Thursday, May 29, 2014

February 11, part 2

I stared to see the scary little alien beaming at us from the room outside.  When had he shown up?  I also noticed that all the other inmates had hidden themselves or cowered in the corners of their cells.  That was not a good sign.

Oses stared for an instant and then growled, showing fangs and getting between me and the Ofetuchan.  In those animal hides, the Nobek looked extremely primitive and nasty.  His muscles stood out, corded and veined.  I was impressed.

Little Creep was not.  In fact, he looked pleased.

“Very nice.  I’d given up on being able to keep any Kalquorians in my collection because your kind has a terrible habit of committing suicide rather than being imprisoned.  Having the Earther woman to defend might make it worth your while to stay alive.  You are a magnificent specimen.”  Little Creep practically danced in his delight as he looked Oses over.

Oses’ stopped growling.  His fangs began to hinge once more as he blinked uncertainly.  I guess the Ofetuchan’s voice had an effect on him similar to what it did to me. 

It lasted only a couple of seconds.  Oses resumed growling and once more looked like he was ready to spring at the bastard at any moment.  Remembering what the Dantovonian had said about the containment field, I put my hand on his shoulder.  Oses thrummed under my touch, as if he had an electrical current running through him.

Little Creep’s eyes shone as he looked me over.  “An Earther female.  You are the real prize, especially given how few of you are left.  You will be the center of my collection.”

“Fuck you,” I said.  I pretended I wasn’t shaking in my fur.  The fear I felt seemed to counteract the spell of his voice.  That much was good.

Oses wasn’t so lucky.  Yet again he stopped snarling and started to relax.  An instant later, he was back to big, mean Nobek.  “You lay a hand on her, and I’ll rip you to shreds,” Oses said, his words slurring around his fangs and rumbling like thunder.

“I don’t have to lay a hand on her.  As for any punishment she receives, that is entirely up to you.  A demonstration.”  Little Creep said something that sounded like sherbeg.

Pain bolted through my spine and skull, white-hot and razor-sharp.  It was like being hit by a lightning bolt full of daggers.  I’m sure I screamed.  I don’t remember doing so.  I don’t remember anything except immeasurable agony that made me wish I could die.

It only lasted a second, but it was the longest, most horrific second of my life.  When it was over I was lying on my back with Oses crouched over me, shouting my name.  My whole body jittered.

Little Creep’s voice oozed like delicious poison.  “A single word, and she suffers unbearably.  As do you if she misbehaves.  Sherbeg.”

Oses, whose face had gone slack again when Little Creep spoke, suddenly screamed fit to shatter my eardrums.  His whole body went stiff, and then he fell over.  He jerked and flailed on the grass.

“Oses!” I screamed, hauling my own shaking body up and grabbing him.  He continued to contort and shriek. 

I turned to scream at Little Creep.  “Stop it!  You’re killing him!”

“Oh, it won’t kill him.  It might drive him insane, but he won’t die if I turn it off in time.  Blonay.”

Oses’ cries cut off, resolving into moans.  He twitched uncontrollably and heaved for breath.

“There, you see?  He’ll be perfectly fine once he recovers from his lesson.”

I tried to ignore the melodious voice from Hell.  I concentrated on Oses.  “Oses, talk to me.”

The Nobek was suddenly up on his feet, towering over me.  His face contorted in rage and he fucking roared at Little Creep.

It was then I noticed that Oses had lost control of his bodily functions when he’d been tortured.  So had I, it turned out.

I rose to my feet to stand at his side, staring in horror at Little Creep.  “What the hell did you do to us?” I gasped.

“The collars deliver pain at my order to keep you in line,” he said with a bright smile.  “As you’ll be spending the rest of your lives here, I suggest you learn obedience right away.  Oses’ fuck ups will result in your punishment, and your misbehavior will give him torment.  The demonstration was extremely lenient.  You do not want to find out what true punishment is.”

Oses had begun to shake his head hard while Little Creep spoke.  I thought he was trying to drive off the hypnotic spell the bastard’s voice kept weaving over his senses.

“Oh, that won’t do anything but give you a headache,” our captor said.  “Kalquorians and Plasians in particular are susceptible to the aural frequency of our voices.  Certain parts of your brain find it lulling.  Earthers feel it too, at least to some extent.”

He frowned at me then.  I felt a little glimmer of hope that I could escape his spell, but it also scared me that he wasn’t happy about it.  I really didn’t want the collar activated again.

Little Creep said, “With the brains of Kalquorians and Earthers being so similar, it should have the same effect.  I wonder why you’re able to shake it off so well?”

I had no idea and I decided to not answer him.  Silence seemed my best defense at the moment.

Little Creep shrugged it off.  “No matter.  The collar will be more than adequate to keep you in line.  Now for another lesson.”

With that, he disappeared.  The space where the containment held us captive shivered for an instant, like ripples in a lake.  I gaped and exchanged a look with Oses.  “Where do you think he went?” I asked.

The melodious voice answered from right behind me.  “Do you miss me already, Shalia?”

I yelped and turned to find the Ofetuchan grinning up at me.  An instant later, Oses snatched me backwards, putting his body between me and the nasty freak.  He shook all over as he glowered at our captor, like a muscled earthquake personified.  After a moment, I figured out why Oses was trembling so hard:  it was taking all his willpower to not attack Little Creep.  I wondered why he didn’t go for it.  I know I would have if Oses hadn’t been in my way, especially when I saw the phase thing-y Lurb had told us about.  It was indeed on the critter’s belt and gold in color.  To me, it looked like a kazoo.

I thought for sure Oses would try for it, but he didn’t.  Then it occurred to me that if the Nobek went after the Little Creep and failed to squash our tormentor, I would be punished.  That was the reason he held back.

He might as well have tried.  Things couldn’t have gone any worse.

Little Creep grinned at Oses.  “So your breed does have some sense.  I didn’t think Nobeks could control their violent urges so well.”

After a moment’s pause to let the Ofetuchan’s spell fade, Oses snarled, “I might have many surprises in store for you.”

“Perhaps.”  Little Creep nodded, as if impressed.  “I thought I would be teaching you another important lesson, the one in which attacking me would bring on another round of pain.”  He grinned up at Oses.  “You cannot touch me without setting off your collar.  Physical contact without my willing it brings you the same agony as what you’ve just felt.”

Oses again shook off the mesmerizing notes of his voice.  I too found myself sinking into something of a trance and blinked hard to pull myself out.  My terror hadn’t gone, but as the minutes went past, it did fade.  My immunity to Little Creep was wearing off.

“Very well.”  Little Creep sat on one of the large rocks in our environment.  “I know you are Shalia and Nobek Oses.  My name is Finiuld, and you are now my property.  This environment is your new home.  It is based on Earth rather than Kalquor, but I believe the Nobek will find it adequate for living.”

“I cannot be penned up in such a small space for long,” Oses growled.  “It will drive me insane.”

Little Creep – Finiuld – chuckled in a mean tone.  “Oh, you will be brought out from time to time so I can show you off to my friends.  You are not just a prize for me to collect and look at when the mood strikes.  You are also entertainment.”

I was thunderstruck.  “We’re not trained animals giving shows like in a circus!” I exclaimed.

The bastard crooked an eyebrow at me.  “I am not sure what a ‘circus’ is, but I assure you, you will give my guests enjoyable diversions.  If you refuse to perform, the Kalquorian will suffer most horribly.  If he balks, you will be tortured.  It’s as simple as that.”  He grinned his awful tombstone smile.  “I’ve heard enough pass between you two to know you mean a great deal to each other.  Don’t think I won’t use it to its fullest capacity.”

Oses started growling again when he understood all that Finiuld had said.  I felt like growling myself.  Who knew what this maniac had in mind for us?

“You will be fed.  You may wash – and I would expect you to do that soon – in the pond.  The water is circulated and cleaned continuously, so you may both bathe and drink from it.  The temperature in here will be kept at a comfortable level.  If you would enjoy painting or reading or some pastime to while away the time, I will grant the materials for that, provided you behave yourselves.”

I couldn’t help myself.  “Gee, what a nice guy.”

Finiuld’s eyes narrowed.  “I can be.  Do what you’re told and you’ll see that. Disobey me, and suffer the consequences.”

After a few seconds, Oses said, “You’ll pay for this.  You’ll pay dearly.”

Finiuld laughed in his face ... or at his knees, actually.  The height difference was incredible, and yet the tiny alien had control over my behemoth companion.  “That’s what they all say, Kalquorian.  They’ve been saying that to me for decades, and yet, I have never been caught and my prizes have never escaped – except through death.”

Oses turned away from him and towards me.  I didn’t like that he put his back to the Little Creep, but what could he do?  Between Finiuld’s voice and that damned collar, Oses was powerless.

Yet his gaze held mine, as if he wanted to communicate something.  Then he looked at the room behind me, beyond the containment field.  He looked me in the eye again.

It was obvious Oses was trying to tell me something.  I thought he might be readying to attempt to get out.  But how?  I couldn’t imagine what his plan might be.  However, I trusted Oses with my life ... and my child’s life as well.  That was the biggest thing that kept me from shrinking away in fear of being punished.  I had to get my little hitchhiker out of here.  If Oses thought there was a way out of our predicament, I was more than ready to give it a try, even if it meant enduring that awful pain again.

I made my head twitch only a little, the barest suggestion of a nod I could manage.

Finiuld hopped down from his rock, and we both looked at him.  “That will be all for now.  You can bathe and explore your little corner of paradise.  I’ll call for you later when I’m ready.”

With that, he disappeared again.  A second later, Oses got his brain out of the bastard’s voice-initiated la-la land.  He grabbed my hand and watched the area of the containment field.

I saw that funny little ripple I’d noted before.  In an instant, it came to me what that was and what Oses had already figured out:  Finiuld was walking out of our cell.  The ripple was a giveaway of his passage through the containment field.  Phased into that other dimension or whatever it was where he could wander around invisible, the Little Creep still made an impact in our world.

My realization was barely fully formed when Oses charged that ripple, pulling me along in a blur of movement.  He reached with his free hand, clawing at air as we neared the invisible wall. 

That jagged blast of pain returned to my body, searing all sense and thought.  I was blind, deaf, and dumb to anything but white-hot agony filling me.  It seemed to go on forever.  At some point, I did find the ability to grasp one idea.  I prayed for death.  It was my one and only hope.

Death didn’t come, but the horror did end after I don’t know how long.  When I returned to my senses, I lay on the deep fur rug outside the habitat I’d been in.  Little Creep stood over me as I jerked and twitched in the luxuriant softness that didn’t feel as good as the cessation of pain did.  Oses lay next to me, jittering and foaming at the mouth, his eyes glazed.

“Hello, Shalia,” Finiuld said, his tone as cheerful as it could be.  “I figured the Nobek would make the escape attempt by phasing with me, but you were something of a surprise.  So spirited and brave!  What fun you’re going to be to show off to my friends!  Now get back in your cage like a good girl, or I’ll make your friend scream some more.  Maybe I’ll keep it up until Oses never does anything else for the rest of his life but scream.”

I looked into that smiling face with its tombstone teeth and saw the black brutality behind Finiuld’s merry exterior.  He’d do it.  He would drive Oses insane with pain right in front of me and probably laugh while he did so.

I was starting to crawl back to the cage when Oses jumped to his feet, howling with rage.  A moment later, I was back in hell, pain screaming through me.

It ended after a moment.  The Little Creep’s voice tinkled as brightly as ever.  “That’s right, Kalquorian.  She’ll suffer for every moment of resistance you offer.  Get in there with her or I’ll make her scream until her lungs fly out of her mouth.”

Brutalized and beaten, Oses and I managed to get ourselves back into the containment.  Oses could barely stand up straight, but he picked me up and carried me back to our little patch of lawn, rocks, and pond.  I guess Finiuld had disabled the field long enough for us to cross the threshold, because we entered without a problem. 

Once we were back inside, Oses turned so we faced our tormentor.  Finiuld nodded.  “So now you see.  You have no hope for escape.  I suggest that you come to terms with that as quickly as possible for your own sakes.”

He disappeared.

Monday, May 26, 2014

February 11, part 1

I have no idea how long I was unconscious.  I gather it was hours but I could be wrong.  I guess it doesn’t really matter.

I woke to the smell of new-cut grass.  It was such a distinctive scent that for an instant I thought I was back on Earth.  Then I noticed the silvery ceiling over my head that emitted a dull gray light.  Where the hell was I?

I sat up, finding myself stiff and uncomfortable.  I guess sleeping on the hard ground will do that to you.  My jaw dropped open to see that despite the ceiling overhead and three beige walls around me, I was on a grassy stretch of turf.  There was a small tree, kind of like a birch, and a plot of red flowers that glittered in the light.  There were a couple of large stones and a pond, too. 

Beyond the encircling walls was another room, one kind of like my sitting room on the transport, but I paid little attention to it at that moment.  I’d spotted Oses sprawled near the rocks, his bare feet dipping into the pond.  He was still unconscious.

I sprang up ... well, maybe ‘sprang’ is too graceful a motion to describe what I did.  It was more like I lumbered to my feet, my body stiff and my balance questionable.  I lost no time in staggering over to the Nobek.

I noted some strange shit as I approached my unconscious companion.  For one thing, Oses was no longer in his uniform.  He wore what looked like animal hide pieces, a vest and a skirt ... or maybe it should be called a kilt.  Anyway, the vest was open with no closures, leaving his carved and scarred torso bare in front.  The kilt thingy was tied low on his hips and went almost to the tops of his knees. 

There was also a thick white strap around his throat.  Little squares of metallic netting studded the strap, and I saw no closure on the thing.  At least it didn’t appear to be choking him.

My mind was more focused on waking Oses up rather than his new fashions.  I knelt at his side, grabbed his shoulders, and shook.

“Oses, wake up.  Oses, can you hear me?”

The Nobek’s eyes fluttered a little.  Then they opened all at once and he sat up.  His face twisted into a bestial snarl, showing his fangs.  He grabbed me around the throat.  I froze.

Not even half a second later, Oses recovered himself.  The animal fury in his expression turned to horror.  He let go of my neck and yanked me close to his body.  “Shalia!  I am so sorry, pet.  I didn’t know who was touching me at first.”

My heart eased down on its wild gallop.  “It’s okay.  I’m glad you’re all right and ready to kick ass.”

Oses pushed me back and looked me over.  It was only then that I realized I was wearing something new too.  New and really weird.

I had on a sheath dress made up of some animal’s fur.  I looked like a cave woman.  My feet were bare and I could tell I had no underwear on.  Yeah, in the middle of all the confusion, I noticed I wasn’t wearing underwear.  I’m weird like that.

Suspicious, I touched my throat where Oses had been ready to choke the life out of me seconds before.  I felt a thick strap studded with metal beneath my fingertips.  Okay, so I was wearing some type of collar too.

“What the hell is going on?” I asked.

Oses rocked himself up to a crouch and looked over our surroundings.  His nostrils flared wide as he sniffed the cut-grass air.

I looked too, finally paying attention to the room beyond the little grassy habitat.  I gasped at what I saw. 

The room itself wasn’t remarkable.  It looked much like my sitting room, as I said before, except it was larger.  There was a kind of raised flat surface that was upholstered in shiny orange fabric. I thought it must be a type of sofa.  The flooring looked like thick white fur.  If I stepped on it, I thought I might sink calf-deep into it.  What looked like plain trays floated in various places in the room.  One held a decanter of black liquid and some clear glasses.  Another had a heap of what appeared to be red poker chips.  Still another had a vase with a single yellow flower.

It was what surrounded the room that had my attention.  There were other habitat-like rooms we could see into, ones with alien environments I recognized from vids.  I saw a room dotted with trees with a thick carpet of gold leaves on the floor.  A Plasian woman sat naked in the middle of that area, looking incredibly sad.  She sat very still and stared down at the ground, tears dripping from her eyes.  She made no sound.  She wore a collar too.

Another room had a muddy floor with many boulders.  One of the boulders moved and turned a tusked face towards us.  I stiffened to see the Tragoom peer at us through tiny eyes.  Instead of attacking, it turned away once more.

There was a Dantovonian in what looked like a jungle setting.  An Isetacian clung to a webbing of long vines in a dripping environment.  A Yeknap peeked out of a hill of sand.  An emerald-furred Joshadan lay in a tiny cave.  They all had collars.  No one said anything.  The faces that held expressions I could identify looked incredibly sad.

“What the fuck?” Oses whispered to me.  “The openings to these rooms must be covered by containment fields.”

I had an ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach.  “Are we in some kind of a zoo?” I asked.

Oses got to his feet.  He didn’t answer me.  “Stay here.  I’m going to see what kind of field holds us in here.  I don’t want you hurt.”

I grabbed his hand.  “I don’t want you hurt either.  Don’t fuck with stuff, okay?”

He gave me a patient look.  “I have to find out what’s going on, don’t I?”

“So ask the other inmates.”  I nodded to the other creatures.  “I need you, Oses.  If you get yourself killed, what the hell is going to happen to me?”

The Nobek stared at me for a couple of beats.  He slowly nodded.

“You’re right.”  Then he leaned close to me so that his lips touched my ear.  “Shalia, until we know what our best course of action is, do not mention the baby.  Do not speak of it out loud.”

My heart froze.  I hadn’t even considered my little hitchhiker.  Holy shit, things were worse than I anticipated.

Oses barked something in Kalquorian.  The only person who answered him was the Dantovonian.

His ... or her ... face was one of the ones I couldn’t read an expression on.  Segmented in a hard exoskeleton, the Dantovonian’s face looks kind of like a frog and a praying mantis got together and had a kid which they immediately encased in a brownish armor.  No, it’s uglier than that.  What the hell, it’s the closest I can come to describing one of their kind.

With the segments of its face softly grinding together, the Dantovonian buzzed back at Oses.  My Kalquorian friend’s expression turned hard as he listened.  When the critter stopped talking, Oses turned to me with a furious expression.

“You were right about the zoo.  We’ve been captured by the Ofetuchan and placed in his exhibit aboard his ship.  He collects other sentients as trophies and shows them off to his friends.  Lurb – that’s the Dantovonian’s name – says he thinks there are more exhibits elsewhere on board.”

“Isn’t that illegal?” I asked.

“If your Little Creep is caught in Galactic Council member planets’ space, yes.  The trouble is, this ship is as well-cloaked as he manages to be.  Or rather, phased.”


Oses considered, his eyes taking in the situation all the while.  I think he was trying to figure a way out of our predicament.  “Phasing can make people invisible to others.  It’s almost like existing on a parallel plane, except the person who is phased can see us while we can’t see, hear, or smell them.  They can even pass through solid objects in that state.”

I thought of how I’d collided with others on the space station during my struggle with the Little Creep and how they’d not seemed to notice.  Had I actually passed through their bodies? 

“How does a person phase?” I asked.

“The Ofetuchan has a device he keeps on his belt.  Lurb says it’s small and gold, kind of a tapered tube.”

“What did Lurb say about the containment field?” I asked.

Oses scowled.  “If we touch it, it will trigger pain conductors in these collars.  If we stay in contact with the field for too long, it could kill us.”

“Indeed it could, Kalquorian.  It’s a good thing you asked before attempting to charge through.”

For a moment, that sweet bell-like voice brought joy to my heart.  Then I realized who it belonged to, and the spell broke.  I jerked and jumped back a little to see Little Creep outside our habitat. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

February 10 evening, post-dated entry

It has been some time since I last wrote.  What happened between then and now ... well, it was not a happy time.

So that I can keep things straight, I am going to write what happened in chronological order as best as I can figure it out.  I know the date of when things went all to hell, and I know when the nightmare ended.

Has it ended?  No, not really.  I know the trauma will haunt me for weeks or even months ... hell, maybe years ... to come.  All I can do is write it down in the attempt to purge it out of my system. 

The dates might not be accurate, but as I wrote, I’ll do my best.  What else is there to do?

Early on the evening of what would have been February 10 on Earth, I rushed out alone to do one final round of shopping before we were to leave Xniktix Space Station.  Candy and Katrina were getting ready for one last night of dancing, Betra and Oses were on duty until later, so I went on my own.  I saw no reason not to.  Little Creep hadn’t been seen in some time, I hadn’t run into any hostile Earthers, and I’d been able to avoid pissing off any Bi’isils.  I had a few funds left to burn, so off I went.  I planned to meet up with my guys at the agreed-upon time for our frolic in the Alneusian underwater forest.  I was feeling very independent and happy.

I was enjoying having new and flirtier clothes to wear, plus I’d seen the ugly things available on the transport for later in my pregnancy ... yuck.  I was determined to have pretty things for when I got ‘round and ripe’ as Betra put it.  Remembering his description kept giving me fits of giggles as I roamed the shopping tiers of the station.  I had the feeling that Betra’s assessment of a big ol’ pregnant woman being attractive might change when I hit month 7 or 8.  Still, I could have something nice to wear so I didn’t feel like a hippo when the time came.

I’d been shopping for some time.  I was hoofing it between stores, noting that I had twenty minutes before I was to meet Betra and Oses when I saw it out of the corner of my eye:  that flash of shiny green, low to the ground.  I turned quickly.

There stood Little Creep, he of the green waistcoat, spikes of red hair, black eyes, and tombstone teeth.  He was looking and smiling right at me.  My heart froze.  Evil, my mind whispered.

This ghoul-leprechaun looking thing bowed, as courtly as a gentleman.  I didn’t move.  He walked up to me until he was only a foot away.  I say walk, and his little legs certainly did stride, but he almost seemed to glide rather than step.

There was no reason for me to be so terrified.  Yet instinct knew this was no kind creature, nor was he harmless.  I didn’t know that for a fact at the time, but some primitive part of me understood it right away.  Every fiber of my being screamed at me to run.  If I hadn’t been so scared to the point where I couldn’t move, I would have.  However, my body wouldn’t stir the least little bit.

“You are an Earther female.  You are going to Kalquor.  Yes?” Little Creep asked.

I blinked, and a lot of the fear eased away.  The creature was ugly and scary to look at, but that voice – it was like the chiming of the sweetest bells ever heard in a cathedral.  It was clear and melodious and I ached to hear him speak again.  I even smiled at him.  My gosh, that voice was beautiful.  I can still hear it in my head ... it curdles my guts now, but at that moment it beguiled me.

I said to him, “That’s right.  Are you from Ofetuch?”

Little Creep bowed again.  “I am.  I am surprised you have heard of my world.  We are not well known.”

I was entranced by his voice.  I had even begun to lean down so I could get my ears closer to his mouth with its blubbery wet lips and those awful teeth. 

Barely aware of the words coming out of my mouth, I said, “My Kalquorian friends told me about you after I saw you looking at me the other day.  They tell stories about Ofetuchans to scare their naughty children.”

Little Creep laughed, and the sound was like a cascade of pure gorgeousness.  I moaned to hear it and leaned closer still.  I was almost near enough to kiss him ... ugh, the thought makes me nauseous.

“I’m sure they do tell stories,” he said when he’d recovered.  “I have a few stories myself.  Would you like to hear them?”

“Please,” I whispered.  Anything to hear him talk.

“We’ll go somewhere that is private.  I have much to tell you.  I have waited for you to be alone so we could get to know one another.”

Somehow, he’d taken my hand in his without me noticing.  Even crazier, we were already moving towards the station’s in-house transport car.  Little Creep was taking me somewhere, and I was following as if under a spell.

The scare it put in me was enough for me to regain my senses.  I straightened to my full height and tried to pull away.  “I can’t go with you.  I’m due to meet my friends.”

Little Creep’s jolly-scary smile turned more scary than jolly.  “They can wait.  Come along, girl.  I have a special place for you.”

His beautiful voice tried to beguile me, but I was too scared for it to have the same effect as before.  I wanted to get away, and fast.

His fingers had these suction cup-type bits that had latched onto my hand.  I yanked, but they stuck to my skin.  Little Creep’s face became a snarl and he grabbed my arms with all four hands.

“Listen to the sound of my voice.  Come with me, Earther.  You want to.”

“Like hell I do!” I yelled.  “Help me!  Somebody, help!”

There were people of all species walking past us, shopping much as I had done.  Some were even Kalquorians, men wearing the fleet uniforms of my transport and the destroyers that kept it safe.  They didn’t react to my screams.  It was like Little Creep and I weren’t even there.

Part of my brain registered that Oses had said something about the Ofetuchans might be cloaking themselves so they couldn’t be seen.  Apparently, that went for sound as well.  This nasty little bastard was trying to kidnap me, and no one knew about it.  We even bumped into others as we struggled.  Or at least we should have bumped against them.  No one reacted to us, however, and I would find out later why.  For that moment, we didn’t exist as far as the others around us knew.

Most of me was involved in escaping.  When I realized I was going to have to get myself out of this mess, I doubled my fight.  I kicked the fuck out of that little monster.  He tried to grab my legs to stop me, which only made me kick more desperately.  I had an awful vision of Little Creep dragging me through the station with his four sucker-fingered hands keeping me helpless.  He was tiny, but he was strong as hell.

All the while, he kept talking.  Apparently he was trying to use that sweet-toned voice to mesmerize me.  It didn’t work when I was so scared, and it really didn’t work when he was gasping between every word.  “Stop – fighting – come – quietly – bitch – that – hurt – fucking – behave!”

We flew about the concourse in this wild waltz, with me swinging him around like a doll and kicking as hard as I could.  I finally landed a good one right in the breadbasket.  He lost his grip on me and disappeared.

An Adraf citizen slammed right into me, and spewed flustered words I couldn’t understand.  What I did understand was that when Little Creep lost his grip on me, others could see and hear me once more.  And he was nowhere to be found.

I screamed like a banshee, getting all sorts of attention.  Within seconds half a dozen Kalquorians on shore leave surrounded me, asking what was wrong.

“Commander Oses!  I need Commander Oses right now!” I shrieked.  Before anyone could summon him, I grabbed my personal com and yelled for him myself.  Since we were supposed to be meeting up soon, I was sure he was somewhere on the station.  I was right.

“The Ofetuchan tried to kidnap me!” I hollered when he answered.  “He tried to make me go with him!  He can make himself and anyone he touches disappear!”

I kept yelling hysterically, not giving the weapons commander a chance to answer.   I made quite the scene until Oses showed up, shoving my confused but valiantly guarding Kalquorians aside.

“Shalia!  Are you all right?” he exclaimed.

Seeing my big bruiser of a Nobek lover had an immediate calming effect on me.  The panic subsided, and I could talk with some sense once more.

I told Oses and the other Kalquorians surrounding me what had happened with Little Creep.  As soon as my tale was done, Oses started barking orders into his com.  I had no idea what he was saying since he was speaking in Kalquorian. 

The other members of his crew who had come to my rescue listened carefully to all he said, to the response he got, and kept looking all around us as if to protect me.  The cold, vicious looks they gave passersby kept everyone else far away.

I looked too, frightened of seeing spiky red hair or a swirl of a green coat.  I saw neither.

Oses finished his conversation and looked around at the others.  “You got all that?”

They nodded.  “I will be happy to go back on duty right away,” one man told him.  The others murmured agreement.

“There should be no need.  Just keep your eyes out for the gurluck, especially in the vicinity of our Mataras,” Oses said.  “The rest should arrive right away to investigate and guard.”

The men nodded.  Still looking around carefully, like watchdogs who’d caught the scent of a predator, they began to drift away.

“What’s going to happen now?” I asked Oses.

“I reported the incident to my second-in-command, who is on duty.  He is putting an alert out for the Ofetuchan and sending in more security squads.  He’s also getting with the liaisons to find out how many of you are on the station right now.  More guards will board and keep an eye on all the Mataras so the Ofetuchan doesn’t try to capture someone else.”

“Are you going back on duty?” I asked.  Now that I felt safe and secure, I felt disappointment that my date with Oses and Betra might be cancelled.

To my delight, Oses shook his head.  “My second has things in hand.  He’s a good officer, and I have faith he can handle this.  If he runs into problems, he knows he can com me.”

“So we’re still good for our underwater excursion?”  I gave him my most evil smile.  Having the indomitable Oses at my side made all the terror go away.  I was safe, and since I was safe I was more than ready to put Little Creep out of my head.  Who was going to try to steal me with this monumental Kalquorian at my side?  No one with sense, I was sure.  I had so much faith in Oses.

Oses’ leer was twice as wicked as mine.  “No stupid little – what did you call it?  A bogeyman?  No such thing is going to keep me from that.  Let’s head over and I’ll com Betra to see how long he’ll be delayed.  I’m sure he’s busy momentarily making sure his charges are all accounted for and protected.”

Oses’ conversation with Betra bore that out.  “I just heard from the Weapons Subcommander,” came my liaison’s voice from the Nobek’s communication device.  “Most of my Mataras are still getting ready for a last night out.  Shalia and one other are the only ones on the station right now.” 

“I’ve got Shalia, so you’ve just the one to set guards on.  A complement of more security will be ready to accompany the rest when they come onto the station.”  Oses looked pleased.

“Is that such a good idea, Commander?  Maybe we should recall everyone.”

The Nobek scowled.  “We have the situation in hand, Betra.  Let the women have their final night of fun in the dance clubs.  We’ll keep them safe.”

I could hear the laughter in Betra’s tone, though he managed to not sound too amused.  “I did not mean to cast doubt on you or your men’s abilities, Commander.  My priority is the Mataras, so I apologize if I have offended you.”

One corner of Oses’ mouth quirked upward.  “You could never offend me, Imdiko, especially when it comes to you doing your job to keep these women secure.  Get here as soon as you can.  We’ll be waiting.”

“I just got the message that the one other Matara on the station has been located safe and sound.  A detail is now keeping an eye on her.  I’m going to brief the rest on the precautions they’ll need to take, and then I’ll be at the Alneusian aquatic environment in a few minutes.”

“We’ll see you soon.”

Oses snapped off his com and smiled at me.  “Our water fun is still a go.”

I fairly skipped at his side in my excitement.  I think the adrenaline rush of my near-abduction was still with me.  I would have thought the last thing I should have wanted was sex, but all cylinders were firing instead.  I was giddy with relief and lust.

Oses and I reached the Alneusian ‘neighborhood’ of the station on Level 33.  Apparently, that species cohabitates in the open, without care for shelter of any sort.  On their planet, the entire ocean is their home.  These temporary quarters are where their people stay when they visit Xniktix. It’s like a massive aquarium.

I was essentially going to have sex with my guys in the Alneusians’ hotel room.  I am a freaky girl, huh?

“So we’re going to be watched,” I said as I paced in front of Oses.  I was dying to trigger the door so I could get a peek at the huge aquarium-environment.

He nodded, a grin slowly eating up his face.  We had the area entirely to ourselves.  No one else traveled the concourse in front of the Alneusian quarter.  I assumed the Alneusians themselves were either doing business on other levels in their environmental suits or in the tank hidden behind that tempting door. 

Unlike me, my Nobek lover stood still, almost as motionless as a statue.  He leaned up against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest.  He watched me, but his eyes also kept scanning the balcony where we stood.

“We’re going to be watched, vid-recorded, and our activities studied and reported on to the Alneusian scientific community,” Oses told me.  “The unique pairing of Earther and Kalquorian will add to their knowledge of other species.”

“Why do they study everyone like that?” I asked.

“The Alneusians are curious about everything.  Not so much ideas or concepts, but they do want to know how things work.  Anything of a scientific bent fascinates them, whether it is technology or biology.  Thanks to them, many advances in the sciences and engineering have been made for the good of all Galactic Council member planets.”

“Sex for science,” I giggled.  “I feel so productive now.”

Oses chuckled.  It was the last real laugh we had for a long time.

I had no idea what was going on when Oses’ legs began to slowly fold beneath him.  His arms, which had been crossed over his chest, dropped to his sides.  It happened so gradually that it seemed like he was doing it on purpose.  He slid down the wall he leaned against, his smiling face going slack. 

I thought he was goofing with me, or maybe just kneeling down to rest.  I mean, who loses consciousness at that kind of measured pace, a rather deliberate-seeming relaxation?  Oses, who was always alert and ready to defend or attack, succumbed without a moment of realization that he was going down.  It wasn’t until he was halfway to the floor, his eyes rolling over white, that I knew something had gone terribly wrong.

By that time, it was too late for me too.  I hadn’t realized I too was sinking down, or that someone was there, making sure I didn’t crash hard to the floor.  A steady hand held me about the waist, guiding me down to rest on the ground.  Spiky red hair, a tombstone-filled smile, and a green waistcoat filled my vision for an instant, blocking out Oses’ drooped form.

Then all went dark.