Ronin awoke to the bars surrounding him. He looked around in a daze, taking in the details of his new environment. He’d never felt as though he was a rat in a cage, not like the rest of them. He had always been above everyone else, above reproach, above even the law. He wondered for a moment who would have the gall to treat him in such a deplorable manner.
“You are not better than them. You are, by my calculations, much worse in many ways.” Oscilius approached Ronin’s prison with a jug full of water. “We know humans require this substance in order to live for more than a few days, so we do our best to make sure that we provide it at regular intervals.”
“Do you have any idea who I am?” Ronin was still in a daze and somewhat surprised at the accusations levied against him. “I am the very wealthy son of the Communications Director and I demand to know where you’re holding me!” He had not yet bothered to look closely at his captor. He was too busy wiping the dust from his clothing.
Oscilius continued about his task, pouring water into a trough attached to the outside of the cage. “If you feel the need to consume this substance, there is a tube just in the corner that will carry it to your mouth. Place your lips around it and suck.”
“Did you hear anything I just said?!” Ronin was furious as he finally looked at Oscilius. The appearance of the being made him take a few steps back until he felt the outline of the bars digging into his skin. Oscilius’ eyes were deep teal, and very round. He had fair skin, almost translucent, and jet black wiry hair that fell in shaggy locks down the length of his shoulders. He was exceedingly tall by human standards, standing at what Ronin guessed was nearly 8 feet, and his ears came to a sharp point at their crest which appeared to be nearly even with the crown of his skull. “Wh…where am I?”
“You are aboard our ship, of course. We will take you to our home planet where your kind will work for us, rendering our society much more efficient.” Oscilius spoke in a very matter of fact tone. “You, though, you are not grouped with the others. The leader must have deemed you…unfit. You will be placed accordingly, somewhere appropriate.” He moved toward another row of cages.
Ronin stared at him, watching as he poured water into troughs in the next row over. The cages around him were empty, but there appeared to be people in cages to the front and back of him. His heart sank as he realized that everyone would be leaving the planet. He’d worked so hard to ensure his own safety, forsaking theirs. Now he found himself wishing they were closer just so he wouldn’t feel so isolated. He sank to the floor, wondering what would become of him.
Oscilius had managed to fill the water troughs for nearly all the cages as the violet-eyed beings entered the ship with the last of the humans. “Their quarters are ready,” he said, directing their placement while finishing his task. Midian gave him a nod as he forced Atlas into the row where Ronin was being held, locking him in a cage a few doors down.
Enebrian followed with Duncan in tow. “In which group shall I place this one,” Oscilius asked of his commander.
“This one stays near me. I will take responsibility for him. Bring a collar.”
“Yes, sir.” Oscilius used the touch of his palm to open a cabinet on the wall at the end of the row. It appeared to be a rather large storage compartment holding equipment, tools, and other necessities. He came back to Enebrian bearing a collar and a lead. “Here you are, sir.”
Enebrian worked to fasten the collar tightly around Duncan’s neck. It was electronic and it seemed to adjust to the appropriate size on its own. It beeped twice and clicked once it was locked. Enebrian attached the lead to the collar and gave it a tug. “You will follow me and do as I say,” he told Duncan.
Great, now I’m a pet, Duncan thought.
“You belong to me,” Enebrian replied. “You should be grateful. Besides, this has always been your lot in life, has it not?”
“Sir, where shall we place the one who brings lightning? He is not like the others,” Oscilius interrupted.
“Bring him to the bridge. He shall stay within view so that we can observe him before we land.” With that, Enebrian gave another tug on Duncan’s lead and moved toward the bridge.
“Make it quick, Oscilius. We leave as soon as Midian assures me the passengers are secured.”