The Astral Mage - Fireborn Publishing
March 18, 2016
They weren’t moving any longer. Even though Kyrus was in the bowels of the space freighter, he could definitely tell they had come to a stop. It probably wasn’t a good thing. He had felt a shudder under his feet a little while ago, like something had possibly hit the hull.
Kyrus tried again to look out the tiny laser-barred opening in the high-density aquacite door to his cell but just like the hundreds of times before, he could see little of the hallway, much less anything else. All he could hear was the constant groan of the engines. This close to them, he could feel their vibration too. The pulsation made him feel off balance and just a little nauseous.
He flopped back down onto the small cot provided him. It was little comfort, but why make merchandise comfortable? A commodity was all he was— an item of value, at least to some, to sell. But, he had to admit, this cramped, stagnant cube was better than the dark, musty, wet cell he had come from. He surely would have caught some incurable disease had he been made to stay there much longer. Luckily, unlike the Fera Nobi slaves he had been housed with, who basically went on the block for auction the second they came to port, the transaction that sold him to the captain of this freighter, called Araeli, was done in private. Kyrus had been cuffed, visor-blinded, gagged, then dragged up and out to the cold space docks and then down to the bowels of this ship. There he was unceremoniously dumped into this cell.
They had uncuffed him so Captain Falland himself could “inspect” him—that having been extremely uncomfortable. He had been stripped to his boxers and made to stand spread-eagle while the captain walked slowly around him, touching and caressing him in ways Kyrus didn’t think appropriate for anything, much less live cargo—and certainly not something you did in front of crew members. But, according to Falland, he was searching for concealed weapons. Kyrus paled, remembering the painful squeeze to his buttocks, both cheeks—then the finger that dropped into the back of his boxers and slid along his crack, finding and going dry into his opening, pushing hard. He didn’t think it had anything to do with “finding a weapon”. But he had been in no position to argue. He had simply screwed his eyes shut, concentrated hard on showing absolutely no fear, and failed miserably.
Thankfully, since then, the captain had made no visits to his cell. But Kyrus had no idea how long this trip was going to be. It was something none of his captors evidently thought he needed to know.
Still, no matter where they were headed, four days out from the Great Simbos spaceport on New Titania did not get you to the next spaceport. Not even close. In fact, it only put you into deeper space, far away from any civilization. The only reason a ship stopped mid-space like this was engine trouble, and Kyrus was pretty sure he would have been able to hear it if something had gone wrong with the engines, so that wasn’t the case. Or they were waiting for someone, which could be a possibility since he had no idea who Falland was selling him to. If it had been the Confederated Authority, or the ConFed as they were so lovingly referred to, they would be docking at an official CFA Space Dock, of which there were plenty, but not out here in the middle of nowhere. So that left only a small number of “others” who could possibly have an interest.
The only problem was in order for a transfer to happen out here the buyer’s ship needed to be fairly large because it would have to have its own docking capabilities—or, at the very least, house a runner in order to take in an escape pod. He had no idea how big the Araeli was, most likely a common enough freighter, so escape pods would be the only other way off the ship. However, jetting even one of them off a common freighter when there was no emergency did bad things to the stabilizers. Even he knew that. Escape pods were only used as a last resort.
Not to mention selling an Astral Mage, or a “Soul Giver,” to anyone other than the ConFed was considered illegal, so having that kind a transfer take place out in the vast wide open would not be a good plan. Even out in deep space the ConFed still had eyes and ears. So he doubted that was what was happening either.
The only other possibility was a bad one—a really bad one.
Suddenly a door opened. Kyrus bolted back up and to the door of his cell right as the captain came into view. And he was in a hurry.
“Get back away from the door,” the captain yelled.
“Why? What’s going on?” Kyrus peered out the tiny opening.
“I’m not kidding, Kyrus. Get back. I have a wing taser and I’ll shoot you if I have to. Now get back.”
Fuck. A wing taser? It was because of a wing taser that he had been captured this last time. The damn thing did something to the nerves in his body, shutting them down or numbing them somehow. All he knew was there was enough pain to make him pass out and independent movement was impossible for at least a couple of days. He stepped quickly away from the door as he heard the beeps and hum of the locking mechanism shutting down. When the door opened, Falland ran in, grabbed Kyrus by the shoulders, spun him around, and slammed him into the hard wall. The force was enough to take his breath away for a second, long enough for Falland to pin his arms back and bind them in laser cuffs. He spun him again and jammed a visor over his eyes, clicking it on, effectively blinding him. “What’s happening?” Kyrus’s voice sounded shaky and panicked—even to him.
“Just shut up and do as you’re told.” He was shoved forward, he assumed toward the door. It was then he realized Falland brought no one with him. He had come alone. What the hell was going on? He was pushed again, this time to the right and then pulled hard as Falland took him by his upper arm and made him almost run. He had seen the narrow corridors of a ship’s belly. Walking fast would have been difficult, but running was fucking dangerous. However, he had little choice. The captain was heads taller than he was and outweighed him by fifty-plus pounds. Not to mention Falland was even stronger than he looked. The near-death grip he had on Kyrus’s arm would definitely leave angry bruises.
Then Falland pulled him to a stop and a second later he heard the doors to a lift open. He was pushed on board and they were moving again. Up—the only way there was from this level. Shit. Where is he taking me? Why is he alone? Where’s the rest of the crew? A few seconds later the lift lurched to a stop and once again they were running.