A/N: A wow, an update in a short period of time! Well, short for the pace of these updates anyway. Aren't ya'all happy? Now you can read, review and enjoy rather quickly. I hope to have the next chapter up as well.
Thanks to all you wonderful reviewer who without this fic would not happen! You guys rule! ***waves fist in air***
And as always a special thank you to my beta-reader, ElvenRanger. You are kick-ass awesome! Thanks for putting up with my poor grammar!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chapter Nine- Nathaniel's Hideout
Alyson looked at him
helplessly, her body bloodied and broken. Her eyes were bleak and dead as she
raised her bonded in hands in a cry for help.
Jim rushed towards her and tried to pull her into his arms, tried to soothe the pain that was so clear in her eyes. But the moment he had wrapped his arms around her, Alyson disappeared.
"ALYSON!" Jim called in terror. He stood and looked wildly around for his wife. In the black void he couldn't seem to find her.
Then she was standing in front of him, still bloody and broken, but this time Nathaniel was behind her, pressing a deadly knife against her throat. Nathaniel looked at Jim calmly and perhaps a little smugly.
"You shall pay for your sins, James Hawkins. Or Alyson shall pay for your sins." With that said, Nathaniel drew the knife across Alyson's throat. Alyson's eyes rolled to the back of her head and she slumped to the floor and lay still. Nathaniel laughed and backed away, disappearing into the void.
An animal cry ripped from Jim as he lunged forward to rescue his wife. This time as he gathered her limp body into his arms, Alyson did not disappear. Instead, she stared blankly at the dark sky.
"Alyson," Jim whispered, shaking her. "Please wake up. Don't be dead. I didn't mean to get you hurt."
And Alyson did wake as he begged her to, but Jim saw she was still dead. Nothing he did would ever change that. Alyson was forevermore lost to him.
"Why, Jim?" Alyson whispered through a broken voice. "Why did you kill me? I love you. Why did you kill me?"
Jim gripped Alyson's body tighter. "I didn't kill you, Alyson. I swear I didn't. I love you. I didn't mean to hurt you."
But Alyson's dead eyes bored into his with an unforgiving light, and she whispered the word that would damn him forever. "Why?"
Jim snapped away, lunging from his bed. Cold sweat trailed down his spine and bare stomach. His vision was blurry from his tears and his body was trembling. The dream was still heavy with his mind. All he could see was Alyson, so bloody, so dead. It made him sick to picture her like that
"Alyson," Jim whispered, leaning back into his bed. "I'm sorry." It didn't matter to him that Alyson couldn't hear him; he just wanted to say the words. He could still hear her question: why?
It's all my fault she's dead, Jim thought to himself, she'd still be alive if she hadn't met me. Damn it, why!?
Underneath him, Jim could hear the movement of his ship, the Fate. It soothed him to listen to its gentle movement. He also knew sleeping a door away was Silver, and tucked safely into the desk in his room was the map to Nathaniel's hideout.
"Nathaniel." Jim growled and bared his teeth to the darkness. He'd make that bastard pay for what he did. Nathaniel was going to wish he had never been born when Jim got through with him.
Jim turned over onto his side and looked out his bay windows. They'd be there within three days. Nathaniel had at least a three day lead on them, or so Jim guessed. For three days, Jim would do nothing but think about how he was going to torture Nathaniel until he was begging for death. Even though his grief for Alyson was strong, his hatred for Nathaniel was stronger.
His hands curled into helpless fists. He'd give anything to save Alyson, but that couldn't be helped. All he could do now was avenge her.
And I will, he thought.
Alyson raised her head from her bed as she heard the lock to her door open. She sat straight up when she realized the ship had stopped moving.
We're here, Alyson thought, and her hand shot out to feel the stake in her shorts just as the door opened. She quickly removed her hand as Rough-neck entered, carrying a rope to bind her hands together again.
Alyson winced when she thought about all the pain her hands were going to have to endure, but she made sure no emotion flickered on her face. She would not allow this pirate to see her pain or any other emotion.
"We've arrived," Rough-neck said, confirming Alyson's suspicions. "And you're about to be dead. It's just too bad Cap'n gets to do it 'n' not me. I'm not so nice." Rough-neck grinned and Alyson got his meaning.
Her skin crawled as she said, "I'll haunt you from the grave." She knew her threat fell on uncaring ears when Rough-neck boomed with laughter.
"We'll see," Rough-neck said. "Come on then, time to tie you up."
Alyson stood with a stiff back and turn away from him. Rough-neck grabbed her wrists and tied them together. Alyson bit her lip as the pain shot through her. The rope was digging into the wounds on her wrists that were just now beginning to heal. But worry quickly replaced pain when she realized how close Rough-neck was to feeling the stake in her shorts.
Please God, Alyson prayed.
But then Rough-neck was done and he was removing his hands. Alyson breathed a sigh of relief, but it caught in her throat when she felt his hands brush her neck in a very intimate way. Alyson stiffed as his teeth skimmed her neck.
"If only I could have you alone for a couple o' minutes," Rough-neck said in a low voice that had Alyson closing her eyes. "I'd teach you what a real man does to a woman. Especially one like you." Then the sounds of heavy boots thudding against the floor had Rough-neck pulling away.
"Rough-neck," Nathaniel said calmly, though anger was hinting the edges of his voice. "Get in the boat. We're shoving off. I'll take Mrs. Hawkins."
Rough-neck nodded, shot Alyson a look, and walked off. Nathaniel moved towards Alyson and grabbed her shoulders. He looked into her eyes for a moment.
"He touch you?" He asked in a very calm voice, but anger glittered his eyes.
Alyson realized she could have Rough-neck killed in that instant, but she'd be damned if she told Nathaniel anything. "Bite me," was all she said.
"Listen here, Mrs. Hawkins, I have no problem with killing a woman, but touching an unwilling woman is very, very different. Rough-neck and the other members of the crew were given clear orders not to lay a hand on you," Nathaniel said, moving her towards the door. "I was raised right."
Alyson snorted. "Yeah, I can tell."
Nathaniel's eyes narrowed to slits but he said nothing as he placed a hand on the small of her back and led her away. "One day you'll regret that sharp-tongue you were born with."
Alyson gritted her teeth as the cold space-air pushed against her face. She was minutes away from weeping, but she forced herself to be strong. There was still a chance; she swore to herself, there was still a chance to escape.
Jim would escape, she told herself to boost her determination, he wouldn't sit back and wait for his death. And he wouldn't expect me to, either.
Alyson was forced into a small boat that would take them to Nathaniel's hideout planet. Alyson sat in the middle on the ship, between Rough-neck and another pirate. Their hands rested on her arms lest she try to throw herself over the boat. Nathaniel was in the front, typing rapidly on a small keyboard.
Then Alyson's eyes widened. Out of nowhere, in that vast void of space, color appeared. Blues and greens and whites. The colors of life. This was Nathaniel's hideout? This beautiful thing was where Nathaniel completed his dreadful deeds?
Gina, Alyson thought suddenly. Nathaniel must have lived here for Gina and his son. He wanted to give them color, happiness. Alyson pitied the young woman who hadn't been strong enough to protect herself and her son.
Slowly they lowered into the pretty planet. Alyson could hear the chirping of birds, see the colorful flowers and smell the fresh air. Her back stiffened and her nose crinkled. She would not let this beautiful scenery ruin her plan of escape.
The boat hit the ground with a soft thud and Alyson's body jerked just a bit. Nathaniel pulled her from the boat and placed her on her feet. As he turned to talk to one his crew mates, Alyson fingered the sharp wood in her belt buckle. It gave her hope and her decision was resolved.
Rough-neck placed a hand on her shoulder and gave her a hard push forward. Alyson smirked; she glad it was Rough-neck beside her. It would be excellent payback.
They trudged through the woods, Alyson purposely slowing them down by tripping on the roots sticking out from the ground. By the time they had gotten into the middle of the forest, everyone was growling and muttering 'kill the woman'. But Nathaniel had it in his mind to hurt Jim very badly, and it gave Alyson the protection she needed.
The whole time she was walking, Alyson worked on loosening her bonds. Luckily for her, one time when she had fallen her bonds had snagged on a branch. When Rough-neck had bent down to jerk her up off the ground, he had unwittingly cut them. Now, she had her shoulders hunched and her teeth gritted as she worked to totally break the bondage.
Finally, she felt the small snap and the ropes fell to the floor. Victory swelling in her, she pulled the wood stake out from beneath shorts and clutched it in her palm.
"Rough-neck," she said softly and the pirate turned to her. His face became one of horror as Alyson slammed her stake into his shoulder. He reached out a hand to grip his bleeding shoulder just as she turned and ran in the opposite direction. His face a mask of rage and pain, Rough-neck howled.
Nathaniel turned at the sound of his crewmember's voice and saw Alyson streak through the woods. His body was suddenly trembling with rage as Alyson disappeared into the woods. Dammit, he should've known she would do something like that!
He lunged forward and pushed Rough-neck to the ground, not even bothering to see if the pirate was all right. His hands clenched into fists as Alyson disappeared.
"AFTER HER!" Nathaniel thundered in pure hatred. For a moment, his crew looked at him in horror, for they had never seen him so angry. Then they too were running into the woods. In an angry whisper, the pirate leader said to himself, "You'll pay. Oh you'll pay."
Alyson could hear the boots of the pirates snapping branches as they ran. In a burst of speed, she quickened the pace. She looked over her shoulder and saw no pirates. Maybe they didn't know where she was.
It was a hope, even if a small one.
Her lungs burning, her heart pounding, Alyson found herself running towards a lake. She wasn't sure where she was going to hide. All she knew is she would wait for night fall and then try to take the boat back up to the ship to send out a SOS.
Suddenly, the trees ended and the water began. If Alyson hadn't been so busy trying to escape from Nathaniel she would've been moved by the great beauty of the lake she was standing at.
The lake itself was huge and crystal blue. A wind blew off from it and caressed Alyson's sweaty forehead. It was a relief. She moved towards it and crouched to her knees. With shaking hands she scooped up the water and pressed it to her mouth, not caring about diseases and bacteria. She hadn't realized until now how thirsty she was. The cool water soothed her aching throat and she almost sighed with pleasure.
Then the danger came back to her and she was standing up again. She had to find a place to hide until the pirates gave up. If they went to the hideout then maybe she could find the small boat they had used to get down to the planet and escape. If they went back to the ship….well, it was better than being in their clutches. She was sure if they left she'd find someway to survive until she found a way to send for help.
"Think! Think!" She chanted herself in almost a panic. She had to find somewhere to hide. The pirates would be upon her in moments. She turned away from the lake and its beauty and started to run away.
But she didn't get far before she stopped again.
An open cave caught her attention. But she didn't think about hiding in it. Her eyes were on the writing engraved in the stone of the cave. Her professor's mind would not allow her to walk away. Hastily, the thought of danger gone from her mind, she hurried over to the cave.
Even from far way she had recognized the writing of the Delphi. It's curving letters and style was not hard to miss. Something like this was a find. The writing was placed at the threshold of the cave. Alyson knew from studies that with the Delphis this kind of writing was meant as a curse or warning. She leaned in and traced a finger over the words. Even to her, they seemed to have been chiseled in a hurry as the writer had been afraid of something. Her lips moved silent, saying the words in her head.
Terian mori zen haria michanon? Moriden hara kelicic zo bentren mien terra moverena?
Alyson's brows drew together. She wished she had taken that course in Delphi so she could speak this language and understand it. As it was, she could only make out a few words from what she remembered Seymour teaching her.
Terian mori zen haria michanon. Delphi will not be forgotten.
That was all she was able to get from the words. She blinked rapidly. Perhaps this was a battle site where the Delphi lost a decisive battle. The Gigadifs had crushed the Delphi harshly and most of their artifacts had been destroyed. Maybe the Gigadifs had forgotten about this place…or maybe they had feared it. Either way-
Heavy footsteps caught Alyson's trail of thoughts. Her face twisted. Dammit! She had forgotten about Nathaniel. Cursing the Delphi and their damnable writing, she jumped to her feet and made a v-line for the trees just as Rough-neck and his team reached the lake.
"There she is!" A pirate shouted and he and his men continued into the forest.
Alyson didn't know what to do. No plan formed in her mind. Her run was a frantic one. An act of desperation, fueled only by fear and terror. She could hear the ragged breaths of the pirates behind her. She looked at them over her shoulder and almost cried out. They were almost on top of her! Any moment know they would reach her and then overpower her and then-
She saw one of Nathaniel's pirates raise a gun and fire. Pain shut through her lower torso and she could no longer feel her legs. Her whole lower body seemed to be going now. She glanced over her shoulder once more and finally got a good look at the gun the pirate held in his hands.
A stun-gun of all luck!
Then Alyson was tumbling into the ground. She hadn't realized she hadn't stopped running because she couldn't feel her legs. Her foot had caught on a strong root sticking out from the ground and it sent her into the ground.
She went rolling and rolling and rolling down a hill. She raised her hands and tried to stop herself but with her legs she couldn't. The heavy smell of decaying leaves and trees filled her nostrils as her hands gripped the grimy ground. Her nails dug into the wet Earth and her mouth filled with the leaves.
And then she was looking into the blue, blue sky and gasping in air. She opened her mouth to scream but then she was plunged into cool water and it closed over her head. She was sinking fast, held down by her robes. Her jerked her hands out and tried to push herself to the surface but the useless weight of her lower torso drew her deep into the sea.
So this is how it's going to end? Alyson thought almost emotionless. After all I did to escape Nathaniel, I'm still going to die? She closed her eyes and gave up. Her body slid slowly to the bottom of the lake.
Jim…she wanted her husband to be the last thing she thought of. She wanted to picture him as she died. She wanted to hold that picture to her bosom as the walls collapsed around her.
Alyson body, now limp, touched the soft sand of the lake's bottom. Her arms, willowy, rose into the air and her dark hair covered her face. She was so far gone she didn't feel the strong hands wrap around her waist and drag her to the surface. She didn't gasp in air when her face was brought out of the water.
Nathaniel pushed Alyson onto the wet Earth. He rolled her onto her back and she flopped over like a rag doll. His eyes narrowed in anger, he began pounding on her chest. No emotion flickered on his face as he worked like a madman.
Alyson was floating in the icky blackness of almost-death when she felt the light returning to her. She was pulled from the quiet darkness of death and forced into the blinding light of life. She almost cried, but her lungs couldn't draw in breath for the scream nor could she move her arms. Were the effects of the stun-gun still on her? No, she could tell it was more then that. She wasn't fully alive yet.
Then she became aware of the frantic pounding on her chest and a hard, angry voice shouted at her, "You can't die, dammit! I'm not done with you! Not nearly done."
Then suddenly, like God had snapped His mighty fingers and decided she needed to live, her lungs drew in sweet, sweet air. She rolled onto her side, mostly to try to evade Nathaniel's pounding hands, and coughed. The lake water she had held in her body came forth from her lungs and she spat it to the ground, tasting her bile and saliva as well. Then she began to shake from the aftermath of being almost dead and from the coldness of the lake water.
Finally, when the spasms ceased, she rolled back onto her back and looked into the angry face of Nathaniel. She had never seen him look so angry now. No amusement flickered across his face and his mouth was a thin line of anger. Viciously, cursing her, he dragged her to her feet and pushed her into the awaiting arms of one of his pirates.
Alyson slumped in defeat. She had tried so hard to escape but it seemed as if fate was against her. It was as if she was destined to die here. A prisoner of her husband's enemy. But her stubbornness wouldn't allow her to back down. Her eyes narrowed at Nathaniel who stood unmoved. In fact, his own eyes were just as heated. He looked howling mad and ready to kill. Instead he turned away from her.
"Take her to the castle," Nathaniel said roughly. "And put her in the dungeon."
Alyson was dragged away and she did nothing to fight them. Her body was too weak, to exhausted and she had almost completely given up. As she was pulled along the path she saw Rough-neck, gripping his shoulder, glare at her. She didn't even feel fear anymore. She looked at him coolly, feeling no emotion what so ever.
The walk to the castle was a daze for Alyson. Later, all she would remember where the green of trees, the brown of dirt and the angry faces of the pirates and Nathaniel.
Then they had reached the castle and Alyson was back on Earth staring at Rubin's palace. The designs, the towers, the drawbridge, the gray stones and barred windows matched the dead monarch's castle eerily. Alyson shivered, and was pushed onto the heavy wood of the drawbridge.
Finally they reached the open courtyard of the castle and Alyson was surprised at how bare it was. Here there were no flowers, no green grass, no joy. This was where Nathaniel spent his time plotting revenge against Jim. This is where he planned to kill her. Alyson began to shiver uncontrollably.
She was led deep into the castle. One fleet of stairs…two…three…four…she lost count of how deep she went into the castle. But the next thing she knew she was staring at a large wooden door and Nathaniel was pushing it open. He grabbed Alyson forcefully by the arm and dragged her near.
"I had been planning on giving you more refreshing quarters, but seeing that you'll just try to escape from them, I think this will suit you better." Nathaniel threw her through the door.
And once again Alyson was falling. And water closed over her head. But this time she had the ability to use her legs and forced herself to the surface. She was in a cylinder shaped tower that was filled with water. Off to the side she saw a stone flat area above the water. Coughing, she crawling onto it and curled into a feeble ball.
Above her Nathaniel laughed. "I hope you enjoy your new house, Mrs. Hawkins. Get used to it, you're going to be here for a long time."
Alyson said nothing, she didn't move until she heard the door to her cell slam just. Then she stood up and pushed herself away from the water's edge. She curled into a helpless ball and began to sob.
"It's hopeless." She whispered as she sobbed. For the first time she felt truly lost. She couldn't think of a way out this situation. She was at a loss. What could she do? She was in a jail cell with the only way out twenty feet above her.
Alyson raised her hand and clutched her head in pain. She was starting to get a headache and the adrenaline that had pumped through her was finally wearing off. Now all she felt was tired and hopeless.
I'm going to die here, she thought grimly, and it isn't going to be pretty. Nathaniel's going to make it painful. She shuddered as her mind filled with the horrid images of torture that Nathaniel could do to her. Her body stiffened and she thought she was going to be sick. She pressed a hand to her trembling lips and fought to keep the bile down.
"Nerve!" She whispered to herself. She had to have nerve if she was going to survive this. She couldn't give up yet. She couldn't lose hope. She had to find a way out, to think of a plan, "Nerve! Nerve!"
She chanted it over and over in her head like prayer. She had to keep it together. She couldn't fall apart at the seams like this. If she did, then she'd never escape. She couldn't sit here and allow Nathaniel to do as he liked with her. That wasn't who she was. She wouldn't take this lightly.
But how could she possibly escape? The thought depressed Alyson. She looked at the door and then the walls. No way to climb up them and she was certain no one would take her out of this cell lest it be for torture. She also saw no way to make a weapon.
Alyson gave a long sigh and flopped onto her stomach. Her hand slipped into the cool water and she burrowed her head in her folded arm. She felt like crying again but how would that help? She needed a plan, a good plan. She needed a plan that would get her out of here once and for all.
Suddenly, she blinked and looked at the water. She hadn't thought of it before, but wasn't it odd that water was in a dungeon? Certainly, it hadn't been filled with water before had it? Something must have caused the dungeon to fill with water, but what? What could that possibly be? And would it help her in her escape from the castle? After all, how could water help with escape?
Gasping, she sat up like a bullet and looked around. Her mind was already working as she thought about it. Yes! She knew it! She had the answer. She could get out of this. She could survive.
"Oh yes! Please yes!" Alyson whispered as she looked deep into the water. She stared at her own dirty reflection and watched as her reflection smiled slowly.
Alyson pushed herself into the water and gasped at its frigidness. Please let this work, she thought as she dove into the murky depths.
Ooooh, what is Alyson planning? You think after so many failed attempts at escaping that she'd give up, but not my Alyson. She'd gonna keep at it until it kills her… or she escapes. Either way. Okay, the next chapter will be out just as soon as this. In chapter ten, The Last Great Escape. Focuses mainly on Alyson's last attempt to get away from Nathaniel's clutches. Will she make it? And what of Jim?
"People ask me this, why I write such gross stuff. I tell them I have the heart of a small boy—and I keep it in a jar on my desk." –Stephen King