Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 37

“Keep fighting the paralytic, Kohen, but don’t overdo it,” Aparoe warned. “If I had a choice, you’d be in a bed down in medical where I could I monitor you more closely. Let me or Captain Querry know if you feel any pain, or tingling in your limbs that grows painful and stronger, not less. Do you understand?”

I tried to nod, but I still didn’t have enough control of my body. “Yes,” I said haltingly.

Left alone with Captain—as alone as we were going to get with his rooms full of the crew members he could trust. Lakshou was gone, along with Deke. I cringed to think just what Deke would do to him. Then again, he had tried to kill me. Well, kidnap me for people who wanted to use me to kill all the good people on this ship who were trying to stop them, or to create more of whatever sort of mindless human slave to their control I’d failed at being. Only without whatever failure I was.


“They’re safe, Kohen. It’s okay.” Captain said.

No, that’s not what I meant. Damn it. “Environ. Mentals.” My breath escaped me in a long hiss on the final syllable. “Sleep.”

Understanding dawned on Captain’s face. He nodded once. “Already being done. Deke and Aparoe sent crew members to isolate the section and add the sedatives.

So the null field was up. The operatives we knew of, and the ones we suspected were locked down. The survivors, and anyone who was suspect in their ranks were sedated. And thanks to Lakshou’s running his mouth, we knew they weren’t planning to wait for us to return to the central planets, they were going to board us.

Now I just had to get rid of this shit in my body so I wasn’t so fucking useless. Waiting was frustrating, even if I got to be in Captain’s arms. All that time in my cell, I’d dreamed about this. Touch. The warmth and pressure without hurting.

“You… have to go?” It was getting easier to talk. There had to be things he should be doing.

“Soon, but not yet.”


“I’m the captain of this ship; do you really think they’re going to let me go charging in?” He made a face. “My role comes later, so we have time. I have a com in. Security is prepared. Medical is prepared. Navigation is prepared as soon as the breach is detected. They must be cloaked, since we have no proximity alarms tripped before now, and we don’t want to set off any alarms by doing new sweeps. It’ll be better to trap them.

“Then we’ll have them, their ship, and any records they won’t have had time to wipe. I have a female Khriskit here who is a miracle worker with tech. She’ll freeze their systems as soon as their ship is connected to ours. Something in her race lets her communicate directly to the computer through the metal of the system all the way from here to there. It just takes longer if she’s farther away. She explained it to me, once, or tried to. I’m not good at understanding what makes people able to do what they can do.”

I raised my eyebrows, then smiled. I liked learning about other species, and I really liked that Captain had picked up on that. I wanted to know all about what had been done to me, what had been put inside me, and that was tied up in it. The universe was full of beings with amazing abilities—and some really scary ones.

“Hey, you’re moving more.” He cupped my cheek. “Want to sit up? Think you can hold your head up?”

Moving out of his arms was the last thing I wanted to do. But I nodded my head. To my surprise, he didn’t put me on the couch, he just shifted me so I was sitting upright, one arm still braced around my back and the other across my lap. My foot finally pulled free from the cushion. “There you go,” Captain said.

I wobbled briefly, but as the seconds passed, I grew steadier. I drew in a deep breath and then another one. My foot tingled, so I stretched it. It moved, so I stretched the other one too. One by one, I moved each muscle group, flexing, contracting, working them slowly.

Lacing my fingers together, I stretched my arms out in front of me, then upward. My whole body shifted on Captain’s lap. He grunted, and his arms tightened on me. I glanced at him. His eyes were shining, and his voice had a deeper, gravelly note when he asked, “Better?”


“Good.” He squeezed my hip, and a jolt ran through my body. The heat had risen in his, and it was like his palm was a brand against my sensitive skin. “I swear, if there weren’t crew in this room who would snitch on me to Aparoe, I’d take you into my room to make sure you got all the movement back in your whole body.”

Oh. Oh! Damn. I had. I definitely had.

And wasn’t that just the worst timing in the universe—something I should be used to, I guess. The ship rocked, alarms sounded, and Captain winced and pressed two fingers just below his ear. “Querry here. Just a moment.”

The crew had reinstalled all the vid screens and even set up a few mobile stations I didn’t recognize. They’d made Captain’s room a temporary headquarters so he could be here with me; I knew it, even if he’d tried to hide it. “Just stay right here for me, okay?”

Captain strode to the vid screen. Multiple images appeared and live updates scrolled in the various views. And there they were.
The invaders. They streamed through a makeshift lock, weapons in their hands. Then the lights flickered and they all began to lift off the decking. Gravity fail—probably Priella’s work. 

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 36

“It’s okay, Kohen.” Captain stroked my cheek, wiping away the tears. “Someone get Aparoe in here so we can get an antidote.”

His fingers smoothed across my face, and Captain leaned down, staring into my eyes. “I’m going to lift you, and we’re going to sit on the couch. Okay?”

Did he expect me to answer? I couldn’t even swallow, which I learned the second he lifted me and my head lolled to the side, landing on his shoulder. My lips parted and warm drool oozed out. I’d experienced so many humiliations in my life, had all my choices taken away, lost the ability to touch and be touched unless I was being used as a weapon against others… but this humiliation was almost more than I could bear.

Lakshou was my friend. He taught me how to harness the terror I’d felt, to push it away and lock it down. He’d spent time with me, and I’d never glimpsed even a hint of the hatred and disgust he’d just showed toward me.

I’d saved his life.

How could I have been so wrong?

“Hey, hey. Whatever’s going through your head, stop.” Captain turned and sat, pulling me close and shifting me around to sit sideways on his lap. My foot was caught and turned at an awkward angle, but I couldn’t tell him, so I tried to ignore it. “Lakshou has been a member of my crew nearly from the beginning. I trusted him, until the last two times Aparoe scanned you, and he was in the room. That’s when we started to wonder if he was using his abilities on you, and if something in your mind was different.”

They did? Why didn’t they tell me? My heart sank. Trust. They must not have trusted me. Maybe they thought we were working together.

“Stop it, I said. You really can’t have a single thought that doesn’t appear on your face, you know that? I don’t know exactly what you’re thinking, but I promise, it had nothing to do with thinking you’re working with the Brox Consortium willingly.” Captain stroked my forehead between my eyebrows. “You, or anyone else they shoved all that stuff inside their head. But, to anyone who knows you even a little, it’s easy to tell what you’re thinking. Your face is like a public vid—anyone walking by can see it, if they have the code.”

I wished I could talk to him. I wanted to ask him all the questions crowding around in my head. I wanted to ask him to turn my head so I could see what I heard going on in the corner of the room where Deke and Lakshou were. I really wanted to ask him to untangle my foot from the cushions.

Aparoe entered the room, the box abandoned in favor of a more modern medical kit. Thank the stars! They made a quick pass of my chest, then a longer analysis of the injection spot. “I think I can counter what that traitor gave him, but it’ll have to process through his body slowly.”

“We don’t have time for that.”

“Look, you may be the captain, but I’m the medical officer on this oversized hunk of junk. And his physiology is in flux, his hormones are going crazy, and I’m afraid of doing that will harm him further. We will do this my way.”

“Okay,” Captain said. “Whatever you say.”

I didn’t want slow either. Being trapped inside my body was torture. There was so much going on around us I didn’t understand. What had happened? Lakshou went from trusted friend to enemy, and I had no idea why. He’d talked about money.

Was that really the reason for so many lives being ruined? My life? My parents had sold me, the Brox had tested on me and then used me in their machinations, and Lakshou betrayed me. And worse, he betrayed Captain and the rest of the crew, faked loyalty to them and their mission.

The zing of whatever Aparoe hit me stung briefly but then warmth began to spread through the cold lethargy holding me captive. I tried to move, but I couldn’t.

“Calm down, Kohen. Aparoe said it’d take some time, remember.” Captain stared into my eyes. “I’m sorry we couldn’t tell you before. We knew something was off, but we didn’t know what it was exactly. We weren’t sure Lakshou would show his hand, but we suspected he would. He had to; we’re too close to the central planets. They can’t use us anymore, not since we know the truth.”

Captain looked past my shoulder. “Deke is handling him. We’re going to issue general quarters. All crew members not part of the original team are going to be confined for our safety. I think I can be forgiven for my lack of trust, in this case.” Captain rubbed my shoulder, then slid his hand down my arm to my hand. My fingers twitched.

“Did you feel that?”

I had.

“Do it again.”

Concentrating, I curled my fingers around his.

“That’s good!” Captain grinned. “You’re coming back. I need you. We’re going to stop these bastards once and for all. We’re going to give them the surprise of their life when they board us, and when we reach Central, we’ll root out the corruption and stamp it out. Then I’m taking my own ship, and my crew, and you, and we’ll find something else to do in the galaxy to earn our keep.”
I had a feeling that things wouldn’t be as easy as he made them sound. I dragged in a deeper breath, my chest aching. “Sounds perfect,” I rasped, forcing the word past still partially-frozen vocal cords. 


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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 35

I'm about to blow your minds! lol 

I ducked my head, pulling my knees to my chest and burying my face against them. My throat burned, and I swallowed repeatedly. I’d tried to stay coldly logical, thinking everything through, convincing Deke and Captain, and keeping calm even when I’d been locked in waiting for my brain to betray me—and worse, betray the ones who’d set me free.  

Knowing it wasn’t going to happen set free all the emotions I’d tried so hard to suppress. My breath shuddered in and out, and a few tears escaped.

“It’s okay, Kohen. You’ll be all right.” Lakshou stood behind him and ran his hand across the back of my head. His long fingers brushed the ports.

Those synapses fired again, and whatever extra alien parts they’d shoved inside that helped me accept the advanced processes from the technology also embedded inside my brain were spinning through the things we knew, the fears we had, and the horrible possibilities.

“I’ve bonded with Captain. But the others who were rescued who have ports… did any of their brains change or were they still intact, ready to receive whatever signals are about to break through? Before, Captain said none of their scans showed any extra activity like mine. So… are they susceptible?”

Aparoe stood, shoving the wand into the machine and clamping the lid shut. “It’s a valid fear. I need to get back to Medical. I will leave you two to discuss this with Captain Querry and Deke.” Aparoe sighed. “I don’t like it, but Deke asked me to assess the species rescued on this latest mission to see if there’s any way to sedate them as a group. While I am not happy that it is fully safe for all, I do believe we have a sedative on board that can be injected into their air supply if the vents are isolated.”

“It’s possible.” Closing off their system controls to ensure that their level was secure was one of the modifications I’d helped make earlier. I’d thought Deke was paranoid but isolating their environmentals was possible.

Aparoe was gone, and Lakshou and I were hot on their heels when I froze. “Why did I believe you so easily? That this is all so easily stopped, so neatly foiled?”

Lakshou cursed in a language I didn’t understand. He turned and the rage on his face distorted his bifurcated lips. “Why can’t you just stop thinking and stop fighting for once? I told them, told them this wouldn’t work!”


“That damn bond. First the technology failed, now the bond has made my influence too weak to hold you for more than a few seconds. I told them you were a liability; Querry might be taken in by your body and your broken innocence, but I just knew you’d fuck up our plans.” Lakshou pulled his arms out of his robes and the restraints glinted in the light. “I don’t have time for this.”

Shock stopped my heart from beating and the breath from entering my lungs as Lakshou ranted, but the sight of those cuffs broke me from my trance. The door had slid shut behind Aparoe, and we were alone… and Lakshou was the traitor all along.

How did we miss that?

“Time for Plan B.” Lakshou sneered. “You, I hope they cull.” His horns flashed blue, but he was too late.

Deke was a paranoid fucker, and he’d been worried about me. He’d gotten a monitor tracer from Aparoe and injected it inside me—and it would’ve gone off the attosecond my heart stuttered in realization that I was locked in Captain’s room with the alien who was potentially behind so much suffering and death.

“Why?” I asked in a choked voice.

“What? Tell you my life’s history, some great sob story of injustice against Central Command that Brox is helping me get even? Let you stall for time in hopes Aparoe tries to contact me and fails, then comes to find us? Or the guards come in?” He shook his head, and the shine around his horns grew stronger.

My arms fell to my sides, and the first smooth, relaxed breath I’d had since realizing the survivors might not have really been rescued after all made my chest rise and fall. Then another. I watched, eerily calm, as Lakshou glided closer. “No, I think you’ll calmly stand there and me give you this injection.” He pulled a hypo from his pocket.

“Your body will be immobilized and fastened to the wall with restraints. Easier to transport you that way. Once this ship is boarded, you’ll be taken back to a lab. The scientists will figure out where you failed, then they’ll cull you. Body parts here, there, whatever’s needed for the next experiment.

“And I’ll get paid.” The hypo hissed and burned my neck as Lakshou hovered over me. My muscles locked tight, and I rocked against the wall. “That’s all your worth to me, a payday.”

“What will be left of you won’t be worth gathering up to mail back to your clan to scatter to the winds in a traitor’s pyre if you don’t get away from Kohen right now,” Captain roared.

Lakshou spun, his mouth parting. “How did you get in here?”

“Kohen is under my protection. Step away from him. Now.” Captain’s hands clenched around the weapon he raised. “Or you won’t even have pieces left for the pyre.”

“Calm down.” The restraints hit the ground with a muted thud as Lakshou stared wide-eyed at whatever Captain was holding. “You’ll kill us all with that.”

“Ironic, considering killing us all seems to be your plan.” Captain nodded once sharply.

Deke and a guard entered his quarters from the front door, like normal, and Deke held an identical weapon. “Use his restraints,” Deke said. His voice was rough. “You okay, kid?”

I blinked, the only thing I could do, and a tear leaked down my cheek. 
"Shit, Captain, he needs you." 

TBC (mind blown?!!)
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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Denied Chapter 34

“Done, Captain.”

“Please step outside.” Captain stood in the middle of his lounge. He waited for Deke and Luca to leave.

“I’m sorry I’m kicking you out of your quarters.”

Captain shook his head. “I’m sorry I’m locking you in them. I really don’t think this is necessary, Kohen.”

He didn’t have the memories I did. The fear I could hurt him only grew stronger the closer we came to the central planets. “You don’t know that. Don’t make me watch it happen.” I didn’t want to become trapped inside my brain while my body moved outside of my control.

“Aparoe is going to bring whatever equipment is needed to scan you here. We’re going to settle this once and for all. Lakshou will come too.”

“Only if Lakshou can keep Aparoe safe. And you have to make sure I can’t make them let me out.”

“Deke’s made sure of all the security. He’s as paranoid as you are.” Captain stepped close to me and wrapped his arms around me. The warmth and comfort of his skin was just as amazing as the first time he’d come to me in my cell on the station. I couldn’t step away, even if I knew I should. “I trust you, Kohen. I know you’d never hurt anyone.”

“But I have. And if they get inside my head again, I wouldn’t have a choice. Before you rescued me, I didn’t want to live but I didn’t have any choices. You gave those back to me, and I won’t go back. This time, it would be break me.”

Captain made a sound in his throat and his arms tightened about me. “I just—” He broke off, and I buried my face against his neck. His throat worked, but he didn’t say anything else. Something about this was harder for him than it should be. I didn’t understand why he refused to believe I could hurt them, but I’d spent so long being weak; I’d be the strong one for both of us.

“You’ll just go be Captain and find out what the hell is going on.” I took one last whiff of the special spice of his skin and pressed my lips to the soft hollow under them. “I’ll be fine. Aparoe and Lakshou will make sure of that.” I’d pretend to believe him if it gave him some assurance so he could leave me.

“Should I salute you and say aye, aye, sir?” Captain said, a small smile finally cracking his stiff expression.

“Of course not.” I looked over my shoulder, but we were still alone. “Go, Everett.” It was still hard to say his name, but the way his smile spread more naturally across his face made it worth it.

Compared to my cell, my quarters had seemed spacious. Compared to my quarters, Captain’s seemed luxurious. Now, as I paced around his bed, then around his lounge, then his hygiene area, and back again it seemed much smaller than before. And every circuit took a few less steps.

The air inside the room stirred as I began my turn around the bed, and I rushed to the door to the lounge. Aparoe and Lakshou was already inside, and the door was already shut. How’d they do that? I hadn’t even heard the door open or shut.

Lakshou had his hands buried in his robes. His horns were glowing. “Interesting. The longer you bond with Captain Querry, the easier I can read you,” he said.

“Really?” I wasn’t sure if I liked that. Then again, maybe that meant he could tell if I wasn’t me. “So… I seem okay?”

“Are you asking me if I think you’re about to turn into a mindless murdering Kohen-bot? Well, we probably won’t need these.” He pulled a pair of restraints out of his sleeve. “Ow!” Lakshou dodged Aparoe’s elbow. “Stop, I’m trying to make him feel better.”

“Stop trying to do it that way.” Aparoe scoffed. “We wouldn’t restrain you, Kohen, don’t worry about those. Deke just insisted.”

“I’m glad,” I said seriously. If I was a danger, I’d prefer they used the restraints.

“How about you let me do some scans, Lakshou stands back and keeps his mouth shut but reassures you, and we move on.” Aparoe held some archaic-looking equipment. “This is the best I could do. It’ll give us actual pictures on the screen of your brain, in two dimensions, but the thin layers will each show as a different image. Paired with the past 3D image, this should help reassure you that they cannot access the hardware install in your brain.”

“Do I have to lie down?” I glanced at the couch and away.

“No, you can sit.” Aparoe started bustling around. “I was surprised to find this kit tucked away, but I’m glad we have it. Try to relax, this takes longer than a scan.” The box Aparoe set on down thunked heavily on the arm of my chair. She held up a small tube. “Just a light sensor. Can’t hurt you.”

I nodded, then froze. “Sorry, do I have to stay still?”

“Yes, but I hadn’t started yet. Right. Now stay still.” Aparoe started at my chin touching every inch. They were right. It took longer than any scan I’d ever had.

“Let’s take a look.” Aparoe plugged the tube into the box, and the top lit up.

“Is that smart?”

Lakshou crouched beside of my chair. “This is a closed system device. No way for a signal to get in or out.”


 Aparoe sifted through the scans. “See, here.”

I looked at the squiggles and the oddly squared off and regular shapes that didn’t look natural. They were broken in areas. “This is where we believe they sent the signal in, for lack of better word. But these filaments have invaded the hardware. Based on what the DNA, we believe these synapses are what have prompted your connection with Captain Querry.”
"Your bond with him makes you safe."

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