Voices pulled him from the blankness of unconsciousness.
“-unless you want your boss melting your badge for scrap before the end of your fucking shift.” A woman’s snarl. It occurred to Alarath that he hadn’t talked to a woman since waking up in this new world. He opened his eyes.
The walls around him were sterile white, lit brightly enough to eliminate any shadows. He lifted his head, wincing as the movement sent a spasm of pain up his chest. Thick blue covers were draped over him. Wires snaked from beneath. He traced their path to a mass of machines hanging next to his bed. Grey displays of numbers indicated statistics unknown to him. As he watched, one of the machines whirred, and a spurt of liquid traveled down the tube towards his chest.
Alarath jerked his arm back, a silver restraint on his wrist held fast. He could only watch as the fluid slithered into his vein. Wriggling his other limbs confirmed they were similarly restrained. A prisoner, then. Unsurprising. But what were these machines, and liquid? Poison? A sedative? He felt no less healthy or aware than he had before. White bandages covered his chest and arm. Medical treatment? Who would provide such aid to a prisoner?
The door burst in and a tall woman who looked like she would have fit right at home in a Daevite army strode into the room. Two men entered behind her. She paused when she saw him looking at her. Her grey eyes matched gazes with his and didn’t flinch. “That’s a problem,” she said.
“Who are you?” Alarath said. His throat strained with each word.
The woman ignored him. She turned to one of the men, a short, red-headed man with the kind of bulk that only came from a lifetime of war. “Get him back under.”
The man nodded and strode forward. He drew a clear cylinder tipped by a long blade from his coat pocket. Alarath lashed his limbs out, trying to escape, but he couldn’t stop the blade from slipping between his muscles, and unconsciousness stealing him again.
He woke strapped down in near-darkness. A small light above him illuminated a small room. The red haired man sat next to him, holding a long black weapon. The bed jostled. They were in a carriage, then? Going where? Alarath supposed he would find out. He doubted there would be any point in asking. The ride passed in silence, outside of the occasional noise from the outside world or grunt when the vehicle ran over a rough bump. After what could have been only an hour or half a day, he felt them sliding to a stop. The back of the door slid open.
“Awake again? Tough fucker.” He couldn’t see the source of the voice, but recognized it as the woman from before. “What are you people standing around for?” He felt hands dragging the slab he was strapped to back, and flinched as the noon sun flooded his eyes. He found himself staring at the woman upside down.
“So,” she said, “this is how it works. We don’t know who you are or where you come from. But we’re going to find out. And it’ll be a lot less of a pain in my ass if you cooperate.”
“If I do, you’ll release me?” he said. He didn’t particularly care what the answer was. But it was what she expected.
“Fuck no,” she said. “But you’ll get a nice cage, and we won’t have to hit you as much.”
Alarath struggled to look around from his position on the slab. Four men with weapons stood around the woman. The red headed man was still in the vehicle, watching silently. His weapon just raised enough to be prepared for violence. “Well,” he said, grinning. “How could I refuse?”