Orion’s Embrace Part 5
When it was time for me to get out of the tub, I gingerly climbed out and stood there as Dahlia wrapped a fluffy white towel around my body. From here I was moved over to the next station on the rotation. Apparently, I wasn’t allowed to dress yet, instead my hair needed to be addressed. With a heaving sigh, I let her put me in the chair and begin the preparations for altering my hair. In truth, I loved the way I looked but I just didn’t have the energy needed to fight about this anymore.
I closed my eyes as I felt her hands move through the long locks. I can’t say there wasn’t a part of me wondering just how much of a drastic change they wanted to make. I refused to change for anyone. That wasn’t what my life was about. It wasn’t about changing who you are for someone else. As I focused on the world around me, I could hear Dahlia filling the air with her voice.
“You have such beautiful hair, but it has a few snags in it. I won’t cut much, just an inch or two, to clear it from the snags. Just trust me. You will look simply irresistible when I am through. Besides, the longer I take with you, the longer it will take before Matthias sees you. If I can time it right, he won’t have very long before he has to be on the bridge to sign off on the navigation to our next destination. It’s a week out from the nearest planet right now, and I’ll do whatever I can to keep you occupied while working out a way to get you free. I owe it to your mother, a debt I never got to repay.”
I looked stunned a moment, I know I did. I couldn’t help it. I already seemed to have an ally inside and I didn’t know why. Why was Dahlia choosing me, out of the countless women in the harem to help out? I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t vocalize anything either. I do not know what it is about Dahlia that was making a part of me want to relax. My mother had always taught me that there was a time and a place for questions. Suspicion burned through my mind along with a myriad of questions but barraging the woman was not the game plan, currently.
It seemed to take forever but finally, after all the tugging, pulling and the heat from blow drying my hair, Dahlia seemed to be done. It was then that I finally saw what she had done. My hair was about two inches shorter, but it still hung down my back straight. She didn’t try to adjust too much. She did put in some auburn highlights to bring out the base colors that were already there. It was a subtle enhancement but when the light caught it, the highlightes made my hair look like it had been kissed by the warm suns rays. I looked a lot better than before I was dragged in there. The next station was one that I would have never fathomed in a million years. Why would I need my nails done? This was getting a little ridiculous.
Four hours. That’s how long I spent being pampered and it’s silly honestly. No one needs that kind of attention but at the same time, it was four hours I didn’t have to deal with Matthias. I appreciated that. Still, fighting the inevitable was never a real thing. I noticed where the brand was burned into my skin was no longer oozing and bleeding. Some salve had been put on it, and while it wasn’t completely healed since that would take days, it was closed. At least Dahlia had managed to find a way to make sure that the clothing she provided me to wear would not show it.
Looking down at the outfit I let out a disgusted groan. I knew that I was never one to be up on fashion but this outfit that I was slipping into was beyond ridiculous. It was as if Matthias was taking a page right out of another story. The fabric was coarse and rough, and a hideous lime green looking color. The top covered the important bits but got sheerer as it covered my stomach and arms with a gossimar fabric. The bottoms were shorts, thankfully, which would allow me more freedom of movement. Like the top, it covered the important bits but had a sheer layer over it in the same hideous color.
I was brought out of my thoughts again by a loud knock on the door. The voices outside of the entry were loud and obnoxious, making me cringe and wish for more time in this torture room. I could hear both Zeke and Isaiah outside the room and both demanding that I come out. Fights apparently were what they were expecting, but I had no weapons. My hand-to-hand was not what it should be and without a gun, I stood no chance, right now, of a fight. Besides, who could struggle in the harem looking outfit, I was in. Can we say culture clash? I get that my planet is a little backward with its medieval clothing and speech, but this? This was way different. For a moment I wondered exactly which cultures influenced which planets.
Standing from the chair I was in, I moved towards the door. There was a bit of nervousness in my walk, but I went with them anyway. Let them think I was cowed for a while, at least, it would buy me some time. Moving slowly, I opened the door and looked at two men, I never thought I’d see working for Matthias. Zeke and I, there was no love lost between the two of us, but Isaiah, well he was a bolt from the blue.
Isaiah’s grip was gentle on my elbow as he leads me out of the room and towards my next destination. I knew without a doubt that this was it. It wasn’t the end, but I couldn’t put this meeting off anymore.
I allowed them to pull me down endless hallways trying to catalog everywhere I went, but it was impossible. Without a full map of this ship, I would never remember where anything was. I didn’t plan on staying here long enough to memorize it on my own. As we moved, though I did notice that Isaiah kept looking behind him at Zeke as if he was waiting for something. Before I could truly figure out what it was, we were standing in front of one of the most ornate metal doors I had ever seen. It was clear that this door was reinforced. Quite a deal of money was spent making sure that whoever was inside wouldn’t be able to get out on their own. With three quick knocks, the door slid open.
Time was of the essence that much I could tell you for certain. We couldn’t just stand here and wait-or sit here. All I could do was sit there and eat the food they provided us and wonder what the next move was. So far, I’d been lucky and hadn’t had to visit the ‘master’ in his room. It was only a matter of time before that happened. I was starting to form ideas, to gather information that would aid me and others around me. Of course, it made sense to me at the time. Plans were needed to be made. I had a rather unusual idea of what we could do.
With a sigh, I finished eating the food in front of me and moved to begin what they expected to become my new life. There was no denying that if I didn’t do something soon everything would go from bad to worse, and yet I had no idea exactly how much time I had left. That was the downside to being in a place without the constant construct of time. We were adrift in space without any true way to tell the months or days. I just knew that I could not last more than four more nights or days here. From my studies, I knew that the last time this ship would stop to refuel and bring on supplies would be day four. After that, they would be too far away from any other planet that could aide any of us for months. Four days was all I had to make my escape if I did not want to be stuck on this metal deathtrap for eternity. I’d already risked too much by hiding the amulet that my mother gave me. I could not open the item, at least not yet, but I needed to find someone who could. That, and my temper was hard to control and my words would get me in much more trouble than ever before.
When it was clear that we were done eating, I watched as people in the room started to get up and leave. Dahlia motioned that I should follow her, and so I did. So far she’d done whatever she could to keep me safe. For that I was grateful. If my escape could be planned just right, we both could escape. That was the goal. Maybe with Dahlia there with me, things would actually make sense. She’d become an ally in such a small amount of time that I knew it would hurt me if she had to stay here.
To say that my mind was anywhere but where it needed to be was an understatement. I should have been focusing on the world around me. Instead, I was lost on the trail that my thoughts were taking me. While I had no doubt the role that the man wanted for me aboard the ship, the women were still expected to work in certain areas. If I could get myself assigned to the kitchens, we might have a chance.
Feeling a jerk, I focus my eyes on my wrist and then look up at the person holding them. Dahlia’s eyes jerked over to a room that we could use for the day. I was quickly coming to the conclusion that she had a lot more power than she let on. It wasn’t something that she wanted to admit, but then there were a lot of things that needed to be said. Inside the room, the first thing I did was look around.
“If you think the rooms are bugged, most are. This one is not. One thing about being the favored sibling is the ability to have places free from the technology that my brother insists on having. As long as you are with me, we are free from being overheard.”
For a moment, I was shocked but what could I say for certain. In here we were only as safe as she allowed us to be. If I did something to upset that I would lose this little bit of protection and I cannot risk it. At least not right now. I would risk it when I was willing to make my move and flee here.
“I have a plan. There might be a way we both can leave here and no one would know. You said the ship stops for supplies, but the stops are normally two or three days, right? If that is the case, the next stop appears to be scheduled for two days from now. In my walk through the ship, I noticed an herb garden. With the right mix of herbs, we can make them sick or put them to sleep long enough to we can escape from the settlement.”