(Fictober seems like a good time to return from the metaphorical dead? We’ll see how this goes!)
Fictober, Prompt 1 – “I need you.”
Warnings: implied blood sacrifice, implied murder, implied non-consensual surgical procedures (but nothing actually graphic).
“I need you,” she had said.
Arrogantly, or naïvely, or stupidly, or maybe all of those things, I had believed her.
Well, heard what I wanted to hear, at least. I had believed the implication, just as she had known I would, and it was only the implication that was untrue.
She was not, in the strictest sense, a liar.
We were planetside, deep underground to escape the inhospitable surface, which had made sense enough at the time. But now I couldn’t trust anything that I had seen on the way down, since the viewports could easily have been manipulated to show whatever she wanted me to see.
This lab was definitely real, though. As was the operating table I was strapped to with metal cabling, and the humming generator, and the tubing, and the instruments she was laying out next to me, their edges gleaming sharp under the too-bright overhead lights.
“Hush now,” she soothed, eyes distant as she scanned what looked like a mix of technical specs and spellwork on a datapad, not really looking at me. “You wanted to help me, didn’t you? And you will.”
Doubtful, now that I knew what was really going on here. Whatever she thought she was trying to do (I tried to get a closer look at the datapad without her realizing I was doing it), it didn’t look like the planetary revitalization work that she had spoken of before. There were elements of that, maybe, but there was something weird about it
I increased my useless struggle against the cables again as she looked up at me.
I had a single card of my own to play, and I was going to have to play it carefully if I wasn’t going to become this woman’s next victim.
“This was definitely not what I had in mind,” I responded, not finding it too hard to sound panicked. It was tempting to point out that unwillingly given blood was not an efficient way to power just about anything, but that would have told her too much.
And these types never seemed to believe it anyway, no matter that it had been proven conclusively. They always thought that if you just had enough of it, it would be more powerful than any other energy sources.
It did explain why so many people had gone missing in this sector lately…and suggested that our estimates were probably low.
“Whatever you had in mind, I promise that your sacrifice will not be in vain,” she assured me.
“I bet you tell that to all the cargo haulers,” I muttered, still struggling against the metal that no physical strength on my part could possibly escape.
She laughed, a low, melodic sound, and did not deny it. “It has been true every time.”
That was definitely a lie, even if she didn’t know (or didn’t want to know) it.
“Lay still,” she advised, eyes glinting as she set her datapad aside and turned to her instruments.
If she was about to start cutting into me, then I was nearly out of time.
Taking a chance, I twisted the hand on the side facing away from her so that my pinky could just brush the cable strapped around my wrist where it looped underneath the table, and sent a very carefully controlled spark of power down and through the table and into some of the electric cables connecting it to the generator.
It was a struggle to keep control of that spark, keeping it quiescent and traveling smoothly along until it reached a piece of equipment on the far side of the room…one of the few that didn’t look as if it were in the best of repair. Then, I let go of my control.
The machine began to beep unpleasantly at the sudden, if small, surge of not-quite-electrical power in its inner workings.
Frowning, she turned to stare at it, and then scowled.
“Just a moment, my helper,” she told me, and turned away to see to the malfunctioning machine.
Metal cabling of the kind I was strapped to the table with was the best possible choice to hold any random spacer you were trying to keep still while you drained their blood. There was only one time when it would be a mistake to use it, and she would have assumed from the ship I arrived in that it was not a mistake in my case.
As soon as her back was turned, I let my inner barrier fall and the magic surged out of me, down through the cabling and the table and the power cords and out to every piece of immediately connected equipment in the room. The cables loosened, and I was off the table before she had a chance to turn, horror and rage twisting her lovely features.
I had definitely made several mistakes on this mission, but fortunately, I had only needed her to make one.
Arrogantly, naïvely, stupidly, or maybe all of those things, she had assumed that no technomage would arrive on an unintegrated ship.
But I did.