Fiction~~You Shall Know the Truth~~Ch. 7
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|You Shall Know the Truth
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Truth is stranger than fiction, but
it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth
isn't. ~ Mark Twain
Elias woke up cold, naked, and humping carpet. He moaned under his breath as he realized what he was doing. Eyes still closed, he slumped down flat. The familiar chemical smell of plastic and metal surrounded him in a comforting haze. Thank god, he was inside. No more dreaming of the wilds and carnivorous plants. His heart sank as the next thought hit him.
No more dreaming of him. Time to wake up and deal with reality, and reality didn’t include a walking, talking Gabriel, even if his angel had been a bit harsher than usual in Elias’ newest fantasies.
It didn’t matter. It wasn’t real.
Elias pushed the familiar sorrow away with the ease of practice. There was no time for that. He stretched, preparing to get up, and felt himself grow erect, a natural morning reaction that hadn’t happened in ages. He usually had that trouble in the afternoons in the lab with Gabriel.
The dream replayed in a digital flashback that included Gabriel swallowing and biting until Elias climaxed. He flushed. It had been so vivid. He’d never envisioned the man like that before. Even giant insects would almost be worth it, to have a dream involving Gabriel like that again. Elias ground his hips against the nappy surface underneath him, unable to stop himself, and frowned.
What, exactly, was he grinding against?
He could feel it touching his naked skin rather than his pants, but his bed had the newest microfiber sheets, and those were significantly softer than the prickly fuzz currently cradling his groin. His bio-sealed mattress was most definitely softer than his current bed. The scent of the cleaner he insisted be used in his room was absent, too. Wherever he was now smelled sour and dusty underneath the smell of ‘indoors’ and ‘room.’ He struggled to remember where he might be, but his head throbbed painfully with each thought.
Where was he?
Opening his eyes, Elias stared down at an expanse of dingy carpeting. He was on the floor? He turned his head and followed the colors as they spread out in a revolting mish-mash of black, blue and green across the floor. It could have been from a textbook featuring the different stages of bruising.
He’d never seen floors like this in his life.
Elias looked around quickly, wincing as his head throbbed again. It was a completely unfamiliar room. Dark metal walls shone with a patina of fingerprints that had collected for so long they now had a dark sheen of their own. A ratty, moth-eaten couch crouched behind him next to an inset bookcase with actual paper books beside the expected digital cubes. Enormous antique lights of rusted metal and ancient glass clung to the walls every few feet, and Elias-
He pushed himself up, paused until his head stopped spinning, and stared in disgust at the carpet underneath him. Then sneezed at the vague smell of mildew.
“Where am I?”
The sound echoed in a muffled whine that slumped back down to the floor like settling dust, but no one answered. Elias pushed himself to his knees and froze as he felt the scratch of yarn against his legs. It hadn’t been an illusion from the haze of sleep; he was actually naked. In a filthy, unfamiliar room, and naked. Elias chewed on his lower lip, biting down hard, wishing he had a pen to gnaw on instead.
The cool air felt colder against his bare skin than it should, tickling against his backside and his penis like a perverted statement of Elias’ condition. There’s nothing to be afraid of, he thought, biting down even harder. He could feel his skin crawling at his own nudity, the utter unfamiliarity of it all, and the added horror of how unsanitary the room was.
No, he could work hygiene out later. There were more important things right now.
For whatever reason, he couldn’t remember how he’d gotten here. He could fix that. All he had to do was stay calm and examine his surroundings and the answer would become clear. It was just like tracking down a virus; patience and attention to detail would find the answer to all his questions.
If only his head would stop hurting for just a moment, he’d be able to puzzle through it. It wouldn’t hurt if he’d been wearing proper clothing and a labcoat, either. Or at least pajamas.
Elias looked down his body and frowned. He had nothing on but a few bandages, mainly over his arms and legs. Moving his limbs, he could feel a subtle sting; nothing sharp or disabling, however. A few strips of pale cloth covered his torso, too, but they ended well short of his groin, where he would have welcomed a bit of protection.
And the bandages - they looked exactly like the ones he remembered from his dream, when Gabriel had taken care of him.
The pain in his head grew sharply as his pulse spiked. No, that was impossible. His dream had no basis in reality whatsoever, no matter how vivid it was. Really, the lab running secret experiments with his subject? Elias escaping into the jungle with his one true love? What sort of space soap opera drivel was that? Elias closed his eyes, breathing through his nose and trying to ignore how much a part of him would have given anything for it to be real. Gabriel….
Shaking his head, groaning as it swam, he pulled his mind back to the task at hand. Details, he needed those first. So he should examine his wounds. Perhaps they could tell him something. He unwrapped the bandage around his left arm, staring as the strange, inflamed scratches striping it. A hazy image flooded his mind, vines wrapped around him, scraping against his flesh in a strangely erotic pain. He bit his already bruised lip.
These scratches were not from man-eating vines. Besides, if he were to believe that his body bore lacerations from attacking vegetation, then he would have had other wounds from the dream as well.
Like the small bruise on his thigh, surrounded by the faint mark of sharp teeth.
“No,” he whispered. Elias felt lightheaded, the pain overtaken by the need to faint. Almost afraid to touch the mark, he reached out a finger and pressed. He winced at the subtle throbbing it set off that snaked up his thigh and settled against his erection. He looked over his body again and noticed fainter bruises clustered around his nipples. Shifting, he started as one cheek of his bottom stung as though he’d bumped a welt against the floor.
A welt from…a bug?
Not a dream. It felt like a dream, everything hazy and half-remembered, but the bandages. His wounds. The bite….
Gabriel was really awake.
Elias’ head swam again and he laughed once, a hysterical chirp of shocked wonder. Gabriel was awake! The rest of the night before broke over him and some of his amazement faded to worry. If it had been real, Gabriel was so angry. He’d forced Elias out into the jungle, that hideously mobile plant had attacked them, and then-
“Gabriel and I- ?”
Elias’ entire body flushed as he tried to remember exactly what they’d done. He could recall a vague impression of heat mixed with frantic arousal. Gabriel’s mouth had licked and nipped over his body, he thought. His memory of their bodies was fuzzy and distant, though. The only thing that he could see clearly was the shattering moment of his own release. And then, had Gabriel held him?
Elias was almost positive that had been real. But there was nothing after that. Drifting off next to Gabriel was the last thing he remembered, and that was out in the middle of the jungle.
“Where am I?”
He looked around quickly, noting a ratty chair, a door with peeling paint revealing the rust underneath, and an ostentatious light affixed to the wall near it. The strange wall lamp looked like a giant crystal overcome by hulking, black neurons.
“Gabriel?” Elias scanned the room again. He was alone. Had Gabriel brought him here? Or left him? Elias couldn’t believe he’d been abandoned; Gabriel had been too aggressive about forcing Elias to come. Gabriel wouldn’t leave him. But then where was he? “G-Gabriel? Gabriel!”
They couldn’t have been captured by the lab, could they? Elias shuddered, hugging himself, still looking around. The base was new and sterile with the latest equipment in all the rooms. It didn’t look like this anachronistic monstrosity of a room. Wherever he was, he didn’t think it was the base. Not any of the areas he was familiar with, anyway.
The grime and filth surrounding him reminded him more of the Outer Colonies. He’d spent more time there than he cared to remember, researching the cure for Jorian’s Plague. After his Iso-suit had broken, it had been a fight to get through each day without wiping constantly at his skin. It felt just as awful now as it had then. In a place like this, vermin and parasites were probably hiding behind the furniture and waiting to jump out at him.
“Idiot.” Farres wasn’t even in the same sector of space as the Outer Colonies. The trip would take long enough his wounds would have healed already. They couldn’t be too far away from the wilds. Or from SNS and Dr. Takahashi.
Elias stood up nervously, wiping his hands on a bandage covering his thigh, and looked around again to see if he could find any clothing. Unless he tore up one of the couch cushions for its fabric, he couldn’t see a thing that would be of use. Plus given the state of the room, Elias wanted a vat of sterilizer before anything else in it touched his skin.
He couldn’t think of one, single place this could be, and he couldn’t understand why he was here. Someone had to have brought him, but if they’d left him on the floor, without clothing, and separated him from Gabriel, he couldn’t imagine they were friendly. Doctor Takahashi would have done worse than leave him on the floor, he thought, shivering. And Gabriel leaving him alone?
It was a possibility, but Elias didn’t want to think that he was of so little worth that he’d been abandoned without even a blanket for covering. That couldn’t be what had happened. Even when Gabriel had forced him out of the base, he’d at least given him some clothing.
Elias had to get out of this room and figure out what was going on. He crept up to the door, almost afraid to try to handle. He wasn’t certain he wanted to leave the room sans clothing, but he could at least peek out and see what was nearby. Hopefully anyone who might be guarding the door thought he was still unconscious. They hadn’t come in when he’d called for Gabriel. Maybe they hadn’t hear him. He could ‘take them out’ and find Gabriel before anyone else even knew he was awake.
He’d watched Gabriel fight the guards on base. Elias thought he could remember enough of how the man had fought to emulate it. It couldn’t be that difficult, could it?
Hunching his shoulders, Elias squirmed as he remembered Gabriel’s poor opinion of his assistance the last time. Gabriel would probably get mad at him again. But…but too darn bad. Elias wasn’t going to sit and wait simply because it was easier to do so. He had promised he’d get Gabriel off the planet, and he was going to do it.
His entire body shaking like water drops in a heated beaker, he turned the door handle. It stopped halfway, sticking as he tried to jiggle it without making so much noise that it might alert anyone outside the room. No success. He was locked in.
Elias couldn’t think of one good reason that someone would keep him secured in a locked room. They couldn’t keep him here, though. He should be able to pick the lock if he could find something he could use. The lock was really low-tech, not to mention the furniture. Could the couch have springs? A stray piece of wire? He’d read about how to pick a lock with wire before; he could definitely figure this out.
Or that hideous blot of a lamp affixed near the door – the decoration coating it around the edges looked to be wire, a thinner one than anything the couch would provide.
Moving in front of the ugly thing he reached out and barely touched it when it jiggled and grated against the wall. His hand snapped underneath the base, keeping it up as it shifted again. He couldn’t let it fall or it might alert any guards!
He tried to see around the lumpy glass, more than three times the size of his head. How was he going to keep it up? He reached with the other hand to feel how stable it was when something scuttle out from on top of the light and crawled down next to his hand.
Elias screamed, leaping back. The lamp grated again, hung a few inches lower on the wall, and the thing clung to it, twitching its antennae at him. It was as long as his hand, with antennae even longer, and enough legs that his panicked brain couldn’t count them. Its mandibles clicked at him evilly.
It was the biggest, ugliest, most disgusting cockroach he’d ever seen, and it was crawling off the lamp and down the wall….
All his plans disintegrated under the overwhelming need to get away. Elias screamed again and backed away to the door, then turned and started shaking the knob frantically. “Open the door! Open the door!”
He pounded against the metal, pulling so hard on the handle that the door frame bowed slightly. He looked over his shoulder and saw the disgusting thing reach the floor and start skittering across the carpet to him.
“Open the door! Open the door! Open the door OpenthedoorOPENTHEDOOR!”
It was merely a foot away, close enough to see the light shine off its beady eyes, when the door opened outward. Elias shrieked in surprise and leapt at the opening, but a tall, tanned body blocked his way.
He didn’t even pause before he climbed it. He didn’t care what it was, as long as it got him off the floor.
“Woah there! Hold on. Where do you think you’re going?” Arms caught him halfway and Elias kicked out. He wasn’t high enough!
“Out of the way, out of the way!” He looked behind him frantically trying to see where the filthy thing had gone. “Where is it? I can’t see it! Is it on me? It’s on me, isn’t it!” Every small tickle made him screech as he tried to scrape off whatever part of his body the bug might be hiding on, rubbing it against the man, the doorframe, whatever else he could reach.
“Hold onto your saber, Dr. Kerr. Where’s the- Oh, you met Junior? Don’t worry about him. He’s harmless unless you’re a jelly doughnut or a pile of shit. And you may be sweet, but you’ve got a long way to go to hit doughnut status.” The man tucked Elias under his arm while Elias squirmed madly trying to get away.
The man pointed and Elias finaly found the bug. It had stopped, wriggling obscenely, at the tip of the man’s shoe. “Junior, stop frightening the clean-nik. Go on down to the kitchen and help clean up, if you’ve got so much energy.”
Elias flinched as the mandibles clicked even faster than before and the evil, disgusting thing skittered across the man’s boot and between his legs. The sounds disappeared around a corner and Elias sagged in relief.
He shuddered. “I’ve never seen something so disgusting in my entire life!”
“You’ve never seen a space cockroach before? I’m surprised. They’re everywhere these days.”
“A s-space cockroach? But it can’t be!” He’d thought they were a myth! “They’re filthy! Just one of them could infect an entire crew! And it was in the room! Elias was still hanging down from the man’s arm, but he was perfectly fine not even touching the same ground that the creature had crawled over.
The man chuckled. “Junior’s not quite that bad. Their reputation is a bit undeserved, really. They’re more immune to germs than carriers for them.”
Elias tried to take that bit of knowledge and shove it into his head, to push out the utter horror of the actual creature itself, until cool air wisked against his legs and he was suddenly reminded of several things all at once.
He was naked.
He didn’t know the person who was holding him like a package under his arm.
And he didn’t know where Gabriel was, or if he was even all right.
The arm holding him was very, very strong, he noted, muscled, tanned, and possibly able to do a lot of terrifying damage to a naked scientist who didn’t even have a stick to hit him with.
“C-Could you put me down?” he said faintly.
He got a friendly rumble and a sudden swing that landed him on his feet. Taking a step back, with a small shudder because the odds were good that the cockroach had stepped somewhere on the floor underneath his bare toes, he looked up into a smiling, tanned, blue-eyed face. Blond hair that looked bleached from the sun was pulled back into a tail behind the man’s head, and a small silver hoop hung from one ear.
“Seen enough, Dr. Kerr?”
Elias flushed and stepped back another step. His hands covered his crotch as the man’s eyes headed that way. The grin widened into a smirk that might have been charming if Elias weren’t so naked. He had so many questions in his head, but it wasn’t even a contest which one to ask first.
“What have you done with Gabriel? Is he all right?”
“The most esteemed, revered, and uptight Gabriel is currently enjoying the sparkling confines of our brig.” The man reached out to pat Elias on the shoulder and Elias stepped back again. “Now, now, don’t worry. You can go visit later. I wouldn’t want to keep the lovebirds apart.” There was a bitter twist to the man’s lips.
A brig implied a ship. Were they on a ship? Planetside or in space? Fear ripped through him at even the thought of trying to escape from a ship after it had taken off. Even with an escape pod, the complexity….
He took a huge gulp of air. Later. First, he had to discover where the brig was. Once he got to Gabriel, they could figure out the rest later.
“Why are we here? Where are we?”
“On board the ‘Royally Roger’ heading away from Farres and towards Council controlled space. Devlin found you and asked us to help get you off planet.”
Devlin was helping them? Tension bled out of him before he remembered that Gabriel was in the brig. Something wasn’t right, still. “But…how? I couldn’t contact Devlin, how did he--“
“Devlin’s clever that way. You’re a hard man to keep an eye on, once you get a good head of steam going, aren’t you? Don’t know that I would have found you if Gabriel hadn’t screamed into my ear like a proximity alarm. A pretentious proximity alarm, no less. That man still speaks like he’s going to be tested for elocution. Ridiculous, I say.”
“But, if you know Gabriel, and you’re helping us, then why-“
“Why is he in the brig?” The man leaned forward and Elias took another reflexive step back. The man smiled sinisterly and flashed a pair of sharp white fangs. “I said I knew him. I didn’t say we were friends.”
Elias was saved from responding as the entire ship rocked and he went stumbling to the side. The man shifted a step and watched him take the tumble without bothering to intervene. “Watch your step there.”
“SNS isn’t too happy to lose you two. They’ve been a tad annoying about trying to get you back. Right pests about it, really.” He smiled again, his eyes fierce, and Elias was glad the man didn’t seem to be smiling at him that way. “Guess they don’t want us to have the evidence we need that they’re behind all of this.”
“We’re being attacked?”
“Not so much that we have to worry. There’s a reason our fastest ship was checking that part of the system.”
Rescue, on a ship fast enough to outrun one from the SNS? “Wait…you’re a justice officer? Then-!”
The man smiled that charming smirk again. “Oh no, love, we’re not one of those trained pets. We’re the ones who’ve been accused and convicted, without a trial, I might add. Until we get your grumpy little Truth back to his precious Council, their trained dogs won’t stop hounding us Independents. Helping you out, to a point, is in our best interests. That doesn’t mean Gabriel has to be comfortable while we do it.” His eyes ran down Elias’ body and Elias took another step back, flushing again. “Or you, for that matter, if you get my drift?”
“I’m not sure I do,” Elias said, his voice small. He’d heard of the Independents. They were little more than pirates, outside of Council Law. Were they going to hurt him? Or Gabriel?
“It means, if you don’t cause any trouble, you can stay in this room, unmolested and unharmed. If you try to, say, get Gabriel out of his cell? Then things won’t be nearly so comfortable. For you, anyway. I, on the other hand, wouldn’t mind seeing more of you around the ship, especially when you’re style is so revealing.”
Elias swallowed heavily. “I didn’t want to- You can’t think I went out naked on purpose.”
The man shrugged. “How can I know what goes on in your little scientific mind?”
“Not nudist parties!”
The man smirked again.
“Please…I need some clothing.”
The Independent looked at Elias closely, a wildly embarrassing head to toe examination that lingered on his bandages and the hand cupping his private parts. “No, I don’t think so. You’re more likely to stay put if we keep you like this. I’ll bring in a blanket for you, though.”
Elias chewed on the inside of his cheek as he watched the man turn to go, and desperately blurted out one more request. “What about disinfectant?”
The man threw his head back and laughed, “Sure, doc, you can have all the hot water and cleaner you want. Oh, I almost forgot.” He gave a flamboyant bow. “The name is Larkspur, your ever gallant host. If you need anything, feel free to scream yourself silly. One of the crew may actually hear you, at which time I will decide whether or not to drug you unconscious… again. I’ll tell Gabriel you said hello.” The door closed behind him, and Elias heard it lock with a depressingly solid ‘snick.’
What was he going to do now?
“Rise and shine, Sweet Prince.”
The odiously cheerful voice pounded into Gabriel’s skull and tore across his senses. His body, dull and heavy, struggled to respond; he had to defend Elias! They’d been found! His fingers twitched and he felt something cold and hard under his fingertips rather than plants or soft dirt. It vibrated with a hum that he could just catch at the lowest range of his hearing.
It had to be a ship, then, one large enough that the drives weren’t screaming into his ears. So either SNS had larger ships hidden outside the base that Elias hadn’t known of, or someone else had entered the game. Gabriel might have been naïve enough to believe they’d been rescued but for the residual slackness in his muscles and the scent of stale vomit and old, treated metal.
A Council ship would never have such an unclean smell in their entire ship, whether it was in the sickbay or the brig. And he would never have slept through a transfer to any ship of any kind. His head pounded, but he didn’t believe he’d suffered any head trauma, based on the clarity of his own thoughts. That left drugs or some other device that would render him unconscious. He had a hard time believing anyone had come close enough to attack him without his waking at all, but they either had, or whatever had knocked him out was affecting his memory as well.
Nothing about this told of a good outcome. Better if he feigned unconsciousness and let the speaker draw close enough to take him to the ground.
Gabriel inhaled carefully, slowly, keeping his breathing even. He didn’t catch Elias’ scent. It took everything he had not to react. Where was his little scientist? What had happened?
And why was that scent so familiar?
“I know you’re awake, Gabriel. You still clench your pinky when you’re angry.”
Gabriel stiffened. He hadn’t heard that voice in four years. His eyes opened and he sat up so quickly that the other man reared back, even with a set of bars between them.
“And there’s the man I know.”
“What did you do with Elias?”
“Now that hurts. No ‘where have you been, Lark?’ Or ‘How’s life been treating you since you got bonded, Lark? Nothing for your own flesh and blood after all this time?”
Gabriel shoved the comfort of Larkspur’s familiar voice down back into his belly. Larkspur’s company was no longer a thing to be welcomed, not since he’d disappeared and left Gabriel in the lurch. Without the two of them to focus on, the House of First Blood had latched onto Gabriel as the most promising candidate worthy of breeding for the sake of their race. They were so close to a solution, where they no longer needed the Council. If Larkspur had only stayed….
But he hadn’t cared enough to make the effort, not even for Gabriel’s sake. If the High Council hadn’t heard of Gabriel’s prowess and insisted he serve, Gabriel suspected his own planet would have hidden his presence and put him out to stud.
“Where is Elias?” Gabriel didn’t find it hard to make his voice a low growl. His brow wrinkled. Elias wasn’t nearby, but his scent was stronger now that Gabriel was standing. Sniffing the air, Gabriel growled again. Larkspur smelled like him! “What have you done with Elias? You can’t bond him; he already has a Tealin.”
Larkspur smirked. “I noticed that. You surprised me, Gabriel. That was a rather risqué spot to bite him, wasn’t it? Sampling the goods now? That’s not like you at all.”
Gabriel didn’t let his face change. “Where is my scientist?”
“You don’t think I’m actually going to tell you? He’s tucked away in a cozy little room with his hot little ass nestled on a cozy little couch.”
“Don’t get any ideas, Larkspur.”
“Did you not hear the ‘bond’ I mentioned just a few minutes ago? I have no interest in your little ‘breeder’.” Gabriel almost nodded when Larkspur smiled again. “Of course, I can’t say the same for all the crew, all cuddly and naked like he is.”
“I decided to leave him the way I found him, since you wrapped him up so nicely for us.”
“Then you should clothe him, and you know it. A breeder isn’t something to treat-“
“-like your own personal sex toy? I’m just following your shining example, cousin. After all, who better as the definition of a Truth?”
“This is not a joke,” he snarled. “You must have heard me. You know-”
“Yes, yes, that there’s danger, intrigue, brooding, and breeding with you two all tangled up in it together.” Larkspur leaned back against the wall, looking casual, but Gabriel knew him too well for that. His arms were too stiff, his body not quite relaxed enough to pull it off. “You’re lucky your princess woke you up when he did, otherwise you’d e someone else’s brain bitch. You were nowhere on the ‘to rescue’ list; there are things far more important than you.”
Gabriel stiffened. “And what, exactly, is that supposed to mean?”
“That planet you were on? SNS is using it to start up a fairly sweet pharmaceuticals lab a few klicks away from the main complex. They’ve practically got an armada parked over there and they’re all after us like flies on shit.”
“A pharmaceuticals company? Way out here? Any drugs they processed wouldn’t be worth the transportation costs.”
“It would if you’re importing some of the lass than legal ones, like the Tanakin vine. You might have noticed the damn thing in front of your escape hatch – one of their adults matured faster than they expected and spewed spores to hell and back before they could collect them. Or are you so damn perfect you simply walked across it as though it were nothing but grass?”
“Schoolyard taunts, now, Lark? Your time away has made you nothing more than a petulant child.”
“But it’s what I do best.” Larkspur’s mouth twisted in his habitual smile, still holding the bitterness Gabriel remembered.
“How do you know about this, if the Council doesn’t?”
“Because when the Independents start getting accused of things we’re not doing – and sure as hell not profiting from – we tend to get a bit curious. And we can investigate just as well as anybody, believe me.”
“You joined the Independents?” Gabriel hoped his contempt showed on his face. “I should have known you’d look for people with no honor and the least amount of responsibility.”
Larkspur slammed his hand up against the bars. “Just because we don’t kneel to the Council doesn’t mean these men and women have no honor! I’d trust them at my back – and against the bootlicking justice officers – more than I would my own people.” He leaned in close. “And you know very well that if the Interplanetary Council asked the First Blood to hand you over to them on a silver platter, with an apple in your mouth, they’d damn well do it.”
A temporary release from his duty to breed, to keep outsiders in ignorance that such a duty existed, was not kneeling. “Our people do what is needed to survive,” Gabriel growled. “Should they send me into danger, I go secure in the knowledge that I am helping protect my entire planet. They don’t have the luxury of being selfish and leaving everyone behind to gallivant on their own with no concern for the consequences.”
“Bullshit. You mouth the same platitudes and lies we heard as children. There is no protection left for you or anyone else under their control. The First Blood have held sway for too long and the power has gone to their heads. You’ve been close to that filth by now. I was hoping maybe you’d seen it for the load of crap it actually is.”
“How can you sit there and judge what is needed? You left!”
“You saw what was happening. You should have left with me!”
“Left with you? I was never offered the chance to go!” They were inches away, staring at each other and breathing heavily as they struggled not to lash out.
Larkspur snorted angrily and turned away. “You didn’t learn anything from what happened to me, did you?”
“I know I stayed so they wouldn’t go after you.”
“Is that what they told you? They got rid of me, Gabriel. They pushed me out so you would stay and do what they wanted. It wasn’t free. They still have their precious breeding program intact. While my family still lives they can contact me at any time to go back and donate to a suitable breeder.”
“Cousin, I have no reason to.” Larkspur paused, shaking his head. “I can’t stay and try to convince someone as blind as you of the truth. It’s time to see if we can actually outrun the ships after you and your precious breeder. I’ll even make you a promise-”
“As though I’d trust a promise from you.”
Larkspur eyes narrowed, but he didn’t react otherwise to the insult. “I’ll come back and we’ll decide how to get you back to Council controlled space. At least you can tell the others that the independents aren’t at fault for this kidnapping business.”
“Why would I say that? Your being here stretches the bounds of coincidence. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Independents are in it neck deep with SNS.”
Larkspur stared at him and his mouth hardened. “Whatever you may think of me, I haven’t changed that much. Don’t worry, though, you’ll get enough proof to choke on.” He smiled coldly. “I just want the punishment handed to those who deserve it for once, just as you should, Truth.”
Gabriel’s lips thinned. “That was always my intention.”
Larkspur nodded and started to leave the room.
“Wait! Bring Elias here. He should be with his Tealin so soon after the temporary bond.”
Larkspur shook his head, a small rather nasty smile on his face. “I don’t think so. The moment you have him, you’ll be looking for a way off the ship. I’m going to keep him close. Maybe I’ll even invite him to sleep in my room tonight. My bondmate keeps telling me I need to spice things up, and that little one definitely strikes me as a bit of lightening.”
Gabriel stopped after a single shout. He used his power and whispered into the mind he hadn’t touched in years.
You will not take him from me. I will protect what is mine. Do not make me your enemy.
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