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A Word of Caution

Welcome to the realm of the Unseelie Court. Feel free to wander and browse, but know that the content you will find here is not for the faint of heart. The visions portrayed are often darkly erotic, even disturbing, and should be traversed only by those with the appropriate character and mental age.

You have been warned.


Freedom for Tara

Chapter 2 – Introductions

When I emerged, several hours later, I looked around for Benie but couldn’t see her. I was really hoping to have someone I knew to show me how to get something to eat, but it wasn’t to be. I wandered over to the other side of the circular prison we all inhabited, to where I noticed a number of other females consuming various kinds of food. The mix of different smells nearly caused me to put off eating, but eventually my stomach won out over my nose and I walked up to what I thought might be a refrigerator. I was acutely aware that I was being watched by every other entity in the area, and tried hard not to make a fool of myself. But when I couldn’t even figure out how to open the damn door to the thing, I sighed and turned around to go back to my room. Another Fretah girl was standing just behind me and I nearly ran into her. I jumped and bashed my elbow on the hard surface of the inset machine now behind me.

“Hello,” said the overly happy young woman, her long ears flapping just slightly as she bounced on her toes. “You must be Tara.”

I shook-off the adrenaline rush and sighed. “Yeah… I must be.”

“I’m Zed. Benie mentioned I should look out for you while she’s in her sleeping cycle.” She replied in a fast-paced, bubbly tone. She seemed nearly the exact opposite of the calm, measured Fretah female that had been my previous guide. “So ask me anything you’d like, even if it seems silly or obvious… to me… obvious to me I mean… or silly. Hey, you’re Terran, right?”

“Uh, yes I am.”

The girl seemed about ready to burst with happiness. “Oh, that’s so wonderful. We really needed another Terran. It seems like it’s been so long since Sue got trapped by that Lunger and we lost her. But I know it can’t have been more than a fourth.”

“A fourth,” I asked, thinking more about what the hell a Lunger might be.

“Oh! Sorry! You wouldn’t have any idea about galactic time since… you’re Terran!” She giggled. “Benie mentioned that too… the time, not that you were Terran. I mean, she mentioned that you were Terran, just not at the time…”

My stomach growled.

“Oh, wow. You’re hungry, aren’t you? I bet you are, because you probably haven’t eaten anything since you got here… How would you, since you don’t even know how to work the replicators because… you’re Terran!”

She giggled again, and I took the Fetah girl by the arms if for no other reason than to get her to shut up for a moment.

“Zed, I’m starving. Can you please show me how to get something to eat before I pass out?”

She looked a little surprised, but then smiled. “It’s easy! I’ll show you.” I let her go and she moved up in front of the refrigerator thing. Placing her hand flat on the front, the top half under her fingers faded into a mat-black display of sorts. Images in a line appeared, and when I leaned in to look more closely, I saw that each picture was of a different kind of food… or rather something that must have been food for a Fretah. A few items looked downright disgusting and I began to feel like I might not be hungry after all.

“Of course,” she continued in her high, peppy voice. “These are foods from my home world. When the Var-Lish pick up a new species for their games, they watch to see what they eat first and then take samples for their replicators.”

“Replicators,” I repeated, still a bit confused. “So… I don’t have to eat that,” I said pointing to something that looked like snot in a bowl.

“Oh no. Terran food has been in the database for quite some time! Just put your hand on the panel.”

When the Fretah girl backed away, the display vanished. Hesitantly, I stepped forward and put my palm up. There was a warm buzz as soon as my fingers touched the surface, and then the display was back. My mouth started watering at the very first item, which I saw was a large plate containing a cheeseburger and some fries. The next item was nearly the same, but with bacon, then a chili-burger, then onion rings… It didn’t take long to figure out that the Var-Lish had sampled from what looked like one location, which was almost certainly a fifties style diner.

“Great… so I’ll survive the games only to die of a coronary. If I eat this stuff for every meal it’ll kill me.”

“Is it poisonous?” Asked the girl with genuine stress on her face. “Sue never mentioned that any of her selections were deadly.”

I laughed. “Well, no. They all appear edible, even tasty. It’s just… well some Terran foods are delicious, but not very helpful nutritionally.”

The Fretah seemed to understand. “Yes, she did mention that. She said they made her ‘fat’.”

I grinned. “I bet they did. Hmm, I wonder…” I started scrolling through the rest of the list. Most diners at that time usually had some kind of soup. Sure enough, nearer the end of the list was a bowl of what looked like something vegetable.

“Okay, how do I get this one,” I asked.

“Just tap the image.”

I did so. “Like this?” There was a hiss, which startled me slightly, and then some light from the window of the ‘replicator’. A few moments later I looked in and could clearly see a bowl of soup, complete with spoon and napkin. Steam rose from the surface and my mouth watered.

“How do I open…” The door slipped upwards, allowing me to reach in and take out my meal. “Cool. Wish I had one of these puppies at home… on second thought, my waistline couldn’t handle it.” I looked around for a place to sit.

By that time, Zed had made a selection of her own and led me to an empty table. I sat down and tried to ignore the fact that everyone was still watching me. Picking up my spoon, I took a tenuous sample of the soup.

“Not bad. Needs a little salt, but otherwise…”

“Sue had that selection a lot,” mentioned the Fretah while she daintily picked at her own meal. It appeared to be a chopped fruit salad of some kind and I found myself a little envious.

“She did? Makes sense. Though, those chili-fries looked awfully tempting. How’s yours?”

The girl stopped for a moment and blinked at me.

“Uh… Did I say something wrong?”

After a few seconds, she smiled again, but I could see that there was a deep sadness behind it. “Sue always asked about my food, too. Fretah don’t talk about what they eat, but she asked anyway.”

“I’m sorry,” I replied apologizing. “I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Oh no. You didn’t. You wouldn’t know anyway. It’s just…”

Suddenly, I understood. “You two were close, weren’t you?”

She nodded, silently.

“And you miss her.”

Tears formed in the corners of her eyes.

“Aw shit. Look Zeb, I know I can’t replace Sue. I don’t want to replace her… really. But since I’m the only Terran, and you’ve been really friendly and helpful, I’d be happy to be your friend if you…”

Suddenly, the Fretah had stood up, reached over the table, nearly knocking my soup into my lap, and embraced me in a tight hug. I was a little shocked, but patted her back while she sobbed for several minutes. Finally, she disengaged herself and sat back down, sniffing. If the rest of the alien cafeteria noticed, they were choosing to ignore us now.

“Thank you,” she offered, wiping the tears from her face.

“Well, sure,” I replied, making use of my napkin. I was a little worried what I had just committed myself to, but felt that I could probably use all the friends I could get.

We sat and ate mostly in silence after that. The soup, while certainly an alternative to the cheeseburger, would get boring real quick, and I didn’t see anything on my menu that looked like it would be suitable at all as a breakfast food. I’d have to experiment later. Zeb showed me how to use the recycler, explaining that the plate, spoon, and whatever else one put into it, would be broken down and converted back into pure energy. Whatever, so long as I could eat.

“Would you care to meet some of the others,” the girl asked hopefully.

I was hesitant, but decided that I would need to get it over with sooner or later. So with a deep breath, Zeb escorted me around the rim of our facility, introducing me to my fellow prisoners. Some, such as Zeb, and two other Fretahs named Nusho and Gerisha, were friendly enough. Once you got past their eyes and the long ears, they were pretty human-like in their mannerisms and expressions. Others, such as Makali, the four-armed Tre’nae I had first encountered upon my arrival, were harder to get used to.

There were two Arnisha, who are hairless, timid, and sport webbed hands and feet, and three pairs of Barlos twins, who I learned are genetic duplicates of each other. They’re also telepathically linked to their counterpart, and have the unsettling tendency to finish each other’s sentences. They could have passed as Earth humans had it not been for the color of their skin, which was a deep shade of blue.

There was a Muri girl with large eyes and birth markings that looked like a tattoo gone wrong, and three Reesethee Marroons, who, much to my embarrassment, consider it a sin to wear clothing… ever. Their nose, as well as an extra ear, also happens to be located on the back of their heads.

At one point, we passed an area that looked different than anywhere else. There were swirling tribal markings painted on the walls, and the single occupant caused me to do a doubletake because she looked like a giant Bengal tiger wearing a leather bikini. I tapped Zed on the shoulder when I saw that she was about to pass on by.

“Hey, who’s that?” I motioned with my thumb over my shoulder.

The Fretah frowned. “That’s Crish. She’s Kzin,” she replied as though her race should explain everything.

“And… why don’t you introduce me?”

The girl’s eyes got big. “Oh no, no… Crish has chosen to solo. We don’t talk to her.”


“Uh… She has chosen not to participate in any way with the rest of us.”

“Really,” I said turning to take another look at the strange female. “She seems like just the kind of… gal, I’d want at my side.”

“She wouldn’t help you. She fights only for herself.” Zeb turned away and I was forced to move on.

By the time we made the whole circuit, Benie was waiting for us in the common area.

“I assume Zeb has introduced you to the others,” she asked as she sipped on a hot drink. A cup of coffee sounded really good right about then.

“Got the grand tour,” I replied smiling. “One second,” I said and excused myself to the replicators. After a bit of searching, I discovered a meal that appeared to have a cup of coffee with it and made my selection. Moments later I was dumping all but the coffee into the recycle bin when I noticed I had pulled out the fork by reflex. After a moment’s reflection, I dropped the thing into the pocket of my skirt, and rejoined the two Fretahs.

“I’m going to have to work on some sugar, but black will do for now,” I said cryptically to the pair before sitting down.

“So, what do you think,” asked Benie when I had taken a few sips of my drink.

“Of what?”

She tilted her head to the side. “Of our band of abductees.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “What’s to say? I hardly know any of them.”

“Surely, you must have some comments.”

I stared into the dark liquid in my cup. Reflected back at me was my own face. “It’s all so insanely weird. I want to just start screaming, but I’m pretty sure I’d never stop. If you’re looking for an easy, upbeat answer, I’m afraid I don’t have one for you. This whole place sucks, and all in all, I’d rather find that it was just a dream that I had while passed out from over-stimulation during sex. But I know it’s real.”

“That’s good,” said the Fretah, simply.

“It is? How can it possibly be good?”

“Because it means that you have enough strength to survive. Many who come here don’t. They can’t accept that much change in their world view, and they turn inward to escape. It’s unusual that they survive even to run in a single game.” The dark-eyed girl was very serious as she spoke, and I had the feeling that more than food and plates ended up in the recycler.

“Speaking of which,” I asked to get my mind off the track it was on, “how often do they take place? Is it a daily thing?”

“A Terran day is somewhat shorter than a standard galactic day. Think of our days as about thirty of your hours. In that sense, the Var-Lish pick contestants approximately every three days.”

“And the number chosen?”

“Random, or nearly so. Remember, we are entertainment, so we serve the will of the general Var-Lish population.”

I considered this. “So… they watch us during the matches and transmit our escapades to whomever wishes?”

“Basically, yes.”

“I’ll have to remember that. Is it live?”

Benie frowned. “I do not understand…”

“Um, real-time. Does the transmission match the action one-to-one?”

There was an “ah” moment on the woman’s face. “I see. I have no way to be sure, but I believe so. Why?”

I smiled. “Oh, no reason. But I can think of a number of interesting uses for a live audience.”

Her eyes stared at me intently. “It is said that Terrans are one of the most cunning races in known space. It’s for that reason that the Var-Lish rarely have more than one of your kind aboard at a time. You have been here for less than a day, and already you are plotting against them.”

I was taken aback. “Whoa, whoa… I never said anything about a rebellion or any kind of plot…”

“Did you not just mention a way to exploit one aspect of the games for your own purposes?”

My mouth opened. “Well… sure, but…”

“Tara, this is not something that has occurred to any of us here,” and she motioned with her hand to include the whole of their prison. “And I can assure you, some of us have been here for quite a while.”

“But… it’s just obvious!”

She shook her head. “To you. Not to us. It is simply not in our nature to think of such things.”

I was incredulous. “Wow. I don’t care how advanced you guys are, you wouldn’t last five minutes in any major city on Earth. They’d eat you alive!”

Benie frowned. “I was not aware that your species had cannibalistic tendencies.”

I had just taken another sip of coffee and very nearly coughed the stuff out my nose in mirth.

“No, no. I just meant that they would take advantage of you.”

She breathed a little easier. “I see… Would they really? A total stranger?”

“Oh yeah. Ruthlessly,” I smiled.

She made the equivalent of a harumph. “Amazing. Well then, Tara, I am very glad indeed that you are here.”