(Right after President Samuel was captured and dragged to a cell on the Sue'tyrnian Ship; before Kellan’s and Alastair’s discussion about the Sue’tyrnians’ new home)
As soon as the door had closed behind him, the tension fell from his shoulders.
His body felt numb and his breath came out shaky. The silence around him was deafening as he walked down the silver corridor.
His steps never faltered even though he heard the thundering steps behind him. Whoever tried to close up to him wouldn’t be able to track him. All the years of his training were finally paying off as he soundlessly ran.
It was too much. Everything hurt and not even the pleading voice of his husband could undo the pain in his heart.
A sob escaped his throat.
Kellan rounded the corner and opened the first door he came across. To his surprise, he found himself in a storage room.
Not caring about where he was or what was stored in here, he chose one of the far away boxes at the end of the room. With a shove, he tested the solidity of the construction- a high pile of boxes and crates. When he was sure, it wouldn’t tumble, he climbed it; ignoring the pain in his stomach.
His already exhausted body remonstrated but he pushed himself up. Gritting his teeth, he reached the top and crawled behind two crates that would perfectly block the view so no one could find him.
He needed to think, to take a breath and embrace the calm and quiet.
Somewhere outside the room, the alarm started to buzz. The sound angered him for it disturbed his sweet silence. With a frown, he leaned his head against his knees. His arms were wrapped around his legs as he drew them close to his body. The slender figure that was his body shook with every choked breath he took as he replayed every word his father had said in the white room.
That the president had been plotting something had been a well-known fact to Kellan even though he had tried to deny it the whole time. Kellan had known it, but he hadn’t thought that his father would plan big scale treason like this. Even less could he believe for how long all this had been planned out.
It was disgusting. Kellan felt disheartened. He should have noticed much earlier. Why had he been so blind?
Why had everyone been so blind?
This had been going on even before Kellan was born. His grandfather could have been saved! Only if someone had noticed…
When suddenly, the door swung open, he tensed. There was no way he would be talking to the others right now. He needed time for himself. He needed a moment to recollect himself.
“Kellan, my love?” he heard his husband shout but his mouth stayed closed.
He was not yet ready to face the others. Not after what Samuel had done; not after what Kellan had decided.
Even though he hadn’t chosen execution, it certainly felt like he had done something like that.
Closing his eyes, he leaned back against the cold metal wall and blocked out the voices.
No, he was not yet ready. The numbness spread through his bones as he waited for them to leave the room.
The word spun in his head. Why? Why? Why?
Cold hands crawled over his skin. At the same time, raging fire crept trough his veins. His vision blackened again and again. Contractions shook his body; violent and unforgiving.
Searing heat devoured his skin. Tossing his head right and left, he tried to breathe through the pain.
It was just a memory, an echo but nevertheless torture. Burning tears and silent cries were all he could give at this moment.
Kellan pressed his eyes closed in a desperate attempt at kicking back those memories but all he accomplished was more horror and pain.
The world in his mind was covered in darkest red, threads of thickened blood hung from the ceiling.
Dark red bloomed on the walls. Little pools of red collected to his feet. Through all that, he heard the faint cry of a baby. Kellan wanted to follow the sounds as it faded. The wailing was more and more muffled until he heard nothing but his own terrified breathing and sobs.
When the wailing sounded again, he snapped his head up; eyes wide open but blind. The world was still red but soon the aggressive color faded and soft yellow light from the lamps on the ceiling illuminated his vision.
He was still in the storage room. He still sat on top of the boxes.
Kellan brought his hand to his stomach; frantically searching and desperately clutching something that wasn’t there anymore.
Sobriety washed over him as his hand fell limp to his side.
His lips trembled as he took a shuddering breath.
Hate began to infest his mind as he pushed himself to his feet.
As his heartbeat slowed down, he decided that he was ready to face the others.
That night, he restlessly tossed and turned. His husband Sartak had long since fallen asleep from exhaustion.
That had been hours ago but Kellan could still not sleep. His mind was a storm of thoughts, memories, and feelings. It was hard to keep quiet.
Even though his struggling hadn’t woken Sartak, Kellan didn’t want to risk making more noises than he already made. Sartak deserved some rest. His Phy’vohranian prince had worried himself sick over Kellan which was why he owed him a little bit of peace.
They were on the Pra’vs-kwarana, still up in space. There was no need for them to stay in the vast blackness that surrounded them but Kellan had requested it.
Up here, it felt like they were alone and all the bad things couldn’t reach him. Kellan wished to stay a little longer in this illusion of safety and calm.
He knew that he eventually needed to pick up his duties but he was not yet ready. There was too much on his mind and whenever he closed his eyes, the pain crept back into his cells.
Wayward tears would stream down his face; his throat would feel constricted. Breathing would become a challenge and his mind would play evil tricks. Somewhere in the far distance, he would hear a crying child; he would hear voices screaming his name; he would hear his own pleas for it all to finally end.
His body still felt banged up and sore but he wasn’t in pain anymore when he walked. Since he couldn’t sleep and take the rest he direly needed, he decided to get up.
Silently, he swung his feet over the mattress and placed them on the warm carpet on the floor.
The long fluffy hair of the dark blue carpet between his toes and under his feet was soft like fur.
Kellan tiptoed to the big seat and snatched his robe. Distracted by all his thoughts, he sloppily slipped into it and bound it closed in the front.
With one worried glance back at his sleeping husband, he left the room.
He was barely outside when he ran into Vex. The android eyed him with his unreal glance but restrained from saying anything. Without a word, he motioned Kellan to follow him. Curiosity got the better of him. Not thinking twice, he did as he was asked and trailed behind Vex as they made their way down into the belly of the ship.
The ship seemed almost empty but Kellan knew that quite a number of soldiers were still on board. Although it was most likely they hid somewhere where they wouldn’t accidently run into Kellan. Sartak had ordered them to leave his mate alone and Kellan was grateful. He was still not ready to deal with other people than his family and the people who had been there with him when shit had gone down.
Vex pushed the door to one of the courtrooms open and revealed a dark chamber with thick red curtains at the wall. Little flowers made of steel covered the walls, making the room look like a strange garden out of a dream. On the wall opposite of the door hung the painting of a white woman. The stars danced around her in a beautiful luminous swirl and when Kellan looked closer, he made out the shape of a big man holding her. The nebula and stars were not what they seemed- they were the man’s armor. The starry sky was him while the infinite blackness around them was the dark universe.
“The Queen of Stars,” Vex said with his genderless voice, “The Phy’vohranians like to wish upon the stars for they know they listen. She listens. Your husband has wished upon the stars for you to be all right again. He’s worried.”
The sideway glance Kellan gave him didn’t seem to bother the android butler. Although Kellan didn’t know why Vex ha told him just what he had, he nodded.
It wasn’t news to him that Sartak was worried. Nor was it news to him that the Phy’vohranians wished upon the stars. Mother Cosmos was their goddess and the stars the offspring of her daughter. Of course, they were holy to them and Kellan hoped that they really listened. He imagined it to be soothing to talk to them. There might be no answer from them, but who need answers all the time as long as someone just listened? Sometimes though, sometimes those wishes came true.
It might not be the stars who could help Kellan to get okay again, but he could work on that. He would do anything in his powers to make Sartak stop worrying. He owed it to his husband…after all Samuel had done. After all the pain Kellan’s sire had inflicted on his husband. There were scars- carved deep into Sartak’s soul, and some of them obviously visible to the eye.
Kellan should have dug deeper into the president’s business when he had noticed something was off.
Why hadn’t he done so then?
But he knew that it couldn’t be changed anymore. All he could do was making amendments now. Maybe he should also wish upon the stars and hope?
When he could still feel Vex’s glance after what felt like hours, he turned his head to look at the turquoise eyes of the other person- because, for Kellan, Vex was a person; no matter if he had a heart of flesh or wires.
“There was something else, Sire. General Byrn sent me to tell you something. We found encrypted documents on a hidden file in the research center. Your mother signed them and you and your brothers’ names are mentioned in it. The General is doing his best to decode the documents. Our best people are working on it,” he said when he was sure he had Kellan’s full attention.
Whatever it was, it didn’t seem to be that important because it hadn’t turned up earlier. If his mother had found it important for him to know, she would have mentioned something cryptic in her last letter.
Though, Kellan supposed it concerned genetic anomalies and other splice-business.
He already knew that he and his brothers- like most people who had ancestors from EVE-4- were more feral than others. The wild nature of their spliced animal ran deeper in their blood than it did with others from New Earth.
“If it eases your mind to see him locked away, Sire, I would gladly accompany you,” Vex added when a strange silence had originated once more.
Kellan gave him an unfamiliar look.
“We go and no one is to know about our little trip,” he said, wringing the promise from Vex even though he didn’t know if an android’s promise could be counted as such.
Anyhow, he didn’t care. Vex was the General’s butler and regarding how he had kept this secret message to himself, he was sure that Vex could keep another secret just fine.
He reached out his hand to the android and as Vex took it, they sealed the deal.
It was two days later that they left Nuxar’s palace with the excuse that Kellan needed some time alone again. He had refused more company than Vex’s and Valentine’s.
Valentine White was a remarkable fellow. For all his babbling and his bluntness, he could keep his mouth shut more than just well if needed.
Having gotten to know him with a boyish grin and throwing around innuendos, the grimness that radiated from him now was slightly unsettling.
Valentine was also the one who flew their glider- a private machine from EVE-4 since Kellan didn’t want to be noticed.
When he had told his husband he would be gone for today, Sartak had wanted to go with him or at least send guards with him but Kellan had refused. Vex was here to guard him.
The android wasn’t much taller than Kellan, they were about the same size but Vex could shoot lasers from his hands and draw weapons from his body. Other than that, the android had inhuman strength due to his body shaped from the hardest metal known to the universe.
So with Vex accompanying them, no one had a reason to object.
Now, they were heading towards the coast not too far away from Nuxar. The prison was located deep under the sea and could only be entered through a platform in the ocean. That platform was a lock that would open up and was big enough to let big passenger gliders through.
As soon as the engine roared to life, Kellan excused himself to the bathroom. There, he took out his bag and pulled his silvery white coat and gear from it. With trembling hands, he caressed the leather fabric and sighed.
It had been a while.
This thing was the twisted version of the executioner’s robe.
He had it tailored during the time when he had been sent out by Sky to do his dirty business. There had been no assassination involved but the things he had done for him weighed down on his conscience nevertheless.
With greatest care and a slightly melancholic feeling, he changed into this old gear.
The trousers and the jacket were made of thick gray leather and the silvery white coat had a back slit and walking slits on each side which meant that the bottom part looked fancy while giving him space to move around effortlessly. After putting on his black weapon belt and gloves, he folded up the collar of his coat.
A stray strand of platinum hair hung into his face and he pushed it back behind his ear.
Taking a shaky breath, he crouched down next to the bag. Slightly shimmering in the dim light that fell through the opening of the bag, his mask glared at him.
The haunting face was covered in swift swirls that looked like delicate vines. He gently touched the smooth surface. Holding it in his hands like the most precious thing ever, he rose to his feet and exited the bathroom.
When Kellan was back with the others, they silenced. Valentine looked at him with big eyes, his mouth slightly open in awe.
Vex stared at him with the same haunting eyes as ever but his lips curved into a smile.
“I have the signet ring. None of you is to state my name,” he gave them the solemn warning.
Said signet ring was sitting in a box on his seat. It was the sign of the highest servants of the government. The seal was made of Earth’s banner and the ancient Latin sentence IVSTITIASVMVSLEXSVMVS (‘Iustitia sumus, Lex sumus.’) which meant ‘We are justice, we are law.’.
It was the presumptuous audacity of the council- mainly the president and his closest advisors- and the higher governmental institutions that thought themselves above all.
Still, Kellan owned this ring for the mere fact that he was a Lord of Earth. Samuel had only given it to him with great reluctance and a sneer on his lips.
No matter how much he hated that signet ring for the simple reason that it had a sentence written on it Kellan thought should never be publicly stated if a government claimed to be a democracy, he was happy he had it now.
The ring contained a chip code that was valid throughout space and would open him many doors- such as the prison’s gates- without having to reveal his identity.
Today, his father would get to know him for real.
“We have him in a high-security cell on the lowest floor;” the prison’s director told him and Kellan nodded in bored acknowledgment.
When they had arrived, only waving the signet ring in front of the camera had opened them the door and when they had exited the glider, the director had almost been on his knees while greeting him.
Now, though…now they walked down a seemingly endless corridor. The convicts had crawled out of their corners to see what the entire ruckus was about as they were followed by a delegation of armed soldiers. This wasn’t about the convicts being dangerous but the danger of others trying to free those convicts. Even though it was said that no one had ever escaped or managed to break into the prison, this place kept its high-security standards.
Kellan was totally fine with it. He knew that this prison was one of the securest prisons of all known planets.
They took the elevator down and as it raced them to the bottom of this prison, the glass walls gave away free sight at the long corridors on each floor. The elevator was in the middle of the prison and was connected to the levels through bridges that could be driven back into the floor. No one could escape if the only connection up was gone.
When they were finally on the last floor, Kellan felt a strange numbness in his chest. He tried to shake the feeling off but it wouldn’t go. This was probably the most important step he would ever take. Today, he would stop being Samuel’s son for he had no other desire than to cut ties with this man forever.
He would no longer aim for his father’s attention or his approval. He would rise above this today. Kellan was ready to step out of his brothers’ shadows and show his father his true face- a son he might have approved of for he had though a golden heart alone was useless.
They had to pass through several thick security doors to reach the sector his father was kept in. But when they finally stood in front of the thick rocket-proof glass window of Samuel Harrison’s cell, there was no satisfaction in looking at his father behind bars.
There was no malicious glee in seeing the disheveled person behind the glass.
Suddenly, though, as if he had noticed that he was being watched, Samuel’s head snapped up and he stared at the window. And still, as arrogant and conceited as ever, he strode close and stopped a few feet away from the glass. That sneer on his face was the thing Kellan had hated the most. It was a sneer reserved for only him.
This sneer told him that Samuel knew exactly who was here…who he thought was here- his useless, cowardly son.
Without further ado, he demanded to be let inside the cell and when he stepped through the door inside his father’s little new home, Samuel turned his head towards him.
The sneer faded away and a questioning look replaced that overbearing expression he usually wore.
Not even letting him ask, Kellan started speaking, although his voice sounded strangely distorted due to the mask he wore.
“You should have known better. I will never forgive you. You might not care about this but you will care about what I have to tell you next,” he paused and when he knew he had Samuel’s attention he went on. “I will strip away all your power; your allegiances. Your name shall be forgotten; your legacy shall be forgotten; your cause shall be forgotten. Your followers shall be disbanded and trialed. You shall not be remembered beyond the title of The Disgraced Lion. Your family has abandoned you; your crown was never yours. A usurper and traitor has no claim; no name; no rights. You will spend the rest of your days in prison; you will vanish into oblivion. This is the ultimate reward for making the wrong choice; for failing us as you did.”
Turning on his heel, he left the dumbfounded man behind. This was it. He had wanted to say so many other things but in the end, he had decided against it. His father had gotten a glance at the person he was; the creature he had become in order to survive.
This was the end of a chapter in his life. A new page, a new chapter began as he walked past the other who had been waiting for him.
He was only happy that no one saw his tears; that the mask hid all the emotions he could no longer contain.