Diplomat 19

There was nothing to compare the experience of being strung up by chains, your entire weight supported only by your arms. It didn’t take long for your arms to get tired, for you to feel the pull and strain on your body, your sockets screaming in protest of such prolonged abuse. There was no way to get comfortable, no way to shift to alleviate the pressure on your arms. The closest to relief you could get, was to stand on tip toe, your toes straining to stay connected to the ground.

Marie was almost too short to reach it, her toes just barely grazing the floor beneath her. It left her in constant agony, her feet cramping, her arms hurting, Marie trying desperately to keep balanced. She already knew by experience, that it hurt a dozen times worse, to let herself go limp, to let her body be entirely supported by her chained up arms. It hurt so bad, Marie positive it wouldn’t take much for her arms to dislocate.

Of course she tried things, tried twisting about so that her fingers could grab and grip hold of the chains. As if it was better to focus the pressure on her hands, rather than the whole of her arms. The chains were cold, and rusted, digging into her skin. Leaving welts and bruises there, and even biting into her hands. Marie had cut herself on the chains, bleeding just a little. The blood added to the rust, Marie imagining that others had hurt themselves in a similar manner in an attempt to alleviate their pain and discomfort.

The chains were sturdy, thick, reliable pieces of metal, welded together and able to support a man weighing thrice as much as Marie. Though they rattled and clinked at her limited movements, they never once gave way, holding even should she swing and sway about in an attempt to break free.

She wasn’t going anywhere. THEY weren’t going anywhere. They would be left to hang, until someone remembered them. Until someone showed enough mercy to let them down. But Marie didn’t expect that to happen anytime soon. Mercy was in short supply on this ship, the Drule pirates too cruel for compassion.

Marie didn’t like thinking about the pirates. Didn’t like thinking about what had happened before she had been brought to this room. She certainly didn’t want to remember, and she certainly didn’t want to think about what might happen, once she was let down from the chains. She refused to entertain how much worse her situation could get, how much more inventive the cruelties could be. But her cheek hurt, already bruising from the slap the pirates’ own captain had given her.

She wanted to cry. It wouldn’t be the first time. Marie had practically cried herself hoarse, the horrors and the shocks, the brutality of what happened, of what continued to happen, almost too much to bear. Captured, imprisoned, raped, than interrogated. Threatened and slapped, with more of the same looking to be in her future. It made her eyes well up with tears, Marie knowing it wouldn’t do any good. Crying wouldn’t change anything, wouldn’t stop what had happened, what continued to happen.

Nor was she the only one. Though she hadn’t talked details with her friends, Jacquelyn and Patreesia, she already knew they had been victimized. Their clothing in tatters, Jacquelyn wearing bruises. a result of the red head’s refusal to lay down quietly and endure. That type of spirit, while normally admirable, could get a girl killed. It had nearly succeeded in getting Jacquelyn whipped, and only their princess’ interference had kept the red head from being hurt any further.

Her heart felt as though a fist tightened around it, whenever Marie allowed herself a moment to think about Princess Allura. About what she must be going through, and how brave she was to endure it all. In awe of her, Marie still remembered the terror she had felt, when Allura had offered herself up in place of her three companions. The pirate captain had looked tempted, but ultimately he had kept from hanging Allura from the ceiling as well. But he wanted answers, and the princess could distract him only for so long. Sooner or later, he’d be back, and then perhaps Allura herself would join them on the chains.

Marie never once considered telling the pirates what their captain so desperately wanted to know. She didn’t dare, knowing how much was at stake, how much more terrible things would become if they knew they had THE crown heir of Arus, in their possession. The pirates held few loyalties, save for that of theirs to their home world. The Doom Empire would be thrilled at the chance to possess such a hostage, using the princess to claim victory over Arus. No matter what was to happen, Marie and the others couldn’t allow that. No matter how bad they were tortured and victimized.

The princess herself, was doing all she could, to keep the secret of her, of their, identities. Even going so far as to give a fake name, something the pirate captain had eagerly grasped at. Marie knew Allura had bought them time, but only so much. Sooner rather than later, the pirates would discover her trickery, and then they would be back to square one, facing a whipping or worse.

Sighing out loud, Marie wiggled the toes of her left foot. It was cramping again, Marie wanted to kick out and shake it in a desperate attempt to get it to stop. She wasn’t the only one suffering, a glance Jacquelyn’s way showed the red head gritting her teeth together, her hands clenched around her chains so tight, the knuckles had bled out their natural color.

Patreesia was doing the most fidgeting, shifting her weight from foot to foot. Her chains rattled constantly, but her sniffling was loudest of all. The woman with her recently dyed blonde colored hair, hadn’t been able to stop crying for long. Her face was constantly wet, the woman hiccupping, and sobbing. The most delicate of the three, Patreesia really wasn’t cut out to withstand such cruelty. And yet she had, a fact that was astonishing and admirable. If anyone were to break under such torture, Marie would have betted on Patreesia being the first.

But her consistent crying grated on the nerves, a fact that was voiced most irritably by Jacquelyn.

“Will you stop it already?!” She demanded crossly. “Crying isn’t going to accomplish anything in this situation!”

“I…I’m sorry…” wept Patressia in between words. “I can’t seem to stop.” Her face was crumpling, a new torrent of tears just waiting to be unleashed.

Jacquelyn cursed in response, Marie lifting her gaze to the angry red head’s. “Don’t pick on Patreesia so! It’s not her fault we are in this mess…”

“No, but she could at least do something to make the experience less annoying!” Jacquelyn snapped back.

“She’s been through a lot…”

“We ALL Have.” Jacquelyn was quick to point out.

“I’m sorry…” wept Patreesia. “I really am. I’ll try to do better…just let me calm down….”

But it was an impossible situation to calm down from. Patressia continued to cry, attempting to muffled her sobs against her shoulder, which only made her sniffles louder. Jacquelyn all but growled in annoyance, and even Marie felt her temper fray just a little.

“You’re only making things worse.” She said out loud. “You’ve agitated Patreesia something terribly.”

“She’s far too sensitive!”

“She has a right to be!” Marie retorted.

Patreesia managed to calm herself enough to speak without sobbing. “Maybe we shouldn’t be so loud….”

“We certainly shouldn’t be tossing around names.” allowed Jacquelyn in a gruff tone. “Anyone could be listening, and decide to run a quick check on them…”

And then that would reveal Allura’s identity all the quicker, was Marie’s uneasy realization. It would take time, but these pirates seemed determined. Maybe determined enough to enter the Denubian data base system, and go through the trouble of pulling up all the people who could lead to a possible match of the women. It would take time, but each narrowing down would be quicker, until finally they found just who the women really were, and what planet they came from.

“No more names.” Marie said out loud. “At least not our real ones. If we have to, we’ll make up ones.”

“What good would that do?” asked Patreesia in a trembling tone of voice.

“It’ll buy us some time…”

“Time for what?” demanded Jacquelyn. “It’s not as if anyone is coming to our rescue. Even if they knew what had happened to us…”

“They’re going to sell us!” added Patreesia. “Then what will we do?”

Marie didn’t know, grimacing at her inability to so much as shrug her shoulders without pain. “I don’t know…but we have to hold onto hope.”

“Yes, but what do we hope for?” asked Patreesia.

All three fell quiet at that, no one having an answer. It truly seemed a hopeless situation, their choices limited to being sold as slaves, or having Allura’s identity exposed, the princess used to force King Alfor to hand over the planet Arus. There seemed to be no way of winning, the time with the pirates the first days of what would end up being a horrible life for them all.

Marie shuddered then, thinking at what the pirate captain had said. How he had talked about life as a slave, how even being made to work a mine somewhere, wouldn’t save them from the lusts of a cruel master. Marie didn’t want to think that her future would be nothing but slaving away and rape, but she truly couldn’t see how they were going to avoid it. Especially if they managed to keep Allura’s royal lineage a secret!

It truly made her want to start crying again, Marie feeling helpless and hating it. Hating what would be her future, hating her present situation, even hating that she and the others had done nothing to truly help their home world. Arus was still surrounded by enemies on all sides, and what help it’s princess had managed to procure, might never act without Allura there to uphold the promises of the aid she had negotiated for.

It truly felt like Arus’ one and only hope had gone up in flames when Allura had set the promise on fire. Those documents had been the one and only proof of Jacqoul’s promise, and Marie didn’t hold much hope that it’s King would do anything without it and Allura there to remind him.

Marie was beginning to wonder if she would ever even know of Arus’ ultimate fate, when the sound of heavy footsteps approached the room. By the time the door was being opened, it’s heavy bar being lifted noisily, she felt real fear and trepidation, Marie wondering just what would be done to them next. More rape? More questions? Would the captain come to finish the whipping he had started?

Trying not to shake, Marie was prepared to give her most defiant look to the person who came through the door. She was expecting the pirate captain, that handsome but cruel man, with his long white hair. What she saw instead, was a different Drule, a man almost as tall as the captain, but with dirty white hair, and a skin that was more purplish than blue.

He was wearing a helmet, a horn on either side of it. His eyes were all yellow, the dark slits that so many of the Drules had, almost not there. It made him look blind, but those eyes took in the sight of everything in front of him. Including her, Marie almost forgetting to maintain her glare, an unsettled feeling taking her over.

She didn’t know this man, had never spoken to this pirate. But she remembered his strange behavior, the way he almost seemed concerned about her and the other women. Certainly she remembered the way he had reacted when his captain had slapped Marie, the helmet wearing pirate practically attacking his own leader.

Marie didn’t understand why he would care, why he would find such an act detestable. She certainly didn’t take it to mean she was anything special to him. She didn’t even think he was truly capable of kindness, not when none of the other pirates had display it or compassion. And yet something had moved him, the pirate allowing Marie and the other women to dress in the tattered remains of their clothing.

She was grateful for that, knowing it would have been a million times more mortifying to have to hang here naked. But she refused to thank him for it, then and now, Marie glaring at him almost as fierce as Jacquelyn did.

Poor Patreesia was practically choking, hyperventilating on fear. She was ignored, the pirate stepping aside so two others could enter with him.

“Get them down.” He ordered, to Marie’s astonishment and relief. She almost didn’t care what would happen next, so long as she could finally be free of the chains, and the endless hanging they had been forced to endure.

The other two pirates moved, talking to each other in their native language. Marie didn’t turn to track them, watching warily as the third pirate approached her. He wasn’t affected by her glare, standing in front of her as he reached up to fiddle with the chain’s locks. He muttered something under his breath as he did so, something preventing him from immediately opening the locks.

Marie was holding her breath, trying not to move, and not to stare at his face as he worked at the locks. He was too close, she could smell the scent of him, some kind of rum and whisky mixture that wasn’t entirely unpleasant. She tried to look elsewhere, not liking how close he leaned into her. She could see his chest, part of it from the opening of his yellow colored tunic. There was several impressive looking scars revealed there, and as the sleeves fell back on his arms, she saw similar scarring there as well.

Marie focused on the scars, trying not to look at the pirate even as the first lock came undone. A rattle of chains was heard, a long length of one sliding down off her arm, to clank against the floor at her feet. Similar clanks followed, Marie finding the pressure was leaving her arms, till finally the chains were all gone, and she could lower herself flat to the floor.

Her legs were unstable, shaky after standing on tip toe for so long. Worst of all, a cramp started in one of her feet, Marie biting her lip to not cry out as she started to fall. Immediately the pirate’s arms were around her, cradling her close to his body, keeping her from hitting the floor. Marie couldn’t control her reaction, recoiling in fear, distaste prickling her arms at being touched by a man, by a pirate and Drule so soon after being raped.

He noticed if the frown on the scarred pirate’s face meant anything. But he didn’t let her go, holding her upright against him. Marie heard other chains falling, Patreesia hiccupping softly, and a man’s wicked laugh. She tried to turn, to see what was happening, just as Jacquelyn began cursing up a storm. Patreesia screamed, her crying shattered in a fit of terror. Marie both wanted to see and not see what was happening, terrified herself, and sure a rape or two was happening.

“St…stop…” She managed to say out loud, the pirate refusing to turn and let her see what was happening to the others. “Don’t…” Her own eyes were tearing up, silent tears slinking down her cheeks.

The pirate who held her, looked at her face, and seemed to curse in his own language. And then he was speaking, his words pronounced in the Universal’s basic, so that all could understand him.

“Lay off you mangy degenerates!” He snapped. “I didn’t tell you to cut them down just to have fun with them!”

“But Cossack…” One protested.

“But nothing!” The scarred pirate, Cossack hissed. “These women are off limits to you.”

“Haven’t had a woman in hours…” grumbled another, and Marie was sure she heard clothing tear. Patreesia shrieked, the man continuing. “Especially not one I didn’t have to share.”

Suddenly the pirate Cossack’s arms were no longer supporting her, Marie falling to her knees on the ground. She blinked and saw what he had been hiding, a pirate on top of Patreesia, her torn clothing in his hands. Jacquelyn was also on the floor, fighting and cursing, another pirate on top of her. He was having a harder time than his friend on top of Patreesia, Jacquelyn having scored a direct hit with her nails over the man’s eye.

“You won’t have any woman at all, if you don’t stop this and listen to me!” snarled Cossack. He grabbed the pirate on top of Patreesia by the hair, jerking him back to meet his fist. The crunch of bone was heard, Cossack’s fist connecting with the other pirate’s nose. That pirate screamed, in pain and held hands now to the blood mess of his face.

“My nose!” cried the pirate. “You broke my nose!”

“You’re lucky it wasn’t your dick I just crushed!” Cossack snarled and spat on the pirate. “As Lotor’s third in command, when I give an order I expect to be obeyed!”

The other pirate had scrambled off of Jacquelyn. She lurched to her feet, trying to hit the pirate some more. He roughly pushed her back down, then hurried to check on his injured friend.

“Get him to the med bay.” Cossack ordered. “And spread the word. So long as these women remain in this room, they are not to be harmed. And that includes fucking ’em.”

“You don’t get to make that call!” foolishly protested the one with the broken nose. “You’re not the captain.”

“No, I’m not.” Cossack agreed, lashing out with his foot to stomp it on the pirate’s crotch. “But until he says otherwise, I’m in charge here. Now get out and do what I said!”

“Yes, Cossack.” muttered the one pirate, hauling his injured friend up off the floor. They were slow moving out the room, Marie watching them warily, as she started to try to stand up. She didn’t succeed, starting to crumple again as her legs refused to support her.

Cossack was immediately there, catching her. Marie flinched, her skin crawling, though her reaction this time wasn’t quite as bad as the first time he had held her. Patreesia was quieting down, whispering thank yous over and over. Jacquelyn was kneeling on the floor, glaring at this Cossack, her hands making helpless fists.

“Let go of her!” Jacquelyn ordered. “Get your filthy hands off of her!”

Cossack ignored her, looking at Marie with a frown. “Are you all right miss?”

“I..” A shuddery breath expelled out of her. “I’ve been better.”

“Yeah.” He muttered. “I don’t doubt that.”

“Did…did you really mean it?” Marie asked, risking a look at his face. “That…that nothing will happen to us so long as we’re in this room?”

“As long as the captain doesn’t override my command.” Cossack cautioned. She sagged against him, almost crying. Knowing their safe haven was a limited one, entirely reliant on how long this captain stayed entertained by their princess, and the lies she told him.

“Hey now…” Cossack was supporting her entirely, Marie feeling faint. “What’s wrong?!”

She couldn’t answer, just choking on her own sob. Cossack shifted, his hand suddenly touching her forehead. Another frown, Cossack’s voice sounding as though it was coming from far away.

“You feel a little feverish.”

A fever was the least of her worries, Marie almost closing her eyes completely, when suddenly the pirate lifted her up off the ground. “What are you doing?” She cried out in alarm.

“Taking you to see Doctor Badar.” Cossack announced.

“You don’t have to…” Marie protested.

“Can’t have the merchandise being sick….” Cossack muttered, not looking at her now.

“Merchandise?!” She exclaimed, and Jacquelyn said it too, sneering all the while.

“You pirate pig! We are not your merchandise! Put her down, now!”

“I take orders from only one person, and that’s captain Lotor.” Cossack was already walking towards the door, Jacquelyn making a valiant effort to stand and attack him. She was knocked down for her efforts, the woman screaming in pure, unadulterated rage.

“I’m fine!” Marie insisted. “Really….don’t…” Another wave of dizziness, so violent Marie thought she’d be ill. “Don’t bother…”

But the pirate ignored her protests, carrying her out of the room. He shifted her enough so as to be able to close the door behind him, though there was no way he could lower the heavy bar that worked as a second lock to the door. Not that Marie thought Jacquelyn and Patreesia could escape even with just one lock keeping them trapped.

“Please don’t…” Marie continued to plead, this Cossack ignoring her. He’d carry her past the cells full of other captives, and right up the stairs that led out of the hold. There would be other Drules waiting, and there Cossack would give them new commands, ordering them to prepare food and blankets for the women still imprisoned inside the interrogation room.

Those orders surprised the pirates as much as they did Marie, Cossack reminding them the women were not to be harmed in any way. Marie could only sag against his chest, wondering why he was going to so much trouble, why he was practically being nice. But when she asked, he merely shrugged, Cossack insisting he was doing nothing more than his job as the captain’s third in command.

That captain was anything but nice, as far as Marie was concerned. She didn’t for one second believe he would allow such courtesies towards women he had been set to torture. But she felt too tired, too exhausted both mentally and physically, to argue with Cossack. She simply closed her eyes, and let her mind turn off, Marie passing out completely in Cossack’s arms.

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