Alien Beast’s Fated Mate: Chapter Two


“Give her a robe,” an irritated voice said.

I felt rough hay scratching my back beneath a thin, itchy blanket. My senses slowly returned after…how long had I been in that watery tomb? Days? Weeks?

When I finally managed to sit up in the dim, cramped chamber, a wad of coarse cloth smacked me right in the face. Oh lovely.

Raucous laughter ensued from two rather unkempt young women sitting together on a cot across from mine.

“First time in the Tomb is always the worst time,” the blonde one commiserated.

I quickly realized I was in some kind of dormitory cell. My charming new roommates had so graciously chucked a shapeless tunic at me to wear.

“Get dressed, sleeping beauty. We’ve got work to do,” the other woman added in a bored tone. She had straight black hair and eyes the shape of almonds, set in bronze skin.

I fumbled to pull the garment over my head, my body stiff and sore. “I take it you both have been in this dreadful place far longer than me?” I asked wryly.

The blonde nodded, chewing on a fingernail. “You catch on quick, girl. What’d they put in that pretty little head of yours?”

I paused, surprised to find I could answer. “Removing corrosion from the contact points in Monitor One.”

Where in blazes had that specific knowledge come from? I knew nothing about contact points or monitors before entering this nightmarish temple.

The brunette raised an eyebrow, looking mildly impressed for the first time. “Well, well. You can learn to learn. Good for you. In that case, I’m Mila.”

“Name’s Denna.” The blonde fluffed her mass of springy curls with one hand. “Guess it’s the three of us now. Our previous roommates got…reassigned.”

I shuddered, hugging my knees to my chest. The temple demanded five young women be sacrificed as tribute every year. “What happened to the other two girls who were with you?” I asked quietly, fearing I already knew the answer.

“Not suitable for temple slaves, we gather,” Mila replied with a careless shrug. “They’ve been…”

Applied. The ominous word slithered unbidden into my thoughts. I felt nauseous.

Denna gave me an assessing look. “You know what we’re doing here at least. Do you have any clue where we’re going next?”

I blinked in surprise as the answer popped readily into my mind. “Monitor One is on sublevel three west.”

“Well, let’s get moving then,” Mila said, standing up and stretching. “We’ve got a lot to do today, ladies.”

I slowly rose to my feet but immediately staggered, my legs rubbery and weak. Denna grabbed my arm to steady me.

“You’ll get your land legs back soon enough,” she said. “Takes some time to get used to whatever forbidden knowledge the priests crammed into your brainbox. Makes you dizzy at first.”

The cell door swung open at my push. I turned back to the other two slaves hesitantly. “Don’t they lock us in?”

Mila gave a harsh laugh and physically turned me around, shoving me out into the dim corridor. “The temple IS your life now, sister. Get used to it.”

I felt a chill run down my spine at her words.

Denna sidled beside me, slipping her arm supportively through mine as we walked. “Wouldn’t bother trying to escape if I were you,” she murmured. “They’ll kill any girl who tries running away.”

My mouth went dry and my steps faltered. “They’ll kill me?” I whispered.

Mila shook her head, her face grim. “Death would be a mercy. They’ll keep you alive instead. For a very long time.”

I shuddered at the thought, quickening my pace. What fresh hell was this place?

We turned a corner and I immediately recognized one of the robed figures approaching us. It was the same pale woman who had first led me into the temple, who had watched impassively as I was sealed into the lightless tomb.

Mila and Denna quickly bowed their heads and echoed, “Oracle.”

The woman blinked slowly at us. “Error,” she stated flatly. What a cheery greeting.

Without further acknowledgement, she handed each of us a small metallic device before gliding away down the hall.

Denna blew out an exasperated breath. “Good morning to you too, sister. Ever so chatty, that one.”

Mila silenced her with a sharp elbow to the ribs. “Have some respect. Niam wasn’t given a choice in her role here.”

I glanced between them questioningly as we descended a winding staircase.

“Niam was selected by lottery too,” Mila explained, “but she was just a baby when the priests took her. She’s spent her whole life growing up in this temple.”

Denna leaned in close with a theatrical whisper. “Rumor is becoming an oracle made her more than a little…eccentric. Strange even for one of their kind.”

I pondered that silently as we navigated deeper into the temple’s subterranean maze, trusting my feet to lead us unerringly to our destination. More questions than answers still crowded my mind.

We finally entered a spacious chamber filled with enormous panels that reminded me of auto-scribes, but expanded to wall size. Swirling symbols and colors shifted hypnotically across their glossy black surfaces.

I had no idea what any of it meant. But a clinical part of my brain knew exactly what needed to be done here.

“One day we might come to understand all this data,” Mila remarked in an ominous tone. “Can’t say I’m looking forward to that day…”

For now though, we were simply performing routine maintenance on the bizarre machines, guided by knowledge implanted in our minds. Without consciously deciding to, I found myself disconnecting a translucent tube that pulsed with crawling blue light.

Inside were thin wires tipped with golden nodes, squirming and wriggling like living things. Using the device the oracle had given me, I began methodically cleaning each one.

Glancing over, I saw Denna and Mila also efficiently tending to the disturbing biomechanisms, their faces stony.

Over the next few days, I settled into a grim routine. The dreams of my mysterious rescuer had utterly ceased. But I gradually learned more about my fellow captives.

Denna was a military brat from the fifth ring. Mila had grown up the child of leather workers in the lowest slums of the eighth ring. Both were hardened and cynical enough not to speak of loved ones left behind.

But one evening after lights out, Denna asked bluntly, “What did you do before your number came up in the lottery?”

I stared at the ceiling, struggling not to tear up at memories of happier days. “Not much. Just a glorified nanny and maid for a wealthy healer’s family on the third ring. Cooking, cleaning, gardening – making do with what herbs and vegetables we could grow on our terrace. Mother showed me how to sew dresses too.” I tried to keep my tone light.

Denna scoffed in the darkness. “That’s not a real job or skill. That’s just basic living, girl.”

“Is nannying even considered a job?” Mila wondered aloud. “If so, someone owes me a sack of coins.” She chuckled before adding kindly, “You must come from a high class family to live on the third ring though.”

Unwanted tears trickled down my temples into my hair. I stayed silent, jaw tight. The life I’d lost felt so far away now.

Mila seemed to sense my sadness. Her voice softened with sympathy. “How’d you end up as one of the chosen tributes then?”

I exhaled shakily. “I learned my real purpose right before being handed over to the temple. All those lessons in cooking, cleaning, sewing – they were meant to make me the perfect prize for some wealthy old man. A broodmare bringing status with my good breeding. My father hoped to use me to climb another ring up the social ladder.”

Bitterness seeped into my tone. “But I drew the unlucky lottery number instead, and Father’s grand plans were ruined.”

Denna made a small understanding sound. “Like our friend Branna then. Her parents essentially sold her to a prominent family who could afford to bribe the priests and save their own daughter from selection.”

I simply nodded, unwilling to explain further. Some secrets were mine alone to keep, at least for now.

We lapsed into silence until the cell door suddenly scraped open. The oracle’s waifish form was visible in the torchlight.

“The Tomb,” she intoned hollowly, unblinking gaze fixed on me. “You will acquire a new skill.”

Fear slithered down my spine like ice water.

I did not want to return to that lightless underwater crypt, suspended weightlessly in total darkness and silence. The very thought made my skin crawl.

But Mila’s scarred forearms caught my eye as she gave me an almost imperceptible nod. I remembered the brutal punishment the priests had inflicted before sending me into the Tomb the first time. Defiance or resistance would only make things worse.

With leaden feet, I followed the oracle out of the cell down to the chamber that held the sarcophagus pool. My palms began to sweat, my breaths coming faster.

Two tall robed figures awaited me impassively. I could not see their faces within the deep hoods, only shadow. But I sensed their malevolent power.

When I glanced pleadingly at the oracle, her gaze remained fixed straight ahead, disconcertingly vacant. She would be no help.

“Remove her robe,” one priest commanded in a deep, resonant voice that seemed to vibrate through my bones.

I hesitated only a moment before obeying, despising their desire to humiliate me by leaving me bare and vulnerable before them.

For long moments, they simply stared at my exposed flesh. I fought the urge to cover myself with my hands.

“The knowledge we will impart carries a heavy toll,” the other finally rasped. “Should your feeble mind survive assimilation, you will be initiated fully into our order.”

I couldn’t restrain a visible shiver at his words. Survive?

“Submit to the Tomb,” the first priest intoned.

Before I could ask what price they spoke of, both made a sweeping gesture in unison. Searing heat flashed across my skin, followed instantly by the wet agony of an open welt.

With a choked cry, I fell to my knees, clutching my head in anticipation of another blow. But none came.

“The Tomb awaits, fathers,” the oracle said tonelessly, moving between us.

I saw a smoking rent in her robe where their punishment had burned through to mark the flesh beneath. Yet she showed no reaction to what must be pain.

The slight diversion at least halted their assault.

“Yes…” the first priest drew out the word almost sensually.

“Into the Tomb,” the other echoed with a hungry rasp.

The oracle held an instrument that glowed green, erasing the worst of my injuries before binding me once more. 

Jaw clenched, I descended into the warm dark water, feeling the heavy stone lid seal me in silent captivity. What price would my mind pay for the secrets they forced into it this time?

Some unknown hours later, I awoke bolt upright on my cot, heart racing. I didn’t remember returning to the cell.

Disturbing dreams clung like cobwebs to my mind, just out of reach. Dreams of freedom…of escape.

I stood and hastily pulled on my robe and sandals, tiptoeing so as not to disturb Mila and Denna. But Mila’s whispered voice froze me in place.

“Where are you going, Lita?”

So much for sneaking out unnoticed. I turned reluctantly to face her, unsure how to answer.

I felt a powerful compulsion drawing me down into the temple’s lower levels. But why? What waited for me in those buried halls?

“I…I don’t know exactly,” I admitted. “But not here. I can’t stay trapped in this place another night.”

Mila slid silently out of bed and gripped my hands, her eyes pleading. “Please don’t do this. Wherever you feel called to go, it’s a trap. There are far worse fates than this cell. Please, just try to sleep.”

I wanted to believe her. But the relentless pull in my mind was impossible to resist. I gently pulled away, shoving past her out the cell door before I could change my mind.

“Lita, stop!” she hissed after me. But she didn’t follow.

Driven by compulsion, I descended deeper into the temple, navigating the maze of stairs and corridors without hesitation. It was as if my body moved of its own volition, my conscious mind merely along for the ride.

The walls gradually changed from roughly hewn stone to smooth metallic panels decorated sporadically with inscrutable symbols.

I was drawn short by one panel with a glowing design that turned my blood to ice: a pattern of intricate veins and sinews, undulating with lurid colors.

With dawning horror, I realized it was organic matter fused directly into the metal. Flesh and blood transformed into biomechanical circuitry.


Just as the Oracle had warned would happen if I would not, could not learn.

A screen suddenly flickered alight, making me jolt back in alarm.

“I am Branna,” a feminine voice stated from unseen speakers. “How may I serve?”

Wide, vacant eyes stared out from the monitor at me. With a strangled gasp, I whirled and ran, desperate to escape the grisly wall decoration and the sightless gaze tracking my flight.

In my panicked state, I lost my footing and tumbled with a short scream into absolute darkness. The compulsion fell silent, leaving me alone and disoriented.

I slowly got to my feet and felt along the smooth walls of what seemed to be a service tunnel. Then a dim light approached from the far end.

The oracle materialized before me, face unreadable as always. In one hand she held an ancient lantern, in the other…a bundled cloak?

“Error,” she stated in the same flat monotone. Then she dropped the cloak at my feet and backed away.

“Wait!” I blurted out before she could leave me alone again in the terrifying catacombs. “Where are we? Why did you bring me that cloak?”

She paused, blinking slowly. “Error. Lava tubes. Formed during the establishment of Terr.”

Lava? I didn’t understand her vague explanation about the founding of the city. But I had no chance to ask as she turned and disappeared into the shadows once more.

“Error,” her voice drifted back, then faded away.

Unsure what to make of her cryptic actions, I picked up the bundled siu wool cloak and wrapped it around my shoulders. It provided some small comfort.

But I was quickly reminded I was not alone down here.

“She thinks she can escape,” a contemptuous voice echoed around me, instantly recognizable as Father Aronn.

I whirled, searching desperately for anywhere to hide in the exposed tunnel.

“We will teach her obedience,” rasped Father Zarak. “Many, many times…”

Their lascivious words turned my blood to ice.

“Branna!” Zarak suddenly shouted. “Attend us! Where has the initiate fled to?”

His command seemed to reverberate directly into my skull. Moments later, I glimpsed flickering light rapidly approaching through the curved tunnel, reflecting off the polished black walls.

My pulse roared in my ears. They were coming for me.

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