We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Using Fejo: Chapter 28

Stabbing pain assaulted Vanessa, spearing into the back of her skull and making her stomach roil. She leaned over the bed and heaved as her brain pulsed. Moving made everything worse, so she remained huddled over the edge of the bed for several minutes, waiting for the stabbing ache to lessen. When it did, she could finally recall things.

She scanned her surroundings, realizing she was on the Ylare, in a bedroom that wasn’t Fejo’s. Movement to her left drew her gaze, and she stared in horror, her jaw dropping open at three rounded windows along the wall. Space. She was in space. Not on the watery planet. The fact that she wasn’t in Fejo’s room could only mean one thing. He wasn’t here.

This new realization forced the contents of her stomach to crawl up her throat. She vomited onto the floor, bile fighting with the sobs bubbling up in her chest. She’d failed him. This was all her fault. She failed Fejo and Julie and Mia and Manx and Molu and Uja and everyone. They were all dead or worse—because of her. She had to go back.

Mind a blur of fear and desperation, she crawled out of the bed and stumbled to the door. It didn’t open. She pounded on the metal until her hands felt like knives were being jabbed into her palms with each hit. Vanessa continued screaming and clawing at the door for what could’ve been minutes or hours.

Eventually, she stopped. With a defeated sob, she placed her palms flat on the cold metal and slid to the ground, silent cries shaking her shoulders. She wept until her tear ducts stung, her body refusing to produce any more moisture.

She stared unblinkingly. Eyes open but not really seeing. Cold fury set up residence in her hollow, aching chest. Somebody would have to come and see to her sooner or later, and when they did, she’d rip them apart.


Her body was not her own anymore. A monster who only wanted revenge had taken its place. She’d been standing by the doorway for hours, gripping a solid, three-foot metal rod, the edge bloody from her torn-up hands. She’d disassembled every piece of furniture in this place, slicing her skin open as she did. This long, jagged-edged piece of metal from the sleeping loft railing had been the best weapon she could find.

Memories of being abducted and confined to a cell back on Clecania kept rushing back to her and made the fire in her veins burn more brightly. If the asshole flying this ship was like the assholes who’d locked her up originally, all she’d have to do was wait for him to come check on her.

Though they should, her feet no longer hurt. She couldn’t feel the open cuts on her hands. Anger had turned her hard. Or maybe the adrenaline was causing her not to feel pain. She stood with the rod raised by her shoulder, ready to swing it like a baseball bat as soon as somebody opened the door. From this position, her biceps should’ve been burning, but they weren’t.

After what felt like an eternity passed, she heard metal locks sliding out of place. Time seemed to slow, seconds ticking by as if they were minutes. Her grip on her weapon tightened. She saw a tray first, piled with food, and swung. The rod made contact right in the center of Capra’s face. The tray crashed to the ground, and Capra went flying back against the wall of the hallway before crumpling. Blood streamed out of his nose, and he groaned.

Keeping the rod with her, she raced through the ship. On many occasions, Fejo had told her about the escape pods and how they worked. Though he hadn’t let her visit the loading bay, always wanting to keep her away from Maladek and Capra, he’d described every button and symbol she’d have to press to ensure the pod would take her to the closest habitable port.

Her throat closed. Was Fejo still alive? She bit down on her lip until she tasted iron. The pain helped to keep her from falling apart entirely. She refused to believe he was dead. Not until she saw it with her own eyes. She found the door to the loading bay and pressed a palm to the control panel, leaving a smear of blood on the metal.

Her mind seized on the last thing she’d said to Maladek, and she realized she didn’t know what he’d done. Was he on the ship? Was he driving this thing while Capra brought her food?

The door to the loading bay slid open, and she gripped the rod with sticky palms, now afraid Maladek might be lurking behind any corner. The large, open space was lined with secured metal boxes, like smaller versions of shipping containers. And in the middle of the room was the largest container of all. It still smelled a little—the briny, sour scent of that planet wafted off it.

She tore her gaze away and spotted the escape pods right where Fejo had described. Vanessa trailed over to them, her shoulders slumping. A large metal container had broken free from the wall and had fallen directly in front of the pod doors. Her hand dropped to the side, her weapon clanking on the ground. Never in a million years would she be able to move the container and get into an escape pod.

Anger surged through her again, and her gaze swiveled around the cavernous room. Hooks and machinery were bolted down here and there, but she had no idea where to begin to look. With a furious cry, she lifted the rod and just stopped herself from slamming it down into the side of the fallen container. Clenching her fists and jaw until her arms were shaking, she tried to contain the scream clawing at her chest and let it out inside her head instead. She dug the palms of her hands into her closed eyes.

Breathing hard, her gaze landed back on the large container in the center of the room.

All of this for whatever was in there. All those men’s lives—Julie’s life and Mia’s—apparently less valuable than whatever was in that damn box. There was a door with a control panel next to it on the long side of the box, and she saw it was slightly ajar. Capra hadn’t even bothered to lock it.

She walked inside the black interior of the container, propping the door open and trying to give her eyes time to adjust. Blinding lights flickered overhead, motion activated. She stared around. Stacked five high and four across were long rectangular boxes, with a narrow space to walk in between each column. Flickering lights blinked on each of the boxes.

Vanessa blinked and walked forward, her sticky bloody weapon dragging on the floor behind her. She reached one of the boxes at shoulder height and saw there was a clear glass section on top. She peered in and her heart stopped. Placing a palm on the glass, she let out a clipped wail and lowered her forehead to rest beside her palm.

Women. This was a container full of what she assumed were human women. The pretty blonde inside the box she was touching had her eyes closed. She looked so peaceful. Just sleeping. Not yet aware that she’d been ripped from everything she knew.

PRIC hadn’t been defeated. The Insurgents had been so quiet for so long that most had assumed they’d disbanded. Maybe they had. But it was clear someone new was taking over. She looked at a screen placed in the center of the long side of the coffin-sized box and saw a picture of the sleeping woman in the same position, eyes closed. Next to her picture was writing.

She recognized a few of the letters from the classes she’d taken to learn to read Clecanian writing. Though she couldn’t read well yet, the format of the writing was familiar, the letters arranged in a way she saw often. It was a name.

Was it the blonde’s name? She looked back to the glass portion, showing the woman’s face, and saw a bloody handprint where her hand had once been. Movement sounded from outside. Wheezing breath and staggered steps. On instinct, she lifted the metal rod, and the pipe clanged against one of the boxes. She froze. The wheezing noises from outside stopped.

He’d heard her.

She took quiet, measured steps toward the door. Her ears strained, and she listened for any hint of movement. Before she even realized he’d gotten closer, Capra flashed into the doorway. She swung the rod at him again, but this time he caught it in one large palm and ripped it out of her hands, pulling her forward and making her sprawl on ground. Still trying to get breath back into her lungs, she flipped and crawled backward, glaring up at him.

His face was bloody, his nose bashed in and bent at an odd angle. Blood rush down his chin, and she could already see bruises forming over his face. He snarled at her, lunging. His meaty fist gripped the fabric of her shirt and he lifted her up as if she were a rag doll, his knuckles slamming into her chin as the fabric rose up her stomach.

“I should’ve known you’d cause trouble.” He lifted a spray nozzle to her face.

Memories of a similar spray from her last night on Earth came back to her. Knowing what was about to happen, she rushed out, “Where’s Fejo?”

Before he pressed down on the nozzle, he grimaced and let out a humorless chuckle. “Dead.”


When Vanessa woke, her arm and shoulder ached. Stabbing pain flashed from her neck down to her wrist. She peered toward where the pain emanated. Her right wrist was cuffed to a chain, which connected to the stairs of a sleeping loft in one of the many rooms on the ship. This one was different from the one she’d torn apart earlier.

How long had she been out? She had no idea, but she assumed it’d been a while because there was a gnawing hunger in her stomach, and three trays of water and food were haphazardly placed next to her, one of which smelled off. Had Capra brought her food but not bothered to wake her up to make sure she ate it?

With her free hand, she rubbed her shoulder, then massaged the rest of her arm until the pins and needles went away. She sucked in a hiss of pain when she moved her wrist and found it was raw.

The pain seemed to jar something loose inside her, and she pictured Fejo. Her eyes swelled with tears and her chin wobbled. Capra had said he was dead.

All the fight spurring Vanessa on seeped out of her. She’d never see her sister or niece again. Fejo was gone. And she could just imagine where this ship was heading. Capra was taking her back to Clecania, but she sincerely doubted he’d drop her at the Pearl Temple. No.

Especially now that she’d seen what their package contained. There was no way Klinara would let her go free after witnessing that.

She stared at the food, hunger pains sliced through her insides, but she felt too nauseated to eat. Reaching to each of the three cups, she sipped the water and waited to see if her body rejected it before picking up a stale piece of bread.

The only reason she was on the ship at all was because Klinara apparently wanted to meet her. Wanted to meet the woman Fejo valued more than her. And if anything Fejo had told her about Klinara was true, she imagined the woman would want to torture her in one way or another.

Vanessa couldn’t bring herself to care. All the hope that’d kept her going leaked away and left her numb. Nothing mattered. She was just some inconsequential, incapable human. The knowledge that she’d doomed those men to a horrible fate because of her stupid, selfish plans made bile coat her throat.

She scraped her nail over the hard piece of bread in her hand and curled into a ball on the ground. She remained huddled there, clutching the bread until the door slid open and Capra stalked in.

Her gaze slid to him, but she remained curled on the ground. She stared in silence, and he stared back, looking like he wanted to pummel her.

“What are you going to do with those women?” she murmured, not really expecting him to answer.

His mouth lifted in an ugly, cruel smirk, but his face was still so swollen and bruised that the gesture made him wince. Vanessa laughed at him. He scowled. “I didn’t know you were stupid. What do you think she’s gonna do with the humans?”

Vanessa shut her mouth, turning her gaze away. She could only imagine what they were going to do. “And what about me?” she questioned, not looking at him.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him shrug. “No idea. I was ready to take you back to my hometown. I would’ve treated you well. I didn’t realize what a little savage you were. Klinara wants you now, though.”

“Probably needs a bridge partner.” Vanessa scoffed without humor, every part of her carved out and bitter.

“Are you done eating?” he growled.

She focused on the crumbly piece of bread. “No.”

“That’s too bad. I don’t have time to watch you and worry about what you’re going to hit me with next.”

“I didn’t realize you were smart enough to fly a spaceship,” she muttered.

He snarled at her, advancing and reaching into his back pocket. He drew out the spray, and she didn’t fight or move when he pushed it into her face.

Maybe sleep would be better. Every waking moment cut her down a little bit more. Reminded her of everything she’d lost and everything she’d caused others to lose. Having the choice taken away felt like a relief.


She counted three new trays in front of her. Three days? Or three meals in one day?

Vanessa didn’t know how long they’d traveled for. If they’d made any port stops. If they were traveling at hyper-speed or at a slow speed to stay under the radar. She wasn’t even positive where they were going, though she assumed it was Clecania.

All of her waking hours felt the same. They were riddled with a pain worse than she’d ever known before. One she constantly smothered under a mask of numb indifference. She focused all her efforts on not thinking about Fejo.

Eventually Capra would come in. She’d insult him, goading him into making her sleep again. The blissful blackness was the only thing to look forward to.

Before he’d sprayed her last time, he’d told her they were getting close. The next time she woke, they’d be near home.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode