The jostling pulled him out of…. Where had he been? Tristan tried to remember. There had been the misery he’d felt, the utter lack of control over these last days. He’d tried to focus on his researches, but Alex kept intruding, his need for him. His desire to go see him, to touch him, caress him. To sink his claws into his neck and rip it out.
Then Alex had showed up at the door to his workshop, his safe place. Tristan had lost it. He’d screamed, insulted him, said whatever horrible thing he could think of to chase him away, until he hadn’t been able to stand. He’d wanted to open the door to let him in, but he needed to be safe, and Alex wasn’t.
Then there had been the whine of a shuttle. The noise had sent Tristan on alert, helped him push thoughts of Alex away. The noise didn’t belong to any in town. And even if one of them had gotten a new one in his absence, they wouldn’t take that to see him. They’d walk or use a hover.
He needed a weapon. He looked through the mess he’d made of the workshop for anything intact. He’d been thorough in his anger. He noticed the comm saying he had a waiting message. It had been there since before he’d seen Alex at his door, but he didn’t want to talk to anyone. He needed to be left alone.
He’d reached the cabinet on the far wall, the only one still standing and had opened it when the explosion happened. The blast came from behind him, a missile hit closer to the house. The blast threw him into the cabinet and through the wall. He’d come to while being dragged. He hadn’t been able to make sense of what had happened then. Someone had attacked his home.
There had been indistinct voices, the metal plating of a ramp, his eyes wouldn’t work. Something pricked his neck and then nothing.
* * * * *
He was being dragged again. The shuttle was shut down, but there was another vibration, deeper. He was on another ship. He needed to escape before he was too far from the shuttle. He needed to get back to it and escape. He needed to find out if Alex was okay.
He pulled his arm out and reached for the person holding his other arm, claws out, but before they sunk into flesh he was sprawled on the floor.
“He’s awake! Fuck, I thought that thing was going to keep him under for hours.”
Tristan pulled an arm under himself and pushed. He needed to get up. He had no strength left. The bastards had drugged him. He was going to kill them.
“Don’t be a wuss. He can barely move. Pick him up again.” A different voice, a woman.
“No. The captain said that he needed to be under. You do know who that is right? He can kill the lot of us even half drugged.”
Tristan smiled. At least they know who he was, how dangerous he was.
“Fine,” the woman again. “I can’t believe you’re that scared of someone who can’t even stand.”
He was going to kill her, Tristan decided. He was going to figure out who she was and kill her for not being appropriately afraid of him.
Something pricked his neck and everything went dark again.
* * * * *
He came to lying on a metal floor. There was no one near him, but he could hear breathing away, twenty feet or so. Three of them. He was on his back. He needed to stand, take them down and escape.
He tried to sit, but his body didn’t obey. His muscles didn’t even tighten to try to move him. What did work? He could move his fingers, his hand.
“Guy?” a young man said. “Is he moving?”
“He can’t be. They gave him a second dose before leaving the hangar.” Someone older.
It took more effort than it should, but he bent his elbow, raised his hand in the air. There was extra weight there.
“Shit! He is awake!” a woman, not the same one as before.
“That’s impossible.” The older man. “That drug is supposed to last hours.”
Tristan tried to twist himself on his side, but only his arm responded, and it was getting tired, falling over his chest.
“You need to drug him again. The Captain’s not here yet.”
“Are you crazy? I’m not getting in there with him.”
‘In there.’ He was in something. Not a room, because they’d already be in it with him. He forced his eyes open. Everything was blurry. He turned his head toward the voices and the three of them gasped. Tristan blinked, managed to bring his arm up to wipe at his eyes, he had some sort of large bracelet at his wrist.
His vision cleared. The three of them were in guard’s uniform, on the other side of bars. He was surrounded by bars on three sides, with a wall on the fourth. He was in the center, putting them fifteen feet away from him.
What did bars mean? He knew they meant something. He almost recalled it. He growled at the drug they’d given him. He couldn’t think clearly. Bars, they meant….
His entire body grew cold. He was in a cage.
“No.” The word was a croak, carrying none of the horrors he felt. He couldn’t be back in the cage. He had to get up and get out. He needed to be out of here before his father returned.
The thought of his father derailed his thoughts. His father was dead. He’d killed him years ago. He looked around him again. This cage was too large, it wasn’t the one his father had put him in as part of his punishments.
His breathing calmed, but he couldn’t shake the sensation this was extremely bad. With a scream he turned on his side, and he saw the terror in his guards’ face. The idiots weren’t even wearing helmets. It would make ripping their throats out so much easier.
A door hissed open and closed.
“Captain! He’s awake!”
Tristan tried to turn his head to look at the new arrivals, but he was too tired. When they came into his field of view it was a human woman, tall, with a regal demeanor, accompanied by someone who wasn’t human. She looked at him through the bars with pursed lips, but he wasn’t paying attention to her.
The other one looked familiar. He was a little shorter than her. Dark skin, no, dark fur. He was a Samalian.
The Samalian looked at him too. “Why am I not surprised. I thought you said your drug would keep him under for hours.”
The woman shrugged. “All I had to do my tests were computer simulations since you wouldn’t let me test it on you. Those were woefully inadequate to find out how a new drug will behave.”
The Samalian’s ears went back, he didn’t like her, like what she was saying. “You just want to pump those drugs into people.”
“Well, how else will I know if it works or not?”
Tristan needed to get up, to get closer, he needed to know who that Samalian was. Why he was so familiar.
“As you can see, he might be awake, but he's still weak. Once I’ve installed this, he won’t be causing you any problems ever again.” She was holding a large circle in a hand. “Open the cage.”
“Sir?” one of the guards looked at the Samalian. He was the one in charge, not the woman.
“Open it. He’s clearly too weak to cause any problem, and I need her to make him inoffensive.”
There was a loud clank and Tristan shuddered. It was the sound of cage door being unbolted. Even if he knew this wasn’t his father’s cage, the sound engendered the same reaction. Being let out of the cage wasn’t an end to his suffering, just a change in its provenance.
The Samalian watched him with a broad smile. “You remember it too, I’m glad.” He entered the cage and as he stepped closed Tristan could see his deep brown fur had white spots, just like his.
The foot hit him in the face and made him turn on his back again. Pain flared, but it cleared his mind.
What was his brother doing here?
“Surprised to see me? I guess you never thought I’d be smart enough to get out of this, did you? You think you were so smart sending me here in your place.” The foot impacted with his side and he felt more pain. His mind cleared some more.
This was the Sayagota, somehow his brother had managed to get himself out of the cryo tube he’d been shoved in. Tristan was curious as to how that had happened. He would have been put in without being able to claim anything, after all the ship through he’d been Tristan, one of the most dangerous criminals out there. They might not even have waited for him to be conscious before putting him in a tube.
Regardless of how he’d gotten out. Tristan wasn’t surprised he’d found a way to take control of the ship. It was what his brother did. Insinuate himself among people of authority, get them to trust him until he could get rid of them and take their place.
“Put it on and let’s get out of here. I want him to enjoy his solitary time.”
Tristan wanted to scramble away and it took much more effort not to tense then it should. Was it the drug or his cursed lack of control?
The woman knelt and looked at him. Her eyes were cold, clinical. She wasn’t seeing a living being, she was looking at him like he was an experiment. She bent over him and Tristan felt something wrap his bicep. With a scream of effort he brought his hand up, raking her side with his claws.
She fell away. His arm dropped on his stomach, he was panting. Then he was flying back until he hit the wall, arms and legs spread. Stars tried to fill his vision but he forced them away. He wasn’t losing consciousness. He wanted to see their expression.
She was horrified and Tristan smiled. She touched her bloody side. “He struck me.” From her expression and tone, he could have been a dead body come back to life. She took something from her pocket and pressed a button on it.
There was a soft beep close to Tristan. The circle around his bicep had a blinking green light. His wrists and ankles had glowing metal bands, they were what held him against the wall.
“It’s what Tristan does. He destroys everything in his way. How long until it starts to take effect?”
“I don’t know,” she replied, standing. She kept an arm pressed against her bloody side. “I didn’t have anyone to test it on.”
His brother looked at her. “Go get that seen to before you leave blood everywhere.” He followed her to the door then stopped. “Release him from the wall.” He turned to face Tristan.
“I said, release him!”
That was his little brother. Charming when he needed to manipulate someone, but no patience for his underlings.
The force holding him against the wall vanished and Tristan was running toward his brother, claws out, ready to eviscerate him. Only to come up short.
Two feet before his brother Tristan was forced to a stop. His arms extended back, his legs unable to move forward. He was at the end of the tether.
“You are going to suffer for this, little brother. I am going to escape this cage and I am going to make you pay for putting me in it.”
His brother smiled. “You really are dumb. You’re not getting out of this. You see, I’m not going to blow you up this time, arrange for you to be imprisoned, send assassins after you. No, this time I’m keeping you where I can watch you, and believe me when I say that you are never, ever, getting out of this.”
“You should kill me, Little Brother. It’s the only way you will ever be safe.”
“That’s too easy,” his brother spat. “I want you to suffer. You think this is your cage?” he indicated the bars. “That’s just so no one gets the stupid idea they can get close to you. No. That is your cage.” He indicated the back on his bicep. “I’m going to take away the one thing you value most. I’m going to turn you into an emotional wreck. I’m going to watch you suffer as you lose all control off—”
Tristan burst out laughing. He didn’t want to laugh. He wanted to glare at his brother, but it came against his will, like so many of his reactions recently. He had to admit it was funny. The extent to which his brother had gone to in the hopes of getting him to lose control, and Alex had beaten him to it without even trying.
Tristan was still laughing as his brother back out of the cage and closed the door. The loud clang cut Tristan’s laughing short. The memory of his father slamming the door shut on him still vivid after all these years.
With this adrenaline leaving he dropped to his knees, exhausted. He wanted to lie down, close his eyes regain his strength to kill them all.
No, that wasn’t what he wanted. He wanted to hold Alex against him. Feel him against his body. Find comfort in him. But he couldn’t get that. He couldn’t depend on anyone else. He was going to get himself out of this. For all he knew Alex had died in the explosion.
No. He wouldn’t think that. Alex was his. Alex would only die at his hand, and…And Tristan couldn’t get himself to hurt the human, so he’d never die.
He forced himself to stop thinking about Alex. He couldn’t afford the distraction. He ran a hand over the circlet over his bicep, feeling for a seem or controls, but it was smooth. When he tried to pull him down, it didn’t move, so it was always using an adhesive. Maybe something tied to his DNA, like—
He felt for it at his collarbone but only found a scab. “What have you done with it!”
The guards backed against the wall.
“No, I did this.” He’d ripped it off in anger. He’d smashed it to pieces. What had he done? It was his only link to Alex.
On his knees, he began crying.