Monday, July 7, 2014
February 21, part 1
When I woke who knew how long later, I was no longer in the Arena. I was also not in my habitat. I didn’t know where the fuck I was.
I did know I was on a floor of orange deep pile. I was also wearing some hideous dress of a screaming yellow color. It hung on me like a toga.
I sat up, feeling the padded, springy fur of the ground beneath me. Except for the tangerine shade, it was like most of the flooring of Finiuld’s ship, at least of the parts of it I’d been in. A look around my surroundings told me I was in the Ofetuchan version of a bedroom. There was a small billowing cloud of what I took to be a bed. Floating platforms hovered in the air, holding various items. Some were obvious, like the pyramids that emitted soft lighting. There was a pitcher of that brownish ooze I’d see Finiuld drinking before, along with a cup to pour the ick in. His incense stick cigarettes were on the tray nearest the bed.
A pile of colored clothing of eye-searing hues lay piled in one corner. Objects I couldn’t identify also lay about the floor and floating trays. It was a well-used room, and I knew almost instantly who used it. Finiuld sat a few feet away on one of his mushroom-chairs, quaffing a nearly depleted bottle of brown yuck. He wasn’t even bothering with the glass.
“Awake at last,” he said, smiling uncertainly at me as I eyed him from my position on the floor. “I guess you wore yourself out putting that Nobek in his place. At first I thought I’d fucked up with knocking you unconscious, and didn’t that put a scare in me! I wondered if I had mistakenly punched the button twice? That could have killed you, you know, and that would have fucking pissed me off. I can’t kill Shalia. There’s no one like this Earther female. No, no, that would have been awful!”
Finiuld was getting teary as he blathered on about the possibility of killing me off. I realized he was drunk as a skunk.
He went on and on, talking a mile a minute. “I kept checking to make sure you were breathing. You slept so long! But then I figured you must be tired. You wore that Kalquorian out. It was so amazing to see you take what you wanted and make him obey you.”
He paused for a moment. I muttered, “I’m glad you enjoyed the show.”
“Oh, I did! And the argument we had later! The women insisted I had trained you to behave that way. ‘Earther women are timid. Earther women are weak. Everyone knows it.’ That’s what they kept saying. But I knew I hadn’t trained you to be a real woman. You can’t teach that.”
Finiuld leaned towards me, as if to relay a confidence. He wobbled precariously, damned near falling off his toadstool chair. “I think they were afraid, Shalia. I think you scared the hell out of them!”
He laughed uproariously at that. He laughed so hard that he did fall off his chair. The Little Creep rolled about on the floor, guffawing like it was the funniest thing in the world.
He rolled a bit too close to me, and I got to my feet and stepped away. I did not want to be tortured because the drunken freak accidentally brushed up against me. I stood and watched Finiuld as he got himself under control.
Finiuld took the opportunity in the break to grab the full bottle of ick from its tray. He waddled back to his chair and laboriously climbed back onto it. I watched him open the new bottle and gulp its contents.
“How did I scare them, Finiuld?” I asked. I thought that if the Little Creep was drunk enough, he might divulge something of use to me. I was also wondering what the hell I was doing in his bedroom.
He looked at me a bit blearily, his blubbery lips curled in a smile that looked downright shy. “What?”
“How did I scare your guests?”
“Oh. Well, you acted like a real woman. Like a real person instead of just an animal. You see, most of my people don’t see other species as real sentient beings. You’re all too crude and dumb. You react instinctively to your environments rather than being proactive. You do possess some intelligence and perhaps you even have souls, but you’re not evolved enough to take seriously.”
“So that’s what makes you feel justified in keeping others as specimens? As exhibits?” I had the urge to snatch the bottle from Finiuld’s hands and smash it over his head.
The bastard smiled at me and bobbed his head. “That’s it, exactly. However, I don’t agree with the popular opinion, at least not entirely. Some creatures I’ve captured show promise. Some are even on the brink of being fully realized. I think you might be such a person, Shalia.”
Finiuld’s eyes went distant. “You showed that in the way you commanded your Kalquorian friend. The way he was ready to obey you ... I could tell he understood you were his better. You’re a strong, dominant woman who takes what is hers, as is her divine right. I knew when Oses immediately gave himself up to you that you were one of the real people, Shalia, not an animal.”
Finiuld looked up at me with what could only be described as adoration. I was stunned. The Little Creep had mistaken Oses’ willingness to do whatever he had to, to keep me safe. Finiuld had taken the Nobek’s seeming surrender to mean I was a superior being for that reason alone. Having come from a female-dominated society, it matched his criteria for an advanced species trait.
I had no idea what to do now, but I thought I needed to utilize this insight for something. I adopted a no-nonsense attitude, thinking I’d at least better play the part Finiuld wanted to cast me in. I crossed my arms over my chest, standing tall and looking down on him.
“So you acknowledge your mistake in taking me prisoner?” I demanded, giving him my most displeased attitude.
Finiuld blinked. “Oh, but it’s not a mistake! You are more valuable than ever. The so-called dependent Earther female is proven to be otherwise. You are a treasure. I am beyond fortunate to have you.”
So much for demanding my release then. I had to go for another angle. “You dare to hold me against my will when you recognize I am not a lesser being! You do not consider this vile? Unnatural?”
I was excited to see the Little Creep fold a bit into himself at my accusations. He took a gulp of drink before answering, probably to shore up his courage.
I was in no way prepared for his response. “I will make it worth your while to remain with me, Shalia. You wear the collar, but I am yours. All my riches, all my belongings, everything ... I will give it to you. Only be kind to me. Share your thoughts and let me bask in your presence.”
Dear heavens. I couldn’t believe it, but I thought he was talking about worshipping me. By dominating Oses, I had attained near holy stature to Finiuld.
Trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with this information, I dared to say, “You offer nothing I want. Freedom for myself and my – my Kalquorian servant is all I desire.”
Finiuld’s face crumpled. I thought the damned freak would cry.
He jumped off his toadstool and approached me on legs that had turned rubbery. “No! No, you must stay with me. I can give you so much, Shalia. This ship can take you anywhere and no one will know of your approach. With my phase converter, I can fetch you clothes and jewels and everything your heart desires. The clothes you coveted on the Adraf station – all yours for the asking! The treasures of the Kalquorian mines – I will see you have rooms filled with gemstones and gold! I will capture you slaves, men of beauty to enjoy. You do not have to settle for the pleasures one man can give you. I will grant you a harem!”
I felt sick that Finiuld would offer me sex slaves, probably in the hopes of watching me dominate them. However, if I could somehow get him to trust me...
I arched an eyebrow at him. “What if it is Earther men I desire? What if I wish to avenge the abuses I suffered on Earth by having some of those to entertain myself with? Can you give me control over them? Can I command their collars as you do?”
I was sure that Finiuld would become suspicious as I dug for information. However he was either too drunk or too far gone in Shalia-worship (or a combination of the two), to be as wary as he should have. The Little Creep practically danced in his excitement to please me.
“Oh yes, Shalia, absolutely I can give you that power! All it takes is to issue a voice command to the controls, and you will be their mistress. It is so simple. I could even do it right now and put Oses under your command.”
Finiuld’s gaze moved to the left. He took a step in that direction, then stopped short. Concern crossed his features before he gave me a smile that was probably meant to be endearing. With that face and those tombstone teeth, he didn’t quite pull it off.
“Yes, I will demonstrate the power I can give you by putting Oses under your control. I’ll do that later after I send you back to him.”
My heart was beating fast with excitement. I did my best to not show the surge of hope I suddenly felt. “Why not now?” I pressed.
“Oh, now is not a good time,” Finiuld said vaguely, his gaze moving about the room as he avoided my eyes. “I want to talk instead. I want to know all about you, Shalia. I want to hear how you will put those Earther brutes in their proper place.”
He crawled up his seat again, barely able to get on the damned thing even with four arms and suction-cup fingers. Watching his drunken attempts to sit down, I was tempted to help. But does a goddess do such a thing? I decided the answer was probably no, especially since touching the Little Creep would set off my collar. It was painful to watch Finiuld try to gain his chair, but I kept my aura of superiority and let him figure it out.
He finally did, though he listed quite heavily on his perch. I thought perhaps I would get lucky and he’d fall over and crack his skull. But since when am I lucky?
“Please, sit,” he invited between deep pulls on his bottle. He waved uncertainly at the little bed.
I accepted, pretending graciousness. I was doing my best to be the superior creature Finiuld wanted me to be, to keep him on my side. I had an idea, but to prove it out and pull off what I hoped to, I needed him complacent. Being queenly or goddess-y was harder than it might look. If Finiuld hadn’t been so drunk, he probably would have seen through the attempt.
With his prodding, I talked about my ‘revenge’ on Earther men. I pretended great delight as I devised humiliations for my proposed harem. Finiuld added his suggestions, moving more into the territory of torture. That bastard was as vicious as he was small. More than once I felt nauseous at his proposals, but I pretended approval. When I applauded his notions, he got happier than ever and drank even more in celebration.
We’d plotted for what I reckoned to be nearly an hour before the little shit passed out. I had begun to fear alcohol wouldn’t have that affect on an Ofetuchan because it took so long. His glazed eyes had been at half-mast for almost the entire conversation and his words slurred until I couldn’t quite understand him, and still he wouldn’t lose consciousness.
I’d all but given up when Finiuld dropped his third bottle and tumbled off the seat. He landed heavily on the floor and began snoring fit to knock the walls down.
“Finiuld?” I called, hardly daring to believe he’d drunk himself into a stupor. When he continued to snore I yelled his name instead. Even when I screamed right in his ear, the Little Creep slept on.
I was free to explore the room now. I went directly to the area where Finiuld had started to go when he first talked about giving me control over Oses’ collar.
In that area was what looked like a silver desk with drawers, supported by stumpy thick legs. It came only to my knees, which made sense given how short Finiuld was. I eyed the wall behind it and my heart sank a little. If there was a control room on the other side of the wall, I couldn’t get to it without Finiuld’s phase device. He wore it on his belt, and touching him would set off the torture command on my collar.
I thought I’d have to try anyway, though I knew it would never work. Still, what else could I do?
Then it occurred to me that Finiuld shouldn’t have been worried about dealing with the controls in my presence if indeed they were out of reach behind the wall. It should have been no big deal for him to phase himself, walk out of this room and into the next, issue the command, and come back. Yet he’d balked to do so.
That meant the collar controls were right here in this room.
I eyed the desk again. It was a strange piece of furniture given how trays and table tops floated without the need for legs to hold them aloft. Did I dare to hope that meant the computer that controlled the imprisoned menagerie’s collars was in here? Perhaps whatever configuration that made up the machine required a sturdier container.
The surface of the desk was bare. There was nothing to decorate it, no piece of equipment on its mirror-like surface. I tried to open the drawers, but they were stubbornly stuck ... or locked, most likely. If the controls were in there, I couldn’t get to them.
I considered the desk further. Perhaps it wasn’t where the controls were at all. But this was definitely where Finiuld had looked when he spoke of giving me the ability to order others. All it would take was a voice command, he’d said...
With a flash of inspiration, I spoke. “Access controls.”
The desk transformed. The surface shimmered and I looked at a host of blinking lights, sliding levers, and buttons. The drawers slid out, showing more lights and buttons and slots evidently made for plugging in other machines or drives. My eyes widened.
Were all the ship’s controls here, the ones that flew it and kept it phased so no one could see it? Or was this just for the collars? I had no way of knowing.
I looked back at Finiuld, still passed out cold on the floor. My head was in chaos, trying to determine my next move.
First thing, I needed to know if I could turn my collar’s controls off. That meant finding out if the damned thing was activated right now. Which meant I’d have to touch Finiuld and probably put myself in hell for several seconds.
My stomach churned at the thought, but I didn’t see any way around this. No doubt the collar was on, but if I was to discover the means to turn it off, I had to be sure of everything.
“Be strong, Shalia,” I breathed. “You’ll survive it.”
I would also piss myself from the pain. There was nothing resembling a toilet in Finiuld’s room, so I availed myself of his unused glass. I figured it couldn’t be worse than that brown glop he drank, so maybe he wouldn’t consider the cup ruined if things didn’t work out so I could escape.
Bladder emptied, I was as ready as I was going to be. Before I could think long enough to talk myself out of doing it, I stepped over to the Little Creep. I touched the tip of my finger to his shoulder.
Riotous pain exploded. It seemed to go on forever, and I had the awful thought that I’d somehow stayed in contact with the bastard.
It was only a few seconds though. When you’re in that amount of pain, it feels like a lot longer. When it was over, I found myself laying on the floor about a foot away from my slumbering captor.
Part one was done. I hoped it would be the last time I felt the horror of that torment. I shakily climbed to my feet and staggered back to the control desk.
“Computer, turn off the collar worn by Earther Shalia Monroe.”
There was no sound to acknowledge anything had been done. Lights continued to blink in seemingly random patterns. I had no way of knowing if it had obeyed me.
Well, one way. Fuck, was I really going to do this again? I had no choice.
My eyes filled with tears as I readied to touch Finiuld again. I did not want to do this. I did not. But it was the only way to find out if I was free.
“I fucking hate you,” I whispered to the unconscious Ofetuchan. “I wish you’d just curl up and die.”
With that, I extended my shaking finger once more. I touched his shoulder. I felt the smooth, plastic-y surface of his fuschia shirt. Nothing else.
Hardly daring to hope, I grabbed Finiuld’s shoulder. He muttered something in his sleep and re-commenced snoring. I felt how tiny his arm felt under my palm, how incredibly fragile he seemed to me. I thought about choking the life out of him.
I stepped back and stared at my hand, as if to accuse it of lying to me. Holy shit, I was free. My collar no longer worked.