THE WORKS OF MAN
“All the works of man have their origin in creative fantasy. What right have we then to depreciate imagination.”
Art: Linda Sejic
Kathryn and Sicarius embracing
It wasn’t long before the entire arm of the Dominion, known as the Legion, was amassed on the rolling hills of Auxidian. The sea of Greys moved as one, their black armor glimmering in the oppressive sunshine coming from the two stars beating down on them. Continuously and seamlessly appearing from their Jumps, the Legion made room for the next regiment upon landing. While there was no need for transports, the Dominion did bring armaments and weapons as a show of force – massive carriers of weaponry, far advanced to most of the known multi-verse, were poised for action. A force reaching the hundreds of thousands – armed, ready, and at the command of one man.
Overseer, never having made a fully-fleshed appearance to his troops, came as a shock to anyone near him. They recognized him – or at least a facsimile of him – but the ominous, pupil-less eyes of their Lord and Master was something no one, save for the three Consuls, had ever seen. He was both human and unhuman – truly encapsulating the appearance of a God.
Manifesting himself onto the Deltria gauntlets, he had willed his way into this form from the fourth dimension, securing his armor and thus anchoring himself to the third plane of existence.
His second in command, Orthus, the General to his Legion, bowed respectfully to him, the tips of his white cape folding at the weight of the material as its wearer paid deference. Several subordinates followed suit once they gained their composure at the awe of seeing their sovereign ruler.
“Where is she?” Overseer demanded.
“My Lord,” Orthus was visibly uncomfortable, but kept his posture straight, “her signal is inconsistent. I think perhaps Protium’s tracing tech is limited here…” he continued.
Overseer had no time for Orthus passing the buck of responsibility onto a man who wasn’t even here to defend himself, cutting Orthus off, he compelled him, “Explain.”
Pulling off his own screen-up device, Orthus flipped it around so he could demonstrate his frustration to his Master, “The readings have been erratic. Without a proper topography and map of the planet, which we’re working on, I can only deign her direction when her signal decides to show up.” He scrolled through the previous logs of Kathryn’s short appearances on the tech, “She’s not moving, but that could mean…”
Overseer grabbed the Screen-up display and placed it on his head, a steely glare of glowing white eyes narrowed at General. What he knew of the timeline had not revealed her death to him, but the knowledge of the fourth dimension wasn’t clear, even to him.
“Pray she remains alive.” He warned.
A small beep and flash of flight caught the overlord’s attention, and just as quickly, the signal was gone.
Furrowing his brow, he spoke quietly but firmly, “Keep the Legion ready, do not engage with the natives unless a cultural envoy is present. Wait for my word.”
Casting his eyes to the direction that the signal had come from, Overseer began to walk, steadily, with purpose, “I will retrieve her myself.”
Kathryn’s mind was lost to the pain and illusions of healing as her body battled the injuries sustained over the course of the last week of torture.
She no longer knew what was reality as her consciousness descended rapidly into itself. She heard a myriad of voices, all speaking at once, and she struggled to keep up with her responses.
Crying out as a wave of agony washed over her, one of the voices came closer, whispering gently, “It’s okay. You’re safe…”
In her addled mind, she thought she recognized the voice, “Where am I?”
She didn’t dare try to open her eyes, fearing what she would see, and the simple ache of forcing her lids open seemed a daunting task.
“You’re safe,” there was a hesitation in the voice, “Just rest, Kathryn.”
She could do nothing but acquiesce.
With no sense of time passing, Kathryn existed in the trap of her own pain. In the thick of the darkness of her mind, she couldn’t tell who she was talking to – herself, Red, or the countless voices chiming in.
A gentle, low rumbling voice stayed persistent in the cacophony of her mind.
“…I know this smells awful, but I promise you it’ll save your life…”
She couldn’t tell if the voice was actually addressing her or not, as her mind desperately attempted to place the voice to someone she recognized.
“Overseer…” she whispered into the void.
As she said his name, she could have sworn she saw him. His dark and ruddy skin in stark contrast to the brilliance of his fiery white eyes. She had always relished losing herself in those eyes – as if they were windows into the eternity of the universe.
“What are you doing here?” She asked.
I couldn’t let you go, my Kathryn.
She thought she felt him touch her as he spoke. The pressure of the touch sending shockwaves of pain through her flesh.
“Try not to speak.”
As always with him, she did as she was told. Breathing just a little easier.
She felt like she was thrashing, the pressure of the ropes on her hands pulling at the sinews of her muscles.
A reassuring hand rested on her shoulder, easing her back into a momentary lull of pseudo-unconsciousness.
“What are you doing here?” she asked again, as she drifted into the darkness.
“I would have come to the aid of any of my Vanguard.”
Suddenly, the mental image she had shielded behind her tear-crusted lids, was no longer of the chiseled and stern face of Overseer, but that of Sicarius. White fire melted into large brown, golden flecked eyes, long, onyx hair receded to short cropped brown locks.
“You are my responsibility, Kathryn,” the voice further explained.
“You shouldn’t have come…” she managed out, just as another swell of torment crashed into her.
I’ll always come for you, my Kathryn.
It was Overseer’s voice she heard this time.
“Overseer?” she asked.
“It’s just us.” Sicarius’s voice sounded matter-of-fact, and unmoved, “Though, I imagine with your absence and my flagrant breaking of the law…the Dominion will be here sooner rather than later.”
Floating on the precipice of awareness, Kathryn persisted, “the Dominion won’t come after me…”
She thought she’d laugh, but coughed instead, her throat dry from lack of use, “You…you shouldn’t have come after me…”
“But I did.”
“Are you upset?” She had no way of knowing if she said those words out loud or not, as Sicarius continued his train of thought.
“Kathryn, your actions brought me here, and will eventually bring the Dominion here…”
In her mind’s eye she once again saw the face of Overseer, the face of the Dominion.
“By coming, you bring validity to my peoples’ plight. You validate my claims. Whether the Dominion comes tomorrow, or years from now, it will be sooner than what was intended.”
She thought of all she had done to get here, only to fail. She was, even in failure, part of his peoples’ plight, “I killed…”
“I know.” He cut her off, just as she buckled to the pressure of sleep.
“I’m the plight…”
Kathryn’s mind swam wildly in the darkness behind her eyelids. She, battered from the torture she lived through, felt like she had endured back-to-back Jumps.
She felt shattered.
“Shhhh” she heard the soft voice in the darkness.
“I have you, Kathryn. Try not to move.”
Opening her eyes was a struggle, her lids felt like heavy weights on her face, but she pushed against the pain. Her lashes, crusted over from dried tears, cracked open as she laid there.
A cool cloth stroked the side of her face, and then across the heat of her forehead.
“It’s me…” the voice paused, “…Sicarius.”
With her eyes finally focusing despite the lack of light, she managed to turn her head slightly to see her commanding officer.
His face was lit from a distant flame, crackling somewhere in the damp place they were in; his tanned skin, darker and smoky in the warm glow. An overwhelming silence jarred against the random pops of wood breaking in the heat of the fire. Poorly lit, she couldn’t quite make out his facial expression.
Her lips, dried and split in many places, opened to speak, “Where are we?””
“In my old home,” his voice was gentle, rolling with the silence rather than fighting it, “No one can find us here.” He moved the cool, damp rag to the other side of her face, soothing against the searing temperature of her flesh.
Her own eyes, darkened to a deep azure, searched what she could around his home. Smooth stone walls arched with irregularity, and they shimmered in the dim glow of the fire.
They were in a cave.
She tried to speak again, but he stopped her, “No, you need to rest. You’ve been through a lot.”
Ever defiant, she shifted, trying to lift herself off the foliage-filled bedding she laid upon.
His hands pressed gently on her bare shoulders, “No, Kathryn, please.”
The tone in his voice was something she wasn’t used to – instead of commanding, it was pleading with her. It was then that she had a decent look at his face. A large gash, covered in ointment, crossed from above his right eyebrow to his cheekbone, the eye butchered into obsolescence.
“Your eye…” she had always enjoyed his eyes. Large, though almost always scowling, were naturally warm and flecked with amber on the edges on the dark brown. Like a hazel pattern, but golden.
He was with but one now.
“I’ll be fine. When we get home, I’ll talk to the Medici about a replacement.”
She yielded, her body aching from her attempt.
“How…how did you find me?”
“Protium told me.”
He pulled a ragged sheet up, covering her. It was then she realized she was nearly naked.
“Where are my clothes?”
“I had to dress your wounds. I’m sorry.”
She wasn’t upset. Less concerned with her state of undress, she was taken aback by the soft way he was treating her.
Not breaking his gaze, she looked at him, matching the intensity he was giving.
Staring at one another, the only sound was the irregular crackling of the fire near them, the light of which flickered across their faces, sculpting their features in soft lighting, only for that definition to vanish into the darkness that surrounded them.
It was his newly found gentle voice that finally broke the silence, “Get some rest, Kathryn.” The smile in his voice was comforting to her, and his warm hand on her cheek ushered her into sleep. The foggy allure of slumber overcoming her desire to stay awake.
The smell of food woke her some time later, but the darkness was still thick in the cave that Sicarius once called home.
“Sicarius…” she spoke, breathily into the void.
“I’m here.” His voice was assured, confident, and soothing.
“What’s…that smell?” her throat was dry, and she struggled to lift herself, propping her battered body up on her elbows, the plant life serving as her bedding, pressing into her tender flesh without mercy.
“Dinner. Are you hungry?” Moving from the hearth of the fire, he shifted himself to her in the cavern, coming to her side, a field ration cup in his hand.
Holding it to her mouth, he let her drink at her own pace. She made a small noise of affirmation when she was done, and he put the cup down, resting his hand on her forehead for a moment.
She didn’t say anything, still taken aback from his gentle touch.
“Your fever is still there. But the antibiotics should flush your system out soon.”
“How bad is it?”
“I’m sure it feels a lot worse than it is, Kathryn.” He smiled at her again, but she could tell he was lying for her sake. The fire was brighter than it was before and showed him better to her. Still in his Greys, he had removed the amour modules adorning the uniform. His hair was unkempt, and while his face was relatively clean, it was clear he had been working, foraging, and rummaging without changing his clothes.
“You’re filthy, sir…” Kathryn managed out, half a smile on her face.
His smile split into a grin, “Taking care of you is a lot more effort than you’d think.”
She started to laugh, before the pain of her injuries stopped her.
Sicarius moved closer towards her, holding her weight so she wouldn’t fall back onto the bedding that barely cushioned her from the hard rock surface of the cave.
He held her in his arms, her aching body relishing the support. She could feel the warmth of his body through the fabric of the Greys and it felt nice, the solidness of him keeping her grounded. His hands, unsheathed from gloves, allowed his thumbs to stroke her bare skin soothingly as he held her.
She felt safe.
This close to him, she couldn’t stop herself from nuzzling him, the smell of him comforting her more than she’d like to admit. Not surrounded by strangers intent on killing her, Sicarius was more than security. He was a friend, and his tenderness now was a much-needed reprieve from the brutality she had endured.
“Kathryn…” he spoke her name in a whisper of an exhale, barely audible.
“Yes?” She replied, just as breathlessly.
Thank you? She had no idea why he was thanking her. She stiffened a little from his words, but he kept on cradling her.
“I know what kind of risk you took coming here.”
She looked up at him, the memory of her last week here on his home world rushing back to her in waves of punishment.
Kathryn had come to his home planet intent on finding a Deltria device to show proof of another fourth dimensional being. She had worked tirelessly for that goal – cheating, stealing, and killing without remorse for her own ends. Why in the world would he be thanking her?
Arching her neck, she looked up at him, seeing his chiseled jaw from below as he bent his head down to look to meet her eyes. He had stubble, the growth of his facial hair made him look almost rakish in the dim lighting, but the genuine look in his eye denied him that.
They didn’t speak. She had no idea what to say to him. She had no idea if he knew all she had done while she was here on his planet, wreaking havoc. His gaze searched her face.
And suddenly she remembered that look. It was the same look he gave her when he…saved her.
Her eyes began to water as the memories came back.
At her breaking point, chained and bound in a room in the Pyre, she had finally descended into what she thought was her own personal madness.
One minute she was restrained.
The next minute she was standing on her own feet, her body electrified with adrenaline and energy, destroyed, smoldering bodies around her.
Sicarius had been standing in front of her, with the same look on his face.
As she began to collapse onto that filthy, blood covered floor – her own blood – he rushed to her and caught her crumpled body in his arms.
And here he was again, giving her that same look, holding her just as tenderly.
“You saved me…” she said, dreamily, remembering bits and pieces from the days before of how she escaped the Pyre.
With the realization that he had come to her, from another dimension, another planet, breaking his bonds of duty, her body began to shake. She couldn’t understand why he would come after her, she had always thought she was nothing more than a responsibility for him, a burden.
Tears began to stream down her flushed cheeks in earnest.
“Don’t cry, Kathryn…” he shifted his hold on her, using his left hand to wipe her tears from her face, “Please don’t cry.”
But she couldn’t help it. The tears were freely flowing now, the memories of the pain and injustice she had experienced in the Pyre triggering the deluge. She was mourning for herself, but also, she was crying for joyful thankfulness to be out of it. Sicarius’s arms tightened around her – it was a confusing combination of relief and sadness. It was as if everything she had held in, for years, all the slights, the humiliation, they all overflowed now.
“Why…why did you come for me?” She asked, her voice quivering between the sobs.
His hand lifted her chin to look at him, his thumb wiping ever more tears away.
Sicarcius said nothing, just looked at her with his amber colored eye, rimmed with even darker lashes that lowered as he lowered his face to hers.
Touching his lips to her, she lost her breath as he breathed her in, the softness of his touch in stark contrast to the roughness of her own mouth.
She wanted to object. Her mind told her to stop, but she found herself welcoming his advance, and she melted into the kiss, defying the aches in her body as she lifted herself to meet him. His hands gripped around her securely as they embraced one another, their kiss deepening as they laid themselves bare in this moment of truth. No pretense. No trappings.
Instances like these were the one allowance in which Kathryn found herself slowing down. Her mind wouldn’t think – she just experienced. She would lose herself in the moment. Weeks, months of tension between the two seemed to crescendo, bringing them both to a peak of irrational presence. She had always assumed the worst of him – that he was some mindless drone in the machine of the Dominion, and her personal punishment. It never once crossed her mind that he could have been sincere. Men weren’t to be trusted. They lied, they played games, they were tools to be manipulated, they weren’t…genuine.
He had saved her once before – from Orthus’s wrath – and he took her in to protect her. And he had saved her again, from the ravages of his home world and the torture of Neros’s men. She risked only herself by coming here, for her own selfish gain. He risked everything he believed in by coming after her.
Moving together, they matched each other, seemingly coordinated, as their lips synched in a slow and purposeful duet, their mouths caressing one another. His breathing picked up in pace and she felt the softness of his tongue press tentatively against the crease of her lips, seeking refuge. Sighing softly, Kathryn opened to him, their tongues beginning to dance together.
She could taste him. Smell him. Feel him. As she breathed him in, she could smell the natural musk of his body and it heightened all her senses. His aroma seemed to come to her in waves as her breathing became more ragged, as if it pulsated with the beating his heart, a strong throb in his chest she could now feel against her own breast. A rush of adrenaline and pain-numbing hormones finally released into her, a euphoric urgency pushing her on, and she was able to respond to him as she wanted to.
Her hands lifted, racing across the expanse of his shoulders, trailing up his thick, chorded neck, only to run her long, tapered fingers through his coarse, short brown hair, gripping at the peak of his scalp, pulling him closer. His right arm, flexed and tensed from holding her weight, didn’t strain from the added pressure. He happily obliged, paralleling his body against hers, the form fitting uniform covering him contouring her body suggestively and with ease. His left hand raked down the side of her body, taking the flimsy sheet covering her naked flesh with it. Stopping and cupping her backside to lift her even closer to him, he molded her to his solid frame.
Still holding her up, their bodies began to react to each other outside of their control as the heat of them intermingled. She could feel him then, hungry and wanting, and she felt the pang of desire deep in the pit of her stomach too. All thought having escaped her, completely disregarding both of their wounds and injuries, Kathryn’s hands nimbly began to go for his Grey’s clasps. She wanted – needed – to feel his flesh against hers.
Kathryn and Sicarius finding comfort in each other .
Suddenly, his hand was on hers, interrupting her attempts at releasing the binds near his shoulder.
“Kathryn…” he spoke through rough breathing.
“What?” She asked, still trying to get at his uniform.
“You need to rest…”
A crease between her eyebrows formed and she pulled back looking at him, “No I don’t.”
He smiled at her, lopsided, but still sweet, “I can wait.”
“I want you, by the Gods, I want you, but you need rest.”
He pressed his forehead against hers, his flesh warm, alive, and damp from their brief encounter.
“What I want to do…I don’t want to hurt you,” he explained.
Her head, dizzy with desire, began to throb as the overload of her body’s chemicals collided inside her broken frame. She relaxed in his arms, letting him support her.
“I think…” she said, her mind seeking the release through sleep once more, “I think you might be right…”
He kissed her again, much more chastely, “I’ll get you something to eat.” And with that, he laid her back down on the stone, trying to control his breathing and calm himself down.
“You never answered me, Sicarius…” she whispered as her eyes began to close.
Kathryn tried to stay awake, but she was already drifting into oblivion.
She thought she heard him say something in response, but she was already passed out.
…because I love you…
The next time Kathryn awoke she started to feel like herself, albeit groggy and still in a considerable amount of pain. Shifting up, she grabbed the flimsy sheet of fabric draping her as she lifted herself, pressing her back into the wall behind her.
The fire that barely lit the cave they were in was starting to go out, and as she squinted her eyes, she couldn’t see Sicarius.
Off in the near distance, she heard a rock scraping against itself, and then footsteps.
Sicarius dragged the carcass of an animal behind him, and Kathryn was thankful for the smell of burning wood and rumbling stew affixed on top of it. If she could go a year without the smell of death and blood, she’d be thrilled.
“You’re awake…” Sicarius smiled at her. He had since washed up from the last time she was conscious, but his olive colored skin was still dark against the flash of white from his smile.
Kathryn couldn’t help but feel awkward as she remembered the last time she saw him – the memory of their embrace stirring a fire in the pit of her stomach outshining the one in the cave.
“I’m hungry,” she managed out, wiping her face with a loose end of the drapery around her.
“There’s plenty of stew left, and I can make some more,” he gestured to the dead animal he had brought into their shelter.
Dropping the remains of his kill, he walked towards the fire and a finely made porcelain bowl by its side. Pouring the contents of the pot into the vessel, he ushered it to her, cupping the white ceramic container with both hands.
Smiling meekly, she took his offering, and blowing on the hot liquid, took a long drink of the broth, forgoing any attempt at solid food for the moment. The warmth of the soup worked its way through her body, warming her better than any fire internally or externally, and her stomach groaned awake, eager to intake the energy.
Involuntarily gasping at the end of her drinking, she breathed easier. They sat in silence for a minute, as Sicarius watched Kathryn take in the food, drink by drink.
“Good?” He finally broke the stillness.
She was able to muster a smile at him, “I’ve had better.”
He chuckled then, a sound of mirth she was unaccustomed to hearing from him. But they were once again in silence.
Pressing herself up against the wall, defensively, she held the cup of broth in her hands. It was warm without burning her and felt amazing against the general coolness of the cave. She averted her eyes from his gaze, as he wouldn’t stop looking at her.
“So…you used to live here?” She managed to ask, breaking the silence.
“Oh, aye,” he responded. She noticed his use of the affirmation, something that was common amongst the natives of his planet – and something he had never said before.
Sicarius moved to the dead animal at the far side of the cave as he spoke, “My sister, mother, father, and myself.”
He pointed to a dark corner of the room, “My sister would sleep over there, and you’re on what used to be my bed, of sorts.”
“You’ve mentioned your sister before.”
She saw his lips press and narrow on his face before he spoke again, “Saykah was a few years younger than me.” He had begun to skin the beast in his hand.
“Pretty name,” Kathryn said aloud, more as an aside, letting him continue to fill the void of quiet with his memories.
“We hid out here for a couple of years, successfully.” He drifted into silence, forcing Kathryn’s desire to move past their intimacy to change the subject.
“Speaking of which,” she coughed out, taking another drink of the broth in her hands, “We should figure out how to get some Deltria to open a portal back to Protium.”
“You have a long way to go before you're capable of moving. Don’t worry. We have access to clean water and I know how to hunt these lands. My father taught me.” He accentuated his point by ripping off a large portion of fur covered flesh he had been working off the meat. “If the capital is the only place where Deltria is located, it’s going to be a bit of a fight getting access to enough to Jump.”
Kathryn sighed, tilting her head back against the cool and smooth surface of the wall, her eyes looking up into the dark abyss of the cave, “Well...”
Sicarius interrupted her, “The thickness of the cave allows for us to bypass detection. And I’m not even sure if the new regime allows for that kind of technology to their guardians.”
“Chosen,” she corrected him.
“Chosen? Chosen for what?”
“To serve Neros, I suppose.” She shrugged, still looking up at the blackened ceiling.
Sicarius grunted at the notion, “And I suppose Neros is…”
Kathryn shook her head, looking at him as he tore off another chunk of flesh from the carcass, “Your white-eyed monster, I think.”
Sicarius didn’t respond immediately, methodically cutting into and ripping their bounty in preparation.
She took this moment to watch him – this commander of the Dominion, putting to use survival skills she’s sure he never thought he’d have to resurrect again. While the Vanguard were used to roughing it, the Dominion itself offered convenience and creature comforts that until he joined, she was sure he had never experienced on this simple planet of subsistence.
His hands moved with purpose and training, and it somehow looked natural on him. While she could have figured out how to survive on her own in the wilderness, Kathryn was no woodsman, and her background, unlike Sicarius’s, came with a completely different subset of survival readiness. On her home world, she knew how to charm her way into positions of influence, on a control of information which allowed her to move amongst the throngs of suffering and starving people to live a semblance of comfort. She knew how to raise her favor within the ranks of the Dominion to garner more prestige and power. She could navigate a city, a political maelstrom, she knew how to run a business and to get people to do what she wanted them to do. She did not, however, know how to skin a kill.
“How did it all get so complicated?”
“Hmmm?” Sicarius didn’t look up from his task.
She hesitated, not realizing she had said her somewhat rhetorical question out loud, but decided to continue the train of thought, “Living here, while I know under duress…well, you were young, and with your family. It must have been nice some of the time, right?”
Sicarius smirked, pausing his machinations to look up at her, “Aye, Saykah and I used to have a great time playing in here. We’d been able to move much of our personal items into here over time, so we had toys and the like.”
Kathryn didn’t respond – she was looking at him but was caught in far off thoughts.
“We didn’t really understand the chaos happening. I suppose most kids don’t. Childhood is simple.”
“Maybe…” Kathryn breathlessly conceded, “Wouldn’t it be nice, though? To have that kind of…freedom?”
“Freedom?” Sicarius asked.
She leaned forward, taking the ragged sheet with her as she brought her knees up and she rested her arms on them, “You know, just living to live. Beholden to nobody but yourself and your family. Or even just HAVING a family? No…political intrigue, no missions, no trans-dimensional higher purposes to fulfill?”
It was obvious Sicarius wasn’t entirely comfortable with this line of questioning, shifting his balance as he placed the blade he was using onto the cold stone of the floor.
Kathryn spurred on, “I mean, what’s stopping us?”
She smiled at him, engaging him fully with the expressiveness of both her face and voice, “No one knows we’re here, Sicarius. Why couldn’t we just stay?”
“Here?” He looked around the dark room of the cave with incredulousness, but he softened into a smile, “And what would we do?”
“Well,” Kathryn started, “I’d start with taking over the cooking. I swear your palette is as dull as the walls of this place.”
They shared a laugh, the first full and painless laugh she had in a while. As they spoke, she felt the seriousness of their circumstances melt away with each progressive plan of desertion.
“You think you can cook better than me?” Sicarius inquired, a tone of mock indignance in his voice.
“I’d have to make a garden…although, maybe mushrooms would be better suited given our surroundings.”
He snorted, “You can garden?”
“I can learn!”
“And in the meantime, we’d starve to death or be dulled to death by my bland cooking.”
“I’m so glad you’ve come around to my side of things!”
Turning his upper body, he grabbed the pot off the fire and added some more twigs and firewood, the light in the room gradually increasing.
As the fire grew, she got a better look around their shanty dwelling. Indeed, there were random pieces of furniture placed in the room-like structure.
“Ah, see? I wouldn’t even require you to build me a dresser.” Kathryn pointed to a sturdy piece of homey effect in what could construed as a corner.
He had walked to the trickling water off one of the far walls of the cave, rinsing the filth of his chore off his hands, “Wouldn’t you get bored?” He removed the upper part of his uniform’s lining, which was now covered in blood, and tossed it aside.
Kathryn didn’t answer him, instead exploring the question in her mind in earnest.
Sicarius moved to the foot of the outcrop of rock which served as Kathryn’s bed, resting his hand on her dainty bare foot, peeking outside of the tattered fabric covering her.
“And what then? I’d hunt. You’d cook. We’d garden?”
Her broad smile relaxed a bit, her gaze now locked and commanding his, “You’re right…” she said breathily, “…I’m not sure what we’d do with ourselves.”
His hand tentatively and slowly moved up to her ankle, the warmth of his touch exhilarating and giving her a rush of goose bumps on her cooled skin. His hand, though rough from years of battle and use was of such contrast to the smoothness and softness of her own skin.
“I think we could come up with a few hobbies…”
Sicarius inched closer to her and she didn’t move, feeling eager for him to engage her.
“I don’t have any hobbies…” Kathryn offered, no longer really paying attention the words they were exchanging. She watched him as he brought himself ever closer to her, his hand exploring higher and higher on her legs – trailing up from her ankle to her calf, encircling her knee, only to glide further up to her thigh.
She caught her breath in her throat, her lids lowered and heavy with desire.
“We could always try some things out…” Sicarius whispered to her, the glow of the fire warming his features and casting devastating shadows across his face, his gaze smoldering like the embers of the hearth, “…see what you like.”
Kathryn’s body was ready, as surges of high-inducing hormones overwhelmed her fragile frame, burying any semblance of pain she was previously feeling. She lunged the short distance between them, letting the fabric of her coverings fall to her waist, her bare skin pressed against his. He was hot to the touch, his body alive with fervor and activity and it felt sensuous and incredible on the cool dampness of her flesh.
Wrapping her arms around his neck to bring him closer, she kissed him, and he willingly obliged her. One of his hands lifted to entangle itself in the thickness of her soft blonde hair, while his other grazed the inside of her thighs –not urging, not demanding, but relishing the touch of her sensitive skin. He moved no further, despite the quiet moaning encouragement from her.
Pulling back from her hungry kiss, he offered some resistance, “Are you sure?” As soon as he was finished with the question, he continued kissing her, deepening their kiss as their mouths began to meld to one another.
It took quite a bit of effort to respond, though she answered his question with a question of her own, “Can’t we just stay here?” Her hands lightly clawed down his back, the ends of her fingernails pressing into his flesh with just the right amount of pressure to send pleasurable chills down both their spines.
“I can…” He answered, eliciting an involuntary and forceful moan from her.
Her hands slid around to wedge between them as she fussed with the fastenings of his pants. She fumbled and tore her lips away from his to turn her head downwards to look at the mechanism, “No more fighting. No more Jumps. No more Dominion.”
As she finally got the buckle-like strap to surrender to her will, they both heard a crash from further out of their shelter, as rock exploded and crumbled under a great force.
“What…” Sicarius spoke out loud, before leaping away from her, immediately drawing his blades, slipping into the shadows – ready for a fight – as Kathryn was left momentarily stunned and defenseless.
Heavy footsteps pounded against the stone flooring of the cave, the reverberations echoing and bouncing off the slick walls of their subterranean haven.
Kathryn couldn’t help but recognize the cadence of those steps, and she involuntarily took a breath in and held it.
A broad figure crossed the threshold, confirming what Kathryn already knew.
“My Lord…” she said on the exhale of her breath, as she peered up at the glowing eyes of her Supreme Ruler.
The fiery white eyes of her Lord and Master lowered to see her, and she thought she saw a small smile come across the normally stoic and stern expressed face.
His hair was pulled back into a low tie, though the dark locks still framed his face in a pleasant manner. Backlit against the brightness of the outside, he looked the formidable figure of command and assurance.
Sicarius, realizing who had interrupted their reprieve, stepped out of the shadows, deferentially bowing to his leader.
A sudden sense of guilt and impropriety came across Kathryn, as she wondered in all of Overseer’s vast cognizance and awareness, outside of space time, if he knew what had been transpiring between Sicarius and herself.
“Kathryn, my pet…” Overseer finally spoke, ignoring the obediently reverential Sicarius, his entire attention on the petite blonde woman, a half-naked mess on a bed of vegetation.
Extending a strong hand in her direction, Overseer beckoned her to him and she obliged.
Ignoring her injuries, she rose off the bedrock and floated towards him, where he at once wrapped the cloak of his cape around her and lifted her into the steady embrace of his arms.
“My poor Kathryn…” the absolute sovereign of the Dominion murmured to her, as he cradled her protectively in his arms.
Turning on his heel, he carried her out into the blinding light of the two suns of Auxidian, leaving Sicarius, kneeling and head bowed, in the stillness and darkness of the cave.
Overseer wrapping Kathryn in his cape, rescuing you from the cave.
I want to thank you all for your dedication and patience. It has been such a thrill and a wild case of nerves for me to share this long-coming story with you. I really hope you've enjoyed things so far!
There are TWO CHAPTERS left in this story-line and I wanted to do something extra special for the completion of this very personal project.
I will be compiling the entire story, including the two yet-to-be-seen chapters into one book (12 CHAPTERS! 150+ pages). It will include all current artwork, new interior art, new cover art and chapter art, the conclusion to the story, and a SNEAK PEEK into the second arc (it's been plotted, and I'm BEYOND excited to get my teeth into it!)
We have been working hard behind the scenes secretly gathering all this great stuff for you!
The book, including a myriad of amazing goodies, add-ons, and content, will be available upon the launch of the Kickstarter (currently slotted for the end of March 2019).
As we solidify our plans, we will make announcements and tease out developments, so be sure to
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST to get all the latest updates! Likewise, during the production period, we've launched:
Thank you again for your kind words and support! It means everything to me and I can't wait to give you even more!