<- Back to Index
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.
Thank you for reading! Me and my coauthor Darinost are gradually combining forces and blogs, so the joint comment section for our stories is currently located on discord! Come on in and let us know what you thought, we don’t bite.
Relative peace had turned to the vastness of space in the Set system as the two adversarial armadas drifted apart, both projected vanward by the raw power of their enormous engines. Eerie stillness had replaced the bedlam of their explosions, the battle set to continue at a later solar day. Corpses, shrapnel, and and bombed-out hulks were all that lay in the wake of their carnage, rent metal hovering in the weightlessness like misshapen asteroids as the Kthid armada had gathered around the wormhole, welcoming member after member after member of their fleet into the system. So far away from the system defenses, the invasion has entered another of the characteristic lulls of war in space.
For Sarcand and the other leaders, it means organization – the process of moving fleets into the proper spaces and preparing for the next step. For the engineers it meant repairs. For the doctors, sick-bay assessment of casualties. For most of the crew, however, they only had minimal duties without any fighting to do… it meant that, for the most part, they were at liberty.
And for the slaves aboard the Death of Hope, that meant suffering.
Amara crassly screamed at the sudden, piercing shriek of agony, her throat rippling along the obstruction lodged down it in a muffled scream. She didn’t suffer alone, however. “G-ggrraaahh!!” the Faliran Queen Thia wordlessly shrieked, a cry that Amara could feel more than hear through her own muffling… the feeling of their mutual anguish echoing together.
The source of their womanly woe was the same. Harvestmaster Sarcand was still punishing Amara, as part of his new mission to tame and reshape what spirit he had found in her, and he had never stopped doing exactly that to Thia. Normally, such punishments were reserved for the losers of his competition, but this time the punishment for failing his lofty standards was more specific, more targeted, and even more horrifying than usual. To show off his magnanimous power and to congratulate the warriors who had fought well, the Harvestmaster had elected to lend out his prized Heitera for common usage. His best-performing soldiers, those of the warrior or engineer castes who had earned the accolades of their commanders in the battle, would be given a special treat, the luxury of getting to experience what the top-quality slaves of the Harvestmaster really felt like on their shafts. It was, perhaps unfortunately, not their pussies that were being forced to endure the anguish of satiating the Kthid’s bestial desires, however… those holes were still reserved exclusively for Sarcand’s use, and those their soft, vulnerable womanhoods had instead been plugged shut with prodigious, shaft-ribbed dildos so girthy that the malformed the entire orifice. Amara didn’t know how Thia felt, but for herself she felt so stuffed full that it was like sitting on a telephone pole, her whole body stretched obscenely around something far too large and painful to be inside of her.
It made their assholes even tighter as they bore the burden of the soldier’s aggression.
The fallen Captain and the last Queen of the Faliran were pressed together, body to body while their rapists positioned themselves behind them, casually thrusting into their rears from behind. The great lizards were holding onto them by the elbows, yanking those limbs backward for leverage and stability. As they did this, the Kthid were hammering their crotches back and forth, moving in such a manner to turn their big dicks into weapons. They raped them almost without effort, simply enjoying their tight holes and pathetic noises while pressing them together with each thrust. Every plunge sent those scaly-green erections burrowing balls-deep into their rectums. They were venturing into the Human and the Falirian ass while they were unnaturally tight… and that was not even the uniquely painful part. These war-proven Kthid had been allowed to do whatever their fancies desired by Sarcand, and as such, they had subjected the slaves to some fairly insidious bondage.
The two Heitera were not just positioned body-to-body – their piercings had been removed and replaced, and now the two women were physically conjoined via piercings and restraints at sensitive intervals. Before the rape had begun, their nipples had been threaded through a pair of rings that both women shared, the skewering metal inside both of Thia’s and Amara’s teats. Their sensitive nipples were thus fastened together via the metal. Each time one of them was rocked or hurled in a particular direction, the resulting tug on the other woman’s tits caused them both immense amounts of pain. The rings were small – really only meant for a single woman, and the slightest movement was enough to mangle their breasts and bring them misery.
This wouldn’t have been that bad with the way they were being rammed together… except on each thrust there was also a yank on their arms, pulling them apart before they were pushed back together. Though the two women were restrained, the furious pumping of their caiman rapist facilitated many such desperate jolts. This ensured that during this sodomy the two female’s nipples were hotspots of agony. One second, Amara would lurch and so distort Thia’s breast. The next, the Falirian Queen would do the same and threatened to rip the Terran woman’s tits off her frame. No matter how thunderously the Space Dragons hammered into them from behind, threatening to break their pelvis bones via this outrageous tempo, that pain could never truly blot out the spikes of agony in their nipples… Amara was pretty sure she would have rather had someone press hot coals against them and keep them there. At least then the nerves would go dead eventually. Here, she had no such luxury. No matter how much it felt like they were going to tear her tits off, she didn’t think it would hurt any less if they did.
The piercing, however, was not even the most devilish torture being inflicted on them by the Kthid. A double-headed dildo – one that Amara unfortunately very much could identify as a replica of Sarcand’s own monstrous phallus – was sunken into both their mouths. This artificial cock jutted between them, partly clogging up those holes, rendering their screams inarticulate and tortured groans. The terrible pounding going on constantly caused its bulbous ends to stir and pummel against their gullets.
While this was happening, some kind of restrictive, compressing band had been looped around the two Heitera’s heads, conjoining them in its restrictive grip. The purpose of this instrument was to prevent one woman from dislodging herself from the dildo without simultaneously impaling the other woman on its opposite end. It was a simple mechanic, fiendish in its simple cruelty. One could not breathe without forcing the other to suffer. If one of the two of them wanted to feel her throat unstuffed during this hellacious sodomy, or merely draw a full breath to refill her burning lungs, then she needed to hurt her counterpart. All this added an element of cruel competition to their interspecies foursome. The two women were being compelled the duel each other even now, pitted one against the other in a struggle for breath and glottal comfort.
“These two should be grateful the Harvestmaster values them still,” one of those hard-thrusting caiman’s exclaimed while using Amara’s tight rear as an impact pillow for his groin. “Were this cock any bigger, one of these bitches would probably strangle on it.”
“Bah! Woman are fit to die only in childbirth!” his counterpart vehemently countered, who slammed into Princess Thia’s posterior with equal vigor and poise. “Such is the creed of the Dark Star! One day the Dark Star takes us all. Until then, it is the duty of these seeded sluts to keep the genes of the strong immortal until the time when its unlight swallows the universe whole.”
Even in her present state, Amara took note of that rant. The Kthid had a strange relationship with the Dark Star. Most swore by it, but they didn’t seem to really believe in it, worship it, or pray to it. The strange Kthid on Maldoror who had guided her… they called him a Priest… had been an exception. There had been a fanatic edge to his misogynistic cruelty, something more… dedicated… than even the persistent, consuming hatred and objectification she suffered under daily. Seeing women as prizes to be conquered ran to the very root of their culture, but for many, it was just… the way things were. No for this one. This Kthid, like the priest, was just such a religious fanatic, and having proclaimed his hateful doctrine, he stared down at the hole he was fucking, finding himself irked that he was violating the insectoid-alien Queen’s asshole instead of her life-giving twat.
“Once we conquer Earth, the Death of Hope will be drowning in enough free pussy to satisfy us both!” his amused comrade replied. “The Sunbreakers nor Lord Sarcand will not care about losing a few excess slaves when there are so many to go around nor will they be judicial about which Kthid knocks up which womb. It will be a frenzy! We will get to impregnate an entire world! All of us will sow dozens of scions… It will be a conquest to our heart’s desire! It will be glorious!”
The other hard-fucking Kthid leered so broadly that rows of sharp reptilian teeth became visible across his snouted visage. “Yes! Glory to the Dark Star! Glory to Sarcand and the Kthid!” he intoned, the rape lust only intensifying within his loins.
“Nnniigghh!” Amara voiced, her scream muffled by that dildo.
“Grrggh!-Ggguh!-Uuugghhfw!” Princess Thia likewise groaned, also struggling with that blocking artificial manhood.
“You bitches aren’t getting enough air!?” the first mocked.
“Hey! Check who’s winning!” the other, religious Kthid injected.
His pair, the other malachite-scaled giant, leaned to the side while fucking so to get a sidewards glance off the action. His diminutive eyes narrowed with recognition of something that he did not like. “…Neither. They’re just about even. Right in the middle,” he growled.
“Ha! Wrestling in neutral, are they?” the fanatical one responded, his frame much stockier and broad than his gigantic counterpart. “And here I thought this human was the weak one.”
If they only knew. Amara strained to keep her head unmoving, her neck still. The strain of it was, in its own way, nearly as painful as what the violent aliens were doing to her body but she did it anyway.
There could be no question to either of them about the fact that both Amara and Thia suffered greatly during this rectal rapine. Amara’s visage was sweat-drenched and darkened, her face woefully contorted into a mask of pain from the violation she was enduring. Thia’s sweat glands worked rather differently, and her skin was much drier in comparison, but her face was still a rictus of agony. The intermittent carapace her body possessed, ripped and torn and broken by the Kthid, offered her no genuine protection from this savage fuck. As such, both the Heitera were in a headlong torrent of blinding hurt. But even so, something was still amiss. Their desperation to survive the Kthid’s fiendish scenario was… different from usual.
The dildo went back and forth slightly between their mouths, the balance of it seesawing between the two women. It would push a centimeter or two into Thia’s mouth before being forced out of her tight throat, those vacated centimeters then ending up inside Amara’s gorge. Amara would promptly eject it out just as quickly, shallowly pushing its way into Thia in turn. These motions were then repeated perpetually. Instead of fighting to liberate their throats as much as possible from that manhood, both of the sex thralls were actually working to keep their heads as still as possible, actively working not to disturb the shallow equilibrium.
They were not as comfortable as they could have been if they acted selfishly, but by not struggling against their band, they were constantly at a medium level of pain… they were both in pain but nowhere near the kind of distress one of them would have been in if they fought over it. Instead, they shared their burdens equally.
“I… think… They’re working together!” the onlooking Kthid snarled.
“What?” his stocky counterpart exclaimed.
“Instead of getting into our little tug-of-war, seems like these two bitches are keeping it shallow,” he explained.
“Unlikely,” the zealot responded. “I’ve seen these two fight. They hate each other.”
“Then they are both incompetent,” the other insisted. “Seems to me they are trying to assist one another.”
“Ha!” he came back, his cock seemed to grow as he considered the situation. “Then it appears that this invasion is coming just in time. Lord Sarcand appears to have lost himself two Heitera! The Harvestmaster will have to plunder himself a new favorite or two out of the ruins of Earth.”
Amara understood what they were talking about. The most common forms of death for a slave were either bodily failure, some form of dying giving birth; or various death of despair. Eventually, most women just… gave up. They started submitting to the path of least resistance, instead of selfishly fighting for their own benefit. It was one of the most obvious signs that the spirit to live had gone out of them. If they had truly stopped fighting, they assumed that neither of them would last long.
Their response was on point with the savagery of Kthid culture. Instead of being angered at their teamwork, the two warriors merely saw it as a sign of their encroaching weakness. For them, life was a selfish fight for continued existence. They could not even fathom another reason for cooperation in a situation like this except the deadening of their spirits. If a woman was truly worthy of a warrior like Sarcand then she would crank her head backward as much as possible, choking the other woman to perdition while allowing herself to breathe. They didn’t see the truth behind it.
Unfortunately, even though they didn’t recognize it as anything but weakness, this little stratagem was still ruining their fun. As one, the two Kthid placed their gigantic hands on the back of the sex slaves’ skulls. Leveraging bulging muscles, the two naked warriors began pushing both vanward. Crass, strangulating sounds emanated from their throats as the pair were forced to swallow more of that artificial cock. The noise was distressed and inhumane, more like a machine that had some of its gears clogged than anything that sounded producible by living beings.
“Fine then, incompetent or weak, now you’ll both suffocate!” the religious Kthid said with raw sadistic glee tinting his voice.
“This is the power the Dark Star holds over your lives. They are ours to enjoy or to end. Your existence ends whenever we like, not whenever you are ready for it to be over,” the other said, his ambitions to ravage and ruin, maim and murder titillatingly stimulated by watching both gagging on thick cock in tandem. The two women’s lips meet in the middle, crudely mashed together by their shoving rapists. They were joined as if in a longwinded, grinding, bruising kiss, their countenances were ignobly malformed, and their miens were more lines and contortions than faces. Their eyes alternated between squinting so hard that a pupil was barely discernable and bulging open so that it looked like the entire eyeball was going to pop out… staring into one another with desperation as they choked. They were two women at their limits. And all the while, the savage malachite behemoths kept delivering hammering thunderblows into their assholes.
“Maybe this will reignite their will to live!” the Kthid thumping into Amara yelled. “Sarcand should bless us for that.”
“Unlikely. The Dark Star does not save those whom are already past the threshold,” his counterpart answered. The Kthid’s fuck-lust was always at its most murderous right after a battle. Sex was not just erogenous satisfaction for them… it was about avenging the fallen, to enact the supremacy of the Kthid over another. As such, the two green-scaled monsters drove themselves at the maximum capacity of their muscles. They lurched, punted, jerked, anything to send their armor-hard pelvises crashing as ferociously as possible into the woman’s comparatively soft and yielding flesh. This punched their enormous cocks through their tight rectums with a noisome thud every time. The Kthid caused collision after collision with the singular goal of pummeling the Human and the Faliran’s sphincters until that orifice was hollowed-out and ruined.
During such a ferocious attack, their hardened shafts oftentimes stroked or bumped against the girthy, scale-ribbed dildos buried inside the Heitera’s womanhoods. The thin membrane of flesh separating those two orifices seemed as thin as a sheet of paper, and it did absolutely nothing to stop it from feeling like they were rubbing right against one another until she felt like she was burning on the inside. The knocks of true and false cock together crashed caused far more pain and damage to the females than the Kthid alone could, even with their iron-hard cocks – seemed like both of their holes might burst, not just one.
“Ggg-guh…!” Amara croaked, unable to fully articulate her woe.
“Ii-gggrruuhh…” Princess Thia likewise choked out.
These Kthid didn’t see them as people. Sarcand, for all of his evil, at least saw them as… something. Something prized, almost. Valued for their capabilities, for the things he wanted to make of them. Many of the other Kthid Amara knew saw women as simple livestock, a resource to be bred… an enjoyable resource perhaps, but still a resource. Right now, she wasn’t even that. For these soldiers, this was a reward for their martial excellence. They weren’t possessions or prizes. They were bottles of cheap wine being passed around to celebrate. As women, they had been reduced to pain bodies, and nothing more.
The humping Kthid were like machines, able to fire off body-ruining slams with as if their hips were driven by pistons. Driven hot-blooded by the ferocity of the battle and their obsession with racial conquest, they went above and beyond even the normal levels of belligerence that characterized the Kthid. The two Heitera were simply bludgeoned with friction that was unbearable to their ravaged hole, and neither could even complain, much less do anything to stop their misery. Now, both had to extend virtually all their bodily capacity into ingesting enough oxygen to just survive. Amara would have thought that being smashed together like this would at least take the strain off her nipples, but in this she was dismally disappointed… the hard, unstable use still forced their bodies to jerk around irregularly, and even while their bodies were held largely immobile their swinging breasts were not. The force of the fucking distorted the natural shape of their pendulous breasts and turned their ringed-together nipples into burning cinders of agony.
“Uuuuhhh!” one of them thrilled. “I have to admit. They might be weakened and dying, but their holes are still delightful. Lord Sarcand certainly can pick excellence. I will kill a thousand humans in the name of Sarcand’s glory for allowing me to screw this one’s precious rear, and I’ll kill a thousand more to have one of my own this good!” the gigantic Kthid hollered, his crocodile-like visage strained with near-eruption.
“Agreed!” the other, fanatical lunatic responded with a hissing breath between his teeth. “The humans will be as worthy a slave race the second time as they were the first. Hail to Sarcand! Hail to the conquest of Earth!” the other fanatically responded.
“Giiiuuuuhhhhh!” the victims of their wrath thundered as best as they could manage. Then, having humped uninterrupted for so long, both at last buried their peckers with one final brutal thrust into those tortured rectums and unleashed themselves. An enormous, twitching spasm erupted through their cocks as their emptied in a pleasured paroxysm, spewing out gooey fluids into those deepest depths. The outflow was as chaotic as it was bountiful, white-hot semen sluicing through Amara and Thia’s intestines as proof of conquests.
“For the Dark Star!” one shouted as he filled Thia’s fucked asshole up to the brim with Kthid DNA. That anally-stolen orgasm was clearly nearly as satisfying to the monster as blasting jets of steaming-hot jizz right into their unprotected wombs would have been.
The dildo-choked, nipple-yanked Heiteras were totally undone. If might meant power, then there was no doubt whatsoever about the victor. Mettlesome Kthid muscle and violence had triumphed over their enslaved, bound forms. Through wilting sodomy, they had proved who was the superior species to their satisfaction, and their victory enthroned. Amara and the insectoid Queen were scarcely panting wrecks, fucked submissive and limp in their inability to resist any longer. At the moment, in a moment of exhausted weakness. Amara felt that her body was simply not strong enough to exist freely within the same Universe as that of the Kthid. Their willpower and their physical bodies had been subsumed to the service of the scions of the Dark Star.
Everything about their postures and exhaustion and grimaces hinted at their defeat… everything from the blood dripping from their stretched and torn nipples to the way they panted and sobbed as tears ran down their faces and how they felt too weak to even rise… But in the deepest recesses of their mind, it wasn’t so. Tired, Amara met Thia’s eyes… and within that gaze hid hints of brightness that no mere physical damage could undo. Bodily maiming had not extinguished it. Throughout the rectal rape, the barbaric malachite monsters had not been able to see it quenched. Even as the darkness of unconsciousness gripped them both, it still remained.
Two Weeks Ago.
“I think we might have gotten off on the wrong foot,” the Thia said, her arms crossed over her chest, a tiny, ironic smile on her face. “We need to talk.”
Amara felt utterly exhausted, battered, bruised, and too tired to move. It made thinking hard, but she had to force her brain into gear. Thia… she hadn’t been expecting this. The woman had tried to kill her half a dozen times, and maim her dozens of times more in brutal competition, and throughout it, the only emotion she had detected from the alien matriarch was a kind of fatalistic, cruel determination. The look of her face now, however, looked even more alien than her other features did to Amara. She looked… amused. Maybe even chagrined.
The human Captain swallowed, trying to wet her dry throat. “Alright then,” Amara said, uncertain. “Talk.”
“You did this,” Thia said. Her tone made it obvious it wasn’t a question. “This attack. This ambush. It was your doing.”
There didn’t seem like many points in denying it. “Yes,” Amara agreed with her.
Behind her, Nameless chuckled. “Told you she wasn’t her sister,” the Arane said, one of her many hands brushing her hair out of her face while the other 5 were flat against the wall behind her.
“That bastard’s sweep of your crew wasn’t as thorough as he thought it was,” the Faliran Queen said matter-of-factly. Her voice showed… appreciation. “You knew some got away. Arranged it. And you kept it secret for years. Deception is not something my people are well-practiced at. Then again, the Kthid are, and you deceived our slaver just the same.” She looked up, and Amara realized for the first time that her eyes were not round… they were faceted thousands of times like an impossibly well-cut gem, and they glittered in the light as Thia looked at her… and smiled. “That was well done.”
The simple words, spoken honestly and simply, had a surprisingly heavy impact. It wasn’t about approval or anything as relatively minor as that. It was like a sudden relaxation of tension, like a weight abruptly came off her chest. “My sister would have done the same.”
Thia looked doubtful. “If you say so,” the Faliran Queen said, her tone not quite disagreeing. Her words, when she spoke next, were slow. “Still. I… owe you an apology. I was not as careful as I perhaps should have been. I let my fear for my people control my judgment.”
“You have to realize your deception had consequences,” Nameless chimed in. She had a smile on her face that looked one step away from outright laughter… it showed the little fangs in her mouth. “No talking of home, or friends. No inquiring after your crew, or family. No sign you were anything but one more tamed slave of the Kthid. It did not mark you as something that could be trusted with secret… and as you clearly know, secrets are the only real weapon we have against the Kthid.”
Well. If it was all going to be out in the open… “We are being watched, are we not?” Amara said quietly.
“Yes and no,” Nameless answered. “Of course, they can observe us, but to intrude on the prize Heitera of Harvestmaster Sarcand, after what just happened? The challenge you laid bare against him?” She snorted, a dainty sound from the Arane. “No one would dare. It would be an insult. Surveilling everything has its price… there’s too much footage for any thousand Kthid to pour through in a lifetime, and every flag has to be followed up on by Kthid warriors. We’ve been testing the system for the last several years. As long as we don’t do anything overtly aggressive, or enter a sensitive area, anything we say will be marked as low priority. And with a war on…”
Thia nodded. “They’ll get to it eventually. Probably. But it will be months. This will all be over before then, one way or the other.”
Amara nodded. That made sense and worked with what she knew of security the way humans did it. Automation was all well and good, but no one would trust machine intelligence to correctly identify if a given event was a genuine concern or not. They almost had to be fairly lax in what they flagged as drawing immediate attention from security – if they didn’t, they would be buried in red flags. More important, however, was what the two of them had just said. If they had been testing what flagged the surveillance systems for years, then they planned to exploit that. And Thia said this was going to be over before it mattered, so…
“Not the only weapons, then,” Amara said quietly. Despite her exhaustion, she felt her body almost shaking with excitement as her adrenaline pumped. “There are the ones you’ve been smuggling.
Nameless grinned. “True,” she said, looking over at Thia. “They won’t be enough to put up much of a fight, but they don’t need to be. Just need to make a mess and buy a little time.” Her fingers from many hands drummed against the wall, a rippling staccato as more than a dozen fingers impacted in rapid succession.
Thia looked over at the Arane. “You sure?”
Nameless nodded. “She’s as much their enemy as you. And besides, we’ve said too much for second thoughts already. If she meant to betray us, all she would have had to do weeks ago was… nothing.”
“I hate plots,” Thia said sourly. Then she squared her shoulders and her eyes glittered with furious determination as she looked back at Amara. “I made a mistake before, human,” she said firmly. “I’ll not make a second one. You’re in. We need the aid.”
“What am I in?” Amara whispered.
Nameless grinned. “She’s getting out of here,” the Arane said with obvious pleasure. “And you’re coming with her.”
Amara woke part of the way up as she was dragged across the ground, but the world felt like it was spinning. It wasn’t… she knew that. There wasn’t really even any gravity here to fool her inner ear into that. Her brain was just so scrambled it was clinging to anything she knew as her semi-lidded eyes stared out at the world, numbly observing it, her brain too dormant to register much in the way of thoughts or feelings. The Earthling woman was lifted upwards by several hands and then placed down on some area much softer than the floor of the Death of Hope.
There was a smell of antiseptic, and Amara felt a flash of panic. Avoiding the Vets, the Kthid doctors that treated slaves and repaired them to the point they would stay fun to rape, was always a priority. Their methods were not gentle, and Amara had seen dozens of amputations and replacements with printed prosthetics to treat such minor injuries as a few cuts. She wanted to struggle up, to protest that she was fine and did not need any such attention, but hands held her down… gently, she noticed. Far softer hands than the scaled claws of the Kthid. Those hands were curative, and many… roaming over her, addressing her numerous bruises and wounds one at a time.
Amara wanted to force her eyes open. She wanted to speak. She was just too tired, though.
Unable to gather up the will to communicate with her rescuers, the former Captain of the Midgar-6 dozed back into unconsciousness.
It seemed strange that she could have been able to acclimatize herself to such horrific sufferings. But by now Amara knew how to deal with the brutality of what they did. She knew when to lay perfectly still and restive, to recuperate as much as she could. It was the instincts of survival, finely tuned at this point… she knew when to not fight the darkness, but instead floated within it, allowing its numbness to be the most comfortable mattress a slave could expect as she lay there attended by unknown hands.
She wasn’t sure how long had passed before, like the flipping of a light switch, alertness suddenly returned to Amara’s drifting mind. She gazed about, recognizing the hexagonal patterns that graced the walls and ceilings of a slave’s room… the inactive screens that had so long been used to torment her. With the screens off, and no furnishing, there was an anonymity to the look that made it difficult to tell if she was in her quarters or someone else’s… but the person standing above her and applying healing ointments to her battered flesh told her everything she needed to know. It was a Faliran drone.
The Terran slowly turned her head to the side. Besides her, on the bed, lay Thia. The Faliran royal was in even worse shape than she was, and several drones were attending to her in perfect quietude. Alongside numerous bruises and hematomas there were cracks to her carapace that needed healing, where the Kthid had broken it or ripped parts of it off her to expose vulnerable flesh beneath. How tall and lanky she was could make her look graceful when she walked… now, bruised and strong out on the bed, it just left her looking frail and vulnerable, like a twig that had been stepped on until it cracked in several places. It seemed to Amara that that twig was being bent straight again, but only splinters were holding the whole figure together.
Most of a century as Sarcand’s slave.
Amara groaned. The Faliran was having her attended too, sparing aid of her own volition. This touch… when was the last time she had been touched with kindness? It seemed like a lifetime ago, and suddenly she wanted it more than anything. Her numb asshole and badly chaffed throat made the ex-Captain want to retreat back into slumber, but some deeper purpose was now animating her. Slowly, agonizingly… and to the protestations of the drone attending her… Amara Black slowly forced herself to turn over. It was immediately apparent to her protesting body that it did not want to move, but she forced it to anyway until she faced the prone Princess. The gathering of healers parted so to let her closer, let their bodies rest… this, as much as anything, told her how her situation with the Faliran had changed, that the drones allowed Amara to approach their Queen even while she was at her weakest.
Princess Thia managed to open one weak eyelid, the other seemingly too tired or too hurt to be able to open. Then, slowly, she closed her eye again in relaxation.
The two tortured souls didn’t speak a word to each other. Talking seemed like far too much effort. Instead, Captain Amara resolved to lay herself down next to her… one hand pressed against the Faliran woman’s skin. Even while semi-dazed, the two women managed to nestle themselves body-to-body in what was almost a wholesome facsimile of the position that they had been violated in. Touching someone who didn’t want to hurt her. Feeling the warmth of a body as a comfort rather than a trauma. Amara took a deep breath and tried to let herself relax beneath the hands on her body, bandaging her, putting ointment on her skin. Caring for her.
This, more than anything, was their rebellion against the Kthid hegemony. Care. Simple interpersonal decency, regardless. The trauma of their predicament cast a long shadow… but if they could make sure it did not stop them from showing each other care? That was a victory. While the Kthid showed them nothing but hurt, torment, and hatred, they could do the opposite. That was Thia’s secret in truth, Amara realized… the reason the Hive Mind made her so near to unbreakable. So long as she could care about someone else, and see them through perdition, she could not lose herself entirely.
Every single part of Amara’s body hurt… and yet, this was the safest and calmest that she had felt in years.
Content, she let her battered body rest, drifting back towards sleep under the roaming hands of the drones. Princess Thia and Amara had been tortured and raped by the Kthid as one. Now, they would heal and recover as one as well. This was the tiny brightness that could keep her going now. Before, she had survived with determination, a need to hold her secret against the Kthid… but that had been a grim thing, a solitary and untrusting pursuit. It had worked, but it had left her life bleak and empty, and it hadn’t provided any hope for the future. This… this felt like hope. A hope she could not allow Sarcand to quench.
Thomas Shale’s insults stormed in front of Ki’an’i’s visage. They seemed to have taken material form, flurrying before her eyes like a flock full of black-winged crows, scratching and pecking against her face. Every cry of “Shroom!” or “Bitch!” or “Swampie!” hurt. It was as if she saw the world like an energetic, fragment prism, the colors all blended together, its brightness and shadows intensified to a disorienting degree like she was wandering deep in the depths of hallucinogens.
She turned and twisted her face, trying to get away from the hailstorm, but the hatred was embedded upon her vision like a veil. No matter how she moved or scrambled the torturous agony remained. It seemed to break out into bleeding lacerations, her face hacked into cuts and pieces, the stream of hot blood pulsating against her skin. The Sethis woman cried openly, scrambling away from the pain wherever she could. Emotive tears streamed down her face so that they mixed with the blood and caused a runny, watery admixture. She cried because of the pain and shame that dogged her soul across this hellscape, her master’s anger and disgust and desire to destroy her.
And he hadn’t even started raping her yet.
Shale’s phantom emerged above her. A sadistic glee was evident upon his mad-grinning, mad-eyed, bald-headed visage. In this ethereal form he seemed all-powerful. This man with the heart of a hyena was upon her with such swiftness and wrath that the flock full of crows seemed like stinging insects in comparison.
“NOOOO!” she screamed as her arms, once so strong, strained against the paunchy criminal’s weight as she tried to power lift him off of her. She felt so feeble against him.
“Hahahaha!” Shale laughed, his voice a cruel cackle. “Stupid Shroom! Don’t you know that you love me?” He sneered at her. “At least, you better… Otherwise, your collar goes… BOOM!”
The way he said it made Ki’an’i fear that the device had activated. She reached for her collar with an expression of absolute fright and found its enslaving metal still encircling her throat like the rope of a garroter. Her neck veins throbbed against that collar so vigorously that it seemed like any pulse could set it off. She was decked out with a lethal cage and it was tuned into all her hatred and will to resist him.
“Stark…” she whispered, eyes wide with terror, her bright irises bloodshot and rheumy. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry! Get me off of it! I don’t want it to explode! I don’t want to die!”
Shale maniacally cackled, laughing at her very will to survive, laughing at her because she was nothing but a green, subhuman fucktoy bitch for him. “Is this the best you can be? C’mon! I thought you Templar could take anything? Aren’t you not supposed to fear death? I guess a whore will always be nothing but a whore.” He sneered down at her. “You should be afraid, Shroom… because I am going to fucking kill you. One of these days, you will break. I am going to keep torturing and raping you until your mind snaps, and you can’t keep it together anymore, and that collar fries you like the worthless hunk of meat you are!”
Ki’an’i was cast headlong into a tunnel of despair and woe. It was some bottomless pit from whence she could never escape, a blackness all around her, every shadow hiding another avenue for Shale to inflict his delusional hatred upon her. The thought that this condition was endless drove her to a fit of madness. As her terror rose to a boiling pitch with only intensified her nightmares, she did her pulsing assuredness that that collar was about to kill her any second.
“Goodbye, Shroom!” Thomas Shale said, seizing one of her legs and then breaking it in twine by the knee, the cracking sound like that of a carrot snapping.
“Giiiiaaaaahhhh!” Ki’an’i thundered, her mouth a chasm bellowing her pain.
“I can assure you that you won’t be surviving this time!” he promised, his cock suddenly materializing in her minds eye, jutting towards her. She felt its heaviness as it pushed against her soft green quim. It was true. She would not survive this. Her mind didn’t feel like it could take any more… that years like this had strained her to the breaking point, and that she had asked as much of her will as it could take on. It was little but crumpled tissue paper at this point, and Shale was about to pour water on it. This would be the day that Ki’an’i died.
“I can hear your collar beeping, bitch!” Thomas snarled. “It’s warning you! If you don’t love me then it’s going to blow!”
“I HATE YOU!” she screeched so hard that her lungs hurt. Ki’an’i was reacting as if she could scream away this nightmare. But that would not drive away her devil. Thomas Shale was here and he was going to torment her until the end of her life. “You bastard!”
“Hahaahaha! You’ve survived this long, but now you’re going to die, bitch! You hear that? Die!” he bellowed like some maniacal clown. “Here’s my cock, bitch! The fact you can make this feel good is the only reason you exist. This cock is your god, primitive, subhuman slut… and If you don’t truly love it, then what good are you? Death is mercy!”
She felt him prime to slam in. Ki’an’i desperately tried convincing herself that she loved him, that she was an obedient whorish little Shroom whore, and that Master Thomas Shale was her life. But no matter how instantly she thought the thoughts or how ferociously she shook her skull, the conviction would not appear within her soul. She was tired of pretending. She couldn’t do it anymore. This was the end. She would not be able to trick herself into avoiding the pain and hatred any longer.
“Gonna tromp myself another Shroom!” Shale yelled and tackled his hips forward. That bulbous cockhead smashed against her vulva and forced itself inside, penetrating all the way into her womb. Suddenly, that most sensitive part of her biology was a nexus of hurt, transformed into the source of her misery once again… but far, far worse. It was as if all the soreness and excruciation she had experienced as his slave materialized within an instant therein.
“Niiiiaaahhhh!” Ki’an’i shrieked as the death urge overtook her. Thomas Shale’s big brutish cock was the body part of him that she hated the worst. Now that thing had lanced her very spirit to live,
Ki’an’i felt her collar commence a high-pitched beeping. She knew that this was the end. But it was not this incessant sound which was the last noise to ring inside her ears. It was the demeaning, scornful cackle of one Thomas Shale. Even in her moment of passing over into the realm of the dead, that sadistic human’s cruel hatred and miserable existence harried her soul. She felt it as the collar fired. She felt it as her body jerked and spasmed and smoke began to rise from her skin. As Ki’an’i was no more, Thomas Shale kept on laughing. It was as if even in death his laughter would harrow her into the afterlife and be-
Ki’an’i awoke screaming into a sterile, white-lit room.
Immediately, panic racing, she locked down on herself. Her mental conditioning felt frail indeed, strained like creaking, heated steel, but she forced it into place. Her scream broke off with a ragged gurgle… The reel of her nightmare had ended, but its traumatic memories lingered upon her dawning awareness as she woke. They were slow to fade… holding on to the grey matter of her brain like demons who refused to be banished. The ex-Security Officer took too long to realize that she even lay within a hospital room. Besides her, some medical apparatus beeped steadily as it monitored her vitals. It sounded very much like the beeping of her collar whence it had gone off. Only the sound was more steady, quiet, and calm. It still sent spikes of panic through Ki’an’i, battering at the wall of her bruised psyche.
Then, just as she was starting to get herself under control, she realized that she felt odd. That something as familiar as a second skin was gone. Whimpering, she reached her hands up to her neck.
The collar wasn’t there.
Panic shot through her like lightning. Ki’an’i grabbed and fisted towards her own jugular as if expecting to find it with ever fresh reach, searching for its metal like a drowning person would search for the shore. That collar was tamper-proof. If it had been damaged, it was going to kill her, and then all of this was for nothing. If she didn’t find it, then it was going to-
“Kiani! Kiani stop!” a familiar, high-pitched called one. Hands were on her a moment later. “You’re safe!” a familiar, squeakish voice called out. Soon after, Tikanii was upon her. The Lealing seized onto both of her forearms, stopping her from thrashing. “Calm! Calm, Kiani!”
The Templar would not relent, however. Frantic, feeling like she was struggling for her life, she strained against the other woman. “The collar… you… you can’t touch it!” she protested. Even as exhausted and weak as she was, she was easily a match for Tikanii’s strength.
“It’s gone, Kiani. We look closer at when you sleep! Remove it. Calm!” she hurriedly replied.
“What! No! If you do that then it’s going to-” Ki’an’i frantically replied before realizing what she was saying. “…go off,” she concluded, in a suddenly mollified tone as her brain caught up with years and years of conditioned response.
The collar was off her.
And Ki’an’i wasn’t dead.
“Look!” Tikanii urged, pointing with her prehensile tail as Ki’an’i slowly stopped her struggle. “Right there.” The tail pointed at the table near the bed. Numb-minded, the Sethis woman gazed in its direction. Laying atop that table was her prisoner collar, unstrapped, and uncharred by a lethal discharge. Several of its panels were off, and a few tiny tools rested on the table with it… pincers, screwdrivers, clamps, and other instruments that looked quite similar to human equivalents.
Ki’an’i’s panic receded but was not replaced with calm, but confusion. Her eyebrows furrowed in quizzical arches. Disarming and disengaging a HEF-issued prisoner collar was designed to be nearly impossible – otherwise, it wouldn’t be very useful as a form of house arrest. It wasn’t something meant to be accomplished except with the aid of very specific equipment and knowledge. And yet… yet these aliens had not only figured out what it did and removed it from her throat without causing a lethal shock but managed to disassemble the device as well. By all rights, Ki’an’i should have been killed in her sleep. But here they were, the collar open and inspected like a child would have some popped-open toy.
“But… how…?” she worded in bewilderment, still pawing towards her throat as if unable to believe what she was seeing.
“That thing?” Tikanii asked. “Well… after woke up, I… pretty bad. Tired, confused. Panicked. Followed smell you, found flowers. But… you out. Shale out. Locked. So… we took look.” She met Kiani’s eyes. “You hurt. Hurt bad. We take look at neck and… seem danger. Remove it.” She looked down. “Sorry we not understand soon.”
Ki’an’i was breathing fast still, trying to slow her rapid inhales and exhales. “I… it’s ok…” she said.
“Not ok!” Tikanii protested. “He is… liar! Bad! Like Kthid!” She made a gross, retching sound somewhere in her throat… it probably was supposed to be a growl. “And you save I. So remove on neck.” She shrugged. “It com-pli-cate. Very com-pli-cate. But we good with com-pli-cate. Mapped out e-lec-trick, and turn off.” She made a widening gesture with her nailed hands. “Pop right off! Poof! You no need scare, Kiani…”
Hearing the young Lealing talk about deactivating a prison collar with such a flippant attitude, as if it was no great difficulty at all, flabbergasted the Security Officer even more. She looked at the big-eared creature with eyes of confusion. “It’s… its very complex, Tikanii. How did you know how?
“Oh, we good with gadgets,” she said with smile, her voice taking on almost a chirping tone in her broken english. “All us grew up with as children. Small hands useful. Assemble. Disassemble. Poke around. Tinker! We first people to grow up like that. Novel, and fun! Good games!” Her expression got a bit more somber. “Useful, Kiani. It why we the ones here. We the young ones. More flexible than parents.”
Ki’an’i was coming around to accepting the impossible. It appeared that she had ended up in the care of a group of master mechanics. Convenient. Well, they were the chosen of their people to head into space, she supposed. “This is…” she stated.
“Yes…?” Tikanni asked, leaning eye with eyes narrowed as if wondering at the answer. “This good, right?”
“-is wonderful,” Ki’an’i concluded.
“Phew!” Tikanni said with a sharp exhale. She smiled, her eyes twinkling.
What the Sethis had said was a massive understatement. She had languished in a nightmare of profound terror, only to awaken to be confronted with three miracles at once. Her prison-collar was removed and disassembled. She was free. And Thomas Shale… was dead.
“Shale…” she spoke with but a breath, suddenly remembering the man’s fallen frame.
Hearing that evil man’s name uttered, a grey shadow was cast over Tikanni’s face. Her garrulousness and high-spirits were replaced with a note of shame. Feebly like some child admitting a wrongdoing, she ceased the word. “I… I…” she began. “I… not know, Kiani. He get in my mind. Drugs. Pain. He bad. Bad man. Bad human.”
Ki’an’i stared right at her, feeling the sadness within the young bat-winged Xeno. “Bad human,” she agreed softly. “But not all humans. Do… do Lealing keep a mate? Find one mate and keep for ever, or long time?”
“Yes,” Tikanii said, nodding. “Long time mates.”
“Husband,” Ki’an’i said, long time habit leading her to teach the word by sheer reflex like she had so many times before. “My mate, husband, is human.”
“He good?” Tikanii asked quietly.
“Very good,” she agreed. “He would never hurt anyone. If you asked for my opinion, I don’t think he’s ever even stepped on a bug.”
“Good human,” she mumbled. “This… this was because of… dr-dru-drug?” she worded yet unsure of her pronunciation, the word seeming to have no counterpart in her natal language. “The flower on scalp,” she said, pointing at Ki’an’i’s admittedly spare-looking head of flowers at the moment. “They… mes with head. Wanted them so bad. So hard not to reach and just take, right now! They made me feel all sorts of things inside.” She looked down. “I should have been alerting my Captain, or the Teachers, the moment his hurt started. I’m sorry, Ki’an’i. I should have act. Instead I was petal-loving fool.”
“He had started spreading them around,” Ki’an’i remembered. “Giving them to others. We need to-”
“We already do,” Tikanii said firmly. “All those poisoned take time to recover. We be fine.” She sighed. “Shale was bad man. I understand that now. Should have save you from he. But instead of me saving you, you saving me,” she explained.
“Tikanii,” the Sethi stated. “You have nothing to apologize for. The only one on this ship who should be apologizing is that monster Thomas Shale but he is dead now,” she concluded and reached out to hug the Lealing.
Tikanni and her embraced for quite some time. Ki’an’i was not the only one who had been suffering from nightmares. They had both undergone so much trauma at that monstrous man. “He manipulated us. Both of us,” Ki’an’i said while still wrapping her arms around Tikanni. Her sadness burned, the Sethis woman’s cheeks streaked with tears.
Ki’an’i promised herself that she would forget him. The very existence of Thomas Shale would be as if blown away by the wind. “Tikanii,” she whispered. “Husband. What is your word for mate?”
“Treshlai,” she said, the alien word musical coming from her throat. Hearing it… did something… to Ki’an’i. The sound was special. Shale has had no interest in learning anything of the Lealing language… he had insisted entirely on them learning his. This natural curiosity of hers, being able to ask and learn, seemed like the final death of his consuming, exploitative ownership.
Slowly, Ki’an’i let go of the other alien. The two lifeforms disengaged. “That is a pretty word,” Ki’an’i said with a smile.
Tikanni sniveled a little. “I so glad you ok,” she peeped.
Ki’an’i smiled the first smile of happiness she had emoted in a long time. It hadn’t happened since she meet Thomas Shale, or encountered the Kthid. Hell… it hadn’t happened since she left Earth. The Templar were a militant order, there to defend against the demons that came from the stars. Finding just one more type of demon out there, in the Kthid, fit her established mindset. The order valued stoicism and logic over emotion, but… that didn’t mean emotions were dead to them, or not useful. Somehow, in meeting Tikanni here out amidst the sideral stars, Ki’an’i felt she had encountered something worth believing in. A reason that she could believe, with conviction, justified leaving Earth.
“Are you well enough to walk?” Tikanni asked.
The Sethis put the question to the test by moving around her limbs a little. “I think so,” she said. “Why?”
“The Teachers wanted to see you again when you woke up,” Tikanii said. “Want to hear everything about what happened.”
“Those are… the other aliens?” Ki’an’i asked uncertainly. “The ones with the wings?”
“Yes!” the pale-skinned woman said excitedly. “They eager to discuss with you. Have received new orders. You might have a role to play.
With Tikanni’s help, Ki’an’i hauled herself off the infirmary bed. With the Sethis’s arm flung around the Lealing’s shoulder, the two of them limped towards the door. “Hey Tikanni,” Ki’an’i asked quietly as they started to walk. “What kind of orders, do you know? What is the ship doing all the way out here, anyway? Some kind of an expedition?”
Tikanni grinned. “Ex-pi-di-tion? This no exped-it-tion,” she answered.
“Then… What is it then?” the Security Officer asked.
“We? We on a rescue mission!” the bat-winged creature chirped, her grin growing even broader. “Now you on mission too!”