I moaned softly and moved my head. It felt heavy, and as soon as I opened my eyes, a sharp pain exploded between my temples. I closed my eyes again, waited, and then opened them when I was ready to accept that the pain wasn’t going away, and I’d have to live with it for the time being.
I was tied to a tree. My legs were free, but my torso and my arms were well secured with a thick, rough rope. I checked in with my body as best as I could and concluded I was scratched and bruised all over. From the fall, of course. I remembered it. I’d tumbled down the slope and ended up at the bottom of a ravine. And when I thought Thev was coming for me, it turned out someone else had found me. He, or she, or they had hit me over the head, and that hit must’ve been the source of my headache. I just hoped I didn’t have a concussion.
My backpack was missing.
I heard voices nearby, and I strained my ears to listen. There was a buzzing in my head, and I was worried my universal language translator had been damaged. It wasn’t something that had been implanted on the surface of my skin. I was pretty sure it was deep into my brain, and if I had a concussion, then it made sense that it would malfunction. Nonetheless, I needed to try and listen to what the aliens were saying.
Of course they were aliens. Everyone on this godforsaken planet was.
I couldn’t understand a word they said. They were too far away, and my head was buzzing and ringing. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I started screaming for Thev.
“Thev! Theeeeev! Thev’rar, I’m here!”
The two aliens rushed to me, and before I could take a breath and scream again, one of them shoved something in my mouth. Then, he tied it tightly, and I could barely swallow my own saliva, let alone make a sound. I looked up at them with extreme hatred in my eyes. I tried to show them hatred, and not fear. In reality, I was terrified and quite certain my end was near.
“Shut up,” one of them said. “No one can hear you anyway.”
They looked like big, nasty lizards. They were both covered in light blue scales. They had long tails, frills at the neck, and what looked like feathers on their heads.
They turned away from me and started talking. This time, I could understand them.
“A human female. A universal breeder. She’s a much bigger prize than what we might find in that cave.”
“The pirate has riches.”
“We don’t know what kind of riches, and now that we have her, it’s not worth the risk finding out.”
“Our father would be delighted if we brought her to him, but also some of the pirate’s treasure.”
“No. The risk is too great. What if we lose her on the way?”
“Then let’s take her to the ship, leave her there, and come back to look for the cave.”
The other one hesitated for a minute. He thought hard, then finally shook his head.
“No. Our father will be plenty satisfied with a human breeder. Let’s take her to him, so we can earn his forgiveness and forget this all happened.”
“You’re right. The sooner he welcomes us back, the better. The cave isn’t going anywhere.”
“We can try again later, yes.”
So, from what I was gathering, the lizard men were brothers, and for some reason, their father had banished them or something. And now they wanted to impress him. It sounded like any family drama back on Earth, except maybe here the stakes were higher. Seeing how stealing and kidnapping were in order to be accepted back into the family...
They had been going where Thev and I were going when they stumbled upon me at the bottom of the ravine. The pirate’s cave. Seeing how many people knew about his secret stash, I personally thought the guy had to move it.
“She is valuable. We bring her to him, and he won’t only welcome us back. He will give us the respect we deserve.”
“Yes, yes.” The other lizard man grinned. “And everyone will look up to us.”
They nodded and chuckled, then turned to me.
My blood froze. They looked at me like I was a piece of meat. Or an object. They didn’t even care that I was hurt.
They quickly untied me and pulled me to my feet. They didn’t care when I winced and complained, grunting and moaning in pain. My wrists were tied together, and they used the rope to drag me along as they started walking. I blinked rapidly and tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The headache was getting worse, and every single muscle in my body screamed. I was pretty sure I was bleeding from my left side. The sharp rocks had done a real number on me. My ribs were bruised for sure, but at least nothing was broken. Had any bone in my body been broken, I wouldn’t have been able to move.