Ha! I'm back in under 6 months! Can't believe I did it, especially with all the crap that went on in the reviews last chapter. I may have overreacted a tad, but I think that bloggers get a high off of making people look bad. Anyway, no flamers, please, I retract my earlier statement. They make me upset and then I don't want to write anymore. :( No one wants that, I'm sure. My story isn't perfect and the beginning chapters are pretty awful, to be sure, but I think it's improved a lot, and I really love where it's going, so enjoy! Lots of excitement ahead. :)

P.S. Whoever messaged me about the fanart, like I said, I need your email or some way to send it to you.

Also, dialogue in italics is spoken in the Yautja language. This does not include single words italicized merely for emphasis. Use logic and you can easily tell the difference.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Predator or the Alien franchise.

Chapter 13

Amber was shaken awake from a dreamless sleep, and her heart was pounding as she looked into the terrifying face that had become so familiar.

"We're here," he growled, "get up, quickly."

Amber felt herself sinking into a pit of dread. Her small world was about to be abruptly burst open. The consequences of fucking up here were horrifying. Syra would not hesitate to punish her for the slightest mistake.

She scrambled to her feet and reached for her small, leather coverings, only to find her wrist in an iron grip.

Syra shook his head and growled. "No clothing. Newly captured slaves cannot wear anything but a collar."

"C-collar?" Amber choked, and then gasped as Syra cuffed her lightly.

"Do not speak. Your language is foul to our ears. In public, I might speak to you, only to tell you what is required of you, and you may nod. In private, you can speak if you must, but choose your words carefully. A sweet tongue may get you food and a place in my bed, but anything else will keep you hungry with the other slaves."

Amber nodded fearfully, and pulled her hair away from her neck, allowing him to snap a thin torque around it. The metal was mirror-polished, and attached to an unobtrusive chain, which led to a soft handle, which Syra held. The collar had locked seamlessly, and was tight without being strangling. The feeling was still claustrophobic, and made her want to scream.

Syra tugged on the chain and Amber nearly fell on her face, she glared at him and he snickered, trilling at her softly. He tugged again, and she scrambled to keep up as he made a quick pace through the ship.

"Operator 937 requesting permission to set down in private landing pad. Carrying cargo of two pyode amedha, one collared, one caged. Final passenger of one Sijila royal, contained within her quarters. Request a squad equipped to deal with the cargo specified."

"Commander Syra'thwei, your request will be acted out, a squad will be standing by."

"Good. ETA is five minutes."

Syra sat back in his chair and finally exhaled all the air he'd been holding. He still expected to find censure with his people about Amber, but considering his position, he really had the freedom to do whatever he pauking well pleased. Anyone who felt differently could challenge him, if they had the balls. It was worth a bit of blood spilled to keep his little pet. She looked incredibly exotic at the moment, kneeling at his side, head bowed. Her hair fell around her in soft waves, and he wanted to touch it, feel it between his fingers.

Syra purred harshly and grabbed a handful of her hair. She exclaimed softly as he pulled her lips up to his and wrapped his mandibles around her jaw in a brief, intense kiss. He felt her heart rate increase and a shudder wracked her small form. Her hands clung to his arms and she went limp in his grasp.

After a few seconds, Syra pulled away and she slid back to the floor, looking dazed. Her lips were swollen and red, and her cheeks were flushed, making her even more arousing than before. Now he wanted to pauk her, and the fact that he couldn't severely annoyed him. The ship would land in just a few minutes, and while his position was very respected, pauking his pet in front of the entire landing squad was simply not done. Pauking in public was for mating between yautja; doing that with his pet would be incredibly offensive to most of his clan mates. There was no show in pauking an ooman, just perverse pleasure. Syra caught himself purring and cut it off abruptly with a harsh sound that was almost a growl.

He stood and watched with satisfaction as Amber hurried to stand as well. He said nothing to her, only headed for the ship's outer airlock. They reached the door and he stood to the side.

"On your knees," he ordered, with a quick motion of his hand. "They won't touch you without my permission, and you must never touch them. Above all, do not look them in the eye, or me when we are in public. Eyes to to the ground and do as I say, and your fate will be no worse than it is now."

She nodded and looked at the ground. Her hands were clasped in her lap, and she wrung her hands nervously.

"One more thing," he said, showing her something. "This is a breathing apparatus. The air on this planet is breathable to your species, but only temporarily. This will filter the air to your planet's chemical levels."

The device he held was small and inconspicuous, the size of a small button. He knelt down and pulled her mouth open. With it on the tip of his finger, he pushed it all the way to the back of her throat, where it attached itself with a small sting that made her gag around his finger. He pulled his hand away with a snort of disgust and wiped it on her leg. He stood and attached his own mask, watching her swallow a few times, hesitantly. The air on the planet was not to his liking either, and he far preferred the filtered air of his mask.

Finally, the ship set down with a jolt, and Syra opened the airlock, greeted by five yautja, each of varying height and scale color. One of them was clearly female, at least a head taller than the rest, and a few inches over his own head at least. The squad leader approached Syra and bowed his head respectfully.

"Commander Syra'thwei, Lieutenant Yeyinde reporting."

Syra acknowledged him with a nod, and he continued.

"The Leaders are expecting you directly. Shall we retrieve the ordered cargo of one pyode amedha? It is the one caged, I assume."

Syra nodded. "It is the one caged, through there." He pointed to the appropriate room. "As I mentioned, in the secondary quarters, there is a Sijila royal whom I picked up on a derelict ship infested with kiande amedha. Whatever the Leaders wish to do with her is fine, but I of course require a percentage of any ransom received. Handle her with caution," he finished with a warning tone.

"Yes, Commander."

"When you're done, send the ship to maintenance to receive the latest upgrades."

With that, Syra tugged the chain holding Amber and strode forward, past the yautja in the doorway.

For a moment, light was all Amber could see; dazzling sunlight filled her vision, causing a painful reaction as her eyes struggled to adjust. Finally, shapes and colors began to appear, until at last she saw clearly. The world that filled her eyes was not what she'd expected, although she wasn't sure what she had expected. Teepees and bonfires? Towering skyscrapers and aliens in suits and ties?

It was something in the middle, she found. There were metal buildings everywhere, some tall, some small, dome structures. There were no roads of any sort, but some of the aliens used different models of hovercraft to get around.

The aliens, the yautja, were everywhere, talking, laughing, but mostly fighting. Everywhere she looked, one of them was growling and clicking at another hostilely, or tussling on the ground in a ball of angry scales. Another thing she'd never really considered was the variety of the aliens. They varied in color, size, clothing, tone of voice, even the length of their hair-like appendages. At first glance, she thought Syra was fairly average in height, until she noticed the tallest aliens looked a bit different than the shorter ones. Their chests were a bit more developed, for one, and their musculature was slightly different. She finally realized they were female.

Looking again, this made Syra very much the tallest of the males around. Amber didn't know why that made her proud, but she almost wanted to preen. Looking around, Amber couldn't find any other humans, chained or otherwise. She wondered how many yautja had a poor human locked away for their pleasure.

Lost in thought, she was absently staring at a particularly short male, who was speaking to a female who completely dwarfed him. She couldn't help but smile a little at the height differential. Suddenly, the female turned and looked her straight in the eye. Amber's eyes widened and she quickly looked away, but not soon enough. The female caught Syra's attention with a growl and a few harsh clicks, and stalked over to them.

Amber couldn't tell Syra's expression beneath his mask, but she shivered in fear at his reaction to her disobedience. He hissed at the female, and she snarled at him, pointing at Amber. He looked at her for a moment, saying nothing. Then he turned back to the female and said something in harsh clicks. She was obviously not happy with that, and shoved him in the shoulder.

Syra reacted almost faster than Amber could see. He dropped Amber's chain and spun around, his long hair whirling around him. His foot landed on her knee and she dropped with a shriek. Then his fist connected squarely with her jaw and she landed to the side, spitting blood. He stood proudly above her body and clicked something rapidly. The female glared at him, but looked away and muttered something.

With that, Syra turned away, looking for something on the ground. Amber picked up her chain and handed it to him, looking at the ground. After a few long seconds, he took it from her hands and tugged lightly, continuing on as if nothing had ever happened.

Finally, Syra reached the Leaders' quarters, a large, metal structure, much like the others surrounding them. The doors slid open and a lone guard waved them through into a large room.

The walls were covered in many valuable trophies of at least a hundred different species. All around, the Leaders chatted with each other, and the room was filled with clicks and laughter. When they noticed Syra's arrival, the room fell silent for a moment. Finally, Bakuub, the tallest among them, spoke.

"Syra'thwei, your return is welcomed, as always. I hear you have fulfilled your mission and I am eager to hear your full report." He looked at Amber with amusement. "I see you have taken a liking to the pyode amedha. I hope your diversion does not die too quickly to your anger. They are so fragile, these creatures."

"My respects to you, Bakuub. I will gladly report of my adventures. This simple mission had some surprises, one of them being a few arbitrators flying a bit too close to our home."

He waited for the angry clicks of the Leaders to subside.

"I will tell you everything, but I desire to do so over a meal, and I don't wish to overexcite my pet. She is fragile, as you say. Bakuub, meet me at my home in two hours, and we shall discuss everything, including your desire for a live ooman, which still puzzles me." Syra paused. "Unless you've developed a desire for their sweet flesh as well." He trilled and the other Leaders snickered at Bakuub.

Bakuub laughed. "I'm afraid that mission was for anything but pleasure. But I shall tell you of it later, as you wish. Enjoy your pet, Commander."

Syra grinned. "There's no question of that, Leader Bakuub."

The Leaders trilled, and Syra turned to leave. Amber quickly followed, clearly agitated by all the yautja in the room. Outside, he set a quick pace back to his home. The landing squad appeared to be finishing up, and nodded to him as he passed. Syra barely acknowledged them, eager to get inside and make use of the time he had alone before Bakuub arrived.

His home here was far more luxurious than his ship, although he spent very little of his time here. There were trophies adorning the walls, of course, including another kiande amedha queen's head. There were no yautja heads here, though. Some clan mates who'd visited had found them offensive, so he had removed them all to his ship. Besides the polished, white skulls, there were many more trophies, such as shiny, metal weapons and other useless sculptures. There were also tapestries he'd stolen from other planets, and even from the pyode amedha planet.

The floor was thickly carpeted in a dark red synthetic material, similar to fur, and his feet sunk into it. The feeling annoyed him. Syra preferred his ship, with metal floors and sparse luxuries, but as this was basically his vacation home, and luxury showed prosperity, he'd splurged on the amenities here. His irritation subsided when he saw Amber's reaction to all of his treasures. Over a couple hundred years, he'd accumulated a lot of pretty, but useless things. But Amber looked around wide-eyed, and hesitated to even enter a room with such luxury, as well she should, given her position. Syra puffed his chest proudly. What could she have seen on her own puny planet that could possibly compare to this?

"Do you like my home, pet?" he purred, pulling her closer to him.

She hesitated to speak, finally whispering, "Y-yes."

She looked at the floor, but he drew her gaze up.

"We have some time alone here, kwei. How would you care to spend it?"

"I... P-pleasing you, of course, n'yaka-de." She stumbled over the last word, but Syra was incredibly pleased with her response. Had he finally snapped that streak of rebellion?

He purred and grabbed her hips, lifting her up to meet his own hips, and grinding through his clothing. With one hand, he removed his mask. He moved to his bedroom, which contained an even larger pallet of furs than the one on his ship, and placed his mask in its place on the wall. He took off Amber's collar and dropped her on the furs with a grin. She looked like she couldn't decide whether to be scared or excited. Syra took off his armor and clothes, and turned off the lights with a click, and she decided on scared.

She sat upright and looked around nervously.

"Syra?" she whispered.

"That is not what you call me," he purred from across the room, and padded around behind her. "You call me n'yaka-de," he said in her ear.

She jumped and whipped around, feeling for him with her tiny hands.

"N'yaka-de," she whispered, "don't hurt me, please. I'm sorry about earlier, with the yautja, I was staring, I didn't mean to, I'm sorry!" She sounded on the verge of tears, desperate to placate him.

He cut off her speech as he wrapped his hand around her neck and dipped down for a hot kiss. His mandibles involuntarily attempted to pull her even closer, and his tongue dipped down to her throat, desperate for her sweet taste. When he pulled away, she fell back on her elbows and gasped for breath, panting.

"Give me a taste of your honey, pet," Syra purred, flicking his tongue inside her ear until she moaned.

He laid down on the furs, pulling her on top of him. She felt around awkwardly for a minute, and he shuddered at the feel of her soft hands. She felt for his face, and when she found it, licked his tusks and sucked one of them into her mouth. Syra purred and squeezed her hips greedily. She cried in pain, but he ignored it. It was too much fun to handle her a bit roughly.

She moved down to his nipples and licked and sucked them as well. This put her pussy directly on his cock, something she noticed when he rubbed her with it lightly. She squeaked in surprise and tried to move off it, but he held her hips down and positioned his cock, before he thrust it in a few inches. To his surprise, she was dripping wet and her tight sex felt amazing. He thrust his hips a bit more, and she gasped, then choked on a delicious moan.

"Just- Right there... please..." she cried.

He went in and out like that, until he got bored and thrust farther, to the end of her channel. She didn't like that, and fell forward onto his chest, whimpering with pain. Abruptly, Syra became annoyed with her pitiful sounds, so he flipped her over and covered her mouth with his. His lust increased, fueled by his anger, and he pounded into her quickly. She tried to shriek in pain, but it ended up nothing more than a squeak, and her hands pressed against his chest, clawing with her short ooman nails.

He pulled his mouth away and hissed in pleasure. Her nails tickled his thick scales and he squeezed her breasts in response. With her mouth free, Amber screamed in pain and pleaded with him to stop. Syra hated her crying, and glared at her for a moment. He'd always hated it, but he was always conflicted on whether to comfort her or just to shut her up. Right now, she was ruining his brief time here with her sniveling. Didn't oomans ever learn to take a little pain without screaming and crying?

Finally, anger took over and Syra put his hand over her mouth and continued his rapid pace for a about ten minutes, until he finished with a harsh growl. He took his hand away and saw her cheeks were streaked with blood from his claws and her eyes were filled with pain. Why were oomans so weak? Sometimes it disgusted him, but on the other hand, protecting her filled him with pride. Protecting her from his own anger, however, was another thing entirely. He'd always been known to have intense mood swings, and something insignificant could change his attitude entirely in the space of a few seconds.

He looked down at Amber's small, shaking form and saw the damage he'd caused. He grew more annoyed thinking of how he'd have to heal her now. And he'd barely used his strength. Syra thought of all the times when his rage had completely consumed him, and thought of all that rage centered on Amber. The aftermath was really nothing more than pieces of her body scattered around. That thought upset him, but he knew it would probably happen eventually. He'd made a mistake in getting attached to her; she was nothing more than a pet, a diversion, as Bakuub had said.

Too many thoughts like that floated in his head and Syra growled, pulling out of Amber. She whimpered when he moved, but did nothing else. He lay on his back and grew annoyed when she didn't curl up next to him.

He pulled her arm, and she suddenly cried, "I'm sorry, master! I'll do everything you say from now on, I swear! I'll never look above the ground, whatever you want."

She thought he'd been punishing her. Apparently she could never please him entirely. She only wanted to please him when he punished her anyway, he thought cynically. He was nothing more than the lesser of two evils to her, why should he care if he hurt her a bit?

"Come here," he growled, and pulled her roughly into his side. She shivered and after a second, huddled into his warm flesh. He tried to pull her leg over his and she choked off a cry of pain. He left it with a sigh.

"You did nothing wrong earlier, kwei. I just enjoy a hard fucking as you oomans put it. I also enjoy pain intensely. When you snivel and cry, it makes you look pathetic to me, and I can't understand how something that weak is still alive. It angers me on an instinctive level you can't even imagine. I want to pauk you until you either stop crying like a suckling or do what your kind should have done thousands of years ago and die off like the insects you are."

Tears came to her eyes, but she wiped them away immediately.

"I'm sorry I'm not up to your fucking standards," she said harshly, pulling away from him. "Humans aren't supposed to have gigantic dicks, and if you'd left me alone in the first place, I could have been happy with a hard fucking from a normal person instead of a disgusting, scaly freak!"

Syra sat up and roared, and she cowered, but held her ground. Unsatisfied, he backhanded her, feeling his hand connect with her cheekbone, nearly breaking it, but not quite. She screamed.

"Fuck you and fuck all of your pathetic friends!" she spat through a bloody mouth. "Just kill me already!"

At her words, Syra went silent and didn't move for a second. Her death flashed before his eyes again and he growled. He grabbed her throat and forced her eyes to his, though in the darkness, she could barely see him.

"You are mine! Cetanu can't help you, I am your master now. Your insolence is intolerable! You will regret your foolish words, ooman."

He saw a spark of fear in her eyes again, and he smiled grimly, before he released her and she dropped onto the furs. He growled deep in his chest, and she finally tried to back away. He snatched her again quickly, and snapped the collar back on. He pulled hard on the chain and she fell to the floor with a thud. She kicked and screamed as he dragged her out of the room, shrieking curses at him.

Syra went back to the entrance room, and pressed a button on the wall which lowered a cage from the ceiling. It was intended to display live kiande amedha, but they tended to make a disaster of the room, so it was rarely used for that purpose. He picked up Amber and caught up all her flailing appendages so she couldn't grab the bars, then thrust her inside the cage. He attached her chain inside the cage and backed out quickly, locking it just as she tried to claw him through the bars.

"I'll deal with you later," he promised, and raised the cage up to the ceiling again.

There was no floor to it, only metal bars, and she spit at him through them. He listened to her scream another barrage of insults, before he grew tired of listening to her and left the room. He still had to prepare for Bakuub's arrival.

Amber fell silent after Syra left the room. Most of her anger left with him, and she was left to contemplate her fate, which was surely the point of this exercise. She gave up on berating herself this time. Even Syra had admitted that she'd done nothing wrong, and still he'd shoved his heavy hand over her mouth and raped her ruthlessly. She'd thought whatever life she'd have with him could be tolerable when he was considerate of her, almost kind sometimes. Now he'd basically said he instinctively hated her and wanted to cause her pain.

What kind of a life could that be? She would rather be dead, but she knew he wouldn't let her go that easily. If she wasn't in this cage, she could easily find some weapon lying around and end it herself. But some part of her was still conflicted. Even now, she couldn't help but care about him. That day in the bath, when he'd told her some small part about his life, and how he'd killed so many of his kind, she'd started to sympathize with him. He seemed lonely, in a way, and Amber wanted to be his other half, his soul mate, the person that completed him. He was so obviously missing something, and he seemed to show his affection for her in his odd displays of kindness.

Amber recognized this as the mental disorder it probably was, but her feelings were still the same, no matter how much she wished otherwise. When Syra wasn't holding her softly, or giving her what was surely the most amazing sex ever, he was violent, ruthless, homicidal, and treated her like a careless possession. That was most of the time, since he always seemed to be angry at something, usually her, for some escape attempt or shouting well-deserved insults. Or for really nothing at all, like today.

As much as Amber intensely desired to fix what she wanted to see as a lonely, misunderstood individual, reality quelled her fantasy.

Her cheeks were scored and bloody from his claws, her eye had swollen shut, and blood still oozed in her lower regions, from reopened wounds. Her hips and breasts were clawed and bruised from his inconsiderate groping. He surely knew his own strength; he simply didn't care. All this was easy to forget when he magically healed her wounds and tucked her into his warm chest at night, but up here in this uncomfortable, humiliating position, with her wounds still dripping red blood to match the carpet, her outlook was somewhat modified.

Suicide usually occurred when an individual was truly without hope. Amber was nearing that point now, and she could not imagine spending the rest of her life with this homicidal, rage-prone alien as his slave. Not that her life would be very long anyway. He'd kill her in a fit of rage eventually, but Amber would rather end it on her own terms. She just wasn't sure yet.

This new culture and totally different race of people fascinated and excited her, and while they were hardly a welcoming group, all that she'd experienced here was more than any regular human could hope for in a hundred lifetimes. She wanted to see more, to know more, but not at the cost of being tortured at the whim of a psychotic freak. Amber was conflicted, and she felt the next few hours or days would decide her fate.

"Syra'thwei, I see you have settled in with little trouble. Has your pet angered you so swiftly?" Bakuub motioned at the cage near the ceiling.

Syra clicked noncommittally. "It is not important. We both owe each other explanations, as I remember. Let us share them over a over a roasted jar'ak and plentiful c'nlip."

They headed into the dining area, and Syra made a point to ignore the gently swinging cage above him. Once they were settled in with meat and drink, Syra told his tale, of the Sijila ship that was infested with kiande amedha, and the two arbitrators who'd followed him and met a sad fate. He carefully left out all of his troubles with Amber, and her numerous escape attempts. It made him look foolish, and reputation here was equally as important as how you backed it up.

When Syra had finished, Bakuub at last began his own explanation of Syra's very odd mission.

"You know, Commander, how the arbitrators grow in number once again, and while we keep them under control for the most part, they wander closer and closer to our home. If we lose the advantage of secrecy, the Elders will send their entire battleforce on us within weeks. Odds as they are now, we would be wiped out, or reduced enough in number to no longer be a problem to them. And so, we must grasp our advantage and wring it for all it's worth." He paused.

Syra said, "I still don't quite see where the pyode amedha fits in. How could those puny things be of use to us here?"

Bakuub laughed. "Puny they might be, but there's a certain parasite that has a liking for them."

"The kiande amedha? How would they be of use? They're practically mindless."

"Ah, but not quite. We think we may have devised a way to control them using their own pheromones. We may be able to synthesize them, but otherwise we can make their queen control them using her own pheromones. But first, we need the drones themselves."

Bakuub paused to take a long drink of his c'nlip.

"We have tried many different races, but the drones were never as efficient in body and keen of mind as they were when birthed from the pyode amedha, as they have always been in our kind's Blooding rituals. So, we required you to bring one pyode amedha to produce a single drone, in order for us to continue our experiments in pheromone control. If it works out, we will have other pyode amedha brought in, or simply take the eggs to them and create a controlled army. This army, we can use to wipe out the Elders and their supporters, and finally return from our exile here."

Syra nodded in understanding. "It makes sense. An army of disposable killing machines would be the final straw in this dragging conflict. But why did you request this mission of me?"

Bakuub replied, "At the moment, we are still in the beginning stages of this plan, and we required a certain amount of discretion and secrecy, with the pyode amedha and our clanmates, respectively. I told the other Leaders that, of course, you could be trusted to carry it out with proficiency and haste. And here we are. We must take care of the immediate arbitrator problem though. I will go now and set a bounty for their skulls. That should diminish their ranks for now. I will leave you now. You must want for some time to rest. You've hardly been here these past few years, I'm sure you'd like to get reacquainted with the recent female population."

Bakuub trilled at his own remark, and proceeded to show himself out. Meanwhile, Syra sat back and contemplated the information he'd just received. None of it was of any immediate consequence. In fact, it was possible that nothing could happen for years, decades even, although that was a stretch. Tensions were stressed, but out here in deep space, where Syra doubted even the gods continued to care, things moved more slowly. Wars took place over decades, or even centuries, if the fighting became the kind it was now. Guerrilla warfare was slow and subtle, and it could stretch out until nearly all those involved were dead and gone. But some, like Syra and Bakuub, still remembered, and as long as they lived, the war would continue, or until they finally achieved their victory.

If Bakuub truly managed to efficiently weaponize the kiande amedha, however, everything would change in the space of a year, or even a few months. They could be back in power, out of exile, that fast. It was an exciting prospect. But still, potentially decades away. Meanwhile, Syra had all the time in the world to do exactly what he'd been doing for the past hundred years at least. That was not an exciting thought.

He continually felt there was something missing from his life, but he hadn't given it another thought with Amber tucked into his chest, her soft pulse soothing him into the most restful slumber he'd ever experienced. yautja weren't supposed to have longterm mates. As far as most yautja were concerned, they pauked and then a suckling fell out, whom the female was primarily responsible for, something the males greatly appreciated.

As far as companionship, both males and females could become solid friends, such as he and Bakuub, but it never went farther than that. There were rumored cases of yautja mating for life, but they were usually rogues and led their solitary lives together, separated from the main population and culture. While Syra enjoyed his very long trips off planet, he still appreciated having a home filled with fellow yautja and a familiar environment. A hermit's life was not for him. Nor did the females of his race interest him beyond raw sex, and hardly that anymore. He'd developed a taste in the perverse, and that wasn't likely to change.

But in order to satisfy that desire, he had to have a pet, and that pet presented a problem. She was insolent, rebellious, disrespectful, and though some of those were considered good qualities among his race, she completely nulled them out with her fits of ooman weakness. Not to mention, she was a slave, and any yautja qualities should be stamped out immediately, no matter how much he respected them, which, admittedly, was not very much. It was hard to respect any ooman, especially their females.

Syra could not understand their purpose in society. They were not as strong as the men, and while their intelligence was comparable, they were almost never trained or educated enough for it to count. As far as Syra could tell, their purpose was to look pretty and have children. Their race was deteriorating anyway, as he saw it, and even the men seemed to have little purpose. They were hardly a warrior race, or at least, they hadn't been for a very long time. They had lost that quality, supposedly in favor of science and technology, and yet they hadn't even developed space travel, were still at least a hundred years away, in fact.

It was a pointless society, their only use being food for the kiande amedha and the yautja Blooding ceremonies. But still, he couldn't really bear the thought of just killing Amber. His life was consumed by loneliness, though that was mostly a personal choice, but his silly ooman pet made him feel proud; of his own ability to protect her, and that he alone had such an exotic pet. She was really quite beautiful, and sometimes he thought she actually cared for him. That one time, when she'd leaped into his training with the drones, she'd seemed truly concerned. That concern could merely be of losing her protector, he supposed, but surely she must care for him in some way?

He'd shown her pain and pleasure beyond anything any stupid ooman could manage, and she'd thrown in all back in his face today. But he'd noticed that, like him, Amber was prone to fits of anger, so perhaps she hadn't meant her words. He couldn't let her defy him like that with no punishment, but all punishment and no reward was becoming tiring, and while her careless demand for him to end her life showed that she was close to breaking, there was a fine line between and obedient and a broken pet. He'd have to think of something that would destroy her rebellion, but not turn her into his mindless puppet. Or perhaps, she was simply no longer worth the trouble. That possibility was looking sweeter by the minute.

Amber was shaken roughly from a doze, only to be dragged from her cage. She screamed in pain and fear as her body was dragged across the bars onto the floor. Looking up, she discovered her eye was swollen shut, and through the other, she could see Syra looking down in disgust. At least she thought it was disgust, for he had donned his faceless mask again. He knelt beside her, and she scrambled back instinctively.

"Have you learned anything, ooman?"

Amber hesitated, almost ready to say yes, she had learned her lesson. Then he would leave her alone for a minute, and she would take a knife and end it all.

But he gave her no time to answer, responding himself, "I didn't think so. Your insolence has gone too far this time, and I grow tired of your irritation. You will never learn, and there are other, more obedient pets to choose from."

Amber tried to say something, but choked on the collar as it tightened over her throat and Syra dragged her out of room. Blinding light hit only one of her eyes this time, but the ground was as rugged and unforgiving as before. She tried to scream something, anything to make him stop, but could only pull the metal from her throat long enough to drag in a short breath and cough it out again.

After a minute, Syra stopped, and the sun was momentarily blocked by a metal roof. Behind the ringing in her ears, Amber could hear the sound of pitiful moans and some hysterical crying. Syra ignored her for a minute, engaged in harsh conversation with another yautja. Weakly, Amber rolled onto her stomach and pushed herself up. She was horrified with the sight before her eyes.

In a large, metal cage, there were at least 10 humans, all naked, covered in mud and other things she tried not to imagine. They were mostly female, with perhaps one or two males, though she could hardly tell underneath the filth that surrounded them. It was their cries she had heard, moments earlier. In a couple other cages, there were various people of other races, all fairly humanoid, and in the same condition as the humans. The aliens were strangely quieter, as if they knew and accepted their fate here.

Above her, the two yautja finished their conversation, and she was yanked closer to the cages as they moved to view the merchandise, so to speak. Finally, Syra pointed at one of the humans, and the other yautja laughed. He unfolded something that looked suspiciously like a cattle prod and opened the cage door. All the humans scrambled towards the back of the cage, eying him fearfully. The yautja moved forward and, quick as lightning, snatched the girl Syra had pointed to. He had grabbed her hair, and she screamed in the highest pitch Amber had ever heard someone scream. When she was out of the cage, the yautja released her, before jabbing her with his prod until she fell to the ground with a shriek.

Up close, Amber thought she couldn't be more than 12 years old She was horrified, and tears came to her eyes at the thought of what the poor girl had suffered. Syra leaned down and snatched her by the throat, bringing her face to face with him. Amber sympathized, knowing exactly how terrifying that position was, feet dangling, nothing to hold onto but his massive hand as it nearly strangled you.

"Open your mouth," he ordered in a snarl.

The girl complied, barely. Her whole body shook with fear. He looked for a moment, and then he fingered her hair roughly, seeming unsatisfied with her tangled locks. Finally, he dropped her, barely setting her feet on the ground before he released her neck. She crumpled to the ground without a sound.

He said something to the other yautja, and he nodded and began to attach a thin collar around the girl's neck.

Amber's eyes widened. He was really doing this. He was going to throw her away like garbage and move right on to brutally abusing this little girl, not more than a child. She couldn't let him.

"N'yaka-de," she began, and choked at the hoarseness of her abused throat. He turned to look down at her. "N'yaka-de, please," she rasped, "don't do this. I swear on my mother's grave, on everything I hold dear, I'll never disobey you again. I'll do everything to please you, n'yaka-de, anything you want, even if it kills me. Please, n'yaka-de, please!" Her voice cracked, becoming a high-pitched whisper.

He was silent for a moment, his head cocked to one side, considering. The yautja had finished collaring the girl, and waited impatiently. Finally, Syra knelt down, grabbing her jaw and looking her straight in the eye.

"You know what I can do if you disobey me. Those pathetic humans mean nothing to me, I would use them just as easily as I use you. If you ever insult or disobey me again, I will toss you in with the rest of your stinking kind and find something more obedient to replace you."

Amber nodded quickly, her eyes wide. Syra dropped her and looked to the yautja, who clicked something impatiently. He was about to respond, when Amber interrupted.

"N'yaka-de, please don't leave that girl here! She'd only a child, she won't survive another week like this!"

Both yautja looked at her. Syra said harshly, "I thought you didn't want me to fuck the girl. What else would I do with her?"

Amber flinched. "I-I can take care of her." Her voice quavered at first, but became steady. "And she can serve you in some other way, surely you can use a slave for something else."

The other yautja laughed, trilling loudly in amusement. Syra said nothing, however. Finally, he growled and turned to the other yautja, clicking something. The other looked surprised, but when Syra snarled at him, he growled and reached for some kind of hose.

He barked at the girl, "Up, now!"

She stood on quivering legs, before she was hit with a powerful stream of water that made her shriek and almost fall over. The bastard ordered her to turn around, and hosed her off thoroughly. By the time he was finished, the girl looked blue and shivered uncontrollably. He handed the chain on her collar to Syra, and Syra tapped something on his wrist computer, presumably paying for the slave.

"Come on," Syra barked at both of them, heading back to his home.

Amber hugged the girl as they ran to keep up with his long legs. She whispered, "thank you," in Amber's ear.

At that moment, she realized she couldn't possibly end her life now. She had to make sure this poor girl wasn't thrown back with those other hopeless slaves, sold off to some terrifying master. Amber would do everything she could now to stay alive, and to make sure she got this girl back to Earth, where she belonged.

Well, there it is. I'm sick of finding all the yautja words I used, so look them up if you don't know them. :P

Thanks to all the people who left nice reviews, I love your feedback and your questions, and I hope I can keep entertaining you for a long time. Bye for now. :)