The First Her

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Part 45.5

This part is a bit confusing, but it’s relevant!

They cheered, whistled, and roared for him. They stomped so hard that the ground under his bare feet vibrated.

He examined the thousands of spectators. The coliseum had never been this packed. Today was a big day– his 999th fight. Tulisians from all around the planet came to see his 1000th victory.

“I cannot hear you, Tulis!” the host roared, making the crowd cheer even louder. “Are you all ready for this?”

They were rabid in their excitement.

“Today, your undefeated champion will face the one-thousandth challenge. Will he succeed?”

“Xulor! Xulor! Xulor!”

They screamed his name so loud that even the air learned it.

“Xulor, the people call for you!”

The host dramatically swayed a hand in his direction, his golden cape twinkling.

As Xulor waited for the bars to rise, he eyed the colors of the cape. Had his soul once been that bright? He couldn’t remember. Too much time had passed. Too much red had splatted his chest.

The sound of chains clanked as the slave master unlocked them. He looked down at his wrists. The surrounding skin became rough long ago. They got used to wearing chains, and the rest of his body got used to the stabbing, scrapping, snapping, and bruising. His soul, however, didn’t have the same healing capabilities.

It was decaying.

The host continued to ramble, presenting Xulor’s competitor. It was a younger man– a Tulisian, as usual. Xulor rarely fought different species.

He sighed. He was tired of the numbness. For as long as he could remember, the only thing he felt was the blood and guts of his competitors splattering on him. He ripped through man after man– some enslaved like he was, others volunteers looking for fame and riches. All 999 fell. Now, he had to slay down the 1000th.

“Let the fight begin!”

Xulor took the sword that was thrown at his side and walked many yards to meet the competitor in the middle of the arena. He had his own sword in his grasp, and his eyes were as wild as the screams of his fans.

Xulor reached the middle, took a final scan of the crowds, and then sat on the sand.

Cheers turned into boos, items were thrown into the arena, and the host scrambled to get everything back in order.

“There will be no spectacular fight today,” Xulor said, although he couldn’t be heard over the angry mob. “I will not fight again, I embrace death.”

“Xulor!” his slave master roared from the stands. “Get up and fight!”

He was done being a slave. He was setting himself free.

Seeing that Xulor had given up, the other gladiator ran forward. He licked his lips, ready to become the man who defeated the undefeated. A dart flew into the arena and hit him in the chest.

Xulor felt a needle prick his own body. The effects of the drug pulled him under instantly.

“Awaken!”

He sat up. His head swam wildly, but he was used to the affects. Too many times, he went rampant and attacked the guards. Their only way of taming him was to dart him.

He looked around and recognized his cell. Across the thick bars was his bloodthirsty owner.

“Do you have any cursed idea how many coins you cost me today?”

Xulor didn’t reply.

“What do you want?” Yeliz– the slave master, despaired. He was at a loss. Xulor always fought; always took down the enemy placed in front of him like an obedient dog. He had never pulled a stunt like this. He never gave up.

“What do you want? Freedom? I will free you after this!”

Yeliz promised the same thing after battle #247, #547, and #778.

“Keep fighting like this, and I’ll free you.”

Yeliz wasn’t going to give him up. He was obsessed with blood. He was greedy, entitled, and soul-less just like him. Xulor was his fruit, and Yeliz wanted to squeeze and squeeze until not a single drop remained. Xulor had been producing victories for five years now.

Until today.

Xulor looked into Yeliz’s three eyes and replied, “I want death.”

The slave owner left but returned minutes later with two guards. Xulor was tied to a chair, electrocuted, drugged, cut, waterboarded, beat. Pain roared through him like a wildfire, but he set his jaw and let it run its course.

“I’ll cut off your fingers!”

“I’ll skin you alive!”

Xulor’s face remained ironically stoic. It showed nothing, which is exactly what he felt on the inside. He didn’t fear Yeliz’s threats. Once a man stopped fearing death, he became untouchable.

– • –

“Here.”

Something clanked against the bars. Xulor looked at the floor, and found a handful of necklaces, bracelets and rings.

“They are yours. If you fight, I will give you more, and I will free you.”

Yeliz had given up on torture and now consorted to bribe.

Xulor looked away. He had grown to hate the color gold. Slave masters wore it, and so did the rich spectators that came to watch his fights. At this point, the only color he was interested in was the blackness that came with death.

“Take it!” He began his cursing, demanding, and bargaining, but Xulor tuned out.

Every day after that, Yeliz would show up with a new offer– deeds to territory, a spaceship, a statue, a palace. Xulor ignored all offers.

The sound of footsteps made him grunt. He was hoping that he wouldn’t see Yeliz again today.

“This is the best treasure I have to offer.”

There was a thud when Yeliz threw something at the bars, and then a whimper.

Xulor sat up so fast that his head spun. “Yeliz!” he roared.

Laying by the slave master’s feet was a female.

“I have your attention now, don’t I?” Yeliz taunted. He grabbed the woman by the hair and pulled her head back. “You know how expensive these things are. I could sell her and get a small fortune, but I am giving her to you. I will let you keep her forever, as long as you fight for me. Yes? No one will touch her. She will be yours to rut.”

Xulor’s heart was beating a mile a minute. After years, he was feeling something other than numbness.

He had never seen this species before, but she was undoubtedly female. Her face was softly curved, her thighs were cloudy with fat, and her eyes…

They didn’t have to be the same species for Xulor to realize that she was terrified.

“What do you say?” Yeliz pressed. “I even uploaded our language into her brain already. She can understand every word you say.”

Xulor stood up, and the chains that kept his arms at his waist clanked. The female trembled and shrunk away, choosing to be closer to Yeliz than to him. Xulor did not blame her. He was far more menacing. He was stark naked and inked with hardships. Cuts, burns, and a slave brand called his body his home.

“Unlock my chains,” Xulor said, his eyes on the female.

An eager Yeliz pressed his thumbprint on the pad of the handcuffs. The chains gave away instantly.

Slowly, Xulor reached up for the female’s face. Yeliz pushed her forward until she was smashed against the bars.

“Yeliz…” Xulor rumbled.

“This will do, right? Let me know. I’ll send her to the cleaners and bring her back with a freshly washed cunt for you.”

“Make sure…” He skimmed a finger across the cheekbone of the trembling female. “To say hello to the Fates for me.”

He found his neck and snapped it. The slave owner dropped dead.

Xulor instantly raised his other and covered the female’s widening mouth, wrapping the arm he used to kill Yeliz with around her waist. Her eyes were blurred and her chest swollen as if containing a scream.

“I am a slave,” he blurted.

His mind was at war. In the five years he spent as an enslaved gladiator, he never got this close to freedom. His handcuffs were only supposed to be removed when he was it the arena. In his greed, Yeliz made a grave mistake.

“I am leaving this place, but you are not my slave. You can stay here, or you can follow me.”

He prayed to the Fates that she chose to follow.

“If you chose to come, I will take you to my home, and you can go your own way from there. Do you understand your choices?”

Her head jerked down– an a awkward nod.

Slowly, Xulor removed his arms.

She exhaled but kept their eyes connected. “The keys,” she said, her voice as soft as the rest of her. “How do you open this cell?”

A female. He was actually staring at a female. When was the last time he saw one?

“Are you okay?”

He snapped out of it and kneeled by the bars.

“Close your eyes,” he said.

She did as ordered, but still heard bone crunch.

Xulor used Yeliz’s severed thumb to unlock the jail door, and then he stepped into freedom.

“Get on my back, and hold on tight.”

He had planned his escape so many times that it drilled into his mind, but he never got past the guards and their stun darts.

“Are you sure? Your back is…”

Still raw from a recent whipping.

“Get on,” he insisted.

She hesitated to climb on his back, and he flinched. The reaction had nothing to do with pain, and everything to do with the softness of her breasts. When she was secured, he rushed to the window. He throttled the bars until they gave out and pushed the wood aside. For once, he was grateful that only wealthy Tulisians used glass for their windows.

He climbed onto the roof. There were no eyes up here, so he quickly traveled until he found Yeliz’s home. He had only been to it twice, but he memorized its location in hopes that he’d once escape. It took ten minutes to locate it. The mansion was built from the sweat of slaves. It was tucked close to the arena, but relatively isolated. His spaceship was parked right outside and shining like a ticket.

Xulor lurked in the shadows as he approached the spaceship. The female at his back was clutching his shoulders tightly, one of her hands digging into his slave brand.

With Yeliz’s severed thumb, Xulor unlocked the door and slipped inside.

“Secure yourself, fast. I am going home.”

“Where is home?”

“Planet Ezron.”

Part 2:

Layla shut her eyes tightly. Below her, engines were rumbling.

She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t started crying. Was she in shock?

She wasn’t used to adventure in her life. She was an elementary school teacher. She was used to dealing with tantrums of small humans, not enormous aliens.

Aliens.

Perhaps she wasn’t processing emotion because this was a dream.

“Ezron,” she whispered.

Not Earth, but Ezron.

The spaceship trembled. Every part of her wished that she would open her eyes and find her sister shaking her awake.

Gravity tilted, and they descended onto the stars. Red text appeared on the wide visor, but she couldn’t read it.

“Verify identity before crossing the mesosphere,” a robotic voice demanded.

Layla watched the alien press something onto a pad. When he pulled his hand back, she saw that it was a severed grey thumb. She turned her face just as vomit rose. Finally, her resolve was fading. The higher they flew, the deeper she sank into reality.

The ship twisted, and her seat straps dug into her chest.

“Stabilizers… where are they?” the alien grumbled.

“Have you flown this before?” she blurted.

“No. I read a book.”

A book?!

“You have exited Planet X-001, or Talis,” the machine said.

“Set course for Planet Ezron,” he instructed. He then clawed at his seatbelt. He couldn’t bear to be tied down anymore. He was free now.

Free.

Hours ago, he was ready to die. Now, his future was staring at him in the face. Excitement was sizzling. He refused to smile, though. He didn’t want to get his hopes up. What if Ezron was no longer there? What would he do if he found death? Would he follow his people? Could he abandon this female?

He groaned loudly and looked to his right, where the female was sitting. There was moisture in her eyes. He had seen nothing like it before.

“What is wrong with your face?”

Yeah? What’s wrong with your arms?” Layla blurted. She covered her mouth quickly. “I’m so sorry.”

Xulor looked at his forearms. They were both scaled– a normal Ezronian feature. The rest of him, however, was maimed. He could never truly escape his enslavers, because their memory was tattooed on him.

Insecurity made him look away.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through.”

“What about you?” he said, because he didn’t want to talk about himself. “What did you survive? Where did you come from?”

Layla wasn’t quite sure herself. “I– well, I don’t know. Around twenty days ago, I was home with my people. Then, I came across a bright light and I appeared on a jungle. I found another girl five days later, and we survived together. But then, we got attacked by those grey men with three eyes.”

“The Tulisians,” Xulor provided.

“Yes, them. The other girl got away. But I… they studied me and kept me in isolation. Then there was you.”

Why? Why did the fates made them cross after she faced so much misfortune? She deserved a caregiver with a clear head and skin.

“I will not lie to you,” he swallowed. “More hardship will come your way, because you are a female.”

“What do you mean?”

“Ezron does not have women. An unexplained phenomenon happened fifteen years ago. We call it The Vanishing.”

“Did the Tulians take them?”

Xulor shook his head. “I do not believe so.”

“Well, where are their women? I didn’t see any.”

“Tulians have no females. They reproduce asexually. I was captured along with five other Ezronians shortly after The Vanishing happened. The Tulians came to explore Ezron once they got word of The Vanishing. They were as confused as my people.”

“Oh.”

This was a disaster. Was Ezron the planet she teleported to? Was Akane safe? Layla only got to know her for about two weeks, but fear bonded them close. They saw a single old man once, but didn’t get a close look at him. They knew they were no longer on Earth, though, because the planet had too many odd plants and animals.

“Will you help me?”

Xulor’s face snapped in her direction.

“I don’t know anyone there. I don’t know how to get back home, and I don’t know where Akane is. I’ll pay you back, I swear. I’ll cook and clean and…” What else could she do? She was a plain Jane.

She palmed her face and sobbed, because she wanted to wake up from this nightmare.

Her sobs horrified Xulor. They were far more unpleasant than the sound of a whip lashing through he air, or an enemy gurgling on their own blood.

“I will take care of you,” he blurted.

It was a dangerous promise. He had killed 1000, including Yeliz. Who is to say he won’t have a mental breakdown and make her the 1001st?

She looked at him with big, blurred brown eyes. Her black hair was a mess, and her cheeks were blotchy.

“Really?”

“I will look over you until I find someone that can…”

“No!” she interjected. “Please, no. I don’t want to meet any more aliens.”

It was foolish of her, but she trusted him. She didn’t even know his name yet, but she imagined that his time as a slave made him compassionate.

Xulor pried his eyes away. “I will check the fuel levels and the pantry.”

They had left in such a rush that they didn’t collect materials. Chances were that they were low on fuel, and he’d have to land on a wild planet in this solar system.

He destroyed the tracking motor, so the Tulisians lost them. He then checked the fuel. When he saw that they were full to the brim, a weight was lifted off his shoulders. Unfortunately, the food pantry told another story. They would have to ration carefully.

He checked the engines, propellers, escape pod, pressure stabilizer. He read the landing manual again and again.

“Excuse me.”

He stopped reading.

“It’s cold. Do you think you can turn on the heat?”

In his rush to distract himself, he neglected the girl.

Fool. You are not even on Ezron yet, and you are already failing her.

“Yes.”

He scrolled through the Tulisian text in search of the temperature controls, only to find that they were offline.

Mothers.

He ran an assessment, and the report said that the temperature control was undergoing an update.

“I am sorry, but the temperature controls will be offline for twelve Tulisian hours.”

“Okay.” She licked her lips and turned away.

Xulor resumed his examinations. This ship had a closet-sized bathroom and a bed that was folded into a wall. It was a personal ship, not a passenger one.

Hey,” the female called out in her strange language. “I don’t know your name. I’m Layla.”

“Xulor,” he replied, the name tasting odd. He hadn’t introduced himself to another person in a long time. No one cared to become friends with him. He was just there to entertain by murdering.

“When we get to your home, I’ll pay you back for all of this. Do you have children? I can take care of them. I’m great with them. I’m a teacher.”

Children?

The thought never even crossed his mind. He was twenty-one Ezronian years old. The Vanishing happened when he was six, and he got enslaved at age sixteen.

“I fathered no children.”

“Oh, well, I’ll help you with your house. We can be friends.”

Her plans were so progressive. Xulor could only nod. He didn’t want to say that he doubted his home was still standing. He wanted to protect her from hopelessness as long as possible.

“How far is Ezron?”

He looked at the panel. “It is two weeks away if we continue traveling with star-tunnel speeds.”

She looked at the stars, processing that information.

Xulor continued to triple-check the systems. He read and typed until a clacking sound distracted him. He looked around, only to find the female’s mouth trembling. “Are you hungry?”

“N–o. The co-ld.”

Right, the cold. Ezronian skin adapted well to changes in temperature, so he wasn’t distressed. This female, though, was as fragile as she was beautiful.

He unleashed the mattress from the wall and stripped off its sheets.

“Here.”

She took the sheets with a trembling smile. Minutes later, Xulor worried that it wouldn’t be enough. He looked down at his body–his terribly scarred, ugly body.

“Xulor…”

Please. Please do not ask me to press myself against you. I do not want to contaminate your skin.

He scanned the spaceship for more cloth but found none.

“I’m sorry to a–sk, but can you hold me?”

Mothers.

He wanted to say no, but he had already promised the female that he would take care of her. He didn’t have much in this world. His word was the only thing that had value anymore.

Layla produced a surprised squeak when he pulled her into his arms and carried her to the small, uncomfortable mattress. He set her down, laid beside her, and waited for her to come to him.

“Wow,” Layla groaned. “You’re really warm.”

She snuggled into his side, lying her face on his scarred chest. How could she do this? He killed a man hours ago with his own hands, but she stepped into his embrace? Was she so cold that she didn’t care?

She pushed deeper into him, and he felt two soft globes trap his bicep.

Oh, no.

His cock roared to life. He had been trying to avoid examining her feminity for this very reason. Layla was a rarity wrapped in soft silkiness. His body wanted that softness, and his primal instinct wanted her womb.

How would he hide this from her? He was fully naked.

The female slumped against him. To his relief, she fell asleep.

– • –

Layla woke up to warmth. Not Xulor’s, though. The temperature controls were back online.

She pushed her blankets away and searched for him. He was in the captain’s chair, typing something. His horribly whipped back was in full view, and it made her stomach twist. How could she complain about her situation when it paled compared to Xulor’s life? His planet lost women, and then he lost his freedom.

“Hi.”

His back tensed. “Hello. There is food on your seat. You should eat.”

She slipped off the bed and picked up the small portion of food. The chunky stuff looked like oatmeal, but she was too hungry to care.

“Can I help you with anything?” she asked.

“No.”

“Well… thank you for warming me last night.”

His jaw set. “It was nothing.”

Sensing that he wanted to be left alone, she turned to the nearest window. Space, as terrifyingly vast as it was, was beautiful. She stared until a nap took her under.

She woke to boredom. Xulor was still fussing with the panels. She guessed he was checking everything over for the dozenth time.

“Can you tell me about your home?”

He looked at her. “About Ezron?”

“Yes. What is the weather like there? I’m hoping that it’s not cold. I’ve had enough of that.”

He smiled. Even with his black-green eyes, sharp-tipped ears, and terrifying teeth, he was still handsome.

He dropped the smile instantly, shocked by the strain in his cheeks. He hadn’t shown that expression in years.

He cleared his throat and began to speak, because he couldn’t deny her anything. This harmless, fearful female had defeated the gladiator.

– • –

Xulor was growing on her. He went on and on about Ezron’s beautiful landscapes, animal and plant life. He was like an excited child, and Layla could only develop tenderness. Some days, though, he was distant.

They were day five into the trip. The lights were off, and she was sleeping on the bed while Xulor took the floor.

“If you’re uncomfortable, come up here.”

He didn’t reply. Curiosity made her peek down. The dim lighting allowed her to see that the loincloth-wearing male was asleep. There was a furrow in his brow indicating that he was having a bad dream.

“Five ninety five, five ninety six…”

He was muttering numbers.

He shifted around some more, before gasping and jerking up.

“A– are you…”

“Fine. I am fine.”

The bad dreams didn’t stop there. For four more nights, they haunted him.

“Xulor. Xulor!”

He woke up the same way he always did– with a number on his lips and sadness in his gaze. No matter how much space they put between the ship and the planet, it seemed like he remained a slave.

She slipped off the bed to kneel beside him.

“Do not kneel,” he rasped.

“What?”

“For Ezronians, kneeling is a display of respect. I do not deserver your respect.”

She pursed her lips, angry at him for being mean to himself. “You saved me from a life of sex slavery. You promised me, a complete stranger, that you’ll take care of me. Of course you deserve my respect.”

“The numbers,” he interjected, his eyes wild. “They say otherwise.”

Her heart was breaking for him, because she figured out what the numbers meant.

“No, Xulor, you didn’t kill those people. It was self-defense.” She dared to reach out and cup his face.

His expression was sad. He wanted to believe her, but he wasn’t ready yet. “You should go back to…”

“No. I’m staying here with you.” She hugged him tightly. “I’m staying right here with you, always.”

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