Subgalaxia: Ch 12

Subgalaxia: Legend of the Bai Book 4 by Chapel Orahamm, man in gas mask with hand gun and rifle sitting in front of ring and storm

Fane walked briskly through the hallways.  “Do you want to go outside?” Ishan offered, wondering if closing themselves into their bedroom would be the best idea for the man.  Fane paused to look up at the platinum-blond man. He was lost and cold. He pulled Ishan to him and buried his head in the blond’s shoulder.  “God damn it, I can’t take anymore today,” he mumbled.

Ishan wrapped his arms around him and held him, waiting. He leaned his cheek on Fane’s head and closed his eyes, feeling the man tremble beneath him.  “Cuddle?” Ishan asked gently. Fane nodded his head, exhausted. “All right, let’s do that then.” Ishan pulled him to their room.

Ishan turned the key in the lock and let them in.  Fane went to the little window and turned the shades to close off the room in a soft dim grey.  Ishan went and rummaged around in the footlocker at the end of their beds that they had pushed together.  He pulled out a soft t-shirt and a pair of thin cotton pyjama pants and tossed them to Fane while he pulled out his own matching set that they had been provisioned with.

Fane walked over to the little shelf at the end of the room and unloaded his micro-arsenal into tidy rows.  It was all the armaments he had when they went through the portal, and he wasn’t about to turn them over to the armoury here.  He shucked himself out of his boots and cargos and pulled on the pants and t-shirt. He fell back against Ishan’s chest as he pulled him into a gentle hug.

“I would never do this to my own children,” Fane bit out, the tremble coming back into his limbs.  Tears broke behind his eyes.

“Shh…it’s okay.  We won’t let them do that.” Ishan rested his head on Fane’s shoulder, letting Fane entwine his fingers with his.

“He has my sequence; he’s taken my blood.  He could clone me and have someone on the ship surrogate it without me knowin’.” Fane turned into his prince.

Ishan drew in a breath and let out a sigh. He didn’t have a response to that fear. 

“I have practically no memories because of the operations.  I can’t even remember my own sister or parents. I can’t imagine even thinking of doing that to a child… or another person.  I couldn’t think of someone doing that to you, or Bern…” Fane hiccuped.

“Come on,” Ishan gently pulled him to the bed.  He threw back the military-grade cotton sheets and wool blanket and pushed Fane into the thin mattress.  He pulled the sheets and blankets up around him, bundling him into a little cocoon before climbing in with him and bundling himself into a larger cocoon around the man.  Fane rested his head on Ishan’s arm, lost in his thoughts. He looked up to Ishan’s worried face. “Close your eyes and sleep a bit.” Ishan kissed his forehead. Fane nodded agreement, finally beginning to thaw out.

Pitch black coated the room in gloom. The bed trembled, the spring protesting.  Ishan woke to Fane tossing. He rested a hand on his chest. His bodyguard’s heart was pounding, and a cold sweat soaked his shirt.  Fane sat up and began pulling himself free of the blankets, his body shaking. “Everything all right?” Ishan asked tiredly before fully realizing Fane’s terror.  “Easy, easy, here,” he soothed, helping free Fane from the cocoon of sheets and blankets.  His hair was dripping. Ishan touched Fane’s arm gently. Fane looked up at him, glassy horror burning in their depth. His heart was beating hard and he was fighting to bring air into his lungs.  He pulled futilely at the collar of his shirt. Ishan grasped his hand. “Fane?” he called, trying to bring some clear focus into his eyes, “Fane, I’m right here. You’re safe. We’re right here,” he chanted quietly.  Night terrors. The man wasn’t awake.

Fane didn’t mean to. He wasn’t even awake for it. He still couldn’t control it. He plunged both Ishan and himself into the void. Terror rolled across Ishan’s skin and embed itself into his chest. A cold sweat broke out across his back as he drew in shaky breaths.

He looked up into the dim cavern.  Fane was pulling against his restraints, fighting to get away from the grasping tentacles that smeared acid across his skin, leaving angry red patches to blister.  The harder he pulled, the tighter the wires wound about him, the more blood dripped, the angrier the creature below him cried out.

Ishan’s feet froze him in place.  He couldn’t run, he couldn’t hide, he couldn’t fight.  The creature continued its climb, its suction cups laced with backward-facing barbs hooked into Fane’s skin.  The thin, whiplike tentacles, too many to be anything related to an earth creature clung to the wires, using them to pull itself ever upward.  The clear waves did nothing to hide the terror beneath them. Deep under surface tension, a massive beak was pushing its way upwards. Ishan couldn’t comprehend its immense size, but knew that it was still a long way under.

One of the tentacles wound itself around Fane’s neck.  Fane cried out as it squeezed down, barbs puncturing. The sound slashed across Ishan’s heart, pulling him into action.  He ran forward and climbed the beast’s appendages, slipping on the ooze. His hands burned and ached from the acid.  He felt like his skin was on fire. Disregarding the pain he knew it caused Fane to pull on the wires, he levered himself up until he was face to face with him.  He wrestled with the strangling tentacle, but he couldn’t get a purchase, couldn’t dig into the bloated skin. “Knife! Knife, damn it! Fane, where’s one of your damn knives when I actually need it for once!” Ishan yelled.

 “Gu…p…ah…” Fane tried to speak beyond the stranglehold.  His eyes watered. He couldn’t focus.


The knife Ishan had given him back in the palace fell down from the void above, bouncing off the tentacle and skittered into the rat’s nest of wires.  Fane fought to get a hold of it, but it kept slipping. It fell through the wires out of reach. Ishan snatched it before it could plummet into the depths. He slammed it home into the tentacle, slashing and hacking at it. The creature cried out at the sudden retaliation.  It pulled it’s appendage away, wanting to be away from the crippling attack. Ishan pressed his advantage, sweeping across the dripping limbs, slicing off barbs and probing tips.

The creature splashed back into the pool.  The surface rippled and roiled at the sudden descent. Fane coughed and spluttered, trying to draw in a breath around a swelling throat.  “Fane!” Ishan spun to the man.  

“-rince.” The man’s eyes glittered with more tears as he coughed and wheezed.

“Oh, god, Fane! I’m so sorry.” Ishan rested his head against Fane’s, wishing he could hug him through the jumble of wires. 

Fane trembled beneath him, his coughing easing. “Why are you here?”

Ishan looked down into his eyes.  He swallowed as his heart started to return to a normal rhythm. He smiled gently, “because you called me.” He gently kissed him. “I thought you were going to die.” Ishan allowed the shock to finally hit his system.  

“Feels that way every night,” Fane murmured.

“This is the nightmare that woke you up in the armoury?” Ishan asked.

“It comes when I sleep.  Sometimes I can wake up before it starts eating me. Sometimes it takes a lot longer.” He shifted, trying to settle the wires into a less painful position. 

His futile attempts drew Ishan’s attention. “These are coming off,” the man growled.

“I don’t know what’ll happen if you do that, Ishan!” Fane protested.  He couldn’t protect him like this.

“Don’t bloody care.  You’re not going to be some Prometheus for a giant calamari roll.” Ishan studied the various knots and hooks that he could readily access from where he rested on the wires.  He didn’t feel pressure as he sat on them, and they didn’t strain under his weight. Fane still held to the golden rope tightly. That was the only one that was not directly attached to his body by some kind of invasive means.  “How long can you stay under like this?” Ishan turned his attention back to Fane’s face.

Fane trailed his sight along the cavern.  “As long as the creature doesn’t eat my chest, I usually can stay under till then.”

“Not happening again.  I’ll go in after that thing if it comes down to it,” Ishan hissed as he spotted a particular hook that showed less strain than the others. “We’re starting here.” Ishan pointed to the gleaming barb in Fane’s bicep.  Fane pulled as hard as he could on the golden rope, taking strain off the hook.  Ishan forced the needle sharp keel hook out, knowing that as he did so, he was hurting Fane more. Fane fought to not flinch, but the grunt in the cavern let Ishan know that what he did was not pleasant.  The wire pitched away from the wound, like the last one, lining up near it at the edge of Fane’s touch.

“Can you keep going?” Ishan asked.  Fane bit down on his lip and nodded his head.  The sparks that burst across his nerve endings were better than the acid of the creature.  They at least told him he wasn’t dying. “What about this?” Ishan asked, noticing one of the loop piercings on his chest had gone slack.  “Try it,” Fane hissed. He was going to make friends with pain that night. Ishan poised the knife above the skin that had grown around the ring.  He flinched with distaste. He glanced up at Fane. Fane drew in a breath and nodded his head, and closed his eyes. Ishan sliced across the skin and pulled the ring free.  Blood flowed readily from the wound. Fane bit down on his tongue, willing himself to not scream.

Ishan wasn’t sure how many hours had passed.  The creature had been quiet. He had freed Fane of several dozen of the hooks and smaller, less invasive piercings.  The massive loops supporting Fane’s shoulders taunted him. The ones that worried him the most, though, were the bolts and chains that held up his thighs and his forearms.  They had to be buried in his very bones.

“Prince?” Fane called after Ishan, grunting as another hook came free from a spot under a rib in his back.  He sucked in a burst of pain and waited a second for the stars to stop flashing in his eyes. Ishan had moved to another.  “Ishan?” Fane pressed a little louder, twisting to look at the focused man. Another barb came free. The man was becoming methodical.  Fane floundered, reaching for the blond.  

Ishan looked up.  “You all right? Do you need me to stop?” He drew a hand along Fane’s cheek, his brows knitting.

“Are you doing ok?  You’ve been at this for a while. I know Bern said that he can’t keep up communication like this for extended periods of time.  He gets hungry and exhausted,” Fane asked Ishan, worried for the man. He was almost asleep on his feet.

“I can’t just leave you here like this, knowing that creature is waiting to come back,” Ishan gritted his teeth.  He still didn’t know how to free Fane completely.

“You’ve released me more so than I’ve felt in years, Ishan.  It’ll be ok. You need rest.” Fane smiled up at him weakly. He, too, was ready to leave the cavern.  He wanted to be awake and away from the nightmare. Ishan drew in a deep breath and sighed. He didn’t want to leave Fane strung up, depending on the slicing wires.  He glanced up at the golden rope, and a thought occurred to him. “You need at least this hand free.” Ishan trailed an index finger across Fane’s palm. It was the one that he had watched directing wires while Fane was working through his shooting practice.  “But you can’t defend with this one in your other hand.” Ishan studied the rope.  

“Don’t take it away, Ishan.  I can’t.” Fane held even tighter to it, scared of being without it. He couldn’t quite understand why it was so precious to him that he would protest leaving it, though.  

“It doesn’t need to go anywhere, but…” Ishan trailed off, reaching for the loop.  Fane didn’t want to let go, his arms trembling at the thought. Ishan pulled gently, the loop descending from the void, going slack.  He took up the bight and pulled it under Fane. “You’re gonna need to let go for at least a second, Fane. I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.  Hold on to me if you need to, but I’m getting that hand of your’s free.” Ishan pulled the rope experimentally. It took Fane a second to trust Ishan.  He fought with himself. He didn’t want to let go. It had been his anchor.

  He finally allowed the length to slip through his fingers.  He felt hollow and unsecured, the remaining wires taking his weight once again.  Ishan worked quickly. He pulled and twisted until he had formed a respectable line chair that fit beneath Fane’s butt and back, running the strand  up on the other side to meet in the middle above Fane’s head. He looped the end into the bight, creating an elegant figure eight and stopper knot. He tugged on the length experimentally.  The knots held. Fane relaxed into the makeshift swing. He smiled. The weight of the massive loops in his shoulders and the bolts in his thighs relented. He breathed in deep. He hadn’t realized how tight his chest had been for years.  Tears drip down his cheeks. Even if none of the other hooks ever came out, he could really breath. He looked up, startled, when Ishan shoved the handle of the knife into his empty hand. “There, now skewer me some sashimi by the time I come in here next.” Ishan  kissed his boyfriend.

Fane smiled against Ishan’s lips. “I think I might just deep fry it.” He pushed them out of the void.

They returned to the room, the sun already burning through the window, telling them it was almost noon.  Ishan blinked down at the surprise in front of him. He reached out a tentative finger, tracing along the ringlets that pooled around them in waves.

“Rip Van Winkle much, sleeping beauty?” Ishan whispered, amused. 

Fane opened his eyes to look down at his lap, waves of soft peach colored hair crossing his palms.  He looked up, startled. He hadn’t seen his hair that long in years. Not since Melody died. He swallowed the thought, the memory, the firestorm that flowed through his brain, unlocking a torrent.  “Melody…” he whispered.  

Ishan couldn’t hide the surprise on his face.  “That’s something to get used to,” he breathed.  Fane’s sclera were black, the irises an iridescent silver.  The pupils reflected back red light as they shifted to focus on Ishan’s startled face.  Fane blinked up at him, not sure what Ishan was seeing. A few blinks later and his eyes had returned to their normal grey blue.

“I can probably cut it off,” Fane muttered. Maybe Ishan didn’t like long hair on other guys.  

“Can you see differently when your eyes do that?” Ishan asked, not noticing Fane’s comment.

“Do what?” Fane drew in his brows, confused.

“Your eyes. They go silvery when you’re doing your frost thing, but they were black, well the white’s were black and they were reflective.  It was cool. Spooky as fuck, but cool.” Ishan brushed a thumb along one of Fane’s bottom eyelids to see the pink.

“I didn’t notice anything different,” Fane met Ishan’s eyes.  The room had looked normal to him. “You don’t mind my hair?”

Ishan picked up an end of a lock and flicked the edges gently back and forth between his thumb and forefinger.  “No split ends. Probably longer than mine and mine took years. Teach me your trick next time,” he teased. He fell back into the mattress, dragging Fane on top of him.

Fane straddled him, leaning in to kiss him. “Thank you.” He nibbled down Ishan’s neck.

“Feeling better?” Ishan asked, warming to his view.

“Much,” Fane smiled nostalgically.

“Good!” Ishan hugged him.

“I finally remembered my sister,” Fane swallowed, pulling back to sit up and pull his hair out of his way.  Ishan looked up at him expectantly. “I remember my home, where I grew up, what I used to do as a-a teen.  That report from the base got some stuff wrong. I still have fuzzy spots. I remember the lady who taught me to read.” He pressed the heel of his hand to his eyes, trying to restrain rain from falling.  Ishan pulled him to his chest and rubbed his back.

A knock at the door disturbed them.  “You guys gonna make it to lunch some time today!?” Sophia called through the door.  She sounded miffed. Fane groaned and rolled his eyes. Ishan stifled a laugh. “Coming!” He called out as Fane helped drag him out of the bed.

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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