Thursday, July 17, 2014
February 25, part one
Days passed and Finiuld did not make an appearance. There is nothing like time to bring remorse and worry to the forefront. As Oses and I did our best to bide that time with meditation, planning, and sex, the hours stretched without seeming end. I started to kick myself for not figuring out the Little Creep’s phasing technology when I had the chance. I’d had the means in my hand, and yet we remained trapped in our cage.
“You did your best given the circumstances,” Oses consoled me when I fretted. “Now we must concentrate on looking forward to our first opportunity to capitalize on what you did accomplish.”
“That’s assuming Finiuld ever graces us with his presence again,” I grouched. “I must have played the aggrieved diva too well. Where is that bastard?”
“Figuring out how to get back into your good graces would be my guess,” Oses smirked. “You would be good at dominating if your heart was in it. That haughty persona gets me excited.”
I blew a raspberry at him. “Would you be serious? If we didn’t have to play the part, you’d never let me get away with such things.”
“No, because you aren’t comfortable with it. However, once we get out of here, I wouldn’t mind a little playacting of mistress overcome by her Kalquorian slave.”
I could have stomped the big twit. When Oses is bored, which he often was in our cage, he always turned to sex to escape the mind-numbing drag of minutes. If he wasn’t doing it, he was thinking about it. Even my disciplined cellmate could not hold onto the solace of meditation for all that time.
I had another reason to fret as one day slid into the next with no sign of Finiuld. What if he’d discovered I’d turned off my collar? What if he was plotting my punishment ... or worse, planning to harm Oses ... in retribution? The idea gave me nightmares.
My nightmares were about to get a lot worse, it turned out. Had I known what was to come next, I would have wished for those long days to have never ended.
I was amusing myself by braiding Oses’ hair in cornrows when our next foray into Hell commenced. He was teaching me some basic phrases in Kalquorian as I did so. It was a way to while away the time without giving our fellow prisoners yet another sex show.
All of the sudden a man was in our containment, his arms windmilling wildly as he staggered several clumsy steps in our direction. It was as if he’d been pushed into the cell from just outside.
Oses was on his feet in an instant, standing in front of me and growling at the interloper. The man managed to catch himself and stop. He stared at us from a few feet away, his eyes wide and staring. A collar gripped his neck.
He was Earther.
I leaned to the side to get a better look from behind Oses’ muscular bulk at our surprise visitor. I judged the guy to be in his mid-thirties. He was in decent shape from what I could tell. His jeans and gray sweatshirt were a bit baggy on him. His gym shoes had seen better days to judge from the scuffing. The man’s brown hair was a tousled mass of curls that hung haphazardly over his wide blue eyes. He wasn’t anyone ugly or overly attractive either. His was the kind of face that one’s gaze would just kind of slide over without taking real note. Yet I will never forget him for the rest of my life.
Finiuld’s voice captured my attention. “I told you I would make my transgressions up to you, Shalia. What do you think of my apology?”
I looked beyond the containment barrier to see the Little Creep, resplendent in screaming teal clothing. He had a collared Tragoom standing with him. The Tragoom looked as dull-witted as the boulder he resembled. He looked about the room and its inhabitants with barely any interest.
Meanwhile, Finiuld seemed to be dancing in place, like he had to go to the bathroom in the worst way. It took me a few moments to realize he was just that delighted with himself.
I looked from him to the Earther, who was watching Oses with what looked like terrified hatred. I looked back to Finiuld. “Apology?”
Finiuld nodded, wiggling all over like an excited puppy. “I was drunk the other day, most regrettably of course, but I did remember our discussion.”
“Which one?” I was at a loss.
“About how much you’d like to get revenge on the men of your world for all they did to you. How you wished to have the power they denied you, the same power they wielded unjustly. Here is the first deserving victim of your vengeance.”
I got a sick, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach at Finiuld’s words. He remembered all that? When I thought of the things we’d discussed as I’d played the part the Little Creep wanted me to play, I got downright nauseous. We’d talked about outright torture. I’d voiced bloody, awful plans I’d never had any intention of carrying out even had I been given the chance. Finiuld’s contributions to that conversation had been even worse. I’d gone along with it to keep Finiuld distracted, to keep my own hide safe and hopefully find a path of escape.
Seeing the glee on the monstrous Ofetuchan’s face, I knew he expected me to carry those malicious acts out on this poor man I’d never seen before. My gorge rose.
“I don’t know this man,” I said in a choked voice. “He’s done nothing to me.”
Even as Oses shot me a warning look, Finiuld’s happiness faded. He looked like a kid who’d been promised a treat only to be unfairly denied.
“But he’s one of them,” he protested, a hint of anger coloring his cheeks. “He was part of that society that undermined you.”
“Some were not like that. Some men felt compassion for the lot we women were dealt.” I adopted the steely voice and crossed my arms over my chest as I glared forbiddingly at Finiuld. I had my tough mistress look on, but I was shaking like a leaf inside. “For all I know, this man was one of the enlightened few. I may be bitter and I may be angry, but that does not mean I have to be unfair.”
I prayed I would not be forced to make a decision that could cost me Oses’ well-being or my soul. Given the choice, I knew which way I would go. I could not torture anyone, especially someone who had done me no wrong.
Perhaps it would have worked. Maybe Finiuld’s sick plan would have backfired on him had the Earther man just kept his stupid mouth shut. But no, no, fuck no. He had to speak up and fuck everything over.
Still looking fearful with Oses standing there, the man nevertheless let his lip curl in disgust. In a tone that was scathing, he said, “You’ve lay in sin with this alien, haven’t you, woman? You’ve whored yourself out to stay alive rather than die pure and good in God’s sight. I can tell.”
Finiuld’s loathsome smile returned. “You see? He is exactly the kind of man who disrupted the order of nature. I brought you a good one, Shalia. I have redeemed myself. Now show him the error of his ways.”
Before I could lose it and scream at Finiuld to go fuck himself, Oses turned his body so that he could keep an eye on the Little Creep and the Earther while whispering in my ear.
“I know you are not capable of hurting this poor idiot, my Matara. But we must do what we have to. You will order me to punish him, and I will carry out what you cannot.”
I stared up at the Nobek, horrified. “Oses, no. This is beyond savage. No matter what kind of asshole he is, this man has never done a thing to me!”
“Perhaps not, but if we are to escape from this alive, Finiuld must be placated. You must play the part he has written for you in order for us to escape. Remember your baby, Shalia. If you cannot do this for yourself, do it for the innocent you carry.”
“I will hurt the Earther, perhaps badly, but there will be no permanent physical damage beyond scarring. I can do that much for your sake. As for the psychological trauma, there is no help for that.”
Before I could find another argument, Oses stepped away from me with a bow. “I am glad to be of service to my Matara in punishing this man for his people’s sins against her. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to show you my obedience to your wishes.”
He turned away and grabbed the Earther. I was too horrified and scared to protest.
I will not describe what happened for the next hour. For most of it, I kept my back to Finiuld, so he could not see that my eyes were squeezed shut. I simply couldn’t watch much of what Oses did to that man. Unfortunately I could not shut my ears. I got the full dose of the Earther’s shouts, curses, screams, and finally the sobbing pleas for the brutality and humiliation to end.
From time to time, Oses would come to me, temporarily halting the Earther’s torment. He would remind me in hushed whispers that I had to be strong for the baby, that it would be over soon, that he would someday repay Finiuld for all the horror we’d been forced to endure. Then he would straighten and loudly announce, “As you wish, my Matara.” And the cries would begin all over again.
Let me say here that I do not blame Oses for what he did. I have gotten to know how the Nobek mind works. As a protector first and foremost, Oses had a job he had sworn to do above all else: keep me and my unborn safe from all harm. He was able to turn off all conscience, compassion, and humanity in order to achieve that goal. He had to in order to save his own soul while he went about his duty. Heaven knows, he could have done a lot worse than what horrors he did perform.
I am no Nobek. At last I couldn’t take what was happening anymore. I yelled, “Enough!” Because I didn’t want Finiuld to take out any frustrations he might have had on Oses, I added, “This is becoming boring. This man is as weak as a child and I am sickened by his crying.”
It was only a little bit of a lie. I was sickened, all right. I was nearly crying myself.
Since Oses had to ‘obey’ me for appearances sake, he ended the assault. I opened my eyes before turning to Finiuld. I tried not to look at what had been done, but I couldn’t miss Oses putting his bloodied kilt to rights, or the Earther rolling from his stomach to his side, curling in a fetal position as he sobbed.
Somehow, I didn’t fall apart. Instead, I faced Finiuld. My face felt numb, so I didn’t know if I managed the haughty ‘Her Highness is Displeased’ look I was going for. I also didn’t really care at that point. The ship could have blown to smithereens right then, and I would have been more relieved than anything else.
I said, “It’s a start, Finiuld. Thank you for giving me my chance at retribution.”
Finiuld didn’t look happy, but he didn’t look angry either. Just a little disappointed. “I am sorry he didn’t perform as well as you deserved. When you didn’t abuse him yourself, I knew he was lacking. Unfortunately, the Earther men are scattered few and far between in this part of space, so they’re a bit hard to come by. However, I will endeavor to find someone more befitting your needs.”
I swallowed a tide of nausea. I hoped it would be a long, long search before the bastard found someone else.
Finiuld jerked his head to the Tragoom who still stood behind him like a stone monolith. “Be ready to pull him out. Earther, get out here.”
The weeping heap on the floor didn’t move. “Fuck you,” he managed to gasp between sobs.
Finiuld set off his collar. When the Earther finished screaming, the Little Creep again ordered him out of the containment.
“I thought you were giving him to me,” I said. I was a little worried that this ‘failure’ to please me would get the man even more torment than he’d already endured.
“He is not good enough for you, Shalia.”
The Earther crawled pathetically across our fake grass towards Finiuld and the waiting Tragoom. God, I felt awful for what he’d been through with Oses.
“So you’ll keep him as another of your exhibits?” I had the crazy urge to tell Oses to carry the poor man. He was bruised and no doubt sore, but there wasn’t too much blood, at least. He still moved with an awful slowness that was painful to watch.
“No, I don’t care for the males of your race. They disgust me now that I know the full extent of their abuses.”
The man was nearing the containment field. Finiuld patted the Tragoom’s arm. “Be ready when I activate the phase.”
I didn’t miss how the Tragoom shuddered and winced at his touch. Without the collar, the big monster could have squashed Finiuld like a bug.
That the Little Creep wasn’t keeping the Earther man gave me a surge of hope. Was he going to let him go free? Would the man perhaps tell others of the Ofetuchans? Maybe word would get back to the Kalquorians, and they would know to pick up our trail here.
I was brutally disabused of that notion with Finiuld’s next command to the Tragoom. “All right, snag him and he’s yours. You will not eat until I return you to your cell, however.”
Behind me, I heard Oses’ sharp intake of breath. I stared at Finiuld. “Wait. What?”
Oses’ hand gripped my shoulder and he pulled me against him. “By the ancestors. If I’d known, I would have granted the poor bastard a merciful death.”
Finiuld and the Tragoom disappeared. The Earther man was right next to the containment shield, shaking and still crying. I saw a flicker in the shield and tried to yank free of Oses. “Finiuld! You gave him to me! The Earther is mine!”
The man suddenly disappeared, and the containment flickered more strongly than before. They were dragging him out. They were taking him away.
I remembered that Tragooms do not kill before they feed.
“You can’t help him, Shalia,” Oses whispered as the containment field stopped its rippling. “Mother of All, I am going to rip that little monster’s heart out for this. I swear it on my ancestors’ names.”
I kept yelling. “Give him back, you damned Little Creep! You said I could have him! Finiuld! FINIULD!”