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Nov. 1st, 2012 06:23 pm
0good_as_gold0: (Default)
[personal profile] 0good_as_gold0 posting in [community profile] good_as_gold
(Written 2008, just never posted, for some reason.)

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     The sky had flushed with the brilliance of encroaching evening and the streets had grown dark fairly quickly. The traders had remained out on the cobbled lanes until the street lighting came on; it was an incongruous mix of modern and traditional that blended together strangely well.

     Sei considered the dusky, peaceful streets to be rather attractive, but Brennan had become uneasy as the traders dwindled away down the side streets and slowly vanished; he saw shadows lurking in every corner, imagined predators watching their every step. “I do not like this, friend,” he commented, all four arms twined about himself, for the third time in as many minutes, then varied his repertoire a little with the addition of; “We will be mugged, for sure. Attacked and our money stolen. We should return to the shipyard, and rest up for the night. We can resume this during the day!”

     Sei gave him a genial smile. “If that is what you want to do, then I do not see why we should not,” he agreed, evenly. “I very much doubt our target will just vanish overnight.”

     Brennan snorted a laugh, although he didn’t sound amused as much as he sounded unimpressed. “It is the fact that we may be induced to vanish that concerns me!”

     The Eumin had obviously intended his statement in jest, but it seemed that his words were to suddenly become a lot more prophetic than he’d realised…

     Sei turned a corner, and almost walked straight into the gun that pointed his direction. “What in the name of-?!” He leaped back into Brennan, and almost knocked both to the ground.

     The sleek, chocolate-brown Nyen wielding the weapon barely blinked. “Doctor? Would you come with us, please?”

     “Who are you?” Sei demanded, still attempting to back off but Brennan was in the way, trying to push back. A quick glance over his shoulder revealed a big, one-eared Usurian advancing from a side-street behind them. “What do you want?”

     “That need be no concern of yours,” the hart replied, evenly, shaking his head. “Come with us and you will not be harmed. Resist, and I can make no guarantees for your safety.”

     “You are one of Yannis’ employees?” Sei guessed, softly.

     “That I can neither confirm nor deny,” the hart apologised, gesturing for Sei to move back. “Turn and face the wall, and place your hands at your back.”

     “If you work for Yannis, surely you recognise that we will not go peacefully,” Brennan argued, making no move to do as instructed; Sei noticed that the Eumin had already tensed up, as if to make a break for freedom.

     The hart nodded. “This is something we’d always borne in mind, and taken steps to prepare for,” he agreed. “And it’s simple. You run? I shoot you.” He hefted the weapon in his slim hands. “The tranquiliser in here is fast acting and works for hours. You really, really don’t want to be asleep for very long, where we’re going.”

     “I do not particularly care for your threats,” Sei commented, softly. “And I am quite sure my friend does not appreciate them either. Either you give us information, or we will be taking our leave of you – regardless of how you threaten us.”

     “Brave bird, aren’t you?” the Nyen argued. “All right. Information. See that which Brun has in his hands? That is a disruptor.”

     Sei glanced sideways, to see the big alien helpfully wave the gun as a demonstration.

     “It interferes specifically with electron flow,” the Nyen went on. “If he hits you with that? You’re down. And you have no choice in the matter at all. Is that clear?”

     “Your threats have always been clear,” Sei replied, grimly. “I do not dispute that you are well armed. It is your methods I do not care for-”

     Brennan caught them entirely wrong-footed – he shoved hard on the Usurian and pitched him sideways into the Nyen, who gave a yell of fury and found he couldn’t shoot the Eumin because there was a wall of fur in the way. Brennan used the confusion to bolt – he was out in the street and sprinting for the safety of the main river thoroughfare as fast as his feet would take him, and looked like he might just be going to make it…!

     …until a stripy little Nyen with a cannon almost as big as her whole leg stepped out into his path, and squeezed the trigger. Before the Eumin could jink sideways, the projectile from the gun bloomed out into a net – a tough, adhesive, polymer net, weighted with metal globules at its amorphous margin.

     Brennan attempted to duck, but far too late; the net caught him on the shoulder, the weights smacking him hard in the chest, and the momentum of the remainder of the globules jerked him into a spin and dropped him square into the sticky meshwork. He ended up on his chest, one arm trapped in an awkward twist at his side and the other three wrapped down against his torso, coughing dust out of his lungs.

     “I do believe,” the little hind said, smirking and resting her gun lazily on her shoulder, “that my darling other told you not to run.” Then she levelled a handgun at him, and shot him clean in the left buttock; he gave a yelp! of pain, but his eyes rapidly rolled up in his head and he was unconscious in seconds.

     The hind planted a dainty hoof onto Brennan’s insensate shoulder, as if she’d bagged a trophy, and smirked up the street at the males. “Gentlemen, you really need to take tips from the master,” she said, dryly.

     The hart sighed, exaggeratedly. “All right, doctor,” he turned to Sei. “Do we have your co-operation, now?”

     Sei hissed his irritation, but nodded. “For now. As I seem to have no choice in the matter…”

* * * * *

     Mirii had emerged from her hiding place beside the bed and ventured back out into the garden when Yannis finally tired of playing evil megalomaniac and ventured back upstairs to his apartment to play the affectionate lover. He really wanted to sucker her in to this! To convince her not only that he loved her, truly madly and deeply loved her, but also to convince her that everything she had been told about love and relationships thus far was a lie. The deeper he could suck her down into depravity, the better.

     Although… hnh. Feigning attraction for this little wisp of gold insubstantiality was close to impossible – she was virtually the polar opposite of what he looked for in a woman. In his opinion, women needed to look like they’d done at least a day of hard work in their lives, to be sleek and a little muscular, not looking like they’d snap in half in you breathed on them a little too hard. And women needed a little meat on them – to be curvy, but not overweight, with a nice handful of breast and child-bearing hips, a succulent behind, pouty lips and a come-hither look in their eye.

     Mirii, on the other hand, was so ruler-straight, without even the slightest bumps on her flat chest, that she was almost masculine in looks, and he found her… well, not ugly, per se, but rarely attractive. She was… dull. Bland. He felt not the slightest flicker of attraction towards her, which made it almost impossible to even act like he was interested.

     Buuut… with Asenka’s help, he may be able to change that. The little hind was an expert at bringing out the voluptuousness of women! He’d seen some of her handiwork from before they got together, when she was a spy working in a brothel – and seeing some of the formerly plain little waifs she’d turned into buxom nymphettes reassured him that she could do the same to this gullible little idiot…

     She had settled on a lounger on the patio, to watch the sun sinking, when he found her; the deep amber glow from the descending star had turned her into a curled droplet of fiery gold. This was one of the few times she had a delicate prettiness about her – her long nose didn’t look quite so long, her gangrel limbs weren’t quite so spindly, and her hair curled about in just the right way that it disguised her enormous ears.

     She must have heard him approaching, because she lifted her head and opened her eyes to watch him approach.

     “Hello, Mirii,” he greeted, gently, settling onto the lounger next to her. “How are you feeling?”

     “Calmer,” she admitted, reluctantly. “I have been… thinking.”

     “Thinking nice thoughts?”

     She pursed her lips, briefly. “I should like to reserve judgement on that,” she admitted, softly. “They are too unfamiliar to be able to assign good or bad to them…”

     He smiled, reassuringly. “You will get your resolution in time, dear,” he assured her, reaching forwards and letting the fingers of one hand curl gently around hers. “This is a troubling period for you, you cannot expect an immediate result!”

     She gazed down at where their hands met, and just looked, for a while. “I am not sure we should be so forward, either,” she said, although he sensed she meant I am not sure you should be so forward. “It is not long since my world was turned upside down.”

     “Of course,” he agreed, backing off, kicking himself internally. Silly bubblehead couldn’t be having second thoughts now?! “You have a lot to think about, my dear. I should not like to further confuse you…”

     “Please, forgive me,” she said, watching him take his hand back. “I do not mean to hurt your feelings! I just… I am… scared. I do not wish to make the same mistake with you as I did… as I-… with-… my former partner.”

     Watching her stumble across the words and find the correct descriptions with difficulty reassured him what he was doing. Whatever second thoughts she may be having about him, she was certainly having major doubts about Sei. Which was quite a delicious thing to hear!

     Unexpectedly, his watch buzzed at him; a light vibration where it rested against the back of his wrist, but definitely there. Someone wanted to talk to him, obviously.

     Mirii perked an ear. “Your watch seems to be making noises,” she commented.

     “You heard that?” he wondered, redundantly – of course she heard it, she wouldn’t have commented otherwise. “It is a discreet communications device,” he explained, before she could elaborate. “One of my factory staff wants to get hold of me. Would you excuse me a moment?”

     She nodded. “Of course. This is your home,” she replied, softly. “You do not need my permission.”

     Yannis bowed steeply and kissed her brows, daringly, and headed indoors. Of course, speaking to Kolek without her eavesdropping was going to be tricky. If she had good enough hearing to pick up the nearly-silent vibration of his watch, he couldn’t use the comms terminal in the kitchen… He’d have to head out to the factory roof, and slip behind the domestic muffler that he’d had installed to protect his apartment from the roar of incoming and outgoing shuttles. That would deaden the sound quite nicely.


     Mirii sat and watched him go, and wondered why her suspicions were still jangling around inside her. What was it about him that left her so… unsettled? Was he just being too nice? It seemed unlikely – Sei was always sweet and kind and she never thought of him as ‘too nice’. Perhaps too nice for someone who barely knew her – or did he? And Sei was all one big lie, as well, she reminded herself. A sophisticated puppet. Yannis had watched her from behind the safety of a sheet of glass, where he would not interfere with her development, and despaired as her ‘family’ spun her a pack of lies.

     She hugged her knees up to her chest, and watched the last rind of sun slip beneath the horizon. She would get to the bottom of this, she resolved, grimly.

     Yannis was gone for only a few minutes; she enhanced her hearing to try and catch a word or two that he said, but he was completely out of earshot. He reappeared from through the kitchen, and gave her a sad little smile. “Forgive me, Marie, but I need to go,” he apologised, softly. “One of my associates has found a problem in our current project, and I must oversee a resolution. Will you be happy to tend to your own ablutions?”

     She nodded, just once. “I think so,” she confirmed. “Are cleansers readily accessible?”

     “I invited you to look around the property,” he teased, kindly. “Did you not take the opportunity to do so?”

     “Of course-!”

     “Then you saw the bathroom, love. I apologise that it is quite small, but I am sure it is stocked well enough?”

     It was another little lie, because the bathroom was large and opulent, but then she figured that perhaps he was meaning it was small in comparison to what she was used to? Because there was no getting away from it – Sei was a well-paid consultant surgical neuroscience engineer, and he could not only afford the finer things in life, he could afford plenty of them, especially as neither needed to take in nourishment.

     “Forgive me.” She hung her head. “I did not mean to sound ungrateful…”

     “My dearest, apologies are far from needed!” he reassured, smilingly. “You are in a strange place, and must still be anxious. Please, I implore you, do not feel ashamed to tell me your feelings. If you feel it is not up to your usual standard of living, I will understand it!”

     “The property is beautiful,” she confirmed, softly, and managed a smile. “Please, do not be late on my account. I am sure I can find the supplies I need.”

     He bowed deeply to her, and took his leave, and for the first time she felt a flicker of affection for him. He was trying to make her comfortable and happy, she reasoned. Maybe she should make the effort to reciprocate, and be grateful for his attention…

* * * * *

     Kolek had dumped the meddling Brennan down in the sensory deprivation tank the instant they got back – the Eumin was small fry compared the sleek Kirasiinu. They’d got the tall cob secured in the closest laboratory, and called Yannis down to inspect the capture…

     Yannis’ lips drew back into a hideous grin at seeing the captured Synthoid. The big stick of charcoal looked deeply uncomfortable – backed into a post whose top came level with his shoulderblades, a length of duranium mesh around his waist and holding him against it with just enough room to wriggle, but not enough to support him. His arms were dragged back at an angle behind him and locked into shackles that were in turn connected to stout lengths of duranium cable, which had been ratcheted tight. His ankles had been similarly secured to the floor, far enough apart that he couldn’t use one dexterous foot to release the other, and far enough away that every joint was relaxed into a bend and it was difficult for him to support his weight on his legs. This meant that the blunt top of the post was forced up against his back, just between his shoulders. He had no way to relax at all, in this position; attempting to settle his weight downwards dropped his weight down on the post and pulled at his throat. Trying to stand better yanked at his arms, and his ankles.

     Yannis found sympathy in short supply. It wasn’t like the big computer would get tired.

     “Yannis,” Sei greeted, uncomfortably, seeing his nemesis pass through the doorway. “I suspected you had a hand in this.”

     “But of course!” Yannis bowed, sweepingly. “Who else has such imagination at his disposal? My dear darling doctor Sei, you have no concept of how delighted I am to get to meet you once more. I have such great plans, I would have been so mortified had you not been allowed to be a part of them!”

     “I sense it would be irrelevant for me to state I do not desire to be part of your plans?”

     Yannis chuckled, and began to pace a big circle around his captive. “You learn quickly, doctor. Yes, it would be irrelevant – totally so! And in fact, the more you complain and repeat your desire, the more I will involve you! How exciting is that?”

     “Your definition of exciting and mine do not match,” Sei deadpanned, tiredly, not watching as the eumin circled. “I think we may need to compare vocabularies.”

     Yannis chuckled that deep, sinister laugh again. “My dear doctor, the intricacies of our varying tongues will not be particularly relevant in the next few days. So long as you can take instructions, I will be happy. Is that understood?”

     “No, it is not.” Sei gave him a long, hard look. “What do you mean?”

     “I mean,” Yannis flicked open a knife, and for an instant Sei was convinced he was going to go for him with it… but the man instead began to slice a long seam down the outside of his shirt sleeve, peeling the well-loved fabric back off his black arm. “That you will be a servant. You will be my servant, in fact. You will listen to what I tell you, and you will not complain or disobey, you will just… do.” He started down the second sleeve.

     “I am not sure how you will enforce this rule,” Sei pointed out, watching sadly out of the corner of his pinned-open eyes as Yannis cast the torn sleeves into the corner and started down his sides.

     “Ahh, I have my ways. I will show you, later,” Yannis soothed, offhand, shredding what remained of Sei’s shirt and letting the bits flutter to the floor. “For now, I need to ensure you are suitably chastised and humbled. And scared, if I can achieve it.”

     Sei gave his assailant a hard look. “You will find I do not scare easily.”

     Yannis laughed. “I have a sweet little hind on my staff called Asenka,” he replied, knowingly. “The things she knows would make the strongest men blush! I will have to ensure you get to see her.” His lips curled into a smile, and he tugged knowingly on the waist of Sei’s trousers. “You will be easily broken, my dear,” he cooed, moving to the doorway. “A few days of this – an open invitation to whomsoever chooses to visit – and you will be pleading for me to release you of your bonds.”

     Sei didn’t allow his gaze to flicker, but his insides had contracted up, protectively. Surely the man didn’t mean-… but of course he did. That was just what Yannis did! If he couldn’t beat it out of you, he’d shame it out of you. And leaving him like this – spread out, unable to defend himself, like some sort of prize table fowl, a piece of meat to be inspected and prodded- … ah, Sei, what have you got yourself into this time?!

     Yannis paused in the doorway, and made a big dramatic show of ‘remembering’ something. “Ah! Of course! Where are my manners? I have a little gift for you!”

     “A gift?” Sei glanced down at the man’s hands, suspiciously.

     “Yes. A little video! Or should I say, a video feed?” Yannis flicked a button, and a screen – previously unnoticed – came on just above the door.

     “Mirii-!” Sei jerked involuntarily against his bonds, uselessly, watching his wife slip her legs out of her trousers, leaving her dressed only in a light top and underpants, as a bath filled with foam next to her. “Ah! What are you doing to her?!”

     “Nothing. All I have done is convinced her,” Yannis said, smirking, circling again, “that you can not possibly be the same sort of creature as her. That you are far too dynamic and energetic and alive to be the same sort of creature as her. That you must be a remote-controlled puppet of some sort. And because you made her such a stupid, gullible little idiot, she ate up all my lies and ran to me for comfort.”

     Sei actually made an inarticulate little noise of horror and struggled very briefly against his bonds. “Where is she? Oh, Mirii-! Leave her out of this, you bastard! It is me you have a grievance against, leave her alone!”

     Yannis smiled, and caressed Sei’s long ears, gently. “My darling Sei. She does not love you. She does not want you. She hates you for all your lies, and would rather see you dead. I have been accepted into your place, you see. A genuine, living, warm, affectionate male, a worthy target for her affection!” He sighed, dreamily. “I will be sleeping with her, tonight. After I have ravished her, left her screaming my name and begging me for more.”

     Sei choked out a sob. “No, please-”

     “I told you that you would be easily broken, love! Now, I must go. I have a lover to tend.” Yannis went to the doorway, and gave him a little wave. “I will leave you to watch your video. These live events are supposed to be very popular!”

     And with that, he was gone.

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