Authors: Yamila Abraham
“Our Most Holiest told me to offer this woman to you.
He said not to let you know his wishes unless you agreed.
He didn’t want you to feel obligated.”
“The…High Druid decreed this?”
Danfet gathered his tablet and placed it in his bag.
“It was unofficial.
He said it was your fate to be with her.
I mean, here you are having never taken a bride, and then the games get assigned to Dornovonia, the world that you rule?
It’s as if destiny were bringing you together.”
Lysanter stared at him agape.
His mouth had gone dry.
“Make sure you clear your schedule for the next three days.
Be at the arena at
I’ll give your slave all the instructions.”
Danfet exited, leaving Lysanter alone with the implications of his decision.
Four Days Ago…
The west sector slave leader Dugan shook Lenora until she jolted upright in her bunk.
“Lenora, that bastard’s here,” Dugan said.
“He’s asking for you.”
Lenora’s heart thundered with panic at once.
She wasn’t awake enough to fully decipher the words, only Dugan’s fearful tone.
“Bastard…?” she said with vocal cords that were not yet fully functional.
The portion of Dugan’s face not covered by beard reddened.
“He’s come for you, Lenora.”
Now she became fully conscious.
He’d be here to punish her for her last escape.
She’d recuperated for two months from the hypothermia and malnutrition.
Now the day she’d dreaded had finally come.
Her eyes squeezed closed with instant tears.
“Don’t cry, sweetheart,” Dugan said.
The other two human slave leaders, Esther and Magpie, were standing behind him with sympathetic expressions.
“Don’t give him the satisfaction.
You’ll get through it.
It’ll be over before you know it.”
Lenora didn’t argue, but the words were hollow.
Every punishment increased incrementally.
Ten seconds, twenty seconds, forty seconds, a minute and twenty seconds.
She was up to what?
Almost three minutes.
Three minutes of the most mind-rending pain imaginable.
She would have given up a limb if it meant getting out of it.
Lenora looked around desperately.
Could she run?
Maybe there weren’t any robots guarding the ditch.
If she sprinted up there and over the gully she could hide under the brambles until nightfall.
“Lenora Winquist,” Elentinus said.
Her eyes opened wide enough to make her look wild.
She nudged herself to the edge of the bed.
The bastard was standing right there, right in the slave barrack, with his evil servant beside him.
Elentinus’ massive frame nearly spanned the walkway.
He wasn’t ugly, with white hair and a reasonably handsome face, but Lenora was incapable of actually seeing him.
The aura of evil she perceived around him was too thick for her to eyes to penetrate.
, she thought.
His photo was at every war briefing she’d attended years ago.
It was hard to believe the very same murderer now interacted with them.
Fear dissolved into searing hatred as she glared at him.
The hate brought her to a familiar place.
You’re a prisoner of war, Lenora.
Remember—it’s all about survival.
“Yes, sir,” she said.
“Put on your shoes and come with me,” Elentinus said in his language.
Lenora understood him as clearly as if he’d spoken English due to some alteration the Dak-Hiliah had done to her brain.
She forced herself to slip her bare feet into worn sneakers.
The slave leaders moved back to let her stand.
“She’s still recovering, Lord Elentinus,” Dugan said.
The blue-skinned alien ignored him.
“He’s right,” Magpie, the eldest of the three, said.
“Give her a few more weeks
for God’s sake!”
“Shut your mouths,” Elentinus’ servant said in English.
“I won’t!” Dugan said.
He grabbed the back of Lenora’s tunic and pulled it taut over her torso.
“Look how skinny she is.
She’s barely gained any weight back.”
Lenora kept still while her jutting ribs were displayed beneath the cloth.
She wouldn’t let her eyes beseech Elentinus for mercy, but she wouldn’t resist her friends’ attempts either.
How about it, Elentinus, you son of a bitch?
You want me to die?
One of your precious females?
“There isn’t going to be a public chastening today,” Elentinus said without emotion.
“I’m removing her from the colony.”
His first sentence gave her hope.
His second one destroyed it.
The three slave leaders exchanged astonished glances.
“Removing her where?” Dugan said.
“That’s none of your damned business,” Elentinus’ servant said.
Elentinus stepped forward and grasped Lenora’s arm.
He strode towards the exit with her.
She was walked to the main road leading out of the colony before Elentinus released her arm.
Lenora rubbed the place where his fingers had been.
She kept her head down and huddled herself in her arms.
Keeping stride with
took some effort.
Lenora felt as if ants teemed under her skin on the side nearest to him.
There was a tightness in her chest also.
Part of her felt like was back in the sewers with the other cruel man she’d known.
The sad fact that Elentinus was probably even more evil than that man from her past made her stomach turn.
“Are you still sick?” Elentinus said.
Should I lie?
It depended on where he was taking her.
A new slave colony would be fine, but what if he was making her one of their brides?
She bit her lower lip.
“Why haven’t you gained any weight?”
“I’ve gained two kilos.”
“You needed to regain at least ten.
You were granted unlimited rations and it’s been weeks.
If you’re not sick then why are you still so thin?”
A potent wave of anguish swept over her, making her throat ache.
She swallowed a heavy lump to mask the emotion in her voice.
“Sir, the only thing I’ve been sick with is dread.”
Elentinus didn’t look at her.
“You fear my punishment and yet you don’t cease the behavior that brings it about.
This time you dragged another girl along with you.
“I told her not to follow me, sir.
I didn’t realize she was behind me until—”
“Vivian was innocent before you corrupted her mind with thoughts of escape.
How did it feel to see your friend suffer the bite of the collar?
Was it worth it?”
Lenora kept her lips sealed.
Leave her alone, you vicious bastard.
She’d been heartbroken when Vivian had revealed herself in the woods.
The seventeen-year-old was young and happy.
She had none of the poison Lenora carried in her heart.
She didn’t need to suffer a harsh existence in the woods.
This was Lenora’s fate alone.
She looked back at Elentinus.
If I could only kill you.
New tears threatened to spill themselves.
This time they were born from the red haze of hatred tensing her middle.
She hated that Elentinus coaxed her back to the darkest period of her existence—when she was capable of doing anything just to survive.
Thousands of slaves lined the road to watch Elentinus lead her out of the colony.
When they reached the fence boxy silver robots with glowing cylindrical heads blocked the open gate to keep anyone from following.
They went along an overgrown dirt road flanked by pines on either side.
Lenora scanned the mostly obscured terrain with wide eyes.
She mapped a few future escape scenarios in her head.
Then she realized they were headed for a clearing where a transport shuttle was parked.
The gangplank-styled door lowered itself open as they approached.
Elentinus led her aboard and then brought her to a round molded door that slid open.
He signaled his servant to leave them.
Lenora walked into the room before Elentinus could steer her with a touch on her shoulder.
The door slid closed behind them.
The only thing in the small room was a bed.
Lenora looked around desperately for something else.
Elentinus was moving close to her.
She crossed to the bed before he could touch her.
She turned around to face him with the back of her calves against the bedside.
He had armor on his groin but she could probably still whack hard enough to stun him.
Then she’d press her thumbs in his eyes and twist her legs in his to knock him down.
There didn’t seem to be a button for the door.
If it didn’t open automatically she’d ram it.
“You’ve earned three minutes of the collar,” Elentinus said, with his auburn eyes stoic.
Her breathing became rapid.
“What if I gave you a choice?
The collar, or allowing a Dak-Hiliah to mate with you.”
You think I’m going to let you rape me?”
He pulled out a small black box, which Lenora knew was the force field collar control unit.
The infernal collar was always on her, even if she couldn’t see or feel it.
“The choice is submitting,” Elentinus said.
“I’ll just give you your three minute sentence if you’re determined to resist.”
Angry tears began to streak down her face.
No matter how repulsed she was she had to pick the rape.
A collar blast that long might give her brain damage.
She was limping for months after the last one of just over a minute.
“I hate you…so much.”
He put the shock mechanism in a compartment of his shoulder armor.
“So you’d choose submission?”
Lenora let her backside drop onto the bed.
The anger had her trembling now.
“You disgusting…disgusting pig.”
She took off her tunic and threw it onto the floor.
A sports bra was beneath it.
She intended on taking that off with the same gusto, but her trembling hands grew weak.
It’s fine, Lenora,
she tried to convince herself,
you’ve been through much worse.
“This is exactly what you expected from me, isn’t it?”
Lenora eyed him.
This wasn’t what she expected because she’d heard he was in a passionate marriage with Maritza the Traitor.
But then, it didn’t surprise her either.
“Could you really go through with it?”
Fine, play mind games with me.
Anything was preferable to getting raped or shocked.
“Would it be easier if it wasn’t me?
A different Dak-Hiliah.”
“It wouldn’t make much difference,
You’re all scum.”
He smiled briefly.
“You can put your shirt back on.
I’m not going to touch you.
It was a test to see the extent of your mental deficiency.
If you chose to be shocked then I would know there was no hope for you.
Your irrational hatred would have run too deep.
You’ve behaved how I wished.”