Cold Blue Love by Valerie Wilde

Chapter Two

Beth reached out to take the weird, twisted metal object that he was holding out for her. But the man stopped her, letting out a sharp animalistic noise and then made a quick movement, deflecting her arm like something out of an action movie.

“What the hell?” Beth yelped, her arm stung where he’d batted her away.

He grunted at her, his eyes burning with strong emotion.

“I thought you were handing it to me!” she said in exasperation. “Fine then, I get it. It’s your, uh, special thing. You keep it.”

He opened his mouth and started making noises. It was, Beth supposed, a language. But it was like nothing she’d ever heard before. There were odd little growls in the middle of, what could be called, words.

“You, uh,” she glanced up and down, sneaking another glance at his chiseled abs. Even though they were painted blue, they were still very obvious and very distracting. “You don’t speak English, huh?”

She rubbed at her wrist. It would probably bruise. Beth pursed her lips, sending a longing look over her shoulder toward the path that led back to town. Sure, the guy was good looking and ridiculously ripped...But he was also a half-naked weirdo who didn’t speak her language and they were alone together, miles from anyone.

“You know, you’re going to freeze out here. Aren’t you cold?” Beth wrapped her hands around herself, pretending to shiver as she mimed being cold. “Look, I’m going to go. Why don’t you come and sit by the fire and warm yourself up?”

She tried to gesture with her hand, welcoming him to take her seat as she backed away. Was it really right to leave him alone by himself in the wilderness? Maybe he had a concussion or something? Obviously there was something wrong with the guy.

In one swift movement, he reached out to her, grabbing her wrist and then, with a blur of movement that was so fast that Beth herself didn’t know how he did it, her arm was being twisted behind her back and she’d been turned around. He held her close, her back and her twisted arm pressed against his chest.

“Hey, let me go!” Beth screamed, panic flooding her. Why the hell hadn’t she run away as soon as she’d seen this freak!? It was terrifying to be in a place she knew so well and having no control as this stranger manhandled her.

There was no getting away from him. His grip was too strong, it was like struggling against a mountain; completely futile. Hysterically, she imagined how he must be smearing his blue body paint all over her clothes.

He leaned down, his mouth right next to her ear as he spoke again. It was that same strange language and now she could feel the vibrations of those low noises in her own chest as he pressed against her. She shivered as his breath traced across her sensitive neck.

She hated the way that her body was reacting to him. She hated the thrum of unwanted arousal. It was simply beyond her control.

His breath was cold, even though it was coming straight out of his mouth. It should have been warm.

She’d been right. There was something medically wrong with him but Beth was no doctor. She had no idea what could cause his odd laundry list of symptoms.

Something cold pressed against her head, right at her temple. It had to be the strange, twisted metal thing. She froze, confused. It had looked like such a harmless little thing, but the way he pressed it against her skull sent a twinge of instinctive fear through her.

He started walking, pushing her ahead of him into the darkness and further from the path back to Drumlin Mills.

“No! No! No!” Beth screamed, kicking her legs wildly. She refused to calmly walk into the unknown with this sick man. “No, please! Don’t do this!”

But he was unrelenting. There was no stopping, he didn’t even slow down as she dragged her legs. He simply marched forward and she was pushed along in front of him.

She was scared as he walked away from the fire but when he actually stopped she was terrified. Her heart was racing, her pulse audible in her ears.

Beth screamed, a long drawn out breath that emptied her lungs completely. She knew that no-one would hear her and then she suddenly fell silent, not understanding what her eyes were seeing.

A rectangle of light appeared, right in front of them. It didn’t make any sense. They were outside, yet she could see this white rectangle was actually a brightly lit corridor. Before her eyes the rectangle got bigger and bigger, revealing more of this strange corridor. There was a panel of buttons, a rack of strange clothing and further down the corridor were more doorways.

Finally, the rectangle stopped growing. By now it was so large that the two of them would be able to walk into it easily. Beth didn’t understand how that could be possible.

The man pushed her again, walking forward. This time they were walking up a slope, stepping onto what was clearly a kind of gangway that led up toward the light.

Haadr hatedSlervoran even more for making him do this.

As much as it was nice not to have to touch the slimy skin of the Vaslor’s natural form, he hated that the shapeshifter was still insisting on staying in the form of an attractive female. What was Slervoran trying to accomplish by remaining in this form?

Haadr wasn’t a monster, he’d never treat an actual female like this, and it broke something in him to have to do this. It felt dishonorable.

Slervoran hadn’t even acknowledged a word that Haadr had spoken; he’d just screamed and spoken a foreign language. It made Haadr wonder about how little of a fight Slervoran had put up, and his feeble attempts to escape that were so half-hearted that it was barely an attempt at all. Perhaps Slervoran actually felt guilt for his crimes and wanted to face justice. Or, perhaps, Slervoran was trying to pretend that Haadr had made a mistake, maintaining the pretense of being a native of this planet.

Although, of course, Slervoran had given himself away with his chittering. The quick little jaw movements combined with the way he’d rubbed opposite arms together were common gestures for the Vaslor. It was what they did as they prepared to attack.

As Haadr pushed Slervoran up the walkway and into the ship, they came into range of the onboard translator.

It was strange that Slervoran hadn’t been speaking in Vasloran before, but Haadr had assumed that was simply part of his disguise as one of the native species. He’d thought the Vaslor was just making sounds and his lie was going to be revealed when the onboard translator didn’t recognize the strange noises as an actual language. But he’d been mistaken. The translator started working, allowing him to understand every word that Slervoran was saying.

“What the hell is this place? Let me go!! Who the hell are you? Why are you doing this??”

Haadr tightened his grip on the traitor. So this was his plan then, to pretend that he wasn’t Slervoran, that he had no knowledge of how many Ka’adril were dead because of him.

“Silence, Slervoran,” Haadr roared. “I am sick of your lies. You will finally face justice and pay for all those whose blood is on your hands.”

“What?!?” Slervoran went lax in his arms, stopping his weak and pathetic struggles. Haadr ground his teeth, hating himself for his traitorous body’s reaction to Slervoran’s current form. Mentally, he knew this was just another of Slervoran’s tricks but the female body, curvaceous and pressed against him, was...distracting. As soon as Slervoran was safely locked away and they were away from this planet, he was going to wash and scrub away the memory of touching Slervoran this...this intimately.

Slervoran had stopped speaking. He seemed, Haadr thought with satisfaction, defeated. There were no more struggles as Haadr took him to the back of the craft and put him into the small room next to the engine. It was the only room in the spacecraft that could be used as a brig.

Haadr shoved him into the room and Slervoran stumbled forward, hitting the wall and falling to the ground in an awkward pile.

“You can change back now, Slervoran. There’s no point pretending any longer. The council will not be fooled by this act.”

Slervoran ignored him, just looking up at him with the wide, expressive eyes of the alien species. Haadr wished the shapeshifter would change back to his original form, mostly for the sake of Haadr’s own sanity. Looking at the defenseless female, it was hard to suppress the instinct to go and help her.

Fluid was leaking from her eyes as if they were wounds. It was all an act, of course, a low and dirty trick of a man who had spent years lying to him.

Haadr shook his head and shut the door, making sure it was locked securely before heading to the pilot’s seat. He’d bought this spacecraft on Centauri, at the Trading Market there, but the controls were easy enough to understand and similar to the Vaslor spacecrafts that he’d been forced to look after for years.

He took off, leaving the blue and green planet swiftly. Once again he snorted to himself at how ineffectual the array of satellites that orbited the planet were. After a few minutes, when Haadr was sure that no other spacecraft had been launched and no-one was following him, he relaxed and set a course for home.

The ship’s autopilot could do all the work as he showered.

It had been difficult dealing with Slervoran again but now his job was done. All he had to do now was get home. Then he could just hand Slervoran over to the authorities, sit back and watch the public trial like every other Ka’adril. His mission was practically over.

Later, once he’d washed and eaten some of the rations that he’d also bought on Centauri, he was in a much better mood. He sat down in the pilot’s chair and saw that he’d received a message.

It was probably a request from the council for an update on his mission. He put it on, not giving it his full attention as he looked over the array of smaller screens, taking note of the distance they’d traveled while he was away from the controls.

“Hello, Haadr.”

Haadr’s head whipped around. He recognized that voice. It belonged to the man that he’d once called best friend and was currently locked away in the brig. On the large screen in front of him was Slervoran’s face. The shapeshifter was in the Ka’adril form that he’d worn when they’d been friends. It was a face as familiar to Haadr as his own.

His gut clenched just looking at him and then clenched again as he instantly realized the terrible mistake that he had made.

“I heard that you fell for that Centauri’s lies. That you even paid him handsomely for the privilege of being lied to,” Slervoran grinned. “This is why the Ka’adril have never deserved their freedom. You’re too stupid to do anything but slave away in our mines. All those years that I had to spend living as one of you…” Slervoran sneered, shuddering delicately. “It disgusted me to have to be near you.”

His face shifted into the wet green that was the natural form of the Vaslor.

“I did find it amusing when I learned it was you who’d been tasked with tracking me down. You will never find me, Haadr. Give up now. You could never outwit me and you know it! You were my useful pawn for years, so I shall be merciful to you and give you a piece of advice. Surrender to the Vaslor. The Ka’adril revolution will be short lived, a failed experiment. Your entire species will starve to death without our guidance and our beneficence. Surrender, Haadr. Return to your rightful masters and beg for the Emperor's forgiveness.”

Slervoran’s green slimy face broke into a wide grin, looking directly into the camera with smugness for a few seconds. The message ended and the screen turned black.

Haadr was frozen in his seat as he remained looking at the empty screen. Slervoran’s attempt to anger him was pathetic. It was merely another example of how the Vaslor underestimated the Ka’adril. Haadr felt only horror: he had kidnapped some poor alien. The beautiful female must be so confused and scared. Haadr had dishonored himself completely.

He tapped the screen a few times, looking for any information about where Slervoran’s message had come from. It was untraceable.