Monday, June 2, 2014
February 11, part 3
For several seconds Oses stood absolutely still, holding me. We stared at the space where Finiuld had stood.
Then I felt a minute trembling running through the big, muscled body holding mine. I looked into Oses’ face to see a storm of emotions boiling there: anger, horror, despair, and perhaps even fear.
No, not perhaps. Oses was afraid, but not for himself. If the Little Creep had wanted the perfect weapon to wield against my protective Nobek, he’d found it in me. Oses would have had no problem continuing to fight, even unto death, if he hadn’t had me to worry about.
Do I feel guilty about what happened to him in that place? Damned straight I do. Finiuld used me to perfection when it came to keeping Oses in line. All the times that Nobek told me not to blame myself made no difference. It was because of me he’d been taken prisoner, and it was because of me that he suffered so horribly. But if he hadn’t been there, I would still be in the Little Creep’s clutches. I owe Oses everything.
I’m getting ahead of myself though.
Oses’ shaking was getting worse by the second. I told him, “I’m all right now. Put me down.”
He stared at me, his eyes too big and wide in his dark face. I couldn’t believe Oses was capable of being reduced to panic, but he was as close as someone could be without falling over that cliff.
Instead of setting me on my feet, Oses kneeled on the ground so that I sat on his folded legs. He hugged me close and whispered, “You are not all right. You are a prisoner in the hands of that monster and I can’t protect you. I can’t protect you, Shalia! Anything I do gets you hurt!”
I grabbed his face between my hands, terrified that he was so violently upset. When the biggest badass I know starts coming apart, shit is definitely beyond trouble. I had to get this over-protective Nobek back to being a growling beast.
“I am all right, Oses. It’s only pain. It’s awful pain, and I’d rather jump out of an airlock than go through it again, but I’m okay. I’m not in any danger of dying as far as I can tell. Tell me how you’re feeling.”
He blinked at me. I saw his Nobek nature re-assert itself an instant before he snarled, “I feel like taking that little bastard apart one piece at a time while he screams.”
That was more like it. Hearing himself make that statement seemed to snap Oses out of his trapped animal mentality.
“Fucking gurluck,” he growled. “I will tear him to bits. We need a plan, Shalia.”
“I agree.” I thought things over and noted that we seemed to have incredibly few options. “Attacking the Little Creep is out. We know that now.”
“Even if we could, just the sound of his voice has something of a tranquilizing effect on me.” Oses scowled harder than ever. “If only I had your ability to fend it off!”
I nodded. “You just kind of blank out when he’s speaking. For me, the instant I get an adrenaline spike, I can think clearly. I noticed I can’t maintain it indefinitely, though. I was starting to fall under the spell when he left us.” I looked around suspiciously. “If he left us.”
“We will have to speak in whispers and hope his hearing isn’t as good as mine,” Oses said. “I will keep watch on the field for the sign of any disturbance as well.”
I had another worry, one I feared voicing. Still, I needed to communicate it to Oses. Putting my back to the containment field and the room beyond, I mouthed my next words silently. Do you think the pain he uses against me hurts the baby?
Oses drew a deep breath and considered. After a few moments, he shook his head. My body sagged a bit in relief.
Putting his lips right up to my ear, his voice ghosted, “From what I can tell, the collar is tied into the nervous system. It affects only you.”
I thought Oses might not really know if the collar and its punishments were transmitted to my unborn child, but it settled my mind to hear him say he thought not. Besides, what could I do differently? Not try to escape and have my baby in this horrid place? The thought made my heart freeze.
No, if there was a way we could get out of this, we needed to do so. I would simply have to hope and pray nothing that could damage or hurt me would find its way to my embryo.
“Let me see if the Dantovonian will tell me anymore before we go any further,” Oses said. “I want to know what escape attempts he’s made or witnessed.”
I nodded. It was as good a plan as any.
Oses set me down and cautiously approached the invisible containment wall. All the other prisoners were still huddled in their corners and refused to look in our direction.
At first Lurb, the Dantovonian, didn’t seem all that inclined to talk to him either. Perhaps seeing me and Oses tortured by Finiuld had quelled his enthusiasm for conversation. In the end, he uncurled his body, hop-crawled to his containment field, and responded to Oses. The pair conversed for several minutes.
While I waited to get the scoop, I went to the small pond ... just big enough that Oses and I could get in and splash around if we wished ... and cleaned myself up. The water came waist deep to me. I didn’t take off my cavewoman garb, not with all those other aliens there. I’d just have to be soggy for a bit.
I could feel a slight suction under my feet as I bathed. I peered through the clear water at the bottom. It looked like dirt and some marsh-like grasses down there. My feet were startlingly pale in the water, fish-belly white. I thought I could see tiny holes in the mud. I dug my toes in and cleared some of it away.
Beneath the mud and grasses was what looked like white plastic. It was definitely artificial material, and I guessed it made up the water circulation system. It was covered in small holes.
I moved about, clearing mud here and there, hoping to find some access or opening that might allow escape. The flooring of the pond disappeared into the turf bank that surrounded the pool of water. Digging a foot into the dirt, I discovered that the plastic-y stuff became solid with no end in sight.
Musing over that, I stepped out of the pond and onto the lawn. My skirt streaming water, I bent down and clawed up the grass and dirt about five feet from the water.
“Lurb says you’ll find the flooring about two feet beneath that. There is no way out in that fashion,” Oses told me.
I huffed in frustration. I’d figured as much and Lurb had saved me some trouble, but I was put out anyway. Oses smiled. “It was a good thought, Shalia. We have to investigate every option.”
Somewhat mollified by his praise, I went back to the pond to wash my dirty hands.
A few seconds later Oses joined me. Unconcerned about modesty, he stripped off his vest and kilt and waded in to wash himself off. Not that I noted anyone looking, except Lurb. Since Dantovonians don’t look compatible in a sexual way, he probably wasn’t interested in either Oses or me. Still, an Earther girl doesn’t want to show the entire world ... or cell block, in this case ... what she’s got. If I spent any time stuck in here, I’d either have to get over that or continued to wash myself with my fur on.
As he got cleaned up, Oses told me, “Lurb believes he has been here about three years now. In that time he has seen every escape attempt he can think of. The only successful way to get out, according to him, is through suicide. He’s made half a dozen attempts himself and he says the punishments are severe.”
“Half a dozen attempts at which? Escape or suicide?” I asked, horrified at what Oses was telling me.
“Both. He was tortured for both.”
“Shit,” I swore. Our situation was getting worse by the second. “What are our hopes for rescue?”
Oses didn’t answer for so long that I thought he wouldn’t bother. That alone told me we were fucked.
However, he did speak on the matter after consideration. Wading out of the pond, he said, “Knowing protocols, I can hazard an educated guess. The transport will continue on its journey, with two of the destroyers staying with it. The other destroyer will attempt to find us. You are, after all, a Matara. A special Matara,” he added, looking at my stomach. “Kalquor will not willingly abandon you to your fate.”
“There is the matter of the phasing capabilities of this ship,” I pointed out. “The Little Creep must be using the same technology on it that he uses on himself to roam around undetected.”
Oses nodded. “There is that. However, we already knew the Ofetuchan could make himself disappear and reported it before you and I were abducted. Those looking for us will know about that little trick, and they will try to figure out a way to counter it. The fact we could see a disturbance as Finiuld moved through the containment field gives me some hope that phased or not, this ship will leave some trace of its passage.”
I grimaced. “I still don’t like our odds of them finding us.”
“Neither do I.” Oses put his clothing back on. “So I see us as having two options right now: the first is we obey Finiuld’s commands. We bide our time in hopes of him letting his guard down so we can strike.”
“Patience is not my strong suit,” I sighed. “Second option?”
“It will mean much punishment and pain.”
“Naturally.” I tried and almost succeeded in not rolling my eyes. “Let me guess: civil disobedience. We resist doing everything Little Creep tells us to do, knowing we’ll be screaming and crying and pissing all over ourselves when he retaliates.”
Oses nodded. “The hell of it is, if I refuse his orders, it is you who will pay. I can take being tortured myself, but seeing you hurt because of me is more than I feel I can handle.”
I thought it over. Who would cave first if Oses and I took that route: us or Finiuld? I thought of the pain I’d already experienced and shuddered. The bastard had said he could drive us insane through the pain. Yet sitting around and waiting for him to fuck up and give us our chance at escape ... something that had not happened for at least three years according to Lurb ... felt like more of a long shot to me. I thought it much more likely Finiuld would find us too much trouble to keep if we gave him a hard time. Plus, we might be able to force a mistake on his part if he became frustrated enough.
I drew a deep breath and looked Oses in the eye. “I guess you’ll have to handle it, big guy. We have to get out of here by any means possible. All of us. When I’m down and begging for death, that’s what you’re going to have to remember. You’ve got to take care of the most vulnerable of us all.”
His jaw clenched as I reminded him I carried a hostage to fortune. The situation was bigger than just him and I being tortured. After several seconds of hesitation, he snapped a nod.
“We do not cave in,” Oses said. “We give him nothing, no matter what.”
“It’s a deal.” I tried to sound brave for his sake. I was nowhere near feeling it.