I hated the Pax.
The Pax Praepositus had taken over everything. It permeated every facet of life. In most places, a person could hardly take a piss without the Pax’s permission and oversight. It imposed its will on every species it came across, either by subjugation or extermination. Converto vel Intereo was scrawled on the hull of every ship in the Pax’s fleet. Convert or Die. Any sentient species that looked a little too human or not quite human enough didn’t even get the first choice.
It altered history in whatever way it saw fit, corrupted science to suit its own warped view of reality. The Pax had installed its twisted religion as the basis for universal central government and it was headed by the biggest con-artist in human history. Pope Albert I was “Man’s Mediator Before God, Amen”. In every place on every planet the Pax touched, he was God, for all intents and purposes. And the pompous fuck had a thing for ancient Latin, and for keeping the masses illiterate. Very few of us remained that could still read and write in any language, let alone Latin. It was no accident.
Nobody was really sure how many people lived under the Pope’s banner, or even how many species, except maybe that insipid little bean counter of his, Caldovar. Caldovar was a bootlicking psychopath with a taste for torture, but the spine of a jellyfish. Anyone who crossed him or even looked at him funny found themselves in restraints, Caldovar’s helpless play thing. His other sick personal passion was to track the numbers. How many before and how many after the purges.
There was a nearly infinite number of reasons to hate the Pax on ideological grounds.
But most of all I hated the Pax Praepositus for personal reasons. The Pax had killed Kate.
More specifically, Albert’s Secretary of Information Restriction had killed Kate and I had been forced to watch. We had been sold out by some informant somewhere, and we were captives aboard his ship, the Vox Excorio. The Vox was the biggest, fastest ship the Pax had, so of course it was commanded by the biggest ego and the biggest inferiority complex.
The Secretary of Information Restriction styled himself appropriately for the size of his ego, too. His official address was His Grace Davidicus Fontis Foveo Deus. We just called him Tardicus. We’ve always been rather informal that way.
He and his troopers had found a way to avoid our sensors. They had boarded our ship and had watched for hours while Kate and I made love in the sleeping quarters. They had watched, and they had waited.
They watched as Kate came out of the head in a new black lace teddy. Who the hell knows where she might have gotten that, in this day and age? Something like that would cost a fortune on the Black Market, if you could even find someone who still knew what a teddy was.
They watched as she lowered the gravity, then lowered the lights.
They watched as she crossed the sleeping quarters in one jump, tackling me and pinning me to the bed. Not a bunk, but a bed. Kate had had it built specially for our quarters by a back-world craftsman of dubious history but great skill.
They watched as she kissed me softly on the lips, then told me how much she loved me.
They watched as she took her time undressing me, as slowly and sensuously as she had for nearly a thousand years. It had been a very long honeymoon.
They watched as she kissed her way down my throat, and found that place between my breasts, where she always paused to decide which direction she would go this time.
They watched as she looked up and held my eyes with hers, and smiled like the Cheshire Cat, that knowing smile, that loving smile, that passionate smile.
They watched as she chose to go left and ran her tongue up my now bare breast and began to circle my nipple with her tongue, while lubricating her finger in my mouth.
They watched as she used her finger to tease and pinch my nipple, and as I wrapped my own fingers in her hair.
They watched as I began to pull downward, not so gently guiding my Lover’s tongue past my navel, past my tattoo, past my thin line of blonde hair.
They watched as she skipped to my thighs and teased me in the way that only Kate could, in the way that only Kate was allowed. Even our first mate would never tease me so, though she had been our friend and confidant and lover for as long as we had been in space.
They watched as she finally found the place that I needed her to be.
Those fuckers watched as Kate brought me to orgasm after orgasm.
Those fuckers watched as Kate refused to let me reciprocate.
Those fuckers watched as my Lover just smiled and said “Happy Birthday.”
Those fuckers watched as we held each other in bed.
Those fuckers watched and those fuckers waited.
They waited for us to finally drift off to sleep, entwined in each other’s arms and still smelling of my still echoing orgasms.
They snuck into our sleeping quarters and not until we were awake, subdued, restrained, and looking down the barrels of eight vicious looking pistols did Tardicus dare to enter behind them.
There was no way they would have taken us otherwise. They knew they could never take us in a fair fight, no matter how much firepower they brought. We had a few things they could never hope for, no matter how long they lived or how powerful the Pax was. We had freedom and we had brains, and I think this pissed off Albert’s chief enforcer more than anything. He was a coward, but he was an insanely jealous coward.
Only when he was sure we were helpless did he bring his smug ass anywhere near us, and only then would he have dared to touch me. Pistols or no pistols, Kate was not going to let that go on.
He pulled his hypocritical little hand back one finger short. It took three of them to pry it out of her mouth.
Tardicus screeched his orders and ran back to the Vox, leaving a trail of tears and blood that was satisfying to me in the most perverse of ways.
He learned a valuable lesson that day. We were never helpless.
We were forcibly dressed in prisoner jumpers, and dragged back to the Vox Excorio. There would be no interrogation, no torture. This was not about information, but about revenge. It was a thousand year old grudge for a prank we once played on him, back in the days before starships, before rejuvs, even before the Pax. The hate had eaten at him for a millennium, and when he finally caught up with us it was only about our executions.
After the broadcaster was on, and the charges were read, Kate was given a minute to make her traditional last confession. “Fuck off, Tardicus” was the last thing Kate ever said.
Tardicus was the one I would kill last.
The Lilith Quotient, all chapters