CHAPTER seven:

THE tortured

“It is the tortured who turn into torturers.”

Art: Mike Debalfo & Sanju Nivangune

Temptress, Karnal Sin

“You’re not in a position to make demands of me, lieutenant,” Protium’s mechanical voice spoke with a disconcerting upbeat tempo that never seemed to fit any situation he was asked to converse in.

“Besides, I already granted permission to your little lamb to follow her.”

 

Sicarius, careful to choose his words, and to keep his body in a state of serenity, took a slow breath in knowing that Protium’s bio-mechanical suit could read him like an open book, “If by lamb, you mean Samuel, the Vanguard are very grateful for your gift."

He paused licking his lips involuntarily, “However, according to my subordinate Daxia…” Sicarius intentionally used his second in command as a point of placing himself in a position of authority to the Consul, “neither have been seen in days...”

Protium waved away the suggestion, “These things take TIME. Science always takes time! Trial. Error. Sometimes those errors are more erroneous than others…” It was as though the olive-suited man shifted from talking to Sicarius to talking to himself. Many had speculated that Protium’s time working with the fourth-dimension had caused him to lose a part of his mind. He dove too deeply into the knowledge of something he was never meant to know and paid the price – Dimensional Derangement. 

 

“But the risks are always worth it,” Sicarius said. He wanted to encourage this type of self-conversing. “And no one is questioning the risk of these endeavors. I simply want to follow up on how your experiment, and my team member, is fairing.” At this point, Sicarius wasn’t even sure if he was making any sense. Daxia’s side-eye glance did not help his confidence.

 

“She isn’t YOUR anything,” while Protium’s voice didn’t sound angry, it did sound assured and matter-of-fact. “You try to put ownership on her, but don’t you see? Not I, not you, not Overseer can do that…” He began once again descending into self-talk, “She listens to no one!” He was practically laughing, “You cannot control a storm! When your ship faces the hurricane’s wrath, you turn into it. You ride that wave face on…” 

 

“That one…” Protium continued, “That one…will be a great instrument of the future…”

Sicarius interjected, “I do not claim to own her, sir, only that she has been assigned as my teammate, and really I was referencing the ‘minion’ as you stated earlier.”

“Hm?” It was like Protium was interrupted in his train of thought by Sicarius’s voice, “What is your inquiry, dull one?”

 

“I need to follow up with my comrades, sir.” Sicarius answered, ignoring the insult.

“Well why didn’t you just say so!” The Praetor and second in command to ‘God’ responded overenthusiastically. Sicarius bit his tongue to correct him.

 

“I sent her to your home, lieutenant. To find your white-eyed monster.”

Daxia turned to Sicarius, her eyebrows tilted in curiosity, “Monster?”

Sicarius had no time to address her and kept his eyes on the goggled, would-be robot in front of him, “My…home world? Auxidian?” 

 

Protium nodded vigorously in response, as if accepting Sicarius would process this information slowly.

 

“White-eyed…” As he said the words, his own eyes lowered, unfocused, searching the seams of the metallic flooring of Protium’s lab to give him some insight.

 

“Monster,” Protium finished for him. Walking towards the pair of Vanguard by his laboratory doorway. 

 

“It was through a haze of smoke and fire, but it was large…demonic looking…it’s humanoid, whatever it is, but I just remember the eyes…they glowed…white, fiery, looking at us as we ran. It was like it was staring right through us.” She felt the memory of the words wash over her, but she could barely make them out.

 

What she could remember clearly, was the voice of her friend, her Consul, the man she had embraced as her caretaker.

 

“Find me that creature.”

 

The voice of Protium rang in her head, bouncing off the walls of her mind and crystallizing as a clear concept in the center of her consciousness.

 

Her eyes opened, barely, the light of the room blinding her as she adjusted to the brightness.

 

With her arms bound behind her, she lay suspended in air, her feet wrapped and keeping her at a forty-five-degree angle from the floor. Her senses were dulled, and she could tell she had been drugged. As her consciousness cleared, she realized she was still in the throne room of the Pyre. The muggy day creept in from the open atrium of the beams above her which were the anchors for her imprisonment. 

 

There were several bodies standing in the room with her. As her mind began to become lucid, she recognized two men in a heated debate standing a few feet from her.

“You don’t get a say in this matter.” One of them said, as she tried to align what she was hearing to what she was seeing.

 

“But we have no idea of what her intentions really are.” Another voice explained. “If she was sincere about her motives, this is needlessly cruel.”

She recognized the voice as Jaus’s.


“Does it matter?” the other voice asked.

 

There was no response, and she heard footsteps coming closer to her. They stopped in front and she lifted her head to face the person.

 

“She’s awake.”

Jaus could be heard starting to make another objection.

 

“We have our orders.”

A rough gesture brought a hand under her chin, jerking it upwards to more clearly look the offender in the eyes.

“Who are you. And don’t tell me your name is Vita, we already know you killed Vita in Sarem.”

Kathryn opened her mouth to speak before stopping herself.

karnalconfessions_7_1sm.jpg

Kathryn awakes, bound and captured by the Chosen.

She was in the impossible position she had always feared – bound, incapable, completely vulnerable. She was at the mercy of these Chosen, these men and women tasked and sworn to protect their absent ruler. Trained from the moment of their ascension to now, with only one she had made any semblance of connection with, but who had ultimately followed his upbringing, she knew she had no path of release.

 

“I am,” she began, moistening her lips as she continued, “Vanguard. Alpha Squad, Dominion.”

The hand under her chin shifted to grip her jaw bone, “What is Vanguard?”

Praedus’s voice was cold and distant, the kind of separation drilled into a soldier who is meant to view any outside force as hostile and subhuman. Kathryn recognized that style of speaking. 

 

This would not end well for her.

 

“I am…” she spoke, her voice raspy from dehydration, the forced arching of her neck making it difficult to speak, “Vanguard...”

She blinked her eyes slowly, allowing the moment between the words to expand as long as she could get away with, “Alpha Squad. Dominion.” Like her captor, Kathryn had been trained for this, though this was the first time her training had ever been truly tested. The value of the intelligence she housed in her head was worth much more than her life – but only in that if she were to tell all, she knew they would kill her. The only card she had left to play was to hold onto her wits and her secrets. 

 

Kathryn knew that this had been a possibility, although she couldn’t help but chastise herself for not suspecting it sooner. She knew her gambit of playing the guards to get into the Pyre was risky, but it had less risk for her than a full-on solo assault of the fortifications. At the end of the day, she expected it. The outcome would have been the same – but at least, she knew, she was inside the building, and thus, close to the Deltria she so desperately wanted.
 
“Not what I asked, you harlot…” and with that simple statement, a thick, solid hand came across her face, striking her hard enough to cause her ears to ring and her skin to break at the point of contact, but she was still conscious.

 

“Praedus!” 

 

The opposite hand of her assaulter gripped her throat, making breathing a struggle.

 

“Jaus, I suggest you either accept your duty or leave the room and deal with those consequences,” her immediate captor said through gritted teeth.

After that, Jaus didn’t say a word. And it was a violent battle of wills as Kathryn stuck to the script that had been taught to her, and Praedus and company levied their justice upon her deception. 

 

A knee in her back at excruciating intervals started her off, as they pushed more questions at her. With each passive refusal, they arched her more and more.

 

“What is Vanguard?”

 

Using her flexibility to her advantage, Kathryn relaxed and breathed out with each added pressure, until the pain became so unbearable and she stuttered out, “I-I am…Vanguard…”

 

At the pull of the restraints on her wrists and feet, the rough material burned deep cuts into her flesh, she could feel the fibers in her joints objecting as they began to slowly split and separate away from one another. 

 

It was then that Kathryn screamed. Her scream bounced off the empty walls of the room and only escaped via the pillared chamber’s exposed ceiling. 

 

“I know the D.I.A. trained you in pain provisions.”

 

The memory of Sicarius’s demands rushed over her as if on cue. 

 

“You’ll have to show me one day. We could really use that skillset.”

 

Triggering her, Kathryn called upon another part of her training, as if by habit at the request of her commander who was not there with her. She dug into her psyche, deep. Closing her eyes, they unfocused in the eclipse behind her lids. She found a spot beyond herself as she reached into the dark corners of her mind to hide. 

 

“No, you don’t…”

A hand reached out to her and grabbed at her consciousness, pulling her back from the recess of comfort she had found.

“You will feel this…” The line punctuated an onslaught of large hands thrashing her in her restraints, thick and solid fists landing blow after blow against her body. They were tactfully sure to avoid too sensitive locations like her kidneys but they laid waste to her face, causing the skin in her mouth surrounding her teeth to rupture.  

 

A spray of blood erupted from her mouth involuntarily landing onto the dark marble floor beneath them. 

 

“Confess yourself to Neros. Neros is love, if you’d only accept his light and fire. He burns for you.”

The voice speaking these words was coming from a gentler source, the woman who had been in their party, she guessed. Though she had no real idea if the group she had entered the Pyre with was the same one she was with now.

 

Kathryn spit, emptying her mouth of the superficial blood. Taking a deep breath, she kept on verbalizing her training, the true part of her mind seeking refuge in the dark abyss of her subconscious, “Vanguard…Alpha Squad…Dominion.”

A man’s hand gripped her jaw painfully again. His thumb was on one side of her face, his grouped fingers on the other, and he pressed so hard as to force open her mouth. The fresh open wounds compacted against the hard, immobile surface of her teeth. The agony jolted through her body, causing her eyes to open and look at her assailant.

 

“Wrong again…”

 

The three of them stood outside of Orthus’s chambers, and Daxia couldn’t shield her concern as she searched her commander’s eyes for guidance.

 

“If you wish to bring this to appropriate authorities, Vanguard,” Protium’s words were leading Sicarius to the obvious conclusion and he didn’t know how to respond, “Here we are.”

The silence was deafening, as Sicarius searched himself for an answer, but it was Daxia’s voice that responded.

 

“Great Praetor,” she said, “we came to you.”

Sicarius lifted his head, looking first to his second in command before boldly staring at the Consul who tempted his fate.

 

She continued, her voice stilted by nerves, “You granted Samuel access to Kathryn’s whereabouts…neither have made contact…”

 

Protium made a noise of passive acknowledgement.

“Would you not prefer your great experiment be watched over by someone more capable than a simple minion?” Daxia offered this explanation to Protium, many tiers her sire.

“Is that what you want, Sicarius?” Protium addressed him directly. The Consul’s body language was completely relaxed, leaning against one of the redundant pillars that flanked the doors to Orthus’s war room.

 

Finally finding his own voice, with the urging of Daxia’s intent gaze at him, “Yes, sir.”

“Very well!” Protium exclaimed loudly and with vigor, as if attempting to taunt the barrier between Sicarius and his potential destruction, “You think you pick the lesser of two evils…”

 

Motioning the pair to follow him, they walked back towards the landing foyer where the opalescent black and shimmering statue of Overseer separated the two Consuls’ dwellings. They walked beyond it, to the third untraveled corridor. 

 

“Sir?” Daxia’s voice was suddenly timid. 

 

Still in shock trying to make sense of what he had just learned, Sicarius grunted in acknowledgement. He let Daxia take lead and guide him in Protium’s footsteps as they traversed the would-be labyrinth of hallways in the Vigil.

 

Sicarius’s mind raced with rationalizations as to why Kathryn would have gone to his home world to chase his addled memories, and as he walked the corridors of the Vigil, no explanation made sense to him. But it didn’t matter – she was his responsibility and she was, by the very nature of where she was, in danger. 

 

As they entered a room he had never been in before, it was Daxia’s audible gasp that broke the silence.

 

“Where are we?” Her voice would have sounded nonchalant to anyone but someone who had spent any significant amount of time with her. To Sicarius, it sounded odd, and it echoed in the vast and empty room, its floors a neatly organized shimmering darkness. 

 

“Wherever you want to be.” Protium answered.

 

Her assailants had progressed from body blows and blunt force trauma to more intimate measures of pain. Over the last few hours of her insolence they had begun stripping her of her clothes and cutting into her flesh with finely sharpened blades, so much so that they had gauged out pieces of her and what she wore into strands of a bloody mess directly beneath her suspended body.

 

By timing their machinations, they disallowed her to escape into the recesses of her mind, keeping her mind aware of the pain at the forefront of her consciousness. 

 

“Van…” she managed out, “guard,” beginning to repeat the one line she could, despite their efforts to change her response.

 

The hours, perhaps days, she spent in either solitude of healing, assisted by the hands of an on-ready medic, to the excruciating torture she endured between, didn’t help her much in terms of keeping track of time. Force-fed meals, and with her own body healing her at a faster than human rate, she couldn’t will herself into the quiet place of amnesty without the direct stimulus. Her implants, fully activated, were working against her this time. They had since moved her, from Neros’s throne room to another, perhaps to keep her out of sight, but she at least knew she wasn’t outside of the palace. 

 

Kathryn’s only saving grace was the intensive training that the Dominion, no – Protium – had put her through in her years of becoming the head of the Dominion Intelligence Agency.

 

However, the Chosen of Neros Two were clearly aware of any interrogation-abating tactics and kept her at the threshold of crossing over into the euphoria of pain as a way of escaping their methods. 

 

The sick sing-song quality of Praedus’s voice plagued her mind in the short reprieves she was granted as her body went into overdrive to recuperate from the onslaught of violence against her.

 

Suddenly, two hands grabbed a clump of her hair, arching her neck up, fresh blood beginning to drip from newly separated wounds, their fledgling scabs tearing open at the force. The cough she would have had got caught in her throat, causing her eyes to water.

 

“Are there others with you?” It was a woman’s voice again.

Kathryn tried to respond with her usual response, but she was so tired and weakened that she couldn’t make her mouth form the words.

 

“Did you think that you could so easily tempt a Chosen with your whoring?” The woman’s voice was thick with contempt, and as she spoke, she lowered her face to come mere inches from Kathryn’s - a sneer seared into her expression.

 

“Using your sin to gain access? Was that your plan?” 

 

Kathryn felt a small amount of warm liquid land on her face, she had spat on her.

Whore.

She hated that word. On some planets, it didn’t exist, but on more than she’d like to admit, it was readily in use. It was a word that had been lobbed against her multiple times in her life, though when she was younger it had much more of a sting. On her home world, women were held at such a high expectation of behavior that it was impossible for any to ever reach. Even as her society had begun to crumble from crippling economic devastation and overpopulation, the woes were placed on the shoulders of women who held less rights and opportunity to make changes. Many women had turned to whoring to survive, as even at the lowest depths of human suffering, men were still driven by their biological imperative to rut like animals. For some women, it was their only option. For others, it was a chosen field to exploit the weakness of man. 

 

Opening her eyes wide and in defiance, Kathryn got a good look at the woman trying to rip her hair out. She was broad, without any feminine trappings. Ashy blonde hair, colder and waxen compared to Kathryn’s own warm blonde locks, was pulled back into a tight, unforgiving bun at the back of her head. Pinched features and dull brown eyes narrowed aggressively at the battered would-be spy. Kathryn had dealt with women like this her whole life. Dowdy and unattractive, they harbored deep rooted hate for women they deemed had it easier due to their looks. They failed to see that the two were inherently interconnected – that the judgement of unattractiveness was the same as to what gave those with subjectively better features a leg up. Each side of the spectrum came with its own poison. And it was only ever men that benefitted from that sickness. 

 

Kathryn smiled, sweat and blood not taking away from her natural beauty as that smile melted into a sadistic grin, “Just because he doesn’t want to fuck you doesn’t make me whore.” She started to chuckle. 

 

A thick, blunt object hit the back of her head, the searing pain causing her to thrash in her restraints, as if the movement would dissipate throughout her whole body instead of just her skull. The force of the blow caused her tunnel vision and stars to appear in her eyes. Small, beautifully colored streaks of light danced across her field of vision and the sound in the room was replaced by the rushing of the blood in her ears. The blow opened a volley of attacks, emotionally driven and unstable, from the interrogating woman as she raged against her captive.

 

“Sin! How DARE you speak of such things of a Chosen!” Kathryn’s ears began to ring with a violent, open-palmed slap across her already bruised face that punctuated the accusation. 

 

“Only cropper trash debase themselves with carnal desire!” This time she felt a solid, armored boot hit her in her gut, aptly hitting her lower abdomen.

 

“You Carnal WHORE!” And as she heard the scream, followed by a rush of steps and male voiced objections, she knew her tactic had worked. This was unregulated abuse and she welcomed the push beyond her limits. She sought the sweet release.

 

“Ladari, STOP!” Both Jaus and Praedus said in unison, to no avail, as a final hard blow to her abdomen jerked Kathryn hard enough to lift her momentarily from the bounds of gravity. Her restraints suddenly feeling light, the pressure on her joints and muscles releasing a potent cocktail of endorphins, hormones, and serotonin into her flimsy frame.

 

It was strange, watching her body succumb once more to the force of gravity, crashing against the restraints, Kathryn watched the meat of her flesh tear again as her weight displaced her. It was stranger still, seeing the room from a vantage point her mind had created for herself from all the sensory information she had consciously ignored. There were still dark spots, like the area directly behind her hanging form, but generally, she had a good assessment of this room. 

 

It was roughly twenty feet by twenty feet, and with all the fashioned chairs lining the wall, it appeared to be some form of a waiting room. Perhaps a room where the people sat in interim to being called to the Neros’s throne room. The ceilings, while high, were not as vaulted as main Pyre pillars. The walls were decorated with elegant embroideries of landscapes, and even the furnishings looked elaborately designed with what she assumed were hand carved trim and golden latches and hinges. 

 

Kathryn thought it odd that they’d choose this room to carry out their bloody interrogation. Maybe they liked the juxtaposition. The group, except for Jaus, seemed to really enjoy themselves. She could hardly blame them – from what she gathered by their verbal attacks, the Chosen were not only plucked from obscurity from a young age and trained into this life relentlessly for years, they also seemed to be virginal. Violence was often the go-to replacement for sexual frustration. Sometimes they even went hand in hand. 

 

Unlike her last, recent excursion into pain management, the stakes were much higher this time and beyond just numbing herself, she actively engaged in an out-of-body method. She dissociated herself completely from her tortured flesh and bone.

 

The men and women in the room become inconsequential, decorative in nature, and part of the furniture. Kathryn’s entire focus was, paradoxically, on herself.

“You really are just a little girl, aren’t you?” She was bent over, judging herself, her hands resting on her knees, as if her mind’s eye followed the laws of physics. Looking into the dazed and glassy eyed body, she wasn’t expecting an answer.

 

Not anymore than you.

Taken aback by the response, Kathryn’s consciousness stepped, literally, back. But there was no light behind those eyes…she was the light that should be there. Who was talking to her?

 

“Maybe my implant has gone haywire…”

 

Does it sound like a technical issue?

She watched in horror as her physical body began to contort in pain with bone-breaking methods from her captors. Suddenly, the identity of the intruder into her consciousness didn’t matter.

 

“I’m going to die, aren’t I?”

No. We are going to exist for a very long time. 

 

“What, so now a part of my mind is psychic?”

 

I am not a part of your mind.

 

“I’m projecting myself out of my body, so unless I’ve discovered the first telepath the Dominion has run across…”

 

I am you.

 

“Eh?”

The you that you forget, every time you Jump.

 

“Oh fuck.”

One of Kathryn’s worst fears was Dimensional Derangement. Nervous about making the Jump alone, she had no idea what the side effects of bearing that burden would have on her.

Now she could report one. Assuming she survived. 

 

Does the promise of madness and immortality scare you? Maybe you really are a child…

 

“I’m not scared.” She lied. 

 

She could feel the presence’s disbelief.

 

You can’t lie to me, but it doesn’t matter. None of this matters. None of this matters because none of this means anything to you.

 

“My life means quite a lot to me…” Kathryn countered with herself.

 

If your existence mattered to you, you wouldn’t have risked it coming here.

“That’s fairly black and white…me.” She had no idea how to address herself.

 

Call me Red. 

 

“Cute, my favorite color.”

 

It suits us.

 

“Very well, Red,” Kathryn stepped back from her body, wincing involuntarily as a would-be final violent blow made contact with the trunk of her, the restraints rattling against themselves. She was thankful she couldn’t feel anything right now. Observing the room, she saw the same doctor come in who had helped her days before, keeping her just alive enough to restart the cycle of interrogation. 

 

As she watched the Chosen exit the room, allowing for the ministrations of their healer, she felt Red inch closer to her, the warmth of her making her mind tingle.

 

In her mind’s eye, time passed quickly as Red’s voice invaded her thoughts. 

 

Aren’t you tired of the struggle? It was like two gentle hands came down and rested on her shoulders as the thoughts teased the corners of her mind.

 

You’ve been in a constant battle throughout your life, wasted and stagnant in their limited expectations, and their own self-indulgence. 

 

Kathryn listened, watching as her body was mended to a tolerable level.   

 

This…It was clear Red was referencing the torture, This is nothing compared to what you’ve already endured at the hands of those in power. 

 

Kathryn resisted, “But I used to be in power.”

 

But were you? 

The question made her stiffen. 

 

Weren’t you always just at the beck and call of yet...another man?

 

Kathryn looked around her suddenly, as if she’d be able to see this penetrating voice invading her mind’s space.

 

Even before the Dominion.

 

“Lies.”

I AM you, Kathryn. I know the truth. 

 

An out-of-body experience is to be eerie, and odd, but this was giving her a level of discomfort she had never been warned about. 

 

How many men did you have to contend with and satisfy before you had scraped out any semblance of control for yourself, back on Theta-Seven?

 

Kathryn couldn’t help but listen. She couldn’t shut out the voice.

 

How many times did you defer your thoughts to get by, to make it easier on yourself? How many times did you bite your tongue because otherwise you’d jeopardize whatever current arrangement you had?

 

“STOP.” Kathryn shook her head, the ethereal strands moving around her slowly, ghost-like and airy.  

 

If you can’t be honest with yourself, little girl, who can you be honest with? 

“I did those things because I knew I could control those people.”

Did you? Or is that what you keep telling yourself?

“I had to SURVIVE.”


So it wasn’t really a choice then, was it?

 

Kathryn had no response to that. Her eyes began to well up at the brutal honesty she was being subjected to – a much more torturous experience than anything the Chosen could inflict upon her.

 

You hate the word whore so much because you were one. 

 

“ENOUGH!!!” Kathryn mentally screamed at herself. A mental cry so loud that she felt it ripple through her physical body as a shudder before her corporeal body went limp again with unconsciousness. 

 

“I think she’s waking up again.” A voice penetrated the silence she had cast for herself in the room. 

 

They were back. 

 

“Has the little carnal vice decided to rejoin us?” Yet another voice chimed in, tsking at her like a dog.

 

“Carnal…” it sounded like yet a third voice, but by her vantage point, she couldn’t see the figures behind her own prostrated form hanging precariously in tatters.

 

“Chosen are taught to face the temptations of the world…perhaps we should really face your sin.”

Heavy, thudding footsteps came closer to her body, the sound of metal being unsheathed a noise that burrows into the ear and stays there long after the fact. She watched, as her clothes, her paltry disguise she had used on this planet, were stripped away, made into tatters and pulled from her. 

 

Never one to be humiliated by her naked form, Kathryn examined herself through the ripped and torn clothing precariously draped across her body, exposing more of her than covering. 

 

Her tender and soft skin, free of blemish and scarring, would bear new markings after this experience. Her normally supple and inviting flesh was laid to ruin in dark contusions, multiple sloppy lacerations, burnt edges, and general misuse. 

 

But she couldn’t help but smile. In place of the pain receptors were a deluge of feel-good chemicals ravaging her body in a bid for self-preservation. She knew that with each further excess of pain, she would feel better, and better. She almost welcomed it.

 

Even now, you’re still at the will of men.

 

Red was back, insidiously invading her mind.

 

You can’t even get yourself off without a man dictating the terms.

 

“I’m surviving.”

Again, with the excuses. All you do is make excuses for yourself, and for them. These bastards have done nothing but complicate and control your life.

 

Her thoughts couldn’t help but start to catalogue her words, finding examples to substantiate Red’s claims. 

 

Your father, your clients, Overseer, Protium, Orthus, Sicarius, and now Jaus and his little party of sick fucks. 

 

She wasn’t wrong.

 

Aren’t you tired of listening to them prattle on and on about what they want? Aren’t you tired of them only valuing you based on what you can do for them? Aren’t you just fucking tired?

 

And Kathryn was tired. She was tired of the adrenaline-driven existence she had come to expect from her lifestyle – in or out of the Vanguard. Her entire life to this point had been, in some capacity, in service to others. She may have claimed a certain amount of indulgence along the way, but ultimately, the purpose of her day, her mission, it was all about someone else. Not in some bullshit altruistic way, but in a way that Red made sure she felt to the core of her being.

 

Kathryn once again felt the warmth of Red’s words and touch on her ethereal presence.

 

“But…” her mind began to rationalize once more, “These have all been my choices…”

You can’t lie to me, Kathryn. Remember, I am you.

 

She knew the words were a lie before she even thought them. None of this had been her choice. Not really. Her entire life had been her desperately clinging to the illusion of control, convincing both herself and others that she was sincere. She was a flimsy lean-to raft in a crazed torrent of actual choice and conviction of men who dictated her life. 

 

Even now, she wasn’t seeking Neros because it was something she wanted to do. She was seeking Deltria as proof of Neros to gain favor with Overseer, something that Sicarius’s lowly treatment of her had driven her to. She was a cavalcade of reaction. 

 

Her attempt at trying to escape the pain of her torture had brought her face to face with her own self-inflicted abuse. She would find no reprieve here, as the deceptively comforting arms of Red wrapped around her, cooing at her in her mind.

 

All is not lost, Kathryn…I can help us.

Emotionally and mentally, Kathryn was exhausted and pushed to her limit. The frayed edges of her mind licked and played with fresh wounds. Her ethereal form was curled into a ball, hiding her face in the crook of her arms, her knees brought up to support her. Her body, still splayed and bare for the entertainment of others did its best to stay together, trying not to allow for the injuries to bring the house of cards down.

 

Praedus knelt, the brilliance of the white of his uniform soaking up her aged and fresh blood readily as his knees touched the floor beneath her.

“An individual without a name, is an individual defined by his or her actions.” He said.

A rough hand traced over her bare shoulder, sweeping away the fragments of her disguise that kept her arm hidden, “And you…you are without a name.” The touch of his hand turned into a lurid caress as he spoke.

 

Kathryn had always felt in control of her own sexuality, she had always made the choice to use it, enjoy it, employ it. 

 

This was not her choice. 

 

“To define…” the hand crept to her neck, languishing at the center of her collar bone before drifting lower still, “You…such a beautiful and knowing temptress…”

 

Tell him your name, pet.

 

“You are your sin, lust and carnal, complete…” His breath made her clench her swollen eyes tighter.

 

Tell him your name…

“What should we call you, then?” Praedus sounded as if he were taking a poll from his compatriots, “Harlot? No, that’s far too common for someone like you.”

His thumb began to brush back and forth across the pout of her lips.

“Wanton Temptress?” A male voice offered. She thought it was Jaus.

 

“Carnal Temptress,” the unnamed fourth Chosen offered, though in question. 

 

“Carnal Sin. A fitting name for a whore.” This time it was Ladari, the woman, who finished the thought.

 

Despite keeping herself as disconnected to her body as she could, it was clear that during the time the doctor had been sent in and now, the group had been drinking. Her anger became tangible at the moment his entitled mouth touched hers. 

 

“Kathryn. My name is Kathryn…”

Tell HIM.

 

As she tried to open her mouth to object to the label, her body gave out, succumbing to the outside pressure, forcing her consciousness once more to the ethereal. 

 

Once again, you are dictated to by the men in your life.

 

Kathryn began to shrink into herself, letting Red envelope her, to dominate her.  

 

Aren’t you just fucking tired of it?

 

“Yes.”

karnalconfessions_7_2sm.jpg

Red wooing Kathryn's mind during an out of body experience during

her interrogation, looking over their corporeal form. 

 
Karnal Confessions