“Someone is being bad,” Lakshou said. He tsked, his palms pushed together. He wore his robes, his eyes glowing, his appearance still just the same.
It sickened me that I wanted to go to him. Why hadn’t I felt that before? He’d frozen my body, but he hadn’t toyed with my mind. Captain stood rigid in front of me. The crew stood all around us. Deke had his weapons drawn, as did his hand-picked security.
“I kill him, they kill me, you die,” I said.
Lakshou laughed. “As if you could kill your bonded. You’ve wound together so tight, it’s a miracle you can ever part. Not that you usually do. I knew, if I drew out his people, I’d draw the good captain behind them and, with him, you. And now I have you.”
“That glow around you gets one iota stronger, and I’ll do it. You’re relying a lot on the power of the bond between us, but you know better than anyone here what was done to me. What it can be like up there.” I nudged just one finger toward my head, not letting Captain go. “Compartmentalized. Dead. Emotions are a luxury in a life I wasn’t free to live.”
What I wouldn’t give for that not to be true. I’d spent so much time trying to overcome my fears because for the longest time they’d been what held the tightest grip on my emotions. When all you could do was huddle in a corner or in a bed and fear that your reality was going to betray you, that your body and mind were not your own to control, then each day, each passing moment, stretched into an eternity of self-doubt and paralyzing rictus of terror.
Not that all the work I’d done had helped one iota. I faced a being who could tie me up in knots and use the very thing I feared against me. The man I loved, who said he loved me, had known it was possible and kept it from me.
For my own good.
The crew had gone along with his decision. They’d taken my Chomper and sedated him, hidden him in a shielded room. That room was probably the only reason why they’d stopped at just sedating him. For as deep as I knew the deadness descended inside me, I was finding a ruthless streak inside Captain that fell as far.
He’d do much to bring down those who plotted against him.
“You won’t hurt him. And even if you did, all you do is condemn all three of us to death. Are you truly ready to give that up yet?”
I snorted. “You’ll give me a life?” No, he’d give me a prison, experiments, pain, and then death. “I think not.” Captain was stiff against me the whole time, but he any pliability in his body vanished.
“Then we are at an impasse, are we not?” Lakshou’s hands were folded, sliding toward his robe sleeves.
“Stop,” Deke shouted. “Hands out of your sleeves.”
Lakshou ignored him but the slow progression stopped. Our two sides were stuck in a stalemate. The ship’s AI continued to blaze automated warnings but even her casual comments were off, locked into the scene unfolding before the scanners.
All of these plans, but no one had told me. But it’d take just one thing they hadn’t planned for.
Who thought I’d take my mate hostage with a razor’s edge to his throat? But, maybe to save something, you had to be really willing to destroy it. Killing him would kill me, but I couldn’t live like this anymore. If it took death to finally bring me freedom….
“Seriously, we’re just standing here?” said some useless alien with six eyes and tufts of greasy green bristles sticking up in clumps all over his head and shoulders. Huge, muscular shoulders that led to foot-wide fists, each holding weapons.
“Who said I was doing nothing this whole time?”
Captain had pulled the weapons out of my belt. As Deke had moved up and pointed his pistol at Lakshou, he’d accessed my weapons too. And I had one he’d given me that was scarily lethal.
The grenade was already chiming its last countdown, the tiny light its only warning indicator. I spun, shoving Captain away and then put myself among the enemy, right where I belonged.
“Fialis Tevvikit Sars!” Lakshou glowed bright enough to hurt my eyes. My hands curved into talons, my strength now a weapon against those I loved. I’d compartmentalized, felt like I’d shut down my brain, like I’d put aside the love I’d felt and shared.
But this was completely different.
The electricity burst from the device implanted on the back of my suit, curved through the channels, and then spread out around me in a halo of wicked crackling pain. It found the weaknesses of the suits, and skins, and scales of all the beings in my proximity, and those it couldn’t the blasts sizzling through the air took down.
Because Lakshou was standing right next to me and through the connection to my brain, the frying electricity I’d allowed to burn through the circuits inside me until it charred them and wires had jumped and spread from my body into his.
He’d shared his calm, his peace, his pleasure, and his rage before. Now I turned that connection back on him.
I didn’t anticipate the fur on his body to begin to smoke, the char spreading across his chest and stomach and catching his robe on fire.
The blaring alarms grew louder. The chaos around me grew to epic proportions. I already knew Lakshou was dead; the glow was gone as was the stranglehold on my emotions. I could feel a distant connection to Captain, but I pulled away.
Maybe he’d live. Each slowing beat of my heart echoed like a drum in my burnt out head. “Sorry,” I croaked. Not exactly what I’d intended.
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