Lakshou and Captain stared at me, like I was going to break apart or run screaming. But… I’d had years to experience the horrors of what they did to me. The digging around in my brain. The tests. Things I’d done even when I didn’t want to.
I’d hoped they were all in my head, visions as I’d been held immobile in my cell.
But I’d crushed that box. Just like I’d crushed…. Nausea swirled in my belly.
Maybe I’d left my cell before Captain had rescued me. If that was true…
“You have to take us back. Or put us off on a planet. Somewhere. Anywhere. You’re in danger!” I blurted out.
“What?” Lakshou’s horns flashed, but his ability, his magic couldn’t dent my panic. The panic they were clearly expecting from Captain’s news, but not this way.
“We will not take you back,” Captain declared. “We couldn’t, even if we wanted to. We set charges and blew all the airlocks on that station to destroy all their equipment, then we sent it on a collision course with the sun in that system. By now, it doesn’t even exist.”
But you don’t know what we could do. You have to get us off your ship.” Flashes of the tests, the atrocities I’d witnessed. They’d isolated me, put things in me, changed who I was and what I was capable of.
I stared down at my hands. The hands I’d seen crushed the throats of men I’d seduced; the long fingers had easily snapped the necks of the women who’d been drawn to my sophisticated wiles…. Every touch I’d felt in that suit had equaled pain, and every touch I’d shared with others had been with deadly intent.
All without ever knowing I’d really done it.
Whatever they’d implanted in my head controlled me. What if they were able to do it remotely? What would I do that woman who’d mistakenly contacted me on the vid? Would I tear away Aparoe’s clothes and learn finally if they were male or female?
Would Captain let me close, thinking I was the harmless survivor of torture, just so the aliens could make me turn on him?
My heart was racing, and I couldn’t catch my breath. Was I already doing their bidding?
“Kohen, calm down. What are you talking about?”
If I told them, they’d hate me. Captain had always looked at me with—something—in his eyes that kept me from being scared of him, even in the cell that first day. He’d let me come to him. He’d rescued me. How could I put him at risk just so he wouldn’t look at me and see what I now saw? The killer.
I’d let so many use my body before I killed them in their most vulnerable moment. People who didn’t expect someone who looked like me to be dangerous.
I was disgusting.
I was death to everyone who might try to help me. There was no telling when or where.
“They put that stuff in, the things you said before, to control me. The tests… I thought they were to teach me aversion to touching people. To letting men or women use me. To make me….” What was the word the guy with Captain had said? “Asexual.” That was it. “I thought they were just in my head. Visions. I didn’t know.”
More than anything else, I wanted to put my arms around my chest, to hold together the pain and breaking apart my insides were doing as the true realization of what I’d done was hitting me, but the idea of touching myself with my hands made revulsion sweep through me. No. I couldn’t.
Lakshou rocked back from me.
Captain frowned and shook his head. “We knew they tortured you. It’s not your fault, Kohen.”
I bolted to my feet, jumping over that tiny table, pacing the room. I couldn’t run from them, from this. They had to know, then they had to lock me up until they could get rid of me.
“No, you don’t understand.” I paced the room, unable to stay still. “I killed people for them. Men, women. Humans. Even some aliens. They’d remove the suit, then I’d… I’d be sent among people. Always alone. I never tried to run away. I never tried to tell anyone that I was being held captive. I’d find someone and let them use me. Then I killed them.” I thrust out both arms. “With these hands.”
I pointed at my head. “Because of whatever they put up here. I could be here to hurt you. To prevent you from destroying their labs, their bases. Aparoe told me that’s what you’re trying to do, to stop them from gaining any more power.
“If you keep me here, I could kill you all.”
Captain rose. “Kohen, you aren’t going to hurt anyone.”
“You don’t know that! You said it’s alien technology you don’t know. You’ve never seen it before. Well I know what it can do. And I can’t control it.” That was the true horror. Not just the pain they’d made me feel, the disgust for my own body, the fear of the touch of others.
The kernel of myself that I kept safe deep in my mind, that kept me alive to hate them despite the torture of my existence, the small bits of control I’d kept over my actions. The one thing I thought was my refuge, the thing they couldn’t take from me… that had been the first thing stripped away.
“This entire ship is in danger, if not from me, then from the others you rescued from the cells. We could all be vulnerable to the orders they implanted. Who knows how they did it? If they can still do it. You need to put us all in restraints and lock us up. Now!” I cried.
Captain’s mouth dropped open, and he shook his head. “Kohen….”
“I don’t want to hurt you.”
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