perfect concord, to have one obey the other… and now that ability could do nothing for her but bring her further disgrace. Tears ran down her eyes, but she forced herself to focus. She could do this. She could keep choking herself… she could stop herself from thinking about resistance, or self defense, or murder… She could – would! – survive!
Bringing herself to voluntary asphyxiation for a second time in a row was much more arduous than the first. The continuous tribulation sapped away at Ki’an’i’s mental discipline. She had to control all of the normal bodily impulses. One electrical discharge… and Shale would end her life. One retreating of her neck… and she would never see her husband again. “Grr—ggluuuggh!” Ki’an’i said, the single most dignified noise her abused throat could make.
Slowly, arduously, Ki’an’i felt the chains of mindfulness loosen their hold on her once more. She plummeted back into that pit of darkness. Again, however, the wrathful slaps of her jailer brought her to. And so they continued, the motions repeated over and over again. Ki’an’i was made to perform her cruel sexual service like some kind of broken automaton. Repressing both the urges to live and the urges to kill one’s enemy, she gulped Thomas’s thick cock until it had almost killed her, then she woke and did it again. It was the singular most mentally straining undertaking of her life… Not even the final trials of becoming a templar compared. Knowledge of a potential rescue added a fiendish dimension to her discipline, as the lure of hope threatened to unbalance her mentally. The risk of permanent damage to her sense of self was also high. Clinging to a personality that she recognized as her own proved as strenuous as not wanting to kill Shale or keep choking herself to the point of unconsciousness.
“Uuu-uuhhhaaaggg!” the bald-headed criminal finally grunted as his cock pulsed and ejaculated into Ki’an’i’s long-suctioning mouth. Grungy, sticky goo was fired into her, its slimy texture and base sexual conjugations an insult to what she had just lived through. Ki’an’i had nearly died just for his carnal bliss… Her life mattered that little to him.
The Sethis’s head dunked back down against the floor, drawing oxygen like a marathon runner. Shale, meanwhile, rose to both feet. “I guess you can behave yourself after all, fucktoy!” he exclaimed, showing no concern at all for the repeatedly asphyxiated woman.
Shale cranked the voltage up to its highest level and made it very plaintive that he had just done so. “There! Now remember! The next time you get angry or even think of escaping, this little device will blow your head off. So don’t go around having any stupid shroom thoughts! I’d hate to lose you after you’ve displayed what a loyal cock-glove you are! But I can’t believe that the stupid Federation invented these for criminals. Such a waste. We should have given one to every wife on the planet Earth instead!” he spoke with a note of triumph.
Ki’an’i felt almost hopeless, even getting what she wanted. “Does that… does that…” she panted. “Mean that you will bring your cock-glove onboard the new vessel, Master?” she questioned.
Thomas Shale grinned and somehow managed to look both sly and maniacal at the same time. “It certainly does, you spongy bitch. I suppose that I’ll get to save my artwork for prosperity after all,” he remarked.
Still arduously drawing her breaths, Ki’an’i struggled not to emote. She had achieved the first steps towards survival. Ironically, it entailed putting herself in a position where Thomas Shale could kill her at any time. The templar had to muster all of her mental faculties not to get enraged or suffer any emotional spasms at the thought… Any strong internal impulses could end up causing her death. Throughout this entire sidereal journey, the Sethis had been forced to act submissive and subservient towards her tormentor. Now, she didn’t only have to pretend not to be mad at him, she actually had to be perfectly placid and cool. It was a challenge she was not sure was feasible to begin with. Even though her time as a templar had involved extraneous meditation to achieve oneness with the Universe… Thomas Shale was such a despicable man that hatred was the only just response to his vileness.
Still. Rescue was on the way. Now, all she needed to hope for was that the vessel was Terran and not Kthid, and that this all hadn’t been for nothing.
It wasn’t a Kthid ship… but the identity of their rescuers proved nothing that either of them could have imagined.
The ship had pulled them against it, drawing it up against a docking port. They had needed to sit there, waiting in their tight-fitting one-piece Federation uniforms for the occasion and so looked nothing at all like the rapist and victim which had dominated their relationship since escaping the Midgar-6. The Sethi’s had the collar of her outfit pulled up so to hide the metal collar encircling her throat. They waited for nearly another full hour while the ship figured out how to dock, creating a seal before opening the airlock. It was enough that Shale was growing increasingly furious as it dragged on… but by the time it opened and they were both standing within the cargo-hold of the unknown vessel, both Thomas Shale and Ki’an’i the templar were slack-jawed at what they beheld.
“Well holy shit, will you look at that?” Shale said as he looked at a dozen aliens in front of them.
These creatures were not the Kthid… but neither were they like anything else Ki’an’i had ever seen. In fact, they were an extraterrestrial species never before beheld by telluric eyes. Ki’an’i’s eyes were wide and shocked as the sheer unlikeliness of this pressed down on her, stunned. Throughout all of mankind’s interstellar explorations, the only other sentient lifeform discovered had been the Sethis. Up until the Kthid had attacked, no other alien race had been known to all of humanity. Shale and Ki’an’i were now getting to make first contact with yet another alien race… as sailors set adrift upon the seas of the cosmos, they had now been picked up by a hitherto undreamed-of civilization.
The Xenos were located on the other end of the cargo hold at what was — at first — a respectable distance. These lifeforms didn’t appear to share their human counterparts’ dumbstruck awe but were still amazed at what they had discovered… but they were obviously armed, carrying a kind of rifle that was completely foreign to human designs but still unmistakable in function. They didn’t point them at the two castaways, however, and while they were cautious they didn’t seem aggressive. Though their cultural and biological behaviorism were unknowable to Terran senses, for some reason Ki’an’i immediately judged them more curious than hostile.
These newfound lifeforms could be best described as slender-figured, short humanoid bats. The very first thing about them which caught the attention of the eye was their cape-like wings and prodigious black ears. Each ear matched the size of their head in volume and caved inwards as if forming deep hollowed craters into their skulls, causing an immense proportional imbalance in comparison to human measurements. Their wings, however, hung limply down their sides and appeared not to be dirigible, resembling capes more than a bird’s wings. At the end of the darkened skin of their wings were talon-like hooks, five existing on each wing. Ki’an’i couldn’t be sure, but she didn’t think they could fly… more likely, they could glide over short distances, getting far more horizontal difference over their leaps.
The second thing which Ki’an’i noticed were the aliens’ long black tails, also topped by a single, flexible talon, like a small claw on its end. Unlike their wings, these were highly manipulable… the aliens swayed them around like a cat’s tail while they walked and moved around, but they also occasionally grabbed at objects or each other with them. The bat-like Xenos seemed to regard them more as a fifth prehensile limb, and while all those guarding them remained on the ground, elsewhere in the bay others hung from texture panels in the ceiling from the tail. Some even hung from the roof via them, akin to how a spider monkey would hang from its branches back on earth.
Males and females seemed intermingled without notable gender difference, and it was remarkable to Ki’an’i just how closely their facial features match those of humans… and from what she could see beneath the clothing, it didn’t appear to be all, either. The aliens wore bright, close-fitting clothing over their gray-beige skin, and their hair ranged from whitish to blue, red, and light purples. So alien, but so human at once.
“Don’t… move… a muscle,” Shale whispered, though the templar had no intention of doing so.
Outnumbered by a dozen of the creatures, the extraterrestrials on the ship had seemed to be waiting for something… but at last several of them tilted their heads at once, raising a hand to cup one ear. Ki’an’i instantly understood from familiarity alone, and was again struck by just how similar the technology could be… they were receiving word through a transmitter in their ear. Then the front group began approaching the two Terran newcomers. They moved in spurt-like motions, more like a lizard scurrying over a rock then the habitual human locomotion, often stopping for brief interludes only to then scurry forward again. They approached from all angles.
Once they had entered the pair’s personal space, the bat-aliens finally allowed their curiosity to go unbridled. They scrutinized every part of their bodies with utmost interest yet with the quickest of glances. One of those big-eared creatures could be looking at Shale’s shoes, then with a lightning-quick jerk of its head, redirect its eyes towards his hands instead, only to start looking at his bald cranium two seconds after. They appeared to have no way of prioritizing which part of the Sethis’s or the Human’s bodies they found the most important… the only thing that Ki’an’i noticed as uniform was that each and every one of them seemed fascinated by her flowers. Momentarily, Ki’an’i feared that they would spot her collar and wonder what this device was, perhaps even being bold enough to tug at it and thus potentially activating its killing shock. But these mysterious creatures acted as if not even realizing that there was anything special about her collar at all.
“Damn…” Shale whispered, antagonized at being surrounded and inspected like this. The aliens were thronging around them like some uncontacted tribe. His lips pursed thinly in strained self-control.
“Do they… do they even know that we’re intelligent?” Ki’an’i wondered aloud, likewise baffled by the visitants. For the briefest second, she even forgot that she had been a violated sex slave to this man for years, so overwhelmed by the strangeness was she that a familiar human – even a monstrous one – seemed a bit reassuring.
As they explored them, the aliens were communicating amongst themselves. These were quick-spoken, chittering noises, spoken rapidly, their tongue chattering faster than Ki’an’i thought she could match… It was unlike any language on Earth.
“Don’t these things speak English,” Shale said, annoyed. “Or at least have some way of translating like the Kthid?”
Ki’an’i tried very very very hard not to think disgusted or annoyed thoughts, knowing they could set off the collar. The Kthid had had time – and Miranda – to decipher the language and make a translation. This was the first time that these aliens were meeting Terrans, it seemed. “Apparently not,” the templar whispered… and as she did she thought she caught something out of the corner of her eye. She swiftly turned her head in its direction, towards an opening into this docking staging ground, but only caught a glimpse of someone moving, emerging from an opened doorway and walking swiftly through another. She beheld the creature for so little time that it was impossible to be sure but it didn’t look like one of the bat-like aliens… another feminine figure, green-tinted and covered in carapace or scales or something hard that glittered in the light.
Shale appeared not to notice. Ki’an’i allowed it to stay that way… she had no affirmative obligation to inform him, and she had no way of pointing it out or inspecting it further anyway. Committing to any drastic action was unwise while establishing first contact… though she and Shale seemed to stay more steadfast to that principle than the curious bat-aliens themselves.
Further chattering exchanges transpired between the big-eared xenos. While all previous communication had been rapid-quick, now it seemed like they were exchanging full paragraphs worth of information. They were discussing something between themselves… and if Ki’an’i judged correctly, with someone over their communicators as well. Ki’an’i continued to be so baffled it was as if she were existing within a dream, with no idea what specifics they could be discussing. At last, however, the new aliens stopped their discussion and turned their eyes towards Shale and the templar. Then, moving together, they parted way… opening a passage between them. One of the female aliens grasped her own wing and flailed it in the direction of an opened doorway. It was confusing for a second but after a moment Ki’an’i pegged the similarity… it was fairly similar to a human giving a “get over here” gesture.
“I think she wants us to follow her,” the templar whispered.
“Well of course she does,” Shale growled. Leading on, they both began to walk forward. Indeed, the winged alien moved when they did, heading further on, spearheading their march one step at a time. Two others of the number followed behind them, sealing off the escort from behind. Apparently, they were being welcomed.
She guided them into the interiors of the ship, frequently spinning to look back at them. “Tikanii,” the short-statured alien chirped back at them as she walked. Ki’an’i had no idea what that was supposed to mean, so she just kept on going. Illumination was dim within this ultramundane vessel, bright enough that she could see but dim enough that it was a constant strain on her eyes. Its walls were colored in dark greens and browns, mimicking the tones of a Terran jungle during nocturnal hours.
Shale walked with his chest puffed out. Making it past the cargo hold seemed to have restored the sadist’s confidence – He was now inquisitively casting his eyes towards every object they encountered as if trying to figure out its uses and turn it to his advantage, just like he had when the Kthid took over the Midgar-6. The resident aliens he seemed to regard with little fear or apprehension at all… Their apparent pacifism and obvious femininity of those directly around him caused them to be labeled as non-threatening in his predatory mind.
“Tikanii,” their guide chirped, putting her hand on her chest as they stopped before a closed doorway. She pushed a button using her tail and the door came sliding open. Within were amenities at least passingly familiar to Ki’an’i… Beds, tables, chairs, or at least something similar to them, something that they could use to be comfortable. This was someone’s quarters… their quarters! They were being offered respite.
Thomas Shale entered and looked around as if inspecting a hotel. Still apprehensive, Ki’an’i stalked his steps.
The alien’s tail tapped her on the shoulder. The templar turned around, dumbfounded. “Tikanii!” she repeated again, pointing a clawed thumb towards her own chest and smirking peppily. Ki’an’i did a double-take and looked stunned at the bat-eared alien. She was telling Ki’an’i her name! The bat-alien pointed a clawed finger at the Sethis woman, pointing, and at last, she understood.
“…Ki’an’i,” the templar whispered.
“Kianii!” the alien repeated back in an excited rush. “Tikanii, Kianii!” She smiled broadly. Then she hit the door button and stepped back, leaving Ki’an’i and Shale alone in their room on an alien ship.
2 thoughts on “Event Horizon Chapter 3 – The Prisoner”
I have to say, this isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It’s possible that you made me more worried than I needed to be when you said you wrote a sad thing with Stark (though that might not have been this particular scene), and it’s also possible that since Ki’an’i is basically at rock bottom here, there’s at least a sense that it can’t get any worse.
Of course, it could also be because *takes sip of soda*
At any rate, the bit with Stark was brief, a sort of segue to the interaction with Amara, but it was cute nonetheless, and I definitely found myself amused to hear this monastic warrior call her husband “a goober”.
In the shuttlecraft stuff, I noticed that Shale seemed to have become…almost less intelligent over three years; Ki’an’i does say something about space madness, for all intents and purposes, what sheer monotony does to the human mind.
God fucking damn it, Majorian…
Anyway that would explain why he gets smarter when she starts getting him to think about the collar, to problem solve.
Uh…yeah. I might argue that’s so much invasion of privacy that it’s not suited to be handled by anyone, but genie’s out of the bottle; just gotta deal with it now.
The Lealings are fun, rather cute in fact. Humanoid bats, with all the energy of small mammals, which makes for a nice behavioral contrast with all other species we’ve seen. I did wonder about the fact that all the ones we saw were female, as well as the other as-yet unnamed aliens. Assuming these are non-harvested species, one would expect to see a mixed-gender crew for the ship, and if that were true, it does seem somewhat significant that only women were sent to see the “aliens” they’d just picked up.
I do also find myself speculating about the ship itself. Humans have paragravity by way of the Lilis drive, so the ships are likely built like towers with down being toward the drive. The Kthid have the nanotech gravity thing, so one presumes their ships have an internal layout like wet navy ships a la Star Trek and Star Wars. The narration describes Ki’an’i and Shale going from their shuttle through an airlock and into a cargo hold, which has gravity, and from there down halls and such and to their quarters. Under normal circumstances I would presume this ship to be using centrifugal gravity, but the fact that there’s gravity in the cargo hold might mean otherwise. The entire ship could spin, of course, rather than having a dedicated habitation ring or drum, which would produce gravity in the cargo hold, but would mean they’d have to stop spinning to dock with the shuttle, and there is an hour-long delay before docking happens, so the ship may indeed have had to de-spin in that time period, and then spun up again while Ki’an’i and Shale were in the airlock.
Anyway, next chapter review tomorrow.
Addendum for anyone reading these reviews: there are in fact males in the welcoming party. The people responsible for the preceding review have been sacked.