Authors: Viola Grace
Tags: #Sci Fi, Romance
Pet has existed in a limbo of confinement and pampering as her owners use her for a symbol of their power.
During an attack they eject her in a survival pod and she ends up on a habitable world, working to survive.
When a group of men arrive and they seem to be looking for her, she fights the urge to run to them for safety, choosing to hide instead.
They find her anyway and bring her to their ship, and that is when she finds out that her true identity is not Pet, but it will be found in a single drop of blood.
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A Drop of Blood
Copyright © 2012 Viola Grace
Cover art by Martine Jardin
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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A Drop of Blood
A Trapezium Exclusive
To everyone who still wants to believe in fairy tales no matter how mature they are ‘supposed’ to be.
Happily ever after is a worthy pursuit, I just wish it would stop running.
“What is my name?” Pet thought she had been a child the first time she asked that question. She had simply wanted to know who she was, because everyone around her had a name and she didn’t.
The shock collar tingled alarmingly in a warning as her handler brought her to heel. “Pet. Your name is Pet.”
She had tried to argue that Pet wasn’t a name, it was a thing. It would be like naming someone cart or ship. The shock had been her answer. She was Pet and there was nothing she could say to prove otherwise, but deep down, she knew it was wrong.
She had another name, but she didn’t know what it was and that fact haunted her while she was being groomed, while her jewellery and elaborate collar were being put in place. It was a routine, every day on the spaceship where her owners held court.
The ship was kept hot and humid, but Madam didn’t like her to sweat, so Pet’s clothing was comprised of short, brief and metallic wraps in fanciful designs. They weren’t comfortable if she sat directly on them, so she took up a lounging posture at the base of the thrones where Madam and Sir were.
Folk seemed impressed when they saw her and the admiration for her acquisition made Madam preen, so Pet spent every day listening to her owners and their guests.
She learned Marcovial politics, saw treaties made and broken before her eyes and all she had to do was listen.
Madam didn’t like her to fidget, but she was allowed breaks as long as her movements were controlled and slow. Several of the males who were not Marcovial eyed her with intense interest, but Madam would not part with her no matter how much they offered.
It was a strange existence that might have continued forever if not for one small thing, the day that the ship exploded.
Pet was finishing her grooming cycle and the last of her adornments were being adhered to her body when the ship rocked violently.
Her groomer spoke to Madam via the com. “What shall I do with her?”
Madam’s face showed her tension. “Put her in a pod. We are near a planet suitable for her. We can pick her up after this is over. No one must find her here.”
That was the last time Pet heard Madam’s voice.
The groomer bundled her into a pod and forced her into a seat. He strapped her in, left her and launched the unit the moment it was sealed.
Pet held onto the straps that held her in place as the corkscrew effect spun her away from the ship. Once clear of the artificial gravity, she settled down and waited for the pod to stop moving. It rocked a few times before the roar of an atmosphere echoed in the chamber. When the roar stopped, turbulence took over until the pod struck the ground and skidded in a bone-jarring finale.
Shaken and bruised, Pet unbuckled the restraint harness.
The supply kit and backpacks were designed for Marcovians. Pet had neither the four arms nor the width of shoulders required to carry them, so she grabbed a water bottle and checked the monitor before moving to the hatch. Everyone on a spacecraft had to know how to use the escape pods, even pets.
She should be scared, she should be terrified, but the monitor showed her a habitable world and breathable atmosphere. If she was careful, she could find something to eat and if she was smart, she could find somewhere safe to hide.
She blew the hatch open and hung onto the interior supports as the pod rocked from side to side. Pet took a few cautious steps out of the pod and smiled slightly as the grass tickled her feet.
A few steps outside of the pod, she turned in a full circle to get her bearings. The pod had wedged into a huge mushroom field and it was those fungi that had brought her to a safe halt. Two suns glowed in the sky and no moon was visible in the daytime sky.
Pet thought about what she should do. If she wanted to be retrieved, she should stay with the pod, but if she wanted freedom, she should run. It took her less than three seconds to make up her mind and without a look back she grabbed her water bottle and hiked directly south of her crash site.
Pet scowled as she munched a piece of leaf. She
it was safe, but she couldn’t say how she knew. She put over two kilometres between herself and her crash site before she stopped to make a shelter. Not knowing when sunset would fall, she needed to make either a shelter or a fire, or both.
Pet was shocked at her skills. She hadn’t had a life before the Marcovians and now, she found her hands competent at tasks she had never imagined. While her mind was reeling, her body knew just what to do and it made her a shelter lined with moss and arched with saplings covered with leaves.
A few times, she found herself chewing on bugs and while the taste was repugnant, a quick sip of water washed it down.
By the time the suns were fading, she had a fairly snug place to live for a few days while she worked on surviving and trying to plan for an unforeseeable future.
Late in the night, a bright light woke her and she crawled out of her habitat to see the ship exploding outside of the planet’s atmosphere. With relief and not a little nervousness, she tucked herself back into her makeshift bed and slept more deeply than she had in years.
* * * *
Over the course of three weeks, she managed to move herself five kilometres south of the pod and felt secure that even if they did come looking for her, they would not find her without her seeing them first.
Her skin refused to brown under the suns and to her chagrin, the metalwork that had been adhered to her flesh would not give way no matter how many time she bathed in the nearby lake.
Pet had time to think as she foraged for her meals and no matter how hard she tried to remember, she could not bring her life before the ship into her thoughts.
She remembered being a child and in training on the ship, but if she racked her brain, she never remembered being small or growing up. The conflict in her memories worried her and she spent a good portion of her day trying to break through the block in her mind. She had gone from being a child to being an adult in moments and Pet knew that it was impossible.
When she started to speak to herself, she noted a peculiar side effect in the local fauna. Animals approached her with a dazed expression while she spoke, hummed or sang. After a while, she became used to her company and it gave her practice talking to people. Her own voice had a peculiar quality, a reverberation that she did not recall from her early memories. She was in one such contemplation when she heard the unmistakable thrum of engines in the atmosphere.
She crouched along the edge of the treeline and watched the ship land. The people exiting the ship were not Marcovian and had a comforting similarity to her own features. The four men had palm scanners and as their sweeps came her way, Pet huddled in the underbrush.
She cringed back as they all started to walk toward her. When she had moved behind the cover of trees, she ran for it, hiding in the backup hole next to her camp. Her fire was still burning and her meal was nearby and untouched.
She watched from her hiding spot as they investigated her camp and she remained quiet while they touched the few items she had put together. One of them swept past her hiding place with the scanner and when he passed her spot, she exhaled in relief.
Her exhalation must have caused a ripple effect in the leaves, because a hand suddenly ripped open the top of her little hidey-hole. Light covered her and the men gasped as she was exposed.
They crouched around her and each of them put on a smile that was meant to be reassuring.
“Miss, we need to take you in for medical treatment. How long have you been here?” One of them spoke softly to her and she looked up at him.
“What is my name?” It was the question that burned in her soul every moment of every day.
They jerked visibly as she spoke, her voice rippled over them and their eyes glazed over. She darted past them and was halfway across the clearing before they came out of their stupor.
The men were fast on their feet. She had to give them that.
She tried to scream when she was lifted in the air, but a hand covered her mouth and she was held against a hard body while it walked back to the ship. The hand stayed firmly clamped against her mouth, but it was thoughtfully positioned so she could breathe.
With only her metal bands and small panties covering her skin, she could feel every callous on the hand around her belly as well as the one over her mouth. They were the hands of someone who did more than fly ships for a living.
He carried her to the ship and settled her into a seat, giving her an admonition to shush. “We can’t do our jobs if we hear your voice, so please hold all questions until we are on the warship.”
She nodded and bit her lip while fiddling with her armbands. She didn’t know who they were or where they were taking her, but a ship this nice meant hot meals and a shower and she could really use both.
* * * *
“We found one. After all these years, we found a siren.” Tomas rubbed the back of his neck and grinned at Rejik.
Rejik scowled. “We haven’t confirmed that that’s what she is.”
Their guest was sitting quietly as requested, her dark hair knotted and her body still dotted with the Marconial marks of possession. Rejik had searched for Edinar survivors his entire adult life and none of the few he had met had ever affected him this way.
From the moment he’d pulled the roof off her hiding place, he had seen nothing but her glowing eyes staring into his own.
To Rejik’s eyes, Tomas was being a little too callous to the woman listening to everything that they said. “She is our guest and you need to treat her with respect.”
Tomas sobered as he absorbed the tone that Rejik was using.
Rejik looked back at the woman as Sorn and Welkin piloted them toward the warship. She seemed to have weathered her time on the surface well. Her small camp had been fairly well stocked for a woman alone in the wilderness.
Tomas was probably correct. Only a siren could have stunned them with a soft whisper and if he hadn’t been quick on his feet, he would never have caught her before she made it past them. If he closed his eyes, he could still feel her soft skin under his hands. Her lips had quivered against his palm, but she had remained quiet. The metalwork banding her body pressed into her skin, a harsh contrast against the silken skin that covered her.
Rejik hated the sight of that metal on her delicate flesh. She was no one’s property. The Edinar were designed to be creative, artistic and powerful, not tools or display items. Whoever she was, she was certainly a woman with power. He could only hope that her identity had been recorded in the Marcovian archives that they liberated from the blown ship, because she didn’t seem to know who or what she was.
* * * *
The people on the ship were friendly and quite a few of the males were eyeing her in a most unsettling way. She wasn’t offended by the attention, but Pet was slightly confused by it.
The team with her surrounded her to keep her from the majority of the prying eyes. The man who had carried her into the shuttle bristled as several of the admiring glances took on a sly look. She moved closer to him to keep the other men away and it seemed to do the trick.