The Last Tritan Ch. 09byWaterBurn©
Hallooo!! And welcome back to The Last Tritan! I've certainly missed you. It's been lonely here in CrazyTown without you. A big ol' roman orgie style to the lovely FA_JF, Jennyb2492, LBGrant and SP for helping me with this chapter. You ladies have already seen what a big help you've been, just between version 1, and 2, and your suggestions have made this chapter what it is.
Anynoodles.. without further ado... here is the long awaited chapter 9. Be sure you're seated for this. I'm not responsible for any shock related injuries... Xx
I felt sick—the kind of unwell that settles over your heart and makes breathing a chore. A thick, black cloud, omnipotent in its desire to infect every aspect of your life, consuming one's soul, and replacing it with a crushing sense of hopelessness, perpetuating the sense of unwell. Only my particular dark cloud would affect thousands, and not just in the immediate present, but for generations to come. For the Caledonians had developed a breeding program for Tritans, and I wouldn't be able to find peace while such horrible war crimes were being committed against my people. I had to do something to stop it.
The captain shifted in his seat, the sound of his desk chair squeaking in protest the only warning I needed. "Mila," he said, settling his hand on my shoulder. "You need to sleep."
I eyed his naked chest, brushing off his touch and tucking my feet beneath me. "I'm fine."
"Bullshit." He sipped on a steaming mug of dark brown liquid, and bumped his hip against the desk. "I can feel how tired you are, even without the gifts of an Empath."
I looked away, not bothering to educate him on the finer points of being an Empath, and summoned my mental shield, trying to separate our tangled emotions. "Better?"
He smirked, and drained his cup. "Actually no. It's entirely possible I feel worse than you do at this point. I did take the brunt of your attack, after all."
I rolled my eyes. "You can't know that."
"Maybe not," he allowed, setting the cup down and crossing his arms over his chest. "But I know it's not going to do you any good to sit in front of the window until you catch a cold."
I laughed, turning to face him. "Give me a break captain. I survived in the forest for five years, wearing nothing but clothing I made by hand. I didn't get sick once."
He pursed his lips, a thoughtful sound rumbling deep in his chest. "A testament to your resilient nature, no doubt."
"Or maybe it's simply because you can't get sick from being cold. But I win either way."
He laughed, and held out his hand. "Come to bed Mila. Tomorrow is going to be stressful enough without a sleepless night."
"No, but thank you for the," I paused to curl my lip, flashing my modified teeth. "...generous offer. Besides, I don't trust you to keep your filthy hands to yourself."
"And I don't trust you not to try to kill me the instant I close my eyes, but I can't function without sleep. And neither can you."
I sighed, and turned my attention back to the window. "I've already told you I won't make another attempt on your life until the program has been stopped. You're safe for now, captain."
He was silent for a few minutes, but with my shield up I couldn't taste the flavor of his mood. "So your plan is to sit on this window sill until the sun comes up?"
"If you think I'll willingly get into bed with you captain, you're sorely mistaken."
While his expression didn't exactly soften, his voice betrayed his sincerity. "Would you rather I take the choice away Mila?"
Yes, I'm exhausted. The thought came unbidden, and yet the memory of his plush mattress nearly compelled me to nod. My lips parted as I drew in a sharp breath, biting back the verbal response forming on the tip of my tongue. I wrapped my arms tighter around my ribs, and turned back to the window.
"Well it's a good thing your opinion doesn't matter," he snapped, stooping to pick me up. I started to struggle, but neither of us had fully recovered from the ill effects of my attack and I didn't trust him not to drop me from standing height. He tossed me onto the bed, sinking onto the mattress wearily. "Close your eyes, and go to sleep."
"Stay on your side," I retorted, trying to keep the satisfaction out of my voice—it didn't matter how stubborn I was being, I was exhausted and comfy.
He starfished. "It's my bed Mila. Both sides are my side."
I glowered at him and curled into a tight ball, making sure to keep my knees and fists between us. As much as I hated to admit it, the captain was right—I needed to sleep, but I'd reached the subspace between dreams and itchy, wide-eyed wakefulness, and found insomnia. My thoughts bounced around my head, flicking from one topic to the next without discernible pattern. The world took on a fuzzy glow, my over-tired eyes refusing to focus on objects I'd never had a problem seeing. A warm flush started creeping onto my face, causing me to sniffle as it heated the tip of my nose, making me feel feverish. I wondered idly if one could get sick from lack of sleep, and if the captain would feel the need to say, 'I told you so.'
My eyes flicked to the man who'd invaded my thoughts, watching as he breathed rhythmically, hating how quickly he'd lost consciousness. Though I assumed his training as a soldier probably had something to do with it—when your life depended on your ability to function properly, grabbing any available sleep was a necessity.
Hunger gnawed at my stomach, distracting me, and yet the thought of eating was nothing more than an abstract idea. How could I eat, how could I sleep while my people were enslaved, treated no better than prized livestock? My chest tightened until it became apparent I was holding back anguished sobs as I continued to tormented myself with thoughts of The Program. What sort of hellish torture were my fellow Tritans being forced to endure, knowing their chances of conceiving a child cursed with Priestess blood was exceedingly slim?
Would they be punished for failing? What did they do with the 'normal' babies? Were my own parents being forced to copulate with people outside their marital bed, or were they allowed to be together because they'd already produced a Priestess? Or had they hidden my true identity, hoping to spare me from being bonded to an Elite? Did I have siblings I'd never met? Five years was a long time—I could have five or more full blooded siblings. I might even have dozens of half-siblings if my father had been forced to lay with other women... or if my mother...
I pressed the heels of my palms into my eyes, trying to stop the direction my thoughts were taking. It was useless to try and guess at the details of The Program when it only served to blind me with rage. Being angry in this situation was justified, but acting without a plan was reckless and stupid. And I'd already learned it wouldn't work, when I'd botched not one, but two assassinations the day before. No, what I needed was information.
But obtaining reliable counsel now presented me with something of a dilemma. I'd cut myself off from Sasha—both a wealth of knowledge, and my only ally. And while we may have formed a truce after I'd failed to kill him, the captain had never been a legitimate option. Not while I was completely vulnerable to his mercurial whim. I was completely, and utterly alone.
I sighed, and the captain shifted in his sleep. I had to admit I wasn't alone in the traditional sense, as much as I craved the opposite to be true. There was however, no question I'd done a fantastic job of alienating myself from Sasha—the only person who'd tried to help me, regardless of our differing opinions. What I really needed was her help, which meant apologizing for trying to kill her lover. Which in turn meant lying to her face, because I wasn't sorry in the slightest.
As satisfying as it had been, I'd come to realize attacking General Tilcot was the most reckless and idiotic thing I'd done since my capture. Not only had I failed to recognise he was a respectable, yet replaceable member of the Caledonian army, I'd also shown him the only weapon I had was as deeply flawed as the one who wielded it. In fact, he was probably sitting in his beautiful manse at this very moment, sipping on a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and thinking up a litany of painful punishments for me.
"Penny for your thoughts?" The captain asked, and my head jerked in his direction.
I grinned to hide my anxiety, exposing my teeth. "Do you really want to know?"
He laughed, and rubbed at the sleep in his eyes. "Let me guess. Thinking of ways to destroy The Program?"
My smile faltered. "It's not funny, captain. What you people are doing to babies is horrific. The fact that -"
"Come on Mila, give me some credit. I didn't want to be bound to a child any more than you wanted to be bound to me."
I snorted, a bitter laugh escaping my lips. "And why should I believe you? Enslaving them young means they'll never know anything but a life of servitude, will never have the urge to strangle their masters as they sleep. That scenario would suit your needs perfectly, wouldn't it Captain?"
"Perhaps," he said, stifling a yawn. "But I've never been a fan of perfect."
I rolled out of bed, stretched, and said, "So it's not as much fun if your slave girl is broken by the time you get to her?"
His eyes darkened. "Where are you going?" My Chains lit up, burning as my feet stopped moving against my will.
I tossed a condescending look over my shoulder. "I have to use the facilities if that's alright with you, Almighty Lord of the Universe."
"Did you sleep?"
"Why do you care so much?"
"Because you look like a walking corpse." He shrugged. "It reflects badly on me."
I glared at him, trying to ignore the insult. "Do you mind? I have to pee." He watched me for a moment longer, his expression unreadable, before he released me. I extended my middle finger, and closed the door on his surprised bark of laughter, using the privacy to think, and to plan my apology to the Head Priestess.
I was sure Sasha couldn't have known about the program—a woman with a deep desire to carry a child of her own, couldn't possibly condone a breeding program using her own people as livestock. And she certainly couldn't love a man who'd been actively seeking to bind a young girl to him, if she'd known about it.
Finished with the facilities, I washed my hands and face, letting the cold water ground me. And then something occurred to me, a solution so simple in its poetic justice that I grinned, the mirror reflecting a savage, beautiful face I didn't quite recognize. The Program was both problem and solution--a paradox--for she couldn't know about the sinister plot to breed new Priestesses, and love General Tilcot at the same time. Forgiving me for my attempt on the general's life would rank a pale second to the righteous anger she'd feel on behalf of her enslaved kin. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if I helped her reach this conclusion with a helpful little nudge from my Empathy. Who would be the wiser?
Asher--the captain--was waiting for me when I opened the door, two steaming mugs in his hands. "Drink this," he said holding one out to me.
Skeptical didn't begin to describe my mood. "What is it?"
"It's good. Drink it."
He smiled, sitting behind his desk and taking a long draft of his own mug. "How long are we going to keep doing this Mila?" My Chains tingled, his threat clear enough.
Not interested in starting yet another fight, I took a sip, and was immediately surprised by how good it was. "Wow, what is this?"
He swallowed. "Trup. A Caledonian evening drink."
"Hm," I said, taking a long draft. "I like it."
Dark eyes watched me as I continued to sip at the warm liquid. "My mother used to make it for me when I couldn't sleep." Not really listening, I nodded, and licked the rim of the mug, thirsty for more for I'd quickly finished what he'd given me.
I yawned, already feeling tired in spite of the anxiety running through my body. "Is this a family recipe?"
"Yes," he replied, watching me closely. "Except my mother never had to add sedatives to get me to sleep."
A smile tugged at the corner of my lips. Asher would have been a cute kid—before he'd been corrupted by his people's customs, and... "Hang on," I slurred, wobbling. "Whadid you jussay?" Surely that wasn't my voice sounding so helpless and confused. I stumbled, and dropped the mug on the carpet. The captain guided me to his bed as I tried to formulate a sentence, and failed.
He pulled the blanket over me, and said something about finally getting a few hours of peace and quiet, but my eyes wouldn't stay open and I couldn't think clearly enough to bother with speaking.
I don't remember anything after that.
The sun had already risen by the time the sedative wore off. I rolled out of bed with heavy limbs, feeling the urgent need to use the bathroom. My eyes were extremely light-sensitive and puffy, and the best I could do was crack them open wide enough to place one foot in front of the other, hoping I'd chosen the correct direction to the bathroom.
"My, you're looking well rested this morning," the captain said, and though I didn't open my eyes, I could just tell there was a smug grin on his face.
"I can't even... I'm so mad that I could..." A frustrated half shriek left my lips, and--eyes still squeezed closed--I stomped in the opposite direction to the sound of his voice.
He laughed, and a moment later his hand settled on the bare skin of my back, guiding me where I needed to go. Given the pressure in my bladder, I was in no position to decline his help and allowed him to position me directly in front of the toilet before pointing at the door. "Out."
Finished--and feeling much better--I splashed water on my face, and opened my eyes. The high flush was no longer staining my cheeks, and though my eyes appeared a little swollen, I looked well rested. I cursed—I even felt well rested, but I certainly wouldn't be mentioning that to His Royal Highness.
I turned to leave the bathroom, and froze with my hand on the door knob. Voices. Who was the captain speaking to? Had the general decided to deal out my punishment before his demonstration? My gaze darted around the bathroom, searching for a place to hide.
Finding nothing suitable, I took a deep breath, and let my senses flare out around me. I couldn't feel the powerful spirit of General Tilcot, only the captain, and a soft flicker close to him. Definitely female. I opened the door, bracing myself to collide with Carina's toxic presence.
"Good morning Priestess," Alicia murmured, giving me a slight bow. Surprised I'd been completely wrong about the captain's guest, I nodded uncomfortably. The beautiful pleasure slave was standing at the captain's elbow, a startling array of cosmetics neatly laid out on the desk before her, a large box tucked under her arm.
"What is this?" I asked, taking a hesitant step back inside the bathroom.
"General Tilcot has a weakness for beautiful women," the captain said, rising from his seat and approaching me slowly. "And given the choice between watching you die, and temporarily losing you to my cousin, I'd choose the latter. Distasteful as it is."
"You're joking!" I cried, wrenching my arm out of his grasp. "I'd rather die than be a slave to him."
"Yes, you've made that abundantly obvious, pet." He caught me by the shoulders. "Look, I'm not happy about this either Mila," he said quietly, brushing the hair back from my face. "But you haven't left me with very many options."
"There's always a way out, captain. We just have to find it."
"Well until then, let's show off some of your superficial assets so Harper doesn't shoot you the instant he sees you."
Well when he put it like that, I had to agree with him. Again. I'd backed myself into a corner, and at this point, anything that could give me an advantage was worth trying. "Fine," I snapped, pushing past the captain to address Alicia head on. "But you're not touching me."
She frowned, confused by my refusal. "But Priestess, how can I apply makeup if I can't touch you?"
My lip curled as I thought of the last time she'd had her hands on me—intentionally trying to force my arousal. "Talk me through it," I said through clenched teeth.
She flinched, taking a step back from me and glancing toward the captain. "But, Priestess-"
The captain cut her off. "It's too early for bickering. Just try your best."
Alicia swallowed thickly and nodded, gesturing for me to sit at the captain's desk before a dainty, compact mirror. She placed the large box on the floor beside the captain's desk, her eyes never leaving mine, and said, "This is kohl." She handed me a thin brush and a marble jar filled with fine black powder. "It requires a steady hand Priestess. No, shake it off, that's too much." I did as she asked, trying to focus on the menial task. "Good, now outline the outside of your eyelid. Try to use the corner of the brush because if you're too heavy handed... Oh my God. No, don't rub it! I can fix it, just let me..."
She tried to take the brush out of my hand, and I flinched, flinging a good amount of fine black powder into the air. In a matter of seconds, we were both lightly dusted in kohl, our faces and arms streaked with black. The captain doubled over, laughing hysterically as Alicia herded me toward the bathroom. He was wheezing as we passed him, and without thinking I dumped the contents of the jar over his head, coating him in a thick, black layer of cosmetics.
Silence dominated the room as the captain tried to understand what had happened. Alicia stood beside me, utterly motionless, a look of complete disbelief etched on her beautiful, dirty face. The captain opened his mouth to speak and coughed, a dark cloud bursting from his lips.
A girlish laugh popped out of my mouth as I made a hasty retreat, the captain's shocked, dirty face the last thing I saw before I closed the bathroom door behind me.
Two hours later we were both clean, and in spite of the captain's wishes, I'd proven it wasn't too early for bickering. I'd only allowed Alicia to touch me after a heated argument, which the captain had ended by threatening to force my compliance with the Chains.
"You look beautiful, Mila," he said, and brushed a length of perfectly coiled hair over my shoulder.
I slapped his hand away. "I look like a sex doll."
He grinned. "Beautiful."
"I'm sure your cousin will appreciate your effort."
His smile faltered, and Alicia cleared her throat. "Is there anything else I can do for you sir?"
He didn't look at her. 'No. You can get ready for the demonstration." She nodded, packing up her tools and face paints, her movements quick, yet graceful.
I watched her for a moment, feeling a dreadful sense of melancholy settle in my heart. "What's this demonstration for anyway?"
The captain fastened a button on his sleeve before responding. "The general is going to personally demonstrate the might of a bound pair by publicly executing an Eloran rebel. It's taking place after the inauguration of several young Elites."
With everything I'd learned about the general over the last few days, I shouldn't have been surprised. But I couldn't help the disgusted 'tsk', any more than I could remove my Chains. "I imagine the prisoner will be unarmed and restrained?"
"It sends a powerful message."
"You're already winning the war. Seems like it's about time for a little mercy," I said as Alicia paused by the door, curtseying to the captain. "Especially in regards to a prisoner of war."
"And why would we do that?" he asked, pulling on a formal Caledonian jacket. "This particular Eloran Rebel killed six men before his capture."