Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome Home

As Alex drifted back into consciousness he felt weak and nauseous, but at least he was laid out on something soft. Then he became aware of the vast and impressive tableau of discomfort that was his body. Pain radiated from his neck in all directions, head to abdomen, fallout from being stunned. This was overshadowed by someone who had their knee jammed into his groin in a most uncomfortable way.

He assumed it was the same someone who was now rifling through his memories. The other presence was familiar and strange at the same time. The family resemblance was still strong. Eleya felt a little bit like Carbon in his mind and they both liked to ransack his brain while he was unconscious. At least Carbon had done it because she wanted to know if he was still alive. This felt like the violation that Carbon had been concerned about.

All of this thinking drew her attention. Her presence was smooth and glassy, impenetrable. Not that he had the ability to do anything other than slow her down... but he was getting angry enough to do that.

Alex started thinking about unimportant things. Playing tag as a kid, watching movies he didn’t like, filling out paperwork. A bunch of noise in the signal. It made it more difficult for Eleya to find what she was looking for.

She did not appreciate that. Her presence regarded him for a moment and peeled off a memory, thrusting it down into his mind. The curious sensation of the skin of the eyelids as it gave way under her claws, the sudden heat of blood as her thumbs plunged into the eyes of someone else who had resisted her. The screaming. She didn’t enjoy it as she did it, but it was something that had to be done. His stomach twisted, shocked at the memory as it played out.

The thumbs holding his eyelids closed shifted as sharp claws caressed the delicate skin beneath them. He got the message.

She went back to rummaging, dragging up a few recent memories. Dinner with Ed at Noonan’s, the flight back to the carrier. That was all she needed, apparently, fading away from his mind a moment after the memory was done.

Eleya let his eyes go, blinking in light of her bedroom. He was on her bed - no big surprise, there were not a lot of soft objects large enough for him in there that he had seen. She flipped her antennae back and leaned down, whispering in his ear. “I did not mean to disturb you with that, I am sorry.” She kissed his forehead and sat up, straddling his leg, knee thankfully removed from his junk.

“Bit too late for that.” He rubbed his temples, doing nothing but setting off new bursts of pain in his head.

“You are correct. This was a necessity, if not a distasteful one. You do not yet know our ways and I did not yet know you.” She climbed off his leg and sat next to him on the bed, legs folded under her.

“That’s really stupendous. Maybe you could just try to explain things first next time?” He sat up, face to face with her again.

“There is no need. I have learned what I sought from you.”

“Okay. So do I just leave now? Or is there some other terrible thing you wish to do to me?” As his head cleared, he was becoming more irate and her non-answers did not help.

She smirked at that and turned away, sliding towards the end of the bed. The tips of her antenna glowed, forked beads of metal resting just behind the fluffy part. Must be how she was translating. She set her hand down on his ankle as she stood and may have given it a squeeze. He wasn’t sure exactly how he should feel about that, but it definitely made him feel awkward. Eleya smoothed her jacket and strolled over to a small cabinet and poured herself a drink. “There are many more terrible things in your future, Alex. I intend to do many things to you... and perhaps there are things you will do for me.”

Her phrasing left him uneasy, unsure if that was how she meant it to be or if it was just the translation. “That’s creepy, but I guess I don’t have a lot of options, do I?”

She sipped the amber liquid and shook her head with a smile. “No. Do not worry, Alex. You will not find the tasks I set before you distasteful. You may actually enjoy them.”

He was starting to understand Carbon’s resignation before he came in here. There were a lot of answers coming from her, but they were all empty. “You aren’t used to giving away information, are you?”

“You cannot know how refreshing you are, so free of guile.” She laughed and seemed, if only for a moment, legitimately happy. “A rare quality here, I am afraid. It does make my dear neice’s interest in you much more clear.”


She shrugged and set her glass to the side, picking up a tablet. “I am glad that she is not just chasing a nice pair of ankles.” She wrote something on the tablet and tapped a few times. “I did expect someone with a bit more face. Though yours does have good symmetry.”

“Uh, that’s... Good to know.” He wasn’t sure where the hell she was going now.

“Yes, it is.” She continued to write on the tablet.

That conversation seemed to be a dead end. “So, maybe you can tell me a little bit more about what’s going on?”

Eleya didn’t look up from her tablet. “Yes, now is as good a time as any. In the wake of the disaster on Schon, our relationship with Humanity has grown at rate much faster than it has before. Much faster than we would normally be comfortable with.”

Alex nodded and scooted forward to sit on the edge of the bed. This was more like what he was looking for. “Yes, I am aware.”

“Good. This has met with some resistance in certain circles. We have been an isolated people for a very long time and they do not want this to change. When it was just trade treaties, they would grumble and complain. Now that we have given up one of our most advanced technologies on a gamble to find more planets, they do much more.”

“Such as?”

“There have been a few assassinations and they are attempting to foment a rebellion to overthrow the monarchy. This is not in my best interest. It is not in Carbon’s or yours, either. Until now, they have kept their sights set on loyal members of the government, but one of our spies had determined that you are marked now, as well.”

He swallowed. Today was turning out to be a big day, meeting the Tslao Empress and finding out that he was targeted for assassination. “Why do they care about me? I haven’t had anything to do with... anything.”

“You were directly involved with the Kshlavo. They want our alliance broken, and you are one of the few names so intimately tied to this endeavor. I have no doubt they would destroy a space station to get to you. They’ve done it before.”

He sighed slowly. “So, what can I do about this?”

“Not much. You lack the security apparatus necessary. I would prefer you not get your government involved. I do not want your oh en eye crawling around on my flagship for any reason. So, I offer you our protection.”

“Great. Thank you, I appreciate that.”

“As you should.” She looked up from her tablet, addressing the wall again. “Send her in.”

Alex wasn’t sure he would get used to that. He kind of hoped he wouldn’t have to. “I don’t have to do anything? Your people will just take care of it?”

She tapped the tablet a few more times before setting it down as the door opened. She had that smirk on again as she nodded. “No, dear nephew. Our people will take care of it.”

Carbon stopped for a moment, stunned. When she spoke, her voice was laced with murder. “What have you done?”


  1. Did she just mind-rape him? And feel him up?!?
    Unless the translator is screwing with him, I'd say calling him nephew meant that she intends for Carbon and Alex to get hitched. Talk about a shotgun wedding.

  2. The Empress does what she will, she is the law. Ultimately, she did violate his mind and then groped him when she was done... Then she insulted him a few times. Their interpersonal relationship is going to be really screwed up.

    As for her intentions, well... we'll find out more next week.