Fenton looked up from the small cove she found in the underground tunnel systems. She waited a moment wondering if whoever called her really meant it, or if they were just wondering where she was.
“Fenton you bastard. Come out here.”
She frowned. That was inaccurate. She knew who her father was, he was just dead. Fenton powered off her Minky and crawled out of the space and took the tunnel back to the crew. They all had come to this underground cavern because they thought it held the treasure they were looking for.
They were wrong, she tried to tell them, but they didn’t listen.
The moment the tunnel opened up into the cavern she paused. The captain was standing next to a scary ass female with pale skin, black hair and bent horns protruding from her forehead.
A Night Demon.
The kind that looked like they lived up to their name. Around her were several males with distorted eyes and mouths, metal rings in parts of their nose and cheeks. Clothes drooped off their emaciated bodies.
If they were in space, she’s call them Donnies. A special breed of cannibals that feed off of anyone who feel into their traps.
But she was on a remote planet and she didn’t know if these savages crashed landed, or if they were exiled.
Fenton had a sinking feeling in her gut that she had made a mistake. Whoever that female was, she wasn’t talking to the captain to discuss Fenton’s wellbeing.
Narrowing her eye’s Fenton crouched back into the shadows scanning every single path that would lead to her. Calming herself she waited another moment to see if anyone had seen her.
“Don’t you have a tracker on your crewmates?” the Night Demon asked.
Her captain rubbed his bald head. “Not her. I hadn’t got a tracker on her yet.”
But he tried for the past two weeks. The other ten had complained but did it anyways believing it was safer.
“I already got the others. And I’m getting impatient. If you can’t produce her, then you’ll owe me.”
“I’ve been doing this for years. I’ve given you everything, what else do you want from me? What more can you take that I haven’t given. The only thing left is my ship and you can’t fly it so it’s useless to you. Please just give me back my wife.”
The Night Demon grabbed his face with her long fingers. Leaning in she hissed, “She’s mine until I say your debt is paid.”
Fenton sat back and really looked at the scene. The female, the starving males. Most of them were shaking with gross unsymmetrical faces. They were abnormal and they most likely were that way because of their diet of human flesh.
The odds of the Night Demon keeping a human female alive this long in a cage untouched were slim to nothing. If the Night Demon decided instead to eat the female that would be expected. But, there was also the chance they she used the wife to breed.
That was the only useful thing a Night Demon like that would do.
Even if the captain got his wife back, she wouldn’t be the same. She would be broken at the kindest. At the worse, she would be more like the savages.
Fenton inhaled wondering if she should go back and look for the wife. Or if she should wait, follow the captain, sneak back on the ship, and then use the life pod to escape while he was “looking for a new crew” which was how he ended up hiring her from Port Nicca.
Just then Fenton heard a high-pitched scream.
The captain jerked and the Night Demon grabbed his neck and hissed, “Look at your wife. Just waiting for you to rescue her.”
“What’s wrong with her? What did you to with her!” he bellowed.
From where Fenton was hiding, she couldn’t see anything.
“Did you think I was just going to feed her bread and grapes and let her do nothing until you paid me back?” the scary Demon laughed. “I used her to make more food, what else would I do with a perfectly healthy Terran female?”
Fenton winced at the confirmation she was right. She hated always being right, but it was a curse she had to bear. Considering her situation, she figured it was best if she snuck on the ship and escaped when the captain left.
Turning around she made a mental note not to ever leave a ship to look for anything ever again. As she turned she caught the scent of something foul and instinctively she rolled, grabbed her knife from her side and sliced up. She didn’t know if anyone was there, but there was an 85% chance someone was behind her.
The knife hit something solid and she saw the nasty creature before it hissed.
Kicking out with her boot she tripped it, then slammed the knife down on its windpipe making sound impossible to emit. She held the knife, watching the life leave the male’s dull brown eyes. When he stopped moving she removed the weapon, cleaned it off and then slunk back into the darkness.
The crunch under her boots echoed well off the stone walls letting her know how enclosed she was. The smell of mildew let her know she was headed back towards the river where she could escape the massive cavern.
As she progressed, she did so with knife still in her hand just in case her hearing wasn’t as good as it should be. She ran for several minutes before there was a bellow of rage. It sounded human enough that she figured it was one of the Night Demon’s males.
The tunnel opened up and she saw the river. The water sunk under a sheer wall and she didn’t know exactly where it went, so it could be a death trap. Then again it could lead out.
Up on the wall was a round opening that was bright with the sun’s rays.
If she climbed the wall, there was a chance she could escape that way too. But she didn’t really have her climbing boots on.
Behind her she heard the rumble of feet and she had to make a decision.
The law is, all rivers lead into a lake or ocean, right? Hopefully this planet followed the same natural laws. Backing up she shoved the knife back into her boot and fastened her Minky pad into her thigh pocket and sealed it shut. Fenton took three deep breaths preparing herself for the cold water – or at least she assumed it was cold.
Digging her toes into the dirt, she lifted her arms and then kicked up. Pumping her hands as fast as they would go right before she leapt into the air with one knee curled.
Her stomach immediately dropped as she descended. Her body wobbled and Fenton held her arms out hoping to even the landing. The water was cold, as predicted.
The icy liquids seized her limbs and exposed face first. As soon as she popped her head out of the water, she gasped for breath and looked at the nasty faced people yelling out as they rushed into the water.
Holding her breath, she dunked under and let the current sweep her towards her safety.
The water darkened as she slipped under the wall. Just when she thought the river picked up the pace, she started to fall. Crossing her arms she dropped, feet first down a waterfall she couldn’t see.
Her feet hit first, smashed into something hard and the gallons and gallons of water pushed her down further. Swimming hard she popped up for more air.
Another cavern. But to the side she saw a pile of bones and a sliver in the rock with the sun peeking through. Swimming over, she crawled out of the river and made her way to the light.
The sun shone on her face as Fenton exited the cave. Seeing the ship at the bottom of the mountain, she jumped down and rushed in that direction, sliding and slipping as she went. There was no reason to try to look cool when running for one’s life.
The ship ramp was open and Fenton didn’t take a moment to think about that. She should have. Inside the cargo bay towards the far back, were four gnarled faces looking at each other. As soon as she entered, they all noticed.
Fenton didn’t bother running out or fighting them. She wasn’t big enough or strong enough to fight four adult males. Sprinting to her left, she ran directly to the lifepod, ducked in and slammed her hand down on the eject button at the top. The small hatch slid home, sealed and the lights turned off, all but the inner yellow lights.
She could hear the vibration of the engine burst as well as the fists from the savages trying to get in.
Metal wins against flesh…every time.
Most pods were meant to escape space, but she needed it to get her off the planet. Pulling out her Minky pad from her pant’s pocket, she wiped off the water and powered it on.
Fenton felt when the lifepod broke away and began rising in the air.
Tapping fast, she logged into the system, selected a power increase and overwrote the safety protocols. She didn’t need the pod to make it several hundred light years away. She just needed to get up and out of the planet’s atmosphere.
Hitting the command key the pod started to rise faster and faster.
Smiling, she sat back as the pressure to her body increased as the speed of the engines accelerated. Counting to herself she knew exactly when she broke through the atmosphere and hit space.
The pressure was gone and it was easier to breath.
Picking back up her Minky she looked to see if there were any nearby Federation ships. They would be obligated to pick her up. And she knew she could trust the Federation. They followed rules, and she liked those rules.
Unfortunately, there were no such ships nearby.
But there was a cargo ship a few hundred lightyears away. If she pinged them now, they might come and pick her up. Of course, they could be pirates under the guise of being a cargo ship.
Fenton assumed the latter was the most accurate. Dealing with space pirates was tricky. She was going to need something big to bargain with. Something that would keep her out of chains and off the slave blocks.
Tapping her thumb on the outside of the Minky pad she thought about it.
“What would they want? What would they need? Money…always, but that’s boring. Something of value? Big value? What’s big value to a cargo captain?….Parts. Engine parts, ship parts, things they can use and sell,” she said to herself remember the abandoned space station near Himmick. It was located on a moon that had been thrown out of orbit about six and a half months ago.
She read about it in the Federation archives….Where did she read that?
Tapping the screen she searched her history and scrolled the very long list of articles and updates. Pulling up the article she retrieved the coordinates, took the trajectory, looked for captain’s logs and made calculated guesses.
It took time, she didn’t know how much time because she was lost in her research. But when she found the space station, a Federation satellite confirm where it was. Perfect.
She tapped the cargo ship’s open communication line and sent a ping for help.
Now the question was, what planet was near the pick-up spot? Because she wasn’t staying on a cargo ship long. That was dangerous being she was a not a big scary female. And the crew would probably …not, they would take advantage of her.
Doing a scan of the area, her choices were Lotus Nexis, a sex slave planet that may or may not try to take her and force her to be one of the slaves.
Or she could go to Angny and possibly be used as gladiator’s prize. Or worse, a gladiator’s opponent.
Shaking her head she knew which one she was going to choose. Lotus Nexis.
The lifepod hit hard and Fenton crashed head first into the rounded wall. Taking several breaths she pushed herself up and hit the eject button to unseal her from inside. The hatch broke off and she stepped out onto the landing pad.
The sun was high in the sky. Shading her face with her hand Fenton let her eyes adjust. It was warm, not hot, and there was a smell of exhaust and rubber in the air.
She scanned the dock to make sure security hadn’t been tipped off.
“Hey there, little sweet Peach? That landing hit hard. You okay? You want to come in and let me check you out?”
“You’re a doctor?” He wasn’t a doctor. She knew that much.
The Red Demon flexed his stomach muscles so she could see the ripples. He must have seen her look because grinned. “I could heal you up. Trust me.”
Fenton looked at the gates around Lotus Nexis and then back at the Demon. He was probably making good money offering his services where he could cut his customer’s a deal. The expensive and disease free males were just beyond that massive receiving area.
“Do you play Pinmon?”
The male dropped his massive arms and sauntered out of his ship onto the black pad. He was taller than her. At least a foot. His dark brown eyes took her in. “You don’t have any money? Do you?”
She didn’t answer. Because Demon’s liked guessing correctly.
The male pursed his lip. “You look scrumptious and I’d love to see how tasty you are. But I don’t work for free. So I’ll make you a deal. We can play a round of Pinmon. If you win, I’ll make you scream for hours. If I win…”
Fenton cut him off, “I’ll fix your ship.”
He stepped back. “What?”
“You’re ship. It’s broken. Why else would you be selling your body on a sex planet for cheap. You’re looking to get enough money to buy parts. I can fix whatever is wrong. Guaranteed.”
“Guaranteed? You don’t even know what’s wrong.” The male crossed his arms.
“I don’t need to.”
He snorted. “Okay little Peach. Let’s say you win, and you look at my ship, and you can’t find the problem. Or you try to fix it and you can’t. When that happens…”
She cut him off again, “It won’t.”
“If it does,” he said firmly, “then you’re my plaything for the next ten years.”
“And if I fix it, you will drop me off wherever I want.”
The male didn’t say anything.
She gave him another five seconds before holding out her hand, Terran style. “Deal?”
A large red hand reached out, and firmly grasped hers. They shook twice before he dropped his hold and waved her back to his ship. “Come on Peach. I hope you’re as good as your mouth can talk.”
Fenton blinked several times trying to figure out that rubbish he just said.
Fenton was sitting in the engine room, pretending to be working even though she already found and fixed the electrical issue. The Red Demon was in his room, sleeping. He offered to blitz her for a few hours, but she bluntly turned him down.
Fenton’s legs were outstretched, crossed and resting on the other side of the door. She pulled out her Minky ready to find her destination. But she couldn’t think of a single place she wanted to go. Because nowhere would be safe. And no one she has ever meet was trustworthy.
That fraction of a second gave her pause and deflated her.
Disdainfully Fenton tossed the Minky pad down. “What am I doing?”
Life so far was about survival. Getting enough money to eat. Find a safe place to sleep. Learn as much as she could so that no one could ever control her. It was a brutal life cycle and she was tired of it.
“There’s got to be something better.”
There had to be, or the races would have died out a long-long time ago.
What was it?
It didn’t take more than a heartbeat to realize she had been looking at life wrong. She forgot a very important humanoid aspect of life. Unity.
She needed to find a family. A crew, something she could be a part of.
Sitting in the engine room on a sloop, she was as far from a unit as possible. And she wasn’t an idiot, so she didn’t think of walking up to just anyone would work in her favor. She had to be selective.
There was a flare of something in her chest. Fenton didn’t exactly know what it was, but it felt good. It felt good to have a goal.
Grabbing her Minky off the ground she sat up, crossed her legs and leaned over. It was time to find the right crew.
Her index finger hovered over the black screen. “What makes a good crew?” she asked herself. Tilting her head to the side she ran through a gambit of articles she had read and nothing pointed to the makings of a good crew.
Tilting her head the other direction she wondered, “What’s the point of being in a crew?”
“Boring,” she said to her own answers. “There has to be something better. Something…that I like to do. This is my crew after all.”
Saying that out loud she stopped. “If this my crew, what’s my objective?”
She didn’t know the answer to that. Her original thought was just to have a unit. But no unit stayed together if they didn’t have an objective. So…she needed to think of that.
Her thumb began tapping the screen as Fenton filtered ideas one after another of objectives. Safety. Keleps. Adventure. Purpose. Validation. Selflessness.
All those sounded good.
“Okay, now where to start.” Fenton didn’t bother to assume the role of captain. She didn’t like the idea of an entire crew always coming to her asking daily or worse, hourly questions. She needed quiet time to read and research.
That decided, she tapped her screen to look for a captain.
A good one.
One she could trust.
The first place she looked was the Federation profession’s archives.
Two hours later, she decided on a relatively new captain named Kava. He was a Federation contracted cargo captain.
Not a Yunkin. Profile said he was Terran.
Sending his ship a request-for-transfer ping she waited. An hour later there was no response. Fenton stood up, brushed off her pants and headed into town. If her captain wasn’t going to answer, well….she was just going to have to make him.
Sitting in the captain seat, Kava rubbed his finger in a circle over the arm of his chair. He was stewing in his frustration. The pilot was daydreaming about taking a dump on his captain chair. Terrans were the absolute worst at controlling their thoughts.
If Kava trusted the idiot he might have shut off the telepathic link to his mind, but the pilot had repeatedly thought things that unsettled his stomach.
The fantasy switched to Kava finding the brown logs and yelling at the male with a finger in the air. The pilot then imagined he broke his finger, punched him in the face and that was all it took to bring Kava to the ground.
Pushing the images from the pilot away from his mind, he scanned the dash and saw the alert button was blinking. It had been blinking for days.
His pilot said he repaired the electrical issue last month. In his mind the light was just a fuse malfunction and he didn’t worry about it. But Kava did. His ship shouldn’t be broken. He couldn’t operate a functional business with a broken vessel – which was honestly the crux of his frustration.
He needed a new ship but he didn’t have the funds for it.
Kava opened his mouth to ask the pilot to open the communications so he could send a message, and force the pilot to acknowledge his error, but Kava stopped when he heard the pilot think:
I’d be a better captain…I should just kill him and take this ship. It would be so easy.
Kava settled back and breathed deeply through his nose.
This was the eight pilot he’s hired that wanted to take his ship and his position.
That had to be a sign that he was doing something wrong.
The first time it shocked him. Now…he wasn’t in the mood to be anything but pissed.
Eight pilots each one a different species, age and varied experience – none of them were honest, and none of them were trustworthy and none of them were at his level of intelligence.
Maybe that was what he was missing.
Kava watched in the pilot’s mind as he began plotting how he was going to grab the knife in his boot and slice open Kava’s neck.
It was graphic, but sloppy. Kava was somewhat disappointed in the lack of thought. Did the idiot really think he could just pretend to be going to leave his station to use the cleaner, but instead attack Kava from behind?
Honestly…it was insulting.
The pilot was growing restless, and Kava could see the fantasy repeating faster and faster. The desire to kill was becoming more and more important.
The pilot was urging himself on. Telling himself to just do it.
Kava feigned a relaxed pose a moment before the Terran stood up. “Uh…I’m…I’ll be back – going to use the cleaner.”
Kava peered in his eyes. The pilot’s brown ones shot down and then away.
The male walked past slowly but even if Kava couldn’t read minds, the pilot was giving himself away. The Terran reached down in his boot, pulled out his knife and took a quick breath and sealed his fate.
Lunging towards the captain’s chair ready to kill, Kava didn’t even bother to turn around. Mentally he held connected his telekinetic with the male’s body and levitated him in the air.
“Hey, what the hell? What the hell is this?”
Kava picked up the water package inside the chair’s compartment. Breaking the seal he took a drink ignoring the long slew of questions as he turned the body and floated him out of the bridge and down to the brig.
Kava looked at the blinking red light again and exhaled. Something was missing and he couldn’t figure it out. He was a Master Elder Cerebral with more abilities than even his father. Life should have been so easy. And yet, here is sat staring at a screen pissed that he was lacking in funds, in a loyal crew and a contacts.
He was a contract cargo captain for the Federation. He should have got more work than he was getting, but no one knew him and no one trusted him.
Finishing his water he stood up and walked over to the dash, touched the screen and instructed the ship to find the nearest habitable planet.
He wanted the pilot off his ship immediately.
The navigation screen chimed when it found a remote planet with a breathable atmosphere. Kava didn’t care if the wind blew seven times the speed of sound and the rain was made of molten glass. The pilot was getting off his ship. Period.
Using his telekinesis, he steadied the controls, piloted the ship in the direction. Since it wasn’t on the Federation flight path, he had to fly manually.
Kava would be mentally exhausted by the time he landed. It was another reminder he should have learned to pilot. Not that he didn’t try before, it was just too boring for him. He couldn’t stay focused.
Kava was close enough to see the blue of the oceans of the planet from his navigation screen. The image was smaller than his pinky nail, but big enough to see the color.
He would have to fly around and make sure he found land because he wanted his traitor to live out his miserable backstabbing life thinking about his lack of loyalty.
Kava lowered his eyes to the Navigation screen.
Leaning forward…he read the alert. Incoming ship. No, there was more than one. Incoming ships.
Who the hell was coming at him?
Kava grabbed the back of the pilot chair and guided himself down as he scanned the weapons system. The program was highlighted with a blue outline.
Program was online.
…Or was it?
Scanning the dash he looked for the communication program. It flashed intermittently. The program was outlined in yellow.
Kava tapped the dash and selected all three incoming ships as targets. They would know he was responding with hostile intent, but considering they were headed directly for him, he felt threatened.
Kava saw the alert for an incoming video call, but we he accepted it, it never connected, the system was offline.
What if they thought he was a pirate. They might try and shoot him out of their space?
The incoming ships would come in range of his torpedo’s long before they came into his telepathy range. There was no way to know if they were protecting their plant from a stranger or if they were pirates.
Inhaling deeply, he spread his hand above the button to fire the torpedoes.
The ships moved closer together and began slowing down.
What the hell was this?
Right outside his range to fire, they stopped. So did he.
Then a moment later he saw a lifepod eject from the front ship. It slowly made its way into his range. The pod flew straight for him.
Kava didn’t fire on the object…yet.
He waited until the white obscure looking sphere passed into his field of telepathy and searched to any sign of consciousness. Nothing.
That didn’t mean it was harmless, that just meant the lifepod didn’t have a person inside it.
Kava didn’t trust it, so she mentally grabbed the pod and opened the hatch to see what was inside.
On screen he watched a thin black Minky pad floating out.
Hm. So…they wanted to chat? Was that why they sent a Minky pad?
He probably should have got one a while ago. It was just, he hated answering calls. They always came at the worst time.
Another lifepod discharged from the ship and Kava waited until it was within telepathic range to ensure no one was inside.
When it arrived he allowed it entry into the receiving bay.
Using the cameras on board he grabbed the lifepod with his mind and opened the hatch. Again there was a Minkypad inside. He lifted that with his telekinesis and brought it into the bridge.
Without touching it he powered it on.
…something smelled wrong.
Kava’s eyelids lowered too fast. The Minky was emitting a smelly gas.
His knees gave out, he knew that but wasn’t about to stop himself.
Thinking of the two people who might be able to save him he called out, “Brothersss..”
Too late to link up, he fell into the blackness.
Kava’s jerked awake. Sucking in a deep breath, he choked on the dirt that was pulled into this mouth. Foul granules mixed with a stench he couldn’t place.
Fingers digging into the lose sand he coughed until his lungs cleared. Then he lifted his head and saw what the stench was. Thousands upon thousands of cages filled with males, sitting, crouching or curled in the fetal position, screaming to be let out.
The screams were high pitched and itched his skin.
The smell was putrid, body waste at the corner of his cell made breathing an inconvenience.
Sitting back on his haunches, Kava tried to connect to the minds of those around him, but a sharp pain seared inside his skull, stopping him. Too soon. His brain was probably still suffering from the gas that laid him out.
“This is him?” asked a fat male as who waddled closer to Kava’s cage. He was short with a protruding stomach, fatty boobs and undefined arms. He was wearing a black skirt that swayed over his thick legs and swollen feet.
Next to him was a thin male with the same color skirt. He told the fat one, “This is the one.”
Kava couldn’t wait until he had his mental abilities back, he didn’t like people talking about him like they knew him. And he especially didn’t like it when they acted like they knew him.
The fat one looked over, Kava’s face. “He’s not a Bezoral. He’s his skin is not dark enough.”
Kava had no idea what a Bezoral was. But he would as soon as he got his telepathy back.
Seriously, how hard did he hit his head?
“The other slave said this one lifted him up with his mind.”
“The only other tele-able race are Cerebrals. And they have grey skin and blue eyes. But he could be a Silk Demon. He could have forced a memory in his dreams.”
Kava lifted his eyebrows, astonished at how stupid the fat one was. Mixed races was a thing. Not a new thing, but a well-established natural thing.
“What if he is something else? Like a Numan experiment and he was given the ability to move things with his mind?”
Kava winced as if that was the dumbest thing he ever herd. The skinny one was hitting too close to the truth.
Hitting the cage with his meaty hands, he asked. “What are you?”
“Terran,” Kava said because technically he was a quarter Terran.
“Everyone says that. Your Federation ID says you are from the moon Corrue. That’s in the Outworlds. I don’t trust anyone from the Outworlds. The Federation was stupid to allow your kind in our space.” When Kava didn’t respond, the fat one added, “What are you mixed with because no one is pure Terran anymore.”
“Silk Demon,” Kava answered again being honest about the last quarter of his ethnicity.
The fat male rolled his eyes as he turned to the tall skinny one. “See told you he wasn’t anything special.” Tapping his own head the fat one said, “Silk’s mess with your mind. They like it when you go crazy.”
The skinny one peered down. “Are you sure?”
“No one can lie to me. My lie detector chip can always tell.”
Kava forced himself to not react. It was by the grace of Seth of Stars that he held a straight face.
When did they start making lie detection chips?
And would he be able to affect them? Kava’s abilities didn’t affect cyborgs. There was something about their mind that kept him out. That thought worried him. Scanning the cages, he wondered if they all had chips in them?
And maybe that was why he couldn’t hear anyone’s thoughts.
The two males turned and began walking away. When they were too far to see, he closed eyes and rubbed them. A dull ache started to throb at the back of his head.
Exhaling he was about to move to the far end of the cell. Dried logs of poop were piled on the sides. Kava had never felt more disgusted in his life. He had also never been so impatient. Not having his abilities was not unheard of. Having two brothers fights happened and sometimes healing took time.
But this. This was burning a piece of his soul.
The air around him warmed and he could feel the vibration in the molecules. Slamming his hand down on the floor he dug in his nails and tried desperately to not be pissed the hell off.
Behind him he heard someone bang on the bars.
He turned in time to see the male kick his cage again. When they locked eyes, the male’s dark black eyes – with absolutely no white. An Allus.
“Tone it down or you’ll be the first to die.”
The male had long black hair, with an uneven section that looked like someone pulled it out. His bottom lip was lightly swollen, and he looked like the kind of person who didn’t bother hiding a damn thing. If he thought it, he probably said it.
Without knowing a thing about him, Kava respected that. But there was one thing he needed to clear up. “I’m not dying on this planet. Not now, and not ever.”