Adira's Mate:Space Wars, 1(5)By: April Zyon
Adira went stiff as a board when the pistol was lifted to her temple. She took a deep breath and nodded. She understood what he was saying, understood and would comply. She had no idea who it was that had her, so she would play along until she could be free.
She listened to the man’s breathing and frowned. He was in pain; it was clear from how he was gasping for air but there was something more. He wasn’t breathing as an Imarian would, three sharp intakes of breath and one exhale.
Her stomach felt as if it were in knots. She felt ill because she suddenly knew that she wasn’t being held by someone that was on the island and had no idea who she was. She was being held by one of the Craegin that her people had kidnapped and had been torturing.
Stars. She was in deep trouble. “You really don’t want to do this,” she told the man. “I’m more trouble than I am worth. Ask anyone. I’m seriously not a good person to take hostage.”
“I don’t have what one would call a lot of choices here.” His voice was low, but she could hear the underlying growl that gave it a certain rough quality. “One way or another you are my ticket out of this hellish place. So you can either help me willingly, or I start to break bones. Nothing important, but I know the ones that will cause you immeasurable pain while still allowing you to function enough to get me free. The choice is up to you. What will it be?”
There was no choice. Adira was a lot of things, but able to withstand pain was not one of them. She just nodded. “What do you need?” She would get him to where he needed to be in order to get free. Then she would run as far and fast as she could.
He let out a harsh-sounding breath. “I need you to guide me to the ship bay here. Preferably to one of your crawlers. Then you and I are going to leave on that ship, and get me to a place where I can contact one of my own vessels to pick me up. If you behave yourself, don’t try anything to alert anyone, and generally do not make yourself an annoyance to me I might let you go free. Depends on how bad my mood is by that point.” She felt him shift slightly, his arm slowly letting go of her neck. “We’re going to take the path of least resistance. No guards, as few cameras as possible, and you are not going to let anyone know anything is amiss in any way. I have zero problem shooting a woman, but I’d rather not have to drag you around at my heels to break free of here.”
Stars. “Okay,” she said with a wobbly voice. “Then the best way to go will be back the way that I came.” She had already killed a guard. This had to be her punishment. She knew it. She had killed one of her own people so this was the spirits’ way of punishing her. She was going to be this Craegin’s shield to get free of her people. “I have a crawler. I came over from one of our other worlds.”
The weapon lowered until it was pressed into her lower back, right on her spine. At that range he’d never miss, and if she wasn’t dead she’d definitely be paralyzed. “How many guards between here and the bay?” he asked. He’d given her a nudge to get her moving, but a hand on her arm slowed her pace. Adira couldn’t see much of him beyond the one arm down at his side. But she did notice he seemed to be limping, even dragging one of his legs slightly.
“None. There was one but he won’t be a problem.” The physician in her wanted to heal him. She wanted to reach out and find out what was wrong, but the prudent part of her kicked in and she knew that would be just plain dumb. She did, however, slow down. She ensured that she kept a pace that would keep them moving, but wouldn’t push him too far. She didn’t know what to expect of this Craegin, especially since the female captive had so easily sold out her people.
“What about the cameras? How many are we going to have to contend with once we’re past the holding areas?” The pressure of the weapon on her spine eased a little. She knew it was still there, but he wasn’t digging it in any longer. He might be injured, but she didn’t think for one moment he wasn’t aware of everything around him.
“None.” She had disabled them so that she could wheel the body out and dispose of it. Why hadn’t she thought to reenable them? “I had disabled them,” she told him. “I had been so caught up in my own mind that I forgot to reenable them,” she added honestly. “My crawler is the one closest to the exit doors as well, so there shouldn’t be anyone in the bays that will see us as that side is blocked from view by my crawler.”
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