4.3 – Ingratiated

“AWA” Get up, pull myself into consciousness, stop sleeping

It was the worst possible way to wake up, the buzzing headache and the forced knowledge that was crammed into the charged word, but Alex grit her teeth and acted as if it hadn’t bothered her. Over the past few days she had learned to become incredibly good actress when it came to ignoring the Terrans’ forceful way of speech. She yawned and blinked with a vague smile, as if looking forward to a free day instead of sitting alone in a stone cell. It had worked for the old guard, once he realized his charged words didn’t bother her he had stopped using them unnecessarily. The guard on the other side of the bars was new, and his face fell at her lack of reaction. His dark purple hair poked out awkwardly from beneath his helmet to frame the crestfallen face, and the overall effect made him look young.
“They said you didn’t like PO,” he said disappointedly, as the word’s definition rattled around in her head, words infused with might and power. Very careful not to wince, Alex shrugged and shook her head.
“It not bug me,” she said. That had taken some getting used to as well, speaking like a child using single-syllable words. Terrans’ language was almost identical to her own for single syllables, but they used their charged words for anything more complex. Since they didn’t understand multi-syllabic english, and she couldn’t infuse her words, Alex compromised even when it made her sound like an idiot.

“Hmm,” the new guard muttered, watching her suspiciously. He suddenly started speaking rapidly, firing off a string of charged up, painful words, “SU, LI, DE, HO, ” Alex hadn’t taken multiple words at the same time before, and her hands, still under the blanket, gripped the sheets. Manipulative and scheming, my words unbelievable, he doesn’t believe my words or actions, he thinks I cheat and lie, there’s no point in resisting it. She made herself smile, even as she struggled to catch her breath. The sudden meaning faded, but the pounding in her head stayed behind, as if the charged words had burrowed through her skull to get to her brain.
“I like you,” she grinned, even though it hurt, “what’s your name?”
“Pho,” the new guard seemed unsure of how to take his new charge’s attention. Alex mentally filed the name away. She wasn’t yet sure of exactly how the hierarchy worked, but she knew that those without a charged word for a name were fairly low on the ranking.
“I like you Pho. You’re a fucking asshole bastard and proud of it.”
“What means this, ‘fuck king ass hole bast tard’?” Pho asked quizzically, sounding out the multi-syllabic words as if they were separate. Alex just shrugged and lay back on her cot, hands behind her head.

Another day with nothing to do passed by slowly, and Alex settled into her new daily routine. She first folded the homespun blanket into a neat square which she placed on the cot, using it as a cushion as she meditated. There hadn’t been the time to continue with her meditation at the Academy, and she found that re-establishing her childhood habit had a much needed calming and stabilizing effect on her. She kept up the meditation until the guards brought her the morning meal. Today it was a wild rice with chunks of spiced meats and vegetables, a small loaf of bread, and a large jug of water.
“Why do you give us such luxurious food?” Alex asked as she wolfed the meal down. Her captor’s largess was odd, considering how sparse her accommodation had otherwise been. Pho seemed startled that she would talk to him, and shrugged.
“You eat what we have,” he shrugged, “no point in two meals being PO” prepared, cooked, handcrafted Alex had taken to the habit of bracing herself whenever a Terran opened their mouth, and she didn’t flinch.

After she drank enough to quench her thirst, Alex carefully removed the rough black shirt and pants she had been provided with, using the remaining water in the jug to clean them. Out of the corner of her eye she noted the guard, not even attempting to hide his attention.
“You give all your guards such a show?” He leered. Alex gave him a blank look and continued washing her clothing, careful to make no move to cover herself, but also not trying to titillate. Different guards reacted differently to her routine; some enjoyed the view and some treated it with disinterest. Either way, her display wouldn’t hurt as long as she made it clear she wasn’t trying to seduce him, and having clean clothes helped her mental stability as well. She wrung them out and put them back on, enjoying the feeling of the damp cloth against her skin in the humid air.

Settling cross-legged on the cot, Alex looked around her cell, trying to view it with fresh eyes as she had for the past few days. Three walls were made of tan stone, solid and windowless. The bars that made up the fourth wall were a dark wood, but Alex doubted she could break them. If she could splinter the bars the Terrans would have more than one guard to stand by her cell, even though she was a small asian girl. Better to not try, give off the air of a model prisoner. It’s worked for me so far. So, she considered, forcing herself to breath deeply as she gazed around, The walls would take a weapon to break through. The bars are better, but the guard needs to be taken care of…still no solution. Same as yesterday. I’m not escaping from here. She sighed, and waited for the guard to arrive to summon her.

He arrived before the second meal was brought.
“She is to be brought to the Prince,” the new guard pointed at Alex with his chin. Pho narrowed his eyes at the guard.
“I wasn’t told of this,” he said suspiciously.
“The Prince won’t want it talked about…er, talked of,” Alex said from her cot, “but new guard, he say the truth. The Prince wants me to come to him.”
Pho seemed begrudgingly satisfied, and he fiddled with the intricate lock on the cell, stepping aside. Alex kept her head high as she passed, and pretended not to notice Pho’s eyes travelling up and down her body, taking in the shape that the damp clothes did nothing to hide. He was probably worthless, but it didn’t hurt to keep his attention in case she needed something from him at a future date.

“Ah, it is good to see you ALE” Alexandria, beautiful, adorable, unique. Alex disliked that the Terran’s used a charged word to refer to her. Although it was an honorific, she couldn’t quite get over the feeling that she was being mentally raped with her own name. She forced a smile and bowed her head,
“And it is good to see you too, Prince,” she replied quietly. Although his name was Ashahosta, the Prince didn’t seem to mind her calling him by his title. Alex had learned a few days ago that to attempt a charged name without charging it was akin to an insult.
“Though it has been but a day, I find I have missed you. Is that strange?” Ashahosta asked earnestly. This time Alex’s smile was genuine. She wasn’t quite used to the Prince yet, but his boyish naivette amused her. When she and her squaddies had first been brought to their prison, heads in bags to prevent them from identifying their surroundings, Alex had spent the time thinking hard about what her best course of action should be. She knew that rescue was out of the question; once the satflyer had crashed she harbored no illusions that the orbital would allow a rescue mission. Even if they did, Alex also doubted the Academy had the firepower to mount a decent rescue attempt. Her thoughts had focused mainly on the squadmates there with her in the compound, and to that end she began thinking about what she could do to improve their lot. Perhaps even save their lives.

“Come, ALE,” Alexandria, special one, exotic exile “I’ve just had some fruits brought in, you must try one.” The Prince gestured across the wide luxurious room to indicate a bowl of small purple fruits. He moved fluidly despite his size; not fat but large and muscular and tall. Loose robes trimmed in furs made him look even bigger than he was, and his long locks of thick purple hair contributed to the effect of size, as if he had a mane around his head. Yet, even for all his size, the Prince struck Alex as small somehow. Young. Unsure of himself, with a lack of confidence and a nervous disposition. She watched him in silence as he brought her the fruit, trying to reconcile Ashahosta’s huge stature with the impression she had of him. It seemed like so long ago now that she’d decided to seduce her captor, not the mere handful of days in had actually been. She had been expecting to do whatever depraved and degrading things that were required to gain his attention, prepared for the risk that he would simply take what she had to offer and more. It was a risk she had taken willing for her teammates, and when she had been taken to her captor Alex thought she was ready for anything he might be.

She hadn’t been ready for just how easy it would be to seduce him nor, unfortunately, for just how little power the Prince actually had. Alex had him in bed in the space of a single evening, gasping and panting over acts that had been frankly tame for her. It was only afterwards, when Alex had tried wheedling her way into better accommodations than the bare cells, that the Prince told her he wasn’t in charge of decisions having to do with the prisoners. While in most areas he had power and control, she had cuddled up with the wrong man. Some nebulous power over his head, “the Dukes”, had final say over the prisoners. I suppose I should feel used, Alex thought idly, biting into the purple fruit. It was hard to muster up any anger when she had been trying to use him in the first place. And it wasn’t as if there were no benefits to their relationship…he might not have been able to free them or move them, but she knew that the relative comfort, plentiful food, and the lack of guards harassing them were things she could thank the Prince for. Alex snapped out of her reverie to find him watching her closely, and she purposely let a little of the sweet juice dribble down her chin. His eyes followed its path down her neck with utter lack of guile, and she smiled. It also helped that the Prince was so very, very easy to wind up.

“Do you like its taste?” he asked eagerly.
“It’s very sweet, very nice,” Alex commented, but she tossed the sticky fruit to one side where it hit the ground with a small thud, “but I don’t want the fruit, I want you, my prince.” The effect of her words on Ashahosta was immediate and obvious; his eyes widened, and an incredulous grin crossed his face. Alex tried not to laugh as she closed the distance between them, pressing her lips hard against his and wrapping her arms around his waist. It was an odd balance she walked at times like these. She kept waiting for the horror of it all to hit her, for her to be stricken with revulsion and dismay. It hadn’t come so far, and the Prince seemed perfectly content to let her take the control she needed to keep her calm. Besides, when it came to pure pleasure and skill, Alex had fucked worse. The Prince was very eager and appreciative of the smallest things, which was a bit of a fetish of hers. She kept on kissing as she gently pushed him backwards, not breaking their contact as they moved towards his bed.

At the last minute Alex twirled them, so that she landed on her back on the rich fur-covered bedspread with the Prince on top of her. He barely seemed to notice, continuing to kiss her all over her face with a passion. You would think he hadn’t touched a girl for years, Alex idly thought, enjoying the attention and the kisses as they glanced across her forehead and cheeks and lips, which is strange considering he did a lot more than touch me yesterday… It was flattering, really, and when he began fumbling with her still-damp shirt she willingly lifted her arms to let him pull it over her head. She looked down with interest at his dark purple mane as his kisses moved down to her breasts. All of the Terrans she had seen had hair of purple, blue, or green in varying shades, and Alex had wondered over the past few days if it was simply a custom to dye them. Now that she was this close she decided it was either a very good dye job, or some technology she wasn’t aware of. She was distracted from her thoughts when the Prince began tugging at the waist of her pants. Alex detachedly took stock of her state of arousal. Sometimes the Prince’s hasty ministrations were enough to get her wet, and on those occasions she was happy to take him, but on this occasion he just wasn’t doing it for her. Luckily it was quite easy to distract him into another route.

Alex reached a hand down between them smoothly, brushing the Prince’s hands aside and slipping it beneath his furs. The man froze as her palm slid across the skin of his stomach and then down into his pants to grasp his firm rod. So, so easy, Alex smiled at the Ashahosta, and felt him stiffen even more at even that small action. He grunted as she slid the pants off of him, pausing for a few moments to run hands across his firm ass appreciatively. Gently stroking his shaft up and down, Alex slowly shimmied down the bed until he was straddling her stomach. With a suggestive smile she released him, and instead pressed her breasts together. Although she wasn’t well endowed in that area, something she blamed firmly on her asian heritage, her boobs were big enough for what she had in mind. The Prince looked down at her, still lusty but obviously confused. For an awkward moment Alex thought she would have to walk him through how to tit-fuck her, but a sudden smile on the face above told her he had finally gotten the message.

He pressed his member against her chest, a little tentatively at first, but Alex wiggled up and down to rub against him, and the action was apparently enough to motivate. At first it was uncomfortable as his length rubbed dryly between her breasts, but on each thrust she leaned forward and flicked a tongue across the head, and soon her saliva made the motions smooth and slick. The Prince growled with each motion of his hips, his member sliding back and forth between her firm boobs, slick with spit and the trails of precum he was leaving. Alex herself was getting hot from the obvious pleasure he was getting from her body, leaving her wet enough that she was she he could be inside of her without discomfort. His fingers digging into her shoulders told her that he was close to finishing, and she decided to let him cum first. Deliberately she looked up at him, met his eyes and whispered,
“I want your cum on me, my prince.”
Too easy, Alex smiled at the shocked look on the Prince’s face just before he came, shooting a trail of semen across her chin and lips, down her neck and leaving a sticky mess between her breasts. She wasn’t particularly turned on by cum, but she licked her lips knowing it would leave the Prince awestruck.

The Prince rose, his limp member flopping awkwardly. Alex leaned back on her elbows, knowing that they weren’t done. Ashahosta made a complicated gesture towards his cock, and a flash of purple light shone from his fingertips. Alex watched with interest as his member grew stiff and straight again, pulsing with the same faint light. The first time he had done it she had been startled, but now she simply looked at the process with curiosity. She didn’t have long to look, since as soon as the Prince grew hard again he moved towards her again predatorily. Alex smiled slipped her pants off, spreading her naked legs for him as the Prince barely slowed to climb onto the bed. Her legs wrapped around him and he speared her without preamble or foreplay. She gasped as her slit was penetrated by the hard member that tingled and flared inside of her, too warm but still strangely comfortable. The feeling of the cock enhanced by purple light was unnatural, not unpleasant but too strange for her to orgasm. Ashahosta thrust roughly, looking down at her with the same lust that had lit his eyes before, barely hanging onto the pleasure without finishing embarrassingly quickly. Alex closed her eyes and leaned back, smiling at the ceiling. It’s not bad, this seduction thing, she thought. The sensation was different from normal fucking even though the motions remained the same, his humping moving the whole bed on each thrust. Numbing feelings aside she enjoyed the pleasure as he took his fill of her body.

After a while the tingling sensations in her pussy grew a little uncomfortable, and Alex decided it was time for the Prince to get off a second time. She opened her eyes and started moving her hips in small circles, stirring his member inside of her.
“My prince, you’ve already wasted so much of your cum on me,” she ran hands from her stomach up to squeeze and play with her breasts. She knew he wouldn’t understand words like ‘already’ or ‘wasted’, but she was sure her hands smearing his semen across her breasts and nipples would send the right message, “I want the rest in my cunt.”
The Prince roared as he came inside of her, his fingernails digging into the skin of her hips where he held her. The tingling in her slit was making Alex’s sex numb, so she couldn’t feel his second load shooting inside of her, but for his sake she pretended she could, gasping and moaning and continuing to grind her hips against his. I may as well give him some material for his fantasies… The Prince kept on thrusting even as his arms shook, and Alex found the sensation of him thrusting as he slowly grew soft to be strangely endearing.

He pulled away with a gasp, and Alex flopped back with a sigh. Ashahosta rose to pull a small towel from the table, offering it to her for her to clean herself with. Alex considered him for a moment, conflicting emotions warring in her. On the one hand, the prince was certainly satisfied enough with her, she didn’t need to continue being mischievous…but on the other, she couldn’t resist. He was so innocent and single-minded, and teasing him was so easy. If the stakes weren’t so high she might’ve called it fun. She took the towel from Ashahosta and tossed it away.
“I want to feel your cum in my snatch for the rest of the day,” she said lightly, “I love the feel of it.” The Prince looked at her dumbfounded. Alex was delighted at the reaction, at the thunderstruck look that melted into a grin of his own.
“Perhaps I can give you some more to feel then,” he growled with a smile.
Out of the corner of her eye Alex noticed his member twitch, and she wondered if he could perform the same hardening purple light twice in a row. He was approaching her again, and she braced herself hopefully for another pounding. Maybe this time she could ignore the tingling enough to actually finish…

A knock at the door interrupted what Alex was sure would be the Prince’s third go ’round.
“What?” he barked sharply.
“The Dukes are here, Prince ASH” Ashahosta, second highest, leader, lord Alex winced at the unexpected charged word, glad that her prince was facing the door and didn’t see.
“They are?” Ashahosta’s entire demeanor changed, his dominant bearing shrinking back again. He grabbed at a fur on his bed and used it to hastily wipe the smears of cum off of Alex’s chest, fumbling for her clothing at the same time. Halfway between amused and befuddled, Alex helped, pulling her clothes on and shivering at the damp of the cloth.
“They say you are to bring one EX,” exile, forsworn, race-traitor “to them at once,” the man on the other side sounded nervous himself. Ashahosta turned to meet Alex’s gaze, almost pleadingly.
“Will you be CO?” he asked. Helpful, cooperative, willing and obedient. She considered the question. Of all of her squaddies, she was sure she had laid the groundwork the best. Perhaps she could use her reputation for being ‘CO’ to gain something from the mysterious Dukes. At the very least, she had a better chance than squadmates did.
“Of course I will,” she responded with a smile, leaning forward to kiss the Prince on the forehead. When he smiled, the expression was so anxious and tense that Alex wondered if she had made a huge mistake.

When the bag was removed from her head, it took Alex a few moments to re-adjust to the lights. When she did, her stomach dropped. She had hoped she would be taken to some small and comfortable room, somewhere private where she could perhaps work her seduction on someone with actual power. This was as far removed from those hopes as possible. The room was small, but it was also ornate and official. In front of her sat a large wooden table, three austere older men sitting behind it and watching her with serious expressions. They seemed representative of the three colors she had seen throughout the Terran’s world, one with faded blue hair, one with mint green, and one with lavender, all staring at her inscrutably. The table between them was empty, except for a large silver bowl that shone with multicolored light. To the right of the table stood what she assumed to be three princes, Ashahosta among them. On the left a spindly, thin man with a small stone tablet was watching her with a startling intensity, as if he was ready to take notes if she so much as scratched her nose.

“Please take one of the spheres and eat it,” the thin man broke the silence. Alex glanced at the bowl on the table. On closer inspection, she could see that the source of the light came from a collection of glowing spheres that filled the bowl. They were small, and looked like glass with tiny fires trapped within, fires of green and blue and purple. If nothing else, they’re consistent with their color schemes, Alex thought, reaching forward and selecting one. She chose purple in honor of the man she had come to think of as ‘her’ prince, and vaguely wondered if she was passing or failing a test with her color choice. When no one said anything at her selection, she popped the sphere in her mouth and bit down. The sphere crunched and her mouth was full of grainy powder; it clearly didn’t just look like glass, it was made of glass. Alex spat it out and gazed at the impassive three across from her. Did they really think she would simply kill herself as they all calmly watched?

“These spheres are hideously expensive in both time and manpower,” the thin man said calmly, “if you waste any more of them like that, you will guarantee your execution.” With the threat of death, it took a moment for Alex to process the significance of what he had just said.
“Did you just say multi-syllable words without charging them?” She asked. The thin man made a sour face as he responded,
“I am one of the few who has bothered to learn to speak the tongue without magic. It is quite distasteful, but on those rare occasions when it is needed, it makes me invaluable. Now please, the sphere. It will not kill you.” Magic? They think their technology is magic? What kind of backward creatures are these Terrans? Did they get their tech from someone else, so they don’t understand how it works? Alex took another purple sphere, trying to ignore the gritty crunching as she ground it in her teeth and swallowed. Instantly she felt a fire burning in her stomach, along with a vaguely unpleasant pressure. The older man in the middle nodded as if satisfied, the action sending his tuft of mint green hair wobbling. The thin spindly man spoke again.

“Exile. You have been brought before the Dukes of the three great tribes to answer their interrogations. While your safety is not guaranteed, if you cooperate the fate of you and your companions will be better than if you do not. As you seem unable to speak normally, I will be acting as translator between you and the Dukes using low speech, speaking to you by tongue and to them by mind.”
Alex nodded her understanding. The pressure in her stomach was uncomfortable. The translator paused for a moment, not taking his eyes from her, and then spoke again.
“We are informed that your name is Alexandria. Have you ever attempted to kill one of our number Alexandria?”
Alex opened her mouth to protest, and although she could feel her lips shaping the word ‘no’, her voice rang in the small room,
“Yes, when they came for us in the tent I tried to shoot one of you in the head.” She covered her mouth with both hands, eyes wide, as the pressure and heat instantly dissipated from her stomach. The translator simply nodded his head and waited, clearly conversing with the three men behind the table in his mind.
“Please eat another sphere,” he said finally. This is unfair, Alex hesitantly took a blue sphere and slipped it into her mouth, I can’t lie, can’t even spin the truth…what kind of compound is this?

“How many of your Exiles’ moons now orbit about our planet?” The translator’s voice seemed dry and lifeless, and Alex was reminded of a ventriloquist’s dummy. She focused on the exact wording of the question. I’ve never been exiled anywhere, so I don’t consider myself an exile, she reasoned, and since a moon is a planetary body, technically the orbitals don’t count as moons.
“There are five of them, we refer to them as ‘Orbitals’,” Alex’s traitorous mouth seemed to move without her permission, and even as she felt the pressure in her stomach lessen, a knot in it was growing. I’m giving away everything….anything they could possibly ask…I’m helpless… even as the panicked thought crossed her mind she kept on talking, against her will, “their names are Academy, Techrider, Minera, Pivot, and Basura.”
The translator carefully made notations on his tablet with a thin writing instrument, and Alex felt more nervous and helpless than she had ever felt in her life. I can only pray that they don’t ask the right questions. At the translator’s indication, she took another sphere, but this time she held it under her tongue and pretended to chew and swallow.
“What is the goal of your balls of death and lightening? For what purpose do they attack?” Alex opened her mouth to answer, but the translator cut her off sharply, “please swallow the sphere before answering.”

Defeated, Alex swallowed the ball. There was nothing left to do. A thin sheen of sweat made her skin feel sticky in the too-hot room, and she could feel the Prince’s semen dripping out of her to dampen her pants. She regretted her decision to make him happy as she shifted uncomfortably, her mouth running on autopilot.
“The drones find a location where Terrans are situated, then clears the village out. Pockets of crysium can always be found just underneath the village, and the miners in Orbital Minera can harvest the crysium from orbit, as long as there are no Terrans in the way to interrupt the mining drones and beams. We’ve also found that a successful attack against a village will delay the next Drake attack by a few months.” Even through the feelings of helplessness, Alex could tell her words surprised them. Until then, the old men sitting across from her hadn’t changed their expression, but their faces now registered surprise. Maybe that could be capitalized upon.
“Why do you Terrans attack us with monsters?” Alex challenged. The surprised looks turned to looks of shock and outrage.
“You and yours have attacked and hounded us for far longer than we have sent Dracori to respond, Exile,” the translator spat. He hadn’t paused to mentally consult with the three before answering, “are we now at fault for defending ourselves against your blind aggression?” He stopped speaking suddenly, as if he had been silenced, and as he clearly worked to regain his composure, Alex pondered his words. It hadn’t ever occurred to her to wonder who had started the war between the Orbitals and the surface. It was simply something that always had been.

“Do you mean that if we stopped attacking…you would stop sending invaders and Drakes to attack us?” She asked carefully. To demonstrate her cooperative nature, she took a sphere and ate it without being told as she waited for an answer.
“The Dukes know that you do not have the power to stop your moons’ attacks on our people,” the translator answered after a pause, “each of our villages have already attempted peace. It is you exiles that lust for war, not us. Now,” he waited until Alex swallowed, smiling quite unpleasantly, “in what way might we destroy the Exiled moons?”
Alex blinked, horror settling in her stomach. She was so shocked by the question that she couldn’t even think of the answer, the sympathy that had been slowly building for the Terrans disappearing. So much for us being the war-lusting ones, she thought bitterly.
“I….I don’t really know,” she admitted, relieved that it was the truth, “maybe if you could send up five or six Drakes at once, or if you could get someone already on the inside to infiltrate and destroy the orbitals’ inner workings? Terrans can certainly hurt our orbitals, but I haven’t seen anything you could do that would bring one down, let alone all of them.”

The Dukes seemed very displeased with their answer, and Alex was glad. She took another sphere and popped it into her mouth somewhat smugly, which perhaps was a mistake. The duke with lavender hair barked a question, his dusty voice breaking the silence for the first time,
“Why do you shift in your seat so ONC?” shiftily, suspiciously, as if uncomfortable or hiding something
Shit, Alex blushed as the pressure in her stomach seemed to force the words through her throat,
“Because I let Prince Ashahosta cum inside me and it’s dripping out now.”
Ironically, the dukes seemed far less shocked at this answer, although the one with lavender hair glanced to his right at Prince Ashahosta, who was also blushing and looking straight ahead.
“Did you do this to convince him to free you?” The translator asked as if only curious, but he indicated the bowl as well. Alex took one and chewed slowly, her entire face flushed. This was almost worse than before. She refused to meet anyone’s eyes as she answered.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be freed, I just wanted to see my squadmates and help them be better off however I could,” she answered quietly, “And at first it was just about getting something from him, but after a few days I…” Alex struggled hard to stop talking, but whether it was magic or chemicals in the glass pills, it certainly kept her lips moving, “…I actually kind of like him. He’s kind and sweet. The kind of guy I’d sleep with even in other circumstances.”

The room was quiet for a very long time after that, a mental conversation occurring that did not involve her. Alex processed what she had just said as they carried on their silent talking. It was just as unexpected to her as it must’ve been to the dukes, but she knew the spheres forced her to speak the truth, even if she hadn’t wanted to admit the truth to herself. Glancing over at Ashahosta, she mentally shrugged. Why not? There was nothing wrong with enjoying the seduction of one’s captor. At least, she didn’t think so…
“The Dukes have decided upon your fate,” the translator broke the silence, and Alex stiffened. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest, and she had no clue what the quiet men across from her would decree. The translator didn’t say another word, but the door to the room opened and guards entered, clearly silently directed by the dukes. Gently but firmly they each took her by an arm, and escorted her out of the room.

The problems of betraying the names of the orbitals or revealing embarrassing details of her sex life seemed disgustingly trivial as the guards walked her down the hallways. It was the first time that Alex had seen her surroundings without a bag over her head, and she tried to calm the fluttering in her stomach by taking it all in. The halls were the same sandy stone that her cell had been made of, but every few feet there were glassless windows that looked out onto a village. Alex had assumed she was being kept underground since her cell wasn’t lit by sunlight, and she tried to catch glances outside at each window she passed. The village was a little smaller than her classes said an average Terran village ran. She could see glimpses of forest on the boundary, but the buildings themselves made a large ring that was clear of plant growth. People milled busily back and forth across the clearing in the middle, and Alex noted that every single one had hair of purple, blue or green. Are they letting me see all of this because I’m going to die soon? A small forlorn voice asked in the back of her head. She wasn’t entirely sure how to answer.

The guards stopped next to a large double door made of a heavy dark wood. On either side stood two more Terrans, and they glanced at the three with half-hearted curiosity. Alex’s heart hammered in her chest as the guard on her right knocked on the door. She contemplated making a break for it, but the Terrans had proved they were a match for pistols and weaponry; they would have no problem gunning her down before she reached the end of the hall. The door swung open slowly, and a familiar voice flooded Alex’s chest with relief.
“God damn Alex, who’d you have to fuck to manage all of this?”
“Preston, you fucking douchebag asshole…” Alex was so overwhelmed she couldn’t even finish the insult, rushing forward and wrapping him in a bearhug. The other squaddies gathered around to join as she laughed and cried at the same time, and the guards closed the door behind them, leaving the squadmates alone.

The room was huge and comfortable, as far from the jail cells as could be. Each of the squadmates had a small bed covered with furs, although from the multiple furs piled on one indicated that Julia and Tess had decided to share. A separate room contained facilities, including a bath made of a single piece of carved wood. As soon as she could extract herself from her squadmates she closed herself in the room and filled a steaming hot bath, surprised to find running water in the primitive compound. As the room filled with steam and she lay in the water, Alex finally let herself relax, shaking with nerves and wondering what the future would bring for her and the rest of the rookies.

Previous Chapter (NSFW): Focus
Next Chapter (NSFW): Missing You

2 thoughts on “4.3 – Ingratiated”

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but when the guard Pho says “I wasn’t told of this”
    isn’t “wasn’t” a 2 syllable word?

    1. Normally, yes! In this case though, you can imagine the last few letters slurred together, thanks to the heavy accent, so in practice it sounds like just one.

      Good catch though!

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