The rampage after I reach the top continues in much the same way. I kill every gurant I see and destroy everything expensive I come across.
Soon enough, I find what I believe to be the captain’s quarters. There’s a large set of golden doors at the end of a massive staircase, with the walls of the staircase adorned with columns and arches studded with gemstones. If I was the captain, I’d live there.
After plowing through what guards were available to try and stop me, I pushed open the heavy doors just enough to slip inside.
The captain’s quarters are plainer than I was expecting. It’s a well-lit, round room with canvases all over the place. Each canvas has maps sprawled out with battleplans, the walls have pictures of other gurant with various symbols I don’t understand, and there’s rope connecting each picture in a vast interconnected web. I hear gurant society is cutthroat and brutal, so this is probably a chart of all his allies and rivals. The maps are probably campaigns he has plans for, but I don’t know what planets these are, or even if they’re relevant to the Protectorate.
On the right of the room is a bed with… women. Human women of various races. All with iron collars around their necks, and chains that keep them tied to the bed.
O-oh… oh dear.
Standing in the center of the room, surrounded by computers and control panels communicators, is the captain.
A monster of eight feet and some inches, his height is further boosted by the exoskeleton that frames his body. His limbs are thick and powerful, his slimy green skin is covered by warts and bumps, his mouth wide and head misshapen, with a fat neck that seemingly deprives him of a chin. Truly disgusting. The idea of him so much as having those women chained to his bed is a repulsive notion. I can vividly imagine the unspeakable sins that have been committed in this room, it makes my skin crawl. With revulsion.
He’s speaking into various communicators and I piece together that he’s coordinating the many decks of the ship to fight off the Protectorate fleet. “[I have to go, there’s a visitor.]” The captain, Gogrundudel, says as he shuts off the devices and turns around. His back is straight, he’s standing tall and proud with authority. His pure black, glossy eyes unintimidated by my presence, or the confidence I use to playful twirl my sword.
His eyes… I don’t like them. The way they’re looking me up and down, sizing me up, I’m sure he’s thinking of chaining me to that bed as well.
“Can you understand me?” I ask.
“[I can. Do you know Gurantish?]”
“I was taught enough. You the captain of this ship?”
Gogrundudel circles towards the right, keeping his lecherous eyes on me and my sword. At the same time, I circle to the left. “[I am the Grand Supreme Admiral of Treasurefleet ‘Conqueror’s Inevitable Prize’. State your name and business.]” He stops at a large metal cabinet, keeping it, and his hands, behind his back.
“Zahra of the Sehat estate. I’m here to take your head.” I glance to the left, at the bed, before my eyes snap back to Gogrundudel.
“[Like them? Trophies from my many victories across the stars. Each a proud warrior who, much like yourself, sought my head.]” He brings his hands out and reveals power-armored gauntlets, then extends two teethed claws from both. “[One from the ‘Sehat estate’ would be a fine piece to my collection.]”
Eugh! I can’t stand it, he’s so gross! I don’t want to be part of his collection! Just the thought of him taking me out onto a stage in front of his gurant minions, chaining me down, stripping my armor off and showing my perfect, toned and flawless body for everyone! Ripping away all shreds of decency and respect… it’s enough to make me want to vomit! Disgusting! Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting!
I glance to the women. No matter how atrophied, I can see that each still has the faint vestiges of well-developed muscles and scars gotten from years of training and battle. Two catch my eye. One who has what appears to be large, white wolf ears atop her head, and a tail, and another with purple skin and pointed ears even longer than the peldaks. I don’t recognize their races, they must have been stolen from worlds far from here. They also look dazed, completely out of it. Sedatives? Lobotomies? Torture that broke their minds? That’s what’s in store for me if I fail. Gogrundudel seems like the kind of ‘man’ who’d enjoy the challenge of breaking a strong-willed woman like myself.
“Things won’t go the way you want, beast.” I raise my sword, though don’t send vaalige coursing through it. The gurant have developed countermeasures to the threat we sayran pose. If the vaalige I’m controlling is hit by electricity, it’ll get disrupted and I could, depending on the voltage, go into shock or even die. Strengthening my body will be enough.
“[So long as the end result is you in chains, I care not for the specifics of how this goes.]”
I charge forward to begin the duel. I have my superhuman speed and strength, yet Gogrundudel is almost twice my height and well over five times heavier than me, plus his exoskeleton gives him a quickness that belies his size. When he swings, my only choices are to get out of the way or deflect the blow, I have no hope of stopping him outright. It’s unnerving how strong he is. If just a small electrical current was to pass into me, my powers would be ineffective and I would be completely at the mercy of this giant, strong, sadistic, dominant… disgusting toadman.
Also, Gogrundudel uses his two sets of claws perfectly. Always on the offensive, always an attack in motion, he doesn’t give me an obvious chance to counter. Is this what it’ll be like if I’m defeated? Just constant attacks until I’m worn down and beaten into submission?
I can’t let it happen!
After a wide swing, I use vaalige to throw a canvas full of maps from across the room at him. It does no damage, and he uses his claws to rip it to shreds, but I use that split second of broken visibility to jump over Gogrundudel and give him a shallow wound in his right shoulder. When I land, I jump away from the inevitable counterattack as he turns and swings his massive arm and long claws in a wide arc.
“Ha!” I gloat as I deafly land on the far side of the room. “First blood goes to me, beast. Try to make it interesting, would you? I’ve a whole bag of tricks up my sleeve and I’d like to show off more of them before you die.”
Gogrundudel just looks at me, not a hint of pain showing on his bumpy, slimy face. “[First blood? I’ve never heard such a term before. Your kind might be the first I’ve met that would even consider stopping a battle before your opponent is dead at your feet.]” He goes on the offensive, much the same as last time.
His confidence is stunning, his resistance to pain is praiseworthy. I’m getting a good view of who Gogrundudel is. Confident, ambitious, aggressive. I think I was wrong about him. He wouldn’t break me until I was a brainless husk, he’d break me until I pledge full allegiance to him and renounced all ties to my former life in the Protectorate! This demonic monster! But no. I’m strong. No matter what awful, degrading, degenerate, humiliation he can think of, I won’t betray my people or my nation.
Gogrundudel puts his right arm forward to use a flamethrower hidden under his forearm, but as the flames shoot out, I use an intense burst of vaalige to create a strong enough wind that much of the flames go right back into his face. The wind also causes the many papers, maps, and conspiracy charts to flutter around the room, or burn when caught by the stray flames. Despite the danger, I then charge in and slash across his chest, causing a deep wound that, sadly, isn’t all too damaging. Gurant have so much muscle and fat that, even if they bleed, I need to go deep to cause any real damage to the organs.
I stand back and appreciate my work, him burning thanks to his own flamethrower. Only his top half is burning, and while he grunts and coughs, he doesn’t scream. Whether it’s from pride I’m not sure, but through the roaring flames I can tell it hurts. Soon, the fire dies and I can see the many blackened scorch marks along his broad, thick, scarred, bumpy… bare… g-gross torso.
I can’t take my eyes off his chest. Because it disgusts me so much, I mean.
Actually, now that I think about it, I heard a rumor once. We’ve only ever encountered male gurants. In four decades of warfare that’s all we’ve seen. So where are the females?
Well, in the same way that if a sayran has a baby with a non-sayran, that baby will always be a pureblood sayran thanks to the influence of vaalige on the baby in the womb. So what if gurant work the same way? What if they need alien women to propagate their demonic taint across the stars?
My eyes go wide as I realize what he’s planning. I look to the women on the bed to see if their bellies are distended. They’re not, but that proves nothing, and I’m caught so off guard that when he lunges forward to punch me, I can’t dodge or parry. His massive, wrecking ball-like-fist is planted firmly in my gut and I’m sent flying across the room. My back smashes against the large golden doors but I avoid falling to my knees. He charges forward and continues his assault as if he’s yet to be wounded.
My movements are sluggish, my knees are weak. I can only barely defend, and I’m thrown around the room. It’s just… I’ve never been in the presence of such evil before!
“Y-you fiend! You villain!” I cry out. “This was your plan, all along? To capture me and turn me into your disgusting broodmare? To force me to deliver a whole litter of toadmen who will go on to do the same to other women?!”
He doesn’t respond, but I know he’s guilty. He’s probably excited just by thinking about it. I bet having me so terrified from the realization only works to make him more determined!
My body won’t work the way I want. I’m too slow to block, my grip on vaalige is failing. I have no ability to counterattack, it’s all I can do to just stay alive. This feeling, all too familiar… my curse is activating! At the worst possible time yet again. It doesn’t even make sense, having such a fat monster… that’s the opposite of a hot guy and I’m not some pervert!
He punches me across the room once more and I land just before the foot of the bed. I collapse to one knee and need my sword to support my weight. He takes a moment to breathe as well, using his foul tongue to wet his lips and lubricate his cold, black eyes.
“Y-you, Gogrundudel!” I manage to shout. I’ve a few bruises, and my bones ache, but I’m still able to fight. “Know this, I will never submit, you hear me?! No matter what you do, no matter if you trot me out in front of your supporters, no matter how many gurant I’m forced to spawn into this galaxy, I will never betray my oath or loyalty to the Protectorate or its people.” I rise to my feet and grit my teeth, raising my sword high. “For the Sehat! For Peldor and Sayar! For love!” That’s right. Love. Henryk is still patiently waiting for me back on the ship. It simply wouldn’t do to have my future husband be disappointed, would it?
“[None of your strange words have made any sense to me thusfar, you’re babbling off nonsense.]” He steadies his breath. “[You’re more trouble than your worth, I’ll just kill you and be done with it.]”
With my thoughts dominated by Henryk, my one true love, the curse’s affect fades away just enough for the last confrontation.
We charge each other, my body glowing bright red with the power of love, and both his sets of claws crackle as thick bolts of electricity spark between the pairs. Finally! He’s going all in and wants to use the only surefire method to deal with a sayran.
But I’m focused and way too smart to be caught in such a trap. I swing my sword in such a way that it seems like I’ll bring it down on his head. Gogrundudel brings his right arm up to block while he brings his left arm forward, trying to pierce me through the heart.
But I expected that! I bail on the sword slash and instead slide between Gogrundudel’s legs, quickly appearing behind him in a perfectly executed maneuver. Before he can react, I slice an exposed wire on the spine of his exoskeleton. With no armor, the wire is easy to sever and all the power to his suit shuts off, depriving his giant body of the agility the tech afforded him. As he falls to his knees, I ram the sword though his back and out his chest. That one will definitely do some real, lasting damage.
“Hah!” I yell as I rip the sword from his flesh “See? Just as it should be.”
Gogrundudel, now on his knees, grunts in pain. He’s well over 800 pounds even without the exoskeleton, he has no chance of moving if it isn’t powered.
“Didn’t you say something about me being in chains? Well, looks like gravity is all that’s needed for your chains!” I circle around in front of him and flick the blood off my sword. “Or, should I say execution platform? Oh well.” He stares at me with such hate filled eyes. I will admit, seeing such an evil creature look at me with this level of disgust spreads a certain warmth through my heart.
I raise my sword, ready to bring it down on his neck… but something isn’t right.
Wasn’t this the captain? He should have bodyguards and backup plans. I defeated him relatively easily. What if I’m moving too recklessly?
It’ll be awful, just the absolute worst, if I let my guard down and he suddenly turns the tables on me. If he did, he’d probably knock me out and capture me. Once captured, I have a strong sense he wouldn’t try to break my mind, he’d actually try to keep me sane for as long as possible for revenge! Yeah, I can see it now. Public humiliation sessions, lashing me as I’m tied to a stockade or something. Or having his whole gurant army have a turn with me, even the human slaves of his ship!
God, that’d be awful. I bet he’d make me get all kinds of tattoos or brandings too! This villain! Is there no end to his barbarity or cruelty?! To have me so close to victory but then snatching it away the last second, destroying my hope and punishing me for thinking it could possibly go-
Instantly, my whole body feels lighter, like I’m barely connected to the floor. Gogrundudel lowered the gravity on his ship so he can move, it’s obvious that he’s the one responsible. I see him bring his right gauntlet up to my chest, but I’m so shocked and blindsided that I can’t possibly avoid what he’ll do next. He grips his hand a certain way and the two claws shoot forward, piercing my right shoulder and just above my left hip.
Pain courses through me as the claws are swiftly retracted, the small teeth tearing my flesh as they return to their holster. I’m left with two prominent holes in my body, each bleeding profusely as I stagger back and eventually collapse.
It’s just as I feared. My ultimate moment of victory, ripped from my grasp by an unforeseen trick. How could I have known he’d lower the gravity? I’m not even sure how he did it from his position, but it doesn’t matter. How do I get out of this? All sayran knew the risks going into this operation, the shuttles will leave me if I don’t return in time. I’m powerless. Completely at his mercy.
…Actually, it’s not that bad. I sliced the wire on his suit so those blades weren’t electrified. He missed all the important organs and I can just use vaalige to stop the bleeding. If any important muscles were damaged, I could even use vaalige to move without them. The sheer, blinding pain makes this seem worse than it is.
But oh dear! That blinding pain! It has completely deprived me of all energy and even the ability to think clearly. I’m unable to react as Gogrundudel slowly rises to his feet and shambles over.
“[You’re not…]” His snarled language is hard to understand while he’s also gasping for air. “[The worst… I’ve fought.]” He’s standing over me now, I can’t even turn my head enough to look up at him.
Oooh, what’s he gonna do now that I’m at his mercy? Probably something gross and degrading. I bet he’ll whip it out and start peeing on me. That’d really put me in my place… and I’d hate that! I’m a proud sayran warrior and the heiress of the Sehat estate. A woman such as myself shouldn’t be brought so low to that, but that’s exactly why I expect a demon like Gogrundudel to do it.
Yeah, I’ll let him do it, just so I lull him into a false sense of security. Then I’ll rise up, my body controlled by vaalige like the strings on a puppet, then I’ll behead him in a single strike.
Gogrundudel put’s his boot on the side of my head. His feet are actually so wide that it fully eclipses my face and hair.
Ah, I see, so he’s trying to put me in my place by stepping on me? That’s far less insulting than urinating on me. Which is a good thing, of course! I was just thinking-
He instantly increases the pressure and puts all his weight on my head. My eyes bulge out of their sockets, and I desperately grab his boot, trying to push him off or just relieve the pressure.
“AA-AAAAH!” I scream. He’s trying to crush my skull?! That’s not… he was supposed to torture me slowly and give me a chance to turn it around! Or subdue me and make me his prisoner! How can I be a prisoner if my skull and brain is turned to mush?
My legs flail on the floor, vaalige fills my body and I slowly start to push back, but he raises the gravity and I’m hopeless to stop it. The pressure strains the communicator in my ear, first it begins to let out a screech, then it finally cracks.
“[No. You die now.]” He’s not holding back at all, he’s not trying to savor my suffering. He really is trying to break my head like a watermelon.
The grinding of bones rattles my eardrums and I feel my jaw start to bend. My eyes, nose, and ears begin to bleed. This is the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, I’ve never been so afraid of death. Why did I take my time with him? Why did I show off and why’d my mind wander to such dark places? This was a fight for my life, ever since I got on this ship I’ve been playing around, and it’ll cost me my life…
There’s a crack. Part of my skull fractures but my brain has yet to be damaged. An idea rushes into my endangered mind, one last ditch effort to save myself.
In one smooth motion that takes a fraction of a second, I draw a knife I keep on my back, make it glow red, then cut a crescent shape on the floor around my head. Rather than the rest of my skull breaking, the metal ground gives way, and he pushes me into the next floor.
Gogrundudel manages to catch himself and changes the gravity to avoid falling down here with me, while I tumble to the bottom and land on my back. It’s a maintenance tunnel full of pipes, wires, and crawl spaces.
My head hurts. I’m tired and exhausted. I look up through the hole at him, and he looks down through it at me. He knows I won the fight, but I know I wasted it and didn’t capitalize on my victory. I failed to take his head. He points his flamethrower into the hole and a sudden burst of adrenaline reactivates my body.
I scramble away as a torrent of sticky, flaming gel coats the spot I was laying.
Then I hear screaming in a language I don’t understand.
Looking forward, it’s a human poking out of a maintenance hatch. He’s waving me down and trying to get my attention, gesturing for me to climb inside the hatch with him. He looks like a slave of the gurant, so I can probably trust him. He no doubt saw my valiant effort to kill the captain.
With no further consideration needed, I dive past him into the hole, and he closes the hatch behind me.