tagNonConsent/ReluctanceThe Last Tritan Ch. 08

The Last Tritan Ch. 08

byWaterBurn©

Welcome back my darlings! I hope the wait wasn't as painful as it usually is... Oh, who are we kidding? I love torturing you!! Just like I've been torturing poor FA_JF for weeks about chapter 9 :D! But seriously, thank you my beautiful FA_JF for all your help, and all your glorious suggestions. A serving of sloppy, tongue kisses to you.

And I'd love to thank FA_JF (again:), jennyb2492, LBGrant, for making me laugh at inappropriate times! You ladies are the beans, and I'm so happy we've found each other. :D

SP, my world would be a whole lot smaller without you in it. I love you to bits.

Literoticareader99, there's a little tiddly wink in here for you too, and more to come. ;)

Enjoy, and know that chapter 9--and this is roughly 5 days before posting--is well under way. I expect the wait to be a short one.

Love forever and ever,

WaterBurn Xx

Rage. It dripped from my every pore, radiated in a thick, powerful aura around my body—and I embraced it. I was on the warpath, primed to kill the man who'd changed every aspect of my life, who'd pushed me past the limits of my control and turned me into the monster I'd become. The irony of killing my tormentor with a weapon forged by the cruelty of his own hands was not lost on me. For I'd found a formidable strength within myself.

This newfound power afforded me a level of confidence I'd never experienced before. I felt strong, relaxing into an internal rhythm present only in the deadliest of hunters, and it was incredible. I felt like myself again, and I knew from this moment on, no man would lay hands on me and expect to get away unscathed. General Harper Tilcot could attest to that.

A feral grin spread across my features, my modified teeth poking into my bottom lip, reminding me who was the master of my body. The ease with which I'd caused the general bodily harm had me feeling giddy and reckless. I'd held the man's life in my hands, had been ready to extinguish his spirit and free the world of his toxic influence. That is, until Sash had broken my concentration, betraying both our country and me as she'd desperately tried to save her lover.

The thought of Sasha made me grit my teeth. She'd had the nerve to preach ethics to me, and yet she'd been quick to rescue a man who'd personally committed just about every crime I could think of, and would surely continue to do so until his death. Sasha had spent years using her Priestess vow as a reason to do nothing, which in my opinion, was worse than being the one to commit the crimes in the first place.

But her interference had made one thing clear—if I planned on successfully killing Asher, I needed to ensure I had the privacy to do so. I glanced to the men escorting me back to the captain, subtly taking in their large Caledonian frames. While I was confident I could end the captain's life, I had my doubts about taking on all three. Would a locked door be enough of a deterrent to his men, if the captain managed to call out?

My speculations came to an abrupt end as Marco opened the captain's front door. "I'm not sure if Captain Rawlings is back yet Priestess, but it's probably best if you wait for him upstairs."

I smiled, knowing without a doubt he was home. I could feel his powerful life force through the ceiling. Turning slowly in the doorway, I made eye contact with Marco. "Thank you," I said, and he took a step back, surprise scrawled across his features. "...for the escort." Making a conscious effort not to slam the door in his face, I placed my hand firmly on the heavy oak, and turned the knob to close it quietly.

The soft click of the lock sliding home was masked by Marco's deep voice, "I'm pretty sure that's the first time she's directly spoken to me." Gabe laughed, but I didn't bother trying to make out what he said. I had more important things to do.

I crept up the stairs, balancing on the balls of my feet to muffle the sound of my footfalls. A shiver ran down my spine as my hand settled on the doorknob—I knew the end of the captain's life was well within my reach. My face was heated with the confidence such power gave me. Vengeance for everything he'd done to me was so close, I could taste it.

I slipped inside his room, unnoticed. He sat at his desk, head resting on steepled fingers. A decanter of rich amber liquid was pinched between his elbows, his gaze unfocused, yet riveted to its contents. There were lines carved deep into the surface of his handsome face, making me think he was older than I'd first thought. He looked tired.

I shook my head, trying to focus on the task at hand, to see his exhaustion as the vulnerability it was. If I was successful, none of my observations would matter. He could sleep when I was finished with him—for eternity.

"Mila," he said without looking up, his voice raspy with fatigue. "You're back sooner than I thought." Rather than answer, I approached him warily, hoping he wouldn't notice the drastic change in my behavior. Still seated, he turned to face me, running a hand through his hair and sighing.

I reached to touch him, moving slowly and making eye contact. He frowned, confusion clearly present in his eyes. I gave him a friendly smile, hoping to soothe him. He stiffened when my fingers made contact with the hard pectoral muscle beneath his wrinkled shirt, but made no move to stop me. I let my senses flare out, trying to follow the rhythm of his pounding heart.

When I struck, it was without hesitation or regret. And just as I had with the general, I willed the steady thumping to become erratic, using my Priestess gift to force the captain's heart to shudder and skip. I pushed with all my internal strength, with everything I'd learned from living in the wild, instincts demanding vengeance for the wrongs he'd done to me.

"What..." he gasped, and seized my wrist, bringing my Chains to life. The searing pain was nearly enough to break through my concentration, but I ruthlessly pushed it aside, aware my failure would bring dire consequences. Thankfully, he either didn't have the strength to pull my hand away, or the pain I was causing him was enough to distract from what I was doing.

A moment later, my own heart squeezed painfully, and agony lanced through my chest, shooting down my left arm. The world spun, my lips tingled, and my concentration wavered dangerously. Sweat formed on my brow and my face heated as I tried to breathe through the pain.

But try as I might, I couldn't maintain the effort required to end his life—and my own. Some deeply imbedded survival impulse surged to the surface, and I faltered. Blackness dotted my vision as I lost my hold on Asher's heart, and I collapsed on the floor when he released me from his influence.

*

*

*

A deep groan echoed in my ears, and I struggled back to consciousness, every muscle in my body aching with exertion. Hands brushed over my sensitive skin, and I mumbled an incoherent objection, trying to push him away from me. Asher's masculine scent invaded my brain, adding to the already dense fog swirling inside my head.

"Mila, wake up," he rasped, slapping my cheek gently.

Warm breath caressed my face as his weight settled over me. "Get off," I mumbled, feebly trying to push him away. He shifted his weight, and pulled me into his lap.

"What the fuck was that?" He asked, pushing my hair off my face.

Still unable to pry my eyes open, and feeling as if my mouth were full of rocks, I said, "It's the Chains."

He shook me, a rough hand cupping the back of my neck to stop my head from lolling. "What are you talking about?"

"The Chains, Asher," I said, laughter bubbling up to surprise both of us. "They protected you."

"Protected me from what? Mila, what did you do?"

But I was unable to speak past the hysterical laughter shaking my entire body. I didn't stop until tears were streaming down my face and my mirth had burned out, leaving behind a profound sadness—an opportunity lost.

I opened my eyes so I could properly appreciate the visual effects of his shock. What I saw made the excruciating pain of the last few minutes worth it—his forehead was damp with sweat, and his normally tanned skin was pale, right down to his lips. He looked completely shaken. "I tried to kill you, Asher."

His head snapped back, eyes widening. "You..."

"Tried to kill you." I finished for him, speaking slowly. His pupils dilated, and a feeble spark of anger touched my senses, as if he didn't have the energy to get properly worked up about it. He looked completely unprepared to deal with anything else. I grinned. "And I almost killed the general too, but Sasha managed to stop me, the little traitor."

Asher stiffened, his already waxy face turning a sickly shade of green. "You made an attempt on the general's life?" I didn't answer, merely watched him try to work it out for himself. "Shit," His grip tightened, and I felt a tremor run through his body. "Shit! Do you have any idea what you've done?" His head tilted back with a hoarse bark of laughter, throat working reflexively. "And I was next in line for a promotion, too. Six grueling months in the west, all for nothing..."

I allowed myself to enjoy the flavor of his panic. "I take it that's a bad thing?"

He looked at me, eyes wild, sweat dripping down the side of his face, and said, "What the fuck is wrong with you, you little lunatic? He's going to kill you."

I shrugged. "I welcome the challenge." I tried to pull away from Asher's embrace, but my limbs refused to follow my commands. I frowned, taking stock of my body. It appeared whatever I'd done to Asher was taking its toll on me as well.

He pushed me away, mumbling, "I'm going to be sick," before rolling to his side, pulling a garbage pail as close to him as he could, and proceeded to violently empty his stomach. I winced in sympathy, while simultaneously cursing my Empathetic nature. Asher deserved every bit of suffering he got, but I didn't want to join him for the ride. "Ugh, what did you do to me?"

"I think you've had a heart attack," I said, realizing the same must be true about myself—another gift from the Chains.

A second round of vomiting was his first response, but he eventually managed to lift his head and glare at me. "Are you fucking serious?" He spat into the pail, and dry heaved before he was able to continue speaking. "A heart attack? I'm twenty-eight years old, for fucksakes."

"It could have been some other form of heart problem I'm unaware of," I allowed, rubbing at my chest. "Because I lack the skills to diagnose something like that, but we can call it a heart attack for lack of a better term."

He pressed the heel of his hand to his eye, and groaned. "Why would you attack the general -"

"Because he's a monster."

"Fucking hell, Mila," he groaned, twisting to sit with his back pressed against his desk. "Why couldn't you have kept this between us?"

I laughed, trying to pull myself into a sitting position, and failing. "And pass up the chance to cut off the head of the snake?"

"You stupid girl!" He cursed, and hunched over his bucket. "Harper isn't the head of anything. The Empire has dozens more lined up to take his place," he paused to spit into the pail. "All you've done is thrown gas on a fire."

Though it took all of my remaining strength, I managed to force myself into a sitting position, using the chair for support. "Are you suggesting there's a better way to kill Elites?"

He rolled his eyes, and wiped sweat from his forehead with the back of his arm. "I should chain you up and lock you in the basement so you can't cause any more trouble." Turning slightly, he eyed the bottle of amber liquid on his desk, and with a grunt managed to push it to onto the floor. The glass was thick enough that it landed with a heavy thud, intact.

With shaking hands, he twisted the cap, sloshing alcohol all over himself. He took a healthy swig, and thoroughly rinsed his mouth before spitting in the pail. "But it's too late to lock you up now, isn't it?" He asked, again bringing the decanter to his lips. I watched his throat move, hypnotized as he swallowed with a wince. "I don't know if I can fix this."

I shrugged. "I didn't ask for your help."

He caught my gaze, resting his head against the desk. "If you want to continue living, you're going to need it." I didn't blink. He watched me for a moment longer, apparently waiting for a response. When I held my silence, he nodded--seeming to understand my grim, unspoken sentiment--then passed me the decanter. "Here. You look like you need this. Have a sip."

Not unfamiliar with alcohol, I took the bottle, carefully avoiding his fingers, and lifted it to my lips—or rather, I tried to. It was far heavier than I'd expected and my arms shook with the effort, needing two hands to get the job done in my weakened state. It smelled horrible and tasted worse, but I only realized this after swallowing two huge mouthfuls, assuming because Asher could do it, I could too.

I coughed, squeezing my eyes shut against the burning in my throat, and pressed the back of my wrist to my lips. "Ugh," I said, when I was sure I could suppress the urge to vomit.

"So," he said, reaching to take the bottle from me. "You tried to kill me." Another long draft, his throat working mechanically. I stilled, waiting for the repercussions of my failure to hit. "I'm not necessarily surprised that you tried of course, but the fact that you very nearly pulled it off is... impressive." He licked his lips, eyes wandering over my body. "But I have to ask, why did you stop? Why not take your revenge, and finish the job?"

Why indeed? I thought back to my botched assassination, wondering where it had gone wrong. From my earlier attempt on the general, I'd known if my concentration was broken, I could be stopped—and I'd been prepared for that. Asher hadn't been able to distract me with his use of the Chains because I'd been expecting it. But when my efforts to kill him had reflected back to me, causing my own heart to sputter and cough, I'd faltered. Yet the question remained—why? I'd already come to terms with the idea of dying for my cause, so why hadn't I been able to go through with it?

"Let me guess," he said seeming to answer my internal question. "You couldn't endure the thought of a world absent my presence."

I rolled my eyes and said, "Quite the opposite, Asher. It was the Chains. They..." I trailed off, unsure if I should reveal our connection, and what I was beginning to understand about it. I watched him watching me, feeling a peculiar sense of ease in his presence now that we both sat broken and crumpled on the floor, equal in our intense discomfort. Ignoring the urge to be cautious, I continued, "It seems I cannot attack you without inflicting the same damage upon myself."

His expression went carefully blank as he took in my words. "Your heart?"

"I believe so."

A faint smile graced his lips, and he rubbed his hand over the light stubble on his face. "I suppose asking you to fix the damage you've caused is a wasted effort?"

"Probably," I allowed, the corners of my own mouth tilting upward.

"Well I can't very well go to Sasha, thanks to you. It's probably best if I avoid Harper for the next few years." He laughed humorlessly. "At the very least, he's going to want compensation, which would be fine under normal circumstances."

I smiled, ignoring his pointed look. "But this situation is anything but normal."

He nodded. "He's going to ask for something I'm not willing to give, in which case I risk facing a court martial."

Fearing I knew the answer, but needing to hear it aloud, I asked, "What will he ask for?"

"You." Asher's eyes found mine. "He'll ask for you." He took another swig of the potent amber liquid, and continued, "Harper has wanted a second Priestess since the moment our scientists invented the Chains and bound the first Priestess and Elite." Wrinkling his nose in disgust, he pushed himself off the floor, the effort to do so making sweat soak through his shirt. He took the pail to the bathroom, dumping the contents in the toilet and flushing it away. He closed the door on the offending smell, and returned to his spot on the floor, stretching his long legs out before him with a great sigh. "He can't unbind us, of course, but he can demand you serve him until he gets a second Priestess from the program."

"The program?" I asked, pouncing on his slip.

"Shit," he sighed, crossing his arms across his chest.

"What's the program?"

"Drop it Mila."

"No." We glared at each other, neither one wanting to be the first to break.

"Fucking hell," he muttered, running his hand through his hair. "It's a breeding program. For Tritans." My mouth dropped open in shock, and the contents of my stomach threatened to make an appearance. "I told you to drop it," he said, passing me the heavy decanter.

I took a long swallow, desperate for the effects of alcohol to burn away his words. "You're joking. That's sick, Asher. Absolutely appalling."

"I didn't create it," he said, shifting uncomfortably.

"Am I a part of this program?" I asked, tears threatening to spill over my lashes.

He exhaled, his breath leaving him in a great rush. "No. The Chains prevent you from getting pregnant."

I pressed my hand to my mouth to catch the screams. "Why?"

Resigned now, to the telling, he continued, head angled back against the desk. "The birth of a Priestess is as rare as the birth of an Elite, and since the Chains prevent pregnancy in Priestesses, we had to do something to ensure future Elites would have access to Priestesses." I choked, a sob caught in my throat.

"But they're children, Asher. Born into..." I gagged, the effort to suppress my emotions finally too much. He crossed the distance between us, pulling me into his arms. "Don't!" I cried between clenched teeth, trying to pull away.

"Why do you think I was so thrilled to find you, Mila?" He asked, and I shook my head, too overcome by the injustice to form a sentence. "I didn't relish the prospect of being bound to a child." I sobbed, and slammed my fist into his chest as hard as I could, furious he could agree with my disgust, that he would side with me. He didn't flinch, just stroked my hair soothingly as I cried against him, silent except for the sound of steady breathing.

I was quite suddenly grateful I hadn't managed to kill Asher and myself in a blaze of glory—not if the Empire of Caledonia was willing to enforce a breeding program on Tritans. This had to stop, I couldn't abandon my countrymen to such horror.

But I needed more information. How did it work? Was there a cage somewhere filled with Tritans trying to make babies? Were they treated well, or was there some fat overlord snapping a whip every time they stopped trying to procreate? Or might they have taken a more clinical approach? A cold, white room with vitamin shakes and plenty of food?

I shivered, knowing I would choose death over either option. The captain's arm tightened around me, and he changed the subject before I could start pelting him with questions. "I don't think Harper will demand your death, but I can't be sure."

"Aren't you related?" I asked, grasping at the chance to be distracted. I needed time to digest this information before I was in any sort of mindset to form a plan—and I couldn't make a plan if I was dead.

Asher snorted, taking another swig. "I wouldn't put much stock in a familial relationship." He handed me the bottle. "It's certainly never helped me in the past."

"So..." I swirled the amber liquid, watching as the light caught the glass, throwing a dazzling display across the floor. 'What now?" I asked, willing--for the moment--to follow his lead.

He didn't answer straight away, apparently giving the question some serious thought. I felt myself relaxing into the heat of his body, entranced by the rhythmic rise and fall of his chest, too physically and emotionally drained to pull away. My eyes started to drift closed, and I shook my head, trying to ward off the effects of the alcohol. My brush with death had obviously affected me more seriously than I'd first thought.

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